Incident Report No. 62

Incident Report No. 62

The Incident Report covers the world of small press crime fiction for the week of September 30th through October 6th with links to news, reviews, and new releases.

This past week I interviewed Kelby Losack at Do Some Damage. I reviewed Losack’s most recent book, “They Way We Came In” a few weeks ago.

I reviewed Ernest J. Gaines’s “The Tragedy of Brady Sims”. I recommend it highly.

I also tried to review Carol Wyer’s “The Birthday”, but instead went on a tangent, “Reading and Diversity”. It was my attempt at explaining why I try to read writers who are different than me and the problems that this causes.


News

We need to keep on reading this stories and sexual abuse victims need to keep on writing them if they can. Maybe one day, we won’t need them anymore. If you have a moment, please read “Into the Light” by Marietta Miles, author of “May” and “Route 12”, at Do Some Damage.

There are a million different ways to hurt. And there are a million different ways to deal with suffering. I believe it is small-minded and careless to judge another human on how they deal with the unimaginable. Many victims have well-founded reasons for not coming forward.


If you have a blog chances are you write on the WordPress platform. If you do, Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader reminds us that there’s a change coming and it’s called Gutenberg. I’ve been using it for about three weeks or so. It took a bit getting used to, but now I’ve got it. Change is hard, but you’ll get it, I promise.


Interview with Chantelle Aimée Osman, publisher of New Wave Crime, at What Editors Want You to Know

New Wave Crime is an imprint launched in May from Down & Out Books, known for their award-winning anthologies and crime fiction. We’re looking for novels and novellas in crime fiction (mystery, thriller, suspense) featuring new and unique voices particularly voices and themes representing all aspects and cultures of the modern world, women and diverse voices particularly welcome, and we’re open to submissions now (www.downandoutbooks.com/submissions). Great voices are often overlooked because they don’t fit on every shelf, and marketing needs to be out of the box.


Interview with Frank Zafiro by Dana King (One Bite at a Time

I spent twenty years and a day as a cop in Spokane, Washington (River City is a thinly veiled version of this burg), retiring in 2013 as a captain. I was fortunate enough in my career to do a lot of different jobs and see many different aspects of the department, whether as an officer or detective, or later as a leader. As a result, I experienced Patrol, Investigations, K-9, SWAT, Hostage, volunteers, Dispatch…pretty much every part of the agency. In my leadership role, I got to see beyond even the PD, interacting with other agencies, other departments within the city, and various elements within the community. I had good experiences and bad ones, and (although I didn’t look at this way at the time) all of those were valuable to me as a writer.


S.L. Huang interviewed by Ellison Cooper (The Thrill Begins)

Q: Obviously you have a mind-blowingly cool background. How did your own life experiences influence the story of Zero Sum Game?

A: I couldn’t have written Zero Sum Game without having done movie stunts and guns in LA for ten years.

It’s not just the firearms and the fight scenes, although my knowledge there does inform every other scene. But it’s also the experience I had living and breathing the film world. Hollywood is a little Wild West in how it operates, and I’ve had…let’s just say, some interesting times on set. From getting called out to the docks at four in the morning to working a shoot where I’m pretty sure the producers paid off the local gangs to let us film, from being colleagues with old-school cowboys to getting stranded in the middle of the Nevada desert—every job was a new adventure in a new setting with new and fascinating characters. And it was never, ever boring.

So although my protagonist’s navigation of the seedy Los Angeles criminal underground is mostly imagined, the tone of it, and the edginess of living in a world that doesn’t quite follow the normal rules, is definitely grown out of all the topsy-turvy and riding-by-the-seat-of-my-pants jobs I’ve had in the film world.



From Fragments of Noir’s “Big Lonely City #19”, a photograph by an unknown photographer.


On Writing

My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.

– Patricia Highsmith

Source Unknown

If you’re a writer, you need to read My Little Corner by Sandra Seaman daily. Yes, I mean daily. If you don’t have an RSS reader, I would suggest NewsBlur which I use every day. This Lifewire article lists several other RSS sites of which Feedly is the most popular. Feedly allows you 100 free subscriptions while Newsblur allows only 64. But once you go above the 100 subscriptions, Feedly costs over $60 a year while Newsblur costs $24.


