Mar 272014
 
Dev Mallory has been a Secret Service agent, a detective, and a cowboy...which makes him the perfect man for the job of protecting a British nobleman's Thoroughbred race horse and saving the U.S. government from embarrassment. But there's more going on than sabotage, as Dev's beautiful redheaded partner is kidnapped and Dev finds himself up to his neck in murder, lust, and intrigue.Critically
Oct 102013
 
Bill Crider's "Among the Anthropophagai!: A Story of Gorillas and Gasbags" is pure pulp adventure of the finest sort. Take away the modern-day framing device that introduces the story and this yarn of exploration and danger in darkest Africa could have been published in ADVENTURE or ARGOSY during the Thirties.

The narrator, a retired anthropologist named Caleb Brown, spins a yarn of how he and his friend, explorer Richard Hawkins, penetrate the supposedly impenetrable Forest of Bwindi in search of the Anthropophagai, a possibly mythical race of cannibalistic creatures who resemble gorillas, except for the fact their heads grow beneath their shoulders. Do they and their expedition find what they're seeking, along with deadly danger? Well, what do you think?

Crider keeps the action hurtling along in true pulp fashion, leading up to a great action-packed climax. Sprinkled throughout the story are references to their other adventures, and I for one want to read them. This story is great fun, and if you want to have a fine pulpish time, you need to check it out. Highly recommended.


Sep 272013
 
COMING SOON

An anthology full of exciting PI fiction written by popular names like Reed Farrel Coleman, Bill Crider, James Winter, Fred Zackel, J.L. Abramo, Keith Dixon and some newer names like Kit Rohrbacher, Peter DiChellis and others.
Of course there's a Noah Milano story in there as well.
It is edited by me and formatted by the talented Sean Dexter, who has a cool story in the anthology as well.
The Shamus Sampler will be available next week and will only cost you 99 cents.
Jan 042013
 
I'm probably fudging a little by writing about a book I had a hand in, but the Cody's Law series is long out of print and probably won't ever be reprinted, so it's pretty much forgotten. Besides, Bill mentioned this book recently on an email group we both belong to, and I thought some of you might be interested in it. Warning: this post is as much memoir as it is about the book and has some behind-the-scenes stuff in it, so if that doesn't appeal to you, feel free to move on. My feelings won't be hurt, I promise.

The Cody's Law series came about because the Western editor at Bantam at the time had worked at Leisure earlier in his career and edited a series of Westerns by Roe Richmond about a Texas Ranger named Lashtrow. Some of you have probably read some of those books. Richmond must have been a believer in the freelancer's adage, "Never throw anything away." Because those Lashtrow novels were actually rewrites and expansions of novels that Richmond wrote for the pulp magazine TEXAS RANGERS during the Fifties, featuring Ranger Jim Hatfield. For the paperback version, Hatfield became "Lash" Lashtrow, but the supporting characters all remained the same.

The Bantam editor approached an editor at Book Creations Inc., the book packaging company I was doing a lot of work for at the time, and asked BCI to come up with a Texas Ranger series similar to the Lashtrow books. The editor at BCI was also an author and planned to write the first book in the series, and he asked me if I would continue it from there. I agreed, of course, since back then I never turned down work (I still don't turn it down very often, and only when I just don't have time to do anything else). As it turned out, the editor at BCI was too busy to write the book, so after doing an outline and a couple of chapters he gave it to me and told me to use whatever I wanted out of it. By this time he had mentioned the Roe Richmond/Lashtrow connection to me and asked me if I was familiar with those books. I just said that I was and didn't mention that I was very familiar with the original versions, having read dozens of issues of TEXAS RANGERS including some of Richmond's Jim Hatfield novels. I think I was the only one in this particular loop aware of the true origin of the Lashtrow books.

So I kept the outline, rewrote the first couple of chapters the editor had done, renamed the hero Sam Cody (I don't recall what his name was in the first draft), and finished the book, going one step further back than the Lashtrow books and basing my version very much on the Jim Hatfield character from TEXAS RANGERS, while still trying to make him a distinctive character in his own right, of course. Sam Cody was never a Jim Hatfield clone . . . but I tried to get that same sort of Western pulp hero spirit into the books.

So time went by and I wrote the first six books in the series, all published under the pseudonym Matthew S. Hart. I was doing a lot of other work for BCI, and the editor got worried that the workload might be too much for me. He wanted to bring in another author to write a couple of the books. I wasn't real crazy about this idea. I felt like I could do it all (a feeling that still gets me in trouble from time to time). But since BCI owned the series I couldn't really object.

The editor also wanted me to team up with yet another author on the other books, with me providing outlines and the other author doing first drafts, which I would then edit and polish. The person he had in mind was Bill Crider, who had written a couple of books for BCI.

Now, as it happens, Bill is my oldest friend in the writing business and a fine author, so I was pretty pleased with this arrangement. The first book we did together was #8 in the series, EAGLE PASS.

Which brings us to THE PRISONERS.

