Number 2 from Number Thirteen is another Number 1

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In my opinion, the smaller publishing companies have been taking noir stories, novellas, and novels to new heights for the past 5 years. Smaller companies such as New Pulp Press, Blasted Heath, Gutter Books, All Due Respect Books (okay, you get the idea and sorry for the tons of smaller presses I love and have forgotten) have been churning out pieces of writing that are going beyond just good noir and are truly great works of literature. The two books I have read from Number Thirteen Press are putting them into the aforementioned category of great publishers as well.

Number Thirteen Press’ second novella, Down Among the Dead by Steve Finbow is a strong offering that reminds me of a song lyric “scars are souvenirs you never lose; the past is never far” (sorry to quote the Goo Goo Dolls, but it fits this book). Michael O’Connor views the past as well, the past. His years working with the IRA are well behind him and he spends his time with bets and booze. Too bad for him there are people in his past who want to make him pay for his past…with his future.

It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I sank me teeth into this tale, it was hard to put it down. As an American reader, I can have trouble with British references and that can impede the reading for me at times, but overall, I thought this book was dark and gritty…just how I like my books. The book has two storylines; Michael as he is involved with the IRA and Michael as an older gentleman just looking to pass his years away at his local pub. Both storylines were intriguing and well-written.

I have sampled two offerings from Number Thirteen Press and they are batting 1.00 with two monster homerooms. Books like these just reinforce my belief that the best books are not the books that get the most press. If you love strong noir, you need to be following the smaller presses and buying their offerings on your E-devices and getting their print books when you can. If you are simply buying books at Costco or other big chains, you are missing the boat and certainly missing the present and future of great noir. I am not a highly knowledgeable man on old pulp novels and older noir, but I am starting to believe I am living in a golden age of noir fiction writing. The more I read of these smaller presses, the more impressed I am and the bigger my TBR pile gets. Bravo to Number Thirteen Press on joining the party!

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All Due Respect 5 is Kicking A** and Taking Names

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What the hell is going on over at All Due Respect Books? Did someone sell their soul to the devil in return for the ability to only put out books that satisfy any lover of dark noir? Or is it just that Mike Monson and Chris Rhatigan have a keen eye for talent and are set on consistently publishing the best noir short stories, novellas, and novels coming out today? I am not sure which explanation to believe, but I am grateful for whatever is causing the influx of great books that are beginning to flood my TBR pile.

I can’t even begin to choose my favorite story from this badass collection. It starts with an excerpt from Steve Widdle’s upcoming novel. This sets the tone of the collection very nicely. It is a fast rolling selection and makes me excited for the novel to come out. After reading Widdle’s “Country Hardball”, I have been anxiously waiting for a novel to come our way.

Keith Rawson is showing that he pens some of the best short stories you can select. This story is a fun drug fueled ride into paranoia and insanity. I liked the beginning, loved the middle, and was dreading the ending, as I didn’t want the ride to end. Great ending to this one!

Paul D Brazill joins the party with a great tale of revenge. His main character, Godard, has his eye on revenge and retribution against a bent copper from his past. After getting the location of his adversary through the forceful beating of another old nemesis, the story really gets dark. Like I said before, hard to pick a favorite from this great collection, but this one certainly would be in my top choices. Excellent story!

I have long loved the stories I have read from Angel Luis Colon and this story continues that trend. Any story that opens with a gun to someone’s head and only gets better, is a story that you have to read. Sean Clarke is a classic noir character. Any man who is “20 G down with a 10% vig” and goes double or nothing is my kind of character. After he loses (not a spoiler for any true noir lover) he ends up with nothings and self –assesses himself be stating “ well nothing being my life”. Very strong stuff here and I am on pins and needles awaiting Colon’s upcoming novella.

The 5th story is by Garrnett Elliott and has themes of redemption and second chances. The beauty of it is in the hands of a noir author, those themes always lead to more trouble. Elliott doesn’t disappoint us and takes us on a fantastic ride filled with sex offenders, bales of drugs, and loads of bad choices.

Gabino Iglesias joins the party next with a character who wakes up in a strange hotel with a busted-up face and no memory of what happened. He knows he has a car that has 5 kilos of stolen drugs in the trunk and that he has a need to get moving before it’s too late, but he doesn’t count on the bad trip Iglesias has in store for him. I thought this story was a n exciting story with a great twist of an ending.

Want to know what the worst thing about the tale by Joe Sinisi is? It’s the last fiction offering of this collection. But, oh boy, does the collection close with a bang. This tale had some disturbing images within its plot and I thank Mr. Sinisi for that. He did the collection proud, as this story of a woman on a quest to find an old flame was a great read!

Take all these great stories and add reviews for Nigel Bird, Westlake, and Brewer and you have a must own collection here.

My TBR pile is extensive on any given day, and it just got bigger, as ADR just recently released a new one by Jake Hinkson and just published Uncle Dust by Rob Pierce. Guess what two books just jumped to the top of my TBR pile? I am in love with All Due Respect Books! Keep them coming!

