Incident Report

Incident Report No. 45

Unlawful Acts’ Incident Report covers the world of small press crime fiction for the week of June 3rd through June 9th with links to news, reviews, short fiction, new books, and upcoming releases.


Small Press Crime Fiction Week in Review

small press crime fictionAnother week, another Incident Report. As you know the number of links to news and interviews has purposely gone down. This week we have links to twelve articles, seven book review links, six short stories, and forty-eight new books. Some of the short stories aren’t specifically crime and the new books include horror, bizarro, and, of course, crime.

Book Reviews
Short Stories
New Releases
Upcoming Releases


biggiecoverA buddy of mine taught me how to read multiple books at one time. He picked up the habit while in the Navy working on a submarine. Reading three books at a time changed this up for him and helped break up the boredom of several months under the ocean. He likened it to watching multiple TV shows in one night–remember when we use to do that? Gabino Iglesias, the author of “Zero Saints” (Broken River Books), writes about reading 45 books at once. Not everyone is a crazy as Iglesias, but maybe there’s a thing or nine we could learn from him.

Believe it or not, none of that has anything to do with my reasons for reading a plethora of books at the same time. No, I do it because I love it. I do it because books and music have been the only constant in my life. I do it because I don’t watch any TV shows and I’m not in the mood for movies half the time. I do it because I can do it anywhere. I do it because I have many talented friends who keep my pile taller than most people and because spreading the word about great books via reviews and interviews is something I truly enjoy and consider important. In any case, here are some things I learned while reading 45 books at once. I hope some of them convince you to increase the number of books you’re currently reading.

“The Gimmie The Loot: Stories Inspired by The Notorious B.I.G.” cover is attached to this story because Iglesias and Clash Books are now accepting submissions for this book. More at Clash Books.

Over at The Grim Reaper, Calvin Demmer‘s It Happened in a Flash discusses the benefits of writing short fiction. Demmer’s new short story collection “The Sea Was a Fair Master” (Unnerving) was released last week.

Quite a bit of what I’ve learned writing flash fiction (making each word and then each sentence count, eliminating redundancies, etc.) has carried over to other forms, such as short stories and novellas. For me, it helped to strengthen my writing foundations. That said, it’s definitely its own beast and, at least for me, should be handled that way.

Mystery WeeklyAt What Editors Want You To Know, Joan Leotta interviews Kerry Clark of Mystery Weekly.

My favorite types of stories are not well represented in the other mystery magazines. There are a lot of magazines specializing in hardboiled, flash, or literary fiction, but often the story takes a back seat to flowery prose or gratuitous violence.

Generally, I’m looking for an original, compelling story. I especially like cross-genre submissions and humorous mysteries, with a satisfying or surprise ending. I try to buy a diverse selection of stories to please as many readers’ tastes as possible.

Steph Post interviews Terrence McCauley, the author of “The Fairfax Incident” (Polis Books) at Lit Reactor.

Becoming stale is my greatest fear. Writers are primarily entertainers who produce a product for an audience. That doesn’t mean one should necessarily alter the kind of story they feel compelled to write for the masses, but it should force a writer to find new ways to keep their talent as honed and fresh as possible.

Killing MalmonOver at The Thrill Begins, Ed Aymar chats with Kate and Dan Malmon who are “reviewers for Crimespree Magazine, the Writer Types podcast, and are the recent recipients of an Anthony Award nomination for “Killing Malmon”, the anthology they edited whose profits have been donated to the MS Society, and in which every story involves Dan’s gruesome murder.”

Publishers that don’t respond to requests for review copies. We’re all on the same team! If I reach out to you to for a copy of X book (Not the one with Wolverine in it) it’s because I think the book sounds good! Or I like the author! Or someone else that has an opinion I respect sold me on it. So…if I ask you for a copy, it’s because I want to help you sell books. We don’t work for any publisher. We don’t get paid by Crimespree or Writer Types. Our payment is getting people excited for books. If for some reason you can’t get a review copy out…that’s kinda weird. But OK. Thank you for the response. But many folks just…don’t reply. At all. And that is infuriating.

Will Viharo sits down with editor and writer Jim Thomsen. From Viharo’s introduction of Thomsen, “I know Jim Thomsen via the Seattle literary circuit, since he’s a vital member of that thriving community, still based in his childhood home of Bainbridge Island, though he has been known to fly the coop once in a while, on the road earning a living, chronicling his adventures, and storing up grist for his creative mill.” When asked of his literary influences, Thomsen had this to say about Stephen King:

Stephen King’s books burned into my brain like cattle brands during a lot of long and lonely nights in Christian boarding school, and few writers better understand what it is like to be ugly and unwanted and wanting to break down the fences between them and the beautiful people by any means possible.

Rob Hart, the author of the forthcoming “Potter’s Field” (Polis Books), as he called it, recently “hit the publishing hat-trick with my newest book, “The Warehouse”. Nice deal with Crown, sold to publishers in more than a dozen countries so far, and optioned for film by Ron Howard.’ And as he said in his post Writing Advice Sucks #1: The mechanics of thrillers, writing to trends, and free books, one of the questions he gets asked the most now is, “did you write something you were passionate about, or did you write to a trend?”

Point of all this is, I didn’t write to a trend in the sense of trying to replicate something like “domestic suspense featuring unreliable female narrator.” Rather, I looked at the trends and tried to break down the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of why they were trending.

And when I mean nuts-and-bolts, I mean exactly that. I’m less interested in big-picture stuff (you have to feel your prose deeply in your heart) and more interested in stuff I can stock in my toolbox, and wield when the job calls for it.

Issue-17_homeAshley Moore, a fiction editor at SAND Journal, writes about how to make your stories stand out. Though SAND Journal is a literary journal, the lessons in her article at Aerogramme Writer’s Studio could be applied to any journal.

Many writers would be surprised how often editors read different versions of the seemingly same stories about f(l)ailing romances, being a child of divorce, the banality of the suburbs, and “magical women.” It’s not that the writing’s bad. In fact, it’s often impressive. And it’s not that writers shouldn’t be exploring these topics—except for magical women, who use their beauty, elegance, intelligence, or even alcohol tolerance to somehow save the lives of troubled men. Both men and women can save themselves, without white horses or ego-stroking love interests. It would be much more refreshing to read the other insightful ways that women and men can be portrayed.

Her Name is Mercie by Chris RoyToe Six Press interviews Chris Roy, the author of the short story collection “Her Name is Mercie” (Near to the Knuckle). Roy, an inmate in Mississippi, talks of the problems of being an author and a prisoner among other things.

In general, prisoners aren’t very marketable. A convict can’t do book tours, signings, live events, and aren’t supposed to be on social media. And most publishers don’t want to be known as a business that publishes the works of convicted criminals. An editor or agent may love my work but hate my address. To a large degree authors are left up their own devices and budgets for marketing and PR. I know how fortunate I am to get a shot from my publishers. It’s a shame prisoners can’t work for publishers, huh? A convict author could sit in their cell all day doing PR online.

Dick Cheney Shot Me in the FaceTimothy O’Leary, the author of  “Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face: And Other Tales of Men in Pain”, stops by Something is going to Happen to talk about the Hardy Boys.

In fact, The Hardy Boys were my gateway not only into the world of mysteries, but also into a lifelong obsession with literature and writing. I’m convinced that if you want to inspire a young person to read (and perhaps write), you need to entice them with “sticky literature”; books that excite and continue to draw you back. Reading needs to become habit, and it takes practice. There is no genre that accomplishes that better than a good mystery series. If I hadn’t started reading The Hardy Boys at age seven or eight, I might not have started reading Hemingway, Hunter Thompson, and Toni Morrison a decade later.

The Dorsett Book Detective interviews A.B. Patterson, the author of “Harry’s World”, about being a career police detective and his writing.

