Category: Authors

CARBON by Andrew Vachss!

Andrew Vachss with his Burke crime novel series instantly became one of my must-read authors.  That was over 35 years ago.  As time went on Vachss continued to write about Burke and his crime family, but he also branched out into other genres and formats.

When I recently saw that Mr. Vachss had a new novel, Carbon, coming out, I was excited to see what it would be about.

I was surprised to read that it would be a futuristic tale.  Then I read the synopsis…


In The City, government is God—in The Sector, anarchy rules.

The Membrane stands between those worlds. Some cross it to The Sector, seeking the forbidden. Some cross it to The City, seeking a chance to see the sky. Some try to stay. Most die trying.

In a world without paper, names are earned. Sector-born Carbon once risked everything for a chance to live in The City, a world with fresh paper and retinal enhancements that required a price beyond the ability of any Sector-born to earn alone. Captured, he entered prison.

Now, released to find a killer whose pattern threatens the government itself, Carbon’s real search is for the money stashed by his former gang.

But only one woman knows that location, and she isn’t willing to trade information unless she gets something in return—her abducted child. The child is somewhere in the Pure Zone, a wild place where sorcery works but firearms do not.

Trapped between hostile worlds, Carbon will enter the Pure Zone—hyper-focused and fatal to anyone blocking his path.

Carbon, sounded a bit too fantastic for my taste… yet it was Andrew Vachss.  So I read the free sample at Amazon and Carbon is now on my “get list”.  Check it out and perhaps Carbon will be on yours as well.

PAYBACK IS FOREVER by Nick Kolakowski!

I just learned that Nick Kolakowski has a new novella coming out tomorrow.  Yep, the author of Love & Bullets Megabomb Edition, Boise Longpig Hunting Club and Rattlesnake Rodeo has a new crime story called Payback is Forever.  Here’s the lowdown…

Miller thought it was the perfect heist: Five minutes to hit the cash room of an amusement park, then another two minutes to the getaway car, then gone. As a professional thief, he’d done jobs like that dozens of times. But Miller’s partners had other ideas. When things go bad and bloody, Miller is forced to flee back to familiar territory: New York City’s West Village, where even the target of a nationwide manhunt can hide out amidst the freaks.

But Miller’s refuge might prove even more dangerous. Approached by an old friend about a shady protection job, Miller finds himself thrown into a bizarre world of pint-sized gangsters, aging war criminals, and shady government agents… all of whom are pursuing a prize beyond imagination.

Sounds like my jam.  Maybe yours too.  You can get it on Kindle or as a paperback if you’re so inclined.

DEAD DOGS by Manny Torres!

I want to pass along a crime novel I just learned about (and ordered).  Dead Dogs by Manny Torres sounds like a wild ride, I’d like to take.

Two Atlanta misfits in debt to notorious dog fighter and drug dealer Boots Tumbler are coerced into handling his dirty work. Phobos and Chuck, desperate to pay him back, go elbow deep in blood, dirt, and gristle, cleaning up dog fights, delivering drugs, and disposing of dead bodies. Regardless of the haul, they shovel it, bag it up, stuff it in the trunk of their 1982 Cadillac Deville and drive it off for disposal. The misfit pair fumble their way through dangerous circumstances and criminal adventures. Desperation eventually drives them out of the city, across lost highways, encountering a circus of outlaws and revolutionaries living on the margins of morality.

Dead Dogs currently has a near-perfect 4.9 star rating on Amazon from 22 reviewers!  As I said, I’ve ordered my copy.

If you’re interested you can get an autographed copy from Mr. Torres!

Or if you prefer Amazon, here’s a link!

61 HOURS by Lee Child / Z-View

61 Hours by Lee Child

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1st edition (May 18, 2010)

First sentences…

Five minutes to three in the afternoon.  Exactly sixty-one hours before it happened.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Reacher finds himself stranded in the small town of Bolton, South Dakota.  The roads are snowed in and the temperature is well below freezing.  The weather is scheduled to turn even worse with a savage snowstorm bearing down.   The small Bolton police force is on edge and the Chief is in over his head.  They’ve received word a deadly assassin is coming to Bolton to kill a witness (70 year old Janet Salter) they’re protecting.

The clock is ticking and with no help coming, Reacher offers his assistance.  Unknown to Reacher or the police, a vicious drug cartel kingpin and his handpicked hit squad is on the way to Bolton as well.

61 Hours is Jack Reacher’s 14th outing and perhaps his best yet.  Reacher is alone, out of his element dealing with an unknown assassin, a drug cartel hit squad and a handful of police officers unsure of who he can trust.  The tension ratchets up as the clock clicks down.  I loved 61 Hours and rate it 5 of 5 stars.


“Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking” (2021) / Z-View

Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking (2021)

Director:  Francesco Zippel

Screenplay: Francesco Zippel

Starring:  Oscar Micheaux, Chuck D, Jacqueline Stewart, Morgan Freeman  and Mario Van Pebbles..

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Oscar Micheaux was a writer, director and producer of both silent and sound movies.  Micheaux has been called “the most successful African-American filmmaker of the first half of the 20th century.”

Oscar Micheaux has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was honored by the Director’s Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America has an annual award named after him, he is in the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, his image has appeared on a US postage stamp, and there are multiple Film Festivals named after him! Sadly all of these accolades came posthumously.  Outside of serious fans of film history, few know about Oscar Micheaux.

I first learned of Oscar Micheaux because he was the writer/director of Body and Soul starring Paul Robeson.  Thanks to Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking, I now know the life story of Micheaux.  What an amazing story it is.

Micheaux didn’t let any obstacle hinder him.  At a time when there weren’t as many opportunities for people of color, Micheaux was able to raise funds to create films that he would write, direct, produce and even personally distribute from town to town!  He would then use the funds from his current film to finance his next movie.  More importantly Micheaux created films of substance that still resonate today.  Micheaux’s films dealt with race relations and featured complex characters in modern day settings.   I wish more people knew about Oscar Micheaux.  Thanks to Francesco Zippel we can.

Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking rates 4 of 5 stars.

KING SUCKERMAN by George Pelecanos

King Suckerman by George Pelecanos

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (August 1, 1997)

First sentence…

Wilton Cooper reached for the speaker, counterclockwised the volume.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Dimitri Karras and Marcus Clay are long-time buddies who still hang out and shoot hoops despite the fact that they’re no longer kids. Clay owns a record store and Karras makes a living doing odd jobs and selling a little weed from time to time.  After a session on the courts, Karras has a meeting lined up with Eddie Spags. Spags isn’t his usual source, but Karras’ contact has vouched for Spags.  Clay agrees to tag along.

When they get to the meeting, Spags is finishing up a deal with four strangers.  There’s a bag of money on the table.  Karras and Clay realize the thugs aren’t there for a little pot.  Wilton Cooper, the leader of the four men is an ex-con sociopath with a death wish.  Cooper’s crew consists of Bobby Roy Clagget (on the run after using a shotgun on his boss) and slow-witted brothers, Ronald and Russell Thomas.

Things get tense when Cooper makes a smart remark to Clay and he responds.  One thing leads to another and Clagget starts to bring his shotgun in to play.  Clay quickly disarms him and without thinking grabs the money on the table.  Karras and Clay then make a quick exit.

As they’re driving away, Clay is as shocked as Karras that he took the money.  They’re even more shocked when it turns out to be $20,000.  Clay figures he’ll return the cash once things cool down.  But there’s no cooling down a psycho who wants Karras and Clay dead and has a crew to back him up.

Pelecanos creates a great sense of time and place (Washington, D.C. in 1976).  His characters are authentic and if you’ve read some of his other books will see an overlap with characters from this one.  King Suckerman is another excellent Pelecanos crime novel and rates 4 of 5 stars.


WINTER COUNTS by David Heska Wanbli Weiden / Z-View

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ecco (August 25, 2020)

First sentence…

I leaned back in the seat of my old Ford Pinto, listening to the sounds coming from the Depot, the reservation’s only tavern.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When folks on the Rosebud Indian Reservation need help that the law can’t provide, they go to Virgil Wounded Horse.  Virgil’s solution isn’t always legal, but he gets results. While some view Virgil as a hero, others see him as a half-breed thug who has turned his back on tribal traditions.  Virgil uses the money he receives for “resolving situations” to raise his nephew, Nathan.  Both of Virgil’s parents and his sister are dead.

Virgil is offered a large amount of money to track down the source bringing heroin onto the reservation.  He follows leads that take him to Denver.  There Virgil learns that drug cartels are involved.  When Nathan is almost killed and framed for heroin possession, Virgil realizes that he may have been set up.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation so it’s no wonder Winter Counts presents such a vivid picture of life on a reservation.  And it’s not often pretty.  Weiden’s setting is unique, as are his characters, but the problems they face are universal.

Winter Counts is one of my favorite novels from last year and I’m far from the only one praising Weiden. Winter Counts won the Macavity Award for Best Novel, the Barry Award for Best Novel, the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Thriller Award for Best First Novel and was an Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel.  Winter Counts was also selected as a Best Book of 2020 by Publisher’s Weekly, CrimeReads and GoodReads.

