Small Press Crime Fiction Week in Review
Back in the saddle so to speak with the 47th iteration of the Incident Report. There are two weeks of information, so it’s a bit clunky. We have 13 links to news articles, 7 book reviews, 10 short story links, and links to 47 new and upcoming books.
Unlawful Acts’ Incident Report covers the world of small press crime fiction for the week of June 10th through June 23rd with links to news, reviews, short fiction, new books, and upcoming releases.
If you haven’t read Megan Abbott’s Why do we–women in particular–love true crime books (LA Times), you should probably do so now.
But in the last few years, and especially in recent months as the Harvey Weinstein and associated scandals have dominated headlines, I’ve come to think of true crime books as performing much the same function as crime novels (also dominated by female readers): serving as the place women can go to read about the dark, messy stuff of their lives that they’re not supposed to talk about — domestic abuse, serial predation, sexual assault, troubled family lives, conflicted feelings about motherhood, the weight of trauma, partner violence and the myriad ways the justice system can fail, and silence, women.
If you ever think of doing a listicle, read Jim Thomsen’s Dark Side of the Sound: Seattle Through 21 Crime Novels at SleuthSayers. Damn. This is how it should be done.
“Passive-aggressive” might also describe Seattle’s presence in the global eye as a crime-fiction capital. The Pacific Northwest is often called the serial-killer capital of the world, and while that’s true in a true-crime sense, given Green River Killer Gary Ridgway’s prolific slayings of prostitutes — he was convicted of 48 murders, mostly just south and east of Seattle, but claims he was responsible for at least 80 — fictional killings here have only fitfully captured the national imagination.
Chuck Wendig’s Setting Free The Sacred Cows of Writing Advice on his blog terribleminds is about breaking all the rules and, to paraphrase Ron Swanson, “I’m worried what you just heard was breaking a lot of writing rules. What I said was Wendig’s article is about breaking all the writing rules. Do you understand?”
Never Start With A Character Beholding Herself In The Mirror —
Did it in Blackbirds. Book got published. Fuck you.
At the Chicago Review of Books, short story writer Bradley Sides interviews fellow Alabamian Caleb Johnson about writing, the South, nostalgia, religion and more. Johnson’s debut novel “Treeborne” (Picador) is out now.
Though I’ve lived outside the South for several years, I stay in touch with my people and the place. I’m a phone-talker, I go home as often as possible, I’m very aware of how I cling to my accent and vernacular on a daily basis. I fight the subconscious urging to enunciate or use different words when speaking up here in the North. Amplifying the voices I grew up among is, I feel, my responsibility and privilege. I didn’t need to research those voices while writing this novel because, even though I’ve moved away for now, they don’t feel like the past to me.
Most of this you probably already know but Warren Bull’s Why Cops hate Police shows on Television (Writers Who Kill) is a good refresher.
On the release of Art Taylor’s short story, English 398: Fiction Workshop—Notes from Class & A Partial Draft By Brittany Wallace, Plus Feedback, Conference & More, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Taylor talks of narrative structure at SleuthSayers.
In class, I assign Madison Smartt Bell’s “Narrative Design”, which likens modular design to the mosaic—bits and pieces of narrative adding up to a more complex whole—and then analyzes modular stories by breaking them down into various vectors, looking at how those vectors interweave and interact.
At its most basic level, there are several ways to understand vectors as they contribute to modular design. Imagine a story that shuttles section by section between two different time frames—exploring how past events impact the present. Or a story with several different narrators, interweaving various contrasting/conflict points of view to reach a clearer truth…
Steph Post, author of “Walk in the Fire” (Polis Books), interviews Robert James Russell, author of “Sea of Trees” (White Goose Publishing) and “Mesilla” (Dock Street Press).
… but the advice that has resonated most with me as a writer comes from Elmore Leonard: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. For me, this has been a creed: write effectively and don’t lose your audience. It’s taught me to be efficient, to tell the story in 100 words instead of 1,000, and to be able to anticipate the reader’s needs.
