Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shot to Death Blog March

So, today I bring you a guest post from Stephen D. Rogers, whose debut book of stories Shot to Death is available from Mainly Murder Press. In this post, he explains how he came up with the opening line for one of the book's stories.

SHOT TO DEATH Blog March They say blondes are dumb but then they also say that crime doesn't pay. - ITCHING FOR SCRATCH So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH (ISBN 978-0982589908). Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me. What we have here is bad logic. The assumption seems to be that since people are wrong about crime not paying, they're also wrong about blondes being dumb. While it's been a long time since I studied logic, that reasoning seems faulty. Grid the statements out, and there are four possibilities. Dumb and not paying. Dumb and paying. Not dumb and paying. Not dumb and not paying. And while I know that blondes are not dumb, the particular blonde in the story may well be, just as the typically not-paying crime may in this story pay, or vice versa. Now complicate the matter by going three-dimensional. Is the narrator blonde or not blonde? Complicate the matter even further by throwing in bleached blonde. At least we can be fairly certain the narrator is a woman, since "blonde with an e" is generally used to refer to women and "blond without an e" is generally used to refer to either sex. Unless the narrator is from Britain, where "blonde with an e" is used to refer to both sexes. At this point, I'm scratching my head. Obviously, maybe, this story is going to be driven by wacky logic, the same type of wacky logic that makes people say, "Well, someone has to win the lottery" and "If you don't play, you can't win" as if playing means you're going to win and, anyway, aren't you part of the subset "someone"? So I've got a narrator who is a blonde or non-blonde or bleach-blonde woman or Britain who will commit a crime that may or may not lead to a lottery payoff. All that remains is the writing. For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to and submit your completed entry. Then visit the schedule at to see how you can march along (backwards). And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.

Wednesday Paperback Cover

Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Suggestions

All right people, I find myself in a situation where I have a large amount of money to spend on books. If I don't spend this money, I lose it for insurance reasons, and I'm turning to you, the Internet, to help me. I have money to spend on 250 paperbacks and 150 large paperbacks. It will be reimbursed by my insurance company up to a point. What I"m asking you to do is make comments on what you think I should buy. I have an opportunity here to build a new library from the ground up, so I just don't want crime fiction suggestions (although I do want crime fiction suggestions). I want to know what you think I should own. If you had 400 books to order off Amazon, or buy at your local bookstore, what would they be? Let me know. I need some help here. I'm a little overwhelmed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Trailer for Dave Zeltserman's Killer

The trailer for Zeltserman's forthcoming Killer. Look for my review soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review of Hello Kitty Must Die

Angela Choi's debut novel Hello Kitty Must Die (Tyrus Books, 2010) is a left of center crime story, reminiscent of early Chuck Palanhiuk (You know, the stuff he wrote before Choke, which is the point where he became unreadable). Fiona Yu is a 28-year old corporate attorney. She is intelligent and successful, but still lives at home with her traditional Chinese family, a situation that she finds stifling, to say the least. The book opens with Fiona taking her own virginity with a dildo as a sort of silent rebellion against carrying her family's honor in the form of her hymen. Upon discovering that her hymen is already broken, she seeks out a doctor to reconstruct it so that she can rip it properly. The doctor turns out to be her old friend, Sean, who she hasn't seen since he was sent away to juvie for setting a classmate's hair on fire. Fiona and Sean share a bond borne of mutual alienation, and Sean's behavior hasn't changed much from his school days. Under his influence, Fiona's soon turns her anger outward and begins striking back at those she sees as standing between her and happiness.

The titular Hello Kitty refers to the stereotype of the submissive, quiet Asian woman as personified by the ubiquitous, mouthless Japansese cat, which has found its way onto every product imaginable. Fiona has been ruthlessly pigeonholed her entire life, and it's warped her more than a little. Having to suppress her actual desires and personality in order to play a character has left her angry and bitter. It's easy to see why she wants to lash out, but a little more difficult to see why she doesn't just, say, move to the east coast, where she would be three thousand miles away from all of these crushing expectations, and would likely not have to murder anybody. Fiona's bloodlust makes her less than likeable at times, even if her motives are understandable. The book is more of a black comedy than it is thriller, or typical serial killer novel. Hello Kitty Must Die has its moments, and Tyrus books has done a good job in snagging a title out of left field, breaking away from their usual fare (not that there's anything wrong with their usual fare), and finding a new voice that's worth a listen.

