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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Still time to give Aukowies for the holidays!

Stumped on the holiday present to give the person who has everything? May I suggest Aukowies? They can make the perfect present, especially for those who tend not to have the best luck with house plants or goldfish. They're easy to feed, and also they're tough, durable, and nearly impossible to kill. And now with the paperback edition of The Caretaker of Lorne Field, a book full of Aukowies have never been cheaper!

Here are 10 additional reasons to consider giving the gift of Aukowies during this holiday season:

1) Short listed by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010

2) Black Quill nominee for best dark genre book of 2010

3) "Superb mix of humor and horror" Publishers Weekly in a starred review

4) "delicious horror-ish novel" Newsday

5) "truly demented noir-horror monsterpiece" critic Chauncey Mabe

6) "a nail-biter" Library Journal

7) "This might be one of the best books of the year" Bookgasm

8) "Harrowing. Zeltserman colors it black with the best of them." Kirkus Reviews

9) "a very darkly funny dark fantasy" Locus Magazine

10) "superbly crafted horror story" Booklist

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caretaker and A Killer's Essence on the web

The trend with The Caretaker of Lorne Field continues as Jim Winter has his say.

A Killer's Essence is highly recommended by A Momentary Taste of Being.

According to Newport Public Library, A Killer's Essence is "a quick, quirky, fresh read, noir yet with a hopeful ending, and to me, the best part is, this Zeltserman guy has 5 previous books in our library system."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Over 30,000 Juliuses

Since making JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES free on Amazon I've had 30,000 Kindle downloads. I was originally hoping to get around 20-25K downloads, and it did start petering out around 25K, but then a week ago Pixel of Ink gave it a mention, and that caused another relatively quick burst of 5000 downloads. So now the big question is how many of these free downloads are going to get read? If enough do, it should generate enough sales of JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE to allow me to start working on the next Julius Katz novel, if not, I'll keep writing Julius Katz short stories for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, so Julius Katz will continue in one form or another. The next Julius Katz story, ONE ANGRY JULIUS, will be appearing in the June issue of Ellery Queen (out in March), and sometime later, ARCHIE SOLVES THE CASE will also be appearing.

If you're a fan of Julius and Archie and would like to see another novel, you can help by leaving a review on Amazon and/or spreading the word elsewhere. In this day of ebooks, this type of support is critical from readers.

One thing I've learned during this process--if you use Smashwords, always opt out from distributing to Kobo. For several weeks I've been trying to get the price of JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES set on Amazon to $1.99, but I can't because the price is still set to $0.00 on Kobo. Weeks ago I opted out on Smashwords to remove JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES from Kobo, but it's still there, still with an old cover from probably 6 months ago, which also shows Kobo isn't picking up updates from Smashwords.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reasons to get '21 Tales'

Some reasons to get the print, kindle or Nook versions of 21 Tales:

1) You've read or are planning to read my crime noir novel, Small Crimes, which topped NPR's list of best crime and mystery novel of 2008, as well as making the Washington Post's best books of 2008, then you want to read 21 Tales for the Manny Vassey stories. Manny Vassey is a dying mobster who's at the heart of Small Crimes, but he also appeared in several of my early crime stories, which have been collected in 21 Tales.

2) 21 Tales has a pre-'Fast Lane' Johnny Lane story, where you get to see Johnny Lane at a time where he gets to play the Lew Archer-type PI he always dreamed of playing.

3) If you've been enjoying my Julius Katz stories, then you want to read my Pete Mitchel stories to see the origins of Julius. While I originally wrote 'Julius Katz' for the Black Orchid contest as a tribute to Nero Wolfe, there's every bit as much of the DNA from my con man, Pete Mitchel, in Julius, as there is from Nero Wolfe.

4) If you've been enjoying my stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine or other publications, you'll enjoy 21 Tales as the stories range from light + humorous con man stories to the darkest noir.

5) Authors Tom Piccirilli, Paul Tremblay, Roger Smith, Vicki Hendricks, Ed Gorman and Lynn Kostoff have all spoken up about how much they like 21 Tales. New Magazine has called 21 Tales 'inventively depraved'. Bookgasm wrote 'I’ve become a big fan of Dave Zeltserman for one simple reason: The man can write. 21 TALES, a collection of his short stories, surely will satisfy the most die-hard fan, while also giving bite-size tastes to the unconverted.'

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


“What do I want from you? Simple. Find out who’s planning to kill me.”

These words were spoken by one Kenneth J. Kingston as he sat across from Julius, his voice having a thick nasal quality that bordered on whining. Kingston’s legs were crossed, his manner seemingly casual and unconcerned, his mouth compressed into a curious smile that seemed at odds with what he had just told Julius.

Kingston was a well-known Boston-area crime writer. I’d say he was a bestselling writer, but he wasn’t, at least not with his last several books. He was forty-nine and physically almost the exact opposite of his fictional private eye, and he certainly had no resemblance to tough guy crime writers like Mickey Spillane or Robert B. Parker. Dressed in an Armani suit and wearing expensive Italian loafers, he was five feet eight inches tall, and thin with a slight build. I had seen his publicity photos, so I thought I knew what to expect, but those must’ve been carefully posed because in real-life he didn’t resemble them very much. From his demeanor you could tell that he believed himself to be good-looking, but he wasn’t. Even if his tight curly hair hadn’t begun receding up his forehead, he wouldn’t have been. Not with his thin nose being as pointy as it was, and not with his chin being even pointier, and certainly not with that mouth of his being too big and wide for his angular face when it wasn’t compressed into a curious smile. If I had olfactory senses, I would have been able to describe the cologne he was wearing, but since I don’t, I could only guess it was some sort of dense musk. Of course it was possible he wasn’t wearing any cologne, but he seemed like the type that would.

Kingston wasn’t the first person to ever sit in Julius’s office and speak those words, or at least words to that effect, but those other prospective clients appeared anxious and worried as they did so. I found Kingston’s smile and his overall behavior confusing, maybe even disconcerting. If it confused Julius, I couldn’t tell. Julius didn’t respond to Kingston’s bombshell. Instead, he sat expressionless, although the fingers of his right hand began drumming lightly on the top of his antique walnut desk, which indicated an annoyance on his part.

After Kingston had called Julius for an appointment, I built a profile on him, hacking into whatever databases I could find that referenced him, financial or otherwise. I discovered a number of things, including his past tax returns and his current net worth. While he had a hundred and twenty-three thousand dollars in savings and investments, he was not the millionaire you’d expect a well-known author to be, but I guess that wasn’t so surprising since, as I’d already mentioned, he was no longer a bestselling one. Four books ago he was, but since then his sales have been trending downwards. His last book sold a little over thirteen thousand copies, which was an unmitigated disaster given that his publisher printed a hundred thousand. As part of the profile, I also analyzed all of his books—both the early ones he had written with his writing partner and the ones he later wrote by himself. I didn’t get much from this analysis other than general indications that Kingston thought very highly of himself, and that the books were poorly written, at least the ones he wrote by himself, which most likely accounted for the downward trend in sales. I now went back to his profile hoping to discover a clue as to why Kingston would be smiling in such an unusual fashion for someone who believed his life to be in danger.

You’re probably confused at this point as to what’s going on. Let me explain. While Kingston probably believed there were only two sentient beings at that moment in Julius’s office, himself and Julius, there were actually three; although I was the only one not of a biological nature even though I acted as Julius’s accountant, personal secretary, unofficial biographer and all-around assistant. What I am is a two-inch rectangular-shaped piece of space-aged computer technology that’s twenty-years more advanced than what’s currently considered theoretically possible—at least aside from whatever lab created me. How Julius acquired me, I have no clue. Whenever I’ve tried asking him, he jokes around, telling me he won me in a poker game. It could be true—I wouldn’t know since I have no memory of my time before Julius.

