Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorites of 2009

It's almost the end of the year so it's time to tell you which were my favorites of 2009:

BEST PI NOVEL: The Lost Sister by Russel D. McLean
BEST DEBUT: A Tight Lie by Don Dahler
BEST NEW PI: Jared McKean (in Racing the Devil) by E. Michael Terrell
BEST ACTION SCENES: Judgement & Wrath by Matt Hilton

Thank you, dear authors for entertaining me.

I wish all visitors of my blog a great 2010! See you next year!

Racing the Devil (Jared McKean) by E. Michael Terrell

Is it because the person behind the writer's name is a woman that protagonist Jared McKean is one of the most emotionally developed of new private eyes? With a gay friend, a son with Down's syndrome and a gothic nephew Jared McKean has plenty of baggage to keep his personal life interesting.
The story starts off with a bang though when Jared picks up a woman in a bar and sleeps with her only to find out it was all a setup to turn him into a murders suspect. Jared shows he can take of himself, using Tae Kwando moves to keep fellow prisoners away from him when he's temporarily incarcerated.
He also shows he's a pretty dogged investigator when he sets out to prove his innocence. The successful merging of the personal side of Jared's life and the murder mystery made this an absolute favorite of 2009 for me.

The Lost Sister (McNee) by Russel McLean

I was already pretty impressed by the first novel but this one surpasses that one.
A more confident and structured writer now, Russell gives us everything I like in the genre. The pacing is better this time, the story less complicated and maybe because of that more dramatic and involving.
Starting off with a missing persons case McNee shows himself a worthy successor of Lew Archer, dealing with dirty family secrets, not being able to help himself but get involved in some personal dramas.
While actively acknowledging the clichés of the genre and telling us that's not how a real PI's life works he also manages to show us the traditional PI is not dead yet when written in the right way.
McNee is a man looking for justice, not just out to nab the bad guys. We're shown that in the end of the novel where the shades between black and white blur like in the best examples of the hardboiled genre.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The First Rule (Joe Pike) by Robert Crais

Every new book by Robert Crais is a reason to celebrate and especially when it features Joe Pike or Elvis Cole. This one's no exception. I liked it a bit less than Chasing Darkness but it's still a great ride.
Joe Pike's old mercenary buddy Frank Meyer is killed by a home invasion group. When he investigates he finds out there's more to it than it seems. He gets involved with East-European gangsters, the ATF and his biggest challenge ever... Taking care of a baby.
As ever, Pike is the Ultimate Action Hero, shooting baddies, jumping out of windows and kicking ass. There's some great tender moments though, like when he takes care of the baby he saved or when he shows his commitment to his old crew.
With the action and total premise of the novel this is one Crais-vehicle screaming for a movie adaption.

The Ragged End of Nowhere (Bodo Hagen) by Roy Chaney

Bodo Hagen used to work for the CIA. With his brother killed in Las Vegas he travels to Sin City, intent on avenging him
There's a colorful cast of suspects, ranging from Legionnaires to mobsters. Bodo didn't really come alive for me as a character.
I did enjoy the feel that reminded me of classic "Get Carter". The Legionnaire background surely gives the story something extra but didn't interest me much.
The plot contains little twists and turns but the action flows nicely and the dialogues are natural enough.
All in all an average read, but not a candidate for the Best PI Novel of 2009.

Free signed book offer Ian Vasquez

Here's something you might be interested in:

Signed Book Special Offer Ian Vasquez, Winner of a 2009 Shamus Award.
To celebrate Ian Vasquez's Best First P.I. Novel Shamus Award, Regal Literary is giving away five signed copies of both the winning novel, In the Heat, and Lonesome Point, Ian's latest novel. All you have to do to enter the contest is join Ian's Facebook page and send an e-mail to with the subject line I'm a Facebook Fan! by December 31.
Ian's Facebook Page:
Ian's Homepage:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Long Lost (Myron Bolitar) by Harlan Coben

I knew I loved Myron Bolitar but this novel reminded me exactly how much. Leaving the old PI-like setting behind for a more action thriller kind of plot the wisecracking agent and his wealthy psychotic sidekick Win give Jason Bourne a run for his money.
Traveling to Paris to track down the ex-husband of a former lover of his he gets involved with the French police and some very dangerous terrorists. Heaping plot twist upon plot twist and action scene upon action scene it all gets a bit too unbelievable at times but Myron is such an endearing protagonist the manages to keep you involved with the story and your disbelief suspended.
Laughs, thrills and chills... What more could a reader want really? A great read on a holiday.
I really hope Harlan Coben will have Myron reappear very soon.

Q & A with Mark Arsenault

Q: What makes Billy Povich different from other (unofficial) PI's?
Billy Povich is an everyman. He’s not physically imposing. He doesn’t carry a gun. He’s much better at taking a punch than delivering one. He can’t meet a supermodel in Chapter 3 and get her in bed by Chapter 4. The idea of taking a human life—while he has considered it—is daunting to him. In other words, he’s not a cartoon. I think it’s easier for the reader to slip into the role of the protagonist if the hero of the story feels like a real person. And I also believe that the heavily armed action hero who thinks nothing of blasting a dozen bad guys over 300 pages has become a cliché.

However, a hero must have heroic qualities, and Povich has plenty. He’s extremely tough-minded. He is dogged. He’s a risk taker. And he maintains a dark sense of humor, no matter how dangerous the circumstances. That’s why readers root for Povich. The hero’s most important job in a crime story is to get the reader on his side.

Q: How did you come up with the character of Billy Povich?
First off, I named him after my Polish grandfather, who died when I was 16.
Then I put Billy in grim circumstances—he is a newspaper obituary writer in a dying business, who lives above a funeral home and investigates murders. To balance all that darkness, I gave him the weapon of humor. Suspense and humor are opposites. When you put them together both become more intense, like colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.

Q: Lucid dreaming is a part of Gravewriter. Is it something you are interested in?
Absolutely. I’ve only been able to experience it a handful of times myself. A lucid dream can occur when you realize you are dreaming, and in that state you have some control over the dream. A lucid dream can feel as real as being awake—if you’re standing in the dream, for instance, you might notice the weight of your body on the bottom of your feet. I’ll try to condition myself for a lucid dream before I sleep by reminding myself to look at my hands. It’s just a cue. With that suggestion planted in my mind, there have been a few occasions that I’ve remembered to look at my hands during a dream, and immediately I’ve become aware.

