Friday, December 30, 2011

Q & A with James Winter


James Winter has finally brought out his Nick Kepler novel Northcoast Shakedown out as an ebook. A nice time for an interview...
Q: How did you come up with the character?
When I started sketching the story that became Northcoast Shakedown, I worked for a large insurance company. A freelance claims investigator seemed like a good fit for the story, and Nick sort of evolved from there. I wrote a few shorts to get a feel for him: He’s a part time musician. He used to work for the company that gives him office space (a tip of the hat to Sue Grafton). He gets along fairly well with cops, but not with organized crime. All that came about as I worked on Northcoast Shakedown.

Q: What's next for you and Kepler?
When Northcoast Shakedown was originally published, I already had the second book in the can, so I plan to release Second Hand Goods in the new year.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Twitter. Other blogs. Beg. Whine. Plead. Mainly I count on word of mouth. I think when I get enough work out there, I’ll start offering books for free.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
It was interesting when Parker did it because no one had done it before, and for his first couple of appearances, you never knew whose side Hawk was on. Pike is an interesting character in and of himself. But beyond that, I’ve read too many PI novels where the psycho sidekick was there because someone told the author they had to have one. Beyond Hawk and Pike, Bubba Rugowski’s the only one that’s ever worked for me. I deliberately avoided using one in my work.

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?
Probably Michael Koryta, who can really craft a good story, and Sean Chercover, who didn’t really reinvent the PI novel. He just wrote a damned good one. We need more from Sean.

Q: Dennis Palumbo came up with the following question: what is it about those "mean streets" that make your character insist on going down them, regardless of what awaits?
The mean streets are actually something we don’t see very often in our day to day lives, unless you’re a cop or a criminal or someone on the fringes of society. We do our daily commutes, go to work, go to school, go home, go to the bar or to church or to the movies, and life functions, on a very basic level, by a certain set of rules. The “mean streets” are where those rules breakdown. It’s not that our daily life is a fallacy, but it’s what’s beyond it that’s where the conflict lies. And the guy going down those mean streets for some reason always has a need to put things right. His or her idea of right doesn’t necessarily conform to what we normally think it should be.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hurt Machine (Moe Prager) by Reed Farrel Coleman


With this novel Reed shows us again why he’s the crime writer’s writer.
Moe Prager has been diagnosed with stomach cancer, but that doesn’t hold him back from investigating the stabbing of his ex-wife’s sister.
There’s a lot of people out in NY that hated her, because she neglected her duties as a paramedic and let a man die in a restaurant. Uncovering her secrets Moe infiltrates into the macho world of the New York fire department. And it must be said, Moe might be getting old, he might be getting sicker and sicker but he can still be a pretty tough guy.
What makes this such a great PI novel is the fact it never strays from what makes the genre great but also adds more. The mystery is very satisfying but we also can read the story as social commentary, as a more literary view of a man fighting age and disease. Excellent work.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

White Knight Syndrome - now on Kindle!


It came out in paperback a few years ago, but is NOW available as an ebook for the low price of 2,99 bucks.

Noah Milano is a Los Angeles security specialist with more than a few family problems. Because, in his case, his family is the family. He's the estranged son of a mobster, which creates a big deal of tension and more than a few problems. Fiercely independent, and determined to sever all ties with his past, Noah has to adjust from being a spoiled mobster son to being an independent operator with little money.
When he's hired to bodyguard a beautiful and rich teenage girl he's drawn into a web of family secrets, homicide and the dangers of falling in love.It's not easy to be a White Knight in a world filled with betrayal and mob violence but Noah Milano is going to try anyway... Even if he has to die doing it...

Get it here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Favorite Sons of 2011

As I do every year I want to share with you my favorite PI-stuff of the year.

BEST PI NOVEL: 13 Million Dollar Pop by David Levien
BEST DEBUT: Pocket-47 by Jude Hardin
BEST NEW PI: Conway Sax (in Purgatory Chasm) by Steve Ulfelder
BEST ACTION SCENES: Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

Honorable mentions go to Timothy Hallinan whose first novel featuring Junior Bender, Crashed, was my favorite book I read this year. It came out in 2010, so it didn't really belong on this list.

Guest Post: Out of the ordinary crime fiction

Sometimes a writer needs to look outside their comfort zone to find constructive inspiration for a story. When writers draw inspiration solely from within the confines of their own genre, writers run the risk of sounding repetitive, like their rehashing parts of someone else’s story. Hardboiled crime writers can lose their individual voice in the echo chamber of their genre just like any other fiction writer. It could be the case that a genre writer looking for inspiration could find it within unconventional stories that challenge traditional devices of the genre. Below are three books that manipulate traditional hardboiled crime fiction in ways that could reinvigorate writers and readers to the subject.

P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley
A crime writer for over twenty years, British-born P.D. James is no stranger to the genre. What sets her newest novel Death Comes to Pemberley apart from its peers is the subject matter and the narrative style. James sets her story in the same Victorian setting as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and by the same setting I mean the same characters, the continuation of the same storyline that ended with Austen’s novel. But don’t be scared away by the premise! James uses her skill as a crime writer to investigate the dark, gothic underbelly that belies the relatively sunny atmosphere of the British socialites in Pride and Prejudice. The novel playfully inverts the decorousness of its Victorian subject matter: bloodied corpses are discovered, shady characters sully the main characters’ decorous conventions, friends betrayed, and mysteries beget mysteries. It’s an entertaining and refreshing reinvention of the Victorian mystery fused with the best elements of contemporary crime fiction.

Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon might be called a lot of things in his illustrious career as a fiction writer, but “crime writer” is not usually among them. His huge and dazzlingly complex novels have garnered him decades of critical acclaim while the author himself remains shrouded in anonymity, a mystery novel unto himself. His relatively breezy 2009 crime novel Inherent Vice playfully engages the elements of hardboiled fiction in the drug-haze of early 1970’s Los Angeles. The story follows the main character, Private Investigator “Doc” Sportello, through a series of bizarre investigations begun with a small job taken on behalf of his ex-girlfriend. Follow Doc through a hilariously drug-induced fog of paranoia and half-baked mystery that plays out like a well-crafted Coen brothers movie.

