Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Silent City (Pete Fernandez) by Alex Segura

The new George Pelecanos is here...
Alex Segura is a guy who keeps himself busy: he writes comics (Kiss Meets Archie), plays in a rock band AND writes some awesome crime fiction.
I was really impressed with this debut. The pop culture references, the way protagonist Pete Fernandez drinks a lot and can be somewhat of a slacker, the whole vibe and style reminded me of George Pelecanos books in the Nick Stefanos series. What more of a recommendation do you need really?
Anyway, the story is about a reporter in Miami (and son of a cop) who gets involved in the search for an ominous killer named The Silent Death. He endangers his job, his friends and his health during that search. It's a really classic hero's journey in a noir setting.
Pete is such a real character. I felt for him, but couldn't always thinks of him as a nice guy. He's a good investigator and can handle himself in a fight, but Mike Hammer or Spenser he's not, which was refreshing.
I am very happy to say there will be another one in this series coming up soon.

Q & A with Zachary Klein

Zachary Klein wrote a few Matt Jacob novels years back that were pretty well received. Now, his novelw will be published again by Polis Books with a new one as well. Reasons enough to interview him about his work and protagonist Matt Jacob.

Q: What makes Matt Jacob different from other hardboiled characters? 
A few things jump to mind. Although the classic hardboiled main characters are often introspective, Matt Jacob pushes the envelope. In fact, I'd say that his character extends the boundaries in dealing with his own emotional life and the interpersonal relationships he enters into. In many ways my book are crossovers between "detective fiction" and novels.
The other difference is the degree of Matt's substance abuse and his attitude toward it.  This is not a private detective who plans on joining a twelve step program.

Q: How did you come up with the character? 
That's a tough one. All too often people assume Matt is simply a reflection of myself. Not true. His development (continuing development, actually) is a reflection of the times and culture, even though his is a counter culture personna. I wanted to create a living, breathing human who, despite his flaws, has a commitment to other people, an intense sense of loyalty, and again, at his essence, a very human human being.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution? 
I love it. I believes it gives great writers opportunities that "legacy" publishing houses didn't or wouldn't. It allows an author the choice of becoming part of an internet publishing house the way I have with Polis Books ( http://www.polisbooks.com/) or going it alone. For me, the necessity of  becoming my own publicist is something I neither liked nor was particularly good at, which is one reason why I've teamed up with Polis. But some authors enjoy doing publicity and are pretty damn good at it. Me, I just like to write. The ebook revolution allows writers to make their own decisions about which way to ride as opposed to working for traditional publishers who, at least when I worked with them, often pigeon holed authors usually with sales figures. 

Q: What's next for you and Matt? 
Well, Polis Books is repackaging the first three Matt Jacob novels and has bought the fourth, which is titled Ties That Blind. I expect they'll release the first three in early spring and the fourth shortly thereafter. So far it's been a pleasure working with Jason Pinter, founder of Polis and, if he's interested and the series does well I'll write another one. But just like I'm growing older so is Matt, which means a whole new set of life issues to grapple with. 

Q: How do you promote your work?  
I'm not comfortable with a whole lot of individual self-promotion so other than my website ( http://www.zacharykleinonline.com) and my Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ZacharyKleinAuthorPage) I've relied upon word of mouth. I'm hoping that my partnership with Polis will help me bring my publicity "A" game. It's a lot easier for me to work shoulder to shoulder with other people. And I have a high regard for Jason.

Q: What other kinds of genres besides crime do you like?
I'd like to approach this question a bit differently. Although I accept the term "genre" and even understand its usefulness I try to shy away from it. There are writers I like--Richard Russo, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, William Gibson, for example, and writers I don't. That's the determining factor for me rather than the box in which anyone is placed. As I mentioned earlier, I don't even see my own Matt Jacob series as easily stereotyped.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk
 and Joe Pike? 

Truth is, Matt Jacob has enough demons in his character to keep him and me more than busy.

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 hope they'd be influenced by Hammett, Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Parker, Lehane, and Klein. But I think you left out some hidden gems. Bart Spicer, Sara Gran, Loren D. Estleman, Stephen Greenleaf, and many more. Hopefully new writers learn from everyone they read, but there's a Miles Davis story where a trumpet player approched Davis between sets and said, "I can sound like that."  Miles nodded and in his hoarse whisper replied, "The trick is to sound like yourself." 

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
Ahh, that word again. What drew me to detective fiction is its relationship to American jazz.  The American perspective combined with the writer's ability to create a spontaneity about his or her work. Also the violent nature of our society and exploring the "whys" of that violence be it institutional or individual has always blinked neon to me. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Background Check on The Contractors (Jon Cantrell) by Harry Hunsicker

Harry Hunsicker was one of the first authors I reviewed on this blog. Now, he has a new book coming out so of course I wanted to know all about that...

Tell us what your newest book is about.
The story is about private military contractors operating inside the border of the United States.  Specifically, a disgraced ex-cop who works as a law enforcement contractor for the DEA.  When he and his partner take down the wrong shipment of drugs, they come into the possession of a star witness in a cartel trial, a woman everybody wants dead.  In order to save her life, and their own, they must transport her across Texas to the courthouse in Marfa, near El Paso.

How long did it take you to write the novel?
Seems like forever, at least to me.  Probably four years and I don't know how many drafts and partial drafts.

Did it take a lot of research?
I did a fair amount of research about PMCs or private military contractors.  I also learned that US Government does employ private law enforcement contractors, i. e. people who have a gun, a badge, and the right to use deadly force, but whose paycheck comes from a private company.

Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
The plot sprang from a totally unrelated idea, the notion of a son trying to reconcile with his father and both of them keeping secrets from the other.  There's still a big element of that in the book, however.

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed writing the action chapters.  There's a scene where one the bad guys gets blown apart by a .50 caliber sniper rifle.  That was a blast.  (No pun intended!)

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
Piper, the main character's partner and on-again/off-again lover.  She's a mess.  But so much fun.  Her motto:  When in doubt, shoot something.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?
I'm very humbled and grateful to have gotten a starred review in Publishers Weekly for THE CONTRACTORS.  Hope everybody likes the novel.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Favorite Sons of 2013

Every year I tell you all what my favorite PI reads of the year were...
Well, here are my favorites again...

BEST PI NOVEL: Point Doom (JD Fiorella) by Dan Fante
BEST DEBUT: The Hard Bounce (Boo Malone) by Todd Robinson
BEST NEW PI: Mark Paris /The Professor (Subtraction) by Andrew Peters
BEST ACTION SCENES: One More Body (Moses McGuire) by Josh Stallings

Runners-up in various categories were:
Dirty Work (Gulliver Dowd) by Reed Farrel Coleman
Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me (Vic Valentine) by Will Viharo
A Small Sacrifice (Nick Forte) by Dana King

And an award should for WRITER WHO GETS BETTER EVERY YEAR should go to Steve Ulfelder for Shotgun Lullaby (Conway Sax).
And another one for WRITER WHO WORKS THE HARDEST should go to Nathan Gottlieb of the Frank Boff novels.