Q: What's next for you and Billy?
I’m probably going to take a brief break from Billy Povich. I’m currently writing a stand-alone novel with different characters and less of a noir tone. Doing something different keeps me fresh. I have a vague idea for a plot for the next Povich book, and I’m hoping a little time away will allow that plot to germinate in my mind.

Q: How do you promote your books?
My promotional campaigns are a blend of old and new methods. I’ve done some traditional radio interviews and local television in Providence, Rhode Island, where the books are set. I also do conferences, such as Bouchercon and the New England Crime Bake. St. Martin’s is good about getting the books to reviewers, including reviewers who write for popular blogs. I’ve also done a blast of Web advertising, Facebook advertising, and an extensive blog tour, in which I’ve written essays for a number of excellent Internet sites. A blog tour is a tremendous amount of work, from organizing it, keeping track of the deadlines, and delivering so many original essays. But writing those essays helped organize my thoughts on the craft of writing.

Crime fiction web sites, such as this one, have become so influential in introducing readers to authors. I’m very grateful to appear here.

Q: Do you have any favourite Sons of Spade yourself?
Here’s an obscure character that I love: Sam Holt.

Holt was the creation of the great Donald E. Westlake, better known for the Dortmunder comic caper novels under his own name, and for a series of dark crime books under the pen name Richard Stark. In the mid-1980s, Westlake, by then a well-established writer, wondered if he would make it as a crime writer if he were just starting out. So he signed a deal to write under another secret pen name, Samuel Holt. The four books in the Holt series are hard-boiled with a sprinkle of humor. Sam Holt—the main character’s name as well as the pseudonym—is a former actor, too typecast to find new work. He lives a rich man’s life and keeps steady girlfriends on the East and West U.S. coasts. Then one day somebody tries to run his car off the road for no apparent reason, and a new crime-fighting hero is born.

Westlake, my favorite author, died in 2008. I deeply regret never having met him. Still, his writing continues to teach me.

Oh, I almost forgot that Westlake’s experiment writing as Samuel Holt was ruined when the publisher leaked to the bookstores that this hip, new crime fiction author was really one of the masters in disguise.

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 and in what way?
I consider myself part of that coming generation. I’d name James Lee Burke as an influence, for writing so damn beautifully. And Carl Hiaasen, and others like him, including Westlake, who have expanded the boundaries of the genre.

Q: Russel Atwood came up with the following question: Why do you do it?
The reasons I do this continue to change. Ten years ago, I was a newspaper reporter in an old mill town in New England. I was working on a fascinating story about a group of heroin addicts who lived under a railroad bridge, when my editor suddenly killed the story. He didn’t care to read about those people. I was furious, and decided to write the story as a work of fiction. That’s why I started. As that manuscript slowly grew, I wrote because I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a crime novel. I didn’t expect to sell it, but when I did, I wrote because I had a contract for another book. Now I write because I want to better what I’ve already done. Writing is difficult, and difficult things are satisfying.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
My question: In the fictitious world of your last book, does God exist?

My answer: Yes, and He is extremely ticked off.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Judgement & Wrath (Joe Hunter) by Matt Hilton

Matt Hilton seems to be determined to be the new Lee Child. His hero Joe Hunter is every bit the action hero Mr. Reacher is. In this second outing he is hired by a wealthy man to get his daughter away from a rich wifebeater.
When he observes the girl however he has to prevent her from getting killed by a sinister hitman called Dandalion.
This second novel worked better then the first, the plot seemed to flow more naturally and the action was easier to follow.
While Dandalion was a great villain he was a bit too over the top maybe, more in James Bond territory then I like.
Hunter is a great tough guy though and I'm eagerly awaiting the third one. I do hope however that the structure where a Hunter-chapter is alternated by a chapter from the villain's point of view is not present in it.
I'm afraid this idea might get a bit stale too fast.

The Dying Hour (Jason Wade) by Rick Mofina

Rookie reporter Jason Wade gets involved with the disappearance of a young woman. He endangers his job and his life.
Jason is quite an everyman-character, making it easy to relate to him. His growth as a character is almost as important as the thrilling plot.
The forensic details are great, the plot pulse-pounding and the villains scary. The only thing that dissapointed me a bit was the lack of surprise when the bad guys were revealed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gravewriter (Billy Povich) by Mark Arsenault

Reporter and gambling addict Billy Povich owes some bad guys a lot of money. After the car crash that killed his wife he lost his job and now is writing obituaries. He has a deep need for revenge, wanting to kill the man he holds responsible for his ex-wife's death.
When he is called for jury duty he gets personally involved when his reporter instincts tell him the man on trial is innocent of murdering an escaped convict.
There's a lot that makes this a terrific read. There's Billy's bond with his son and dad, the colorful lawyer he helps out, the dark themes of the book that never get really depressing...
Billy is absolutely an original character, different enough from the PI-types we've seen before but still has enough of the archtype in him to be popular with fans of the genre.

Q & A with Russell Atwood

Q&A with RUSSELL ATWOOD, author of LOSERS LIVE LONGER, a Payton Sherwood mystery novel

Q: What makes Payton Sherwood different from other (unofficial) PIs?
A: He is a post-Singing Detective detective (referring to the British mini-series by the late-great Dennis Potter). For years people have been making fun of (often brilliantly) the traditional hardboiled private eye hero, from The Firesign Theater's Nick Danger to Garrison Keillor's Guy Noir, and currently in the new HBO series, BORED TO DEATH (to name but a few). It's gotten so bad that many PI writers avoid using what's come to be known as "Chandlerisms" in their writing for fear of being laughed at (unintentionally) and/or mocked by reviewers. So Payton Sherwood is painfully aware that in many ways he's a living-breathing pastiche. His problem is that he believes in all of that. He originally got into the PI game because he wanted to be Philp Marlowe and Sam Spade. So it's difficult for him to complain now that he has ended up as a loner and a loser, since that's basically what he wished for. On the other hand, he knows in his bones there's still something honorable in what he does and how he does it, so as cynical as he pretends to be, he at least feels his life has some meaning, whether as an avenging angel trying to set things right, or simply as a punchline in some cosmic joke.

Q: How did you come up with the character of Payton Sherwood?
A: Originally I tried writing the typical, ordinary, two-fisted PI who was the best man for the job. But because I write in the first person, all my friends laughed at me and criticized my tough guy's actions with the refrain, "You'd never do that!" So to avoid their derision, I just told the truth instead. So Payton Sherwood is very much born of my own personal experiences.

