Incident Report No. 52

Small Press Crime Fiction Week in Review

This week has been Chris Offutt week at Unlawful Acts. Not only did I review his latest novel, “Country Dark“, but I also reviewed his two collections of short stories, “Kentucky Straight” and “Out of the Woods“. I had an interview with him at Do Some Damage.

Unlawful Acts’ Incident Report covers the world of small press crime fiction for the week of July 22nd through July 28th with links to news, reviews, short fiction, podcasts, new books, and upcoming releases.


News

There’s much to read this week, so you need to get on it fast. The first is a lengthy excerpt from Steve Hodel’s “Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder” in Return from Oblivion. Seriously, this is good.

Working uniform in Hollywood Division during the 1967 “The Summer of Love” was a total hoot. While a hundred thousand hippies may have headed for The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, plenty strayed and played in Hollywood.

Flower power and beautiful young women danced on the sidewalks along Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. On weekends as patrol cops, we were assigned to cover the “Love-Ins” at Griffith Park where hundreds would gather to tune in and turn on. As a young man, just a few years older than my counter-culture friends, it was all a definite “contact high.”

I loved working Hollywood. None of the other seventeen divisions could hold a candle to it.

Hollywood in the Sixties and Seventies was magnetic and electric. A perfect microcosm.

Within the division’s seventeen square miles we had it all. Every race and religion. Straight, bi, and gay. Ex-hobos morphed into what we were then calling,“ street bums” and who in a generation would gain a little more respect upon being reintroduced collectively as, “The Homeless.”


The Los Angeles Times on the long literary con of Anna March, Delaney Anderson, Nancy Kruse or is it Nancy Lott?

She threw a welcome party for herself at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, a beautiful old building with black and white marble, Alice-in-Wonderland floors. The guests, more than 400 of L.A.’s literati: authors, editors, publishers, book reviewers, literary agents, the local independent presses.

Anna March whisked in and out, a flash of pink hair in a polka-dot dress. The 2015 party at the Ace’s mezzanine bar, serving free drinks, was packed to overflowing.

March had never published a book but had been quietly working literary Los Angeles’ social media connections for months. A spunky, unapologetic, sex-positive feminist ready to raise hell, she was supportive and flattering. She was also conspicuously generous — concerned about the line of people waiting to get into the party, March asked a pair of new acquaintances if she should give $20 bills to those stuck on the sidewalk. The bill for the night would total more than $22,000.

Why is she doing this? people asked, stealing glances at March.

Some had a larger question:

Who was Anna March?


Renee Miller, author of “Eat the Rich”, stopped by Ink Heist earlier this month. I had somehow missed this post when it was published. Miller wrote about what it means to be a women writer and a marginalized voice, though  her post is not what you’d expect.

I guess my point is not every story gets a final girl or a badass, and we shouldn’t feel obligated to force one into our stories just because we have a vagina. So, ladies, when you’re reading a horror story written by a woman, stop demanding she conform to yet another gender-based expectation. We don’t have to avoid reality to keep our vagina cards. We don’t have to oppress the men so that our female characters can rise to the top. Strong female characters have sex. They fall in love. They are victimized. They sometimes die. Some are weak. Some are strong. Some don’t make it to the end, but that doesn’t mean they can’t leave a mark on the reader.


photo-1501719326211-cc2c472ebc9cArriel Vinson wrote about the importance of writing with blackness and in particular African-American Vernacular Experience (AAVE).

I received great feedback in the classroom, but the written feedback I sifted through afterward sent a different message. One of my classmates went so far as to say they initially thought Eli wouldn’t be an insightful, intelligent character because of the way he spoke. They said it wasn’t until I showed how he excelled in math class that they were convinced of my character’s intelligence. Another classmate, when asked for the story’s best sentences, said that there weren’t any; my character, they said dismissively, didn’t exactly set out to put a “remarkable twist on the English language.” Of course, these weren’t criticisms either of them said aloud during my workshop. They buried them in their written comments — left them for me to read when no one was around, when I couldn’t look them in the eyes and directly respond to their feedback.

