Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tom Pitts' new novel HUSTLE is superb! Snubnose Press does it again!

Hi folks,

I'm extremely proud to let you know that my friend Tom Pitts asked me to write the foreward to his newest novel, HUSTLE, and I can't begin to tell you how proud that made me. This book is groundbreaking in its content and approach and to use a term that is overused but apt in this case--absolutely brilliant.

Here's the foreword as it appears in the book:


Tom Pitts’ Hustler is, quite simply, one of the very best novels I’ve read in a long, long time. There’s just no other way to describe it. Years from now, I’m convinced it will be viewed in the same light as the early work of Charles Bukowski—as a ground-breaking classic. To be honest, there is no one to compare Pitts to with this book. It will be the novel that will be considered as the first—and best—of, for want of a better term—“hustler” noir.

Perhaps the best comparison—not in the writing, but in the revealing of an underworld lifestyle—would be to Robert Beck’s seminal classic, Iceberg Slim. The difference is, Pitts doesn’t attempt to portray his protagonist as heroic as Beck does, but more along the lines of Jean Genet’s character Divine in his brilliant Our Lady of the Flowers. But, while both of these writers and both of these books use the settings of the underworld of sex-for-pay and/or aberrant sex-for-pleasure, there is a significant difference in Hustler, in that Pitts’ protagonist, Donny, isn’t portrayed as a man who sees himself as a maverick or a rebel, raging against the system and defiantly proud of his rebellion, but simply as a human being to whom drugs have reduced to an intolerable lifestyle which he is unable to escape, although the entire book is about his struggle to do so. Both Iceberg Slim and Divine embrace their lifestyles, but Donny does not. That is the difference and why, even though there are similarities in settings and lifestyles, Donny is more akin to Bukowski’s Martin Blanchard than Divine or Slim. And yet, he isn’t like Blanchard either. The thing is, he’s an entirely different character than just about anyone in literature. Donny shares similarities with other literary creations, but in the end, he is a whole new creation. And, because of that, Hustler is a whole new category of noir.

And, while Donny doesn’t see himself as heroic, of course he is. He’s a survivor and that is the best proof of heroism that exists. He’s proactive on his own behalf to escape the hell that he’s in and against more terrible odds than Hercules or Atlas ever faced and what makes him extremely likeable is that he doesn’t see himself as heroic in the least.

Hustler is going to be seen by its critics as both remarkable and abhorrent. Often both by the same critic. It’s going to offend some crime writers I suspect, because compared to their own work, which of course they will in their own minds, they’re going to realize that their efforts—compared to Pitts’—are more along the lines of The Hardy Boys Have Adventures in Sugar Creek. In other words, there are many pretenders and posers writing crime and noir novels, who have little or no experience with the element they are writing about. Pitts knows his milieu and better than anyone I’ve ever read. His novel rings loud and clear with hard, honest truth. He knows these guys and he doesn’t judge. Readers looking for the comfort of stereotypes are bound to be disappointed. Like Bukowski’s Martin Blanchard, he allows his characters to have souls and, indeed, insists on it.

Pitts told me that there was some pressure on him to edit some of the rougher parts to make it more palatable for readers. In his words, “They're trying to have me soften it a little, I'm trying to hold fast.” Please do, Tom! If any of this gets “softened” it will only prove that as a culture, we have, indeed, become so PC’d we’ve lost our souls. To “soften” this book would mean literature has lost to moronic politics. And we’ll all be the poorer for that.


The novel is available in an ebook format as well as in paperback. It's just one cool-looking book and my preference is the paperback version.

Tom and I had become friends online a couple of years ago and then I got to meet him at Bouchercon in Albany this last year and we knocked back a few brews together and instantly bonded. He told me a bit about this book then and I knew right away I had to read it. It's based on his own true life experiences and those are always the best books. You just get the kind of verisimilitude other writers just can't come close to in cases like this.

It's also by the Snubnose Press folks and these people know their crime and noir fiction. Brian Lindenmuth is simply a class act and his books all rock. I'm a bit prejudiced I suppose--they chose to publish a small collection of my short stories a couple of years ago--Gumbo Ya-Ya.

Anyway, I hope you glom onto a copy. You'll see that I haven't steered you wrong at all. It's a book that's going to make a bunch of those "Best of" lists and it deserves to.

Blue skies,

Monday, April 14, 2014


Hi folks,

I'd like to introduce you to a book and a writer I'm very excited about. Matthew Louis is the founding editor of Gutter Books and the anarchic pulp fiction zine, Out of the Gutter. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 

 And is one helluva writer!

