Author Archives: mysterypeoplescott
New Pulp, one of our favorite publishers, and source of such modern classics as Hard Bite and Frank Sinatra In A Blender will soon have a new operator. NewPulp author Jonathan Woods has bought the publisher and will be running it with Shirrel Rhoades. We caught up with Jonathan to ask him about his plans for the imprint.
MP: What possessed you to be a partner in New Pulp?
JW: The devil made me do it.
Seriously, Jon Bassoff did a wonderful thing in creating and nurturing New Pulp Press for eight years into a prize-winning, genre bending small press. But he wanted to focus more on his writing. Plus he has a full-time day job as a teacher. So the opportunity was there. Being a student of the literary life, I’ve read about some of the great small presses. The Olympia Press in Paris that published Lolita, Tropic of Cancer, Donleavy’s The Ginger Man and one of the great noir novels, Alexander Trocchi’s Young Adam. The Hogarth Press founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. And the original Black Lizard Books from Creative Arts Book Company in Berkeley, founded by the inimitable Barry Gifford. So I thought, why not! Something to keep me out of the bars at night.
MP: Where do you hope to take the imprint?
JW: I want to continue to publish fine and edgy crime fiction by writers new and old. Names you may have heard of and new voices. We’re already working hard on the list for 2015 and we’ve got some great books in the line up.
Thriller Award-winning and Edgar-nominated short story writer Tim L. Williams has given us a book of creepy noir tales called Skull Fragments set in the quiet towns and haunted back roads of the coal mining country of western Kentucky.
Lynn Kostoff, author of the noir classics A Choice of Nightmares and Late Rain, has provided another dark and sinister tale. This one, entitled Words to Die For, involves a fixer for a public relations company who sells his soul to protect his clients.
A new writer publishing under the pseudonym Rowdy Yates (and who is an editor at Bull) brings us a tale of gangsters on a quest, called Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman.
Mark Rapacz (author of numerous short stories and the novel City Kaiju) has penned a tale of murder and mayhem, with the tentative title of The Foreigners (or Waeguk in Korean), about American expats and Korean gangsters up to no good in beautiful downtown Seoul, South Korea.
And, oh yeah, yours truly has a new novel coming called Kiss the Devil Good Night about…,well, it’s about Bill and Aunt Ida and revenge and Mexican drug lords and William Burroughs’ lost suitcase.
This is just the beginning.
MP: Can you tell us about your partner in the endeavor, Shirrel Rhoades?
JW: Shirrel has had a long and varied career in publishing including a stint as Fiction Editor for the Saturday Evening Post and EVP and Publisher of Marvel Comics. A year or so ago he started an ebook publishing venture based in Key West, Florida called Absolutely Amazing eBooks. AAeB publishes a broad spectrum of books, from mysteries to pulp classics to adventure and science fiction. Shirrel brings to the table marketing and technical know-how that I don’t have. I will be responsible for the editorial side of New Pulp Press and for building and maintaining relationships with authors, bookstores and reviewers.
MP: Will you still be writing for the imprint as well?
JW: New Pulp Press has been good to me, publishing my three books: the award-winning Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem, my police procedural A Death in Mexico, which you, Scott, were kind enough to name one of the five best debut crime novels of 2012 and which Booklist recently compared to Orson Welles’ A Touch of Evil, and my new collection of noir tales, Phone Call from Hell. So, yes, I m going to remain with New Pulp Press. When you’re on a roll…
MP: How will Jon Bassoff still be involved?
JW: Jon is absolutely committed to this transition being seamless and a perfect ten. For a year after the turnover he will continue to be associated with New Pulp in an advisory role as Editor Emeritus. I’m lucky to have his wealth of experience to call on when I get in a tight spot.
MP: What do you think will be the most fun about running your own publishing company?
JW: Cutting the first movie deal for one of our books.
