Wednesday morning we all woke up to the horrible news of the unexpected death of Jonathan Ashley. I did not know Jonathan, I only knew of him. He was the author of the recently published South of Cincinnati (Down & Out Books) and the currently out of print The Cost of Doing Business and Out of Mercy. Some posts in social media paint a picture of a generous and tortured soul. Jedidiah Ayres writes, “Jon was a talented, insightful artist. He was also a friend whose personal expressions sometimes had the charge of exposed wire and raw nerve. I will miss his work, but I will miss our talks more.” Two of his short stories are currently available online at Flash Fiction Offensive and Yellow Mama.
Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for September 11-17, 2017
Alec Cizak will edit an anthology called Naptown Noir (Down & Out Books). All stories should take place in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you have an idea for a story, reach out to Alec.
Electric Literature will have open submissions for Recommended Reading from September 20th to October 4th.
Ed Kurtz’s collection of short stories, Nothing You Can Do is out on Down & Out Books. From the synopsis, “Here are seventeen tales of crime, murder, and vengeance from Ed Kurtz, author of The Rib From Which I Remake the World and Bleed, including the acclaimed stories ‘A Good Marriage’ and ‘The Trick.’From backwoods Arkansas to the sleazy side of Cologne, Germany, America’s first serial killer in nineteenth-century Texas to a broken family descending into madness in 1920s England, no one escapes their own darkest drives and everyone learns there is Nothing You Can Do.”
R. Daniel Lester’s Dead Clown Blues (Shotgun Honey) is available now. An abbreviated synopsis goes “Carnegie Fitch, once-upon-a-time drifter and now half-assed private eye, has a sharp tongue, a cheap suit and dog-bite marks on his fedora. Yes, that’s just how he rolls through the downtown streets of Vancouver, BC, Canada, aka Terminal City, circa 1957, a land of neon signs, 24-hour diners and slumming socialites.” Lester is the author of the now out-of-print Die, Famous!
Heidi James’ new book So the Doves (Bluemoose Books). Jackie Law’s review called it “ a disturbing, compelling, ultimately satisfying read.” Graham Smith’s The Kindred Killers, the second Jake Boulder books, is out now on Bloodhound books. New crime fiction from Cheryl L. Reed, Poison Girls (Diversion Books). Reed stops by BOLO Books to talk about her latest book about heroin and girls in Chicago.
Okay, William Morrow is no where near a small press, but damn you’ve got to love the throwback of straight to paperback releases like Eric Rickstad’s The Names of Dead Girls (William Morrow Paperbacks). Rickstad has a short post over at The Strand Magazine on ten of Springsteen’s crime songs.
It’s impossible to keep up with James Patterson, this came out in the beginning of September: Stealing Gulfstreams by Patterson and Max Dilallo.
Due poor time management, I will revisit these next week.
I reviewed Winnie M. Li’s Dark Chapter (Polis Books) which is a crime fiction novel about rape. I wrote, “There is no doubt that Dark Chapter is a difficult book to read, but it is also a great book to read.” I also reviewed Glenn Gray’s Transgemination (Beat to a Pulp) which is the polar opposite of Li’s book. Gray’s book is just a fun, pulpy, sci-fi read.
Ben Lelievre reviews Anthony Neil Smith’s Castle Danger: Woman on Ice (Bastei Entertainment). Ben also reviews Iain Ryan’s Harsh Recovery calling it “fucking awesome” and Ryan’s Civil Twilight saying that it is “the most original novel in the Tunnel Island series.” Ryan is also looking for publishers for his twisted police procedurals, so if you think it might work for your list, please contact Iain.
As we get ready for the release Dietrich Kalties’ new book Zero Avenue in October, Colman Keane reviews Kalties’ 2016 release Trigger Fish.. Keane also reviews the first Jake Boulder book, Graham Smith’s Watching the Bodies. Keane says it is “enjoyable and entertaining.”