I was hurt, and then, as I thought more about it, I was outraged. I realized that even though my classmates probably didn’t realize it, they were being racist. They believed if a person spoke in any other way than what they were taught was correct, that person must be uneducated. My classmates didn’t believe AAVE was a “remarkable twist to the English language.” They thought, instead, that it wasn’t a twist at all, but a nuisance.


Tom Leins interviewed David Owain Hughes, author of “South By Southwest Wales”. They talked about the intersection of horror and crime genres.

A bit of both, I think. I’ve never once though the two genres stood worlds apart and sometimes live in each other’s backyards. Just like horror, crime deals with real-life monsters, the human condition and whole host of other subjects – some taboo – a lot of writers wouldn’t touch if their lives depended on it.


Another Tom Leins interview. This time with Chris Orlet, author of “A Taste of Shotgun”.

I hope it makes them think, as well as entertains. If the book has a theme it is about survival and how close to the edge so many of us are living, and what we have to do these days to stay afloat. How one little thing, an illness or an accident or an arrest for speeding, can lead to disastrous consequences. How the game is rigged for the few, against the many and no one seems to notice or care. In other words, it’s a goddamn laugh riot.


Nick Kolakowski visited Crimespree to talk about guns, his new book “Boise Longpig Hunting Club”, and participating in the anthology “Unloaded 2”.

Whatever our personal feelings about guns, do crime-fiction writers rely on them too much as a crutch? As Raymond Chandler himself once wrote: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” A pistol or rifle is an easy way to eliminate a villain, move beyond a plot impasse, and inject massive amounts of drama very quickly. But that ease can come at a considerable cost; we don’t press ourselves to get inventive. 


Colman Keane interviewed Jack D. McLean, author of “Confessions of an English Psychopath”.

I’d add that I’ve read a lot of pulp fiction, or fiction influenced by pulp, and I always stick to the conventions of pulp in my writing. By that I mean: I try to hook my reader in from the opening sentence and keep him (or her) turning the pages right to the end. To achieve that I employ (like the pulp-writers of old) a fast pace, lots of conflict, and an intriguing plot. I’m sparing on my descriptions of settings – I just sketch them in. For me, it’s all about the people and the scrapes they get into, and I think most readers would agree.


409px-Francesco_Redi_Esperienze_intorno_alla_Generazione_degli_Insetti_Mosca_della_CiliegiaI love The Doctor’s Bag posts by Dr. Keith Souter at Western Fictioneers. This article is entitled Maggot-Ridden Wounds.

During the Civil War maggot-ridden wounds were thought to be a bad sign of infection and soldiers were understandably distressed to see maggots in their wounds. Wars have always been times when medicine and surgery have been given opportunities to make advancements. This happened in a prison stockade in Chattanooga, where Confederate surgeons were not given supplies of bandages and dressings, or adequate amounts of chloroform (which was used to bathe wounds to clean them). Their patients who had often developed gangrene were forced to leave the wounds unbound and fly-infested, whereas Union surgeons de-maggoted their patients’ wounds. Much to their astonishment the maggot-ridden Confederate wounds cleared up far quicker and more effectively than the so-called cleaned and dressed wounds. Indeed, death rates were significantly lower in the Confederate patents.


Some other news articles to catch up on are a short interview with Stuart Gibbon, co-author of “The Crime Writer’s Casebook”; some white people are still pissed about the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award; Aubrey Hamilton recent post is part recap of the Cozy conference in Richmond, VA, and part review of “Murder on Memory Lake” by J.D. Griffo; Dorothy St. James, author of the Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries, wrote about finding her Southern voice; Kathleen Delaney, author of the Ellen McKenzie series, on finding her voice;  as part of Art Taylor’s The First Two Pages series; Robert Mangeot wrote about his new short story, “Book of Hours”, that appeared in the new issue of July/August 2018 Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine;  Toe Six Press talked with Angel Luis Colón, author of “Pull and Pray”, about tattoos; Will Viharo interviewed cover designer George Cotronis; Rob Hart, author of “Potter’s Field”, interviewed; Shari Randall, author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series; interviewed; Dana King, author of the Penn River series, on the misogyny of Raymond Chandler; Juliana Aragon Fatula, author of “Crazy Chicana in Catholic City”, shares some of her notes on writing;  Catherine Cavendish, author of “Miss Abigal’s Room”, wrote about the Countess of Blood; Wallace Stroby interviewed; BOLO Books’s Composite Sketch featured Carrie Smith, author of “Unholy City”; and Steph Post interviewed Angel Luis Colón, author of “Pull & Pray”.