Jennifer Egan’s Look at Me
Most recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2010, Jennifer Egan is a writer’s writer. Her prose is as florid as it is thought provoking and complex. Her 2001 novel Look at Me focuses her critical eye on the theme of identity, how people perceive of themselves and others. The story interweaves several narratives, but the main story concerns a spiritually lost private eye and a has-been fashion model trying to hunt down a mysterious figure known to them only as Z. As the story progresses and Egan reveals more background about every character, you start to gain a deeper understanding of the stereotypical private eye, their job, their lives, and the interconnectedness of the lives around them. It’s a compelling read well worth your time.

Byline: Jane Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about criminal background check for Backgroundcheck.org. Questions and comments can be sent to: janesmth161 @ gmail.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Joe Hannibal novel out now!


Good news! There's a new Joe Hannibal novel coming out. If you like my blog you need to read this series, going strong for a long time now. A great traditional PI, Joe Hannibal's adventures are always a delight to read.

Following the life-altering events of THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY, Joe Hannibal is back in action! Operating now out of the Lake McConaughy region in west central Nebraska, Joe still carries a PI ticket but doesn't solicit investigative cases like in the old days. This doesn't mean, however, that trouble doesn't still have a way of finding him, even when he doesn't go looking for it.
As a favor to a new friend from the lakeside community, Joe agrees to do some discreet checking on the pal's ex wife who seems to have gone missing from her digs in nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming. In no time at all, Joe finds himself at odds with a shady local businessman, on the radar of a bloodthirsty Mexican crime boss, and in the crosshairs of a rogue bandito who won't hesitate to take down not only his primary target but also anybody/everybody else who tries to get in his way.
Before he can find the answers he set out after, Joe must endure the fight of his life and in the process learns that the dusty back roads and wide open spaces of the high plains can be every bit as dangerous as the meanest streets from the cities of his past.

Read about it here and buy it here.

Mike Dalmas 3 is out now!


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.
When the gangs of Bay City plan to join forces Dalmas is asked to sabotage this merger. He seems to be successful, but is the solution worse than the problem?

Read all about it in the newest digital short featuring Mike Dalmas: COLOR OF BLOOD!

Crashed (Junior Bender) by Timothy Hallinan


Junior Bender is a burglar and works as a PI for other crooks. In this first in the series, an e-book original, he is hired to babysit Thistle Downing. Thistle is a former teenage TV star that gangster boss Trey Annunziato contracted to star in a porn movie. Everything's not all right with drug addicted Thistle and Junior starts to feel very protective of her. To protect her he will have to clash with some very dangerous people.
Thistle is a wonderful character, a true modern lady in distress and Junior a great white knight.
The dialogue is the fastest, wittiest since a Kevin Smith movie. The characters are unique and well fleshed out. Junior is a fantastic, likable character that shows a real hardboiled side to him in the end.
All in all, this one served up everything I need in a hardboiled crime story and more. One of my favorite books... ever!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ranger (Quinn Colson) by Ace Atkins


As a fan of the Nick Travers series I was excited to hear Ace Atkins had a new series coming out.
In this first novel of the series we follow Ranger Quinn Colson as he returns to his hometown because of his uncle's death. What he encounters is a large cast of redneck villains and some great Southern Belles. He's aided by one-armed sidekick Boom and deputy sheriff Lillie. Especially Lillie is a great, likable character. Quinn is a cool, cigar-smoking tough guy but not the superman Jack Reacher is.
There's a strong subplot about a teenage girl who got herself pregnant by a piece white trash that comes to a violent conclusion in the end.
It all reminded me a bit of Lori Armstrong's No Mercy and people who enjoyed that one will surely enjoy this one. More Southern noir than a straight mystery novel Ace shows how to make the best use of a setting.

Q & A with Dennis Palumbo


I interviewed Dennis Palumbo, therapist an author of the Daniel Rinaldi series.

Q: What makes Daniel Rinaldi different from other (unofficial) PIs?
A: Even though he's a psychologist who consults with the Pittsburgh Police, he's not even unofficially involved in investigations. As a trauma expert, his job is to treat victims of violent crime---people who've been robbed, assaulted, raped, kidnapped, whatever---and for whom these experiences have left them with classic PTSD symptoms. By that, I mean anxiety, hyper-vigilance about potential dangers, nightmares, depression, etc. But, as often happens with series characters, even this tangential connection to the various cases soon gets Daniel in hot water. Which means constantly warring with homicide detectives, the District Attorney, and even his clinical colleagues as he doggedly tries to uncover the truth.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: A lot of Daniel's background is similar to my own: Italian-American, born and raised in Pittsburgh, and a Pitt grad. I've always wanted to create a series character, and one to whom I could really relate. So I made him a therapist, like me--though he's a lot braver and more resourceful than I am! Plus, as a former amateur boxer, he's able to survive the occasional physical scrape he finds himself in. (Kirkus Review calls him "Jack Reacher with a psychology degree.") Again, very unlike me!

But in terms of developing a psychologist character who could be the lead in a mystery series, I felt it important to create a unique specialty for Daniel. One that would give him reasonable access to the police and their investigations. I also wanted to use our shared Pittsburgh childhoods and experiences as a vehicle to talk about how the city has changed since I grew up there. How it's gone from being an industrial, shot-and-a-beer town to a modern, white-collar city. Gone are the steel mills and factories. Now it's all about medical breakthroughs at its world-class hospitals and cutting-edge research in nanotechnology. Yet, at the same time, Pittsburgh still boasts venerable old neighborhoods and broad-shouldered pride in its football team. Even with all the changes, it's a tale of two cities. As is true with me, Daniel's life spans both the old and the new Pittsburgh.

