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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blood Crimes dropped to $0.99--big May push!

I've dropped the price of Blood Crimes to $0.99 at both Amazon and B&N and will be keeping it at that price through May. On June 1st I'll be setting the price back to $2.99. So far I've sold about 2,000 copies, mostly thanks to B&N recommending the book last month, and I'm trying to push the sales up to 5,000 copies by the end of May. That 5,000 figure is what I feel I need to sell to justify dedicating the time necessary to write book two of the series. The reader reaction to Blood Crimes so far has been great (I'll include some blurbs at the end of this post), and I think with this price drop I'll get to that 5,000 number, especially if fans of the book can help out with Amazon reviews and talking the book at places like kindleboards.com and other message boards. Amazon reviews and messages on chatrooms really help a lot with e-book sales, so let's see if I can reach that 5,000 sales number by the end of May!

"I've just read the manuscript of Dave Zeltserman's new novel, Blood Crimes. This is one of the few fresh takes on vampirism I've read in years. It's as if Charles Bukowski sat down and said, OK, Bram Stoker, how about this?" -- Ed Gorman, author of Cage of Night and The Poker Club.

"I'd call it the anti-Twilight, and in my book that's a good thing." Bill Crider

"BLOOD CRIMES is a fast-moving, masterfully written, first-rate vampire tale for the intellectual set." David Cramner, Education of a Pulp Writer

"Dave, has managed to meld the two genres of crime and horror into one one hell of a ride, PI's, crime lords, drug gangs, sultry babes and more low life scum than you can count all collide with explosive results in this genre bending master piece. If you like crime buy this book, if you like horror buy this book, if you like well written books, buy this book." Jim Mcleod, Ginger Nuts of Horror

"Mix in an angry biker gang, lots of guns, and samurai sword fights, and you’ll start to understand what makes Blood Crimes such a great opener to what I hope will be a great series. Zeltserman holds nothing back with this book. Full throttle all the way. Very bloody. Very noir. I can’t wait for the sequel to drop. Highly recommended." Spinetingler Magazine

"From here on in Zeltserman's vamp/crime thriller takes off at a breakneck speed. The action that follows is intense and blood drenched. There are also unexpected twists that will take you by surprise and leave you gaping at your Kindle in shock."
Peter Leonard, Man Eating Bookworm

"Zeltserman, a noir author from deep in his bones, has always flirted with horror--his Caretaker of Lorne Field ranks as one of the best novels in that category back in 2010. Blood Crimes goes over the retaining wall and into the dark woods, throwing in delightful twists on reliable tropes... These aren't your sister's romantic vampires, to say the least." Harry Shannon

"Okay. Let's see if I can explain this. Take today's typical vampire fiction, shove it into Bedlam House and whip it with a cat-o'-ninetails to force it to breed with your grittiest crime thriller. That's what you'll get when you open up this book. Blood Crimes is fast. It's visceral. It's definitely not your fourteen-year-old sister's dreamy vampire fantasy. This book grabs you by the guttiwuts, wrenches hard, and doesn't let go. But don't get me wrong, this isn't your run-of-the-mill shock literature. Zeltserman weaves a disturbing noir with a passionate craftsman's hand over his characters." Mindy Mackay, Protect Your Sensibilities

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Outsourced, Blood Crimes & Dying Memories on the Web

"This book is a must for any collection of caper crime fiction, that time-honored genre that inspires snorts of laughter tucked between groans of disgust and the urge to call out, "No, don't do it!" Dan Wilson and his ill-timed venture into crime are totally engrossing, totally memorable, and oh, so very unfortunate."

Thanks Kingdom Books! Read their review of Outsourced here.

David Cramner over at The Education of a Pulp Writer gives Bloods Crimes the following one-sentence review: BLOOD CRIMES is a fast-moving, masterfully written, first-rate vampire tale for the intellectual set.

I'd like to thank David for that. I think my one sentence wrap-up for Blood Crimes would be: The anti-Twilight--vampires in a noir universe, and overflowing with sex, violence and extreme horror.

