Small Press Crime Fiction Week in Review
Unlawful Acts’ Incident Report covers the world of small press crime fiction for the week of July 15th through July 21st with links to news, reviews, short fiction, podcasts, new books, and upcoming releases.
Someone is trying to trademark a man holding an ax book cover. Yup, you read that right. This is from the same company that is trying to trademark “Dragon Slayer”. (Side note: BoingBoing is still around?)
The Guardian has a long piece on the scandal that rocked the Nobel Prize for Literature and the sordid history of The Academy that awards the prize.
According to one senior academy member, the man responsible for the moral decay of the institution – through his “rotten macho values and arrogant high-handedness” – is the critic and historian Horace Engdahl, a former secretary of the academy. Engdahl, a close friend of Arnault, has in turn called the current secretary the worst the academy has ever had.
The scandal broke when the Stockholm daily paper Dagens Nyheter published the testimonies of 18 women who said that they had been assaulted or exploited by Arnault. Even if many were anonymous, the cumulative effect was impossible to ignore. In two cases the allegations amounted to rape.
The long and sordid history of Cocky-gate, Kindle Unlimited, and the Amazon algorithm. It’s all connected people.
A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for 99 cents a pop might seem unserious. But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts — and see a worthwhile return on that investment.
In other words, self-published romance is no joke.
Alexia Gordon, author of the Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, stopped by Mysterias to write about her experience on a recent panel at Thrillerfest.
The point when a man in the audience, notebook and pen in hand and body language that screamed “unhappy person with an agenda,” asked, “When are police going to take psychics seriously?” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what he meant.) This man had attended a panel featuring former police officers who now wrote crime fiction and asked them about the use of psychics in homicide and missing persons investigations. He got the reaction you’d guess he’d get from a group of no-nonsense, “just the facts, ma’am,” retired cops.
At Art Taylor’s blog, Mary Feliz wrote about the first two pages of her novel, “Disorderly Conduct”.
Crafting perfect opening pages for a novel is a task akin to writing a short story. I need to quickly introduce the characters, setting, genre, and stakes in a way that grabs hold of the reader and convinces them to trust my ability to tell a story and keep them entertained.
That’s a tall order. Few authors are able to check all those boxes at once. For example, in Disorderly Conduct, we don’t learn about the “inciting incident” that propels Maggie into her investigation until page five. But, we know right away that the stakes are high, which I hope will help readers hang in at least until the end of the first chapter.
Kellye Garret, author of the forthcoming “Hollywood Ending”, wrote about writing on a location you know well but are removed from when writing.
I’ve since moved to the East Coast, which made it trickier to nail the geography when I was writing the second book, Hollywood Ending. It’s not as easy to remember how to get from Beverly Hills to downtown if you want to avoid the 10 freeway at all costs.
And since I’m a reader who loves when I recognize a place I’ve actually been in a book, I knew that I couldn’t just cop out and make up a bunch of places Day and her cohorts needed to keep taking actual streets to actual places.
The Pay It Forward series on The Thrill Begins continued with Sarah M. Chen, author of “Cleaning Up Finn” recommending Naomi Hirahara, author of the Mas Aria Mysteries.
Her newest series featuring young LAPD bicycle cop Ellie Rush is quite different but equally enjoyable. Ellie is funny and courageous, and it’s always an adventure to follow her along as she skillfully navigates the streets of L.A. Once again, Naomi crafts this wonderful multicultural story in a corner of the world rarely explored. I mean is there any other series out there featuring a bicycle cop? Or for that matter, a Hiroshima survivor and gardener?
I have such a fondness for her characters and how unassuming they are, yet so real and complex. They’re like these quiet underdogs that nobody sees coming. Mas is often times able to uncover the truth because people overlook him. Ellie is in a male-dominated field and must work extra hard to prove herself. Maybe because I often feel like the underdog or outsider, her characters really resonate with me.
Elise Cooper interviewed Lina Castillo, author of the Amish Kate Buckholder series.
I am going to see one of my Amish friends when I am on tour in July. He loves these books. On the other side, I did hear from another Amish man who is from a more Conservative sect. He was really upset after reading an earlier book, Breaking Silent, and told me he burned the book.
A little history of Akashic Books and Ibrahim Ahmad; Megan Abbott continued her interview circuit with Mystery People and CrimeReads; K.M. Weiland on digging into your character to find a theme; The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize is taking nominations now; Laura Brady on designing e-books; an interview with Rebecca Fleet, author of “The House Swap”; tattoos with Gerard Brennan, author of “Disorder”; Dana Isaacson’s Write What You Love, Love What You Write; Tonya Kappes, author of “Cakes & Punishment”, interviewed at Lesa’s Book Critiques; Will Viharo interviewed James W. Ziskin, author of the Ellie Stone Mysteries; Kaite Welsh wrote about how movie tie-in novels are getting better and the place for women in action films; Kay Kendall, author of the Austin Starr Mysteries, wrote about how reading is like chocolate; Laura Lippman, author of “Sunburn”, might like the reboot of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, but I think I’ll still pass on this blatant marketing ploy to increase the coffers of the Chandler estate called “Only To Sleep” by Lawrence Osborne; still no; Gabino Iglesias, author of “Zero Saints”, on Ten Types of Writers We Need to Throw Down a Well; CrimeReads’s 10 Debut Crime Novels to Read This July; Greg Herren, author of the Chanse MacLeod and Scotty Bradley novels, stopped by for a BOLO Books Composite Sketch; Art Taylor is taking a brief hiatus at SleuthSayers; despite this article’s intention, there are only two ways to organize a bookshelf, disorganized and alphabetical; and a short interview with Paul D. Brazill, author of “Next Year’s Man”.
Courting Trouble by Rusty Barnes (Shotgun Honey)
Steve Weddle, author of “Hardball Country”, continued his podcast 7 Minutes With.
The New York Times Book Review podcast featured best-selling thriller writers Lee Child, Megan Abbott, Meg Gardiner, Lisa Gardner and Lisa Scottoline discuss the tricks of their best-selling trade; Eryk Pruitt stopped by Terri Lynn Cooper’s Blue Plate Special to talk about his The Long Dance podcast and his crime fiction; the bastard title’s Angel Luis Colón interviewed Paul Tremblay, author of “The Cabin at the End of the World”; Pam Stack talked to Wallace Stroby, author of “Some Die Nameless”; and Partners in Crime talked to David Mark, author of the DS Aector McAvoy series.