Two links to articles about proofreading which is odd here since careful readers will find many mistakes. The first is Pillow Proofreading’s When Should I Hire a Proofreader? which details the editing process from the substantive edit to the copy edit and finally to the proofreading. At Career Authors, professional proofreader Jill Svihovec gives some helpful tips on how to proofread in Perfecting Your Proofreading.
At Story and Grit, Jesse Rawlins interviews Jen Conley, author of “Cannibals“, and the conversation winds around how Conley got her start, the Johnny Cash anthology “Just To Watch Them Die“, Conley’s upcoming YA title “Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry”, and Noir at the Bar.
Back in the day, I bartended for about eight years and the place I spent most of that time in was one of those beer and shot bars with a strong customer base of blue collar men. It wasn’t the easiest time of my life but I definitely toughened up working there. There were some scary ass guys who used to come in, guys I would never talk to had it not been for my job. Their way of thinking, the things they said, used to shock me but after a while, I just go used to it. I think when I wrote this story, I was probably channeling those years. Actually, I often channel those years into my writing.
I’m looking forward to reading E.A. Aymar’s essay in “Unloaded 2“. The following quote is from a now unpublished article about his essay, Aymar wrote about why he decided to write a political essay.
All I know is that I desperately wanted to write about what happened, and that Eric’s request opened up something in me that my writing hadn’t yet touched. I only had one agenda in mind, one thing that mattered to me. And that one thing informed the politics of the essay. I felt its power.
I wrote for my son. I wrote so he’d understand what I went through that day, what his mother went through, how our fear lingered. So that, later in his life, he’ll have an understanding of what it’s like to be a parent today, when violence (particularly violence against children) is a prevalent, open, even debated aspect of American society. So he’d know that, when you feel paralyzed by the insanity of what’s happening around you, you still need to talk and march and live and continue.
I wrote because it was one of those essays a writer has to write.
My books are bawdy and bloody, but the sex and violence isn’t gratuitous or served up just for shock value. I’m writing a violent tale and want to be frank about both the sex and the violence in service of that story. I don’t want to shield the reader’s delicate sensibilities with euphemisms and sanitized scenes. That’s an insult to the reader. Might be a different story if I was writing a chicken-fried cozy.
For those of you that aren’t big fans of historical mysteries, Colman Keane isn’t either but he might have found one we all might like, John Meads’s “The Hanging Women” (Book Guild Publishing Ltd). Keane writes in Col’s Criminal Library:
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of historical mysteries but was pleasantly rewarded when taking a punt on this book from John Mead.
Ticks in a lot of boxes and quite a quick read once I got into it.
Nancy Oakes reviews Clarence Cooper, Jr.’s “The Syndicate” (Molotov Editions). At the blog the crime segments, Nancy writes:
Definitely not for the faint of heart, The Syndicate is beyond raw, reaching down into the grittiest depths of darkness as it pulls us into the mind of an extremely troubled and damaged man, Andy Sorrell.
Later she writes:
I’ll be honest here — The Syndicate is not an easy book to read because of some of things that happen between its covers; there were times when I had to put the novel down for a while because of incidents of brutality against women that crop up a couple of times.
What? A cozy review at Unlawful Acts? Weird, I know. Darci Hannah’s “Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies” (Midnight Ink) is reviewed by Janet Webb at Criminal Element. Webb writes, “It’s a rare book that demands reading props …”
At Criminal Element, Gabino Iglesias reviews James A. McLaughlin’s “Bearskin” writing the book “walks a fine line between a thriller and literary fiction, and it successfully keeps clear of the usual pitfalls presented by both genres.”
James A. McLaughlin’s “Bearskin” is a literary novel dipped in violence and filtered through the best elements pulp has to offer. Beautifully written, brutal, and sometimes dipping into surrealism, this is the kind of hybrid novel that is at once a crime story, an explosive eco-thriller, an exploration of cartel violence, and a meditation on nature and humanity’s (op)position therein.
