Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Roadkill Review: A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones

When hunter, John Moon accidentally shoots a runaway girl while poaching deer on state land he has to make a choice. His dilemma is made worse by the drugs and cash he finds hidden at her campground. Whatever he decides, the consequences will be something he can neither predict nor control.  

A Single Shot is a taught thriller that drags you along in the emotional wake of John Moon’s guilt and necessity. Early on the plot put me in mind of Cormac McCarthy’s, No Country For Old Men, but as the story progresses it is soon plain to see that John Moon is more than just a cut and paste rehash of McCarthy’s, Llewlyn Moss. Moon is a man with a strong set of beliefs, he has his own code. But his downward spiral started long before he pulled the trigger and in the best traditions of noir no matter how hard he tries, his subsequent actions only seem to hasten that decent.  
Make no mistake this is a gritty and harrowing novel that deals with some pretty dark subject matter. The narrative is largely well paced and genuinely engaging, but it does suffer from occasional unexplained flat spots, which can leave you feeling a little puzzled, like finding a few feet of smooth blacktop in the middle of a rutted farm track. This minor grumble is more than made up for by Jones’ wonderfully authentic dialogue and his strong sense of place.
I fear that many of those lured in by Daniel Woodrell’s curious and at times almost disparaging introduction will have their resolve sorely tested by the disturbing nature of A Single Shot. The violence and the graphic sexual scenes will no doubt alienate a lot of casual readers.  
While A Single Shot may never be a book that is clutched lovingly to the breast of mainstream country noir, if you are an aficionado of the genre it is a book that you won’t want to miss. I found it to be a well written and thought provoking read.
Thanks to my buddy, Brian Panowich for turning me on to this one.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Demonic Visions Book 3

The third volume in the DEMONIC VISIONS series, edited by Chris Robertson is here. This edition includes 49 tales the macabre from some fine horror writers and another one from some hack called Chris Leek.
There is no doubt that I always feel a little out of my comfort zone writing in this genre, but I figure a good horror story should make you feel uncomfortable. My contribution to this edition is, WET WORK. It’s the story of man fighting his demons, both real and imagined. I tend to write psychological horror, rather than all out splatter and gore, although having said that there is some face melting involved in this one.  

The E-book of DEMONIC VISIONS BOOK 3 is out right now and a dead tree edition will be available in the next few days. If horror is your bag, check it out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Roadkill Review: The Big Rain by Paul D. Brazill

Luke Case is a down-at-heel newspaper hack with a nose for trouble and a taste for strong drink. In this, the forth installment of his story we find him walking the dangerous back streets of a rain-washed Toulouse. Just like Luke’s earlier European adventures in Warsaw and Madrid and Grenada, THE BIG RAIN is chocked full of seedy characters, double dealing and old scores that bleed like open wounds.
Paul Brazill is a writer who knows his business. He delivers the kind of dark and gritty story that ticks all of the boxes. His easy style and wry sense of humor make THE BIG RAIN a very enjoyable read.

All of the Luke Case stories can be read as standalone works, but if you want to really immerse yourself in Luke’s world of dive bars, bad deals and dead ends, I recommend starting with, RED ESPERANTO and going from there. If you like your noir dark and moody with plenty of style then you won’t be disappointed.   
I haven’t reviewed anything on here (or anywhere else) for a coon’s age. I’m going to make an effort to review more regularly from now on, but I ain’t making no promises!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gospel of the Bullet

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that One Eye Press will be publishing my western novella, GOSPEL OF THE BULLET. Here’s the official word.

Knights and Preachers, One Eye Press Announces New Singles.
On the coattails of the release of Federales by Christopher Irvin, One Eye Press is enthusiastic in announcing the next two releases from the Singles Line.

To those who picked up a copy of Federales our next release for June 10th is no surprise. White Knight by Bracken MacLeod has a little excerpt included in the back of the debut Singles release. Bracken hit One Eye Press by storm last year with submissions being accepted in all three publications: Shotgun Honey, Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, and The Big Adios. And with the release of his first novel, Mountain Home, when we were offered a chance read his novella White Knight, how could we say no?
White Knight by Bracken MacLeod (June 10, 2014)

Once, he had imagined himself slaying dragons and making the monsters pay. But his armor was wearing thin as the women who drifted through his office haunted him with the same, hard-bought lie: “I want to drop the charges.” Every bruised face and split lip reminded the prosecutor of the broken home he’d escaped. So when Marisol Pierce appeared with an image of her son and a hint that she was willing to take a step away from the man abusing her, he made a promise he couldn’t keep.
A promise that could cost him everything.

Now, he’s in a race against time to find the boy, save the damsel, and himself from a dragon no one can leash before everything in his world is burned to cinders. This is his last chance to be a White Knight.
Some men only know how to do hard things the hard way.

