Friday, May 18, 2012

Background Check on: Cliff Walk (Liam Mulligan) by Bruce DeSilva

We asked Hardboiled Collective member Bruce DeSilva all about his newest novel, Cliff Walk.

Tell us what the novel is about.

Cliff Walk is the second novel in my hardboiled series featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter at a dying Providence, R.I. newspaper. The tale begins two years ago when prostitution was legal in the state (true story.) Politicians are making a lot of speeches about the shame of it, but they aren't doing anything about it. Mulligan suspects that's because they are being paid off. As he investigates, a child's severed arm is discovered in a pile of garbage at a local pig farm. Then the body of an internet pornographer turns up at the bottom of

the famous Cliff Walk in nearby Newport. At first the killings seem random, but as Mulligan keeps digging, strange connections begin to emerge. Promised free sex with hookers if he minds his own business--and a savage beating if he doesn't--Mulligan enlists the help of Thanks-Dad, the newspaper publisher's son, and Attila the Nun, the state's colorful attorney general, in his quest for the truth. What he learns will lead him to question his long-held beliefs about sexual morality, shake his tenuous religious faith, and leave him wondering who his real friends are. Cliff Walk is at once a hardboiled mystery and a serious exploration of sex and religion in the age of pornography.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

I began writing the book shortly after my first Mulligan novel, Rogue Island, winner of both the Edgar and the Macavity Awards, was published; and I finished it in six months. The third Mulligan novel, Providence Rag, is also finished and will be published sometime next year.

Did it take a lot of research?

Yes and no. In a sense, the Mulligan novels took forty years to research because they draw on everything I learned about Rhode Island's cops, street thugs, journalists, corrupt politics, and organized crime figures during my 40-year journalism career, about a third of it spent at The Providence Journal, the state's largest paper. I was well prepared to write these books. But when I started Cliff Walk, I did not know much about the inner workings of the state's sex trade. So I spent many dreary evenings hanging out at Cheaters, the Cadillac Lounge and several of the state's other strip clubs where prostitution was openly practiced, discretely questioning bartenders, bouncers, and naked hookers who kept climbing into my lap. Since I'm a married man, that could have had serious consequences. Lucky for me, my wife found my research hilarious.

Where did you come up with the plot; what inspired you?

Unlike Rogue Island, which is entirely made up, Cliff Walk was inspired by real events in our smallest state, a quirky place with a legacy of corruption that goes all the way back to one of the first colonial governors dining with Captain Kidd. In 1978, COYTE, a national organization representing sex workers, sued the state in federal court, alleging that its antiquated prostitution law was so vague that it could be interpreted as prohibiting sex between married couples. The suit was dismissed in 1980 after the state legislature rewrote the law, redefining the crime and reducing it from a felony to a misdemeanor. As it turned out, however, a key section of the new law was left out, supposedly by accident, when the legislature voted on it. Amazingly, however, more than a decade passed before anyone seemed to notice. Finally, in 1993, a lawyer representing several women arrested for prostitution at a local "spa" did something remarkable. He actually read the statute. The only word used to define the crime, he discovered, was "streetwalking." Therefore, he argued, sex for pay was legal in Rhode Island as long as the transaction occurred indoors. When the courts agreed, the state's strip clubs turned into brothels, and a whole bunch of new strip clubs and "massage parlors" opened up. Soon, tour buses full of eager customers began arriving from all over New England. At the height of the state's legal sex trade, 30 brothels were operating openly. Rhode Island didn't get around to fixing the law until a couple of years ago.

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?

When I sat down to write the novel, the first thing I typed was this: "Attila the nun thunked her can of Bud on the cracked Formica tabletop, stuck a Marlboro in her mouth, sucked in a lungful, and said 'Fuck this shit.'" That sentence, which ended up as the opening to chapter five, had the hardboiled feel I wanted and gave me the confidence to keep writing. But the short final chapter, which portrays a weary Mulligan's inner turmoil about the soul-wrenching things he witnessed during his investigation, is my favorite part of the book.

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?

I'm tempted to say Mulligan because he's a lot like me--except that he's 25 years younger and eight inches taller. He's an investigative reporter; I used to be. He's got a smart mouth; I get a lot of complaints about the same thing. Like me, he's got a shifting sense of justice that allows him to work with bad people to bring worse people down. But I have a special fondness for Attila the Nun, a former Little Sisters of the Poor nun who forsakes her religious calling for the rough-and-tumble arena of Rhode Island politics.

I noticed places in the novel where your own life or interests end up in some scenes, like the appearance of your wife Patricia, and a dog with the same name as yours. You also included an appearance by Andrew Vachss and often mention crime writers you personally like. Could you tell us a bit about why you enjoy including these little nuggets?

