Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Clawback (Silas Cade) by Mike Cooper

Silas Cade is one of those characters that's not an official PI but is clearly a Son of Spade. This solo operative works as an ''accountant with a gun'', solving Wall Street's problems by force. When financiers are getting killed Silas Cade is hired to find out who is behind the killings. Helping him is Clara Dawson, a blogger who ends up falling for his charms. Quickly a private security firm gets involved and the action really starts. As a mystery there's not much to this novel, but as an action-packed thriller it works. Cade is a formidable hero but with a very human face and outlook on life.
The ending is quite surprising and I'm curious how his story will continue.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Read these blogs if you like PI fiction

There's some things on the web you should check out...
Dave White starts a cool discussion about the popularity of PI fiction here.
Lawrence Block shares a chapter from "In Pursuit Of Spenser" here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Q & A with Charles Colyott

I interviewed multi-talented Taoist and writer Charles Colyott about his Randall Lee series.

Q: What makes Randall Lee different from other hardboiled detectives?
I like to think of him as a sort of Taoist detective… His methods are intuitive, and he just sort of goes with things as they happen. He’s not a conventional detective , although along the way you see him sort of trying to be one. He's at his best, though, when he just goes where things take him.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
It was a strange process, really. I typically write horror, dark fantasy, that sort of thing, but when I decided that I wanted to try out writing a mystery, I had no idea where to start. Then the first murder came to me.
And when I figured out what had happened to the girl I suddenly knew just the guy for the job of finding her killer. So he just appeared, really. And as I wrote I found out things about him. I've never had anything like that happen in any other project.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
I think it’s a good thing. A lot of people have a lot of concerns about the amount of self published stuff, and the quality of it all… but readers are pretty good at figuring out what is good and what is crap.
For me, it's been great... Changes has been in the works for a long time. I had an agent and did things the traditional way, and it just didn't work. Because, while everyone said that they loved the book, no one knew how to market it. I got really bizarre comments like, "It's too 'oriental.'" So, eventually, I decided to put it out on my own. And the funny thing is that - so far, anyway - the readers "get" it. No one's written me to tell me that they would have liked it better if only it had been just like something else that they had already read. They like that it's different.

Q: What's next for you and Randall?
Randall will be back this summer with his next adventure, Pressure Point.
As for me, Black, the first book in my dark fantasy/romance/martial arts epic series is coming out literally any day now, and I'm working to finish up the sequel to that one for later this year. I have a teen romance(?!) in the works that's about 85% finished. And I'm doing a collaboration with Glen Krisch (Brother's Keeper, Loss) that should be really interesting. And really twisted.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I'm still working that out, myself. I mean, I do the standard social networking and stuff, but it's tough to know what hits and what doesn't.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I like them all. Mostly, I like to blend them up into things that are recognizable but unique.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I love those guys. Bubba Rogowski, too. They get to be sort of the yin to the hero's yang, y'know? I think a lot of detective characters operate off of a moral code that wouldn't let them be that dark, but they need that shadow figure who will do the things that they can't bring themselves to consider.

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?
I don't know. There's so much talent out there now, but for me... I mean, I can still pick up something by Chandler and just be amazed by his writing. And I pretty much have a shrine to Parker set up in my house. I just started getting into Macdonald (I know, shameful) so I still have a lot of those to learn from. I guess what I'm saying is that I hope the coming generations can still take the time to learn from the masters.

Q: James Tucker came up with the following question: Have you ever been involved in a crime?
Hehe... define "involved." And while you're at it, define "crime."

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Why write a PI story? For me, it's almost a superhero story, or a Knight's tale... there is that mythic aspect to it. You have a regular guy (or gal) who is able to do what the system can't do. And you have that moral code that I mentioned before... Think about how many of these detectives turn down payment, and how many of them struggle to do what's right, even at a cost. I think a lot of people don't see this kind of stuff in the real world.

I think these stories are a way to try to reaffirm a sense of good and evil in a modern time, and to be able to tell ourselves that there are still heroes out there.

Three blogs where I appear

To promote Redemption I've had the honor to be interviewed here and talk about hardboiled prose here.
Also, this blog is about relationships from publicists with blogs like mine.

Friday, April 6, 2012

That Thing At The Zoo (Deacon Chalk) by James R. Tuck

Deacon Chalk is not the usual kind of character whose tales we review. You see, Chalk is a PI-type (a bounty hunter) but he doesn't fight crime. He fights the supernatural. There's a lot to like about his adventures for crime fans, thought.
This is not supernatural romance like Twilight or even the Anita Blake novels.
This is action adventure in a horror setting.
Chalk is a fantastic tough guy hero, all tattoos and attitude as he hunts down a monster in a zoo. There's a lot of action, horror and the monster showing up int he end was quite a surprise!
Great reading if you like a little bit of supernatural in your PI diet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Background Check: The Cleveland Creep (Milan Jacovich) by Les Roberts

Les Roberts gives us the lowdown on his novel The Cleveland Creep...

