Les Edgerton’s Hard Times is a fantastic read. It takes place in Texas in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. It is primarily the story of Amelia Laxault, a bright farmgirl who, at the age of fourteen, is forced to marry Arnold Critchin, a violent drunk. Hard Times also tells the tale of Lucious Tremaine, an escaped convict just trying to survive. Both stories are gripping and involving tales of endurance with a strong sense of time, place, and authenticity. Hard Times is a powerful, moving and unflinching look at the lives of ordinary people pushed to the edge of a precipice, and is very highly recommended.
PRE-ORDER NOW! Available 06/22/2018. LAST YEAR’S MAN by Paul D. Brazill — Published by All Due Respect, an imprint of Down & Out Books (June 2018).
eBook Formats — SPECIAL PRE-ORDER PRICING: $2.99
A troubled, ageing hit man leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him.
Last Year’s Man is a violent and blackly comic slice of Brit Grit noir.
Praise for LAST YEAR’S MAN:
“It’s all here, everything you’ve come to expect from a Paul D. Brazill caper—the fast pace, the witty banter, the grim humour and the classic tunes—except this time he’s REALLY outdone himself. Unlike the lament in the song the title takes its name from, Paul’s best years are surely still ahead of him.” —Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy
“Paul D. Brazill is the Crown Prince of Noir. That’s my opinion, granted, but I stand by it. For those who require proof, just pick up his latest novel, Last Year’s Man, and it will be clear why I make that statement. All hail the crown prince!” —Les Edgerton, author of The Bitch, Just Like That and others
“Brazill is brilliant, a unique voice which stands out from the crowd.” —Keith Nixon, author of the Solomon Gray books
Who makes the best beer in the world? Maybe the Czechs or Belgians.
But when it comes to short stories, well, the American’s pretty much rule the roost, they really do. Flannery O’ Connor, Raymond Carver, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Kyle Minor. Loads and loads more.
And you can add Les Edgerton to that list, of course.
Monday’s Meal by Les Edgerton was first published in 1997 and contains twenty-one tales of dirt realism. Sharp slices of American life. They’re set in New Orleans and Texas. Sometimes in bars or behind bars. They’re about café owners, hairdressers, nightclub musicians, prisoners, ex-cons, drifters and drinkers.
Monday’s Meal opens and closes with ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Monday’s Meal,’ tales of strained relationships. But the real meat is sandwiched between them. And Monday’s Meal is a particularly meaty collection.
Some favourites: ‘The Mockingbird Café’ is the story of a man in a low-rent bar trying to mind his own business; ‘Hard Times’ is bleak and scary and brilliantly written; ‘The Last Fan’ is a tragic look at a shattered marriage; ‘My Idea Of A Nice Thing’ is a touching and sad story of an alcoholic’s crumbling life;’Telemarketing,’ is the story of a young couple just trying to get by; ‘I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger,’ is a fun Runyonesque crime story.
And there’s plenty more to enjoy in Monday’s Meal. Edgerton has a strong and sure grasp of the lives of people who are standing on the edge of a precipice.
The eBook of Monday’s Meal is to be published by the splendid Down and Out Books. It’s currently being offered as a prepub sale. It goes on regular sale on April 23.
New from Down & Out Books
Synopsis … Jake and his pal Bud’s journey begins six months after he is released on parole and is occasioned when his girlfriend Donna dumps him and aborts their child. After a suicide attempt where the Norelco shaver cord he used to hang himself breaks, on an impulse—everything in Jake’s life happens “just like that”—he calls up Bud, who lives by the same credo, and the two take off with no particular destination in mind. They’re just going “south”—somewhere where it’s warm. An hour before they leave, Jake on another impulse, holds up a convenience store to get some traveling money. Ultimately, they end up in New Orleans and then Lake Charles, Louisiana and from there, back to Indiana.
Along the way are many “watercooler” moments and near the end Jake takes a fall when he is caught burglarizing a bar back in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, gets shot in the leg and is returned to Pendleton where he kills the inmate he had a nasty encounter with during his first stay in prison.