Style-wise, I am firmly in the hard-boiled and noir camps with my crime fiction. I enjoy reading that style immensely, and so it came naturally to try writing in it. And the more I do, the more comfortable I am with it. One of my big likes about this style of crime fiction is its accent on characters and social commentary. To me, those two aspects are more important than plot. So my writing is gritty and realistic – not for the faint-hearted!


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Book Reviews

Killer Nashville’s  Danny Lindsey reviews Joe Clifford’s “Broken Ground” (Oceanview Publishing), saying it “along with the other books in the Jay Porter series are frighteningly real, almost to the point that the reader keeps checking to see whether they are fiction, historical fiction or non-fiction.”

Fuck Andrew Nette for increasing my TBR with his review of Clarence Cooper, Jr.’s “The Scene”. But just who is Cooper? From the Molotov Editions’s  biography of Cooper found on Amazon:

Clarence Cooper, Jr. published six books of crime fiction, all between 1960 and 1967. These had mostly to with the harder edges of life in black America: the underworld of the urban street, of drug addiction and violence.

Cooper was born in Detroit in 1934 and later lived in Chicago, after spending time in a Michigan reformatory. Sometime in the mid-1950s, while in his early twenties, he worked as an editor for The Chicago Messenger, a black newspaper, and began using heroin regularly at that time. His early work, drawing on autobiographical material, received a good deal of critical attention, but the mainstream acclaim was short-lived.

Cooper’s subsequent novels, though now well regarded, ended up in the slush pile at Regency House, where most were brought to print by editor Harlan Ellison in the early sixties.

Until now The Syndicate has not been published in the U.S. under Cooper’s real name, but only abroad, where–with its pulp overtones and renegade violence–it is regarded as a cult classic.

Cooper did much of his writing in jail, and never fully shook his drug addiction. He stopped writing in the late sixties, drifted back into street life, and died in New York in 1978.

Nette writing of “The Scene” says:

The novel is unrelentingly bleak. While the Scene gives some of those living in it freedom to exist as they want, take drugs and evade persecution by white authorities like the police, these pleasures, such as they are, are incredibly fleeting. Day to day life, for the most part, is a struggle to survive in which everything is for sale and no one can be trusted.

Molotov Editions will be releasing Cooper’s “The Syndicate” in a few days.

Tiny Crimes edited by Lincoln MichelAt Criminal Element, Jenny Maloney reviewsTiny Crimes: Very Short Tales of Mystery and Murder” edited by Lincoln Michel & Nadxieli Nieto. She writes:

This introductory paragraph to “Tiny Crimes”—a collection of super short, teeny-tiny, itty-bitty tales of murder and mayhem, which were edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto—may actually be longer than some of the stories in the collection itself. With stories by such authorial luminaries as Amelia Gray, Laura van den Berg, and Benjamin Percy, “Tiny Crimes” covers a lot of ground in such a … well … tiny space. Name a crime, and you’ll find it here.

Mystery WeeklyAt Kevin’s Corner, Kevin Tipple reviews the April 2018 issue of Mystery Weekly. Now don’t get confused here, Mystery Weekly publishes monthly but also has a weekly newsletter. You got that? Tipple writes:

Mystery Weekly Magazine: April 2018 features several very good tales of complicated characters doing the best they can to deal with the reality of difficult situations. Average folks just doing the level best they can in their lives. While the settings of the tales vary, the complexity of the characters and their situations make for some compelling mystery reading.

Graham Wynd reviews Paul D. Brazill‘s “Last Year’s Man” (All Due Respect Books) which will be published in late June. Wynd writes:

But under the laughter there are a few dark threads (as with all great comedy). There’s a serious undercurrent dealing with age and regrets, of finding hope — but don’t let that put you off, crime fans. There’s plenty of mayhem gone wrong, drugs and drink, plus a pale gangster named Drella (who manages to be both ruthless and hen-pecked) and a wealth of murderous mistakes.

At Signature, Lorraine Barry reviews Tommy Orange’s “There There” (Knopf). She writes, “This first novel from Tommy Orange is a wonder, and it feels like the arrival of an important new voice in American literature.”

Blood Standard by Laird BarronGoddamnit, I guess I’m going to have to buy and read Laird Barron‘s “Blood Standard” (Putnam). Last week I linked to Gabino Iglesias’s glowing review and now this week Max Booth III does the same.

Isaiah Coleridge is the lead in Laird Barron’s new series about a gangster trying to go straight. From an outsider’s perspective, many of his character traits will grant you a speedy victory in Noir Trope Bingo. And, from an author with less experience and talent, perhaps that’s where this review would end, but we’re talking about a true master of the craft here. In his new novel, Laird Barron doesn’t recycle tropes—he embraces them. Coleridge feels as real as any character could possibly feel. His background is fully developed and guaranteed to fascinate readers. Coleridge has already lived a full life in Laird Barron’s head, even if the majority of his memories only exist on a subconscious level, and we only receive a glimpse of that life in Blood Standard.


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Short Stories

All The Blood It Wants by David Powell at Near to the Knuckle. (1,300 words)

Cece would have to drive or Graham would start knocking her around, so she just went to the quiet place. Like sitting on the dock at her dad’s lake house, nothing but the sparkly water to hypnotize her. She didn’t have to do a goddam thing. Whatever happened was somebody else’s doing. She could drive like that. Just do whatever Graham said. Turn here, slow down, turn off your lights, pull over.

“Leave the engine running,” Graham said. “Be ready to high-tail out of here.”

Truck by Julie Eger at Fictive Dream (700 words)

Nell come in ridin’ her fat-tired bike with a basket on each side—in the front—carryin’ most everything she had in life, ’cept one thing.

Missus Baker was takin’ the flour and sugar out’n the back of the truck, which carried most everything they had too, that didn’t fit’n the shack. Mister Baker was in the outhouse readin’ a section of National Geographic. Missus Baker coulda been in what they called the ladies’ room, ’cept she didn’t have to go right then, so’s she was the one what saw Nell show up, lookin’ all sweated and bedraggled in a purple cloth dress pulled up around her knees so’s the cloth didn’t catch in the chain, with a flowery triangle scarf holdin’ back her brown hair. Missus Baker took one look at Nell and knowed she was a hungry one.

A Saturday Funeral by Michael Davis at Flash Fiction Offensive (600 words)

Billie Lou sat on a folding chair in the funeral tent, not crying, just looking at the hole that held her husband. She was alone.

Working the funeral—and over time at that— Merl and Kipp sat a ways away waiting to fill the hole.

“Sum bitch, Saturday’s practically the fuck gone,” said Kipp. He was sitting under a large oak breaking sticks into twigs.

The Third Jump of Frankie Buffalo by Thomas Pluck at Tough (2,000 words)

Frank drove the half-ton as fast as he dared up the rutted, snowy road. His breath plumed like a big shot’s cigar in the frozen air. So cold that they had shoved their booted feet into the campfires to keep toes from freezing solid and snapping off. Only thing colder than winter in Chosin was the fear deep in his gut. The two supply trucks sent before him hadn’t made it to the front. Artillery or ambush, no one knew. Frank held it in second gear and swerved around a bend. A moving target’s a hard target. A hard turn came up quick, one foot on the brake and one on the gas…

The Myths by J.D. Smith at Retreats from Oblivion (4,600 words)

One: The gun just went off.

People can say what they want, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe them.

This is just what people say when they don’t know what they’re doing, or they know damn well what they’ve done and they’re trying to cover their ass.

It turns out the same either way.

Cranking the Wheel by Rex Caleval at Every Day Fiction (900 words)

“Sorry, buddy,” said a gray-haired man in a suit, bumping me as he tried to reach the bar. “Fridays are always crowded here. Everybody ducks out of work early for a pint before they head home.” He noticed that he’d spilled my beer. “Let me get you another. Mind if I pull up here? Stools at the bar are about the only seats left. My name’s Bob.” He put out his hand.

