Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mike Dalmas all over the web!

The web is buzzing about the new Mike Dalmas series.
See me talk about it at Do Some Damage and see others talk about it here, here, here and here.

Q & A with Gar Anthony Haywood

When he won the Shamus Award for Best Short Story I just had to talk to him... Here he is, Gar Anthony Haywood...

Q: What makes Aaron Gunner different from other (unofficial) PIs?Well, first, he IS an "official" PI, in that he's licensed in the state ofCalifornia to practice private investigation. How he differs from otherfictional, official PIs (aside from his ethnicity):
1. He likes to drink, but suffers no addiction to alcohol or any other drug.
2. He's not running from anything in his past (a woman, a dark secret, adeath he caused accidentally, etc.)
3. Technically, he's not an ex-cop (he went to the LAPD training academybut got booted out before graduating).
4. He's only moderately competent at his job.
5. The novels that feature him (unlike the short stories) are always toldin third person, not first.
6. He's got a biting wit, but it's used quite sparingly; you'd nevermistake Gunner for a stand-up comedian.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
Basically, by deciding over time what I DIDN'T want him to be: white,altruistic, invulnerable, sexually irresistible, ingenious, fearless,addicted to (booze/cocaine/heroin/meth/painkillers), fast with a one-liner, dependent on someone less scrupled to do his heavy lifting.

Q: What's next for you and Gunner?
I'm only a couple of pages into book #7: GOOD MAN GONE BAD.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Through my website (; personal blog; my postings on the Murderati writersblog (; Facebook; and convention appearances.

Q: How did it feel to win the Shamus for short stories? I made light of it in my acceptance speech, but I am always incrediblyhonored to have my stuff recognized by my peers in the PWA. The nominatedauthors were awesome (Mickey Spillane vs. me? Are you kidding?), so thisShamus win was particularly special to me.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
I've long ago given up thinking that ebooks are not the wave of thefuture. They are. And as an author, I intend to jump onboard the ebookexpress with both feet very soon (we're negotiating now with Severn Housefor the rights to re-publish the early Gunner novels in ebook form). However, I love paperback novels like some people love crack, and bookstores will always be my greatest passion. The heft of a new book in myhands, the texture of the pages against my fingers as I flip through them,the embossing on an awesome cover suitable for framing---these are allexperiences the ebook can't offer me, so while I'll become an ebook readereventually, I'm in no hurry to get there.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe

While the two sidekicks you mention are exceptional and worthy of their extended roles in the work of Parker and Crais, respectively, I have always felt that such characters in general are something of a cheat, inthat they allow an author to lay waste to his villains without having toget his protagonist's hands dirty. Mouse serves this same function forEasy Rawlins in Walter Mosley's work. Mouse can do things on Easy'sbehalf that readers would find unconscionable were Easy to do them forhimself. And yet, these particular sidekicks are fascinating charactersin their own right. Their purpose might be simplistic, but theirpsychological profiles are not. Will I ever develop such a character for Gunner's benefit? Possibly. Butright now, I enjoy the challenge of having Gunner get out of his ownmesses, all by himself, regardless of how much blood this makes itnecessary for him to personally spill.

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?
Larry Block. Robert Crais. Walter Mosley.

Q: Max Alan Collins came up with the following question: Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?
This is like asking me if I'd rather be in a locked room with Christina Hendricks or Halle Barry. I can only choose ONE? Okay, I'll go with Chandler. Though THE MALTESE FALCON is damn near asgood as a P.I. novel can ever get.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer? What other P.I. writer, alive or dead, would you want as a huge fan? My answer: R
oss Macdonald.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The first Mike Dalmas is out!

I told you about it a few days ago and now it's here: the first Mike Dalmas short story, available on Kindle here.

It's my first at Trestle Press and because of that I can offer you some great stuff if you buy it.