I also want to thank Keith Dixon and Sean Dexter for helping me bring out my own stuff.

Subtraction (The Professor) by Andrew Peters

This book is a hoot...
Mark Paris is an ex-boxer, ex-piano player and ex-math professor, hence the nickname The Professor. He works in sixties Las Vegas as a fixer / unlicensed PI in the sixties, time of Dean Martin and Sinatra. When a friend ends up with a dead hooker in his hotel room he enlists The Professor's help. When Paris investigates he runs afoul of a high-class bordello and dangerous mobsters.
Aside from the wonderful Mark Paris himself, who might have too big a background for some readers but I thought was a wonderful pulp hero, this one has another thing going for it... The writing style is very witty, almost like Paris talking to you. His voice is funny and original. I also see a lot of Robert B. Parker in the writing (especially when Paris is working out or talking to his girl) and in my book that is alway a wonderful thing.
One of the most original and enjoyable eyes of the last couple of years in a fun story.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rattled (Nicholas Colt) by Jude Hardin

Man, Nicholas Colt (PI and former rockstar) must hate his writer Jude Hardin. I was always amazed by the amount of punishment Jude put Colt through and thought in a short story like this, taking place on his birthday he might go easy on him. Well... Forget about it. Colt picks up a hitchhiker that carries along a cannister with a snake in it. That's when he gets kidnapped and lands in the middle of a viper's nest populated by two crazy villains.
This one is a thrill a minute story and I was very eager to find out how Colt would get himself out of this predicament.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ask Not (Nate Heller) by Max Allan Collins

It's like all the last couple of Heller books have been leading up to this one... Nathan Heller investigates the death of JFK, and with the 50-year anniversary of this tragic event it is of course an excellent moment to come out.
Helping Heller along is an amalgam of historical characters named Flo Kilgore who is so well-portrayed and given such a great background I really thought she was real.
With a novel like this, that is so full of research and in a historical setting, there is a great risk to become a boring read. Luckily, Max manages to add some funny scenes with Heller's son and the Beatles and of course infuses the Mickey Spillane style of pulp that made him famous. So, Heller still beds the strippers and is still a tough PI.
Be sure not to skip the notes after the story is over. It is fascinating to read how Max managed to put all thos historical events and people into an entertaining PI story.

Burnt Black (Cliff St. James) by Ed Kovacs

Cliff St. James is now only a part-time PI and spends the whole book with his regular job as a homicide detective. This is not Law & Order or CSI though! Those cops don't carry knifes behind their fly! He isn't afraid to ignore the rules and can take on several dangerous gangster with just one knife.
St. James investigates a few strange ritualistic killings that force him to face his fears of the occult. He gets involved with hookers, Mexican criminals and several sorcerers.
Don't worry about the occult part. It gives a nice little atmosphere to the book but it never becomes horror / urban fantasy.
If you've read the other books in this series you will be happy to know there's a bit of a resolution to the subplot of his relationship with Honey Baybee, his fellow cop. You will also appreciate how the previous stories have landed St. James in quite a comfortable state financially, his dojo now a big hit.
I have a feeling St. James' status will be shifting again in the next book as I think there might be a bright CIA future for him in store. I will be sure to read it and find out...

Friday, December 6, 2013


The Noah Milano stories have been praised by authors like Ace Atkins, Sean Chercover, David Levien and James W. Hall. PI-pulp fiction for Y2K and great for fans of Robert Crais and Robert B Parker. The latest novella can be found here for FREE http://goo.gl/duKRi6
 Please tell your friends!

Background Check on The Kill Fever (Wolf) by Dean Breckenridge

Under another name he told some tales I enjoyed. Now he is back as Dean Breckenridge with a new hardboiled series. I got a Background Check on his  book, The Kill  Fever is about. It will be sure to appeal to fans of my Mike Dalmas shorts.

Tell us what The Kill Fever is about.
I wanted to do something short and punchy and make it like the men's adventure books of the '70s and the hard-boiled of the '30s....so I created a sort of "Have Gun, Will Travel" for the inner city, featuring a character named Wolf. Nobody knows where he came from or why he chose the city, but he has connections with the cops and the crooks and always helps the underdog.

How long did it take you to write the novel?
More like a novella....it's only 20,000 words....and it took me two weeks to write. I spent another six months making it presentable.

Did it take a lot of research?
No. I made up the city,
 the political structure, the gang structure, etc.

Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
The plot is pretty simple, somebody is killing gangsters to start a mob war and Wolf wants it to stop, and the inspiration was thinking of the first paragraph as a way to hook the reader and get things going. Bodies in the streets, cops all around, what happened and who did it happen to....

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
The hardest scene for me came in the middle of the book, where Wolf and another character are trapped, and I had to come up with a way to get them untrapped. I think my solution was ridiculous, but it worked and was fun to write.

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
Wolf, the hero, of course; I also like his cop contact, John Callaway, who isn't sure Wolf is a good guy but knows he isn't a bad guy, either.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?
It's the first in a series and #2  (free today) is out now as well; I'm about to begin typing #3.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One More Body (Moses McGuire) by Josh Stallings

Think Mike Hammer as written by James Lee Burke or George Pelecanos and you might get an idea what to expect from this one. This is NOT a whodunnit or your typical Chandler-like PI story but a blood- and gin-soaked tale of sex, violence, despair and redemption.
The story is basically pretty simple. Ex-bouncer, ex-criminal Moses McGuire is approached by a LAPD detective to track down a girl that has been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. That's when McGuire, like a Viking, goes to war and rips LA apart to find her. He drinks, eats Vicodin like M & M's, is huge, full of tattoos and carries a lot of guns... McGuire is the ultimate noir badass.
I liked how attracted he was to a wonderful, but handicapped woman. Quite a twist.
There is some terrible scenes of rape and violence in this one, so if you were thinking of trying something else to read if you usually read cozies, you might not want to start with this one.
It is a fascinating, dark tale that had me rooting for McGuire and feeling very sorry for the kidnapped girl. It really made me FEEL on every page, and that's someone all good books should achieve.
A definite candidate for my favorite PI novel of the year.

Q & A with Carl Brookins

Carl Brookins has been in the writing game for quite some time now, but I never interviewed him about his PI Sean Sean and his work. Time to make up for that...

Q: What makes Sean Sean different from other hardboiled characters? 
 Mostly his attitude and world view are different. Sean is the antithesis of many hard-boiled detectives of the late nineteen forties and early fifties. He understands and accepts that he must sometimes protect clients by killing an adversary but that’s his last resort, and as he sometimes complains, he has to pay for his own ammunition and the recoil from his favorite weapon hurts his elbow. He’s too short at 5-2 to be a cop and he still has a need to help people. As a P.I. he naturally sees all kinds, but he has some rules. He doesn’t go out of town, he doesn’t do divorces and he never mixes it up with foreign espionage or mob people. Mostly. He would rather walk away from a confrontation. He doesn’t sleep around and while not married, he is deeply committed to a wealthy and successful massage therapist who happens to be just over six feet tall. Sean is not unwilling to discuss some of his cases with Catherine and she often offers sage advise to Sean.