“How to Make Good Dough at Self-Publishing” by James Scott Bell (Kill Zone)

What caught my eye, however, was a line at the end of the letter. Amazon is famously tight with their data, so it was interesting to find this little ditty:

As Amazon’s recent shareholder letter noted, there are more than 1,000 authors who earn more than $100,000 a year from their work with us.

That’s good to know. Because at one time (back in the “gold rush” days of self-publishing, roughly 2009-2012) the vibe was that virtually anybody could make six figures if they wrote fast enough and in the right genre. That was a myth, of course, but like all myths it had a toe-hold in the truth. Some previously unpublished writers, like Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey, did strike gold. Some traditionally-published midlist writers, like Joe Konrath and Brett Battles, hopped in and hit it big. There were even a few, like Bella Andre, who scorched into eight figures.


“Story Structure Q&A: 6 Outstanding Questions About Structure” by K.M. Weiland (Helping Writers Become Authors)

Story structure exists as an elegant system for interpreting and making accessible the complex abstractions of story theory. Basically, the principles of story structure are simply the recognition of the patterns that emerge when we look at the larger canon of storytelling throughout the centuries.


“First You Write a Sentence: The Elements of Reading, Writing … and Life” by Joe Moran (Viking) (The Guardian)

Moran says he wants to “hearten, embolden and galvanise the reader”, in order that he or she, as a writer, should take pains over making sentences. He does not want to call his book a style guide, a genre he associates with “prescriptions and proscriptions”. It is, rather, “a style guide by stealth”, “a love letter to the sentence”. It offers us bracing – and often sententious – sentences. “A good sentence gives order to our thoughts and takes us out of our solitudes … A sentence should feel alive, but not stupidly hyperactive.” Moran suggests good habits. He tells us to love verbs and to go easy with nouns, to “cut syllables where you can”, to think about ending a sentence on a stressed syllable, to alternate short and long sentences.



Short Stories

Some short fiction to read.


Book Reviews

“The Janus Run” by Douglas Skelton (Contraband) (Raven Crime Reads)

It’s real punchy stuff, driven forward with energy and pace, and although I had a brief hiatus in reading this, when I picked it up again, I was slam bam right back in the thick of it. I really enjoyed this first foray by Skelton to stranger shores, and cannot wait for the next! Highly recommended.


“Trap” by Lilja Sigurdardóttir (Orenda Books) (Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog)

The stories by Sigurdardóttir are going from strength to strength, which is perhaps not discernible at a first glance, because the pace is fast and the noir is darker than a sooty cat. It’s easy to overlook the meticulous detail and research that has gone into the creation of the storyline, in regards to the drug smuggling and the fraudulent financial dealings by the bankers or banksters, as the author calls them.

It’s an action packed, fast-paced read filled with the brutal reality of the drug world, an abusive controlling ex and the dirty world of finance. It’s Nordic Noir with a hefty pinch of reality.


“Sleepers” by Mark Dawson (Self-Published) (Crime Fiction Lover)

Overall this is very decent spy thriller with multiple threads and viewpoints, which run separately until the author draws them together at the conclusion. It is the many threads which detract slightly from the story. The viewpoints, though well signposted, do jump around. The effect is to draw attention away from the central character, John Milton, which is a shame because he’s a very interesting construct. A highly dangerous man, but a mess; hungover and suffering.

On the upside the character cast is strong and well-drawn. There’s plenty of tension and interest created. Plus the back story is pretty topical, given the current issues between Russia and the UK after the novichok poisonings… and the author even lives in Salisbury. Dawson maintains the reader’s interest throughout and the pages turning. It is easy to see why he has found such a big readership. He deserves it.