Q: How has your background as a therapist influenced your writing?
A: In the most obvious way, I suppose, it's in how Daniel Rinaldi sees the world, the particular way he understands and relates to the emotional experiences of both his patients and the other characters in the books. Since the novels are written in the first person, the reader gets to be inside the head of a therapist as he struggles to help traumatized crime victims. And, with a therapist's curiosity (and a stubborn streak all his own), he's apt to get more and more involved in the actual case.

As happens in MIRROR IMAGE, the first in the series, when the brutal murder of one of his patients plunges him into the investigation. Or in FEVER DREAM, the latest novel, in which Daniel is summoned by the cops to treat the sole hostage released from a deadly bank robbery in progress. The police need Daniel's help in getting the traumatized young woman to give them vital information about what's going on inside the bank. As one reviewer said, Daniel's like a psychological Columbo, using his understanding of feelings and motivations to unravel the mystery, to see things about the case from a different perspective than that of the police.

Q: What's next for you and Daniel?
A: In the third novel, called NIGHT TERRORS, Daniel is asked by the FBI to help a retired serial killer profiler who has become terrorized by nightmares relating to his twenty year career. Not only is he traumatized by his years living inside the heads of the worst kinds of murderers, but he's tormented by guilt when he realizes that one of the guys he put away, who has since died in prison, wasn't the real killer. And that the real killer is still out there, about to kill again.
Naturally, Daniel soon finds himself involved in bringing the bad guy down.

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: Poorly, I think! I mean, I try to give interviews like this one, I blog regularly for the Huffington Post, and I make the rounds of mystery-writing conferences.
I also have a website, and send out a mass email newsletter every three of four months. But I'm a licensed therapist with a full private practice, so my time for PR work is limited. However, I do radio interviews whenever I have the opportunity, and have been lucky enough to have appeared on CNN, NPR and PBS. I must admit, I envy the mystery writers who have hours every day to blog, to participate in blog tours, to contribute to dozens of genre websites and message boards.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: Parker and Crais are wonderful writers, and I enjoy both of their sidekick characters very much. With lesser writers, though, such "psychotic" characters are often used merely to provide mindless violence. This is particularly troublesome to me because, having worked with psychiatric populations for many years in a variety of settings, I can say that so-called psychotic patients are rarely violent. What injury they occasionally do cause is usually leveled at themselves.

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: Good question, since so many of the best writers in the genre now are still using characters with official police status. Writers like Stephen Jay Schwartz, CJ Box, T. Jefferson Parker, and Michael Connelly. I guess you could point to Sue Grafton or Sara Paretsky, with their female private eyes. Or Kate Atkinson with Jackson Brody. Among the men, Robert Crais' Elvis Cole certainly stands out, I think. Not to mention the unofficial PI's, like Randy White's Doc Ford and, of course, Lee Child's Jack Reacher.

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?
A: Luckily, I'm still early enough in my Daniel Rinaldi series not to have to deal with that issue. But I'm sure that, if I'm fortunate enough to be able to maintain the series through six or seven books, I'll bump up against the problem. I suppose then I'll just keep exploring new facets of the continuing characters, the changes coming about in their lives. As both a mystery reader and a mystery writer, it's well-rounded characters and how they deal with the stresses of life that keeps me coming back to series books.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: The question would be: what is it about those "mean streets" that make your character insist on going down them, regardless of what awaits? And the answer, borrowed from Mallory, is quite simple: Because they're there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dead Men's Harvest (Joe Hunter) by Matt Hilton


If you've been reading my blog you know I'm a fan of Harboiled Collective member Matt Hilton's Joe Hunter series. That means I'm excited about the sixth novel in the series that has links to the first Hunter novel and the villain that was featured there, the sinister Harvestman: Dead Man's Harvest.
Just click here for more about Hunter and Hilton.

Q & A with Brett Battles


I interviewd Brett Battles, author of the Logan Harper series (among others). He's been a big influence on my Mike Dalmas stories.

Q: What makes Logan Harper different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Logan's a former soldier who, in an effort to piece his life back together after the death of his friend, has moved back to his hometown to work in his father's auto shop. He has a strong moral center that makes it hard, if not impossible, for him to ignore the wrongs done to others.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I wanted to create someone who was different for the character Jonathan Quinn in my successful Cleaner series. Quinn operates in the world of espionage, has money and access to a lot of tech. I wanted Logan to be an everyday man who didn¹t have those aids, and who lived in the regular world. While he does have talents because of his military background, he¹s not a rich man, and whatever else he needs to solve a problem has to be pulled together from what sources are available.

Q: What's next for you and Logan?
I just released the second Logan book, EVERY PRECIOUS THING, and am starting to work on the plot for the third. It¹s a little early to say where that one's going yet. Hoping to release it sometime next summer.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I try to maintain a good web presence, mainly through Facebook and Twitter.I also do guess blog posts, and will be joining a group blog focused onmiddle-school and YA thrillers early next year. I do attend a few conferences also, and any time I have news (about every other month) I sendout a newsletter. You can sign up for that here.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I¹m a big fan of both of your examples. My only caution on psychotic sidekicks is that they shouldn't be crazy just for the sake of being different. That bugs me. Give me a plausible reason for their uniqueness and why they are friends with the hero, and I'm fine.

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influencedby Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you thinkwill influence the coming generation?
Wow...there are just so many to choose from. One of my favorite PI writerstoday is Sean Chercover. He is simply fantastic. Also, and this is more onthe amateur PI side, I would hope that Tim Hallinan would be a big future influence. You can't go wrong with either of those guys. I love everything they write.

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?In my mind, it's the characters. While each story in a series has it's own arc, there is a grander arc that covers the entire series. My characters continue to change both their relationships with each other and as individuals. If that's not happening, you end up writing the same book over and over, and that will quickly run out of steam. I do believe every series has a limit, though. Hopefully, in my case, I'll recognize it before I accidently go passed it.

My appearances on other sites

This week I write about novelettes at Michael Haskins' blog, am being interviewed at Ebookery and have a short story out at Powderburn Flash, featuring The Innocence Man, a college professor getting innocent people out of jail.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great article about PI fiction

You just have to read this article article that interviews many of my favorite writers about Robert B. Parker and his influence on the genre.