“There There” is distinguished not only by Orange’s crackling style, but by its unusual subject. This is a novel about urban Indians, about native peoples who know, as he says, “the sound of the freeway better than [they] do rivers … the smell of gas and freshly wet concrete and burned rubber better than [they] do the smell of cedar or sage…”
At Crime Fiction Lover, Purity Brown reviews Paul D. Brazill’s “Last Year’s Man” (All Due Respect Books).
Brazill’s writing is personified by pithy, sharp sentences and chapters, lots of humour and a dash of music as a backdrop. Even with the vast array of stories he produces they always feel bright and fresh. Last Year’s Man fits firmly into the novella category. It is a fast read but with plenty of action packed in. Brazill’s style is on the far side of brevity, so if you are looking for a book with more description and atmosphere it might not be for you. As always it is Brazill’s characters who sing loudest.
I’m trying to cover two weeks of short stories here so please bear with me. On the plus side, I get to mention my Flash Fiction Offensive story, There Were Worse Things He Could Do, a flash fiction piece set at summer music festival–so I have that going for me.
Here are some stories I particularly liked.
The Dog Catcher by Aaron Menzel (Flash Fiction Magazine)
May You Find Salvation by Alexander Nachaj (Shotgun Honey)
Day Planner by Matt Mattila (Tough)
Five Toes by M.J. Lee (Near To The Knuckle)
Zero is the Sum by Rebecca Roland (Every Day Fiction)
Left-Handed Compliment by Gregory Von Dare (Flash Fiction Offensive)
Secrets, Blood, and Paint by Chloe Smith (Ellipsis)
Jailbreaker in the Briar Patch by Liam Sweeny (Shotgun Honey)
Tally Ho by William R. Soldan (Tough)
Yellow Mama has fiction by Bill Baber, Kenneth James Crist, Jim Farren, Edward Francisco, Norbert Kovacs, G Emil Ruetter, j brooke, Paul Michael Dubal, Mark Josepth Kevlock, Michael LaRosa, Henry Simpson, Matt Phillips, Francis Woodland, Paul Beckman, Cindy Rosmus, Karen Schauber, and Ram Praseth.
The 60th issue of SmokeLong Quarterly is the result of their recent flash fiction contest. The new issue has works by Alvin Park, Devin Kelly, Elaine Edwards, Elliezra Schaffzin, Jennifer Wortman, Jonathan Cardew, Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor, Theresa Hottel, Sam Burns, Michelle Orabona, Kerry Cullen, Sara Johnson Allen, Jonathan D. Nixon, Molly Giles, Kathryn McMahon, Michael R. Sloan, Lyndsie Manusos, Josh Weston, Molia Dumbleton, Joy Baglio, Jessica Cavero, and K.C. Mead-Brewer.
The Molotov Cocktail includes work by Caroline Porter, Henry Hietala, and K.B. Carle.
Keep your eyes peeled as there is a new issue of Pulp Modern coming out real soon.
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)
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)
East Bay Grease
by Eric Miles Williamson
(Down & Out Books)
East Bay Grease, Eric Miles Williamson’s now classic first novel, has received worldwide acclaim as one of the great depictions of working-class America in the latter half of the 20th century. The story of T-Bird Murphy, born in the tumultuous 1960s and raised in the ghettoes of Oakland by his mother, who rides with the Hell’s Angels, his father, who is an ex-convict, and the father figures who range from musicians to construction workers, East Bay Grease is a novel of dignity, honor, and courage that has been compared to the works of John Steinbeck, Jack London, and Upton Sinclair.
Praise for EAST BAY GREASE:
“Williamson’s writing becomes transcendent. His prose cuts loose in torrid rhythms that evoke the peril and exuberance of jazz.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A confident debut, an arresting, often harrowing read.” —The London Times (Buy)
Against the Undertow
by Bethany Maines
(Blue Zephyr Press)
You never know what will drag you down.
