Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Double-D Doublecross (Butch Fatale) by Christa Faust

Loyal visitors to my blog know that every year I pick out my favorites in PI fiction of the last year. It just might be the case my Favorite New PI is already known... Butch Fatale rocks!
Roberta "Butch Fatale" is a lesbian Mike Hammer / Shell Scott... In fact, she has sex with more women in this novel than Hammer, Scott and Travis McGee combined!
Butch is hired to track down the missing girlfriend of a woman called Mickey. Soon she gets to tangle with the Armenian mob and a beautiful killer.
There's a lot in this book to enjoy: Armenian gangsters, hot killers, lots of well-figured babes, car chases and nude skateboarding (no, really!). Oh, and quite a lot of graphic sex. If you're bothered by that kind of thing just skip those scenes... There's a good, pulpy PI story between those (by the way, well-written and hot) scenes. The writing is very tight and clean. Butch is a tough girl with a good heart you will get to like for sure.
I really enjoyed the LA setting and fast-paced plot.
I hope to see more of Butch Fatale soon.

Q & A with Dale T. Philips

I interviewed Dale T. Philips, author of several cool genres and the Zack Taylor series.

Q: What makes Zack Taylor different from other (unofficial) PIs?Zack hates guns and doesn't use them, but goes up against people who do use them. That puts him at a decided disadvantage from the start. He has to use his wits and physical skills to get out of trouble, but there's a cost. His anger has even caused him some jail time in the past.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I had a story idea which grew. I love the works of John D. MacDonald, especially the Travis McGee series, and wanted a sort of influenced hommage, with an amateur hero, a flawed man, who helps others and grows in the process. Travis didn't normally carry a gun, either, and it makes for a much more interesting and lifelike narrative.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole ebook revolution?
This is marvelous, and the best time to be a writer. I've been able to put out five good story collections (and individual stories) in the last three months, with many more books forthcoming. It allows writers to reach new audiences around the world, without needing a big publishing house or a lot of money for promotion.

Q: What's next for you and Zack?
Book #3 of the series, A Shadow on the Wall, needs to get completed (will be out later this year), and then on to book #4, A Certain Slant of Light. Then more to follow.

Q: How do you promote your work?
In as many ways as possible and practicable. Television, radio, social media, email, in-person events, drop-ins to libraries and bookstores, and simply talking to people.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
Fantasy, humor, science fiction, magical realism, mainstream. You can see how these all blend in my latest story collection, Jumble Sale, which has a bit of all of that.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Actually, I'm developing this as a theme for a non-fiction study of the Private Eye genre. One of the chapters would be an in-depth study of the psychotic sidekick. They're interesting and fun, but they're too convenient to be realistic for the protagonist. In the real world, psychotic killers don't usually hang out with good guys. Zack doesn't have a psycho sidekick, which would sure come in handy at times-- but he's got to do all the hard work.

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?
Tastes change, and I can't say who will be in fashion for the next wave.

Q: Mike Dennis came up with the following question: What criteria did you use to choose the setting for your PI?
Easy one-- I grew up in Maine, and love it, and wanted to showcase the unique stories that come from there. It presents a different set of challenges for a mystery-- low population and crime rate, and vastly different from those mysteries set in New York, L.A, or Chicago. When Zack goes to Maine to solve the death of his friend, he's an absolute fish out of water. But he finds a measure of peace there, and learns to heal his tortured soul.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Apart from entertainment, and catching some criminals, what is in your story that matters?
For my series, it's how to live with past tragedies and bad decisions that we've made. How to deal with difficult moral choices and be a good person, despite our flaws. How to go on living with the pain we bear.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Party Doll (Bubba Mabry) by Steve Brewer

Steve Brewer proves you don't need 300 pages to write a solid PI mystery with this cool novella. Hired to track down a missing stripper PI Bubba Mabry gets involved in a case related to the one his reporter wife is busy on.
There's a lot to chuckle about, since Steve / Bubba is a very funny narrator but the mystery is interesting enough and the action furious enough to make this a good hardboiled mystery.
Welcome back, Bubba!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Q & A with Philip Thomas Duck

I interviewd Philip Thomas Duck, author of the new Shell series...

