Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another Killer review

410Media has their say on Killer:

"...This excellent tale moves along at a great pace as March tries to redefine himself after prison and reconnect with his children. The chapters alternate between present day and flashbacks to his days as a hitman. There are twist and turns in this novel that will keep you guessing until the last page. If crime fiction is at all for you, you should check this book out because Zeltserman is a new master."

You can read the complete review here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

From a bookstore in Cape Town, South Africa

photo is courtesy of Roger Smith, author of Wake Up Dead and Mixed Blood.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Killer reviews

Bruce Grossman at Bookgasm and Nathan Cain at Independent Crime have both been strong advocates for my earlier 'man out of prison' crime thrillers, Small Crimes and Pariah, with Bruce picking each as his top crime book of the year at Bookgasm, and Nathan picking them as among his favorites. They've both recently reviewed Killer, both having different takes on it.

From Bookgasm:

"Finishing off his men-out-of-prison trilogy, Dave Zeltserman delivers KILLER, which does nothing else but prove to readers that he is truly the king of Boston crime. This is not some overwrought, long-winded attempt at noir, but streamlined, punch-to-the-gut writing."

You can read the rest of the review here.

From Independent Crime:

"As I said, though, Killer is a letdown only when compared to Zeltserman's previous efforts. As an author, you're in a pretty good shape if the only competition you have is yourself. Taken on its own, Killer is still very good."

You can read the rest of the review here.

I'm proud of Small Crimes and Pariah (and am still amazed I was able to get Pariah published given it's extreme nature and its satirical target). Personally I feel Killer is the best crime novel I've written that has so far been published, but I can understand how fans of Pariah might be disappointed with it. It's not the explosive, subversive thrill ride that Pariah is, instead it's a much quieter book, a much different style of crime novel than the first two in the series.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Drowning Pool on '21 Tales'

"Any one of these stories, taken on its own, will delight fans of the surprising twist and audacious plot turn."

I'd like to thank Naomi Johnson for her review of my short story collection, 21 Tales, up on The Drowning Pool.

And for $1.49, you can buy the collection as an ebook from the Amazon Kindle store or from Smashwords.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

21 Tales now available for Amazon Kindle download

21 Tales is now available for Amazon Kindle download for $1.49. Since the book description hasn't shown up yet (it takes time to filter up through Amazon), here's what it will be:

21 Tales of dark suspense from acclaimed writer, Dave Zeltserman.

Stories of desperation, treachery, deceit and betrayal, populated by con men, mobsters, psychopaths, dangerous women and life’s losers. Each of these stories with surprise endings and enough twists to leave you dizzy.

Brutal life lessons learned over a game of nine-ball… a war veteran who’s been played as a sucker one too many times by his older brother… a salesman who stumbles upon the girl of his dreams only to learn that his dreams have all been nightmares… a con man who gets more than he bargains for when he convinces a wealthy woman to marry him.

21 Tales is approximately 78,000 words long.

About the author:

Dave Zeltserman is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ noir trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer. His upcoming books include The Caretaker of Lorne Field, Outsourced and Essence. Outsourced has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film and is currently under development.

Praise for Dave Zeltserman’s crime thriller SMALL CRIMES:

“There's a new name to add to the pantheon of the sons and daughters of Cain: Dave Zeltserman." National Public Radio, Top 5 Crime and Mystery Novels of 2008

"Zeltserman's breakthrough third crime novel deserves comparison with the best of James Ellroy", Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"Small Crimes proves a deft entry in the tradition that goes back to Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and Charles Willeford’s High Priest of California — small masterpieces celebrating the psychopath as a grinning archetype, as American as apple pie." Sun-Sentinel

Praise for Dave Zeltserman’s crime thriller PARIAH:

"A doozy of a doom-laden crime story that not only makes merry with the justice system but also satirizes the publishing industry" Washington Post, Best Books of 2009