I glanced around. He was right; it had filled up while I waited. “Rick. Sure, have a seat,” I said as I shook his hand.

The Reader by Pat Hart at Every Day Fiction (800 words)

“I’m just saying, it seems fucked up to tell her, she doesn’t even know who he is anymore,” Jenny said.

“It’s more fucked up not to tell her,” Susan said.

The sisters were continuing the argument they’d been having via cellphone as they drove to St Barnabus’ Senior Nursing Center. Near the entrance they passed a cement statue of a man in robes with a hipster beard and huge disk behind his head.


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New Releases

Koko Uncaged
by Kieran Shea
(Titan Books)

The third and final installment in the fast-paced kick-ass Koko trilogy described by Booklist as “[A] futuristic wild ride… Great fun”.

Surviving job loss, an unsettled vendetta, a submarine wreck, heartbreak, and mortal carnage on a tokusatsu scale, Koko P. Martstellar (ex-corporate mercenary and saloon/brothel owner) is trying to reassemble what’s left of her life. Being hired to protect global industrialist Bogart Gong seems like as good a place to start as any, but bodyguard work isn’t the cakewalk Koko thought it’d be. Throw in some autocratic malfeasance, a hatchet man with a flair for the dramatic, a South American despot, lovers back from the grave, and a high-speed race at a prison, and you’ve a brain-melting cocktail of cyberpunk satire that’s impossible to put down. (Buy)

by Richard Godwin
Ex-military PI, Tammy Wayne, tracks serial killers for a living. With the help of her colleague Arlene she locates a killer known as The Pimp, who killed her sister Holly.

The Pimp has Tammy under surveillance, coming and going to her house as he wants, sending her Holly’s body parts.

The Beekeeper, a killer that abducts women and coats them in latex before killing them, enters the story.
Both killers collect body parts.

Karen Sincere is married to dangerous and disturbed Micky Sincere. His obsession with bees convinces her Mickey is leading a double life as a killer. She hires Tammy, who begins tailing Micky and discovers he is gay and is involved with a gangster named Gary Krane.

Karen meets the handsome Julius Gold in the exclusive Attic bar in Canary Wharf and starts an affair with him. The model Kitten Rogers, aka Ashley Greene – also having an affair with Julius – hires a detective. Ashley is convinced Julius is hiding something.

The Pimp closes in, abducting Tammy, Arlene and Ashley. Only Julius can save them – the man hiding his involvement with a gangster.

A novel replete with characters leading double lives, Insincerity’s secrets
are not yielded until the final pages. (Buy)

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua WhiteheadJonny Appleseed
by Joshua Whitehead
(Arsenal Pulp Press)
“You’re gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine” is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel.

Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s life is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages—and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life.

Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of First Nations life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams. (Buy)

Broken Ground by Joe Clifford

Broken Ground
by Joe Clifford
(Oceanview Publishing)
Perfect for readers who appreciate the novels of Dennis Lehane with deeply flawed characters struggling to walk the righteous path.

At an AA meeting, handyman and part-time investigator Jay Porter meets a recovering addict who needs his help. In the midst of another grueling northern New Hampshire winter, Amy Lupus’ younger sister, Emily, has gone missing from the Coos County Center, the newly opened rehab run by Jay’s old nemeses, Adam and Michael Lombardi. As Jay begins looking into Emily’s disappearance, he finds that all who knew Emily swear that she’s never used drugs. She’s a straight shooter and an intern at a newspaper investigating the Center and the horrendous secret hidden in it―or beneath it.

When Jay learns of a “missing” hard drive, he is flung back to five years ago when his own junkie brother, Chris, found a hard drive belonging to Lombardi Construction. For years Jay assumed that the much-sought-after hard drive contained incriminating photos of Adam and Michael’s father, which contributed to Chris’ death. But now he believes that hard drive may have harbored a secret far more sinister, which the missing Lupus sister may have unwittingly discovered. The deeper Jay digs, the more poisoned the ground gets, and the two cases become one, yielding a toxic truth with local fallout―and far-reaching ramifications. (Buy) 5 June

The Fairfax Incident
by Terrence McCauley

(Polis Books)
Manhattan, 1933. Charlie Doherty may have been kicked off the force after The Grand Central Massacre, but thanks to a wealthy benefactor, his private detective business is booming. Catering to the city’s wealthy elite, Doherty is making a good living chasing down wayward spouses and runaway socialites when the case of a lifetime lands in his lap. Mrs. Fairfax, a wealthy widow, hires Doherty to prove her husband’s suicide wasn’t actually a suicide. It was murder.

At his benefactor’s urging, Doherty takes the case. He expects to pocket a nice chunk of change to prove what everyone already knows: Walter Fairfax walked into his office in the Empire State Building one morning, took a phone call, and shot himself. But Charlie took the widow’s money, so he begins to dig.

He quickly finds out there is more to the Fairfax incident than a simple suicide. Before long, he discovers that Mr. Fairfax was leading a double life; running with a dangerous crowd that has a sinister agenda that threatens to plunge Charlie’s city – and his country – into another war.

In an investigation that quickly involves global implications, Doherty finds himself against not only some of the most powerful people in New York City, but against the most evil men in the world. (Buy) 5 June

São Paulo Noir
edited by Tony Bellotto
(Akashic Books)
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. On the heels of Rio Noir, beloved Brazilian rock star and best-selling novelist Tony Bellotto ushers another world-class city into the Akashic Noir Series.

Brand-new stories by: Tony Bellotto, Olivia Maia, Marcelino Freire, Beatriz Bracher & Maria S. Carvalhosa, Fernando Bonassi, Marcelo Rubens Paiva, Marçal Aquino, Jô Soares, Mario Prata, Ferréz, Vanessa Barbara, Ilana Casoy, and Drauzio Varella.

From the introduction by Tony Bellotto:
Encyclopedias will say that São Paulo is the main financial, corporate, and commercial center of South America. The census will show that São Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil, the Americas, the Portuguese-speaking world, and the entire Southern Hemisphere…Scholars will inform us that São Paulo is the most multicultural city in Brazil, having received, since 1870, millions of immigrants from every part of the planet, and that it is the city with the largest populations of people of Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, and Arab origin outside their respective countries…Experts will assure us that São Paulo has a high crime rate. Sociologists will confirm that the city has an area known as Cracolândia (Crackland) and that among the violent and neglected communities spread along its periphery, one bears the ironic name Paraisópolis (Paradise City). Politicians will roar that São Paulo is the engine that drives Brazil…

More than historians and sociologists, writers have always been able to transform cities into great characters. This is the way we decipher devouring sphinxes. (Buy)

by Caleb Johnson

“I can’t remember the last time I read a book I wish so much I’d written. Treeborne is beautiful, and mythic in ways I would never have been able to imagine…I can’t say enough about this book.”―Daniel Wallace, national bestselling author of Extraordinary Adventures and Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions

One of Southern Living’s Best New Books Coming Out Summer 2018

Janie Treeborne lives on an orchard at the edge of Elberta, Alabama, and in time, she has become its keeper. A place where conquistadors once walked, and where the peaches they left behind now grow, Elberta has seen fierce battles, violent storms, and frantic change―and when the town is once again threatened from without, Janie realizes it won’t withstand much more. So she tells the story of its people: of Hugh, her granddaddy, determined to preserve Elberta’s legacy at any cost; of his wife, Maybelle, the postmaster, whose sudden death throws the town into chaos; of her lover, Lee Malone, a black orchardist harvesting from a land where he is less than welcome; of the time when Janie kidnapped her own Hollywood-obsessed aunt and tore the wrong people apart.

