Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Q & A with Tom Schreck

Q: What makes Duffy Dombrowski different from other (unofficial) PIs?
I wanted Duffy to be more of an every man. I didn't want him to be agourmet, live on a yacht, be a great womanizer--I wanted a guy like therest of us who rises up when he feels an injustice. He becomes somethingdifferent if he feels that that injustice occurs to society's vulnerable. So he's a low level social worker and a bad boxer. I work in the fightgame and the vast majority of pro fighters work "real" jobs. I chose notto make him a shrink but a guy who does the grunt work in human services.

Q: How did you come up with the character of Duffy Dombrowski?
Write what you know, right? I'm a fighter and have spent my life in shittyhuman service jobs. I've had a lot of screwy girlfriends and I drink withsome real knuckleheads. I'm a huge Elvis fan, drive old Cadillacs and Ilive with not one but three hound dogs. I guess I'm not all that creative

Q: What's next for you and Duffy Dombrowski?
I've got a Duffy short story collection coming out strictly to benefitbasset hound rescue. it features seven short stories, various features onbasset hound rescue, clips from the books and its all interpsersed with myfriend Ginny Tata Phillips basset hound haiku...yes, you read thatcorrectly. The next full length Duffy comes out in '11. Duff and the gang wind up in Vegas with the Russian mob, hookers, Elvis impersonators and the issue ofMexican immigration.
Q: How much of your work is inspired by your daily life?
Every fuckin' last bit. People tell me the guys in the bar are outrageous and I tell them if they come to Albany they can come with me and go drinking with them. Every goofy thing the dog does has happened to me. I think Duffy getskicked in the nuts less than me. Every day life is all there is. When you start reaching too far beyondthat the reader knows and they stop trusting you. Every day life is more than enough if you're paying attention.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, firstinfluenced by Hammett, then Chandler, MacDonald, Parker, later Lehane.Who do you think will influence the coming generation and in what way?
If the next generation of PI writers are smart they'll be copying guyslike Ken Bruen, Reed Farrell Coleman, JA Konrath, Sean Chercover, MarcusSakey, Tim Maleeny, William Kent Krueger. All of those guys are great. There also all great to drink with.

Q: Beth Terrell came up with the following question: If your PI couldchoose to be a comic book superhero, which would he choose and why?
Duffy would like to be Elvis Presley--the closest thing to a real lifecomic book hero the world has ever known.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what isyour answer?
Describe how pathological your level of insecurity is about your writing.How many hours do you spend daily vainly trying to dispute the idea thatevery word you've written absolutely sucks. My answer? I'm way to insecure to even think of the question.

Lennox (Lennox) by Craig Russell

If you like PI novels (and since you're visiting this site you must) you have to read this one.
The only new thing this novel brings to the PI game is probably it's fifties Glasgow setting, but the story is brought in such an entertaining way it's going to be one of my favorites of the year for sure.
Lennox is fixer for the Three Kings, a bunch of Glasgow mobsters. He's hired to find out who killed gangster Tam McGahern and gets suspected of the murder himself. During his investigations he gets beaten up, beats other people up, discovers dead bodies and uncovers dangerous secrets. Everything a good PI should. And Lennox is one tough example. Armed with a sap and a Webley he really knows how to deal with Glasgow's thugs. And quite some scary thugs at that, like a guy called Twinkletoes who got the name cutting off people's toes.
There's some very funny writing and wisecracks (like, 'I kept as low a profile as a foreskin at a rabbi's convention')to go along with the violence, making sure it all doesn't get too dark. Lennox is enough of a conflicted character to make the story be about more than just tough guys and femme fatales, though.
I really thought it read like a homage to Raymond Chandler, on every page Craig leaves us, consciously, some great bit to enjoy,just like Chandler did. Also, I've got a feeling that it isn't a coincidence one of the character's in Chandler's The Long Goodbye was named Terry Lennox.
Craig Russell has been having some succes with his Jan Fabel serial killer style police procedurals, but with this new series he's really found his voice. Tony Black and Russel McLean already showed us the best noir is coming from Scotland these days. Craig Russell continues this tradition.

