Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q & A with Bret R. Wright

I was excited when I learned about new PI Nate Jepson's debut in the novel "Nasty" and was happy his creator Bret R. Wright was more than willing to do an interview. So here we go...

Q: What makes Nate Jepson different from other hardboiled characters?  
Nate’s this ordinary, typical gumshoe kind of guy, but he reveals more of himself than he thinks he does.  There’s a lot of dramatic irony that goes into writing him.  I think he’s a blend of what a typical American is these days. He’s kind of conservative in a lot of ways, but then he’s surprisingly open-minded and matter-of-fact, too.  So, on the one hand, you have this ex-military bad-ass who can shoot straight and has no problems or hang-ups with bringing the hurt to the bad-guys, while on the other he may flip a $50 spot to a prostitute and tell her to go have a nice meal and take a load off for a bit. He understands that you have to meet people where they are, not where you want them to be.  He has a wry sense of humor that comes out as he watches the world, and that gives him an approachable air.  He’s just this guy you want to have a beer with and listen to.  I hope so, anyway.

Q: How did you come up with the character?  
That’s an easy one.  I was reading the other characters out there, and while I like and respect them, I found that I kept filling in blanks I wished were there. Does that make sense?  The popular PI’s out there right now are great, but they aren’t what I would write, so I decided to write the PI I wanted. One Ignatius Jepson was the result.


Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
First and foremost, I am a solid binding-glue and paper guy, beyond that, however, I really do love the eBooks. You can carry an entire library with you. From an author’s perspective, since eBook versions tend to be cheaper than paperbacks, the sales seem to be increasing in the electronic versions, and that’s always good.  Being a literacy advocate, anything that gets people reading is just fine with me.  

Q: What's next for you and Nate?
There are at least two more Nasty books coming, but I’d like to see the series go on from there, as he’s got a lot to talk about and a lot to work through.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
I’m a freelance writer for a local indy paper, and I’m a teacher. I teach middle school Social Studies and English. When I’m not writing, or working, I’m generally spending time with my family. I like to play bass, and I fish. I enjoy cooking, and spending time exploring all the interesting local establishments and sites where I live.  I split my time between Colorado Springs and Santa Fe, and between the two there is always something new in the offing.

Q: How do you promote your work? 
I do a little blogging, post on book promotion sites, do the whole social network thing, and book signings.  I’ve taught classes at the local writers conference off and on for years, as well. Now I have a novel to lean on as far as establishing my bonafides, as well as the time I spent as an on-line e-zine publisher, editor, short story author, and freelance writer.  My character, Nasty, has his own page on Facebook, where he posts about the things he’s doing on an every day basis, plus drops a few hints here and there as to what he’s currently working on.  The idea is to let him have an on-line life, of sorts.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
I like a lot of different genres, but I spend time reading fantasy, sci-fi, and people like Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, Christopher Moore, and Nick Hornby when I’m not reading crime fiction.  Being a Lit. major (yeah, I’m one of those) I like to revisit the classics, as well. Poe is a favorite, although since he’s considered the father of the modern detective mystery, that’s not really a genre change, is it?

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike? 
I like Joe Pike a lot.  Of course, I’m a huge Crais fan, so that’s to be expected.   I think the attraction there is that sidekicks that are a little (or a lot) off-center give the reader a visceral thrill to react to.  Characters like Pike and Spenser’s sidekick, Hawk, give the reader a chance to see what might happen if the main character were to remove all stops and just get after the bad guy, or the world around them,  on a very primitive level.  Kind of like watching someone doing a waltz while there’s a mosh pit off to the side. It’s that kind of foil that makes for some interesting dynamics and tension.

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation?
Oh, Robert Crais, for sure. Loren D. Estleman is a master of the genre. Have you read Motor City Blue?  A masterpiece.  I also love Sara Paretsky’s V I Warshawski.  Sue Grafton is fun, though a little main-stream for hard-boiled. Still, she has some very nice character development and knows how to sustain a series.  I think we’ll find that she influences the genre quite a bit after all is said and done.