As the world closes in on Elberta, Caleb Johnson’s debut novel lifts the veil and offers one last glimpse. Treeborne is a celebration and a reminder: of how the past gets mixed up in thoughts of the future; of how home is a story as much as a place. (Buy)

Santa Cruz Noir
edited by Susie Bright
(Akashic Books)
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. Following in the footsteps of Los Angeles Noir, San Francisco Noir, San Diego Noir, Orange County Noir, and Oakland Noir, this new volume further reveals the seedy underbelly of the Left Coast.

Brand-new stories by: Tommy Moore, Jessica Breheny, Naomi Hirahara, Calvin McMillin, Liza Monroy, Elizabeth McKenzie, Jill Wolfson, Ariel Gore, Jon Bailiff, Maceo Montoya, Micah Perks, Seana Graham, Vinnie Hansen, Peggy Townsend, Margaret Elysia Garcia, Lou Mathews, Lee Quarnstrom, Dillon Kaiser, Beth Lisick, and Wallace Baine.

From the introduction by Susie Bright:

Every town has its noir-ville. It’s easy to find in Santa Cruz. We live in what’s called “paradise,” where you can wake up in a pool of blood with the first pink rays of the sunrise peeking out over our mountain range. The dewy mist lifts from the bay. Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful–we were made that way, like Venus rising off the foam with a brick in her hand. We can’t help it if you fall for it every time…

“If I lived in a place like this,” visitors often say, “I’d wake up with a smile every day.”

Oh, we do, thank you for that. There’s no beauty like a merciless beauty–and like every crepuscular predator, she thrives at dawn and dusk. You’re just the innocent we’ve been waiting for, with your big paper cone of sugar-shark cotton, whipped out of pure nothing. We have just the ride for you, the longest tunnel ever. Santa Cruz is everything you ever dreamed, and everything you ever screamed, in one long drop you’ll never forget. (Buy)

Lagos Noir
edited by Chris Abani
(Akashic Books)
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. Now, West Africa enters the Noir Series arena, meticulously edited by one of Nigeria’s best-known authors.

Brand-new stories by: Chris Abani, Nnedi Okorafor, E.C. Osondu, Jude Dibia, Chika Unigwe, A. Igoni Barrett, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Adebola Rayo, Onyinye Ihezukwu, Uche Okonkwo, Wale Lawal, ‘Pemi Aguda, and Leye Adenle.

From the introduction by Chris Abani:

Lagos has, like many coastal cities, a very checkered and noir past. It is the largest city in Nigeria and its former capital. It is also the largest megacity on the African continent, with a population approximating twenty-one million, and by itself is the fourth-largest economy in Africa…It is rumored that there are more canals in Lagos than in Venice. Except in Lagos they are often unintentional. Gutters that have become waterways and lagoons fenced in by stilt homes or full of logs for a timber industry most of us don’t know exists. All of it skated by canoes as slick as any dragonfly. There are currently no moonlight or other gondola rides available…

The thirteen stories that comprise this volume stretch the boundaries of “noir” fiction, but each one of them fully captures the essence of noir, the unsettled darkness that continues to lurk in the city’s streets, alleys, and waterways…Together, these stories create an unchartered path through the center of Lagos and out to its peripheries, revealing so much more truth at the heart of this tremendous city than any guidebook, TV show, film, or book you are likely to find. (Buy)

The Science of Paul
by Aaron Philip Clark
(Shotgun Honey)
Ex-convict Paul Little has just walked out on the only woman who has ever loved him to return to a life of crime in Philadelphia. But when Paul gets involved with a petty thug who is later murdered, he finds himself pinned between the volatile gangster accused of the crime and the straight-laced detective who put Paul away years ago. Realizing the city may be the death of him, Paul looks to escape to North Carolina and live alone on a farm left to him by his recently deceased grandfather.

Can Paul survive long enough to make it to the succor of the farm? Will he inevitably return to a life behind bars? Or is it his fate to die a victim in Philadelphia?

The Science of Paul is a stunning tale of redemption and self-exploration, as one man navigates the precariousness of the streets and the inner workings of his mind. (Buy)

Death Notice by Zhou HaohuiDeath Notice
by Zhou Haohui
An elite police squad hunts a manipulative mastermind out to publically execute criminals the law cannot reach. A wild thriller and deadly game of cat-and-mouse from one of China’s most popular authors. For fans of Jo Nesbo, Se7en, and Hong Kong police cinema.

The brutal murder of respected police officer Sergeant Zheng Haoming sends shock waves through Chengdu, a modern metropolis in the heart of China’s stunning Sichuan province. He had been obsessed by an unsolved, eighteen-year-old murder case until an entity calling itself Eumenides (after the Greek goddess of vengeance and retribution) releases a terrifying manifesto. Is the manifesto a sick joke, or something more sinister? Soon, the public starts nominating worthy targets for Eumenides to kill, and, two days later, Sergeant Zheng is dead.

Eumenides’ cunning game is only getting started. The police receive a “death notice,” a chilling note announcing the killer’s next target, the crimes they have committed, and the date of their execution. The note is both a challenge and a taunt to the police. When the first victim dies in public, under their complete protection, the police are left stunned. More death notices are coming. The chase is on.

Death Notice is an explosive, page-turning thriller filtered through a vibrant cultural lens. Zhou Haohui expertly adds an exhilarating new perspective to the twists and tropes of the genre all fans love, making for a uniquely propulsive and entertaining read. (Buy)

There There by Tommy OrangeThere There
by Tommy Orange
Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking—Tommy Orange’s first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and it introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career.

There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.

Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force. Tommy Orange writes of the plight of the urban Native American, the Native American in the city, in a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country. (Buy)

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Upcoming Releases

Beg For Mercy by Keith NixonBeg For Mercy
by Keith Nixon
(Bastei Entertainment)
Two men fight to prove their innocence. One a cop, the other a convicted murderer. One of them is lying.

Fifteen years ago Duncan Usher was sent to prison for killing his wife, Valerie. Young Detective Solomon Gray was first at the scene. His biggest case yet.

But Duncan Usher didn’t kill Valerie. While someone was strangling Val, Usher had another man’s blood on his hands. Usher took the fall for Val’s death, but now he’s out. Released on a technicality. He’s held a grudge all this time, and he won’t stop until he gets revenge on the dirty cop who framed him. Usher sets his sights on DS Solomon Gray.

And he has no qualms about using Gray’s son, Tom, as a pawn to get what he wants.

Beg for Mercy is the third book in a series featuring Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray. The crime series is perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, and Peter James. (Buy) 12 June

Crack Apple & Pop by Saira ViolaCrack Apple & Pop
by Saira Viola
(Fahrenheit 13)
“Money is nothing but freedom; with money, you can create your own morality.” This is the credo that the characters live by in Saira Viola’s novel of social realism. At times, a gritty slice of life; at others a metafictive commentary on popular culture, Viola depicts a slimy underworld as fast-moving as a Google search and just as full of surprises. Crack Apple and Pop has the flow of your favourite song, the punch line of a witty joke and the suspense of nail biting drama. 13 June

The Syndicate
by Clarence Cooper Jr.
(Molotov Editions)
A lost crime classic from Clarence Cooper, Jr., a black crime writer from Detroit whose first novel, The Scene, was a literary sensation. Believed to be too raw, and possibly damaging to his literary career, The Syndicate was published under pseudonym in 1960, a hard-hitting, fast-paced story plunging into the psycho-sexual depths of a ruthless enforcer sent to retrieve syndicate money. Cooper’s subsequent work fell into pulp oblivion.

Cooper is a rare figure in crime fiction, a writer whose work–though always transgressive and fatalistic in its view–ranged from narrative-driven noir to more experimental forms, provoking comparison to writers as varied as Burroughs and Jim Thompson.

The Syndicate, in its relentless pacing and dark humor, simmers beneath its pulp veneer with questions about racial and sexual identity that give powerful, paradoxical animation to the character’s ruthless quest.

