Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“Motion To Kill” by Joel Goldman

motion-to-kill-ebook-200A masterful debut novel updated and now available in eBook. The pace travels along the twists and turns of this murder mystery like the TR6 driven by it’s hero, Lou Mason. The plot is complex, filled with corporate corruption, dirty cops, organized crime, petty prosecutors, a crazed hit man, sexual tension and more ulterior motives from the characters than fountains found in Kansas city which is at the center of the action. Mr. Goldman somehow manages to make the complexity compelling and keep the reader breathless.

Lou Mason is a personal injury lawyer who just lost a big case representing a friend, injured on the job and now confined to a wheel chair. He was screwed over by a partner and quit his firm, haunted by this injustice.

Lou has joined the firm of Sullivan and Christenson, Corporate Law Firm, as their trial lawyer. One of his first clients is also the firms largest, Victor O’Malley who is under investigation for money laundering. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney have O’Malley cold and Lou knows it. He is approached by the senior partner, Richard Sullivan, during a corporate retreat at Lake of the Ozarks, to loose some documents that are key evidence to O’Malley’s guilt and Sullivan’s complicity in the scheme. He refuses for ethical reasons and decides to resign on Monday morning. But Sullivan is found dead, floating face down in the lake, and his boat is miles away. Murder is quickly suspected as the Sherriff, retired FBI agent Kelly Holt who had been in on the wire tapping of Sullivan’s office in an attempt to gather evidence on O’Malley. But her partner was suspected of corruption, and when he turned up dead, she retired under a cloud of suspension.

On the trip back to Kansas City, Lou is run off the road in what can only be a deliberate attempt to kill him. The surviving partners quickly appoint Lou to defend the firm, and O’Malley from the dogged investigation by the  U.S. Attorney. But Lou quickly discovers that he has been set up by the dead Richard Sullivan who left memos accusing Lou of wanting to destroy the incriminating documents. This make Lou a suspect. He quickly discovers that almost everyone in the firm has a reason to have wanted Sullivan dead. A secretary who was being blackmailed for sex because she was caught stealing money from the firm. Scott Daniels, the ‘friend’ and partner that brought him into the firm and may have pushed for him to investigate just to make him the fall guy. Sullivan’s wife who, he had been cheating on, the list of suspects is endless, including the mob whose money O’Malley and Sullivan may have been laundering and their  hired hit man Camaya.

The plot takes another twisting turn when the other senior partner, Harlan Christenson turns up murdered and Lou, along with his allies, Blues – a retired cop and jazz piano player, Sherriff Kelly Holt, who forms a tense sexual relationship with Lou but is operating under the cloud of her dead partners sins, Sandra Connelly – the other partner seemingly set up by Scott, who may have secrets of her own to hide all try to dodge the hit man, the U.S. Attorney and figure out all the disparate motives for the murders, as well as the complicity  of the law firm.

The ending is a surprise but fulfills Raymond Chandlers rule of the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable. It is masterfully presented, and happily lacks the easy contrivances often relied upon in a debut novel. There was one glaringly obvious mistake I was surprised it wasn’t caught with this updated version of the original 2002 debut of Lou Mason. Towards the end of chapter 63 there is this piece of description, --“He opened the glove compartment and removed a blue steel revolver. “It’s a Sig Sauer .45 caliber,” he explained as he loaded the clip , slid the safety to off, and handed it to Mason.” --You don’t slide clips into revolvers, nor do they have safeties. But other than that small technical detail, the book is very well written, and laid out marvelously for an eBook. The cover art is sharp and very professional as is the copy editing. Joel Goldman builds great and interesting characters, drives the story with both smart and sarcastic dialogue, knows the land scape well, from the streets and night spots of Kansas City to the back roads of the farmland and country side. And somehow managed to weave a complex plot into a story you won’t get lost in and won’t be able to put down. I can’t wait to read the other Lou Mason novels, “Cold Truth” & “ The Last Witness” as well as Joel’s other works.

