December 31, 2013

The Super Hero Craze, Part I


I see a lot people complaining about all the superhero movies, sequels, and remakes. I understand the griping, I really do.  However, I wouldn’t expect any of these to end anytime soon.

Look, there are some things you need to realize. Once you do, we will all be better off.

Yes, our creative landscape is shifting. Access to new technology and the shitty economy—unless you’re a millionaire, in which case the economy is awesome—has impacted the way we consume. Our buying, viewing, listening, and reading habits are all different now. But that landscape is still overseen by large corporations.

Now, corporations need to grow their profits to survive. That’s how capitalism works. When that growth is threatened—like it has been with our altered spending habits, corporations will do everything they can to maintain the profits they’re used to, with as little effort and risk as possible.

So we get more superhero movies, more sequels, and more remakes because corporations already own most of these properties and each of them offers: broad appeal, additional revenue streams, and annual event potential.

What do those three things mean? Well, they mean money. Plain and simple. Only consideration. Anything else that comes out of it? That's just happenstance.

I mean, take Nolan’s Batman movies. You know why we got Batman Begins? It didn’t have anything to do with “artistic vision” or “protecting the sanctity of the character”—those are artist's words and not readily within the corporate vocabulary. Very, very simply put: Christopher Nolan had already made Warner Brother’s a lot of money when he pitched his take on one of their existing properties that had already made them a lot of money.

So, in the companies eyes, the equation was like this: $$$+$$$=$$$$$$

That’s it.

You know what guaranteed Nolan a sequel? The first movie making a shit-ton of money.

That's it.


The fact that most of us consider the first movie to be good? That's luck. Luck that the stories Nolan wants to tell, the ones we think of as "good", are the ones that make money. As long as his stories make money, then he gets to keep making him. 

November 6, 2013

The Drifter Detective

The Drifter Detective is a brilliant start to a promising new series. Jack Laramie, the eponymous hero, is the grandson of Edward Grainger’s already established western protagonist, US Marshal Cash Laramie. The premise of a WWII vet driving around Texas looking for PI cases while living out of the horse trailer he keeps hitched to his DeSoto just begs to be turned into a television show, and this first entry would make a fantastic pilot thanks to the expert pacing and the lurid shades of Jim Thompson’s hardboiled psychosexual dramas.

A lot of writers now try to lay claim to some sort of pulp writer title but few of them understand or deserve it like Garnett Elliott. Elliot, quite simply, writes everything well, steadily producing engaging work in a variety of genres. His fiction is always superbly crafted in terms of prose, plot, and pacing. The Drifter Detective is certainly no exception. Honestly, the only flaw in this sharp 7,000 word masterwork is its brevity. Elliot has produced an engaging tale full of such fine characterization I really wanted it to simmer a bit longer before it boiled over.

Hopefully, if we're lucky, Jack’s travels will take him back to Clyde, Texas. Until then, I can’t wait to see what hell is up in Houston.

October 17, 2013

Tobacco-Stained Sky Review



There’s a nice review of The Tobacco-Stained Sky just posted here:


October 11, 2013

A Stevens Update



I’ve gotten a few messages, so here’s a pic to show that work does continue on my Shane Stevens biography. It’s simply that right now, nothing is going according to schedule.


September 26, 2013

Awful Moment of Awareness

Methotrexate
Your spouse is ill. A couple of weeks after she’s been on serious meds that keep her nauseous and on an old person’s sleep schedule, there’s this moment. It comes around 8:15 or so when you look over and see that she’s asleep already, again. That’s when you realize that you feel a little lonely and maybe being able to finally watch that crime film or the first season of the British horror series or that depressing sci-fi film from the 70s  isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be, and you feel a little bad for all those days you wished she’d leave you alone for a night so you could do whatever the hell you wanted to do.

That’s when you’re really struck with some eye-opening perspective on why you should be present and fully engaged in the moment.

The hard part, I think, the part I have trouble with, is to be present and engaged with every moment, because that awful moment of awareness, that moment of loneliness, is just as important.

September 25, 2013

Pugs Don't Chew

Killer, The Pug
Last Saturday, I was in the kitchen doing the dishes. The lovely wife was on the couch, trying to deal with her nausea from an upped methotrexate dose, and our pug was chewing a bone. I finished the first sinkful and had started scrubbing the pans when my wife called my name and yelled that the dog was choking.