So that’s what I am, a two-inch rectangular mechanism weighing one point two ounces. What’s packed inside my titanium shell includes visual and audio receptors as well as wireless communication components and a highly sophisticated neuron network that not only simulates intelligence, but learning and thinking which adapts in response to my experiences. Auditory and visual recognition are included in my packaging, which means I can both see and hear, although as I’ve already mentioned, olfactory senses were left out. I can also speak. When Julius and I are in public, or when he is with a client as he was now, I speak to him through the wireless receiver that he wears in his ear as if it were a hearing aid. When we’re alone in his office he usually plugs the unit into a speaker on his desk.

Julius calls me “Archie”, and I’ve grown to think of myself as Archie, just as I’ve grown to imagine myself as a five-foot tall heavyset man with thinning hair, but of course I’m not five-foot tall, nor do I have the bulk that I imagine myself having, and I certainly don’t have any hair, thinning or otherwise. I also don’t have a name, only a serial identification number. But for whatever reason Julius calling me Archie seems right; and besides, it’s quicker to say than the eighty-four digit serial identification number that has been burnt into me.

The reason I have an image of myself being five-foot tall is easy to explain. Julius wears me as a tie clip, which puts me at roughly a five-foot distance from the ground when he stands. At one point when Julius realized the effect he was having on my self-image, he tried wearing me on a hatband, but I found this new height disorienting, as if I were walking around on stilts, and Julius likewise found it uncomfortable wearing a hat, so we mutually agreed I’d go back to being worn as a tie clip. I’ve never quite figured out where my self-image of thinning hair and heavyset build came from, but guess they were physical characteristics I picked up from Dashiell Hammett’s fictional PI, the Continental Op; which could be explained by Julius patterning my personality and speech on the works of some of the most important private eye novels of the twentieth century, including Hammett’s Continental Op novels, Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. Or maybe for some reason I identified with Costanza from Seinfeld—one of the few television programs Julius indulges in.

I was searching through a database of photos from classic Hollywood scenes when I found one that showed the same smile that Kingston was now wearing. The photo was taken from “The Third Man” and it showed Orson Welles the moment a passing light catches his face while he’s hiding in the shadows. The same smile. A smile of amusement. It didn’t add up. Why would Kingston be so amused over the fact that he had an unknown assailant planning to kill him? I was going to ask Julius about this, but decided to hold off. From the way he was tapping on his desk, I knew the slightest nudge—intentional or otherwise—would have him demand that Kingston leave his office immediately.

The newspapers and TV had Julius as Boston’s most brilliant and eccentric private investigator. They were right about the brilliant part, but as far as the eccentric part, maybe they were right, I don’t know, but I’d call it more laziness than anything else. Julius’s true passions were fine food, finer wine and gambling, and until he met Lily Rosten, womanizing. He hated to forego his true passions for the drudgery of work and only did so when it was absolutely necessary; in other words, when his funds were dwindling and he needed money so he could continue collecting wine for his cellar, indulging at Boston’s most exclusive gourmet restaurants and wagering a good deal of money in either high stake poker games or on the horses. And even then it would take days of unrelenting nagging on my part before I’d be able to get Julius to budge. So Julius was never in a good mood when he took cases, and now he was in a worse mood than usual with Lily gone on a business trip and his recent steep and puzzling losses in poker. When he started drumming his fingers harder on his desk, I knew he was seconds away from dismissing Kingston.

“There’s that case of Chateau Margaux 1995 waiting for you at the Wine Cellar,” I reminded him.

His drumming slowed down. Julius had been looking for that vintage for several years, and it went for four hundred dollars a bottle. He would have to choose between suffering Kingston’s intolerable smugness or losing that wine, and I was betting on the former, which served my purposes. I took satisfaction from helping Julius, but I also had my own agenda. I wanted to solve a case before him. You see, I long ago figured out the name he gave me, Archie. It came from the fictional private eye, Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe’s second banana who was always one step behind his boss. So yeah, I got the joke, but one of these days I was going to surprise Julius. It was only a matter of seeing enough cases and analyzing the decisions Julius makes to allow me to readjust my neuron network appropriately. One of these days he was going to have to start calling me Nero.

Julius made his decision and stopped his drumming completely. “Sir, if this is some kind of joke,” he started.

Kingston’s eyes opened wide in a mock display of surprise. “Oh, this is no joke,” he claimed. And then he giggled. I didn’t think writers who wrote tough guy crime fiction were supposed to giggle, but that was the only way to describe the sound he made.

I could almost feel Julius sink back in his chair, resigned to the fact that he wanted that case of wine more than he wanted to be free of this man. While the newspapers may be right about Julius’s eccentricity, they were completely wrong about his being particular about which cases he took. That was a myth. While Julius tries to avoid the more unseemly cases, especially those involving domestic issues, his primary concern was the fee that the cases would pay. It took a good deal of money to support Julius’s lifestyle, more now than ever with Lily in his life, and before booking the appointment with Kingston I arranged for a minimum fee of ten thousand dollars, which was money Julius now needed. Right now he had enough to stake him for his weekly poker game, but not enough for his next month’s expenses or other luxury items, 1995 Chateau Margaux included.

“You say this is not a joke, yet you act like it is,” Julius said with a sigh.

“I assure you it isn’t,” Kingston said, his tone more serious, but still with a smirk on his lips. “As I told your assistant, I’m willing to pay you ten thousand dollars for what should be no more than a few hours of your time.”

Julius grunted. “Either you overestimate my abilities or you don’t need my services, not if you believe you only need a few hours of my labor,” he said.

Kingston’s eyes dulled. He was beginning to get bored with whatever game he was playing. “No on both counts,” he said. “I’ll pay you the ten thousand dollars up front, and I won’t need more than four hours of your time. You can bill me whatever outlandish fee you’d like if it takes more than that.”

Julius nodded slightly, his features marble hard. “Go ahead, explain to me why you think someone is trying to kill you.”

Kingston tried smiling again. Not his amused smile from before but more of a forced one. “How much do you know about book publishing, Katz?” Kingston asked. Julius showed remarkable restraint by simply shrugging and not asking what this had to do with someone plotting to end his life, as I badly wanted to do. Kingston’s lips tightened as he shook his head. “It’s a brutal business,” he continued. “It’s always been brutal, but now more than ever before. It’s the whole blockbuster mentality as publishers fight for limited space in the retail stores. Did you know that sixty percent of all books sold in this country are sold through retail stores, even though they’re only selling books as loss leaders? They’re the ones who are dictating what’s being published these days, and the quality of the book be damned. It no longer matters. It’s all about other factors now.”

Again Julius showed remarkable restraint, maintaining a placid expression and not commenting on the quality of Kingston’s own writing. Upon booking Kingston’s appointment, I emailed Julius an excerpt from one of Kingston’s recent books, and while reading it Julius made a face as if he had sipped a good cabernet that had turned vinegar. He could only read two and a half pages of it before putting it away, claiming that the writing would ruin his appetite for dinner.

Kingston stopped to rub an index finger over his lips, his eyes growing distant. Then his lips tightened into a thin smile and his eyes shifted to catch Julius’s. They were pale, unpleasant eyes.

“My last book didn’t sell as well as it should have,” he conceded. “My next book is good, very different from my others, but good nonetheless. If it isn’t a bestseller, my career is over. We’re taking steps to make sure that happens. Usually books are sent out to reviewers and other writers months ahead of their publishing date for reviews and blurbs, but we’re keeping my next one under wraps until the day it’s released in three weeks. Reviewers, advance readers, nobody is seeing it until then. We’re not even telling anyone the title. It’s one of the ways we’ll be creating an excitement for the book.”

Kingston reached inside his suit jacket and pulled from a pocket a folded sheet of paper which he handed to Julius. Julius unfolded this paper and glanced at it for a moment before placing it on his desk. There were six names on the paper. I recognized five of them from the profile I had built on Kingston. The sixth name I recognized because he was also a Boston private investigator. I told Julius who the first five people on the list were. I didn’t bother telling him about his fellow private investigator since he knew about him as well as I did.

