Nick Kolakowski’s Slaughterhouse Blues is the second in his Love & Bullets Hookup books, the first being A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps both of which feature Bill and Fiona, an ex-mob accountant and an ex-mob assassin on the run. The first book was a frenetic dance of violence and gunfire, while Slaughterhouse Blues, though wild and unpredictable, is not as similar as one would expect a follow-up novel to be – it is almost like the second book was written by a different author.
Maybe it is the tropical climate of Managua and Havana that slow the pace of Bill and Fiona’s adventures down, but Kowalski takes a bit more time showing us who they are and what motivates them. I guess it’s time to catch up if you haven’t read A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps and you should as the e-book is going for .99¢ right now. Where was I? Bill decided to steal from the Rockaway mob. Fiona was sent to kill Bill, except they had a history and now they are on the run together in the Caribbean. When Slaughterhouse Blues begins, Fiona is off to Managua to do a little job for some cash. While things don’t go well for her in Nicaragua, Bill is having his own troubles in Cuba.
I didn’t think it possible for Kolakowski to out do himself with the gun-wielding Elvis Presley impersonator in A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps, but he has with Ken and Barbara, two ruthless killers on the hunt but also in love. As one character notices, Ken and Barbara are two “lone wolves, and yet they found each other somehow.” Kowalski probably did everything in his power not to name them Ken and Barbie, but that’s okay, that’s what I called them in my head. And the fight scene in a car driving down New York City’s Park Avenue is worthy of the price of admission.
Slaughterhouse Blues wasn’t the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am book like its predecessor, but I wasn’t disappointed. With Bill and Fiona as our guides, Nick Kolakowski’s Slaughterhouse Blues takes us on a raucous ride filled with craziness, violence, and peculiar characters.
Here’s another edition of the Incident Report, a week in review of small press crime fiction. Over the last couple of weeks, I reviewed three really good books: Matt Phillips’ Accidental Outlaws, Marietta Miles’ May, and Scott Adlerberg’s Jack Waters. Shit, we at Unlawful Acts like Miles’ new book so much, Jim Thomsen stopped by with a glowing review. My column at Do Some Damage was about Eryk Pruitt’s latest work, a podcast called The Last DanceThis issue I’m focusing on a bunch of new and recent releases since early to mid-January. At the end there are a handful of selected upcoming releases.
New and Recent Releases
Switchblade: Issue 04 edited by Scotch Rutherford
Publisher Description: Switchblade returns with another lethal dose of outlaw fiction. Rage, retribution, revenge—that’s just the tip of the stiletto. Greed, bloodlust, infamy—the more you read, the deeper the laceration; twisting as it mangles. Featuring 14 choice cuts from Pearce Hansen, Nick Manzolillo, J.D. Graves, Keith Rawson, Max Sheridan, Diana Deverell, Peter DiChellis, Henry Brock, A.B. Patterson, Lisa Douglass, Aaron Majewski, Mike Derochick, Tais Teng, and Jeffrey Burton.
Twisted and barbed like your ex; sharp and deadly like the femme fatale you know you can’t resist—Switchblade Issue Four: it ain’t your grandma’s Ellery Queen.
Blackchurch Furnance by Nathan Singer
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: Blackchurch is not the sort of place where folks are inclined to be up in each other’s business, and strange house guests at a neighbor’s pad are not likely to be noticed, let alone remarked upon. So on a day in early October, when two beat-up-looking crackers, a pregnant teenage whore, and a small, androgynous Japanese woman in a large-brimmed sombrero, sunglasses, and wrapped in a patchwork down comforter came to call on D’antre Philips with heads full of prophetic visions and tales of the apocalypse already in progress, nary an eye was blinked. When the end times do come to Blackchurch, it’ll be a day like any other day. And the next day will be too.Blackchurch Furnace is a scathing satire of faith, family, and all that we hold dear, where the only thing you can believe in are the voices in your own head…and they are every bit as crazy as you are.Praise for BLACKCHURCH FURNACE:“Blackchurch Furnace is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It reads like an underworld testament, groaning with ghost histories, clanking and burning with all the shuffling grandeur of its subject, Cincinnati. It’s haunting, it’s furious, it’s beautiful, it’s a book only Nathan Singer could have written. He’s the kind of writer who’ll just destroy you, in all the right ways.”—Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike and Cry Father“Similar to author Victor LaValle (The Ecstatic, Slapboxing with Jesus and Big Machine), Nathan Singer is an urban wordsmith that blisters the pages with a language only he can scribe. Blackchurch Furnace is an apocalyptic head-scratching mystery laced with hip-hop, Louisiana metal, 9-11, Afghanistan and Iraq. Characters scour to LA and back to where the story is rooted amongst the struggling class of Ohio with Gothic saviors, saints and prophets searching to redefine what was once moral and just. This book is loud, comical, witty, and comes with a soprano-shriek that screams ‘read me!’”—Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donnybrook“Reading Nathan Singer’s Blackchurch Furnace is like coming across a lost book of the Bible, equal parts profound and profane. Singer’s work has beauty and brutality in a balance no other writer can match. Blackchurch Furnace is a brilliant story of loss and struggle, pushed by an unrelenting momentum and characters of such power, such precision, that their impact will leave a sacred mark on the devout reader.”—Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball
“Blackchurch Furnace is a relentless, visceral, and black-humored ride through America’s alternately pious and depraved id. It turns a keen and tender eye to bars, churches, porn mansions, and boiler rooms. Singer has managed a finger-trap of a story that weaves together realism and apocalypse, heavy metal and children’s books, redemption and the lack thereof.”—Tyler McMahon, author of How the Mistakes Were Made
Hang Time by S.W. Lauden
Rare Bird Books
Publisher Description: Touring in a band is murder. Or is it suicide? After narrowly surviving a hellish season with a murderous drug kingpin, Greg Salem and his sidekick/drummer are back at home in The Bay Cities. A tour looms for their infamous punk band, Bad Citizen Corporation, but first Salem & Associates must wrap up a jealous husband case tied to a cheating hip-hop bombshell. BCC plays a warm up show when a dead body turns up in their dressing room—the first of many during this ill-fated reunion.The final book in the Greg Salem trilogy, Hang Time, brings together the colorful cast of characters from Bad Citizen Corporation and Grizzly Season in a thrilling and atmospheric series finale fueled by sex, drugs, backstabbing band mates, cheating spouses and vicious cops. The non-stop action will keep readers dangling until the very end.
Jack Waters by Scott Adlerberg
Broken River Books
Publisher Description: The year is 1904, and Jack Waters has been expelled from his native New Orleans for the murder of man he caught cheating at cards.Waters escapes to the Caribbean, where he becomes embroiled in a revolution against a brutal dictator…though his reasons for fighting might not be as noble as they first appear.
Walk in the Fire by Steph Post
Publisher Description: “Steph Post is a great new discovery. Her stories carry a dark pulse that keeps the perfect beat in a world where people put everything they’ve got on the line. Walk In The Fire is going to put Steph Post on the map.”
—Michael ConnellyLife hasn’t gotten any easier for Judah Cannon. He may have survived the fiery showdown between his father, the tyrannical Pentecostal preacher Sister Tulah, and the Scorpions outlaw motorcycle club, but now Judah and Ramey, the love of his life turned partner in crime, are facing new and more dangerous adversaries. It will take all of their cunning and courage, their faith in one another and some unexpected help to give them even a shot of making it out alive.In attempting to extricate the Cannon family from the crime ring they are known and feared for, Judah finds himself in the sights of Everett Weaver, a cold blooded killer and drug runner in Daytona Beach who shouldn’t be underestimated and doesn’t take no for an answer. Threatened by Weaver, saddled with guilt from his recovering, but now pill-popping, younger brother Benji and pressured to use his head and do the right thing by Ramey, Judah quickly arrives at a breaking point and things soon begin to go south.Meanwhile, Special Agent Clive Grant, who has been unwillingly sent down from ATF headquarters in Atlanta, arrives in town to investigate the fire at Sister Tulah’s church. Clive, looking to prove himself, becomes obsessed with Tulah and her iron grip on Bradford County and is determined to take her down. His search leads him to Judah’s door and soon the Cannons are caught up in an increasingly tangled web of violence, lies and retribution spanning both sides of the law. Backed into a corner, but desperate to protect his family, Judah finds himself walking a dangerous path that might cost him everything or might win him it all, if only he can walk through the fire and come out on the other side.
