Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for September 4-10, 2017
Tough, a crime webzine edited by Rusty Barnes, is open for submissions and, guess what people, he pays!
RunAmok Books is putting together “collection of essays tentatively titled Miscellany: Essays by Young(Ish) American Voices (From the Fringe). We’re looking for personal essays by writers who considers themselves (1) youngish and (2) outside the mainstream. The projected pub date is later in 2018 and we’d like all submissions in by December 31, 2017.”
When Obliterati Press is not getting ready to release Richard Rippon’s Lord of the Dead in November, they also publish some short fiction on their website and they are open for submissions as well.
Todd Morr’s If You’re Not One Percent is now on Fahrenheit Press. Originally published by 280 Steps, this is one of the many books that Fahrenheit Press has saved.
By the Time I Get to Phoenix is the third Southsiders book by Nigel Bird. The series is self-published by Bird who has appeared in several anthologies and is an editorial consultant at All Due Respect Books. Bloodhound Books released Locked Up by G.B. Williams and The Case of the Missing Bride by Carmen Radtke.Mysterious Press released Mike Cooper’s Downside. The Snake Handler by Cody Goodfellow and J David Osborne is now available on Amazon. This Broken River Books book has been available elsewhere for a few weeks.
James Patterson’s The Family Lawyer is out. This guy is a fucking machine.
If you have a few minutes, check out Colman Keane’s list of reading a short story a day during the month of August. Over at Tough, Marie S. Crosswell’s Tinder is a hard-boiled Western set in the dystopian future of the United States. I’m not a wrestling fan, but why should I be surprised that I like Wrestling Noir when it is written by Tom Leins. Check out his story The Sunset Flip in Story and Grit. At Flash Fiction Offensive, Patrick Cornwall’s story of a veteran killer teaching a younger one the tools of the trade, but there is a toll that must be paid. Part 5 of Brian Panowich’s Fire on the Mountain is up on Shotgun Honey. And David Cranmer, writer and editor of Beat to a Pulp, points us to a new Kurt Vonnegut story.
I reviewed Meg Gardiner’s UNSUB (Dutton) and I pretty much didn’t like it.
Over at Black Guys Do Read, Richard Vialet has been reading and reviewing lots of graphic novels of late and he continues to do so with Jeff Lemire’s Roughneck. Lemire is one of my favorite comic book artists and writers, the man can do no wrong, and yet some how I missed Roughneck altogether. Vialet writers of this country noir book saying that:
Roughneck is about the choices you make: the choices in the past and the ones in the present, how they’re intrinsically related, and how the time will come when you must come to terms with them.
The Grim Reader reviews Alec Cizak’s Down on the Street (ABC Group Documentation):
Down on the Street is filled with broken, wretched people. I don’t believe there is a single character in the book with anything in the way of a redeeming feature, and yet, Cizak has an uncanny ability to make you keep turning the pages.
Hey look, here is another goddamn review of Down on the Street. At this point I have to ask, “Why the fuck haven’t you bought this book yet?”
Robert B. Stepto writes about the Chester Himes biography in The Washington Post that it is a “vivid, engrossing biography. Chester B. Himes is written by Lawrence P. Jackson.
John Dwaine McKenna reviews Tom Pitts’ American Static (Down & Out Books) and says that the book “opens at warp speed and never slows down.” Yup, same here. I wrote that American Static “is fucking top-notch.” If you haven’t picked Pitts’ latest book up and you like great crime fiction, you should do so.
Ronald Tierney’s The Stone Veil introduced semi-retired, Indianapolis-based private investigator “Deets” Shanahan. The book was a finalist in St. Martin Press’ “Best First Private Eye Novel” competition, and nominated for the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Award for “Best First Novel.” Killing Frost is the eleventh in the Shanahan series. Until recently, Tierney lived in San Francisco, the setting for the Paladino-Lang series and a new novella, The Blue Dragon, which was just released. The Black Tortoise is due out in 2017. Tierney, who now lives in Palm Springs, was founding editor of NUVO Newsweekly, an Indianapolis alternative weekly, and the editor of a San Francisco monthly.
If you didn’t get a chance to listen to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross’ interview with John Le Carré, you really should. Forget about the fact that Le Carré is a master in his field, he has led a most remarkable life.
S.W. Lauden interviews Tom Leins author of Skull Meat which happens to be free for the next few days at Amazon. Lauden brings up a point that I have quite often thought of after reading Skull Meat that Paignton seems to be a dangerous place to visit.
Everyone has heard by now but Jordan Harper will executive produce and write the CBS television version of James Ellroy’s LA Confidential.
I love The Thrill Begins’ How It Happened series. This week Lydia Kang tells her story: “ I’m really good with self-imposed deadlines. I gave myself one summer to write a book and try to sign with a literary agent, and then I would give up my dream of becoming an author and move on. Oh, how naive I was.”
This week began a new series on The Thrill Begins, Writer’s Passport which “will feature conversations between the regular contributors to The Thrill Begins … and a dazzling lineup of crime fiction’s best international writers.” Upcoming writers are Jo Nesbo, Sara Blaedel, and Leye Adenle among others. There’s a schedule up that takes us to December. Sounds like fun, so let’s get started with J.J. Hensley, author of the upcoming Bolt Action Remedy (Down & Out Books), interviewing Ian Rankin — everyone knows who he is, right?
The biggest problem I have with reading blogs and following people on social media is that my TBR seems to grow exponentially. And Jay Stringer’s latest article in Do Some Damage doesn’t fucking help. Stringer inteveiws Uriel E. Gribetz, author of Taconic Murda and Hunts Point.
