Category: Authors

Not Much on Futuristic SciFi

I’ve never read anything by Jeff Somers. I rarely read scifi. Especially futuristic scifi. Yet, I think that I might really enjoy The Electric Church by Jeff Somers. It’s described in THIS REVIEW as “BLADE RUNNER meets THE DIRTY DOZEN, with a dash of Sergio Leone” — so I ask, who wouldn’t like that mix?

I decided to READ THE FIRST CHAPTER FOR FREE. The I decided to read JEFF SOMERS’ BLOG. I’m still interested in reading The Electric Church so my next Amazon order will probably include it… even though I’m not much on futuristic scifi.

Secret Dead Men

Nothing is as it seems in Duane Swierczynski’s first novel Secret Dead Men. Del Farmer appears to be an FBI agent investigating a mob hit. In reality Farmer is a dead reporter trying to discover the reason behind his own murder. Yeah, you read that correctly. Farmer is a dead guy. Well…

…he isn’t just a dead guy.

See, Farmer has the ability to collect souls of the recently departed. In his quest to discover the secrets behind his own murder, Farmer has collected the souls of about a dozen others…

… and they live in his brain hotel.

See, the brain hotel is a mental construct, that appears like a typical hotel and allows the recently departed to have a semblance of life. People in the brain hotel go on about living [although it’s just their memories for the most part] but they can also interact with each other. Sometimes, if their skills are better suited to getting him out of whatever jam he’s in, Farmer even uses them to pilot the body that he currently inhabits…

…and if you’re still with me, then my guess is you’ll enjoy the novel.

I loved Swierczynski’s The Wheelman and The Blonde. And although Secret Dead Men falls a bit short of being as good, we should remember that Secret Dead Men was Swierczynski’s first novel. It’s definitely worth a look.

The Blonde

I loved Duane Swierczynski’s The Wheelman which opened in the middle of a bank robbery gone wrong and was a fast paced, violent, at times humorous and always unpredictable story. So I couldn’t wait to read Swierczynski’s next novel The Blonde. I’m happy to say that I was hooked from the opening sentence [one of the best in recent memory]:

“I poisoned your drink.”

From there we are taken on a wild ride as Jack Eisley attempts to learn why he was poisoned by a beautiful blonde named Kelly White and why she is infected and on the run from a covert government agency’s hitman. The Blonde is fast paced, lean and will keep you on the edge of your seat as the pages fly by. Duane Swierczynski has another winner that left me excited to start on Secret Dead Men!
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Update: Duane Swierczynski just posted up the paperback cover to The Blonde which will be available October 30th!

Sharing Personal Joy Buzzers

In Stephen King’s August 10, 2007 column for Entertainment Weekly, he could be talking about why I enjoy daily blogging. King says:

“…the real purpose of these things we write about – to cause a sudden burst of happy emotion, a sudden rush to the head…”

King goes on to say that IT can be a movie, a song, or a book, but whatever IT is causes us to smile and become caught up in the moment. King said that it happened to him when he saw Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” and it happens every time he hears Van Halen’s “Jump” or gets ready to watch the latest episode of “The Shield.”

I know exactly where King is coming from. I felt the same rush the first time I saw “Rocky.” I can’t help but smile whenever I hear “Grooveline.” I still dig the original “Star Trek” and not much is better than Byrne and Austin’s run on “X-Men,”or Moench and Gulacy on “Master of Kung Fu.” Charlie Huston, Barry Eisler, and David Morrell are just three authors who can bring about “the rush.”

We all have things that give us the rush. King calls them our “personal joy buzzers.” The great thing about blogging is that we get to share our personal joy buzzers and re-experience “the rush.”

And that’s why I enjoy daily blogging.

Anyone Going to Stumptown?

Greg Rucka, one of my favorite novelists, has announced that he’ll be writing a new detective series called Stumptown that takes place in the same world as his novels!

Although Rucka has been writing award-winning [Whiteout — soon to be a major motion picture] and fan favorite comics [Queen & Country, Gotham Central, etc] for some time, it is his five Atticus Kodiac novels [Finder, Keeper, Smoker, Shooting at Midnight, and Critical Space] that put him on my “must buy” list.