"DYING MEMORIES put me in mind of such great psychological thrillers as The Manchurian Candidate, Three Days of the Condor, and even Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The novel has a distinct 1970's, Cold War feel to it. Whether or not Zeltserman intended to give that impression, I don't know. But for this reader, it worked."

I'd like to thank Andrew Leonard over at The Man Eating Bookworm for his review of Dying Memories.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Book Page for my Web-Site

I've been reorganizing my web-site's book page. At the beginning of it you'll now see all the book covers, and most of those will have hyperlinks that will take you to a collection of blurbs those books have received. After that is a new book guide where I list each of my books from lightest to darkest (content, not contrast of book cover!!) as well as tell what format the book is available in, a short description, and what movie rating the book would probably get. You can click here to see this new book page.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"exactly what I’d hoped it’d be and then some"

Daniel Boucher over at TheNovelBlog.com reviews The Caretaker of Lorne Field, and his verdict:

I can not say enough about Dave’s writing and storytelling. It’s like enjoying a succulent piece of filet-mignon, one of the highest quality that you can sink your teeth into, leaving you full and satisfied when finished. The Caretaker of Lorne Field is truly an original piece of work, generously flavored with emotion and suspense. It has been a long time since an author has captivated me the way Dave did. I couldn’t stop reading once I’d started (much to my dismay when the morning alarm cried out).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good to see

It's good to see the reaction Blood Crimes has been getting so far. I've received a lot of enthusiastic emails from readers, and the book is getting its share of 5-star reviews on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads. I'm sure it's also going to be getting 1-star reviews from horrified Twilight and "True Blood" fans. There's no getting around it. Blood Crimes is filled with violence, horror, sex and profanity, and it really is the anti-Twilight. But readers who don't mind having real horror in their vampire books, and aren't scared off by having a horror/crime noir thriller that's actually noir, seem to be realling digging this wild thrill ride of a book.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On Writing Outsourced

Outsourced is the crime book I was born to write.

Let me explain.

At it’s heart Outsourced is a fast-paced, twisty bank heist book, but it’s also about displaced middle-class workers trying to survive in a world that has changed dramatically, and has left them out in the cold. Outsourced deals with a small group of misfit engineers who’ve become obsolete due to outsourcing and technology changes. The main character is Dan Wilson, a forty-eight year-old engineer. Two years earlier the small software startup where he worked closed up shop, and now he's finding that the expertise he acquired over his career has become nearly worthless with companies outsourcing that work to other countries. During this two-year period the only work he was able to find was a short term contract designing a security system for a bank who then outsourced the software coding to India. He's desperate. His middle-class existence is disintegrating quickly, and to make matters worse, he's going blind. Without the long term disability insurance that a job would provide, he'll be sentencing his family to a life of poverty. Desperate people do desperate things, and Dan and three ex-colleagues, who are in equally dire situations, come up with what they think is a brilliant plan to exploit a mistake in the software code for the security system Dan designed. They're going to rob the bank, and not with computers, but with guns. The plan they come up with looks flawless and no one is supposed to get hurt. Dan and his friends should've been reading crime novels, because if they had they’d know there is no such thing as a perfect plan.

Of all my books, this one is my most personal. Dan, and the three other ex-software engineers turned bank robbers, Shrini, Joel and Gordon, could’ve been ex-coworkers of mine. Let me explain further.

My undergraduate degree is in Applied Math and Computer Science. I also have a Master’s degree in Computer Science. I’ve always read a lot, especially as a kid, and always seemed to be drawn to writing. When I was thirteen I found a dog-eared copy of Mickey Spillane’s ‘I, the Jury’ when spending a week at my uncle’s house in Maine, and that got me hooked on crime fiction. But also very early on, I enjoyed math, puzzles, and building software and had a strong aptitude for all that. So writing fiction seemed more of a lark. It just made more practical sense that my career be in developing software than writing fiction. So when I graduated from college, my first job out of school was developing modem software for Motorola. This was in 1982. To show you how times have changed, the modem I was working on was going to be a technological breakthrough which would allow modems to operate over dial lines at 9600 bits per second, and these modems would be selling for an astoundingly low price of ten thousand dollars per unit (in contrast, today’s cable internet access provides speeds in the millions of bits per second).