At Tough, E.F. Sweetman reviewed Nick Kolakowski’s “Boise Longpig Hunting Club”.
Kolakowski writes in an unswerving and straightforward style reminiscent of old school crime writers Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain with this fast-paced, dark storyline and sharp dialogue. His dry humor shines in brief descriptions such as “a guy so muscular that. . . he looked like a half pound of rocks squeezed into a condom.” Despite the complex themes that mirror the difficulties prodding America today, Kolakowski is neither preachy nor heavy handed. He skillfully tackles the vast divide between those who have, and those who have-not, then dives deep into what could happen when money is plentiful, and the value of life is nonexistent. The bad guys may not look like bad guys at first “they look like a bunch of fat white men, but trust me when I tell you they can fuck up your shit better than anyone, because they can do it in broad daylight without worrying about any consequences.”
At Out of the Gutter, Tom Pitts’s “Broken Ground” is reviewed.
From its confessional opening, to its ending which promises we have many more adventures with Porter to enjoy, this offering showcases the continued growth of Jay Porter as a main character and Joe Clifford as a writer. Clifford’s ability to offer a blueprint of a broken man trying to piece himself back together in a world only too quick to recall his previous failings is a thing of insightful beauty. Clifford is at the top of his game here and shows many signs of why he is a top echelon writer in today’s literary landscape. His writing is so full of truth, hurt, and hope it is painfully beautiful to read. This book is something special to behold.
Not so much crime but anything about Appalachia interests me. In the Los Angeles Times, Leah Hampton reviewed “What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia” by Elizabeth Catte and “Whiskey & Ribbons” by Leesa Cross-Smith.
If you believe Appalachia is monolithically conservative and white, if you assume our story is one of privation, redneckery and pipe smokin’ grannies sipping moonshine, you do so because white men have told you that story. Although the majority of Appalachia’s 25 million inhabitants are indeed white, it is also a place of vibrant matriarchy, where we are “adding African American and Hispanic individuals at a rate faster than most of the nation.” The so-called Scots-Irish tradition of Appalachia is a myth, Catte meticulously explains, designed to “satisfy a particular fetish” of the bourgeoisie. “There is no basis,” she writes, “for the belief that historic or contemporary white Appalachians share a distinct culture informed by their homogenous ethnic heritage.”
This mischaracterization is the deliberate work of privileged outsiders — “universally men and exclusively white,” Catte reminds us. Successful writers like J.D. Vance and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (whose “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” was shot in Appalachia) are just two examples of artists who “get famous by selling cheap stereotypes” that Catte lambastes as “stunningly ahistorical,” “exploitative” and downright dangerous. Such writing “unburdens the white viewer from the fatigue of thinking critically about race,” and poverty as well.
Garrick Webster reviewed John K. Snyder III’s graphic novel of “Eight Million Ways to Die” by Lawrence Block
And the artwork reflects this depth. The heavy shading of street scenes, with chiaroscuro focal points. The cold, angular rendering of the brutal reality in the alleys and bars that Scudder scurries through is juxtaposed with the warm, blood-red swirls of his bad dreams and his drunken downfalls. For the 80s comics nerd, it’s a chance to go wild with nostaligia. Snyder’s style is unique but it also evokes the dense rending you’ll see in the comic artwork that was so popular during this period – Eastman and Laird, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, Neal Adams and Bill Sienkiewicz for instance. It was in 86 and 87 that John K Snyder III emerged onto the indie comic scene so this book must have been fun to work on for him. It shows in the artwork.
Review of ”Noir at the Salad Bar – Culinary Tales with a Bite” edited by Verena Rose, Harriette Sackler and Shawn Reilly Simmons.
Thirty stories are contained in this generous anthology. Many tales involve murder via food. Others use a restaurant, bar, or alternative food service as the setting. The stories varied from solidly noir to historical, traditional mystery, and even horror.
An interesting review or should I say co-review at Always Trust in Books. Along with Beth of Bilbio Beth, Stuart reviewed “Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History” by Bill Schutt; Margot Kinberg reviewed Sam Wiebe’s “Invisible Dead”; Sandra Ruttan reviewed “The Middleman” by Olen Steinhauer; and Ben Lelievre reviewed Ed McBain’s “Cop Hater”.
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)
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)
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)
Portraits of the Dead
by John Nicholl
Looking for a serial killer thriller you won’t be able to put down? Then discover Portraits Of The Dead, by #1 best-selling author John Nicholl, today.
Emma didn’t know how long he hid in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed. She didn’t know how long he peered between the two heavy oak doors, and watched, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the darkness of the night.
Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself faced with a difficult case when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.
Can Gravel find the girl and stop the murderer?
He will learn that the greater the evil, the deadlier the game… (Buy)
The Silent Sister
by Shalini Boland
‘You don’t deserve a sister…’
Lizzy Beresford is at home alone when she hears a strange noise. Running downstairs to check, she discovers a threatening letter addressed to her. But who sent it?
As Lizzy receives more unsettling messages, she begins to doubt those closest to her – her boyfriend, her neighbours, her friends. Because the mystery sender seems to know everything about her.
And they want to destroy her perfect life.
Desperate for answers, Lizzy contacts her sister, Emma. She used to be her best friend. But they haven’t spoken in years. Not since the terrible argument which tore their relationship apart…
Surrounded by secrets and lies, can Lizzy trust her sister? Or is the shocking truth more dangerous than Lizzy ever imagined?
From the bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Child Next Door, this absolutely unputdownable psychological thriller will keep you guessing with every heart-stopping twist. If you loved Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Sister, this book is for you. (Buy)
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)
In The Vines
by Shannon Kirk
(Thomas & Mercer)
Family ties so strong you can’t escape…
Mary Olivia Pentecost, known as Mop, was born into one of the wealthiest families in the country—and one of the most guarded. Now, two years after her mother’s mysterious death, Mop is seeking closure on the disquieting tragedy by returning to the New England seaside estate of her cloistered Aunty Liv—once her closest relative and confidante.
But behind the walls of the isolated estate, the shadows of the past are darker than Mop imagined. The puzzles of the family history are not to be shared, but unearthed. With each revelation comes a new, foreboding threat—and for Mop, the grave suspicion that to discover Aunty Liv’s secrets is to become a prisoner of them.