-Post by Molly
For October’s International Crime Fiction pic, I’ve chosen Kwei Quartey‘s latest novel, Murder at Cape Three Points. This is Quartey’s third novel to star Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of Accra and his unique mixture of deductive brilliance and synesthesia-based lie detection (his left hand tingles whenever he hears an untruth, making him excellent at interrogations).
As the novel opens, workers on an oil rig off the Ghanaian coast spot a canoe traveling a bit too close to sensitive underwater equipment. Their initial annoyance quickly turns to horror as the contents of the boat become clear. A man and a woman lie dead in the canoe. The woman has been shot, and the man has been both beheaded and shot, his head stuck onto a pole. The occupants turn out to be Charles and Fiona Smith-Aidoo, a wealthy middle-aged couple with as many enemies as friends. When the local police fail to solve the crime in a timely manner, the dead couple’s relatives file a petition to reopen the case, and Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, with his particular mixture of intuition and detection, gets his next assignment.
Dawson accepts the case with reluctance – his son has just had open-heart surgery, and he would much rather stay home during his son’s recovery than travel to the other side of the country. However, after listening to the couple’s heart-broken neice and realizing how badly the local detectives have mishandled the case, Darko sets out to solve the murders with grim determination. As Dawson first begins the investigation, he looks into numerous avenues, including the possibility of a ritualistic killing by a fetish priest. He quickly realizes that the way to a solution requires stepping on a whole lot of toes, particularly in the oil industry. As he delves deeper into government cover-ups and corruption, the question becomes not can he solve the murder, but will he be allowed to solve the murder, and if so, what consequences will the criminals actually face.
Kwei Quartey was raised in Ghana, then moved to the United States as a teenager, and his crime novels thus far have all taken place in Ghana. Quartey travels to Ghana regularly to research his novels, and the smells, sounds, tastes, conflicts, and diversity of Ghana are present throughout the novel. Murder at Cape Three Points highlights the stark contrast between old and new, between the struggle for basic services and the privileges of the wealthy, between the modern medical technology and animist healing practices, and, in particular, between economic development versus environmental protection. In the context of a world still working on cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and where oil companies’ main hope of expansion comes from high-risk deep water drilling, Quartey’s message could not be more timely.
-Post by Molly
Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman have just released The Golem of Hollywood, a novel of epic proportions and many genres. This is a truly a novel that could only be written by two people, yet the collaboration is so successful that the reader feels little dissonance between the parallel narratives. The book is organized into two main plot lines. In one, written by Jonathan Kellerman, a modern-day detective, Jacob Lev, is assigned to a case involving a head with no body and the Hebrew word for justice scrawled in ash on a countertop. As he works to solve the case, he must travel to Prague and London, and, along the way, strengthen his connection to his Jewish heritage and faith. In the other, Jesse Kellerman takes an unorthodox approach to the story of Cain and Abel, and, along the way, introduces an entirely new origin story for the ancient figure of the Golem.
Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman both have impressive writing resumes prior to this collaboration. Jonathan Kellerman has written dozens of New York Times-bestselling crime novels and has won many of the industry’s most prestigious crime fiction awards. Jesse Kellerman has a longtime career as a playwright, and has written five novels. The two also practice Orthodox Judaism, and the beliefs and practices they follow in their own lives come across beautifully in the narrative. During the High Holidays, I set out to read as many Jewish-themed books as possible, and The Golem of Hollywood, along with David Liss‘ recently released Day of Atonement, are my top mystery picks to enjoy as 5775 gets going.
The Golem of Hollywood is a detective story. It is also, in many ways, a horror story, and readers who like the supernatural side of a murder investigation will enjoy this book thoroughly. The Kellermans, together, have seamlessly integrated Jewish theology and history into genre fiction, making this a perfect choice to start out the New Year. This may be the most entertaining work of Jewish-themed speculative fiction since Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and a comparison between the two is particularly apt given that each novel completely restructures the narrative of the Golem to fit in with the American Jewish experience.
