Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Creighton "Crate" Northgate has been seeing ghosts for some time. He moves around a lot, helping folks with their ghost problems, although Crate hints that there's more to it than that.
As Crate says, "...a lot of spirits seemed to want something, or need a little help moving on to the next plane, and he had...talents in that department."
The Girl is Amy, daughter of Tom Lee and his wife Margie and sister of Angie. She's been gone for two years and Tom see's his daughter frequently. Mostly out by the woods. Margie has never seen her and Angie isn't saying anything on the subject.
The premise for these stories is rather simple and yet Hall is skilled at moving his characters through each step in the discovery process. Much like a good police procedural, there are false leads and the reader is kept guessing to the end.
The scene with the big discovery is rich with description, leaving just enough to our imagination, but the discovery just leads to more questions. In addition to helping his clients get answers and hopefully helping the occasional ghost move on, Crate remains haunted by his own brother, Martin, who had died 15 years ago.
Given the subject matter, I still find it easy to suspend my disbelief. These tales in The Southern Hauntings Saga have a ring of truth to them, making them that much more enjoyable.
The Girl is a beautiful, self-contained, ghost story, but is just a part of Southern Hauntings Saga which started with The Vagrant. Each story works well on it's own and both are available now from Angelic Knight Press through Amazon.com. For more on Bryan Hall you can visit his website at www.bryanhallfiction.com.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Haftman's Rules - by Robert White - A wild ride that begins with the search for a client's missing teenage daughter
Thomas Haftmann is a Private Investigator, the sole existentialist P.I. in Northern Ohio. He's also a former Detective with Cleveland Homicide.
The story is sprinkled with Haftmann's Rules, things like, "Every existentialist in good standing must own a gun, and every week the existentialist rulebook says that the gun ought to me inserted barrel first into the mouth. Then you make a choice."
I felt the existentialist PI bit played nicely throughout the book. Added to the character of Thomas Haftmann without getting in the way of the telling of the tale.
In this story, Haftmann's client is John O'Reilly who has hired him to locate his estranged 17 year old daughter. Thing is, Annaliese Marie O'Reilly doesn't exactly want to be found.
As the investigation gets going Haftmann learns plenty about the relationship between client and daughter that flat out disgust him. But, he doesn't give up. He never gives up.
The author, Robert White, has a gift for dialog, imbuing each character with it's own cadence and attitude.
The story itself was totally engrossing and at times I found myself getting lost in Haftmann's world. Things never quite turn out how you might expect and the investigation goes way beyond it's original scope. There some huge surprises. Stuff that left me asking, "What the hell just happened here"?
Haftmann's Rules has plenty of disturbing images. One in particular, which will stick with me for a long time, involves a human water balloon. Needless to say, this book is for mature audiences and those not easily offended.
I did feel the book started to drag a bit toward the end, but at the same time I can say it was worth the read and I can recommend Haftmann's Rules as a solid PI story.
BTW, the character, Thomas Haftmann, has appeared in other works by Robert White, but they are not required reading and this is the first full-length novel to feature the character and it works very well as a stand-alone story.
Haftmann's Rules, is published by Grand Mal Press and is available as a paperback and e-book from a wide variety of sources.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Monster Night was a part of Cemetery Dance Publications' 13 Days of Halloween sometime in the remaining days of October.
Brian James Freeman is the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and publisher of Lonely Road Books where he has produced some very nice limited editions over the years, including a beautiful print edition of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet. In addition to his work as an editor and publisher, Freeman is also an accomplished writer. His most recent novel, The Painted Darkness, has been called a hauntingly beautiful tale exploring the thin line between fantasy and reality.
For his Halloween story, Freeman introduces us to Jonathon, a little boy excited at the prospect of trick-or-treating. "When Jonathon asked his mother why everyone wore costumes to go trick-or-treating, she said the costumes were so little kids could blend in with the real ghouls and goblins that walked around on October 31st."
The monsters in this story aren't necessarily the ones that haunt us in our dreams, but more likely the ones that come and go in our lives under the guise of ordinary people.
Freeman delivers a delightfully scary story through the eyes of a child, which tends to make the scary stuff even more frightening.
I definitely recommend Monster Night be included in your Halloween reading.
Monster Night is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available, right now from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with Pumpkin, a Halloween short from Bill Pronzini.
