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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A short (800 word) story

Hope You’re Having Yourself an Especially Grand Time
Dave Zeltserman
(originally published in Discount Noir)

Hank Tilson welcomed the man with the angry eyes to MegloMart. When this man stared at the rattlesnake in hell tattoo on the inside of Hank’s right forearm and then told Hank to have an especially grand time himself, it gave Hank the shivers. Partly it was the way this man’s expression changed when he saw Hank’s tattoo, and partly it was the sound of this man’s voice. But it was also those words.

Now I hope you’re having yourself an especially grand time…

Those words were familiar to Hank, and lurked somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind. He couldn’t quite pull out where those words were from, but he knew they meant something special, just like he couldn’t quite pull out from his memory why this man seemed so damn familiar. It was two months ago when Hank took this job as a MegloMart greeter. Three weeks ago this man showed up for the first time and instantly started giving Hank the dead eye. Everyday afterwards this man would show up to glare angrily at Hank and stare at his right arm. Hank had broken his arm four months earlier and had a cast covering his tattoo. It wasn’t until last night that he had the cast removed. This was the first time this man had seen his tattoo.

Hank realized then where he knew this man from. It was over twenty years ago, but as he thought more about this man he could see the resemblance and he remembered it all. Back then the man would’ve been thirty, Hank would’ve been close to the same age. At that time Hank was a full-blown meth addict and he supported his habit by stealing whatever he could, sometimes beating up and mugging the elderly, sometimes through home invasions. This was where Hank had first seen this man: during one of his home invasions. Hank was pretty sure this wasn’t in Muncie, Indiana where this MegloMart was. He was pretty sure also it wasn’t in Indiana, but he couldn’t remember where it had taken place.

That night Hank was just going to rob them. He had gloves and a mask on, and he had no intention early on of doing what he did. But the man’s wife was such a tiny pretty little thing, and it pissed Hank off realizing that he’d never have a tiny pretty little thing of his own, at least not of their free will. So he changed his plans. He had brought a .38 revolver with him, and he used that to force the wife to tie up her husband, and then he did terrible things to her as he made the husband watch. After he was through with her, he choked her to death. Then he told the husband that he hoped he was having himself an especially grand time. He should’ve killed the husband also, but in his meanness he wanted this man alive and remembering what happened to his pretty little thing. This wasn’t the only murder Hank ever committed, but when he eventually got arrested it was for check kiting, and not for any of the beatings or home invasions or murders that he did. He ended up serving seven years at the Shawnee Correctional Center, and when he got out he supported himself with low-level cons and odd jobs.

His heart started palpitating wildly in his chest over the thought that that man had recognized him. But he had a mask on that day, and back then he was as thin as a weed, and by the time he had left Shawnee his body had thickened and changed. These damn MegloMart uniforms with the short sleeves and vests! If he were allowed to wear a long sleeve shirt, the man never would’ve seen his tattoo. But still, how could this man be sure from just one tattoo? Hank wanted to flee, but if he did the man would certainly be sure then.

Someone tapped him on the shoulder. Hank turned and saw the man whose pretty little thing from long ago he had tortured and butchered.

“Aren’t you going to ask if I found everything I was looking for?” the man said.

Hank was sweating badly now. He nodded, croaked out, “Sure.”

“Yep, sure did.” The man took a hunting knife out of his bag and showed it to Hank. “I was told it could cut through bone as easy as paper.”

With that the man plunged the knife into Hank’s chest. At first everything went black. Then Hank could see again, although it was hazy with flames everywhere. Standing in front of him was a dour looking demon who gave Hank a forced tired smile and welcomed him to hell.

The End

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"modern masterpieces of neo-noir writing"

"These three books, "Small Crimes", "Pariah", and "Killer", are modern masterpieces of neo-noir writing. They may serve as a primer on the ongoing power and possibilities inherent in the genre." - Steve Shadow Schwartz, Poisoned Fiction Review

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Booklist review for A Killer's Essence

Zeltserman is garnering quite a reputation for innovation in crime fiction, and his latest book shows why. Beginning with all the customary trappings of a world-weary cop yarn, the novel smoothly transitions into Zeltserman’s subtle, edgy brand of horror. Homicide detective Stan Green thinks his one lead to the identity of a serial killer just went south when Zachary Lynch, the only eyewitness, claims he only sees people’s souls, not their faces. As Green gradually learns more than he really wants to know about Lynch and the bizarre ability he claims to possess, the novel becomes a character-rich study of conflict between preconception and perception. Mix in a serial killer making his debut, and the tension just keeps coming. Zeltserman’s new work retains the honed-razor psychological insight of his award-winning The Caretaker of Lorne Field (2010). A scary, keep-you-guessing thriller not to be missed. — Elliott Swanson

Monday, July 18, 2011

More on Julius Katz and Archie

James Reasoner was kind enough to read and review Julius Katz and Archie, saying in part:

This is a well-plotted novel, but the real appeal of this book is the relationship between the two title characters and the funny, engaging voice in which Archie narrates the story. Also, in these days when mystery fiction has become increasingly divided into numerous sub-genres, it’s nice to read a traditional mystery the likes of which once dominated the field. JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE is available as an inexpensive e-book, and it gets a very high recommendation from me.

You can read James' review here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Suspense's Sizzling Summer Reads!