Hunts Point is the second book in the Sam Free series, following hardboiled on the heels of 2014’s Taconic Murda. The first novel introduced Sam as a flawed detective, trying to hold on to some integrity in a police force, and criminal justice system, that pushes people to cheat and compromise. Gribetz showed a strong grasp of what makes hardboiled fiction work, with tense scenes, fast pacing, and dialogue that feels authentic.
With Hunts Point, Gribetz made a decision I really appreciated as a reader. He didn’t stand still. The book isn’t a retread of the first, and Sam Free has been allowed to move and change. That’s a good thing for the reader, but a bad thing for the character. Sam’s life has fallen apart, and he carries the damage from the choices made in the first book. Sam is no longer a cop, which moves the series from semi-police procedural, to straight-up PI.
Hector Duarte Jr., co-editor at The Flash Fiction Offensive, wrote in Do Some Damage about whether writers should use a pseudonym to hide their identity especially if their job is in the public eye. Concerned about a short story Duarte wrote, an administrator said to Duarte who was applying for a job as a teacher, “The kids will find you.” In our household we recently went through something similar, my wife’s hair. At the beginning of the summer, using van Gogh’s The Starry Night as inspiration, she dyed her hair blues, greens and yellows. Summer ended and the dye still had not washed out. She is a Montessori teacher for young children and the administrator of the school was not too happy. Oddly, my wife still gets many compliments about how wonderful her hair is and kids absolutely love it. I find it strange that people would not want to have someone who shows creativity and individuality teach their children. Duarte writes about his issue:
Shouldn’t parents and schools show some pride in the fact that one of their own shows a different, more creative level of mastery in the very subject they are teaching? Isn’t it beneficial to have a writer teaching your kids the ins and outs of the English language? Might not a student’s interest further spark if they found out their teacher was doing something with books other than teaching? High school can be an awkward time for some and admitting you want to be a writer might get more than a couple laughs. An author-teacher at the front of the class, leading by example, could be just the right push that student needs to embrace their calling.
Do crime writers make good criminals? The jury is probably still out on this (pun intended), but Andy Martin thinks otherwise. Martin is the author of the acclaimed Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me writes of criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro turned criminal in Why crime writers are perfectly capable of becoming criminals,
Literacy does not automatically inoculate you against evil. So you read a book about true or invented crime, some heinous plot to do with hoodwinking or doing away with a party or parties. And you think to yourself: You know what, I could do that. You become a perpetrator. And the latest offerings in popular fiction will provide you with the know-how to lead a life of crime.
Katie Orphan, a manager at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, had a few drinks with Raymond Chandler’s ghost.
I read The Long Goodbye as I sip my martini, and find myself slipping deep into the world of 1940s Los Angeles. Hollywood then is a vastly different place than it is now. Walking to Musso and Frank’s, I pass restaurants catering to tourists, souvenir shops, and the stars that now line the sidewalks. I prefer to picture Hollywood as it was in the time of Raymond Chandler and his Philip Marlowe. Marlowe’s office is nearby, and it’s easy to see both Chandler and Marlowe, fictional though he may be, walking through the doors of Musso and Frank’s, and bellying up to the bar.
Over at Elizabeth White’s blog, Jack Getze, author of The Black Kachina, has a post about the rewriting of his manuscript from the perspective of one of the book’s secondary characters, Maggie Black.
In my mind, I’d only sketched out Maggie and her background as an interesting side character. My novel had been about a half-breed Native American for decades, a spiritually driven seeker who believes the white man has never stopped destroying his people. Though angry and slightly off his rocker, he was the protagonist. The Black Kachina was his story.
At least that’s what I told myself then, stubborn novelist that I am. It’s my story. I’m telling it my way. But that day on the telephone with a man who offered a prize I’d long sought, my stubbornness fell way to practicality. I said, yes boss, whatever you say, and two weeks into the rewrite for that New York editor, I knew he and my agent had been right all along. Once I created her, The Black Kachina was Maggie’s story.
Shocker! The pros knew more than me.
Is Canadian Noir even a thing? I know Canada exists but this whole thing about adding Noir to everything is almost as tiring as pumpkin spice. Anywho, Barbara Fradkin has provided us with quite a list of dark crime fiction set in Canada and, that my friends, is a good thing.
Scott Alderberg gives up his space this week in Do Some Damage to Matthew Revert to talk about how his new book, Human Trees came to be. Revert’s book sits in my TBR, but the beauty of his prose in this short article is moving it quickly up to the top.
Jonathan Ashely guest posts over at Jedidiah Ayres hardboiled wonderland about the influences of his new Down & Out Books release, South of Cincinnati.
Alex Segura, author of the Pete Fernandez series, pointed us to this article, Mystery Solved: Why Literature’s Greatest Detectives Are All Obsessed With Food.
An older article that was making the rounds was a piece from The New Yorker, What Makes Great Detective Fiction, According to T.S. Eliot.
If you are up for a detailed rendition of how Cormac McCathy’s Blood Meridian came to be, then you are in luck.
Paul D. Brazill interviews Graham Smith, author of the upcoming The Kindred Killers. Brazil also recommends Aidan Thorn’s Tales From The Underbelly which is one of those new books I should read by now.
This week I begin a new section on writing tips. We will start off with some guidance from James Baldwin:
If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; if you’re not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you. What you really need at the beginning is somebody to let you know that the effort is real.
The Write Life lists 25 Must-Read Books About Writing, some you’ve heard of and some that are most likely crap. In LitReactor, author Christoph Paul writes about The 7 Deadly Sins of Struggling Writers. I especially love the last one one, “Throwing Shade Instead of Supporting Your Fellow Writers.” Donna Andrews has some stupid tricks about writing.