Fragments of Noir’s Big Lonely City series continues. This is a photograph by Vivian Maier.


Short Stories

No One is Innocent by Paul D. Brazill (Retreat from Oblivion)

House Rules by Salvatore Difalco (Spelk)

The Man Who Loved Weegee by Tim Gerstmar (Flash Fiction Offensive)

Dirty English by Tom Leins (Near to the Knuckle)

The Final Sleep by David Nemeth (Shotgun Honey)


On Writing

Jane Friedman on the correct use of subplots.

The main storyline is your central strand carrying the reader forward toward the final conclusion of the book. Other story strands (or subplots) intertwine with the main one, building it up from a single strand into a fascinating, deeply textured plot that will hold your readers’ interest. If you’ve ever plaited hair, you’ll know that different strands become the top one as you work, and writing an interwoven plot is just like that. Although you have the main storyline running through the whole novel, other story strands will be more important at various stages of the book, and some of the twists and turns in the plot come when you move from one strand to another or when two strands collide. The story strands work together to carry the reader toward the end of the book and some, but not necessarily all, will be resolved at or around the same time as the resolution of the main storyline. Others will be resolved during the progress of the story, but this needs to be done with care or, going back to our hair analogy, you’ll end up with an untidy plait with lots of straggly bits sticking out the sides


Some other posts and articles on writing are the importance of a long-term plan for all types of writing; James Scott Bell on writing, marketing, and word of mouth: “it helps if you can write”; from an idea to a story; an adapted lecture by Jeff VanderMeer on structure; an excerpt of “The Joy of Syntax: A Simple Guide to All the Grammar You Know You Should Know” by June Casagrande; H.C. Gildfind, author of  “Quarry”, has some tips about creative writing classes; prolific author O’Neil De Noux on Harlan Ellison writing in publicThe Digital Reader had this great link which I am quoting in its entirety, “How to detect the stench of a vanity publisher“;  andJoe Hartlaub did a first-page critique of the anonymously submitted first page of “The Divinity Complex”.


Podcasts

Featured podcast of the week is Crime Friction hosted by Chantelle Aimée Osman and Jay Stringer. In this episode, they interviewed Dharma Kelleher, author of the Shea Stevens biker and Jinx Ballou bounty hunter thrillers.

Some other podcasts to check out this week: Phillip Thompson, author of “Outside the Law”, interviewed on The Crime Cafe; Angel Luis Colón interviewed Kellye Garrett, author of “Hollywood Ending”, and Chantelle Aimée Osman, publisher of New Wave Crime; Nikki French and Stephen Jones interviewed on Writer Types; and Stephen King interviewed on Fresh Air.


Book Reviews

Ink Heist’s Richard Duncan reviewed Alan Baxter’s “Manifest Recall” (Grey Matter Press).

Baxter’s writing is sharp and direct and there is not a single lull in the novella’s 160 pages. If you are a fan of dark fiction, this is essential reading and this is definitely in contention for my favorite novella of the year. Manifest Recall was the first book I have read of Baxter’s, but it left such an impression, I will be checking out everything he releases and I have a feeling you will too.


Ben Lelievre is struggling with Ross Macdonald as shown by his review of Macdonald’s “The Drowning Pool”.

“The Drowning Pool” was my second Ross MacDonald novel. I’ve read “The Chill”, a couple years ago, and wasn’t all that impressed then, either. Maybe it’s just not my jam. There’s an undeniable power to his prose and a purpose to his obsession with family secrets, but I find the overall picture to be ill-fitting a detective novel. What MacDonald did really fell between two chairs: it was a little too melodramatic to be a family drama, so it borrowed the working-class hat of the detective novel in order to alleviate some of its self-seriousness and it was too insular and bizarrely intimate to be a powerful mystery. And maybe that’s why Ross MacDonald is remember for his prose more than for a particular novel.


The Cyclist by Anthony Neil SmithColman Keane reviewed Anthony Neil Smith’s “The Cyclist”.