I want my characters to be real people, and that means giving them interests beyond the job of investigating crimes. Since Mulligan is so much like me, it makes sense to give him similar tastes. So he's a fan of the blues (The Tommy Castro Band, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Buddy Guy.) He reads crime novels (Vachss, Michal Connelly, Ace Atkins.) He drinks beer (Killians.) He smokes cigars. He loves dogs, although his landlord won't allow him to have one. Unlike me, he's no fan of poetry, but his girlfriend is. So when she tries to read poetry to him or takes him to a poetry reading, I toss in a few lines. I suppose I could have tried to write a bit of poetry myself, but I'm no poet. I could have chosen a passage from another poet and then spent weeks trying to get permission to use it, but why go through all that trouble when I've got my own live-in poet? So I included a bit of writing from my wife, Patricia Smith, who is one of America's finest poets.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?

The early notices have been gratifying, with both Publishers Weekly and Booklist giving Cliff Walk starred reviews. Publishers Weekly said, "Look for this one to garner more award nominations." Booklist called the plot "exquisite" and added that the novel is "terrific on every level." I just hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Little Elvises (Junior Bender) by Timothy Hallinan

Junior Bender, Timothy's unique take on the PI and caper novels is back. A cool cross between Bernie Rhodenbarr and Spenser, our hero is hired to find out who killed a tabloid reporter.
Also, the owner of the hotel where Junior is staying asks him to find her missing daughter.
Together with his daughter he delves into the past of the Elvis lookalikes managed by Vincent DiGaudio and finds out there's a lot more about the music scene of the fifties than you might expect. Along the way he has to cope with his feelings for the reporter's widow and how to tell his daughter about her.
Often funny, always thrilling and surprising this is another awesome hardboiled mystery.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Background Check On: Triage (Shell) by Phillip T. Duck

We talked to Phillip T. Duck about his Shell novel called Triage...

Tell us what the novel is about.
TRIAGE is the story of Shell, a former hit man, who describes himself as "a man of honor with no honor." He's a complex character, in the mold of Richard Starks' Parker. A reader recently questioned whether she should love or hate him, and my response is both. To me, that's what makes Shell intriguing. In the novel, his former flame has gone missing under suspicious circumstances, and in his quest to find out what happened to her Shell finds himself in the middle of a mob beef, and going up against several men of questionable motives, each man more dangerous than the last. It's good, hardboiled fun.

How long did it take you to write the novel?
I worked on the novel off and on over the course of about eighteen months. Off and on because during that same period of time I also worked on several other independently-published projects and a novel published by a traditional publisher.

Did it take a lot of research?
Before I write a novel I attempt to map out some of the key situations that will take place. My research tends to focus on anything I believe is important to know in order to effectively write those key situations. I spend about a month in this research phase, but that typically isn't the end of research. I've yet to write a novel that went according to plan, and so throughout the course of writing a book I'm forever looking up details and discovering new ideas to include.

Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
First and foremost, I'm a reader. I've been inspired by too many crime novelists to count. With TRIAGE I considered my favorite series characters--Jack Reacher, Leonid McGill, Dave Robicheaux, Doc Ford, Parker, and others--and I wrote my version of a tough guy navigating through a difficult and dark world.

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
I particularly enjoyed a scene with Shell in some serious peril down by the Passaic River. I picked an actual place in Newark, NJ. At night it's dark and almost completely deserted. I say almost deserted because if you happened upon someone down in this area that would be an unexpected development and you'd be advised to leave their presence as quickly as possible.

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
Shell, of course. Again, I was inspired by some of crime fiction's most notable tough guys. Shell is my homage to the best of them. That said, one of the compliments I've always received throughout my writing career has been various levels of praise for my "rich characterization". I love all of my characters, lead and supporting, and they all show up on the page for a reason. I do my best to make sure their time between the margins is memorable and necessary.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?
The e-book revolution, as some are calling it, has been a boon for readers. I'm grateful for all of the traditional publishing opportunities I've had so far, but excited about the "new" publishing model that is quickly taking shape. I now have an opportunity to present my work to those that are already familiar with me. I also can be discovered by those that have never read a word I've written. And I get to present that work at a very reasonable price point. For less than a pack of cigarettes you can enjoy (hopefully) this tale of a "man of honor with no honor". I don't claim to be as good as some of the authors that have inspired me, but my price point is much more attractive than theirs, and I can definitely say they aren't four times better than me ($2.99 for TRIAGE versus $12.99 for many traditionally-published novels). TRIAGE is worth a look.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cliff Walk (Liam Mulligan) by Bruce DeSilva

