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Absolute Zero Cool by Declan Burke

July 19, 2011 by  •

Absolute Zero Cool by Declan BurkeThe latest novel from Declan Burke, Absolute Zero Cool, will officially be launched in The Gutter Bookshop, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 on Wednesday 10 August by none other than John Connolly. Anyone fortunate enough to be in the area should drop in, as all are welcome. Here’s what can you expect from this killer blast of Absolute Zero Cool:

Who in their right mind would want to blow up a hospital?

“Close it down, blow it up – what’s the difference?”

Billy Karlsson needs to get real. Literally. A hospital porter with a sideline in euthanasia, Billy is a character trapped in the purgatory of an abandoned novel. Deranged by logic, driven beyond sanity, Billy makes his final stand: if killing old people won’t cut the mustard, the whole hospital will have to go up in flames.

Only his creator can stop him now, the author who abandoned Billy to his half-life limbo, in which Billy schemes to do whatever it takes to get himself published, or be damned . . .

With most of the country sweltering under record breaking heat this summer we could all use a blast of Absolute Zero Cool.

Absolute Zero Cool will soon be available from Liberties Press (ISBN: 9781907593314), and those outside the UK can also keep a lookout for it on The Book Depository, which has free shipping worldwide.

Declan Burke is one of Ireland’s leading crime fiction authors. He reviews regularly for a variety of national newspapers and magazines, and hosts the website Crime Always Pays. His previous books include Eightball Boogie, The Big O, and Crime Always Pays. He is also the editor of the Liberties Press-published Down These Green Streets, a collection of essays, interviews, and short-stories on Irish crime fiction from a variety of well-known and award-winning authors.
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Speedloader by Snubnose Press

July 12, 2011 by  •
Speedloader by Snubnose PressI don’t know how to pray but I close my eyes and ask God for help anyway. God doesn’t answer, doesn’t even send happy thoughts, just reruns of nightmares. – “Plastic Soldiers”

Snubnose Press is the new e-publishing arm of Spinetingler Magazine, and they’ve come roaring out the gate with their first offering, Speedloader.

Edited by Sandra Ruttan and Brian Lindenmuth, Speedloader is a collection of six hard hitting crime fiction stories from an impressive group of authors.

In You Dirty Rat by Nigel Bird a powerful combination of festering guilt and a quest for justice drives a soldier to take action years after a series of tragic events occurred on the battlefield.

Mori Obscura by Nik Korpon and Herniated Roots by Richard Thomas both use addiction and what its overpowering pull can do to a man as their backdrop.

Crash & Burn by Jonathan Woods is an amazingly intricate story for short fiction, one which has the plans for revenge of several players unfolding on a collision course of epic proportions.

Classic Matthew C. Funk, Cuffs is a New Orleans set tale of mistaken identity – or is it? – that starts off with a feeling of confusion which quickly develops into an increasing sense of dread.

And while those five stories are all outstanding, Plastic Soldiers by W.D. County absolutely leveled me. Told through the eyes of a kidnapped ten year old boy, Plastic Soldiers showcases both the worst and best that the human soul is capable of. County manages to pack a novel’s worth of pain and desperation and hope into five of the most compelling pages you will ever read. This was the first story of County’s that I’ve read, but it damn sure won’t be the last. You can read County’s “Dancing With Myself” interview on Nigel Bird’s blog to learn more about him.

Interesting note: Boden Steiner, who did the cover art for Speedloader, created an alternate version based on the story “Plastic Soldiers.” His vision is as powerful as the story itself.

Speedloader is available from Snubnose Press for only $0.99.

Snubnose Press has set a goal of publishing a book a month, and hot on the heels of Speedloader their second title, Harvest of Ruins by Sandra Ruttan, has just been released.

