Jochem has been good enough to invite me to guest blog on the back of the release of my psycho-noir novel “Drawing Dead”.
It got a cracking review over at Spinetingler...Check it out here.
Also these nice little quips to boot:
Drawing Dead is a brilliant noir from one of Australia's most exciting new novelists."
-- Adrian McKinty, author of 'Dead I Well May Be", "Fifty Grand", "Falling Glass" and "The Cold, Cold Ground"
A terrifying portrait of a man destined to lose, Drawing Dead is at once stark and lyrical, with the ghosts of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain whispering all over the pages. Keep an eye out for JJ Deceglie, a stunning new voice in crime fiction.
--Jon Bassoff, publisher of New Pulp Press
“An impressive, memorable voice, with dark echoes of Bruen and Sallis and Ellroy. You won’t soon forget this book.”
--Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime
And remember if you feel it, why not leave a review.
Enough of that though.
I thought what I'd do is share some books with ya, some works that really got me going, books that set me alight and burnt to the bone...I went to the old Moleskin and went through my reading lists. I checked and rechecked carving it down to these eight works that have stuck in my skull.
Works that inspired, delighted, debased and enthralled me.
I read them all in 2011, and have doubled up on a couple of authors (with good cause):
Hard Feelings – Jason Starr
Jason Starr's work, especially those early novels, are benchmark neo-noir nightmares. Starr's stories are dark urban jewels where no one, say again, no one gets off easy, where grit, paranoia and tension build into borderline surreal mayhem. Here we have Richie Segel, a boring IT salesman with marriage problems, on and off alcoholism and a shocking secret in his past that pops up in the present and offers the possibility for brutal sadistic retribution; and of course a lovely little spiral into madness to boot.
Dead I Well May Be – Adrian McKinty
McKinty is a great writer. Equal parts of dark brutality and literate poetics run through all his works. I only found him last year and read almost all his books in one hit. He's that good, a real find. That said, I liked this one the best. We meet Michael Forsythe in New York, a Irish immigrant working for Darkey White. Forsythe is a great creation. A tough, dangerous and intelligent protagonist. This is a brilliant novel from start to finish that takes great unexpected turns, but I especially liked the prison section in Mexico, and the calculation of the revenge exacted post. This guy can write.
Cockfighter – Charles Willeford
Willeford does here for cockfighting what Hemingway did for bullfighting. He captures the art, shape and love of the sport. The appreciation of animals and the men who live the life. The man is an original and writes with a beautiful, distinct voice that draws you into the psyche of the protagonist and his no-holds barred mission to win the Cockfighter of the Year award on the Southern American Cockfighting Circuit. You come away with a thorough understanding and appreciation of the bloody carnage and death of the pit and men who take part in it. A classic by a champion of the genre.
Drive – James Sallis
This is a concise, clear sledgehammer of a book. A lesson in simple existentialism and measurement; LA sunshine noir at its very best. Hard-boiled, tough as nails. The loner making his way in the absurd world. I'm sure you know the plot (due to Refn's excellent film adaptation last year) but I tell you the novel delves deeper and hits harder, grabbing you by the throat and never, never letting go. I was disappointed when it ended, yet impressed with its discipline to do so at that particular moment.
Fake I.D – Jason Starr
The second Starr book on my list, some say this is his finest hour and it's hard to disagree. Tommy Russo is your anti-hero, a struggling actor working as a bouncer at a bar, a completely unreliable narrator, degenerate gambler, philanderer and sociopath. His luck goes from bad to worse and so do his decisions and we get to sit back and enjoy the dark, dark ride...and man is the ending goddamned perfect.
I Spit On Your Graves – Boris Vian
I stumbled across this at second hand bookstore down the street, picked it up and read a section, bought it in an instant and have read it twice since; written by a Caucasian Frenchman (a contemporary of Camus and Sartre) it's the story of a black man who can pass for white. He arrives in a small Southern town in the US and sets about becoming part of the community. The entire time he is plotting revenge for the lynching of his brother. He finds a pair of young, rich beautiful white sisters, seduces them, humiliates them and then kills them, and yet you still kinda like the guy. Violence and sex and horror compellingly dominate this book, it is pulp and yet isn't, you should be disgusted with the narrator yet aren't. It's an anomaly. I have a funny feeling this is some sort of masterpiece.
Zombie – Joyce Carol Oates
This is a serial killer novel, written in a simplistic, chilling diary format that reads very easily and is horrifying at times. It is an extremely realistic look at the mind of a psychopath, nothing is glorified, nothing has the volume turned up for effect. The killer slowly grows in confidence with his hunting, fine-tuning his quest for a zombie of his own (he bungles repeated lobotomy attempts on his victims reading from medical books as he goes). His plots become more elaborate and his need for sex and violence grow. It reads like a case-study. This one stays with you.
Falling Glass – Adrian McKinty
Another cracker from McKinty. Probably my second favourite of his (though I hear the new one “The Cold Cold Ground” ups the ante again). This is a slow-burning, layered story that builds to a fantastic conclusion. Tense, thoughtful, gripping and intelligent.
Killian is the protagonist this time round, world weary, semi-retired enforcer of Pavee stock (Nth. Irish traveller) called on by a filthy rich businessman living in Macau to hunt down his ex-wife and two children. Perhaps three-fifths of the action takes place in Northern Ireland, and its here that McKinty shines telling a story in the land of his birth. Man, he does it again, wonderful language, humour, brutal violence and a fast paced, ripping story. There is more than one scene in this one that stick very clearly in my mind. Including a fantastic finale involving none other than Michael Forysthe himself from the “Dead” Trilogy .