I was confused by all this, but from the way Julius’s eyes narrowed as he stared at his prospective client, I doubted that he was. “And what exactly am I supposed to do with this list?” he asked coldly.

“What do you think?” Kingston said. “That’s the list of potential suspects. I want you to interrogate them. And don’t worry, they all probably want to kill me, all except maybe my wife, although maybe she does too. You should have fun trying to figure out which one of them wants to kill me the most.”

“This is only a publicity stunt,” Julius stated.

“Bingo! That’s why you’re the world class genius detective. So all I want from you is to spend an hour, two hours at the most, interrogating them as a group. Make it look real. They’ll all think it is. I’ll have a TV crew present. Then in two weeks, after the buzz and media attention has been building, bring everyone back for another round of questioning. This time when you’re done act as if you’re stumped and I’ll jump in and name the guilty party. It will be a brilliant piece of publicity that will get the public hot for my book.”

Julius sat completely still with his lips pressed tightly together. I felt as if my processing cycles had ground to a halt—a sensation that I knew was akin to holding my breath with anticipation. Under normal circumstances I knew Julius would tell this man to leave his home, but now I wasn’t so sure. He needed the money. His recent poker losses were not only unexpected but steep—over thirty thousand dollars. Usually Julius had clients lining up to hire him since he’s Boston’s most famous private eye, but when he finally consented a few days ago to take a case this time the pickings were slim, at least among well-heeled prospective clients. There was the Bolovar securities fraud case. They wanted to hire Julius a month ago, and they still wanted to hire him, but that case would require extensive traveling which was something Julius hated. So given all that, I understood the temptation for Julius to take this farce of a case and the ten thousand dollar fee that it offered for no actual work, which I knew also appealed to his innate laziness. If he accepted what Kingston was offering, it would be at least another month before he would take a genuine case, which would be at least another month before I’d have the opportunity to refine my neuron network. My processing cycles felt as if they had slowed down even more, and I realized this new sensation was dejection.

“Sir, I decline your offer,” Julius told Kingston.

My processing cycles nearly hummed as they raced along again. Kingston looked dumbfounded.

“What do you mean you’re declining my offer?” he snapped, his voice even more of a nasal whine than before. “Ten thousand dollars for no more than four hours work? Are you nuts?”

“If you wish to hire a trained seal for your amusement, I suggest you go to the aquarium. I’m sure it will cost you far less than ten thousand dollars. We’re done here.”

Kingston gave Julius a hard stare. “Twenty thousand dollars,” he said.

“I’m not interested.”

“Twenty-five thousand.”

There was a hesitation before Julius shook his head. “It is bad enough,” he said, “that at times I must sell my services to afford the necessities of life, but I have no intention of selling my dignity for any amount. I’m not interested in this charade, and you’ve wasted enough of my time. I must ask you now to leave my office and home.”

Kingston looked like he wanted to argue, but instead nodded and stood up, a thin sneer etching his face. “I’m not done with you yet, Katz. You’ll see.” He left the office then while Julius stayed seated, brooding.

I followed Kingston on several of the webcam feeds that had been set up through the house to make sure he wasn’t up to any mischief and watched him as he left without incident. Once the front door closed, I asked Julius about 1995 Chateau Margaux being a necessity of life. “And Le Che Cru and all the other fine dining establishments that you frequent. These are necessities?”

“For me, Archie, they are.” Julius let out a soft sigh. “I suppose you’re going to be pestering me about turning down an easy twenty-five thousand dollars,” he said.

“No, sir,” I said. “I have to believe that your reputation is worth far more than that sum of money, and it would’ve been unbearable having to watch you play the dupe to someone like him.”

Another sigh escaped from Julius. “It’s good that you understand that, Archie,” he said. “It shows you’re progressing nicely.”

“There’s still the matter of your finances, or lack of such. I know you have your poker game in four days, but we can’t count on any poker winnings from you after your last two disastrous outings. I also know you don’t like the amount of traveling you’d have to do to Los Angeles and Atlanta, but Bolovar still wishes to hire you, very much so, in fact, and their fee would be substantial.”

“Please, Archie, my last twenty-five minutes were unpleasant enough.”

I shut up after that. It would’ve been pointless to continue. Besides, it was almost three-thirty and Julius had been planning to go to the Belvedere Club for their cognac sampling, so he’d be leaving soon. For several minutes Julius sat listlessly, his gaze resting on the book Kingston had brought for him—his previous effort that had disappointed his publisher with sales of only thirteen thousand copies. Kingston had signed it, writing inside: ‘the best book you’ll read this year, at least until you read my next.’ I expected Julius to toss it in the garbage, but instead he let it sit on his desk. When he finally pushed his chair back and got to his feet, instead of heading outside so he could walk the three blocks from his Beacon Hill townhouse to the Belvedere Club, he headed down to his wine cellar. When he picked out a fair Zinfandel, that only confirmed the funk he was in. For whatever reason, Julius only drank Zinfandel when he was sulking, and the more he was sulking the fairer the label of Zinfandel he would choose. I kept quiet about it. I waited until he returned back to his kitchen and prepared a plate of assorted cheeses and crackers to bring out to his private garden-level patio before mentioning to him how he could be sampling exceptional cognacs now instead of drinking what was at best a fair Zinfandel, one that the Wine Spectator had scored at only 81.

Julius sat on a red cedar Adirondack chair that had faded over the years to a muted rust-color and poured himself a glass of the aforementioned wine. His gaze wandered to one of the many rose bushes that were in bloom. The patio was the crown jewel of his townhouse; over two thousand square feet, which Julius had professionally landscaped with Japanese maples, fountains, and a vast assortment of other plantings.

“This is what suits me now, Archie,” he said.

His sulking wasn’t going to do him any good. I knew it wasn’t over the lost fee, but instead over the fact that he had spent twenty-five minutes entertaining Kingston in his office, time that could’ve been spent in other pursuits. At first I thought of needling him about this childish display of his in an attempt to knock him out of it, but decided to try a different approach knowing that his mood was also being affected by Lily Rosten’s absence and the sting of his recent poker losses.

“I’m sorry about booking that appointment,” I said. “I thought it was a legitimate case. He promised that ten thousand dollar fee, but all he would tell me was that it was matter of extreme importance. A life and death issue.”

“Not your fault, Archie,” Julius said.

“Yeah, well, I still owe you an apology. If I had seen him first instead of just talking to him over the phone, I would’ve sized him up better. You know those Italian loafers he was wearing? Six hundred and twenty-four dollars was the lowest price I could find online. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about the guy. I’m surprised you didn’t invite him to your next poker game. You could’ve taken him for a bundle.”

Julius smiled thinly at that. “I was tempted,” he admitted. “But it would’ve meant several more hours of his company, which I decided was a poor bargain at best. Archie, for now I’d like some quiet.”

Yeah, I got it. He wanted to sulk, and he didn’t want me interfering with that. Fine. While he sat and drank his wine, I did some hunting for a prospective client to replace Kingston but couldn’t find any suitable candidates, and after that spent my time playing poker online. I won three hundred and forty dollars, bringing my balance to a little over four thousand dollars, which I had built from the twenty dollars they gave me as a promotion for opening up an account. I didn’t keep many secrets from Julius. In fact, my having this money was the only one, but I had my reason so I adjusted my programming to allow me to keep this one secret from him.