Former actress Tish Yearly is determined to turn an old Orcas Island homestead into the premier wedding venue in the San Juans Islands of Washington, but money, skill and her grandfather, Tobias Yearly, are all standing in her way. Tobias, the septuagenarian ex-CIA agent, wants them to become private investigators. Tish might be able to ignore her grandfather’s whims, except that her one time love interest and current friend, handsome Sheriff’s Deputy Emmett Nash, was just accused of murdering his ex-wife’s boyfriend. Now Tish and Tobias are on the case, and it should be easy—after all, who could really think Nash was a killer?—but the further they investigate, the more people seem to be threatening her life: the police detective on the case, Nash’s angry ex-wife, his psychotic ex-girlfriend, and a strangely venomous group of hippies. Almost everyone on the island seems determined to stop her. Tish is swimming against the undertow, but it might not be enough to save either Nash or herself. (Buy)
edited by Chantelle Aimée Osman
(Down & Out Books)
The Origins Game Fair is proud and pleased to present Mystery! , our 2018 fiction anthology. The collection features stories by authors in the convention’s Library program.
This collection brings together fourteen tales of mystery set across genres, in a legion of times and places. Each author has provided a story which will give you an excellent opportunity to sample their skill and imagination. (Buy)
by Greg F. Gifune
(Down & Out Books)
Andy DeMarco and his little sister Angela worshiped their Uncle Paulie. To them, he was a god, an enigmatic savior, the man who took the place of their absent father, who protected them and their mother, and who taught them about the true nature of life and family. But one horrible summer day something unspeakable happened to little Angela, and everyone’s world changed forever.
Now, twenty years later, in the middle of a snowstorm, Andy has returned home to bury his uncle, a man with a shady past that ended with a caper gone wrong and a bullet in the back of his head. Only now can Andy begin to understand who his uncle truly was, and in doing so, finally begin to also understand who he is, and who he may still one day become.
Praise for SAYING UNCLE:
“This quietly powerful short novel should bring much deserved attention to Gifune, who succeeds in imbuing what could have been a clichéd and formulaic noir premise with haunting emotional depth. Fans of understated, sophisticated crime fiction are in for a treat.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Saying Uncle is steeped in some serious atmosphere. It’s the kind of book that you’ll want to rip through and yet also savor. You’ll reread passages for the pure poetry of sound as well as for the dazzling imagery. It’s that lush and affecting.” —Tom Piccirilli, author of Shadow Season
“Saying Uncle is a tightly-crafted novel that is both an action story and an emotional one. Gifune’s words flow like mountain streams, and like those streams they bite hard when you step into their icy waters. It is a coming-of-age story filled with all the right components: strong characters, dark secrets, dangerous situations, and deep emotions. In short, it’s the kind of book other writers will wish they had written, and readers will be recommending to their friends.” —Dark Scribe Magazine
“Devastating, in a good way, I feel like I experienced Gifune’s novel Saying Uncle firsthand. Wonderfully crafted on so many levels: description, characterization, atmosphere, thematically. A must read.” —Lisa von Biela, author of The Genesis Code
“This—like most of Gifune’s vast body of work—is a novel first and a genre entry only secondarily. It’s a dark psychological study, engrossing and disturbing, profoundly reminiscent of the great “noir” classics of a generation ago…while remaining on the cutting edge of contemporary crime fiction. More people need to discover this excellent book. It’s hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t be struck by its brilliance.” —Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines
“Brilliant, grim, and absolutely devastating. An amazing work from quite possibly the greatest dark fiction author of our time.” —Sandy DeLuca, author of Descent (Buy)
America’s Dark Theologian
by Douglas E. Cowan
Illuminating the religious and existential themes in Stephen King’s horror stories
Who are we? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? For answers to these questions, people often look to religion. But religion is not the only place seekers turn. Myths, legends, and other stories have given us alternative ways to address the fundamental quandaries of existence. Horror stories, in particular, with their focus on questions of violence and mortality, speak urgently to the primal fears embedded in such existential mysteries. With more than fifty novels to his name, and hundreds of millions of copies sold, few writers have spent more time contemplating those fears than Stephen King. Yet despite being one of the most widely read authors of all time, King is woefully understudied. America’s Dark Theologian is the first in-depth investigation into how King treats religion in his horror fiction.