>Bad Samaritan by Dana King
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: Nick Forte has a hard time leaving well enough alone. He seriously injures a man for slapping a woman Forte has never seen before, so when Becky Tuttle comes to him with disconcerting letters sent to her author alter ago Desiree d’Arnaud, he does more than a cursory investigation. Following the thread of Becky’s problem leads through a local cop who takes the situation too lightly for Forte’s taste and into the disturbing world of men’s rights activists, for whom he has no use at all.Becky’s case isn’t the only thing going on in Forte’s life. A chance meeting with Lily O’Donoghue, a former prostitute whose mother’s death Forte feels responsible for, leads to a blackmailer who has videos of Lily’s former occupation. Forte takes care of the blackmailer with minimal fuss, but learns (again) that no good deed goes unpunished. Forte’s innocent intercession brings him back into the sphere of Chicago gangster Mickey Touhy, who has interest in both Lily and Forte.Forte’s usual cast of Sharon, Goose, Delbert, Sonny, Jan, and, of course, his daughter Caroline do what they can to keep him on an even keel. The problem is that Forte’s keel may be permanently damaged and the only resolutions he can arrive at satisfy no one, least of all himself.
One Last Hit by Nathan Walpow
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: Back in ’68 they made killer music…now their music is killing them.It’s been thirty years since Joe Portugal put his electric guitar away. Maybe that’s one reason he’s suffering a serious case of the mid-life doldrums. Then Joe stumbles upon a chance to put the band he was in as a teenager back together. And maybe his life too. All he has to do is find the lead guitarist, who hasn’t been seen since the 70s. But when he starts to look, it’s quickly clear that someone doesn’t want to see a reunion tour…someone who’s very handy with a gun.Praise for the Joe Portugal mysteries:“I love reading Nathan Walpow books…a solid, intelligent mystery…add Walpow’s marvelous sense of humor and you’ll see why he’s winning new fans ever day.” —Jan Burke, Edgar Award-winning author.
Southsiders: Closing Time by Nigel Bird
Publisher Description: With the death toll at the Phoenix Festival rising, Jesse is one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately he can’t see things that way. As soon as he regains consciousness, there’s only one thing on his mind – REVENGE. He enlists Danny’s help to find the men who killed his girlfriend and intends to deliver justice in the old-fashioned way.Danny goes along with him, but only on the condition that Jesse doesn’t get his hands dirty when they’re on the job. Unfortunately for Danny, even the best made plans can go awry.The explosive and final instalment of the Jesse Garon series.
Safe Inside the Violence by Christopher Irvin
Publisher Description: Safe Inside the Violence is an unforgettable collection of thirteen contemporary crime stories that shows why LitReactor wrote: “Irvin’s tone is lightening fast, hard hitting, and leaves the reader breathless and shocked with the sudden and realistic portrayal of violence.” Irvin offers readers a world of battered men and women who confront a bleak and brooding world with dignity that, unlike spines, doesn’t shatter easily. ”A fine collection of crime stories told from the point of view of regular people, forgotten people, and their painfully human decisions are a roadmap to their inexorable Hell. Irvin’s smartly restrained stories simmer and linger, and build to a wonderfully menacing and tragic cumulative effect.” – Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Little Sleep”At the heart of every crime is an unanswered human longing, and Christopher Irvin knows this well. These stories are full of all the betrayed hopes and thwarted dreams that steer men and women down dark and unglamorous paths. Irvin writes crime fiction with a bruised heart, which is the best way to write any kind of fiction at all.” – Nathan Ballingrud, author of The Visible Filth”With so many hardboiled crime writers, they do nothing but stick to the same worn out themes and character types that have been done to death over the past 100 years, and add nothing new to the genre. But with Safe Inside The Violence, Chris Irvin has managed to craft a collection that not only breaks the molds of hardboiled crime fiction, he completely shatters them. If you only read one short story collection this year, make sure it is Safe Inside The Violence, you will not be disappointed” – Keith Rawson, author of Laughing At Dead Men and All Those Hungry Mouth
The Last Notch by Arnold Hano
Stark House Press
Publisher Description: Originally published in hardback by Dodd, Mead & Co as by Matthew Gant, The Last Notch is a noir western about an aging, self-hating gunslinger who takes on a job to kill the territorial governor who has become a threat to the local cattle ranchers. As the publisher of Lion Books, Arnold Hano nurtured the careers of Jim Thompson and David Goodis. Under various pseudonyms, he wrote a series of edgy westerns and crime novels during the 1950s and 60s.
Rapture Alley / Winter Girl / Strictly for Boys by Harry Whittington
Stark House Press
Publisher Description:RAPTURE ALLEYNo one needs Lora. Ken claims to love her, but he is married to Lora’s wheelchair-ridden sister, Chris, and he doesn’t really need her. And all Lora wants is to be needed. Lora feels alone, defeated by herself. Then Arty comes along. He helps her fill this hole in her heart with something better than love—escape. Through him she meets Boyd, the nightclub singer, with his own brand of addicting salvation. Soon drugs become Lora’s cushion against a hurtful world. They allow her to float above her problems. But they can’t keep the pain away forever. And when Lora’s own needs cause her world to come crashing down around her, all the drugs in the world can’t save her.WINTER GIRL“An hour after I met Lu Ann again that winter, I knew I was headed for deep, serious trouble. Only I had no idea how deep, how serious…” When Calder Fenton first saw Lu Ann that day at her rich daddy’s hunting field, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He’d seen her every year growing up, but she’d never looked like this before. Soon, he’s sitting in her jeep, being taunted by her, trying to figure her out. Lu Ann is only looking for thrills, and doesn’t care that Calder has problems of his own—like being dirt poor, like having a pa who drinks and whores around town. But Calder likes what he sees, and he wants more. Pretty soon, he’s got so much Lu Ann he doesn’t know what to do with himself. And that is just the beginning of his troubles.STRICTLY FOR THE BOYS
Amy can’t help the way the boys look at her. It isn’t her fault. But Burt doesn’t see it that way. He is convinced that Amy is cheating on him and as her husband, he has a right to knock some sense into her. Burt doesn’t mean to hurt her, he just can’t control himself. So when Amy runs back to her mother, she expects a little sympathy. But Stella’s got problems of her own and no time for Amy’s change of heart. She lets her move back home but does everything she can to get Amy and Burt back together. Amy takes a new job, and still Burt follows her around, trying to find out who the new man in her life must be. And this time he’s right—this time there’s Terry, and a new chance at love. But for Burt, Amy belongs to him and him alone, and he will kill any man that gets in his way.
Night Driver by Ronald Colby
Rare Bird Books
Product Description: So this was it, he thought. He had his first fare and was now officially a cab driver. He shook his head as he exhaled the smoke into the morning cold. Well, he’d use the taxi time just as he had promised himself. He would figure things out, get a hold on himself, keep a little money coming in, and find the men who had murdered his wife.Nick Cullen’s wife was brutally murdered in a burglary gone horribly wrong, and he’s not the type to move on with his life, especially when he has seen the faces of the murderers in person. His plan: learn how to drive a cab so he can find his wife’s murderers on the streets of Los Angeles.Nick’s nighttime rides lead him down dead end after dead end, until one day he manages to get a hold of the ID of one of the men who destroyed his life. Nick’s chase heats up and he’s forced to face the truth of how far a man will go who has nothing left to lose.Night Drivertakes the reader on a white-knuckled thrill ride through the dimly lit streets of after-hours Los Angeles and into the dark heart of a man pushed to the brink. An unforgettable journey of obsession, sadness, and revenge.
Paperback Confidential: Crime Writers of the Paperback Era by Brian Ritt and Rick Ollerman
Stark House Press
Publisher Description: These are the authors who turned out the dark noirs and hardboiled thrillers, private detective
puzzles and psychological suspense, police procedurals and backwood melodramas, stories of
passion… and cold-blooded murder. 132 profiles of the men and women who wrote the books that became the backbone of the Pulp and Paperback Era from the 1930s through the 1960s.Here you will find information on the acknowledged masters like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and Cornell Woolrich… the rack mainstays like Gil Brewer, Brett Halliday, Day Keene, and Charles Williams… and the unjustly forgotten like Malcolm Braly, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Ennis Willie and Douglas Sanderson.Each profile contains details about the author’s life and explores key works, with special attention paid to series characters. Also covered are screenplay and teleplay work, as well as movies based on the authors’ stories.Paperback Confidential also includes a handy PseudoDex with all the various names these authors wrote under, and a section for each author with further recommendations for the reader’s consideration.
The Cost of Doing Business by Jonathan Ashley
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: Jon Catlett, a misanthropic literary obsessive, is facing the loss of the only thing in the world he loves; his used bookstore, a haven for fellow weirdos, outcasts, misunderstood geniuses and malcontents. Jon has several other problems, the least of which are his love affair with a bi-polar femme fatale heiress to a thriving northern steel company or the exponentially growing opiate habit he has developed.When Jon, during a deal gone wrong, accidentally kills a fellow drug addict, getting away with murder turns out to be the least of his worries. The steps he and Paul, the obsessive-compulsive manager of Jon’s store, must take to cover up the killing result in the two cornering Louisville’s blossoming heroin trade.From West End gangbangers to dirty cops and crusading narcotics detectives, Jon and his unstable partner in crime must dilute their morals and thicken their skin if they are to have any hope of surviving the lucrative but deadly life they’ve stumbled upon.