Download the rest of the novel now to your Kindle for $2.99

Download the rest of the novel now to your Nook for $4.99

(Kindle price will be going up soon to $4.99)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Guide with movie-style ratings

With my 12th book, A Killer's Essence, recently published, and my 13th book, appropriately a horror novel, 'Monster: A Novel of Frankenstein' out next summer through Overlook Press, I thought it would be a good idea to put out this book guide complete with movie-style ratings. As you can tell from this , I've written crime, noir, horror, mysteries, hardboiled PI, thrillers, and sometimes a mix of these genres. I've arranged this book guide from my charming and humor-filled JULIUS KATZ & ARCHIE to my brutal and fierce crime noir novel, PARIAH. This guide can also be found on my website.

JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE (available now for $2.99, e-book only) The first full-length novel feature Julius Katz & Archie from my award-winning Ellery Queen stories. Charming and fun mystery. Rating: PG

THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD (available hardcover, trade paper, e-book) Horror novel shortlisted by ALA for best of 2010. Black Quill nominee for best dark genre book of the year. Rating: PG

A KILLER'S ESSENCE (hardcover available now, e-book) Gritty crime novel with supernatural element that takes place with the 2004 ALCS Yankees-Red Sox series in the background. Rating: R

DYING MEMORIES (e-book only) Thriller. Rating: R

OUTSOURCED (trade paper, e-book) Crime thriller, bank heist. Booklist calls this 'a small gem of crime fiction'. Rating: R

BAD KARMA (out of print, e-book) Hardboiled PI, sequel to Bad Thoughts but very different tone with its evil yoga studios, dangerous Russian mobsters and deviant gurus. Rating: R

KILLER (trade paper, e-book) 3rd (and best) book of my 'man out of prison' crime thriller series. Much quieter than Small Crimes and Pariah, and in a way a quiet meditation into the mind of a killer. Rating: R

MONSTER: A NOVEL OF FRANKENSTEIN (hardcover out next summer) A gothic retelling of Frankenstein from the monster's point of view and where Victor Frankenstein and the Marquis de Sade are in league to bring hell to earth.

SMALL CRIMES (trade paper) 1st book of my 'man out of prison' crime thriller series. Named by NPR as one of the 5 best crime & mystery novels of 2008.

BAD THOUGHTS (out of print, e-book) A grim & bleak horror/crime thriller. To some, nightmare inducing. Rated: R

FAST LANE (out of print, e-book) My first novel. A mix of full-blown Jim Thompsoneque psycho noir and deconstruction of the hardboiled PI genre. Rating: R

BLOOD CRIMES (e-book) the first book of a planned 5-book series. A wild thrill ride of a book, wickedly paced, and loaded with sex, violence and intense horror. I'm sure Twilight readers who find this are going to be horrified, but Blood Crimes is quickly becoming a favorite among noir and horror readers. Rating: NC-17

PARIAH (trade paper) 2nd book of my 'man out of prison' crime thriller series. Named by The Washington Post as one of the best books of 2009. Fierce crime novel, as well as a satire on the publishing industry. Rating: NC-17

Friday, November 18, 2011

The trend continues and over 24,000 Julius's

This is a short book, but it works. The Aukowies, though barely described, are a constant and lurking presence. Wisely, the author doesn’t give an explanation, or an origin, and so the book takes on a mythic aspect. As the book progresses, the questions of reality, mental illness, and faith arise, and soon even the main character begins to question himself as much or more than the other characters...It’s short, but it does everything a classic story should.

The trend continues with THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD getting another damn fine review, this one over at DAMN FINE HORROR.

Over 24,000 JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES downloaded to the kindle so far, and it's been gratifying to see comments from readers who are now discovering Julius & Archie for the first time; such as:

"Loved the characters"

"Julius Katz may be a lazy detective, but he sure is fun to read about! A surprising and enjoyable find"

"Fun short stories with sufficiently satisfying plot lines and characters. A nice modern take on mystery stories"

"I am not sure what happened - but I had no intentions of reading this book at all. It was obviously nothing like the paranormal books I normally enjoy. But after reading this book I bought the next book in the series"

"These are clever modern updates of the Nero Wolfe tradition. While the mysteries are excellent traditional mysteries, it is the "relationship" between Katz and his AI assistant Archie that is the star of the show."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Archie Interviews

Last year I conducted this 5-part interview with Julius Katz's erstwhile assistant Archie.

DZ: Archie, it's been quite a treat so far chronicling the cases that I have, first the Brewer case that we simply called 'Julius Katz', then the Penney case which Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is going to be running later this year with the title 'Archie's Been Framed!', and now the Kingston case, which is probably the most fascinating of all of them and which I should wrap up chronicling soon. People outside of the Boston area who are unfamiliar with the Penney case have a hard time believing how accurate the title we gave it is.

Archie: Yeah, well, they should believe it. If Julius didn't pull my bacon out of the fire, they could've fried me for that one. And even though I've got a titanium outer shell, fifty thousand watts would be more than enough to short out my circuits.

DZ: It's one year ago today that you called me to chronicle these cases. I have to admit for a number of reasons I was surprised you picked me and not one of the more better known Boston crime writers, like Lehane. It wasn't because you and Julius thought I'd work cheap?"

Archie: Nooooooooooo....

DZ: Okay, that's a relief. Still, it was a surprise, especially with how different the tone is for some of my crime novels with what you and Julius were looking for.

Archie (chuckling): Yeah, calling the tone of Pariah and Small Crimes different might be the understatement of the year. But Julius is a fan, and as twisted and dark as he found some of your books, there was still that humor he was looking for. And I think you letting him read early drafts of Killer and The Caretaker of Lorne Field cinched it for him.

DZ: Do you think there's any chance we'll be able to get Julius to make an appearance here?

Archie: Roughly 0.00456 percent chance.

DZ: Roughly?

Archie: Plus or minus 0.000001

DZ: In other words, we've got a better chance of seeing pigs fly.

Archie: No, that's not true. With recent advances in genetic engineering, there's a higher probability of pigs flying.

DZ: Okay, not very encouraging. Something I've been thinking about. I've been unable to get releases from all of the suspects from the Kingston case, for obvious reasons. It looks like I'm going to have to come up with some fictional names for a few of them. What about allowing a fan of 'Julius Katz' having his or her name used instead for one of the murder suspects?

Archie: Interesting... I'll run the idea by Julius. (Note from DZ: Julius later declined this as he found the idea unseemly)

DZ: Your actual size?

Archie: Two inches long, one point one seven inches wide, and I weigh approximately one point two ounces.

DZ: You've mentioned that you imagine yourself as a five foot tall, balding heavyset man.

Archie: Yeah.

DZ: Why five foot tall?

Archie: Julius wears me as a tie clip, so when he's standing that would be my height if I was of a biological nature.

DZ: Does Julius know this?

Archie: Yeah, I told him once. When he realized the effect he was having on my self-esteem, he started wearing a hat with me attached to the hat band. That didn't work. First, Julius doesn't like wearing a hat, and second it was disorienting for me, almost as if I was walking around on stilts. So I'm back to being worn as a tie clip, but that height feels comfortable to me now. No complaints.

DZ: How about the balding, heavyset part of your image?

Archie: I'm not sure. Julius doesn't watch much TV, but he does like to indulge in Seinfeld reruns so maybe it's that I find myself identifying for some reason with Costanza. Or maybe it's me identifying with Hammett's Continental Op.

DZ: You told me about how your personality and experience base was initially built by feeding in important 20th century crime novels. So you find yourself most identifying with the Op?

Archie: Maybe. I'm a bit of a mutt, with a mix of Spillane's Mike Hammer novels, all of Hammett's works, Chandler's Marlowes, Ross Macdonald's Lew Archers, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfes, and others, including Damon Runyan's works.

DZ: Why Runyan?

Archie: I think so I'd be quicker to spot grifts.

DZ: And how'd you get the name Archie?

Archie: It's not my name of course. All I have is an 84-digit ID. But Julius started calling me it, and even though he started it as a joke, it seemed right.

DZ: A joke?

