Saturday, May 25, 2013


The British bring their own distinct flavor to the gangster film genre.  I've written a piece about one of the best British gangster films ever made, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, over at Criminal Element. You can click here to read it: The Long Good Friday.

Monday, May 20, 2013


It's Noir at the Bar time again soon in New York City.  That means a whole crew of crime writers reading from their works and a whole bunch of booze to lubricate the proceedings.  I'll be taking part for the first time and the list of writers who'll be participating is truly something else.  Jedidiah Ayres, Dennis Tafoya, Reed Farrel Coleman, Rob W. Hart, Dana C. Kabel, Keith Gilman, Jim Baker, Justin Porter, Todd Robinson, Josh Bazell, and Keiran Shea will all be there reading. 

Swing by for a night of great fiction, the enjoyable darkness that is noir. 

The place: Shade Bar in Greenwich Village. The date: Sunday May 26h. The event's starting time: 6PM sharp.

Did I mention (I think I did) there'll be lots of drinking?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


In my last post here, I was talking about the fun I had reading Jake Hinkson's THE POSTHUMOUS MAN, a superb noir novella.  Continuing on in the novella vein, I moved on after Hinkson's book to Jedidah Ayres' FIERCE BITCHES. I'd pre-ordered it from Crime Factory Publications in Australia, intrigued by the advance stuff I read about it - how ferocious it is, how original, how well-written. Hadn't read Ayres' previous book, A F*CKLOAD OF SHORTS, so though eager to get into FIERCE BITCHES (if I can say that) I didn't know what to expect. Well, it's always nice when the build-up is not only met but actually exceeded by the reading experience.

If there is such a thing as hallucinatory noir, FIERCE BITCHES is it.  Beginning in a hell-hole of a desert town in Mexico, the book takes you on a wild journey.  In the short time it takes to read, you cover a lot of territory. There are pimps, derelict fugitives, and a number of very interesting whores. I won't say much more because to say too much is to spoil the pleasure of unpredictability this book holds.   Suffice to say it's a very condensed and visual book and has some scenes of absolutely phantasmagorical violence. Even at its most violent, though, it is written in beautiful terse prose - it's one of those books where I reread several passages just to enjoy the sound and rhythm again.   Ayres is in total control of what he's doing throughout.  I don't really want to compare it to anything because it is its own thing, no question, but like many a terrific work, it has echoes of other great stuff - the town of Politoburg reminds me a bit of the hellish place Jim Thompson's two characters end up in THE GETAWAY, and there's a Cormac McCarthy feel at times to the Biblical fury and righteousness of the violence. But damn! If you're comparing any book to a Cormac McCarthy novel, not much more needs to be said. FIERCE BITCHES is bleak yet beautiful and shot through with bloody threads of dark humor.  

What can I say?   Yet another very strong novella.  In crime fiction, anyway, seems like a hell of a good time for them.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


There's so much good recent noir around that it gets difficult sometimes to choose what to read next.  But I've had a lot of fun recently reading novella-length noirs by contemporary practitioners of the form who are really good.  One was by Jake Hinkson, his novella THE POSTHUMOUS MAN. This is pure, one hundred per cent proof, kick you in the guts noir. There's not a single wasted word in the novella, which starts out with the main character Elliot on his way to the hospital after a suicide attempt. He "dies" for a few minutes, but then the doctors manage to bring him back to life, and it's all downhill from there for him as a nurse at the hospital lures him into getting involved in a scheme to steal  an entire Oxycontin shipment headed to the hospital.  A lot is packed into its short length but the pacing is absolutely perfect and the character development full.  Elliot's tour through a garbage dump site where he has to dispose of some particularly important "merchandise" is like a tour through hell, yet at times darkly funny.  This is a book Jim Thompson or Charles Willeford could have written - as noir goes, that good.   Can't wait to read Hinkson's first novel, HELL ON CHURCH STREET, which like THE POSTHUMOUS MAN is set in Arkansas, a place Hinkson clearly knows well.