Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Prodigal Son of Spade Pepper Keane

Today we ask author Mark Cohen about Prodigal Son of Spade Pepper Keane. His last novel (Blue Tick Revenge) appeared in 2005.

1) Will Pepper Keane return?
Yes, Pepper Keane will return. (More on this below).

2) Why haven't you written about him for some time now?
I have not written about PK in a while primarily because I resigned my cushy government job due to politics and had to start working again like most everyone else. At the same time we adopted two more children, thus making a total of three children from China. The younger two started kindergarten this year, so life is returning to a more normal schedule, leaving more time for writing.

3) What's up next for you?
I am working on my third Pepper Keane book, tentatively titled When the Cactus is in Bloom. This mystery starts with the unexplained murder of Pepper's Uncle Ray at his remote shack in southern Colorado. A draft of Chapter 1 is attached.

My agent has not started shopping When the Cactus is in Bloom; I don't want to shop it until I have completed my first draft.

For more info about this author check out

Monday, October 29, 2007

Q & A with David Housewright

This time we asked David Housewright, author of the Holland Taylor and Rushmore McKenzie novels a few questions.
Q: What makes your (unofficial) PI Rush McKenzie different from other fictional private eyes?

A: McKenzie is an idealist, or at least an optimist. He does what he does not for the money (he's independently wealthy), but because he believes that in his own way he's actually making the world a better place. So many other PIs today are plagued with demons; he is not. He is a pretty happy, well-adjusted guy who loives by a simple philosophy: live well, be helpful.

Q: What are your thoughts on the psycho sidekick in PI novels?

A: There seems to be a lot of them - everybody from Hawk to Mouse to Joe Pike to Lehane's Bubba and Burke's Clete Purcel. But I have to ask, would the heroes and these sidekick's be friends in anything except detective fiction? I think they exist mostly to do some heavy lifting so the hero and can keep his hands clean.

Q: What would a soundtrack to your novels sound like?

A: 1950's jazz.

Q: Has your writing changed much since the first novel?

A: God, I hope so. I hope it is so much better now that readers can scaresely believe I wrote both the first and eighth books.

Q: Do you do a lot of research?

A: I do a great deal of research. I am almost compulsive about getting the details right and hate it when I don't. I know authors who don't care all that much. So what if they make a mistake? It's fiction, they argue. I argue that it is not fiction. You are righting a true story involving real people in the midst of real emotional upheaval. It becomes fiction when readers find a mistake and say, "That's not right." I don't care how big or small the mistake is, it is at that point you lose credibility.

Q: What's next for you and Rush?

A: I have a book coming out in May 2008 called MADMAN ON A DRUM and another the following May tentatively titled JELLY'S GOLD. After that, we'll see.

Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?

A: Dennis Lehane, James Crumley, Michael Connelly, William Kent Krueger, Jason Starr, and a few daughters, like S. J. Rosan and Laura Lippman.

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?

A: See above. As pat as it sounds, I think they are brining at 21st Century voice and 21st Century sensibilities into the mix. They deal with real issues and themes. Without exception, their books - as well as the books of so many others I folow - are always about more than who killed Mr. Body in the library with a candlestick.

Q: Robert J. Randisi, writer and president of the Private Eye Writers of America came up with this question: "Why?"

A: For the money, for the fun, and for the prestige - but mostly for the money!

Q: What question should be asked every PI writer we interview and what would be your answer to it?

A: What do you have to say? My answer: The world is not as screwed up as some people think; that there are good and honest people out there doing good and honest things; that we can get through this - whatever this is - if we just keep our heads.

For more information about this author see:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Prodigal Sons: John Francis Cuddy by Jeremiah Healy

We asked Jeremiah Healy about what's going on with John Francis Cuddy, one of the most popular PI's of the nineties:
1) Will John Cuddy return?

Thankfully, Cuddy has not yet "gone away." Readers who visit my website: can order collections of my short stories featuring him (THE CONCISE CUDDY and CUDDY: PLUS ONE), and many of the backlist novels are available via: or

I also continue to write short stories featuring Cuddy for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery magazine as well as "solicited" anthologies (where the editor invites individual authors to contribute short stories, often on a theme, such as Jeffery [correct spelling] Deaver's HOT AND SULTRY NIGHTS).