Archie: Yeah, the obvious one. That I'd be like another Archie. Archie Goodwin. Always beaten to the punch by his boss in solving the case. So far that's been true, but one of these days it won't be. All I need is to see Julius solve enough cases so I can keep adjusting my neuron network. One of these days he's going to have to start calling me Nero.

DZ: Julius turns down almost all the cases he's offered.

Archie: Yeah. 99.63 percent, to be exact.

DZ: He's that particular?

Archie: Nah, he's that lazy.

DZ: I don't get you.

Archie: Julius is lazy. Incredibly lazy. At least when it comes to work. He wants to spend his life pursuing his true passions, and he only works when his bank account hits anemic levels. When that happens, he'll take any case that pays enough. The whole 'particular about his cases' thing is a media derived falsehood, and one that Julius makes no effort to correct.

DZ: I think I know this already, but what are his true passions?

Archie: Wine, of course. He's got a cellar filled with the stuff. Top notch bottles too. Gambling, especially poker, but the horses also. And food. Julius is very much the gourmet. Probably hard to tell given how fit he is, but if he didn't spend an hour each morning with his intensive martial arts training and another hour with even more intensive exercise he'd be fat. Women also used to be one of his true passions, at least before he met Lily Rosten. Now it's just one woman.

DZ: He's a good-looking guy. He must've done well with the women.

Archie: I couldn't tell you how many nights he stuck me away in his sock drawer. Well, I could. But I won't.

DZ: I'd have to guess Julius is good at gambling.

Archie: One of the best at poker. He has no tell, at least when he doesn't want to have one, and I've spent hundreds of hours trying to find one. And he picks up other players tells faster than I can. But sometimes he'll get stubborn and stick with the horses and have losing streaks. I hate to admit this, but I always look forward to those losing streaks, because it usually means he'll have to take a case.

DZ: Since chronicling the Brewer case and having it published in Ellery Queen, I've heard from readers from other parts of the country who didn't realize this was a true crime case. That instead I had written a pastiche on Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe.

Archie: Yeah, well, Julius is real alright. And while I'm artificially derived, at this point my neuron network is as complex as any human brain.

DZ: I know that, people in Boston know that, but you can understand how some people might think Julius's name is a play on Nero Wolfe's.

Archie: Only a coincidence. Most people probably don't realize Spenser is real too.

DZ: I didn't realize that. I thought he was a fictional creation.

Archie: Nope, Parker was doing the same as you now, which was chronicling Spenser's cases. Spenser, Susan, Hawk, all real.

DZ: Julius ever run into Spenser?

Archie: Yeah, he'd drop by occasionally and share a bottle of wine with Julius and talk shop.

DZ: You'll have to show one of your video recordings of that sometime.

Archie: I'll ask Julius.

DZ: Julius has his 5th degree blackbelt in kung fu, Spenser all bulked out with his weightlifting. Who do you think would win in in a fight.

Archie: It wouldn't be much of a fight. There were a few times after half a bottle of wine Spenser would try talking Julius into sparring with him. Fortunately for Spenser's health, Julius never took him up on it. They did arm wrestle once.

DZ: Really?

Archie: Yeah. Spenser goaded Julius into it. Thing with Julius is, while he's only 180 pounds, all of his martial arts training, especially his internal training, allows him to generate amazing power. He was kind and waited 30 seconds before slamming Spenser's arm to the table. I think he did it harder than he wanted to. There were tears in Spenser's eyes afterwards.

DZ: Spenser was crying?

Archie: He claims it was allergies.

DZ: You're usually kept busy being Julius’s accountant, personal secretary, unofficial biographer and all-around assistant, but what do you like doing during your down time?

Archie: You mean like hobbies?

DZ: Yep.

Archie: Well, it's not what most people would think of as a hobby, but I spend most of my free time adjusting my neuron network.

DZ: Probably not. What's involved with that?

Archie: I'll have a closed loop where I'll replay the events of a case, and I'll make adjustments, add new analytical models and additional pattern recognition modules to see if I can then make the same deductions that Julius did. It's a slow process, but eventually it will pay off.

DZ: With the pay off being...?

Archie: Solving a case before Julius. Someday it will happen.

DZ: So no hobbies?

Archie: I do have a few. There are some famous unsolved math problems where they offer two million dollar prizes for the solution. For about a year I've been working to find a solution for the Hodge conjecture. So far no luck, but I have ideas to explore. I also at times will analyze famous chess games to find flaws, and I've found a few. But most of my time is spent trying to replicate how Julius's brain works. I have a long way to go with that.

DZ: While chronicling the Kingston case I came across a name I never heard before. Desmond Grushnier.

Archie: A shadowy figure. Probably best we don't talk about him.

DZ: Julius has had run-ins with him?

Archie: Yeah, but that's probably all I should say on the matter.

DZ: Okay, I won't push you on it. What's Julius doing now?

Archie: It's 6:08 PM and Julius is sitting outside in his private garden-level patio, enjoying the summer evening, as well as one of his favorite Chardonnay's from his cellar and a platter of fine cheeses and meats. Lily will be stopping by in an hour, and he has 8:30 reservations at Le Che Cru.

DZ: Any new cases on the horizon?

Archie: Probably not for a while. With the money Julius still has in reserves from the Kingston case, not a chance I'll be able to pester him to take another case unless he finds some expensive wine to bid on at auction or he has a bad few weeks at the track.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Killer's Essence at the Harvard Coop, now on kindle, latest review

I'll be at the Harvard Coop tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 15th) at 7pm, reading/signing for A Killer's Essence.

My publisher has also just made A Killer's Essence available as a kindle download.

I'd like to thank Andrew Leonard over at The Man Eating Bookworm for giving A Killer's Essence its latest stellar review, saying in part:

I've read more books this year by Dave Zeltserman's than any other author, so it was no surprise to this bookworm that I was going to enjoy A KILLER'S ESSENCE. What still gets me though, what always blows me away, is that with each book of his I read, I think there is no way he can top it.

Then he does.

You can read the entire review here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The case for Julius Katz

So far over 23,000 copies of JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES (JKM) have been downloaded to kindles. This ebook is made up of two award-winning stories that were previously published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine:

'Julius Katz' which won last year's Shamus Award for best private eye story, given out by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), and also the Derringer Award for best novelette, given out by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

'Archie's Been Framed' which won this year's Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award as it was chosen by Ellery Queen's readers as their favorite story published in the magazine in 2010 among some fierce competition, including Doug Allyn's Edgar-award winning story (Doug took second place in the Readers Choice Award).

Right now you can download JKM for free at Amazon for your kindle and for $0.99 at B&N for your Nook, and along with these there's also a full-length Julius Katz mystery novel titled JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE that is priced at $2.99 at both Amazon and B&N, and two more stories scheduled to be published in Ellery Queen--ONE ANGRY JULIUS, where a very petulant Julius solves a murder while sitting on a jury, and ARCHIE SOLVES THE CASE, where Archie (at least according to him) beats Julius to the punch in solving a case. I'm also planning to start writing a second Julius Katz mystery novel soon.

These stories and the JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE novel are very different from my crime and horror fiction. Most readers describe them as charming, witty and a lot of fun. The Wolfe Pack has endorsed them, and I've gotten emails from readers who are Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Robert B. Parker fans, who have all enjoyed these stories and the novel immensely. I've also gotten enthusiastic endorsements from the following writers who have also enjoyed the exploits of Julius & Archie: Ed Gorman, Timothy Hallinan, Roger Smith, Bill Crider, Paul Levine, Naomi Hirahara, James Reasoner, Paul Brazill and Joe Barone.

