Sunday, April 20, 2014

White Knight

A lot of folks toss around terms like 'hard-boiled' and 'noir' and often at targets that are less than deserving. Bracken MacLeod's WHITE KNIGHT is the real deal. A tightly written suspenseful thriller that messes with reader expectations and delivers the goods.
   It also messes with the protagonist's expectations. A young prosecutor who thinks he's seen it all more than once makes a couple of bad assumptions and gets to watch his life unravel as a result. Before the night is out he will come up against some seriously bad people and see everything he cares about put at risk.
   I've been reading crime fiction for a long time and these days I have a hard time finding stuff that holds my attention. I sat down to read a few pages of MacLeod's novella and after about twenty pages I knew I'd be sitting there until I was done. It's that kind of story. One that pulls the reader along and makes him or her believe in the characters and care what happens to them. It also takes some unexpected turns, which is always nice.
   The prose is clear and clean, with no wasted words. The kind I like best. I read an advance copy of this book, but as soon as it comes out you crime fiction folks need to jump on it. Highly recommended.

Conan and the Maltese Falcon

  Sat up late last night, watching my favorite movie of all time, The Maltese Falcon, and rereading John Maddox Roberts' Conan pastiche, Conan the Rogue, which borrows the plots of Dashiell Hammett's novels, The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest, with a little of The Dain Curse toward the end. If you've always wanted to see Conan play Sam Spade, this is the book for you.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


This week's acquisitions. The DVD is THE TRAMPLERS, a spaghetti western staring former Tarzan, Gordon Scott, that I've been looking for for a couple of years. New restored transfer. The trade collection of Jack Kirby's Black Panther is a book that's getting harder to come by and more expensive all the time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taken at the Flood

Lord of the Rings Online released a new expansion on Monday, which takes the players further along in the plot of the books. Here we see Kharrn the Barbarian (There is no barbarian class in LotRO but I refuse to acknowledge that.) and Briefer the Hobbit surveying the damage to Saruman's fortress Isengard after Treebeard and the Ents flooded the place.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And Now a Pause For Author Identification

One of the questions I get asked the most by folks who've read BLIND SHADOWS and CONGREGATIONS OF THE DEAD is how did James A. Moore and I collaborate? Basically who did what? My shorthand answer has always been "I'm Griffin and he's Price." And for the most part that sums it up.
   But, some people are more curious than others, so they want to know about the actual writing. How did we do it? The answer is so simple that I get the idea most people think I'm having them on, but basically I would write a chapter (or occasionally two) and send it to Jim. He would read the chapter, write his own chapter, then send it back. On CONGREGATIONS we did that for, I think, 60,000 words before ever stopping to have a story conference. Jim and I are just in sync, what can I tell you? Toward the end we had a chat to figure out how to bring everything together.
   We each have out characters. I wrote Griffin, Charon, and Carter Decamp. Jim wrote Carl Price, Andy, and all the Blackbournes. Reverend Lazarus Cotton was 80% Jim and 20% me. I wrote the sociopath Blues fan, Fry. Jim wrote all the Brennert County officers, the DA, etc. Jim likes to have more characters than me, obviously.

   BUT here's the deal. We also edited each other and fixed each others continuity as we went. If Carl needed to appear in a scene I was writing, I wrote it and Jim changed anything that wasn't "Carl-like". I did the same if he wrote a scene with Griffin. But really there was very little of that necessary. We seem to be able to channel each others characters and while our writing styles are different, they seem to mesh well.
   So anyway, that's how it was done. Now when people ask me this question, I can just refer them to this blog post.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


   Last nights acquisitions. The Spears of Clontarff typescript facsimile, which reproduces the typed pages from an early draft of Robert E. Howard's story. Another volume in Guillermo del Toro's six book horror series. This one's an anthology of horror and weird tales. Finally, the one Jules de Grandin book by Seabury Quinn that I didn't previously own.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Axeman of Storyville

   Most aficionados of True Crime are familiar with the New Orleans Axeman, a serial killer who stalked that city in 1918-1919 and perhaps even earlier, depending on whose theory you believe. Heath Lowrance, the creator of my favorite Cowboy phantom fighter, Hawthorne, has taken the basics of the still unsolved case and written a tight thriller featuring Edward Grainger's former U.S. Marshal Gideon Miles.
   It's 1921 and the story finds Miles later in life, having settled down in new Orleans to run a nightclub. The former Marshall thinks his man-hunting days are well behind him. But then the madame of a local brothel shows up at his door pleading for help. Someone has killed one of her girls, a madman with an axe, and the police have no interest in finding out who killed a whore. At first Miles is hesitant, but when a local gangster tries to warn him off, Gideon Miles decides to get involved.
   Lowrance gets to stretch himself a bit in this novella, telling the story from multiple points of view. I've gone on before about how much I like Lowrance's prose, and here I was really taken with his ability to set a scene. I could just see the streets of old New Orleans. Feel the heat. Smell the cigar smoke and cheap perfume in the night clubs.
   The story is action packed, as I like em'. Miles may be getting on in years but he can still mix it up with the best of them and he still knows how to use a Colt when he needs to.
   How much did I like this story? Well I bought it within a few minutes of it going live on Amazon and I read it at a sitting and then came over here to the desk and reviewed it. Highly, and I do mean highly recommended.