Thursday, December 27, 2012

Long Way Down (Gus Dury) by Tony Black

As much I've enjoyed Tony Black's new DI Rob Brennan books I've been waiting for Gus Dury to return for what seems like forever. Finally, he's here in nifty little novella.
Still a dark, conflicted boozing down on his luck guy Gus is asked by Danny Murray to track down old schoolmate and ex-con Barry Fulton.
During this investigation Gus shows us he's not the usual knight errant. Sure, other PI's can drink a bit too much or get a little rough but they're friendly uncles compared to Gus and how he for instance takes on Barry's wife.
If you're in for something really dark, joing Gus Dury all the long way down...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Favorite Sons of 2012

It is the end of the year again, so time to tell you about my favorite PI reads of the year...

BEST PI NOVEL: Whiskey Island (Milan Jacovich) by Les Roberts
BEST DEBUT: Frame Up (Fenway Burke) by James Phoenix
BEST NEW PI: Randall Lee in Changes by Charles Collyot
BEST ACTION SCENES: Ressurected (Adam Wolf) by Steve Trotter

Special mention to Jim Cliff's Jake Abrahams who was a close runner-up for Best New PI.

I'm pleased that Les Roberts still manages to put out books that are quite traditional PI but still feel new and fresh.
James Phoenix just blew me away with his debut that is so full of love of the genre.
Charles' Randall Lee is just one of the coolest characters in genre fiction and I'm enjoying his second outing (Pressure Point) right now. I love the guy and his girlfriend even more.
Steve Trotter managed to put out a great action movie in Kindle form with the first Adam Wolf novel that has me longing for a second one.

I was really pleased to see Tom Lowe return to crime fiction with The Butterfly Forest and to finally interview Charles Knief.

Special thanks this year to O'Neill DeNoux, Sean Dexter and Phillip T. Duck for helping my books become better and James W. Hall for writing a fantastic blurb for me.

And of course a great, great thanks for all of you buying the Noah Milano and Mike Dalmas stories and reviewing them!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lock & Load (Ryan Lock) by Sean Black

I just love novelettes... This is one is billed as a short story but, like my books Redemption, Scoundrel and The Alabaster-Skinned Mule the word count qualifies it as one.
That's not the only thing this one has in common with my Noah Milano series. Noah started out as a bodyguard in The White Knight Syndrome, Ryan Lock is a close protection specialist too.
In this story he is hired to protect an actress from her violent ex. When a sexy video shows up Lock does everything within his power to help her.
I liked Ryan. He seems like a very normal guy as opposed to say, Jack Reacher, but is stil plenty tough. I enjoyed the LA setting which this British author writes remarkably well.
All in all, a great short read with enough bones to count as a well-rounded adventure.

Q & A with Dani Amore

Dani Amore is really putting out a lot of work, all featuring private eyes. So we just HAD to interview her... Not only that, she just became a member of the Hardboiled Collective.

Q: What makes your detectives different from other hardboiled detectives?
More often than not it's a certain outlook on life. That perspective manifests itself in different ways with different characters. Sometimes it's a sense of humor that frequently crosses the line, or a reliance on alcohol, or a heightened thirst for revenge.

Q: How did you come up with the characters Rockne, Garbage Collector and Cooper?
Well, all three characters are based quite closely on people I've met in real life.
John Rockne is based on an actual private investigator I worked closely with. Which is ironic, because he's kind of the anti-PI.
The Garbage Collector is another guy I know. He works in an entirely different field, but trust me, he's got the same kind of no-bullshit, get-the-job-done approach exemplified by The GC.
And Mary Cooper, well, Mary Cooper is not just me, but my whole family. We pride on ourselves on taking a joke too far. Most of the time, though, we have more of a dry sense of humor - very deadpan. Which allows us to repeatedly say inappropriate things and let people wonder if we're kidding or not. It's great fun.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
I think it's opened up readers to a whole new set of authors, and that can only be a good thing.

Q: What's next for you and your 3 main detectives?
The sequel to DEAD WOOD is up next. John Rockne is going to finally track down Benjamin's killer, and make him pay.

Q: How do you promote your work?
A little bit of everything. Contests, giveaways, paid advertising, social media. I'm not really sure what works and what doesn't, so I just sort of careen from one thing to the next. It reminds me of how I approach holiday parties.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I like to read cookbooks from the 1950s and 1960s. It's amazing how people would jam meat and jelly into some kind of strange mold and serve it as dinner. It's like a cross between comedy and horror.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I enjoy the hell out of them. Lunacy is quite a bit of fun. My Dad used to hunt chipmunks with a bow-and-arrow.

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?
A guy named Frank Bill.