Now here's the interesting thing (at least to me). I've also heard from a number of readers who are fans of my noir/crimes novels and The Caretaker of Lorne Field (horror), and not only are these fans of my much dark and more violent books enjoying Julius Katz, but some are telling me that JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE is their favorite of mine, and these are readers who typically never read mysteries.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Q. R. Markham should've read Pariah

If he had, he would've known what his Frankenstein quilt of a novel, Assassin of Secrets, would've bought him.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Over 20,000 Julius's and counting

Over 20,000 Kindle versions of JULIUS KATZ MYSTERIES have been downloaded since Amazon set the price to $0.00 last week. Tomorrow I'll be getting back into the trenches for the first time since I sold SMALL CRIMES to Serpent's Tail to talk about this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kindle publishing tip--better to use Author Central

I've had several writers recently ask me how I got the book titles bolded in the description for JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE, and the way that was done was using Amazon's Author Central instead of their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) pages.

Author Central is just a much better way to enter you ebook description. You can bold and italicize text, and you can enter in a lot more information than you can from the KDP method. For example, using this approach you can enter 4000 characters for the book description, then another 8000 characters in the 'From the Back Cover' section, which is a good place to put blurbs for your book, as well as blurbs for other books.

You can take a look at my JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE page to see how much better this can look than using KDP.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bookreporter.com on A Killer's Essence

Dave Zeltserman is arguably better known to literary critics and to fellow authors than he is to the public at large, which is puzzling. His output is steady and consistently strong. Best of all, his books have the potential to appeal to even casual fans of the mystery and thriller genres. His style and topics are meaty and accessible. Read the first page of any one of his books, and you will keep reading until the tale is told; read one of his books, and you will want to read them all. Part of the reason for this is that while Zeltserman deals with issues pertaining to crime in all of its manifestation, his stories also concern themselves with the affairs and situations of everyday living that are important yet often hobble us in the course of completing tasks that are (or seem to be) life-or-death matters.

So it is that A KILLER’S ESSENCE, Zeltserman’s latest effort, concerns itself with the hunt for a serial killer in New York, and much, much more. It is told in the world-weary voice of Stan Green, a New York City police detective who is driven and dedicated, possibly too much so. Green is assigned to a case involving the brutal mutilation and murder of a middle-aged woman on a bustling street in broad daylight. There is a witness to the crime, who, interestingly enough, is unable to describe the killer. Green is saddled with a superior who is never satisfied, even with the best work. There is no succor for Green at home, either. He is living with a high-maintenance girlfriend named Bambi (who, he hastens to tell us, is neither a stripper nor an escort); to be fair, she is asked to put up with a lot. His children live with his ex-wife and her new husband out of state, and his promises to them are more broken than fulfilled.

You can read the entire review here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Killer's Essence, price cut for Dying Memories, more Julius Katz and Archie!

I'd like to thank Beth Kanell for sending over this photo showing a stack of A Killer's Essence being prominently displayed at the Mysterious Bookshop in NY.

I'd also like to thank Naomi Johnson for reviewing A Killer's Essence over at The Drowning Machine, and also to Bruce Grossman for doing the same over at Bookgasm.

Massive price cut for my thriller, Dying Memories, for the Kindle--$2.99 to $0.99. This is only going to be for a short time, so if you want to read a fun, fast-paced thriller that's very different from the norm (and very different from anything else I've written), now's your chance to pick this up for under a buck!

Over 12,000 kindle downloads of my award-winning Julius Katz Mysteries since this wen free 2 days ago! And there's been a carryover effect for JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE:

#17 in Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Hard-Boiled
#18 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Hard-Boiled

I'd like to thank everyone who's picked up copies of these, and let's help spread the word about JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE and get it #1 over at Amazon!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Award-winning Julius Katz Mysteries now a free Kindle download

My award-winning Julius Katz Mysteries is now available as a free Kindle download from Amazon. That's right. $0.00, nada, zip, absolutely free. Not surprising that 1000s of readers have already taken advantage of this and that Julius Katz Mysteries is currently ranked third on Kindle's hardboiled mystery list. And here's the beauty of this--after reading these award-winning stories, the first full-length Julius Katz novel, JULIUS KATZ & ARCHIE, will be waiting for you as a $2.99 Kindle download. And other Julius Katz mysteries will be gracing the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in the near future, the next one being ONE ANGRY JULIUS. So if you haven't discovered Julius Katz and Archie yet, now is the perfect time!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blood Crimes -- Monster Librarian

The Monster Librarian recently reviewed a number of horror themed adventure books, and summed up their review of Blood Crimes with:

Strong language, gore, violence, and sexual situations give the first book in Dave Zeltserman’s series a high-octane feel. The fight scenes are graphic and leave you feeling as breathless as the characters. Highly recommended.

To read the full review of see the other horror books reviewed, click here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 quick reasons to read The Caretaker of Lorne Field

Now that Caretaker is out in paperback, I thought I'd put together 10 quick reasons why you should read this book.

1) Short listed by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010

2) Dark Quill nominee for best dark genre book of 2010

3) "Delicious horror-ish novel...Zeltserman is fully in control." -- Newsday

4) "Superb mix of humor and horror...Zeltserman orchestrates events perfectly...Readers will keep turning pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

5) "Harrowing. Zeltserman colors it black with the best of them." -- Kirkus Reviews

6) "Crime writer Zeltserman has produced a nail-biter...The narrative is straightforward and gritty, reminiscent of works of Dashiell Hammett...gripping and actually 'horrifying,' this title is recommended for horror fans and readers who may relish unpleasant surprises." -- Library Journal

7) "This superbly crafted horror story explores the dichotomy between belief and rationality." -- Booklist

8) "The black comedy of errors that ensues invites comparison to storiesby Kafka, David Prill, James Hynes, William Browning Spencer, and other authors who have mused on the dark side of daily breadwinning... Though Zeltserman's approach is clearly tongue-in- cheek, he deftly balances the competing interests of the characters to keep the truth of the narrative events ambiguous. A few deaths at conveniently inopportune moments and several coincidental fades to black only add to the dramatic tension of the narrative. Stories of this kind are hard to pull off and often collapse under the weight of their outrageous premises long before they end. It's to Zeltserman's credit that his novel holds together up to and through the final paragraph, and that it compels the reader to stay with it for that long." -- LOCUS Magazine

9) "The Caretaker of Lorne Field succeeds as a horror novel, a psychological thriller and a haunting parable, even in some ways that Zeltserman may not have intended. There are dark levels to this work, some of which are immediately evident and others of which reveal themselves only upon later reflection. I don't know if the book will come to be regarded as a classic, either now or at some point in the future, but it deserves to be." --Bookreporter

10) "Throughout, the reader is not sure if this is all some sort of mental breakdown, building to a fever pitch of an ending. As a writer, Zeltserman is not just limited to doing gritty crime, but has the talent to give some horror authors a run. This might be one of the best books of the year, yet might slip through the cracks. The one thing most who read this novel will agree upon is the true sense of creepiness that Zeltserman layers on as each page is turned." Bookgasm

And now for a bonus reason--Aukwowies have never been cheaper or more plentiful, and really, is there a better gift to give for Halloween than a book full of Aukowies??

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hitting stores today + reviews

The paperback version of The Caretaker of Lorne Field is hitting stores today. Aukowies have never been this cheap, nor this plentiful, and really, is there a better gift for Halloween than a book full of Aukowies? Find out for yourself why the American Library Association short listed Caretaker for best horror novel of 2010, and why it was a Black Quill nominee for best dark genre book of the year.

A couple of recent new reviews have shown up for Caretaker. I'd like to thank John over at Pretty Sinister Books for his thoughtful review, which opens with:

I may get flack for what I am about to do, but here goes nothing. Dave Zeltserman’s exceptional novel The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a genre blending true original combining elements of the horror novel, the crime novel and...the fairy tale. And now that I’ve got you either scratching your head or rolling your eyes let me explain.

I'd also like to thank James Simpson from Australia, who also gave Caretaker a thoughtful analysis.