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Glenn Harper reviews Parker Bilal’s Dark Water (Bloomsbury USA). This is the sixth book in Pilal’s The Makana Mysteries that center around a private detective in Cairo.
Alan Cranis of Bookgasm reviews the upcoming release of Max Allan Collins’ Quarry’s Climax (Hard Case Crime) and Chelsea at The Suspense is Killing Me reviews J.J. Hensley’s upcoming release Bolt Action Remedy (Down & Out Books).
If you have never seen my Tumblr blog, The Look of Crime Fiction, please go take a look as it just focuses on the beautiful covers of crime fiction books. If you have been there before, I’ve added a few new covers over the last few weeks.
S.W. Lauden has an author roundtable so-to-speak where he interviews some participants of the Johnny Cash-inspired anthology. Lauden talks to Joe Clifford, the editor of Just to Watch Them Die (Gutter Books) as well as Jen Conley, Max Booth III, Danny Gardner, Lynne Barrett, Angel Colon, and Terri Lynn Coop. Here is what Gardner had to say:
I was fortunate to come up in an era where music easily crossed boundaries. It wasn’t odd for a young kid from where I grew up to dig rock and roll and country. My pops had an eclectic record collection and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was in it. Then the whole Man In Black thing. Black folk figured two things: Elvis Presley had an African American ancestor he didn’t talk about, and Johnny Cash identified with us more than anything else. Didn’t matter if it was true. I first heard “I Walk The Line” with a buddy of mine in his father’s station wagon. I remember being stirred by his voice.
The gun homicide issue in Chicago is something that sits with me constantly. At the moment I was invited to participate I was reflecting on the uptick over a few days. I scrolled through my phone for songs I had on hand and “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” jumped out at me.
Confession time here: I’ve never read Tana French. Yeah, yeah, I know. The Writers’ Passport series over at The Thrill Begins has Mark Pryor, author of The Sorbonne Affair interviewing French. She talks about the importance of setting in her books:I don’t think I could do a decent job of setting a book anywhere other than Dublin, at least not without moving there for a few years. For me,
I don’t think I could do a decent job of setting a book anywhere other than Dublin, at least not without moving there for a few years. For me, setting is an intrinsic part of the book – the characters and the plot are rooted in the setting; they wouldn’t be the same anywhere else – and Dublin’s the only place I know intimately enough to give it any kind of reality on the page. To set a book in a place, I need to know the subtle connotations of different accents and slang phrases, what it says about you if you drink in this pub versus that one, how crowded this or that particular street gets at different times of day and what kind of people are walking down it… I don’t know that stuff about any place except Dublin.
David Cranmer, publisher of Beat to a Pulp, has an article celebrating the noir films of one of the bad asses of Hollywood, Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s Centennial: The Noir.
For many critics and aficionados, Out of the Past is THE noir film to beat the band, and Mitchum’s performance—along with his world-weary eyes and sardonic wit—represents the crème de la crème of the genre.
Cranmer covers six noir films in this Criminal Element post. Back in August he wrote a similar piece celebrating Mitchum’s Westerns.
Cranmer is also one to point out some important articles to read. This time he pointed me to Nicholas Dawidoff’s Ross Macdonald, True Detective in the New Republic. Cranmer says of Macdonald that he is his “very favorite author of detective fiction.” Dawidoff wholeheartedly agrees saying:
It’s a detective’s fantasy, something very different from the fantasy detectives of Hammett and Chandler. Macdonald describes real detectives with the same technical fluency with which another great and underappreciated modern novelist, John Le Carré, portrays intelligence operatives.
In LitHub, designer Na Kim writes about what happens When Your Favorite Writer Does Not Like Your Initial Cover Designs: “My instincts as a designer had unwittingly betrayed me. I wanted to make a beautiful book jacket, but had forgotten why. I reminded myself that a well-designed book jacket ultimately serves the book it’s made for.