Q: Why do you write in the PI genre?
For the same reason I swing by the bar instead of going straight home: I just can't help it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Target Lancer (Nate Heller) by Max Allan Collins

I'm a big fan of Max Allan Collins' work but I was afraid this one might be disappointing me. You see, it's about the murder on JFK and I've seen that plot just too many times. Max surprises us all however, because this tale is not about what happened in Dallas but what happened in Chicago, a little while before the killing.
Nate Heller is hired by the Secret Service to help them prevent the assassination of JFK in Chicago. He faces Secret Service politics, historical people like Bobby Kennedy and finds some time to have sex with an aging exotic dancer.
This is classic Heller. A well-researched story that manages to weave a historical plot together with a nice little pulp-style story that would fit in Black Mask magazine. Our hero Nate Heller is ruthless and intelligent as always, making for enjoyable if not always nice company. Oh, and the last two pages were so fantastic this would have been a good book even if the rest had sucked. They gave me everything that I like so much in that hardboiled bastard Heller.

Cadaver Blues (Phuoc Goldberg) by J.E. Fishman

Phuoc Goldberg is a debtman who doesn't seem to be very tough at first glance. In the first few pages he shows you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, punching out a young punk's teeth out.
What follows is not as hardboiled as you might expect, but it IS pretty funny and breezy stuff. Phuoc is hired by the hot Mindy Eider to track down her uncle before the bank owns the house he isn't paying off. Phuoc is not a PI and that makes the investigation a bit haphazard. I had a lot of laughs because of the funny dialogue and cynical comments Phuoc made. It did take a bit longer for the thriller part to step into overdrive and make me enjoy this as a crime novel as well as a comedy.
If you like your detectives a bit screwy this makes for a nice little read. I for one, will be there for the second Phuoc Goldberg Fiasco (as this series has been named) to see where J.E. Fishman takes his (anti-)hero.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Q & A with Graham Smith

Graham Smith has a few things in common with me. He's from Europe (the UK), he's a reviewer and interviewer (for Crimesquad) and was featured in the ACTION - PULSE POUNDING TALES anthology. Now he's here for an interview about PI fiction and his character Harry Charters...

Q: What makes Harry Charters different from other hardboiled detectives?
I’m not terribly sure that he is particularly different from other hardboiled detectives as he fits all the stereotypes within the genre. He has a serious drink problem, a past which haunts him, he’s beyond world weary yet retains a dry and laconic turn of phrase.
Despite all this he retains a sense of justice, although his justice is usually meted out via brutal methods.
For all Harry’s many flaws he does care about his cases and he will move heaven and earth to resolve them.
Having re-read that answer I realise what a cliché he is. But then again if it ain’t broke…

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I was invited to submit a noir story to a blog and I just sat down and starting writing about a drunken PI. I set the stories in the fifties as I wanted him to have a war history to explain his fighting ability. Other character traits are staples of the genre and I just added then in where appropriate. One thing I was always aware of though was the need for him to be likeable as a character if not a person. He’s very self depreciating and I often used his wry humour to show this trait with lines like “Men came here to drink to forget. I’d have to remember this place. It suited me.”
To me lines like that encapsulate so much of his character. He wants to remember a place where he can go to drink away his memories.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
I’m for it and against it. I love books and their smell and the feel of one in my hands. Yet I own a Kobo and like it for it’s ease of transport. Also as a book reviewer for I can see a day when advance review copies are replaced with Kindle or Kobo files which will be much cheaper fro publishing houses and since getting my Kobo everything I have read on it has been a review copy.

Q: What's next for you and Harry?
I’m currently working on a re-write of my debut novel and when that’s done I’m gonna head over to Mariscoper and catch up with Harry. I think he’s finally gonna tell me about the case that went wrong. He’s being coy about it, so I don’t yet know whether it will be a novella length or a short story for another collection.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Via Facebook groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, interviews, guest blogs and so on. I prefer the writing over the promotion and I actually do very little direct “Buy my book. It’s fantastic.” type of blatant self promo. I’d rather engage potential readers with posts or conversations and strike up some kind of friendship.
I hate the idea of losing readers through pointless bombarding with promo. I’d sooner retain the ones I already have through making my stories as good as they can be.
Whenever I get involved in promo blasts I always feel as though I’m prostituting myself. Until I remember that prostituting yourself is every man’s dream as then you get paid to … And that’s enough of that thought!

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I have rarely strayed from crime fiction in my reading since reading the Lord of the Rings. Most of the books I read can be classed as crime fiction despite some being mainly action based ie Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter series or Tom Cain’s Sam Carver novels. I also read the Da Vinci Style of historical artefact thriller but almost all of the thrillers I have read have a crime element.
Having said all the above my favourite novel is HMS Ulysses by Alistair Maclean. Pace plot and character combine perfectly aboard a WWII battleship defending the Russian convoys in the North Atlantic.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I love them and wish I could create one. The idea of a psychotic friend who will turn up kill the baddies leaving the investigator to get on with mystery solving is genius in its simplicity. They can do the things your lead character can’t do in terms of brutality. They can allow the lead to show moral depth by decrying their behaviour. They are an immense source of humour, Elvis Cole delivered one of the best lines I’ve ever read about Joe Pike “I wouldn’t say he’s taciturn but he thinks Clint Eastwood is a blabbermouth”, Windsor “Win” Lockwood III answers his phone with a simple “articulate” and who cannot love Bubba Rogowski? I fell in love with him as a character when I found out the floor of his warehouse home was littered with landmines as a security device.