Joel Goldman is a retired lawyer who lives in Kansas City and obviously feels a deep love for the city. Joel Goldman1 

His first book, Motion To Kill, in 2002, introduced trial lawyer Lou Mason. Lou made his second appearance in 2003's Edgar®-nominated The Last Witness. He managed to keep getting in and out of trouble in Cold Truth (2004) and Deadlocked (2005), which was nominated for a Shamus award and has been optioned for film. Look for his short story, Fire In the Sky, in the anthology Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories by 12 Masters of the Genre which I reviewed on my Crime Fiction Blog Crimeways back in March. he also writes a series featuring Public Defender, Alex Stone as well as a series featuring former FBI Special Agent Jack Davis, beginning with Shakedown (2008). Follow Joel's blog, What's Shaking?, and find out what's on his mind about writing, publishing, life with a movement disorder and whatever else is shaking in the world around him.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 25, 2011

“Mr. Softee” by Mike Faricy

 Mr Softee-final

“Trust me, the good-guy shit don’t work.” Tony ‘Dog’ Colli

If Carl Hiaasen decided to write a novel set in Minnesota he’d use the pseudonym Mike Faricy. Mr. Softee is filled with mystery, menace,satire and comic-book kink  as skirt chasing, wise cracking, dysfunctional PI Dev Haskell gets himself in over his head.

Hired by local ice cream mogul, Weldon Sofmann aka Mr. Softee, to find out who tried to kill him by ramming his Mercedes.  The job should be as simple as a scoop of vanilla but what starts out as a hit and run, quickly turns into healthy serving of  bizarre Rocky Road. As Dev investigates he learns that Mr. Softee is anything but. He's a ruthless 'entrepreneur'  suspected of running a gambling operation from his fleet of trucks. He has a flash temper, a couple of man eating Dobermans, a mean streak a mile wide, a laundry list of people who want to do him in and a sex crazed girlfriend named Lola. Not to mention a crew of thugs you wouldn’t want serving an ice cream sandwich to your kid. Unless said kid was trying to get a bet down.

Dev uncovers a list of suspects that include the competition, a two ice cream truck operation run by the beautiful daughter of a man screwed over by Mr. Softee; at least their trucks don’t play annoying music that would drive a crazed father to justifiable homicide. There’s a disgruntled employees, Bernie Sneen, who was maimed for ‘dipping’ into the profits. Bernie hangs out in a bar called Dizzies. You could say Dizzies was a bit low on ambience, but  that would suggest there might be some. Then there is his girl friend, Lola who may look like desert, but has a heart colder than a popsicle.

Dev quickly comes to the conclusion that it was probably an accident and reports this to Mr. Softee. But when Dev tries to invoice Mr. Softee he is assaulted and winds up arrested. Then the competition has their building blown up and their trucks torched and Bernie is found dead, taped to the rail road tracks and Dev is a suspect. Things go from bad to worse until Dev enlists the help of former client, sometime friend and felon, Tony "Dog" Colli. Murder, mayhem, double cross and bodies follow in their wake.

Mr. Softee is a bit darker and more dangerous than usual and Dev finds himself in over his head and on the wrong side of the law and wanted for a brutal murder. It’s a fast paced tale of bottom feeders, criminals, short skirts, and Dev stumbling into the deep end of a case with more twists than Baskin Robbins has favors. Not able to call on his usual list of allies; His policeman friend, Aaron, his army of official’s with access to records and computers, or his various list of former love interests and  bartenders,  he turns to Tony ‘Dog’ Colli who is going to be a great character. Dog is a match for the most evil, bizarre bad guy but even he may not be able to bail Dev out. This is another great read from Mike Faricy but I have to wonder about this author as he tells me he draws his stories and characters from people he knows in real life…his real life must have more nuts than a banana split.

The book is available in eBook form from Amazon, Smashwords, and for the first time, Mike’s books will be available for “Print on Demand” from Amazon by the end of August.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Author Mark Terry –”Tough Guys”

As you all know, I just wrote a review on Mark Terry’s wonderful new thriller “The Valley Of Shadows” Easily the best thriller I have read in awhile and the best of the year. It is mart, slick, fast and furious and features Mark’s series character Derek Stillwater. Now Derek is a really smart guy, he is a doctor. The PhD kind and holds that degree in biochemistry which comes in handy as he is a bioterrorism expert for the Department of Homeland Security. But, Derek is also a tough guy. he is hardboiled, and I drew a comparison between him and Philip Marlowe in the review.

This morning on Facebook, Mark asked “who should play Derek in a movie?” I thought Daniel Craig of James Bond fame would be excellent. Then I invited Mark to guest blog on “Tough Guy’s”.


Tough Guys

By Mark Terry

I like fictional tough guys – Spenser, Hawk, Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, Tres Navarre, Gabriel Allon, Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flowers.