Here's my review of his novel, THE WRONG MAN:

It’s kind of rare to come across a novel as perfectly structured as THE WRONG MAN is. It starts out exactly as it should—a guy trying to live a righteous life and befriend an old pal is suddenly involved by that friend in a race to stay alive and protect himself and his family and before he knows it or can do anything about it, he’s got his back to the wall, in the middle of a shooting war, with the bullets whizzing closer and closer, the bodies falling, and the scent of death everywhere. I read as a writer and believe me, an entire class could be profitably taught using just this novel. The fictive dream is established immediately and there’s no departure point where the reader can leave. Matthew Louis has crafted one of the most interesting, best-paced and plotted novels I’ve read in a long, long time, and I just hope he keeps cranking ‘em out as fast as he can.

If you like your novels to be as dark as the far side of the moon, move like a runaway train with the engineer out from a heart attack, while the hapless passenger left aboard the only one who can keep it from plunging down the mountainside, and who begins to grow into the heroic figure he will become, this is your kind of book. This one’s a winner in every way. Gonna be in my top five of the year for sure. I’ll be saying to everyone I talk to: “You gotta read this.”

You gotta read this.

Check it out.
Blue skies,

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Raves for Rob Boley's first novel, THAT RISEN SNOW

Hi folks,

I take great pride in today's post. I want to tell you about a good friend of mine's first published novel, Rob Boley's THAT RISEN SNOW. I've kind of gone along the journey a bit with Rob and feel a "brotherly" pride in what he has created.

I met Rob a couple of years ago when I was asked to be a presenter at the Antioch Writer's Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This was one of the most pleasurable weekends I've ever spent at such an event and Rob was one of the reasons why. He was part of the writer's group I was privileged to work with (we dubbed ourselves "The Best Writer's Group" and we were...). Every single member of our group was not only a uber-talented writer but the nicest group of people I think I've ever got to hang out with.

Rob and I became instant best friends. We hung out just about every hour except when we were sleeping. Our favorite place was "The Gulch" my kind of bar, along with our other best friend, Amanda Winfield.

Well, each member of our talented group read to the assembled folks at Antioch and Rob's reading tore the roof off the place with the wild reaction it garnered. Just plain laugh-out-loud writing. I saw it immediately as something that should be published and I introduced him to one of my publishers who jumped on it with both feet. At last count, Aaron Patterson of StoneGate Ink is planning on publishing a series of Rob's books of at least eight, I believe. This is the first one and they're all a riot of laughs.

Rob and I have continued our friendship. He's been over to spend weekends with me and my wife Mary and son Mike a couple of times--the last time he also brought his fantastic daughter Annabella. And, she truly is fantastic. I've never seen a warmer and more loving relationship than these two have.

Anyway, without further ado, I want to introduce Rob and his first novel and urge everyone to run right over to Amazon and glom onto an ebook copy. It will also be out in paperback in a couple of months.

For another treat, check out Rob on his blog with his amazing daughter! At

Tell 'em I sentcha!

by Rob E. Boley
Book One of the Scary Tales: A Killer Serial

The zombie sequel to Snow White begins where the classic fairy tale ends, with the Prince’s kiss waking Snow from her cursed slumber. Snow wakes up, but she doesn’t wake up right.

Now a deranged zombie, Snow infects both the Prince and the seven dwarfs’ leader. That leaves the young dwarf Grouchy, who is secretly in love with Snow, to find a cure for her malicious curse. So begins an epic journey that pits the lovesick Grouchy against dwarf-hating human soldiers, Snow’s ever-growing zombie horde, and his own bad temper.

But when Grouchy and his motley crew of survivors escape Snow’s clutches and seek refuge in a nearby human village, he soon finds that her affliction has spread faster and further then he ever could have imagined. Snow is hell-bent on spreading her horrid curse across the land, and it’s up to Grouchy to stop her before it’s too late.

For fans of horror, dark comedy, horror comedy, dark fantasy, zombies, and mashups such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters; Little Women and Werewolves; Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter; Henry VIII: Wolfman; Jane Slayre.

“Part delicious dream, part nightmare, That Risen Snow is an aberrant fairytale that is just as much a horror story. Boley has a knack for dark comedy and witty prose, and he blends it with a nearly-hardboiled voice uncharacteristic of (and therefore pleasantly unique in) dark fantasy fiction. It’s a story you’ll want to tear ass through but will equally want to slow down for, so you can savor the prose.”
—Brady Allen, author of Back Roads & Frontal Lobes

“In 1912, the Brothers Grimm published an old German fairy tale they titled Snow White. Little did they know that a guy named Rob Boley would come along a hundred years later to reveal the ‘true’ and adult story of Ms. White, or ‘Snow’ as she was known in real life… No one could have possibly foreseen what would become of Snow in the hands of a diabolical, maniacal imagination like Boley’s… Such a nice boy… with such a fevered mind. Read this with the lights on and a baseball bat or shotgun handy… you’re gonna be glad you did. This is a Snow White you ain’t gonna find in the middle school library… Get it, read it, and try to keep the screaming down.”
—Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, Just Like That, and The Bitch

“That Risen Snow and That Wicked Apple make a deliciously diabolical tale—part Walking Dead, part turned-on-its-ear fairy tale. Rob Boley strikes the perfect balance of depth, drama, and dark humor to keep readers devouring the pages and leave them hungering for more.”
—Linda Gerber, author of the Death by Bikini Mysteries

That's it, folks! 