Q: What would a soundtrack for your novels sound like?
A: Traffic noise played on a scratchy LP.

Q: What's next for you and Payton?
A: That's largely dependant on the success of LOSERS LIVE LONGER, for both of us. We'd love to stay in New York City and continue to "fight the good fight," but for financial reasons we both might have to relocate elsewhere, as if the city is expelling us like some foreign object from its system. So, if you're reading this because you're a fan of the book or the detective himself, I urge you to make a difference and buy as many copies of the book as you can afford and give them away as birthday presents, Christmas gifts, or else just leave them in public places like a message in a bottle. Help to make LOSERS a WINNER.

Q: How do you promote your books?
A: With great difficulty. I have neither the time nor the resources to make a good job of it. So I try to do everything that is free (Facebook, e-mail blasts, my website, even blogsite Q&As) and mail out comp copies to anyone I feel can give the book's sales a much-needed lift.

Q: Do you have any favourite Sons of Spade yourself?
A: Yes. They are (in no particular order):
Michael Collins' Dan Fortune, Lew Archer, Tucker Coe (a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake)'s Mitch Tobin, Fredric Brown's Ed Hunter, Fletch, A.A. Fair (a.k.a. Erle Stanley Gardner)'s Donald Lam, the Continental Op--oh, cripes, the list goes on and on, frankly I love 'em all. However, one of the biggest influences that made this new book (Losers Live Longer) work was my devouring of the entire QUILLER series by Adam Hall. Of course, Quiller is a spy and the storylines strictly espionage, but the narrative style is straight out of Raymond Chandler. No other writer has taught me more about how to convey peril and white-knuckle suspense than Adam Hall (the pen-name of Elleston Trevor, who also wrote the classic Jimmy Stewart film FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX).

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 and in what way?
A: I heard--second-hand--that a very well known and influential book critic gave a speech at a mystery-writers conference reporting that the private eye novel is dead, or at least on its last legs and wouldn't survive another generation. I believe the justification of this opinion was that crime-detection in the modern world has become far too complex an affair for a one-man operation to handle. Increasingly more and more people will start to only write about this archetypical character within some earlier historical context. It's certainly true that a "cheap" detective just can't get the job done nowadays, because so many of the necessary tools are tied into expensive technology--Internet databases, industry-specific search engines, DNA testing, etc.--all of which doesn't come cheap. So one guy standing in a shadowy doorway--out of the rain--waiting for his prey to go on the move, will be completely ineffectual, because the crooks are warm inside video-conferencing or else texting each other to get their stories straight before the detective can confront them about discrepancies in their accounts of an incident he's investigating.

I don't agree with this assessment, but I know where it's coming from and acknowledge that it's a real problem. So actually I don't know who, if anyone, will influence the coming generation, except for maybe Michael Connelly (and none of his heroes are private eyes anyway), for the simple reason that success always spawns imitators.

Q: Mike Knowles came up with the following question: What are you tired of seeing in PI fiction?
A: I have to say I'm tired of reading passages about the detective's personal life unless it bears directly on the case he or she is working. Frankly, I don't even like to hear my friends and family prattle on and on about their lives, so I have even less patience for it when I'm reading fiction. Invariably I skim those passages in a book, and yet find I'm still able to follow the storyline without feeling I've missed something (so, I ask, why put it in at all?). But that's me, I'm a murder maven, and it's probably more a reflection of my pin-hole limited scope on life than other writers' quality and purpose. My ideal detective novel is RED HARVEST, in which you never even learn the private eye's first or last name.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: Why do you do it?
I mean, for the majority of us, there's really no money in it. Nor fame for that matter (if I wanted to be world-famous, my time would be better spent by creating a 40-second YouTube video than in writing a 60,000 word novel).

And my answer to this question: I don't know.
Then again, one of the things I've learned over the years is that our motives really don't matter all that much. We tell ourselves we do things for a particular reason, but more often than not our actions thwart those goals to begin with. So basically, to preserve my sanity, I've stopped asking myself why and instead just put my head down and go on doing it. I've tried to quit a number of times, but it never takes. I guess I'm a lifer, so why fight it? However, I would still like to hear other writers' responses to this question. Maybe if I ever read one that makes sense to me, I'll adopt it as my own.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dark Side of the Morgue (Spike Berenger) by Raymond Benson

Rock 'n roll detective Spike Berenger returns to find out who is killing the (ex-)members of a Chicago progrockband. Raymond does an amazing job of creating a whole timeline and history for a band and even a whole music scene that never existed. The pacing and mystery of this second Berenger novel is better than the first as well as having a more realistic feel.
I couldn't put this one down, probably because Benson filled this one with a great amount of cliffhangers and twists, making this one more of a thriller than most PI-novels are.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Losers Live Longer (Payton Sherwood) by Russell Atwood

There's iPods, skateboards, computers but still this novel takes us back to the 1940's. Absolutely one of the best attempts of setting a Black Mask style story in the now we follow PI Payton Sherwood in his search for legendary PI George Rowell's killer. There's lot of sexy women crossing his path and Payton isn't always capable of resisting their charms. No Elvis Cole Payton is a down-on-his-luck kind of character, not an expert marksman or fighter, but not without a white knight quality.
Most of the fun in this one comes from the pulpy descriptions Russell / Payton gives us but I must admit the mystery is also not too bad. In fact, it's best to read this one in on or two days to make sure you don't lose track of the plot.
Hardcase Crime has published a real winner with this one, showing us the new pulps are every bit as good as the old ones they publish. Let's see more of this!

Where The Dead Lay (Frank Behr) by David Levien

David Levien and his PI Frank Behr return after the stunning debut City Of The Sun. Behr's martial arts teacher is killed, resulting in him investigating it. Also his old boss from his years as a cop and a big investigation firm want to hire his services to track down a few missing investigators. Of course these two investigation end up being tied together, but the value of this book doesn't come from the mystery but from the character Frank Behr. I haven't seen such a driven, impressive detective since Harry Bosch. In fact, often David's writing reminds me of Michael Connelly, a great compliment indeed. A man haunted by his past, a tough sonofabitch trying to keep a normal relationship with a great woman while trying to come to terms with the death of his son. That's what this novel is about.
Oh, sure, there's a criminal family which is quite nicely portrayed and some hardhitting action scenes to keep all hardboiled readers nicely satisfied but when I closed the book Mr. Behr kept me company in my mind for days after.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Q & A with Mike Knowles

We interviewed Canadian Mike Knowles, author of the Wilson series.