To learn more about Snubnose Press, visit their website.
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Gone Bad by Julie Morrigan

July 7, 2011 by  •

Gone Bad by Julie MorriganA weak hand grabs at my ankle. I look down and his face is turned to look at me, all pleading eyes and bleeding nose. Why does he think I’d help him? – “Keeping It Real”

Why indeed, as it quickly becomes apparent that the folks in the eighteen blistering stories in Julie Morrigan’s collection, Gone Bad, are far from a warm, fuzzy, altruistic bunch.

No, Morrigan has chosen instead to write a wickedly good group of stories which all revolve around some of the worst behavior and emotions which people are capable of. Greed, deceit, torture, murder, jealousy, lust, rape? Step right up, Gone Bad‘s got you covered.

The stories in the collection range in length from true “flash fiction” to a couple that are quite meaty, and though there is honestly not a dud in the group – no mean feat with as many stories as are included – there were a few that I found especially enjoyable.

“Searching” starts the collection off on a decidedly creepy note as a young boy joins in the search for a missing neighborhood girl. It’s not the first time he’s participated in such a search, his sister having gone missing recently as well, and it’s soon clear that’s not the only thing it isn’t his first time doing.

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Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

July 6, 2011 by  •

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. WatsonI am not the person I thought I was when I woke this morning. – Christine Lucas

Christine Lucas is having more than some existential “Who am I?” moment when she says she’s not the person she thought she was when she woke up. She honestly doesn’t remember the majority of her life.

Severe head trauma has left Christine with both anterograde amnesia, in which the sufferer can’t form new memories, and retrograde amnesia, in which the sufferer can’t remember events from the past. She literally wakes up each day as a new person, a blank slate, having to discover over and over again who she is and what happened to her.

As disturbing as that is in and of itself, once Christine starts keeping a journal of her daily activities and discoveries at the behest of her doctor she begins to realize something even more disturbing; she’s not getting the same story consistently from those around her… including her husband.

Sometimes the variations on detail are subtle, other times she’s told outright lies. With a building sense of dread Christine begins to wonder if anything she’s been told has been true, even the version of events about the accident that caused her condition to being with. Now, not only can’t Christine trust herself, she’s not sure she can trust anyone else either.

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Out There Bad by Josh Stallings

July 1, 2011 by  •
Out There Bad by Josh Stallings“I don’t believe some higher force is planning this life for me. If I did, I’d give up, lay down and die right now. Because it would be clear, that fuck in the sky hates my ass.” – Moses McGuire

Well, even if there is no “fuck in the sky” that hates Moses’ ass, there are plenty of people right here on terra firma ready to step up and fill that role. It’s not that Moses tries to piss people off, he just can’t help it.

As he remarks at one point in Out There Bad, Josh Stallings’ mind-blowingly spectacular follow up to Beautiful, Naked & Dead, “You know me, if there’s any shit in a ten mile radius, I will step in it.” And, oh my, has Moses stepped in it this time.

When we last saw forty-three year old suicidal strip club bouncer Moses McGuire his life looked like it had finally turned a corner. He’d avenged the death of his best friend and, along the way, fallen in love with her twin sister. Off to Baja they went to settle down and live happily ever after. Yeah, well, life doesn’t work like that for Moses.

As Out There Bad opens Moses is once again alone and working as a bouncer in that same old strip club in LA. When a misunderstanding – one involving a patron’s broken jaw and ribs – lands Moses temporarily out of a job he decides to go hit another strip club and see how things are going on the other side of town. And that’s when Moses’ cosmically bad karma kicks into high gear.

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East On Sunset by Ken Mercer

June 30, 2011 by  •
East On Sunset by Ken Mercer“There are enough problems in life as it is, Will. You don’t have to go looking for them.” – Laurie Magowan

That’s a lesson Will Magowan actually seemed to learn after his brief but intense stint as the Chief of Police of Haydenville, California in author Ken Mercer’s debut, Slow Fire. And though he’s out of a job in law enforcement in East on Sunset, Magowan is back in his hometown of L.A. and things finally seem to be heading in the right direction.