2) Why haven't you written about Cuddy for some time now?

For novel-length works, the taste of the American public has changed. Thrillers have eclipsed private-eye novels and classic mysteries, UNLESS a substantial promotional budget is provided for those latter kinds of book. When my agent approached my publisher about a next contract for Cuddy, I insisted upon such promotion, but the publisher declined. Hence my movement (as "Terry Devane") to writing legal thrillers.

The GOOD news on the Cuddy front is that a long-time friend and executive producer of television series (MARTIAL LAW, THE NERO WOLFE MYSTERIES, DICK VAN DYKE'S DIAGNOSIS: MURDER) is "pitching" Cuddy as a television series. We would probably update Cuddy as a Military Police veteran from the Persian Gulf conflict rather than the Vietnam War, and we would likely replace Cuddy's visits to his wife at her gravesite by having an actress play the dead wife, whom only Cuddy can see (think MIKE HAMMER meets THE SIXTH SENSE).

However, if any publishers or television producers from OTHER countries are interested in translations of books or adaptations to the screen (cinema or television), please feel free to contact me via my website, and I'll put you in touch with the appropriate agent for me.

3) What's up next for you?

I'm currently writing a thriller, in which an unbalanced, former opposing client decides to avenge the suicides of her daughters by stalking and destroying the major Boston law firm she blames for their deaths.

I also have a screenplay intended for an independent film (few locations, low budget, and three excellent lead-acting roles) entitled THE BODYSHOP [American police jargon for the Homicide Unit]: In a medium-sized city, someone is killing the significant others of homicide detectives in its police department. Why would any murderer be so foolhardy?

Jeremiah Healy, a former Sheriff’s Officer and Military Police Lieutenant, is a graduate of Rutgers College and the Harvard Law School. Healy is also the creator of the John Francis Cuddy private-investigator series and (under the pseudonym “Terry Devane”) the Mairead O’Clare legal-thriller series, both set primarily in Boston. Healy has written eighteen novels and over sixty short stories, sixteen of which works have won or been nominated for the Shamus Award. He served as the President of the International Association of Crime Writers (“IACW”) from 2000-2004, and he was the International Guest of Honour at the 34th World Mystery Convention in Toronto during October, 2004. Currently, Healy is a member of the Mystery Writers of America’s National Board of Directors. For more information, please visit

Friday, October 19, 2007

One Man Dies (Jackson Donne) by Dave White

Having already read Dave's short stories online I've always been waiting for the first novel to come out. Dave has a few things in common with myself he's a younger writer who started out in Thrilling Detective around the same time as I did and his PI is also a younger, hipper one like my Noah Milano.
In this novel we follow Jackson Donne in his investigation of the death of his pal Gerry. He's also hired to shadow a woman's husband suspecting he's cheating on her. As these kinds of plotlines often do in PI novels they turn out to be related and Jackson has to take on some nasty drugdealers to survive his cases.
An important secondary character is Donne's ex-partner with the police, Bill Martin. This character tries to clean up his act after years of corruption and dating Jackson's girl who died in an accident several years back.
Donne and Martin are both pretty flawed characters, sharing a past of drugs and corruption. It's these characters and the darkness inherent to their lives that make this an interesting read.
Dark, fast-paced and firmly set in 2YK this is a good example of how the PI novel can be kept around for years to come.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Death Is No Bargain (Emerson Ward) by Michael W. Sherer

Emerson Ward has got a lot in common with Travis McGee like the reviews in the book say.
Not only does he work for favors in a McGee-like manner he also seems to believe in sex as therapy and can get pretty philosophical sometimes.
In this novel he sets out to find a missing girl after he first saved her from a night of booze. Also, he has to face the prospect of becoming a father.
He's a very, likeable, everyman kind of character which made me feel for and identify with him.
I thought the book started pretty fast and exciting but later on the pace felt a little slow and too softboiled for me. The scenes that take place in the monastery took a bit too long for me. At the end the action picks up however, making it still a satisfying enough read.
A nice change of pace after more hardboiled books, but avoid it if you're addicted to the more hardboiled stuff or a more fast-paced thriller style.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Q & A with Robert J. Randisi

This time in Q & A a very special guest... Robert J. Randisi, president of the Private Eye Writers of America, editor of anthologies like Mystery Street and the Shamus Game and of course writer of several PI novels...
Q: What makes your PI's different from other fictional private eyes?

