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.


“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)

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)


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.


Dead Bodies, Samurais, and Emily Ratajkowski

Small Crimes: Weekend Edition

“Dead Bodies, Samurais, and Emily Ratajkowski – Small Crimes: Weekend Edition” features Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, Emily Ratajkowski, and much more.

Interview: Joe Clifford sat down with Dana King. (One Bite at a Time)

Interview: Tom Pitts sat down with Colman Keane (Col’s Criminal Library)

Article: Mock Emily Ratajkowski all you want, but at least she’s writing (Lit Hub)

Article: “Brian Evenson: 8 Tales of Psychological Terror by the Modern Horror Author” by Michael J. Seidlinger (The Line Up)

Article: “The Exquisite Corpse” is updated. Trust me. (The Exquisite Corpse)

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by and reading “Dead Bodies, Samurais, and Emily Ratajkowski”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

& The Rest

Best of 2018

All the regular caveats and such. You’ll notice several short story collections and two books from 2017 I finally caught up with. But first, the Book of the Year.

Book of the Year

The rest of the Best listed alphabetically.

grant jerkins

Here are some books from 2018 that are worthy of your money as well and, again, listed in no particular order: “Know Me From Smoke” by Matt Phillips, “Welcome to HolyHell” by Math Bird, “The Science of Paul” by Aaron Philip Clark, “Fast Bang Booze” by Lawrence Maddox, “Down the River Unto The Sea” by Walter Mosley, “Accidental Outlaws” by Matt Phillips, “May” by Marietta Miles, “Knuckledragger” by Rusty Barnes, and “Breaking Glass” by Alec Cizak.

Here’s my 2017 list if you’re interested.


Broken Ground by Joe Clifford

Broken Ground by Joe CliffordJay Porter, the protagonist of the Joe Clifford’s latest book “Broken Ground” (Oceanview Publishing), is trying to get past some issues that would have buried a lesser man, but Porter isn’t safe, far from it. Porter has lost much over the last few years: his brother, his wife, his best friend, and his boss/mentor. At the beginning of “Broken Ground”, we see Porter getting his life back together. His ex-wife and son have moved closer to Porter’s town and even though his boss/mentor has moved away and sold the estate clearing business off to a competitor, Porter has started his own business. It’s not doing exceptionally well but it is moving in the right direction.

Porter has a couple of hot buttons that get him going, buttons that people know how to push. He still might live in an apartment above a gas station, drive a truck without heat in the New Hampshire winter, but he’s also going to AA. He’s given up beer but not his meds for his periodic crippling anxiety. It’s at an AA meeting where he meets Amy Lupus who tries to hire Porter to find her missing sister, a college student last seen at a drug rehabilitation center owned by the Lombardi family. Porter isn’t a licensed investigator but Lupus knows about Porter has a soft spot for helping young people in trouble and a hatred for the Lombardis.

“Broken Ground” is an atypical P.I. novel. As the fourth book of the Jay Porter series, we have a good idea who the guilty parties are and we might even think we know where this is all headed, however, that’s all to be decided in the fifth and possibly last Porter novel. What drives “Broken Ground” is Porter himself; his weariness, his angst, and his crisis of faith in himself are what plague him. There’s no yelling at Porter to grab himself up by his bootstraps. Porter’s despair is real and expertly fleshed out by Clifford. What struck me with “Broken Ground” is that it may be a difficult read due to Porter’s pain, but Clifford’s writing is so damn good that it makes “Broken Ground” a pleasure to read. If you’re expecting a standard P.I. novel, this isn’t it. Instead Clifford’s “Broken Ground” is a thoughtful book of a man trying to find his place in the world.

Amazon: AU CA UK US


Give Up the Dead by Joe Clifford

Give Up the Dead (Oceanview Publishing) is the third in Joe Clifford’s Jay Porter PI series. Reading Clifford’s latest makes me thankful of that I gave up my compulsion to read a new-to-me series in order — all that does is make my TBR longer. Jumping into the latest book severely cuts down on my TBR except in cases like this where I finished Give Up the Dead and then added Cliffords’ December Boys and Lamentation, and his fictional memoir Junkie Love to my TBR. Best intentions, I guess.

The latest Jay Porter book opens over Thanksgiving weekend in Clifford’s fictional New Hampshire which could go to toe to toe with Russel Bank’s own New England bleakness: Porter eats Thanksgiving dinner with his ex-wife and son in a Denny’s. This is not even the low point in Porter’s life. He lives alone in an apartment above a gas station where he keeps his apartment too cold because he cannot afford to heat it. Porter’s nights usually consist of lamely-cooked pasta and a six-pack of beer, all of which is chased by a few Marlboro Lights. His days are not much better, “By noon I was sick of stale coffee, cigarettes, and my neurosis.”

Porter’s neuroses consist of plenty of bad decisions that haunt him continuously: a job that may disappear, a son living in another man’s house, thoughts of his brother and countless what ifs, and his best friend slowly killing himself with alcohol. The irony with his friend’s demise is that Porter cannot see his own reflection in his friend’s alcoholism and desperate life. In one scene, Porter talks to a woman about a young man who has gone missing.

“This is my job. I help run a drug and alcohol center. You do this long enough, you start to see patterns, recognize reoccurring looks. An expression in the eye.”

“I have a . . . reoccurring look?” I scoffed, inviting commentary with a two-finger curl. “Okay, let’s have it. What’s my ‘look’?”

She didn’t miss a beat. “You look like a guy who drinks every day. Mostly beer. So you don’t think it’s a problem. You look like a guy who set limits for himself. No more than a six-pack a night. Most nights he keeps that promise. Except sometimes he gets stressed, and then, fuck it. But that’s okay, because it’s just beer, right? You look like a guy who knows people who drink way more than he does, people with real drug and alcohol problems.” Alison glanced at my callused hands. “You work outdoors. Heavy lifting. In the trenches, man’s work. None of that cubicle bullshit for you, and out in the fields, men like you can handle their alcohol. Most of all, men like you don’t ask for help even when it’s beginning to affect their personal life.”

“My personal life?”

“I’ll go out on a limb and say you are divorced?”

“Anything else?”

“Since you asked.” There was that smile again. “Judging by the dark circles under your eyes, I’m guessing you don’t sleep too well, high strung, anxiety issues. You need something to relax, help you rest, sleeping pills, benzos, the occasional painkiller. But you don’t touch anything illegal. Anything you take, a doctor prescribes.” Alison smirked. “Am I close?”

“Not even. I don’t touch painkillers.”

“I noticed the limp, so I figured—”

“You figured wrong.” I shook my head, incredulous. “It’s been a bad few years. But I don’t have a problem.”


Even if Porter cannot see his problems, everyone else can.

After writing some 250 words, I realized that I barely mentioned the crimes surrounding this piece of crime fiction. And as good as the mysteries are in Joe Clifford’s Give Up the Dead, they are not the reason to read this book, it is Jay Porter’s authenticness in life’s struggles which captivated me. Porter is the remnant of a Springsteen lyric, he is desperately trying to reclaim what was once his. Porter seems to be drifting to towards forgiving himself, but if Clifford’s series ends in tragedy, no reader would be surprised.