Copies of The Golem of Hollywood are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
On Wednesday, October 22, at 7 pm, we will have the pleasure of hosting Walter Mosley at BookPeople. He will speak and sign his latest, Rose Gold, the thirteenth book featuring Easy Rawlins. It made us want to go back and pick five of the detective’s best cases.
The one that started it all. Getting laid off from the aircraft factory gets Easy pulled into being a P.I. when he’s hired to find a white woman known to frequent black clubs. This book announced a new voice to the genre with jazz-style prose, violence, and racial themes popping off the page. It is also has one of the best character arcs as Easy comes into being his own man.
2. A Red Death
Easy is forced by the FBI to ferret out communists. His infiltration of a union gets him involved with murder and the moral dilemma of setting up a person and ideal he’s come to respect. This is the book where Easy becomes keenly aware of the world outside his own.
This is Mosely working perfectly on all cylinders. When a white college girl is murdered in Watts in the same fashion as two black women, the police become interested and ask Easy for help. The color of place and period are incredibly vivid, plot, character, and them are vividly woven together.
Easy is once again asked to look into a matter. This time, he’s been hired to search for a white suspect in the murder of a black woman during the Watts Riots. Mosley completely plugs in to the aftermath of the riots in vivid detail and emotion. One passage alone that deals with a group of scared white folks and their perception of Rawlins as a black man makes the book worth reading.
5. Little Green
Mosley resurrects Easy and treats him like Rip Van Winkle as Easy takes a trip over to the psychedelic Sunset Strip, looking for a young Compton man known to drop out with the hippies. Easy comes back full force with an engaging mystery that provides a great backdrop for his changing life and changing LA.
Please join MysteryPeople on Wednesday, October 22, at 7 pm, for an evening with Walter Mosley. He will speak and sign his latest novel, Rose Gold, available now on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. This is a ticketed event. You will receive a ticket upon purchase of Rose Gold. The speaking portion of the event is free and open to the public. The event will take place on BookPeople’s second floor.
Gary Phillips has been a favorite of ours for quite some time, and we are happy to present his work as part of our Crime Fiction Friday series. This week we’re doing something a little different for Crime Fiction Friday. We’re providing a link to Capitol & Main’s site that features the first part of Gary Phillips’ The Dixon Family Chronicles, an online serialized novel in the tradition of Dickens. The story looks at a working class family in South Central, dealing with life and issues of the day, something Gary has written about for close to two decades. You can go to Capitol & Main next week for the next chapter…
“You don’t know what the hell you sayin’,” the red-eyed man blurted. He came off his barstool too fast, knocking it over as he did so. Drunk, he teetered over to Hank Dixon, who’d turned on his stool toward him but remained sitting.
“Best slow your roll, Al,” the one-handed bartender Pierre Gaston said languidly. He took hold of an empty glass between the pincers of his prosthesis. Behind him and above the bottles on a flat screen TV, played a near mute newscast about a truckers’ job action at the port…
Recently our friends at Mulholland Books have acquired the novels of noir master Jim Thompson, and are now reprinting his works in beautiful trade paperbacks, many with forwards from Thompson fans like Stephen King and Daniel Woodrell. Most know him for his truly chilling novel, The Killer Inside Me, but he put out several must-read novels through a lifetime of writing. Here are five more which I would put up there.
1. Pop 1280
Thompson’s other psycho lawman novel. Set in the deep South of the 1910s, this tale of a corrupt, philandering small town sheriff’s manipulation of events through murder is wild, funny, and bluntly violent. The author is working at the top of his game in style and voice.
Possibly Thompson’s most accessible book. A punch-drunk ex-boxer with a few other issues gets drawn into a kidnapping scheme with a former cop and alcoholic femme fatale. Thompson is not always known for pathos, but it comes across here for the reader willing to look.