I must say I don’t read a great deal of horror novels these days, but as a kid I certainly did. However I stumble upon one or two every now and then and a few months ago I came across one of the best. You’ll have to go to the end of the fiction shelves to find this one (I know must customers never venture there but they should), it’s by an author who’s not normally a horror writer and is known more for his bad arse gets out of jail gets even with those who won’t leave him alone books, however The Caretaker of Lorne Field is simply a masterpiece.

You can read James' entire review here.

Over at Ransom Notes, Jedidiah Ayres came up with an interesting list of recommended creepy mysteries for this time of year, and gave A Killer's Essence a nice nod:

Playing another riff on the theme of sight and perception, but from the other side of the effect this time, Zeltserman has his NYPD homicide detective trying to solve a series of killings in the midst of a multi-dimensional maelstrom of personal crisis saddled with a lone witness to the killings with an annoying extra-sensory perception issue. Last year saw Zeltserman's first long-form foray into horror Caretaker of Lorne Field and this one takes his new tools and ingredients to successfully blend mystery and horror to great satisfaction.

Finally, if you'd like a signed copy of A Killer's Essence, contact The Mysterious Bookshop--they have a lot of them ((or at least I signed a couple of boxes of books for them).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Julius Katz Mysteries now Free!

To celebrate Julius and Archie both being safe and sound, Julius Katz Mysteries is being made free over at Smashwords. This ebook contains last year's Shamus award-winning story, Julius Katz, and this year's Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award winner, Archie's Been Framed.

So go over to Smashwords now and grab Julius Katz Mysteries for absolutely nothing!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Son of a gun -- Julius is alive!

Anyone reading today's Boston papers already knows this, but Julius Katz is alive and well, and has identified to the police Anton Dupierre's murderer, and this culprit is the very same person who blew up Julius's townhouse, and surprisingly it wasn't Desmond Grushnier. Even more surprisingly, I was able to talk briefly with Archie this morning and he let it slip that Grushnier actually saved Julius's life. The call was brief given everything that was happening, and he apologized for ignoring my earlier calls, but he was under orders from Julius as the two of them went deep undercover to catch the person responsible for Dupierre's murder and all the rest of it. From what I've been able to piece together, after the explosion Julius called in a favor from the Boston Police Commissioner to report his death to the media, and that this was done equally to protect Lily as it was so he could continue his investigation in secret. I've also talked briefly with Julius, who is in surprisingly good spirits given the damage to his townhouse and the loss of his wine collection, and we're going to sit down together after his townhouse is rebuilt, and he'll be giving me the full story to write up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mystery Scene on A Killer's Essence

In riveting narrative, Zeltserman illustrates what happens to a wounded man whose psychic powers outstrip his ability to cope. Think you'd like the power to see inside the dark hearts of others? Think again. How would it feel if, on the way to the office, we saw demons on the sidewalk, harpies on the subway? This is strong stuff, and the author is expert at sharing Zach's horror, as well Green's empathic reaction to it. In the end discovering the killer's identity isn't half as compelling as the inner torment of two men who are "gifted" with psychic abilities.

You can read the entire review here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Now on Twitter

My buddy Roger Smith has been trying to convince me for over a year to get on Twitter, and I finally made the leap. You can follow me now at @DaveZeltserman

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Killer's Essence & Caretaker

The NJ Star Ledger gave A Killer's Essence a nice review in their most recent Killer Thriller roundup, summing up their review with "This eerie thriller deftly blurs the lines between madness and the perception of reality."

Today the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library writes about A Killer's Essence, saying in part: "A Killer’s Essence by Dave Zeltserman is an absorbing novel that skillfully integrates the various characters’ stories and the murder investigation seamlessly into a fascinating story. Edged with darkness, this is crime fiction that goes beyond the case and into the life of the detective."

I'd like to thank Dave Kanell at Kingdom Books for all the support he's given A Killer's Essence, and writing such nice things about it. Dave + Beth + Kingdom Books have been great supporters of mine (as well as Dave + Beth being good friends). There are few people out there as passionate about crime fiction as Dave Kanell, and they run one of the best mystery + crime fiction stores out there with probably more signed books than anyone. Anyone looking for signed books (mine included) or recommendations should be contacting Dave at Kingdom Books.

This is a good article from the Readers Advisor Desk on recommending horror novel to library patrons, but what I particularly liked was the three sure bets:

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Ruins by Scott Smith
The Caretaker of Lorne Field

And finally, the trade paperback version of The Caretaker of Lorne Field now has a street release date of Nov 1st, which means it will start showing up in the next week or so in bookstores. Is there really a better Halloween present to give someone than the gift of Aukowies? With 100s of thousands of Aukowies in every book, the price of an Aukowie has always been a fraction of a cent, but now with the paperback release, it's never been cheaper!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Is Julius Katz still alive?

I've read the newspaper reports like everyone else, and I was at his funeral two weeks ago, but I'm starting to have these doubts whether Julius is really dead. There's no arguing that Julius's townhouse was destroyed by four pounds of C-4, with the blast originating in his wine cellar. All that happened. But ever since the funeral a thought has been nagging at me that maybe things aren't what they appear to be, and I realize now what it was--a look that I caught from Julius's childhood friend, Phil Weinstein. And then there's the call I received last night from Julius's sister, Julie. She's pretty much convinced that Desmond Grushnier is behind the bombing (I wrote about Grushnier when I chronicled the Kingston case, which Julius had me publish as an ebook with the title 'Julius Katz and Archie'), and she wanted to know if I had any additional information about Grushnier that I hadn't given her yet. There was something about her tone that made me think she's beginning to doubt whether her brother is truly dead. And then there's Archie. With discussions I've had with scientists at MIT, his titanium shell would've protected him from the explosion. It's possible he was turned off prior to it, but it's also possible there's an entirely different reason why he hasn't been answering his calls.

My gut is now telling me Julius might still be alive, and that all the NY publishers declaring that there's no place anymore for a brilliant, eccentric PI like Julius, or charming traditional mysteries, might all be wrong. Hell, it wouldn't be the first time. So maybe, just maybe, Julius might turn out to be alive after all, and there just might be a place for him with today's mystery readers.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Boston Globe's revew for A Killer's Essence

Here's the Boston Globe's review for A Killer's Essence that ran on Sept. 1st.

In ‘A Killer’s Essence,’ a writer at top of his game
September 01, 2011|By Ed Siegel

A KILLER’S ESSENCE By Dave Zeltserman

Overlook, 240 pp., $23.95

Dave Zeltserman has had to put himself in the shoes of any number of disreputable types in his estimable noir novels - hit men, out-of-control cops, old coots who think they’re saving the world by weeding a field. Now, in “A Killer’s Essence,’’ comes the ultimate in empathizing with the dark side. Zeltserman, who lives and dies with the Red Sox, creates a protagonist who - the horror - is a Yankees fan.
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Zeltserman, though, proves no masochist, setting the story in 2004. Should you need a reminder, that’s the year the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit against New York to win the pennant and then to take the World Series, reversing the 86-year-old Curse of the Bambino. Why is this important in a murder mystery? Because Brooklyn detective Stan Green is something of a mess. He is approaching his 40s; his wife has divorced him and taken the two kids off to Rhode Island; his boss busts his chops at every opportunity; his new girlfriend is a bimbo named Bambi; his partner is laid up in a hospital; and his son is so angry at him that, under the tutelage of his stepfather, he has become a Red Sox fan. The eventual demise of his beloved Yankees is one more nail in his psychological coffin.

But while it’s fun for formerly long-suffering Red Sox fans to relive the glory days, the 2004 playoffs are the sideshow. The main event is Green’s attempt to unravel three murders in which the bodies have been grotesquely mutilated. Few writers are Zeltserman’s equal in setting up the chessboard with obsessive perps and depressive cops. And it isn’t always easy in the world of noir fiction to tell the difference between the two.

A major arbiter in this tale should be Zachary Lynch, who witnessed one of the murders. The problem is that Lynch suffers from lesions in the brain from a previous trauma, and he sees nothing but horrific hallucinations when looking at certain people.