The Big Boom (Dante Mancuso) by Dominic Stansberry

This was absolutely one of the more literary PI novels I've read lately. The prose is very lyrical, which might've made this a slow read. The shorter chapters and the relatively basic plot form a nice contrast to this however, still making it an entertaining story.
Dante Mancuso is hired to look into the disappearance of an old girlfriend but encounters a murderous plot, fueled by greed. Set against the backdrop of San Francisco during the height and fall of the internet boom it's not just a thrilling detective story but also a monument of a relatively ignored part in US history.
Dante Mancuso, nicknamed the Pelican because of his big nose, is quite a tough investigator. Ex-CIA, ex-cop and recovering drug addict, he isn't afraid to get down and dirty with the bad guys and get rid of some dead bodies.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Slash and Burn (Joe Hunter) by Matt Hilton

The first two novels in this series may have been actionpacked, but this one takes the cake. It's like a Steven Seagal movie in bookform. Joe Hunter is back, helping out the sister of a dead friend from his time with Special Forces. For her he takes on psychotic twins and a knife-wielding businessman in a tale of non-stop gunfire, car chases and fistfights.
If you think Lee Child is too boring, this is your book!
I could do with just a bit less action next time around and a bit more suspense. Judging by the preview of the next one in this series I will get my wish, making this still one of my favorite series.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Through the Cracks (Anni Koskinen) by Barbara Fister

Anni Koskinen is hired by a rape victim to find out who raped her if it wasn't the man they put in prison for it. Even more important than this investigation is Anni's journey through the world of rape victims, immigrants and teenagers who try to make the best of their lives even if they were dealt a bad hand. Like a lot of Scandinavian crime fiction this can be seen as a true social crime novel.
At times the investigation seemed to go a bit slow, but at the end it all picks up speed with revelation after revelations and quite some thrills.
Mostly, it feels like a pretty realistic story, far removed from the superhero-adventures of Elvis Cole and Spenser.
Barbara has been compared to Sara Paretsky and in all honesty there's more to that comparison than the fact they both write about female PI's in Chicago. If you like her work, you're going to like this one.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Noah Milano short story online!

It's been a while, so I'm sure all Noah Milano fans will enjoy the new short story posted at the fantastic Thrills, Kills and Chills blog.
Let me know what you thought of it!

Q & A with Tom Lowe

Q: What makes Sean O'Brien different from other (unofficial) PIs?
I don't know if O'Brien is a lot different from many of them. I think what they all have in common is a sense of doing the right thing and compassion for victims of abuse, crime, etc. O'Brien, however, is a sharp observer of people. He has an uncanny gift to detect when someone is lying. He notices when things are not what they seem to be, and when they are not what they should be.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I used to be a journalist and I was exposed to a lot of cops and crime. O'Brien reminds me of a detective I once knew.

Q: How much research went in your latest novel?
My latest novel is THE 24TH LETTER.. I consulted with attorneys and cops to give a work of fiction as much accuracy as possible within the fast-paced format.

Q: What's next for you and Sean?
What's next for Sean or me? For Sean, the next novel, THE 24TH LETTER, will be published March 16th. For me, it's one day at a time.

Q: How do you promote your books?
I spend a lot of time going to book signings and events. I think face-to-face meetings with readers is a great connection. I do a newsletter and hit the social media on the Internet as often as possible.

Q: Do you have any favourite Sons of Spade yourself?
Some of the mystery/thriller writers I enjoy include: Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, John Connolly and many others.

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, MacDonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation and in what way?
Writers like Michael Connelly and Lee Child are very popular. I believe the hybrid of the mystery/thriller is the kind of work that may fuel the imaginations of the next generation - and whatever content they deliver to e-books.

Q: Joe Lansdale came up with the following question: If your PI could choose to be a comic book superhero, which would he choose and why?
I have no clue. Ironman maybe. Probably because I saw the film recently.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
You might want to ask them why they do this genre of storytelling. For me, it's a great way to entertain people with escapist fiction that can have a subtle theme that resonates with social relevance of today, i.e., the death penalty.

A False Dawn (Sean O'Brien) by Tom Lowe

Sean O' Brien is an ex-cop who promised his dying wife to steer away from the darkness of criminal investigations, living in Florida with his dog. When he stumbles upon a dying young woman he can't help but find justice for her. Along the way he has to face human trafickers, corrupt cops and a psychopathic serial killer. Luckily, Sean still has some friends he can trust and a past as an Special Forces paratrooper.
Sean is not a very original kind of hero, neither is the plot. There is a very well written dark tone however and enough action to enjoy. It's a cross between James Lee Burke, James MacDonald and Lee Child. Since I like all those writers a lot, I enjoyed this one although it didn't blow me away.