Mar 262015


People say you should never judge a book by its cover, and while that may be true, its also foolish to think that a book cover bears no weight on one’s decision to invest in reading a book. When I was walking through Barnes N’ Noble, I only picked up Lauren Beukes’ novel, Broken Monsters, because the cover caught my interest. However, it was the synopsis, and online reviews that actually piqued my interest enough to purchase this book. I had hopes that this would be a cool avant garde horror novel that would serve as a good read while bored at work, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this was a story worth losing sleep over. It does start off slow, as each chapter is from the perspective of a different character and none, except the detective and her daughter, seem to relate. However, once their stories begin to connect to one another, it becomes increasingly difficult to put down until you suddenly realize it’s 4:00 AM and you are too spooked to sleep without a light on. 

Come for the cover, jacket copy, and online reviews—and stay for the imaginative, propulsive writing.

Mar 252015
One of the most important reasons I developed the Shamus Sampler series of anthologies was that the Private Eye Writers of America didn't seem to put out theirs anymore. Lucky for me, they're back with this one, as always expertly edited by Robert J. Randisi. I'm sorry he didn't do introductions for each tale, used to love those.
The running theme, as can be guessed a bit by the title is sex. Some graphic and kinky, some more implied. Some tales didn't really seem to be real PI tales to me, but of course that wasn't advertised either. A LOT of them are, I'm happy to say, though.
Among the writers are Carolina Garcia-Aquilera, Justin Scott, Gary Phillips, Jerry Kennealy, Michael Bracken, Christine Matthews, Robert J. Randisi, Warren Murphy, Ted Fitzgerald, Dick Lochte, and John Lutz. I loved seeing Max Allan Collins with a Nate Heller story and Jerry Kennealy put in a short and sweet Nick Polo tale. The fact there's a VI Warshawski tale in it should sell some extra copies. Some tales are a bit raunchier than others, Bracken's probably the more hardcore one. If you don't like that kind of stuff, don't worry, it is at the beginning but  not indicative to the rest.
Special mention should go to Ted Fitzgerald's Tex Texeira who is a PI that does background checks for a nudie magazine. I thought that idea was very original and the tale very enjoyable. @Ted: if you are reading this, be sure to contact me for an interview.
Mar 252015
Man, as much as I love Ace Atkins writing Spenser, here's a guy that would be able to continue that series really well. This is totally new book featuring Wyatt Storme that will have me pick up the reprints coming soon as well for sure.
Wyatt Storme is an ex-football player and Vietnam veteran who is visited by his old pal and psycho sidekick, the ex-CIA agent Chick Easton. Chick asks him for help protecting a bad boy movie-star during the shoot of a Western movie. There's also an old enemy of Storme lurking around.
Storme is a really cool guy, a real John Wayne kind of guy. Tall, honest, kind to women and a bit of a loner. He also gets in quite a few witty lines in the Spenser veign. Chick is an almost superhuman sidekick, where there's of course some comparisons to Hawk
The story is paced well with enough twists and action and a shift to the POV of Storme's old enemy that nevers confuses or annoys.
Great, old-fashioned PI writing and a MUST for fans of Spenser, Elvis Cole or my own Noah Milano.
One of my favorite books of the year so far.
Feb 062015
Every time I seem to think I am tiring of the PI genre maybe another novel like this one pops up and affirms my love of the genre.
I loved the first one in this series so I was excited to read this one and it didn't disappoint. In fact, I loved it even more than the first book. The story flows better and faster, the prose is even tighter and the mystery more interesting.
Haunted by the memories of the man he killed and the death of his wife Rick Cahill now works as a PI for a larger firm, snapping pictures of cheating husbands and wives. When a lawyer (great, fun character) asks him to prove a young man did not murder his family he gets involved with a dangerous group of bikers.
As he investigates the case gets more and more personal and in the end Cahill is forced to face his demons and embrace his dark side. The ending might really surprise you and had me anxiously awaiting book 3.
This is shaping up to be one of my favorite new series.
Jan 272015
I pretty much enjoyed the first one in this series so I was eager enough to read this one.