Number Thirteen Press # 1

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Superstition holds that the number 13 is an unlucky one, however, the publishers at Number Thirteen Press are looking to turn the number 13 into a lucky one for lovers of noir and pulp novellas. Their first offering, Of Blondes and Bullets, by Michael Young, suggests that the number 13 just may become a noir lover’s best friend.

 

This novella is a sharp as a glass shard. From the opening scene, all the way to the denouement, the reader is treated to a book that has them rushing through the plot as if they were on a runaway train. This book has me excited to see the rest of the offerings from this publisher, who has the unique idea of publishing a new novella on the 13th of every month.

 

I am not one for plot summaries, as I feel they can contain spoilers of plot twists that are better experienced by the reader as they enter the world created by an author. I can say that this book features a damsel in distress, a main character who does what comes naturally when he comes upon said damsel, and the aftermath of his actions that take him from “everyman” and thrusts him into a world of shadowy figures and danger at every turn.

 

I believe that the key to the “everyman thrust into the unknown” plot is to have the main character behave in a manner that the reader can relate to and have the character think thoughts that the reader can accept and relate to. Without that connection between the main character’s actions and thoughts and the reader, the plot tends to become unbelievable and can leave the reader shaking their head in disbelief. This story never went in that direction. The main character is believable, he is not a tough guy, buy a guy who can be tough when the situation demands it of him. He shows fear, but fights against his fear when he recognizes doing so is the only option he has.

 

As the main character, Frank, finds himself in a bad way and faced with only violence as an answer, the author allows us into his thoughts and we feel his conflict as he thinks “At one and the same time, he felt and wished to be the kind of man who could pull the trigger and the kind of man who could not”. I loved the author’s ability to bring the character’s inner turmoil to us and allow us to see him as a man with his back to the wall with no alternatives but to reach inside himself to the dark places we would prefer to think we don’t possess.

 

All in all, this is a strong offering from Michael Young and a great start to the Number Thirteen Press offerings. I can hardly wait to read the next offering. If there is something bad to be said about this novella, it would be that it has set the bar extremely high for the novellas that will follow. Here’s to the hope that the next twelve novellas live up to this one!

Taconic Murda

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I really enjoy reading debut authors. There is something special in finding a new author that shows promise by penning a book that engages you from the beginning, but also holds enough quality to show that as the author grows the level of his writing will increase and he may end up as one of the top writers in a genre.

I picked up Taconic Murda by Uriel E. Gribetz and I believe I just read one of those authors. The book was one that shows Gribetz has a major career ahead of him.There are many aspects of the book that put Gribetz on the “Must Watch” list that I love to add new authors to.

I picked this book up due to the blurb by Jason Starr and I was not disappointed. As with many debut authors, Gribetz shows he has a strong foundation in which to build a successful writing career, but he also shows areas that could be improved upon to make for a more tightly plotted book.

The plot of this book was enjoyable. The book centers on Sam Free, a cop in New York who gets into trouble when he refuses to compromise himself in order to get a conviction for the local DA. His refusal, coupled with some bad choices of his own doing, set the plot in motion. The story follows Free and his family as they try to move forward, but seem to be pulled back into the past no matter how hard they struggle to escape its clutches.

My biggest issue with the book is the reliance on coincidences to connect plot points and to move the plot along. Personally, I don’t like it when there seems to be areas of a plot that are connected and explained only through the use of continued coincidences and I felt this happened a tad bit too often in this book.

Overall, it was a good, engaging read and I will certainly look to read other books by this author. Gribetz shows a lot of promise. I liked his dialogue and I felt his main character was believable and exhibited actions that were understandable and relatable. Quality start for a new author!

All Due Respect to this Publisher

I have to break from the stream of discussing my favorite individual books of 2014 to discuss a publisher that deserves respect (pun intended) for having a great year. All Due Respect Books put out some of the hottest noir books this year. They brought the novella back to the mainstream with flair and gusto. I really enjoyed their “2-fers” which had two novellas by two different authors under the same cover. I really respect the fact that they kept the pricing of these novellas at a reasonable rate. Mike Monson and Chris Rhatigan are co-publishers at ADR and both are lending a helping hand beyond the publishing aspect by writing some very strong books that are right up my alley.

Below are reviews I published over this year for a few of their books:

You Don’t Exist by Pablo D’Stair and Chris Rhatigan:

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All Due Respect books is coming out swinging with this offering. Both reads from this twin billing offer a great slice of noir.

 

Rhatigan’s offering of Pessimist was a quality read that provides a spin on the “found money” theme. I thought this story was fun to read and it seemed to fly by. The main character Pullman leads a nondescript life until he takes the wrong bag from baggage claim at an airport and finds more than he bargained for inside said bag. Key up the drama, paranoia, and inner conflict and you have a read that is more than enjoyable.