I came in expecting him to just barf it up and figured I’d snatch the soggy bit away before he tried to eat it, again. This happens all the time--he’s a pug and they don’t like to chew.

After a couple of seconds watching him hunkered over, trying to cough it out, and his slinking around the carpet getting faster and more frantic, it quickly became obvious that that wasn't going to happen.

It was stuck.

I grabbed the phone so the wife could call the vet. By then, the dog had really started gasping and hacking, his tongue was changing colors, and ropes of foamy slaver came out of the sides of his mouth.

Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed the pug, pried open his mouth, and reached my fingers down his throat. I could feel the bit of chewbone and tried to move it. That sent him really panicking, panicking enough that he lost control of his bowels, then bit me pretty hard.

The wife relayed a couple of other suggestions from the vet, but none of them or my quick Google search did anything but send the pug into a worst, gasping panic and get me peed on.

So, without any other choice, it was 200 miles per hour to the vet. I don’t know how I didn’t get pulled over. I was covered in fluids, flying down the highway, driving on the shoulder honking my horn, and yelling at slow cars. The lovely wife was so tired from her methotrexate that she could barely function and didn't even have shoes on, but she held the dog and when he stopped breathing a couple of times in the car, but she managed chest compressions, doggie heimlich, and throat massages enough to get him and then keep him breathing.

We got to the vet and they took care of him right away. After just a couple minutes, Mr. Killer was back in our room and just fine.

When we got home, both the wife and I had our freak-out time. As rough as it was for me, I’ve never had something living that I cared about almost die in my arms, I can’t imagine what it was like for my wife.

The lessons I’ve tried to take from it are:
  • An overlooked gift that pets give us is the reminder to be present. Once it was over, the dog wasn’t bothered at all. he drank some water, took a nap until it was time to eat, sniffed around outside for ten minutes, then went back to napping.
  • The lovely wife and I make a good team. That's probably why we've made it 13 years come October.

September 13, 2013

Blood on the Milky Way


Ever since I saw Mad Max on Channel 4 when I was in elementary school, I’ve had a weakness for the post-apocalyptic genre. I remember, it aired on a Friday, so my mother actually let me stay up late and watch the whole thing. Even edited for television and badly-dubbed, after that first chase scene, I was hooked on the series and the genre (I’m even looking forward to Mad Max 4: Fury Road with Tom Hardy).

I suppose, then, it’s rather fitting that my first published post-apocalyptic story should take place in Australia. Set in the world of Andrez Bergen’s Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, “Blood on the Milky Way” is about the illegal milk trade in Melbourne, the last city on earth. Think Robert Mitchum’s Thunder Road meets Mad Max, only the souped-up automobile is loaded down with milk instead of whiskey.


It was a story that was a lot of fun to write and I think it’ll be a lot of fun for you to read. If the premise of my story interests you at all, I really hope you’ll check it out. And if it doesn’t, you should still check it out—the anthology is chocked full of a wide variety of stories by a host of great writers.

September 11, 2013

Blade of Dishonor

Then


You are 12 years old.


It’s your dad’s weekend. He buys a large meat pizza and a six pack of root beer, the kind that comes in those bottles that make it look like real beer. You convince him to rent a VHS tape from the grocery store. He lets you pick and you chose a direct-to-video Golan-Globus ninja flick.


It’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.


Before your father returns it, you watch it 32 ½ times: reading the credits, memorizing dialogue, and mastering when to hit pause for the best look at the hot redhead.


On Monday, after your mom’s new boyfriend drops you off at school, you tell all your buddies about it: a samurai sword in the hero’s uncle’s  pawnshop leads to an international showdown with ninjas and yakuza (you explain that’s the Japanese Mafia and your friends nod in awe) and they must have used real ninjas because no one could fake that stuff.


You leave off the part about how someday you want to marry that redhead.


Now


You are in your 30s.


You never forgot that movie, but are convinced you’ll never seen it again….until your wife gives you the newly-released Blu-Ray for your birthday. You thank her profusely and tell yourself again that marrying her was the best thing you ever did, which makes it easier when you watch it and you break down in tears because it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen and what happened to the movie you remembered!?!?!


Well, it never existed.

Until now, and you can thank Thomas Pluck.