Prozini is a very well known mystery writer. In his long career he's writen 77 novels, 36 in the iconic Nameless Detective series, the most recent of which is Hellbox (just published). His numerous awards include the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, presented in 2008, and three Shamuses and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America.
Pumpkin takes place on the SUTTER PUMPKIN FARM "The Biggest, The Tastiest, The Best - First Prize Winner, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, 2006."
The trouble begins when the leader of the crew picking the pumpkin's refuses to pick one he "feels" is evil. An original, if somewhat predictable short story.
Pumpkin is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with a short from Graham Masterton entitled The Press.
Graham Masterton has been writing professionally for more that 35 years and is still busy creating new works.
The Press is very short, but it is also very good.
Padraic Rossa died at the age of 89. At one time, he was a writer of some note in Ireland, but he hadn't had anything published in the last 15 years. That was All Hallows' Eve which talked about how "by the commercialization of Halloween we have dragged the souls of our dead ancestors out of the eternal shadows and hung them up in the common light of the marketplace for every inquisitive passer-by to finger."
It should be noted that 5 reviewers who were critical of Rossa's work all disappeared on the next All Hallows' Eve.
I found The Press to be quite imaginative and completely unlike any of the Halloween stories I've read over the years and I highly recommend it. Particularly if you enjoy a good pun ;-)
The Press is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with a short from Kealan Patrick Burke entitled The Toll.
Burke is the author of the popular Timothy Quinn series which will see it's conclusion with the publication of Nemesis: The Death of Timothy Quinn this month. Available now as a signed, Limited Edition, hardcover and as an e-book on October 31st. You can get details at kealanpatrickburke.com.
The Toll is the story of Miles Camden who awakens to find himself sequestered in a pine box. A turn of events that actually comes as no surprise to Miles. Over the years, Miles has accumulated few friends and many enemies including three ex-wives.
The writing style is a bit different than anything I've read from Burke in the past so I asked him if his muse was channeling any specific writer from the past. He told me, "definitely a bit of Poe and Joseph Payne Brennan, I'd say."
The Toll is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with my favorite short to this point, Yesterday and the Day Before, from Ed Gorman.
Wow. A lot of punch here for a short story. I don't want to give anything away, so let me just say it has the power of a much larger work pared down to just enough words to get the job done. And it does that job nicely.
If you only get one of these Halloween treats from Cemetery Dance, this is the one to get. I highly recommend Yesterday and the Day Before.
Yesterday and the Day Before is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Monday, October 22, 2012
What High School student is going to turn down a free cell phone? Totally free. No catch. Or is there a catch after all?
When the kids in Old Man Jenkins' history class start hearing the strange ring-tone "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (in May), coming from their new free cell phones things start to get very weird, very fast.
Steve Vernon launches his episodic YA thriller, Flash Virus, with a roller-coaster ride that is just getting started.
Vernon seems to have a genuine understanding of the teenage mentality. Personally, I'm far removed from those days, but with two grandsons, 18 and 8, living with me, I think I have a feel for how they express themselves. When the author writes, "There is nothing that a teenage boy hates more than to to be called children,'" you better believe it.
There were times, when reading "Flash Virus," that I found myself laughing out loud only to be totally shocked by what happens just a few pages later.
I'm not a big fan of the episodic approach to story-telling, but I've done it a couple of times with Stephen King, both with The Green Mile and The Plant, Steve Vernon has me wanting to find out what happens next.
Flash Virus, episode 1 is available now at Amazon.com.
First, a note on Kelli's sense of humor. If you were to follow Kelli on Twitter, you'd see it all the time. Here, it is evidenced only in the Author's Note: "If any place, person, event or thing exhists that sounds like those included within, it's purely coincidental...unless you are that new couple that moved in down the street, then you might want to take notes."
The Neighborhood is Neillsville, a very small town, something like 400 people. People who know each other or at least know about each other.
This is a story about the kids in Neillsville. It's also about a "finger, then the blood, then Rick---which she personally didn't believe was connected---and then the body proper." For me, the story was reminiscent of Stephen King's Stand By Me. A compliment to both King and Owen, as I found each story charming and disturbing it its own way.
By the time we get to the story's end, there are more than a few unanswered questions, but that's OK. That's just like life. By the time we get to the end, we rarely have all of our questions answered either.