Q: What makes Wilson~different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Wilson is unlike most PI s because he is a criminal by trade. Nothing he does is legal and no one he works for is an honest citizen. The character itself has almost a complete lack of an identity. His parents died early and he was raised by his uncle who was a career thief. His upbringing took him off the grid and he spent his formative years learning his uncle’s trade. When his uncle suddenly died, Wilson found himself without a job. His uncle had run every job and without him, Wilson was truly alone for the first time in his life. Paolo Donati, a powerful mob boss, who Wilson and his uncle had done jobs for in the past, seized the opportunity and began using Wilson for under the table jobs. Wilson helped Paolo stay in power by doing jobs that hurt the competition. He spent years working for just one man making sure nothing rocked the status quo. Eventually Paolo turned on Wilson and he found himself alone again, only this time he was alone against the mob.

Q: How did you come up with the character of Wilson?
I have always been into pulp books and seventies crime fiction. Back then, there were a lot more books revolving around criminals and how they managed to survive living outside the law. For a while, I had been noticing that most popular crime fiction was starting to narrow its focus. There were a lot of do gooder reporters, police procedurals, and smart talking private eyes. What there weren’t enough of were the mean, pulpy, hard-boiled crime novels I read as a kid. I set out to write the kind of book it was getting harder to find. Wilson evolved out of the idea of a contemporary ronin. A lone man with no allegiances and many enemies. I always loved books where one man takes on all comers and manages to survive. Richard Stark was a master of this in his Parker books.

Q: What would a soundtrack for your novels sound like?
James Brown. Not the upbeat stuff. I’m thinking The Payback and The Boss kind of stuff.

Q: What's next for you and Wilson?
Next year there will be a new instalment. Wilson will get away from the gangsters a little bit and tangle with another group that is equally powerful and corrupt: the police.

Q: How do you promote your books?
I’ll do anything the publisher asks me to do. So far it is newspaper interviews, blogs, twitters, and appearances that only my mother comes to.

Q: Do you have any favourite Sons of Spade yourself?
Mike Hammer has always been a minor deity in my world. A more current PI would be Dan Simmons Joe Kurtz. Kurtz is a PI and an unofficial son of Richard Stark’s Parker. How can you go wrong with that. Every year I hope for a new instalment, but I never get one.

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 and in what way?
I think a lot of less mainstream writers are going to influence the coming generation. There are Canadian’s like John McFetrdige, Scottish writers like Allan Guthrie, and Irish writers like Ken Bruen who are putting out ridiculously consistent noir fiction that is both a throwback to the classics and a new twist on the genre. I also think there is going to be an eventual re-emergence of interest in the pulp classics. Darwyn Cooke recently did a Richard Stark graphic novel and it opened a lot of eyes to the genius that most people never realized was there all along. Hard Case crime is also reprinting a lot of amazing work from the past and they are easily my favourite reads each month. I am hoping this trend continues for a long time.

Q: Sam Millar came up with the following question: How do you sleep at night with all that blood on your hands?
If you’re asking Wilson, he’d say something moody like.
There’s blood on everyone’s hands. The city runs on blood. People bleed to keep it and cut to take it. I don’t loose sleep worrying about other people’s blood, I’ll sleep plenty when someone else gets mine on theirs.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
What are you tired of seeing in PI fiction?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jelly's Gold (Rushmore McKenzie) by David Housewright

Rushmore McKenzie, rich ex-cop, is asked by an old female friend to help out with a special treasure hunt... To find the lost gold of thirties gangster Frank Nash. When people starts dying McKenzie learns everybody wants the gold and some people will do anything to get it.
Not only is this the story of McKenzie's hunt but also an interesting look at the St. Paul of the 1930's, a very interesting time for those interested in crime.
David does a good job in mixing this story (via letters, historical documents and eyewitness accounts) with McKenzie's investigation.
As always McKenzie is a very likable hero, always trying to what's right, living up to his personal code like Spenser does. In fact, for those who are tiring of reading the same Spenser-story over and over again this might be a great change of pace. Also, kudos to David for telling a PI-story without the more standard plots like looking for a missing child or standard homicides.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vanish (Nick Heller) by Joseph Finder

Nick Heller is an investigator for a high-priced investigation corporation. When his brother is missing he sets out to find out what happened. During his investigation he explores the bond with his comic book loving nephew, his father and his brother. Through these subplots Joseph manages effectively to tell the story of a Jack Reacher like tough guy but without making him a one-dimensional superhero.
Joseph did his research as well as always, adding a lot of high-tech security specialist details to the corporate knowledge he's been showing off in his standalones. Also, he's learly done his homework concerning what a teenage kid like Nick's nephew would be interested in, referencing not only comic books but also rockbands like Slipknot.
The start of a new series, this is one hero who's sure to be on the bestseller lists for years to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Q & A with Sam Millar

Q: What makes Karl Kane different from other (unofficial) PIs?
The difference between Karl and other PIs, I believe, is his humanity towards those less fortunate in society, plus his dark sense of humour. Understanding the terrible events of his childhood, watching his mother being raped then murdered, before being brutalised himself and left for dead, could have seen Karl becoming a very bitter and angry person. Instead, he has used this childhood nightmare to fight evil – albeit on his own unorthodox and sometimes violent terms.

Q: What is it about Ireland that it's generating so many popular noir writers now?
My firm belief is that most writers were obsessed about the war in the North of Ireland, using the war as a continual background and canvas. The problem this caused was that their imagination became bleached of all creativity and had become almost as stereotypical as the mundane two-dimensional characters they had created. Now, things are very different. We can write about the present, the darkness and evil of our cities in modern-day terms, rather than falling back to the past for inspiration.

Q: Why did you decide to write about a PI?
I have always loved the old black and white crime movies and pulp/hardboiled fiction books of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. I had completed a few other crime books, but it was always on my mind to go back and do the ‘classic’ PI.

Q: What's next for you and Karl?
There will be a collection of short stories by Irish crime authors, out next year, and Karl Kane will be leading the pack. The third full-length Karl Kane will be out next year, also. In it, Karl will have to make a decision that will break him emotionally as a human being, as well as dealing with a killer who is leaving severed hands to taunt the police. He will find himself in deep and bloody trouble in an abattoir first written about in The Redemption Factory. There will be a shocking revelation concerning his ex brother-in-law and nemesis, Inspector Mark Wilson.