*** One is that Treste Press will be offering 6 of the titles for free, one for each month we have been doing this, yours to enjoy, no questions asked!!
You can ask any Trestle Press author for them and, BOOM. They are yours, no muss, and no fuss, please enjoy them!
Here is the list of titles from The Author’s Lab/ Collaboration series:
“Who Whacked the Blogger”- Benjamin Sobieck- the birth of Maynard Soloman
“Hotel Beaumont” –B.R. Stateham-Hard-boiled noir
“Thad and The G-Man’s Most Awesome Adventure” –Thad Brown-adventure/suspense/humor
“Bring Us Your Living …Now!’ – H.R. Toye- straight up horror
“A Prince in Trenton,Seriously”- Mark Miller- an all ages tale- everybody from 2 to 200 can read this!!
“Dueling Microphones”- Rose A. Valenta - Humor
***Second- if you purchase ANY Trestle Press title we will double your pleasure by sending you a second free story (of same or equal value). All you need to do is contact me send your proof of purchase from Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coming Soon at Trestle Press: Mike Dalmas!

I just signed up with Trestle Press to bring out my new Mike Dalmas series of short series. It's coming your way soon!

Husband, father, vigilante... Mike Dalmas left Special Forces to become a dedicated family man, but when his daughter gets molested he had his revenge, killing the pervert who committed the crime.

Now the Bay City cops keep him out of jail if he takes care of their dirty work. The things their badge won't allow them to do but for which Dalmas has the right skill set.

In his first story to appear Mike Dalmas is blackmailed in saving a young girl from a known sex offender. The cops want him to find her before she dies or loses the will to live. The clock is ticking... Will Dalmas be prepared what is needed to find her in time?

Jochem Vandersteen is the writer of the Noah Milano series, founder of the Hardboiled Collective and blogs at

Hardboiled Collective: Revenge (Mick Murphy) by Michael Haskins

There's a great novel out right now by another member of The Hardboiled Collective.

When journalist Mick Murphy runs into his love fantasy in a wintry Harvard Yard, he is soon dragged into a web of brutal killings that began in Boston and end in Southern California. Trying to protect his dream girl, a Filipina named Michelle, Murphy runs afoul of a police friend and his nemesis, a Cuban-American cop, as well as Los Angeles County sheriffs, before he is beaten by a gang of Ameriasians and his Jeep is blown up. Holding onto his romantic dream, Murphy faces loss of friends and his life before the finale.

You don't want to miss this one if you love Travis McGee, Doc Ford or Thorn.

Go buy it here.

The Sentry (Joe Pike) by Robert Crais

Joe Pike has the lead in Robert Crais' newest action thriller. When Joe walks in on a store owner getting beaten up he takes action. With that heroic deed he gets involved in an FBI investigation into La Eme, the Mexican Maffia.
His buddy, Elvis Cole, finds out the restaurant owners are not what they seem, however. Meanwhile a psychopathic hitman is stalking the restaurant owners.
This is not Crais' best. It's great to see Joe and Elvis back in action, doing what they do best, because I love the characters. The story seemed to be a bit lacking, often I had the idea Crais didn't know exactly where the story was going either and improvised it with every chapter. That only worked partly for Robert B. Parker whose last few novels weren't up to the old standards either.
I felt the plotlines were wrapped up a bit too suddenly and the mystery behind it wasn't very interesting. Also, I think the psycho assassin was dealt with a bit too easily after the whole set-up.
In short, it's good because it's Crais, but it should have been better because it's Crais.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shamus Award Winners 2011

The Shamus Award winners have been revealed at Bouchercon. Sons of Spade congratulates all winners and is happy that one of my favorites (No Mercy) is among the winners.

• Best PI Hardcover: No Mercy [Mercy Gunderson] by Lori G. Armstrong (Touchstone)

• Best First PI Novel: In Search of Mercy [Dexter Bolzjak] by Michael Ayoob (Minotaur Books)

• Best PI Paperback Original: Asia Hand [Vincent Calvino] by Christopher G. Moore (Grove/Atlantic)

• Best PI Short Story: "The Lamb Was Sure To Go" by Gar Anthony Haywood (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, November 2010)

• Best PI Series Character: V. I. Warshawski, created by Sara Paretsky

• The EYE Lifetime Achievement Award: Ed Gorman

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nick Kepler now on Kindle!

