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.
Jen Conley, author of the short story collection Cannibals, has a great article about her first Bouchercon called The Hole in My Wall That Brought Me to Bouchercon and about how important it is to her. Please, please go and read it. Hey, I’m not forgetting about Thomas Pluck’s post either.
Aerogramme Writers’ Studio points 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:
Eryk goes Full Metal Faulkner in this one.
— Jim Thomsen (@Jimthomsen) October 13, 2017
“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 Everything reviews 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 Books writes, “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.
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 Blog writes that she thoroughly enjoyed it. The Writing Garnet says it is “a spine tingling and addictive read.” Sarah Hardy of By the Letter Book Reviews writes 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 likes Closer to Home saying he “really enjoyed it.” A few days later, Keane interviews Hammersley. Books N All wrote that it was “an extremely gripping read.”
Innocent Blood by Linda S. Prather (Bloodhound Books) is out and (e)book Nerd loved it. M.A. Comley reviews the book and writes that it is “a quality page-turner.” Bookstormer said that they were “immersed in the pages and found it difficult to put this book down”. Life of a Nerdish Mom writes 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 dampebbles writes that it was “(a very easy) five out of five stars.” Compulsive Readers says that “if you enjoy psychological thrillers full of secrets and lies, betrayal and loyalty, then you will LOVE this book.” My Chestnut Reading Tree writes 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.
Passport to Murder: Bouchercon Anthology 2017 edited by John McFetridge (Down & Out Books) is out and won the Best Anthology or Collection Anthony. Three other releases are What We Kill by Howard Odentz (Bell Bridge Books), Greg Levin’s self-published In Wolf’s Clothing, and The Lawn Job by Chuck Caruso (Cloud Lodge Books)
- October 17
- October 19
- October 23
- Broken Glass Waltzes by Warren Moore (Down & Out Books)
- October 24
- October 25
- Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft (Bookoutre)
- October 27
- October 30
- Don’t Tell a Soul by D.K. Hood (Bookoutre)
- October 31
- Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell (Bookoutre)
- November 3
- Broken Bones by Angela Marsons (Bookoutre)
- November 9
- The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland (Bookoutre)
- November 13
- Shakedown by Martin Bodenham (Down & Out Books)
- November 17
- The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair (Bloodhound Books)
- December 4
- Meat City on Fire by Angel Luis Colón (Down & Out Books)
- January 2018
- Blackchurch Furnace by Nathan Singer (Down & Out Books)
Not this week because Bouchercon.
Black Guys Do Read reviews 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 Books writes 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 Pages reviews 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 Junkie says that the book is “gritty, thrilling” and “worth the read”. Books from Dusk Till Dawn writes 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.
Thomas Pluck’s article American Gun Mythology and the Role of the Writer is a must read.
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.
And another must read article, David Cranmer’s Lit Reactor piece, Voices of the Dead: In Memories and Literary Prose.
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.
At Mulholland Books, Fonda Lee writes about the Top Ten Fantasy Crime Novels.
Crime Fiction Lovers interviews 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.
At Jungle Red Writers, Hank Phillippi Ryan talks with Kellye Garrett, author of Hollywood Homicide about her influences.
At Electric Lit, Sarah Kurchak writes John le Carré’s Sad Spies Offer a New, Better Vision of Masculinity. Since le Carré has been writing since 1961, I wouldn’t say it’s new, but point taken.
Colman Keane interviews J.R. Lindermouth about books, writing and more books.
Holly West thinks she’s finally “one of the cool kids.” She’s always been.
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.”
SleuthSlayers’ Paul Marks talks with Dietrich Kalteis about the writing process.
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.
Art Taylor is interviewed about short stories by Tracee de Hahn in Miss Demeanors.
This is not to say that writers can’t do both, of course. But I do think that the best short stories can represent worlds as large as novels; they just do it in different ways.
Robert Carlson’s Robert Carlson’ Ultimate Story Structure Chart v2 2015 is linked by Do Some Damage
If you are looking for a new way to procrastinate, Justin Hunter’s *How to Finish Your Novel Using Math might just be the thing.