Steve Weddle

Feb 262015
 

Series characters are tricky.

When Dennis Lehane finished Prayers for Rain, he said that Patrick Kenzie’s voice went away from him.  He didn’t hear Kenzie and because of that he moved on to other ideas—Mystic River, Shutter Island, and so on.  Eventually he came back to Kenzie—or, rather, Kenzie came back to him, and Lehane wrote Moonlight Mile.

Back in 2007, I was working on the Jackson Donne series.  Jackson Donne started out as the typical private eye, someone mourning the death of his fiancée Jeanne.  She drives the series, motivates Donne and some other characters. 

The first Donne novel, When One Man Dies, was about to be published and I was working on the sequel The Evil that Men Do—which would be published in 2008.  I was deep into Donne by then, his voice throwing ideas at me left and right.  And then, just weeks after Evil came out, my publisher dropped me.

I needed to reboot, try something new.  I wrote Witness to Death, a book set in the same universe as the Donne series, but with nary a mention of Mr. Donne.  I moved on to other things, and even briefly considered leaving writing—focusing on my teaching career.  I got married, had a kid,  and went back to grad school for a while.

Jackson Donne didn’t stop talking to me, I stopped talking to him. 

Somewhere in there, I self-published Witness to Death and it did quite well.  And for while, I thought about what I would do next.  I’d start a short story and stop it.  I’d scribble some novel ideas down.  Things weren’t going anywhere.  Occasionally, I’d think about Jackson Donne, and wonder if the series was over.  I had no ideas from him.  I was different now, much different than when I wrote about him.

Series characters are tricky, and it’d hard to surprise readers form book to book.

One afternoon, I sat down to watch Doctor Who.  It was during Matt Smith’s second season.  I remember this very, very clearly—mostly because Steven Moffat, the writer of the series, surprised the hell out of me.  He took a character that had been around for 50 years and managed to do something that I didn’t expect.

Steven Moffat killed the Doctor. 

An astronaut came out of a lake and shot him dead, on screen.  Now, we all knew that the Doctor wasn’t really dead.  That somehow, Eleven would find his way back to life somewhere over the course of the season.  But that particular moment came out of the blue. 

And that’s when I really started to think about Jackson Donne again.  About series characters, and about how to surprise readers.  Suddenly, I had it.  The moment that would turn the series on its ear. 
Jeanne wasn’t dead.

I sat down and wrote a chapter.  Then another.  Then another.  I mentioned the idea to Jason Pinter—my original editor at Random House, and now the founder of Polis Books.  He loved Jackson and he loved the idea.

And, as I wrote the book, Donne himself started to surprise me.  He was no longer the typical private eye—actually wasn’t even typical in When One Man Dies.  He’d grown, changed, and evolved in the years since I’d wrote about him last.  He was talking to me, and I was talking to him.

Now, after a 7-year absence, he’s back in Not Even Past, trying to find out why and how Jeanne is still alive.  I’m talking to Donne again.

Yes, series characters are hard—because each book has to be the same, but different.  However, if you’re willing to dig deep and try something different, you can mine new angles and still be shocking.

And, just like Doctor Who surprised me, I hope Not Even Past will surprise new and old readers alike.
Feb 062015
 
Guest Post

A few days ago I saw a Facebook post from a high school friend, Kristi Weldon, about the Harper Lee novel imbroglio. Turned out she had lived in Monroeville for a few years and thus had more insight than most--some interesting details I had not seen elsewhere, as well as an opinion worth hearing.

Lein Shory: How did you end up living in Monroeville? How long were you there?

Kristi Weldon: I did a two-week internship at Vanity Fair Mills over Christmas of 1992. In spring of 1993, they called me about an opening in that department. I accepted the position and moved down when I graduated from Auburn in June 1993. I relocated to NYC in January 1996, as part of a company reorganization then came to Atlanta Metro North with the company in February 1997. (The company was bought by a competitor and no longer exists.) I lived in Monroeville for 2 1/2 years.