“Palm Beach Finland” by Antti Tuomainen (Orenda Books) (Jen Med’s Book Reviews)

I loved the dry wit, the understated humour which dominated in The Man Who Died. It made Jaakko more human and gave the story a beautiful twist that had me tearing through the pages in no time flat. With Palm Beach Finland, Antti Tuomainen has taken this and kicked it up a notch. Several notches. So many moments of this book had me chuckling out loud, so many times when I could feel that smile building on my face as I once again raced through the book. I didn’t read it, I devoured it and it only left me hungry for more.


“Broken Windows” by Paul D. Marks (Down & Out Books) (Crime Fiction Lover)

Paul Marks’s second Duke Rogers PI thriller is a follow-up to the recently reissued White Heat, a Shamus award-winner in 2013. Rogers, principal narrator of this entertaining tale, has the sly humour of a modern-day Philip Marlowe and a similar penchant for attracting trouble.

Maybe it’s something about Los Angeles – too much sun, too much tinsel, too many people trying too hard – that makes it the perfect setting for so many great noir novels. In a quintessential Los Angeles move, the prologue describes the suicide of an aspiring actress who kills herself by taking a dive off the iconic Hollywood sign. Her death hangs out there, disconnected, waiting for private detective Rogers to reel it into the story.


“Junkie Love” by Joe Clifford (Down & Out Books) (Crimespree)

To be honest, this novella hits hard on so many levels. I’m still processing it in different levels of my brain. But I can honestly say that I’m glad I read it and I’m even more glad that the author is still with us today. The reissue of JUNKIE LOVE has a new cover, as well as a new forward by Jerry Stahl to go along with the original forward by Clifford. The author’s afterword is excellent, and vital for the reader’s experience.


“The Annotated Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler” edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, and Anthony Rizzuto (Vintage Crime) (SleuthSayers

One reason to pick it up is presented by Otto Penzler in a blurb: “What a great excuse to read this masterpiece again!” That reminds me: I should say that if you have not read this classic private eye novel, you should not start with this edition. The editors, quite reasonably, are not shy about pointing out when something in Chapter 4 is foreshadowing an event in Chapter 14.

So what do the annotations bring to Chandler’s text?

– Literary context. We tend to talk about Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler in the same breath, almost as if they shared an office. Actually they only met once and at that point Hammett was the champeen and Chandler (although six years older) was a rookie. But more to the point, The Big Sleep was published in 1939, ten years after Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, and the annotated edition points out how much Chandler borrowed from it. (More about that later.) The book also has passages from Chandler’s earlier stories which he “cannibilized” for the novel, showing how he modified them


“In Her Shadow” by Mark Edwards (Thomas & Mercer) (Jen Med’s Book Reviews)

It is fair to say that this book is quite creepy. Not in an obvious ‘oh look there’s a ghost’ kind of way but in the slow building sense of unease that you get as you progress through the chapters. At first it is easy to dismiss Olivia’s behaviour as the actions of a child with an imaginary friend. Would it be so unbelievable for that friend to be her aunt given how much Jessica adored her sister? Probably not. But when she starts to say things that she cannot possibly have known, sing songs that she has never heard and even foretell of tragedies which are soon to occur … well you have to wonder if the child might just be haunted.


“Dopesick” by Beth Macy (Little, Brown) (Los Angeles Review of Books). There’s a companion interview with Macy as well.

Despite this prevailing narrative, despair enters into few of the stories of opiate addiction canvassed in Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America. Indeed, the modal story of the overdose detailed by Beth Macy is quite different: drug users turn out to be not trailer trash in MAGA hats, but rather the high school football star, the kid who put himself through college, the “happily married twenty-seven-year-old mother,” the soccer-playing regular guy, the down-and-out young person “putting her life back together,” the girl who is “looking to turn things around” after a stint in rehab — in short, the hopeful, not the hopeless. With empathic sadness, Macy surveys the harrowing histories of western Virginia overdose victims, their parents, and the small coterie of law-enforcement officers and health-care providers who are trying, against the odds, to do something to help.


New Releases

Some other sites that list some new releases:

















Thanks for stopping by and reading the Incident Report at Unlawful Acts.

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