Q: How do you promote your books?
The usual suspects: newspapers, PR office, TV, radio and the all-important word-of-mouth. I am lucky having an excellent publisher in Brandon, with good international connections. It was funny your comparison of my writing and Ken’s (Ken Bruen) as we are from the same publishing house. To me, crime sites are also quickly becoming the way forward. Crime sites such as yours, are becoming more popular and extremely important for crime writers to get their work known to a wider audience, and I thank you for giving me the space on your excellent site.

Q: Do you have any favourite Sons of Spade yourself?
I have to confess Philip Marlowe is up there on my list of guys not to mess with.

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 and in what way?
That’s a difficult question because crime writing is shifting so quickly to accommodate more astute readers. Each country has its favourite son or daughter, but I think American dominance in the genre is being challenged. Ken Bruin has the great story-telling ability to influence up-and-coming crime writers/readers. German crime writer, Horst Eckert, French female writer Fred Vargas, and Japanese female crime writer Natsuo Kirino (Mariko Hashioka) will be the names of the future to watch for, simply because they are willing to take chances with their writing and not fall into the trap of mediocre.

Q: Sybil Barasso came up with the following question: What was the inspiration for your latest novel?
Thanks for the question, Sybil. The inspiration for The Dark Place came from true events from my teen years. The Dark Place is semi-autobiographical. I suppose you would have to read my critically-acclaimed and award-winning memoir, On The Brinks to fully understand my background and why I write so darkly. Warner Brothers have acquired the rights to On The Brinks.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Question: How do you sleep at night with all that blood on your hands? Answer: I wash it off before going to bed! Good night...

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Dark Place (Karl Kane) by Sam Millar

Belfast PI Karl Kane is drawn into the investigation of abducted teens and has to take on a violent, but powerful psychopath. When his own daughter gets abducted there's no stopping him.
Karl Kane is an interesting mix of a very believable anti-hero / everday kind of guy and the wisecracking Spenser-breed. In fact, some of the conversations with his girlfriend Naomi top the witty cuteness of the Spenser-Susan dialogues. Note that Karl is a bit more offending and crude in his choice of words. There is a strong sense of humour in this novel which works surprisingly well next to the very dark plot.
It's almost obvious that Millar will be compared to that other Irish crimewriter Ken Bruen but Millar gives us a more straightforward PI-tale that will probably be enjoyed by people who think Bruen has a tendency to take sidetours from the plot too much. There is some of the same literacy there, especially in the excellently chosen quotes that start off each chapter.

The Silent Hour (Lincoln Perry) by Michael Koryta

Ignoring Harrison Parker's letters for quite some time PI Lincoln Perry is visited by Parker in person. Parker is an ex-con, a killer who participated in a special program, meant to habilitate violene offenders like him. He wants to hire Perry to find out what happened to the missing founders of the program.
Finally Perry agrees to take the case, but has to work without his partner, Joe Pritchard who's snowbirding in Florida.
What starts out as a more or less regular investigation turns out into quite some soulsearching when Perry starts to question if he's in the right job. This elevates the novel above the standard, but enjoyable earlier Lincoln Perry outings.
It seems Koryta's standalone (Envy the Night) gave Perry just the amount of downtime needed to come back better then ever.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blood Law (Zac Hunter) by Steven Hague

He was the best new PI last year... And this year he's back already! Ex-cop Zac Hunter is just wondering what to do with his life and how to make a difference without a badge when he's drawn into a new adventure. His old informant, gangbanger and babe extraordinaire Angel asks him for help when her daughter has been kidnapped. When Hunter investigates he finds out he's been caught in a web of lies and a maelstrom of violence. Along the way he meets a Native American vigilante, Stone, who's such an impressive character you get the feeling he deserves a novel of his own. It looks like he might be back in the next novel as a sidekick of some sort. Can't help thinking of the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
Even more actionpacked then the first novel (Justice For All) that reminded me a lot of Michael Connellý this one takes you more into Lee Child territory.
Worth it if you're into hardboiled action!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Father's Day (Louis Klein) by Keith Gilman

Ex-cop Louis Klein is asked by his old partner's widow to track down her missing daughter. Not exactly a new story premise, right? So, why did it win the Minotaur Books/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel award? Easy, it's because of the good writing. There's a James Lee Burke-like poetry and literacy to the words in here. Combine this with the fact the writer is a real cop and gives the story a very authentic tasteand you've got a great example how you can write a great PI novel without trying frantically to do something different.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gutted (Gus Dury) by Tony Black

Black is back! As the writer of my favorite debut novel of 2008 I was of course very eager to read his second novel. Tony delivers the goods once again.
Gus Dury, the unofficial Scottish PI stumbles on a pair of dog torturers and gets into a fight with them. This action draws him into a complicated investigation and antagonizes both cops and robbers
Gus is again a very pissed-off character, angry at almost everything and always nearly drunk. He's dark, almost suicidal and full of problems and insecurities. We discover more about his relationship with his ex-wife Debs and a dark secret they share.
Tony Black shows how he's still the leading man in the stream of Ken Bruen's followers, serving up a hardboiled tale in which the protagonist is just as important as the crimes. Don't read this one if you're a bit too depressed though, it might just sent you over the edge. Tony's prose is that engaging and he will totally draw you into the dark mind of Gus Dury for sure.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dead Man's Dust (Joe Hunter) by Matt Hilton

If you enjoy Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, Stephen Leather's books or Don Pendleton this is the book for you. The first in a new series we are introduced to vigilante Joe Hunter and his pal Rink as they look for Joe's brother. He's gotten mixed up with a dangerous serial killer, dubbed The Harvestman and travels across the USA as Hunter and Rink do.
There's an awful lot of violence in this baby and if you dislike that sort of thing this might not be your cup of tea. Matt really knows his combat, that's very clear from every hardboiled page. Harvestman is a cool but somewhat over the top villain and Joe Hunter is a capable soldier, surely good enough to star in a long-running series. I can see why Matt Hilton got the big advance for his stuff, it's great, commercial dicklit but might not appeal to the visitors of this site who prefer subtler stories or crave for a bit more realistic stories. I however will absolutely be there in six months when the new Joe Hunter novel comes out.r

A Tight Lie (Huck Doyle) by Don Dahler

If you know ''tight lie'' is a golfing term you might get a bit of an idea what to expect... The PI in this debut novel is a professional golf player. He does know how to handle himself in a fight however and is backed up by a tough cop (who surprised me by his true identity) and a paraplegic FBI brother. Yep, he's hardboiled enough to appeal to all of you loyal visitors. The mystery centers around the death of a young girl and the ballplayers suspected of killing her. There's a refreshing lighter side to it all that reminded me of Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar novels. Add to that the same sports-setting and I can really recommend this one to Bolitar-fans.
The absence of quotation marks for dialogue makes it a bit hard to read at times but that is made up for by the crisp writing style and layout of the book.
For me this one was one of the biggest surprises of 2009. Very enjoyable.

