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.


The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinkson

Over at Hardboiled Wonderland, Jedidiah Ayres put together a wonderful idea to promote St. Louis’ Noir at the Bar on Sunday, March 26th. All he asked for is a new review of a book by one of over 70 writers of fiction and he would send out to five reviewers a book from his overcrowded shelves.

This spurred me to finally purchase Ayres’ Peckerwood (Broken River Books) but I guessed that Ayres would have people write about other authors rather than himself. Whether I receive a book or not is of no importance. Helping someone promote other writers’ work is something I value greatly.

So I ended up picking Jake Hinkson for the sole reason is that he is why I discovered so many of the great crime writers that Ayres’ listed in his blog post and that I have reviewed here. Last summer I read Hinkson’s Hell of Church Street (280 Steps) (review) which I found to be fucking incredible, maybe even mind-blowing. I quickly looked at Hinkson’s bibliography and, through various connections, discovered publishers like All Due Respect Books, Down & Out Books, and 280 Steps. My reading has not been the same since. Thanks, Jake.

Hinkson’s The Deepening Shade (All Due Respect) is a collection of short stories of normal people being caught up in the irregular aspects and darkness of life. The first story “Maker’s and Coke”, about a cop drinking alone on the job, alerts the reader that Hinkson’s collection is going to be anything other than usual. “The Theologians” tells the story of two burglars who rob homes of the recently deceased and subsequently get into an argument about God.

There is a strain of religion that runs through Hinkson’s writing — many times God and/or Jesus are characters within his work. Given that there are large swaths of the United States where people are deeply religious, I find it surprising that religion does not play a bigger part in US crime fiction rather than the many being suprised by Hinkson’s sometimes religious bent.

Hinkson’s The Deepening Shade is a collection of day to day life stories that are overcast with crime, death, love, hate, and God. Stories like “The Girl From Yesterday”, “The Serpent Box”, and “Our Violence” will be read over and over by me not only as instructions on how to craft a story, but in appreciation of their sheer dark beauty.

Amazon: AU CA UK US


Hell on Church Street by Jake Hinkson

With books published by New Pulp Press, BEAT to a PULP, and Crime Factory Publications, it was no wonder that I had never heard of Jake Hinkson before. (Yeah, I’m new to this, but learning fast.) The classic noirs seem to get all the press. Since Hinkson’s book, Hell on Church Street, was the July selection of the Pulp Fiction Group at Goodreads, so I felt obliged and I am glad I did.

Hell on Church Street (280 Steps) has the guts of Jim Thompson, the storytelling of Joseph Conrad and a sprinkling of Nabokov’s Lolita. Hinkson begins the book with an unnamed narrator, a man with a short temper, on the run from the law, and looking for an easy mark to roll. The mark he finds is a fat man name Geoffrey Webb, but this robbery is not going to be as easy as he thought. Even with a gun pressed to the back of his head, Webb, the “victim”, was going to be robbed his way and he had a story to tell first.

The new narrator, Webb, talks of his abusive father without any excuses and then how the church may or may not have saved him.

I’m not an intimidating man. Believe me, I know. But I’m not talking about being intimidating. I used to be the safest man you could imagine. At one time, years ago, so many people loved me and trusted me you wouldn’t believe it. I’ve known the kind of trust that few people are ever afforded. And I betrayed it. So now I guess I deserve the termite life I’ve been living. I deserve to die the way I’m going to die. I betrayed everyone who ever trusted me, and God saw fit to cast me down with the termites. No amount of forgiveness or understanding will change what I’ve done.

At it’s simplest, Hell on Church Street, is the story of an awkward man hired as a youth minister. He has a fine porn collection and attracted to his minister’s 15-year-old daughter. Set in modern times, though prior to the internet, Hinkson’s novel spins the decline of a decadent man and his lame-ass attempt at redemption. I can only say that Hell on Church Street is good, real good; it may even be great, but that is something some that comes with time and multiple re-reads.

Originally posted on September 02, 2016. Updated on October 30, 2016.