 Q: How did you come up with the character?
 A lot of short people project attitude to varying degree. So does Sean. I roomed with a short man years ago while in the US Navy and I see a lot of his characteristics in Sean. Most of his attitudes probably reflect my own world view, but Sean is more adventurous and younger than I am. I thought about the character for a long while in the beginning and selected a number of physical and intellectual attribut4es for him. I borrowed a desk chair at a nearby mall and spent an afternoon scooting around in the chair to get a sense of how short people see the world in crowds. That was very illuminating.
 Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution? 
 In a word, liberating. A lot of good writing will be enjoyed by sometimes limited audiences, but that’s ok. Of course there will be a lot of dreck that gets published but that’s OK.

 Q: What's next for you and Sean? 
 More adventures. I’m currently working on a smuggling operation inside a bad construction company.

 Q: How do you promote your work? 
 By talking to good folks like you, attending reader conferences, using social media such as FaceBook and Twitter. I’m available to speak at bookstores and public libraries and conduct writing and marketing workshops. And I review crime fiction for several websites, and online stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
 These days writing and reading for reviews takes up most of my time but I read poetry, history and other literature. We attend concerts and go frequently to the theater. Shakespeare is still my favorite writer.

 Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
 They are useful for various reasons, as someone to talk to and thus explain the P.I.’s thinking on a case and in some cases, backup the detective and sometimes do some very extra-legal actions. I prefer to have my detective, who has good relations with lots of cops, not do really nasty illegal stuff. Oh, an occasional B&E, shooting some folks, but nothing really off the charts.
 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 never try to predict who will have significant influence.  Who, writing today, will still  be read in twenty or fifty years? I don’t know, but here are some other really good writers who I believe will last. Val McDermid, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, Michael Connelly, Richard A. Thompson, John Sandford, Harlan Coben, Steve Hamilton, Sara Paretsky. There are some excellent Scandinavian writers like Jo Dereske and Henning Mankill doing marvelous writing in the field.

 Q: Why do you write in this genre?
 I grew up reading crime fiction like the Hardy Boys, Hammett, Ross MacDonald and John D. Macdonald who are still being read today. I read a lot of other literature as well, including Westerns. But when it came to writing, I prefer to deal with today’s society and modern problems.

Cuts Through Bone (Rachel Vasquez & Clayton Guthrie)

This one won the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel and was written by someone in prison, facing a life sentence. That's two reasons this should be an interesting book. It was judged by experts as a good PI novel and there should be some authenticity to it.
Veteran New York City PI Clayton Guthrie has hired high school graduate Rachel Vasquez as an assistant. We follow the story through both these PI's eyes. I was a bit surprised though that the main viewpoint seemed to shift somewhat from Vasquez to Guthrie. It hurt the story a bit, because Vasquez is a way more interesting character than Guthrie, who doesn't seem to be fleshed out very much. Vasquez' struggle with her family and her journey into becoming a good gumshoe are interesting.
The pair of detectives are hired to prove ex-military man Olsen didn't kill coed Camille Bowman. It turns out there's a serial killer at work here and when the plot thickens the detectives have to take up arms and fight against a very dangerous and skilled enemy.
It is a good novel (and the title has a great origin), but there are some flaws in the structure of the story in my opinion. But hey, it's a first novel so the second one should be better and I do hope there will be a second one.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

OUT NOW: The Color of Blood (A Mike Dalmas short story)

While I am busy writing the newest Noah Milano novella I figured it would be good idea to give you all some more Mike Dalmas... It is out now:


Husband, father, vigilante... Mike Dalmas left Special Forces to become a dedicated family man, but when his daughter gets molested he had his revenge, killing the pervert who committed the crime.
Now the Bay City cops keep him out of jail if he takes care of their dirty work. The things their badge won't allow them to do but for which Dalmas has the right skill set.
The Bay City gangs are forging an alliance. If they unite the police won't be able to stop them anymore. That's why Mike Dalmas is blackmailed into disrupting the gang alliance... With deadly force...

‘An action hero with a liking for justice rather than law – Mike Dalmas is my kind of guy.’ Zoë Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox novels
Loyal fans to this blog will have read it online already but this is your chance to add it to your Kindle collection OR do me a favor and help me spread the word.

GET IT HERE: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GU50PH2

Q & A with Josh Stallings

Josh Stalling is making quite a name for himself in the noir community. His self-published Moses McGuire series is of the highest quality and his character could be the new hope for PI style fiction, even if he isn't an official PI. Here's my interview with him.

Q: What makes Moses McGuire different from other hardboiled characters?
I don’t know that he is.  He is a tarnished knight in the truest sense.  He holds the world and himself up to a strict moral code, one he fails to keep.  Maybe what is different is his world; each of the three books is set in the commercial sex trade.  One More Body deals with young women, girls really, who are kidnapped and forced into prostitution.  When researching the novel I read a lot of first hand accounts from trafficked girls.  And I interviewed sex workers.  I got more and more angry and as I did, so did Moses.  Maybe he is less tarnished knight and more viking berserker in this third novel.

Q: How did you come up with the character? 
The name came first Moses McGuire, then I started thinking about who would have that name.  I stole liberally from myself.  We are both big inked up men with too many scars.  I knew what his special power was; he is suicidal.  It’s hard to threaten a man who doesn’t give a rat’s ass if he lives or dies.  Beautiful, Naked & Dead, the first book, starts with him holding a gun in his mouth trying to decide if this is the day to pull the trigger.  So I knew his name and then I knew the opening chapter, after that I started writing and he developed as we traveled down the road together.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution? 
Ebooks have democratized publishing for good and ill.  I publish the Moses books myself, this has worked out well.  I got lucky to have some early readers and critics champion the books and spread the word.  All The Wild Children, my memoir was published by Snubnose Press.  Having their imprint on it gave me some credibility in the writing community but I’m not sure readers care who publishes a book as long as it is well written, compelling and well edited.  Let me underline WELL EDITED.  After my wife Erika takes a hard look at my work I always go to an outside professional.  With One More Body I was lucky to work with Elizabeth A. White, editor extraordinaire.  She really whipped the book into shape.  I then had Jaye Manus take one more look for typos and had her design and code the ebook.  If I’m going to compete with the legacy publishers I need to go the extra steps to insure I’m putting out the best possible book.

Q: What's next for you and Moses? 
I’m giving Moses a break and working on a stand alone crime book set in the 1970’s.  Ask me about that in a year and I’ll be full of answers.

Q: Do you create your own covers? How do they come about?
I created the covers for the Moses books.  I knew what I wanted and found the photos in a stock house.  The poet Richard Bautigan had covers in the late 1960’s that stuck in my mind.  I wanted the font simple, clean.  I put the covers together with GIMP a free Photoshop like program.  It has its quirks but it is, um, free.  Eric Beetner did the wonderful cover for All The Wild Children, based on a photograph Sabrina Ogden and I took of me in an emergency hospital room in St. Louis - good times...