"Darkly enjoyable... clear, crisp prose; his fearless portrait of amorality; and his smart plotting... what a fine addition to the local literary scene he’s become." Boston Globe

“Sheer astounding writing" Ken Bruen

"PARIAH is sure to catapult Zeltserman head and shoulders above other Boston authors. This is not only a great crime book, but a gripping read that will crossover to allow greater exposure for this rising talent." Bruce Grossman, Bookgasm

Early Praise for Dave Zeltserman’s crime thriller KILLER:

Spare prose and assured pacing place this above most other contemporary noirs." - Publisher's Weekly

"With graphic imagery and exciting twists, this novel is impossible to put down and has a surprising ending. A brilliant read" - Aberdeen Press & Journal

"This novel is everything hard-boiled fiction should be - compact, direct and disciplined, and concerned with humans rather than stereotypes. It is also, for all its violent subject matter, a quietly told story, which makes its tension all the more intense" - Mat Coward, Morning Star

"Killer is a major novel of crime." Ed Gorman

Friday, April 9, 2010

The year of the short story

Well, with Killer due out in May and The Caretaker of Lorne Field out in August, as well as Outsourced out in the UK and other European countries this year (US next Feb.), it's also going to be the year of the novel for me. But I've got 29 stories so far this year that are going to be coming out in print, 21 of which will be in my collection, '21 Tales', three scheduled later this year for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, 'Julius Katz' will be reprinted in Ed Gorman's and Martin Greenberg's best mystery stories of the year anthology, 'Hook or By Crook', a reprinted story in the first edition of Needle Magazine that has just been released, and 3 more new stories in assorted anthologies.

So what about '21 Tales'? These are 21 of my best short crime fiction stories (well, 20 anyways, one story is a lighthearted fantasy), each one with surprise endings and twists to leave the reader dizzy. New Pulp Press will be publishing a paperback version of it later this Fall (estimated date, Oct. 15th), but I've also added low-priced ($1.49) ebook versions today at the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords

By 21 Tales now at the Amazon Kindle store.

By 21 Tales now at Smashwords.

Smashwords store supports just about every format that eReaders use, even Kindle.

If you like twisty, dark, hardboiled crime fiction, I think you'll like the stories in this collection.

I'd like to give a big thanks to Kenney Mencher for the brilliant cover art that he did for this, and of course, New Pulp Press for arranging it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

'Man out of Prison' noir trilogy explained

Three dangerous men released from prison.

Each man on a different quest.

The three distinct noir journeys which follow.

That’s the premise for my ‘man just out of prison’ noir trilogy which Serpent’s Tail is publishing. The first of these, Small Crimes, was published in 2008 and ended up being named by both National Public Radio and The Washington Post as one of the top crime novels of the year. In Small Crimes, my anti-hero, Joe Denton, is a disgraced ex-cop who is being paroled after eight years for violently disfiguring the County DA who was building a police corruption case against Joe. When Joe was on the force, he was a bent cop, a degenerate gambler, and a coke user. Now that he’s out and back in his fictional hometown of Bradley, Vermont, Joe finds nobody much wants him around anymore, not his parents, his ex-colleagues, or his ex-wife. Joe wants redemption for his past crimes, but the problem is there are too many old ghosts and too much anger for that happen, at least not without a significant cost. The damage that Joe and his releases end up causing the town is staggering.

The inspiration for Small Crimes came from two newspaper article I read. The first was about a cop who committed a similar crime as Joe’s, and like Joe, was able to serve out an amazingly short sentence in a County Jail. This cop also started collecting his pension shortly after being released! The second article was about a corrupt Sheriff’s office in Denver in the 60s where they were robbing stores blind, even going as far as carrying safes out of stores to bust open later. Merging both these stories together, I started playing what-if games and built a scenario in my mind of how a cop could be treated as lightly as Joe for such a heinous crime within an utterly corrupt small town atmosphere. And so Small Crimes was born.