Back then the software industry was filled with oddballs, eccentrics and more than a few extremely socially awkward and immature people. I worked with one engineer, Lannie, who walked around as if he were an alien (I have to believe he thought he was) and would only greet you with the Vulcan V greeting. And there was Betty Jo who had 3 PhDs and would get so absorbed in her thoughts that she’d walk into a corner and get stuck until someone helped her. And then there was Hal, a malcontent if there ever was one. He sat across from me and every morning he’d yell to me how the company we worked for sucked. When he eventually quit, he did so by interrupting a scheduling meeting to hand his boss his resignation letter, telling him how this would affect the schedule. And there was also an early boss of mine, John, a brilliant person who made huge technological advances to the industry, but until he knew you well enough he could not look directly at you and could barely talk to you.

In those first few years, me and most of my fellow engineers were in this because we loved developing software. We loved the challenge and the logic problems it presented. We all made decent salaries, but stock options weren’t yet prevalent, and we had little prospects of getting rich. So for most of us it was what we enjoyed, and we probably worked about 50-60 hours a week on average. All this started to change in the late 80s and early 90s. First, the relatively good salaries started to bring in engineers who were motivated only by the salaries than the work, and these people tended to quickly get out of engineering and move to management. And the dreams of a lot of these folks were to get rid of engineering completely—the ultimate goal being to write product specifications and have them magically turned into software without ever having to deal with all these odd and geeky software engineers. A much bigger change was the money that started to pour into the industry. By the early 90s with an avalanche of investment money and stock options now being handed out like monopoly money it looked like every software engineer could become a multi-millionaire by joining a hot startup. The reality turned out to be few of us made anything as the tech bubble burst in 2001, and a lot of engineers actually lost a good deal of money by buying stock options and paying AMT taxes on paper gains that never actually existed. So with this new virtual Gold Rush on, software engineers at these startups were now working a minimum of 60-hour weeks, and more likely 80-hour weeks. And the pressure was being turned on full throttle. If you weren’t making these ridiculous deadlines (which in some cases had the goals changing every few days), then you could be responsible for everyone losing out on millions!

Now that I’ve given a brief history of the industry from 1982-2004, let me get back to Outsourced and the events leading up to my writing it.

In 2004 I was approaching my 22nd year working as a software engineer. A little over a year and a half earlier the large network equipment company I was working for killed the product line we were on and laid off everyone in my division. The company I was now with looked like they were struggling and would be going out of business (and they did). From 1992 until 2003 I had written three very different crime novels: Fast Lane, Bad Thoughts and Small Crimes. Fast Lane was part very psychotic noir, part deconstruction of the hard-boiled genre. Bad Thoughts was this grim and nightmare-inducing mix of horror and crime with a strong metaphysical element. Small Crimes was intended as a modern noir with a sub theme of redemption, and was inspired by two true-crime newspaper stories I read. I wrote Small Crimes in 2003 between being laid off and starting this new job. None of my books had yet sold, and while they all seemed very real to me while I was writing them, they were about people and situations that were very foreign to my actual life. This time I wanted to write a book closer to my heart; touching on subjects important to me, like software jobs being outsourced to other countries and engineers who had been sold a bill of goods that if they worked their 80-hour work weeks they’d make their millions. This never happened, and these same engineers were now obsolete thanks to technologies they'd mastered being rapidly replaced by newer ones and by the industry's move to outsource any work they could to cheaper labor. Since I was working 10-12 hours each day at this new struggling company, I didn't have much time to work on Outsourced, no more than a half hour to an hour each night, but it provided a good emotional release for what I was dealing with and what I was seeing happening to friends of mine in the industry.