Kiss Her Goodbye (Mike Hammer) by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins


After a repose in Florida, recovering from a gunfight with mobsters the Legend returns to New York... Mike Hammer investigates the supposed suicide of his old police chief and soon he's up to his porkpie hat in gangsters and dolls. He visits an exclusive gun club as well as an exclusive disco. He encounters a strong woman who still doesn't stand a chance against his charms. There's a very violent gunfight that proves Hammer doesn't need a psycho sidekick like Elvis Cole and Spenser do, because he IS the psycho sidekick AND detective.
There's a strong subplot about how Hammer seems to have mellowed and aged and him proving everyone wrong and the love he feels for his old partner, Velda.
Max, from an unfinished manuscript by Hammer's creator Spillane, manages to write in Spillane's voice again and the pulpy sex and violence is just incredibly entertaining to read. A big middle-finger to literary thrillers and a big homage to the hardboiled pulp that makes the genre great.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Survivor's Affair (John Logan) by Rick Nichols


A phone call by the daughter of his old mentor lands ex-spy John Logan in the middle of a murder investigation. Trying to prove the daughter's innocense brings him into conflict with several professional hitmen.
When it turns out his old spy-buddies are getting killed as well he enlists the aid of the survivors of his unit to find out who's killing them.
More of an action thriller than mystery, this one will appeal to fans of David Baldacci and Eric van Lustbader.
It's a fast-paced ride and John Logan is a larger-than-life action hero with heart.

Act of Deceit (Harlan Donnally) by Steven Gore


Steven Gore introduces us to a new series character, Harlan Donnally, in his third novel. Asked to track down the sister of an old friend he finds out she was murdered by a psychopath... or was she? He uncovers a vast conspiracy linked to sexual abuse by the church and potgrowers.
Flirting with the psychological and legal thrillers at the start, this exciting novel ends up in Lee Child territory in the last chapters.
Steven Gore writes an engaging mystery with a large amount of twists, great investigative details and a broad canvas of places and concepts.
Donnally is a classic tough guy character but written in a believable manner. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Felony Fists (Fight Card) by Jack Tunny


When a Harboiled Collective member has a new book out you just know it's going to be great... This one is no exception...
It's an entry in the The Fight Card series, inspired by the boxing/fight stories in the sports pulps from the '30s and '40s, such as Fight Stories Magazine and Knockout Magazine as well as the Sailor Steve Costigan tales from Robert E. Howard.
It's a nice, fast and atmospheric pulpy read by Paul Bishop writing as Jack Tunny. There's more in this series coming up, written by Eric Beetner and Bob Randisi.
Here's the details:


FELONY FISTS by Paul Bishop

Los Angeles 1954

Patrick “Felony” Flynn has been fighting all his life. Learning the “sweet science” from Father Tim the fighting priest at St. Vincent’s, the Chicago orphanage where Pat and his older brother Mickey were raised, Pat has battled his way around the world – first with the Navy and now with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Legendary LAPD chief William Parker is on a rampage to clean up both the department and the city. His elite crew of detectives known as The Hat Squad is his blunt instrument – dedicated, honest, and fearless. Promotion from patrol to detective is Pat’s goal, but he also yearns to be one of the elite.

And his fists are going to give him the chance.

Gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA’s rackets, and murderous heavyweight Solomon King is Cohen’s key to taking over the fight game. Chief Parker wants wants Patrick “Felony” Flynn to stop him – a tall order for middleweight ship’s champion with no professional record.

Leading with his chin, and with his partner, LA’s first black detective Tombstone Jones, covering his back, Patrick Flynn and his Felony Fists are about to fight for his future, the future of the department, and the future of Los Angeles.

Go buy it over here

Free Range Institution (Mad Mick Murphy) by Michael Haskins


Key West's hardboiled reporter is back in action... and I do mean action!
In this very action-packed tale we follow Mad Mick Murphy's investigation into the death of a friend that falls from a building. He becomes embroiled into the fight against Columbian drug traffickers.
Obviously well-researched, full of details about the location this reads like a visit to another, very interesting world with Murphy as a tour guide. At times Murphy seems to be a bit of a by-stander as Feds take action against the bad guys, but hey, he's a reporter, right? Murhphy makes up for it in the thrilling last chapters.
There's an interesting supernatural element in the character of Padre Thomas, who might or not be an angel. It reminded me of early John Connolly before he went a bit overboard with the supernatural elements and of James Lee Burke's use of the supernatural.
All in all a good, fast-paced read.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Q & A with Chester Campbell


Here's an interview with Hardboiled Collective member Chester Campbell...

Q: What makes Sid Chance different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Sid Chance’s motivation lies in the belief that his efforts can have a major effect on righting the wrongs done to his clients, situations such as the one he found himself caught in before becoming a PI. After nineteen years as a National Park ranger, he enjoyed his position as police chief in a small town south of Nashville. Until an unsavory sheriff fell for a drug dealer’s ruse to falsely accuse him of bribery. Though ultimately absolved of guilt, he felt too tarnished to remain in the town and totally fed up with the ways of flawed humanity. After three years of self-imposed exile in a hillside cabin, he came back home to Nashville to take on the bad guys.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I had been writing a husband and wife PI team who are, as one reviewer put it, “like the people next door.” I wanted a more hard-edged story so turned to a big, impressive guy (he’s six-six and wears a black beard). He had served with Army Special Forces in Vietnam, then further developed his rugged image in the wilds of national parks. To give him a little additional quirk, I named him Sidney Lanier Chance, after the nineteenth century Southern poet who had some career similarities.

