Incident Report No. 81

After some time off, I’m back and will be hanging around with more of a focus on dark indie crime.

The Incident Report covers the world of dark indie crime fiction for roughly the first week of November.

In the spirit of noir-is-whatever-people-say-it-is, Jedidiah Ayres of hardboiled wonderland has invited 30 people to list out their five favorite underrated noir films.

8: Michael A. Gonzales
7: Jay Stringer
6: Christa Faust
5: Johnny Shaw
4: Gary Phillips
3: Minsoo Kang
2: Adam Howe
1: Pete Dragovich


Shawn Cosby won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story. Here’s Cosby’s take on the good and the bad of Bouchercon 2019 (Do Some Damage). You can read Cosby’s Anthony Award Winning Short Story, “The Grass Beneath My Feet” at TOUGH which is edited by Rusty Barnes.


Walter Mosley interviewed by Chauncey DeVega (Salon). Mosley said:

“There are two things in America we don’t have much time for now. Reading is rereading and writing is rewriting. And I’ll go even further, watching movies is watching them again and again. You’re never going to get everything the first time through, ever. When you start to rewrite a novel, you’ve written it once and as you’re going through, you’re discovering what things feel off. Sometimes it’s this person doesn’t have that kind of education or this description is flat. It only says one thing and it doesn’t work well. But there are other things there. It’s just something not right about this sentence, but it does everything it’s supposed to do. But the rest of the novel has a kind of a dance to the language, either the whole book or certain characters. You start to see and to recognize that when you are rereading.”


Gabino Iglesias on the goings-on at ChiZine (Horror DNA).


Nick Kolakowski, author of “Maxine Unleashes Doomsday” (Down & Out Books) talked to Ron Earl Phillips, publisher of Shotgun Honey. A sprawling interview which is oddly compact. (Shotgun Honey)


“The Middle Way of Ursula Curiss” by Xaviar Lechard (At the Villa Rosa). Lechard wrote:

“It is surprising that the current resurgence of interest in psychological suspense and vintage crime fiction in general has yet to reach Ursula Curtiss despite her being one of the most important American post-war crime writers.”


Michael Nava, author of the Henry Rios mystery series, interviewed by Désirée Zamorano (LARB). Zamorano wrote:

“The latest in the Rios series, Carved in Bone, continues to tackle themes of identity and displacement, along with — like all good mysteries — a suspicious death and a cast of suspects.”


Icy Thug Nutz’s “WHOOP! WHOOP!” (Dockyard Press) reviewed by Nick Kolakowski (Mystery Tribune). Kolakowski wrote when comparing to Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer”:

“Both books focus on down-and-out types scrounging for survival, surrounded by a number of shady characters more than happy to kick their ass; both also feature major existential realizations on the part of their protagonists. Only one book, however, features a protagonist who’s a fan of the Insane Clown Posse, and you can probably guess which one.”


Melba Escobar’s “House of Beauty” (4th Estate) reviewed by Gabino Iglesias (Mystery Tribune). Iglesias wrote that it is “a unique novel that pulls readers into the harsh realities of modern-day Colombia”.


Tommy Shakes
by Rob Pierce
(All Due Respect Books)

Tommy Shakes is a career criminal, and not a very good one. He earned his name as a heroin addict. Now he’s just a drunk, drinking so much that he spends much of his time in bathrooms, exploding from one end or the other.

He’s in a marriage he wants to salvage. He convinces himself that his wife, Carla, will allow him to stay with her and their teenage son, Malik, if he can bring home enough money. She tells him that won’t do it, he needs to quit crime altogether, but Tommy gets a crack at a big heist and decides to pull the job.

The job is ripping off a popular restaurant that runs an illegal sports book in back. A lot of money gets paid out on football Sundays; the plan is to pull the robbery on Saturday night. The back room has armed guards but, according to Smallwood, Tommy’s contact on the job, there’s no gang protection.

Tommy recons the job and finds two problems: Smallwood’s plan will get them all killed or up on murder one, and one security guy works for a local gangster, Joey Lee. Tommy’s desperate for money and figures he can make his own plan. As to the gangster, there’s enough money that it’s worth the risk.

They pull the robbery but one gang member gets gun happy and it turns into a bloodbath, which includes killing Lee’s man. Now they’re wanted for murder, and the law is the least of their problems.


Price Hike
by Preston Lang
(All Due Respect)

Jane is a struggling con artist, estranged from her ex and her sick son, just trying to raise a little cash to buy some black-market meds from a mysterious seller called P8, a dangerous, raspy-voiced woman.

Kanganis is a widely-hated pharma executive, furious that the raspy-voiced girl he picked up at a chic downtown bar just ripped him off for millions in prescription drugs.

When Jane figures out a way to con P8 out of her entire stash of stolen meds, it’s great news for her kid’s lungs, but it also puts Jane and her family in grave danger. Soon they’re on the run from a criminal network bigger and darker than they understand. And when Kanganis begins to use all of his resources and guile to catch up with his lost drugs, the game becomes even more deadly.

“Price Hike” is a fast-paced tale of con games, corporate greed, and one of the douchiest bros of modern times.


Maxine Unleashes Doomsday
by Nick Kolakowski
(Down & Out Books)

The United States has collapsed. Bandits stalk the highways, preying on the weak and unaware.

In order to transport goods between heavily fortified cities, companies hire convoy escorts. Maxine is the best of these new road warriors: tough, smart, and unbelievably fast. But she also has a secret: She’s the niece of New York’s most notorious outlaw, a man hunted by what’s left of the nation’s law enforcement.

Maxine wants to live a normal, upstanding life. But a bad incident on the road leaves her mauled, penniless…and fired. If she wants to survive, she’s going to need to embrace her outlaw roots—and carry off the biggest heist that the post-apocalypse has ever seen. It’s a journey that will take her through obstacle after obstacle to the edge of death itself—and beyond.

“Maxine Unleashes Doomsday” smashes the gritty frenzy of Mad Max: Fury Road with the top-notch suspense of a crime saga like Heat. It’s a brutal thriller that offers a terrifying glimpse of our future.


Behind the Wall of Sleep
by James D. F. Hannah
(Self-published)

It’s the kind of offer only Henry Malone would get: Local strip club owner Wallace “Bada” Bingham wants Henry to run for sheriff of Parker County, West Virginia, and he’s willing to back the candidacy. But while Henry considers the proposal, Bingham’s got an additional job offer: Investigate the robbery of a money-counting room at a washed-up country musician’s concert.

One dead body later, Henry, along with his well-armed A.A. sponsor Woody, quickly figures out Bingham’s not telling him everything. To discover the answers and catch the killer, Henry and Woody must put everything at risk and confront the forces who want control of Parker County—no matter what the costs, or who has to die.


The image at the top of this page is by artist Rob Rowland. The painting is called “Moonlight Walk”. I found Rowland’s work via Fragments of Noir. Check out Rowland’s work as well as the pages of Fragments of Noir.

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