Category: Authors

Severance Package

The Pitch: “Three Days of the Condor“ meets “Die Hard.“

The Overview: Seven staffers for a small financial firm are called in for an early Saturday morning meeting. They convene in the conference room on the 36th floor of the isolated and deserted office building. The meeting is called to order and the CEO tells them that the company is closing down and unfortunately all of them are going to have to die. The good news, if you can call it that is that they can drink poison that will kill them instantly. The bad news is a bullet to the brain awaits those who want to opt out. Should they try to run and are lucky enough to get out of the office, the floor and all doors out have been laced with poisonous gas and booby traps. Bottoms up, anyone?

The Good: Swierczynski’s novels move and Severance Package is no exception. The security guard, Vincent Marella, [a familiar face if you‘ve read The Blonde] tries to overome his fears and do the right thing. The cover and illustrations by Dennis Calero. What people are willing to go through to survive. The twists that Swierczynski throws in to keep things interesting. Stuart’s belief that it’s all a training exercise and how he plans to excel. The last page.

The Bad: Performing a tracheotomy on yourself. The Vincent Marella’s luck. What happens to Jamie’s hand/fingers.

The Ugly: “She was fixated so much, she didn’t fully notice when something cold and wet lashed across her wrists.”

The Summary: I’ve been singing praises for Duane Swierczynski since I discovered The Wheelman just under two years ago. I loved it. I then sought out Secret Dead Men and was impressed. From that point on, I have purchased Swierczynski’s novels as each was released [The Blonde and now Severance Package]. Each one has left me looking forward to the next. What better praise can there be for a writer? [Click HERE if you’d like to hear how Duane Swierczynski came up with the idea for Severance Package.]

Another Road scored six photos from The Road, the big screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s best selling, award-winning novel of the same name. Viggo Mortensen [is this guy on a roll, or what?], headlines a cast that includes Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce.

My hope is that it will be as good as the last adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel [No Country for Old Men]. Is that too much to ask?

Robert B. Parker’s Resolution

The Pitch: Themes from Robert B. Parker’s Spenser written as a western.

The Good: Robert B. Parker‘s writing. It‘s sparse and conversational, but I really like it. The verbal interplay between Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole. How Hitch becomes the town “protector.” What happens when the person you sided with turns out to be the “bad guy.” Cole‘s reputation as a gunfighter. “Sometimes you got to kill one person early, to save killing four or five later.” When Cato and Rose ride in. Major Lujack and his twenty versus Everett, Virgil, Cato and Rose.

The Bad: Virgil Cole‘s love for Allie.

The Ugly: What happens to someone blasted with an eight-gauge shotgun.

The Summary: Resolution is a direct sequel to Appaloosa. It’s Parker’s third western. His first was Gunman’s Rhapsody which took a look at the events involving Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the Clantons and an incident at the OK Corral. You may have heard something of it. At any rate, all three books get my recommendation. [And you really should read Appaloosa before Resolution!]

If You Love Crime Fiction

Darwyn Cooke has just announced that he’ll be adapting Richard Stark’s “Parker” crime series into graphic novels.

Man-oh-man-oh-man! Talk about great news! How can it get any better than the combination of one of my favorite artists [with a love for the crime genre] adapting one of the most iconic characters in crime fiction?

You can read more about the pairing of Cooke and Parker here and here.

Get the Digital Plague

The Pitch: “D.O.A” meets Avery Cates with the world in the balance.

The Overview: In Jeff Somers‘ sequel to The Electric Church, Avery Cates is kidnapped and injected with nanobots that infect and slowly kill anyone near him. First it’s his friends who begin to get sick and die. Then people who have come into contact with his friends. Cates must find someone with a cure and then figure out why he was chosen to be the source of the outbreak. If he can do those two things, there’s a good chance he can save himself and the world. If he can’t, he’ll die trying… and either way, he plans to kill a lot of people.

The Good: Jeff Somers‘ writing. Avery Cates. The opening line: “I was going to have to kill a whole lot of people.” The story moves. Happling and Hense. The twists. How zombies are worked into the story and the explanation for them. The reason behind Cates being selected for the source of the plague. Jae Lee is back with a cover illustration.

The Bad: What happens to those infected with the nanobots. What Avery Cates is put through.

The Ugly: What happens to city populations as the plague runs rampant.

The Summary: I predicted that The Electric Church would make my list of Best Books of 2008. I liked the The Digital Plague even better!

I can’t wait to see what Jeff Somers has in store for Avery Cates in his next adventure, The Eternal Prison. In the mean time, I have Jeff Somers ‘ blog to tide me over.

Updated Links

I’ve updated my blog and artist links sections with a bunch of really cool sites. I’m sure that you’ll find at least a couple that you’ll bookmark for return visits. [Hopefully not at the expense of visits here.]

Joe Ain’t the Pitts

The Pitch: Updated Raymond Chandler meets Stephen King.The Overview: Vampyres live among us. The world doesn’t know that they exist, but they do. They can’t turn into bats or mist. Crosses don’t kill them; in fact bullets don’t either… usually. They’re strong; they’re fast and victims of a vyrus. Most are members of one of the many clans… safety in numbers and all that. Word is that a clan war is brewing, and that’s the least of Joe Pitt’s problems.The Good: Charlie Huston can write. Joe Pitt’s attitude [which is bad]. Stretch the midget vampyre. What Joe is willing to risk for Evie. The attack at the side show.

