Incident Report No. 63

The Incident Report covers the world of small press crime fiction for the week of October 7th through October 13th with links to news, reviews, and new releases.

Jim Thomsen’s “Shoulder Wounds” returned Saturday with reviews of Alec Cizak’s “Breaking Glass”, Ava Black’s “The Bug Jar”, Greg F. Gifune’s Dangerous Boys”, and Rick Outzen’s “City of Grudges”. 

I reviewed George Pelecanos’s “The Man Who Came Uptown” and my general feeling was “meh”.


News

Please read Ed Aymar’s piece in the Washington Independent Review of Books called “Quality Control”.

One of the few advantages of being a minority is the view we have of the majority — we see them more clearly than they see us. This is because the white perspective is the accepted perspective, the one most often presented.

But we see more for another reason, too: safety. We have to know what you like, and what you’ll accept, in order to survive this society. When you’re the only minority in the room, you are absolutely observing everyone to a heightened degree. And, in that sense, we are utterly, hopelessly aware of how our work is being treated.


Interview with Leye Adenle by Marina Sofia (CrimeReads)

Sofia: Corruption, politics, sex scandals, street violence – you tackle so many themes in When Trouble Sleeps. What is the story about, in a nutshell?

Adenle: When a famous politician dies in a plane crash, his party hastily picks a replacement who is all but certain of becoming the next governor of Lagos State. There’s only one problem: Chief Ojo has got many secrets, the kind that that would cost him the governorship and his freedom. Our main protagonist, social activist Amaka Mbadiwe, knows his dirty secrets, and he knows that she knows – especially what he did at the Harem, a secret sex club owned by dangerous thug Malik.

Otunba Oluawo, the leader of the political party and also Ojo’s father-in-law, must find Amaka before she can reveal the things she knows. He sends thugs and assassins to do the job. Malik is also after her so he can have his own revenge. Ojo must find her before any of them, and silence her, so that no one will ever learn the true extent of what she has on him. Amaka must survive long enough to reveal the secrets she knows. She comes up with a plan to bring them all down, but it requires that she gets her hands dirty, and it could all still go wrong.


“Interview with Beau Johnson” by Jason Beech (Messy Business)

Beech: How did Bishop slip inside your head and force you to write about him?

Johnson: I wish I had a clear answer for that, Jason. Looking back, I can’t really recall when Rider slipped into my life. What I can tell you is this: wasn’t until three or four stories in that I realized I had something with legs. Further still, it took me years to understand I’d already written about the men responsible for April and Maggie Rider’s deaths but had yet to connect the two. Is this a by-product of non-linear writing? I don’t know. Maybe. Either way, it happened, and once I realized my stories were connected in a way I failed to notice, this is when the damn burst. Each story involving Bishop then propelling the next one on. Different than most writers, sure, but seeing where I am now, I would not change it.


“The Crime Fiction of Phnom Penh” by Paul French (CrimeReads)

Phnom Penh has begun to crop up increasingly in crime novels of late. As a little sister to its South East Asian neighbor Thailand and the Bangkok writing scene (see Crime and the City Bangkok), Phnom Penh’s representation in crime novels is most often offered up by expat foreign writers in the city or those passing through. It has to be said that there is little to nothing of a local crime writing scene. And, it seems just lately, that Cambodian-set noirs are like buses—you wait around for ages and then several come at once.


“Approaches to Writing Violence” by Chris Rhatigan (Do Some Damage)

I’d say I encounter too many manuscripts that assume violence = interesting. This often surfaces on the first few pages involving torture, explosions, or other elements that are supposed to engage the reader. This doesn’t do much for me.

I don’t think there’s one approach that works better than another. Each writer has to find their own way.

Here’s what Leins says about how he approaches violence: “For me the violence has to be bleary-eyed and unpleasant, but never gratuitous. A few years ago, I was taking my son to the library, when I walked past a pub in town, and saw bloodied people crawling out of the door. I later found out that someone had run amok with a hatchet. The surreal image of a ravaged-looking man draped over one of the many mobility scooters parked outside, leaking blood, stayed with me. This wasn’t slick Hollywood violence. Whatever happened inside was clumsy and reckless, and I think it is important to convey that feeling.”



This week’s selection from Fragments of Noir is from Marvin Newman.


On Writing

  • “Writing Output—Is Size Important?”  by Zoë Sharp (Murder is Everywhere)
  • “Mastering the Four Modes of Fiction” by James Scott Bell (Kill Zone)
  • “What’s Your Character’s Attitude?” by DiAnn Mills (The Thrill Begins)
  • “The Craft of Crime Fiction: Gwen’s Sex Tips for Writers” by Gwen Florio (The Thrill Begins)
  • “Some Reasons Short Stories Get Rejected” by Barb Goffman (SleuthSayers)
  • “How It Happened” by Bruce Robert Coffin (The Thrill Begins)
  • “The First Two Pages: ‘Designed for Haunting'” by Sybil Johnson (Art Taylor, Writer)
  • “First Page Critique: Details, Details, Details…” by PJ Parrish (Kill Zone)
  • “Writing From Opposite Genders” by LS Hawker (Killer Nashville)
  • “When Writing Series, Third Time’s the Charm” by Sujata Massey (Murder is Everywhere)
  • “Writing Tips: 4 Suggestions For Navigating The Multi-Genre Waters” by Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn)
  • “Top 10 Reasons Your Book Will Sell: An Agent’s Checklist” by Paula Munier (Career Authors)
  • “For World Mental Health Day: When Writer’s Block Is Actually Depression” by Chuck Wendig (terribleminds)
  • “Write like a Monkey on Steroids” by James Ziskin (7 Criminal Minds)

Short Stories


Book Reviews

“Trap” by Lilja Sigurdardóttir (Orenda Books) (The Quiet Knitter)

Packed with tension, this is a book that you do not want to put down. Short chapters make it far too easy for you to fall into the trap of reading “just one more chapter”, and before you know it, the supper is burnt or it’s 3am and sleep is something you can’t contemplate until you know what’s going to happen next. It’s the sort of book that you can imagine playing out like a film, and the quality of the writing means that it sweeps you away with a momentum akin to jumping into a vortex.


“Know Me From Smoke” by Matt Phillips (Fahrenheit Press) (Tough)

The characters, cops and cons and the supporting cast are realistic and the dialogue rings true. Humor is peppered throughout and strategically placed. I cared for and rooted for Stella Radney and hoped for the worst for Atkins. Noir succeeds when the atmosphere blends with the characters, defining and directing behaviors, becoming its own powerful driving force. In its darkness, gloom, and despair, Know Me From Smoke is reminiscent of noir master David Goodis. In fact, if Goodis were alive and writing today and had an apprentice, it might be Matt Phillips.


“Palm Beach Finland” by Antii Tuomainen (Orenda Books) (Novel Deelights)

So a mystery to solve, although not quite for the reader since we know pretty much what happened from the start. But the characters in this story are all so incredibly unpredictable, there is no way of knowing what they’ll get up to next or even if their actions will be successful. That’s half the fun right there. Yet, there is also a more serious undertone to the story. That of residents in this sleepy community with ambitions and dreams of a better life, desperately grabbing at opportunities to make a change.

Once again, David Hackston’s translation is faultless, enabling an English speaking audience to enjoy Antii Tuomainen’s unique way with words and his delightful sense of humour. Wonderfully weird, fabulously funny and extremely entertaining.



New Releases









Thanks for stopping by and reading Unlawful Acts’s “Incident Report”.

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