Dec 182014

Every year I tell you all what my favorite PI reads of the year were…
Well, here are my favorites again…

BEST PI NOVEL: Wolverine Bros Freight & Storage (Conway Sax) by Steve Ulfelder
BEST DEBUT: Silent City (Pete Fernandez) by Alex Segura
BEST NEW PI: Gypsy Moran (in Wink of an Eye) by Lynn Chandler Willis
BEST ACTION SCENES: Jianghu (Randall Lee) by Charles Colyott

I also want to thank Keith Dixon and Sean Dexter for helping me bring out my own stuff again.

Jianghu (Randall Lee) by Charles Colyott

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Jan 142014

Randall Lee has become a friend of mine and I’ve fallen in love with his girlfriend. That means I’m eager to see how they are doing every time a new book starring them comes out.
Both aren’t doing too well at the start of this one, the aftermath of the previous novel is pretty big and that seems only realistic.
The links between his own murdered child and a missing girl prompt Randall to aid an investigator who specializes in missing children. What he uncovers is such a big steaming mess of vile shit you will feel like you have to wash yourself after reading this story. Luckily Randall’s sense of humor is still intact so he can guide us through this dark world without it all becoming so dark you can’t finish it.
Aiding him are a serial killer who kills serial killers (and makes Dexter look like a pussy), a hacker girl and his old mentor who would have left The Karate Kid blubbering like a baby. Together they face rapists, killers and freaky sex using martial arts, knives and crazy steroids. This one is a much a horror story (without supernatural elements) as a detective story. That’s no surprise though because Charles has written a lot of horror in his day.
In fact, there’s several links to Charles’ other fiction (like a story in Uncommon Assassins) that make this read extra interesting if you’ve read more by this author. Randall is part of what seems to be a regular Collyotverse.
I will be there in Randall’s next one and the teaser at the ending of this novel made sure I am already counting the days until I can read it.

Pressure Point (Randall Lee) by Charles Colyott

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Jan 022013

I guess this one could be billed “The Big Sleep meets Bloodsport” if they wanted to sell the movie rights. It wouldn’t do justice to this very enjoyable crime / action thriller featuring my favorite PI of 2012, Randall Lee.
The acupuncturist and Tai Chi master gets involved with a dangerous new drug, trying to help out his cop friend Knox. When he discovers ties to a secret Mixed Martial Arts tournament he ends up confronting his own dark past and the old friends that he shared it with.
I really like the sarcastic and funny voice of Randall that Charles uses to tell the story. You really are taken along the ride with him, feeling his pain and sharing his love for hot punkrock girl Tracy.
The action scenes are even better than in the first novel (Changes)and I loved the references to old martial arts movie stars like the great Cynthia Rothrock.
I did think this one was even more violent and darker, which might make it too dark for some readers. Randall is really taken through a wringer in this one, but thanks to his funny voice it never became unbearable for me.
A great second entry in a great new series.

Dec 242012

It is the end of the year again, so time to tell you about my favorite PI reads of the year…

BEST PI NOVEL: Whiskey Island (Milan Jacovich) by Les Roberts
BEST DEBUT: Frame Up (Fenway Burke) by James Phoenix
BEST NEW PI: Randall Lee in Changes by Charles Collyot
BEST ACTION SCENES: Ressurected (Adam Wolf) by Steve Trotter

Special mention to Jim Cliff’s Jake Abrahams who was a close runner-up for Best New PI.

I’m pleased that Les Roberts still manages to put out books that are quite traditional PI but still feel new and fresh.
James Phoenix just blew me away with his debut that is so full of love of the genre.
Charles’ Randall Lee is just one of the coolest characters in genre fiction and I’m enjoying his second outing (Pressure Point) right now. I love the guy and his girlfriend even more.
Steve Trotter managed to put out a great action movie in Kindle form with the first Adam Wolf novel that has me longing for a second one.

I was really pleased to see Tom Lowe return to crime fiction with The Butterfly Forest and to finally interview Charles Knief.

Special thanks this year to O’Neill DeNoux, Sean Dexter and Phillip T. Duck for helping my books become better and James W. Hall for writing a fantastic blurb for me.

And of course a great, great thanks for all of you buying the Noah Milano and Mike Dalmas stories and reviewing them!