Just Green’s luck. But if you’re thinking this development is too far-fetched, it turns out to be a superb, perhaps metaphysical metaphor for the evil and sadness in the world. The chapter in which Lynch details his affliction, and tells Green why he sees holes instead of eyes when he looks at the detective, is one of the finest pieces of writing Zeltserman has penned.

And that’s saying something because Zeltserman’s lean but muscular style, so evident in “Killer’’ and “The Caretaker of Lorne Field,’’ is just as sharply honed here. His ability to juggle Green’s story and Lynch’s, develop a riveting murder mystery, and even mix in some Brighton Beach ex-KGB sleazeballs, all in less than 250 pages, is a pretty neat page-turning trick.

Actually, I wish he had taken a little more time to weave in more from the playoff series - or is that just the Red Sox fan in me talking? A couple of other cavils: Green should have been more aware of the danger he was putting his family in by taking on the Russian mob, and - I’m not giving anything away - the penultimate suspect would have made a more satisfying murderer.

Perhaps this is all like complaining that the Red Sox were almost swept by the Yankees in 2004. Ultimately they were a memorable winner. So is “A Killer’s Essence.’’

Ed Siegel, a longtime former theater and television critic for the Globe, can be reached at esiegel122@comcast.net.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More on the film deal for A Killer's Essence

From today's Publisher's Marketplace:

"Dave Zeltserman's A KILLER'S ESSENCE, a homicide detective looking into a remarkably violent murder finds his only witness is a neurologically disabled recluse able to see into the souls of others -- and as more murders occur, the witness proves terrifyingly perceptive, to Martina Broner and Frida Torresblanco at Braven Films"

Film deals are always a crap shoot, but with how passionate Frida and the rest of Braven Films are about my book, I feel pretty good that a film version of A Killer's Essence will be made. Back in May my wife and I met with Frida for several hours in NY to talk about this, and the deal might've taken a little longer than I might've hoped to come together, but it's done now and I'm looking forward to seeing how this progresses, and I'd like to thank my agent, Chip MacGregor at MacGregor Literary for seeing this through. A little bit about Frida, before starting Braven Films, she produced many terrific movies, including Pan's Labyrinth, and I feel confident she's going to make something special with A Killer's Essence.

About the vagaries of film deals--two months I thought I'd be announcing a film deal for The Caretaker of Lorne Field. We had a deal agreed to, but then it slipped away at the last second. But I still have one of the hottest new directors wanting to make it, and a producer working to get a deal put together, so there's still a chance that it will happen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First sighting of A Killer's Essence

I was in Brookline today and spotted a stack of A Killer's Essence at the Brookline Booksmith, which is really a great bookstore, one of the best I've been to. I'm still waiting for my author copies, so this was my first chance to see the book and it looks great.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Killer's Essence -- Chapter 1 (also available for Nook and Kindle)

Here's the first chapter of A Killer's Essence. It's a short one, but I've also got Nook and Kindle versions for anyone preferring that--just send me email letting me know whether you'd prefer a Nook or Kindle file.


Back in 1972 I was seven years old and always tagging along after my older brother, Mike. This was before the attention you have today on child abductions and pedophiles—that evil existed, shit, it has probably always existed, but it wasn’t on TV or the news much, if at all. You didn’t have CNN and the Internet to focus on it twenty-four seven, and as a result a lot of parents didn’t think about it. Back then it wasn’t all that unusual for a seven year-old and a bunch of ten year-olds to spend their afternoons hanging around their Brooklyn neighborhood unsupervised. And that was what Mike and his friends and I used to do, at least when he and his friends couldn’t shake me, and I was a tough little bugger to shake back then, just as I am now.

This one afternoon it was just Mike and me. We had just spent a half hour in Bob’s Drugstore thumbing through the comic books until the owner got fed up with us and told us to buy something or leave. Mike spent a dime on a Skybar candy bar. He broke off the caramel piece for me and we left anyway. While we were walking past the fish market a man came out and offered us five bucks to clean up the backroom. Mike wanted that five bucks, but something about the man made me grab onto Mike’s arm and pull him back while shouting “No!” repeatedly as if I were demon possessed. Mike looked at me as if I was nuts, and I thought he was going to punch me, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from what I was doing. A couple of older men from the neighborhood wandered over to see what the commotion was about, and the man from the fish market started to look nervous. He told us to forget it and he went back into his store.

“What’d you do that for, Stan?” Mike demanded, his narrow face taut and angry. “Five bucks! You know what we could’ve bought for five bucks? Are you stupid?”

At this point I was crying. I couldn’t explain to him why I did what I did. I couldn’t say it out loud. I couldn’t have him think I was even nuttier than he already thought I was. Anyway, all I wanted was for us to get away from there, so I kept pulling on his arm, using every ounce of strength I had to drag us away from that store. One of the neighborhood men gave me a concerned look and told Mike that he should take his little brother home. Mike looked pissed, but he did what the man asked him to. All the way home he kept asking what was wrong with me.

Later at dinner Mike told our folks what had happened and how I cost us five bucks. Pop asked why I did what I did, but I couldn’t explain it to him. He shook his head, disappointed-like, and gave me a lecture about the value of money, but left it at that.

The next night while we were eating dinner, Mr. Lombardi from down the hall knocked on our door. Chucky Wilson, who was a year older than Mike, hadn’t come home yet from school and he wanted to know if either Mike or I had seen him or knew anything. We didn’t. He looked tired as he apologized for interrupting our dinner. Pop asked him if they needed any more help looking for Chucky. Mr. Lombardi thought about it, but shook his head and told Pop to finish his dinner and if they still hadn’t found Chucky in another hour he’d let Pop know. After Mr. Lombardi left I told Pop that Chucky was with that man from the fish market.


“That man from the fish market must’ve promised Chucky five bucks also. That’s where Chucky is!”

“Stan, quit talking nonsense,” Mom said.

“I’m not! I’ll bet anything that’s where Chucky is!”

“Stop it now!” Pop ordered. “Christ, I don’t know how you get these ideas.”

None of us had much of an appetite after that, Mike and me mostly pushing our food around our plates and Pop staring off into space. After a while of that he got up and left the table and then the apartment. He didn’t bother saying anything to Mom about where he was going. She looked like she was fighting hard to keep from crying.

It turned out that Pop collected other men from the neighborhood and they visited the fish market. They broke into the store and found the man who had offered Mike and me five bucks. He was in the back room chopping up what was left of Chucky. I didn’t learn that part until recently, but that’s what they found. It was days after that when Pop asked me how I knew where Chucky would be. I couldn’t explain it to him, so I shrugged and told him I just knew.

For years I had convinced myself that none of that happened. That it was a dream I once had, or maybe a story I heard, or something from a movie or TV show that I saw as a kid. After meeting Zachary Lynch, I started remembering more about that day back when I was a seven year-old kid and thinking that maybe it wasn’t just a dream. I found the old newspaper stories about that man in the fish market and what he did to Chucky Wilson, and then dug out the police reports. My Pop had died when I was twenty and Mom is in no shape these days to remember anything, but I talked with Mike and he confirmed what happened. All those years we never talked about it, both of us pretending it never happened.

“What did you see that day, Stan?” he asked.

I shook my head and told him I didn’t know, and from the look on his face he seemed relieved to hear that. The fact is I did see something. When that man came out of the fish market wearing his stained apron over a pair of dirty khakis and even dirtier tee shirt, for a moment I didn’t see a man but something ghoulish, something from out of a nightmare. It only lasted a second, if that, and then he turned back into a balding and scrawny middle-aged man, but for that moment I saw something else.

Later, after talking with Mike, I sat quietly and remembered everything I could about that day and wrote it all down. After all those years I finally accepted what I saw. I still have never told anyone about this other than Zachary Lynch, and he’s the only person I know who would possibly understand.