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Incident Report

Incident Report No. 88

“Late Night Decisions”, photograph by J Stimp, CC BY

How did last week go for you? The objectivity of time is losing its battle against the subjective interpretation of time during the quarantine, last week was both fast and slow for me. No prose recap this week, only links collected throughout the week. There are articles, book reviews, assorted other media links, and a few featured books. My one complaint — oh, I have many —, but my one complaint I’ll voice here was my inability to carve out some space to read more short stories. Maybe this week. Maybe not.


Articles

“Roller Derby and Mystery” by A.J. Devlin (Do Some Damage)

“Thrillers Bring The Light” by James Scott Bell (Kill Zone)

“25 Classic But Lesser-Known Crime Novels to Read in Lockdown, From King Dido to the Sam Dean Series” by Sarah Hughes (inews)

https://downandoutbooks.com/bookstore/goldberg-slow-down/

Next stop for S.A. Cosby, the cover of Rolling Stone (Booklist)

“Legendary Paris bookshop reveals reading habits of illustrious clientele” by Alison Flood (The Guardian)

Submissions are open and what the editors are looking for (Longreads)

“‘This Is A Crazy Time, And It’s Okay If You’re Scared’ Says Man Burying Gagged Prisoner Alive” (The Onion)

“How I Hustled Hundreds of Dollars of Free Tacos for the Literary World” by MM Carrigan (Lit Hub)

More on Greil Marcus’s obsession with “The Great Gatsby” (The Baffler)

The First Two Pages: “Limited Liability” by Sarah Weinman (Art Taylor, Writer)

Otto Penzler’s out (The Crime Lady)

The beginnings of volume two is out now (The Exquisite Corpse)

“Murder in My High School” by K.A. Laity (Punk Noir)

Chapters by Ron Earl Phillips, Todd Morr, and Joseph S. Walker (The Exquisite Corpse)

“Robert Stone’s Bad Trips” by Scott Bradfield (The New Republic)

Submissions call for PM Press (Damppebbles)

Colman Keane interview Nigel Bird, author of “Let it Snow” (Col’s Criminal Library)

“Conflict Without Violence: How to Add More Depth To Your Fiction” by Autumn Christian (LitReactor)

“Tales From the Waffle House and other 24/7 Adventures” by Eve Fisher (SleuthSayers)

“A Day in the Life of a Detective” by Garry Rogers (Kill Zone)

I betcha that CrimeReads will continue to publish the old racist (Facebook)


Short Stories

“Against the Grain” by Rob McClure Smith (Tough)


Book Reviews

“Tommy Shakes” by Rob Pierce (All Due Respect Books) (Col’s Criminal Library)

“Rigged” by D.P. Lyle (Oceanview) (Lesa’s Book Critiques)

“The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga Press) (Malcolm Avenue Reviews)

“Done Deal” by Tony Berry (Lume) (Kevin’s Corner)

“Throwing Off Sparks” by Michael Pool (PI Tales) (Kevin’s Corner)

“Cold Water” by Tom Pitts (Down & Out Books) (Criminal Element)

“The Girl in the Video” by Michael David Wilson (Perpetual Motion Machine) (Do Some Damage)

“We Don’t Talk About Her” by Andersen Prunty (Self-Published) (Just A Guy Who Likes To Read)

“A.P.B.” by David Pedneau (Col’s Criminal Library)

Two opposing views of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins (Vox and NPR)

“Sorry for Your Trouble” by Richard Ford (Fiction Writers Review)

“Everything has Teeth” by Jeff Strand (Black Guys Do Read)

“Take Me Apart” By Sara Sligar (MCD) (LA Review of Books)

“Honky Tonk Samurai” by Joe Lansdale (Just A Guy Who Likes To Read)

“Dead Girl Blues” by Lawrence Block (Do Some Damage)

“A Rage at Sea / A Party Every Night” by Lorenz Heller (Bookgasm)


Podcasts

Podcast: “SILO” by Cameron Mount (EconoClash Review)