LS: How much contact did you have with Harper Lee's sister Miss Alice, who passed away a few months ago?

KW: We went to church together (Dr. Thomas Butts, cited in a Vulture articlelast year, was our minister at the time) and were both on the board. We saw each other every other Sunday (I commuted to Auburn every other weekend to see my fiancé) as well as at special events, board meetings, and once a month at supper club for a year.  

LS: So what did you think when you read the news that Harper Lee had a new book coming out?

KW: I was appalled because I knew it wasn't her idea.

LS: Do you still have contacts/friends in Monroeville? What do you think is the general sentiment in town about what's going on?

KW: Yes, I still have friends there. I even have friends here who are Monroeville natives and have family there. They are the ones who are sharing these articles which I have every reason to believe to be true.
Citizens not only respected Nelle's (pronounced "Nellie") privacy but also went to lengths to protect her. For example, if you wanted to get a signed copy of TKAM, there was only one way to get it: she signed a relatively small number of hardbacks which could only be purchased through a local gift shop at Christmas. Once they were sold out, that was it until the next year. And nobody--I mean nobody--discussed her or the characters/events which inspired the book. My mom (it's her all time favorite book) went "fishing" when she came to visit me and was completely shut down.

LS: There have been several statements from Lee in the last few days, and her international rights agent has said he's visited with her and she's fully on board with the publication. Has any of this news changed your mind about what's really going on?

KW: I have yet to see a statement actually from Miss Lee. I have seen them from her agents, lawyer, publishers, etc., but I have not seen one directly from her. Every statement I have seen in support of the book release has been from someone who will likely have significant financial gain, not to mention the cache of bringing the book to market. So no, I don't believe it. No one has access to her to get the statements in the first place, just like they haven't had access to get signed copies of her books. Think about that.

They "found" it. If she wanted it released, why didn't she tell anyone where it was?

When a person has a stroke then suddenly has a falling out with the sister she has trusted to protect her interests for her entire life, that's a red flag to me (brain injury). When it's to the extent that they are in different nursing homes (and it's not like there's a plethora of them in a town of 6,000 people), I find that extremely disturbing--especially when the sister she trusted practiced law until age 100. And then there's a lawsuit out of the blue against a not-for-profit museum that's been around for over a decade? It tore me apart to read about this happening in Monroeville. 

Regarding "sound mind and body," if that's the case, why does anyone have a power of attorney for her?

Finally, who am I going to trust--friends and family of 20+ years who have a history of protecting Harper Lee the way she consistently wanted as I experienced firsthand or a sudden slew of press releases from sycophants and vultures?

***

After a marketing career in the corporate world, Kristi Weldon became a technical writer and served as associate editor for Apparel Industry Magazine. She writes small-town contemporary romance as Kristine Bria and erotica as Kristi Hancock.She just completed her first novel.

www.KristineBria.com Award-Winning Contemporary Romance
www.KristiHancock.com Contemporary Erotica
www.KristiWeldon.com Technical Writing
Feb 052015
 
By Steve Weddle

In keeping with Holly West's "I posed a question on Facebook" idea,


 here's mine:

What's a good way for a third party to start a war between two crime families?

I've gotten Dashiell Hammett's RED HARVEST, as suggested, and am diving into that.

So, you want to get the two families fighting. You make one think the other one did something. Went to the cops. Cheated. Killed the wrong person. Is about to combine forces with another family or group.

From the Romulans to the Corleones, this has been a big factor in crime fiction.

So you kill a Hatfield and blame a McCoy and let them fight it out. I'm thinking, if you're plotting this out in a story, you would have your protagonist come into conflict with a Hatfield, then have a situation in which he/she kills the Hatfield. Then blame a McCoy, That moves things along nicely. You can raise the stakes after a bit by having the McCoys begin to figure out that your protag is really to blame. Or maybe the Hatfields start to figure that out. More killing!

