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Harvest of Ruins by Sandra Ruttan

August 8, 2011 by  •
Harvest of Ruins by Sandra RuttanAll the memories and all the lies were like that game, Jenga. Pull out the wrong one and they’d all come crashing down. – Vinny Shepherd

Detective Sergeant Hunter McKenna’s world is crashing down around her. Two teenagers have been found dead under suspicious circumstances, and McKenna’s investigation into the deaths leads places some would rather she not go.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, her former partner, Tom Shepherd, has been shot and killed by his own daughter, Vinny. It would be an upsetting investigation under any circumstances, but added to the mix is that McKenna was once involved with Shepherd, an involvement that some say lead to the collapse of his marriage.

Shepherd’s ex-wife, Rose, is one of those people, and she blames McKenna for his death. Rose claims that McKenna’s questioning of the Shepherds’ daughter, Vinny, about the deaths of her friends pushed the emotionally fragile girl over the edge. With the help of her powerful new husband, Rose brings pressure to bear on the District Attorney, forcing him to pursue a case against McKenna for negligent homicide.

Now the only person that can help McKenna is the very person she’s accused of having driven to murder: Vinny Shepherd.


Coming Home by PD Martin

August 5, 2011 by  •

Coming Home by PD MartinAs time went by and I moved up the ranks to Homicide I realized that some cases don’t get solved…ever. – Sophie Anderson

For thirty years FBI profiler Sophie Anderson thought her brother’s case was one of the ones that was going to go unsolved forever.

Just a young girl when her slightly older brother was kidnapped and murdered, the event left a deep impression on Sophie which drove her into law enforcement. She worked her way up through the ranks of the Victoria Police department in her home country of Australia, eventually making it to a position in Homicide.

Her college background in psychology, and dual citizenship because of her father’s status as an American, got Sophie’s foot in the door where she really wanted to be: criminal profiling with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Little could she have imagined that after years of profiling kidnappers, rapists, and murders she would actually be called upon to put her skills to use in a case that hit far too close to home.

Yet, that’s exactly where she finds herself when a call from her parents back in Australia informs Sophie that the police have found the body of a young boy murdered in a virtually identical manner as her brother was, dumped within a stone’s throw of the remote location where her brother’s body was found all those years ago. Now, on leave from her position with the FBI, Sophie heads back home to Australia in hopes that solving this modern day nightmare will help put to rest the demons from her past.

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To plot or not to plot? by PD Martin

August 4, 2011 by  •
Tomorrow I will be reviewing Coming Home, the most recent book in PD Martin’s Sophie Anderson series. Today, however, I am pleased to welcome PD Martin for a guest post about the story behind the story.

PD MartinI used to think there were two types of writers: those who plot, and those who don’t. But, to be fair, while lots of writers sit in these extremes, many fall somewhere in the middle. And some change….

I remember hearing Val McDermid talk at a Sisters in Crime event in Melbourne about how she’d always been a plotter, and then suddenly she found a book going in a completely different direction to what she’d planned. She’d gone from one extreme to the other and talked about how frightening she found the process of writing without knowing exactly what was going to happen next. (I think she said something like “It scared the shit out of me.” – but don’t quote me on that!)

I’m also a writer who’s changed my level of plotting as my career has progressed. Although I never outlined or had a detailed, scene-by-scene overview of what was going to happen in my novel, I definitely plot less now than I did for my first crime fiction book. In fact, by my fourth novel I found myself in a pretty bizarre situation. The first draft was due at the publishers in a month and I was 80,000 words in. One day my mum came over to look after my daughter while I wrote and she could see I was stressed. The conversation went something like this:


Julius Katz and Archie by Dave Zeltserman

August 2, 2011 by  •
Julius Katz and Archie by Dave Zeltserman“How do we pick which one among a group of psychopaths is our killer?” – Archie

Julius Katz is an unquestionably brilliant private investigator who lives and works in Boston. Unfortunately, he’s also unquestionably lazy, only working when his cash flow dips below the point of sustaining his healthy interests in fine wine, upscale dining, and gambling.

Julius Katz and Archie finds Julius hired by famous crime fiction author Kenneth Kingston to participate in a publicity stunt to help launch Kingston’s upcoming release, and hopefully boost severely lagging sales. The idea is to gather six “suspects” together in Julius’ office and, with press gathered, reveal one of them as being behind a plot to kill Kingston.

Having recently hit a bad streak of luck at poker, and always with an eye on adding to his extensive wine collection, Julius reluctantly agrees. However, a funny thing happens on the way to the bestseller list.

As Julius has the six suspects gathered in his office awaiting Kingston’s arrival, Julius’ assistant, Archie, happens upon a Boston Police radio communication indicating a body has been found at Kingston’s residence. It seems someone really was out to kill Kingston, and what started as a publicity stunt has turned into a very real mystery for Julius and Archie to solve.


