Incident Report

Incident Report No. 3


Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for July 31 – Aug 6, 2017
I started writing reviews of crime fiction books as a memory device for myself, books I liked, books I didn’t like. Surprisingly, what I found was that the crime fiction community from the writers to the readers are welcoming and supportive. J.J. Hensley wrote Know Your Enemy in The Thrill Begins that talks about how supportive the community is rather than cut-throat and vindictive.

It is impossible for most writers to consider other writers the competition when we have so much in common with each other. As a group, we have a set of shared goals, shared frustrations, as well as shared stories of disappointment and achievement. Not to mention, when we have driven our spouses completely crazy by talking about writing, we can turn to each other, knowing writers can rarely drive each other crazy since most of us have taken that drive and are still roaring toward the cliff like Thelma and Louise (for the younger writers out there – Google that reference).

Hensley’s new book Bolt Action Remedy (Down & Out Books) will be out in a few months.

In one of the feel good stories from this past week, Beau Johnson opened a box that contained his new book A Better Kind of Hate from Down & Out Books. He wrote on Facebook:

In my 30 years in the grocery biz I have opened many boxes. Thousands upon thousands to be sure. I can honestly say I have never opened one quite like this.

The sad news of the week was the passing of Sam Shepard. In the NY Times obituary, it was said of his writing “That feeling of uncertainty was translated into dialogue of an uncommon lyricism and some of the strangest, strongest images in American theater.” Over at LitHub, they published a few letters from Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark by Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark.

Some other articles that are worth your while are Danny Gardner on how word count constraints can help in Standards and Practices, Jochem Vandersteem’s interview with Sam Weibe over at Son of Spade, and S.W. Lauden’s interview with Elaine Ash regarding her book Bestseller Metrics. And if you have some time, take listen to Fank Zafiro’s podcast Wrong Place, Write Crime where he interviews Sarah M. Chen.

DeLeon DeMicoli

New Releases
Quite a few new books and anthologies came out this week.. First and foremost, let me give some love to a new release from Shotgun Honey, one of my favorite publishers. This month they released the first book by DeLeon DeMicoli, Les Cannibales. Like all of their books, I’m expecting it to be great. Oceanview Publishing, who I know of from reading Joe Clifford, released Danny López’ The Last Girl. One of the blurbs calls it “a boozy, hardboiled trek through the sun-drenched streets of Sarasota Florida.” And it’s going for .99¢. Florda? Hard-boiled? Under a buck? Go buy it now.

Bloodhound released Sharon Dempsey’s Little Bird and M.A. Comley’s Double Jeopardy while Fahrenheit Press put together all four of Grant Nicol’s Grímur Karlsson Mysteries in Tales From The Ice House. A couple of anthologies is a new Akashic Noir, Atlanta Noir edited by Tayari Jones, and Carolina Crimes: 21 Tales of Need, Greed and Dirty Deeds edited by Nora Gaskin Esthimer published by Down & Out Books. Bruin Crimeworks reprinted two works from James Hadley Chase, No Orchid for Miss Blandish and Flesh of the Orchid.

From the bigger publishers released this week are Adam Sternbergh’s The Blinds and Augustus Rose’s Readymade Thief. And the new James Patterson release this week is the bookshot The Medical Examiner: A Women’s Murder Club Story by Patterson and Maxine Paetro.

Short Stories
If you follow Jim Thomsen on social media (Facebook or Twitter) you know he’s been trying to get published in Shotgun Honey for several months, five rejections and counting. And if you follow him, you also know he finally got a story published, Hell of a Girl and if was well worth the fucking wait. He also put up an extended version of the story up on his website, 1,108 words instead of the 700 for Shotgun Honey. Two other stories to check out are Emmett Dulaney’s Like a Kid in a Candy Store in Spelk and Angel Luis Cólon’s Last Call over at Beat to a Pulp.

This past week I reviewed Jason Pinter’s The Castle, Tom Leins’ Skull Meat, and Court Merrigan’s The Broken Country. I wrote that Merrigan had “created something unique and original.” Vicki Weisfeld reviews The Place of Refuge by Albert Tucher and LA Review of Books has a review of Tomoyuki Hoshino’s ME. Steve Weddle’s Do Some Damage review of Marcus Sakey’s Afterlife is a thing of beauty. Weddle writes:

Then not too much later, we get a guy cop and a gal cop doing sexxxy time on each other. I believe the record will show that I’m no prude. But, you know, I’m not terribly fond of reading about two people doing sex to each other. I don’t much care for detailed, play-by-play fisticuffs, either. I tend to skip along to the dialog. Also, I skip over anything too technical, such as a 250-word description of a timing mechanism someone might drop into a thriller. Gracious, is there anything I don’t skip over?

Well, I didn’t skip AFTERLIFE, that’s for sure. Because it moves. Because I care about the characters. Because I’m invested in the story, which gets hella weird.

Here’s an inteview with Joe Clifford on Fox 61 from Hartford, Connecticut. Clifford is the author of Give Up the Dead.

Incident Report

Incident Report No. 2

2_375 (1)Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for July 24-30, 2017

The Los Angeles Review of Books went crime fiction this past week in a big way. First was Anthony Award nominee Sarah M. Chen’s interview, The Statement Makes Itself, with Danny Gardner regarding his new book A Negro and an Ofay. I actually stayed away from this interview until I finished my review of Gardner’s book as I wanted to be right or wrong on my own merit (or lack thereof). Chen and Gardner’s talk is an important read.

