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Incident Report

Incident Report No. 89

“ggrrrrrrr”, photograph by francois karm, CC-BY

Fuck Otto. I hate giving him any attention, but there he is. There he is. Gabino Iglesias said it best:

 He [Otto Penzler] has been in publishing for decades, which means his inability to see the need for diversity and his denial of the obvious biases that have shaped the publishing world for decades are things that stem from one of two things: pure stupidity or racism. I have time for neither.


The Exquisite Corpse wrapped up its second volume. The editors are looking for participants for the third.

Close to the Bone has released its first online magazine and it’s a good one featuring Holly Rae Garcia, Oliver Brennan, Paul Heatley, and the beginning of a serialized novel by Paul D. Brazill called “The Seatown Blues”. If you’ve never read Brazill before, here’s your chance to read wonderful lines like “Bryn immediately recognised Detective Inspector Slipper, a copper so bent you could use him as a pipe cleaner.”

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

Articles

Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, a celebrity book curator critiques celebrity bookshelves (Town & Country)

Michael J. Seidlinger interviewed by Tobias Carroll (Vol. 1 Brooklyn)

“A Day in the Life ~ Cassandra Raines” by Tracy Clark (dru’s book musings)

Interview with Art Taylor, author of “The Boy Detective & The Summer of 74 and Other Tales of Suspense” (Madam Mayo)

“Why P.I.s Are Cool” by D.P. Lyle (Kings River Life Magazine)

“AloneStarCon”, a funny piece by Michael Bracken (SleuthSayers)

“Do You Torture Your Metaphors? The Problem of Self-Conscious Writing” by Jessi Rita Hoffman (Jane Friedman)

Rob Pierce, author of “Tommy Shakes” (All Due Respect Books) interviewed (Col’s Criminal Library)

Interview with Bernard Schaffer (Writers Who Kill)

Interview with Laird Barron (Book & Film Globe)

K.A. Laity on some classic noir by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Punk Noir)

Author Spotlight: Scott Adlerberg (Eight Million Books to Read)

“Maigret’s Room: The Home Life of Inspector Maigret” by John Lancaster (London Review of Books)

More about Otto (One Bite at a Time)


Short Stories

“Transcendent Ramblin’ Railroad Blues” by Michael Martin Garrett (Shotgun Honey)

“8 Thrilling Horror Stories You Can Read Online Right Now” (Chicago Review of Books)


Book Reviews

“Lockdown” edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle (Polis Books) (BOLO Books)

“Rock -N- Noirror: Horror and Noir from the Seedy Side of Rock -N- Roll” edited by Wolfgang Potterhouse and Todd Morr (10th Rule Books) (Eight Million Books)

“Lost Tomorrows” by Matt Coyle (Oceanview Publishing) (Sons of Spade)

“Cold Water” by Tom Pitts (Down & Out Books) (Col’s Criminal Library)

“Tropical Heat” by John Lutz (Open Road Media) (Kevin’s Corner)

“The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren” by Paul Gorman (Little Brown) (Hyperallergic)

“Bonekeeper” by Luca Veste (The Tattooed Book Geek)

Flash Bang Mysteries: Spring 2020 Issue 19 (Kevin’s Corner)

“I Know Where You Sleep” by Alan Orloff (Down & Out Books) (Men Reading Books)

“Mystery Weekly Magazine” February 2020 (Kevin’s Corner)

“Gender Justice” by Nicky Charlish (Punk Noir)

“Clean Hands” by Patrick Hoffman (Col’s Criminal Library)

“The Lantern Man” by Jon Bassoff (Down & Out Books) (Black Guys Do Read)

“A Small Sacrifice” by Dana King (Messy Business)

“The Blues Don’t Care” by Paul D. Marks (Down & Out Books) (Lesa’s Book Critiques)

“Cutter’s Fall” by Julie Morrigan (Col’s Criminal Library)

“Evergreen” by Howard Owen (Kevin’s Corner)

“Worse Angels” by Laird Barron (MysteryPeople)

“Into Bones Like Oil” by Kaaron Warren (Meerkat Press) (Just A Guy Who Likes to Read)


True Crime

“Murder in Old Barns” by Linsday Jones (The Walrus)

“What Do You Do With a Stolen van Gogh? This Thief Knows” (The New York Times)


Podcasts

Interview with Ivy Pochado (The Maris Review)