Dust Devils by Roger Smith

July 27, 2011 by  •
Dust Devils by Roger Smith“Welcome to the heart of goddam darkness, son.”
- Bobby Goodbread

A man who protested alongside black South Africans for the end of apartheid, freelance journalist Robert Dell is a devoted pacifist with a deeply ingrained sense of justice. When his wife and children are killed after a truck deliberately forces them off the road, Dell’s grief turns into outrage when he is accused of being the one responsible for their deaths.

Initially placing his trust in the justice system to set things straight, Dell quickly realizes those responsible for the deaths of his family have connections in both the police force and court; he’s being railroaded, and the only way he can prove his innocence is to bring down the real culprit. Not an easy task, and one with which Dell reluctantly accepts his father’s help.

Ironically, his father, Bobby Goodbread, was himself only recently released from prison, where he was serving time for his involvement with death squads under the apartheid government. Fortunately Goodbread is still connected to his old network, because the man he and Dell are after is big game.


Street Raised by Pearce Hansen

July 25, 2011 by  •
Street Raised by Pearce HansenSpeedy shrugged. For better or worse, he looked exactly like what he was: a savage motherfucker.

Having recently been released from prison in upstate California, Speedy hitchhikes home to Oakland to reunite with his brother, Little Willy, and best friend, Fat Bob. Unfortunately, during Speedy’s time away Little Willy has fallen into a life of crime and crack, and Fat Bob’s working as a bouncer in some of the area’s rougher establishments. Not exactly what Speedy hoped to find.

When two of the group’s longtime friends get rolled by a Mexican gang – tied up in chains and thrown into a river…alive – Speedy and the crew know things have to be put right and set out to make it so. Of course things aren’t that straightforward.

Along the way Speedy gets distracted by a woman, becomes the target of a racist gang, and the obsession of a very disturbed (and disturbing) killer. Matters are further complicated when the same cop who sent Speedy up the first time starts sniffing around the crew with ill intent. Taking place over the course of one tense, action-packed week, Street Raised by Pearce Hansen is a truly remarkable read.


Becoming Quinn by Brett Battles

July 22, 2011 by  •
Becoming Quinn by Brett BattlesOddly, the thing that really should have upset him – that he’d killed someone – barely bothered him at all.
- Jake Oliver

Jake Oliver is a bright-eyed, ambitious, twenty two year old rookie officer with the Phoenix Police Department. While out on patrol with his training officer one evening they are dispatched to the location of a 911 call requesting officer assistance. Upon arriving at the remote location they find a barn engulfed in flames and call in the fire department.

While waiting, Jake conducts a walk around of the property and notices some odd details – including a cable-like indention in the ground leading to the building – and takes photos of what he finds. After the fire is extinguished a search of the building reveals a dead body, one that wasn’t killed by the fire. The detectives investigating the case quickly chalk it up to something drug related, but Jake isn’t convinced.

So, with the assistance of another rookie officer, Jake begins his own investigation. Little could he have known that his search for the truth would reveal more than what happened to the victim, it would reveal Jake’s own future.


The Indie Journey by Scott Nicholson

July 21, 2011 by  •
Author Scott Nicholson has been doing this writing thing for quite some time. He’s collected his thoughts about it in a book called The Indie Journey, and today I’m pleased to turn the blog over to him to talk a little about his personal journey as an author.

Scott NicholsonI used to think I was a decent writer.

That was back before the Internet, when I was pecking out my stories on an IBM Selectric that used a print cartridge and a wheel that kept breaking the E key. Those suckers were expensive, and I eventually calculated it was costing me about 20 cents a page to print out my stories. But that was okay, because my first-ever fiction check was for $10, so that…hey, wait a minute. That was pretty dumb.

But at least I was happy, because all I had to compare myself to was Stephen King, Lawrence Block, James Herbert, Shirley Jackson, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, James Lee Burke…you know, people who were so good that I never had to worry about catching up to them.

Even after I got a New York book deal, I still lived somewhat in a vacuum, because all I had to compare myself to were all the other moderately published midlist writers around, and few of us were breaking big.


Gun by Ray Banks

July 20, 2011 by  •

Gun by Ray BanksHe had to remember – his heart pumped too fast, he’d bleed out quicker; too slow, and he’d pass out. Had to maintain a balance if he was going to make it out of this.

Richie has recently been released from prison after serving a sentence for ABH (actual bodily harm) committed during the course of doing a job for local crime boss/drug dealer, Goose. Richie’s girlfriend wants him to make a fresh start and get a proper job, but only 18 and with no real education Richie soon finds himself back on Goose’s doorstep looking for work.

Though at first Goose doesn’t even remember him – rather insulting since Richie did more time than he otherwise would have had to because he wouldn’t tell the police who he was working for – Goose soon assigns Richie the task of dropping by another lowlife’s place, picking up a gun Goose has arranged for, and bringing it back. Sounds simple enough. But of course it’s not. It never is.

Things go sideways for Richie almost immediately, and the matter-of-fact manner in which the violence that ensues is portrayed speaks to the brutal environment Richie and those around him similarly situated function in as they attempt to improve their lives through the only path they see as being a realistic means to an end: crime.

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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.

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.