The Good Son (McNee) by Russel D. McLean

Dundee is the setting of this PI-tale featuring McNee, a depressed private investigator mourning the death of his wife. He is hired by James Robertson to find out why his brother killed himself. When some hard men from London appear the case becomes a very dangerous one!
As much a tale about McNee and his grief as a crime novel it follows in the footstops of Ken Bruen and his followers like Tony Black that show us that hardboiled is not all about the mystery but as much about the protagonist and the dark world he lives in. That said, with all the dark stuff coming out of Scotland these days I must say I wouldn't want to live there! ;-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gun by Ray Banks

< Review by Tony Black >
< GUN by Ray Banks >
< Published by Crime Express >
< Price £4.99 >

< ISBN-10: 190551252X >

< ISBN-13: 978-1905512522 >

Gun is biting, bleak noir with a boot in the gutter and a shooter in the waistband. Banks, author of the outstanding No More Heroes and Beast of Burden has sharpened his already laser-edged storytelling in this novella about a bottom-feeder crim sent to collect a handgun.

British crime fiction doesn't get much grittier than this foray into the mean streets of petty crooks and knuckle-breaking thugs. Banks portrays the street trash and derros of the inner city with an acuity few of his peers can match. But it's his empathetic treatment of their woes that shines out in Gun. This is a tale that speaks up for the futility of those trapped in the slum, those seeking a better life when the only options point to prison or a needle.

For such a short, and seemingly prosaic, tale Banks crams in an incredible amount. Like Hemingway's iceberg principle, there's much more going on between the lines that the keen reader will ponder on. This is no mean writing feat, and one too rarely achieved these days.

Gun is a buy in the morning and devour by the afternoon mini-masterpiece that will whet the appetite for more from this talented writer.

Q & A with Sybille Barrasso

Q: What makes Macy Adams different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Macy unravels her cases through psychological insights into other people's motivations. She has empathy for human frailty. She is more sentimental than other PIs. Many PI novels are gritty, with the action taking place on those legendary mean streets. Macy's world is more refined; her clients tend to be wealthy, though her investigation in DARK WATERS takes her many places. She's a descendant of John Adams, the second American president. While other PIs may work up a sweat boxing or doing martial arts, Macy plays tennis; she wears jewelry and perfume, and she has a love interest.

Q: What is it about Boston that has generated so many good PI writers?
I think it all started with Robert B. Parker, who inspired so many local writers. There's a large community of authors here in Boston, with various associations providing fellowship and support. And Boston is such a beautiful setting, a pretty town overlooking the ocean with a history full of political scandals (Chappaquidic, Whitey Bulger), corruption at the state house, prominent murder cases (Charles Stuart, Neil Entwistle), and even a real serial killer (the Boston Strangler).

Q: What would a soundtrack to your novel sound like?
That's a tough question. Boston's "More than a Feeling" comes to mind, for the underlying energy--as well as the name of the band, of course. And in a way the song tells the story of the novel. Also K.D. Lang's "Constant Craving," which Macy actually plays in a scene in DARK WATERS. For the water scenes, maybe Chopin's Ballade #4?

Q: What's next for you and Macy?
In DARK THOUGHTS, Macy Adams goes undercover at a TV station to unmask the stalker of a beautiful news anchor. And the relationship between Macy and Jack gets more complicated.

Q: How do you promote your books?
My publisher does a lot, of course, but I do book signings, speak at book clubs and conferences, and do guest blogging. I write a monthly feature for the International Thriller Writers website, and I have a website

Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?
Yes, I do, and she's a Daughter of Spade. Sue Grafton is my idol. My favorite review came from Library Journal: "Barrasso's approach to the PI genre might be considered a softer version of Sue Grafton, but her touch is as deft."

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 and in what way?
It'll be interesting to find out. Maybe someone who uses CSI-type technology.

Q: Rusell McLean came up with the following question: What defines a private eye (or a son of spade) for you?
It can't be an amateur crime solver. A PI is someone who either has a professional background in solving crimes (i.e. a former detective or cop), or gets paid for investigating (for example, a lawyer could function as a PI).

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?

Water has a strong emotional pull for me. I used to sail and swim competitively, and I've always harbored a great fear of drowning. The summer I started writing DARK WATERS, I spent a lot of time at Harvard University. Harvard is located on the banks of the Charles River. Jogging along the Charles at dawn and seeing the river on a daily basis served as inspiration for DARK WATERS. I liked the idea of finding a dead body by the water's edge, and I wanted the novel's main victim to have drowned, making it ambiguous whether his death was accidental or a homicide.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly) by Michael Harvey

This novel starts out like so many PI novels do. Michael Kelly is hired by his former partner to look into a cold case, a rape. Kelly’s got all the popular cliché attributes of a PI: the bottle in the drawer, the tragic past, he’s an ex-cop and used to be a boxer. He is intellectual enough to read Greek classics and has a best female friend who’s a forensic expert (like Leo Waterman, H.D. Denton and even Noah Milano have). So I was expecting a good ride but nothing special. I was wrong.
The prose is just fantastic. It’s witty, dry and stripped down to it’s basics, making it an easy but very enjoyable read.
The story has a lot of twists and turns and writer Michael Harvey uses his knowledge gained from working on the TV-show Cold Case Files to great effect, successfully marrying the PI genre with that of the forensic thriller. This marriage might be the way to go to keep the genre fresh and popular with a larger audience.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole) by Robert Crais

The World’s Greatest Detective, Elvis Cole is back!
The dead body turns up of a man who was suspected of several killings. Years ago Elvis managed to prove his innocence. With the body pictures are found of the victims, giving the impression he was guilty after all. This gives Elvis a personal reason to investigate, clashing not only with several cops who hate his guts but also with the family of one of the victims.
There’s one chapter told from the perspective of the star of Demolition Angel, now a regular in the Cole-series, Starkey. Although I enjoyed it seemed a bit out of place and I’m guessing that if Robert Crais wasn’t a superstar writer and editor would’ve asked him to cut the scene. All other chapters are from Cole’s perspective, giving the novel more of the feel of the older Cole novels.
There are several plot twists and the pacing is quite okay for the most part. The ending left me a bit wanting though. It seemed to come too sudden and too easy.
So, as a final verdict: not as good as Crais can be, but still a good read.