How well do we know the people we love? How well do we want to know them? The answers are as twisted as a tangle of vines in this throat-clutching novel of psychological suspense. (Buy)
by G. M. Ford
(Thomas & Mercer)
PI Leo Waterman is back at it—investigating a very domestic crime that turns into a national nightmare in this upbeat page-turner of a mystery.
Why would a teenager with no prior record suddenly assassinate a city councilman? Retired PI Leo Waterman wouldn’t have bothered finding out if an old pal hadn’t asked. And after the man, who is also the boy’s grandfather, offs himself, the request becomes too personal to ignore.
But Leo’s girlfriend, Rebecca, thinks the investigation is too dangerous. Especially after Leo is beaten within an inch of his life. Fortuitously, however, the attack leaves him with a lasting clue about the case that the attackers carved into his chest. Now, this new lead brings Leo into the woods just north of Seattle to infiltrate the dark heart of an impressionable young boy’s sudden, violent turn—a white-power retreat that’s amassing an army for a far-reaching endgame.
What they have planned isn’t only putting Leo’s life at risk. Thousands of lives are going to be at stake. And the deeper Leo gets, the more he fears that he’s totally underpowered to save them. (Buy)
Pretty Ugly Lies
by Pamela Crane
From USA Today Bestselling Author, Pamela Crane, comes an unmissable new psychological thriller.
What causes a woman to murder her whole family?
Jo’s idyllic life would make most people jealous. Until one day her daughter is abducted and the only way to find her is to unravel her dark past.
Ellie is a devoted wife… until she discovers the pain of betrayal. Now vengeance is all she can think about.
Party-girl Shayla knows how to hide her demons. But when she’s confronted with a life-shattering choice, it will cost her everything.
June knows suffering intimately, though the smile she wears keeps it hidden.
Soon the lives of these four women intersect and one of them is about to snap… (Buy)
by C J Sutton
(Crooked Cat Books)
Psychologist Dr Magnus Paul is tasked with the patients of Dortmund Asylum – nine criminally insane souls hidden from the world due to the extremity of their acts.
Magnus has six weeks to prove them sane for transfer to a maximum-security prison, or label them as incurable and recommend a death sentence under a new government act.
As Magnus delves into the darkness of the incarcerated minds, his own sanity is challenged. Secrets squeeze through the cracks of the asylum, blurring the line between reality and nightmare, urging Magnus towards a new life of crime…
The rural western town of Dortmund and its inhabitants are the backdrop to the mayhem on the hill.
It’s Silence of the Lambs meets Shutter Island in this tale of loss, fear and diminishing hope. (Buy)
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
by Gina Kirkham
‘Hilarious! It’s true, everyone needs Mavis in their life.’ Sherrie Hewson, actor, broadcaster and novelist
The laughter continues to flow in Gina Kirkham’s brilliant sequel to the wonderful Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong.
Our hapless heroine Constable Mavis Upton is preparing to step down the aisle with her fiancé Joe, but has to deal with her temperamental teen daughter, as well as investigate a serial flasher on a push bike. Throw a diva drag queen into the mix and readers can expect the usual hilarious Mavis mishaps that made the first book such a hit.
Revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving stories of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream. (Buy)
Her Mother’s Grave
by Lisa Regan
When two young boys discover human bones buried beneath a tree in a trailer park, Detective Josie Quinn races to join her team at the scene. She used to play in those woods as a child, happier outside and away from her abusive mother, Belinda Rose.
Josie’s past crashes into her present when a rare dental condition confirms the bones belong to a teenage foster-child who was murdered thirty years ago. A girl named Belinda Rose…
Josie hasn’t seen her mother in years but, with an undeniable connection between her mother and the dead girl, does she dare track her down?
Just as Josie gets closer to uncovering a secret that will shatter her world forever, another body is uncovered. It’s suddenly clear that someone very close to Josie will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried forever.
As she battles the demons from her past, can Josie stop this killer before another precious life is taken? (Buy)
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)
edited by D Alexander Ward
(Crystal Lake Publishing)
It’s dangerous out there…on the road.
The highways, byways and backroads of America are teeming day and night with regular folks. Moms and dads making long commutes. Teenagers headed to the beach. Bands on their way to the next gig. Truckers pulling long hauls. Families driving cross country to visit their kin.
But there are others, too. The desperate and the lost. The cruel and the criminal.
Theirs is a world of roadside honky-tonks, truck stops, motels, and the empty miles between destinations. The unseen spaces.
And there are even stranger things. Places that aren’t on any map. Wayfaring terrors and haunted legends about which seasoned and road-weary travelers only whisper.
But those are just stories. Aren’t they?
Find out for yourself as you get behind the wheel with some of today’s finest authors of the dark and horrific as they bring you these harrowing tales from the road.
Tales that could only be spawned by the endless miles of America’s lost highways.
So go ahead and hop in. Let’s take a ride.
Introduction by Brian Keene
doungjai gam & Ed Kurtz — “Crossroads of Opportunity”
Matt Hayward — “Where the Wild Winds Blow”
Joe R. Lansdale — “Not from Detroit”
Kristi DeMeester — “A Life That is Not Mine”
Robert Ford — “Mr. Hugsy”
Lisa Kröger — “Swamp Dog”
Orrin Grey — “No Exit”
Michael Bailey — “The Long White Line”
Kelli Owen — “Jim’s Meats”
Bracken MacLeod — “Back Seat”
Jess Landry — “The Heart Stops at the End of Laurel Lane”
Jonathan Janz — “Titan, Tyger”
Nick Kolakowski — “Your Pound of Flesh”
Richard Thomas — “Requital”
Damien Angelica Walters — “That Pilgrims’ Hands Do Touch”
Cullen Bunn — “Outrunning the End”
Christopher Buehlman — “Motel Nine”
Rachel Autumn Deering — “Dew Upon the Wing”
Josh Malerman — “Room 4 at the Haymaker”
Rio Youers — “The Widow”
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
by Daniell Girard
(Thomas & Mercer)
Examining the dead will help her solve present crimes and uncover past secrets in this page-turner thriller for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Rizzoli and Isles.