Podcast: Robin Burcell, ex-cop and writer, interviewed by Frank Zafiro (Wrong Place, Write Crime)

Podcast: Kimberly McCreight, Tom Pitts, Mary Keliikoa (Writer Types)


Other Media

Photographs: Big Lonely City #101 (Fragments of Noir)

Music: Drug dealers put up George Jones reel-to-reel tapes as bail decades ago (Saving Country Music)

TV Review: “The Cry” (BOLO Books)

Illustrations: Thomas Ott (Fragments of Noir)

Music: “Shelved: The Misfits’ 12 Hits From Hell” by Tom Maxwell (Longreads)

Photographs: Mosiac Noir #25 (Fragments of Noir)

Music: “Was 1973 the Greatest Year for Roots Music?” by Amos Perrine (No Depression)


Featured Books

“Raise the Blade” by Tess Makovesky (Amazon)


“Cold Water” by Tom Pitts (Down & Out Books)


“Benediction for a Thief” by LA Sykes (Close to the Bone)


“Slow Bear” by Anthony Neil Smith (Fahrenheit Press)


“A Rage at Sea / A Party Every Night” by Lorenz Heller (Stark House Press)


“Slow Down” by Lee Matthew Goldberg (All Due Respect Books)


Thanks for stopping by to read Incident Report No. 88. If you’d like to read more posts like this, please click here.

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Songbirds, Snakes, and Bodies

Small Crimes: Thursday Reads

Slow Beary by Anthony Neil Smith | Songbirds, Snakes, and Bodies

“Songbirds, Snakes, and Bodies – Small Crimes: Thursday Edition” features The Exquisite Corpse, K.A. Laity, Robin Bercell, Anthony Neil Smith, and more.

Article: The beginnings of volume two is out now (The Exquisite Corpse)

Article: “Murder in My High School” by K.A. Laity (Punk Noir)

Book Review: “A.P.B.” by David Pedneau (Col’s Criminal Library)

Book Review: Two opposing views of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins (Vox and NPR)

Book Review: “Sorry for Your Trouble” by Richard Ford (Fiction Writers Review)

https://downandoutbooks.com/bookstore/goldberg-slow-down/

Podcast: Robin Burcell, ex-cop and writer, interviewed by Frank Zafiro (Wrong Place, Write Crime)

Photographs: Mosiac Noir #25 (Fragments of Noir)

Music: “Was 1973 the Greatest Year for Roots Music?” by Amos Perrine (No Depression)

Book: “Slow Bear” by Anthony Neil Smith (Fahrenheit Press)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Songbirds, Snakes, and Bodies”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Incident Report

Incident Report No. 87

Photograph by Dacian Dorca (CC BY)

The Incident Report No. 87 features highlights from the Small Crimes posts I run almost every day. If you don’t have the time to read the daily missives then this might just be for you.


Several months ago, Chris Rhatigan, publisher of All Due Respect Books, asked if I’d like to help out his plan on resurrecting the All Due Respect zine. The idea was simple: we would publish hard-as-nails crime fiction with a touch of drinking money sent to the writers. I was already used to reading a slush pile. Years ago I use to read the slush pile for a literary magazine in Boston but reading so many stories again was definitely eye-opening with what makes or breaks a short story.

Luckily for y’all, over at Do Some Damage, Rhatigan lays down some guidelines that could be followed when writing short stories.

You don’t need a twist to construct a good short story. In fact, one of the most common mistakes I see is writers constructing stories that are built around a twist. In other words, the first three-quarters of the story seems to express, “wait for it, wait for it, the twist is coming!” Every part of a story should be engaging—not just the end. A related problem is that twists are so common that the law of diminishing returns kicks in. I would imagine most readers have seen plenty of twist endings. 

Simple plots that are handled with expert care and focus on a natural progression of events tend to make stronger stories.