Liam Mulligan, Rhode Island's hardboiled reporter is back in this great new novel by Hardboiled Collective member Bruce DeSilva.
A child's severed arm shows up on a pig farm... An internet pornographer is killed... A politicial battle is fought over legalisation of prostitution...
These ingredients are enough to keep Mulligan very busy. Add to that some vigilante killings on pedophiles, a new love interest and a gangster boss interested in hiring Mulligan and you end up with a very exciting crime novel.
What makes this novel so great is not just the many interesting plotlines however, but the character of Mulligan and the sharp writing. Mulligan is such a great self-depreceating character and the writing such an effective continuation of Chandler and Parker's hardboiled voices this should be textbook writing for anyone attempting to write a hardboiled crime story.
It worried me that the paper Mulligan works for is going through some bad times, endangering his job. Luckily, it seems there's enough people interested in Mulligan's investigation skills to keep him busy even if he ends up sacked. I wouldn't want to miss this guy, his troubles with his ex-wife, his clumsiness, his interest in crime fiction and his attitude. Looking forward to the third in the series!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Action - Pulse Pounding Tales: Mike Dalmas returns!

Any of you enjoyed my Mike Dalmas stories? Doing the cop's dirty work this ex-Special Forces vigilante is a father and a husband who is blackmailed by the Bay City cops to do the stuff their badge prevents them from doing. His stories came out at Trestle Press before I decided to cancel the series. Now, he's back... Together with a whole bunch of other great action heroes...

37 Action-packed Pulse Pounding Tales!

That’s exactly what you get in this collection of action stories from top thriller authors, both established and on the rise.
Think back to the days when heroes were heroes and the action was furious and full-blooded. When often as not, the hero was quite the opposite: an anti-hero - but he needed to be, to bring the kind of violent justice to villains worse than him. When political correctness took a back seat, even as the bullets and karate chops were flying. Basically it was good old harmless fun.

It was a case of disengaging your moral compass and getting down with the hero as they took on all comers, and they did it with balletic grace and uncompromising violence. Gratuitous? Mostly. Realistic? Not always. Great fun? You betcha!!!
Then fast forward to the here and now: What if the current action and thriller authors set their minds to bringing back the action genres of old?

Well, that question is answered here.

Within these pages you will find secret agents, vigilantes (both just and insane), cops, villains, soldiers, veterans, gangsters, swordsmen, privateers, Ninja and even a crypto-zoological beast you might recognise. Some of the tales are delivered with shocking realism, some as lighter entertainment, some on the grittier side, but each and every tale included in Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1 is sure to get your heart racing.

Kick back and enjoy the ride!

Introduction by Matt Hilton

Strangers on a Train by Stephen Leather

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Matt Hilton

Valley of Death by I S Paton

The Real Deal by James Oliver Hilton

Jingle Bells by Adrian Magson

Death By Licence by Joe McCoubrey

The Night Butterflies by Zoƫ Sharp

Gallance by Col Bury

Battle For Baghlan by Matt Hayden

The Stranger by David Barber

Expiry Date by Gavin Bell

A Most Honorable Death by Jochem Vandersteen

Jack Be Nimble by Steven Savile & Steve Lockley

At Close Range by Ian Graham

Cutter’s Law by James Hopwood

Angel Tough by Absolutely Kate

On Her Majesty’s Bloody Service by Iain Purdie

The Legend of Jimmy-The-Gimp by Keith Gingell

Blood Moon of 1931 by Terrence P. McCauley

Skinner Alive by Daniel Moses Luft

Jobs Taken by Asher Wismer

The Handler by Gavin Hunt

Blood on Their Hands by Les Morris

Issa’s Island Prison by Graham Smith

Eastern Fury by Andrew Scorah

The Liberator by Paul D. Brazill

The Tower of Marnir by Paul Grzegorzek

Bit Part Player by Theresa Derwin

The Judgment of Jean Lafitte by Evan Lewis

Avenged: Sixfold by Natasha Marie Thomas

Man or Mouse by Mark Dark

Stokey by Robin Jarossi

Savage Sun by Richard Godwin

One Flew Over the Policeman’s Bonnet by Pete Sortwell

Born of Woman by Laird Long

Chickens by K.A. Laity

*Bonus Story* Trench Warfare by Matt Hilton


Afterword by Matt Hilton

ACTION: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1, is now available as an ebook on all Amazon platforms. If you're in the USA you can get it here:
and in the UK here:

A portion of the proceeds from sales of this collection will go to the charity Help for Heroes