Friday 25 October 2013

Top Five Crime Novels #2: Nate Southard

Second up in this series in which writers choose their top five crime novels is Nate Southard, author of Pale Horses

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Most days, Sheriff Hal Kendrick can remember his wife’s name, but what frightens him are the days he can’t. When a local woman is found dead, naked and dumped on the banks of the Ohio River, Sheriff Kendrick is determined to solve the crime before Alzheimer’s disease destroys his ability to reason. No matter the cost, he will leave his county better than he found it, but murder is only the beginning, a spark that ignites a firestorm of violence, betrayal, and deceit. 

Most mornings, former marine Korey Hunt can remember the previous night. Other times, he only remembers darkness. When a body is found on his family’s property, Korey wants to believe he’s incapable of murder. Deep down, however, killing is all he knows. 

Death rides a Pale Horse, and no one in its path escapes unscathed. 

Nate Southard's Top Five Crime Novels


The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay

Nate says: Tremblay, who once wrote an absolutely terrifying story about balloons, injects a fun bit of surrealism into the PI story with The Little Sleep.  See, private investigator Mark Gevenich is narcoleptic, and his condition causes hallucinations.  The resulting story is full of twists, absurd exchanges, and that twilight feeling where you can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t, like the teen reality show contestant in the opening chapter who wants help finding her stolen fingers.  If you’re looking for something hardboiled but a little different, check out this one.


Much Mojo by Joe Lansdale

Nate says: The second of Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series is my favorite by a country mile.  Still licking their wounds from the events of Savage Season, Hap and Leonard appear more vulnerable than in some of their other books.  The voice Lansdale uses to tell the tale makes you feel right at home, like Hap Collins is telling you the story with one arm around your shoulders and a beer in his free hand.  A few of Lansdale’s horror tendencies shine through, but it all works.  I read the climax of this one while pacing back and forth in my living room.


Slippin' Into Darkness by Norman Partridge

Nate says: New Norm Partridge books don’t come around often, but they’re always a cause for celebration.  His first novel is a masterpiece of, well, darkness.  A former cheerleader-turned-prostitute kills herself, and her death brings together those whose lives she affected.  The jocks visit a pornographer who still has a film reel of the cheerleader’s rape.  A lonely drunk hurls beer bottles at her headstone in the middle of the night.  There’s something particularly horrible involving an eight ball.  Everything spirals together, and the climax is controlled chaos at its finest. Through all of it, Partridge writes with a style that crackles around the edges.  His characters latch on and refuse to let go.  This one might be hard to find, but it’s worth tracking down.  It should be required reading for all writers of both crime and horror.


Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Nate says: I know it’s marketed as a mystery, but Sharp Objects is easily the best horror story of the last decade.  The last two chapters are some of the most terrifying words I’ve ever read.  Before you get there, however, you’ll meet Camille Parker, newspaper reporter and cutter.  There’s something so real and relatable about this character, a woman with only a few inches of her body unscarred, and the family she reunites with as she investigates a child murder in her hometown.  Years before she wrote Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn proved to be a master with Sharp Objects.


Every Shallow Cut by Tom Piccirilli

Nate says: No one writes with the confidence and skill I’ve seen from Tom Piccirilli.  With this novella, Pic writes the meanest, most heartbreaking story I’ve ever read.  A nameless writer has nothing left but a gun and a loyal dog, and what he embarks on takes him through his past and hurtling toward a dead end.  The meat of things is how Pic makes us feel for the guy.  We experience every dash of hopelessness, anger, and sadness.  We know this won’t end well, but we can’t look away. I’d tell you more, but this is a book you need to read before discussing in any form.  Piccirilli is a master, and this is his best work. 

For more information about Nate Southard:
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Thursday 17 October 2013

Top Five Crime Novels: Seth Lynch

Today sees the start of a series in which select crime novelists choose their top five favourite crime novels.

First up is Seth Lynch, author of Salazar

Amazon UK | Amazon US
Paris. 1930. An English detective haunted by his experiences of the Great War, Salazar whiles away the days playing chess and taking on as little work as possible. When the alluring Marie Poncelet hires him to find a missing man, Gustave Marty, it's a case he'll soon wish he'd refused.

Because finding a missing man isn't anything like finding a man who doesn't want to be found. And Gustave Marty has covered his tracks with a smokescreen that will push Salazar beyond the limits of physical endurance and to the edge of insanity.