I’m looking forward to David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s follow-up.  Winter Counts rates 5 of 5 stars.


The New Elvis Cole Novel (RACING THE LIGHT) by Robert Crais is Coming!

As you can see from the photo above Robert Crais has the cover to his next Elvis Cole book.  Racing the Light will drop on November 1, 2022.  Here’s the synopsis…

Private investigator Elvis Cole and his enigmatic partner Joe Pike are back on the case in this brilliant new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Crais.

Adele Schumacher isn’t a typical worried mom. When she hires Elvis to find her missing son, a controversial podcaster named Josh Shoe, she brings a bag filled with cash, bizarre tales of government conspiracies, and a squad of professional bodyguards. Finding Josh should be simple, but Elvis quickly learns he isn’t alone in the hunt — a deadly team of mysterious strangers are determined to find Josh and his adult film star girlfriend first.

With Elvis being watched and dangerous secrets lurking behind every lead, Elvis needs his friend Joe Pike more than ever to uncover the truth about Josh, corrupt politicians, and the vicious business cartels rotting the heart of Los Angeles from within. And when Elvis Cole’s estranged girlfriend Lucy Chenier and her son Ben return, Elvis learns just how much he has to lose…if he survives.

Written with the heart, humor, and relentless suspense for which Crais is famous, Racing The Light delivers Elvis Cole’s most dangerous case yet.

Pre-orders for Racing the Light are available now! Deal me in!


The Devil’s Own Piss and Other Stories by Whiskey Leavins

Trade Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Independently published (April 12, 2021)

First sentence…

The Devil, or should I say, a devil, needed a double-thirteen to win.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Let’s start with The Devil’s Own Piss and Other Stories‘ very cool cover.  If you see that cover art and don’t pick up the book for a closer look, then stop reading this now and go get your eyes checked.  Rafael Andres from CoverKitchen. please take a bow!

Thankfully, the stories in The Devil’s Own Piss and Other Stories are worthy of such a cool cover.  There are over 30 tales populated by Lucifestus and other devils, the dangerous Troupe Brothers, movie stars, influencers, space aliens, regular folks, famous folks from history and many others.  You won’t find everyone in every tale, but often the stories overlap.  What they do have in common is humor.

My favorite stories involved Lucifestus.  He’s an honest-to-goodness, well, maybe not goodness, but he is a devil.  Lucifestus is huge, red and barrel-chested.  He sports a pointy goatee and a blue-black slicked back ducktail.  Oh, and he has these huge horns.  You won’t see his real appearance unless he wants you to.  He could be sitting right next to you in a bar and you’d see a dude that looks like Tom Waits.  Lucifestus is a hard-drinker, who loves to gamble so he’s often found in bars or racetracks.  He doesn’t cheat, and offers tempting wagers for everything from something that would humiliate the loser to the loser’s soul.  I loved every tale with Lucifestus and am ready for more.

The other tales are funny and a nice change of pace.  As the cover indicates, The Devil’s Own Piss and Other Stories is definitely an R-Rated Book.  If you’re easily offended, then this isn’t for you.  I loved it.  Whiskey Leavins is the guy you’d want to buy a few beers (and I don’t drink) and wait for the stories to flow.


“So Cold the River” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

So Cold the River has an interesting poster and trailer.  I’m going to keep my eye out for it.

A documentary filmmaker hired to profile a reclusive, dying millionaire becomes obsessed with her subject and uncovers the shocking secrets his hometown wanted buried, unleashing an evil force with devastating consequences. Get swept up with this bone-chilling, supernatural thriller, adapted from “The New York Times” bestselling author, Michael Koryta also author of  Those Who Wish Me Dead.

ZERO SAINTS by Gabino Iglesias / Z-View

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias

Trade Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: Broken River Books

First sentence…

I didn’t hear those pinches cabrones coming.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

In Zero Saints, Gabino Iglesias created one of the most intense opening chapters in memory.   Fernando, a drug dealer/crew leader, is beaten and taken to an abandoned house.  Secured to a chair is Fernando’s friend.  Fernando is forced to watch a heavily tattooed gangbanger (with insane black eyes) slowly torture and behead his buddy. The message is clear: Give up your territory or die.

Fernando knows a war has arrived.  His odds of survival are slim.  So with his back against the wall, Fernando recruits a Russian gun thug (who owes him a favor) and a crazy blood simple buddy to join him in a last ditch chance at payback.

Iglesias takes what could be a simple tale of revenge and peppers it with gangbangers, drug dealers, hitmen and a touch of the supernatural.  Fernando isn’t your typical protagonist. He’s unable to save his friend, others close to him die and he fears the Mara Salvatrucha cartel (especially the one with the black eyes).  Fernando moves through a gritty underworld that exists in many big cities, but is only safely visited in stories like Zero Saints.