There's probably more of me in Dan than any other character I've written. Like Dan I was an expert in a field which was quickly becoming obsolete due to outsourcing. And while I have a different eye disease than I gave Dan, I'm also mostly blind in my left eye (and knock wood I'll retain my vision in my right eye). So, I relate to Dan's character strongly, although unlike Dan my escape plan is to write crime fiction instead of robbing a bank (at least for now…) And what about the oddball group of misfit engineers he teams up with? While none of them are based solely on any one person, Shrini, Gordon and Joel could've been co-workers of mine at any of the companies I worked at. A scary thought.

My dedication for Outsourced reads: Outsourced is dedicated to all the software engineers I’ve worked with over the years. And maybe even to a couple of my old managers.

This dedication is heartfelt. Well, at least as far as my fellow software engineers are concerned.

Friday, April 8, 2011

proposed ad copy Julius Katz and Archie. comments?

Below is copy I'm working on for a Boston Magazine ad for Julius Katz and Archie. Any and all comments are appreciated.

Match wits with Boston’s most eccentric and brilliant private eye, Julius Katz. Mystery stories featuring Julius have won Shamus, Derringer and Ellery Queen’s Readers Choice Awards. Now Julius and his most unusual sidekick, Archie, star in their first full-length novel. Available for $2.99 as a Kindle or Nook download.

'You can outsource software engineering, but so far at least you can’t outsource crime writing as good as Zeltserman’s.' Boston Globe on Outsourced.

Spinetingler Magazine still tingling over Blood Crimes!

See why Spinetingler is still tingling, or better yet, for $2.99 discover for yourself what all the fuss is about (Kindle or Nook)!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Small Crimes, Outsourced, Blood Crimes, Julius Katz & Top Suspense

The Rivages edition of Small Crimes has been released in France. Beautiful cover for it!

The Milwaukee Public Library gave Outsourced a very nice recommendation, saying "This gripping, exciting bank caper reminded me of a mix between Dog Day Afternoon and Fargo, where peaceful, but despondent men get caught up in something bigger then themselves."

"The anti-Twilight". That's what Bill Crider calls Blood Crimes in his writeup of the book.

I'd like to thank The Frugal Reader for making Julius Katz Mysteries one of their picks.

And finally, our Top Suspense Anthology has ranged between #1 and #4 at Amazon for Kindle mystery anthologies since we officially launched our anthology this past Tuesday. For $2.99 you can discover for yourself what all the buzz is about!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Julius Katz original e-book for June 1st

I'm going to be releasing an original Julius Katz novel June 1st in e-book form. I tried selling this to traditional mainstream publishers--I thought that since the first Julius Katz story won the Shamus Award and that the second story, Archie's Been Framed, won Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award this year, as well as the fact that the stories have 1000s of fans and that more will be published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine would make this an obvious decision to the mainstream publishers. I was wrong. Most of the rejections were along the line that readers wouldn't "get" a narrator like Archie (ignoring the fact that 1000s of readers already do "get" Archie). The last rejection came from an editor who tried to acquire it, but it was decided Julius wasn't likable enough and the book was too dark. Folks, this book isn't any darker than the stories or the average Nero Wolfe novel.

Like many writers when I first started out, I naively looked at mainstream publishers as gatekeepers, the arbiters of what's worthy of being published. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. It's a business decision, nothing more than that, and more and more their decisions are based on what they consider low risk books and not what's worthy of being published. They all passed on Small Crimes. They all passed on The Caretaker of Lorne Field. They all passed on Outsourced (even with a film deal already worked out--and it's now looking like a certainty the film is going to get made). And they all passed on A Killer's Essence, which is coming out from Overlook Press in the Fall, and will get a bigger reaction than The Caretaker of Lorne Field. Anyway, I've decided Julius and Archie have suffered their last rejection. I'm putting this out myself. If the 1000s of Julius Katz fans end up finding this ebook and it sells the way I expect it will, then there will be many more Julius Katz and Archie mysteries. If the mainstream NY publishers turn out to be right, then there will only be this one. so I'm counting on the Julius Katz fans out there to help me prove New York wrong!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today only! Free copy of Dying Memories!!