Q: What makes Shell different from other (unofficial) PIs?
There are elements to Shell that will be familiar to fans of crime fiction. I'm not ashamed to admit that Lee Child, Walter Mosley, John D. MacDonald, and James Lee Burke are great influences on my writing. If you look closely you can find shades of these great authors' series characters in Shell. But what makes Shell stand out the most, I believe, is the mystery that surrounds him. For example, I'm not even sure what his ethnic background is.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
See my answer above. First and foremost, I'm a reader. My shelves are loaded with books from the authors I mentioned and countless others. In creating Shell, my sole aim was to imagine the type of character I would want to read.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole ebook revolution?
I think the ebook revolution is fantastic. I've been traditionally published since 2005, and by and large my experiences have been fine and likely typical. However, with the present ebook revolution, I've been afforded more freedom than ever before. I've always had my own ideas about the covers of my books, the blurbs written to describe them, their marketing, etc., and now I'm able to see my ideas from thought to conception.

Q: What's next for you and Shell?
I'm working on a new Shell novel that I hope to have completed by this summer.

Q: How do you promote your work?
The usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook, my blog, the occasional contest, interviews.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I've always been an eclectic reader, but I must admit my tendencies lie primarily in crime fiction. One of my greatest joys is discovering a new author writing about the darker side of life.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Hawk and Joe Pike are two of the best. I think if done well the sidekick can steal the show from the hero. My posture improves quite a bit the moment Cletus Purcel steps on stage in a Dave Robicheaux novel.

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?
George Pelecanos, Ace Atkins, Daniel Woodrell, Jonathan Kellerman, the writers I mentioned earlier in the interview. The list goes on and on. There are some terrific authors writing today.

Q: Mike Dennis came up with the following question: What criteria did you use to choose the setting for your PI?
Someone once said, "Write what you know." I chose a setting with which I was intimately familiar.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
If you had to hire a fictional PI or someone of that ilk to work a life-or-death case for you, who would you hire?
I was an Easy Rawlins devotee, and hated to see the series end. I thought Mosley had made a grave error, but then he followed that acclaimed series with the introduction of Leonid McGill. McGill is fantastic. He'd get my money in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Q & A with Steve Brewer

It's cool Steve Brewer has found the way to ebooks, because it means Bubba Mabry returns... I interviewed this writer of funny crime novels.

Q: What makes Bubba Mabry different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Most private eyes are depicted as being extremely competent. Bubba's a bumbler, regularly getting beat up by bad guys and fired by his clients. All too often, he discovers that he was only hired a dupe or as cover for some nefarious doings by his client. But he does have his pride, and that's what usually drives him to the solution of the mystery. I work within the confines of the usual private eye traditions and tropes, but I'm really writing comedy.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
Years ago, when I was still a newspaper reporter, I did an article about the old motels along Central Avenue in Albuquerque, NM. Central Avenue had been Route 66, the main road across the Southwest before the interstate highways came along, and the old motels that once catered to tourists and travelers had become residences for hookers and dope dealers and the like. I started thinking about what kind of private eye might live down there among those folks, and the answer came back: Not a very successful private eye. So I started thinking about a P.I. who's just not very good at his job, one who's easily fooled and who's not very tough.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole ebook revolution?
I love it. I've acquired the electronic rights to my entire backlist of 17 books and self-published them as e-books. And I've published five crime books directly to e-books, including PARTY DOLL, the new Bubba Mabry novella. I can sell e-books for $1.99 or $2.99 and make as much profit as I would on paperbacks/hardcovers, respectively. I still circulate manuscripts around NY (my agent is shopping one right now), but I no longer worry about rejections. I can write the book I want to write, and if nobody wants to publish it, I can take it directly to the readers. That freedom is refreshing after two decades of worrying about getting published.