OK. Red Harvest is a good example of groups going against each other. If you have other examples or suggestions, let's hear them.
Apr 032014
 
So here's what I asked:

What tips do you have for disposing of a body? A dead one, preferably. 

http://degeorgiskara.blogspot.com
I mean, if it weren't dead, step one would be "kill person." So let's just go with disposing of a dead body. I think dismembering it is key, as is speeding up the decomposition. If you're trying to protect yourself from detection/prosecution, you either want to remove anything that could be a "clue" or plant clues that would lead elsewhere. 

I'm thinking you'd want to disassemble the jaw, making sure to crack all the teeth in order to prevent identification. 

You'd want to peel off the skin of fingertips, too. What else? Is burning the body a rookie move?

Acid? Not too popular. Sinking the body? Yes and no. Mushrooms?

Here. Check for yourself. I've made the post public:

How to get rid of a dead body

Popular suggestion: Reading DEAD PIG COLLECTOR from Warren Ellis.

Of course, wood chippers and soylent green are favorites, too. 

I'm still considering lye vs acid, too.

And if you're going to transport the body, put down some tarp. Do it!

THE AJ HAYES MEMORIAL WRITING CONTEST

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Mar 202014
 

THE AJ HAYES MEMORIAL WRITING CONTEST
To honor the memory of the recent loss of writer AJ Hayes, we announce the first AJ Hayes Memorial Writing Contest.
AJ was a no-nonsense crime writer who flourished in the field of short stories and flash fiction. His goal was to get to the essence of a story without wasting a word. His dedication to the writing community and his stalwart support of other writers is what inspires a contest in his name. AJ would have loved the idea of people writing with him in mind and probably would have been first in line to submit a story.
The rules are this: 
– Flash fiction (under 1000 words)
– Crime fiction, mystery, noir, suspense are all accepted
– AJ loved to write poetry, so that’s good too
A panel of writers and agents will read the stories and award prizes. 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
Winning stories will be published at Do Same Damage and Thrillers, Killers N Chillers and the winning story will appear in print in the next Needle magazine.
One more rule – as many of you may or may not know, AJ was a pen name for Bill Hayes. So your story must feature a character named Bill. Doesn’t have to be the main character, doesn’t even have to appear on screen in the story. But Bill has to be a presence in the tale, just as he was a presence in so many of our lives, whether we met the man in person or not.
The deadline is June 1. Send your completed story in Word format, along with a bio and a memory of AJ if you have one (not a requirement) to ericbeetner@gmail.com.
So get to writing, and when the stories are out, tell someone to read them like AJ would have. Go be tireless promoters for our genre and be good to each other. Let AJ Hayes be an inspiration on the page and off.
———
To fund the prizes we are seeking donations. Any amount will do. Payments can be made via the donation button below.  Anything we receive over the $200 will be donated to Bill’s family.
Donate Button with Credit Cards

News Ketchup

 Steve Weddle  Comments Off
Mar 062014
 
By Steve Weddle

First off, let's catch up with some things, shall we?

Dana King, friend of the blog, has been running a swell series of Q&As with authors. Check it out over at his site: OBAT.

I'm finishing up FEDERALES, a novella by Chris Irvin. I think you'll like it, as it's about a Mexican federal agent, drugs, and politics. Hop on Twitter and tweet:
"Check out #FEDERALES by @chrislirvin #DSD" something along those lines. I'll look for the DSD or Federales hashtags and give out a couple copies of the book by the end of the week. Also, check out Chris's site HouseLeague Fiction for more about the book.

Meanwhile, our own Holly West has her MISTRESS OF FORTUNE book doing well. I read this one a while back and will be posting reviews soon. Let me tell you, this is one surprising book. I wasn't entirely sure I'd enjoy what looked like "palace intrigue" and all, but I trust Holly. Turns out, this book is pretty damn amazing. The history and mystery meld so well that, a few days after I'd finished, I felt as if I were remembering a movie instead of a book. So, if you haven't checked it out, now is a good time to do so. And if you have, now is a good time to leave a review somewhere.