Wednesday Paperback Cover

First it was a private nurse, then a "very private" secretary. Now it's a chaueffer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Breaking Bad

I lost the lion's share of Saturday to Breaking Bad. I'd been meaning to get around to watching it, but somehow I'd just never gotten around to it. Maybe the fact that the main character is played by Bryan Cranston, a guy I previously knew only as "The Dad from that Annyoing Show on Fox" plays the main character. Well, the show is better than it has any right to be. I went through the first season and part of the second yesterday while cleaning up and doing laundry. Of course, if I'd known it was going to rain today, I'd have spent more time outside yesterday when the sun was out, but I can't really say I regret parking myself in front of the TV. It's something I rarely do, and it's even more rare to feel like it was time well spent, but in this case, I have to say, the show delivered.

Breaking Bad swings wildly between being a hard boiled crime show and a family drama. Every time Walt goes out and gets involved in the drug business he has to take time out to deal with the consequences of his actions. His cancer serves as an effective metaphor for the way his destructive choices affect his family, as well as the nature of the business he's involved in. Cranston's performance as a desperate man looking at the end of his rope, and likely his life, is quite sympathetic. It's hard not to feel for a guy who draws up a pro and con list with "Judeo Christian principles" on one side and "He'll kill your entire family" on the other while contemplating whether or not kill a drug dealer. Even as Walter's decisions become more and more unjustifiable, and his actions start to threaten his family-the people he's ostensibly trying to help with his methamphetamine sideline-you still find yourself rooting for him. This show is way better than AMC's other original series, Mad Men. Why anyone gets all worked up over that one is beyond me. Of course, the fact that Breaking Bad is so good can only mean one thing: No one's watching it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Review of A Choice of Nightmares

Robert Staples is, to put it bluntly, shit out of luck. A washed up B-movie actor he has landed in the sun blasted landscape of South Florida, where he ekes out a living being a generic "celebrity." As Lynn Kostoff's A Choice of Nightmares (New Pulp Press, 2010), opens he has even put that tenuous living at risk by chucking a barking dog into an alligator pit during a mall opening. His agent gives him a chance to redeem himself through the simple task of delivering an envelope, but Staples screws that up, and quickly finds himself pulled into the world of cocaine smuggling, where he bumps up against decadent, dangerous, and depraved characters. And he finds himself loving it. For a man with few options and fading dreams, the world of cocaine and easy sex offers what he needs: Escape.

Escape, however, is something that's not easy to come by. It's easy to run, but no man can hide, and Staples is eventually forced to confront himself, decide who he is, and see if he can the ultimate luxury: a way out alive.

First published in 1991, A Choice of Nightmares, sank without making many ripples in the publishing pond. New Pulp Press has scooped the other reprint houses by scoring the rights to this one. Although Hard Case usually reprints old novels, Charles Ardai ought to be kicking himself for not putting his imprint on this novel. It's certainly more than good enough for that imprint. Kostoff's story takes off from the first line of the first chapter, and his characters are well drawn. His femme fatale, Denise and his psychotic hitman Barry from Palm Springs, who could easily have been cardboard cutouts, turn out to be unexpectedly deep and very disturbing. Denise, in particular, is an enigma that proves resistant to analysis. In the end, it's the ambiguity that Kostoff maintains throughout the story that makes it such a compelling read. He refuses to give in to the temptation to provide simple answers, making the story all that much more satisfying, at least for readers who eschews easy answers and pat endings.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wednesday Paperback Cover

Christa Faust's Money Shot in Finnish. Stolen from Juri Nummelin.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Plots With Guns

It's about goddamn time for some good news around here, so here it is. I finally cracked Plots with Guns. It's up in the air in which issue the story will be published, but it's been accepted. I've been trying to get into PWG for a while now, so I'm pleased. It's a good story, and I may even have a better version ( Anticipating the usual PWG rejection, I went ahead and revised the story before hearing from A.N Smith.) They say write what you know. I wish I knew the things I know less well than I do.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

I'm back. The new laptop came, and it works like a charm. It is a sexy, sexy machine, and while I still need a router and whatnot for wireless access, I've got the basics taken care of right now. Watch this space for much more content soon. I've got three books that need reviewing, and paperback covers that need posting, and even some guest content coming up. Stay tuned,

Monday, March 1, 2010

The New Laptop

Should be here this week, so Independent Crime will be a going concern again in the not-too-distant future. All six of you who give a damn rejoice.