Wednesday, April 18, 2018

August Snow (August Snow) by Stephen Mack Jones



August Snow is half Mexican-American, half African-American and a former detective and Marine sniper living and independently wealthy life in Detroit. When a succesful business woman enlists his aid to investigate strange doings in her company he ends up investigating her death instead. He digs deeper and deeper and ends up needing all his tough skills to take on professional killers.Meanwhile he tries to help out his local Detroit neighborhood, befriending several rich characters who end up aiding him in his quest.
Snow is a pretty tough and compelling character, his mixed heritage and the city of Detroit adding that extra richness that makes it stand out from the rest. The main plot is pretty basic but will satisfy most PI fans. I have to admit the action scenes were pretty well written, so I can surely see a movie adaption coming out.

Q & A with Richard Godwin




Ex-military PI, Tammy Wayne, tracks serial killers for a living in Richard Godwin's novel “Insincerity”, coming out in June. I grilled Richard about his characters and PI fiction...

Q: What makes Tammy Wayne different from other hardboiled characters? 
Tammy Wayne is a unique creation, in that she is not hard boiled at all, but a vulnerable intelligent woman who uses her own grit and realism to tackle an extreme psychopathic killer. She allows herself to feel all the raw grief of her sister's violation and murder at the hands of the very man she is pursuing, a man known as The Pimp, who has her and her lover under deep surveillance. In this way she exploits his need to harden her by psychological  brutality and she does do by resisting and overcoming it. She is an extremely strong female who does not lapse into stereotype once.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I heard her voice and began writing. It stemmed from the desire to write something about a non-cop pursuing a killer, rather than the other way around.


Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
Like anything else it has its pros and cons. On the one hand it has opened the world of books up to a much wider audience and allowed for an accessibility that is breathtaking and great, in that you can download a book anywhere. On the other hand there is a lot of crap out there. It has also exposed the greed and dishonesty of many publishers.


Q: What's next for you and your characters?
I have 7 more lined up for publication, including the sequel to my first novel Apostle Rising, Apostle Unbound. I am of course writing new novels also.


Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
I am a regular at the gym, training 5 times a week. I socialise a lot. I also like sport. I travel. I like Art exhibitions. I love music, most genres. 


Q: How do you promote your work? 
My publishers do a lot of that for me. I have two Pr's working for me. I do a lot of online stuff. I create a stir.


Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
All of them apart from YA, which I consider to be a spurious genre cooked up by prurient and bored right wing theocrats intent on turning America into a theocracy. It is based around the control of developing sexuality and absurd. It lacks all realism. In the old days you read the classics. I say read the classics.
I read a lot of crime fiction of all types from Noir to mystery. I also like sci fi, slipstream, horror, literary, experimental, avant garde, Westerns, giallo, and erotica. There is also well written porn. Of course there is.


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?
Robots, the rise in ethnology is a foregone conclusion. We will have android PI's with huge and morally untethered sexual and Erotic appetites influenced by the canonical and prophetic works of Philip K Dick and also by incisive works such as Android Love, Human Skin, and Paranoia and The Destiny Programme.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
Because it allows me to explore both the human condition without too much enclosure created by over labelling, and I dislike the need to genre classify, as it is primarily an academic and publisher-driven pursuit aimed at historicising the living and profiteering from them, and because in Noir, which I am best know for, you have men and women who are not necessarily criminals, nor recidivists or hardened criminals in any way whatsoever, but who step over a moral line and become criminalised by the society they inhabit and as such it allows for a lot of psychological excavation of the kind I enjoy as a Novelist. Noir is the genre of losers since they always fuck it up, be it  a heist or a blackmail, be it a murder or a con trick perpetrated on the corrupt deserving gulls they may seek to fleece. It is the genre of seductions in bars. Note I also write in many other genres.
 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sophomore Slump (Mackenzie August) by Alan Lee


This is one of those books where all the good things are the exact same things that don't make it good. The hero is a reluctant PI with a long backstory (ex-cop, MMA fighter, teacher), a violent sidekick (US Marshal Manny) and a dry wit in the old Spenser / Cole style. Yep, it's not the most original of series. However, I really like all that tropes (my own Noah Milano is full of them) when done well. Also, there's some nice extra more original touches. The hero, Mackenzie August lives together with his dad and his on, Kix. Turns out he donated his sperm so his cop partner and his wife could conceive. When both his partner and his wife die he takes care of the kid. Sounds almost like a sitcom, right? Well that's what August's flame Veronica seems to think. Veronica is another of those tropes that is used with a nice spin. At first she seems the Susan Silverman type of fantastic, perfect girlfriend, but that's not how it turns out to be.
What about the main plot? Well that didn't engage me as much as the setting. August is hired to go undercover at a high school to unmask some drug dealers and solve some gang killings.
Basically, this is a fast-paced, easy to read tale with a nice mix of action and comedy that will appeal to any fans of Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais, Sue Grafton, David Housewright or my own stuff.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Free Fiction: Man's Ruin Part Two (A Lenny Parker serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Lenny Parker, PI / roadie / metalhead is back in a new serial, every new part starting with a metal video. He’s my slightly more humorous version of the PI. He doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing and sure as hell isn’t the martial arts master my Noah Milano is. In the first episode of this new story he was hired to track down the girl who robbed an old buddy of his lottery ticket. Read the first part here.