Q: What's next for you and Bubba?
I've been doing standalones like LOST VEGAS, THE BIG WINK and CALABAMA the past few years, so it was nice to come back to Bubba and give him a ninth outing with PARTY DOLL. I'm taking a little break at the moment, but will write a non-Bubba crime novel next. I'm sure I'll come back to Bubba before long. He and I have a long history (the first one in the series, LONELY STREET, came out 18 years ago!), and I enjoy writing about him and his wife, newspaper reporter Felicia Quattlebaum.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Mostly on Facebook and Twitter these days, though I do love to go to mystery conferences, especially Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon. Don't do book tours anymore, partly because they're expensive and partly because it's been years since my last book-on-paper, CUTTHROAT, hit the stores. (My last publisher eliminated its mystery line not long after CUTTHROAT came out.) It's all about e-books for the moment, and social media seems the way to go.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I've been reading a lot of what's called "transgressive literature," though I hate that term: Daniel Woodrell, Denis Johnson, Donald Ray Pollock, Larry Brown and Frank Bill, among others. Many of them are still crime stories, but there's something more there, too. I'd like to try my hand at that hard-boiled style, but my readers seem to prefer my funny stuff.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I love those guys, especially Pike and Harlan Coben's Win, but it feels like it's been done a lot. Bubba's wife, Felicia, sort of fills that role in my series: She's tough and dogged and often ends up writing newspaper stories about the people involved in Bubba's investigations, though Bubba would prefer that she stop that.

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?
If the coming generation is smart, they'll pay attention to all those guys, especially Hammett. I teach crime fiction classes at the University of New Mexico, so I get to read the old guys over and over. Hard to beat 'em. Current authors like Reed Farrel Coleman and George Pelecanos are taking private eye fiction in new directions, and they'll be emulated in the future.

Q: Mike Dennis came up with the following question: What criteria did you use to choose the setting for your PI?
In the case of the Bubba books, the setting sort of chose me. I was working as a reporter in Albuquerque, and those old Route 66 motels really did kick off the series. With my other books, I tend to set them in places where I live or have spent a lot of time: New Mexico, Northern California, Las Vegas. I like to feel that I really know a place before I use it in books.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Why write private eyes at all? Aren't they sort of anachronistic in this age of electronic snooping?
I write a private eye series because I love the form -- the outsider prowling the mean streets -- and I think there's a place for those heroes in crime literature, even if my series tends toward tongue-in-cheek humor. It's getting harder to make them relevant (database searches just aren't that interesting), but creative authors will keep finding ways to use private eyes.

Ash Wednesday (Burleigh Drummond) by Kent Westmoreland

Burleigh Drummond is an interesting character. He's not an unofficial PI, more of a fixer for the New Orleans wealthy. He doesn't carry a gun, but he's not afraid to throw some punches and blackmail people as shown in this cool short story that serves as a great way to get to know this character.
The Kindle version offers two version: one ''clean'' version that appeared on the always fantastic Thrilling Detective site and a version that appeared in an erotic anthology that will make your pulse pound. Choose whichever version you want, they both offer the same good story.
In a Cinderella retelling Drummond sets off to return a purse to a beautiful young woman and uncovers dirty secrets.
The dialogue flows nicely, plotting is suitably fast-paced and the New Orleans setting interesting.
Pretty good! Get it here.

A Drop Of The Hard Stuff (Matt Scudder) Lawrence Block

It shouldn't be a secret to fans of PI fictions that Lawrence Block is a master craftsman of the genre. His return to fan favorite Matt Scudder should be reason to celebrate, and is.
Because Scudder was starting to get a bit too old for his adventures and his life seemed to become somewhat too mellow in the last few outings it became harder for him to star in the hardboiled tales we crave. In a brilliant move of telling a story in the gap in Scudder's history he didn't tell us about before Block manages to bring Scudder back to his old glory.
Still working as an unlicensed PI, living in a hotel, Scudder is determined to find out who killed his boyhood friend Jack. Jack, a fellow alcoholic has made up a list of amends to make. Because Jack lived his life as a criminal there's a lot of people who might have problems with the list, sending Scudder on a mission through New York, knocking on doors and asking questions. It's a great plot for Block to show off what he does best: offer interesting back stories and great, great dialogue.
There's still a lot of unknown years to cover for Block... Let's hope he does!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Little Girl Gone (Logan Harper) by Brett Battles

Auto mechanic and ex-soldier Logan Harper gets involved in the kidnapping of a Burmese girl when he rushes to the aid of the owner of a local coffee place.
Soon he travels from LA to Thailand, doing everything he can to free her, even if he has to face the nightmares that plague him, even if he has to put his life on the line and even if he has to kill for it.
The plot is action-packed, it includes car- and boatchases, unarmed combat and more.
Logan is a capable, but human hero. Nowhere near the superman Jack Reacher is, though this novel is sure to appeal to Lee Child fans.
Brett has really started a great new series with this one and I'll be sure to read the second.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New cover Alabaster-Skinned Mule

After some comments from readers I decided to change the cover to The Alabaster-Skinned Mule. What do you all think?