Life During Wartime and Other Stories by Thomas Pluck
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: A blackjack 21 of stories of people caught up in crime, facing bleak horrors, or spun in the whirlpool of human absurdity, this collects the best stories of Thomas Pluck.Take a ride on the neuter scooter in “The Big Snip”, selected as one of the best crime stories of 2016. Follow a mountain man who’s not what he seems into a snowbound frontier town where evil has sunk its claws. Dine at the most exclusive restaurant in New York, where “Eat the Rich” takes on a whole new meaning. And meet Denny the Dent, a hulking 350 pounds of muscle who wouldn’t harm a fly…but who’ll glad crush a bully’s skull. And read the Jay Desmarteaux yarn that takes off where Bad Boy Boogie ends.Read the stories readers call “hard-hitting bombs” full of “gut punches and belly laughs”…and be ready to get Plucked.
This is What Happened by Mick Herron
Publisher Description: From CWA Gold & Steel Dagger winner Mick Herron comes a shocking, twisted novel of thrilling suspense about one woman’s attempt to be better than ordinary.Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in the huge city of London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner, and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice. Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to infiltrate the establishment and thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk.Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero—if she can think quickly enough to stay alive.
Punishment by Scott J. Holliday
Thomas & Mercer
Publisher Description: Detroit-based homicide detective John Barnes has seen it all—literally. Thanks to a technologically advanced machine, detectives have access to the memories of the living, the dying, and the recently dead. But extracting victims’ experiences firsthand and personally reliving everything up to the final, brutal moments of their lives—the sights, the sounds, the scents, the pain—is also the punishment reserved for the criminals themselves.Barnes has had enough. Enough of the memories that aren’t his. Enough of the horror. Enough of the voices inside his head that were never meant to take root…until a masked serial killer known as Calavera strikes a little too close to home.Now, with Calavera on the loose, Barnes is ready to reconnect, risking his life—and his sanity. Because in the mind of this serial killer, there is one secret even Barnes has yet to see…
Blind Eye by Marcus Pelegrimas
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: Eddie Ballard is a hitman who loves his job. He is also inexperienced and enjoys making the kind of noise that just isn’t professional. If Eddie wasn’t so good at what he does, He could be the next one put onto a slab.Cecil Marzynski is a quiet, skinny man with eyes that have seen all there is to see in the St. Louis underworld. Cecil is also a hitman, but one that uses a vast network of contacts as his primary weapon. So many important people on both sides of the law owe him favors that some have taken to calling him Marker.Eddie enjoys fast cars, loud guns and louder music.Cecil has been circling the same woman for months, trying to find the perfect angle to approach her without tipping her off that he is wanted for murder in several states.Eddie thinks he knows how to be a tough guy. Cecil has forced some of the toughest criminals to give up everything they held dear.The figure at the top of St. Louis’s biggest organized crime syndicate is known as Pyotr The Greek. Pyotr is the only man with enough power to convince Cecil to take Eddie under his wing and teach him about what it means to be a true professional. Along the way, perhaps Eddie can show Marker a thing or two about savoring the good things in a bad life. Unfortunately for both of them, there is a new threat coming to town that might hit The Greek hard enough to topple his entire family.
Slaughterhouse Blues by Nick Kolakowski
Publisher Description: Slaughterhouse Blues catches up with Bill and Fiona, the chattery and gun-happy anti-heroes of A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps, soon after they’ve escaped the Rockaway Mob, the criminal enterprise from which Bill “borrowed” several million dollars.Holed up in Havana, Bill and Fiona know the Mob is coming for them—it’s just a question of time. But they’re not prepared for who the Mob sends: a pair of assassins so utterly amoral and demented, their behavior pushes the boundaries of sanity. Seriously, what kind of killers pause in mid-hunt to discuss the finer points of thread count and luxury automobiles?Forced on the run (again), Bill and Fiona will venture from the crumbling streets of Cuba to the steaming jungles of Nicaragua, and finally back to the mean streets of New York City. If they want to survive, our fine young criminals can’t retreat anymore: they’ll need to pull off a massive (and massively weird) heist—and the loot has some very dark history…
My Name is Nathan Lucious by Mark Winkler
Publisher Description: How far would you go for your best friend? If she begged you to, would you kill her?Nathan Lucius, 31, is an ad salesman at a Cape Town newspaper. Disaffected, hard-drinking and plagued by blackouts, Nathan lives alone and has only one true friend, a woman named Madge. But Madge is dying slowly of cancer, and when she asks Nathan to end her pain, she sets off a shocking string of events.A modern-day answer to Crime and Punishment, My Name Is Nathan Lucius is a taut and unforgiving exploration of the intersection of violence, trauma, social responsibility, and memory. Stylish, intense, and unforgettable, this glittering noir gem will appeal to readers of Irvine Welsh and Chuck Palahniuk as well as fans of Thomas Harris and Dennis Lehane.
The Devil at Your Door by Eric Beetner
Down & Out Books
Publisher Description: Lars and Shaine have returned to a quiet life on the islands, but for Lars there is unfinished business. When he gets information that will lead him to exact revenge on behalf of his young protégé, the young woman he’s grown to think of as a daughter, he decides to take action in secret.When he lands in a hospital Shaine is called in from a thousand miles away and she must take the lead in the last job of Lars’ storied career of death for hire.Facing his own aging body, Lars struggles to take a back seat to the youngster he has trained in his image. They’ll face a local drug boss along with an old enemy as they work to fire the last bullet they’ll ever need to—before one finds them first.
Keep it tight, criminal, and compelling. Give Rudolph a black eye, shove a dreidel in someone’s eye (yes, Hanukkah is fair game too. Come one, come all.), and give us a good read to cozy up to the fireplace with while downing a tall glass of stout.
Acceptances begin right away, just please be sure to keep it under 700 words. We’re being strict with this. Anything over will not be read. When submitting, please let us know you want it to be considered for the Twelve Daze of Christmas series and send us a short bio along with the entry. Thank you, one and all.
Ragnar Jónasson’s Whiteout (Orenda Books) is out. The Crime Review writes, “All of these elements combine to make Whiteout a masterful exercise in “classic” mystery writing. You should absolutely pick up Whiteout, and the rest of the Dark Iceland series, and get into the winter mood!” The Suspense is Thrilling Me says that “If you enjoy nordic crime fiction with slow building suspense, mystery, and characters who are easy to grow fond of, please give this series a try! Highly recommended!” And lastly Novel Gossip writes:
No one does imagery as beautifully as Jonasson and Whiteout was no exception. There is always a strong sense of claustrophobia in his books and the weather always plays a huge role in the story taking on a life of its own. The writing is gorgeous, it’s hauntingly poetic and I always pause a few times while reading to let the words really sink in.
D.K. Hood’sDon’t Tell a Soul (Bookouture) is out. “Don’t Tell A Soul is an absorbing, clever and dark book. Delving into small-town America and creating a sinister snapshot of life in a sleepy Montana town, it is compulsive and moreish,” says Bibliophile Book Club. Stardust Book Reviews writes that it is a “fantastic book, but don’t take my word for it – go and read it, you won’t be disappointed!” And Ginger Book Geek thinks that “for a debut novel, Don’t Tell A Soul is extremely well written.” Novel Deelights says it “is a solid start to a new series.”
Caroline Mitchell’s Murder Game (Bookouture) is out. Mrs Bloggs’ Books loves “the way Caroline Mitchell writes” and there is “an authenticity” to it. Sean’s Book Reviews writes, “”This is one of the greatest series that I have read and it will come as no shock to some that all of Caroline Mitchell books are top of the line and just suck you in.” Jen Med’s Book Reviews writes:
This really is a brilliant series and if you haven’t read any, you must start from book one. Not because the book contains too many spoilers, it can easily be read as a standalone to be fair. It is simply that you will be missing one hell of a treat if you start and end here, a journey through some cracking stories with a heroine who is just one hell of a lot of fun.
Guess what, there’s another Bookouture book out and it is Angela Marsons’ Broken Bones. Novel Deelights writes that “it left my head spinning. I’m exhausted, really I am. My mind is totally blown.” By the Letter Book Reviews writes that “Angela Marsons has yet again nailed and delivered an outstanding five star read. Broken Bones had me hook, line and sinker until the shocking end.”
Books n All says that Larry Enmon’s Wormwood (Bloodhound Books) “is an absolutely brilliant book.” Bookstormer writes that Wormwood is “a brilliantly written novel, with storylines that keep you hooked all the way through. ” And By the Letter Book Reviews calls it ” a brilliant start to a brand new crimes series.