This is the first U. S. Publication under the author’s real name, with an afterward by Gary Phillips (The Obama Inheritance), including biographical material on Cooper, childhood friend of Malcolm X. Cooper struggled with heroin addiction most of his life, did much of his writing in jail and died on a New York street at the age of 44, alone and strung out, not far from his last known residence: the 23rd Street YMCA. (Buy) 15 June

Blood and Water
J David Osborne
(King Shot Press)
After discovering a body in a local fishing hole, two brothers come to terms with their own poverty as they’re inescapably drawn into a surreal world of dangerous

Set against a rural Oklahoma backdrop, Blood and Water is a story of family responsibility, the lure of easy outs and even easier scores, and our own violent impulses.

“Working class fiction at its best . . . desperation, busted dreams, and hard times.”—Benjamin Whitmer, author of Cry Father (Buy) 15 June

Under the Bronze Moon by Richard J O'BrienUnder the Bronze Moon
by Richard J O’Brien
(Sinister Grin Press)
In Under the Bronze Moon, Professor Harold Miller discovers the otherworldly inspiration for the late writer R.J. Hyatt’s only published novel, The Land of Dust and Honey—a long, dense exploration into an alternate world discovered by a soldier of The Great War and a young girl from a different century. When his publisher tasks him with locating a ‘lost novel’ by Hyatt, the scholar travels to meet Hyatt’s literary estate heir, May Weldon.

There he learns that May wants his assistance in her passing from this world. For his help, Miller is rewarded with a well-guarded treasure and access to the fabled world from which Hyatt drew his inspiration. For a scholar who devoted his adult life to R.J. Hyatt’s work, it is a dream fulfilled. How long the scholar will remember his life-changing experience, after May is gone for good, is something else altogether. (Buy) 15 June

Last Year’s Man
by Paul D. Brazill
(All Due Respect Books)
A troubled, aging hitman leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him.

Last Year’s Man is a violent and blackly comic slice of Brit Grit noir.

Praise for LAST YEAR’S MAN:

“Brazill offers a series of amusing episodes filled with breezy banter in this offbeat slice of British noir.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s all here, everything you’ve come to expect from a Paul D. Brazill caper—the fast pace, the witty banter, the grim humour and the classic tunes—except this time he’s REALLY outdone himself. Unlike the lament in the song the title takes its name from, Paul’s best years are surely still ahead of him.” —Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy

“Paul D. Brazill is the Crown Prince of Noir. That’s my opinion, granted, but I stand by it. For those who require proof, just pick up his latest novel, Last Year’s Man, and it will be clear why I make that statement. All hail the crown prince!” —Les Edgerton, author of The Rapist, The Bitch, Just Like That and others

“Brazill is brilliant, a unique voice which stands out from the crowd.” —Keith Nixon, author of the Solomon Gray books. (Buy) 22 June

A Healthy Fear of Man
by Aaron Philip Clark
(Shotgun Honey)
Having survived near death in Philadelphia, Paul Little begins a new life on his deceased grandfather’s farm in Pharris County, North Carolina. But Paul’s self-imposed exile is short-lived when he meets “Bo”, his grandfather’s old friend, and Gilly Catlett, a precocious girl with a dark secret. Paul and Gilly form an unlikely friendship and when her body is discovered strangled and floating in Paul’s pond, the Sheriff deems Paul suspect number one. Paul soon learns there is no justice in Pharris County. Rumors of wrongful convictions, corruption of county officials and law enforcement, and racial intolerance that echoes views of the past ensures Paul an uphill battle. With Bo at his side and the help of an empathetic local, Luisa Ferry, Paul fights to prove his innocence while hunting for Gilly’s killer.

A Healthy Fear of Man examines life in today’s rural south, where the past is not inconsequential, the line between guilt and innocence is blurred and anyone is capable of murder. (Buy) 22 June

Queen of Diamonds by Frank Zafiro and Jim WilskyQueen of Diamonds
by Frank Zafiro and Jim Wilsky
(Down & Out Books)
When Ania Kozak hits Vegas, she’s only looking for a place to relax and lay low with her stolen cash and diamonds. But Sin City has other plans for “Annie.”

Cord Needham is a poker circuit champion with an eye for the ladies and a dark secret in his past. Casey Brunnell is a former baseball player fighting the cards and running up debts to a local mobster. When Annie decides to play a dangerous game with both of them, the stakes go through the roof. Everyone scrambles to beat the odds and get out of town with the money…and their lives.


“Queen of Diamonds is the second collaboration between Frank Zafiro and Jim Wilsky and it’s a partnership that runs like a well-oiled machine…I’ve read a lot of books set in Las Vegas, but there are very few I have enjoyed more.” —Chris Leek, independent reviewer

“They are able to capture that odd mixture of psychology, math skills and pure luck that can help people excel at Texas Hold ’Em in a way that anyone could understand. They show a strong understanding of the game and why some people treat gambling for money like a career…[the authors] are able to keep readers guessing right up until the last few chapters when their plot threads finally all come together. They manage to both frustrate some expectations readers may have and bring everything to a satisfying conclusion.” —Brian Triplett, independent reviewer (Buy) 25 June

Where the Hurt Is by Chris KelseyWhere the Hurt Is
by Chris Kelsey
(Black Rose Writing)
It’s an unseasonably hot April night in 1965. The social revolutions rocking America have mostly bypassed Burr, a tiny rural community in western Oklahoma. Like much of the state, Burr remains as it’s always been: Religious. Conservative. And 100% white. When an unknown young African-American woman is found murdered on the railroad tracks outside town, most of Burr would rather look the other way. The town’s police chief, troubled local hero and ex-Marine Emmett Hardy, doesn’t have that luxury. A lover of books and jazz in the land of football and country & western, Emmett is an outsider in a place he knows like the back of his hand. In his search for the killer, he’s forced to slice through layers of hate and hypocrisy to confront the ethical rot at the town’s core, while being haunted by the vision of a life and love that might have been. (Buy) 28 June

by John Way Comunale
(Grindhouse Press)
A filthy barfly haunts the bar down the road. He lives off the leftover dregs of the patrons’ beers and spent cigarettes he finds on the ground. He may be living in the trunk of someone’s car. His name is Scummer. He’s mysterious and elusive. He’s unbound by inhibitions and you want to be just like him. (Buy) 29 June

The Human Alchemy
by Michael Griffin
(Word Horde)
Heralded as one of the leading voices in contemporary weird fiction, Michael Griffin returns with his second collection, The Human Alchemy. Here you will find eleven magnificent tales of the strange and sublime, the familiar and the disquieting, where dreamlike beauty and breathtaking horror intertwine. Featuring an introduction by S.P. Miskowski. (Buy) 30 June

Break Glass by Alec CizakBreaking Glass
by Alec Cizak
(ABC Group Documentation)
Chelsea Farmer is in hell. She’s addicted to opiates. She participates in home invasions with her fellow junkies to feed her habit. As things get increasingly violent, Chelsea realizes she needs to escape before her friends do something none of them will be able to walk away from … (Buy) July

12 Gauge by Dustin LaValley12 Gauge
by Dustin LaValley
(Sinister Grin Press)
12 Gauge: Songs from A Street Sweeper includes three white-knuckled novellas.

A prison escapee leads law enforcement on a chase through the Adirondack Mountains, where they encounter a reclusive elderly man with a dark secret.

An ultra-violent satirical commentary on societal norms, cliques, and obedience.

The Deceived
A criminal pair invade the home of the wrong man on the wrong day.