Q: Why do you write in this genre? 
Oh, it’s the chance to write the character!  His voice, the way he looks at the world and who lives in it. I could write him in a thriller or military thriller setting (which I plan on doing one of these days) but detective fiction really allows me to showcase his thought processes and the unique situations that live in the grey areas of our culture. It’s the perfect platform for Nate, and I love taking readers there. It’s thrilling, and there’s something about writing with the ghost of a smoky  saxophone playing in the background that is too perfect to ignore.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blind Spot (Jesse Stone) by Reed Farrel Coleman

I am a big fan of Reed Farrel Coleman's work. I am also a big fan of Robert B. Parker's work. So I figured Parker's characters in Coleman's hands should be a match made in heaven. Turns out I was right. So, after Michael Brandman now Mr. Colleman chronicles the story of Jesse Stone.
Reed seems to "get" Jesse Stone even better than Parker himself if that's even possible. By that I mean the character really, really came to life for me. The time Reed spend researching about the character to write an essay in the non-fiction "In Pursuit Of Spenser" pays off here.
When a young woman is murdered in Paradise police chief Jesse Stone finds a connection to his old baseball team. Falling in love with a pretty undercover Special Agent, saving damsels in distress from bikers, battling against the bottle all keep him pretty busy. In the end though, Jesse solves the case... Kind of.
Aside from great work on Parker's characters Coleman introduces a few great ones of his own creation, like the thug-in-love Breen. These characters are just as fascinating as Parker's.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Superior Justice (Lake Superior Mysteries / Jonah Borden)

When you hear the main sleuth is a pastor you might think this is a cozy. Wrong! Pastor Jonah Borden is absolutely a Son of Spade. Just read the chapter where he takes on 3 tough guys in prison.
When a member of his church is arrested as a suspect in a vigilante killing Borden investigates. He learns, from the man's confession that he cannot be the killer. Bound by his oath he cannot tell the cops the man's secrets though, so he continues the investigation on his own, getting involved with a beautiful TV reporter.
I loved Borden's witty dialogue and Hilperts writing style. It reminded me of Robert B. Parker in his best days. The pacing was good, the characters cool, the action hardboiled. Everything I want in a crime novel. A winner!

Desert Rage (Lena Jones) by Betty Webb

When the family of a 14-year old is slaughtered she and her boyfriend both confess. PI Lena Jones is hired by her the girl's biological mother to prove her innocense. Soon there's someone after Lena, going so far as torching her house.
Lena investigates the secrets of the girl's family, meeting a lot of suspects and finding out what a peculiar man the girl's father was.
Lena is a pretty lively character and the Arizona setting is brought to life very well. The mystery itself is pretty satisfying, and there's a nice amount of twists. I did however think the pacing was a bit slow, the book could have done with 50 pages less for me.
All in all, solid enough for fans of female PI's.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Japantown (Jim Brodie) by Barry Lancet

This is a Ludlum action-adventure spy novel disguised as a PI novel... Think Barry Eisler, Eric Van Lustbader, Lee Child...
Jim Brodie is an antique dealer in San Fransisco who als inherited his dad's security firm based in Japan. He also consults for the local cops on matters Asian and antique.
When an entire family is slaughtered in the San Fran neigborhood called Japantown the cops ask him to show up because there's a mysterious Japanese character painted there. Brodie is more than interested because the last time he saw that character it was at the scene of his wife's death.
As he investigates he travels to New York and to Japan where he joins the guys from his dad's firm to find out who is behind the murders. What he encounters is an ancient and very dangerous group of assassins that endanger not only his life but that of his daughter as well.
There's a lot of mysterious ancient Japanese secrets and societies, martials arts and conspiracy stuff. Basically, the scale is a bit bigger and international than I usually like, but Brodie is a capable leading man and the story very well researched.
Read it if you're a fan of the authors mentioned at the beginning.