With her vindictive ex-husband out of prison, San Francisco medical examiner Annabelle Schwartzman is trying harder than ever to move on with her life—by focusing on her job to speak for the victims who can’t. Summoned to a homicide in Golden Gate Park, she realizes that she’d seen the victim just hours before, alive and well in a parked Jeep with a small boy. Now, the woman has been stabbed to death and stripped of her burka, and the child is nowhere to be found.
When an African American student is found dead, bearing knife wounds identical to those of the woman in the park, the press jumps on them as hate crimes. If only they were so easy to explain. There is a connection—but Schwartzman believes it’s something even worse. Her fears are confirmed with the discovery of the next victim.
Now, to stop a vicious killer whose work has only just begun, Schwartzman and Detective Hal Harris must untangle the twisted thread that links it all to the missing boy and a crime buried in the past. (Buy) 24 July
The Devil’s Dust
by James Lovegrove
It is 1884, and when a fellow landlady finds her lodger poisoned, Mrs Hudson turns to Sherlock Holmes.
The police suspect the landlady of murder, but Mrs Hudson insists that her friend is innocent. Upon investigating, the companions discover that the lodger, a civil servant recently returned from India, was living in almost complete seclusion, and that his last act was to scrawl a mysterious message on a scrap of paper. The riddles pile up as aged big game hunter Allan Quatermain is spotted at the scene of the crime when Holmes and Watson investigate. The famous man of mind and the legendary man of action will make an unlikely team in a case of corruption, revenge, and what can only be described as magic… (Buy) 24 July
by Chris Merritt
What if you made one mistake and it came back to kill you?
Detective Zac Boateng’s old friend, Troy McEwen, is found dead in his home. The official verdict is suicide. But Boateng believes it was murder. And he thinks he might be next on the killer’s list.
If Troy didn’t take his own life, then who did? As he investigates, Boateng discovers a link to an incident from decades earlier. Mistakes were made that day. Lives were lost and secrets kept. Until now…
As more people who were there on that fateful day are found dead, Boateng knows that the killer is closing in on him…
A tense crime thriller for fans of Lee Child, Mark Billingham and Mark Dawson. Last Witness is a gripping, fast-paced thriller that will have you hooked from the first page. (Buy) 24 July
The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker
by Kerry Wilkinson
‘I will never forget the night I drowned…’
A village with something to hide.
Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes up cold and alone in the river that twists through her quiet village. She has no memory of how she got there. But she does know that another girl was drowned in the same river the summer before, held under the water by an unknown killer…
A community torn apart.
Eleanor is a normal, everyday teenager. She argues with her mum, spends her days with her best friend, and is looking forward to a carefree summer of sunshine and music. Who would want to hurt her?
A shocking secret.
Determined to unlock the mystery of what really happened to her, Eleanor can’t escape the feeling that something awful links her to the previous summer’s murder. But will she find out the truth before it’s too late?
A gripping and extraordinary coming of age novel that will make you question everything and keep you guessing until the very end. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars, Looking for Alaska by John Green and hit Netflix show Riverdale. (Buy) 26 July
The Annotated Big Sleep
edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, Anthony Rizzuto
The first fully annotated edition of Raymond Chandler’s 1939 classic The Big Sleep features hundreds of illuminating notes and images alongside the full text of the novel and is an essential addition to any crime fiction fan’s library.
A masterpiece of noir, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep helped to define a genre. Today it remains one of the most celebrated and stylish novels of the twentieth century. This comprehensive, annotated edition offers a fascinating look behind the scenes of the novel, bringing the gritty and seductive world of Chandler’s iconic private eye Philip Marlowe to life. The Annotated Big Sleep solidifies the novel’s position as one of the great works of American fiction and will surprise and enthrall Chandler’s biggest fans.
-Personal letters and source texts
-The historical context of Chandler’s Los Angeles, including maps and images
-Film stills and art from the early pulps
-An analysis of class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity in the novel (Buy) 27 July
by K.L. Slater
You think you can trust the ones you love most.
But what if one secret could make you question everything?
Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling.
She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died.
She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t.
She doesn’t know Archie has a secret.
A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…
The most gripping psychological thriller you’ll read this year from the Kindle top five bestselling author K.L. Slater. If you love The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl, you’ll be absolutely hooked. (Buy) 27 July
by Judith Cutler
(Allison and Busby)
A head teacher’s work is never done, especially if, like Jane Cowan, you’re a victim of your own success. Having done well with Wrayford Primary, she’s now expected to bring other neighboring schools up to scratch as well. And all these responsibilities are compounded by an influx of children, most of whom do not speak English, following their families supplying cheap labor to surrounding farms. Jane can’t turn a blind eye to the conditions in which many of these families are living, even more so when some children simply disappear. When everything points to the shadowy dealings of people smugglers in the area, she has her work cut out for her seeing justice done. And that’s before a threat far closer to home rears his head. (Buy) 27 July
The Staveley Suspect
by Rebecca Tope
(Allison and Busby)
Simmy Brown has a lot on her mind. Not just keeping her florist business afloat, her father’s failing health, the challenge of developing a long-term relationship with Christopher, but also the approach of Mother’s Day, a busy and painful day for her.
But in taking an order for a retirement party in Staveley, she is pulled into her most challenging investigation. When a daughter starts accusing her own mother of murder, Simmy, Ben, and Bonnie find themselves taking different sides of the investigation.
With her relationships under strain, Simmy is tried on all fronts. However, she has to learn to leave her own concerns behind to discover just who the killer is. (Buy) 27 July
Fugitive From the Grave
by Edward Marston
(Allison and Busby)
1817. Upon receiving a letter from an old family friend, Catherine Van Emden returns from Holland to find her father dead. She refuses to believe the middle-aged man died of natural causes, and the suspicious circumstances of his life during the past few months compel her to ask Peter and Paul Skillen for help. Why would a successful engineer suddenly begin begging for alms on the streets? Had he refused to ask for help, or was he prevented from doing so? When his body is revealed missing from the casket, the twins embark on a chase of funerary agents, barmaids, and body snatchers trying to solve the mystery of George Parry’s alleged death before their Bow Street rivals. (Buy) 27 July
The Circus Train Conspiracy
by Edward Marston
(Allison and Busby)
Following a string of successful performances, the Moscardi Circus is traveling by train to Newcastle for their next show. Yet a collision on the track with a couple of sleepers causes pandemonium: passengers thrown about and animals escaping into the night.