Thompson takes the James M. Cain lovers-murder-for-money set-up and makes it completely his own. Thompson uses the backdrop of a small town movie theater perfectly and even gives a self deprecating cameo to himself. An often overlooked book, well worth picking up.
4. The Grifters
As much sordid family tale as sordid crime novel, but really, really sordid. The story follows the power plays of a short-con artist, his mother, who’s also on the hustle, and his girlfriend with her own history of larceny. About as fun as seedy gets.
5. The Getaway
This reads like a solid heist novel with touches of Thompson quirkiness. Then you get to last chapter. It is so dark and atmospheric that is reads like something out of a horror novel. Both film versions were afraid to tackle it.
All books listed above are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Ted Lewis‘ Get Carter, originally known as Jack’s Trip Back, was a turning point in British crime fiction. At the time of its publication, the U.S. was known for the tough, hard boiled style, while English crime was associated with the more genteel drawing room side of the genre that Agatha Christie made popular. Lewis put a shotgun in Jack Carter’s hand, blowing away the Venetian vases and the stereotype.
To call Jack Carter an anti-hero is putting it mildly. Both calculating and reckless, violence is often a convenient tool for him and he makes the Mad Men guys look like feminists. Carter works as an enforcer for a London syndicate run by Gerald and Les Fletcher. He is also involved with Audrey, Gerald’s wife, who he plans to run away with, along with a chunk of the Fletcher Brothers money. He is somewhat of an English cousin to Richard Stark‘s Parker, with less distance from the reader.
In Get Carter, Jack goes back to his home in middle England, to attend the funeral of his brother Frank. Frank died in a drunk driving accident, though he wasn’t known to be a heavy drinker. This puts Carter on the road to answers and revenge, running up against the town fixer who is connected to the Fletcher Brothers.
The book gives a bleak look at England. The pretty countryside, associated with those English cozies, is populated and polluted with smokestacks. Most of the denizens of the town are rough, ugly, and seem to have a touch of inbreeding to them. It’s no wonder Carter would do anything, including crime, to get out. Yet we see how it is a part of him. Much like Hammett and Cain, Lewis used the hard boiled novel to make subtle social commentary on his country. Despite his many dark qualities, we follow Jack Carter because of his willingness to be his own man in both the criminal and British class system.
Get Carter proved that while the U.S. may have invented hard boiled crime, they didn’t have a patent on it. One can’t help but wonder how this book hit British readers in the late Sixties. A new publisher, Syndicate Books, has released Get Carter, following it with the two others in the Carter trilogy, Jack Carter’s Law and Jack Carter And The Mafia Pigeon. I can’t wait to spend more time in Jack Carter’s world.
Get Carter is available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
For the past few years, Seventh Street Books has had an incredible knack for finding new talent. Terry Shames and Mark Pryor are just two names they’ve introduced to the genre. With The Life We Bury, Seventh Street introduces a new author to watch, Allen Eskens.
The plot of The Life We Bury is something akin to a good Grisham-style thriller. Joe Talbert, a poor Minnesota University student with an autistic brother and alcoholic mother from hell, is assigned to do a biography on someone for his English class. To make the piece stand out, he chooses Carl Iverson, a man living the last days of his life in nursing home with pancreatic cancer after being imprisoned over thirty years for the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl. Joe is skeptical about Carl’s claim of innocence, although the old man admits to have both “killed and murdered” in his life, but with the help of Virgil, Carl’s buddy from Vietnam, and his inquisitive neighbor, Lila, he uncovers truths that could both substantiate those claims and cause considerable danger for Joe and his friends.
In his debut, Eskens shows his skill as a storyteller. The pacing could be set to a metronome and the style is clean and accessible. He finds fresh takes on puzzle pieces for the story and knows when to present them.
More than anything, he gets us involved his characters, not just Joe and Carl, but those around him. He even brings life to the victim. He is unafraid to take time from the plot and look into the lives of his people, realizing they will be dealing with the messiness of their day to day and past as well as mystery. It makes the reader truly care for them when those lives are threatened.