Just Like That is based on an actual trip the author took with an ex-prison cellmate under similar circumstances as protagonist Jake Mayes does in the narrative. The scenes in Pendleton are also based on true experiences he had while incarcerated. Approximately 85% of the novel is taken from real life. Portions of the book have previously appeared as short stories in the literary magazines Murdaland, Flatmancrooked, and High Plains Literary Review, the latter of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was selected for inclusion in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Mystery Stories, 2001.
Praise for JUST LIKE THAT …
“Edgerton’s got a story to tell you so get ready; it’s coming at you fast. Get ready…” —Linwood Barclay, international bestseller
“Edgerton draws memorable portraits of these dangerous and unpredictable characters.” —Library Journal
“Just Like That is yet another Les Edgerton winner. In his prison memoir, Edgerton conjures up in honest, Bukowski-esque prose a mad dog life lived behind and beyond the bars of institutional correctional facilities. Literature’s version of Johnny Cash, America has yet another gifted bard to sing the blues of time served. I have long believed Edgerton to be an American original, who has for too long remained one of our best kept literary secrets.” —Cortright McMeel, author of Short
“Just Like That has it all. Great dialogue, whipcrack scenes and meaty characters haul you along on a hardboiled crime road-trip worthy of the Elmore Leonard and Joe R Lansdale. A shot to the heart as well as the head, Just Like That is highly recommended.” —Paul D. Brazill, author of A Case of Noir
“Edgerton establishes the kind convincing, and wrenching, interiority with his characters achieved by only the most adept fiction writers.” —Peter Donahue, Sam Houston State University
“Edgerton’s best stories are uncompromising in their casual amorality. They stare you down over the barrel of a gun, rip you up whether or not the trigger gets squeezed.” —Diane Lefer, UCLA and Vermont College, author of The Circles I Move In
“Les Edgerton creates a vivid and compelling world. We feel the rhythm of his language and live in the skins of his characters. Altogether, a memorable experience.” —Gladys Swan, Missouri University and Vermont College, author of A Visit to Stranger
“Les Edgerton writes like a poet with a mean streak, and his prose goes down easy and smooth like good liquor as it carves up your insides.” —Henry Perez, bestselling author of Mourn the Living
“The characters in Edgerton’s world bite down hard and grind up one another with their back teeth. Their authenticity is palpable as soft-shelled clams; these are sad, mean, fully human characters who long for connection almost as fiercely as they fear it.” —Melody Henion Stevenson, author of The Life Stone of Singing Bird
The Stanton Brothers are back and they have a plan to rip-off a drug deal that takes place at Billingham Forum. But,as ever, things soon spiral violently out of control. Martin Stanley’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Billingham Forum is simply fantastic. A violent and funny masterclass in Brit Grit crime fiction that is full of sharp dialogue and great characters.
Cory returns to the small town he grew up in and digs through the ashes of his past. Les Edgerton’s The Death Of Tarpons is a brilliantly written, vividly evocative, and very moving coming-of- age story with a razor-sharp edge.
Mordent is a private detective on the trail of a serial killer whose victims are the survivors of attacks from other serial killers. His investigation eventually leads him to a strange religious cult known as The Church Of Wire. Andrew Hook’s Church Of Wire is a quirky, clever and vividly cinematic twist on the PI tale that would make a great HBO television series.
Sylvie works for Concierge, former New Romantic superstars who are in the middle of a career comeback. She is also engaged to one of the band, moody Nick. However things swiftly turn pear-shaped when Sylvie starts to suspect that Nick’s mansion is haunted. Zoe Howe’s Shine On, Marquee Moon is a freewheeling blend of romantic comedy, French farce and musical satire that is choc-full of laugh out loud moments.
What goes on, eh? Well, lots of things I guess. Looking back on the year so far, the biggest thing that pops into my mind is that we seem to live in a golden age of literature. I read an average of from four to six novels a week and the age of eBooks has ushered in a time of almost embarrassing riches. I’ve read more good and great novels in the past year than I can ever remember having access to.
Ebooks have ushered in an era unparalleled in history. We have more books available to us than at any time in mankind and they are relatively cheap, compared to former times. Man! I just wish I was younger so I could have more time to read. I feel like a hog in thigh-high slop! The landscape of the mind has never been richer.