Also, I'm teaching a 4-week short story fundamentals class at LitReactor starting next week.

Steve Weddle is the author of the novel-in-stories Country Hardball—called "downright dazzling" by the New York Times—and editor of the award-winning short fiction magazine Needle: A Magazine of Noir. And in four weeks, he'll teach you how to write compelling, original short fiction (with skills applicable to longer works of fiction, too).
This class will give the opportunity to hone your skills, using your voice and vision as you craft vibrant, original fiction ready for publication.
Through weekly readings, lectures and assignments, this class will delve into character, dialogue, setting, and plot and will provide you with a range of techniques as you continue to craft your own stories.

Sign up here.

So, last week I visited Centenary College of Louisiana, where I had been an undergrad twenty-something years ago. They'd chosen to use COUNTRY HARDBALL in their English classes this year, and I had the opportunity to chat with students in classes from the freshman level to the 300-level about the book.

Some of the students had questions about particular scenes, while some wanted to discuss more theme-oriented topics. I found out, for example, that while Flannery O'Connor and Steve Wedde both rely on southern churches in their books, O'Connor is more interested in religion, while Weddle is more concerned with congregations.
Photo by David Havird

In two days, I spoke with seven classes, one book club, one radio station, one newspaper, and gave a reading at a convocation. It was, you know, kinda awesome. And what it taught me, or what it showed me up close, is that while different individuals read books differently, different groups of people have different expectations. College freshman read a different version of COUNTRY HARDBALL than do people in a book group. Context is key, isn't it? I've read books for book groups and books for college classes. You think about different questions to ask, different topics. I was talking last night about the book and said that I try to write for a reader who is smarter than I am. I don't like to explain things too much, to hand over the meaning of a scene. I writer for readers who read closely, who will a passage more than once if they don't quite get it. I write for people who might read the book more than once, and I want to make sure that the book is layered enough for them every single time.

And, it turns out, I write for college classes, for book groups, for the woman in the cafeteria who only knew me as author and not as former student. I write for all of them, and they all read the book a little differently. All I can do is make sure whatever I write has enough in it for each of them. Because, you know, I am kinda concerned about all the congregations.


Jan 162014
 
Guest post by Jim Winter

A few years back, I read an interesting theory about The Great Gatsby that suggested Jay Gatsby might have been black trying to “pass” in the more racially rigid 1920’s. It was an interesting theory, but I wish I’d read the novel before the article as it changed my perceptions of the story. Then again, there also was nothing in the book suggesting Gatsby resembled Robert Redford, so my perceptions were already altered by Hollywood. 

However, that idea played into a story I wrote for Spinetingler a few years later. “Profiled” told the tale of an undercover cop born in Tehran. In the post-9/11 era, if Gatsby were black, he would not have had to pass himself off as white. If anything, he would get called out for fostering the same prejudice that would have made his charade more acceptable in the twenties. It’s easier to call people out on racial bias, and these days, gays are finding it much easier to be open about themselves. But are there some groups that, no matter what, are going to draw suspicioin? In “Profiled,” Eddie Soroya tackles this very issue.

When we meet him, he’s sitting on a commuter train in a Midwest city posing as a homeless man while watching for trouble in our terror-panicked world. When a woman calls him a “raghead,” Soroya swears at her in Spanish. In a city with a large Mexican population, the perceived insult would warrant a harsher response. As he rides from the city’s lakefront to the airport, watching a suspicious duffle bag, we find out he is actually from the Middle East, that speaking Spanish becomes a defense that not even a badge can give him. People – black, white, Hispanic – are paranoid since those planes crashed in 2001. Unfortunately, that means people are automatically suspicious of entire groups.