We're announcing a Summer Book Club over at Top Suspense. My entry is Dying Memories, which is probably a perfect thriller for the summer. Fast-paced, lots of twists and turns where you're never quite sure what's happening, a nice noir edge, nasty, dangerous villains and a protagonist to root for. That's right, my protagonist in this one is the good guy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Take the Blood Crimes Summer Challenge

There's a reason why I keep hearing from readers who tell me they hate vampire books but loved Blood Crimes. This review from Paul Brazill seems to be representative of what I've been hearing from most readers:

"Let's face it; most vampires are big girl's blouses. If Tom Cruise in `Interview With A Vampire' is anything to go by then the typical vampire is about as scary as Adam Ant's `Dandy Highwayman'.

But there's nothing of the New Romantic about the vampires in Dave Zeltserman's `Blood Crimes'. These are hard rocking creatures of the night. Indeed, the book kicks off with our heroes ,Jim and Carol, driving along an archetypal American highway listening to The Doors `Riders On The Storm'. This sets the tone of 'Blood Crimes' perfectly although there's more than one `killer on the road' in this hardboiled take on the vampire legend.

Jim and Clara are classic noir lovers on the run, like those in They Drive By Night, Theives Like Us,Badlands and Natural Born Killers. They're trying to escape from Serena - a rich, vampire femme fatale - and Metcalf - an ex CIA hit man who performs experiments on vampires in an underground laboratory. Throw a world weary Private Eye and a biker gang into the mix and you have a really well written, blood splattered and very cinamatic page turner that fans of From Dusk Till Dawn and Near Dark will love. And not a lavender fop in sight!"

So here's my Summer challenge--if you've got a Kindle or Nook, download the free sample and see if you can read it without being hooked! And if you do get hooked, help spread the word!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

For fans of Small Crimes

Small Crimes was published in 2008 and made a bit of a stir when NPR picked it as one of the 5 best crime and mystery novels of that year, saying:

"This tale is told by one of fortune's fools: Joe Denton is a crooked ex-cop in Vermont who's just been released from jail after serving seven years for stabbing the local district attorney in the face. Since what's past is never truly past in crime noir, no sooner does Joe step out of the slammer than cosmic IOU's begin to rain down on his head. First, the disfigured DA cheerfully greets Joe outside the prison and announces that a local crime kingpin (and Joe's secret boss) is dying of cancer and has found religion. The kingpin's expected confession should send Joe straight back behind bars. Then, the local sheriff (also crooked) orders Joe to murder the DA before the crime kingpin can confess. The plot of Small Crimes ricochets out from this claustrophobic opening, and it's a thing of sordid beauty."

Small Crimes made other best of the year lists, and received other raves reviews from the Boston Globe, Sun-Sentinel, and others. It has since been translated to Italian (where it placed 3rd in last year's Bloody Mary awards) and French.

Fans of Small Crimes are going to want to read the Manny Vassey stories in 21 Tales!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

For fans of Fast Lane

My first novel, Fast Lane, was first published in Italy by Meridiano Zero and later in 2003 by Point Blank Press in the US, and it ended up developing a loyal following among noir readers. In a lot of ways it's a very ambitious book, both a deconstruction of the hardboiled PI genre and a very wild psycho noir. Here's what Patrick Millikin at Poisoned Pen Bookstore wrote about it:

"In the last few years there have been a number of writers, such as Ken Bruen and Victor Gischler, who've taken the classic PI novel and tweaked the hell out of it, creating something fresh and unique. Add Dave Zeltserman to the list. Several pages into his debut, I knew that I was reading something special." Patrick Millikin, Poisoned Pen's Book News, Hardboiled Crime Club Selection

If you're a fan of Fast Lane, you want to read The Dover Affair in 21 Tales, which is one of Johnny Lane's earlier cases.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

recently published stories+ 3 free ones

My recently published stories:

The Canary in the Top Suspense Anthology

Some People Deserve to Die in the current issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

When Death Shines Bright in the recently released Cape Cod Noir from Akashic Books

Emma Sue in the recently released On Dangerous Ground Stories of Western Noir

Here's an easy way to read 3 stories of mine for free if you have a Kindle (or maybe a Nook also). Download the free sample of 21 Tales and start reading right now for free Danny Smith, More Than a Scam (received honorable mention in the 2003 Best Mystery Stories Anthology) and Flies.

Anyone with a Nook, I'd appreciate you letting me know what stories their free sample includes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"the best crime novel I have read in the last year"

I'd like to thank David Kanell at Kingdom Books for his early thoughts on A Killer's Essence. The book won't be out until September 1st, but Kingdom Books is a great place to contact if you want signed copies of any of my other books. And if you're looking for an ebook to tide you over, I'd like to suggest three very different mystery/crime titles.

Julius Katz and Archie has a classic traditional mystery feel, but with a unique twist that makes it unlike any mystery you've read. The consensus so far is that this is highly enjoyable, charming and a lot fun. Appropriate for any mystery reader. Or really any reader.

Dying Memories is a pure thriller with lots of twists and turns, a plot that will keep you guessing and is appropriate for any thriller reader.

Blood Crimes is a high octane thrill ride of a book. People who claim they hate vampire books still love this one. Ultra noir, violent and extreme horror. The anti-Twilight! You've been warned!!