Just this past year, and glancing at my Kindle, I’ve been able to read work by you, by Anthony Neil Smith, Joe Lansdale, Tony Black, Christopher Moore, Dietrich Kalteis, William Kent Krueger, Liam Sweeny, Chris Pavone, C.J. Box, Linwood Barclay, Jesse Sublett, David Baldacci, Gregg Andrew Hurwitz, Steve Weddle, Court Merrigan, Dave Jagger, Tess Makoyesky, Chris Pimental, Garreh Spark, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sam Hawken, Reavis Wortham, Martin Stanley, Jeffrey Deaver, Hubert Selby, Jr., Neely Tucker, Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Kellerman, Robert Crais, Ed McBain, Ian Ayres, Michael Punke, Joseph Finder, Lewis Grizzard, John Sandford, Robert B. Parker, Gar Anthony Haywood, Owen Laukkanen, James Lee Burke, Bill Crider, John Connolly, James Guiliani, Michael Connelly, James Grippando, Diane Lefer, James Sallis, Ace Atkins, Jean Genet, Pearl S. Buck, Jack Bludis, Bruce DeSilva, Richard Price, John Fante, Craig McDonald, Eryk Pruitt, Dave Barry, Lee Child, Richard Kalich, Matt Hilton, William E. Wallace, Milton Burton, Trey R. Barker, Mark Ramsden, George Weir, Darcey Steinke, Don Winslow, John Rector, Janey Mack, Maegan Beaumont, Patti Abbott, Max Booth III, Tom Piccirilli, John Roane, Jack Ketchum, Dante, Patrick Shawn Bagley, William Gay, Graham Wynd, Andrew Vachss, Rob Pierce, Bill Loehfelm, Harrison Scott Key, Walter Tevis, Tim Dorsey, Jeff Abbott, Matthew Stokoe, Martin Stanley, Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben, Larry Brown, Ken Bruen, Benjamin Sobiek, Duane Swierczynski, Ed Lynskey, Benjamin Whitmer, Allan Leverone, John Banville, Elmore Leonard, Bob Trulock, John Milton, John Bunyan, Josh Stallings, Carl Hiassen, Brian Evenson, Nigel Bird, Charlie Louvin, Declan Hughes, Tim O’Mara, Richard Thomas, Walter Mosley, Rob Brunet, Jake Hinkson, Jack Getze, Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, T. Jefferson Parker, Anonymous 9, Allan Guthrie, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Scott Alderberg, Richard Stark, Larry McMurtry, Judy Kelly, Grant Blackwood, Craig Furchtenicht, Richard Godwin, Ryan Bracha, Darren Sant, Nate Flecker, J.M. Taylor, Marjorie Brody, George Pelecanos, Mark Matthews, Ed Kurtz, Dana King, Frank Bill, Jedidiah Ayres, Jim Thompson, Charles Portis, Ro Cuzon, Michael McGarrity, Scott Alderberg, Scott Phillips, Craig Johnson, Rob Boley, Matthew Louis, Nic Pizzolatto, Don Carpenter, Charlie Stella, Alan Russell, D.B. Corey, Dana Kin, Keith Nixon, Tom Franklin, C.J. Howell, Frank DeBlase, Derek Raymond, Thomas Cobb, P.F. Kluge, Jenny Milchman, Jim Nisbet, J. David Osborne, Warren Moore, Henry Rollins, Howard Owen, David Sedaris, Donald Ray Pollock, Thomas Mullen, Steve Hamilton, David Housewright, Carl Hiassen, Robert Rotstein, Lee Goldberg, Ruth Jacobs, Dave Bushi, John Gilstrap, Adam Gittlin, Alan S. Evans, Martha Powers, Mark T. Conard, Garnett Elliott, Carole Mallory, Urban Waite, Jason Starr, Sara Gran, Honore De Balzac, Robin Martin, Johnny Shaw, Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Dostoevsky, Terrence McCauley, Robert Olen Butler, Jack Tunney, David James Keaton, Ryan Sayles, Brian Panowich, Kevin Lee Helmick, Patricia Highsmith, Kaira Rouda, Ambrose Bierce, Rick Bylina, Eric Beetner, J.L. Abramo, Simenon, Sean Dolittle, Carl Brush, Chris Rhatigan, Gerald Brennan, Charles Wileford, Jackson Meeks, Gil Brewer, James Crumley, Matthew McBride, Lesley Ann Sharrock, Pearce Hansen, B.R. Stateham, Julia Madeleine, Ray Banks, Edward A. Grainger, Ed Lynskey, Don Bruns, Luca Veste, Keith Rawson, Danny Gardner and, and, and… Actually, there’s more and I’m leaving off several I’ve read this year but just running out of room.