The easiest way to get a copy of The Neighborhood is probably through Amazon.com.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with a truly disturbing Halloween tale from Simon Clark called Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life.
Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life first appeared in the British anthology Dark Forces back in 1993.
Gerassimos Lamotas, a middle-aged man for whom life has not turned out the way he dreamed, is offered a million Euros if he would allow his 19 year old daughter, dumb her entire life, to spend the afternoon a stranger's yacht.
What follows is disturbing on a number levels, but I still found myself entertained by Clark's story.
Make sure you read the Introduction where Clark tells the story of his five year-old self swallowing a stone in front of his classmates in the schoolyard.
Plus, there's a bonus story, Live Wire, one of the author's earliest works from 1989. You really get a lot for your .99 cents here.
Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with an excellent little Halloween tale from Norman prentiss called Quiet House.
It's October 29th and the decorations have disappeared from the Myrick's house. In their place is a sign that reads QUIET ZONE - DEATH IN THE FAMILY. This is so unfair because it was the first year Jeremy was going to get to go inside to see the rest of the elaborate display. So unfair.
In 2011 Prentiss received a Bram Stoker award for Invisible Fences in the Long Fiction category. I have yet to be disappointed by a Norman Prentiss story and this one is no exception.
Quiet House is a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Aside from being a pretty good Texas Hold-Em Tournament player, Wil Mara writes an excellent disaster novel.
Wil and I met at Bally's poker room a few years ago and wound up splitting the pot that day with a few other players.
I found Wil to be an affable guy and I wound up buying a copy of his first disaster novel, Wave, about a tsunami that hits Long Beach Island. That was a great story and I found his writing style to be very readable and compelling.
Since then, I've been asking when the next "disaster" novel would be released. Well, that time is finally here and the book is called The Gemini Virus.
It all begins in Ramsey, NJ where normally healthy Bob Easton wakes from a deep sleep with a fever, and within 4 days, Bob is no longer among the living.
Mara is a fine story-teller with an eye for detail. Simple stuff, like when decribing Bob's wife, "Bernice, in the baby blue nightgown that Easton thought of as part of the Golden Girls collection."
Before his death, Bob manages to infect a number of others and the descriptions of the symptoms grow increasing gruesome. You'll definitely need a strong constitution, especially in the early chapters. There's even a scene where the virus is being passed around Bally's in A.C. (An aside to Wil: Suddenly, I'm in no hurry to go back).
What started the virus? Where did it come from? With thousands already dead and many more infected the prospect of the CDC and WHO finding a cure or controlling the outbreak are bleak. "It could take millions and developing a vaccine could take years."
More than a few cringe-worthy moments. A well researched, yet clean read that will keep you up at night and guessing right till the end.
Available from a wide variety of sources as a Hardcover, Digital Audio or e-book. Well worth a read or listen.
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with one of the brightest stars in the Horror genre, Joe R. Lansdale. This past year the Horror Writers Association awarded Joe the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, so Joe knows a thing or two about telling a good story.
A Little Halloween Talk was definitely fun and I realize the protagonist was telling the story in what seems to be a Brooklynese accent, which I enjoyed, but there were plenty of misspellings which I've been informed are there to give the reader a feel for the education level and communication skills of the protagonist. That said, I still had occasional trouble understanding what was being said and it did distract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
What I did like, and found to be totally original was the Pumpkin Chop game. "A grown man with a axe, trying to see how many times he could chop at a pumpkin rolling down a hill without getting out from behind a line."
A Little Halloween Talk is a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with one from one of my favorite horror writers, Ray Garton. Ray has been writing full time since 1984 and his Halloween short story is definitely a lot of fun, even if it is just a bit predictable.
Invitation Only is a little All Hallows Eve story of an orgy in a cemetery that's by Invitation Only. What could go wrong? This one is definitely for mature readers only.
Invitation Only is a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I've been a fan of Cemetery Dance Publications for a few years now and this year they've collaborated with some of their favorite genre writers to release a series of Halloween themed short stories.
The first selection is Monsters by Stewart O'Nan, a wonderful story of childhood friendship deeply affected by a terrible accident.