 Q: How do you promote your work?  
 Promotion is hard, I do interviews like this and send the book to as many reviewers as I can.  At the end of the day books are sold by one reader telling another reader about this cool thing they just read.  At least that’s what I think.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
I do mostly read crime, but I also love just about any book that is well written.  I just finished Joe Lansdale’s The Thicket, it is a western of sorts and I loved it.  Tom Pluck’s Sword of Dishonor was way out of my wheelhouse, with ninjas and WWII flashbacks, and I loved it.  Good writing is good writing.  I also think crime encompasses so many styles that it may be too big a genre to be of much value as far as classification goes.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike? 
In One More Body, Moses is the psychotic one, his sidekick Gregor is much saner and is often the voice of reason.  The crazy one interests me more I guess.

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?
Ken Bruen is one of the writers I measure my work against, and James Crumley.  James Lee Burke has his stamp on the genre.  Charlie Huston.  In the end we all will continue to be driven at some level by Hammett and Chandler, it is unavoidable if you are working in detective fiction they are going to be there. 

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
 I like books where real characters are revealed to me, and I like books where shit happens.  Crime fiction allows for both.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rag Baby (Bone Mizell) by Mark Ellis.

I'm quite a bit of a comic nerd and have been following Mark Ellis on Facebook, hoping to find out what was going to happen to his cool Justice Machine comic. When I found out he had a PI novella coming out I couldn't wait to get it.
Bone Mizell is a really cool guy, owing a bit to guys like Magnum or the TV-series version of Spenser if you ask me. He wears a stetson and drives a cool car in a Florida setting. A bit pulpish? Perhaps, but Ellis knows how to pull this off, having written several adventure paperbacks.
In this story Mizell, security consultant, is hired by a gangster to deal with a blackmailer. Soon he has to tangle with a few dangerous fellas, including a deranged Iraq veteran.
This is the book to pick up you want to read a fast, action-packed PI tale with a cool lead and not too much navel gazing. I think people who like my Noah Milano stuff will be sure to like this one as well. Bonus points for the cool pulpish cover.

Murder Unscripted (Eddie Collins) by Clive Rosengren

There is a reason I set my Noah Milano series in LA. I still think it is the perfect place for a PI series with all the glitz and glamour overshadowed by the dark and gritty side of Hollywood.
The fact this novel is firmly set in Hollywood and was written by a retired actor, making sure the facts were right, made me eager to read it.
Eddie Collins is a not so succesful author who supplements his income as a PI instead of being a waiter. When his ex-wife is killed on a film set he is hired to investigate her death and ends up uncovering some unsavory going-ons in Tinseltown.
This is very much so a whodunnit and we mainly follow Eddie investigating almost police procedural style the murders in the book. In fact, I thought the cops were a bit too helpful to the investigator.
Eddie is a good enough PI, but I felt his character might have benefited from being just a bit more pronounced. He didn't really stand out too much from a dozen other eyes.
The writing is at its best when it delves into Eddie's emotions and I liked the short chapters that made the plot move along quickly, which is needed when you focus so much on visiting and talking to suspects.
All in all a good book, but not a stand-out. I am sure though, this is one writer who will be getting better with every book so I hope to read a second one in this series.

Punishing Game by Nathan Gottlieb is FREE

Anyone following this blog probably knows I'm a big fan of Nathan Gottlieb's Frank Boff series. It's constantly a lot of fun and Frank Boff is a unique character.
You can have a look what I'm so thrilled about for FREE today and tomorrow by checking out the second Boff novel, The Punishing Game over here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Small Sacrifice (Nick Forte) by Dana King

It is not really possible to like PI novels and dislike this one. I can't say it really stands out, but there is just absolutely nothing wrong with it. It is one of the most solid pieces of PI fiction of the last few years, delivering everything I think a PI novel should.
Nick Forte is hired to clear Shirley Mitchell's son of murder. Soon he gets involved with the Chicago mob and has to decide how far he is willing to go in order to protect himself and his loved ones.
I liked Nick, he seemed like a good guy to have a beer with. He's divorced but cares deeply for his daughter and I was touched by the well-written scenes he has with her.
Make no mistake, Nick can be tough when he needs to be as the ending clearly shows. There's a nice assortment of characters to help him out on both sides of the law and some nasty villains.
The writing is tight and clear. Not a word wasted, but still not the clipped style of Robert B. Parker or Leonard.
I know Nick will be popping up in Dana King's novel Grind Joint but I also know there's three other Forte novels he wrote. I hope they will be published as well and I will be sure to snap them up.
Pick it up here if you want to know if you agree.

Beyond the Bridge (Dermot Sparhawk) by Tom MacDonald

This is a prequel to the award-winning The Charlestown Connection, so not a bad way to start reading this series even if it is the second novel to come out. I must admit it got me wondering how that first novel would be able to avoid all the important things happening in this prequel, unless MacDonald had a really good idea what he was going to write in the prequel and managed to slip in what came before in a good way and without spoilers.
Dermot Sparhawk, half-Native American, half-Irish works in a Boston food bank after a botched football career. When one of the visitors of the food bank asks Sparhawk to prove a murdered priest was not  a child molester he quickly discovers he loves playing detective and gets involved in the hunt for a serial killer who targets priests.
Basically I enjoyed the story, but it had a few faults. Sparhawk worked together with the cops just a bit too easily and was just a bit to eager to become an amateur sleuth. Also, I didn't really care for his alcoholism, I think Sparhawk is an interesting enough character without that part of him that is becoming a bit of a cliche among hardboiled characters.
Still, Sparhawk is an interesting unlicensed investigator in a great setting with a good mystery story and the writing is pretty good. I will be looking for the first one in this series and hoping for a third.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Q & A with JJ Lamb

I ran into JJ Lamb's work on Facebook and thought it might be interesting to learn more about him and his PI Zach Rolfe.

Q – What makes Zach Rolfe different from other hardboiled characters?
JJ – First, I never think of Zach as a hardboiled PI; somewhere between Archer and McGee in approach and demeanor. And then there’s the fact he only handles cases involving gaming; he also has an offbeat sense of humor.

Q – How did you come up with the character?
JJ – I was living in Virginia City, Nevada, running a saloon with my wife, Bette, and writing short stories when I had a moment or two, mostly for men’s magazines. One of the magazine publishers decided to get into doing books and asked if I would like to try my hand at a PI novel. I’ve always been a great fan of the genre, so the combination of a book offer, living in Nevada, and being surrounded by gambling sort of set it up for me. I wanted an unusual name for my lead character and invented Zachariah Tobias Rolfe III. The use of all three names, then tacking on the III, was the result of having worked in a movie theater with a guy named Marion McKinley Parsons III. I’d always wanted to do something similar, and it creates a lot of room for backstory. It was also about as far away as I could get from Bill Pronzini’s “Nameless,” a personal favorite.

Q – What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
JJ – I think it may be more evolution than revolution. Traditional print publishers are all over the place about it, and it’s going to take a while for it to shake itself out. It’s a great opportunity for authors, but I personally think it could turn harmful if some kind of trusted filter system doesn’t come to the fore ... soon. Bad writing is bad writing and I think free and 99-cent books only demean this exciting new segment of publishing.