 

D’Stair’s contribution to the book really floored me. It has a tone that reminded me of movie Lost Highway, in so far as you constantly find yourself wondering what is real in the story and what is a figment of the narrator’s imagination. Very cool story. This is what novellas are meant to be.

If this is an indication of where All Due Respect Books is headed, then all noir lovers better hold on tight, because that’s what both of these stories are…tight. I am an instant follower of ADR books and am eager to see what they have in store for us in the future.

 

A Man Alone by David Siddall

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This book begs the question “How far removed are you from the person you used to be?” When John Doyle breaks free from his old life, old habits, and old ways, he thinks he is done being who he used to be. But when pushed too far, he finds that sometimes we are who we are, no matter how much we may deny that fact.

The story was fun to read and was a perfect pace. I will be looking for more books from Siddall in the future.

 

Revenge is a Redhead by Phil Beloin Jr:

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There must be something in the water at All Due Respect Books, because all they seem to do is put out are quick, fun to read books that are written in a ball to the wall style. Revenge is a Redhead keeps the tradition rolling by giving us a story that satisfies the craving for violence, quick pacing, and occasional laughs. This book is the type of book that you can get through in a short amount of time and the pricing is spot on for this type of read. I for one am gobbling up all the offerings from the ADR library and I am enjoying each one. Viva la Respect!

The Scent of New Death by Mike Monson:

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(The book was originally published by Out of the Gutter prior to ADR being formed, but I include it since it is Monson’s book)

There is nothing better than trying a new author, really enjoying the book and realizing they have more you can read. I tried Monson’s book after seeing some solid reviews on various blogs that I hold in high regard when finding books in the vein I enjoy. Monson delivers a solid book with crime, sex, and my favorite, revenge. My only issue with the book is that it was only a novella, so it seemed to be over way too quickly. I am diving into his short stories next and then on to his other novella. Way to go Monson! (He has since put out a novel, Tussinland)

As you can see, I am highly impressed and entertained to what ADR is putting out. They are setting the stage to become a heavy hitter in the world of noir publishing.

Another 2014 Best Book

If you are not reading Dave Zeltserman you are not reading the right books. This year brought us Zeltserman’s The Boy Who Killed Demons and it was quite a great read.

I have always loved Dave Zeltserman’s novels, including his crime novels, horror infused novels, and short stories. His latest offering, The Boy Who Killed Demons further cements his status as an author who continuously puts out books that are better than the books that precede them. I have said on many occasions and stand by my contention that Zeltserman could rewrite the phonebook and it would come out exciting and enjoyable read. Yes, he is that talented.

This offering from Zeltserman centers on 13-year-old Henry Dudlow and his ability (or curse) of seeing demons in the world around him. Through his meticulous research using a 17th century text, he discovers that demons are tied to a series of crimes against children that are taking place. In a race against the clock, Dudlow must fight against a demon within his town without letting on that he knows he is a demon and at the same time pacify his parents so he is able to continue his quest to stop the terrifying outcome that awaits mankind if the demons are able to complete their plans.

While the book has a plot that centers on a 13-year-old, the plot is tight and due to some rough language (in my opinion) a book geared for adults to sink their teeth into. I zipped through the book in two days and the only reason it wasn’t one day is because I had to go to work.

Zeltserman is one of the clearest examples of how great authors don’t seem to be getting the mainstream audience they deserve. The masses can keep their James Patterson’ novels, I will take Zeltserman and his lean writing style. If there is justice in the world of publishing and reading, Zeltserman’s big break is right around the corner and he will attract all the readers his books rightfully deserve. This book would make a great summer blockbuster movie for adults, teens and tweens. Here’s hoping it happens for him.

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Short Stories that are Long on Entertainment

Just finished Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill and am so sorry that the ride is over!

Crimes in Southern Indiana blew me away! The stories contained within the pages of this book brought me into a world that while I knew it existed, I had never had a face to put to it and certainly never understood the motives and lives of those caught in the downward spiral of this world. Frank Bill changed that will this rocket fueled infused collection of stories.

This collection sets the bar for short stories at a level I don’t think anyone will ever be able to reach. The stories are intertwined with characters and motivations that are like ripples in a pond. The characters you meet in one story are revisited in stories later in the collection and you are allowed an insight into their world and you understand how their actions in the previous tales were dictated by the wildness their lives contain. You also get to witness how the ripples created in one story set off a chain reaction of mayhem for other characters and how these new ripples often have serious consequences for the original characters. Time and time again I found myself speechless when reading about the callous manner in which lives were destroyed or forever altered by actions induced by the hopelessness of the lives being led by the characters created by Frank Bill.

Very hard to pick a story that was head above the others, as they were all outstanding and in some ways the stories read like a novel spliced together by a madman or a genius (not sure which one Frank is). I am very pleased to report that I will be getting my mitts on Donnybrook and reading it post haste. This is the type of book that will change your way of thinking about how the other half lives. 4 stars plus 2 thumbs up doesn’t seem to be enough praise for this fine bit of writing. Grab a copy and enjoy!

 

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