Rucka has a new Atticus Kodiac novel, Patriot Acts, coming out next month, but until then, check out his interview at ComicBookResources where you can not only hear Rucka’s plans for the series, but check out some of the art as well.

Pike Takes the Lead

Robert Crais is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read [and enjoyed] all of his novels… and I’m proud to say that I’ve been with his sigature characters Elvis Cole and Joe Pike since their first appearance in The Monkey’s Raincoat. In each previous novel, Cole was always center stage with Pike coming in to back-up his partner. Pike was the tough, no-nonsense hardened gunman. We knew little about him other than he had a strict code of honor, he was loyal and he never backed up.

With The Watchman, Crais turns the tables and gives Joe Pike center stage when he agrees to protect a young heiress who has become the target of a hit squad. Seems she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now the US Government wants her as a witness and a terrorist wants her dead. Pike is more than up to the task of protecting her [especially with Elvis Cole backing him]. The book is fast paced and just as good as the previous novels featuring Cole and Pike. I just wonder if long time readers are going to like the way Crais has filled in some of the blanks about Pike’s life. As for me, I can’t wait for their next “case” — no matter who is at center stage.

Huston Continues His Streak

Charlie Huston just keeps hitting homeruns.

No, he’s not a baseball player. Huston’s a writer. And a very good one. I told you about how much I enjoyed Huston’s writing HERE. Now he’s back with his second Joe Pitt novel called No Dominion. It’s even better than Already Dead [and you know how much I liked it]!

So who is Joe Pitt? Let’s let Huston tell you in his own words:

Joe is a kind of a detective. Kind of. In the same way he’s kind of alive. Duck around the issue as long as you want, sooner or later it’s gonna bite you. See, Joe’s a vampire. Yeah, a blood sucker. But not in the usual way, least not in the way you’re thinking from the books and the movies. Joe’s got a sickness, same sickness a lot of other poor slobs got. And all of them are creeping around Manhattan, trying to stay out of the public eye, out of the sun. Got themselves organized into Clans, each one laying claim to some turf. Wanna stay alive, gotta be with a Clan. Except Joe. He doesn’t hold with that way of life. That way is no life at all as far as he’s concerned. Ha, life, that’s funny. Sort of.

At any rate, you can read more about Joe Pitt while you’re checking out Charlie Huston’s web site. While you’re there, be sure and check out his Hank Thompson trilogy. [You should start with Caught Stealing, then Six Bad Things, and finish with A Dangerous Man.] They’re as good as the Joe Pitt books. And it doesn’t get much better than that!

King Loves Huston

One of the cool things about running the ZONE is getting to be one of the first to tell you about cool movies, comics, tv shows, artists and authors.

I’ve been talking up Charlie Huston since his first novel, Caught Stealing. I selected him as my favorite author of 2006 HERE. Guess who else is a Charlie Huston fan. Stephen King!
Stephen King said this about Charlie Huston in a recent interview: “When you came in we were talking about Charlie Huston, this guy who has written a trilogy. One’s called Caught Stealing and one’s called Six Bad Things and the last one, which I’m reading now, is called The Dangerous Man. I feel the same way…” …you don’t want the series to end.

Just another example of ZONErs being ahead of the pack!

Already Dead Gets New Life

Remember when I first told you here about how much I enjoyed Charlie Huston’s writing? And then here when I wrote that Huston placed 2 books in my top five for 2006? [Actually it was 4 out of the top 7, if you want to get technical about it.]

Anyway, seems like I’m not the only one enjoying Huston’s work. Already Dead has been optioned for a potential movie franchise. 

Just another example of ZONErs being ahead of the crowd!

Root for the Bad Guy… Again

“Payback” is one of my favorite Mel Gibson films. Based on the novel by Richard Stark, it’s a worthy adaptation of a crime classic. The story behind the making of the movie is almost as interesting.

Screenwriter, Brian Helgeland, hot of the success of “LA Confidential” wanted to direct. Pairing him with Mel Gibson on “Payback” seemed a natural. Things went well until late into filming when either Gibson, the studio or both decided that Gibson’s character needed to be more likeable and the film needed more action.

Helgeland disagreed. Guess who won out?