And don't forget, it offers a great Noah Milano story...
A pretty young girl is used as a mule, smuggling drugs for Mexican druglords. She gets rid of the drugs, but the druglords want it back, prepared to kill for it.
She hires Noah Milano, security specialist and ex-mob fixer to protect her. He ends up putting his dearest friendship and his very life on the line for her.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Temptation Town (Jack Barnett) by Mike Dennis

I'm a big fan of novelettes as ebooks. Mike Dennis shows how much is possible with this format in this one.
Jack Barnett loses his PI license in LA, and fearing criminal prosecution, heads over to Las Vegas.
Over there he is hired to find a missing daughter. He ends up clashing with pimps and encounters his own feelings of guilt.
The story is 12,000 words, nice and short but packs a huge emotional and gritty punch. Who needs a full novel when you can reach so much with a novelette?
This novelette proves Mike Dennis is a crafty writer and a huge asset to the world of PI fiction.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Post: The House of Silk

The new Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk

Any detective fiction buff worth their salt will be familiar with the adventures of Sherlock Holmes outside the current star-studded movie series. And those who’ve read entries in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless series will note a substantially small amount of testosterone-fueled action, but no shortage of quick British wit or clever plot construction. Indeed, in many ways the mysteries of the Sherlock Holmes series set the stage for countless future mystery and detective fiction authors whether or not they realize it. The superhumanly analytic Holmes and his ever-present sidekick Dr. Watson tackled seedy crime rings and uncovered suspicious deaths all over London to the delight of millions of readers, all of whom assumed the adventures ended with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s death in 1930.

But there are more adventures yet. Last year and for the first time ever the Conan Doyle Estate approved the publication of a new Sherlock Holmes work by an author other than Sir Arthur himself. The renowned English hard crime author Anthony Horowitz was allowed to publish the latest installment in the Sherlock Holmes series, known as The House of Silk. While it should be noted that there do exist other Holmes tales outside of those written by Conan Doyle, this work by Horowitz represents the first that is recognized by Conan Doyle’s Estate as befitting of the author’s tone and aesthetic for the series.

What’s it about?
Anthony Horowitz was quite clever with his construction of this novel. Set up in the traditional style of Dr. Watson narrating events of a past case, the introduction sets up a practical reason for the absence of another classic Holmes story in the past hundred years. The contents of “The Case of the Man in the Flat Cap and the House of Silk” involves topic deemed to dangerous to discuss at the time, so Watson instructed his heirs to publish the work a hundred years after his death.

The tale itself is in the same late nineteenth century London setting familiar to diehard Holmes fans. The case in question involves a Mr. Edmund Carstairs, an art dealer who claims to be harassed by a mysterious man in a flat cap. The man is allegedly part of a crime organization that may or may not be behind the loss of several prized paintings in Boston that Mr. Carstairs had intended to sell for a fortune. This simple enough case, of course, is complicated by events not fully realized by Holmes or Watson until much later in the book. The perpetrators behind the piling crimes and conspiracies stretch higher and higher in the hierarchies of London government and society until it’s climactic end, which of course I’ll let you discover on your own.

Is it worth a read?The truth is that The House of Silk is a great novel no matter where your loyalties lie with Sherlock Holmes. Some purist fans won’t give the novel the time of day because of the new authorship, but the writing is so true to form and the story so engrossing that the matter of authenticity is irrelevant. Even if you’re not familiar with crime novels in a Victorian setting, I’d still heartily recommend this book. Anthony Horowitz does Sir Arthur Conan Doyle credit and then some with The House of Silk, and we’re all the luckily beneficiaries of his work.

Byline:This is a guest post from Jacelyn Thomas. Jacelyn writes about identity theft protection for She can be reached at: jacelyn.thomas @

The Last Refuge (Sam Acquillo) by Chris Knopf

To celebrate the fact The Last Refuge by Hardboiled Collective member Chris Knopf is coming out on Kindle, here's a repost of the review I did of the paperback edition...
Sam Acquillo used to be an engineer before he decided to quit the business and his wife left him. Now he lives in his dad's old place in Southampton where he spends the time doing not much besides drinking vodka. When he discovers the dead body of his neighbor, an old lady he sets out to fulfill a role as her administrator but also investigates wether her death was really a natural one.