Considering works such as Carrie, The Dead Zone, Misery, The Shining, and many more, Douglas Cowan explores the religious imagery, themes, characters, and, most importantly, questions that haunt Stephen King’s horror stories. Religion and its trappings are found throughout King’s fiction, but what Cowan reveals is a writer skeptical of the certainty of religious belief. Describing himself as a “fallen away” Methodist, King is less concerned with providing answers to our questions, than constantly challenging both those who claim to have answers and the answers they proclaim. Whether he is pondering the existence of other worlds, exploring the origins of religious belief and how it is passed on, probing the nature of the religious experience, or contemplating the existence of God, King invites us to question everything we think we know. (Buy)
The Death Pictures
by Simon Hall
A dying artist creates a series of ten paintings – The Death Pictures – which contain a mysterious riddle, leading the way to a unique and highly valuable prize. Thousands attempt to solve it. But before the answer can be revealed, the painter is murdered.
A serial rapist is working through a series of attacks. He isn’t shy to make clear his hatred of women, and taunting of the police. He leaves his calling card, a witch’s hat at the houses he breaks into, each numbered from a pack of six.
The detectives face baffling questions. Why kill the artist when he would die naturally in just a few weeks time? What to make of the attempted break in at his house just before his death? Could it be connected with the rapes, all of which have been carried out in the area around his home?
The media interest in the cases is intense, and Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen again turns to his friend, TV Crime reporter Dan Groves to help him handle it. Dan does – at the price of some great scoops, and an involvement in the case that eventually leads him to effectively talk to the rapist, using the stories he broadcasts to lure him into a trap, and finally, discover the extraordinary solution to the riddle. (Buy)
Wayward Girl | Widow
by Orrie Hitt
(Stark House Press)
WAYWARD GIRL Sandy Greening loses her virginity at fourteen to a drunken neighbor. Her mother doesn t care. She s drunk herself all the time on cheap wine. So Sandy starts running with a gang, The Blue Devils, and that s where she first turns on to marijuana, and not long after, heroin. That s when she starts to sell herself to anyone with the bucks to pay for her highs. But the night Tommy asks her to hold his knife before they rumble with The Black Cats is the night that changes Sandy s life forever. A kid gets killed, and the cops put the finger on Sandy for information. And when she won t give it up the easy way, they set her up and go after it the hard way, all the way to reform school. And that s where Sandy starts to learn the real lessons of life.
THE WIDOW When Jerry Rebner starts working for Mrs. Sprague as her cook at the Dells, he figures he knows what he wants Linda. Lush and ripe, Linda has everything Jerry likes in a woman, and more. Linda is married to Frank, Mrs. Sprague s shiftless hot rodding son, who widows her when he plows into a tree one drunken evening. Then Jerry meets Norma, sweet, virginal Norma, who used to pose as a nude model! Torn between the two women, and by the memory of his first wife, Jerry begins to drink. Then Linda comes to him with a plan Mrs. Sprague s property is worth $50,000 to a development company, but she won t sell. Linda is all she has left, her sole heir. And those steps leading down to the cellar are awfully steep…… (Buy)
Revenge is a Redhead
by Phil Beloin Jr.
(All Due Respect Books)
Rich Brown is out of cash and luck when he finds stripper Cherry Pop. Like so many before him, Rich falls for the redhead, but all he can afford is a quick peep show.
But soon Rich has bigger problems than lack of love and money when he stumbles into a homeless shelter that’s really a front for a bunch of shady dealings. He crosses paths with Cherry Pop again, and to survive the night, the duo have claw their way out of all kinds of mayhem.