When dealing with people’s biases, you have to walk a thin line. Despite what some of the more hysterical pundits on 24-hour news like to tell us, we aren’t quite in 1930’s Germany. But you hear the slurs, the misconceptions, and the outright hatred that seems to have found a new outlet.

In a way, though, Soroya is between a rock and a hard place. We also live in a nation wary of illegal immigration, so posing as a Mexican to keep people from flagging the nearest TSA worker or FBI agent is a double-edged sword. Without a badge, he’s still likely to get pulled over. He faces a different kind of harassment from what he would get if he were open about his Iranian origins. Granted, it’s easier to fight by simply sliding into his normal accent, a Rust Belt twang I myself have not been able to get rid of after 22 years, but it’s still more than most people have to deal with in this day and age.

It goes back to a conversation I once had (and was part of the impetus for “Profiled”). A friend and I were discussing, of all things, the bias against obesity. At one point, I said, “You know, most of the bullshit you have to deal with everyday stares back at you from the mirror in the morning.” And it’s true. Race, gender, weight, age, physical imperfections, and even disabilities all come back at us when we look in the mirror. Things like sexual preference, religion (or lack thereof), and politics (a stupid bias since that one causes most wars) are all internal aspects of who we are. We can hide those. We can act straight or gay. We can keep our religion and politics to ourselves. But the things that define us physically to other people are there in the mirror, which means they’re out there for all the world to see. Being a straight white male is, as John Scalzi puts it, playing life on the lowest difficulty setting. That’s not to say life is easy for anyone. We still have to deal with our personalities, and we still need to have a strong sense of self. We also need to be aware that, over time, it’s how we react to the world around us that ultimately determines how we get by in the world.  The question “Profiled” asks, and leaves hanging, is whether Eddie Soroya made the right choice about it.

---

Born near Cleveland in 1966, Jim Winter had a vivid imagination – maybe too vivid for his own good – that he spun into a career as a writer. He is the author of Northcoast Shakedown, a tale of sex, lies, and insurance fraud – and Road Rules, an absurd heist story involving a stolen holy relic. Jim now lives in Cincinnati with his wife Nita and stepson AJ. To keep the lights on, he is a web developer and network administrator by day. Visit him at http://www.jamesrwinter.net , like Jim Winter Fiction on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter @authorjimwinter.

Pick up some Jim Winter right here.
Jan 092014
 
By Steve Weddle

Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame voting is more of a joke each year. Maybe things will get better, but something has to change.

I'm not interested right now in arguing whether Jack Morris should be in, alongside Maddux and Glavine.

But what's going on is a mockery, which is often something I'm in favor of. Not this time.

You have reporters with Hall of Fame votes handing their ballots over to sports blogs. You have other voters turning in blank ballots to protest something something Steroid Era. You have voters who won't vote for Biggio because he played at the same Canseco was taking needles to the buttocks.

People have lost their damn minds.

Voting is a joke and the reward itself, being named to the Hall of Fame, is being pooped all over.

Which brings us to the week in crime fiction.

The Bookernet (as @bookriot calls the book folks who blog/tweet book conflicts on the internet) was on fire earlier this week and last as authors began receiving solicitations for nominations which went something like this: "Hey, I wrote a book called INSPECTOR DOLT SAVES THE DAY. It's eligible for a Stout Award. Can you click HERE and nominate it? kthxbye."

As someone who has done thoughtless, dopey things myself, lemme just say: Dude. Bad form.

Over the past few years, the Bookernet has talked about how book awards seem to be less about the most talented works winning, more about the most marketed book winning.

Of course, these are the same people who were super-duper rioty after a year went by with no one worthy of the fiction Pulitzer.

Look. I get it. You want your book to be noticed. It's a tough market. Being able to put a sticker on the paperback re-issue of your book would be hella sweet. But what are you doing to the process? She with the most email addresses wins? That's what you want to win for?