Tell us what the novel is about.Cleveland private eye Milan Jacovich is hired to track down the disappeared son of his client, Savannah Dacey. The son, Earl, is a jobless 30-year-old loser, and when Milan discovers he's also a bit of a pervert, he's drawn into the ugly business of pornography in Cleveland. (Yes, Virginia, there IS a Cleveland porno industry.) He's helped by his very first employee, a young private-eye wannabe, Kevin O'Bannion---and not surprisingly, he finds his life in danger. He also butts heads with an arrogant and demanding FBI Special Agent, and his longtime involvement with his "frenemy," mob boss Victor Gaimari, begins to look shaky.

How long did it take you to write the novel?Generally a Milan book takes from 7-9 months to write, providing I'm left alone!!!!

Did it take a lot of research?
Not much research at all, actually. Long talks with some local police officers, including vice cops, and a certain amount of my running around taking notes because Milan visits FOUR different NE Ohio counties in this one, and I wanted to get the perfect, unique FEEL for each of them.

Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
There are stories about sex crimes almost daily on TV and in the newspapers. I was inspired, if you believe in THAT word, by three things: the arrest of a young man who cruises crowded shopping malls in the summer and attempts to videotape up the skirts of women, ESPECIALLY of young girls from Catholic schools who always wear skirts as part of their school uniform. The fact that teen-age girls who are sexually active have decided that having sex with older men would be a great way to earn lots of money. AND---a story about animal abuse that has haunted me for several years now until I simply HAD to write about it, even as a subplot.

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
Probably the scenes between Savannah and Milan. She's torn between wanting to find her son and her total crush, albeit unrequited, on Milan.

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
I fall in love with ALL the characters I write---male, female, good, bad, etc. I particularly liked writing about Helene Diamond, a woman hanging on the fringe trying to make a relatively innocent buck by producing pornographic movies in her downtown Cleveland studio. I grew so enchanted with the character, and I was sorry I couldn't include her in more scenes, but the story wouldn't permit it.

I was wary of the new character K.O. Bannion at first but love him now. What's in the near future for him?
Kevin O'Bannion showed up because Milan is getting older and has slowed down a bit. (Me too, by the way.) A Middle East veteran and a teenaged juvenile detention inmate, he's generally mad about everything. Quick with his fists---K.O. is not just his initials, but shorthand in the boxing industry for "Knock Out"----he and Milan butt heads as they try to figure out how to get along together. K.O. takes ONE LOOK at a very pretty young witness named Carli Wysocki, and he suddenly realizes he's alwahys wanted someone special in his young but difficult life. He will appear in the next one, "Whiskey Island," as will Carli---and assuming I'm around for another twenty years or so, I think he'll be a regular continuing character.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?
Most of my novels are based on something that really touches me---and usually infuriates me. "The Cleveland Creep" came from: Young teen guys abusing their teenage girlfriends is far too common in today's society. Horrific animal abuse happens every day for no apparent reason other than deep-down cruelty. Prostitution, especially among the upper and middle-class teens from comfortable suburbs. And of course the difficulty of people of two different generations trying to figure out how they can get along together.

Les Roberts came to mystery writing after 24 years as a Hollywood writer/producer. His next novel, "Whiskey Island," will be published later this year, and he's now writing what he hopes will be his TWENTY-EIGHTH book. He's also a movie critic, book critic, teacher, singer, jazz pianist, lecturer and public speaker. However, he DOESN'T do windows!

The Bone Polisher (Simeon Grist) by Timothy Hallinan

This Simeon Grist novel, now available as an ebook, came out in paper a decade ago, which makes some elements (the technology, the role of AIDS) a bit dated. Still, that doesn't hamper the perfect hardboiled mystery that incorporates these.
Simeon is hired to find out who killed an older, kind gay man and discovers there's a serial killer at large who's killing gay men.
Simeon is just a fantastic PI. Every bit as cynical as Marlowe, but probably more unsatisfied with who he is. We follow his struggle with what he sees as his meaning of life, the way he feels he's only effective as a PI these days. Another thing that makes him so cool is that he lacks the cop or military background of most PI's. As he tells another character he's self-taught.
The amount of action is just right, the personal drama makes the story rise above most PI novels and the weird climax in a Halloween setting is unique.
Fantastic novel!