Take a look at the Favorite Sons bar on the right.
See the name "Nick Kepler" there? I'm afraid a lot of you might not know that name. That's because there was only one novel.
There were a great deal of fantastic short stories out there, though.
One of them can be found on Kindle now.
What makes Nick so great? The fact that he's a character that grows with every story. That he feels so real you can imagine having a beer with him.
Don't just take my word for it, though. Go check it out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bye Bye Baby (Nate Heller) by Max Allan Collins

I usually am not a big fan of historical mysteries but always make an exception for Max Allan Collins's Nate Heller series. Why? Because Nate rocks! He's a fantastic mix of Marlowe and Hammer, a tough guy who is like the anti-Spenser. A real anti-hero who is not afraid to bed women and dump them, lets his guns speak and takes a bribe.
This novel is no exception, he even beds Marilyn Monroe! What a guy!
The novel deals with the death of Marilyn Monroe, pulling in a huge amount of historical detail without losing sight the story should be about Nate Heller as well as the era the story is set in. We see Frank Sinatra pop in, JFK and family and historical LAPD figures. Nate feels like a natural in those surroundings, making you forget this is fiction and it's not possible he really hobnobbed with the Kennedies and slept with Monroe.
If you are interested in either of those historical figures, the 1960s or if you could care less about all of that but dig Mike Hammer you should read this one!

Q & A with Simon Swift

Simon Swift steps into the world of historical PI writers with Black Shadows and I had the pleasure to interview him about it.

Q: What makes Errol Black different from other (unofficial) PIs?
There is a lot of back-story in the prologue to Black Shadows. In those first few pages, you find out plenty about Errol Black. He is official, he is quite traditional I suppose, but most of all he is real. He may have dalliances with mobsters, killers, psychotics, hookers and all the usual cast of hardboiled noir, but he is also a very deep thinker and a complicated guy. The reasons for this unfold over the trilogy. I wanted to make him much more three dimensional than the typical wisecracking private eye, but not lose that authenticity and hardboiled grittiness. This has been said of third world dictators before: he's a bastard, but he's our bastard! That's how I like to think of Errol Black.

Here's an extract from the second, forthcoming novel, The Casablanca Case which sheds a little more light on the guy...

You often wonder when you read all those hard-boiled novels of lone-wolf heroes prowling the mean streets of Los Angeles or San Francisco, shoving their guns in people's stomachs and pulling the trigger, being beaten senseless by a gang of Outfit yobs, or seduced by the resident femme fatale, you wonder just what made them like they are. Did Phillip Marlowe ring his ma and pa at weekends, or go round for Thanksgiving dinner? Did Mike Hammer have to wait by the telephone whilst Velda went to the clinic for a pregnancy test, or did he always carry rubbers, or did he really not give a fuck? They never tell you the other half. All you get is half a life, hell it's the only half worth reading about that's for sure, but you still wonder.
I suppose I read the secret half of Errol Black in those first few weeks back in New York. I read it, understood a whole lot more and burnt the fuckin' evidence. You could say that my turning point in life had arrived. I became a most wonderful cynic and a terrible rogue. Turned my back on reality and crept onto the pages of Hammett's typescript. Hermeez knew it was a facade, a shell that I had carefully constructed around me, that one day he would help me smash to pieces. I'm sure he had it all planned one day in the near future; a cathartic return to heal all the old wounds and tie up all the loose ends. Unfortunately I don't think he planned to persuade me to return quite like this.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
Errol Black has been developed over many years. I suppose he was born from a thousand mysteries, encapsulating Sam Spade, Phil Marlowe, Mike Hammer and more recently Max Allan Collins' Nate Heller. Those guys were heroes of mine, as were a couple of Ellroy's darker characters - Dudley Smith and Dave Klein. I wanted to write a story about a detective who could walk those same mean streets, but also a guy that was real, not simply a cliché (no offence to the tonnes of great clichés that are out there at the moment on the pages of noir!!!) And on top of all that, of course there is a good dose of Simon Swift mixed in there too.

