Archive for Books

“Cold in July” Trailer — I’m Sold!

 Cold in July (based on the novel by Joe Lansdale) looks to heat up the box office in May!

Z-View: Upgunned by David J. Schow


Upgunned by David J. Schow

Jacket design and illustration Tim Bradstreet


Elias McCabe is having one hell of a night:  He gets kidnapped at gunpoint by a professional hit man and is forced to shoot blackmail photos of a prominent politician.  Things go wrong with the shoot… very wrong.  When the night is over, Elias is scared to death … and ten thousand dollars richer.

If he keeps his mouth shut.

But he doesn’t — and now the hit man has targeted him for payback.

As a desperate amateur in the games of death, Elias is up against a seasoned pro.  As his entire life slides into the abyss, he has to stay alive by inventing new ways, moment-by-moment, to avoid, misdirect, and finally confront his ever-more-determined murderer as corpses and collateral damage stack up coast-to-coast in their wake.


The Good

  • Upgunned sucks you in from the first sentence and never let’s up.
  • The lead characters:  Initially I was having a tough time deciding whether I was pulling for Elias [the photographer forced to become an accessory to blackmail and murder] or Chambers [the hitman "forced" to kill everyone involved in the blackmail gone bad including his partners].
  • The supporting characters, especially “Cap” Weatherwax and the freaks at Salon [midgets, a spidergirl, a crocman, and others.]
  • Schow does his research — you’ll learn a lot about guns, Hollywood movie-making and more, but never at the expense of the action.
  • Tim Bradstreet’s jacket design and illustration and yes, that is Thomas Jane on the cover!
  • Ken Mitchrooney [a comic book buddy from way back] is thanked in the Acknowledgements.

The Bad:

  • Chambers – I was pulling for the hitman despite him killing so many people until he did something even worse.
  • What happens to Chambers that prevents him from killing Elias straight away.

The Ugly:

  • What happens to Chambers’ partners.
  • Walking in a dark room with your eyes wide open.

Upgunned is for mature audiences due to excessive violence and sexual situations. 

Rating: 3 out of 5


Ranking All 64 Stephen King Books recently rated all 64 of Stephen King’s books from worst to first.  

Although I haven’t read every Stephen King novel, I do agree that of the ones I have read, my choice for #1 matches theirs.

Jonathon Maberry and his Action/Horror Novels

If you’re not a fan of Jonathon Maberry, it just means you haven’t read any of his action/horror novels.

The Big Thrill has a nice interview with Jonathon Maberry.  My guess is if you’re already a Maberry fan, you’ll really enjoy it.  If you’re not a fan, there’s a good chance that once you read the interview, you will be.

Jake Hinkson’s One-Stop for his On-Line Pieces

Jake Hinkson the author of the highly recommended Hell on Church StreetThe Posthumous Man and Saint Homicide has created a site where you can find most of his on-line pieces!

Jake Hinkson on a CrimeSpree

Jake Hinkson the author of the highly recommended Hell on Church Street, The Posthumous Man and Saint Homicide is the subject of an interview at CrimeSpree.

Hinkson talks about his influences, growing up in the South, his love of old films and more.

Here are a couple of quotes to entice you to click over…

Hardboiled crime fiction is about toughness. Noir is about weakness.

With Hell On Church Street, I found the voice of the main character right away. It jumped right out of me. I just loved the duality of Geoffrey Webb, his surface politeness and deep-seated contempt.

With The Posthumous Man, the voice of the main character was tricky because he’s a guy who, as the story begins, has just tried to commit suicide…. He dies in the emergency room for three minutes, and then wakes up to find that he has this bizarre second chance presented to him in the person of a deeply troubled nurse. He’s more philosophical than emotionally frazzled. I mean, after you’ve been dead, what’s there to be frazzled about?

There’s a line in Saint Homicide where Daniel says, “I simply don’t know what religion means to people for whom it doesn’t mean everything.”

Z-View: Saint Homicide by Jake Hinkson

His name is Daniel.  The other cons call him Saint Homicide.

Daniel is a religious man.  To say that he is being tested, if you believe in such a thing, is an understatement.  As Daniel lays out his story you see how a man of God who is a faithful hardworking and devoted husband becomes a cold-blooded killer.  

Daniel isn’t on a slow spiral out of control, he’s on a runaway freight train to destruction and just as Daniel can’t stop what’s about to happen, you as a reader won’t be able to stop turning pages.

Jake Hinkson has the ability to draw us into a world that most would never want to inhabit.  When our lives cross paths with others like Daniel we sometimes think, there but for the grace of God…  in Daniel’s case he believes that it is the grace of God that brought him to be a convicted murderer sitting in a prison cell.

As Daniel lays out his story we discover that Daniel has always been a religious man and one who stood up for his beliefs no matter the cost.  While others see him as a fanatic, Daniel knows he is a servant of God.  Daniel believes by telling his story, “by honestly transcribing blasphemies, rough language, and ugly situations as they occurred” he is “creating a testament to the glory of Christ.”

So we learn about Daniel’s hatred of abortionists and how this brought about the loss of his job as a college professor.  We wonder how Daniel, now jobless, will take care of his wife who still suffers from injuries that have left her not only physically scarred but mentally diminished.

The pressure continues to build so that when Daniel agrees to go looking for his young sister-in-law who may have run off with a thug, we know that things are not going to end well.  And they don’t.