Chris writes Sam as a very 'real' man and he made me care for the character. That's what he excels in, the original characters and the story of a man who seems to have lost all and chosen to. He also writes pretty witty dialogue although some conversations do seem to take a bit too long. That's also the most important gripe I had with the book. It went on a bit slow for me. As a literary novel it works better almost than as a crime novel.

Good reading if you like something slower and different, skip it if you only read Lee Child, Robert Crais and James Patterson.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Q & A with Mike Dennis

I interviewed Mike Dennis who just published Temptation Town featuring PI Jack Barnett...

Q: What makes Jack Barnett different from other (unofficial) PIs?
He wants out of the business, but keeps getting dragged back into it. After years of being short-tempered, he finally pushed the wrong guy around and wound up losing his license in LA. Fearing criminal prosecution, he split for Las Vegas in the middle of the night to assume a very low profile playing poker in a downscale casino. He's in constant need of money, so when a PI opportunity shows itself, he reluctantly takes it. Off the books, of course.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I had thought about doing a PI series for a long time, but I wanted a character who could stand out in this very inflexible format. A couple of years ago, I saw a YouTube video of a really old TV show called Man Against Crime. It was produced all the way back in the late 1940s and the central character was a PI named Mike Barnett. He always worked alone and he never carried a gun, very much a traditional knight in shining armor. I thought about a series built around Mike Barnett's grandson, only with many flaws. After a couple of false starts, I had Temptation Town. The key was really having Jack Barnett be on the run, constantly afraid of being found by the California authorities.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole ebook revolution?
Ebooks are on their way to taking over the book business, regardless of what New York publishers say. They're pretending ebooks are just another opportunity for them to make money, when they won't allow themselves to see the long-term fatal flaws in their fundamental business model. When the big authors see how much money they're losing by staying with New York, they'll jump ship and New York will painfully make the transition from controlling the book business to controlling the print book business, a much smaller pie. Amazon is the big gun in town right now, and their crafty innovations bring more and more authors into the fold. Apple will probably enter the fray in a more serious fashion, but either way, it means ebooks will be king. It's the tide of history and it cannot be stopped. Cannot even be slowed.

Q: What's next for you and Barnett?
Next up is a short story called Hard Cash. There's a sneak preview of it in the back pages of Temptation Town. After that, I've got a Barnett novel that's in the polishing stages right now. It's called The Downtown Deal. I might add, all these Barnett works are chronological. Temptation Town is set in January, 2002. Hard Cash takes place in February, 2003, and so on. I intend to have Barnett age as the years go on, and the changing face of Las Vegas will be reflected as well.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I have a website, a Facebook page, and I'm all over the blogs. I do interviews like this one and try to get my books reviewed as often as possible on the best websites.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I think it was a good idea at first, but now the psycho-sidekick has become clichéd. It's a good device, because it allows the PI to remain pristine while the sidekick does all the illegal/crazy stuff, but I think it's been somewhat overdone.

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?
Those guys will continue to influence future generations. They set the standard, they created and perfected the genre, and we all follow their lead.

Q: Kent Westmoreland came up with the following question: What hidden secret motivates your PI to become involved in the lives of others?
Back in Barnett's past, there was Lyla. She's a tragic figure from his earlier days (the early 1990s) and is only hinted at in Temptation Town, but she clearly haunts Barnett to this day.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
What criteria did you use to choose the setting for your PI?
In my case, I chose Las Vegas. I could've chosen Key West, since I had lived there for over 15 years right before moving to Las Vegas. But I felt a Key West location would be too confining. It's a small town and I thought the constricting PI format would be difficult to pull off without veering into Margaritaville-type clichés, which I wanted to avoid at all costs. Besides, I already had a Key West series working, Key West Nocturnes, a group of standalone noir novels that reveal that island city as a true noir city.
I had only lived in Las Vegas for about three years when I started to write the series, but I had spent time in the grimy parts of town, far from the luxurious Strip, and I had walked the streets well enough to place Jack Barnett in that atmosphere. Remember, he's not from Las Vegas. He's an outsider, too, so he's constantly uncomfortable. The city is big enough to keep the series fresh for a long time. Not only that, there are a lot of outsiders, trying to get by in that bizarre town, so I felt the vibe was right.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Post: Ebook Possibilities by Michael Haskins

