Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Non PI, but all tough guy and recommended!

There's two ebooks available I had to let you know of, even though they're not standard PI books...

First up is Wayne Dundee's Manhunter's Mountain. This is a full length novel in the Cash Laramie / Gideon Miles series. Writing about Edward A. Grainger (aka David Barber)'s characters featured only in short stories before Wayne manages to get to the essence of those wonderful noir westerns, adding his own special style, showing Western (just like the PI genre) isn't dead yet!

Second, is the excellent novella The Pain Eaters by William Tooker. It features tough guy and athlete Jack Fugazi (named after the punk band?) and his role as Earth's protector against the dark evils that cross over from the world of shadows to hours. There's lots of cool concepts, like the Invisible College, the Dark Suits and the superpowers Jack has. In a fantastic mix of horror and two-fisted action William Tooker has served up an entertaining piece of urban fantasy that should appeal to fans of superheroes, horror, fantasy and tough guy heroes like Jack Reacher.

Fun & Games (Charlie Hardie) by Duane Swierczynski

Housesitter Charlie Hardie spends his time in strange houses, drinking beer and watching movies until he encounter actress Lane Madden. She's being hunted down by The Accident People, a shadowy group of assassins that works for the film industry, cleaning up their problems by killing people and making it look like accidents.
This fast-paced tale is just made for a movie adaption with Bruce Willis in a starring role. Not a surprise, because it takes place in Hollywood and every chapter starts out with a movie quote.
There's concepts in here for several series, like the TV show Truth Hunters, the role Hardie used to play for the cops, etc.
Duane's comic book influences shine through in this slightly larger-than-life, exciting thriller. I'm looking forward to the sequal already.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guest-Post: Great PI Novels From 2011 by Amanda Tradwick

Great PI Novels From 2011

If you’re looking for a fun read, you may find these PI novels to be a ride worth taking.

“Started Early, Took My Dog” by Kate Atkinson features the stories of three characters: a retired cop, an aging actress, and a semiretired PI. When the retired police officer discovers a lowlife scumbag is essentially abusing a child, she buys the child from him, saving the child, but also putting herself in a risky situation. The actress, who is experiencing the first signs of senility, reviews her life experiences, while the PI investigates an adoption, which causes him to re-examine his own past. All three characters wrestle with thoughts on abandonment and redemption as the stories intersect and separate.

“The Troubled Man” by Henning Mankell will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night. Now that the series by Steig Larsson is so popular both in the United States and Europe, more people are discovering other Scandinavian authors such as Mankell. In “The Troubled Man”, Mankell pulls on the heartstrings as he puts his PI Kurt Wallander into a highly personal and emotional investigation involving his daughter, her fiancĂ©, and her future in-laws. The case goes back to Cold War days and explores mysteries past and present, culminating in a rewarding finish.

“The Second Son” by Jonathan Rabb is both thrilling and heart-rending. Set in rural Spain in the mid 1930s, it is a story of violence and tragedy. Nikolai Hoffner, a PI who holds strong anti-Nazi sentiments, travels throughout the outlying Spanish countryside looking for his son who has gone missing when working for anti-Franco politicians. Hoffner deals with additional personal angst as his other son dives into the Nazi regimen, turning against Hoffman and his ideals.

“A Lesson in Secrets” by Jacqueline Winspear is a charming British cozy infused with a jolt of modern shock factor. The PI Maisis Dobbs is kind and insightful, but she’s no dummy, and she detects evil from afar. The story is set just before war with Germany; Dobbs is sent into the fray to determine what exactly is going on with suspicious college staff members who may or may not be involved in some insidious pre-war activities.

We hope you enjoy these suggested readings! Feel free to comment with your thoughts on these novels and others suggested on this site.

About the author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for She has a Bachelor's degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on grants for women and minority scholarships grants.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dead Last (Thorn) by James W. Hall

Cancer robs Key West adventurer Thorn of the woman he loves. There's not much time to grieve, however as he is drawn into the investigation of several murders that seem to be influenced by the cop TV show Miami Ops. The killer of that show, who uses obituaries to decide who and how to kill, seems to walk around in real life.
We meet some wonderful characters like sheriff Buddha Hilton, Mae West-like Garvey, DeeDee Dollimore and others. All unique and funny.
Soon Thorn finds out he won't have just a killer to deal with, but also some mistakes of his past.
This story seems to be a bit more of a traditional whodunnit than we're used to from James Hall, but it works out great. He manages to breathe some essential new life in this series, developing Thorn's background and burning some old baggage (literally) to make sure there's enough adventure to be found in the future.
I was looking forward to this one, but it turned out to be even better than I thought!

Q & A with Kent Westmoreland

I interviewed Kent Westmoreland, excellent writer of the Burleigh Drummond stories...