Allen Eskens is a perfect fit for Seventh Street. He writes a smart, fresh mainstream thriller that knows how to grab a reader. He also knows that character is key. Looks like they found another good one for us.
The Life We Bury is available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Most of you have heard the Nineties noir soap, Twin Peaks, will be returning to Showtime. The news prompted one of our favorite authors, Megan Abbott, to write a piece for Vulture about the influence the David Lynch-Mark Frost show had on her own writing. Abbott’s latest novel, The Fever, revolves around a group of girls struck by a mysterious illness, a rather perfect pairing with Laura Palmer’s story. Megan Abbott is the author of seven novels, and her last three books – The End of Everything, Dare Me, and The Fever – have all focused on the dangerous lives of adolescent girls.
On Wednesday, October 22, at 7 pm, BookPeople is proud to host the eminent and prolific novelist, Walter Mosley. Mr. Mosley has been writing for almost a quarter century and has published books in a variety of genres. He is the recipient of PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is one of the most respected and dynamic writers in America today. He will be joining us to speak and sign his latest Ezekial Rawlins novel, Rose Gold.
-Post by Molly
Walter Mosley wrote his first Easy Rawlins detective novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, nearly a quarter century ago. Despite taking breaks from the series to write numerous other novels (including sci-fi stories, general fiction, and other crime series), he has just released Rose Gold, his thirteenth novel to star the character of Easy Rawlins. One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading the series has been following Easy Rawlins through three decades of American upheaval. Mosley set the first book in the series in the 1940s, and twelve books later, Ezekial Rawlins has made it to the smack-dab middle of the sixties. Mosley’s last novel in the series, Little Green, followed Easy as he dove head-first in the Summer of Love trying to hunt down a wayward teenager. His next novel starts immediately after Little Green left off.
Rose Gold, loosely based on the story of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, continues Rawlin’s journey through the chaos of mid-century America. At the start of the novel, Easy is in the midst of moving houses when a corrupt cop with a hidden agenda tracks him down and offers him some mortgage money fast. Easy reluctantly agrees to find a wealthy debutante, Rosemary Goldsmith, kidnapped out of her dorm room and held hostage by a group of wannabe revolutionaries. The debutante’s father, a high-profile arms dealer, hires Rawlins to infiltrate the radical black power community, but Easy soon figures out this is easier said than done. His first step is to find the revolutionary group’s leader, a black nationalist ex-boxer named Uhuru Nolicé, and he quickly figures out that the police are searching for Uhuru much more assiduously than for Rosemary, and with much worse intentions.
As Easy continues the search for Rosemary, he takes the time to fix a few problems for his friends and family on the side, and throughout the novel, the reader finds frequent reminders that Easy Rawlins is happiest when defined by his relationship with his community. Walter Mosley, in the character of Easy Rawlins, has created not only an ass-kicking private eye, but also an ideal role model. One of the great pleasures of reading a novel starring Easy Rawlins is witnessing the actions of a character both likable and moral – a rare protagonist in the detective-novel world.
In the murky world of 1960s revolutionary politics, lines quickly blur between kidnapper and kidnapped, victim and perpetrator, and revolutionary and poser. Mosely’s characters use 1960s radicalism as a way to try on new identities and act out personal vendettas, and the radicals that Easy meets have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between performance and belief. Mosley does an excellent job of both portraying a society in motion and showing the parts that remain static. In particular, Mosley draws attention to police abuse towards young black men in a story that, stripped of its revolutionary framework, could be seen in a newspaper today. Both timely and timeless, Rose Gold provides an excellent addition to the canon of Mosley and a new modern classic for our shelves.
Please join us on October 22 for a visit from Walter Mosley, who will be speaking and signing his latest Easy Rawlins novel, Rose Gold. Copies are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. All BookPeople events are free and open to the public. The signing for this event will be ticketed.