Here's a guest post by my friend and Hardboiled Collective member Michael Haskins. Check out his blog as well.
As the two or three followers of mine who read this know, my newest Mick Murphy Key West Mystery – Stairway to the Bottom – is now available as an eBook and on Amazon as a trade paperback. If I had gone the conventional way and presented it to my publisher it would have been sometime in 2013 before it was available. I wrote Car Was Blues right after Free Range Institution (published Feb. 2011, written in 2009) and it will not be available until Aug. 2012, by my publisher.

Since eBooks begin to make money, or have the possibility to make money, as soon as they become available, logic says go eBook. Small, conventional publishers do little to help the author on book signings, to get exposure on radio or TV, and so forth. From what I’ve heard from a few writers I know who are with the larges house, the support they receive from their publishers is receding too. Of course what we all know is that the publishing world on the ‘90s is gone and reinventing itself in the 2000s.

As a newly published writer (2008) this change has left me in a quandary. Like many wannabe writers, being published was a dream and when it happened, I expected my life to change. In a way it did! I learned that I was not only a writer, but a public relations person, travel agent, and the list continues to grow. Not all the things the larger houses offer a writer are available from the small houses. Maybe that’s why they’re called “smaller publishing houses.”

Nothing will ever match the feeling I had as I opened my box of hardback books and held my first book in my hand. It was something! Or the first time I walked into a bookstore and saw my book on the shelf! Wow! What an ego trip. Too bad, it didn’t go all the way to my bankbook balance.

The eBook revolution came and I have friends who’d never published that are making money; more money than me, a traditionally published writer. My advance, small as it was, went the way of the unicorn as I did my self-arranged book tour and PR.

It didn’t take me long to join the revolution, but I haven’t walked away from my publisher. They have Car Wash Blues and as I begin to rewriter my third, and last of the ‘lost manuscripts,’ they may be offered it when finally done. It’s not a Key West Mick Murphy, but one of the first three I began writing. (If you care to know more about the ‘lost manuscripts’ you can find a story by Shirrel Rhoads from Solares Hill news on my website – – that explains it all).

There is one major downside of eBooks. Many of the awards for books shy away from eBooks. That is slowly changing in both the MWA and ITW. That’s a good thing.

For writers like me with only a few years and/or books it is also unlikely that a major publisher will ever consider anything I writer. I know there are exceptions. But let’s get real, the odds are
against eBook authors ever getting the four or five figure advance from the large publishing houses. Of course, the large houses are growing smaller and even some of their favorite authors have switched sides and come over to the revolution.

I don’t know, on one side I have my ego that is great at remembering the feeling of holding the hardback in my hands and seeing my name on the cover. On the other hand, my banker (not half as exciting as my ego) loves me, as my small balance seems to grow a little each month.

Maybe I’ve not joined the revolution totally. I would like to see the publishing world come into the eBook world and work something out that would benefit writers and publishers. I am losing faith in that possibility as the days go by, especially when you hear of a top selling author leaving his/her publisher and going into the self-publishing eBook world.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guest Post: The Last 8 Great Crime/Noir Novels I've Read by JJ DeCeglie

Jochem has been good enough to invite me to guest blog on the back of the release of my psycho-noir novel “Drawing Dead”.
It got a cracking review over at Spinetingler...Check it out here.

Also these nice little quips to boot:

Drawing Dead is a brilliant noir from one of Australia's most exciting new novelists."

-- Adrian McKinty, author of 'Dead I Well May Be", "Fifty Grand", "Falling Glass" and "The Cold, Cold Ground"

A terrifying portrait of a man destined to lose, Drawing Dead is at once stark and lyrical, with the ghosts of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain whispering all over the pages. Keep an eye out for JJ Deceglie, a stunning new voice in crime fiction.

--Jon Bassoff, publisher of New Pulp Press

“An impressive, memorable voice, with dark echoes of Bruen and Sallis and Ellroy. You won’t soon forget this book.”

--Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime

And remember if you feel it, why not leave a review.

Enough of that though.