Clea Simon’s World Enough (Severn House Digital) is out. At Criminal Element, Thomas Pluck writes “Despite the looming presence of money and corporate greed, Simon keeps the story focused on the personal, like all the best noir.
Fahrenheit Press has two releases this week. First is Cal Smyth’s The Balkan Route. The blurb says that “Smyth blends Nesbo and Mankell to create a perfect slice of Balkan noir.” The second release is the second in the Hanne Drais series by Ally Rose, Finding Colossus.
Brash Books has two releases as well. Leo W. Banks Double Wide (Brash Books). James Sallis says that “Double Wide is classic crime in its best new clothes, Goodis-style grand failure and Chandler’s streetwise knight welded to the same frame and left baking in the Arizona desert till only the essential remains.” Max Allan Collins raps up the Perdition series with Road to Paradise.
Here at Unlawful Acts we reviewed four books. Jim Thomsen was quite happy with Christopher Swann’s Shadow of the Lions (Algonquin Books) and I really liked R. Daniel Lester’s Dead Clown Blues (Shotgun Honey). Two other books we reviewed were Christopher Bollen’s The Destroyers (Harper) and Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Homicide (Midnight Ink)
Dead End Follies reviews Glenn Gary’s Transgemination (Beat to a Pulp). Ben Leviere writes:
I liked Transgemination, but I thought it was a little lengthy and over-the-top for what it was. By any means, read it. You could order it today and read it in one sitting for Halloween night without breaking a sweat. I didn’t like it more than I like the usual medico-legal, weirdo Glenn Gray, but it was a pleasant experience even if it went on for just a little too long.
I had a similar take on this book back in September. I said these two disparate things: “Transgemination is not a great book, rather it is sci-fi pulp that grabs on to the back of the black-and-white B-movies I grew up with.” and “Gray’s Transgemination is something to lose yourself in from a farm in Nebraska to the hills in West Virginia; it is pure escapism and sometimes that’s just what you need.”
At MysteryPeople Scott Montgomery reviews Hardboiled, Noir and Gold Medals by Rick Ollerman (Stark House). Montgomery writes “Ollerman weaves new, more personal pieces through his work, giving it the feel of an educated fan sharing the books he loves with another. He will put you on the trail of new authors and maybe challenge a few of your opinions, all without spoilers. After reading Hard Boiled, Noir, And Gold Medals, Rick Ollerman will need no introduction.”
At Crime Fiction Lover, Mal McEwan reviews Aaron Poochigian’s Mr. Either/Or (Etruscan Press) which is a novel in verse. Yes, a novel in verse.
Mr Either/Or is endlessly quotable with rhythms and beats that lodge in your brain. This book was eight years in the writing and there is really no spare fat on its bones. That’s as you would expect with poetry; it’s a distillation where every word matters, where every phrase counts, and it is simply not possible to pad out the pages with fluff and filler. This is a book to keep and re-read.
But I don’t know about Mr. Either/Or after reading his little bit.
Gunfire! Silencers! You hit the floor
on instinct but your host’s too slow—a slug
explodes his forehead, brains Rorschach the wall.
Ginger Book Geek says of Patricia Gibney’s The Lost Child (Bookouture), “Well I thought that The Stolen Girls was well written but The Lost Child is even better written. This is certainly one series that just keeps getting better and better.” And Steph’s Book Blog writes that “it’s fast paced Irish fiction.”
Ali – The Dragon Slayer says that Antti Tumainen’s The Man Who Died (Orenda Books) “a thriller with a difference, totally engaging”.
This is a book that is so much more than a dark thriller. Yes it is utterly brilliant plot wise, full of twists, but it is also the story about a mother who wants to provide for, and keep, her son. That’s what is at the heart of this story, that much needed personal and emotional element, and that is what I feel makes this book so very special. It really is unlike anything I have ever read before …
There are many hidden depths to No Bodies, the plot is intriguing in how Robert manages to run more than one plotline simultaneously, some parallel, some cross-over, each one bringing another spin to the plot, making No Bodies a book which will be hard for any reader to put down.
Elementary V Watson says of Adrian Magson’s Rocco and the Nightingale (The Dome Press) that it is “a cross between Poirot and Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano” and that it “contains evocative descriptions which set the tone of the novel perfectly.”
Lloyd Otis’ Dead Lands (Urbane Publications) has a couple of reviews this week. Ali – The Dragon Slayer writes, “Dead Lands is a place of judgement on so many levels, quite eerie to think not much has changed in the intervening years because in some respects it could be set today. A good debut from Lloyd I would definitely take a look at what he does next.” Rae Reads says:
There are lots of themes covered in this story and to be honest they are pretty relevant in the here and now just as they were in the 1970’s. Although I think the 70’s time period works so well within this story making things just that little bit more interesting with a different feel along with a slight edge too.
The Quiet Geordie “really enjoyed” Janice Frost’s Their Fatal Secrets (Joffe Books) saying “it was a well paced and gripping police procedural and had me guessing right up until the very end”.
Ann Girdharry’s London Noir is “really tense and full of suspense at times and I thought it was a great crime thriller …” writes Donna’s Book Blog. The Writing Garnet “found Good Girl Bad Girl to be a lot more gut wrenchingly intense than this book, however, I still thoroughly enjoyed London Noir and I would recommend this book and the entire series in a heartbeat.”
At Col’s Criminal Library, Coleman Keane reviews Steve Goble’s The Bloody Black Flag (Seventh Street Books) saying, “Fair to say this is my first pirate mystery and if Steve Goble keeps churning them out like this one, probably not my last. Best book ever? No but a lot here to like.” Keane interviews Goble as well.
Richard Rippon’s upcomingLord of the Dead (Oblierati Press) is reviewed by BibloManiac saying, “Lord of the Dead is a great police procedural that feels refreshing and new. Rippon has a distinctive voice and his prose is polished, pacy and engaging.”
Random Things Through My Letter Box reviews Jenny Blackhurst’s The Foster Child (Headline) saying, “The Foster Child is deftly plotted and entirely believeable, it is meticulously crafted with a gradual unfolding leading to a jaw-dropping ending that delivers more than one shocking reveal.”
The Big Book of the Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Richard Layman and Julie M. Rivett (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Publishers Weekly
World Enough by Clea Simon (Severn House) BOLO Books
One of the best books I’ve read in 2017 was Danny Gardner’s A Negro and an Ofay (Down & Out Books). Not only is Gardner’s book exceptional, it talks about some ugly truths in the States. Joe Clifford, author of Give Up the Dead, talks with Gardner at The Thrill Begins.
Danny: There’s something about black American humanity that unsettles people. That’s why our human rights are doled out incrementally. First we get emancipation, then representation, but that’s rolled back to three-fifths human status by Jim Crow. Then we get an occasional upgrade, say housing or education, just to lose that ground as well. Then we have the Civil Rights Movement, and the Voting Rights Act of 1968 is passed. That’s where the line stopped for most Americans. The burn in my heart obligates me to depict black folk as human beings. True souls who don’t always exist in relation to whiteness. And, in our private and most basic lives, don’t live in relation to anyone. That’s the most provocative portrayal of black life I figured I could offer: that black folk in America just really want to be left alone to exist. Same as everyone else does. I got a question from a reader in Sacramento once about whether or not I fear I’m alienating readers by putting social issues in my fiction.
Steve Lauden, author of the upcoming Hang Time (Rare Bird Books), interviews R. Daniel Lester, author of the incredible Dead Clown Blues (Shotgun Honey). Over at Do Some Damage, Marietta Miles, author of the upcoming May (Down & Out Books), turns the tables on Lauden and interviews him.
At Never Imitate Jackie Law interviews Nathan O’Hagan and Wayne Leeming of Obliterate Press. Their first book Richard Rippon’s Lord Of The Dead will be released this week.
Paul D. Brazill interviews K.A. Laity, publisher of The Blood Red Experiment.
At Do Some Damage, Holly West talk about NaNoWriMo, writing advice, and what’s she’s doing.
As part of Crime Fiction Lover’s New Talent November, Paul D. Brazill offers up bloody mess of new writers you should be reading: Paul Heatley, Martin Stanley, JJ De Ceglie, Chuck Caruso, Nick Kolakowski, Henry Block, CS DeWildt, James Newman, and Marietta Miles. What a list!
At MysteryPeople Scott Montgomery interviews Mike McCrary, author of Steady Trouble.
I knew I wanted to do something a little different from my other stuff. I wanted a character who was damaged, but in a different way than the usual crime / thriller badass heroes.
She’s not a raving alcoholic cop with a dead partner or disgraced hit man out to help the world be a better place. She’s was involved in a horrible attack during childhood that she doesn’t even remember because she suffered a head injury during the incident. Some characters might have taken that tragedy and folded up into a drug addict or turned it into an inspiration and become a lawyer or whatever, but this trauma molded Teddy into something different. Not a victim or a shining light of goodness, but something else.