As he's drawn ever deeper into the shadowy underbelly of the City of Light, Salazar's closed, structured world is blown apart by the arrival of a friend from his pre-war youth, the beautiful Megan Fitzwilliam, whose tenderness and love of life is a stark contrast to the brutal violence that lies within him.

When that violence threatens to engulf them both, Salazar must seek redemption or lose that which has finally made his life worth living.

Seth Lynch's Top Five Crime Novels


The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over.  Ripley wants money, success and the good life and he's willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking.

Seth comments: Not the best written or most convincing of novels but one of the most memorable characters. Unlike that fella from my #1 choice, you can't help rooting for Ripley, yet they're probably equally as nasty. I'm not sure why these books aren't available on the kindle in the UK but I hope that'll change soon.


Murder In Memoriam by Didier Daeninckx

Didier Daeninckx's chilling novel created uproar when it was first published in France in 1984. It is set against the backdrop of a demonstration in Paris in 1961, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Algerians at the hands of the police. In Daeninckx's story, Roger Thiraud, a young history teacher, is also mysteriously killed during this demonstration. Twenty years later, Bernard, his son, is murdered in Toulouse while on holiday with his girlfriend. To find the connection between the murders, Daeninckx's hero Inspector Cadin must delve into the secret history and devastating compromises of wartime politics. Murder in Memoriam is a tense and unsettling indictment of France's hidden past.

Seth comments: A good story which also puts the spot light on the less commendable aspects of French History – in this case the killing of hundreds of Algerian demonstrators by the police. Daeninckx only has two books in translation, the other is A Very Profitable War. They are both good but this one has the edge.


The Stain on the Snow by Georges Simenon

At nineteen, Frank Friedmaier is thief, pimp and murderer. He has never known his father, his mother keeps a brothel. His mind is cold and inhospitable. But Simenon reveals the obsession with self-torture that lurks within it, and explores the intricate psychology of a young criminal, even lending the repellent Frank a chilling grandeur as he faces remorseless interrogation and his fate. A bleak and brilliant masterpiece from Simenon at his superlative best.

Seth comments: One of my favourite writers. In fairness this isn't one of his greatest books but I like the question it poses over personality. The first part is seriously gritty the second part more meandering. For a one-man book factory Simenon churned out some fantastic works. Next month Penguin are going to start releasing Maigret for the kindle – it would be good to see the rest of his books on the UK kindle too.


120 Rue de la Gare by Léo Malet

Nestor Burma is a witty French crime detector with lots of savoir-faire. Chief of the Fiat Lux detective agency, he operates in the Paris of the 1940s and 50s and is assisted by Helen, his secretary. In this mystery, dying men keep mouthing the same unknown address, 120 Rue de la Gare.

Seth comments: Not the greatest writer but he's my Raymond Chandler. This is the first in a series of books featuring the detective Nestor Burma, it's also one of the better ones. They're credited with being the first French Noir as opposed to previous imitations of the Americans. I love Malet's cynical sense of humour.


Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Seventeen-year-old Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold.

Seth comments: Pinkie. What an evil son of a bitch. If you haven't read this you ought to.

For more information about Seth Lynch and Salazar, check out his blog at Paris Noir or follow him on Twitter (@sethAlynch )

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Kill Clock: Revised And Expanded

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Kill Clock is a novella of mine first published in 2007 by Barrington Stoke. It features Edinburgh hard man, Gordon Pearce, who first appears in Two-Way Split, and then in Bad Men (aka Hard Man), and his three-legged Dandie Dinmont terrier, Hilda (Hard Man and Hilda's Big Day Out).  This revised version represents an extensive overhaul of the original, for which a huge shout-out must go to Stuart MacBride, Ray Banks and Nigel Bird, all of whom were kind enough to risk breaking their backs with some very heavy editorial lifting. Thank you, gents, and I hope everyone likes the result.

Gordon Pearce is a nice enough sort of guy. Just as long as you don't get on his wrong side.

One evening while he's taking his dog for a stroll, a double-crossing ex-girlfriend turns up out of the blue with a couple of scruffy toddlers and a tall tale involving loan sharks, death threats and something called a 'kill clock'. She begs Pearce for help. Claims he's her last resort. But he's convinced she's trying another one of her cons. Last time he saw her, she fleeced him good and proper, and he's not going to let that happen again.

But as the night goes on, doubts start to creep in. Problem is, Pearce can't afford to believe her. Because if she's telling the truth, he has until midnight to rustle up twenty grand in cash or he'll have another death on his conscience.