When the body of a woman is discovered in nearby woodland, Inspector Colbeck is desperate to lend assistance, believing the two incidents might be connected. Who is the nameless woman and who is targeting the Moscardi’s Magnificent Circus? (Buy) 27 July
The Hidden Bones
by Nicola Ford
(Allison and Busby)
In search of a new start following her recent bereavement, widow Clare Hills is pleased when her university friend Dr David Barbrook asks for her help sifting through the effects of recently deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart. When Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig, hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, the discovery of the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David inspect the meticulously kept records of the excavation, but the dead rarely leave matters tidy, and soon the pair unearth unpleasant truths that would have been better left buried, putting them at the center of a murder inquiry. (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
Murder on the Marshes
by Clare Chase
Do you love twisty murder mysteries? Meet Tara Thorpe – the clue to a puzzling local murder has landed right on her doorstep. Perfect for fans of Faith Martin, LJ Ross and Joy Ellis.
As the sun rises, a wealthy young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.
It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.
Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.
An absolutely gripping page-turner that will keep you hooked until the very last page. The first in a series of unputdownable Cambridge mysteries featuring Thorpe and Blake. (Buy) 31 July
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
and Anna Waterhouse
Fresh out of Cambridge University, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name for himself in government, working for the Secretary of State for War. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to the faraway island of Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent, and where his fiancée Georgiana Sutton was raised.
Mycroft’s comfortable existence is overturned when Douglas receives troubling reports from home. There are rumors of mysterious disappearances, strange footprints in the sand, and spirits enticing children to their deaths, their bodies found drained of blood. Upon hearing the news, Georgiana abruptly departs for Trinidad. Near panic, Mycroft convinces Douglas that they should follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take…
Written by NBA superstar Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, Mycroft Holmes reveals the untold story of Sherlock’s older brother. This harrowing adventure changed his life, and set the stage for the man Mycroft would become: founder of the famous Diogenes Club and the hidden power behind the British government. (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
glass slipper dreams, shattered
by doungjai gam
from glass slipper dreams, shattered: Like a stupid girl with glass slipper dreams, I did everything you wanted with the hopes that one day, you would love me back.
glass slipper dreams, shattered the debut collection from doungai gam is filled with loss, sorrow, revenge and remorse.
gam delivers devastating punches in this collection of short-shorts, taking our breath away with a turn of a phrase, a dark play on words; every syllable paints unexpected shadows in our imagination.
—Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend and HWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner
Reminiscent of Mercedes Yardley’s work, Doungai Gam’s stories and prose poems are small gems filled with heartbreak, sorrow, and longing, but they also hold light in the darkness and hope in the despair. Lovely!
—Damien Angelica Walters, author of Cry Your Way Home
Tales brimming with fear, dread and horror—a strong, unique new voice!
—Thomas Tessier, author of Phantom (Buy) 1 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
by Jimmy Sangster
The Stewardess with a License to Kill is Back! Katy Touchfeather is a fun-loving, British spy with a cheeky attitude and lethal skills who travels the world as a stewardess. Her latest assignment is to bring down what appears to be a gold smuggling operation…but is something far worse. It’s a globetrotting, espionage adventure that takes her from London to a lavish yacht on the high-seas, from the jungles of Africa to the beaches of the Bahamas, and that pits her against one of richest men on earth and a deadly torturess who loves to extract information in agonizingly creative ways…and can’t wait to try them all on Katy. Praise for the Touchfeather Thrillers “Bubbly, irrepressible… drawn by her breezy, chatty first-person narrative, readers will cheer Katy on as she skates around with flamboyant grace.” Publishers Weekly “Freshness and humor are rare qualities in a thriller nowadays. They’re here in plenty. Exhilarating verve and expertise. It’s a winner!” Irish Times “A clever, high-spirited story that ends with murder of exceptional ingenuity and panache.” Times Literary Supplement (London) “Nancy Drew superhormone-genized.” Kirkus Reviews (Buy) 1 August
by Max Allan Collins
Legendary lawman Wyatt Earp straps on his six-shooter to battle a new breed of bad man in a new land — rising gangster Al Capone and his machine-gun toting killers on the streets of New York City.
It’s the 1920s, the glittering jazz age, and the beginning of the blood-soaked prohibition-era. The wild west and the gunfight at the OK Corral are fading memories, even for aging lawman Wyatt Earp, who is toiling in Los Angeles as a private eye and a technical consultant on cowboy movies. When Doc Holliday’s son, who is running a glitzy nightclub in Manhattan, is targeted by the mob, Wyatt gladly leaves the tamed west for the wild east to defend him, pitting himself against a brutal, young gangster named Al Capone…
“Wyatt Earp versus Al Capone – a wild, exciting ride.” David Morrell, author of FIRST BLOOD
“Highly entertaining….Collins has outdone himself in this tale of bad guys, bullets, and booze set at the start of the Prohibition era.” Library Journal
“Wyatt Earp vs. Al Capone – it might seem an improbable situation, but it could have happened, and Collins makes it work in this wild blend of classic Western and gangster characters, all set in Prohibition-era New York City” Philadelphia Inquirer
This book was previously published under Max’s pseudonym “Patrick Culhane.” (Buy) 1 August
by Marcelle Perks
Heavily pregnant Frannie is facing a crisis. An English woman living in Germany, her marriage is failing, her language skills are hopeless, and she feels like a fish out of water in a foreign country.
In a positive effort to tackle her problems she learns to drive so she can cope when her baby is born and build a sense of independence. After passing her driving test she drives in the early hours of the morning to gain experience on the eerily empty streets.
But when she encounters a Polish motorcyclist looking for his missing sister, she becomes sucked into a terrifying world of shady nightclubs, autobahn prostitutes and organ trafficking. And when she crosses serial-killing truck driver Stigelegger, there’s no turning back.
A most unlikely heroine, this nervous Night Driver must stay one step ahead of her pursuer on the darkest of roads in order to survive. (Buy) 2 August
The Getaway List
by Frank Zafiro
and Eric Beetner
(Down & Out Books)
Bricks and Cam are back, this time fleeing from the East Coast after closing accounts with the mob. Planning a new life on the West Coast, the pair of hit men stop off in Ashton, a small, rural town in eastern Washington, only to immediately find themselves embroiled in trouble in typical fashion.