Q: What's next for you and Sid?
I’m sure he’ll come up with another exciting adventure. My next book will be number six in the Greg McKenzie series, then it’ll be Sid’s turn again. I don’t plan ahead, so each new book gets a fresh plot search.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Every book has a couple of pages on my website (http://chesterdcampbell.com). I have a blog called Mystery Mania, and I blog a couple of times a month on two others, Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery. I also post on Facebook and occasionally on Goodreads. I attend a few conferences each year and do several book fairs. I do occasional interviews like this one and post on listserves such as DorothyL, the granddaddy (or grandma) of mystery lists. I also stay on the lookout for ways to push my name out there.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I find them a bit implausible but enjoy reading about them. I gave Sid Chance an unusual sidekick in Jasmine (Jaz) LeMieux. Her father was a French Canadian who came to Nashville after the Korean War and established a national chain of travel centers. Jaz was disowned by her aristocratic mother after dropping out of college and joining the Air Force. She then became a champion woman boxer and finally a Metro Nashville cop. After her mother’s death, she returned to good graces with her father and inherited controlling interest in the business. Serving as chairman of the board without an active role in day-to-day operations, she has time to assist Sid in tough cases like the one in The Good, The Bad and the Murderous.

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 haven’t read enough of the newer crop to hazard an informed guess, but Robert Crais seems to be holding up well at the present.

Q: Larry Block came up with the following question: How do you keep the series from running out of steam?
I think the key is to come up with fresh, interesting characters in each outing. That and finding unusual cases to keep the reader intrigued. I like to weave in subplots that wind their way back into the main story.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Would your PI commit an obvious breach of the law to solve a case? My answer: Yes, if it was a technical violation and the circumstances warranted it. But if it involved a felonious act, he’d look for a way to get around it. Real PIs avoid actions that would jeopardize their licenses.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween fiction

My pals at Trestle Press have some great Halloween fiction lined up for you. Check this link for a list of their books.

First In, Last Out (Tom Gregory) by Gerald So


This is what the Kindle is all about. Cheap, fast and thrilling reads. This one collects the Tom Gregory stories by Gerald So. They're about an ex-Marine sniper that comes home and finds trouble. Gerald edited fiction on the Thrilling Detective site and it shows. The writing is tight and well thought out. Solid, fast read.
Check it out here.

More appearances of me and Mike Dalmas

I guest blog about my favorite PI's here.
Paul Brazill has good things to say about Find Her, the first Mike Dalmas story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Q & A with John Gilstrap


I interviewed John Gilstrap, author of Threat Warning.

Q: What makes Jonathan Grave different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Jonathan Grave is a former Delta Force operator who makes his living as a freelance hostage rescue specialist. Unlike law enforcement agencies, whose hostage rescue activities are constrained by the obligation to collect and preserve evidence that will convict the hostage takers in court, Jonathan and his team care only about the victim. Everything else--including due process--is secondary to the rescue mission. Whereas more traditional PIs work more or less within the established justice system--ultimately working with the police who don't necessarily appreciate their activities--Jonathan and his team work completely outside of the law.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I wrote a nonfiction book a few years ago called Six Minutes to Freedom, which told the story of Kurt Muse, the only civilian of record ever rescued by Delta Force. During my research, I got to know quite a few Special Forces operators, and I was very impressed by their single-minded dedication to their mission. Once dispatched to make a rescue, their Precious Cargo is coming home, even if the operators have to sacrifice their own lives to make that happen. When that order goes out--and it's always on foreign soil because of Constitutional restrictions on donestic military operations--there are no warrants, no concerns for the rights of the bad guys. The single mission is to reunite the PC with his or her family. People who get in the way of that mission are likely to die.

I thought it would be a cool paradigm for a civilian contractor to use domestically. The idea stewed in my imagination for a while, and Jonathan Grave was born.

Q: What's next for you and Grave?
In Damage Control, due out in July of 2012, Jonathan and his team are sent to rescue a busload of American missionaries who have been taken hostage by Mexican drug lords. When things go wrong, it becomes clear that someone within the American halls of power want Jonathan dead.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Promotion of fiction is an exercise in frustration. I have a newsletter for my fans, and a website (www.johngilstrap.com). I'm a weekly contributor to The Killzone, a blog featuring eleven suspense authors (http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com). My column appears every Friday. I go to a few conferences every year, and I try to maintain a reliable presence on Twitter and Facebook. I do these things because I enjoy the interaction with people, and in hopes that the effort might sell a few books. In the end, though, I think an author's most reliable avenue for promotion is to keep writing books. I'm pleased to report that there will be at least two more Grave books after Damage Control. They'll be out in 2013 and 2014.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
I was one of the last holdouts. I even wrote a blog post for The Killzone that I called, "Kindle Schmindle." Then I was given a Kindle for Father's Day two years ago, and now I don't know how I ever lived without one. I enjoy everything about the Kindle--and, by extension, eBooks in general. I find the reading experience to be perfectly fine, and I love the quick availability of tens of thousands of titles.

There's a lot of Internet nonesense out there foretelling the demise of commercial publishing because of the birth and growth of the eBook. I just don't see that happening. In fact, given the amount of self-published dreck that is flooding eBook outlets, I think that in a few years readers will become even more depended upon the imprimatur of a publisher as a means of sifting readable material from the awful stuff that has been vanity-published for next to no cost. For that to happen, though, New York publishing needs to start pricing eBooks more reasonably.


Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Well, I sort of have one in Jonathan's long-time colleague named Boxers. I actually don't think of them as psychotic. I see them as loyal men who are willing to die for their friends. As such, it only makes sense that they would be willing to kill for them, too. I've known several people like that over the years.

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?
Man, I'm the wrong guy to ask about the coming generation. I think that the current crop of PI writers--including myself--are on the trailing edge of what will soon be known as "traditional" storytelling. We all use characters who are bound in reaity and depend largely on shoe leather and firearms to get the job done. I see a new generation that is far more tied to technology than I will ever be, and that technology will be the key influence. Truth be told, I don't think I've yet read the author who will cause the next seismic shift in the genre.

Q: Max Alan Collins came up with the following question: Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?
Okay, stand by for heresy: Neither. I respect both authors for essentially setting the rules for the genre, but I don't particulary enjoy reading their books. These days, they seem for me to approach the line of historical fiction. I'd rather spend my time reading new voices than old ones.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
If it were possible, would you spend a year living your character's life? Why or why not?
My answer: Absolutely. Jonathan Grave is the man I wish I could be. His dedication and clarity of purpose inspires me. He knows who he is, and more importantly he has an inviolable moral center that defines for him who he will never allow himself to become. Plus, he's got some really cool toys.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Mike Dalmas story out now!