Throughout Rhatigan’s “One Approach To Writing Short Stories”, he also recommends some great examples by Tom Pitts, Paul D. Brazill, and Stephen D. Rogers.

https://downandoutbooks.com/bookstore/goldberg-slow-down/


Over at LitReactor, Max Booth III wrote about trigger warnings in horror fiction and, not surprisingly, there’s a lot of carryover to the crime fiction genre.

Imagine the following scenario: You are lounging on the couch wanting nothing more than to chill out with a cool-ass horror book. You are enjoying everything going on in the story until—whoa wait what the absolute fuck suddenly—you’ve come across a random rape scene, and now instead of having a good time you are reliving a past traumatic experience from your own life. Your entire goddamn day is ruined. Replace “rape” with “suicide” and it’s the same outcome. All you can think about now is a lost loved one who took their own life or perhaps the long struggle you faced overcoming personal suicidal ideations. Or, to continue with one more example, imagine reading a book where a young child dies in a gruesome manner soon after losing your own child. No way are you in any mental state to possibly continue reading. Shit like that is very likely to wreck you.

I feel I’m giving this essay short shrift, but it’s quality especially given Booth’s wearing of multiple hats in the horror genre: writer, editor, publisher, reviewer, and fan.


The fifth book of Dana King’s Penns River series, “Pushing Water” (Down & Out Books), recently came out, and King has been busy. There’s his Do Some Damage article about writing police procedurals which is quite informative.

It bothers me that so many people think what they “learn” in cop and courtroom novels and shows are how things really are. It creates unhealthy ideas of how law enforcement works, or doesn’t. To feel one has to choose between realism and entertainment is a door to lazy writing. There’s no reason the story can’t be both.

Then King’s off to be interviewed by Dietrich Kalteis at Off the Cuff.

I read cop memoirs to get an idea of how they think. I still leaf through Connie Fletcher’s books of cops’ stories. Adam Plantinga’s books 400 Things Cops Know and Police Craft are wonderful resources. Ask some cops how cases get solved and they’ll tell you it’s usually because someone talks.

But wait there’s more!

King interviewed Tom Pitts on the eve of his upcoming release Cold Water (Down & Out Books). Pitts talked about his new book.

I think the Everyman facing insurmountable odds is a powerful theme, and very relatable. I wanted to write something akin to Joe Lansdale’s Hot in December or Cold in July, but my own version. And in Northern California. And I wanted it to play out in a few locations, not just San Francisco. I think the suburban sprawl is under-represented in fiction. Gentrification has made the big cities so banal. Where’s the hunger, where’s the struggle, where’s the passion? In the burbs, baby.


Other Articles

Adam Scovell on reading crime fiction during the pandemic (3:AM Magazine)

Alex George on letting it all burn, “Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work” (Lit Hub)

“The Comprehensive Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with an Editor” by Chantel Hamilton (Jane Friedman)

“Author Spotlight: Andrew Davie” by Scott Cumming (Eight Million Books to Read)

Rachel Howzell Hall and Alex Segura discussed crime fiction (Writer’s Digest)

“The Origins of Scandinavian Noir” by Wendy Lesser (The Paris Review)


Book Reviews

“This Letter to Norman Court” by Pabo D’Stair (All Due Respect Books) (Col’s Criminal Library)

“Love is a Grift” by Graham Wynd (Fox Spirit Books) (Sonia Kilvington)

“We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine) (Dead End Follies)

“Dead Man’s Mistress” by David Housewright (Minotaur) (Kevin’s Corner)

“Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron) (So Much To Talk About)

“Sordid: Five Crime Stories” by Harry Hunsicker (Kevin’s Corner)

“Broken Dreams” by Nick Quantrill (Fahrenheit Press) (Ian Ayris)

“The Waiting Rooms” by Eve Smith (Orenda Books) (Crime Fiction Lover)

“Rock and a Hard Place Issue #2” (Eight Million Books to Read)


Featured Books

“Shotgun Honey Presents Volume 4: Recoil” edited by Ron Earl Phillips (Shotgun Honey)


“Throwing Off Sparks” by Michael Pool (PI Tales)


“The Good Book: Fairy Tales for Hard Men” by Tom Leins (All Due Respect Books)


“We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)


“Nightmare Asylum and other Deadly Delights” by Sonia Kilvington (Close to the Bone)


“The Brooklyn Trilogy” by Robert J. Randisi (Down & Out Books)


Thanks for stopping by to read Incident Report No. 87. If you’d like to read more posts like this, please click here.

