Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

A cool thing is happening around blogging crime writers, called The Next Big Thing. Each author tags five other authors to answer ten questions. Talented Hardboiled Collective member Bill Crider tagged me. So here are the questions and answers...

1. What is the working title of your next book?
My next book is called GUILT but might end up being called GUILTY because Jonathan Kellerman has a new novel coming out with the same name.
Im also working on a Mike Dalmas collection and some other stuff that's too early to talk about.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
All my Milano stories are about redemption and guilt in some way. I wanted to explore those feelings deeper and so I came up with a plot in which Noah tries to make amends for his deeds more directly than usual.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
It's a crime novella, specifically a hardboiled detective one.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Dane Cook would do a great job. He has the charm and attitude to pull it off.
When I first created Noah I envisioned him as Vince Young but I'm not sure he looks tough enough.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Security specialist and ex-mob fixer Noah Milano tries to save the stepfather of a young girl whose biological father he killed from death row.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published and available for Kinlde via

7. How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
I'm still busy with it, but think it will take two months to finish. My last one, Scoundrel took me four months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Any book by Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais and early Dennis Lehane fit the mark.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Take a look at question 2. As always I've also been inspired by the great PI-writers that came before me.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers might enjoy the fact this one will be longer than the last few Milano stories. Also, we finally meet Noah's dad.
For people who haven't read about Noah Milano yet they will enjoy the fancy martial arts moves, the fast-moving plot and the fact Noah's just one of the coolest investigators around.

In one week these great people will blogging in this project as well, I tagged them...

James Winter
Les Roberts
Dana King
Charles Colyott
Keith Dixon

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

As The Sun Turns Black (Matt Spears) by Barry Crowther

This is a great hardboiled novel, it reminded me of a more hardboiled Myron Bolitar. It had about as many twists as a Bolitar novel and Matt Spears' sidekick Nathan is just as rich and just as deadly as Myron's psychotic sidekick Win.
Debt collector Matt Spears tries to track down a missing girl who might have become the victim of serial killer Red. Soon he discovers links to a dangerous gangster and connections to a sleazy reporter. Luckily he has two good cops assisting him along with his friend, Nathan a forensic account / hitman.
The setting is Manchester but the story has a very American feel to it.
A thrilling read, exciting and very dark. Just the kind of stuff I like to read.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Q & A with Richard Thompson

Here's an interview with the talented Richard Thompson,former civil engineer now writing the excellent Herman Jackson series.

Q: What makes Herman Jackson different from other hardboiled detectives?
The owners of Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore in Minneapolis tell me that until about a year ago, I was the only author doing a series about a bail bondsman. It seemed like a natural choice to me, since he would be comfortable dealing with people from all levels of society and all degrees of respectability or criminality, and he would also have a sufficiently flexible schedule to pursue a trail of clues when he needed to. And with a secret criminal past of his own, he also has a lot of insight into the worlds of his clients.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
Herman was born in late 1999, to star in a short story called “Numbers Game”, which I was writing for the Boney Pete competition at Bloody Words in Toronto. (It won, by the way.) I had been thinking about the setup for a long time, ever since watching a movie called Midnight Run, in which Robert De Niro plays a bounty hunter. He was good in the role, but I thought the most interesting character in the movie—not the most likeable, but the most interesting—was the goofy, frenetic bail bondsman with the shady past, the person De Niro worked for.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
Interestingly, the first time I heard somebody positively assert that in ten years or less, there would be no more paper books or traditional bookstores, it was also in 1999, at Bouchercon in Milwaukee. It hasn’t happened, obviously, and it’s not going to happen in another ten years, either. Or if it does, I don’t want to be here to see it. I think eBooks and traditional print compliment each other, actually. And in an industry where it continues to be harder and harder for new writers to break into print, e-publishing has given us some much needed new options. But one format does not have to wipe out the other. We can buy a lot of things online, but the world still has stores and people still enjoy going to them. And I keep thinking that one of these days, we are going to outgrow the notion that anything done electronically is somehow better than anything done in a traditional way. It’s just not so, folks.