Q – What’s next for you and Zach?
JJ – Wish I could tell you that I’m well into another Zach book, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I am keeping a close watch on the gaming scene in the U.S. and elsewhere, looking for the seed of an out-of- the-ordinary plot. In the interim, Bette and I are hard at work on the fourth book of our Gina Mazzio RN medical thriller series, the most recent of which is Bone Pit. I’ve also got a good start on a follow-up book to our suspense-adventure novel, Heir Today....

Q – How do you promote your books?
JJ – Almost any way possible – Website, author page on Amazon, FaceBook, LinkedIn, blogs, bookstore appearances, panels at Left Coast Crime, Bouchercon, and other mystery book conferences and seminars, write articles for mystery magazines, Mystery Writers of America events, Sisters in Crime showcases, various Yahoo groups, mailing out flyers, and email blasts.

Q – What other genres besides crime do you like?
JJ – If you mean like rather than write, I’m an eclectic reader. It’s really difficult to find something I’m not interested in, at least at some level. I’ve done some science fiction stories with Bette, but nothing published in the way of books.

Q – What’s your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
JJ – They have to be done exceptionally well, like the two you mentioned, but I can’t see Zach taking on a sidekick, psychotic or not. Psychotics as adversaries, yes, but no teaming up with one, male or female. Zach is too much of an I’d-rather-do-it-myself kind of guy.

Q – In the last century we’ve seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, and later, Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation?
JJ – You left out some important names, like MacDonald and Pronzini; and females such as Muller and Grafton. The best place to look for new trend setters is by checking out writers who win best book awards sponsored by Private Eye Writers of America, MWA, and International Thriller Writers.
However, don’t be taken in by “best” awards that are nothing more than popularity contests; the winning books may be good, bad, or ugly, but the authors are sure to have many, many friends and large families who cast many, many votes.

Q – Why do you write in this genre?
JJ – Because I enjoy it ... it was what I read primarily before I ever attempted to write fiction (I originally was a journalist). At its best, it combines high adventure with fascinating characters and complicated plots.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


So many people were excited to work with me on the first Shamus Sampler and so many seem to dig the result that I just had to do it...


What am I looking for?
Stories of licensed OR unlicensed PI's. About 5000 words.

March the first, 2014

What am I paying?
Nothing, but your work will be showcased in a sampler designed to showcase the work of the talented PI writers out there. I will make sure major talent is included, ensuring enough exposure.

What will it be?
A low-priced Kindle anthology. I want as much people to read it as possible to show the PI is not dead.

How do I contribute?
Email me at jvdsteen@hotmail.com with ''shamus sampler'' in the subject. Tell me in a few words the story you (want) to write. I will then email you a Word doc that holds a sample document with the format I would like the story to be written in. This will make the publishing part easier and faster so I might be able to do this thing 4 times a year.

Doom Point (JD Fiorella) by Dan Fante

JD Fiorella used to be salesman, a cop and a PI until a shoot-out had him crawl too far into the bottle. Now he lives in Malibu, attending AA meetings, trying to write and making a living selling cars. When a friends gets brutally murdered he set outs for revenge.
The first 80 pages or so you might think you're reading a literary novel. Then the hunter within the protagonist really awakens and you get a hardboiled tale of revenge that would make Mike Hammer blush. Rarely have I seen a protagonist so relentless and merciless. At times I must admit I was a bit taken aback by his ruthless behaviour and willingness to torture. Here's a guy who doesn't need a psycho sidekick. He IS the psycho. Aside from those qualities he picks up hookers, can be a nasty, hot-tempered kind of guy, is a bit sexist... Well, you get the picture. Spenser he's not.
Still, I was fascinated by seeing him in action and to be fair, the main villain is way worse. The prose is dark, angry and to the point. I understand there will be a second JD Fiorella novel, I'm looking forward to that one. The ending to this one had me a bit worried about his return, but thinking about Dan Fortune put my mind at ease.
My favorite read of the year so far.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Valentino Pier (Gulliver Dowd) by Reed Farrel Coleman

Great things can come in small packages, and this series is proof of that. Not only does it feature a little person as a  PI but it is also a pretty short novel. It's also a fantastic piece of PI fiction.
Gulliver Dowd, a little person and PI offers to help a street kid find his missing (and aptly-named) dog Ugly. When the kid gets beaten up Dowd is determined to find out who was behind that. Meanwhile he falls in love with the assistant of a veterinarian which results in some interesing conversations about how ''normal'' anyone really is.
Dowd is such a wonderful character. He is 100% old-fashioned PI on one hand, on the other hand the fact he's a little person gives him some unique perspective that gives the story just that bit extra to make it stand out.
This is a novel in the Rapid Reads imprint, which means it is easy to read. Short sentences, not too many difficult words. This by no means makes the story any less interesting, just a faster read. I really think a lot of writers can learn a lot about writing a fast-paced, readable book by studying Coleman's prose in this one and it was an inspiration for my own writing. So DON'T hesitate to pick this up because it's a Rapid Reads, instead DO pick it up for that reason.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bad Religion (Nick Kepler) by James Winter

Í have been following the writing of James Winter for a long time now. I love seeing his writing grow.
In this Nick Kepler novel he, together with his partner Elaine, investigate a local pastor who is accused of skimming the collection plate. Meanwhile, an old criminal friend wants to enlist Kepler in his company, but Kepler is not sure he wants to make a deal with the devil. When one of his operatives gets killed Nick has to think about that again, though. After all, he's really interested in seeing justice done.
What makes this one a winner is not so much the writing itself (which gets the job done but is nothing fancy) or the plot, but the fact Kepler is not a perfect person. He sleeps with a married woman, is prepared to cross several lines to do his job... It's this humanity that makes Nick so real a character and makes you want to see what happens to him.
I also liked how he employs various operatives when he needs them. Better than the standard psychotic sidekick.

Friday, September 27, 2013

COMING SOON: The Shamus Sampler


An anthology full of exciting PI fiction written by popular names like Reed Farrel Coleman, Bill Crider, James Winter, Fred Zackel, J.L. Abramo, Keith Dixon and some newer names like Kit Rohrbacher, Peter DiChellis and others.
Of course there's a Noah Milano story in there as well.
It is edited by me and formatted by the talented Sean Dexter, who has a cool story in the anthology as well.
The Shamus Sampler will be available next week and will only cost you 99 cents.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Die A Stranger (Alex McKnight) by Steve Hamilton

This is one of the best Steve Hamilton novels. When his Native American friend Vinnie Leblanc is missing ex-cop and sometime PI Alex McKnight investigates. He is helped by Vinnie's dad, a dangerous ex-con and gets involved in a war between potsmugglers.
The pacing in this one is just excellent, a real page-turner. There's a bit of mystery, some violence, great descriptions of the surroundings and great insights into the character of Alex McKnight, one of the most believable tough guys in fiction.
I loved the ominous ending, making me anxious to read the next in this excellent series.

Q & A with Mike Faricy

After reading "Bite Me"  I just had to interview the author so I could get to know his thoughts about his protagonist Dev Haskell and PI fiction.