Kindle:



Print:

July 29, 2013

The Anarchist Has Left The Building



On Saturday, July 27, 2013, after I finished proofing the print copy of Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats, I sent the small list of corrections to Brian Roe. I was floored the next day when I got on Facebook and saw that Mick Farren was dead. He had been performing at the Borderline Club in London the day before, as part of the Atomic Sunshine Festival, when he collapsed on stage.


I don’t really know what to say, except that he was one of my idols, he was a fellow Gene Vincent fan, he was kind enough to write the introduction to my anthology, and I think of him as my friend.

I'm glad he died on stage with his boots on, but most of all I'm glad he didn't die in America—far worse than being a country that had come to frighten him, we are a country he couldn't afford to die in.


"Much of what we now call the paranormal is, I'm quite convinced, the product of forms of science and mathematics we have yet to even approach. As to the knowledge of our inevitable death being a spur to inquiry and creativity, I think it's much more basic than that. Humans are curious monkeys who stood on their hind legs to look over the tall grass, and we just can't stop doing it. In fact, I actually do my best to ignore individual mortality. My real hope and faith is that the Ancient Tribe of the Searching Ones will survive and continue, and that I can in my own way add a couple of insights to the common store of knowledge theory and fantasy. That's what really continues." —Mick

July 23, 2013

The Same Little Tune

A passage from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, Volume #1: Say You Want A Revolution, has been stuck in my head for the last couple of days:

"Your head’s like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of the oceans and the turning of the stars. 
Whole universes fit in there!  
But what do we chose to keep in this miraculous little cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. 
The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune’s all we are."


July 17, 2013

A Secret Passion For Mercy

“There are certain families whose members should all live in different towns— different states, if possible—and write each other letters once a year.”
The Blue Hammer, Ross MacDonald
Yesterday on the way home from yet another doctor’s appointment for the lovely wife, WTTS played Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” For a moment, it hit me kind of hard because it’s one of those songs and lately, in the midst of so much turmoil, I’ve been terrible at being present—my thoughts sometimes get away from me to twist and turn down strange and emotional paths.

But it was only for a moment. After that moment, I felt a lot better.

Why?

Because Zevon's song led my thoughts to Ross MacDonald.
“The Archer novels are about various kinds of brokenness.” —Ross MacDonald
When the series began with The Moving Target in 1949, Lew Archer is a typical hardboiled hero investigating the usual hardboiled crimes that involve money and blackmail, then lead to the usual murder, another one after that, and probably, at least, one more for good measure. Though that’s not to say the early books are bad books. They’re not. There’s a reason Anthony Boucher called The Way Some People Die, the third book in the series, “The best novel in the tough tradition I've read since Farewell, My Lovely and possibly since The Maltese Falcon.”

But they’re not as good as the later books. MacDonald doesn’t find his voice until The Doomsters. And he doesn't understand it or his character until his next book, The Galton Case:
“Almost twenty years have passed since Anthony Galton disappeared, along with a suspiciously streetwise bride and several thousand dollars of his family's fortune. Now Anthony's mother wants him back and has hired Lew Archer to find him. What turns up is a headless skeleton, a boy who claims to be Galton's son, and a con game whose stakes are so high that someone is still willing to kill for them.”
With the 8th book in the series and the ten more that would follow, MacDonald sits aside a lot of the hard-boiled junk and focuses on themes of identity, family secrets, childhood trauma, and relationships between men and women. Archer goes from your standard tough guy to a world-weary, surrogate father who races against time —does the man ever sleep—to save a whole host of desperate young people from their parents' sins.

Why the change?

I don't know.  As a writer, it's sometimes hard to trust in yourself, even if you've got a number of bestsellers under your belt. Growing up, Kenneth Millar [MacDonald's real name] had a very difficult childhood. In 1956, his daughter Linda Millar, a trouble teenager herself, killed a boy in a hit-and-run. Maybe it took all those things coming together—the trusting in his skills, confronting his own troubled past and his daughter's troubled future—to begin crafting what's been called “The finest series of crime novels ever written by an American.”
“I used to think the world was divided into good people and bad people, that you could pin responsibility for evil on certain definite people and punish the guilty. I’m still going through the motions.”The Moving Target, Ross MacDonald
So what does this have to do with Warren Zevon?

Paul Nelson, a friend of Warren’s and the man who wrote “The Crack-up and Resurrection of Warren Zevon” for Rolling Stone magazine in 1981, was the first person to relate the story of Ross MacDonald’s intervention.

