What follows is a stab at the week in review of small press crime fiction. I have written these reviews for the past month seeing if I could one stay interested and two if I could find the time. Over the last four weeks, this had several different iterations — none of which you will see — until I settled on something along these lines. This post covers the week of July 17-23.
If you haven’t had the chance to listen to Tom Pitts and Jordan Harper’s conversation about writing, you need to. They are authors of American Static and She Rides Shotgun respectively. The podcast, an episode of Pitt’s Skid Row Chatter, is a short master class on writing. When they started talking about point of view, I’m not ashamed to say, I got a semi. Speaking of writing tips, Chris Rhatigan quietly posted two wonderful articles: In Defense of the Small Book and Five Writing Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now. As co-publisher of All Due Respect Books and a freelance editor, Rhatigan gives away some valuable advice for free. You should get on this post haste.
Through the Ant Farm by Robert Leeland Taylor was released by ABC Group Documentation and since this is one of my favorite publishers, this book immediately jumps up to the top of my TBR. Another great small press, Broken River Books, released The Snake Handler by Cody Goodfellow and J David Osborne. A new anthology called Noir at the Salad Bar: Culinary Tales With A Bit is out featuring short stories about “gastronomic mysteries”. The fifth in Malcolm Hollingdrake’s DCI Bennet series, Dying Art (Bloodhound Books), is out. Also new from Bloodhound Books is the third installment of the DI Hamilton series by Tara Lyons, Deadly Friendship. New in the UK is Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead (No Exit Press), it is available in the US from Minotaur Books. Though not news to anyone, Michael Connelly has started a new series with a female cop, Renée Ballard. The first book is The Late Show. Richard Lange and Tetsuya Honda have released new books as well.
Tony Knighton, the author of the new book Three Hours Past Midnight (Crime Wave Press), has a short story on Trigger Warning called Dolly. Trigger Warning is new to me and the first thing that struck me was the incredible images that accompanied each short story. Admittedly, I haven’t had a chance to read anything past Knighton’s story but do take a look at Trigger Warning, the images by John Skewes alone are worth it. Three other stories I’m recommending are Angel Luis Colón’s Counting Ashes, Tony Tremblay’s The Scum Bar, and Joshua Chaplinsky’s Letters to the Purple Satin Killer.
Last week I reviewed Rob Hart’s The Woman From Prague (Polis Books) and Iain Ryan’s The Student (Echo Press). Over at Black Guys Do Read, Richard has been on a tear of reading some decent comic books: Peepland, Saga, and Sex Criminals. His review of Winslow’s The Force was spot on. A couple of other reviews you might want to read are Scott Alderberg’s excellent take on The Student and Gabino Iglesias’s review of She Rides Shotgun. Another book that has been getting a lot of good play on the internet is Tom Leins’ self-published Skull Meat.
Kellye Garrett, author of the forthcoming Hollywood Homicide (Midnight Ink), posts on The Thrill Begins about going from one’s Writer Hat to the Author Hat. As Garrett writes about how one moves from “flailing around in the middle of an ocean full of books screaming ‘Notice me! I’m over here! Isn’t my cover pretty?'” to actually accomplishing some good promotional work for one’s book. E.A. Aymar, writer and managing editor of The Thrill Begins, has a post about the painful waiting after submission.
Waiting is hell for writers. You’ve spent so long working on a book, finally written something pretty and polished and publishable. At any moment (seriously, any moment) you could receive word that you’re going to become a published author. You check your e-mail after meetings. Rush through voice mails. Worry about how often you’re bugging your agent. Every day you wake up excited, have that excitement wane through the day, and go to sleep disappointed. After a while, that nightly disappointment seeps into your days.
Two other posts that are worth mentioning is Gabino Iglesias’s LitHub column and his latest entry, Why Do So Many Indie Presses Fail, which is a sad but important read. Iglesias interviews several small press publishers about their take on the high failure rate of indie presses. Oh, and Scott Alderberg again, this time with an interview with Iain Ryan at Do Some Damage. Andrew Nette updates your Australian crime calendar with a Noir at the Bar and an interview with Meghan Abbot.
I post this knowing the incredibly long time a book takes to get a book published, but I still found the similarities striking.I came across a new book by Heather Burnside called Born Bad (Aria). As the blurb goes it is a “gritty Manchester crime trilogy. When your enemies get close, family loyalty is all you can trust.” This book immediately reminded me of Marnie Richards’ Born Bad (Avon) released a few months ago. It’s described as “gritty and gripping” by Kimberly Chambers. The description of Richards’ book starts out as, “A powerful, darkly comic novel set in the criminal underworld of Manchester from bestselling author Marnie Riches. The battle is on …” Indeed the battle is on.
The Robbery by Jim Cummings is a short crime film that if you haven’t seen it is well worth your time.
I hope you enjoyed this attempt at a week in review. By the time you read this, I’ll already be working on Incident Report No. 2.