Q: What makes Dev Haskell different from other hardboiled characters? 
One of the major characteristics that makes Dev Haskell different from other Crime genre protagonists is he’s not perfect. I love the genre, but I really became tired of the format where the chief protagonist was take your pick; a former Special Forces individual who just wants to be left alone, only the bad guys have pushed him and now he’s coming back with a vengeance. Or, the guy who is on the outs with the authorities, but saves the day and in the process captures the heart of the gorgeous daughter of a millionaire. If you’re looking for a tale where the world is saved from terrorists, international banking conspiracies or a government coup you won’t be interested in my Dev Haskell series. Dev deals with the strata of society that is just below the surface of polite society. We all know a few of these sorts of people, but we wisely like to keep them at a distance. Dev, and the people he deals with find themselves in situations because they’ve made bad decisions, but then bad decisions make for interesting stories. Dev guesses wrong more than once. He can be a bit lazy. He often ends up with the wrong sort of women or, if he’s with a quality woman she usually throws up her hands at some point and decides that he is just too much work.

Q: How did you come up with the character? 
I wrote a half dozen novels before I began the Dev Haskell series, they’re all stand alone novels. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was honing my ‘Dev’ skills. I started writing the first Dev Haskell novel and it just kept coming and coming. There might be a bit of type casting in there. I wrote the Dev Haskell series with me as the reader in mind. Amazingly, to me, the vast majority of my fan base is female. I get emails daily telling me how much they like the books. I had two women email me regarding the same book, one wrote “Gee, I’m on page 130 and I’m not sure about the sex.” About a week later I got an email from a woman regarding the same title and she said, “150 pages and this is all the sex I get?” That told me I was probably just about were I should be in that department. I got an email from a woman a while back who summed up a number of comments I’d received. She said, “I love the series, but Dev always ends up with a young beautiful, well endowed woman and well, that’s just not me, anymore.” So I got to thinking and wrote Tutti Frutti, Dev becomes infatuated with a woman 10-12 years older than he is. You’ll have to read the book to learn what happens.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
 I think it’s fantastic. I led the league in rejection letters to traditional publishers. I’d write a book, send out my query letters, fifty to seventy per book, all with a self-addressed stamped envelope enclosed so I could get my rejection in a timely manner. The rejections were often times just printed on a form 4x5 card with absolutely no hint at a personal note. I kept writing. In between times I would read books and end up thinking I can write at least as well as this. Can’t I? Then one day one of my query letters was returned. I’d sent it to one of the (in those days) big six New York publishers. The envelope had a large purple stamp across the front that read “Return to Sender”. On the back was a hand written note that said, “This does not fit our needs at this time”. They never even opened the envelope to see what my book was about. It dawned on me that Mike Faricy, from St. Paul, Minnesota doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell with these folks. But, the difference is now there is a side gate into the playground. It’s called e-books and e-publishing. I haven’t looked back. I would guess that the sort of individuals needed to pull traditional publishers into the new reality of the publishing world probably aren’t actually at a traditional publisher, or if they are they’re most likely not being listened to.

Q: What's next for you and Dev ? 
 Quite a number of things are in the works. The latest Dev title, Last Shot, is due out very shortly. All the Dev books are getting new covers. I love the covers I have, but I’ve been doing signings recently and it gave me the opportunity to chat with fans as well as people who had never heard of me. One thing was very apparent, readers, at least in the crime fiction genre, love a series. I would always be asked which was the first in the Dev Haskell series? I’d explain they were all stand alone works and you could read them in any order. An over whelming amount of people wanted to begin with the first Dev novel, Russian Roulette and read them all, in order. The new covers have an image of Dev along with the order in the series which will be listed as a case number. So, for example, Case 1: Russian Roulette is obviously the first. Case 6, Last Shot, as I mentioned, will be out this fall.

Q: How do you promote your work?  
Any way I can. I mentioned I do a few signings at local book fairs. Obviously blog interviews like this are a great source. I’m on Facebook and I tweet, occasionally, but with all social media you don’t want to drown people in promotional material, that can have an adverse effect. I’ve been fortunate to move enough books in the course of the month that Amazon has offered me in their promotions, ‘If you liked this you may enjoy Mike Faricy’, that sort of thing. Word of mouth is still the best, getting an enjoyable title out there and having people tell their friends remains the best way I know.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
I love history. I’ve read all of Stephen Ambrose, William Manchester, Jeff Shaara, David McCullough. I like to read a lot of current events and analysis, the Wall Street Journal, the Irish Independent, The Guardian. I sort of get on line and when I look up suddenly a couple of hours have passed.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike? 
I think they can be good, I’ve read all the Robert B. Parker novels with Hawk and enjoyed them, but there is that aspect of it just fits too perfectly and real life just isn’t perfect. At least that’s the way mine seems to work out. I like the fact that Joe Pike twitches. I think there are two or three earlier Elvis Cole novels where Joe does not appear and that was a disappointment, I missed him.

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 would keep those names and add to them Carl Hiaasen. The recently departed  Elmore Leonard. I think possibly Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin for sure, quite possibly Daniel Woodrell. I think one other author all though not in the crime genre that I would add is J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. Those books have introduced an entire generation of young people to the joys of reading. 

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
I write what I know. I enjoy the genre immensely. That said, it’s a Labor of Love, capitol ‘L’ on both words. I labor at the craft and constantly strive to make it better. Is it good or bad news that we never seem to be at a loss for a new crime? I hope your readers will take a moment to check out the Dev Haskell series as well as my other books on Amazon. Thanks for letting me drone on, Jochem please have me back. All the best to everyone.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bite Me (Devlin Haskell) by Mike Faricy

Now this is a funny book... Devlin Haskin sure isn't Sam Spade. A bit of an anti-hero with loads of exes who sometimes help, sometimes hinder him he's an interesting character.
In this novel he's chased by a lover wielding a knife before she ends up landing him a job doing security for a pirate radio station. When she later accuses him of raping her and dead bodies turn up Devlin has to prove his innocence, helped by an unusual public defender.
The writing style is pretty amusing, Dev is a great character. The mystery and plot twists are pretty good too, but in a way the ending seemed a bit rushed.
Will be sure to pick up another one in this series and will be publishing an interview with the author very soon.

Q & A with Paul Levine

Q: What makes Jake Lassiter different from other hardboiled characters?
Jake is a mixture. A tough-guy former linebacker with a tough bark….but a soft heart. He’s a sucker for a kid who needs help, like his nephew Kip. Or a wrongfully accused defendant. And he has a wicked sense of humor. “They don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim.”

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I wrote the first of the series, “To Speak for the Dead,” at a time in my life when I was not getting along with my then-wife, my law partners, my clients, even some judges. A troubled defense lawyer seemed to come naturally. And the fact that he might punch out a witness (or even his own client) appealed to me.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
It’s brought many more readers into the fold. No one wants to see brick and mortar stores fade away, but change is inevitable.

Q: What's next for you and Jake ?
I take the Fifth. After all, the tagline of “State vs. Lassiter” is: “Is this the end of the linebacker-turned-lawyer?”