I've mentioned many times how Livia helps me with the plots on some of my books. She wrote a half-page outline for the book that became THE PRISONERS, which I developed into a much more detailed outline (the editors at BCI loved detailed outlines). The plot involves Sam Cody having to fetch in a prisoner from an isolated mansion on the West Texas plains during a freak blizzard and ice storm. The family that lives in the mansion is . . . unusual, to say the least, and gives Cody a lot of trouble as he tries to complete his assignment, which is also complicated by the captured outlaw. So after a while I started telling people that THE PRISONERS was the world's only vampire/lesbian/cannibal/incest Western. Which as far as I know it is. I believe that description is a little exaggerated, though, since I don't remember them being vampires. But I suppose they could have been.

What's odd is that despite all those bizarre elements, I think THE PRISONERS turned out to be a decent traditional Western with a stalwart hero, a villainous outlaw, and plenty of ridin' and shootin'. I'm not sure how we pulled all that together, but I believe we did.

On a related note, some years ago I was at a convention where Elmer Kelton was the Guest of Honor, and I wound up with the job of doing the GOH interview with him. During the interview I pointed out the rather strange juxtaposition of having the man widely regarded as the world's greatest living Western writer (and maybe the greatest Western writer of all time) sharing the podium with the co-author of the world's only vampire/lesbian/cannibal/incest Western. But hey, that's the writing business for you, isn't it? You never know who you're going to wind up sitting next to.

Copies of THE PRISONERS, and all the other Cody's Law books, can be found pretty cheaply on the Internet. I wrote #1 – 6, and Bill and I collaborated on #8, 9, 11, and 12. I think they're all solid, entertaining Westerns.

One more side note: the contract was supposed to run through #14, but after #12 had been turned in, Bantam told BCI they were cancelling the series. In fact, they not only cancelled Cody's Law in mid-contract, they cancelled the other three series I was working on for BCI at the same time, effectively putting me out of work, a condition that didn't last long, thank goodness. But for years after that whenever Livia and I got bad news, we would groan and say, "Oh, no! We've been Bantamed!"
Nov 282012
 
A cool thing is happening around blogging crime writers, called The Next Big Thing. Each author tags five other authors to answer ten questions. Talented Hardboiled Collective member Bill Crider tagged me. So here are the questions and answers...

1. What is the working title of your next book?
My next book is called GUILT but might end up being called GUILTY because Jonathan Kellerman has a new novel coming out with the same name.
Im also working on a Mike Dalmas collection and some other stuff that's too early to talk about.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
All my Milano stories are about redemption and guilt in some way. I wanted to explore those feelings deeper and so I came up with a plot in which Noah tries to make amends for his deeds more directly than usual.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
It's a crime novella, specifically a hardboiled detective one.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Dane Cook would do a great job. He has the charm and attitude to pull it off.
When I first created Noah I envisioned him as Vince Young but I'm not sure he looks tough enough.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Security specialist and ex-mob fixer Noah Milano tries to save the stepfather of a young girl whose biological father he killed from death row.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published and available for Kinlde via Amazon.com.

7. How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
I'm still busy with it, but think it will take two months to finish. My last one, Scoundrel took me four months.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Any book by Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais and early Dennis Lehane fit the mark.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Take a look at question 2. As always I've also been inspired by the great PI-writers that came before me.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers might enjoy the fact this one will be longer than the last few Milano stories. Also, we finally meet Noah's dad.
For people who haven't read about Noah Milano yet they will enjoy the fancy martial arts moves, the fast-moving plot and the fact Noah's just one of the coolest investigators around.

In one week these great people will blogging in this project as well, I tagged them...

James Winter
Les Roberts
Dana King
Charles Colyott
Keith Dixon
Nov 102012
 
The second Wolf Creek novel is out from Western Fictioneers, available in both e-book and trade paperback editions. Writing as Ford Fargo this time around is an all-star group of bestselling and award-winning authors: Bill Crider, Jackson Lowry, Kerry Newcomb, Troy D. Smith, Frank Roderus, and Robert J. Randisi. Check it out!
Jun 292012
 
Bill Crider, as you probably very well know, is a long-time crime, western and horror novelist who also maintains a popular blog. It's been years since I read something by him, but now I decided to read his Blood Marks, a serial killer thriller from 1991, that's been getting high praise from the likes of Ed Gorman.

It's a good novel, with a horrifying central character and Crider does a pretty good job keeping the reader guessing who the serial killer might be. The book is divided in three chapters, and while it veers towards implausibility, the second chapter with the emphasis on the heavily abused three-year boy is the most horrifying. 

There are some downsides to the novel as well. One of the characters leads a double life, but I didn't really buy that. The main female character doesn't feel like she's been studying English literature and is looking for a job to teach it. (I've known quite a few literature students, mind you.) One of the lead characters is too pointedly unpleasant. The revelation in the end doesn't feel so much a reveleation as it should feel.

But this is a fluent and suspenseful read, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

More Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott's blog here.
 Posted by at 2:55 pm

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