In this post, I said Frank McAuliffe, author of the Augustus Mandrell books, was an Englishman. This was not only wrong, it was stupid. Have you ever met an Englishman named McAuliffe? I didn't think so. Will Eley pointed this out in the comments to the original post, and I have taken a long time to point it out because I've been a slacker lately.
Say what you want about the Edgar Awards, but last year's nomination of Christopher Goffard's Snitch Jacket (2007, Rookery/Overlook) is probably responsible for keeping this gem of a book from sinking into undeserved obscurity. Goffard, a Pulitzer nominee, brings a reporter's eye for detail to his work. The result is a well told, entertaining tale of California losers that manages to be both funny and sad at the same time.
Benny Bunt is a nobody. He washes dishes at a Mexican restaurant. He doesn't own a car, and his only friends are barflies at a dive called The Greasy Tuesday. Oh, and he rats out these friends for extra cash because he's a professional snitch. He snitches because he's always wanted to be a cop, but couldn't make the cut. Benny has a deep seated need to belong, but he doesn't fit in anywhere. So, when Gus "Mad Dog" Miller walks through the door of the Greasy Tuesday, Benny wants desperately to be his friend. Gus, a giant wall of tattoos and scars, who quickly takes over the bar, telling stories of his time in Vietnam and stints in prison.
Miller quickly wears out his welcome at The Greasy Tuesday, but he and Bunt hit it off. Miller needs an audience and Bunt needs approval, so they quickly form an unhealthy bond. It is this friendship that is at the heart of the story. It would be very easy to make the reader feel contempt for such characters, but Goffard draws them so clearly that the reader can't help but be drawn in and go beyond pity and contempt to sympathy. Goffard does such a good job painting the relationship between Bunt and Miller that the murder-for-hire plot that becomes the story's center almost seems incidental.
This is not to say, however, that Goffard's plot is thin. It does take a while to get going, but once it does, it leads up to a bizarre climax, which invloves a funny send up of Burning Man, and he manages to throw in several plot twists in the book's final section, all of which work nicely. Hopefully, this book is just the first of many from Goffard.
Now, if a murdered stripper sounds familiar, it should, since Charles Ardai's Little Girl Lost was about the exact same thing. Porkpie, who also appears to be the main character of his novel, will have a ways to go to match Ardai's story.
And Leonard Cassuto's review of Fifty-to-One has been posted on the Barnes & Noble Web site. I would like to take issue with the fact the B & N are tardy getting their reviews up. Cassuto obviously wrote it when it was current, referencing fifty titles, but now Hard Case is up to fifty-three. So, B&N editors, here's a tip: It's the Internet. There's no competition for column inches, and thus no real reason to sit on material for this long.
Seth Harwood has obtained permission to read Hammett's first published short story "The Barber and His Wife" on Crimewav. It's not exactly the Hammett of The Maltese Falcon, but it's definitely worth a listen.
I'm certain I've linked to the State University of New York at Buffalo's George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction collection before, but their Web site seems to have gotten a redesign and an upgrade since the last time I was there. They have a database that allows many searches, and, in addition to the cover art, there are plot summaries, lists of characters and a breakdown of various topics like instances of violence, sexuality, substance abuse..etc...
If you just wanna look at pictures, however, there's the cover art gallery here and the cover database here.
Over at Slate, Ron Rosenbaumenthuses about three detective novels, specifically The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black (a.k.a. John Banville), A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr and Year of the Dog by Henry Chang. Rosenbaum notes that he enjoyed reading the three detective novels, while he wasn't all that crazy about postmodern abortions like Giles Goat Boy and Infinite Jest . Rosenbaum's taste in crime fiction is predictably tame. I'd have been a lot more impressed if he'd been enthusing about Simenon or Westlake, but hey, at least it's an acknowledgement of genre writing.
SPOILER ALERT: Rosenbaum's article gives away what is undoubtedly a MAJOR PLOT POINT of the forthcoming A Quiet Flame, so if you're planning on reading that one you might want to skip this article. Not cool Rosenbaum.
Leonardo Padura, whose crime fiction is published in English by Bitter Lemon Press, lists his top ten Cuban novels in The Guardian on the occasion of the European publication of Havana Fever (which will come stateside in May.)Fever, set in 2003, revives detective Mario Conde, who has retired from the police force and is now an antiquarian bookseller, who ends up delving into the mystery of a jazz singer who disappeared back before the revolution. I'm very much looking forward to this one.
Welcome to the Indie Crime Blog. As the name implies, this blog is dedicated to reviews of crime fiction published by independent presses. There are many books published every year that seem to be ignored for a variety of reasons. The books sections of newspapers are getting smaller. Bookstores give more shelf space to more established authors. I could go on, but you get it.My intent is to review books both old and new in the hopes that some deserving writers and worthy publishers will gain some exposure. I can be emailed at IndieCrime-at-gmail-dot-com