Q: How do you promote your work?
Social media mostly. My new updated website: http://www.paul-levine.com
My new Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/PaulLevineAuthorPage
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake_Lassiter

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
General fiction. Tom Wolfe. John Updike. The usual suspects.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Well, it works for their stories. Jake Lassiter’s sidekick is a little less lethal: retired coroner Doc Charlie Riggs. Of course, as Jake points out, “Doc, you’ve never had a patient who lived.”

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?
Oh, man. Tough one. WAY too many to choose from. James Lee Burke. Harlan Coben. Laura Lippman. John Grisham and Scott Turow in my field of legal thrillers. I’m leaving out dozens.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
I love a good murder!

Loose Ends (Fenway Burke) by James Phoenix

I loved the debut of Fenway Burke in "Frame Up" so I was happy to see him return in this one. Hired by an organized crime figure to rescue his kidnapped daughter he, together with his sidekick Ax, ends up in Columbia.
James takes his PI a bit from Robert B. Parker into Lee Child territory with a bit more thriller-like action than most PI books have.
I like that Burke has a real family  now and think James manages to balance the family guy with the hardboiled PI pretty well. I like that Burke is every bit the hardass Ax is, dispensing some pretty rough justice when he thinks it is needed.
The writing is even more fast-paced and to the point than the first novel. James (like me) is a big fan of leaving out the parts people skip, making this a fast and enjoyable read.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Complex 90 (Mike Hammer) by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

Recently, while writing my work in progress, THE DEATH BUSINESS I had to admit I am probably influenced more by Mickey Spillane than Raymond Chandler. I mean, in my neweste novella Noah Milano faces strippers, nymphomaniacs, nude models and is in a deadly firefight in the first fifty pages. Yeah, I like my Mike Hammer. So, this is another treat.
When Mike bodyguards a political figure in the Russia of 1964 he ends up in a lot of trouble and is forced to fight his way over the Iron Curtain. Back in New York City he discovers the Russians aren't accepting the fact a man who killed so many of theirs is allowed to walk around a free man.
Hammer decides to uncover a KGB agent in the States as leverage while some dangerous men are after a secret formula.
Yep, this is a Cold War story. Mike Hammer doing the Matt Helm / James Bond / UNCLE route, not surprisingly because the roots of this story are in the sixties when spies were all the rage. Mickey Spillane wrote a large part of this manuscript forty years ago that Max Allan Collins finished in the way he, as Spillane's friend and biggest fan can only do.
As always Mike Hammer is THE tough guy and the fights, witty banter and dames are all there and excellent. What really intrigued me in this one is the secret story of why Velda and Mike won't have kids. I wonder if Spillane thought this up or Collins.
I must admit I like the Hammer stories that deal with more straight-up crime better, but when it comes to hardboiled fiction Spillane and Collins are alway a killer combination.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Q & A with Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis might be better known for his work on series like The Outlanders or his wonderful Justice Machine comic. It turns out he's a fan of the hardboiled PI as well, so with a new novella out I felt compelled to interview him...

Q: What makes Bone Mizell different from other hardboiled characters?
First and foremost, Bonaparte "Bone" Mizell is not a PI in the conventional sense. He took early retirement from the Tampa office of the DEA for mysterious reasons I only allude to in "Rag Baby". He also refused to go into the Witness Protection Program.
 Instead, he returned to his small Central Florida hometown and set up a security systems company...installing burglar alarms and video surveillance for local businesses, like used car dealerships.
 He's been doing that for about a year when "Rag Baby" opens.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
Basically, I wanted a protagonist who was more of a western-type character...that's one reason I placed Bone in Central Florida, which is a huge cattle ranching area, probably the second or third largest cattle-rearing region in the entire country.
So, I figured with Bone in that rather lawless area, he would contend with modern-day western type situations--outlaw bikers, Klansmen, Mexican drug cartels and the terrain itself....thousands of acres of swampland and rattlesnake-infested palmetto scrub.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
Having been "traditionally" published for most of my career, I have to admit I resisted ebooks initially. It wasn't until we made CRYPTOZOICA available as an ebook that I had a "hand-slap to the forehead" revelation.
The sales on the ebook edition far outstripped those of the CRYPTOZOICA TPB. Even after the first surge, the sales still keep a steady pace.
 "Rag Baby" is my first work that I released as an ebook edition first, mainly because it's of novella length and there simply is no traditional fiction market for novellas--especially in genre fiction--any longer.
 With ebooks, you can put out any length or any format. It's quite the game-changer, and it apparently has made a lot of people nervous...from publishers to even some writers.

Q: What's next for you and Bone ?
I'm crafting another short story with the working title of "Black Nails." It plants Bone atop a racial powder-keg with a group calling themselves the White Warrior Empire who are trying to light the fuse. I intend to get a novel done, too.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Not as well as I should...I have my own site (www.MarkEllisInk.com), Facebook page and Twitter account but promotion is almost a full-time job.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I'm known mainly for SF and action-adventure, as evidenced by my best-selling OUTLANDERS series. I love westerns, too. I need to get one of those written ASAP, as well. And of course, there are all of those comic books I've written, like Doc Savage and The Wild Wild West.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Eh...I guess it depends on whether they serve the story. I'm not as familiar with Pike as I am Hawk and Mouse, but I never liked Hawk until I saw how he was portrayed by Avery Brooks on the Spenser For Hire TV show. The character in the books seemed a little too contrived for my tastes, a middle-aged white man's idea of a black badass.
Walter Mosely's Mouse seems like less of a conscious creation to act as Easy Rawlins' foil.

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 don't know, really. Writers like Timothy Harris and Loren Estleman who came along in the late 70s and 80s and who I thought were superior to Parker and Lehane didn't get the kind of mainstream attention they should have.
 So your guess is as good as mine. 

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
 It's a genre I've always enjoyed and in fact, a hardboiled detective novel was my first full-length "serious" work. After 50 books, it's about time I returned to the genre. Anyone who is curious can read more about that and Bone's genesis here:


Friday, August 30, 2013

Q & A with Clive Rosengren

Like me, Clive Rosengren understands LA is still the perfect place to set a PI series. I had the pleasure to interview him about his character Eddie Collins, his debut novel and the genre.
Q: What makes Eddie Collins different from other hardboiled characters?
 I think the main difference about Eddie is that he's both a working actor and a licensed private investigator. As is common knowledge, many non A-list actors in Hollywood are forced to take "day" jobs, subsistence jobs to make ends meet. Rather than tend bar, sell real estate, drive a limo or a cab, Eddie operates his own investigative office. Many times he believes the PI hat he wears fits better than the actor's hat, but he attempts to exist in both worlds...one world being Hollywood and the entertainment business.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I'm not exactly sure how this character came into my head. Murder Unscripted began life as a screenplay, and I'd always been enamored of the hard-boiled PI, guys like Mike Hammer and Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
The e-book revolution is here to stay, like it or not. I still prefer having the pages in my hands, but for many authors, and for many fans of authors who are out of print, the ebook offers a means of getting to know some of the bright lights from the age of the "pulps." [Incidentally, Murder Unscripted is available as an audio book--narration by the author, of course--through Blackstone Audio and Amazon.]
Q: What's next for you and Eddie Collins ?
I've written a second Eddie Collins story, called Red Desert, and am currently looking for a home for it. Eddie is hired to find the source of threatening letters an A-List friend of his has been receiving, and in doing so, finds a long-time friendship being tested against the backdrop of Hollywood.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I have a website [cliverosengren.com], am on FB, and I did a scaled-down book tour last year. Financial resources prevent me from doing a lot of traveling to promote the book.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I must confess that my reading is predominately in the crime fiction genre. However, I do like reading autobiographies and biographies--chiefly of actors and actresses. I also read non-fiction works about Hollywood.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Well, I wouldn't necessarily consider Hawk and Pike "psychotic." Prone to violence, yes. Clete Purcell, however [Dave Robicheaux's sidekick], might fit the description. I think guys like Hawk and Pike play a role that sometimes the PI can't do, and that is, operate a bit sub rosa, in the shadows, using methods that Spencer and Elvis can't, or won't use.