The ones named, I’ve not only been privileged to read their work, but in almost all cases have read all of their books.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to. Oh, and I had a new book come out myself, titled BOMB!, from Tom Pitts, Joe Clifford and the gang at Gutter Books. Working on a couple of new novels and just returned from Iowa where I was interviewing folks for a new version of a baseball book I wrote several years ago on the history of Perfect Game USA. Working with an established screenwriter on a joint effort.
Getting ready to head down to San Antonio in May to do an annual 8-day workshop/retreat, the long-established Writers Retreat Workshop, led by Jason Sitzes and Gail Provost. Really looking forward to that as Joe Lansdale is going to be in attendance this year unless he has to fly off to Hollywood, which is entirely possible. Gonna do a Noir @ the Bar hosted by legendary Scotty Montgomery who runs the Mystery People portion of Texas’ biggest indie bookstore, Book People. Gonna get drunk up in there!
My biggest honor of the year (and probably ever) is that Anthony Neil Smith (Doc Noir for his friends) dedicated his fantastic novel, HOLY DEATH to me. That counts as my life’s biggest honor and I’m truly humbled by it.
Thanks for this, Paul. And, I’m going to feel bad when I realize I’ve left off somebody from the list of those I’ve read this year. Those were just the eBooks on my Kindle, most of them.
I recently released my noir novella THE WHISTLING SANDS. Usually, my stories are set in northeast Wales, along the English- Welsh Border; however, THE WHISTLING SANDS is set in West Wales, although the main protagonist, Ned Flynn is from northeast Wales and has all the cultural and social baggage that usually accompanies that. The novella is an homage to Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, a modern take on the classic noir tale featuring the femme fatale. It’s also about obsessions, lies, trust, deceit, the stories we tell each other, and more importantly, the stories we tell ourselves. Like so much of my work, landscape plays a vital role in the novella; especially how place affects us, remote rural and coastal settings triggering our darker impulses. There’s also an homage to M R James and the psychological effects of the unknown.
Now that I’ve completed my Ph.D., I’m writing a new set of novels entitled WELCOME TO HOLY HELL. These are a noir, crime, hardboiled mix. Three separate tales set in northeast Wales in the 1970s,1980s, and 1990s. The first novel is set during the drought and long hot summer of 1976. I’m enjoying researching and writing it, as it’s something I’ve wanted to write for a while. It draws its influences from Barry Hines’s KES and Jim Thompson’s THE GETAWAY, and of course, the influence of place, and regional identity play a key role. After that, I want to write a few more Flynn novellas as his story isn’t over.
I’m taking a break from short stories for a while to concentrate on the above novels and novellas.
Although, having said that, I’ve recently placed a short story in the forthcoming PLOTS WITH GUNS, which I’m very excited about. It’s a noirish coming-of-age tale, again set in the long drought of 1976 in northeast Wales.
I’m also compiling a short story collection which I’ll be pitching to any interested parties shortly
BIO: Math Bird lives with his wife and family in northeast Wales. His stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Radio 4 Extra, and Radio Wales, and published in various magazines and anthologies.
Recent stories can be found in: Shotgun Honey, Plots With Guns, Plan B Mystery Magazine, All Due Respect (7) and his Pushcart Nominated Story ‘The Devilfish’ is available in Pulp Modern (9).
Super-smart sociopath Reader Kincaid thinks he’s worked out how to commit the perfect crime but during the set-up he kills a retired cop’s brother.