“Spinner is a thriller, a horror story, and an adventure narrative. It’s also a lot of fast, bloody, violent fun.” –Gabino Iglesias, Horror Talk

“LaValley creates a non-stop, adrenaline ride of violence and mayhem, in a setting Americans know all so well. H/armed is a bloody, relentless and visceral assault on the senses. Wickedly entertaining.” –Paul Hough, writer/director of The Human Race

“The Deceived is equal parts thrilling, creepy, and downright brutal. A wonderful tale.” –Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase (Buy) 1 July

Never Day by Carlton Mellick IIINever Day
by Carlton Mellick III
(Eraserhead Press)
For almost 20 years, Carlton Mellick III has been writing some of the strangest and most compelling novels the bizarro fiction genre has to offer. Described as one of the top 40 science-fiction writers under the age of 40 by The Guardian and “one of the most original novelists working today” by extreme horror legend Edward Lee. In his 57th book, Neverday, Mellick has created a dystopian horror tribute to time loop stories in the tradition of Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day.

Karl Lybeck has been repeating the same day over and over again, in a constant loop, for what feels like a thousand years. He’s been stuck in this endless cycle for so long that he doesn’t remember what his life was like before time stopped moving forward. He doesn’t remember his parents’ faces or what he used to do for a living. He doesn’t remember which president is currently in office or what city he lives in. The only reason he remembers his own name is because it’s printed on his Oregon State driver’s license.

He thought he was the only person trapped in this eternal hell until a woman named January appears in his backyard one morning, fleeing armed pursuers who claim to be with the police. She doesn’t know why today is exactly the same as yesterday. She doesn’t realize she’s trapped in the same loop that Karl’s been stuck within for so many centuries.

But it turns out that Karl and January aren’t alone. In fact, the majority of the population has been repeating the same day just as they have been. While Karl was hiding isolated in his suburban home, he didn’t realize that a new world was being built just outside of his door. Society has adapted to repeating the same day over and over again. New laws have been implemented. A new memory-based currency has been put into place.

Karl and January find themselves in a therapy group with other people who are having a difficult time dealing with their situation—from hospital patients with illnesses that will never be cured to parents who will never see their children grow up. But there’s something not quite right about those in charge of the new repeating government. They don’t understand why going into the neverday—that time period that only exists if you stay awake all night to avoid repetition—is considered the worst possible crime that anyone can commit.

With the help of others who share their suspicions that something is not quite right with their situation, Karl and January explore the neverday in search of answers. But what they discover could destroy the very fabric of their new society forever. (Buy) 1 July

Triple Axe
by Scott Cole
(Grindhouse Press)
Jesse Jinx is a porn star. She has dreams of starting her own adult film production company where she and the other actors will be treated more fairly. But there won’t be a production company if she can’t come up with the money—or if there aren’t any porn stars left.

A deranged killer is on the loose, targeting adult entertainers, and choking them to death with a weapon that leaves no trace of itself. When the authorities refuse to help Jesse and her two closest friends, the three women decide to take matters into their own hands . . . with axes. As their colleagues fall one by one, they have a plan to stay alive—and they’re ready to hatchet! (Buy) 2 July

Low Down Dirty edited by Mysti BerryLow Down Dirty
edited by Mysti Berry
(Berry Content Corporation)
This anthology of short crime fiction raises funds to help the ACLU fight voter suppression. Authors: Kris Calvin, Alison Catharine, Ray Daniel, David Hagerty, Mariah Klein, Derek Marsh, Jr., Catriona McPherson, Camille Minichino, Ann Parker, Travis Richardson, and James W. Ziskin.

Stories are set from Edinburgh to the San Francisco Bay Area and points in between. Some are ripped from 21st-century headlines, others explore the challenges of women voting for the first time in Wyoming during the 19th century.

Each writer has challenged themselves to experiment with form, point of view, or voice. Low Down Dirty Vote is a fabulous collection of stories from award-winning writers and brand new voices. Sales receipts go to the ACLU Foundation to help fight voter suppression.

This volume features a forward by Amy A. Miller, Legal Director of ACLU Nebraska, and is edited by Mysti Berry. (Buy) 4 July

Now That We’re Alone
by Nicholas Day
(Bizarro Pulp Press)
“I’ve had a wonderful time, really the best. Do you want to come inside? It’s still early. I’d love to tell you a story. But first, let me take off my face…” Now That We’re Alone 11 short stories from Nicholas Day, celebrating the weird, wicked, and wonderful monsters hiding in the dark, hiding behind their human masks. (Buy) 7 July

Potters Field
by Rob Hart
(Polis Books)
“Ash McKenna is my favorite kind of hero, a tough guy romantic with a smart mouth and a dark past.”―Chelsea Cain

The final book in Rob Hart’s acclaimed Ash McKenna series shows that Ash can go home again…but it might cost him everything.

Amateur private investigator Ash McKenna is home. After more than a year on the road he’s ready to face the demons he ran away from in New York City. And he’s decided what he wants to do with his life: Become a private investigator, for real. Licensed and everything. No more working as a thug for hire. But within moments of stepping off the plane, Ginny Tonic, the drag queen crime lord who once employed him―and then tried to have him killed―asks to see him.

One of her newest drag queen soldiers has gone missing, and Ginny suspects she’s been ensnared by the burgeoning heroin scene on Staten Island. Ginny wants Ash to find her. Because he’s the best, and because he knows Staten Island, his home borough. Ash is hesitant―but Ginny’s offer of $10,000 is enough to get him on his feet. And the thought of a lost kid and a bereft family is too much for him to bear.

He accepts, and quickly learns there’s something much bigger at play. Some very dangerous people are vying for control of the heroin trade on Staten Island, which is recording the highest rate of overdose deaths in the city. As Ash navigates deadly terrain, he find his most dangerous adversary might be his own past. Because those demons he ran away from have been waiting for him to come back. (Buy) 10 July

Eat the Rich by Renee MillerEat the Rich
by Renee Miller
(Hindred Souls Press)
When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:

KILL EVERYONE. (Buy) 13 July

Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery
by Andrew Shaffer
(Quirk Books)
This mystery thriller reunites Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama for a political mashup full of suspense, intrigue, and laugh out loud bromance.

Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted–the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

Part noir thriller and part bromance novel, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fanfiction–and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.(Buy) 14 July

Eviserator by Farah Rose SmithEviserator
by Farah Rose Smith
(New Bizarro Author Series)
Vex Valis—doctor. Vex Valis—rocker. Vex Valis—iconoclast. You would think Vex Valis has it all but what Vex has is a secret that rots away at her from her very core. Vex is infected with Gut Ghouls and will do anything to be rid of them, even if it means consorting with subterranean worms or blending science and the occult in dangerous and unsavory ways. You may envy Vex’s jet-setting Dark Wave scientist lifestyle but you won’t when you see the trials incurred when she catches the attention of a being that rends people and worlds alike, the scrutiny of…The Eviscerator. (Buy) 15 July

Unloaded Vol. 2
edited by Eric Beetner
(Down & Out Books)
The Anthony-nominated collection of crime stories without guns—the collection we didn’t want to be necessary—is back for Volume 2.

Two dozen more crime writers have come together to raise their voices and take pen in hand to call for a sensible and reasoned debate about guns in America. As the mass shootings continue, the avoidable accidents, the suicides, the gun violence that consumes our country rolls on unabated and unaddressed by our leadership other than to say, “Now is not the time to discuss it,” these crime writers have chosen to start the dialogue.

In stories of crime, mystery and suspense these authors have left the guns out to show for a short while that we can do without them and the plot doesn’t fall apart. Maybe, in a small way, we can show that the American way of life doesn’t cease to be, either.

Not anti-gun, Unloaded Vol. 2 is pro-reason. These authors comprise gun owners and non-owners, voters on both sides of the political aisle. The cause that unites us all is the desire to see the senseless killing stop and to be able to have the discussion without the divisive language, vitriol and name calling that too often accompanies this debate.

The top priority in these stories is to entertain with thrilling action and suspense that readers know and love about a crime story. To do so without guns leads to some creative leaps from writers who spin tales of simians on the loose, androids with buried secrets, punk rock shows and tattoo shops.

