Small Press Crime Fiction Week in Review
This week’s edition of the Incident Report is abbreviated as I’m on vacation at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. If you want to know what that’s like, read my flash fiction at Out of the Gutter, There Were Worse Things He Could Do. See what I just did there.
In the meantime here are some websites you can visit that are quite good.
Beg For Mercy
by Keith Nixon
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)
Crack Apple & Pop
by Saira Viola
“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.
by Clarence Cooper Jr.
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)
Blood and Water
by 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)
Under 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)
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
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 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.
Praise for QUEEN OF DIAMONDS:
“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 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
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
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
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
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.
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
by Carlton Mellick III
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
by Scott Cole
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 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
by Rob Hart
“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 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
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
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 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 Willeford
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 Orlet
(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. 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 Brown
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
by David Gordon
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
edited by Samuel Shimon
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
edited by Yassin Adan
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
by J.D. Rhoades
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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