The new Mike Dalmas story is out now for just 99 cents!
FATAL DOSE - A MIKE DALMAS STORY
Another in the Trestle Press Cliffhanger Digital Short Series:
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.
When the death of an innocent young girl is ruled as an OD Homicide cop Carver thinks the girl's boyfriend, a tough K-1 fighter, is behind it. He orders Dalmas to see justice done. But is the girl that innocent? And is they boyfriend really a criminal?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Good, The Bad and the Murderous (Sid Chance) by Chester Campbell


Vietnam veteran and ex-park ranger Sid Chance goes to work for a young black man that just got out of jail. The ex-con is charged with a murder he swears he didn't commit. Chance is helped out by a quirky cast of sidekicks in this satisfying mystery filled with enough action, twist and turn to please any PI-fan.
Chester Campbell also happens to be a member of the Hardboiled Collective, so it comes highly recommended.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Bad Night's Sleep (Joe Kozmarski) by Michael Wiley


Joe Kozmarski is hired to watchdog a building. The burglars arriving turn out to be cops. When Joe is forced to shoot one of them it doesn't make him popular.
The Chicago PD asks him to infiltrate the gang of crooked cops. In the end though, he finds out the gang's plans weren't what the thought.
Besides this main story we also follow Joe's relationships with his ex-wife and his lover and his struggle with booze and coke.
Joe Kozmarski is not an unique character but has enough ant-heroic qualities to make him interesting. There's a nice number of action scenes and surprises, the ending surprising. All in all, not the best PI novel of the year but a very satisfying read.

Hardboiled Collective members on other blogs

Check out my guest blog here and read a great interview with Hardboiled Collective member Bruce DeSilva here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News about and for international crime writers

Libby Fischer Hellmann gave me the chance to write a guest post on her blog about what the Dutch think about US-crime fiction. You can read it here.

And while we're on the subject... For you international crime writers go here to contribute to a great new concept!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Q & A with Lawrence Block


I'm delighted to present this interview with Lawrence Block!

Q: What makes Matt Scudder different from other (unofficial) PIs?
A: The PI is often labeled a man with a code. Bob Parker's Spenser, in what came perilously close to self-parody, would actually sit around discussing his code with Susan. If Scudder ever had a code, he's long since lost his Captain Midnight decoder ring. He has to work it out as he goes along. I find it more interesting that way.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: An agent suggested I develop a tough cop as a series character. I realized I'd be more comfortable writing from an outsider perspective, an ex-cop rather than a member of a bureaucracy. As much for convenience as anything else, I situated Scudder in the New York neighborhood where I was then living.

Q: What's next for you, Scudder and other characters like Keller?
A: I never know what's next. Many times over the years I thought the Scudder series had reached a natural stopping point, but I've learned otherwise so many times that I no longer predict anything. My next novel, coming sometime next year from Mulholland, will be about Keller, and a week ago I could have told you the title, but now that's uncertain again. And of course all of this continges upon my finishing the thing...

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: I used to tour a lot whenever a book came out. Travel's become so cumbersome and unpleasant over the past decade that I've pretty much cut that out. Lately I've become very active online—Twitter and Facebook and my own blog—and I think that's probably more effective than racing around the country. God knows it's simpler. I think, though, that it's only a good idea for writers who enjoy it. I like the online and email interaction, I get a kick out of it, but I know writers who don it doggedly, out of a sense of duty, and I think it then becomes counterproductive.

Q: Tell us why the PI novel isn't dead.
A: One reads its obituary from time to time, and it always turns out to be premature. The individual relying on his own resources to right wrongs or calm troubled waters is an archetype that seems to endure irrespective of shifts in the culture. It gets all the reinvention it needs.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
A: I'm reading the second volume of Robert Caro's masterful biography of Lyndon Johnson, and I wish it were available as an eBook, because an hour with it leaves me with aching wrists. I love eBooks—as a reader and as a writer. My whole backlist is available now, and most of those boks have been out-of-print for years. That delights me. And I've published three eRiginal books for writers this year, The Liar's Bible, the Liar's Companion, and my early-days memoir, Afterthoughts; those wouldn't exist but for the eBook medium. And, of course, my new venture in self-publishing, The Night and the Music, is driven by the eBook; there's a print edition available, but I'd never have done this in an eBook-less world.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: I'm not sure I'd characterize either of those estimable gentlemen as psychotic—surely not to their faces! It's not hard to understand the appeal of a trusted friend who's more violent and less constrained by moral rules than the hero. I suppose Mick Ballou plays some of that role vis-a-vis Scudder, but only now and then; mostly he's a friend, and the evolving dynamics of that friendship keep me engaged.

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: I have no idea.

Q: Gar Anthony Haywood came up with the following question: What other P.I. writer, alive or dead, would you want as a huge fan?
A: There's a conundrum here. If I idolize and/or idealize a particular writer enough to pick him for the role, I'd perforce regard him as too exalted to waste his time on my work. So, while Gar's question's a good one, I'm not going to answer it.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: How do you keep the series from running out of steam? And now I have answer it, huh? Okay. By allowing Matt Scudder to age in real time, and to be changed in one book for having lived through the preceding one. And by only writing the next book when it's ready to be written. And by avoiding the trap of trying to give readers what they want.

A great week for Noah Milano!


It's great week for Noah Milano... He appears on Thrills, Kills 'n' Chills with a new short story, War Crimes , Tough As Leather is reviewed at Murderous Musings AND the Noah Milano Novelette The Alabaster-Skinned Mule is available.
Here's the lowdown on this novelette, a cool 36 page story. It's probably the most action-packe Milano tale yet.

A pretty young girl is used as a mule, smuggling drugs for Mexican druglords. When she discovers the drugs she gets rid of them. The druglords will do anything to get them back.
She hires Noah Milano, security specialist and ex-mob fixer to protect her. He ends up putting his dearest friendship and his very life on the line for her.