Paul D. Brazill interviews Aidan Thorne, author of the short story collection Tales from the Underbelly. Brazill also interviews L.A. Sykes who has a new short story collection Noir Medly coming out on Near To The Knuckle. Coleman Keane interviews Trace Conger, author of the recently released horror novella The White Boy.
I for one would love to be inside the mind of Steve Weddle, his most recent post on Do Some Damage, Where Are They Now: DOUBLE INDEMNITY is a case in point. I mean who the fuck does a “where are they now” article about people who all freaking dead by now. On second thought, maybe I don’t want in his brain. If you are enjoying Deuce, Jedidiah Ayres puts for a compendium of books and films to keep you occupied between episodes. Woody Haut’s Jazz and Film Noir looks at several noir films and their jazz soundtracks. Haut republished this 2015 article from Noir City.
I usually stay away from BookRiot lists, but this one by Liberty Handy might be a keeper, 100 Must-Read Indie Books. In Do Some Damage, Scott Alderberg writes about Shirley Hazzard’s biography on Graham Greene called Greene on Capri. Everything you wanted to know about Ikea’s Billy bookcase but were afraid to ask.
A new report is out that Amazon pays less taxes than its bookstore competitors. The Guardian writes, “The UK’s bookshops pay 11 times what Amazon does in corporation tax, according to a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.” Does the pirating of books hurt sales? Probably, but a recent study says, “Not so fast.”
Mikołaj Małaczyński, co-founding president of Poland’s Legimi ebook subscription program, tells Publishing Perspectives that according to his observations, “The most popular source of illegal copies are not sites that are accessible through search engines, but closed groups formed within various social networks. Their users exchange links to online cloud servers.”
Prashant C. Trikannad has written a celebration of used books and the search for them, The lure of secondhand books.
Secondhand books are not as elusive as you think they are. You have to keep your eyes open, know where to look. Sometimes they can be right under your nose, other times you have to sniff them out like a wolf sniffing out its prey. After years of browsing, I can home in on a ‘wanted’ title like some kind of a heat-seeking missile. All it takes is a quick, sweeping glance of stacks upon stacks of pavement books, provided the titles are displayed prominently. With practice, you can hone book-spotting into an art.
In Do Some Damage, Sarah Ruttan thinks about the process, new ideas and just writing: “ We get better the more we write, and honing your skills is important.” Carmen Radke, author of The Case of the Missing Bride, on how (not) to write in Book Lover’s Booklist.James Scott Bell has some advice on How to Cure the Mid-Novel Sag in Kill Zone.
Mike Cooper, author of The Downside, has a wonderful post in Lit Reactor about choosing the right words from slang to translations. Here’s his section on technical jargon entitled Remember that Wikipedia already wrote that paragraph you’re polishing:
Johnny hefted his new Milwaukee M18 1” rotary drill. At 1350 RPM and 3.3 foot-pounds of impact the handheld power tool not only turned its drill bit, but also used a rapid, synchronized vibration to bore efficiently through concrete, stone and many composite building materials. It would have no trouble putting a hole in the six-inch cinderblock vault wall . . .
Yeah, yeah, all that proves is somebody knows how to use Google. Make it sing:
The hammer drill bucked like a horse under Johnny’s hands, pulverizing the cinderblock in a roar of dust and stinging chips.
I hate going to Entertainment Weekly’s website, it’s cumbersome, but sometimes there are articles like How Stephen King scared a generation of storytellers into existence that make me go there.
“I love to hear authors rave about On Writing,” says Caroline Kepnes, author of the stalker-thriller novels You and Hidden Bodies, one of countless novelists inspired by King (and as you can see below, endorsed by him, too.) “I think that book has helped so many of us stick to our guns and keep at it. That’s a book that was so empowering. He was so eloquent and incisive in that book. Here he is, larger-than-life Stephen King, and yet there he is across from you, telling you to chill out and work.”