I thought what I'd do is share some books with ya, some works that really got me going, books that set me alight and burnt to the bone...I went to the old Moleskin and went through my reading lists. I checked and rechecked carving it down to these eight works that have stuck in my skull.

Works that inspired, delighted, debased and enthralled me.

I read them all in 2011, and have doubled up on a couple of authors (with good cause):

Hard Feelings – Jason Starr
Jason Starr's work, especially those early novels, are benchmark neo-noir nightmares. Starr's stories are dark urban jewels where no one, say again, no one gets off easy, where grit, paranoia and tension build into borderline surreal mayhem. Here we have Richie Segel, a boring IT salesman with marriage problems, on and off alcoholism and a shocking secret in his past that pops up in the present and offers the possibility for brutal sadistic retribution; and of course a lovely little spiral into madness to boot.

Dead I Well May Be – Adrian McKinty
McKinty is a great writer. Equal parts of dark brutality and literate poetics run through all his works. I only found him last year and read almost all his books in one hit. He's that good, a real find. That said, I liked this one the best. We meet Michael Forsythe in New York, a Irish immigrant working for Darkey White. Forsythe is a great creation. A tough, dangerous and intelligent protagonist. This is a brilliant novel from start to finish that takes great unexpected turns, but I especially liked the prison section in Mexico, and the calculation of the revenge exacted post. This guy can write.

Cockfighter – Charles Willeford
Willeford does here for cockfighting what Hemingway did for bullfighting. He captures the art, shape and love of the sport. The appreciation of animals and the men who live the life. The man is an original and writes with a beautiful, distinct voice that draws you into the psyche of the protagonist and his no-holds barred mission to win the Cockfighter of the Year award on the Southern American Cockfighting Circuit. You come away with a thorough understanding and appreciation of the bloody carnage and death of the pit and men who take part in it. A classic by a champion of the genre.

Drive – James Sallis
This is a concise, clear sledgehammer of a book. A lesson in simple existentialism and measurement; LA sunshine noir at its very best. Hard-boiled, tough as nails. The loner making his way in the absurd world. I'm sure you know the plot (due to Refn's excellent film adaptation last year) but I tell you the novel delves deeper and hits harder, grabbing you by the throat and never, never letting go. I was disappointed when it ended, yet impressed with its discipline to do so at that particular moment.

Fake I.D – Jason Starr
The second Starr book on my list, some say this is his finest hour and it's hard to disagree. Tommy Russo is your anti-hero, a struggling actor working as a bouncer at a bar, a completely unreliable narrator, degenerate gambler, philanderer and sociopath. His luck goes from bad to worse and so do his decisions and we get to sit back and enjoy the dark, dark ride...and man is the ending goddamned perfect.

I Spit On Your Graves – Boris Vian
I stumbled across this at second hand bookstore down the street, picked it up and read a section, bought it in an instant and have read it twice since; written by a Caucasian Frenchman (a contemporary of Camus and Sartre) it's the story of a black man who can pass for white. He arrives in a small Southern town in the US and sets about becoming part of the community. The entire time he is plotting revenge for the lynching of his brother. He finds a pair of young, rich beautiful white sisters, seduces them, humiliates them and then kills them, and yet you still kinda like the guy. Violence and sex and horror compellingly dominate this book, it is pulp and yet isn't, you should be disgusted with the narrator yet aren't. It's an anomaly. I have a funny feeling this is some sort of masterpiece.

Zombie – Joyce Carol Oates
This is a serial killer novel, written in a simplistic, chilling diary format that reads very easily and is horrifying at times. It is an extremely realistic look at the mind of a psychopath, nothing is glorified, nothing has the volume turned up for effect. The killer slowly grows in confidence with his hunting, fine-tuning his quest for a zombie of his own (he bungles repeated lobotomy attempts on his victims reading from medical books as he goes). His plots become more elaborate and his need for sex and violence grow. It reads like a case-study. This one stays with you.