A: The fact that I created and write about them. I know that's too simple an answer. Another difference between mine and some of the more recent ones is that mine don't have homicidal sidekicks to do their killing for them. And mine have pieces of me in them, which is what basically makes ALL fictional P.I.'s different.

Q: What made you use PI's as central characters in some of your series?

A: A love of the form I basically discovered in the 60's through t.v. and books. I wanted to be part of that genre--although it wasn't a genre back then, just a sub-genre of the mystery.

Q: What are your thoughts on the psycho sidekick in PI novels?

A: He's a tool some writers like to use. I don't know why. The simple answer might be that they want to keep their main character pure, in the Chandleresque mold. I can't say. Personally, I don't find the character useful. It actually breaks the Chandler mold of the lone wolfe PI, doesn't it? Hey, maybe that's why they do it.

Q: You edit a lot of anthologies... Where do you find the writers to write the stories or do they find you?

A: For the most part I invite them. I know 75-80% of them personally. I come up with a theme and then invite writers I think would fit the theme, whether I know them or not.

Q: Has your writing changed much?

A: Over the years? Good God, I hope so. For the better. I'm a better writer just from experience and maturity. A better story teller, too.

Q: What's next for you and or your PI characters? We haven't seen them in a while.

A: I'm glad someone noticed. I don't really know. I have another Delvecchio I'd like to do, eventually. There is a P.I. in my Rat Pack series. Might do some short stories about him. Not sure what I'll do with Jacoby. Sometimes you just have to be satisfied with what you've done with a character and move on. I have a couple of other characters I'd like to write about. I've done short stories about them--Truxton Lewis being one of them. He's been in four short stores, one of which is still to appear.

Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?

A: I think Wallace Stroby has one of the freshest voices in P.I. fiction. I loved his Barbed Wire Kiss, and also enjoyed his second book. I also like Stuart Kaminsky's Lew Fonesca books.

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?

A: I think if Lehane is to have an influence it's still in the future. Not that he's not good enough, but you're lumping him in with some old timers. While I was influenced by Chandler and Macdonald, Bill Pronzini was also an influence. I think Grafton and Paretsky have already influenced a generation of female P.I. writers. So many P.I. writers--like the 80's crop of Valin, Greenleaf, Art Lyons--look like they're going to influence the genre, and then stop writing for one reason or another. But our crop of contemprary writers still have to prove they'll be around long enough to influence anyone.

Q: Jack Palms creator and podcaster Seth Harwood came up with this question: How do you know when a novel's really done?

A: You don't. You can always revise, always continue. You just have to decide it's done and move on to the next one. Let it go!

Q: What question should be asked every PI writer we interview and what would be your answer to it?

A: "Why?" My answer is, "I don't have a choice."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The End is Coming for Jack Palms!

...we interrupt this programme for a special message from one of our sponsors...

The final episode of the current Jack Palms adventure is almost coming up!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Watchman (Joe Pike) by Robert Crais

Character is key in this new novel by Crais. Elvis Cole makes way for his partner Joe Pike as leading man like he partly did in his break-through LA Requiem.
As he did there he further deconstructs sidekick Pike, giving us a look at his past and how he became the efficient mercenary he is now.
Unfortunately, the plot seems to suffer from it. It’s pretty straightforward story that has him protecting a young, Paris Hilton clone in trouble because she witnessed an accident. On the run with her he faces off against federal agencies and gangsters until he confronts the bad guys in a final shoot-out with the aid of Elvis. Not too many surprises or twists to keep the story exciting. I did, however, enjoy the dialogue with the Hilton clone and the changing viewpoints kept it all interesting enough to make it an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Noah Milano story and Vachss interview!

Check out the Pulp Pusher site for a great Andrew Vachss interview and... a new Noah Milano short story from yours truly!