When I was thinking about this, though, I had to throw in the fact that one of my favorite authors is the late Dick Francis. Francis wrote mystery/thrillers that all dealt in some way or another with horse racing and just off the top of my head his main characters were professional jockeys or amateur jockeys, but they were also caterers, chefs, glassblowers, meteorologists, computer programmers, painters, freelance writers, insurance adjusters, filmmakers, bookies, architects, soldiers, private eyes…

And yet…

Someone once asked me what I liked about Dick Francis’s characters and I said they were all fundamentally decent. Mostly they’re normal people who find themselves in over their heads. The jockeys all seem to take physical punishment and recuperate quickly in a way that would make my own series character Derek Stillwater proud.

As a general rule, Francis’s men are not violent men, although some are soldiers or PIs.

So what do they have in common with all of those guys I mentioned in the first sentence?

Merriam-Webster gives a lot of definitions for toughness, and I think the one that most people use when describing tough guys would be “capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor.” Perhaps they might also think of “marked by absence of softness or sentimentality.”

Ironic, when I think of that last one. Is Spenser sentimental? Uh, yeah, I think so. Elvis Cole? Probably. Tres? Yes. Gabriel Allon? Yes. Probably not Davenport or Flowers, although I don’t know. Maybe they are.

Toughness, Wikipedia, tells me, in materials science and metallurgy, is “the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing.”

When it comes to tough guys in fiction, what I lean towards, actually, is the materials science and metallurgy definition. Great tough guys can take whatever’s handed to them and dish it back without breaking.

That doesn’t mean they don’t change. I think they do. They may grow an even tougher skin and harder outlook, but that may just make their human side – perhaps their sentimental side – seem all the more apparent by comparison.

Although I don’t think I want to psychoanalyze Derek Stillwater too much, I do note that as the books progress, the more the divide between the violence he experiences and dishes out creates a chasm in his psyche with the more normal, “good guy” side of him. The psychological term for this is “cognitive dissonance” or, back to Wikipedia, “an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.”

That, I think, makes him human. It makes him complicated. The side of Lucas Davenport that can take down a serial killer without much remorse, is a significant comparison to the side that lives in a big house in Minneapolis with his surgeon wife, young son and adopted daughter. They understand, at least, that the tough guy part’s not the only part.

So I’m interested. Who are your favorite tough guys and why do you like them?



There you go. Who are your favorite tough guys? Be sure to order up your copy of The Valley Of Shadows but I warn you, you want the other Derek Stillwater books after reading it. And Mark writes some great stand alones.


The Dirty Lowdown

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“The Valley Of Shadows” by Mark Terry

valley-shadows-175Smart, slick, fast and furious. Easily the best thriller of the year. What an accomplishment. Not only does the author seem prescient in the story’s premise in the wake of the raid to kill bin Laden but the book is a perfect balance of plot, pacing, structure and character development with a subject that is very much in the forefront of much of the worlds mind.

The Valley Of Shadows is the fourth book in the Derek Stillwater series by one of my favorite authors, Mark Terry. Though the others, The Devil's Pitchfork, The Serpent's Kiss, The Fallen have all been some of the best action packed thrillers you’d ever want to read, Mark has out done himself in Valley. Derek is a more human character than super hero, showing traits of say the great hardboiled detectives. A loner, a tough guy who is also fallible. Think James Bond meets Phillip Marlowe.

The Plot:

US Special Forces raid an Al-Qaeda group in Pakistan. During the raid they confiscate two laptops. These laptops have been booby-trapped with bombs that will blow up in the soldiers' faces when opened. When the bombs are diffused and the laptops checked out, it is found that there are plans to carry out terrorist attacks in five major U.S. cities (Washington, DC, New York City, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles). These attacks could involve dirty bombs, biological weapons and maybe even a suitcase nuclear attack on Election Day.

Derek is assigned to a Special Terrorism Activity Response Team (START) to find the weapons and the people who are bent on using them in Los Angeles, and stop the attack. His team has two days to accomplish this. As Derek and his team look for their targets things start to get interesting. There are multiple characters with different agendas, doing many things that provide dead ends and misdirection, and that’s just the good guys. The terrorists are just as bewildering and at time bewildered.  Derek begins to think that somebody is not showing all their cards.

The Pace: Relentless. Mark Terry, with a master story tellers hand, drops details by the dozen, personal and real, but never to the point of bogging the story down. Instead they flesh out the characters; both the good guys and the bad guys.The tiny details of custom and beliefs makes the bad guys human and adds so much to the story. And the traits and foibles and personal details revealed of the good guys makes them that much more real, and in some cases not so ‘good’ or likeable. You can tell Mark did his home work, this is no mindless race of good verses evil and the details don’t slow the pace in the least. Think of them as the paint job on a race car, they make it easier to identify with the players. If there is such a thing as “literary thrillers” well, this is it. If half the authors writing in the genre today had Terry’s ability of pace and plot; to add all the details of both the protagonist and the bad guy and all those characters in between, they’d be teaching the genre in Masters classes at universities.

