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.’ ZoĆ« 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.


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.