Halloween is coming and best friends, Mark and Derek, were chosen to be Monsters from Creatures from the Black Lagoon in the church's Halloween walk-through. What happens before the big day is monstrous and sad, and O'Nan takes the reader on a tension filled journey with hopes of a happy ending.
Monsters is a nice start to the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Creighton "Crate" Northgate has been seeing ghosts for some time. He moves around a lot, helping folks with their ghost problems, although Crate hints that there's more to it than that.
The Vagrant is a perfect introduction to the "Southern Hauntings Saga" series from Angelic Knight Press.
In this story, Crate stops for fuel and beer, and sees two men outside the store. Bryan Hall does an excellent job describing there characters, "One, a vagrant...[his] left shoe had the toe blown out of it and a sock the color of old dishwater had escaped into the daylight." The other clean cut and well dressed..."He wore a slight smile which seemed to be almost mocking Crate...An arrogant little smirk, and all Crate could think was the bastard was probably a lawyer."
One of these two turns out to be a spirit and what follows is a delicious little story of a ghost who is staying until he feels he has received vengeance.
In The Vagrant Creighton talks about the different types of hauntings, how..."Some [ghosts] were still in the mortal plane to fulfill some purpose, others were nothing more than traces of their old selves like faded Super 8 videos transposed over a crisp, high definition film; doomed to run in an endless loop until the end of time." The Vagrant deals with one of the former, a spirit that refuses to move on until he feels justice has been done.
The Vagrant is a beautiful, self-contained, ghost story, but also sets the stage nicely for the tales to follow. The next novella in the "Southern Hauntings Saga" is The Girl and both of these stories are already available from Angelic Knight Press through Amazon.com. For more on Bryan Hall you can visit his website at www.bryanhallfiction.com.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Thin Men with Yellow Faces - by Gary Mcmahon and Simon Bestwick - the second entry in a new, quarterly series of premium, signed, chapbooks from the UK - website This Is Horror.
Thin Men with Yellow Faces is the second entry in a new, quarterly series of premium, signed, chapbooks from the UK - website This Is Horror. The website is a great source of info for fans of both Horror writing and films, and I figured I'd take a chance on a charter subscription and I'm glad I did. Not only do you get the signed chapbook, but they send you a link for the e-Book, as well.
Chapbook number 2 is from Gary Mcmahon and Simon Bestwick. To find out more about Gary, visit his website at www.garymcmahon.com and for Simon, visit simon-bestwick.blogspot.co.uk .
Thin Men with Yellow Faces follows Gabrielle Holmes, who works for Child Protection Services, as she follows up on a report of suspicious comments made by young Heather Mayhew.
The report came from Heather's teacher who related that Heather had been seeing strange men at the foot of her bed at night. "Thin men with yellow faces." Shortly after being turned away by the girl's father, Gabby learns of the murder of Heather's teacher. Coincidence? What do you think?
Although a short story, there is plenty going on here as the pace quickens from scene to scene and we find the reality of the situation to be even more sinister than can be imagined.
Once again, I am quite pleased with the product. For more information on this chapbook, or others in the series, be sure to visit http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/this-is-horror-premium-chapbook-series/ .
Monday, October 8, 2012
In the past year or so, I've grown to me a fan of Tim Marquitz. One of the first stories I ever reviewed was Skulls from Damnation Books. More recently Tim was editor on the amazing Fading Lights: An Anthology of the Monstrous.
This time around it's his own stories Prey and Anathema. Be sure to take a close look at the wonderful cover from M. Wayne Miller for just a small taste of what to expect from the cover story. The artist says, "The hardest part of doing that cover was to do something that was not too intense for a cover."
In Prey, Marquitz takes the reader to a very dark place. The images are raw, disgusting, gruesome (somebody get me a Thesaurus). Really, the list could go on and on. The author's description of what was found in an abandoned house in the 5th ward is one of the more disturbing pieces of prose I've ever read and I read Horror for enjoyment.
The police have a suspect in custody, one who has confessed to the crime, but as the investigation unfolds, we find there is so much more to the story. What's the Mayor's involvement in all this and why is the Mayor's 11 year old son missing. Numerous twists and turns will keep you guessing to the end, but for me, it ends too soon. There seems to be a rush to conclude. All the loose ends are tied up nicely, but quickly, without a lot of explanation.
Prey is definitely for adults and not for the timid or easlily offended, but for those who enjoy a bit of gore with their horror, it's certaily a good ride.