Trashy, funny, and filled with pure pulp action, Revenge is a Redhead is the ideal way to kill time before you die.
by Alan Baxter
(Grey Matter Press)
Following a psychotic break, Eli Carver finds himself on the run, behind the wheel of a car that’s not his own, and in the company of a terrified woman he doesn’t know. As layers of ugly truth are peeled back and dark secrets are revealed, the duo find themselves in a struggle for survival when they unravel a mystery that pits them against the most dangerous forces in their lives.
A contemporary southern gothic thriller with frightening supernatural overtones, Alan Baxter’s Manifest Recall explores the tragic life of a hitman who finds himself on the wrong side of his criminal syndicate. Baxter’s adrenaline-fueled approach to storytelling draws readers into Eli Carver’s downward spiral of psychosis and through the darkest realms of lost memories, human guilt and the insurmountable quest for personal redemption. (Buy)
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
by Amanda James
DI Bryony Marshall has been on the tail of Kenny Ransom for two years. He’s involved in prostitution and trafficking, but there’s never been any real proof. To complicate matters further, Bryony’s best friend from childhood is his daughter Imogen.
Bryony worries about admitting the fact that she is trying to put Imogen’s dad away, but unexpectedly, Imogen turns on her father and helps the police. Kenny finds out and swears he’ll get his revenge.
Sick of being in the police force, Bryony visits her mother in Cornwall and considers starting a new life.
While in Cornwall, Bryony saves the life of a man caught up in a rip current in the sea.
But who is this stranger? And is Kenny really bent on revenge?
Rip Current explores the relationships between families and friends and asks who can you ever really trust.
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
by Helaine Mario
In 1945, an Austrian girl discovers a priceless Nazi treasure near a remote alpine lake and sets in motion a decades-old secret that will change lives for generations to come.
Many years later, classical pianist Maggie O’Shea is preparing her return to the world of music. Instead, a nightmare of a haunting rhapsody and hundreds of roses from a deranged stalker propel her into a world of terror. Forces drive her to revisit the mystery of her mother’s death, her father’s startling disappearance, and a terrible secret from World War II. Maggie finds herself on a collision course with a brutal, disfigured killer who threatens those she holds dear—an aging pianist with a long-buried secret, a haunted cellist, a charismatic Maestro, and the crusty retired colonel she has come to love.
A story of loss, intrigue, vengeance, courage, and love. (Buy) 3 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
by Mike McCrary
He had the time of his life. Then it turned into a nightmare.
Davis Briggs is a kind-hearted family man who dreams of building a better life for his wife and two beautiful daughters. With his family’s future at stake, Davis travels to LA to promote a new business. While he tries to unwind at the hotel bar, a slick, charming stranger asks Davis one simple question: “Are you ready to have the time of your life?”
Davis wakes up the next morning with no memory of what happened the night before. Now, caught in the stranger’s web, Davis is trapped in a race against time. If he succeeds, he stands to gain everything. If he fails, Davis will lose it all. It will take all Davis has to break free…even if it means doing the unthinkable.
McCrary’s taut, fast-paced RELENTLESS is a gripping thrill ride that explores the darkness hiding in the cracks of society and the lengths people will go to when everything is on the line. (Buy) 7 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
Flight of the Fox
by Gray Basnight
(Down & Out Books)
An innocent math professor runs for his life as teams of hitmen try to prevent publication of their government’s dark history.
College professor Sam Teagarden stumbles upon a decades-old government cover-up when an encoded document mysteriously lands in his in-box, followed by a cluster of mini-drones programmed to kill him.
That begins a terrifying flight from upstate New York, to Washington, to Key West as Teagarden must outfox teams of hitmen equipped with highly sophisticated technology. While a fugitive, he races to decode the journal, only to realize the dreadful truth—it’s the reason he’s being hunted because it details criminal secrets committed by the U.S. in the 20th Century.
If he survives and publishes the decoded diary, he’ll be a heroic whistle blower. But there is no guarantee. He may also end up dead.