Yep, Gibson and the studio. So Mel went behind the camera and filmed some additional scenes and the tone of the movie changed.

As I said, “Payback” is one of my favorite Mel Gibson movies… but I always thought it would be cool to see Brian Helgeland’s vision. Perhaps, it too, would be one of my favorites.

According to Harry at Ain’t It Cool News, we’ll soon find out! “Payback: Straight Up – The Director’s Cut” is comming out in a few months. And unlike some “director’s cuts” where a few minutes of footage [that wasn’t good enough to make the original release!] is added, this is going to be a complete overhaul. It will be Helgeland’s vision .

And I can’t wait to see it!

A Dangerous Man

Tomorrow, the third [and last] book in Charlie Huston‘s Hank Thompson trilogy [Caught Stealing; Six Bad Things; A Dangerous Man] becomes available. And while I can’t wait to read it, I am sad that the series will come to an end. I do applaud Huston for having the integrity to say, the story has been told and that’s that. Still, the fan in me hopes that if Hank’s still alive at the end of A Dangerous Man, there may be more story to tell.I’m also looking forward to the second book in Huston’s Joe Pitt series, No Dominion. It’ll be out this December.

Vampires, Anyone?

I’ve been into vampires lately. Remember back here when I told you about the new Blade comic series that Howard Chaykin was going to draw? 

I’m currently reading Underland by Mick Farren. It’s got modern day vampires, as well as modern day Nazis, conspiracy theories, UFO’s and more. I’m digging it and am only about 1/2 way through.

Before Underland I read Already Dead by Charlie Huston. Huston has quickly become one of my favorite writers. Already Dead also features a modern day vampire, uh vampyre. As much as I’m enjoying Underland, Already Dead is even better. It combines The Godfather, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and the end result is pure Charlie Huston. I highly recommend this one!Okay… enough about me and vampires. I’d write more but I’m off to watch the latest episode of Blade.

RIP Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane died yesterday. He was 88 years old and had cancer, so the news shouldn’t come as quite a shock. It’s just that Mickey Spillane was one of those guys that seemed like he could live forever.

Although Mr. Spillane started his career as a comic book writer, it was his Mike Hammer novels that made him a superstar. The first, “I, the Jury” was a hit with readers everywhere, critics be damned. Spillane followed up with 12 other Mike Hammer books… 9 other novels… and a bunch of short stories. Most folks don’t realize that Mr. Spillane also wrote two young adult novels [one which won a prize from the Junior Literary Guild].

As much as I enjoyed Spillane‘s books, I liked his attitude even more. He considered himself a writer, not an author. Spillane was more concerned with royalty checks than reviews… and his fans dearly loved him.

I miss him already.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mickey Spillane‘s family, friends and fans.

Long Live the King… Or Off With His Head?

There was a time when I loved all things Stephen King. It started with Carrie which I read in 8th grade. I thought it was a really cool book. When I was a junior in high school I saw Carrie at a Midnight Movie. I loved it. It was my introduction to Brian DePalma. I still laugh when I think that I nearly jumped into the next row when Carrie‘s bloody hand came shooting out of the grave.

In college I got into King in a big way. I was reading everything that he published. The Shinning [great book — I read it in a single night! and a pretty scary movie], Salem’s Lot [another excellent novel with a cool, modern twist on vampires — and a decent tv mini-series] The Dead Zone [perhaps the best movie adaptation of a King novel] … and the hits just kept on coming [although the movies weren’t always as good]… The Stand, Cujo, Pet Sematary, Firestarter, Christine, It, etc. etc. etc.

Then for some reason, I stopped reading King. I really don’t know why. It just happened. I have a bunch of his novels and even some short story collections sitting on the shelf waiting to join the other King novels in a place of honor on my bookcase. But there they sit.

I did buy and immediately read Cell when it came out in hardcover. I was hoping for a more traditional zombie story, but never the less, I did really enjoy it.

Tomorrow night ABC is presenting a three hour adaptation of Desperation. For some reason, I’m really looking forward to it. Most likely I’ll record it for viewing some late weekend night. I haven’t read the book, but if the movie is works, perhaps it’ll give me just enough reason to pull it off the shelf and see if the novel is good enough to make it to the book case.