What starts in a bar as a simple intervention between an abusive boyfriend and his victim girlfriend quickly escalates into a blood feud between Bricks and Cam and the family of local backwoods royalty, the Crawfords. Once Bricks and Cam draw first blood, all of the force of the extended Crawford family and their militia-minded cohorts are brought to bear on them. The Crawfords have numbers and hometown advantage, but they’ve never gone up against anyone like Bricks and Cam before. Bricks’ lethal cunning and Cam’s penchant for successful messes wreaks havoc with the Crawford’s attempts to bring them to small town justice.
Despite their talents, though, the two big city assassins soon find themselves struggling not just to win this war, but to make it out of town alive. (Buy) 6 August
Down with the Underdogs
by Ian Truman
(Down & Out Books)
Gentrification is moving in hard and fast in Montreal’s South-Western districts. D’Arcy Kennedy finds himself out of breath, out of a job and raising a kid in a small home meant for another era.
As the bulldozers take away entire chapters of his life, he turns to old acquaintances for work, leaning in on his hard-earned reputation as a good PI to find employment with the Irish mafia.
But even organized crime is struggling to keep up with the changing landscape of the City. Weed is going legal, trust funds are pushing realtors and people who would have not dared cross the Irish not so long ago now defy them carelessly.
Navigating his past and staking his future on this new life, D’Arcy Kennedy will have to thread a razor thin line between the law, loyalty and his own family if he wants a place for him and his own at the end of it all.
Praise for DOWN WITH THE UNDERDOGS:
“A working class family man strikes a deal with the devil in Ian Truman’s fast-paced, volatile Down with the Underdogs. The result is class warfare on the streets of Montreal. Truman offers an unflinching portrait of a city caught in the throes of gentrification, and one person’s struggle to fight back. An excellent read.” —Sam Wiebe, author of the Wakeland novels.
“Truman captures life on the edges—of culture, of language, of the legal and illegal, of the sane and the mad. And he tells a great story in the process.” —Warren Moore, author of Broken Glass Waltzes (Buy) 6 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
No Turning Back
by Tracy Buchanan
(Crooked Lane Books)
This heart-pounding US debut from international bestseller Tracy Buchanan will captivate fans of Diane Chamberlain and Lisa Scottoline.
Young mother Anna Graves’ instinctual reaction to save her infant daughter from an attacker entangles her in a twisted murder case.
Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago―and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut. (Buy) 7 August
A Masterpiece of Corruption
by L.C. Tyler
(Felony and Mayhem)
Len Tyler has been shortlisted for two Edgar awards, won two of England’s “Last Laugh” awards, and racked up more great reviews than he’s had hot dinners: Why would he turn away from the stunningly funny “Elsie and Ethelred” series? Because the intrigues of Cromwell’s England were too juicy to pass up. Tangled in too many of them is John Grey, a newly minted lawyer and would-be ladies’ man with a bad habit of poking his nose into other people’s business. That’s unfortunate, because a mis-delivered letter has left Grey with more information about a murderous plot than it’s entirely safe to know. Can Grey prevent the murder? And of infinitely more importance, can he keep his mouth shut long enough to save his own skin? (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
by Kellye Garrett
And the award goes to . . .
. . . Dayna Anderson, the semi-famous actress turned PI who steps up her sleuthing swagger in this follow-up to breakout hit Hollywood Homicide, winner of the Lefty Award and the Agatha Award for Best First Novel!
Tinseltown’s awards season is in full swing, and everyone is obsessed with dressing up, scoring free swag, and getting invited to the biggest awards shows of the year. But when celebrity publicist Lyla Davis is killed, the festive mood comes to an abrupt halt.
Apprentice private eye Dayna Anderson thinks she’s uncovered the killer. Unfortunately, what starts as an open-and-shut case turns out to be anything but. Diving deeper into the investigation, Dayna gets a backstage look at gossip blogging, Hollywood royalty, and one of entertainment’s most respected awards shows—all while trying to avoid her own Hollywood ending. (Buy) 8 August
by Ray Clark
The perfect read for fans of Peter May, Mark Billingham and Peter James.
Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.
Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence.
Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy? The detectives race against time to stop the trail of horrific murders… (Buy) 9 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. (Buy) 27 August
In Loco Parentis
by Nigel Bird
(All Due Respect Books)
Joe Campion is the kind of teacher any child would want for their class. He’s also the kind of teacher who never turns down a drink, a smoke or a lay.
When Joe finds out some of his students are suffering abuse, he doesn’t trust the system to take care of it. His impulsive nature, dedication to his pupils and love of women lead him on a long, strange and bloody trip.
Praise for IN LOCO PARENTIS:
“In Loco Parentis is terrific, start to finish.” —Charlie Stella, author of Tommy Red
“Beautiful, painful and excruciatingly brilliant writing.” —McDroll, crime fiction author
“A unique voice that sets the writing head and shoulders above and apart.” —Anonymous-9, author of Hard Bite and Bite Harder
“The writing is beautiful and spare and by the end I felt a cathartic relief. This story is a roller coaster ride of emotion, but a ride well worth taking.” —Mike Miner, author of Hurt Hawks (Buy) 27 August
by Patricia Hale
Ashley Lambert jumped eighteen stories to her death. It’s a clear-cut suicide. And Ashley’s parents want to know why their flawless daughter would take her life. They’ve hired the PI team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan to find the answers. When the investigation leads to performance enhancing drugs and blackmail, Ashley’s coaches, peers and even her parents come into question. The disturbing truth is testimony to the lines that are crossed, and risks taken…in the name of love. Meanwhile, when Britt sees the bruising on her neighbor’s arm she can’t let it go, and is working overtime to bring to light the violent behavior next door. The neighbor, Rhea McKenzie, has a secret. Bruises aren’t the only thing she’s hiding. When an off-hand comment discloses a connection to Ashley Lambert the two cases become entwined, setting off an unstoppable chain of events. Britt is sucked into an alliance with Rhea and forced to make decisions that challenge her ethics, threaten her relationship and in the end, may cost her everything. (Buy) 1 September
by J.L. Abramo
(Down & Out Books)
The families of Salvatore Leone and Luigi Agnello had already been long-time bitter enemies in Sicily by the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1914, Vincenzo Leone, Salvatore’s oldest son, emigrates to Philadelphia to start a new life for himself and his family in the promised land. Several years later, Giuseppe Agnello, Luigi’s eldest, secretly marries Francesca Leone, Vincenzo’s sister, and the couple escape to New York City. Giuseppe leaves to serve his new country during the First World War. Francesca, alone and in need of support for herself and their infant son, Louis, travels to Philadelphia to live with her brother, his wife, and his two daughters.