Q: What makes Burleigh Drummond different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Drummond is a fixer for New Orleans bluebloods and politicians. He gets tapped when his clients’ lawyers become faint-hearted. Drummond’s primary skill is his ability to negotiate solutions. He doesn’t own a gun or use his fists; his weapons of choice are brains, charm, and aplomb. When necessary he employs blackmail and bribes.
In the novel BARONNE STREET, he refers to himself as a PI. In the short stories, which were published subsequently, that term is avoided.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
An early decision was to create a character who went against type for the hard boiled genre. I also wanted some who was young (late twenties), financially successfully and a drinker who was not an alcoholic.
Even before I fleshed out the character I knew a key ingredient was setting. I wanted small city with an insular society; a city controlled by the old money mentality that progress may disrupt their lives and for that reason progress should thwarted by any means necessary.
New Orleans was the perfect location for Burleigh Drummond to set up shop.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole ebook revolution?
I think it is a win-win for readers and authors. It enables readers to have many books available at any time. It provides exposure and availability that many authors do not have in the past. Approximately 75% of my sales are ebooks.

Q: What's next for you and Drummond?
I’m taking time off from the second novel to work on a spec screenplay for BARONNE STREET. There is a growing market for direct-to-video and cable movies. Movies with modest budgets that actually get made. I’m writing the screenplay for that market.

Q: How do you promote your work?
My site and Facebook are two methods I use. But mostly I cajole blogs, web reviewers, TV & radio stations to spread the word. I have readings and signings whenever possible.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Hawk definitely doesn’t fit the clinical definition of psychotic. I see him more as a person who sees most everything in black and white. He has strong views on right and wrong and will act accordingly. His relationship with Spenser has changed his thinking of black vs. white and right vs. wrong.
I would say Mouse from the Easy Rawlins series would be closer to the laymen’s definition of psychotic.

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?
I don’t think Lehane will have a lasting influence; I find his PI novels more sign-of-the-times than classic and derivative of 70’s TV. I would hope that readers and writers are searching out and finding truly original writers like O’Neil De Noux and Anthony Neil Smith

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?
We’re yet to see if I am qualified to answer the question, but I’ll give you my plan. A long term story arc that allows the main characters to grow, recurring characters to appear when needed and not in every novel just because the readers like them. Fresh plots and topics.
As we have seen, many times a successful series will go on long after it has run out of steam. In some cases after the creator has died. No need to name names.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
What hidden secret motivates your PI to become involved in the lives of others? In the case of Burleigh Drummond during high school he was scared to defend an autistic student being mocked by a violent jock-type. Had he become involved he would have surely been beaten badly. From that time on he knew he had to develop and rely on his ability to negotiate solutions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Liquid Smoke (Noah Braddock) by Jeff Shelby

We had to wait a long time for surfer PI Noah Braddock to return but finally he's here...
When a lawyer contacts Braddock to take on a deathrow case it turns out the man in jail is Braddock's long-lost dad. At first he's reluctant to investigate, but when people start dying he's compelled to get to the bottom of the case.
Slowly we follow Braddock's descent further and further into darkness. I don't want to give away too much but Braddock out-Hammers Mike Hammer in this one.
There's some light moments of humor, but especially the last part of the book is very dark. It even seems unlikely Braddock will return, which would be a shame, because I really enjoy his adventures.

Hardboiled Collective: Truman Smith series by Bill Crider

Hardboiled Collective member Bill Crider has published his Truman Smith series in ebook-form.

Dead on the Island: Private-eye Truman Smith returns to his hometown of Galveston, Texas, to investigate the disappearance of his sister. He runs into people from his past, finds a cat, and gets into a lot of trouble. Publishers Weekly says that Smith is "another well-drawn protagonist, this time a moody, introspective PI in the finest tradition, who works in a seamy city smoldering with old and dangerous secrets. "

Gator Kill: Who'd investigate the killing of an alligator? Private-eye Truman Smith would. Publisher's weekly says: "Soon the brooding gumshoe is stumbling over the bodies of dead humans, is shot at and run down by a souped-up four-by-four as he's embroiled in a plot complete with crooked police, a possible land-grabbing scheme and bad guys who, but for their lack of redeeming good nature, could be Damon Runyon inventions."

When Old Men Die: Does anybody care when old men die? Private-eye Truman Smith does, and he's going to find out who's responsible, even if it kills him.

Since they're by a member of my handpicked Collective they all come highly recommended!

Q & A with John Barlow

Here's an interview with British crime writer John Barlow, author of the new LS9 series.