Q & A with Russel D. McLean

Q: What makes McNee different from other (unofficial) PIs?
I think probably the fact that he is Scots helps a lot, and not in a cliched, "och aye" kind of way, but in a way I think reflects us as a nation - dogged and determined and yet weighed down with a kind of guilt that is inherent in our country's psyche.

Q: You published a lot of short stories in AHMM which I heard is pretty hard. How did you manage that?
I wish I could tell you, but honestly I don't know! I guess it was luck and perseverance more than anything. And paying attention to criticisms about my writing until it was the best I could possibly make it. But mostly it was a case of not giving up - - they rejected far more stories than they have ever accepted.

Q: What would a soundtrack to you novel sound like?
Probably a heady mix of Tom Waits, Jim White and Nick Cave with Bob Dylan and Alabama 3 thrown in for some good measure. Not exactly what you'd call a Scots soundtrack, but in terms of mood, these guys were all on the playlist while I was writing the sucker.

Q: What's next for you and McNee?
A second novel, LOST SISTER, which has already been bought by Thomas Dunne in the US and is waiting for a UK deal. While I don't like to talk too much about something until its finally complete, the plot centres on McNee's attempts to find a missing teenage girl. Of course, as we all know by now, nothing's ever that simple...

Q: How do you promote your books?
I wish I had a plan... but I try whatever works. So far its been done on instinct - - doing interviews, reviews, meeting booksellers, attending cons (the ones where the readers go) and the occasional bookstore signing etc. A good website doesn't hurt, and when its finished, should be looking very nice indeed. In the meantime, its got a nice design and all the info you need while my blog, continues to provide news and the occasional silly diversion.

Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?
I came up reading Block's Matt Scudder series, so he counts. I came late to Ross McDonald (someone saw paralells in some of my work, so I had to seek him out) but I love the Lew Archer novels. Then we've got Easy Rawlins - Mosely is possibly one of the finest writers out there - - and And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective or Ken Bruen's brutally brilliant Jack Taylor novels. And finally, a hat tip for the future is Sean Chercover's Ray Dudgeon who, if there's any justice, is going to be around for a very long time.

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 and in what way?
I think Hammett and Chandler will remain influences; there's a reason their books endure even now. Ross McDonald, if there's any justice, will have a resurgence (and if not, then guys like me will keep discovering second hand editions). Its hard to say until someone's had a good enough run at it. Damn good writing is what influences, and clearly we're seeing Bruen as the writer other crime writers tend to read at the moment, so I'd say he's a safe bet. And Lawrence Block's Scudder books are a master class in both respecting PI conventions and turning them on their head (although he inadvertently may have created some new conventions, too, that someone else will have to shatter someday). As to the current crop, I think here are some people who have staying power, but in the end, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Q: David Levien came up with the following question: What was your first dose of the genre?
Technically, when I grew up, the first PI novels I remember reading when I was more mature (ie, sixteen or seventeen) was Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder books (I think the first one I read was A LONG LINE OF DEAD MEN). But when I was much younger, I got a huge kick out of Alfred Hitchcock's Three Investigator series and Anthomy Horrowitz's first three Diamond Brothers novels (THE FALCON'S MALTESERS, PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER 2 and SOUTH BY SOUTHEAST - what fantastic titles!)

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
What defines a private eye (or a son of spade) for you?

For me, I think its that White Knight syndrome thing that does it every time. The private investigator of fiction should have his own moral (or amoral) agenda that he relentlessly pursues. It doesn't have to be a conventional moral agenda, but its this pursuit for their own ideal of justice that often defines an investigator for me as a reader.

Or if that's been asked:

Everyone talks about getting rid of cliches from the genre... which one would you most like to save?

To which I'd say... Probably that bottle of borboun in the drawer. I have a weakness for the alcoholic/addictive screw ups of the genre. The Matt Scudders and the Jack Taylors. Yeah, if we had to save a cliche, lets make it the booze. At least it keeps things interesting for the protagonist.

An ironic thing to want to save, of course, considering McNee has no trouble with alcohol at all!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Fourth Victim (Healy & Serpe) by Tony Spinosa

With this novel Reed Farrel Coleman shows us why he received a Shamus Award for the work under his own name. The Fourth Victim is the second novel under his pseudonym Tony Spinosa.
Healy and Serpe, the ex-cops who now own an oil business investigate the death of another ex-cop in the same business. What seems to be a simple string of robbery-related killings turns out to be something a lot more complicated.
What makes this such a wonderful novel is the sheer hardboiledness of it all. From the writing itself to the attitude of the main characters there’s a very blue collar, white-knuckled feel about it. Also, where most crime writers seem to need 400+ pages to tell their story Tony / Reed manages to give us a full-fleshed narrative with twists and turns, action and good characterization in little more than 200 pages.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some credit where it's more than due

It seems I forgot to give an important person and site the credit it deserves. The description used in the back cover of Tough As Leather is based on a description of the character of Noah Milano by Kevin Burton Smith, head honcho of the Thrilling Detective website,

It was on that site the first Noah Milano short story appeared and the same site that introduced me to a lot of the great writers who offered the forewords in the collection.

If you like PI-fiction be sure to visit the site today, there's a great new issue online.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tough As Leather is OUT NOW

It’s finally available: TOUGH AS LEATHER – The Noah Milano Collection by Jochem Vandersteen, webmaster of

NOAH MILANO is a Los Angeles security specialist who's not afraid to get a little action in. And who has more than a few "family" problems. Because, in his case, his family is "the family."You see, he's the estranged son of a mobster and this, as his creator puts it, "creates a big deal of tension and more than a few problems." Fiercely independent, and determined to sever all ties with his past, Noah has to adjust from being a spoiled mobster son to being an independent operator with little money. Fortunately he's learned a great deal about security from his years as his dad's personal bodyguard. Perhaps in penance, he now uses these skills to earn an honest (well, relatively) living.
- As described by Kevin Burton Smith on

In this collection all of his short stories are collected in one handy volume, featuring introductions by great PI writers like: Lori B. Armstrong, Les Roberts, Robert J. Randisi, Dave White, Wayne D. Dundee, Mark Coggins, Ace Atkins and Sean Chercover.