Zero Saints was my first book by Gabino Iglesias.  I look forward to reading many more (hopefully including tales of Fernando and his supporting cast… well, those who lived).


Boise Longpig Hunting Club by Nick Kolakowski / Z-View

Boise Longpig Hunting Club by Nick Kolakowski

Trade Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Down & Out Books

First sentence…

We came home from the movies to find our front door kicked open, both floors ransacked, half the food in our fridge missing.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Jake Halligan comes home to find his house ransacked and a naked, dead woman in his gun safe.  Jake’s never seen the woman before, and has no idea who killed her.  The list of thugs, gangbangers, and assorted criminals Jake has tracked down (he’s a bounty hunter) is just too large.  Then Jake learns that the woman wasn’t the only murder victim.  As he gets closer to the killer(s), Jake, his ex-wife and sister are kidnapped. Soon they find themselves involved in what can only be called The Most Dangerous Game.

Nick Kolakowski has taken a classic tale and modernized it.  The Boise Longpig Hunting Club is full of memorable characters, action and humor.  Kolakowski provides situations that we’ve seen before, but he puts an unexpected twist on them that leaves us shocked and/or smiling.  I like Jake Halligan, his supporting characters and look forward to the follow-up, Rattlesnake Rodeo (which is already sitting in my to be read pile).  As for the  Boise Longpig Hunting Club, it rates 5 of 5 stars.


RIP: Louie Anderson

Louie Anderson, born Louis Perry Anderson, died today at the age of 68, from blood cancer.  Louie was a stand-up comedian, actor, author and game show host.  

Louie Anderson began his career as a stand-up comedian but soon began making appearances with small roles in movies.  A comedy special led to more acting roles, his own animated television show (Life with Louie which ran for three seasons and won two Emmys) and a live action series (The Louie Show).  Louie continued to act on television, in feature films, as well as doing stand-up comedy and game show hosting throughout his career.  Along the way he found time to author four books!

Louie Anderson was such a likeable person that his appearances on talk shows, tv guest spots and movie roles were always welcome.  Louie’s stand-up comedy put him in a league with the very best.  He will be missed.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Louie Anderson’s family, friends and fans.

Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka / Z-View

Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

First sentence…

Tokyo station is packed.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Bullet Train is an international best seller about five assassins on a Japanese bullet train trying to retrieve a mysterious suitcase before one of the others can get to it.  Descriptions of the book that compared it to a stylish modern day yakuza film directed by Quentin Tarantino got my interest.  When I learned that Bullet Train was being made into a action thriller directed by  David (John Wick franchise) Leitch starring Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt and Zazie Beetz.  I was sold.

I went into Bullet Train with high expectations for a fast moving, exciting tale with interesting characters and action.  What I got was far from that.  The assassins are on the train.  They have names like The Prince, Tangerine and Lemon.  There’s a subplot about a hospitalized boy in danger.  Instead of action we get tons and tons of talk.  Some of the assassins (and the main psychopath) are school children.  Two that work together (Tangerine and Lemon) spend pages and pages talking about Thomas the Train.  The dialogue often seemed forced at best.

I seldom quit a book before finishing it.  I’m usually a pretty good judge of what I’ll like.  Bullet Train sounded like exactly the type of story I’d love.  Sadly it wasn’t.


Love & Bullets Megabomb Edition by Nick Kolakowski / Z-View

Love & Bullets Megabomb Edition by Nick Kolakowski

Trade Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Shotgun Honey Books

First sentence…

Listen.  At some point, a poor sap will look at you and say, “This is the worst day of my life.”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Bill is a conman on the run from the Rockaway Mob.  They want Bill dead and the two million dollars that he stole from them back.  Lucky for Bill, his girlfriend, Fiona is on the lam with him.  Fiona’s got brains and can handle herself.  As this modern day “Bonnie and Clyde” try to stay alive they find themselves at odds with crocked cops, hired assassins, other criminals, an Elvis impersonator, a government hit man and more.

The Love & Bullets Megabomb Edition is actually a reworking of three novellas featuring Bill and Fiona (A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps; Slaughterhouse Blues and Main Bad Guy), but thanks to some clever re-editing and additional material, it reads like one rollicking adventure.  I absolutely loved the characters, plus the right mix of violence, humor and heart.  Kolakowski has the ability to make all of his major characters not only unique in voice and look, but the feel that any of them could be the “star” of their own tale.  I blazed through Love & Bullets Megabomb Edition loving every page.  I was so impressed by Nick Kolakowski that I immediately ordered three more of his novels.