Our third novella is a western that tests a man’s faith in Gospel of the Bullet by Chris Leek. Chris Leek is also a contributor to Shotgun Honey and Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, and has  been a valuable editor for The Big Adios. The man spins a fantastic western yarn that we’d swear that he has Missouri mud shipped to the UK just so he can become one with the West.
Gospel of the Bullet by Chris Leek (September 16, 2014)

Mitchel McCann may have lost a war, but he never lost his belief. The preacher kept his faith throughout all the blood and the dying; trading his pulpit for a saddle and delivering his sermons with a brace of Walker Colts. McCann still believes in God, but he is no longer sure that God believes in him. Now fate has given him a chance at redemption; the opportunity to save a life instead of taking one.
Justice Simpson was only seven years old when she lost her father. She has been losing steadily ever since. The Yankee ball that did in Dan Simpson also killed his wife, Rosalee, although it took another nine years to do it. Alone and destitute on the unforgiving streets of Saint Joseph, Missouri, Justice knows that the sooner or later the bullet will find her too.

In the winter of 1872 the war is long over, but on the Kansas—Missouri border old wounds are slow to heal and they leave ugly scars. The past is something that neither the preacher nor the girl can escape.
Chris Irvin and Bracken MacLeod are both damn fine writers and I’m honored to be in such esteemed company.

GOSPEL OF THE BULLET was a real blast to write and it’s a book that’s very close to my heart. I’m really stoked that y’all are going to get the chance to read it.
See, I told you the western ain’t dead!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Smoke Em If You Got Em

Yeah, I know it’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been up against it of late. This is largely my own fault as I tend to follow a writing process that consists of several weeks of intense planning (procrastination) followed by a brief period of blind panic and actual writing when I realize the deadline is only two days away.

In between times I’ve been working with Ryan Sayles on putting together a collection of my short fiction. The result of this madness will be unleashed on an unsuspecting world in the next month or so and just to whet your appetite here’s a sneaky peak at the awesome cover, designed by Kit Foster.
SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM includes eighteen tales filled with loners, losers, cheap women and cheaper liquor. You know how I roll. But this isn’t just a case of grabbing everything from my hard drive and dumping it into a book. Ryan and I thought long and hard about the feel and content of the collection. I wanted SMOKE EM to provide new readers with a good introduction to my work and I also wanted to give the select few that have actually heard of me something new to chew on. I think it will do just that—at least I hope it will.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Springsteen and I AKA Trouble In The Heartland

I had to keep quiet about this project for a long time, but seeing as it blew up Facebook yesterday, I guess I can talk about it here too.

Let’s roll the clock back a few years…okay, quite a lot of years. Its 1984, I’m fifteen and my face times its breakouts to co-inside perfectly with any social event involving the opposite sex. I steal cigarettes from my pal’s mom, because I think smoking them makes me look cool (trust me kids, it doesn’t, but you’ll probably still do it anyway.) I have a leather jacket, bad grades, and an unhealthy obsession with Pat Benatar. In the middle of all this, Bruce Springsteen releases the BORN IN THE USA album and for me, nothing is ever quite the same again. Here was a dude singing about Vietnam, blue collar Joes and the broken American dream. I may have been living an ocean way, but those songs spoke to me, and I mean directly to me. Dancing in the Dark? You better believe I was. Bruce told me how it was and I listened—I have been listening ever since.

Roll forwards again to 2014. I’m forty four. The acne is long gone, but now my face has a permanently bewildered look that comes from the realization I’m middle aged. I have a pack a day habit that I can’t kick, a wife that I love, a job I hate and an unhealthy obsession with Pat Benatar. I got to chase my own runaway American dream for a while and I know that my glory days are largely in the rearview mirror. I’m good with that (most of the time.) I’m still dancing in the dark, but I’m a goddamn writer now, so the world can go suck it.
Bruce Springsteen has now been providing the sound track to my life for better than 25 years and it should be pretty obvious to most of you that he is a huge influence on my work as a writer too. He’s the finest storyteller I know (and I know Isaac Kirkman.)
Anyhow, last year I was shooting the shit with Joe Clifford and we got to talking about how much we both dug Bruce Springsteen, and how his songs have many of the same qualities present in good crime fiction. Boom! We suddenly hit on the idea of a crime fiction anthology with stories inspired by Springsteen song titles. Joe was up for editing it, my ZP brother and fellow Springsteen fan, Brian Panowich was in like Flynn too. The rest of the Zelmer guys weren’t far behind. We started to invite a few people to contribute stories and the response was completely overwhelming. Who knew so many top crime writers were Springsteen fans?
What we first envisaged as a cool little anthology soon became something way, way bigger than any of us could have imagined. The eight months that followed have been full of lawyers, contracts, frayed tempers and frustrations, but thanks largely to Joe’s dogged determination and Ryan Sayles’ unfailing optimism, we made it. Like the song says: Talk about a dream, try to make it real.
Chuck Regan has once again delivered a killer cover. This isn’t the final version, but it’s pretty close to it. TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND will be available from all good bookstores (and probably a few crappy ones too) this summer. Profits from the anthology will be going to The Bob Woodruff Foundation, who offer help and support to our veterans and their families, so there really will be no excuse not to hammer down on this one. 

Monday, February 10, 2014



Well now, here’s a thing. Blackwitch Press has something a bit tasty in the works. EXILES is a charity anthology featuring around 20 tales of loners, losers and outsiders, all penned by seriously good crime writers, and it’s being edited by a great one, Paul D. Brazill. I have managed to blag my way into it too, but don’t let that put you off. I’ll let you know details of who, when and how much just as soon as I have them.