Changes (Randall Lee) by Charles Colyott

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Sep 072012

An acupuncturist as a detective? That sounds a bit strange, but when he’s a Tai Chi expert and as witty and wisecracking as Elvis Cole and Spenser you might start to understand Randall Lee can be a Son of Spade.
Asked to help as a translator with the murder investigation of a Chinese masseuse Randall gets way to involved, being forced to take on a master of the martial arts.
Lee has an interesting backstory, full of darkness and pain that make him a tragic protagonist. He keeps himself alive with booze, his work and his attitude. When he falls in love he is forced to show his real, tender self.
What makes this book so great is how ”real” the scenes between Lee and his wonderfully attractive girlfriend are. You really start to identify early with Randall in a way that surpasses even the way I used to identify with Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware. He’s also a lot tougher by the way.
The mystery is okay, the martial arts action great, the dialogue fantastic. One of my favorite reads of the year.

Q & A with Charles Colyott

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Apr 172012

I interviewed multi-talented Taoist and writer Charles Colyott about his Randall Lee series.

Q: What makes Randall Lee different from other hardboiled detectives?
I like to think of him as a sort of Taoist detective… His methods are intuitive, and he just sort of goes with things as they happen. He’s not a conventional detective , although along the way you see him sort of trying to be one. He’s at his best, though, when he just goes where things take him.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
It was a strange process, really. I typically write horror, dark fantasy, that sort of thing, but when I decided that I wanted to try out writing a mystery, I had no idea where to start. Then the first murder came to me.
And when I figured out what had happened to the girl I suddenly knew just the guy for the job of finding her killer. So he just appeared, really. And as I wrote I found out things about him. I’ve never had anything like that happen in any other project.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
I think it’s a good thing. A lot of people have a lot of concerns about the amount of self published stuff, and the quality of it all… but readers are pretty good at figuring out what is good and what is crap.
For me, it’s been great… Changes has been in the works for a long time. I had an agent and did things the traditional way, and it just didn’t work. Because, while everyone said that they loved the book, no one knew how to market it. I got really bizarre comments like, “It’s too ‘oriental.'” So, eventually, I decided to put it out on my own. And the funny thing is that – so far, anyway – the readers “get” it. No one’s written me to tell me that they would have liked it better if only it had been just like something else that they had already read. They like that it’s different.

Q: What’s next for you and Randall?
Randall will be back this summer with his next adventure, Pressure Point.
As for me, Black, the first book in my dark fantasy/romance/martial arts epic series is coming out literally any day now, and I’m working to finish up the sequel to that one for later this year. I have a teen romance(?!) in the works that’s about 85% finished. And I’m doing a collaboration with Glen Krisch (Brother’s Keeper, Loss) that should be really interesting. And really twisted.

Q: How do you promote your work?
I’m still working that out, myself. I mean, I do the standard social networking and stuff, but it’s tough to know what hits and what doesn’t.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I like them all. Mostly, I like to blend them up into things that are recognizable but unique.

Q: What’s your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I love those guys. Bubba Rogowski, too. They get to be sort of the yin to the hero’s yang, y’know? I think a lot of detective characters operate off of a moral code that wouldn’t let them be that dark, but they need that shadow figure who will do the things that they can’t bring themselves to consider.

Q: In the last century we’ve seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation?
I don’t know. There’s so much talent out there now, but for me… I mean, I can still pick up something by Chandler and just be amazed by his writing. And I pretty much have a shrine to Parker set up in my house. I just started getting into Macdonald (I know, shameful) so I still have a lot of those to learn from. I guess what I’m saying is that I hope the coming generations can still take the time to learn from the masters.

Q: James Tucker came up with the following question: Have you ever been involved in a crime?
Hehe… define “involved.” And while you’re at it, define “crime.”

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Why write a PI story? For me, it’s almost a superhero story, or a Knight’s tale… there is that mythic aspect to it. You have a regular guy (or gal) who is able to do what the system can’t do. And you have that moral code that I mentioned before… Think about how many of these detectives turn down payment, and how many of them struggle to do what’s right, even at a cost. I think a lot of people don’t see this kind of stuff in the real world.

I think these stories are a way to try to reaffirm a sense of good and evil in a modern time, and to be able to tell ourselves that there are still heroes out there.