When a parking cop is killed Jules Landau is hired to find out who did it. Jules is still pretty new at this game, but he's got a good mentor who is unfortunately very old so might not be around for long.
His investigation takes him into Chicago corruption and has him falling for a beautiful Georgian baker while he is forced to take on the Georgian Mob as well.
It's all pretty standard modern day PI stuff but written with heart and I fell in love with the Georgian baker a bit. I have to admit I didn't enjoy it as much as the first novel which had that special first novel energy this one lacks.
Still, if you want a solid PI series that ticks all the necessary boxes of the genre you will like this one.
Dec 302014
This is one dark tale...
Protagonist Bird is an information broker, not an official PI. In this book he is hired to find a missing daughter but ends up investigating her father's death.
While that in itself is not the most original plot the satisfying slow but gritty way the story is told as well as the originality of Bird's occupation and the sheer coolness of this character makes this one a great read.
Often I was reminded of Vachss' Burke novels or Lawrence Block's Scudder series. Yep, that good.
Bird is really a hardboiled detective, owing more to the Black Mask boys then Parker or Crais. The story is set in the nineties which makes sure the internet and cell phones don't spoil some of the story, so Bird has to knock on a lot of doors to find the answers he needs.
Dec 132014
I'm not known for reviewing non-fiction but sometimes I read a book that makes such great background material / research for PI writers I make an exception. And hey, there's a blurb by PI writing star Sue Grafton on the cover.
In this book we read how amateur investigators manage to help solve crimes while surfing the web.
The author details in an engaging almost thriller-like style how citizens helped give the Trent Girl a name and solved other mysteries. The focus isn't just on the cases though, we also get to know the dedicated sleuths that dedicate their free time to these investigations.
An interesting, easy to read book that will inspire my fellow writers for sure, written by a true crime writer that Vance Custer would look up to.
Dec 132014
Michael ''Gypsy" Moran returns home to the town called Wink after a few years as a PI in Vegas. One of his sister's students' dad has killed himself... At least that's the official story. Gypsy is asked to unravel the truth about this death, an investigation that has him investigating the sheriff's department and missing female illegal immigrants.
Aside from those investigations he also has to deal with his ex-wife making life hard for him as well as his feelings for a beautiful reporter...And then there's this nasty snake.
This is the winner of this year's PWA Best First Private Eye Novel, so it has to be good, right? Right.
What this one has going for itself are a PI that is very human and fallible, but still a good professional investigator AND some pretty good character development / depth.
Lynn writes in a very convincing male voice, but manages to give it all just that bit extra with her female insights, making the female characters just that extra bit believable.

Dec 042014
Here's another fun AND dark novel in this enjoyable series.
Dev Haskell spots and old flame (he seems to have had thousands) in a bar. She's called Crickett and has a kid that has him wondering if he's the dad. Crickett's sometime lover was arrested with a whole lot of drugs. Dev is asked to prove his innocense, getting into a conflict with crime lord Tubby Gustafson and his psychopathic enforcer, Bulldog.
That's where stuff gets pretty dark as our hero has to survive a very dangerous situation. A situation involving a large special kind of bubble in a very cinematic and creepy scene that is the most exciting part of the novel.
Enjoyable as always.
Dec 042014
I have to applaud Brash Books for bringing back some awesome PI novels like the Streeter-series and this one...
Korean War vet and ex-reporter Peter Bragg is hired by retired mobster Armando Barker to find out who is threatening his daughter. The investigation takes Bragg to small California desert town that seems to be at war.
This is one 100% classic hardboiled PI novel that really echoes books like Red Harvest. There is little to distinguish tough and cynical romantic Bragg from any other PI but that's part of what made this one so enjoyable. It's simply everything you want in a PI novel if you're a fan. Tough guys, hot babes, mystery, gun fights... You get the picture.
I'm already looking forward to more Bragg...