Bestselling authors like Chris Holm, Lori Rader-Day, Bill Crider, Laura McHugh, James Ziskin and John Rector along with many more join together to call for an end to the needless violence and a start to a reasoned debate. With a forward by legendary Sara Paretsky, Unloaded Vol. 2 is a book we wish wasn’t needed. But staying silent is no longer an option.

Proceeds go to the non-profit States United To Prevent Gun Violence. (Buy) 16 July

Go Go Gato by Max EverhartGo Go Gato
by Max Everhart
(Down & Out Books)
When Almario “Go Go” Gato, a handsome young Cuban baseball player, goes missing mid-season, his agent Veronica Craven hires a private investigator to track down her best client. No police. No press. Enter Eli Sharpe, an Asheville, North Carolina-based ex-ballplayer turned private detective who specializes in investigating professional athletes.

Eli begins by questioning Maria Gato, Almario’s roommate and fraternal twin. Maria watched while both her parents drowned on the boat ride from Cuba to America, so she is naturally desperate to get her only brother back. She tells Eli a secret: Almario may have a problem with drugs and alcohol.

Eli tracks down Almario’s supposed girlfriend, a rich sorority girl, but is soon led to another woman in his life, Sheri Stuckey, his cocaine supplier and fiancée who works in tandem with a gay bartender named Dantonio Rushing. Stuckey, a drug abuser and single mother, claims Almario split because she wanted the two of them to check into rehab. But Rushing, dazzled by Almario’s boyish good looks, tells a different tale: Almario has taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on himself and named Stuckey as the primary beneficiary.

With the help of his mentor—a former homicide detective—and five ex fiancées who still care about him, Eli follows Go Go’s trail, determined to locate the elusive ballplayer before one of the nasty people in his life—or his own bad habits—do him in. (Buy) 16 July

Understudy for Death by Charles WillefordUnderstudy for Death
by Charles Willeford
(Titan Books)
Charles Willeford’s legendary lost novel, unavailable since its original publication in 1961.

Why would a happily married Florida housewife pick up her husband’s .22 caliber Colt Woodsman semi-automatic pistol and use it to kill her two young children and herself? Cynical newspaper reporter Richard Hudson is assigned to find out – and the assignment will send him down a road of self-discovery in this incisive, no-holds-barred portrait of American marriage in the Mad Men era.

On the 30th anniversary of the death of the masterful novelist the Atlantic Monthly called the “father of Miami crime fiction,” Hard Case Crime is proud to present Charles Willeford’s legendary lost novel, unavailable since its original publication by a disreputable paperback house in 1961. One of Willeford’s rarest titles (copies of the original edition sell for hundreds of dollars), Understudy for Death still has the power to disturb, half a century after its debut. (Buy) 17 July

A Taste of Shotgun
by Chris 
(All Due Respect Books)
Nobody likes a shakedown. Especially not Denis Carroll, proprietor of The Brass Lantern, a dive bar in a bleak southern Illinois town. Five years ago Denis gunned down a dirtbag who was attempting to hold up his bar. At least that’s what the cops think.

After the shooting, Denis’ hotheaded younger brother, Vince, insisted on taking the rap. No big deal. He’d plead self-defense. Case closed. What the Carrolls didn’t count on was the cops discovering a huge stash of weed in a back room, locally sourced marijuana the Carrolls peddled “to make ends meet.” Weed supplied by the psychotic Goodwin Brothers, Clay and Randy.

Vince ended up taking the fall for that, too.

With Vince behind bars and Denis promising to keep his nose clean, the Goodwins turn to blackmail to force the Carrolls back into the illegal drug trade. Play along or the Goodwin Brothers (one of whom witnessed the shooting at the bar) will finger Denis as a murderer.

Meanwhile the Goodwins have troubles of their own, specifically their niece, Erica. As a child, Erica witnessed her sister being sexually abused by her Uncle Clay. As a young woman, she saw her fiancé shot down at a local bar by one of the Carrolls. Erica is determined to get revenge on both men. How much better if she can kill two birds with one stone—get rid of her uncle and pin his murder on that murderous bar owner?

In this darkly humorous small-town noir everyone has something to hide and nothing is as it seems. (Buy) 27 July

Pull & Pray
by Angel Luis Colón

(Down & Out Books)
Five years after surviving the most harrowing heist of her life, Fantine Park is lured back to the United States by her aunt. The bait: a lead on the identity of her mother’s killer and a score known as the ‘pension plan’, a piece of software that can literally pay out in perpetuity if they can get their hands on it in time

Working with a team of actual professionals with their own motivations; Fan’s loyalties and beliefs will be tested as nothing is as it seems; especially when one of the members of this crew may have been the last person to see her mother alive.

It’s going to be lies, murder, and gas station hot dogs all the way down as Fan races to get the answers about the day her mother died and maybe, just maybe, the kind of cash that will pull her away from a continued life of crime. (Buy) 30 July

Small Time Crimes by Paul D BrazillSmall Time Crimes
by Paul D. Brazill
(Near to the Knuckle)
Hit-men, con men, jewel thieves, career criminals, killers, crooks and cannibals. They all congregate between the pages of Paul D. Brazill’s Small Time Crimes – a brutal and blackly comic collection of short stories and flash fiction that views the world at its most askew. (Buy) 31 July

God's Mean Older Brother by G Arthur BrownGod’s Mean Older Brother
by G. Arthur Brown
(Eraserhead Press)
It’s The Hangover meets The Book of Revelation in one of the funniest bizarro fiction novels of the year.

God, a single father, is forced to move back home with his parents. He really just wants to focus on writing his indie rock zine and escape the responsibility of being the Supreme Being, which can be a real drag. He’s also got a mean older brother who never left home and never stopped tormenting God or humanity by interfering in events throughout history. Now, God finds out the bastard’s built himself a time machine. As visions of an apocalyptic future come to God’s attention, he devises a foolproof plan to stop his mean older brother from destroying the world… then gets so drunk he forgets what the plan is.

“Whether he’s scribbling on napkins, writing online, or penning fiction, G. Arthur Brown is interested in taking the world we think we know, cracking it open, slathering it with weirdness, and twisting it into odd shapes–which, surprisingly, resemble the world more accurately than the world we wish we had. Brown’s a prime example of how the weird and the bizarre can provide an active and irreverent critique of the real. This is fiction that’s fun to read and yet deeply resonant.” – Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses (Buy) 1 August

Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir
by Matt Carter & Fiona JR Titchenell
Pinnacle City is many things to many people. To some it is a glittering metropolis, a symbol of prosperity watched over by the all-star superhero team, the Pinnacle City Guardians. Beyond the glitz and glamour, there is another city, one still feeling the physical and economic damage of the superhero-villain battles of generations past. The lower class, immigrants, criminals, aliens, sorcerers, and non-humans alike call this city home, looking to make a living, which is becoming increasingly difficult as the two sides of the city seem prepared to boil over into a violent conflict.

Private investigator Eddie Enriquez, born with the ability to read the histories of objects by touch, still bears the scars of his time as a youthful minion for a low-level supervillain, followed by stints in prison and the military. Though now trying to live a straight-and-narrow life, he supports a drinking problem and painkiller addiction by using his powers to track down insurance cheats. When a mysterious woman enters his office asking him to investigate the death of prominent non-human rights activist Quentin Julian, a crime the police and heroes are ignoring, he takes the case in the hopes of doing something good.

Superhero Kimberly Kline has just hit it big, graduating from her team of young heroes to the Pinnacle City Guardians with the new codename of Solar Flare. With good looks, powers that include flight, energy manipulation, superhuman strength, durability, and speed, as well as a good family name, the sky is the limit for her. Upbeat, optimistic, and perhaps a little naïve from the upper-crust life she was raised in, she hopes to make her family, and the world, proud by being the greatest superhero she can be . . . but things aren’t always as they seem.

