Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dead Men's Harvest (Joe Hunter) by Matt Hilton

If you've been reading my blog you know I'm a fan of Harboiled Collective member Matt Hilton's Joe Hunter series. That means I'm excited about the sixth novel in the series that has links to the first Hunter novel and the villain that was featured there, the sinister Harvestman: Dead Man's Harvest.
Just click here for more about Hunter and Hilton.

Q & A with Brett Battles

I interviewd Brett Battles, author of the Logan Harper series (among others). He's been a big influence on my Mike Dalmas stories.

Q: What makes Logan Harper different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Logan's a former soldier who, in an effort to piece his life back together after the death of his friend, has moved back to his hometown to work in his father's auto shop. He has a strong moral center that makes it hard, if not impossible, for him to ignore the wrongs done to others.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I wanted to create someone who was different for the character Jonathan Quinn in my successful Cleaner series. Quinn operates in the world of espionage, has money and access to a lot of tech. I wanted Logan to be an everyday man who didn¹t have those aids, and who lived in the regular world. While he does have talents because of his military background, he¹s not a rich man, and whatever else he needs to solve a problem has to be pulled together from what sources are available.

Q: What's next for you and Logan?
I just released the second Logan book, EVERY PRECIOUS THING, and am starting to work on the plot for the third. It¹s a little early to say where that one's going yet. Hoping to release it sometime next summer.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I try to maintain a good web presence, mainly through Facebook and Twitter.I also do guess blog posts, and will be joining a group blog focused onmiddle-school and YA thrillers early next year. I do attend a few conferences also, and any time I have news (about every other month) I sendout a newsletter. You can sign up for that here.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I¹m a big fan of both of your examples. My only caution on psychotic sidekicks is that they shouldn't be crazy just for the sake of being different. That bugs me. Give me a plausible reason for their uniqueness and why they are friends with the hero, and I'm fine.

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influencedby Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you thinkwill influence the coming generation?
Wow...there are just so many to choose from. One of my favorite PI writerstoday is Sean Chercover. He is simply fantastic. Also, and this is more onthe amateur PI side, I would hope that Tim Hallinan would be a big future influence. You can't go wrong with either of those guys. I love everything they write.

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?In my mind, it's the characters. While each story in a series has it's own arc, there is a grander arc that covers the entire series. My characters continue to change both their relationships with each other and as individuals. If that's not happening, you end up writing the same book over and over, and that will quickly run out of steam. I do believe every series has a limit, though. Hopefully, in my case, I'll recognize it before I accidently go passed it.

My appearances on other sites

This week I write about novelettes at Michael Haskins' blog, am being interviewed at Ebookery and have a short story out at Powderburn Flash, featuring The Innocence Man, a college professor getting innocent people out of jail.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great article about PI fiction

You just have to read this article article that interviews many of my favorite writers about Robert B. Parker and his influence on the genre.

Kiss Her Goodbye (Mike Hammer) by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

After a repose in Florida, recovering from a gunfight with mobsters the Legend returns to New York... Mike Hammer investigates the supposed suicide of his old police chief and soon he's up to his porkpie hat in gangsters and dolls. He visits an exclusive gun club as well as an exclusive disco. He encounters a strong woman who still doesn't stand a chance against his charms. There's a very violent gunfight that proves Hammer doesn't need a psycho sidekick like Elvis Cole and Spenser do, because he IS the psycho sidekick AND detective.
There's a strong subplot about how Hammer seems to have mellowed and aged and him proving everyone wrong and the love he feels for his old partner, Velda.
Max, from an unfinished manuscript by Hammer's creator Spillane, manages to write in Spillane's voice again and the pulpy sex and violence is just incredibly entertaining to read. A big middle-finger to literary thrillers and a big homage to the hardboiled pulp that makes the genre great.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Survivor's Affair (John Logan) by Rick Nichols

A phone call by the daughter of his old mentor lands ex-spy John Logan in the middle of a murder investigation. Trying to prove the daughter's innocense brings him into conflict with several professional hitmen.
When it turns out his old spy-buddies are getting killed as well he enlists the aid of the survivors of his unit to find out who's killing them.
More of an action thriller than mystery, this one will appeal to fans of David Baldacci and Eric van Lustbader.
It's a fast-paced ride and John Logan is a larger-than-life action hero with heart.

Act of Deceit (Harlan Donnally) by Steven Gore

Steven Gore introduces us to a new series character, Harlan Donnally, in his third novel. Asked to track down the sister of an old friend he finds out she was murdered by a psychopath... or was she? He uncovers a vast conspiracy linked to sexual abuse by the church and potgrowers.
Flirting with the psychological and legal thrillers at the start, this exciting novel ends up in Lee Child territory in the last chapters.
Steven Gore writes an engaging mystery with a large amount of twists, great investigative details and a broad canvas of places and concepts.
Donnally is a classic tough guy character but written in a believable manner. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Felony Fists (Fight Card) by Jack Tunny