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Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook

Small Crimes: Thursday Reads

Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook | We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III

“Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook” features Harry Hunsicker, Nick Quantrill, K.B. Jensen, Jennifer Hillier, Eric Beetner, Max Booth III, and more.

Article: “How to Throw a Virtual Book Launch Using Facebook Live” by K.B. Jensen (Jane Friedman)

Book Review: “Sordid: Five Crime Stories” by Harry Hunsicker (Kevin’s Corner)

Book Review: “Broken Dreams” by Nick Quantrill (Fahrenheit Press) (Ian Ayris)

Audio Review: “Killer’s Fedora” by Lawrence Block (Col’s Criminal Library)

Podcast: Jennifer Hillier joins Eric Beetner for the latest episode (Writer Types)

Photographs: Big Lonely City #100 (Fragments of Noir)

Book: “We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Incident Report

Incident Report No. 86

Photograph by J. Stimp, CC BY

The Incident Report No. 86 features highlights from the Small Crimes posts I run almost every day. If you don’t have the time to read the daily missives then this might just be for you.


The week began well for Shawn Cosby. There was an interview in Publishers Weekly and he made the cover of Booklist, a book review journal published by the American Library Association. Everything was coming up Cosby. But as Eryk Pruitt pointed out, “Book Twitter is why we can’t have nice things.”

The short of it is that a Twitter Mob formed and resulted in Booklist pulling their cover. Please read Cosby’s response.

Again, I am a 46-year-old black man who lives in the former capitol of the Confederacy. I understand that images matter and can be used to reinforce negative ideas. But I feel, no I pray that we, each of us, will do our best to slough off the shackles of our preconceived notions. That we will take time to ask ourselves why is it that when we see the words “crime fiction’ and the image of a black man we didn’t assume he was the hero? 


Adrian Bardon, author of “A Brief History of the Philosphy of Time”, was interviewed for Vox to discuss how the quarantine is affecting our perception of time.

You mentioned this kind of paradoxical thing: We feel that time is dragging, but it’s also flying by. That comes out of the same situation. We’re out of our routine. We’re out of our structure. We’re out of doing tasks that we would normally feel productive and good about. It’s more like we’re treading water or trying to deal with situations we don’t want to deal with. And then in our retrospective judgment of the passage of time, it seems like things went by really quickly because we didn’t really accomplish anything.


Here are the first paragraphs of two short stories that deserve your attention: K.A. Laity’s “The Click of the Shutting” (Punk Noir) and Paul J. Garth’s “Paper Boats” (Tough).

She waited for the sound of it, the sound that meant safety, the sound that meant it was over for now. The time it was when his shouts might soften, sometimes even turn to tears and beg forgiveness, beg for comfort, remind her again how it was all her fault.

“The Click of the Shutting” by K.A. Laity (Punk Noir)

They had only been gone a few hours, just long enough to see a movie and pick up some food for the kid, but somehow that’d been long enough for Taylor Olsen to die, the boy still strapped to the metal folding chair Neil had tied him to before they left, his face blue, his little clenched mouth filled with vomit.

“Paper Boats” by Paul J. Garth (Tough)

Garry Rodgers, author of “From the Shadows”, wrote “What Really Goes On In The Morgue” (Kill Zone). He also peppered his story with anectodes from his law enforcement career.

One was “Mister Red Pepper Paste Man”. My friend Elvira Esikanian, a seasoned forensic pathologist of Bosnian descent who cut her teeth by exhuming mass graves, is a gem. She also has a wicked eye for detail.

