A Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for Oct. 30 – Nov. 5, 2017
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The Flash Fiction offensive is now looking for holiday submissions.
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.
Margaret Kirk’s Shadow Man (Orion) is out. A Tartan Noir police procedural, Hooked From Page One quite enjoyed the book, ” This is an excellent debut novel from Margaret Kirk …”. Ronnie Turner “loved it.”
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’s Don’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.
Earl Javorsky’s Down to No Good (The Story Plant) is out. He writes about the book at Do Some Damage. Also out this week is Deadbomb Bingo Ray by Jeff Johnson (Turner Publishing) and The Wench is Wicked / Blonde Verdict / Delilah Was Deadly by Carter Brown (Stark House Press).
- This Week
- The Dead Whisper by Emma Clapperton (Bloodhound Books)
- Face Value by William E. Wallace (Shotgun Honey)
- Full Service Blonde by Megan Edwards (Imbrifex)
- Killing State by Judith O’Reilly (Loughman Press)
- Lord of the Dead by Richard Rippon (Oblierati Press)
- Scream Blue Murder by Tony J. Forder (Bloodhound Books)
- The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland (Bookouture)
- You’re Next by Michael Fowler (Caffeine Nights Publishing)
- Zenka by Alison Brodie
- Week of November 13
- CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards (Orenda Books)
- Dying Day by Stephen Edger (Bookouture)
- The First One to Die by Victoria Jenkins (Bookouture)
- The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst (Headline)
- Gone Missing by T.J. Brearton (Bookouture)
- The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne (Bloodhound Books)
- Savage by Frank Bill (FSG)
- Shakedown by Martin Bodenham (Down & Out Books)
- The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair (Bloodhound Books)
- Week of November 20
- Week of November 27
- Briefly Maiden by Jacqueline Chadwick (Fahrenheit Press
- Deadly Dance by Hillary Bonner (Severn House Digital)
- The Good Samaritan by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer)
- Her Best Friend by Sarah Wray (Bookouture)
- The Mansions of Murder by Paul Doherty (Severn House Digital)
- Murder in July by Barbara Hambly (Severn House Digital)
- Now You See Me by Kierney Scott (Bookouture)
- The Silent Children by Carol Wyer (Bookouture)
- Week of December 4
- Week of December 11
- The Stolen Children by Kerry Wilkinson (Bookouture)
- January 2018
- Bad Samaritan by Dana King (Down & Out Books)
- Blackchurch Furnace by Nathan Singer (Down & Out Books)
- Come Out and Play by Dylan Young (Bookouture)
- The Daughter by Lucy Dawson (Bookoutre)
- Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb (Orenda Books)
- Hydra by Matt Wesolowski (Orenda Books)
- A Scholar of Pain by Grant Jerkins (ABC Group Documentation)
- Touchfeather by Jimmy Sangster (Brash Books)
- Truth or Dare by Richard Paker (Bookouture)
- Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan (Bookouture)
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”.
Brew and Books Reviews on Lilja Sigurðardóttir’s Snare (Orenda Books):
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 …
Sweet Little Book says of Robert Crouch’s No Bodies:
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 upcoming Lord 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
- Buzz Kill by Tom Straw (Self-published) Criminal Element
- Cause of Death by Peter Richie (Black & White) The Belgian Reviewer
- Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza (Bookouture) Crime Book Junkie
- Dead Souls by Angela Marsons (Bookouture) Girl Vs Books
- The Easter Make Believers by Finn Bell (Self-published) Crime Watch
- Her Last Secret by Barbara Cooperthwaite (Bookouture) It’s All About the Books
- Hunting the Hangman by Howard Linsky (No Exit Press) The Quiet Knitter
- Hush Little Baby by James Carol (Out of Print) Compulsive Readers
- Elmet by Fiona Mozley (John Murray) The Last Word Book Review
- The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) by Marie Gameson (Salt) Never Imitate
- The Last Time We Spoke by Fiona Sussman (Allison & Busby) Crime Watch
- Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra (MIRA) The Suspense Is Thrilling Me
- 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.
Author Dawn Ius looks at what makes private investigator novels tick.
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.
Lloyd Otis, author of Dead Lands (Urbane Publishing), talks about his writing process at By the Letter Book Reviews.
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.
Dorset Book Detective interviews Mark Pepper, author of Veteran Avenue(Urbane Publications).
At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Megan Abbott talks about The Deuce.
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.”
Fabricating Fiction interviews Louise Jensen, author of The Surrogate.
Compulsive Readers interviews Angela Marson, author of Broken Bones.
Gloria Aiden on writing about the Amish at Writers Who Kill.
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.
Antti Toumainen, the author of The Man Who Died (Orenda Books), writes about humor in writing at From the First Page to the Last
Literary agent Paula Munier lists her favorite books about writing at Career Authors.
Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Widow of Wall Street, has some advice about writing sex scenes.