This novella is not for the feint of heart or younger readers, but if you’re a fan of crime fiction and noir my guess is you’ll really dig this.  My only complaint is that it ended too soon.  I wanted more.  Of course, isn’t that what good authors do… leave their readers wanting more?

I’m a Jake Hinkson fan.  And like Hell on Church Street and The Posthumous Man, I recommend Saint Homicide and will look forward to Hinson’s next novel(la).

Rating: 3 out of 5


Bill Frank, Drew Moss and The Crow: Pestilence

The cover above is by J. O’Barr for the new mini-series Crow: Pestilence by Frank Bill [writer] and Drew Moss [artist].  I love it when creators whose work I enjoy come together on a project.

I’ve been a J. O’Barr Crow fan since the character’s first appearance back in Caliber Presents.

Frank Bill burst on the crime fiction scene in a big way with his Crimes in Southern Indiana (book of short stories) and follow-up novel Donnybrook.  (I’ve read and recommend both!)

I met Drew Moss about a year ago and got two sketches from him.  Moss is a talented artist, and a funny guy.

I’m really looking forward to Crow: Pestilence and even more so after reading this interview with Frank Bill.


Neal Adams’ Tarzan Painting Gallery


Isn’t that Neal Adams’ Tarzan painting above beautiful?  The painting above is just one of ten Neal Adams’ Tarzan paintings that you can see here.


Source: Brian Michael Bendis.

Z-View: “Jack Reacher”

The Pitch: ”Hey, let’s do a movie adaptation of one of Lee Child’s best selling Jack Reacher novels and get Tom Cruise to star.”

“But Jack Reacher is described in the novels as being 6′ 5″ — a modern day giant.  Tom Cruise is pretty short and fans of the novels will hate the casting.”

Tom Cruise is in so who cares about the miscasting.  What do you say?”

“Let’s do it!”

The Tagline:  “The law has limits. He does not.”

The Overview:  James Barr, a former military sniper, kills five random people.  He’s quickly caught in what appears to be an open-and-shut case.  The evidence is overwhelming.  Barr claims he didn’t do it and tells his defense attorney to get Jack Reacher.

Reacher shows up on his own.  Reacher is a former Army Criminal Investigator who is now living off the grid.  Reacher is there to prove that Barr committed the crime since Reacher knows Barr got away with a similar killing when deployed overseas.

Reacher looks at the evidence and fairly quickly determines that Barr was used as a patsy and didn’t kill those murdered.  As he digs into the case, Reacher becomes the target of those behind the killings and a bigger conspiracy.

*** Beware – minor spoilers are found below ***

The Good

  • Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher as if he knows he is not only the smartest but also the baddest man in the room.  Reacher doesn’t flaunt either ability, but he won’t back down from showing either ability when pressed.
  • Because Cruise isn’t a 6’5″ hulk, it is even more impressive when Reacher refuses to back down.  You can see Reacher enjoys the chance to show how smart he is or whoop some butt if those who are pressing him refuse to stop.
  • The story is a good one.  It is fun seeing Cruise unravel the mystery and put together the killings so that they make better sense than the sequence of events that the prosecutors laid out.
  • The car chase is one of the best in years.
  • Cruise has a number of great lines.
  • Rosamund Pike, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney and Alexia Fast are impressive in their roles.  It’s always nice to see Robert Duvall show up.

The Bad:

  • Lee Child fans who refused to see Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.
  • The scene where two thugs attempt to beat up Reacher in a bathroom.  The first part of the scene almost plays like The Three Stooges, but then takes a turn and the second half of the fight scene works much better.
  • It would have been nice had Werner Herzog been given more to do.
  • Telling someone you didn’t see them so they won’t have to kill you and getting the response, “It doesn’t matter.”

The Ugly:

  • Being given the choice to break or chew off a finger or take a bullet to the head.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Big News for Frank Miller’s Sin City

We have some news, some big news, for fans of Frank Miller’s Sin City.

On July 8, 2014, Dark Horse will release Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City.  This baby will come as a hardcover edition and clock in with over 1300 pages — and contain every one of Miller’s seven Sin City yarns!

On July 8, 2014, fans will also be able to pick up Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City  which will appear for the first time in a trade paperback edition.  I have a copy of the hardback edition, and give Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City  my highest recommendation.

To round out the trifecta, on July 8, 2014, Dark Horse will re-release in hardcover, Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

These books will be a great lead-in for the movie adaptation of A Dame to Kill For which will be released on August 22, 2014.

“Farewell, My Lovely”

Reading this review at Classic Noir makes me want to watch  Farewell, My Lovely again.

I’m sure you’re aware this version of Raymond Chandler’s classic  Farewell, My Lovely  has an all-star cast that includes Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling, John Ireland, Sylvia Miles, Anthony Zerbe, Harry Dean Stanton. Jack O’Halloran, Joe Spinell, Sylvester Stallone… but did you know that pulp writer Jim Thompson in his first and last acting role!

14 Page Preview: Darwyn Cooke’s “Slayground” Adaptation

The art above is a just a small taste of the preview art by Darwyn Cooke for his adaptation of Donald Westlake’s [writing as Richard Stark] Slayground.  


1942 Joe Shuster Superman Art!

These are just two of the nice pen and ink illos by Superman co-creater Joe Shuster that appeared in 1942 hardcover edition of The Adventures of Superman.  You can see all of them as well as some paintings by Shuster that also appeared in the book thanks to  J. J. Sedelmaier’s post at

Thanks for the tip to Ron Salas.

%d bloggers like this: