Stephen Mertz, author of the rollicking Hank & Muddy, in which blues singer Muddy Waters meets country singer Hank Williams (along with crooked cops, a few alligators, and a carload of Klansmen), sat down for a recent interview with Gravetapping. Stephen's long and varied writing career includes stints in the pulps, ghosting Don Pendelton's Executioner thrillers, and much more besides. Enjoy: Interview with Stephen Mertz
If a gambler named Jack wants to know what's next, all he has to do is crack the Eden Cypher. But before that happens, a gang of ruthless people will see Jack dead. Here is a noirish peek at the near future, when power is all that matters. Fast-paced, dark and violent.
Conor Corderoy, who lives in Malaga, Spain, is the author of a previous novel, Dark Rain, published by Macmillan. This is his first book for Perfect Crime.
"Most people might think of MWA Grandmaster Bill Pronzini as a novelist, but he's also had a long and distinguished career as a writer of short fiction.The Cemetery Man and Other Darkside Tales brings together 19 stories from five decades. Many of them are quite dark, but the title story offers a glimpse of humanity where it's not expected. . . . An excellent introduction by Ed Gorman." Bill Crider
These stories "lean toward noir, horror, domestic malice and satisfying twists, demonstrating the broad-ranging talent of a versatile writer." Jon L. Breen Ellery Queen's
Chills from Ed Gorman
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine: "One of the best short story writers around . . . the terrific title story, rich in movie-lover nostalgia, was new to me." Jon L. Breen
"Enticing collection . . . Although his stories are often grim, frequently horrific, Gorman is not without sympathyfor his flawed characters or those unfortunate to be in close proximity to them; were the central characters not so human, these tales would not be nearly as effective as they are. Tom Piccirilli supplies an appreciative introduction. In addition to an afterword, Gorman provides brief editorial comments on each entry that leave the reader wanting more. This volume will appeal both to those familiar with his fiction and those who have yet to discover it."
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine: "Matthews's finely crafted stories specialize in unexpected turns. . . . One of my favorites, "For Benefit of Mr. Means," invites the reader to guess which real 1920s celebrity at a house party will turn detective." Jon L. Breen Bookgasm:
"These talesreminded me of the later Lew Archer stories, where it's more about the characters than the detection. Really great stuff." Bruce Grossman
"This impressive debut collection from Matthews brings together 11 previously published and two new stories that might be called 'thinking mysteries.' Matthews doesn't merely follow convention by offering surprise endings or unexpected twists but makesreaders reexamine their initial assumptions about characters. . . . One of the gems of the volume is 'Dr. Sullivan's Library,' a darkly humorous tale in which [a] psychiatrist . . . classes patients by genre--biographies, westerns, thrillers, etc.--as he searches for a particular kind and a particular purpose. In an afterword, Matthews talks about writing stories in various genres, including horror and western."
Edgar-winning playwright Joseph Goodrich presents nine short noir plays
Author-dramatist Joseph Goodrich's drama PANICwon an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America in 2008 for Best Play. Here Goodrich offers a selection of short early plays that draw on the traditions of modernism and noir. The episodes seethe with violence and desperation. "There are no happy endings," says Goodrich in his introduction.
SOUTH OF SUNSET Nine Plays Joseph Goodrich 134 pages Trade Paperback and Kindle
Two-time Edgar winner Francis M. Nevins explores the role of law in crime novels, cinema and TV in this mammoth scholarly work. From early tales of frontier justice to the courtroom dramas of Perry Mason and Atticus Finch, we see the role of timely legal issues in shaping mystery fiction and popular culture.
By the author of Ellery Queen: The Art of Detection
JUDGES & JUSTICE & LAWYERS & LAW
Exploring the Legal Dimensions of Fiction and Film
"Boland knows the game as well as John le Carre. He knows, too, the deeper irony. . . . Pour a single malt and savor." Booklist"Downbeat and low-key, . . . [the stories] pack a remarkable amount of plot, incident, character insight, and background detail into a limited space. The Edgar-nominated 'Marley's Revolution' may be the best, but all are notable." Jon L. Breen in Ellery Queen's
"A nicely nasty tale of betrayal and revenge." The Short of It on "Marley's Habit."
THE SPY WHO KNEW NOTHING Nine Stories John C. Boland 164 pages Trade Paperback and Kindle
"Knight takes us deep inside his characters. . . . Compelling pieces of short fiction, with gripping, often unsettling tales to tell. . . . Reading them as a whole gives a stronger sense of the author's gifts as a storyteller, especially his ability to create characters who seem uncomfortably familiar, making us wonder if we, too, may one day join society's damaged and marginalized. An excellent collection." David Pitt
13 stories both bizarre and humane
"Tracy Knight is what
so few other writers, even
the great ones, are . . . an
original," says Ed Gorman
in his introduction.
"His fascination with human
beings of all stripes linked with
his skills as a writer and poet
combine to shape the voice
and form of his stories."
A young intern is assigned to deal with an outcast man who suffers psychotic episodes every Father's Day. A man sets out to murder both himself and his deformed daughter, who can't tell him she loves being alive. The bulbous-headed nursing home patient has absorbed more human grief than a visitor to earth can bear . . . and it's all spilling out.
"One of the great joys of reading is stumbling across a good book that neither you nor anyone you know has ever heard of. I'd never heard of Boland (though he's written a slew of books over the last quarter century) and never heard of this novel despite a starred review in PW. I picked it up because I'm interested in evolutionary genetics and the title caught my eye. I'm glad I did.
"I love a good science thriller and this one is a helluva read--a ballsy book that keeps taking unexpected turns. It's got a booby-trapped, centuries-old crypt with 3 lead-lined coffins, archaeological secrets, mind-boggling genetic mysteries, many murders and even a few explosions, a mysterious foundation, a relentless NIS investigator, and much more. I might have hesitated to tackle such a combustible farrago, but Boland plunges in and brings it off. As a lagniappe, I learned a few things. Recommended."
"Superior science thriller. . . . Boland's taut atmospherics are top-notch, and the evolutionary themes he explores are easily accessible to nonscientists."
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine:
4 Stars "A tightly written thriller."
Mystery Scene Review:
"A riveting scientific suspense novel on the order of the popular Preston and Child thrillers. Boland makes complicated theories about DNA and genetically linked illnesses easily understood. And in contrast to many science-heavy suspense novelists, Boland also has the ability to create three-dimensional characters. [The hero's] love life is a mess; Silas Merton, the island's mayor and only clergyman, is also the town drunk; and even brutish Luther turns out to be much, much more than your average killer. . . . Hominid never fails to make for entertaining reading." Betty Webb
"A slick plot, fresh characters and a fascinating look at a giant industry and the city that's home to it . Randisi at his absolute best."
THE HONKY TONK BIG HOSS BOOGIE Robert J. Randisi
Auggie Velez is a struggling "session man" in Nashville. That means he will play for anyone who needs a guitar. When his other business as a private detective faces lean times (which is almost always) Auggie will take on jobs that a guy with good sense would avoid. But when a big record producer offers $5,000 to deliver a little package, it isn't just the money luring Auggie. It's the chance to get his own music recorded--to finally "make it" in the music business.
Randisi, the man Booklist called "one of the last true pulp writers," launches a new private eye series set in a city where big dreams come to die.
Joe Keough, a cop with a sharp instinct for what makes killers tick, takes on a string of tough cases in these classic tales by Robert J. Randisi, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America.
Moving from Keough's original haunt in New York to the Midwest, the novels track not only the brutality of serial predators but also the conflicted life of the protagonist.
A Deadly Woman
"The author is a true storyteller. . . . It is nearly impossible to put this book down."
Cherie Jung, Overmydeadbody.com
"Kim Reynoldsmakes a thought-provoking heroine."
"Seewald provides enough red herrings and action to keep the pages turning, including an exciting climax."
Reference librarian Kim Reynolds is looking for a little romance, but this guy's "ex" is trouble even when she's dead.
Brooklyn private eye Nick Delvecchio walks a narrow line between his Mob family and desperate clients in this series steeped in the atmosphere of New York. "The final entry in Randisi's Brooklyn trilogy is dark, brooding and thoroughly compelling [with] . . . clever plotting and an engaging narrative voice. Randisi has written hundreds of crime stories and earned numerous awards. This is among his finest." Starred Review, Booklist (Wes Lukowsky)
Book dealer Gil Hunt and his wife Claire stumble onto one crime after another in this charming series by husband-wife writing team Robert J. Randisi and Christine Matthews. A murdered author, a serial killer with a grudge against TV shopping, a battle of voodoo priestesses . . . and death waiting at every turn for our amateur sleuths.
Trade Paperback and Kindle
Max Collins Before Quarry
Includes first publication of novella "Shoot the Moon."
From the popular author of Road to Perdition, here are two early hardboiled short stories demonstrating a young writer's debt to Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, plus a never-before-published short caper novel reminiscent of Collins's mentor Donald Westlake.
Says Collins in his Introduction: "I present these stories to you because the young writer I once was very desperately wanted to see his work published, and read."
Here is a fascinating look at the early work of one of the crime novel's celebrated masters.
Twenty top-flight mystery writers, including Max Allan Collins, John Lutz, Parnell Hall, Reed Farrel Coleman, Gary Phillips, Robert S. Levinson, Warren Murphy, Christine Matthews and others, portray New York City's Times Square through a century of murder and mayhem. A score of original stories. Edited by Robert J. Randisi.
"Blasting out of a time warp, straight from the 1940s. It's set in modern Hollywood, but it's old -time California noir, right down to its Bakelite heart. . . . Luscious."Booklist
Long-time character actor Clive Rosengren (Cheers, Seinfeld, Ed Wood) pens a lively private-eye tale about Hollywood and one of its dirty little secrets: What some people won't do to sleep with a star.
"So entertaining I wished it had continued for at least another hundred pages. Think you'd like to be a movie star? Think again. . . . Purrs along fastand smooth, and the ending delivers . . . a sweet surprise." Betty Webb, Mystery Scene
"Charming thriller . . . chases across Europe and tightly written gun battles. A delight for anyone who enjoys French crime cinema from the 1970s."
THE LAST CRIMES OF CHARLES MISTINGUETT James L. Ross
A retired criminal, who wants nothing more than to be left alone to enjoy his ill-gotten gains . . . Charles Mistinguett would never claim to be innocent of all things, only of the charges laid against him by the French government:
Murder. Extortion. Terrorism.
Useful lies if agents of the state plan to execute a man without trial.
"Charles is everybody's fall guy, but he's not quite ready to fall--and definitely not ready to see his mistress, daughter, and son fall with him. This slick thriller combines the noirish cool of French cinema (think Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai) with an almost jaunty, witty charm (Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and Charade). Stylishly written and cleverly plotted crime fiction."
"Considering the wealth of professional and personal information, it's tempting to call this definitive."
372 pages Photos and Index Trade Paperback and Kindle
Steve Steinbock inEllery Queen's Mystery Magazine:
Four Stars "A fully satisfying account of the life and career of Ellery Queen . . . with humor and affection."
Jon L. Breen inMystery Scene Magazine:
"There is more biographical material on the Queen team than has appeared in print anywhere else, drawing on files of their correspondence, 12 pages of photographs, plus a full novel-by-novel, story-by-story critical survey. Also given full coverage are editorial work; film, radio and television adaptations, and the ghost-written paperbacks of the 1960s. Appended are 'EQMM: The Dannay Years' and 'At Work and Play with Fred Dannay,' an account of Nevins' personal relationship with Ellery Queen's editorial half. A 35-page primary and secondary bibliography and a 24-page index round out this meticulously researched, highly readable, and impportant book."
"What a treasure! . . . literally a blow-by-blow account of the creation of three of the strongest Queen novels." Francis M. Nevins
The writing team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee (better known by their joint byline of Ellery Queen) produced some of the most ambitious mystery novels of the mid-20th Century. Yet their relationship was acrimonious, marred by pain, financial and professional dependency and mistrust.
Here, culled from the Dannay archives by author and dramatist Joseph Goodrich, is the selected correspondence of these two volatile men during a period of their most important creative achievements. With a Foreword by longtime television producer-writer William Link (Columbo, Ellery Queen, Murder, She Wrote).
"A superlative book . . . jaw-dropping revelations." William Link
I Love a Mystery
Includes 2012 Shamus Nominee
"A Bullet from Yesterday"
"Faherty writes this era like he was there." Crime Spree
As Hollywood's Golden Age wanes, PI Scott Elliott digs among the ruins. Eight stories in this two-time Shamus-winning series demonstrate once again author Terence Faherty's sharp eye and keen ear for characters living on broken dreams.
"Good writing and plotting."Jon L. Breen Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Includes the never-before-published "Sleep Big," in which Elliott cracks a case that famously eluded both Philip Marlowe and his creator.
In "Garbo's Knees" a paving slab signed by the reclusive screen legend has gone missing. But was it Garbo's slab the thief was after?
Chasing stray actresses, hot jewelry, and a gun that may have started a war, Faherty's sleuth takes us on a tour of Hollywood as the sun sets. With an introduction by the author.
"If [it] moved any faster you'd have to nail it down
Hayes Rutherford did his stint in Vietnam, flying a rescue chopper that earned him the nickname "Last Chance." And he was a standup guy forty years later when someone had to take the fall for a Pentagon billing scandal. After 18 months in a federal pen, Hayes figures he's done with the Washington crowd. Working for his daughter at a Hollywood P.I. firm, his biggest challenge is keeping the talent's nose out of the candy.
But when rumors ping the White House that somebody is shopping an ugly movie script about the war-hero President, Hayes looks like suspect number one. Good thing he's in Hollywood, where anything goes, including a scheme to shake down the President who wants to kill him.
A thinking man's Mike Hammer
Four private eye novels featuring Chess Hanrahan, a hard-nosed sleuth who reads books, laments a decaying culture, and can't stand contradictions--in people or events.
"A great character!"
A philosophy professor is dead. Prowling university halls, Hanrahan uncovers crimes worse than murder.
"Dick Lochte is a superb craftsman. . . . The Neon Smile, with its tantalizing blend of past and present, is Lochte at his best."
"The Neon Smile is as colorful and entertaining as any police thriller ever inspired by the Big Easy."
"Chockful of dark humor, wordplay and subtle clues, the novel is rich enough to reward multiple readings."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"I couldn't put The Neon Smile down. Terry Manion grabbed me . . . and pulled me deeper and tighter with every passing line! Dick Lochte is an artist; the book is literate, intelligent, funny, loving and a helluva good read."
"There's nobody better at the American crime novel
"Tamar Gillespie, a young artist with a disabled husband, lives in a rural Connecticut village . . . and paints dog portraits for a living. The village population includes Ultra-Orthodox Jews as well as old Communists and red-diaper babies who consider Prague Spring a betrayal. When the community board offers a run-down house to a family of Jewish refugees from the new Russia, old political feuds reappear. . . . Historical-mystery readers who enjoy political debates will find much to appreciate here." Booklist
"Fans of hard-edged spy novels will hope that this outing for disgraced Wall Street banker Patrick McCarry is but the first of many from Ross (Long Pig). . . . Twists straight out of a John le Carré novel . . . [and ] sardonic wit."
Patrick McCarry, a down-on-his-luck Wall Street banker, can't expect much sympathy back home. A hedge fund has blown up, and McCarry looks just the right size for a federal prison cell. Hanging out in Europe, he hooks up with a folksy Midwesterner who wants help picking through failed businesses. Chester Holt and his ample wife Charity have a homily for every occasion. One of them is "Don't be a doom and gloomster!" That means: If you're right on the doorstep of the Balkans, pretty soon somebody is going to want to buy guns from you. DEATH IN BUDAPEST JAMES L. ROSS
Two capers by the suave (and if he does admit it, handsome) scam artist Milo Turner, who has been entertaining readers of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for decades.
In The 120 Hour Clock, the love of Turner's life (a scamstress, of course) dies in the middle of a complicated scheme. Suspecting murder, Milo sets out for revenge . . . and money.
In The Ninety Million Dollar Mouse, Milo Turner takes on a religious cult, hoping to prove a high-tech mogul's handwritten will is a forgery. All he has to do is walk into the cult's home town and snatch a bundle of love letters the mogul supposedly wrote as a teenager. Easy enough. It's not as though anyone would try to kill him . . .
These new editions contain Afterwords by the author, two-time Edgar winner Francis M. Nevins, as well as reprints of the early short stories that inspired the novels.
15 stories from the Jazz Age by a master craftsman, Cornell Woolrich, collected for the first time, edited with notes and an introduction by Francis M. Nevins.
In steamy Shreveport, Louisiana, two musical legends-in-the-making come together: a whiskey-soaked country singer named Hank Williams and blues artist Muddy Waters. What they've got in common, over several hectic days of drinking, singing and whoring, is an interest in staying alive despite local mobsters, bent cops, a truckload of Ku Klux Klansmen, and a bayou full of alligators. (Did we mention a bankrobber's lusty daughter?)
Hank & Muddy arrives with advance praise: “A terrific novel! One of my favorite writers . . . a born storyteller." Max Allan Collins
THE PINK TARANTULA A Novel in 9 Episodes Tim Wohlforth
"Like a great twelve-bar blues--the comfort of a familiar form jazzed by a fresh key and an exciting new voice." Lee Child on No Time To Mourn Crip and Henrietta aren't your typical California private eyes. Crip's real name is Tom Bateman. His sometime sidekick with body piercings and spiked green hair, Henrietta, calls him "Crip" because he rides a wheelchair. When she isn't mocking him, Henrietta grows marijuana, hangs with jailbirds, and brings in cases that reek of trouble--and weed--at first sniff. In nine closely related episodes, we watch their relationship grow as both characters struggle to bridge chasms of bitterness and mistrust.
Prize-winning western writer Troy Smith makes a dazzling crime-novel debut.
"Drugs, murder, a little Voodoo, and the blues. Check it out." Bill Crider
"One of the best crime novels I've read in a long time." James Reasoner
Roy Carpenter, blues-playing harmonica man in 1957 Nashville, knows great music when he hears it. He also knows a dangerous woman when he looks at her . . . and finds her looking back. Beautiful Sallymae's got a brutal husband, just the kind of guy to wind up dead with Roy taking the fall. Here is a sharply observed novel steeped in the atmosphere of character and place, of sexual passion and the blues.
"Gorman showcases the darker side
of his talents in this solid collection."
"One of our finest contemporary short story writers, regardless of genre." Jon L. Breen Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Ranging from classic whodunits to bone-chilling suspense, here are twenty-eight adventures of Nevins’s popular series characters: lawyer-sleuth Loren Mensing, scamster Milo Turner, lady cop Gene Holt, along with a bevy of stand-alones, including “Open Letter to Survivors.”
Fittingly, as many of the stories appeared first in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nevins provides an introduction recalling fondly his early mentoring by EQMM’s founding editor Fred Dannay. The author adds historical notes in an afterword to each story.
The Top Writers . . . The Sharpest Private Eyes . . . The Toughest Cases
The SHAMUS WINNERS America's Best Private Eye Stories
"If you're a fan of private eye short fiction, these books are must-have items." James Reasoner
Volume I (1982-1995) 336 pages Trade Paperback and Kindle