She became a force of nature created in her own image. She’s carved out a strange life for herself, but all on her terms. I wanted readers to have sympathy for her but never pity her. That character setup also allows for a lot of great twists and turns because we’re learning about her as she learns about herself and a past that she didn’t know existed.
At From First Page to Last, Adrian Magson, author of Rocco and the Nightingale, writes about the lack of technology in his Roco series since it is set in the 1960s, “The first pleasure for me as a writer was forgetting about the technological world of contemporary spy fiction. ”
Jennifer Hillier interviews fellow Canadian author Andrew Pyper in The Thrill Begins’ Passport Series.
Pyper: think setting and nationalism can be awkward bedmates a lot of the time. The assumption that where an author situates her story says decisive things about her identity or the things that story may say is often wrong, or at least misleading. To me, no matter where I set my stories they’re Canadian stories. It’s the point of view that matters: the voice, the undercurrent, the way in. When I set a novel in the United States, for instance, I’m saying something about the US from a Canadian perspective – necessarily so, as that’s my perspective as a Canadian. Think about Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I often think about how that is such a Canadian book even though it is set in a dystopic US and deals with many of the tendencies of the American systems of power. Which is to say, it’s a novel about America, not an American novel.
At The Kill Zone author Sue Coletta has some tips about blogging, social media and the dreaded SEO.
At Elementary V Watson, there is a series called “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” where writers stop by and talk about their day jobs and writing. This time around is Tana Collins, author of the Inspector Jim Carruthers series on Bloodhound: Robbing the Dead and Care to Die.
Sarah M. Chen talks about her novella Cleaning Up Finn (All Due Respect Books) at Charles Daly’s blog.
Jackie Law interviews Adrian Magson, author of Rocco and the Nightingale.
As part of Crime Fiction Lover’s New Talent November, Marina Sofia interviews Lloyd Otis, author of Dead Lands (Urbane Publications). Otis describes his book “as a journey back in time to a place many forgot. A place with real characters and a gritty underbelly that authentically represents a key moment in history. I hope a new reader feels transported there and enjoys the ride.”
Lilja Sigurdardottir, author of Snare (Orenda Books), stops by Anne Bonny Book Reviews to talk about character development.
I love writing multi-layered, complex characters that dance on the sometimes fine line between right and wrong. Somehow those types of characters connect to you in a deeper way as a reader. Probably we connect with them because none of us is 100 percent good or evil. We are all a curious mix of both, esentially well meaning people that sometimes do bad things.
Bill Crider, author of Outrage at Blanco and many more books, is interviewed at Western Musings.
Once again, I have to give a vague answer. I really don’t know what inspired the character, who started out as a character in a short story that kept getting longer and longer. I’ve been told that there was never a sheriff like Rhodes, but that’s okay. I like him, and readers seem to, also.
At The Strand Magazine, Claire Kendal writes about why we root for the serial killer anti-hero.
These clever fictional serial killers have much in common with the literary rake, the Don Juan figure who has little conscience but a psychological perceptiveness that allows him to manipulate others. These rakes are cultured men of taste. In this they resemble Dexter, whom we see in the opening credits shaving, carefully preparing and chewing his breakfast, then dressing; and Ripley, who kills to protect his country-gentleman lifestyle; and Lecter, who in another act of sinister empathy, persuades Miggs to swallow his own tongue as punishment for throwing semen at Clarice Starling. “Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me,” Lecter tells her.
At Mystery People, Scott Montgomery interviews Eryk Pruitt, author of What We Reckon (Polis Books). Pruitt says:
I love the South. I think it’s a wild, spooky, haunted, terrible, beautiful place and I’d have a hard time enjoying myself anywhere else. It’s my understanding that most folks think of the South and Southerners as a pejorative, but not me. I’m not down with the old ways, but rather what the kids call #NewSouth. A pot that melts. An all-inclusive gumbo of cultural collisions that enjoy a six-month tomato season.
That being said, the South is also a product of that disturbing past and that conflict should continue to churn out good fiction for quite a while. Themes of race and religion have only deepened and it’s been interesting to see how they’ve been dealt with in the past in Southern crime canon by William Gay, Daniel Woodrell, and Ernest J. Gaines. Since those pages have yet to be turned, it will be interesting to see how the newer guys like Greg Barth, S.A. Cosby, and Marietta Miles deal with them.
At Do Some Damage Scott D. Parker writes about adding his nighttime job as a writer to his daytime resume.
What does this have to do with flying that writing banner proudly? It comes down to my resume. When I updated my day-job resume, I debated whether or not to include my writing credentials. By that, I mean my mystery and western novels and stories. I opted for inclusion. In my interview, after all the day-job-type questions were asked, my interviewers asked me about my fiction. It enabled the three of us to have a few moments of informality and ended the interview on a jovial note. I found out this week that the fiction was one of the things that differentiated me above other candidates. My history degrees were also a factor. The clients were looking for something a little different and my liberal arts degree* and creative fiction writing set me apart. Another writer started the same day and she has a behavioral science degree, so we both are not your typical technical writer types.
In a mildly connection post at The Hard Word with Eryk Pruitt’s What We Reckon (Polis Books), Scott Montgomery lists ten books where the drugs are ” woven into the very fabric of the story and there is no other way to tell it.”
At Live and Deadly, Ragnar Jónasson, author of Whiteout visits to talk about how Iceland’s natures and environment influences the island nation’s writers.
At Writers Who Kill, Linda Rodriguez writes about the necessity of saying, “No.”
Steve Weddle, author of Hardball Country, chimes in on whether your should participated in NaNoWriMo at Do Some Damage. He thinks you should but like all writing advice it should be ignored or followed. I’m always confused about this. At SleuthSayers, Thomas Pluck, author of Bad Boy Boogie, also thinks it may be a good idea for you to participate.
K.M. Weiland admits lists aren’t everything, but they can help. In her “The Great Novel-Writing Checklist (Just in Time for NaNoWriMo!)” piece on Helping Writers Become Authors, she writes:
Today, I want to offer a fast novel-writing checklist of the five most important elements in any successful novel. (In a few weeks, we’ll also talk about the smaller things you need to be aware of in writing and revising.)
The “big” things on this list are the foundational things. They are the story. Get them right and everything else will fall into place around them.
Today, October 24, Electric Literature is opening submissions for personal and critical essays, as well as humor that reflects on the world of reading, writing, literature, and storytelling in all its forms. We’re particularly interested in pieces that examine the intersection of the literary world and other creative disciplines: film, fine art, music, video games, architecture — you name it. Submissions will remain open until November 6.
Rusty Barnes’ Knuckledragger (Shotgun Honey) is out. I’ve read Barnes’ recently re-released Ridgerunner which I liked. Nick Kolakowski, author of A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps says, “Knuckledragger is a fast and hard punch you remember for the rest of your life. The prose bursts with rough-hewn power, the pace is blistering, and the characters will break your heart. You couldn’t ask for a better slice of modern noir.”
Broken Glass Waltzes by Warren Moore (Down & Out Books). Vicki Hendricks, the author of Miami Purity, says, “I tried to read this slowly to prolong the pleasure, but found it impossible. The blend of obsession, darkness, and intriguing character and plot, as well as seamless literary style, wouldn’t let me go.”
Skeletal by Emma Pullar (Bloodhound Books) is out. This book, though technically a mystery, is probably more along the lines of a dystopian thriller.
Kathryn Croft’s Silent Lies (Bookouture) is out. Some reviews from the book’s blog tour.
“The pace is perfect, the characters are brilliant and the while thing over all is so good!!” – Donna’s Book Blog
“I can’t say for sure if it’s my lack of connection with the characters or perhaps the fact that the middle section felt slower for me or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood.” – A Haven for Book Lovers
“Silent Lies is a brilliant psychological thriller which will tense up your mind, flood your senses with apprehension and leave you sitting in a heap on the floor wondering what the hell happened there.” – Sweet Little Book
“This is an excellent choice for those who are fans of the ever popular psychological suspense in the domestic realm. Pack a bag and loads of caffeine with this one; you’ll have to stay up all night finishing it and will likely be a happy zombie by morning!” – The Suspense is Thrilling Me
““Silent Lies is a well crafted, addictive, and fast paced read which will leave you questioning absolutely everything.” – The Writing Garnet
“Silent Lies is incredibly intense and full of intrigue.” – Novel Deelights
“ This is one book that is certainly going to stay with me for a long time to come.” – Ginger Book Geek
“Overall, if you are a fan of psychological thrillers with a sort of “chick lit” vibe, then I feel like this will absolutely appeal to you.” – Clues and Reviews
Alexandra Sokoloff’s Hunger Moon (Thomas & Mercer) is out, this is the fifth in the Huntress/FBI Thrillers series. Noelle at CrimeBookJunkie loves the book saying:
What I LOVE about Alexandra Sokoloff’s writing is her skill at bringing current matters to the forefront and making the reader think -while at the same time entertaining the reader with a kickass story that really makes you feel empowered! I love this author’s writing style and the ability to make the reader embrace a story with the same passion that she has for the subject at hand.