In brief: Zevon was a big Lew Archer fan. Nelson knew MacDonald from an interview he had done. Nelson called MacDonald. MacDonald showed up at Zevon’s house, and the two talked for several hours. “And I found myself telling him things that I'd never told anybody,” Zevon said later, remembering the day. “...Ken Millar made me realize that I wrote my songs despite the fact that I was a drunk, not because of it.”

The next day, following their conversation, Zevon re-entered his detox program.

"You have a secret passion for justice. Why don't you admit it?"
"I have a secret passion for mercy. But justice is what keeps happening to people."
The Goodbye Look, Ross MacDonald

July 9, 2013

On This Day

I’ve always much preferred Dashiell Hammett over Raymond Chandler. The preference comes down to a lot of different things and not just that I think Hammett was the better writer. There's a fundamental difference between the two that I think James Ellroy explained best:

“Chandler wrote the man he wanted to be—gallant and with a lively satirist's wit. Hammett wrote the man he feared he might be—tenuous and skeptical in all human dealings, corruptible and addicted to violent intrigue.”

But today is another reminder of why Hammett remains firmly on my list of literary heroes. On this day in 1951, Dashiell Hammett was sentenced to contempt of court for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. The 57-year-old writer served his time in the West Virginia Federal Penitentiary, where he was assigned the job of cleaning toilets.

Years later, according to Lillian Hellman, when questioned about it, Hammett replied, "I don't know why. I guess it has something to do with keeping my word but I don't want to talk about that.... I hate this damn kind of talk, but maybe I better tell you that if it were more than jail, if it were my life, I would give it for what I think democracy is, and I don't let cops or judges tell me what I think democracy is."

June 26, 2013

What's Your Anger Mean? Anything?

When word broke that a project called Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women, a seduction guide with advice that constitutes harassment and rape, was about to pull in over $16,000 ($14,000 over its fundraising goal) the internet erupted into righteous fury.

I don’t know about you but all my social media was full of outrage. Almost as soon as they heard about it, people condemned it on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. People were writing blogpost after blogpost.

Kickstarter panicked and their panic lead to inaction. After Ken Hoinsky got his $16K, Kickstarter issued an apology, banned seduction guides, and donated $25,000 to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). *


So the question now is:


IS YOUR OUTRAGE WORTH MORE THAN A LIKE AND A RANTY BLOGPOST?

*Should be noted too that Kickstarter will be able to write their donation off their taxes.*

June 8, 2013

Referral Contest

Okay, not much time left on the Hoods campaign. So here’s the deal--

REFERRAL CONTEST:

As long as you're logged in with your Indiegogo account, the campaign page gives YOU a specific link that I can track back to YOU.

Or, if you don't have an Indiegogo account, when you make a donation, for as little as a dollar, then the site gives YOU a special link that I can track back to YOU.

So, start sharing.

Once the campaign is over, then I'll take a look at the dashboard. Whoever draws the most people to the campaign, will get a signed copy of the book. If you've already ordered a copy, then I'll send you the poster; if you're already getting the poster, then I'll send you one of the pin-ups. If you're one of the two people in for the whole thing, then I'll come up with something else cool.

June 6, 2013

Couple of Things

Sabrina Ogden was kind enough to let me ramble about my story in Feeding Kate. You can check that out right here, if you haven’t already.

______________________________________



Photograph by: JR Madrasto.
The campaign for Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is still cruising along. You can visit it and donate here, and check out my short interview by Paul Brazill here.

May 17, 2013

Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats Campaign



The Indiegogo campaign for Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is live! Pay it a visit for no other reason than to assuage your curiousity about what my voice sounds like.

The Skinny
Hoods, Hot Rods, And Hellcats is an anthology of original crime fiction set in Postwar America, the era that gave birth to our consumer driven culture. For the emergent superpower, a good consumer was a patriot. Dollars bought "happiness" and undermined the diabolical Red menace. Even more than that, a good consumer was a homogenized suburbanite—making Draper's job cake.

However, for the men and women changed by the war, accepting the lockstep didn’t come easy—if at all. If you throw in the "teen-ager" and a bunch of hillbillies singing rock'n'roll, you've got trouble...