Danny Gardner

The book is rooted in real American history. There’s no better indictment of our present than for me to tell a story set in our past that resonates as if it were happening today. I set the story in the country’s past and if there’s a statement to be made, it makes itself. What I think we don’t pay enough attention to is the subtle racism. Like abject racism is easy to hate, right? It’s gross. It’s abhorrent. Anybody can hate that. But if you’re going to help me, help me with the institutionalized racism, the structural racism, the cultural racism. I’m from Chicago. You’ll never get more racist than that in the United States. So I’m kind of conditioned to let the abject racism roll right off me. Help me with that stuff I can’t fix. The undertow that drags me under although I’m a strong swimmer.

Next up is Steve Weddle’s interview with Jeff Abbott, author of the recently released Blame. As the blurb for I’ll Take Whatever Comes states, Weddle and Abbott talk about “his new novel, parkour, cyber attacks, and the influence of his grandmother.” Lastly, Tara Laskowski, author of the short-story collection Bystanders, talks to Christopher Irvin, author of the short-story collection Safe Inside the Violence and his upcoming release Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All, in an interview called On Writing Violence. The discussion is good but I admittedly had a hard time getting past this:

One is marketed as crime fiction and the other is marketed as literary fiction. And yet, when Laskowski started reading Irvin’s stories, she realized there were many similarities in the ways they explored violence, ghosts and monsters, the working class, and inevitability.

I really should not care how readers from “literary” fiction get to crime fiction, but this made me channel my inner Kevin Kline from A Fish Called Wanda and shout, “You English are so superior, aren’t you?”

Over at Andrew Nette’s blog, Tony Kighton, author of the new book Three Hours Past Midnight (Crime Wave Press), has a timely post about crime ficition as literature:

I can imagine some readers protesting – crime fiction isn’t literature, it’s simply entertainment. My first argument is that all fiction is entertainment. If not, why else are we reading it? Yes, many great works of fiction explore deeper truths, but these also include work that is essentially genre, and besides, if it weren’t fun, nobody would read any of it. Second, the granddaddy of all literary serial characters, John Updike’s Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, is essentially the guy who peaked in high school. Through four novels and a novella in which he leaves his wife, their infant daughter dies, his wife leaves him, their house burns down, they lose the family business – even in the minds of his loved ones after his death – he never changes.

Nikki Dolson

New Releases
Apologies for missing the release of Jerry Kenneally’s Polo’s Long Shot on Down & Out Books last week.  It is the eleventh in the Nick Polo Mystery series. I also missed Timothy J. Lockhart’s Smith from Stark House Press. Nikki Dolson’s long anticipated All Things Violent was released on Fahrenheit Press. Released this week on Bloodhound Books are Mark L. Fowler’s Red is the Colour and Pat Young’s Till the Dust Settles. A new entry into the Akashic Noir series, New Haven Noir. How about some Robot Noir, ’60s style, Adam Christopher’s Killing Is My Business (Tor Books), the latest in the Ray Electromagnetic series. Telos Publishing reissued eight or so of English noir author Hank Janson (Stephen Daniel Frances, 1917-1989), but at $15.95 for a paperback, I’ll be staying away. The James Patterson’s book published this past week is Moores Are Missing.

Short Stories
Erin K. Coughglin’s flash fiction in Shotgun Honey called The Girls Who Go to Wildwood is a great read. While you are there read Crime Waves Press writer Benedict J. Jones’ Samson’s Crossing. Two longer reads are Craig Faustus Buck’s Honeymoon Sweet about two con artists squatting in a beach house in Santa Monica, and J.J. Sinisi’s The Good Fortune of Agusta, a story about an older woman still carrying a lot of weight from her past. Two more, I promise and I’m done, Tom Leins’ Sloppy Operator and Tom Braken’s Last Good Day.

Book Reviews
Last week I reviewed three books, two reviews which appeared here at Unlawful Acts: Nikki Dolson’s All Things Violent (Fahrenheit Books) and Danny Gardner’s A Negro and an Ofay. I also had a review published in Rusty Barnes’ Tough: Roy Harper’s Shank. (Crime Wave Press). Some of the reviews of interest are Erica Ruth Neubauer’s review of Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids and David Cranmer’s review of Adam Christopher’s Killing is My Business. Over at NPR, Jason Heller of The AV Club has the article, 3 Supernatural Noir Tales That Reflect The Inhuman Condition, which reviews Christopher’s book, Richard Kadrey’s The Kill Society, and Jason Ridler’s Hex-Rated. Also on NPR, Maureen Corrigan reviews a new biography on Chester Himes.

Steph Post

Over at Shotsmag Confidential, the two writers known as Michael Stanley give us a much-needed lesson on African crime fiction. Steph Post went on to Facebook and got a bunch of recommendations of upcoming releases. She put it all together, posted it on her blog, and appropriatley called it Steph’s Fall 2017 Book Preview! Go and read this because I’m sure your TBR needs some more padding. Jenny Mitcham’s Up The Creek Without a Yacht over at The Thill Begins and Jeff Abbott’s appropriately titled article, Jeff Abbot’s Top Ten Writing Tips, at The Strand Magazine are two good posts about writing. Over at SleuthSayers is Brian Thornton’s interview with S.W. Lauden, Anthony-Nominee S.W. Lauden Weighs In On The Novella

Like many crime and mystery readers, I appreciate a fast-paced page turner. A lot of things demand my attention daily, so when I carve out time to read I like stories that grab me by the throat and don’t let go.

As a writer, I enjoy the challenge of trying to write those kinds of stories for my readers. I also think the shorter form gives writers a chance to spread their wings a little.

In his blog Education of a Pulp Writer, David Cranmer points us to this Charlie Rose interview with Martin Amis and Elmore Leonard.