Today is the official release date of our anthology, and as a way to celebrate , I'll be giving away 20 free copies of Dying Memories to the first 20 people who buy a copy of our Top Suspense anthology today ($2.99 for Kindle or Nook) and email me with the first word of my short story, The Canary.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where I talk with the Artful Hatter

My latest interview is up at the Artful Hatter where I talk about noir and some of my favorite noir books.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

About Bad Karma

While Bad Karma is a sequel to Bad Thoughts, it's a very different type of book. Bad Thoughts is a grim and bleak horror and crime mix that masquerades as a police procedural. Bad Karma takes place 5 1/2 years after the horrific ending of Bad Thoughts, with the setting having been moved from a gray Boston Winter to the bright sunshine of Boulder, Colorado, and is purely a hardboiled PI novel with new age sensibilities. What is shares with Bad Thoughts is Bill Shannon and his ex-wife, Susan, and certain metaphysical issues. Dreams are important in both books, although for different reasons. In a lot of ways Bad Thoughts is about suffering (and ultimately surviving) while Bad Karma is about healing and moving on. That's not to say Bill Shannon doesn't have his challenges or face dangerous characters in Bad Karma, but the tone is very different than Bad Thoughts.

I was at the University of Colorado in Boulder during the late 70s and early 80s, and in a way Bad Karma is my ode to Boulder, at least a Boulder I used to love and is no longer quite the same. Some of the people I used to know back then show up in Bad Karma. For example, there's a character named Eddie in the book who is very much like a guy named Charlie who used to hang around the student center to play chess. Here's a scene where I recreate an incident where I decked an obnoxious kibitzer who later became one of my best friends (although he claims he doesn't remember this)

Nodding to the cashier, he left the cafĂ© and started walking idly down Pearl Street again, slowing down when he came across two men playing chess. One of them was sitting on a bench, the other on a folding chair, with a chess set on a folding table between them. The man on the bench was in his sixties, and looked like Paul Bunyan, except that his red hair had turned mostly gray. Even though it was midsummer, he wore dungarees, work boots and a heavy red flannel shirt. As he studied the game, he pushed an upper plate in and out of his mouth. The other player was young and probably a college kid. Along with needing a shave, his hair resembled the top of a string mop that had been dyed black and, like his clothes, looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks. As he sat there, his eyes moved fervently as they scanned the board.

Standing nearby kibitzing on the game was what looked like another college student. A tall blond Germanic-looking kid with red cheeks, a smart-assed smile and a cheap stogie dangling from his lips polluting the air around him. “Idiot,” he exclaimed as the other kid reached for his bishop. “Don’t you see you can win a pawn?”

The younger player turned to him and pointed a finger. “Are you playing this game?” he asked. “No? Then shut the fuck up.” Under his breath, he added, “Moron.”

The color dropped from the tall blond kid’s face. Still smiling his smart-assed smile but with no humor left in his eyes, he tossed his cigar at the player.

“Sonofabitch,” the kid jumped up, knocking the cigar out of his lap. “You’re going to throw a lit cigar at me?” He was a good six inches shorter and sixty pounds lighter than the blond kid.

“You could’ve been more polite about my suggestion…” the blond kid started, but before he could say anything else he was hit hard with an uppercut that sent him on his ass.

“The sonofabitch threw a lit cigar at me,” the other kid repeated, his arms moving in wild gestures as he stormed away. The blond kid looked stunned as he sat on the ground. Then, rubbing his jaw, he flashed an embarrassed grin before getting back to his feet and walking gingerly in the opposite direction.

“I never knew chess was a contact sport,” Shannon said.