The Bonus Novella is Anathema. OK, I admit, I had to look that up in my Funk and Wagnalls. It means "a person or thing detested or loathed." This tale is perfect for the title. A story of revenge gone awry. I found myself rooting for the protagonist who was wronged in such a big way. But, instead of exacting revenge on the perpetrator alone, things get more than a liitle out of hand.
Both stories are enjoyable and well worth a read. Available from the fine folks at Genius Book Publishing for the Paperback and from Amazon.com for both the Paperback and Kindle versions.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Back in June, I got to read The Void by Brett J. Tally, a very good mash-up of Science Fiction and Horror. I gave it 5 of 5 Stars. This week, I got to read The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynne, which I'm also giving 5 of 5 Stars. What, pray tell, might these two books have in common (other than the fact that they both delivered the goods)? It's their publisher JournalStone Books. They really seem to be putting out some great material. I received both of these as ARC's from LibraryThing.com, a great way to get free books. But let's get back to today's read.
Billy Moon did not recall when he had sold his soul, it might have been the night he met Travor Rail. That was the same night Billy was prepared to step off the Tobin Bridge. Rail pulls up in a black limo, introduces himself as a record producer and asks Billy to get his guitar and step into the car. Of course a deal is struck and Billy has to leave everything from his past behind, but since that time he's pretty much had all that he ever dreamed of.
It's several years later and Billy and his band are just coming off his successful "Lunatic" tour. Now he is contractually obligated to prepare his next album. Echo Lake is home to the recording studio where Billy will do just that under the guidance of Trevor Rail. This is also where we meet Jake Campbell, brought on as an Engineering Assistant on the project and we meet the ghost that lives in the church converted to a studio. There is a whole back story for the ghost which I won't get into here, but I love the notes repeated on the studio's baby grand. Pretty creepy.
Wynne does an excellent job in describing the recording sessions. Driven, long, intense, crazy. There are a lot of nice moments and inspired prose. The primary engineer on the project is Kevin Brickhouse and Douglas Wynnn writes, "What Kevin Brickhouse saw next, he would not understand for the rest of his life, which was now the length of a song." I'm a sucker for a good line. The bit with the Ouija board tatoo is inspired and although I didn't follow it all there's the god in the woods that Billy discovers and communicates with.
Near the end, Wynne sums up the recording experience pretty well with, "You may find records are kind of like hot dogs. You enjoy them a lot more before you know how they are made."
Douglas Wynne has been a writer, a musician and has returned to writing in a big way with The Devil of Echo Lake. One of the better books of read in 2012 and one I won't soon forget. Highly recommended.
There is a limited edition, signed, hard cover due out on October 12th, 2012. Also to be available in paperback and e-book formats from JournalStone Books. BTW, you can get a FREE e-book with your purchase of the hardcover or paperback versions. Something I think more publishers should consider doing.
Monday, October 1, 2012
More than a year ago, twelve authors got together and formed the Top Suspense Group. Among them, they have two hundred years of experience, have published more than two hundred books and have been honored with nearly sixty award nominations and/or wins.
Needless to say, this group knows a thing or two about writing crime fiction and in Writing Crime Fiction they've come together to share that knowledge with anyone who wants to try their hand at writing in this field.
What Writing Crime Fiction is not. It is not a substitute for a good writing course. It is not a step-by-step guide to writing your first novel. It is not a guide to self-publishing.
What Writing Crime Fiction is, is a series of essays by some people who have been there. Helpful words from a dozen writers who have had significant success writing in a genre they love.
There are articles on Going Indie, Finishing the First Novel, Building Suspense, Writing Noir, How to Use Sex in Your Book, Bringing the Zombie to Life and much, much more.
While I have no plans to write a novel, crime fiction or otherwise, any time soon. If I ever find myself tempted, I'd come back to this volume again. There is pleny of solid advice between it's covers. Advice that could take you months to accumulate by making connections in the genre and asking the right questions. And it's already collected for you in Writing Crime Fiction.
Writing Crime Fiction is available as an e-book from Amazon.com and if you subscribe to Amazon Prime you can borrow it for FREE from the Kindle Lending Library.
BTW, once you're written your Crime Novel, please send me a copy. I'd love to write a review.