Praise for FLIGHT OF THE FOX:
“Flight of the Fox is an explosively paranoid thriller that pays homage to classics of the genre. Basnight delivers nonstop action and an everyman hero to root for.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author
“Basnight’s novel does double duty. It’s both a fast-paced and furious thriller and a thought provoking commentary on a government gone wild. Read it.” —Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of What You Break
“Gray Basnight has written a clever, inventive, gripping, suspenseful tale that’ll have you up nights until you reach the final page. Skillfully weaving fact with fiction, Flight of the Fox taps into our worst nightmares about the potential excesses of power.” —Charles Salzberg, author of the award-nominated Henry Swann mysteries and Second Story Man
“Flight of the Fox is a quick-paced story that puts you in the passenger seat of a thrilling adventure featuring, cyber and techno villains, and a fight for justice. Great action thriller!” —Jerri Williams, retired FBI agent and author of Pay To Play (Buy) 23 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
edited by Max Booth III and Lori Michelle
(Perpetual Motion Machine)
From the editors of Lost Signals comes the new volume in technological horror. Nineteen authors, both respected and new to the genre, team up to deliver a collection of terrifying, eclectic stories guaranteed to unsettle its readers. In Lost Films, a deranged group of lunatics hold an annual film festival, the lost series finale of The Simpsons corrupts a young boy’s sanity, and a VCR threatens to destroy reality. All of that and much more, with fiction from Brian Evenson, Gemma Files, Kelby Losack, Bob Pastorella, Brian Asman, Leigh Harlen, Dustin Katz, Andrew Novak, Betty Rocksteady, John C. Foster, Ashlee Scheuerman, Eugenia M. Triantafyllou, Kev Harrison, Thomas Joyce, Jessica McHugh, Kristi DeMeester, Izzy Lee, Chad Stroup, and David James Keaton. (Buy) August
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
Death in Shangri-La
by Yigal Zur
Ex–Israeli operative turned private investigator, Dotan Naor—to settle a bet—agrees to locate the missing son of former acquaintance, now ruthless Israeli arms merchant, Willy Mizrachi. Willy, who does not hesitate to sell killing machines to the most heinous players in the world, is desperate to find his only son, Itiel, who has headed to an ashram in the Himalayas.
The Himalayas are also host to groups of young Israelis who have completed their mandatory military service—a sort of rite of passage. Now, those innocent kids are being hunted down by violent terrorists.
India and the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan is familiar territory to Dotan, as he searches for Itiel and for the source of these heinous attacks on Israeli youth.
Unwilling to leave this quest in the hands of Dotan, Willy also travels to India, where he is beheaded in Delhi, triggering international repercussions capable of ripping the world apart at one of its most dangerous flashpoints.
Nothing is as it seems in this region of the world. Betrayal reigns everywhere.
But love, in its purest form, does manage to shine through in this story of brutal international corruption (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
Sort ‘Em Out Later
by Jim Wilsky
(Down & Out Books)
Malefactors is defined as “those who commit an offense against the law”, or more simply put, “one who does ill toward another”. This collection of short stories from Jim Wilsky is chock full of them. Tales that are all different, yet all the same.
The locales and characters range from rural to urban. Office buildings, swamps, wealthy estates and corn fields are some of the places. The people range from folks with money to flat broke, from those who have a lot on the line to those who have nothing to lose, old and young alike. There are stone cold killers to good guys and those in between. Those walking on that shaky bridge, that thin tightrope that connects good and evil.
The stories all share the same common ingredients though. Plots that are brutal, chaotic, desperate, vengeful and violent. These pages paint the rage and burning fire that dwells within almost everyone but only surface and re-erupt in some.
From guns, to knives, to swords and bare hands, this collection will push all the right buttons for crime fiction readers. These specially selected stories touch every base. So, buckle up and read on.
Thanks for visiting Unlawful Acts and reading the latest Incident Report.