While the setting of Bad Karma is in the bright sunshine, the ultimate plot turns out to be pretty unseemly and evil, maybe as much so as anything I've written. There's also an intersection with Fast Lane that I think Fast Lane fans will get a kick out of. Still, even given how unseemly the plot turns out to be, it's a book that's more than appropriate for all hardboiled PI fans. Here's what Booklist had to say when Bad Karma first came out in 2009:

Detective Bill Shannon, introduced in Bad Thoughts (2007), is back, and a welcome return it is. Relocated from Boston to Boulder, Shannon has fled the Boston PD for a low-stress lifestyle, picking up a little work on the side as a private eye. But despite his efforts to find psychic and psychological peace of mind after his horrific encounter with Herbert Winters, the demonic serial killer from the earlier novel, Shannon discovers that putting distance between himself and the old evils doesn’t help him escape the new evils. Zeltserman weaves together elements of both mystery and horror genres, as Shannon again finds himself confronting the darkness that roams the boundary beyond one’s physical senses. It’s as though Zeltserman has aimed a 12-gauge sawed-off at smarmy New Age sensitivities and fired off both barrels. Irony abounds, as Shannon unmasks deviant gurus, evil yoga studios, Russian gangsters, and guys who use their baseball implements in socially unacceptable ways. If you liked the first novel in this series, you’ll love this one. — Elliott Swanson

Part of the reason I wrote Bad Karma was after the horrific suffering I put Bill Shannon through in the first book, I wanted to give him a chance to have a happier existence. I never really talked much about Bad Karma when it first came out because the timing was awful--Five Star released Bad Karma the same week Serpent's Tail released Pariah. Pariah's a book that I thought the Washington Post could end up picking as one of the best of year (which they did), while Bad Karma is more of a fun, hardboiled PI read, so I concentrated my efforts on Pariah. But I do have a fondness for Bad Karma for a number of reasons, and we might well see Bill Shannon in future PI novels.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dying Memories excerpt

Before Bill could turn around he was hit hard from behind, the force of the blow sending him tumbling head first into the van. Hands reached out and pulled him deeper inside. Someone stepped into the vehicle after him—the guy who had hit him, then the side door was slammed shut and the van was driving away.

Two sets of hands pulled him off the floor so that he was sitting on a bench between their owners. To his right was the same man who had pushed him from behind. To his left could’ve been the guy’s clone. Both of them were in their late twenties, big and muscle-bound, with thick necks and short buzz cuts. The two of them were even dressed identically; gray suits that stretched tightly across their chests, dark shades to hide their eyes, and steel-tipped shoes that could cause serious damage if needed. The starkest difference between them was that the one on his left had a thin goatee, wore diamond stud earrings, and smiled in a smug fashion as if he were amused by everything that was happening, while the other one was clean-shaven and had a hard, all-business attitude about him. They made him think of the Star Trek episode with the evil Spock, but goatee or clean shaven, he knew these two ox-sized thugs were both cut from the same cloth. In that moment all the rage that had swallowed him up earlier was gone and replaced by an icy cold panic.

Bill tried to rip his arms free from the two goons he was sandwiched between, but he couldn’t budge them. Their fingers dug deep into his flesh, and held him as tightly as if they were steel bands. He looked up then and saw the man sitting across from him. This man, Simon, was older than the other two. Somewhere in his forties. He was also much thinner and smaller, his gray suit tailor cut, the material significantly more expensive. What struck Bill was how pink his face was, how his ears were almost pointy, and his eyes; how they looked no bigger than if a pair of dimes had been pasted onto his face. Bill couldn’t even see any white in those eyes; it was as if they were only big enough to hold his pupils.

“It’s been a long time, Jeffrey,” Simon said, his narrow mouth crooked and twisting into a thin mirthless smile.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bill said, his throat constricted, his voice barely a whisper.

Simon showed an exaggeratedly perplexed look as he put a hand to one of his pointy ears. “You’ll have to speak up,” he said. “I can’t hear you.”

Bill sat still as he struggled to compose himself. Then he repeated how he didn’t know what this man was talking about. “And tell your asshole buddies to let go of me,” he added with a forced bravado.

Simon’s smile shifted subtly to express his disappointment in Bill. He made a tsk-tsk noise over Bill’s choice of vulgar language.

“You’ve got the wrong guy,” Bill insisted.

“Please,” Simon said, using the same sort of weary tone as if he were talking to a troublesome child.

“Just let me out of here,” Bill said, his voice choked. “You do that and I won’t call the police about this misunderstanding.” That got the goateed thug to chuckle. A cold trickle of sweat worked its way down Bill’s back. His voice rose with a newfound panic as he added emphatically, “I’m telling you you’ve got the wrong guy!”