Praise by other authors:
''Great pop sensibility with a nod to the classic L.A. PIs.'' - David Levien, author 13 Million Dollar Pop
"Terrific stuff.'' - Lori G. Armstrong, author of No Mercy
Jochem's deep and abiding love for classic pulp fiction comes through on every page, and his stories continue the time-honored tradition of the hardboiled American PI." -Sean Chercover, author of Trigger City.

Guest-Post: Look Who's Reading Mine by Bruced DeSilva





Fans of Bruce DeSilva, author of Rogue Island might have seen the cool 'Look Who's Reading' posts on his blog. I asked Bruce to tell us how they came about...

Publishers spend the most of their limited promotion budgets on sure winners – the latest books by the likes of Lee Child and Laura Lippman. A first-time novelist who wants to tell the world that he’s written a book is largely on his own.

So last fall, as the publication date for my first crime novel, “Rogue Island,” drew near, I was wracking my brain for a way to get some attention.

“I know,” my wife, the poet Patricia Smith, said. “Why don’t we take pictures of famous people reading your book? We can post them on your blog, and on Facebook and Twitter?”

That sounded like a plan. Books are sold largely by word of mouth: One person reads it, likes it, and tells his or her friends. Social networking sites are good for writers because they have greatly expanded the reach of word of mouth.

The problem with these sites, however, is that when you post something, it is seen only by the people you have “friended” on Facebook or who follow you on Twitter. However, you can reach many thousands more if your friends like your post enough to repost it, passing it on to THEIR friends.

The right photos, I thought, just might do the trick.

So Patricia and I started toting a camera and a copy of my book around in case we ran into famous people. Except sometimes, we forgot. It would have been nice if we’d had the book with us when we ran into Chris Rock at the Bronx Zoo.

But over the last year, we accumulated 84 pictures of famous people reading “Rogue Island,” and I’ve been posting several each week on Facebook, Twitter and my blog, brucedesilva.com.

More than half of those who posed for our cameras are famous crime and thriller writers – Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Val McDermid, Ken Follett, Lee Child – taken at crime writing conferences including Mystery Writers of America, Bouchercon and Thrillerfest.

But there was also Andrew Young, former ambassador to the United Nations, whom I ran into on a trip to Washington, D.C.

And Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr., TV pundit, convicted felon and former mayor of Providence, R.I., where my novel is set.

And famous journalists like Eugene Robinson and Roy Peter Clark, happy to do a favor for a former member of their tribe.

When Patricia journeyed to Hollywood to do a poetry reading at the Getty Museum, she snagged photos of actresses America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” fame and Amber Tamblyn, who starred in “House,” “Joan of Arcadia,” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.”

My favorite, though, was Patricia’s picture of Goth music star Marilyn Manson, who posed for two photos – one reading the book and another holding it against his crotch. I used only the first one.

The Manson photo was the biggest hit. When I posted it on my bog, I got six times the normal number of daily hits.


Most people just held the book open and smiled, but a few mugged for the camera. Sara Paretsky, a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, and Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, stared at a page with their mouths open, as if they’d just read something shocking.


And no one, not a single person, turned us down.

Did this sell any books? It’s impossible to say for sure, but it didn’t hurt. “Rogue Island” has sold well for a first crime novel – and nearly a year after its release, it’s still selling.

Now I need to come up with a promotion idea for my second novel, “Cliff Walk,” which will be published by Forge next May. Any suggestions?

Treste Press offers cool digitals shorts!


I recently signed up with Trestle Press to bring out my Mike Dalmas series. There’s a great group of writers with this publisher and I figured you all deserved to know about them.

There’s Alexandra Weis, who puts out thrilling supernatural crime stories, the latest of which, set in New Orleans, is The Keeper of the Dead. Great for fans of horror and James Lee Burke.

Also for horror fans Trestle Press offers the work of April Pohren, whose latest short story is Dream Me To Death.

Showing how diverse Trestle Press is, there’s Big Daddy Abel’s work.

And, if you’re a fan of hardboiled crime (and if you’re not why are you visiting this blog?) you will have to check out B.R. Stateham’s Smitty series. Smitty is an Avenging Angel that will appeal to everyone who digs my own work.

While we're on the subject of great stuff from other people: Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles Volume II is out now, featuring great tales of noir western by the talented Edward E. Grainger. Don't miss out on this one if you like noirish short stories.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guest-Post: Truly Noir by Austin S. Camacho


I'm delighted to offer you this guest post by Austin S. Camacho, author of the Hannibal Jones series and The Piranha Assignment.

My Hannibal Jones series is not very different from other detective series, except of course for the fact that Hannibal Jones is an African American private eye. When I decided to write a hardboiled detective series I set out to explore my detective’s predecessors, the characters he’d be compared to when he made his appearance.


That turned out to require a lot less time than I expected it to. As a hardboiled detective with an African heritage, Hannibal Jones turned out to have few predecessors. The best known black mystery characters, chronicled by Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Chester Himes and Hugh Holton, are policemen or amateur sleuths.


So where are all the men of color following in Phillip Marlowe’s gumshoe footsteps? Ed Lacy introduced the first credible African-American private eye, Toussaint Moore, in 1957. He won an Edgar, but no one followed his lead. I assumed that John Shaft would turn the tide when he appeared in 1971. Ernest Tidyman's Harlem private eye was so hardboiled that at the time my friends and I jokingly referred to him as “Sam: Spade Detective.” Yet despite his film success, there was no rush of imitators. All the African American private eyes seem to have vanished mysteriously.


I can hear all the white authors out there now, shaking their heads and muttering, “Don’t blame me.” Well, why not? African American authors write white characters all the time, so why not reverse that spin. And white authors don’t seem to have any trouble writing black characters as sidekicks, or villains. Why not write them as detectives?


Of course, there is the danger of stereotyping. Your ethnic readers will look very closely at any characters you introduce who don’t look like you. So how do you get it right when you’re writing about people from another race and culture? Here are three hints that will help you.