The fourth in the Tara Sharp series, Sharp Edge by Marianne Delacourt is out on Deadline, an imprint of Twelfth Planet Press.
The Lost Child by Patricia Gibney (Bookouture) is out. Here are some reviews from its blog tour.
“Oh my goodness this book was fantastic!! I started it late one afternoon and read it pretty much non stop, this is definitely a book that grabs you so much that you don’t want to put it down!!” – Dona’s Book Blog
“Both shocking and strangely compelling, this is an absolutely cracking read in a series which is going from strength to strength.” – Jen Med’s Book Reviews
“It’s dark, gritty and intense with shocking developments and well executed twists.” – Novelgossips
T.R. Ragan’s Her Last Day (Thomas & Mercer) is out. Novelgossip writes that “was an effortless page turner”. This is the first in a series about PI Jessie Cole. The second book, Deadly Recall, will be out in March 2018. Criminal Element’s Kristin Centorceli says of Her Last Day, “If you like serial killer thrillers that genuinely thrill and have plenty of depth, now’s the time to discover Jessie Cole and T.R. Ragan.”
This past week was the first week with a contributor at Unlawful Acts. Jim Thomsen, a freelance book editor and crime fiction junkie, reviews Hart Hanson’s The Driver and Jame Pate’s Speed of Life (Fahrenheit Press). I reviewed Anthony Neil Smith’s Castle Danger: Woman on Ice and Eryk Pruitt’s What We Reckon (Polis Books).
Craft’s Nick Fuller Googins reviews Christopher Irvin’s Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All (Cutlass Press) saying:
Ragged is no fable, but like any decent work of fiction it reflects a piece of ourselves in the pages. Through Irvin we see a world of animals, not a human in sight; yet he also serves us a powerful reminder involving the fragile architecture of trust and mutual aid that props up society, and how quickly it can all come crashing down.
More from the blog tour of Lilja Signerdardotter’s Snare (Orenda Books).
“This is a slow burning mystery, since the first page you know the end will not be good, will be explosive, it will not let you sleep till you arrive at the inevitable ending… be prepared.” – Varietats
“We have a tendency to idealise Iceland, with its dramatic volcanic landscape, enigmatic outpost culture, puffins and – yes – the hidden people. Lilja Sigurdardottir doesn’t play to any such romantic ideals, instead shining a light into the sordid side of Reykjavik during a period when, let’s not forget, Iceland’s real life financiers had ripped off private citizens, businesses and public bodies across Europe.” – Crime Fiction Lover
“Snare is a truly gripping read, elements of the storyline were so original, and this made it harder to predict were the plot was going.” – Keeper of Pages
“Readers looking to be swept up in a breathless, tense journey into the underbelly of idyllic Iceland will find Sigurdardottir’s story compelling and propulsive; readers looking for a character-driven Noir read will fall in love with the human, flawed, and endearing characters Sigurdardottir has crafted.” – Crime by the Book
“Snare is such a sophisticated, high stakes thriller with real heart; it’s dark, gripping and incredibly intense!” – Rather Too Fond of Books
“I thought that this book was great and it really gripped me – I loved the pace and the plot was spot on, I loved the detail and the characters of Ava and Jim were brilliant – I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book and have given it 5 stars!” – Donna’s Book Blog
“Again my only complaint would be the coincidences, I keep coming across them a lot lately in crime fiction.” – On The Shelf Reviews
“If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will be gripped by this exciting new crime fiction writer.” – Orchard Book Club
“Crime and mystery fans will enjoy this novel but for me its the insight into Antti Tuomainen’s Finland which is most rewarding. In short this is delightfully genre blending caper about a man with only months left to live.” – The World’s Shortlist
“I really enjoyed reading this, loved every part of it, the character of Jaako and laughed out loud at some of his predicaments. The author’s wit and writing skill is present throughout even through a layer of translation.” – Mrs. Bloggs Books
“I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and I couldn’t put it down. It is full of dark humour and interesting and amusing characters.” – The Quiet Geordie
“The Man Who Died is an absolute treat of a book. From the stunning cover through to the final sentence. If you love a good old ‘who done it’, black humour and a thoroughly absorbing plot with interesting characters who you’ll remember long after you close the book, then you’ll love this story.” – Brew and Books Reviews
“While this is quite different from my usual reads it is definitely a book I would recommend if you fancy something a little different.” – Book Lover Worm
“The Man Who Died is dark, quirky, unique and hugely enjoyable – a real page-turner.” – Curious Ginger Cat
“This book isn’t a thriller in the traditional sense, yes there are moments of suspense and tension but it is much more an exploration of life and its meaning.“ – Beverley Has Read
“Honestly, buy it, read it, give it to people you like. It’s fantastic.” – Live and Deadly
From the blog tour of Lloyd Otis’ Dead Lands (Urbane Publishing).
“London at the tale end of the 70s is portrayed as a bleak space in which tough, varied characters flourish. Witty dialogue and well-crafted description characterise this novel, and the story is both fast-paced and intriguing.” – The Dorsett Book Detective
“What I really loved about this book was the gritty and yet matter of fact tone in which it was written. There is no glamourising the deaths and yet they are brutally authentic in portrayal.” – Jen Med’s Book Reviews
“Dead Lands is a thrilling crime novel by Lloyd Otis set in 1970s London. If you’re looking for something that is a little different and if you’re a fan of gritty crime thrillers then I would highly recommend Dead Lands. Brilliant writing.” – Hooked From Page One
“I don’t want to say much more about the plot, but it is definitely a gripping story. I really liked Rocco as a character and the various story arcs made for some great change of pace throughout the book.” – Bibliophile Book Club
As usual, you can trust Mel Comley to deliver a well written, perfectly plotted suspense. It’s like cuddling up with a hot chocolate, warming and comforting in its familiarity.
If you’ve never read Iain Ryan before, you are missing out. Tom Leins reviews Ryan’s first book Four Days saying:
Ryan’s prose is impressively understated: brisk and razor-sharp throughout, and his knack for nastiness and corruption recalls early James Ellroy. If you are sick of flabby police procedurals this grim novella is a welcome antidote. Make no mistake, Four Days trims away the fat and cuts to the fucking bone.
Bookgasm’s Alan Cranis reviews the new Stark House combined release of Australia’s Carter Brown’s The Wench is Wicked / Blond Verdict / Delilah was Deadly. Tipping My Fedora also review the books saying they are “highly amusing mysteries, which were only ever meant to read at top speed and not taken even remotely seriously, are really great fun”.
Crimespree Magazine’s Eise Cooper reviews Michael Brandman’s Missing Person (Poisoned Pen Press).
Released two weeks ago, Never Imitate’s Jackie Law reviews Christina James’ Fair of Face (Salt). Law writes, “A crime novel that held my attention and offered sufficient originality to make it worth the read. Where I am sensitive to what I regard as over emphasis on looks and dress, others will likely find this helps picture each scene.” Reflections of a Reader says that it is “a rollercoaster of a read”.
Off the Shelf Books‘ Victoria Goldman reviews Sarah Driscoll’s Before It’s Too Late (Kensington). This is the second in the FBI K-9 Thrillers.
Books of All Kinds reviews Alison Brodie’s upcoming self-published book, Zenka, saying that it is “a fast-paced, gritty, story of family, lies, love, and some murderous mobsters thrown in for good measure.”
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Robert Sloan writes that Willa Cather’s My Ántonia “does not deserve the status as a classic work but rather a secondary novel.”
Colman Keane reviews Thomas Waugh’s Nothing to Loose (Endeavor Press). The Damien Lewis blurb says that the book is “engaging and enjoyable”. Keane writes:
According to publisher, Endeavour Press – Thomas Waugh is the pseudonym of a bestselling historical novelist.
A Google search has Fantastic Fiction suggesting Waugh might be Damien Lewis “a war correspondent and thriller writer.”
I’d quite like for it to be Lewis, as I like the idea of him hat-tipping his own books. Beat your own drum man, because there’s plenty to be proud of.
By theLetter Book Reviews says of Louise Jensen’s Surrogate (Bookouture) that had their “heart pounding and adrenaline racing.”
S.E. Lynes’ Mother (Bookouture) will be coming out in late November. Brew and Books Review says that is “a deliciously dark, unsettling and clever read.”
Snazzy Books reviews Felicia Yap’s Yesterday (Mulholland Books) saying that it is “original, intriguing and beautifully written novel”.