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's a whole new breed of writers out there that I'm sure influence budding writers. Certainly Connelly, Crais, and James Lee Burke are influences. Steve Hamilton, William Kent Krueger, T. Jefferson Parker, Ace Atkins, are some names that come to mind.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
I write in this genre because I like the opportunity to create a character who can influence behavior in other people and attempt to set things right, sort of crusader, in a sense. Crime fiction appeals to me because it involves the reader and delights in taking you on a journey.


Colt (Nicholas Colt) by Jude Hardin

I loved Jude Hardin's first Colt novel, but felt the later ones became a bit too action-packed and thriller-like for my taste. I'm very happy to say that with this new, self-published start of the series (a prequel of sorts to the other books) we see Jude AND Nicholas Colt return to true form.
Colt, ex-member of rockband Colt 45 and survivor of a terrible plane crash makes his living as a PI. When a client goes missing he starts to investigate and discovers someone is killing the kids of a sperm donor.
Colt is a good investigator, tough but not unbelievable. The rock-past is cool (I'm a fan of rock music) and the pacing is spot-on.
I hope this one will be followed up soon by another novel set before the later ones.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Q & A with Dana King

Dana King has been a loyal follower of my Noah Milano stories and this blog, that made it extra cool to learn he has a PI novel coming out and made me anxious to interview him...
Q: What makes Nick Forte different from other hardboiled characters?
A: Wow, a hard one right out of the chute. On a superficial level, nothing much. He’s not superhuman, like Mike Hammer or Spenser. He’s not an alcoholic or a drug addict. He’s a regular guy, with the skills needed to do the job, so he’s not an everyman who somehow gets out of situations he shouldn’t be able to. His biggest problem at the start is not getting to spend as much time with his daughter as he’d like as a divorced dad. He subliminally compensates by taking cases with parent-child issues in them, which turn out to be increasingly violent, and the juxtaposition of violence and family concerns wears him down as the series progresses .
Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: It was a joke. I was a musician and wrote a short story in the style of Mickey Spillane, about a rigged orchestral trumpet audition. My friends were supporting characters, under different names, easily recognizable if you knew them. Nick Forte was a former trumpet player who became a teacher, then a cop, then a PI, so he’s the logical person to look into the audition rumors. “Forte” is the musical term for “loud;” literally “strong” in Italian. For a first name, I wanted something with hard sounds that sounded tough.
Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
A: For me, it’s great. As a writer, it allows me to get my work out to whatever audience wants to read it, even if it’s only a few dozen people. If they had an entertaining read, that’s a good thing. Storytellers need an audience at some level. Making up stories solely for oneself is the most masturbatory thing I can think of. Well, except for masturbation.

As a reader, I save shelf space and money, which allows me to read a lot more without having to worry about shelf space and money. As someone whose taste is not what bestsellers are made of, e-books make it easier to try authors I am unfamiliar with, as I don’t have to wonder if I’m about to drop twenty-eight dollars on a book I’ll set aside after fifteen pages.
I know there are unresolved business issues, but no one knows how those will shake out. Hell, people can’t tell what will be the hot seller next month. I prefer to hope things will come out well for everyone.


Q: What's next for you and Nick Forte?
A: Funny you, of all people, should ask. I’m proofing and formatting a story about an actor Forte is hired to protect, who is about to launch a one-man play using what he claims is the actual Maltese falcon from the climactic scene in the movie, the one Sidney Greenstreet nicks with his penknife. It’s called The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, and it was written as my homage to the book and the movie, using quotes from both, and titling each chapter, as Hammett did. (What a pain that was.)

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: Not very well, I’m afraid. Facebook, my blog One Bite at a Time, and by depending on the generosity of people like you to give me an opportunity to get out the word.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
A: Other than crime, I read mostly non-fiction. The non-crime fiction I read can be anything good, by an author worth the time to read. I knocked off a couple of Kurt Vonnegut novels earlier this year, and some Mark Twain. Pete Dexter’s Deadwood is a wonderful book, and Charles Portis’s Masters of Atlantis as about as much fun as I’ve reading that I can remember.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: The psycho sidekick can serve a valuable role, so long as he doesn’t become a caricature, or a crutch. Joe Pike is a good example of a sidekick done well, though I don’t think of him as a psycho. Walter Mosely’s Mouse is another, though he really is a psycho. (Even Easy is afraid of Mouse.) The trick is not to use the sidekick as a means of letting the hero get himself into all kinds of things he can never get out of himself, or you run the risk of creating a Stephanie Plum and Ranger scenario. (Which is fine for Janet Evanovich, as she’s writing humorous stories.) In my case, it’s the sidekick who tries to talk Forte out of stuff, especially as the stories progress and the violence wears Forte down until Forte is almost the psycho protagonist.

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?
A: Two who stick out to me are Sean Chercover and Declan Hughes, both of whom have unique ideas about sidekicks. Sean’s Ray Dudgeon has a friend named Gravedigger Peace, a former mercenary who has renounced his violent past and lives in a cemetery. Declan Hughes is the Irish Ross Macdonald. His detective, Ed Loy, has an unreliable sidekick who will stand with Ed—up to a point—but who cannot be assumed will complete the task as expected.
Tim Hallinan’s Junior Bender series is another interesting angle on PI stories that may influence writers to look for characters who do PI work, but who aren’t actually PIs. Not amateur sleuths—I hate those—but Junior’s a career criminal, a burglar, so he has skills and smarts.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
A: I think PI stories, when done well, can be the highest form of crime fiction, especially when done in first person point of view. Seeing what the detective sees, and, more important, feeling what he (or she) feels, allows the writer to take the reader places where it’s difficult for other forms to go. I love police procedurals (Ed McBain, Joe Wambaugh, etc.) but cops are about closing cases; that’s their job. PIs can be about providing closure, however imperfect, which makes the ripple effects of crime more evident. Americans are notorious for liking happy endings in their stories, but there are no true happy endings to violent crime. The victim is still dead, or damaged in some other way, even if no physical signs are evident. This can’t help but affect everyone close to them. Cops can’t do much with that, but PIs can.