The Spanish Flu takes the lives of Vincenzo’s wife and sister in 1917, and Leone moves with his daughters and Francesca’s son to San Francisco. Vincenzo Leone decides to raise Louis Agnello as his own child.
When Giuseppe returns from the war, he finds his wife and son gone. It takes more than five years for Agnello to learn the whereabouts of his family. Giuseppe travels to San Francisco with hopes of a reunion with Francesca and Louis, and becomes a victim of the hatred between the two families that has been recently transplanted in America by Vincenzo’s younger brother, Roberto. Vincenzo learns that Giuseppe had traveled to San Francisco to locate his wife and son, but Agnello had never reached Vincenzo’s door. Vincenzo begins to worry about the safety of sister’s son, and decides Louis will accompany him to New York City and to Sicily.
A failed attempt on the boy’s life results in Vincenzo’s death, and instigates a fresh and fierce hostility between the Agnello and Leone families that rivals the hatred and vindictiveness experienced in the old country.
American History is the epic, generational saga of the Agnellos and the Leones (in the Italian language the lambs and the lions)—a one-hundred-year conflict between Giuseppe’s descendants in New York City, law enforcers, and Vincenzo’s descendants in San Francisco, lawbreakers. (Buy) 3 September
by Barbar Ismail
(Felony and Mayhem)
Jamillah has not been herself of late. A market-trader, and one of the well respected village “aunties,” she is clearly in need of main puteri, a traditional Malaysian form of exorcism. The ceremony is a stunning success: A clearly enraptured Jamillah throws off her depression, dancing wildly. And the next morning she is dead.
Osman, the new chief of police, is happy to go along with the widespread belief that Jamillah was killed by sorcery, a victim of the spirits, but Mak Chik Maryam is not convinced. A venerable “auntie” herself, she knows how many secrets there are in even a little village. And while she’s got plenty of respect for the spirits, she’s inclined to lay the blame just a little closer to home. Besides, she got a taste for sleuthing in Shadow Play. Murder, she’ll tell you, is simply too important to leave to the men.
First published in Singapore as Princess Play, Spirit Play was a finalist for the prestigious Star People’s Choice award. (Buy) 4 September
The Cold Summer
by Gianrico Carofiglio
(Bitter Lemon Press)
The summer of 1992 had been exceptionally cold in southern Italy. But that’s not the reason why it is still remembered. On May 23, 1992, a roadside explosion killed the Palermo judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three police officers. A few weeks later judge Paolo Borsellino and five police officers were killed in the center of Palermo. These anti-mafia judges became heroes but the violence spread to the region of Bari in Puglia, where we meet a new, memorable character, Maresciallo Pietro Fenoglio, an officer of the Italian Carabinieri. Fenoglio, recently abandoned by his wife, must simultaneously deal with his personal crisis and the new gang wars raging around Bari. The police are stymied until a gang member, accused of killing a child, decides to collaborate, revealing the inner workings and the rules governing organised crime in the area. The story is narrated through the actual testimony of the informant, a trope reminiscent of verbatim theatre which Carofiglio, an ex-anti-mafia judge himself, uses to great effect. The gangs are stopped but the mystery of the boy’s murder must still be solved, leading Fenoglio into a world of deep moral ambiguity, where the prosecutors are hard to distinguish from the prosecuted. (Buy) 4 September
Death at Whitewater Church
by Andrea Carter
Perfect for fans of Louise Penny, P. D. James, and Donna Leon
When a skeleton is discovered in the hidden crypt of a deconsecrated church, everyone is convinced the bones must be those of Conor Devitt, a local man who went missing on his wedding day six years previously. But the postmortem reveals otherwise.
Solicitor Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe is acting for the owners of the church, and although an unwelcome face from her past makes her reluctant to get involved, when Conor’s brother dies in strange circumstances shortly after coming to see her, she finds herself drawn in to the mystery. Whose is the skeleton in the crypt and how did it get there? Is Conor Devitt still alive, and if so, is there a link? What happened on the morning of his wedding to make him disappear?
Negotiating between the official investigation—headed up by the handsome but surly Sergeant Tom Molloy—and obstructive locals with secrets of their own, Ben unravels layers of personal and political history to get to the truth of what happened six years before. (Buy) 4 September
The Real Lolita
by Sara Weinman
“The Real Lolita is a tour de force of literary detective work. Not only does it shed new light on the terrifying true saga that influenced Nabokov’s masterpiece, it restores the forgotten victim to our consciousness.” —David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time. And yet, very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.
Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner’s full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, public records, and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman uncovers how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita.
Sally Horner’s story echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel’s creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic. (Buy) 11 September
Black Diamond Fall
by Joseph Olshan
From the acclaimed author of CLARA’S HEART and CLOUDLAND comes a rich, literary mystery based and united by two real events that occurred at Middlebury College; the disappearance of a student during winter break; and the vandalism of the Robert Frost Homestead located on one of the outer campuses.
Luc Flanders has just finished playing a game of pond hockey with his college roommates when he realizes he has lost something precious and goes back to the ice to find it. He never returns, and the police department in Middlebury, Vermont are divided in their assessment of what may have happened to him. Some feel that Flanders left on his own accord and is deliberately out of touch. Others, including detectives Nick Jenkins and Helen Kennedy, suspect that harm may have come to him. As the search for Luc Flanders widens and intensifies, suspicions about several different people, including his Middlebury College roommates and ex-girlfriend arise. Unfortunately, Sam Solomon an older man with whom Luc has been having a secret relationship, cannot prove his whereabouts during the hours when the younger man may have disappeared and Solomon, too, comes under suspicion.
