"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of "The Collector" series, The Killing Kind, and Red Right Hand.

"A refreshingly new voice in noir." --Ed Kurtz, author of Nothing You Can Do and The Rib From Which I Remake the World.

"A glorious boilermaker of noir and East Coast gothic. The action is taut as a sprung snare and Bagley tightens the screws with every page." -- Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase and Blood Standard.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A New Blog and a New Story from Kieran Shea

Kieran Shea has a new story up at Pulp Pusher and spankin' new blog, too. In spite of its title, "Angel" is a nasty tale of revenge, betrayal and more revenge. So read Kieran's latest and then go visit his dark corner of the blogsphere to tell him how much you liked it.

Morons on Board

This story comes from Michael Haskins (who likes e-mailing me in January to let me know about the beautiful weather in Key West) and it merits your attention:

Free Speech Groups Criticize Dismissal of Wisconsin Library Board Members
By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 4/29/2009 8:01:00 AM

Four members of a library board in West Bend, Wis., were dismissed last week for refusing to remove controversial books from the library’s young adult section—and yesterday, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of American Publishers and PEN American Center criticized the firings.

The groups sent a letter to the West Bend Common Council stating that the dismissals threatened free speech in two ways: punishing the board members for attempting to apply objective criteria in the selection of books, and pressuring the library to remove the controversial books. The letter said, “The role of a public library and its board members is to serve the entire community and to evaluate books and other library materials on the basis of objective criteria. By removing half the members of the library board, the Common Council is imposing its opinions on the rest of the community.”

The controversy began in February when two patrons complained that the library’s YA section included fiction and nonfiction books about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. The patrons accused the library of promoting “the overt indoctrination of the gay agenda in our community” and demanded that the library add books “affirming traditional heterosexual perspectives.” They also insisted that the library remove books from the YA section including Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club (HarperCollins), Stephan Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Esther Drill’s Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a gURL (both Simon & Schuster).

Last week, West Bend Mayor Kristin Deiss submitted the names of four members of the library board for a new three-year term, and the council voted 5-3 to dismiss the board members.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Interviewed at Bookspot Central

Brian Lindenmuth recently interviewed me for a series called "Conversations with the Bookless" at Bookspot Central. Over the last couple of weeks, they've posted fascinating conversations with people like Patti Abbott, Greg Bardsley, Frank Bill, Keith Rawson, Jedidiah Ayres and others. My interview went live today. Check out it and leave a comment when you get a chance.

Friday, April 17, 2009

May 10 on CrimeWAV: The Lineup Podcast

On May 10, Seth Harwood and Aldo Calcagno will present a special poetry episode of CrimeWAV. These guys have done an amazing job podcasting crime and mystery short stories, and they're kind enough to give The Lineup some airtime (webtime?). So be sure to listen.

The featured poems are:

From The Lineup #1:

"110 M.P.H. in a Stolen Pickup" by Patrick Shawn Bagley
"Prayer of an Arson Investigator" by Sarah Cortez
"Metro" by R. Narvaez
"Don Henley Will Be Mine" by Misti Rainwater-Lites
"Four Minutes" by Gerald So

From The Lineup #2:

"Visiting Hours, State Pen" by Amy MacLennan
"A Whisper of Smoke" by Stephen D. Rogers
"A Wild Flaw Amongst Us" by Christopher Watkins

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't Mess with Frankie B.

Frank Bill, a short story writer whose stuff I dig, has started a blog: Frank Bill's House of Grit. Tool on over and check it out.

An Unpublished Review

I was cleaning out some old files this morning when I came across this book review I wrote almost two years ago. It was written for a magazine that never used it. Re-reading the piece now, for the first time since I turned it in, I don’t think it’s all that bad.

Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
October 2, 2007
Hard Case Crime/Dorchester

When last we saw Max Fisher and Angela Petrakos (in Bust, 2006), their fortunes had taken a nosedive. Max lost his computer company and narrowly escaped a murder rap for the deaths of his wife and her cousin. After learning the hard way that immersion in Drano is not the best method of dissolving a corpse and that wheelchair-ridden metalheads sometimes have issues, Angie swiped ten grand from Max and high-tailed it to Ireland. As Slide opens, both of these characters are lower than they’ve ever been.

Max wakes up hung over in an Alabama motel room with no memory of how he got there. His wallet is empty. His ass is sore, and the Chinese guy the clerk says he checked in with is long gone. Max’s brilliant plan for getting back to Manhattan is to mug the chambermaid and hop a Greyhound.

Angie is in Ireland, down to her last few Euros. Tired of waiting for a rich man to come along and give her a nice home and happy children, she decides to be more aggressive. Unfortunately, the man she targets, a guy who calls himself Slide, is in the kidnapping business. Slide hasn’t had much success as a kidnapper, mostly because he keeps butchering his victims. Angie doesn’t know this, though. When Slide suggests kidnapping Keith Richards, she goes along with the plan. It sounded like a good idea after all that Jameson’s.

Max sets himself up as a crack dealer, getting his stuff from an evangelical Southerner. He’s back on top, living in a penthouse, rolling in money and insisting everyone call him “The M.A.X.” He has even found a silicone-enhanced replacement for Angie (whom he hates but can’t stop thinking about). Things go sour when some Colombians demand a meeting and Max’s new girlfriend gets ideas of her own.

Slide and Angie come to the States when things get too hot in Ireland, the Keith Richards job having gone balls-up. Slide tries to go native, figuring it will help him fulfill his dream of becoming a famous serial killer. For a while, Angie believes Slide will set her up in a big house, just like in The Sopranos. She leaps to a few faulty conclusions about her new man, but he turns out be even worse than she’d imagined.

Bruen and Starr once again prove that they are the masters of dark humor and even darker motives. The characters will often make you laugh out loud, but you are never allowed to forget that these are bad motherfuckers; while you’re laughing, you’re also feeling a twinge of unease in your guts.

Two of the funniest moments come in the brutal killings of a pair of well-known crime writers. One, “a thin figure, leather jacket, shades, white hair, skinny as a rodent, lined face,” gets greased in Dublin. The other, a guy with “long straight hair, a strong jaw—kind of looked like a poor man’s Fabio,” meets his end behind a Dumpster in New York. The writers are never named, but you’ll figure out their identities.

The prose is as taut as piano wire digging into your neck. The dialogue burns. Max and Angie cross paths once again, but not in a way you will expect. Slide is one of those rare sequels that lives up to the excellence of its predecessor and, at times, surpasses it. Best of all, Bruen and Starr have left room for a third novel. Let us hope these twisted noir geniuses team up again soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Deep Thoughts from Tough Guys: National Poetry Month Edition

Small wonder that the case remains unsolved,
Or that the sleuth, Le Roux, is now incurably insane,
And sits alone in a white room in a white gown,
Screaming that all the world is mad, that clues
Lead nowhere, or to walls so high their tops cannot be seen;
Screaming all day of war, screaming that nothing can be solved.

--excerpted from "Crime Club" by Weldon Kees (from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees, edited by Donald Justice, ©1975 University of Nebraska Press).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pimpin' My Friends: Derringer Awards Edition

The Short Mystery Fiction Society has announced the finalists for the 2009 Derringer Awards. Two of my writer pals made the list, and I'm here to cheer them on.

In the category of Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words):
"Taste for It" by Sophie Littlefield.
In the category of Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words):
"The Big Score" by Chris F. Holm.

These are fine stories by fine writers. I hope they both win.