Les Edgerton’s Bomb! twists and turns as tight as a corkscrew.
With the flavor of Elmore Leonard at his peak, Bomb! is a sumptuous crime fiction feast. Rich in characterization, plot, dialogue and with a great sense of place.
Les Edgerton’s Bomb! is a crime fiction classic and well done to Gutter Books for publishing it.
And anyone interested in the writing/ publishing game would be well advised NOT to skip the introduction.
And it includes my yarn The Luck Of The Devil.
Other contributors are Les Edgerton,
In The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping, a has-been baseball player with a gambling problem heads off to New Orleans and quickly embroils himself in a plethora of criminal activities. Gaudy characters, razor-sharp dialogue and violent black comedy quickly ensue.
Les Edgerton’s The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping is a lethal cocktail of screwball comedy and gritty crime fiction. A belter.
My yarn A MAN OF SOPHISTICATED TASTES kicks off this innovative anthology edited by Ryan Bracha.
The phenomenally talented writers involved in this innovative and ambitious project are:
Paul D Brazill (Guns of Brixton, A Case of Noir) Gerard Brennan (Fireproof, Wee Rockets) Les Edgerton (The Bitch, The Rapist) Craig Furchtenicht (Dimebag Bandits, Night Speed Zero) Richard Godwin (Mr Glamour, Apostle Rising) Allen Miles (18 Days, This is How You Disappear) Keith Nixon (The Fix, The Eagle’s Shadow) Darren Sant (Tales From The Longcroft, The Bank Manager and The Bum) Gareth Spark (Black Rain, Shotgun Honey) Martin Stanley (The Gamblers, The Hunters) Mark Wilson (dEaDINBURGH, Head Boy) And narrated by Ryan Bracha (Paul Carter is a Dead Man, Strangers are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet)
The Blurb: At St. David’s asylum for the criminally insane there are twelve residents. They call us that. Not inmates. We all have a favourite colour. A favourite member of staff. A favourite method of receiving torture for the purposes of science. We all have our reasons for being here. Our stories. Our tales. Why don’t you come and hear them? Twelve Mad Men is a groundbreaking literary collaboration. A novel which has a series of stories woven into the narrative, and featuring the finest independent authors from across the globe. The number one best selling author of Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and Paul Carter is a Dead Man, Ryan Bracha, voices the narrator as he embarks upon his first shift as a night guard at St. David’s, and as he meets the residents there, it soon becomes apparent that there’s something very wrong in the water..
Les Edgerton is one of my favourite writers, so I was more than somewhat chuffed when he offered this great blurb for A CASE OF NOIR.
There are a handful of writers for whose new work I await impatiently, and glom onto it the instant it’s available. At the very top of that list is the guy many of us refer to as “the godfather of noir,” the inestimable Paul D. Brazill. And, he never disappoints. Let me repeat that: he never disappoints. Such is the case of his newest book, A Case of Noir.
I’ll leave it for others to describe the plot which is highly original and inventive and will keep you glued to the page all the way through. The thing I always read Mr. Brazill for is the language and voice of his stories. There just isn’t anyone around to compare him to. His use of language is just the best and most compelling available and nothing has changed with this newest book. It’s simply magnificent. His prose soars and floats far above the firmament where most of us writers live.
There is one thing I can’t reveal at the end—you’ll have to read it to discover what I’m alluding to, but believe me, it’s worth it. All I can say is that Brazill rhymes with dazzle and that’s what you’ll get here.
Les Edgerton, author of The Bitch, The Rapist and the forthcoming The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping.
YOU CAN GET IT AS A EBOOK OR IN PAPERBACK.
Haunting and hard-hitting, Nic Pizzolatto’s Galveston is a fantastic spin on the man-on-the run sub-genre of harboiled crime fiction. Prose as tight as a snare drum. Dashes of lyricism that never overpower the storytelling. Great, realistic characters and situations. Marvellous stuff.
Just Like That has it all. Great dialogue, whipcrack scenes and meaty characters haul you along on a hardboiled crime road-trip worthy of the Elmore Leonard and Joe R Lansdale. This then transforms into a terrific look at life behind bars. Most of all, this is a brilliant charter study full of a love of life and you can see why Edgerton has been described as a mixture of Charles Bukowski and Eddie Bunker. A shot to the heart as well as the head, Just Like That is highly recommended.