Falling Glass – Adrian McKinty
Another cracker from McKinty. Probably my second favourite of his (though I hear the new one “The Cold Cold Ground” ups the ante again). This is a slow-burning, layered story that builds to a fantastic conclusion. Tense, thoughtful, gripping and intelligent.
Killian is the protagonist this time round, world weary, semi-retired enforcer of Pavee stock (Nth. Irish traveller) called on by a filthy rich businessman living in Macau to hunt down his ex-wife and two children. Perhaps three-fifths of the action takes place in Northern Ireland, and its here that McKinty shines telling a story in the land of his birth. Man, he does it again, wonderful language, humour, brutal violence and a fast paced, ripping story. There is more than one scene in this one that stick very clearly in my mind. Including a fantastic finale involving none other than Michael Forysthe himself from the “Dead” Trilogy .

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Q & A with James W. Hall

I was lucky enough to interview the great James W. Hall about his Thorn-series.

Q: What makes Thorn different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Thorn has tried to stay as disconnected from the world as possible. He lives in virtual isolation, trying for simplicity. He focuses on his craft of tying bonefish flies and does not seek out danger or adventure. He's got no connection with law enforcement and no training in the military. He's a very basic man. More like Thoreau than Philip Marlowe. Trouble keeps finding him, however, and though he resists it, he continues to leave his sanctuary to put things right by any means necessary.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I was living in Key Largo when I first wrote about Thorn. There were a lot of examples of characters like him around me. People who simply wanted to be left alone. They fished, they watched the sun set, they lived simple lives. But they are also very tough and resourceful people. I think of them as some of the last American pioneers. They only strap on their six guns as a last resort.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole ebook revolution?
It's a very exciting time to be alive. Major techtonic shifts in the way we experience media are happening at light speed. I don't think it matters much to the reading experience itself how the words enter our minds. If ebooks make novels more available to more people, that's very positive. The ebook revolution is certainly reshaping the publishing industry. It's hard to see where we'll be in five years, but I think the novel will survive. It's a resilient and powerful form of storytelling.

Q: What's next for you and Thorn?
Nukes and crocs. That's all I'll say.

Q: You painted a great portrait of the TV show business in Dead Last. Where did you get the information about that one?
One of my former students from 30 years ago was inspired by my class to shift careers out of sales and into the film business. He's now the executive producer of Burn Notice, a very good cable TV series shot in Miami. He let me hang out on the set for a while and absorb that strange and fascinating world.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I answer interview questions from wonderful webmasters like you.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I've tried to sort of reverse that formula. Thorn is the loose canon in my books. His friend Sugarman is the PI who is far more rule-bound and logical. Thorn's not psychotic, but he's extremely unpredictable. In general, I don't think psychotics are very interesting. Bad guys who have a very good reason for doing very bad things are a lot more interesting to me.

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?
There are lots of fine young writers out there and some great middle-aged ones. James Lee Burke is probably our senior statesman when it comes to crime novels in general. They aren't strictly PI novels, but PI's do play a role. The coming generation would be wise to study his work. The young Michael Koryta is doing some very strong work in the PI world and I expect him to gain a very wide audience. And Lehane looks to be around for a good long time. Sue Grafton is running out of letters, so Kinsey won't be around much longer. I'd love to see a new generation of writers embrace the Chandler/Parker tradition and re-invent it for the 21st century.

Q: Kent Westmoreland came up with the following question: What hidden secret motivates your PI to become involved in the lives of others?
In my first Thorn novel, Under Cover of Daylight, Thorn must face his own violent and murderous behavior from long ago. That same dark secret still burns at the center of his soul and perhaps it's this need to make amends for past sins that forces him out of his isolation to aid others.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Why don't you write a real novel?
I'm trying to do just that.

Goshen Hole (Joe Hannibal) by Wayne Dundee

A new full-length Joe Hannibal... I was already thrilled before I started to read it... And wasn't disappointed.
Hannibal, a former PI, spends his time running a security firm in Nebraska. When he's asked to track down the missing ex-wife of an old friend he's going to need the help of his Native American friend, William Thunderbringer to make it out of the case alive, going up against a crazy Mexican crimelord.
There's a lot to like in this one. Hannibal is a cool, old-fashioned hero. His witty conversations with Thunderbringer echo the best of Spenser-Hawk and there's a lot of action.
Often PI novels are compared to Westerns where the stranger rides into town to take care of business. This is absolutely one where that comparison is valid. Lone Ranger Hannibal and Tonto Thunderbringer are great archetypal heroes and the setting is very Western-like. Not a huge surprise, since Wayne Dundee writes some mean Westerns as well.
Read this one if you like PI stories OR Westerns...