Minnesota, Scotland, cycling, romance(s) – of the mental health issues, twisted variety, an unlikely friendship or brotherhood borne through shared military service, even if things didn’t quite go to plan, loyalty, disappointment, unfulfilled expectations, and several life or death struggles for our four main combatants – the other two who you’ll meet when you read the book for yourself.


sunk_costs_preston_langTom Leins reviewed “Sunk Cost” by Preston Lang.

The tone is offbeat, without ever lapsing into madcap, and while their exploits sometimes lack a genuine sense of threat from the other interested parties, Lang has enough surprises up his sleeve to keep you on your toes. If you are looking for a smart, unusual, contemporary con-man caper, then you won’t go far wrong with Sunk Costs.


Some other book reviews to read are Kevin Tipple reviewed Issue 2 of “Down & Out Magazine”; “When the Flood Falls” by J.E. Barnard reviewed at Lesa’s Book Critiques; Colman Keane reviewed “Confessions of an English Psychopath” by Jack D. McLean; Beverly Has Read reviewed “Do No Harm” by L.V. Hay; Gloria Feit reviewed “Willnot” by James Sallis; not so much a review but more of a career recap for Megan Abbott in Time magazine; Kate Laity on Patricia Highsmith’s “Ripley Under Water”; Paul D. Brazill, author of “Last Year’s Man” and “Small Time Crimes”, reviewed Mark Ramsden’s “The Art of Serial Killing”; Robert Silverberg’s “Blood on the Mink” reviewed; Black Guys Do Read’s Richard Vialet reviewed “Overnight” by Philip Fracassi saying, “I love how simple the story was, and how relatively innocent it all is at first”; and for more reviews check out The Rap Sheet’s Revue of the Reviewers;


New Releases

A nice list of August releases courtesy of dru’s book musings.

Flight of the FoxFlight of the Fox by Gray Basnight
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


Expose
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 LovegroveThe Devil’s Dust
by James Lovegrove
(Titan Books)

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


Last Witness
by Chris Merritt
(Bookoutre)

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


In-Laws Can Be Murder- Every Wife Has a Story by Susan SantangeloIn-Laws Can Be Murder: Every Wife Has a Story
by Susan Santangelo
(Suspense Publishing)

“ ‘In-Laws Can Be Murder’ is the eighth in Susan Santangelo’s Baby Boomer Mystery series, and as hilarious as all the rest!”
—Carol J. Perry, Author of the Witch City Mystery series

Carol Andrews doesn’t share well. Especially when it comes to her precious, long-awaited first grandchild, CJ. So when her son-in-law’s pushy mother, Margo, arrives in town and horns in on Carol’s happiness, it’s hate at first sight. But when Margo thinks she’s committed a murder and reaches out to Carol for help, then vanishes without a trace, it’s up to Carol to put aside her petty jealousy and crack the case before the police get involved.

“Carol Andrews’ role as Only Grandma to her newborn grandson is dashed when her son-in-law’s long-lost mother makes an appearance. The woman takes off again, but sends Carol a plea for help. Soon Carol, her family, and three best friends are involved in murder and mayhem. ‘In-Laws Can Be Murder’ is another zany Baby Boomer romp, one not to be missed!”
—Allison Brook, Author of the Haunted Library Mystery series

(Buy)


The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker
by Kerry Wilkinson
(Bookouture)

‘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-sleepThe Annotated Big Sleep
edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, Anthony Rizzuto
(Vintage Crime)
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.

Including:
-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


The Secret
by K.L. Slater
(Bookoutre)

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


Head Count
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 BrazillSmall Time Crimes
by Paul D. Brazill
(Near to the Knuckle)

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


Murder on the Marshes
by Clare Chase
(Bookoutre)

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


Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna WaterhouseMycroft Holmes
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
and Anna Waterhouse
(Titan Books)

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


Lost Films edited by Max Booth III and Lori MichelleLost Films
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
(Apokrupha)

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

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

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


Touchfeather, Too
by Jimmy Sangster
(Brash Books)

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


Black Hats
by Max Allan Collins
(Brash Books)

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


Night Driver by Marcelle PerksNight Driver
by Marcelle Perks
(Urbane Publications)
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



Thanks for visiting Unlawful Acts and reading the latest Incident Report.

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