Praise for the Noah Milano short stories:

‘’Noah Milano character rings completely true as a tough, lone-wolf private eye.’’ - Jeremiah Healy author of Turnabout and The Only Good Lawyer

“Terrific stuff.’’ - Lori G. Armstrong, author of Snowblind

'Noah Milano walks in the footsteps of the great P.I,.'s, but leaves his own tracks." - Robert J. Randisi, founder of PWA and The Shamus Award

Jochem's deep and abiding love for classic pulp fiction comes through on every page, and his stories continue the time-honored tradition of the hardboiled American PI." -Sean Chercover, author of Trigger City.

The book is available via:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Greasing the Pinata (Cape Weathers) by Tim Maleeny

Cape Weathers and his sidekick Sally are back! That means lots of witty banter, colorful characters, almost pulp-style action and a good ride.
Cape is hired to find a former senator and his son in Mexico. Not only will ha have to face the mob and Mexican thugs in his investigation but also a very bizarre almost vampire-like killer called Priest. Good thing he can count on his ninja friend Sally to save his ass.
An enjoyable adventure once again, although even more over the top than the first two novels.

Q & A with David Levien

Q: What makes Frank Behr different from other (unofficial) PIs?
He's flawed, taciturn, has a shattering event in his past that shaped him, he is reluctant to use violence, but ultimately qualified to do so and willing to beat information out of someone if he has to, and is dogged to the point of near obsession once he has his hooks into a case. These are qualities perhaps shared by some other fictional PIs. The main individualizing character marker for Behr is: he is aware of and isn't immune to the emotional residue of the crimes he encounters, and the actions he takes while trying to solve them. He knows intimately the cost of his life and career, but does what he has to anyway.

Q: What do you enjoy more, writing novels or screenplays?
Writing novels has always been a passion of mine, and a large part of what I do. Some stories are best told as movies, some best when they begin as a book and end up on film, some just as books. Writing a screenplay is creating a blueprint for a future work. While the screenwriter does need to take a reader on an emotional journey, he often indicates use of music, a sense of editing, and mainly a visual template for the way the story will ultimately be told on film. With a novel the entire experience has to be created on the page in its finished form. The reader has to be engaged, kept, taken for the ride and left satisfied. This puts a lot more pressure on the detail in the writing. On the other hand, the novelist is able to use interior monologue to get at the characters' inner voices and states of mind in a way that is not usually possible in screenplays. I suppose I more enjoy whichever one I'm not doing at the moment.

Q: How did you get published?
Several years back I got a screenwriting job on the film adaptation of "The Runaway Jury" by John Grisham. It was a project that a lot of money had been invested in and which had stalled for various reasons. The draft that me, and my screenwriting partner Brian Koppelman, wrote got the project rolling and produced. The movie turned out quite well, our script was nominated for an Edgar for best adaptation, and importantly won the favor of John Grisham. We got to know John a bit, did a television pilot of "The Street Lawyer," and began spending a lot of time with John's longtime agent David Gernert. Gernert had run Doubleday and launched Grisham's career with The Firm. When I had finished a draft of City of the Sun, I submitted it to Gernert. He told me he loved thrillers and would consider the manuscript as long as whatever results, or lack thereof, wouldn't affect our friendship. I agreed, and he became the first big fan of the book. He submitted it to various publishers, and got multiple offers, but ultimately Jason Kaufman at Doubleday was the most effusive so we landed there. They were terrifically supportive as a publishing company, and now that Random House has closed the Doubleday imprint, I will move with Jason to Knopf for publication of the sequel.

Q: What's next for you and Frank Behr?
Frank Behr will be back in Indianapolis as of Summer 2009, in WHERE THE DEAD LAY. On his way to morning jiu jitsu training, Behr discovers his friend and instructor shotgunned to death. Behr gets caught up in the pursuit of the killers, just as his old boss, police Captain Pomeroy, comes to him with the veiled promise of getting back on the force if he'll look into the disappearance of some high-end private detectives. Behr must call on his street contacts and all his skills as the search for the two detectives thrusts him into a web of crime, violence, corruption and evil. Rather than leading him away from answers in his friend's murder, Behr uncovers a possible sinister connection that places him in the path of a formidable, new type of organized crime family.

Q: How do you promote your books?
I do interviews--television, radio, print, internet--as well as readings and appearances. I'll be at the Harrogate Crime Festival in England this summer. I'll do pretty much anything, hell even ladies' teas and renaissance fairs, to make readers aware of my books as long as there is some willingness out there.

Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?
Though he's known mostly as a literary novelist, I have to say Cormac McCarthy. His crime writing, No Country For Old Men, for instance, and his understanding of human behavior, and use of the language, most recently in The Road, has taken things to a new level.

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 and in what way?
Lawrence Block, who is now an old pro, for his no-nonsense style, his consistency, and his skillful writing. Michael Connelly for his veracity both in the practical sense, and in regard to character. Kem Nunn for his gravitas and sense of milieu. George Pelecanos, for being willing to go convincingly lo-fi, and who writes both great novels and great scripts ("The Wire"). And James Ellroy for his audacity and his amazing take on history and the motivations of human beings.

Q: Jeri Westerton came up with the following question: What sort of experience do you have that informs the subject you write about?
I first began following disappearance stories about 20 years ago. Countless newspaper articles true crime shows, Bill Curtis shows, John Walsh's story, investigative reports, etc. of child abductions have haunted me since then. The specific details fell away, but horrifying tragedies like these striking in seemingly bucolic settings where children and their families are unguarded, made the story of Jaime Gabriel one I had to tell.

I have a stepfather who had a very decorated career in law enforcement--he was LAPD and U.S. Secret Service--before going on to private investigation for several decades. He worked some kidnapping cases, and while there were no elements particularly similar to my book, his accounts further fueled my fascination.

Through my screenwriting career I have also spent lots of time with high-end private investigators and law enforcement ranging from DEA to ex-CIA, FBI and countless NYPD officers and detectives. These sources were invaluable in writing about Frank Behr.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
What is your writing practice? I write in the mornings, mostly on a MacBook Pro, sometimes by hand, and get a lot done on the train from my home in Connecticut on the way to my office in New York City. Fridays at my town library are very productive as well.

If that one has already been done, then:
What was your first dose of the genre? Mine was Mickey Spillanes' I The Jury. The combination of violence, sex and atmosphere blew my ten year-old mind.