As Luke Flanders disappears, the Robert Frost house near the Middlebury campus is vandalized. And there seems to be a link between the two events that the police are determined to discover. Alternating points of view between Luc Flanders Sam Solomon, Luc’s mother and detective Nick Jenkins, BLACK DIAMOND FALL races to a disturbing and astonishing conclusion in a lush, literary mystery that could only come from the mind of acclaimed author Joseph Olshan. (Buy) 18 September
The Good Messenger
by John Simmons
1912: Tom Shepherd reluctantly stays for two weeks at Hardinge Hall. Mr and Mrs Hardinge are trying to arrange a marriage for their son Teddy to Iris, daughter of a local businessman. Tommy becomes the innocent messenger who delivers the secret arrangements.
Armistice Day 1918: The First World War has changed everything, especially the closeted world that Iris, Teddy and Tom existed in.
1927. Tom is now a journalist investigating the discovery of a baby’s bones in the woods around Hardinge Hall. Past and present move towards a resolution that might still bring everything crashing down.
John Simmons, author of the bestselling Spanish Crossings, delivers another powerful saga of love, deception and emotion. Perfect for fans of Pat Barker, William Trevor, and Sebastian Faulks. (Buy) 20 September
by Chris Parker
The final page-turning act in the Marcus Kline trilogy!
After the terrifying events of Belief, Ethan Hall has been charged with multiple homicides. His trial is about to begin – will it bring closure for Marcus Kline and those he loves?
Ethan has been in solitary confinement in the medical wing of a prison for several months. However officers still have to interact with him and he has hypnotised two of them, forcing them to kill ex-offenders. He has also chosen to defend himself in court.
Despite his powers of influence, surely justice will prevail? Can Marcus Kline ultimately triumph over his deadly nemesis? (Buy) 20 September
Welcome Back Jack
by Liam Sweeny
(Down & Out Books)
When Jack was six years old, his parents were brutally slain by a serial killer. The police later found drifter Clyde Colsen driving a stolen car, his clothes soaked in blood. He was tried, convicted and executed. Jack grew up knowing the police got their man. Now a decorated homicide detective in New Rhodes, Jack arrives at the third crime scene of the “South End Killer” murders and finds his name. He will soon find out something else: thirty years ago, they got the wrong guy. And now the right guy’s come back to pay Jack and New Rhodes his bloody respects. As Jack struggles to stay on the case, his cat-and-mouse game with the killer makes him wonder if he’s the cat or the mouse. His family and everyone in his life is fair game. As the killer escalates and threatens the entire city, Jack has a question he must answer in his desperation: can he stop the monster without becoming one? (Buy) 29 September
I Detest All My Sins
by Lanny Larcinese
Bill Conlon’s lust for a high school girl has caught him a stretch at Graterford Prison and led to his kid brother’s suicide. And when Bill witnesses his young friend, Mikey, get shanked in the yard of the prison, his guilt comes into high relief. Catching Mikey’s killer would make everything right. Or would it? After his release, Bill begins to stalk Deadly Eddie, a former fellow inmate who Bill suspects is the killer. But like a late afternoon shadow, trouble is glued to Bill’s shoes. As bodies pile up, Detective Sam Lanza is brought on to investigate and he points to Bill as a strong suspect in the murders. Meanwhile, Bill’s girlfriend, Louise, goes missing and he is against the clock to find her before anything happens to her. Can Bill find Louise before she is damaged beyond repair, and finger the real killers before Lanza takes him down for crimes he didn’t commit? (Buy) 1 October
Pulp, According to David Goodis
by Jay Gertzman
(Down & Out Books)
Pulp, According to David Goodis starts with six characteristics of 1950s pulp noir that please editors because they obviously fascinate mass-market readers. Extremely valuable is an urban setting, which Goodis provided chiefly in his home town, Philadelphia. There, as factories moved to the suburbs, employers, police, and politicians abandoned postwar working-class and underclass neighborhoods. Declared “blighted,” they endured the racketeering of the local mob boss. Only Goodis saw, in this Street of the Lost and in Down There and Night Squad, a still-vibrant community solidarity. He dramatizes all this in the language of the streets, the way a great film director would, and in fact Delmar Davies, Paul Wendkos, and Jacques Tourneur did produce films of his novels.
As a Hollywood script writer, his most prestigious assignment was for an unproduced film on working class vets. It eventually became a prose poem in pulp paperback format, The Blonde on the Street Corner, set in the Depression-era Philadelphia of row houses and corner hang-outs. We become intimate with the manic-depressive protagonist, his drifting friends, his street corner, and the enigmatic wintry moonlight of a park in north Philadelphia.
The writer departs radically from pulp crime conventions with themes of brother-sister incest (Of Tender Sin, The Moon in the Gutter). This gives him a chance to reveal the desperation of people who do not dare to examine their psychosexual desires and the nuclear family dynamics that nurtured them. Instead, they attach themselves to sexually aggressive women who add to their humiliation and guilt. They damn themselves to substituting pain for mutuality, as if the only feeling that arouses them is guilt.
In many novels, Goodis’ sympathy extends beyond the common man to the murderous crime boss, whose brutal success has deprived him of connection with a lover or a community. The successful gangster is “alone and guilty and defenseless amongst enemies; one is punished for success” (Robert Warshow). Night Squad and Black Friday are exemplary. It is yet another example of how a crime writer can teach his mass readership how to think beyond the expectations for the pulp thriller. It also helps explain why “Goodis did not choose the pulp crime genre, it chose him.”
Pulp According delineates the noir profundity of Goodis’ work in the context of Franz Kafka’s narratives. Goodis’ precise sense of place, and painful insights about the indomitability of fate, parallel them. The Burglar, Down There, and Street of No Return are especially close. Both writers mix realism, the disorienting, and the dreamlike; both focus on horrific vistas of entrapment; both describe the protagonist’s apparent degeneration to a sub-human condition.
Goodis wrote his final novel, Somebody’s Done For, after the death of his parents, alone and bereft in the family home. This underappreciated story recapitulates his major noir preoccupations: the noble, doomed loser and the inaccessible nature of intimacy and mutuality.
The writer never told anyone he was more than an “entertainer.” But so were Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Hemingway, all of whom are echoed by David Goodis. If there is one writer of mass market pulp literature who exemplifies the intensity of post-World War II experience among readers of noir crime pulp, it is this “poet of the losers.” The emphasis is on “poet.” (Buy) 29 October
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