"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.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chris Holm Springs into Action

I'm not a regular reader of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, but I do pick it up whenever it featured work by writers whose work I admire. Like Chris F. Holm. He writes memorable short fiction and it's only a matter of time before some publisher snaps the two novels he's completed so far.

The May 2010 issue of AHMM kicks off with Chris' latest story, "Action." If you enjoy Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder* series of novels and short stories, then "Action" is your bag, baby. It's a funny, fast-paced heist story. The May AHMM is on the newsstands now, so rush on out and buy a copy.

*Bonus points if you can spot Chris' little tip o' the hat to the late MWA Grand Master.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Deep Thoughts from Tough Guys: The Blacklin County Leads the Way Edition

The saddest words of all were "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
--from Of All Sad Words, copyright 2008 by Bill Crider

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Guest Blogger: Stephen D. Rogers

The Shot to Death Blog March

"I am so going to fuck you up"
--from "Tenant at Will"

So begins one of the 31 stories in Shot to Death (ISBN 978-0982589908). Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.

I love the emphasis created by the word "so." That first line shows me a real can-do attitude that I have to admire. Just as long as the person talking isn't talking to me. This time.

An opening like that, with no clear directive, forces me to forge a framework. Immediately I can scrap all characters who could be expected to utter such words as well as all characters who might expect to hear them.

"I am so going to fuck you up." So says a mother to her daughter.

That daughter is a tenant at will, free to leave at any time, and yet she listens to such abuse. Maybe she kicks it back, but she's there to hear it in the first place.

Can she not afford to leave or does she feel obligated to stay? What would change either of those two possibilities?

Maybe both are true. Maybe she can't afford to leave and she feels obligated to stay, although perhaps her mother's attitude is chipping away at the latter.

The former would change if the daughter was offered somewhere else to live. Perhaps love is on the horizon. Or at least a relationship that isn't so acidic.

She has, however, been in a dysfunctional situation, and those have a tendency to cling. She might escape. She might even find love. Even so, I fear her mother is going to get in the last word.

"I am so going to fuck you up."

All that remains is the writing.

For a chance to win a signed copy of Shot to Death, click on over to stephendrogers.com and submit your completed entry.

Then visit the schedule to see how you can march along.

And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Forgotten Books Friday: Shadow on the Sun by Richard Matheson

If Elmore Leonard and Joe Lansdale were to collaborate on a western, the result might be something like Richard Matheson's Shadow on the Sun. Though best known for horror classics like I Am Legend and Hell House, Matheson is no slouch when it comes to western tales.

In Shadow on the Sun, we meet Billjohn Finley, an Indian Agent who has negotiated a new treaty between the U.S. government and a band of Apaches led by Braided Feather. The situation is tense, with the white townsfolk of Picture City doubting the natives will keep their word and the soldiers of Fort Apache ready for any excuse to wipe out the band. When the bodies of two men are found horribly mutilated outside of town, their brother demands that Finley send for the cavalry to attack Braided Feather's people. But what about the dark, oddly scarred stranger who has come to Picture City asking for archaeologist Albert Dodge and the Apache known only as the Night Doctor? Finley refuses to the believe that the Apaches are behind the killings, but he's the only white man interested in uncovering the truth.

Shadow on the Sun was originally published by Berkely in 1994. Tor has recently brought it back into print as a $13.99 trade paperback. Go get it.