Jonathan Woods’ latest collection is a belter. The quirky and inventive collection starts off with quotes from Anthony Burgess and the Coen Brothers and leads with a story called ‘The Handgun’s Tale’ which is just that – the world from the perspective of a gun.
Other gems include the title story in which an eternal loser gets a phone call from Charles Manson, ‘The Old Man’ is classic and classy, ‘The Other Suitcase’, the story of Kafka’s missing smut and ‘Hearing Voices,’ which has a smart and funny twist on the femme fatale trope. ‘Crash & Burn,’ the final story, is a cinematic, high octane thriller. Rich writing full of strong images. Twisted and funny and brilliant.
K A Laity’s White Rabbit is a marvelous and potent cocktail of crime fiction, screwball comedy and the supernatural. A cracking yarn choc full of brilliant lines that reminds you of Wodehouse, Preston Sturges and the Coen Brothers and yet is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Fantastic stuff. More please!
With her new short story series, Hard-Boiled Witch, K A Laity once again mixes crime fiction, the supernatural and smart writing to come up with a lethal cocktail. Marvellous.
The Killer Among Us is classy stuff. A gripping and engrossing study of American small town life with echoes of Jim Thompson and John Steinbeck.
David Siddall’s brilliantly hard-boiled debut novella A Man Alone is a gripping urban western worthy of a Walter Hill film
The second issue of All Due Respect magazine is a 100% gem. Owen Laukkanen is the star of this issue with N.F.G, a brilliant take on the fisherman’s yarn, as well as an excellent interview with Chris F. Holm and an insight into the story. This is followed by a sharp slice of Gothic grunge from C S DeWildt. Other cracking stories, including the remarkable The Gulf by Scott Alderberg and Ice Cold Alibi a great piece of old school noir from the ever brilliant Eric Beetner. But every story is a gem and the reviews which finish off this issue are also well worth a read.
PDB: Could you tell us a little about your new book, The Rapist?
Well, I wrote it 26 years ago and only last year decided to try to get it published. I wrote it at the time because I’d just read Charles Bukowski’s short story, “The Fiend” and I thought then (and still do) it was the bravest piece of literature I’d ever experienced. I wanted to see if I could write as courageously as he had. “The Fiend” accomplishes what the best of literature should—it reveals the darkest recesses of the human soul and shows that no matter how evil a person might be—or at least how evil his or her acts might be—inside, there still resides a human being. It takes real guts for a writer to go there and I wanted to do what Bukowski had done. It was also anti-establishment and that alone made it a worthwhile goal in my mind. I didn’t intend it to be like anything else out there and I knew that might hurt its chances, but I wrote it totally for me first and then anyone else who had a curious mind. To be honest, I anticipated a European audience rather than a U.S. one.
PDB: The title alone will put off many readers. Were you tempted to give it a more ‘marketing friendly’ title?
Nope. The reasons are, first, it accurately describes the book, and secondly, I expect the title will be offputting to those among us who subscribe to that idiotic and moronic notion of being “politically correct.” I abhore the entire concept of PCism as it’s the single biggest threat to freedom of speech yet created and I really don’t want the people who believe in PCism to be mucking around in the pages of my work. I felt the people who would be drawn to it would be the kind of people I respect—freethinkers. So far, that’s been the case. I wanted to write a book that would be uncomfortable for the reader—not because of its savagery or some kind of cheap physical shock value—but because of the ideas it expressed and hopefully the way it would force the reader to examine his own ideas and beliefs about crime and God and humanity.
PDB: How difficult was it getting a publisher for such a near to the knuckle book?
Surprisingly (at least to me!), not difficult at all. I had my choice of several publishers I think are putting out some of the best literature in the world. The hard thing was picking the right one. I know I did with Jon Bassoff of New Pulp Press. To my mind, Jon is the new John Martin. New Pulp Press is the new Black Sparrow Books.
PDB. We’re seeing more and more novellas/ short novels being published. Is this a good thing?