He’s kicked his drinking problem, is back with his wife, who’s pregnant, and has landed a job with security for the Dodgers. Of course, you don’t have to go looking for problems for them to find you, and Mercer throws a hell of a roadblock in Magowan’s path to happiness in the form of ex-con Erik Crandall.

Crandall, a small time dealer whom Magowan sent to prison during his time as a Narcotics Detective in the LAPD, is fresh out of the joint and confronts Magowan with the accusation that Magowan stole nearly a pound of fentanyl from Crandall during his arrest. Now he either wants it back or the cash equivalent… half a million dollars.

Problem is, Magowan spent his last bit of time with the LAPD in a drug induced haze and he’s actually a little fuzzy on exactly how the bust of Crandall went down. Knowing that he can’t very well tell Crandall that, and that he doesn’t have half a million dollars lying around in any event, Magowan blows Crandall off, warning him not to come around again. That goes over about as well as you’d expect it to, and with that the snowball that is East on Sunset is sent plunging on its way downhill.

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Collateral Damage: A Do Some Damage Collection

June 29, 2011 by  •
Collateral Damage: A Do Some Damage CollectionFollowing the success of their first collaborative collection, Terminal Damage, the talented crew from Do Some Damage is back with another anthology that will knock your socks off. Just as the stories in the first collection were centered around a common theme, a horrendous visit to the airport, so are the stories in Collateral Damage thematically related.

This time the focus for the eight tales of revenge, mystery, murder, and mayhem all revolve around Father’s Day. And while every story in the collection is worth the price of admission, each showcasing the author’s unique voice, there were a few that stood out for me.

Reunion – The collection gets off to a rollicking start in this story from Joelle Charbonneau. After years of estrangement from her family because of the horrendous treatment she received at the hands of her sadistic mother, a grown daughter returns home to give her dying father a special Father’s Day present. There’s an old saying that revenge is a dish best served cold, but Reunion proves that a long, slow simmer is much more likely to pay off handsomely in the end.

Modern Father – In this chilling story from Sandra Ruttan dedicated husband and father, Tom, discovers that his wife, Mary, hasn’t actually been working late all those evenings like she claims. Coldly, methodically, Tom hatches a plan to give himself a Father’s Day present Mary will never forget.

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Frank Sinatra In A Blender by Matthew McBride

June 28, 2011 by  •
Frank Sinatra In A Blender by Matthew McBride“Y’know, there’s just something remotely fascinating about cutting off another man’s legs with a chainsaw. Especially if he’s still alive.” – Nick Valentine

To say Nick Valentine is a unique individual would be putting it lightly. Along with his partner Frank Sinatra – no, really – he works as a private detective in St. Louis. He likes to think there’s no case he can’t solve, and he’s damn sure there’s no drink or drug he doesn’t like.

When a credit union is robbed and the police have trouble picking up a decent lead Valentine finds himself front and center on the trail of the robbers…and the money. And he’s not the only one, as an oddball assortment of the worst examples of humanity St. Louis has to offer are all hot on the trail as well.

From dealer and go-to guy Big Tony and his partner Doyle, to local heavy hitter Mr. Parker and his enforcers Sid and Johnny No Nuts, author Matthew McBride has populated Frank Sinatra in a Blender with one of the most colorful cast of characters you’ll ever run across.

Before you know it Valentine is up to his ass in double crossing bad guys, suspicious police officers, and enough liquor and Oxycontin to drop an ox. Add to that copious amounts of strippers, car chases, and shootouts and you’re in for one hell of a no-holds-barred ride. Oh, and don’t forget that chainsaw.

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Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey

June 28, 2011 by  •
Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey“No way do I let it go, not after tonight. They drew first blood, and now it’s game on.” — Cobb Kuzawa

If you found yourself out on bail waiting trial for a murder you didn’t commit you’d think it would be hard for things to get much worse. Of course, you’re not nineteen-year-old Brendan Fishback.