Q: What's next for you and Jackson?
The third Herman, in which he runs afoul of a human trafficking ring, has been done for several months. But I have irreconcilable differences with my editor about some of its plot points, and I am now in search of a new publisher. Meanwhile, I am working on a thriller about a group of homegrown agrarian anarchists who manage to get their hands on a live ICBM silo and intend to use it to nuke Wall Street.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Well, there’s the website, of course, at, but mostly I don’t do electronic promotion. I talk to a lot of book clubs and library groups, and I go to a LOT of bookstores and give the owner or manager a free copy of my book if he or she promises to read it. And of course, I get invited to speak a lot more places since winning the Minnesota Book Award this year.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I read a lot of nonfiction—history, psychology, sociology, art, and, of course books on writing and on literary theory. I also like sci fi, though with a few notable exceptions like Neil Gaiman and William Gibson, it seems as though most of the best stuff was done forty to sixty years ago. And I like authors who stubbornly defy being put into any category.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
One might also mention Mouse, in Walt Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series. I like the device. It’s as if the hero and his darker comrade together constitute a single complete character. And it allows the main hero to keep his personal honor intact while still getting the dirty work done that the plot demands. There’s a line in one of Donald Westlake’s books something like, “Yes, there are things I won’t do. But things get done, all the same.” I like 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?
I think the most pervasive current trend in all of literature is one of cross-pollination. We draw upon and let ourselves be influenced by a great pantheon of specific writers and general styles. Literary authors are adopting the structure and dramatic beats of the better mystery writers and PI writers are more and more doing characters with a great deal of depth and with both internal and external problems to solve. I think this is a very healthy trend. I think hardboiled PI, like jazz, is and always will be a uniquely American art form, but it is also evolving into something that’s hard to tell from serious literature.

Q: O'Neil DeNoux came up with the following question: How did you come up with the name of your detective?
I never know how I come up with the names of any of my characters. Mostly, they tell me. I don’t start with a character, I start with a setup and a scene, and the character walks on stage and introduces him or herself. Or sometimes I will open a new page in one of my many notebooks and have a conversation with the character, after which I will ask for the name. In Herman’s case, I immediately liked the name because it was odd enough that I thought people would remember it easily. I also liked the phonetic similarity with Hermes, who besides being the messenger of the gods was also the god of travelers and theives, which seemed to fit with Herman’s checkered past.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fiction - The Color of Blood (Mike Dalmas) by Jochem Vandersteen

‘An action hero with a liking for justice rather than law – Mike Dalmas 
is my kind of guy.’ ZoĆ« Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox novels

Mike Dalmas returns 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. This Mike Dalmas story appeared in Kindle some time ago with Trestle Press. It's out of print right now, but Mike Dalmas will return with a short story collection soon. To remind you about the character here's...



Mike Dalmas was alarmed by the presence of a Crown Vic parked in front of his home. He was driving into his street with his SUV, his daughter, Margie sitting beside him. They’d just went to soccer practice. Dalmas was very pleased with his daughter, she’d scored two times.
Dalmas felt the Crown Vic didn’t belong on his driveway and neither did the man leaning against it. Dressed in his trademark cheap suit, smoking a cigarette, was Homicide Detective Carver. Dalmas had a special deal with Carver. The cop would keep the fact Dalmas, former Special Forces, killed the man that molested Margie under wraps and in return Dalmas would take care of the dirty work the badge didn’t allow Carver to take care of. Dalmas didn’t appreciate Carver’s visit to his home. He liked to keep that secret life as separate from his family life as possible.
Dalmas parked and left his car. He opened the door for Margie. She walked over to Carver.
“Hello sir, are you waiting for daddy?”
Carver smiled. “As a matter of fact, I am, kiddo.”
Dalmas, carrying Margie’s duffelbag filled with her soccer outfit, joined his daughter. The bag seemed to way nothing to him.
Dalmas, lowered his massive body until he was at her height and gave her a little peck on the cheek. “Sweetheart, go inside, okay? I will be along shortly.”
“Okay, dad!” she said and sped off inside.
When she was out of eyesight Dalmas got very close to Carver’s face and hissed, “Never visit me at my home again.”
     Carver held up his hands in surrender, “Take it easy, Dalmas. I didn’t know that would piss you off this much.”
     “Now you know. Remember it.”
     “I will, I will. I just need to talk to you for a sec.”
     “I need your skills again for a very special mission. Word on the street is that a few of the Bay City gangs are banding together. Imagine how tough they will be when they unite. We’ll have an even harder time keeping them in check.”
     “So, what do you need me to do?”
     “I want you to break up that cooperation. And I’ve got a great idea to do that. You kill one of the gangleaders dressed in the colors of another gang. That will break up their little supergroup nicely.”
     “Won’t there be retaliations? A gang war?”
     “Can’t be as terrible as these guys working together.”
     Dalmas thought about the possible innocent bystanders that could get killed in a full-fledged gang war. He also thought about one united gang and how quickly they would become a power the police might not be prepared for. He’d done missions like this before, in the Middle-East. He had little moral problems assassinating a note gang leader. He came to a conclusion. “E-mail me the details.”
     Carver shook his hand. “Great, I’ll get them to you asap. By the way, great to see your kid looking happy like that after everything that’s happened to her. You’re a great dad.”
     Compliments from people other than his wife meant little to Dalmas. He was just too self-confident for them to do a lot. “Thanks. Now leave.”
     “Sure,” Carver said and got in his Crown Vic. Dalmas watched him leave the street before he went inside to join his family for lunch.