Tom Leins, author of Skull Meat, reviews Benjamin Myers’ Turning Blue (Moth Publishing) saying, “Grim, gripping and grotesque, Turning Blue is an outstanding book, and easily one of the best British crime novels that I have read in the last decade.” Leins follows up the review with an interview with Myers.
Bookgasm reviews Leo W. Banks’ upcoming book saying “The setting and characters, along with the inventive plot, make Double Wide well worth your time.”
My first column at Do Some Damage is called “Do Writers Even Read Anymore?”.
A few months ago, J. David Osborne, writer and publisher of Broken River Books, posted a photograph of a dog side-eyeing the viewer. Osborne wrote, “When writers only seem to talk about all the TV they’ve watching”. How true. My social media feeds are filled news and views about the latest premium cable series or any of the numerous Netflix series and movies. And things do get heated from time to time. We all lost loved ones during the great Baby Driver Facebook War this summer.
Stop, click, and read S.W. Lauden’s interview with Peter Rozovsky. Seriously, do it now.
David Cranmer writes about the problems of way too much reading in genres and how to rekindle your love.
Admittedly, after hundreds (thousands?) of crime novels and Western shoot-outs, narratives begin to repeat, grow stale, though, when something fresh crosses my desk, like Frank Bill’s soon to be released The Savage, I’m thoroughly invested.
His prose is a stripped-down muscle car without a muffler, tender as a brick and soothing as a gasoline popsicle, arriving at a tone you might call old-testament-pulp, while the stories themselves bite and kick and howl, and are run through with notions of the bonds of blood and kin that threaten as much as they ever may comfort.
At The Trill Begins, the Writers Passport series continues with Jenny Milchman interviewing psychological thriller author Sophie Hannah. Hannah says:
I’m very happy with the label of psychological suspense, and/or psychological crime. I was influenced by brilliant writers such as Joy Fielding (See Jane Run) and Nicci French (The Memory Game), whose novels were mysteries but with a strongly psychological focus. They were the people – along with Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine and Agatha Christie – who made me want to write crime fiction, and they are all authors who are obsessed with warped psychology and unusual motivations. So, yes, psychological suspense feels like the right description. Domestic mystery and family thriller are not labels I’d ever use, and they’re not labels I like. Both sound reductive, and make me think of narrowly focused books that are all set in one family’s kitchen. All my books involve people outside the home as well as inside it, and many relationships that aren’t familial, and the action/focus is never confined to one house. I’d be happy with the label human relationships thriller but that sounds a bit odd!
One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party,National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 19th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world. This year, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 people—including over 70,000 K-12 students and educators on our Young Writers Program website—to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Throughout the month, they’ll be guided by this year’s theme: Superpowered Noveling.
Eryk Pruitt, author of What We Reckon (Polis Books), lists “Six Great Southern Crime Novels” at The Strand Magazine. There is a surprise or two in it.
Most writers who teach have variations on this story, and we all wonder how you can possibly want to write when you don’t enjoy reading. That’s like a guy who can’t stand heights wanting to skydive. Colorblind artists don’t get far, either. Or tone-deaf musicians.
I’m going to be brutally honest, I have in the past, reviewed a book that I greatly disliked and prior to posting it, I was having this inner battle with myself. Ultimately, I tried to shift the responsibility and emailed the review to a fellow blogger and asked them if they thought the review was acceptable or too harsh.
I will tolerate violence in well written books. Because when violence is well written, language somehow bathes the violence in a wash of human experience. But when violence is gratuitous, the shock value serving mostly to obscure poor or lazy writing, I put the book down. A recent case in point was a novel where the writer turned the victim of hideous and graphically told violence into a perpetrator of the same. The author portrayed this as a victory. I thought he turned the victim into a cartoon. Ditto for some police procedurals I’ve read where the violence was so over-the-top, it served only to trivialize real police work. I put those down too. When writers focus only on the physical details of violent behavior and ignore the emotional consequences to both the victim and the perpetrator, something important is missing.
BOLO Books lists some new paperbacks that may warrant your attention.
Do sci-fi and crime mix? Are they the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of genre fiction? Over at The Thrill Begins, Jake Bible thinks so.
Crime Fiction Loverinterviews bestselling author Ann Cleaves.
Bibliophile Book Clubinterviews Lloyd Otis, author of Dead Lands.
The cover for Andrew Nette’s Gunshine Stateannounced. The book will be re-released in February 2018.
At Scott Montgomery’s newish blog The Hard Wood, he interviews Kris Lackey about his new book Nail’s Crossing and the Chickasaw Nation.
Criminal Minds has posted about joining professional writing groups and such. Unsurprisingly Danny Gardner’s article is one of the best. Garnder is author of A Negro and an Ofay (Down & Out Books).
Mystery/crime writing is as much about the writers as what we write. It’s clear it comes from tradition, and while I don’t fully understand why the social factor among us is so powerful, I’m not living my life in fear of failure anymore so I don’t have to try to see around every corner to figure it all out before I proceed. I leap and then look in Mystery/Crime in ways I have never done in my life, much less career. Tradition matters to me as much as innovation. Allowing for the new is balanced with respecting that which is long-standing and honored. I received so much love, camaraderie and respect for my work and my commitment to it, I joined all these organizations partly to get the benefits and be in the know for my career, but mainly for one simple reason. I love what I do. I want to keep on doing it, and for that to happen, I have to make certain that I stand in good stead.
Elkay Ray stops by In Reference to Murderto talk about writing and her book Saigon Dark (Crime Wave Press).
The new film of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express got Scott Alderberg thinking about film adaptions of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Alderberg’s pick for the best adaption “is the British film Green for Danger, directed by Sidney Gilliat. It was made in 1946 and taken from a Christianna Brand novel written two years earlier.”
At Mystery Fare, Clea Simon writes about making the jump from cozies to noir with her new book World Enough.
Lilja Sigurðardóttir, author of Snare (Orenda Books), stops by Shots to talk about the importance of food in books.
If In Doubt Read interviews Adrian Magson, author of Rocco and the Nightingale.
On Robert Crouch’s self-published No Bodies, Novel Deelights says that “if you enjoy your cosy mysteries, I have no doubt you will like the Kent Fisher Mysteries!”
The Rap Sheet lists the winners of the 2017 Dagger Awards.
Best of 2017 are already coming out. Here’s The Stand Magazine’s list and Publishers Weekly. Both are wrong as they don’t include Jordan Harper’s She Rides Shotgun. J. Kingston Pierce put together both lists nicely at The Rap Sheet.
On Writing At My Reading Corner, Antti Tuomainen writes about a brief writer’s retreat with Steph Broadribb, Thomas Enger, Karen Sullivan and others.
Allison Brook aka Marilyn Levinson talks with Lucy Burdette at Jungle Red Writers about writing.
There are many, many books being published these days, and you want to make your book stand out as best you can. First of all, learn the elements that go into a good novel. This takes time. Join writing groups like Sisters in Crime. Take classes, either in person or online. Join a critique group that’s familiar with the type of book you write. You want to belong to a group that provides support and helpful criticism. Read in your genre. Keep on writing. Writing is a process. It can’t be rushed. Be aware of marketing, what is wanted in your genre, while nurturing your own style and voice. So much of this sounds contradictory, but this, too, is part of the process: to believe in yourself while keeping an open mind to those critiquing your work.
But those minor characters deserve your love and attention just as much as your main cast. It’s easy to write them as shallow stereotypes, but they deserve personalities all of their own, and feelings, and depth of character. Give them their moment in the sun.
For example, I used to do a lot of script reports for new writers. I read hundreds of scripts, perhaps thousands. Films scripts, TV scripts, play scripts. If old ladies appeared in those scripts they’d often be described as having white hair and wearing a cardigan. They were the most generic old ladies ever. They’d invariably call everybody ‘dear’ a lot. As in ‘hello, dear,’ ‘yes, dear’ and ‘would you like a cup of tea, dear?’
Because if an old lady appeared, you could bet your life that a cup of tea would be sure to follow. Now I love tea as much as the next fellow– milk, no sugar, since you’re asking – but I often wondered what would happen if instead of clutching a teapot the old lady would appear with a crack-pipe… or a DVD of extreme porn… or sporting a purple Mohican hairstyle.
A week in review of small press crime fiction for Oct. 9 – Oct. 15, 2017.
This past week I went to my first Bouchercon and it was everything. I wasn’t planning on getting this out, but considering every time I was introduced to someone, this column was mention. I felt like it was my civic duty. Apologies in advance for typos as I tried to get this out in a hurry.
Submissions Aerogramme Writers’ Studiopoints us to Universal Writers Program which is still accepting applications. Jordan Harper, author of She Rides Shotgun and show runner for L.A. Confidential did one of these and he’s kind of successful.