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?
All of the above will continue to influence PI novels along with many newer authors such as Harlan Coben, Terrell Griffin, Jefferson Parker and even the softer end of the scale such as Alexander McCall Smith. Lots of current UK writers such as Stuart MacBride and Mark Billingham write police procedurals which are as dark and twisted as those early PI novels.
As a writer myself I credit every book I’ve ever read as having an influence on me. Whether I learn what works or what is terrible doesn’t matter. I’m learning.

Q: O'Neil DeNoux came up with the following question: How did you come up with the name of your detective?
With my character set in the fifties at an age where he’d fought in WWII my first thought was to think of people I knew who were the right age. Obviously my grandfathers names came into my head first. One grandfather is called John “Jock” Smith. I couldn’t see that name working as well so I named him after my maternal grandfather Harold Charters. I shortened Harold to Harry as Harold was too English sounding for an American character.
Grandad boxed a lot in the Army and those were the stories he told me of “his” war. So when I sat down to write “Dealt a Better Hand” I added a boxing match so I could put Grandad back in the ring one last time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Prodigal Sons: John Caine by Charles Knief

I've been trying to find Charles Knief since the start of this blog for my Prodigal Sons feature. I loved his 3 John Caine novels when the came out. They were all great mixes of Travis McGee and Spenser and I read them together with my first Lee Child novel. Charles didn't get the huge sales Lee did but John Caine will always be a favorite.
I found Charles on Facebook and he was happy to answer why he hasn't written about John Caine for some time and if John might return. Here's what he told me...

My life has been very, very busy since 2001. Part of it was the design and building of some very special homes in Rancho Mirage, California, made from special building materials, the first and only in California. I designed them, built them, poured all of my money into them, and then lost them due to the housing crash in 2008-2009, losing all my money, as well. That took four years of my life and it was a very creative, rewarding (except for the money) time. You can see some of them in my photos and Timeline, as ABC did a story on the houses.

To survive, I took a contract with the USMC at 29 Palms and worked for a year there, making great friends and doing something I felt was important. I wrote then, but have yet to complete the rewrite. Always said that Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is one of the nastiest places in the world, but has the greatest people in it and I was lucky enough to become friends with many of them. The temp fluctuates from 20 to 120; there are dust storms, mud storms, rains storms, wind storms, insect storms, hail storms, ice storms, and then it's just plain HOT for half the year. I once saw a sandstorm in the middle of a rain storm. After I did fairly well there, I was asked to take a contract with AF's Space Command as a program manager, and I worked there until 30 November 2011, when the contract ended.

After that, I delved into many different things, none of which I can talk about right now, but all of which have been interesting. It looks like I'll keep on doing what I'm doing now until I get too old to cross the street or feed myself.

John Caine is in a novel I wrote in 2000, but have yet to complete, called THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT. He is a minor character there. The new novel, with no name, takes place in 1911-1912. It will be completed this year and I suppose I've got to find a new editor and agent, as both of them have died since I last wrote.

Thank you for your interest. I don't think about writing much these days, but lately the Muse awakens me at 0400. I've got some things going now that take up all my creativity and energy, but come February, they should be over and I'll complete my two unfinished, unedited novels and see who wants them.

The Garbage Collector (Garbage Collector) by Dani Amore

Few genres work so well in short story format as the PI genre.
Dani Amore shows this with this cool little tale of a nameless PI hired by a bunch of lawyers to take care of their garbage, retrieving a rogue law partner.
Not much information about the nameless PI who they call the Garbage Collector but he IS a cool guy and I hope to see more of him.
The story does what a good PI story SHOULD do, introduce an interesting case, a tough PI and a nice little surprise in the end.
A good way to sample Dani Amore's work, especially because right now this one's for free, as is my own Alabaster-Skinned Mule by the way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On The Shoulders Of Giants (Jake Abrahams) by Jim Cliff

Jake Abrahams biggest role models are Rockford and Spenser. It's no wonder he decided to becom a PI.
In his first solo case he has to track down the missing daughter of a disgraced police captain. When she turns up dead Jake gets involved in a serial killer case.
The charm of this book is the fact Jake really loves his fictional influences and that he uses Google and books to teach himself what to do in an investigation. At times it read a bit more like a police procedural than a PI novel, which was a bit of a shame.
I had a good time going along for the ride with Jake and hope to take another one soon.