I brought this old guy into the morgue after finding him dead in his apartment. Neighbors reported him screaming like someone was skinning a live cat. They rushed in and found him collapsed on the floor. No idea what killed him, but no sign of foul play.

Elvira opened his stomach and it was positively crawling. She knew what it was—botulism. Elvira told me to go back to the scene and look to see what he’d been eating. I found it. It was a jar of red pepper paste that was years past its expiry date, and the inside was a mass of organic activity.


Featured Books


“The Faking of the President: Nineteen Stories of White House Noir” edited by Peter Carlaftes (Three Rooms Press)


“Still Life with a Suitcase” by Scott Eubanks (Down & Out Books)


“Bleak Friday” by Various Artists (King Shot Press)


"KIng of the Crows" by Russell Day | Crows, Cliffs, Stephen King

 “King of the Crows” by Russell Day (Fahrenheit Press)


“Tales from The Longcroft Estate” by Darren Sant (Close to the Bone)


“Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)


Thanks for stopping by to read Incident Report No. 86. If you’d like to read more posts like this, please click here.

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Books

Time, Violence, and Council Estates

“Time, Violence, and Council Estates” features links about our relationship to time, growing up as a child of a cop, book reviews, interviews, etc.

Interview: Dr. Adrian Bardon, a philosopher of time, on why time feels so right now (Vox)

News: Oh, for fuck’s sake (Lit Hub)

Essay: Kylie Logan, author of “The Secrets of Bones”, on growing up as a child of a police officer (Criminal Element)

Book Review: “All Things Violent” by Nikki Dolson (Fahrenheit Press) (Do Some Damage)

Book Review: “Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights” by Sonia Kilvington (Close to the Bone) (Messy Business)

Photographs: Daniel Frasnay (Fragments of Noir)

Book: “Tales from The Longcroft Estate” by Darren Sant (Close to the Bone)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Time, Violence, and Council Estates”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Cliffs, Crows, Stephen King

"KIng of the Crows" by Russell Day | Crows, Cliffs, Stephen King

“Cliffs, Crows, Stephen King” features a short story by Sharon Diane King, and links to R.G. Belsky, Stephen King, Jake Hinkson, Mia P. Manansala, and more.

Short Story: “On The Edge” by Sharon Diane King (All Due Respect)

Interview: R.G. Belsky, author of “The Last Scoop” (Oceanview Publishing) (Criminal Element)

Interview: An interview with John Brandon, author of “Arkansas” (McSweeney’s)

Article: Mia P. Manansala on the importance of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award (Criminal Element)

Book Review: To say that Gabino Iglesias loved “Blackwood” by Michael Farris Smith would be a understatement (Mystery Tribune)

Book Review: “Nude on Thin Ice” by Gil Brewer (Black Guys Do Read)

Book Review: “The Big Ugly” by Jake Hinkson (Col’s Criminal Library)

Book Review: “The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdrich (Los Angeles Review of Books)

New Release: “King of the Crows” by Russell Day (Fahrenheit Press)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Cliffs, Crows, Stephen King”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Gunslingers, Hosiers, and Johnny Cash

Small Crimes: Weekend Edition

Going Down Slow by Eryk Pruitt | Gunslingers, Hosiers, and Johnny Cash | Unlawful Acts

“Gunslingers, Hosiers, and Johnny Cash” features links to Scott Adlerberg, Cornell Woolrich, Paul D. Brazill, Reed Farrel Coleman, Eryk Pruitt and more.