That’s a wonderful thing and in my mind, the single biggest positive that the ebook revolution has produced. Novellas had fallen out of favor among print publishers simply because of the prohibitive costs of books that length—nothing else. Some of the best stories ever written were written in the novella form and until ebook publishing became viable, were pretty much restricted to a handful of writers such as Jim Harrison and a few others. With ebooks which don’t have the same cost restraints as print, the dam has burst and once again a brilliant, almost perfect art form is being released into the world. Ebooks have also revitalized the short story market and that’s equally wonderful.
First, to wake up tomorrow morning… After that, it’s all a bonus. I’m doing a bit of a rewrite on my memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE and hoping to find a home for it, and the same with a black comedy crime novel which is my own personal favorite, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING. Much of this novel has already been published as various short stories. I’m writing a new writer’s craft book, titled A FICTION WRITER’S WORKSHOP AT THE BIJOU where I use film to inform fiction writing. I’m also writing a new novel, working title, THE FIXER, which is about a hitman… okay, I heard that groan… another hitman novel?!—but I think this one is a bit different. It’s about a guy who makes his wet work look like accidents when he starts out—for instance, one of the people he takes out, he gives rabies to when the target is sleeping and then just sits back to wait awhile. The thing about rabies is that when you find out you’ve got it… it’s too late. Not much time for anything at that point but write a will and avoid water and try to bite everyone around you… But then, he has an epiphany and changes his entire modus operandi. He keeps seeing these TV programs where the killer gets off or draws a light sentence for some evil deed and he keeps seeing the surviving family members doomed to a lifetime of grief and frustration at the “justice” system. So, he decides to use his talents to help them out, by kidnapping the perpetrator and torturing him in various clever and imaginative ways and videotaping it and sending the tape to those family members for their enjoyment. He’s the best kind of vigilante—the kind who applies justice. And, here’s a reveal—I’m never going to have him get caught. At least permanently.
The Rapist cleverly blends Camus and Jim Thompson in an existential crime novel that is as dark and intoxicating as strong Irish coffee.
Les Edgerton smartly pulls us into the corkscrew mind of Truman Ferris Pinter, a twisted man with skewed perception of the world, as his life spirals toward oblivion, like dirty dishwater down a plughole.
It reminded me of Jim Thompson’s classic Savage Night in its delirium, which can’t be bad.
In A Scattering Of Ashes, Craig Douglas’ intense, debut short-story collection, we find sixteen hard-hitting tales of well-drawn, realistic and conflicted characters dealing with – or attempting to deal with – the stuff of life.
Life is loss, of course. Loss of hope. Innocence. Home. Family. Trust. Youth. Faith. And eventually life itself goes down the Swanee, which Douglas is clearly all too aware of.
Some of the collection’s most powerful stories:
Thunder On the Horizon– the tense tale of dystopian Britain on the verge of implosion.
Flesh and Blood – ‘Some of them would be dead by morning’ is the opening line of this hard-hitting story of soldiers in the heart of a war zone
Scargill’s Man– the aftermath of living though civil war in Thatcher’s Britain.
The Incident At Wetzendorf Woods – an old man reflects on a harrowing wartime incident that continues to haunt him.
Homecoming – a traumatised soldier’s desperate attempts return to the dull thud of normality.
Douglas’ unflinchingly honest portraits and snapshots may not be for the delicate but this is a cracking collection.
Jedidiah Ayres Fierce Bitches is a fantastic, tense and remarkably well-written short, sharp shock of small town noir.
Small towns are dark and sinister places, of course. Claustrophobic and repressive, they are much more suited to noir than the bright lights of the big city with its limitless possibilities. Noir is for losers, after all.
So, welcome to Politoburg, a sweltering hell-hole – somewhere south of hell- where Ramon runs a dive of a cantina and a host of prostitutes, all called Maria, who service the criminal gringos that are dumped there by a big city gangster.
With echoes of Jim Thompson’s brilliant The Getaway, Fierce Bitches is just as smothering with its multiple POVs and desperate characters trying to escape the past. Or just escape.
A whip-crack of a read.