When a Harboiled Collective member has a new book out you just know it's going to be great... This one is no exception...
It's an entry in the The Fight Card series, inspired by the boxing/fight stories in the sports pulps from the '30s and '40s, such as Fight Stories Magazine and Knockout Magazine as well as the Sailor Steve Costigan tales from Robert E. Howard.
It's a nice, fast and atmospheric pulpy read by Paul Bishop writing as Jack Tunny. There's more in this series coming up, written by Eric Beetner and Bob Randisi.
Here's the details:

FELONY FISTS by Paul Bishop

Los Angeles 1954

Patrick “Felony” Flynn has been fighting all his life. Learning the “sweet science” from Father Tim the fighting priest at St. Vincent’s, the Chicago orphanage where Pat and his older brother Mickey were raised, Pat has battled his way around the world – first with the Navy and now with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Legendary LAPD chief William Parker is on a rampage to clean up both the department and the city. His elite crew of detectives known as The Hat Squad is his blunt instrument – dedicated, honest, and fearless. Promotion from patrol to detective is Pat’s goal, but he also yearns to be one of the elite.

And his fists are going to give him the chance.

Gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA’s rackets, and murderous heavyweight Solomon King is Cohen’s key to taking over the fight game. Chief Parker wants wants Patrick “Felony” Flynn to stop him – a tall order for middleweight ship’s champion with no professional record.

Leading with his chin, and with his partner, LA’s first black detective Tombstone Jones, covering his back, Patrick Flynn and his Felony Fists are about to fight for his future, the future of the department, and the future of Los Angeles.

Go buy it over here

Free Range Institution (Mad Mick Murphy) by Michael Haskins

Key West's hardboiled reporter is back in action... and I do mean action!
In this very action-packed tale we follow Mad Mick Murphy's investigation into the death of a friend that falls from a building. He becomes embroiled into the fight against Columbian drug traffickers.
Obviously well-researched, full of details about the location this reads like a visit to another, very interesting world with Murphy as a tour guide. At times Murphy seems to be a bit of a by-stander as Feds take action against the bad guys, but hey, he's a reporter, right? Murhphy makes up for it in the thrilling last chapters.
There's an interesting supernatural element in the character of Padre Thomas, who might or not be an angel. It reminded me of early John Connolly before he went a bit overboard with the supernatural elements and of James Lee Burke's use of the supernatural.
All in all a good, fast-paced read.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Q & A with Chester Campbell

Here's an interview with Hardboiled Collective member Chester Campbell...

Q: What makes Sid Chance different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Sid Chance’s motivation lies in the belief that his efforts can have a major effect on righting the wrongs done to his clients, situations such as the one he found himself caught in before becoming a PI. After nineteen years as a National Park ranger, he enjoyed his position as police chief in a small town south of Nashville. Until an unsavory sheriff fell for a drug dealer’s ruse to falsely accuse him of bribery. Though ultimately absolved of guilt, he felt too tarnished to remain in the town and totally fed up with the ways of flawed humanity. After three years of self-imposed exile in a hillside cabin, he came back home to Nashville to take on the bad guys.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I had been writing a husband and wife PI team who are, as one reviewer put it, “like the people next door.” I wanted a more hard-edged story so turned to a big, impressive guy (he’s six-six and wears a black beard). He had served with Army Special Forces in Vietnam, then further developed his rugged image in the wilds of national parks. To give him a little additional quirk, I named him Sidney Lanier Chance, after the nineteenth century Southern poet who had some career similarities.

Q: What's next for you and Sid?
I’m sure he’ll come up with another exciting adventure. My next book will be number six in the Greg McKenzie series, then it’ll be Sid’s turn again. I don’t plan ahead, so each new book gets a fresh plot search.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Every book has a couple of pages on my website ( I have a blog called Mystery Mania, and I blog a couple of times a month on two others, Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery. I also post on Facebook and occasionally on Goodreads. I attend a few conferences each year and do several book fairs. I do occasional interviews like this one and post on listserves such as DorothyL, the granddaddy (or grandma) of mystery lists. I also stay on the lookout for ways to push my name out there.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I find them a bit implausible but enjoy reading about them. I gave Sid Chance an unusual sidekick in Jasmine (Jaz) LeMieux. Her father was a French Canadian who came to Nashville after the Korean War and established a national chain of travel centers. Jaz was disowned by her aristocratic mother after dropping out of college and joining the Air Force. She then became a champion woman boxer and finally a Metro Nashville cop. After her mother’s death, she returned to good graces with her father and inherited controlling interest in the business. Serving as chairman of the board without an active role in day-to-day operations, she has time to assist Sid in tough cases like the one in The Good, The Bad and the Murderous.

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 haven’t read enough of the newer crop to hazard an informed guess, but Robert Crais seems to be holding up well at the present.

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?
I think the key is to come up with fresh, interesting characters in each outing. That and finding unusual cases to keep the reader intrigued. I like to weave in subplots that wind their way back into the main story.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Would your PI commit an obvious breach of the law to solve a case? My answer: Yes, if it was a technical violation and the circumstances warranted it. But if it involved a felonious act, he’d look for a way to get around it. Real PIs avoid actions that would jeopardize their licenses.