Eryk Pruitt’s What We Reckon (Polis Books) is out. Before I jump into a review that has just come out for the book, Jim Thomsen tweeted the following:
“Full Metal Faulkner”, seriously if that is not enough for you to read Pruitt, I don’t know what is. A recent review by Joe Hartlaub in The Book Reporter compared reading What We Reckon with “It’s similar to driving at cruising speed on an interstate highway when that distributor you were told to replace 6,000 miles ago suddenly gives up the ghost just as a semi-tractor trailer pulls up behind you. You know something is going to happen, and it can’t be good.” I’m looking forward to reading this book.
Antti Tuomainen’s is out The Man Who Died (Orenda Books) and so are the reviews. Books, Life and Everythingreviews the book saying that it is a clever and that “[t]he beginning of the book could be used as a teaching aid in how to open up a crime book.” Crime Fiction Lover’s Marina Sofia writes that “a departure from the usual Scandinavian crime fiction style”. Stuart at Always Trust in Bookswrites, “Death is a common theme, but Tuomainen brings us an original story and a contrasting perspective that envelops it.” At Black Books Blog, Simon Leonard writes “the book really did grip me and kept me wanting to read all the time. Even when I had finished it I kept thinking about it …” Tired of reviews of The Man Who Died? How about an interview with Tuomainen at Always Trust in Books.
Max Allan Collins’ Quarry (Hard Case Crime). Adam Hill interviews Collins about Quarry and writing.
Quarry was reflection of the times I lived through, and specifically reflected the experiences of one Marine friend of mine, who always came and stayed with me on his stateside leaves. I saw the changes in him, and the attitudes of people who encountered him, and took note. The overall theme had more to do with the American public itself growing numb to the violence of the war, how body bags while we watched TV and ate dinner off trays became nothing special. PTSD wasn’t even a term, but I knew exactly what I was writing about, because I’d observed in several friends, particularly that one, whose wife betrayed just as Quarry’s did him.
Closer to Home by Heleyne Hammersley (Bloodhound Books) is now out. Donna Maguire of Donna’s Book Blogwrites that she thoroughly enjoyed it. The Writing Garnetsays it is “a spine tingling and addictive read.” Sarah Hardy of By the Letter Book Reviewswrites that is “a strong and solid start to a new crime series”. If you’ve read this blog before then you are quite familiar with Colman Keane’s Col’s Criminal Library and what books he likes. Well, Keane really likesCloser to Home saying he “really enjoyed it.” A few days later, Keane interviews Hammersley. Books N Allwrote that it was “an extremely gripping read.”
Matthew Fitzsimmons’ Cold Harbor (Thomas & Mercer) is released and Dan Malmon reviews the book saying that “a high end mystery with plenty of action.”
Innocent Blood by Linda S. Prather (Bloodhound Books) is out and (e)book Nerdloved it. M.A. Comley reviews the book and writes that it is “a quality page-turner.” Bookstormersaid that they were “immersed in the pages and found it difficult to put this book down”. Life of a Nerdish Momwrites that is “overall a brilliant book”. Sarah Hardy writes that “is perfect for crime lovers who like something a bit different.”
Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite (Bookoutre) is out and dampebbleswrites that it was “(a very easy) five out of five stars.” Compulsive Readerssays that “if you enjoy psychological thrillers full of secrets and lies, betrayal and loyalty, then you will LOVE this book.” My Chestnut Reading Treewrites that this “was pretty much my perfect book.”
Shotgun Honey re-released Rusty Barnes’ Ridgerunner, if you missed it on 280 Steps you can pick it up today.
Book Reviews Black Guys Do Readreviews Tom Piccirilli’s The Last Whisperer in the Dark. Richard Vialet writes this beautiful paragraph, “I’m so happy I discovered Tom Piccirilli. It’s so awesome when you discover writers who seem to write work specifically for you, books that are exactly what you want to read.” Damn.
Victoria Goldman reviews Lilja Sigurdardottir’s Snare (Orenda Books) at Off the Shelf Books. Goldman writes that it is “fresh and different”.
At Tough, John Stickney reviews Nick Kolakowski’s A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps (Shotgun Honey) saying that “a read that’s surprising, compelling and just plain fun.” I reviewed the same book back in June saying that Kolakowski “writes with wit painted in darkness and gunfire.”
Noelle at Crime Book Junkie reviews Ross Greenwood’s Fifty Years of Fear saying that the book “felt almost like a coming of age crossed with crime fiction…you know something is going to happen, you just don’t know when.” Caroline Vincent at Bits About Bookswrites that “[t]his book is extremely difficult to review and to categorise because it has so much. I think it is a brilliant literary work of fiction and I highly recommend [it].”
Janet at Keeper of the Pagesreviews Kate Moretti’s The Blackbird Season (Titan Books) calling it “dark, suspenseful, a tale cleverly told and one I highly recommend.”
Thrillers aren’t usually my thing, but I might need to read a few books by Zoë Sharp. Crime Watch’s Craig Sisterson reviews Sharp’s latest book Fox Hunter (Pegasus Books) saying that it is “action-packed, adrenalin-filled, but with plenty of depth and thoughtfulness in among the explosions, gun battles, and hand-to-hand combat too. A very good read.”
Owen Mullen’s And So It Began (Bloodhound Books) is still getting some good reviews. Crime Book Junkiesays that the book is “gritty, thrilling” and “worth the read”. Books from Dusk Till Dawnwrites that “is a cracking introduction to a very promising and exciting new venture for Delaney and his quickly growing fan base.”
Jochem Vandersteen reviews Sam Wiebe’s Invisible Dead saying that “the story is dark, the social commentary never overblown but written with just the right amount of anger to make it work.” I also liked this book very much.
How many stories play fast and loose to give us a villain who simply must be killed? They won’t give up! They have no fear of death. The endless henchmen who file into John Wick’s house made me laugh. I mean, no one thought to toss a few Molotov cocktails and burn his house down? Or tell the boss to engage in aerial intercourse with a rolling pastry, then head home? Not saying you should feel bad about liking the movie, it was good entertainment, but it’s the kind of fantasy we take for granted. The kind of fantasy that makes internet tough guys think they could hit a sniper on the 32nd floor, or make it past his machine-gun nest to get to his hotel room and get him.
In the education of this pulp writer, once you’ve been up close with the dead, you understand they are ‘screaming’ to be heard, to be remembered, and to not give any significance to their voice is its own kind of crime.
The Rap Sheet has a great rundown of the awards handed out recently: Macavitys and Anthonys. Hint, no real surprises here.
Crime Fiction Loversinterviews J.J. Hensley, former cop, Secret Service agent, and author of Bolt Action Remedy.
I laugh whenever a suspect is located in five minutes using some sort of magic facial recognition software or when someone wearing a ballistic vest takes a shotgun blast to the chest and then gets up feeling just fine. I mean… vest or not, if you take a gunshot to the chest, there is going to be some serious damage. You aren’t going to simply leap up and go have a cold one at the pub!
Steve Lauden interviews John McFetridge about books, writing and Toronto.
Rich Zahradnik, author of Lights Out Summer, talks about researching his books at In Reference to Murder.
If you are looking for some new and different fiction – not crime fiction – then read Jackie Law’s post about Xan Brooks and Mahsuda Snaith.
We find out that David Cranmer will be first on the wall when the Revolution comes. I kid, of course. I too am dumbfounded by the hysteria over the new Star Wars trailer, though I do diverge in that I try to go see every new Star Wars movie with the eyes of a five year-old.
Lilja Sigurdardottir, author of Snare, has a short piece in Random Things Through My Letterbox called My Life in Books which is an interesting read given that she is Icelandic.
At Vic Watson’s elementarywatson, Neil Broadfoot guests posts about how his job affected his writing, “… journalism taught me how to write. And, more importantly, it kicked the ego out of me early on.”
David Ciambrone writes about how he writes female heroines and one of the first thing he says is “Have a good critique partner who is a woman and willing to give you her womanly opinion. Listen and take her advice.”
I don’t plot a story out ahead of time, so during the early chapters I never know where the whole thing will end up. As I’m writing and the story takes shape, ideas drift in for what’s ahead, and those ideas are better than anything I could come up with if I plotted the whole story ahead of time. Working this way makes writing more of an organic process for me. And these ideas can come from something I’ve experienced, or something I read or saw somewhere, and with just the right twist they find their way into the story.
It’s not the only way to write a story, but it works for me. Once I’m through a first draft, I create a timeline to make sure the sequence of events makes sense. I guess it’s a little like outlining in reverse.
Kalteis writes at Criminal Minds about the joys of reading and re-reading, *Fuel for the Writer.
So, if an author has a voice that resonates with me, I search out everything he or she ever wrote, and any novel that I consider great will get reread at some point. Reading inspires me to write, and what I choose to read influences my own writing, so reading and rereading can be kind of like fuel for a writer — this one anyway.