Carver’s intel was pretty extensive. Pictures of the gang leaders, the places they visited, the colors they wore. Dalmas knew colors were important with gangs, they served to identify which gang you were with. That’s why he visited some clothing stores. He also made a pretty unique purchase at one of the stores.
     An old Chevy that was traded in for a brand new Lexus at the car dealer where Dalams worked was left off the books by him. He dirtied up the license plate with some mud and put his stuff inside.
     He drove the car to the place where Iron Dave, the leader of the Street Lords, the biggest gang in Bay City, used to frequent at this time of day. Iron Dave fancied himself a big rap-superstar and was trying to tape a record. That was why he went to the Phono City Studio daily, together with a few of his men.
     Dalmas sat in his parked Chevy and waited. He was wearing a black ball cap with a red bandana wrapped around it and a black oversized Adidas sweater. It identified him as one of the Bay Kings gang. He had a baklava covered around his face and was wearing shades to keep his identity concealed.
     Iron Dave left the building. He was dressed in a white wifebeater, his neck was filled with gold chains and on his head he wore a black bandana. Two gangbangers, dressed in similar clothing but less jewelry, flanked him. Dalmas noticed the handguns stuck in their waistbands.
     Dalmas opened the window of his Chevy and yelled, “Bay Kings rule, assholes!”
     Making sure the gangbangers got a good look at his cap he waited a few seconds before firing a silenced 9mm Beretta. Iron Dave was hit in the chest three times, killing him before his body hit the pavement.
     His bodyguards drew their guns, Dalmas gunned the engine. The Chevy almost flew around the corner, gunshots shattering the back window.
     The Street Lords ran around the corner, guns ready. The Chevy was standing still just around the corner. Without hesitation the gangbangers opened fire on it, perforating the figure behind the wheel with their bullets.
     When they were confident their target couldn’t be breathing anymore the came closer, pointing their guns through the Chevy’s window. What they saw made them curse.
     Sitting behind the wheel of the Chevy was store mannequin doll, clad in Bay Kings colors.
     The gangbangers slammed the car with their guns’ butts, swearing they’d get the man who killed their leader.
     Dalmas heard it all from under the manhole cover that the Chevy covered. He almost smiled.

Dalmas had just put the kids in bed and sat down on the living room couch with his wife, Donna. She snuggled up to him, glad to have him at home in the evening. So often these days he went on these covert missions he didn’t want to talk about.
They were watching the local news and what Dalmas saw disturbed him. His body tensed, his teeth gritted.
Donna gave him a worried look. “Terrible, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Yeah. Terrible. Let’s watch Family Guy or something.”
The news that had disturbed him was about how two innocent bystanders got wounded when a couple of Street Lords had killed a Bay King member in a drive-by shooting. The bystanders were still alive but badly wounded, that relieved Dalmas somewhat, but not enough. The assassination of Iron Dave might have set off something he wouldn’t be able to live with.
He’d call Carver and find a way to deal with this.
Dalmas was driving over to work when he gave Carver a call.
“So you heard about it, huh?” Carver said.
“I did. I was afraid this would happen.”
“I know, I know. I was aware of the risks as well. You have to look at the bigger picture here, though. Like I told you, these gangs banding together is even worse.”
“I want this war to stop. How can we achieve that?”
Carver laughed. “You could kill them all?”
“Not an option. I haven’t got the time or firepower. And, contrary to what you seem to believe I am not a mass murderer.”
“I was just kidding, Mike. Word on the street is the Street Lords will keep killing off random Bay Kings until they hand over the man who killed their leader. That might be a problem of course. Unless you want to turn yourself in to them?”
Dalmas was silent.
“Mike?” Carver said.
Dalmas was still silent.
“Are you still there?” Carver asked.
Dalmas spoke, “I’m going to give them what they want.”