Observe: spend time in the grocery stores, restaurants and bars filled with mostly faces of color. Don’t worry, no one will assault you as long as you mind your own business. And by listening closely you’ll get a feel for the attitudes and interests of that group, not to mention their food and drink preferences. You will also develop a feel for the rhythm of language and common phrases they use. I’ve found this works for Latin, Korean and Iranian characters too.


Avoid dialect: When we change the way words are spelled to imitate the sound of someone’s voice we not only insult them, we make it harder for readers to get through our writing. All you need to do to get the dialog perfect is to use the words your characters would use in their own unique order. Your reader will “hear” what you meant, be it North Dakota Swedish or inner city black.


Get a reality check: First, make a black friend. Next, have that friend read your work and beg them to be honest in their feedback. Watch their face as they read. Ask them to test the dialog aloud, and listen for changes they may make unconsciously. If your friend balks at something, don’t debate it, change it.


The most important thing, of course, is to remember that we are all more alike than different. Human motivations, desires, fears and joys are universal, so make sure your black characters are first and foremost human.


And in case you’re skeptical about writing a black detective, let me remind you that Toussaint Moore’s creator, Ed Lacy, was actually a white guy named Leonard Zinberg.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Q & A with Rick Nichols


Today we talk to Richard Nichols, author of the action-packed John Logan series.

Q: What makes John Logan different from other (unofficial) PIs?
A: I think there are several things. First is his background. Logan was born in America but raised in Japan. As such, he has a strong tie to the land and their philosophies of duty and honor. It has a profound effect on his actions. Secondly is his past as a Special Ops soldier and his work in covert intelligence. His career didn’t end well and his relationship with the government is strained because of it. He does think about the lives he’s taken and the men he lost and he desperately tries to help people as a way of atonement for his past “sins.” In the end, though, he must always rely on his training and skills to get him out of situations and it’s that duality that makes him so much fun to write.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: When I was in college about 30 years ago, I got the kernel of the character in my head. I knew a lot of his background but I had trouble figuring out what I wanted him to be doing in the present. When I hit upon the idea of making him a PI it seemed to fit and by the second paragraph I knew I was on to something.

Q: What's next for you and Logan?
A: A third book entitled The Sheltering Tree is due out in 2012. I have a few other ideas that Logan might pursue but they are still percolating in my brain. There will be more Logan stories to come.

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: Anyway I can. My publisher helps of course, but I am on Facebook as well as have a fan page (Rick Nichols, Author), I am on Twitter (RickNichols3), and I have my author page (www.wix.com/richardn45/rick-nichols) I also have a blog (www.ricknichols.blogspot.com). I try to grant interviews to anyone who wants them and I generally find that just getting your name out is the biggest task. Once people know who you are, if the books are good, they will buy them.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
A: I think that ebooks are the future of the business and recent sales figures from the traditional publishers show ebooks outselling hard copies. The paperback is a vanishing species and let’s face it, being able to store 1000 books on a small pad is neat! I haven’t made the switch yet, simply because I’m old fashioned and like the feel of a real book but I will. It’s a matter of time.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: Well I wouldn’t use the term psychotic. Chandler and Hammett started the lone PI thing and Parker originally wanted to do the same with Spenser. Hawk and Pike are both loyal and have a great sense of justice. Hawk has a darker side to him that Pike doesn’t seem to have but he is a good man with a strong sense of justice. I think a sidekick can bring out other facets of your character that otherwise might not get revealed. You learn a lot about Spenser through his relationship with Hawk and the same with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. The bonds of friendship between them, the respect they have for each other, and their willingness to risk everything for their friend is a great concept. When I had the epiphany of Logan being a PI, I knew I wanted him to have one guy, one friend, to be there for him. Mason Killian was born and I created him with no preconceived ideas, just allowed the character to write itself. And it worked. There is a great chemistry between Logan and Killian that I think is amazing and it is the key to making these kinds of relationships work on the page.

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: I think the masters will continue to influence many generations to come. I think Crais needs to be in there as well as Walter Mosely and Ed McBain. There are a couple of other but I honestly can’t think of their names right now.

Q: Max Alan Collins came up with the following question: Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?

A: Chandler. Hammett is great but there is a power to Chandler’s prose, almost a rhythm to it that hooked me from the first paragraph of The Big Sleep and never let me go. I have all of his novels and even the pulp stories he wrote.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: Wow, that’s an interesting question. You’ve certainly asked some good ones today. I would have to say, especially if they are doing a series, is how do you keep the stories fresh? Even Parker had some weak plots from time to time and I’ve found in writing three Logan novels that it can be so easy to stick with what worked before. In The Sheltering Tree, I tried to change things up a little and I try to reveal parts of a character or a relationship that I have not explored before. Just trying to keep it fresh and not fall into repetition is certainly a challenge for me. It’s easier since Logan still has some things to discover but by the 20th book (if I make it that far), I’m sure it will be more challenging.

Pocket-47 (Nicholas Colt) by Jude Hardin


He used to be in a rockband but after surviving a plane crash that killed his band and family Nicholas Colt became a PI. Cool back story, right?
In his first outing he tracks down a runaway but ends up confronting neo-Nazi's and discovers shocking secrets behind the plane crash.
Colt is a character in the vein of Elvis Cole, Rush McKenzie and Noah Milano. A pretty good guy who uses violence when pissed off. Well... There's a scene with a pencil in the book that would be a bit hardcore for those characters, even for Mike Hammer. It surprised me a bit and felt a bit out of character. Also, the ending involving a form of virgin sacrifice, read a bit too much like a B-movie.
However... For the most part Colt is a character you can relate to, the pacing is great, there's a good mystery and enough action. All in all, I'm looking forward to a follow-up.

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 (www.garanthonyhaywood.com); personal blog
www.wisdommistakenforlunacy.com); my postings on the Murderati writersblog (www.murderati.com); 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
Pike?

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 www.sonsofspade.tk.

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 clich├ę (no offence to the tonnes of great clich├ęs 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.