ECR Minipod 2.5 “Wally Steakhouse” by J.D. Graves (EconoClash Review)


Other Media

Big Lonely City #102 (Fragments of Noir)

New live album by Margo Price (Bandcamp)

Raymond Carver reading (YouTube)

Interview with Graeme Manson, creator of “Orphan Black” and the new “Snowpiercer” (LA Review of Books)

Big Lonely City #103 (Fragments of Noir)

How The Bryan/Brian Schism Worked For Roxy Music (Quietus)

“Grant the Mini-Series – A Popular Reassessment” (Scott D. Parker)

“How the Banjo Put Down Roots in North Carolina” by Kara Kundert (No Depression)


Featured Books

“Lake County Incidents” by Alec Cizak (ABC Group Documentation)


“Rigged” by D.P. Lyle (Oceanview Publishing)


“The Lantern Man” by Jon Bassoff (Down & Out Books)


“River Bottom Blues” by Ricky Bush (Fahrenheit Press)


“Mister Trot from Tin Street” by Pablo D’Stair (All Due Respect Books)


 “The Mark” by Simon Maltman (Close to the Bone, UKUS)


Thanks for stopping by to read Incident Report No. 89. If you’d like to read more posts like this, please click here.

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PIs, Trains, and Malcolm McLaren

Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads

PIs, Trains, and Malcolm McLaren | Rigged by D.P. Lyle

“PIs, Trains, and Malcolm McLaren – Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads” features Ivy Pochado, D.P. Lyle, Tom Pitts, Matty Coyle, Snowpiercer, and much more.

Article: Interview with Art Taylor, author of “The Boy Detective & The Summer of 74 and Other Tales of Suspense” (Madam Mayo)

Article: “Why P.I.s Are Cool” by D.P. Lyle (Kings River Life Magazine)

Book Review: “Lost Tomorrows” by Matt Coyle (Oceanview Publishing) (Sons of Spade)

Book Review: “Cold Water” by Tom Pitts (Down & Out Books) (Col’s Criminal Library)

Book Review: “Tropical Heat” by John Lutz (Open Road Media) (Kevin’s Corner)

Book Review: “The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren” by Paul Gorman (Little Brown) (Hyperallergic)

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

Short Story: “Transcendent Ramblin’ Railroad Blues” by Michael Martin Garrett (Shotgun Honey)

Podcast: Interview with Ivy Pochado (The Maris Review)

Podcast: ECR Minipod 2.5 “Wally Steakhouse” by J.D. Graves (EconoClash Review)

Television: Interview with Graeme Manson, creator of “Orphan Black” and the new “Snowpiercer” (LA Review of Books)

Photographs: Big Lonely City #103 (Fragments of Noir)

Book: “Rigged” by D.P. Lyle (Oceanview Publishing)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “PIs, Trains, and Malcolm McLaren”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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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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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)

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

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.

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Misfits, Tacos, and Otto Penzler

Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads

Benediction for a thief by LA Sykes | misfits, tacos, and otto penzler

“Misfits, Tacos, and Otto Penzler – Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads” features burying people alive, Michael Pool, Tom Pitts, and much more.

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

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

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

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

Article: Otto Penzler’s out (The Crime Lady)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illustrations: Thomas Ott (Fragments of Noir)

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

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

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Misfits, Tacos, and Otto Penzler”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

The photo used in the background for social media is by Dave Green and is licensed CC BY-SA.

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Bad Neighbors, Drugs, and Hemingway

Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads

“Bad Neighbors, Drugs, and Hemingway – Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads” features S.A. Cosby, Shakespeare and Company, Rob McClure Smith, Tom Pitts, and more.

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

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

Submissions: What they’re looking for (Longreads)

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

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

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

TV Review: “The Cry” (BOLO Books)

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

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Bad Neighbors, Drugs, and Hemingway”. 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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Covid, Fires, and Crime

Small Crimes: Weekend Edition

Covid, Fires, and Crime | The Brooklyn Trilogy by Robert J. Randisi

“Covid, Fires, and Crime – Small Crimes: Weekend Edition” features Tom Pitts, Dana King, Robert J. Randisi, Down & Out Books, 3:AM Magazine, and more.