Tyrone Banks left his girlfriend’s house at 2300 hours. He was still buttoning his fly when he got into his car. He sat down behind the wheel and chuckle. “That Diana, what a fine, fine piece of ass.”
An arm, strong a steel, wrapped around his neck. There was someone behind him in the backseat.
“Sleep tight,” Dalmas said and started to apply enough pressure to Tyrone’s windpipe to make him pass out.
Dalmas got out of the car, slid Tyrone over to the passenger seat and took the wheel.

 A buddy of Carver working at the Gang Unit had served up the intel on Tyrone. Dalmas had asked for the name of the most heinous member of the Bay Kings. Tyrone’s name had come up immediately. He was suspected of robbing and killing two elderly women, dealing drugs and raping a sixteen year old girl. The Gang Unit had been keeping an eye on him for some time, knowing exactly when Tyrone went on a booty call, visiting Diana, his girlfriend. Being married she could only receive Tyrone when her husband was working late. That made it easy for Dalmas to know where to find him when.
     Tyrone was lying tied up in the trunk of his own car while Dalmas drove over to the place he’d agreed to meet the current leader of the Street Lords, Cold Francis. Carver’s Gang Unit friend had managed to set up a meeting, using an undercover cop.
     Dalmas arrived at the abandoned warehouse where the meeting would take place. An El Camino was already parked there.
Wearing the same Bay King outfit he did when he assassinated Iron Dave he got out of the car. He went over to the trunk and opened it. He hauled Tyrone out of it. Tyrone’s arms were bound behind him and he was gagged. He struggled a bit at first, but the 9mm Beretta Dalmas put against his ribs forced his calm.
The warehouse’s dock door opened. Standing in the door opening were Cold Francis, a big guy wearing army pants and a .45 handgun and two bodyguards, armed with Uzi’s.
“That the guy you holding there?” Francis asked.
Dalmas nodded. He knew Francis had gotten his nickname because he was known to kill someone in cold blood, not even blinking.
“Hand him over,” Francis said.
Dalmas gave Tyrone a push. He lost his balance and fell to his knees in front of Francis.
“This is payback, bitch!” Francis said and let his .45 do the rest of the talking. He shot Tyrone right between the eyes.
Tyrone fell down. Francis kicked him in the ribs, calling him a few bad names.
“Now what do we do with you?” Francis asked and pointed his gun at Dalmas.
Dalmas had his 9mm up in a split-second. Both gunmen stared at each other for a few seconds that seemed to last an eternity.
Francis started to laugh. “Don’t worry, man. I appreciate you bringing this asshole in. I appreciate the show of good faith, you know. Maybe we can end this little war.”
Dalmas nodded and lowered the gun. Francis lowered his.
Slowly Dalmas backed up to his car. He went in and drove off.

Dalmas ditched Tyrone’s car and drove home in his SUV. When he got out of the SUV he could see there was a light on in their bedroom. Good, Donna was still awake.
 He entered his home and walked up the stairs. Donna was in bed, reading a Tess Gerritsen thriller. She lowered her book and gave him a funny look.
He was still wearing the Bay Kings outfit. He smiled apologetically.
“Mid-life crisis already?” Donna asked. He admired her good sense of humor.
“Work outfit,” Dalmas said.
“Take it off quickly and get to work over here,” Donna said and patted the bed.
Dalmas did. He knew afterwards he’d have no trouble sleeping. Yes, he got a man shot over a crime he didn’t commit, but that man deserved it. Not only that, that death would save many other lives. The only thing Dalmas regretted was that his life had been in danger for a few seconds when the .45 was pointing at him. He knew Donna and the kids would be devastated if he ever got killed.
In the bedroom that night he would make sure he made the most of his time among the living.


Liked this story? Look for Mike Dalmas in ACTION PULSE POUNDING TALES or read my other work, such as the Noah Milano series.

Friday, November 2, 2012

In For A Ruble (Turbo Vlost) by David Duffy

Turbo Vlost is back... He's still depressed that the woman of his dreams left him when he's hired to test the security of Sebastian Leitz's computer systems. Soon he becomes involved with a dangerous group of cybercriminals and their henchman, Karp. And then there's the dark family secrets of the Leitz family that will shock and fascinate you.
:Low on the action, high on the character-development and research this is quite a literary piece of work.
The characters are remarkable and troubled, the dialogue between Turbo and his lover Victoria are very entertaining and the most is made of the Russian and New York backdrops.
Great reading for PI fans that want just a bit more fat to chew on than most mystery novels.