“Lower your voice,” Simon commanded softly. “Shouting won’t do you any good. Quite the opposite actually. This vehicle is soundproof and all you’ll accomplish is annoying my two associates. And no, Jeffrey, we do not have the wrong person. So quit this childish charade.”

“I’m not Jeffrey—”

“Shut up.” He said this as softly as everything else he had said, but it stopped Bill cold.

“I know who you are,” Simon continued. “You’re Jeffrey Vozzmer. And you’ll be let out of the car only after you tell me what I want to know.”

“You’re wrong—” Bill started to say, but the clean-shaven thug on his right let go of his arm long enough to tap him on the ear with his fist, and the blow shut Bill up and left his head ringing. The ring the thug wore on his index finger had cut him and Bill felt a hot stickiness spread around where he was hit. He didn’t look away, though, and kept his focus on Simon who continued to stare at him with his cold, black, dime-sized eyes, his expression empty of emotion. The other two thugs were also staring at him. Time just seemed to stop. Bill could barely stand it.

“Tell me what I want to know,” Simon finally demanded.

“Fuck, I swear, I don’t know what that is.”

“Yes you do, Jeffrey. We’re not idiots here. Tell me what I want to know and this will all be over.”

“Check my wallet,” Bill pleaded. He was nauseous, his left ear throbbing. “My driver’s license will show you that I’m not this Jeffrey Vozzmer.”

“And what would that prove?” Simon asked. “That you took the precautions to be carrying a fake ID? Please, Jeffrey, we’re not amateurs. You should know that.”

“This is all fucked up,” Bill insisted weakly. “I’m not Jeffrey Vozzmer. I never heard that name before.”

Simon ignored Bill, said patiently, “Tell me what I want to know.”

“I don’t know what you want to know.”

The same behemoth who had punched him before raised an eyebrow, asking an unspoken question. Simon, sitting opposite Bill, took his time before shaking his head.

“No, I don’t believe that will be necessary,” he said. “I’m sure we can facilitate Jeffrey to talk without having to resort to any further violence, even if it won’t be of his own volition.” Then to Bill, “One last time, tell me what I want to know.”

Numbly, Bill shook his head. “I swear, I don’t know what that is,” he said.
Simon sighed and picked up a small leather case that was on the seat next to him. He opened the case carefully, almost lovingly, and took from it a hypodermic needle, which he held up for Bill to look at.

“Relax,” Simon said. “It’s only sodium pentothal. More than enough to loosen your lips but not enough to cause any serious damage. At least not usually.”

Simon then leaned forward. Bill tried to struggle, but the two thugs held him steady.

“If there was a chance that you would cooperate and remove your jacket I wouldn’t need to inject this inside your gum,” Simon cooed softly. “But one must do what one must do. Now, please open your mouth or I’ll have my associates force it open.”

Then it was as if a bomb had been detonated.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Killer Day

Spinetinger Magazine nominations came out yesterday, and I was pleased to see Roger Smith's Wake Up Dead nominated for best crime novel from a new voice. Wake Up Dead was one of my favorite novels last year, but I suspect after folks read Roger's latest, Dust Devils, he'll be moving quickly into Spinetinger's Legend category.

My '21 Tales' was also nominated for best collection, as well as Ed Gorman's far more deserving, Noir 13. I finished Noir 13 a couple of weeks ago, and it's just a great collection. All the stories are strong ones, but my favorites are: The Baby Store (also in the Top Suspense anthology), Flying Solo, The Long Way, Rafferty' Comeback, and That Day at Eagle's Point (my favorite). Fellow Top Suspense author, Bill Crider, also has his Damn Near Dead II nominated for best anthology.

Killer also got a nomination for best crime novel from a rising star, as did Charlie Stella's Johnny Porno (which should've also been nominated for best cover!).

And to make this an especially Killer day, here's a new review from a reader just discovering me, and who sums up his or her review: It also has the real sign of a good read – I’ve found myself thinking about the story days after I finished it.