Article: Tom Pitts, author of “Coldwater” (Down & Out Books), interviewed (One Bite at a Time)

Article: Dana King, author of “Pushing Water” (Down & Out Books), interviewed (Off the Cuff)

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

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

Book Review: “Checkpoint Charlie” by Brian Garfield (Col’s Criminal Library)

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

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Covid, Fires, and Crime”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Books

101 by Tom Pitts

Toward the end of Tom Pitts’s “101” (Down & Out Books), one of the characters admits to themself that being a pot dealer is not worth it, “Let the fucking government experience the headaches of being a dealer.” Set six months prior to California voters legalize pot, Pitts crafts a stellar thriller amidst pot growers, a motorcycle gang, the Russian mob, and two punk-ass kids.

Pitts’s novel is named after the US highway that stretches from Olympia, Washington to Los Angeles, California, but Pitss is interested is the stretch of highway from Humboldt County to San Francisco. “101” isn’t meant to provide fuel for some deep thinking on the legalizing of drugs, no, this is a wham-bam action thriller where scene after scene pushes us to the brink of mayhem or envelopes us into hot bloody chaos.

Chock full of characters, I easily counted 20 characters with significant parts, though I there are probably another 20 more. Through this potpourri, there are a handful of plots strung and paced expertly together. Pitts moves the reader from criminals on the run to the police on the case to Russians on the hunt to . . . well you get the idea, we are all over the place. Pitts cuts from scene to scene and builds up a relentless pace like a well-executed action film.

As I was reading “101”, I kept on expecting one character to take the lead. Maybe one could argue that Vic, the pot-growing farmer in Humboldt County, could be considered the protagonist, but I wasn’t feeling it. As I kept on turning the pages, I realized that Pitts was creating na ensemble cast that worked well with the multiple subplots strung out throughout, so there wasn’t the need for one protagonist to stand out.

Tom Pitts’s “101” is pulp in the best sense, lots action and not lots of fluff. Set against the changing backdrop of marijuana going from illegal to legal, “101” is a witty and thrilling read that you’ll find sativaing.

Buy: Amazon

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Books

American Static by Tom Pitts

You ever have one of those days where you step out of a San Francisco-bound bus to grab a smoke and you get mugged by two guys who steal your backpack that has everything in it, I mean everything, your wallet, phone, clothes, and a couple pounds of weed? Well, that’s how Steven’s day goes when we meet him in Tom Pitts’ American Static (Down & Out Books). Beaten and lying on the ground, Steven looks up and meets Quinn, a rather handsome man who offers to help Steven out. Against his better judgment, Steven accepts the help. They grab a bite to eat and then chase down the bus.

Inside the bus, Quinn walked down the aisle, looking from left to right. About two-thirds of the way back he saw two young Hispanic kids. The one closest to the window had a backpack clutched to his chest. They made eye contact. Quinn studied them for a moment, then winked. Both boys furrowed their brows. Quinn turned and walked off the bus.

Steven watched Quinn walk back empty-handed, giving his shoulders a small shrug. Before he got back in the truck, Quinn pulled the .45 from behind his back and handed it across the seat to Steven, telling him to return it to the glove box. With a grunt he climbed back behind the wheel.
“They ain’t on there.”
“You sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. They’re probably still in Willits, laying low and waiting for the next bus back north.”
“Fuck.”
“Sorry, kid. I did what I could. Now what do you want to do?”

With nothing to do and nowhere to go, Steven joins Quinn on his quest to find his daughter in San Francisco. Unknown to Steven, their journey to the Bay Area leaves a wake of dead bodies and abandoned stolen cars. And when they reach The City, the violence gets amped up.

With a handful of third-person narrators, Pitts skillfully orchestrates the plot and pace which in lesser hands would have been a mess. Pitts’ writing in American Static is fucking top-notch, often noir and poetic at the same time.

He’d completely given over to the sensation that his fate was out of his hands. He felt like an old Styrofoam cup bobbing up and down in a turbulent ocean. Playing over in his mind regrets of ever taking the weed and heading out for the city, he went through each detail as though he could have changed his fate.

Over a few frantic days, we follow Quinn and Steven as we try to figure out why this woman is so important and guess who the bad guys really are. Much more than a cat-and-mouse game, Pitts’ well-written American Static is a marvelous crime thriller that looks at the city’s intersections of drugs,  homeless youth, violent thugs, dirty cops and crooked politicians.

Amazon: AU CA UK US