"...the world of Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats is a dirty cocktail of fact, fable, fears, and fantasies. The 1950s are recreated one more time but here it's with a savage, razor-honed edge you'll never find in Grease, Happy Days, or American Graffitti." —From the Introduction

There's murder and robbery, shootouts and knife fights, car chases and drag races, good girls and bad girls, and a lot of troubled men. Hoods opens with a brilliant introduction from counterculture icon Mick Farren, then busts you in the mush with eight lengthy tales from Eric BeetnerChad EagletonMatthew FunkChristopher GrantHeath LowranceDavid James KeatonNik Korpon, and Thomas Pluck.

  • A young woman constructs her murderous identity from her father's stash of lurid paperbacks.
  • A hot rod mechanic's relationship with his troubled wife redlines when his brother returns home from the War.
  • Passing through a small town, a former Marine finds his girl and a whole lot of trouble.
  • A pair of brothers on a robbery spree cut a bloody swath through the Southwest until they encounter a little girl with a stuffed rabbit.
  • A young boy discovers just how far he'll go for rock 'n' roll.
  • A lonely girl and an emotionally scarred vet face a beachside showdown with a violent motorcycle gang.
  • A teenager follows the girl of his dreams into a high-octane nightmare.
  • Two generations of men named Jake obsess over a girl named Cherry.


What's The Big Deal?
Hoods, Hot Rods, And Hellcats is written and edited. The e-book editions are gorgeously formatted thanks to Jaye Manus' skills. And Brian Roe of RSquared Studios is completing the final formatting on the print edition now. Each edition offers its own visual experience.

So then you’re wondering, "Where do I come in?"

I'll clue you. I know it's far out, but brace for it....okay, are you ready? Here it is—
I think people deserve to actually get paid for their work.

Sounds kookie, I know, but that's where you come in. Your money will cover the cost of the donation level gifts and ensure that the contributors earn something more than a promise and a writing credit.

Patched In
No bread but still want patched in with the cool kids? Give us a share, a like, a tweet, or maybe even a blog post.

April 28, 2013

Suffering


My parents.

Friday night when I got home from work, my Mom called. I answered the phone and she told me that my dad had been in the hospital with double-pneumonia since Wednesday. Once admitted, the doctors also determined that he has congestive heart failure and had to perform surgery to place a stint. They also confirmed what we already knew--that he was in the first stages of Alzheimer's.

We talked for a moment. She said he was okay right now, and the reason she didn’t call was she didn’t want to worry me in the middle of the work week when she knew how much I had on my plate already. I mumbled something or other. Mom said she was tired and going to bed.

I hung up and walked back into the living room. The lovely wife asked me what was the matter. I asked for a minute, focused on nothing, and then took a deep breath. I repeated what my mother had told me. I saw Maria’s face, could tell that she was starting to get upset and struggling to keep it down even as she asked if I was okay and what could she do to help.

I shrugged. Took another deep breath. Then said, “Nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Maria asked if I was sure, I nodded, and we went on about her night.

Much later, lying in bed, so many things tried to seize control of my thoughts. My father was going to die. It is a simple idea that carries a lot of sharp. It’s like thinking about early man discovering weapons, you know? After having cut themselves by accident on sharp rocks or stabbed a rough hand with a splinter, picturing that moment when one of them, maybe the smartest and by corollary the saddest of the tribe, realized that this jagged bit of rock here in his hand? You could use that to purposefully pierce flesh. This thing that had always been there suddenly carried a different meaning. It was like that, I think.

My brother.
You know I experienced death when I was very young. My brother was killed in a car accident when I was around six years old. One of the best things my mother did was to explain it to me with no bullshit. That he was dead and I wouldn’t see him again and everything dies and everything will die. Some people think that means a lot of different things, but what everyone knows is that he’s dead and he was gone. She didn’t even raise a fuss during the funeral when I threw a fit outside because I didn’t want to see Nathan in the casket. If he was gone, I didn’t want to stare at meat, didn’t want the image of meat stealing the memories of my brother breathing. I’m very glad for that, especially knowing that she couldn’t have conceived that someday it would lead me to where I was this morning, with a mala in my hand.

But the thought of my father dying fucked me up for a long moment in the quiet night. It drudged up all our bullshit. The anger, the hurt feelings, the emotional distance...a damn laundry list of dysfunction. Worst of all, in the vulnerability of the dark, by proxy it reaffirmed that someday the dog is going to die, Maria is going to die, and I’m going to die.