So I'd like to propose that each of the big awards for crime fiction immediately add some new awards. In addition to Best Novel and Best Debut and Coolest Reader and those, perhaps the committees for these awards can institute awards Most Solicitous or Most Soliciting? Best Marketing Campaign. Most Egregious Etiquette Breach. Most Self-Deprecating Grovel for Attention. Greatest Twitter #Humblebrag. Most RTs of Positive Review. Most Clever Way To Rile Up One's Own Fans To Offset A Two-Star Review. And so on.

Once we can get this done, then we get the baseball writers to select one of their own for Biggest Jerk. They don't even have to be very good writers to win.

After all, many writers seem to care much more about winning a writing award than they care about the writing.
Dec 222013
 
Guest Post by Clayton Lindemuth

Paint the Picture, Not the Conclusion

Imagine you’re the commander and your platoon is under attack. You learn a private observed an enemy formation a short while before the mortars started falling. You’ll probably want to know several things, but the most urgent will be how many enemy did the private see, what equipment did they have, and what were they doing? Was it enemy, or the enemy that is attacking us?
To arrive at a clear understanding, you’ll want both the details the private remembers and the conclusions he drew. You’ll want the information delivered concisely. You may not agree with his conclusions, but they are integral to his report because they include information that contributed to his understanding. For example, the private might not know the hand signals given by the point man, but his interpretation that they were about to attack is relevant. You may not accept his deductions—as commander, your understanding of context might point you to a different belief. However, you will still value his insights because they tell you how he understood what he saw. As the commander, you want all of the information, and you’ll sort out its relevance.
Storytellers have different goals, however, and consuming a novel is a lot different than demanding a private report on a sighting of the enemy.
Is your reader like the commander?

First, lets consider the commander’s objectives. What does he want? To more fully understand his environment so he can take action that improves the odds of defeating the enemy. The commander is looking for survival and victory. Given these motivations, how likely is the following dialogue?
Mortars are falling. The ground shakes. You—as commander—and the private are hunkered in a hole. You say, “Sergeant Storm said you observed activity outside the perimeter a short while ago. What did you see, private?”
“Men.”
“How many?”
“Roughly fourteen.”
“What sort of men?”
“They appeared to be wearing camouflage.”
“Like ours or like the enemy’s?”
“Like our enemy wears.”
“What equipment did they have?”
“They had rifles, I think.”
“Did you see any other equipment?”
“Yes.”
“Well, dammit?”
“There appeared to be two men with giant tubes on their backs, and two others with sizable heavy obelisks.”
“You mean, like mortar crews?”
“Yes, exactly.”
“What were they doing?”
“They were walking slowly, slightly bent forward.”
“Where?”
“They were spread out over that hillside.”
“What direction were they moving?”
“Toward us.”
Can you hear the commander growing frustrated? In fact, can you imagine a scene like that playing out at all? It’s difficult to conceive of a private responding this way unless he is the token low-IQ guy in every Hollywood war movie. Given average intelligence, and that mortars are falling and bullets zipping, he’s more likely to say, “I saw an enemy patrol, fourteen men with rifles—maybe more—including two mortar teams. They were on the hill over there, and looked like they were preparing for an assault.”
Herein lies the difference between communicating as authors versus communicating in real life. Our goal is not to communicate. It is to create the desire to understand.
The storyteller has different objectives

The storyteller wants her readers to feel compelled to turn pages.
In real life and in fiction, we provide information to others so they can arrive at conclusions. The manner we provide the information affects the other person’s ability to draw a conclusion, thus is of prime importance to a storyteller. If the author fails her  primary objective of creating reader engagement, no other objective may be satisfied.
In real life we want answers. In fiction, we demand puzzles.
Although the private would not have spoken in the drawn-out manner of the dialogue above, it was nearly effective as fictional dialogue because it allows the reader to assemble information into a context and then guess about the relevance of the context. As authors, the more opportunities we create for our readers to draw their own conclusions, the more engaged they become.
Although the private never in the dialogue says the words patrol or attack, you—as a reader—had no problem making that leap, and as you assembled the information into a context, part of your engagement was based on creating and testing possible explanations that account for the facts, and eliminating the flawed ones.
We deliver information differently in story than real life.