Q: What's next for you and Errol Black?
Errol's next adventure is The Casablanca Case, which should be ready to buy early 2011. Whereas Black Shadows is heavily influenced by The Maltese Falcon (bestselling author Debbi Mack broke down with tears of laughter when she realised what I had done with the classic original), The Casablanca Case is a much darker, psychological tale. The, as yet untitled, third instalment will be the last full length novel featuring Errol Black, but will hopefully prove a fitting conclusion to my hero. There is also a novella on the way, and I do envisage Errol popping up in a range of shorts over the next few years.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Not half as well as I should do. I am far too lazy to make it as a marketing success! I hang round a few writer's websites and of course try to update my own website as often as I can. I also do blog interviews (Al Guthrie's Criminal-E was an honour) and seek out reviews. Luckily I have friends that use Facebook and tweet and all that jazz (for which I am forever thankful), but I am yet to become a fully paid up member of the 21st Century. I am still in the middle of a book signing tour for Black Shadows and have a number of Waterstones bookstore signings coming up, which keeps the word about.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
Ebooks are the future. That is what we keep hearing and like it or not (and I'm not quite sure yet that I do) it is an increasingly indisputable fact! As a writer, I kind of like kindle, but am very new to it. It feels wonderful when your book hits a top 100 list (Black Shadows was recently rubbing shoulders with Hammett and Chandler in the mystery / hardboiled section, which was great) and yes I think eventually kindle will take over the world, a bit like Tesco is doing! As a reader, I ultimately remain a traditionalist and will always cherish the feel of a 'real' book in my hands. It's even better when it's your own 'real' book. That said, I have recently got a new phone and have downloaded a stack of books to the kindle app on there. You know, maybe I will come around...

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Hmm, this is not something I have really though about. I guess psychotics will always have a place in any hardboiled fiction. Now, if you asked me who would win between Hawk and Pike in a fight, I would have to go with Pike. He's the younger guy and the martial arts would see him home!

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?
Swift, Vandersteen, Bird, Mack, Neil Smith and Brazil. Hey, why not?

Q: Max Alan Collins came up with the following question: Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?
Gotta be Hammett. I love Raymond Chandler, but Hammett is the godfather and I have to agree with MAC that The Maltese Falcon influenced us all. We may never see another book top it ever, but as long as guys like Collins, Ellroy and a whole host of lesser knowns are out there trying, noir fiction will stay in a healthy place.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Spade was supposed to be a 'blonde satan' yet Bogie sent him into superstardom. And he wasn't blonde or satanic. Who would you choose to play you PI on the silver screen?

And for Errol Black, it would be... Tom Sizemore. He would be perfect, although I might have to age Black a little.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Noteworthy news

There's some stuff on the web you will want to read if you like my blog.

Rapsheet blog has Denise Hamilton talking about Surf Noir.

J. Kingston Pierce writes about a PI you might have forgotten.

There's a fantastic new issue out of Thrilling Detective.

Check out these books along the way:
Steven Gore's Act Of Deceit, a new series that brought you the Graham Gage novels.
Cary Pepper's Reel Life Crime, a Maltese Falcon pastiche.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Q & A with Max Allan Collins

What an honor it was for me to interview Award-winning author Max Allan Collins...

Q: What makes Nate Heller different from other (unofficial) PIs?Well, first of all he's very much official, a licensed, traditional private eye. When I wrote TRUE DETECTIVE almost thirty years ago, the idea was to start him out in a small office, right out of Phillip Marlowe -- he even lived in that office -- and then gradually move him up in the world, until he had operatives and eventually an agency with branches in various big cities. A really successful small businessman, ultimately not that small. I spent a whole chapter in the first novel discussing his family history, going back to his grandparents in Germany. He marries, has a son. All things that weren't part of the world of private eyes like Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe and Mike Hammer. I wanted him to be very much the traditional PI of literature, but more real. He would bleed, cry, fart, fuck while wearing a condom, and also lie, take bribes and quit cases when they got dangerous. Though the voice comes out of Chandler, chiefly, I set out in TRUE DETECTIVE with the notion of breaking every rule of Chandler's "down these mean streets" code, including despoiling a virgin.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
George Hagenauer, my research associate, had a lot to do with it. Initially I had a much more traditional Marlowe type in mind, who would have quit the Chicago PD over the corruption there. George pointed out that a guy like Heller would get on the force in order to take advantage of the corruption, and that he'd have to have connections to even get on at all, particularly in the Depression. The realities of who Heller would have been in real-life Chicago dictated who he became in the novels.