Essay: Scott Adlerberg on Cornell Woolrich’s “Waltz Into Darkness” (Mystery Tribune)

Interview: Tim Mara sat down to interview Paul D. Brazill (The Big Thrill)

Interview: “Off the Cuff with Reed Farrel Coleman” (Dietrich Kalteis)

Short Story: “Fragrant” by Rod D. Smith (Shotgun Honey)

Book Review: “King of the Crows” by Russell Day (Fahrenheit Press) (Grab This Book)

Journal Review: “Hoosier Noir: One” (First City Books) (Kevin’s Corner)

Book Review: “Blackwood” by Michael Farris Smith (Little, Brown) (Southern Review of Books)

Book Review: “Trains, Jesus, and Murder: The Gospel According to Johnny Cash” by Richard Beck (Fortress Press) (No Depression)

Podcast: Special guest co-hosts E.A. Aymar and Sarah Chen talked with Sheena Kamal and Matthew Quirk (Writer Types)

Movie: “Going Down Slow” written and directed by Eryk Pruitt (Vimeo)

Thanks for stopping by and reading “Gunslingers, Hosiers, and Johnny Cash”. Click here for more Small Crimes.

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Links

Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads

Gerald So interviewed everyone, well, almost everyone nominated for a Derringer Award this year. (So You Want To Chat?)

Tiny Tales is a new podcast a homemade punk rock ethos featuring multi-genre fiction and poetry. It is hosted by Darrent Sant (Punk Noir)

K. A. Laity on learning the grift from movies (Punk Noir)

Review of Margaret Millar’s “Beast in View” (1958) (Mystery Tribune)

Big Lonely City #95, a noir photographic series (Fragments of Noir)

A new book by B.R. Stateham, “Lenny” (Fahrenheit Press)

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Books

Know Me From Smoke by Matt Phillips

At the end of last year, I finished reading Matt Phillips’s back catalog with “Redbone” and “Bad Luck City”. The reason being was that I had read “Three Kinds of Fools” in 2016 and I knew Phillips had a book coming out in December 2017 called “Accidental Outlaws” which I needed to get to. This should tell you that I’m either a glutton for punishment or I enjoy Phillips’s books. It’s the latter. So I was excited when I found out Phillips had a book come out in August 2018, “Know Me From Smoke” (Fahrenheit 13).

It took me a bit to get into this book as it did the alternating chapters between the two main characters thing, but the book didn’t dwell in that repetition for long. The two main characters of “Know Me From Smoke” are Stella Radney, a lounge singer with a bullet in her hip from a robbery gone bad that killed her husband some 20 years ago, and Royal Atkins, an ex-con just released from prison back home to San Diego. 

But the further I read into Phillips’s “Know Me From Smoke” and saw how good it was, the more I realized that the two books I had recently finished had put me in a reading funk. I blame George Pelecanos’s “The Man Who Came Uptown” for that. What I needed was a palate cleanser before I picked up “Know Me From Smoke”, but Phillips is a good enough writer that he pulled me through my reading distress to the malaise the gripped Stella and Royal. I love malaise in my reading.

Phillips sets us in modern-day San Diego, but it could have easily been unearthed from a 1940s manuscript, not because it’s littered with noirish metaphors and similes, rather Phillips creates a mood that drips with the shadows of meaningless and crime.

I don’t want to go deep into the story but one of the themes of the story is that of being caught in the cages of society. Royal comes early to this line of thinking.

Royal sat there on the bed, his feet tired from walking and his eyes adjust to the soft glow of evening light through the windows, the way it stacked up in some places and left shadows in others. Here I am, Royal thought, I went from one prison to another. One looks better than the other, but it’s still like I have chains around my ankles. And those steel bracelets around my wrists. 

He reclined into the bed and closed his eyes.

Stella, however, is in a cage of her own making. Though as tragic as it is that her husband was murdered, she let’s this one moment define her entire existence. The sorrow and pain feed her soul like alcohol and food replenish her body. And then there’s Phoenix, an ex-con living in the half-way house with Royal, who is creating his own cage of crimes to encircle Royal.

Matt Phillips’s “Know Me From Smoke” is Noir AF. I thought Phillips’s “Accidental Outlaws” was something, but “Know Me From Smoke” is something else. If you are looking for modern day noir, look no further than this book with its atmosphere of loneliness and constant struggle. I can’t guarantee that you’ll feel good after reading “Know Me From Smoke”, but I know you’ll feel good that you read it.

Buy: Amazon