As an example, imagine decades have passed. You’re sitting beside your grandfather, and unlike most who saw war, your grandfather is a storyteller. Instead of being his commander, you’re now his grandchild.
“So I was shaving out of my canteen cup with a broken piece of mirror, when my eye caught movement on the hill, way off.”
“What did you see, Grandpa?”
“Well it was the derntootinest thing. There were a bunch of them, walking slow, like this, kind of bent forward, had their rifles like this… spread out… all across the hill…”
“Who were they, Grandpa?”
“Well, they had on enemy uniforms…”
Obviously, Grandpa’s telling a story. The manner is piecemeal, not too unlike the dialogue with his commander from above, except that in the context of storytelling it makes sense to deliver facts slowly, allowing tension to build, and providing time for the audience to test hypotheses. Because the danger is long past, the goal is not to survive, but to keep the kids on the edge of their seats so they can feel the power of a story, and learn from it as if they were there. Grandpa gives enough information to provoke a question that furthers understanding, and judges the effectiveness of the story not by whether he is concise and clear, but by whether the kids remain deeply engaged.
Be like Grandpa.
To keep readers engaged, let them draw their own conclusions.
Clarity in fiction doesn’t come from telling readers what to think. It comes from drawing pictures so clear their conclusions eventually become inescapable. From this, a simple rule: Don’t avoid creating a clear picture by explaining the relevance of an obscure one. Meaning, if you collapse relevant action into a summary or a conclusion drawn by your protagonist, there’s a big chance you’re missing an opportunity to draw your reader into the story.
Instead, explore the text. Is there something you could show the reader to help her arrive at the conclusion on her own? What’s more powerful?
“She looked upset.”
or
“She threw the steak knife at me.”
What are your thoughts? Let’s unpack it more in the comments area.

--

Clayton Lindemuth’s debut novel Cold Quiet Country earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and inclusion on the Indie Next List. His short story Simple was included in Needle, and his follow up novels Nothing Save the Bones Inside Her and My Brother’s Destroyer, both released in December of 2013, follow the same “thrilling, visceral, and unsparing” rural noir tradition, and are now available on Amazon. Follow Clayton on twitter @claylindemuth.


Dec 192013
 
By Steve Weddle

Alex Segura's SILENT CITY will be sticking with me for a long time. In a way I was reminded a little of our own Dave White’s Jackson Donne, with an edgy Scudder twist, but Pete Fernandez is his own character.

The story opens as his life is falling apart, and things just get better from there. For the reader, at least. Pete doesn’t always fare so well. As a newspaper guy, I can tell you that the insider description of the newspaper was pretty spot on. You get the feel of the workplace and of the bar scene in Miami and the neighborhoods and the people.

From the music he enjoys to his slacker wardrobe, Pete is the kind of guy you can see right there, the sort of character you end up rooting for. Pixies. Talking Heads. What's not to like?

The trio of Pete, Emily, and Mike also works well. These people feel like old friends, the way they play off each other. Segura really puts you there, in the middle of the lives, their day-to-day existence. As Pete's life starts falling apart pieces at a time, you get to this points where you're hoping he won't take that next drink, won't do that next stupid thing.

And then his falling momentum begins to sync up with the plot's momentum, so that you're hurled forward in a story that gets more and more developed with each page.

The is a thrilling read that picks up speed with each page. This book was a fantastic debut in the mystery genre, and I’m ecstatic that Pete Fernandez has his own series.

Looking forward to more from Segura.

Check this out for more Silent City news from Alex Segura.