The second book in my series, Pariah, was published in 2009 and also named by the Washington Post as one of the best books of the year, and is written on two levels—one level being a fierce crime story, the other a darkly subversive and satirical look at the New York publishing industry and all their follies, as well as the celebrity-crazed culture in our society. Like a lot of people in Boston, I was fascinated for years by the Whitey Bulger/Billy Bulger story, and read everything I could about it. Here you have the most feared mobster in Boston, with his brother being the State Senate President. Stories would come out about how Whitey would lean on other pols to keep his brother in power, and Billy would squash state police investigations into Whitey, going as far as ruining the careers of state police who would try to bring Whitey in.

After Whitey goes on the lam it then comes out that he was an informant for the FBI, that he corrupted several FBI agents, including his childhood friend, John Connolly. Connolly would tip him off if anyone went to the FBI to give up Whitey, and Whitey would use the FBI to weaken his competition. He'd also give up his own people at times to help Connolly and these other corrupt FBI agents advance their careers.

I knew there was a great crime novel in all of this, and I was mulling over what angle to go at when several things happened--first was a Harvard student who had a reported 500K 2-book deal with Little Brown being vilified for plagiarizing other chick lit books when writing hers. The other was the release of a couple of tell-all books around early March 2006, by South Boston mobsters (Brutal by Kevin Weeks, Rat Bastard by John “red” Shea). I now saw my angle, as well as getting excited about the idea of a "man just out of prison" trilogy, with Small Crimes being the first, Pariah the second. I wanted Pariah to start the same as Small Crimes--a man just getting out of prison, but have this man (Kyle Nevin) be the polar opposite of Joe Denton, my noir ‘hero’ in Small Crimes. While Joe, for all his weakness and self-delusion, is still someone who wants to go through life without causing anymore damage, Kyle is a force of nature; utterly ruthless and remorseless, and someone who leaves death and destruction wherever he goes. I wrote Pariah early in 2006, and finished the book months before the OJ Simpson "If I did it" book story came out--which was all a bizarre coincidence. Anyone reading Pariah will probably think I was inspired by Simpson’s failed book. Not at all. At the time I thought the behavior of my fictional publisher in Pariah was beyond the pall and would be too extreme for any actual publisher, but I was proven wrong. In writing this book I wanted to work in as much history of Whitey and the South Boston mob as I could, and I also wanted to write what could be considered a great crime novel--even with the satirical elements, I wanted to write this straight up, and not for laughs.

Killer, which is going to be released in the US May 1st, rounds out this trilogy. Killer was inspired very loosely on the idea that Boston mob hitman, John Martorano, could murder 20 people, then end up striking a deal for a 12 year prison sentence in exchange for becoming a government witness against Whitey Bulger and the South Boston Mob. With Martorano, he is now out of prison and back in Boston where he’s living among the shadows of his victims.

My anti-hero in Killer is Leonard March. Like the real-life Martorano, March was also a hitman for the mob, in his case performing 28 hits. When he’s picked up on a racketeering charge, he strikes a deal for 14 years in exchange for testifying against the mob and immunity for all his past crimes. It’s only when the deal is struck that the authorities learn about his murders.

Just as Joe Denton and Kyle Nevin have there quests on leaving prison, so does March. His is a search for self-discovery. The chapters of Killer alternate between past and present, with the past chapters showing Leonard as a cold-blooded killer, while the present chapters show him as an older man trying to understand himself and his role in the universe. Since his release from prison he’s working as a janitor and living in a low-rent dirty pest-infested apartment. Any former glory is gone, as well as any fear he might have once have struck in the hearts of the Boston underworld. He has been reduced to a toothless wolf left howling futilely at the moon. March wants to believe that his past job was just a job, that things could have been different for him. That he could have been a good husband and father. In many ways, Killer is a meditation on the mind of a killer, and in the end when Leonard’s past collides with his present the mystery of how these two sides of March can be reconciled is at last answered.