Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for August 21-27, 2017
Apologies that this week’s Incident Report is a bit late but given my vacation, return to work, birthday, and taking our son to college, I’m okay with that. No short story links this week. They will return next week.
Alec Cizak will be taking submissions for his magazine Pulp Modern from October 1st through October 10th. If you haven’t read Pulp Modern Vol. 2 No. 1, please do so. You can find submission guidelines here for Pulp Modern Vol 2. No. 2.
Fahrenheit Press is getting into the game of anthologies with Noirville. Submissions are now open for twelve spots of tales from the dark side. Read their submission guidelines and get writing.
Out of the Gutter is always looking for flash fiction, 1,000 words or less.
I know, I know, Matthew Revert’s Human Trees (Broken River Books) is not a crime novel. But given the three other books I have read from the publisher (Heathenish by Kelby Losack, Gravity by Michael Kazepis, and Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias) and Ben Lelievre recent review, Revert’s book became a must read for me.
Fahrenheit Press keeps on putting out interesting books. This week was Ian Patrick’s Rubicon. As the blurb says, it is the story of “two cops, both on different sides of the law – both with the same gangland boss in their sights.” I haven’t read anything from Penguin’s Europa Editions but I have always been intrigued. Suburra by Giancarlo de Cataldo and Carlo Bonini is getting a big publicity push based on its upcoming Netflix series.
I can’t say I missed it, but James Patterson released another book two weeks ago, The Store, this time he writes with Richard DiLallo.
Ben Lelievre says of Hard Sentences – Crime Fiction Inspired by Alcatraz (Broken River Books), “(David James) Keaton and (Joe) Clifford put together a sweeping portrait of the Alcatraz experience, though and if you decided to crack this baby open, you’re bound to find something of your liking or something that transcends you idea of what prison stories can be.” Also over at Dead End Follies, Ben reviews Don Winslow’s The Force with expected results, “I’ve tore through The Force in two ravenous days of reading. It’s perhaps not Don Winslow’s best novel, but it’s up there with the best ones.”
Next month Polis Books will be releasing Winnie M. Li’s debut crime novel Dark Chapter. I have already had a chance to read it and it is one of the best books of the year. It has already been out for a few months in the UK and has gotten many positive reviews. Dark Chapter is a difficult book as it is a fictional recounting of Li’s rape in Belfast. The book also has chapters told from the point of view of the rapist. As Jackie Law says in her review that it is “a powerful account of a crime that is too often maligned and misunderstood.”
Tom Leins, author of the recent Skull Meat, reviews Tony Knighton’s fantastic Three Hours Past Midnight (Crime Wave Press). Leins says of Knighton’s book that it “is a compelling slice on contemporary hard-boiled fiction, and one that cries out for a sequel – or sequels. Great stuff.” I am in complete agreement. Don’t miss Three Hours Past Midnight. On his blog Dirty Books, Leins also has an interview with Knighton.
Derrick Horodysk reviews Greg Barth’s Everglade, the fifth and final book of Barth’s Selena series. Everglade is hovering near the top of my TBR, shit, the entire series is on my TBR. I have been debating for weeks whether to just read Everglade or start at the beginning with Selena. In the Out of the Gutter review, Horodysk loves Everglade and calls the Selena series “one of the best noir series ever written.” I guess it is time for me to shit or get off the pot.
I am only hearing great things about Ryan Gattis’ Safe (McDonnell Douglas) whether it is on Eric Beetner and S.W. Lauden’s podcast Writer Types or Michael T. Fournier’s review in the Chicago Review of Books.
If you are a crime fiction fan, the article this week that you most likely read is Scott Bradfield’s Donald E. Westlake: The Writer’s Writer’s Writer in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The article starts with a humorous story of Bradfield taking a writer’s conference with the legendary Harlan Ellison. Ellison, in his abrupt style, tells Bradford, “Throw out that fucking copy of Finnegans Wake you’re always carrying around and go read Donald E. Westlake. He’ll teach you everything you need to know about writing fiction. Oh, and pick up some acne medication while you’re at it. Your face’s a mess.” Bradford goes on to say:
Those first Westlake books zipped by so quickly that I wasn’t even aware I was reading them until they were over. And unlike all the “serious” and “noteworthy” books I usually tried to read, they never had me anxiously checking how many pages there were left until the next chapter, or looking up words in the dictionary, or skimming back over the previous pages to find something I had missed. Every image leapt off the page; every scene quickly set me in a location so vivid and immediate that it felt like I wasn’t entering some fictional space but simply remembering an actual location where I had already been. And every line of dialogue opened up the voice and personality of the character who spoke it.
If you haven’t read Bradford’s article and I highly doubt that, stop reading this and read that.
Over at S.W. Lauden’s blog, Lauden interviews Gary Duncan, founder of Spelk Fiction and writer of You’re Not Supposed to Cry (Vagabond Voices). Duncan maybe one of the preeminent experts on flash fiction. In the interview, Duncan says:
Good flash fiction can be so many things—a unique voice, an original situation, a new way of saying something—anything that makes you sit back and wish you’d written it yourself. If I’m reading a good flash, I can usually tell it’s going to be good in the first few lines. You often can’t put your finger on it, but you can just tell that this is someone who knows what they’re doing. A light touch is important—you don’t want to hammer it home or lay it on too thick. I like flashes that make you work a little, that give you just enough information to get you thinking. What’s the backstory? What’s being said between the lines? What’s the bigger story here?
Danny Gardner writes about his writing process and the amount of work he throws away in Criminal Minds. The next NoirCon is set for November 1-4, 2018. I don’t know about you but I can never keep up with Book Riot and their lists of books to read. I’m guessing that their posts are more research minded rather than to do’s, I mean who has time to be in five book clubs. Over at J. Kingston Pierce’s Killer Covers blog, a companion to his excellent The Rap Sheet blog, he has a huge post that will probably become the most popular page of Killer Covers, Pay Attention, Big Boy!.
J. David Osborne writes at Lit Reactor about his evolving tastes in I’m Tired of Genre Fiction. Give Me the Weird Stuff.
. . . I’ve been having trouble enjoying “straightforward” books. I haven’t done the deep work of figuring out whether or not I’m a born contrarian, but I don’t even like reading books that are typically understood (by a majority of people, of course) to be “good.” Plots, characterization, pacing, all of it seemed boring to me, all of a sudden.
As good and weird as Osborne’s Broken River Books is, prepare for it to get weirder and better, if that is even possible.
Some interviews to catch up on are BV Lawson’s intervew with Jack Getz at In Reference to Murder. Getz has a new book out on Down & Out Books called The Black Kachina. Over at Mysteristas, Albert Tucher, author of The Place of Refuge (Shotgun Honey), is interviewed. Are you tired of me mentioning Tony Knighton? Too bad. You should be reading his new book Three Hours Past Midnight (Crime Wave Press) and also this interview with Scott Alderberg in Do Some Damage.
Noir at the Bar will be going at the National Book Festival this weekend. Noir at the National Book Festival will be rated PG rather than the usual R to NC-17 rating. Here is E.A. Aymar reading in the first DC Noir at the Bar. This was first published at Do Some Damage.