Q: What's next for you, Heller, Nolan, Quarry and Ms Tree?
I've just completed the novel about Heller and the JFK assassination. I won't be doing a Quarry this year, but I hope to next, and Charles Ardai at Hard Case indicates that should happen -- that would be a book called THE WRONG QUARRY and would pit him against a serial killer. In the meantime, the postponed QUARRY'S EX is about to come out. I love doing those books. Also, I keep kicking around doing a final Nolan novel for Charles, but it hasn't gelled. On the other hand, it looks very likely that a new Ms. Tree graphic novel will happen soon. I am trying to decide whether to pick up where we left off, or re-boot her like I did in the prose novel DEADLY BELOVED, or do a tale where we acknowledge the hiatus between stories and allow her to be older, and do a RETURN OF MS. TREE take.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I don't do enough. I'm not a social networking guy and have to kick myself in the butt to use Facebook. I don't Tweet. I do a weekly update each Tuesday at Sometimes I do book signings, but they aren't as effective as they once were. We are doing a limited book tour for BYE BYE, BABY -- a four-city swing on the West Coast, plus a couple of other key appearances, with one in Chicago at Centuries & Sleuths, a great bookstore. I do try to make sure Internet sites reviewing and discussing my kind of book get access to the novels. I think that's key in this environment.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
As a reader, I have no interest. If I travelled more, I might have -- my son Nate has one, though he still buys physical books, too. It doesn't suit my needs, or a personality nurtured since childhood by the look and feel and smell of books. As a writer, however, it's just another means of getting my work to readers, and I am fine with that, and will pursue it. I'm part of the Top Suspense Group, a cabal of authors trying to work the e-book market more effectively.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I was asked about this on a panel and said that my protagonists do their own psychotic dirty work. Parker was and is an important writer in the field, and he made it possible for other writers -- like me -- to write private eye novels when the form might otherwise have died out...he's like Spillane in that regard. But to me the Hawk character is inherently a racist conception -- the black guy who does the white guy's dirty work. And the character itself is lifted from blaxploitation movies. That this aspect of Parker's work had such an impact -- with writers as popular as Mosely and Crais imitating it -- is frankly bizarre to me.

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?
Certainly they will. But they are all variations on Hammett, Chandler and Spillane, who will continue to be read and will continue to be the primary influences. What Parker did well -- this was very smart -- was to take Marlowe and wrap him up in contemporary trappings. Initially, Spenser was a sort of Yuppie P.I., with his cooking and his smart girl friend and the Boston setting. Lehane does what I have tried to do (I don't think I influenced him at all, though), which is to take the PI novel onto a larger landscape and give it some mainstream feel.

Q: Terry Faherty came up with the following question: Is there a future for the PI subgenre in the face of the current competition from cozy mysteries and police procedurals/crime scene investigation procedurals?
The Private Eye isn't going away. The character will evolve with the times, but this figure is as timeless and necessary as the Western hero, and not as rooted in one era as that figure. For me, it was necessary to place Heller in the historical context of the original writers -- the '30s through the early '60s. But the appeal of the lone problem solver is eternal. How necessary the literal P.I. aspect will be to this -- the license, essentially -- I can't predict. But my hunch is, even that will remain.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?

And my answer -- despite having been heavily influenced by the first-person approach of Chandler -- is Hammett. Right out of the gate, he created the perfect private eye novel in THE MALTESE FALCON. That gives all of us a goal, something to try to top. And none of us ever will.

Hardboiled Collective: Skintight Shroud & Bullet For One by Dundee & Drake

As founder of the Hardboiled Collective I want to point out there's two fantastic ebooks out there you don't want to miss. They're written by two guys who really appreciate PI fiction and now how to write them themselves.
There's Wayne Dundee's The Skintight Shroud, featuring Joe Hannibal, a PI that has been around for years. This is a chance to read this classic on your Kindle you shouldn't pass up. Read how the Rockford PI solves murders in Illinois' adult movie industry.

Also, there's Brian Drake's "Bullet For One"
John Coburn is a private eye who wo’t let the law stand in the way of justice.

Five years ago Coburn watched as his father was gunned down by a masked man. Tortured by the fact that the killer was never caught, Coburn fights the feelings of failure that haunt his every waking moment.

Now, history has repeated itself. When his best friend Felix is murdered after agreeing to protect a witness, Coburn dives in to catch the killer before the police and FBI. Battling official law enforcement and his own demons, Coburn turns over every lead, rattles every cage, and stretches his own moral code to the breaking point. As he digs deeper into a mystery that involves a team of thieves, corrupt businessmen, and a mafia kingpin with a price on his head, Coburn realizes that revenge has a cost he cannot calculate.

If he fails, can he live with another ghost?

If he succeeds, can he live with the consequences?