Blue skies,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Hi folks,
I just ran across a couple of blogposts that I wanted to share with you guys. The first is from author Lisa Fernow, who made my day when she talked about my newest novel, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, a black comedy crime caper coming out in August from Down&Out Books. This book is my personal favorite and I’ve been writing a sequel to it for some time. KIDNAPPING began as a short story published in The South Carolina Review and then I wrote a novel based on it and then a screenplay. The screenplay was named a Finalist in both the Writer’s Guild and Best of Austin competitions. The novel has a German publisher in Pulpmaster, and the owner of that press, Frank Nowatzke, liked it so much, he took it to Berlinale, the European film festival that is a sister festival to the Frankfort Book Festival. Frank received great responses to it he told me, but all see it as a movie that would have to be filmed in the U.S. and not Europe. Hoping it attracts some attention here when it comes out!

Anyway, here’s what Lisa had to say about it:

The Genuine Imitation Plastic Kidnapping

I happened to be reading Publishers Marketplace, the industry rag that lets you know what books are being sold to publishers by various agents, and I came across a book that made me laugh so hard I nearly wet my pants.
Here is the description: Les Edgerton’s THE GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, in which a couple of two-bit hustlers come up with the bright idea of kidnapping a crime boss’ fake hand, and hold it ransom for some serious money, to Eric Campbell at Down and Out Books, by Chip MacGregor at MacGregor Literary.
I just had to write to Les. Turns out he’s quite a guy. We’ve been writing back and forth, and I plan to buy this book as soon as it comes out. You might like to read his blog in the meantime.
Why am I telling you this. If you like someone’s work, write to them and tell them so. It really makes their day.  And sometimes it makes yours, back.

Thanks, Lisa! Any time a description of one of my books causes someone to laugh so hard she nearly wets her pants, my day has been made. (And, PW got part of this wrong--it's not a "fake" hand but his real meathook that gets whacked off.)
And then, I came across a blog I visit regularly, Col’s Criminal Library, and saw a really cool shout-out of my novel, THE BITCH.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014


March provided a decent month of reading, without me finding that book that was truly stand out and memorable. I had a slow start to the month with the Hunsicker book, which has made me decide, as much as possible to avoid long books at the start of the working week as I just get bogged down. Better to save them for a holiday or a weekend start when I can eat a big chunk up and make some progress. My enjoyment of The Contractors probably suffered as a result, though a mark of 3 appears generous.

Book of the month!
9 books were read in the month, which is 1 shy of my goal of 10 to achieve 120 for the year. I have yet to hit that magical figure in any month in 2014 - hopefully I will catch up later in the year.

All 9 books were authors new to me, (18 from 26 so far in 2014 - I've decided to count Agatha Christie as a new author last month),

4 of the books were debut novels and I would happily read more from all debut authors - Kirschman, Veste, Harvkey and McCrary.

2 were by females (making 5 from 26 for the year - 19% go me! Double last year's % but could still do better)

5 were Net Galley books (God, I really went overboard on there didn't I?), 2 were received from the author, 1 from the publisher and 1 book was actually bought, though it subsequently transpired it wasn't even a whole book, just a portion of it.

7 were US authors - no surprise there, 1 from Australia, 1 from the UK.

In the course of the month my reading took me to Sydney, Liverpool, Cincinatti, Texas, New York, Missouri and Indiana, with some flying visits to Arizona and Mexico as well as a couple of unknown locations!

Progress on my challenges - no Vintage Reads, no Scottish reads, no Espionage reads, no TBR Mountain reads, 1 for my Down Under challenge and a few states filled on my USA challenge (6 from 51, so I'm making some progress there).

Most of my reads were very good, just a bit short of great. Tough to pick a book of the month, but as I read it cover to cover in about 3 hours flat it has to be Ellen Kirschman's Burying Ben. The good news is, she's writing a second Dot Meyerhoff book!


A close second would be Les Edgerton and The Bitch.

The full list of March reads is as follows:

Harry Hunsicker - The Contractors (3)

Les Edgerton - The Bitch (4)

Mike Resnick - Dog in the Manger (4)

Ellen Kirschman - Burying Ben (4)

Mike McCrary - Getting Ugly (4)

B. Selkie (aka Peter Robb) - Final Cut (aka No Sweat) (aka 1/3rd of Pig's Blood and Other Fluids) (3)

Mike Harvkey - In the Course of Human Events (4)

Luca Veste - Dead Gone (4)

Dorothy Uhnak - Codes of Betrayal (4)


April aims - hit 10 for the month, keep up the female count, chip away at some of my challenges, clear the Net Galley burden from my shoulders - free is not always a good thing!

Thanks, Col!

A good day!

Blue skies,