Structure: Perfect. Mark’s research must have been exhaustive. His knowledge of everything from technology to strategy and tactics of that Shadow World of the American alphabet soup; CIA, NSA, ODNI, FBI down to the traditional dress of Muslims, the gray area of arms dealers, international banking, and even traffic at different times of day on L.A. city streets and freeways is amazing when you think about it. The story follows logically a race against time and tries to solve a mystery – why, where and who will be the target. It switches from following Derek, to following the antagonists just enough to almost make you empathize with the bad guys. Or at least understand their motives and actions and that even for the evil geniuses of the world nothing quite goes as planned.

Character Development: Mark makes these guys so real you’ll feel they are your neighbors. If your neighbors carried around MP-9’s and suit case nukes. ‘Nuff said.

This man is a master story teller, and a first rate craftsman at getting it down. I’m going to be talking about, and thinking about this book for a long time, so get used to it. Go buy it and I may leave you alone. Or talk your ear off as we discuss it, because it is that kind of book. You’ll want to go back and read the other Derek Stillwater novels but it’s not necessary. The Valley Of Shadows reads great as a stand alone.fallen-175  









Mark Terry is the author of the Derek Stillwater thrillers, THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK, THE SERPENT'S KISS, and THE FALLEN, as well as several standalone thrillers, including DIRTY DEEDS, CATFISH GURU, and DANCING IN THE DARK. Born in Flint, Michigan in 1964, he graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in microbiology and public health, which has informed his Derek Stillwater thrillers and other fiction. markAfter spending 18 years working in clinical genetics, he turned to writing full time. When not writing or reading, Mark Terry is a gym rat, lifting weights, biking, running, kayaking, studying Sanchin-Ryu karate, and playing the guitar. Otherwise he spends his time with his wife and two sons in Michigan. Mark also has a vey interesting blog where he discusses “This Writing Life” that is well worth following for writers of all ilk's.



The Dirty Lowdown

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shaken: Stories for Japan available now!

This promises to be an excellent collection of short stories and for an excellent cause. Help out and get a good read at the same time. Thanks to Pete Rozovsky over at Detectives Without Borders for hosting this.

Timothy Hallinan, the Japan America Society of Southern California, 111shakenand twenty talented authors have teamed up to produce Shaken: Stories for Japan, available now for just $3.99. One hundred percent of the proceeds of this e-book will benefit the society's 2011 Japan Relief Fund.
Contributors include Hallinan, Adrian McKinty, I.J. Parker, Brett Battles, Cara Black, Vicki Doudera, Dianne Emley, Dale Furutani, Stefan Hammond, Rosemary Harris, Naomi Hirahara, Wendy Hornsby, Ken Kuhlken, Debbi Mack, Gary Phillips, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Jeffrey Siger, Kelli Stanley, C.J. West, and Jeri Westerson.
Most, but not all, of the pieces are crime fiction. McKinty's is a touching account o Matsushima Bay before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, for example. The book's distribution through Amazon promises prompt release of proceeds, Hallinan says, so buy now. The cause is good, the gratification instant.

Detectives Beyond Borders: Shaken: Stories for Japan available now!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Walk...2 years and 20,000 copies later by Lee Goldberg

Lee Goldberg is celebrating and we get to enjoy it. From his blog, A Writers Life

Lee GoldbergBuy THE WALK for 99 cents this week...and get THE DEAD MAN for free! - A Writer's Life

It was two years ago today that, at Joe Konrath's urging, I began my "Kindle Experiment" by making my out-of-print book THE WALK available as an ebook. I've sold 20,000 copies of THE WALK since then...and to celebrate, and in a blatant to attempt to propel THE WALK into the top 100 on Amazon for the first time, I am selling the book for just 99 cents for the next week.
But to make the offer even sweeter, and to promote my original ebook series THE DEAD MAN, anyone who emails me proof of purchase (at lee@leegoldberg.com) will get a free copy of FACE OF EVIL. That's two books for just 99 cents.
If you've already bought the book, I'd really appreciate if it you would spread the word about this sale and, if you are really feeling generous, say a few kinds words about THE WALK and/or THE DEAD MAN series, too.
Here's the link to THE WALK on Amazon...