Lenny walked into the Tower Club, they were just playing some AC/DC. There were about twelve people inside, most older guys with tattoos and two women in their forties with way too much make-up. Behind the bar was a wiry guy with a Black Sabbath T-shirt and a buzzcut.


Lenny sat down at the bar and ordered a beer.


“Nice crowd,” he told the barkeeper.


“Huh?”


“Don’t any younger girls come in here?”


“Sometimes. Mostly weekends. Those ladies are always  here, trying to pick up dudes. Divorced women, you know the type.”


“Sure. I like Asian girls myself. Plus when they wear tattoos.”


“No kidding. That’s creepy,” the barkeeper said.


“Why?”


“There’s a regular here, this Asian chick with blond hair and tats everywhere. Incredibly hot.”


“No kidding. Has she been in today?”


“Last time I saw her was yesterday. Went home with this big dude.”


“She sounds great. Do you know her name?”


“Janey they call her. That dude was pretty big though. You wouldn’t want to get on his bad side, trying to put the moves on the chick.”


“Who says it’s serious now?”


The barkeeper shrugged. “Guess you’ve got a point there. I’ve seen her with a lot of dudes, never the same one.”


“So maybe I could be one of them.”


“Who knows. She never seemed too picky.”


“Was that an insult?”


“Sorry, dude. None intended,” the barkeeper said. “Have a beer on me.”


Lenny wasn’t one to say no to free beer, even when he was investigating.  After a sip of it asked, “Could you give me a call when you see her?” He handed the bartender his business card, not the one for his PI gig but the one that identified him as a roadie.


The bartender had a look at the card. “Roadie, huh? Did you work with any bands I might know?”


“Bad Citizen Corporation?”


“The punk band? Cool. Not sure if I should give you a call when Janey is here, though. That sounds kinda wrong and creepy?”


“All in the name of love, man!”


The bartender laughed. “Okay, maybe. If you get me tickets for the next BCC show then?”


“They’re not playing anymore, but I guarantee you a spot on the guest list for the next Necromantic Poets gig.”


“Never heard of them.”


“No? They’re huge in Japan,” Lenny bluffed.


“Hey, how about some service here?” A muscular dude with graying long hair next to Lenny was apparently annoyed he had to wait to get the bartender’s attention.


The bartender told the guy he was sorry and took his order. It consisted of a large beer and a whiskey back. He downed it in the blink of an eye and ordered another. Lenny slowly finished his own drink and left the place.


As soon he was outside a hand grabbed his shoulder. Lenny turned around. The muscular dude from the bar.


“Yeah?” Lenny asked.


“Heard you asking about Janey. Leave her alone. She’s mine,” the muscular guy said.


“Huh? It’s really not cool to see a woman as property these days, dude.”


Lenny saw the fists coming but wasn’t fast enough to evade it. He rolled his head with the punch a bit, minimalizing the impact as much as possible. He was pretty good at taking punches.


Lenny pushed the man away from him. “Not cool!”


The muscular man punched Lenny in the gut. He was even better at taking a punch there, a result of many days on the road eating fastfood and drinking beer.


“Stop it!” Lenny yelled and hit his attacker in the mouth. Blood trickled from enemy’s face. Lenny followed up with another hard push, putting all his considerable weight behind it. The guy stumbled backwards, lost his balance and landed on his ass.


“Bastard!” the muscular man said.


“Hey, you’re the one who started it.”


The muscular man jumped up, tackling Lenny against the floor. On top of him now he started to punch him in the face. The guy was pretty strong but Lenny had muscles of his own underneath his fat. Dragging along all those heavy amplifiers and stuff had been a better workout than a gym. He heaved the graying man off him with a grunt. A painful crack sounded when his back hit the pavement.


Slowly Lenny got up, feeling the blood drip down his chin. His face hurt like hell. He made his way to his Dodge Ram, not looking back, just getting in. He drove off, dared a glance in the rearview mirror and saw the muscular guy still lying on the floor, shaking an angry fist at him.  

Friday, March 30, 2018

Albatross (Richard Dean Buckner) by Ryan Sayles

Richard Dean Buckner helps out his cop buddy Clevenger to solve the murder on two nuns. When a priest is suspected Buckner is reminded of a case back when he was a cop himself and he becomes determined not to make the same mistake he did in the past.
This is, as we are used to in Ryan Sayles' stories a dark ride. Buckner can be quite the bastard, violent, hard-drinking more vigilante than private eye. I love the fact he's a bearded guy in his sixties with a necktattoo and carries a .44 Magnum. I imagine him as Jonathan Banks or Clint Eastwood, those tough old bastards.
What I admire in Ryan's writing is that it really looks like a lot of thinking went into every line, every word. His style is very hardboiled, but not in the sense of the old pulps. He manages to evoke a very dark, slightly tired and cranky mood that makes this the perfect stuff to read with a pitch black cup of coffee or a nice stout or whiskey.
I guess the only thing I didn't like was the fact I had to suspend a lot of disbelief to accept the cops were so willing to have Buckner along for the ride.
Nice, fast-paced and dark stuff.