My mind started going. Even though I know this is where suffering begins, with mental attachments to transient things, it started racing. As it raced, it gathered so many other things with it. Maria’s failing eyesight, the dog’s failing mobility, my friend Gabe’s Huntington’s Disease, and, this is probably the one you’ll have the most trouble with my reader and it would take too long to explain, the subtle way my mother refused to acknowledge my adulthood by calling when and how she did.

I took control of my thoughts by imagining a candle burning in the darkness. I focused on the candle. The image of the flame. The way it guttered and flared. When all those thoughts I had pushed to the side threatened to cloud the image, I’d focus on being present, how it felt lying there with Maria on one side, the dog on the other.

There is no moment, but this one.

When my thoughts were pushed back to the corners, I returned to the mental image of the flame until my mind quieted and, in quieting, submitted to sleep.

April 24, 2013

Sweet The Small Stuff



When people learn you’re a writer, they always assume that you have perfect grammar and expert spelling skills. I think I’m okay with both but wouldn’t use the words perfect or expert to refer to either. I have too many hang-ups and weird mental blocks.

For example, let's take the words sweet and sweat. Easy to mix up when you’re typing and the words are coming quick. They’re up there with a word like, well, their. It’s why you learn not to trust spellcheck. However, for me, sweet and sweat are guaranteed to be used incorrectly in the first draft, and probably somewhere in the second too.

I don’t know why. If nothing else I should just be able to memorize which is which, but I can’t. I mean, okay, so sweat means to perspire and sweet means pleasing or sugary tasting. Now, how do you spell what you do with food?

E-A-T.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Since my mind can’t get past that, sweet and sweat are on now on my revision checklist. Though you still probably don’t want me to proofread a love note to your sweaty or the card thanking your Gram Gram for the nice sweeter.

_________________________________
Addendum:
You can also add "speech" to the list of words I constantly misspell, as seen here in the comments section of +Thomas Pluck's excellent interview with +Dan O'Shea.

April 21, 2013

Burial



I haven’t been reading as much as I used to. My time is devoured by an increasingly busy day job, the lovely wife’s health issues, and making time to write. What’s left usually goes to either sleep or brain shut-down in front of the television set. When I have sat down to read, my patience is thin. Doorstop thrillers or fantasy novels are a no-go. A writer has a short window to grab me with something before I put down the book. Assuming the writer can pull that off, next comes the true test: can my attention be caught again after several days, maybe even a week between readings?



When I came across Burial at the library booksale, I was excited. The plot sounded engaging:
“Everyone makes mistakes.
But what if your biggest mistake was something you could never live down?
Something so awful and despicable that it weighs daily on your soul?
Nathan has never been able to forget the worst night of his life.  Only he and an old acquaintance know what really happened and they have made a pact to keep silent. Now, years later, a knock on his door brings terrifying news.  Old wounds are suddenly reopened, threatening to tear Nathan's whole world apart, as he comes face to face with the bleak landscape of lies and deception that has become his life. Burial is the story of one man’s obsession with redemption. Can you ever really bury your guiltiest secret?”
Carrying the book around wouldn't cause a hernia, and Burial is written by Neil Cross. Cross is probably best known to American audiences as the head writer of MI5 (Spooks in the UK) and the writer/creator of Luther. His novels are finally becoming more readily available in the US thanks to the popularity of his BBCAmerica vehicle with Idris Elba.

At only $2 for a hardcover copy, it was no-brainer.

When I started it that night after I got home from work, I thought had a made a mistake. The opening is almost all dialogue and the prose is typical, all tough-guy crime novel terse. I sighed, thinking it was going to read like a lengthy screen treatment.

I was wrong.

After the knock on the door, Cross takes us back to the beginning of Nathan's psychological hell and shows us the writing chops that make Luther one of the best shows on television: the prose style becomes focused and poetic, the dialogue spot-on, and the tension very real--growing not out of increasing violent confrontations or Bruckheimer showdowns, but understandable mistakes stemming from a fully-realized human being in awful circumstances. It was incredibly refreshing to read crime fiction that was character driven and about normal people, not cops and criminals or hitmen and junkies.

Cross easily stood the time test and is now one of my go-to authors. You should give him a chance, maybe while you're waiting for the third and final series of Luther.


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