From the minds of Matt Carter and Fiona J. R. Titchenell, Pinnacle City is a pulpy, throwback noir of yesteryear, where two unlikely people from opposite sides of the track must team up to do good in a world full of so much bad. (Buy) 7 August

The Bouncer by David GordonThe Bouncer
by David Gordon
(Mysterious Press)
In David Gordon’s diabolically imaginative new thriller, The Bouncer, nothing and no one is as expected―from a vial of yellow fragrance to a gangster who moonlights in women’s clothes.

Joe Brody is just your average Dostoevsky-reading, Harvard-expelled strip club bouncer who has a highly classified military history and whose best friend from Catholic school happens to be head mafioso Gio Caprisi. FBI agent Donna Zamora, the best shot in her class at Quantico, is a single mother stuck at a desk manning the hotline. Their storylines intersect over a tip from a cokehead that leads to a crackdown on Gio’s strip joint in Queens and Joe’s arrest―just one piece of a city-wide sweep aimed at flushing out anyone who might have a lead on the various terrorists whose photos are hanging on the wall under Most Wanted. Outside the jailhouse, the Fed and the bouncer lock eyes, as Gordon launches them both headlong into a nonstop plot that goes from back-road gun show intervention to high-stakes perfume heist and manages to touch everyone from the CIA to the Flushing Triads. Beneath it all lurks a sinister criminal mastermind whose manipulations could cause chaos on a massively violent scale.

For readers who like a heavy dose of fun with their murder, this is crime fiction at its freshest, from a virtuoso of the “darkly comic, stylish literary thriller” (Associated Press). (Buy) 7 August

Baghdad Noir by Samuel ShimonBaghdad Noir
edited by Samuel Shimon
(Akashic Books)
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book. One of the world’s most war-torn cities is portrayed though a noir lens in this chilling story collection.

Brand-new stories by: Muhsin al-Ramli, Nassif Falak, Hadia Said, Ahmed Saadawi, Salima Salih, Roy Scranton, Hayet Raies, Mohammed Alwan Jabr, Dheya al-Khalidi, Hussain al-Mozany, Sinan Antoon, Salar Abdoh, Ali Bader, and Layla Qasrany.

From “I Killed Her Because I Loved Her” by contributor Muhsin al-Ramli:

The neighborhood, timeless with its narrow, smelly lanes, seemed to have been forgotten since it came into being with the foundation of Baghdad in Abbasid times. The streets were pocked with potholes, noisy with the clamor of children playing and the clatter of peddlers’ carts. On the pavement there were piles of putrid, smoldering garbage: the smoke mixed with the smell of spices, grilled meat, and other foods cooking. The houses were crammed with people and were built of old bricks and planks of wood. If they hadn’t been leaning on each other, the only reason they didn’t collapse was that there wasn’t enough space on the ground between them.

From “Post-Traumatic Stress Reality in Qadisiya” by contributor Hadia Said:

What I’m telling you is that Baghdad is coming back. Yes. We’ve resumed the necessary insanity. Yes, yes, by God. We removed our suits and stripped to T-shirts and shorts–just like the old days. Exactly like the old days.

From “Getting to Abu Nuwas Street” by contributor Dheya al-Khalidi:

Baghdad’s streets are desolate after midnight. The dark gathers in front of shops and alleyways. Wooden stalls for selling produce are laid down and intertwined like a broken-down train at a station. I’d always watch the cats chase each other, hiss and fight by the butcher’s shop. But odd there weren’t any stray dogs around, since I used to hear them bark in the capital every day. Maybe they sensed something grave that night, so they were hiding, putting off the hunt for another time. (Buy) 7 August

Marrakech Noir edited by Yassin AdanMarrakech Noir
edited by Yassin Adan
(Akashic Books)
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book. Northern Africa finally enters the Noir Series arena with a finely crafted volume of dark stories, all translated from Arabic and French.

Brand-new stories by: Fatiha Morchid, Fouad Laroui, Taha Adnan, Mohamed Zouhair, Lahcen Bakour, Mahi Binebine, Halima Zine El Abidine, Hanane Derkaoui, Allal Bourqia, My Seddik Rabbaj, Abdelkader Benali, Mohamed Nedali, Mohamed Achaari, Karima Nadir, and Yassin Adnan.

From the introduction by Yassin Adnan:

Only palm trees remember that remote dark past, when highwaymen lay in wait behind their trunks for passing caravans…According to some stories, this is where the city’s name originated. Over the centuries the name has lost much of its caution and blackness…Moroccans today call Marrakech “The Joyful City,” or simply “The Joyful.” For the city is pledged to joy. The seekers of happiness and soirées head for it. Its nights are well lit and its days are bright. The city’s lovers are ready to read every type of story about it except those garbed in black. Even the city’s leading authors, the storytellers of Jamaa al-Fana, have always avoided in their fascinating halqas dark tales and stories…

In all their variety these stories remain rooted in the Moroccan soil. Marrakech, the ancient Moroccan city, the country’s capital of tourism, the city of joy and sadness, the city of simple life, the city linked to the most international capitals through daily flights from its international airport, the city of the new European community, a winter resort for French retirees, and a refuge for immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, the city of red nights and sex tourism, the city of the new generation of crimes… (Buy) 7 August

Boise Longpig Hunting Club
by Nick Kolakowski
(Down & Out Books)
When you want someone found, you call bounty hunter Jake Halligan. He’s smart, tough, and best of all, careful on the job. But none of those skills seem to help him when a shadowy group starts taking his life apart piece by piece.

First Jake comes home to find a dead body in his gun safe. He thinks it’s a warning–and when you drag people back to jail for a living, the list of people who want to send that kind of message is very long indeed. With backup from his sister Frankie, an arms dealer and dapper criminal, Jake plunges into the Idaho underworld, confronting everyone from brutal Aryan assassins to cops who want his whole family in jail.

But as Jake soon discovers, those threats are small-time compared to the group that’s really after him. And nothing–not bounty hunting, not even all his years in Iraq–can prepare him for what’s coming next. Jake’s about to become a player in the most dangerous game ever invented…

Boise Longpig Hunting Club is a wild ride into the dark heart of the American dream, where even the most brutal desires can be fulfilled for a price, and nobody is safe from the rich and powerful. (Buy) 13 August

Fortunate Son
by J.D. Rhoades
(Polis Books)
Years ago, the Jakes brothers were found alone, hungry, and freezing, in a trailer where they’d been left by their mother. One found a happy home. The older son never did, but he always dreamed of the day when they would be together again.

Thirteen years later, big brother appears, and he’s determined to reunite the family, even if he has to do it by kidnapping his younger brother. The mother they haven’t seen in years is in New Orleans, and she’s in trouble. Her sons are coming to the rescue, even if one of them is doing it at gunpoint.

But things are rapidly spinning out of control in New Orleans. The Jakes boys, the disgraced former sheriff trying to chase them down, and an ambitious Louisiana deputy investigating the mother are in for far more danger than any of them bargained for. As they’re caught between two sides in a vicious drug war, everyone’s fighting to survive, no one knows who to trust, and it’s anyone’s guess who’ll be left standing at the end.

A story of loss and redemption, of love and betrayal, and above all of how far some will go to be part of a family, FORTUNATE SON will keep you up all night and leave you unable to forget it. (Buy) 14 August

The Line That Held Us
by David Joy
From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption, where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed. (Buy) 14 August

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories
by Teresa Solana
(Bitter Lemon Press)
An impressive and very funny collection of stories by Teresa Solana but the fun is very dark indeed. The oddest things happen. Statues decompose and stink out galleries, two old grandmothers are vengeful killers, a prehistoric detective on the verge of becoming the first religious charlatan trails a triple murder that is threatening cave life as the early innocents knew it. The collection also includes a sparkling web of Barcelona stories–connected by two criminal acts–that allows Solana to explore the darker side of different parts of the city and their seedier inhabitants. (Buy) 15 August

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