After a night of partying Brendan woke up in a motel room to find his companion dead, apparently from a drug overdose. Unfortunately for him the girl, Ashleigh Sizemore, was the daughter of the wealthiest man in their little town of Umpire, Tennessee. Eager to please the town big shot, the police seem content to pin the death on Brendan, especially after some highly potent angel dust is found hidden in the room.

Now out on bail and not optimistic about his chances at trial, Brendan heads out to Lake Charles with his twin sister, Edna, and best friend, Cobb, for what may be his last hurrah as a free man. While Brendan and Cobb try their luck bass fishing, Edna strikes out on her jet ski. When she doesn’t return as dusk begins to fall the guys go looking for her. After coming up empty in their search of the lake they return to shore and begin scouring the shoreline on foot.

Instead of finding Edna, however, they stumble into a clandestine marijuana growing operation, and the two heavily armed men guarding it. A shootout ensues during which Brendan is hit and one of the marijuana growers is killed. Suddenly what began as an afternoon out to celebrate his remaining freedom has turned into a life or death struggle and race against the clock to find Edna, whom Brendan and Cobb now fear has fallen into the drug gang’s hands.

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1979: Was It a Good Year For Brendan and Me? by Ed Lynskey

June 27, 2011 by  •
Tomorrow I will be reviewing Lake Charles, the latest novel from author Ed Lynskey. Today, however, I am pleased to welcome Ed for a guest post about the story behind the story.

Ed LynskeyAh yes, 1979. I remember it all too well.

A gallon of gas ran you 90 cents. Saddam Hussein became the president of Iraq (he’d show up again a couple decades later.) Ex-Playboy bunny Blondie scored a hit with “Heart of Glass.” But there were no cell phones. No texting. No WiFi. No digital crap existed. People didn’t jab a hand to their ear. They didn’t gawk into a tiny screen. No, 1979 had the slick marvel of 8-track tapes. G-r-r-r. I can’t tell you how many of those mothers I bought, chewed through, and cursed like a rap star about. The good, old days—yeah, right.

Also in 1979, I graduated from a state university with a B.A. in History, worthless except I could write a decipherable English sentence, so I got hired on as a tech writer in President Reagan’s defense industry buildup. Actually, I’d worked in a gun factory (we made .357 and .44 Mags) for a few years, so I wasn’t a total rookie. The point is my salad days came in 1979. Everybody recalls (or will recall someday) their salad days, hopefully, with a fond regard. I do.

When I set out to write my new Appalachian noir Lake Charles, I wanted to place my young protagonist Brendan Fishback at near the same age I was in 1979. Write what you know, see? But that’s where the parallels end since Brendan and I are little alike. I think he’d make for a solid pal if I ever faced the same jams he runs up against while knocking around Lake Charles. Plus I like him fine.

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The Truth Behind The Story by Julia Madeleine

June 24, 2011 by  •
Yesterday I reviewed Julia Madeleine’s latest book, the psychological thriller No One To Hear You Scream, and today I am pleased to welcome her for a guest post to share the story behind the story.

Julia MadeleineMy new thriller, No One To Hear You Scream, was inspired by actual events that happened to my family and me following the purchase of a house in foreclosure. While my husband and I are city people, both born and raised there, we had this country dream about buying a house with some acreage. I’ve since learned that it’s not an uncommon dream and a lot of people who make the move to the country end up selling and moving back to the city a year later, which is exactly what we did.

After several years of planning and dreaming, in 2008 we found our dream house on a 30 acre wooded property out in the middle of nowhere. This was in the Niagara region in Ontario. The property was magnificent and I fell in love with the peace and tranquility of the place right away. There was a beach within walking distance, a mile down the road, and our property had a huge pond where our dogs eventually learned to swim. I knew immediately living in that environment that my creativity would explode.

And I was right…but it just wasn’t in the way I had expected.