Q: What makes John Ray different from other (unofficial) PIs?
His whole family is deeply involved in crime, and he grew up in a criminal environment. But his girlfriend is police. John finds himself between the two worlds, which is psychologically difficult for him, but gives him a unique perspective when it comes to solving crimes.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
He came more or less fully formed. There’s a bit of wish-fulfilment, in that he’s the kind of man that I’d like to be (well, some of the time...). Other than that, I don’t remember ‘devising’ the character of John at all, at least not like I did with the characters that surround him. I knew I wanted someone with a split perceptive as a detective, and from that proposition John Ray emerged pretty much naturally.

Q: Why switch from literary to genre writing?
As a young, unpublished writer everything I wrote had a minimum of one dead body in it! Then, when I was 32 (and still unpublished) I wrote a novella about a man who eats furniture. It was published in the Paris Review (a very ‘literary’ American magazine) and won a prize. That led me into literary writing, and for the next decade I more or less forgot about crime fiction. Then, two years ago I wrote a semi-spoof American noir novel, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO?, under the pseudonym Joe Florez. I loved writing it, and it made me think: why not do a serious crime mystery set in the place I know best? So I did.

Q: What's next for you and John?
HOPE ROAD is the first novel in the LS9 series, which will eventually comprise nine books. They will not all feature John Ray as the point-of-view character, and they will not all take place in Leeds. But they will all be about the Ray family in some way. So, that’s my future! I’m into the second book now, and the plotting has been made slightly easier because I recently found out that a great uncle of mine was an arms dealer (found dead on a flight from Amsterdam in the early 80s). Go figure.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Ebooks and self-publishing are completely new to me. So far I’ve been contacting book bloggers and asking them to mention the novel, or to allow me to do a guest blog or interview. I’m also starting out with Twitter, and a few other social sites of a literary nature. I’ve only been publicising the book for a week, and I’m sure I’ll discover new ways of findings readers as time goes on. I always following the blog posts of David Gaughran, who is an excellent source of info and know-how on self publishing. As for advertising, I am running a Facebook ad (using a $7 coupon that gets you $50’s worth of ads), but I don’t think it’s having much effect.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
My writing is not hard-boiled in that sense. I don’t depict righteous violence as a response to society’s ills. There is criminal violence in HOPE ROAD, but there is no violent retribution, at least not so far. What really interests me is how people deal with a world in which criminal violence and the threat of it are constants. My main character suffers from having witnessed the murder of his own brother (a career criminal), and it’s that close proximity to the inevitable violence of the criminal world which sets John Ray apart from ‘normal’ citizens. His girlfriend, a police detective, also exists in a world where criminal violence is a constant. To me, they’re an interesting pair.

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?
I think it will diversify to the point that a clear evolution is impossible to draw. A lot of ‘literary’ writers are moving into genre fiction, often crime, and that complicates the idea of a direct inheritance. Meanwhile, writers like Lee Child are leading the genre as close to parody as it can go (I mean this in a good way). However, this is a dead end in terms of the development of the genre; if you want to write broadly realistic fiction you couldn’t get MORE macho than Reacher, and the scrapes he manages to get out of couldn’t be more unlikely. A lot of writers, especially self-published ones, seem to be following this groove (and it’s a very good groove), I think the interesting trends moving forward will be those who take the genre away from pre-established moulds.

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?
I dunno. Perhaps I will run out of steam. I certainly don’t want to write nine books with John Ray as the prime focus. I think we all know authors for whom the new novel is just a yearly chore. I was talking to an editor at a UK publisher a few weeks ago and she said that it is pretty much an accepted fact that when a crime writer gets his/her series well established, the quality often falls off. In the case of my LS9 series, books four to six will have a different point-of-view character, and if we get to book six and everything’s still going to plan, I’ll make another shift for the final three novels.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer? Do you write about crime because you’re too scared to do it?



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fever Dream (Danny Rinaldi) by Dennis Palumbo

Danny Rinaldi is a trauma expert and consultant for the Pittsburgh police. In his second adventure he's called in when a bank robbery goes wrong. He's asked to extract information from a traumatized witness to the robbery by an attractive female cop.That's when the twists start to pile up, nothing is what it seems in the plot of this exciting thriller. Palumbo manages to give Jeffery Deaver a run for his money in that department.
The robbery takes Rinaldi to corrupt lawyers, the suspect suicide of a mental patient and clashes with a violent criminal.
There's more than just a good plot though. The characters, although sometimes a bit stereotypical (the hot female cop, the boozing detective, the corrupt politician, the psycho crook)are real and vibrant enough.
Rinaldi is a great character, sort of a two-fisted Alex Delaware, that you can relate to but is still believable as a sleuth.
A satisfying mystery for fans of Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman and Ross Macdonald.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Free full lenght-novel for a limited time!

For a very, very limited time White Knight Syndrome is available for free.
Get it either Jan 03, 2012 or Jan 04, 2012 and pay nothing, instead of 3 bucks.