The Bad: The vampyre freaks. The side show. The beating Joe takes.

The Ugly: Joe Pitt’s vengeance.

The Summary: Half the Blood of Brooklyn is an excellent example of why Charlie Huston is one of my favorite writers. He’s created a world of vampyres that could exist outside my window NOW. The only caveat is that the books are best read in order: Already Dead; No Dominion; Half the Blood of Brooklyn.

Look Out for Femme Noir

Next month, the first issue of Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries, written by Chris Mills and drawn by Joe Staton, will be listed in Diamond Comics Distribution’s Previews. If you get Previews, I’d like you to check it out. My guess is after doing so, you’ll want to order a copy. If you don’t get previews, then please ask your local comic shop owner to take a look at it.

Femme Noir is a cartoon crime comic inspired by Eisner’s The Spirit, Gould’s Dick Tracy, plus a healthy mix of cliffhanger serials, B-movies, pulp magazines, and more. Each issue will feature a 28 page standalone story [how rare is that!] plus two pin-ups by guest artists!

Issues #1 and #3 are inked by Horacio Ottolini, issues #2 and #4 by Mark Stegbauer. Colors are provided by Melissa Kaercher and Matt Webb. As an added bonus, each issue is offered with two covers: one pencilled by Joe Staton and then digitally painted by Alfredo Lopez Jr, with the second by a guest artist. Those guest artists are Brian Bolland, Matt Haley, Phil Hester, and the late Mike Wieringo. [Some fans will buy the issues just for the guest covers!]

The official Femme Noir website is Check out the website and if you like what you see, help me spread the word. [And no, I’m not getting any kickbacks. I like Chris Mills’ work — especially his crime comic Gravedigger — and I’d like to see Chris and Joe Staton get the audience they deserve on Femme Noir. If it wasn’t a worthy comic, I wouldn’t be talking it up… and you wouldn’t still be reading this.]

The Electric Church

The Pitch: “Blade Runner” meets “The Dirty Dozen”

The Overview: In the near future the two most powerful organizations on the planet are the United Federation of Nations and The Electric Church. The United Federation of Nations controls the population through the use of their brutal and corrupt System Security Force [think elite military police]. The Electric Church is a new religion growing at an exponential rate due to its promise of salvation through eternal life [as a cyborg]. Avery Cates is a “gunner” – hired muscle available for a price – trying to stay under the radar of both groups. When he mistakenly kills one of the SS cops he finds himself given one option for survival: break in to the stronghold of the Electric Church and assassinate it’s leader.

The Good: Jeff Somers‘ writing. Avery Cates and his band of outlaws. The story moves. The cover illustration by Jae Lee.

The Bad: What happens to converts to The Electric Church.

The Ugly: The way most of the population lives.

The Summary: My guess is the The Electric Church will make my list of Best Books of 2008. I can’t wait to read its sequel, “The Digital Plague.”

Matt Hughes: Legacy?

We may have seen the last of Matt Hughes as far as MMA fighting goes. Still there are other options that would keep him active in the sport. Hughes would make an excellent commentator. He has already written one well-received book.

But if Matt Hughes decides to retire totally from the limelight, how will he be remembered? I think Dave Doyle sums it up perfectly HERE.

We’re All Fans

Duane Swierczynski is one of my favorite novelists. Recently Duane got the opportunity to write some comics… specifically the Punisher. In this interview he talks about his first experience with the Punisher:

“It was Steve Grant’s Circle of Blood epic from 1985, which opens with Frank in the slammer, squaring off against Jigsaw and his goons, and ends with a punch in the gut right out of a Mickey Spillane novel. I don’t want to ruin it for you if you’ve never read it, but man. That Jeep. Perched on the side of the bridge. In the rain. It doesn’t get any more noir than that.”
Most ZONErs probably know that my buddies, Mike Zeck and John Beatty were the artists on Circle of Blood. So one of my favorite novelists is a not only a fan of comic books but also of two of my buddies. Stuff like that is cool.

7 Deadly Wonders

Reading books written by Mathew Reilly is like watching an all-out action movie while riding a rollercoaster. His books are bigger than life, move at breakneck speed, keep you turning the pages — and just when you then there is no way out for the hero, Reilly kicks it up a notch and comes up with another over the top set piece as the story hurtles forward.


Reilly’s books are fun and his latest 7 Deadly Wonders is no exception. A rare solar event called the Tartarus Rotation is set to occur shortly. Several teams are racing to gather 7 pieces of a capstone hidden around the world. If they can recover and join the pieces in time for the Tartarus Rotation they will be given power such as the world has never before seen. There’s a team from the United States, a team from England and a team of multi-national adventurers. [We’ll be pulling for the multi-national team not because they’re outgunned and out manned, but because they’re the good guys.]

And that’s all you really need to know. If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline-charged roller coaster ride that’ll make you put down the video game paddles and keep turning pages, then give Mathew Reilly’s 7 Deadly Sins a try.

PS – I just discovered that Amazon has it on sale at a HUGE DISCOUNT — click HERE for full details!