Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crime Fiction Collective: Books for Charity: Helping a Family in Joplin

My friends over at Crime Fiction Collective are holding a charity even today one their blog.

Posted by L.J. Sellers
As I watched families pick through the rubble of their homes, looking for shoes for their kids, I felt sickened and helpless. As helpless as they must have felt to see the tornado coming and not be able to do anything but hide and hope for the best. I tried to imagine what it would feel to have lost everything and not have enough money to rent a motel room for the week.

Crime Fiction Collective: Books for Charity: Helping a Family in Joplin

Please jump over there, and contribute what you can. Crime Fiction Collective is six published authors, editors and partners in crime with a marvelous blog, and it is very generous of them to hold this event to help out the people in Joplin whose city was just devastated by a tornado.

They’re raising money to help a family in Joplin, Missouri. Drew and I have pledged 100% our Amazon book royalties (print and digital) for the next four days to this charitable cause, and Judith has pledged 25% of her e-book royalties through Memorial day.
The amount of money we raise will be up to readers. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to buy some great books and donate to a good cause at the same time. Here’s a list of the participating novels with links to Amazon.
Drew’s bestselling title: While the Savage Sleeps
L.J.’s bestselling Detective Jackson mysteries:
The Sex Club
Secrets to Die For
Thrilled to Death
Passions of the Dead
Dying for Justice
And standalone thrillers:
The Baby Thief
The Suicide Effect
Judith’s guilty pleasure Skeeter Hughes mysteries:
Where’s Billy?
Whose Hand?
Another way to help out is to spread the word. Use Facebook, Twitter, or any of your online accounts to let other readers know about this charitable cause.

Thanks in advance.

The Dirty Lowdown

Monday, May 23, 2011

“Running Cold” by Harry Shannon


The suspense is so taut that if you plucked it, dogs would howl. In “Running Cold” you can “feel” Mick teetering on that edge, the anger and violence bubbling just over the top of the cauldron, and god save L.A if he goes over.In the more than capable hands of author Harry Shannon, Mick Callahan has become an icon.  I just love when an author masters his craft and character, and Harry Shannon must have been taking Zen lessons when he wrote Running Cold.

Awhile back I reviewed  Memorial Day”, the first Mick Callahan novel, just re-released in the book containing the first three novels in the series, “The Mick Callahan Novelsso if you haven’t read the review, then do so for Mick’s background. Mick’s come a long way from the classic burn out, newly sober hardboiled detective/psychologist. He has a practice in L.A.,he has a swimming pool in his back yard, his future looks bright as he is on the verge of regaining his stardom and his life. But, his deep seated need to find love eludes him as his relationship with Darlene Hernandez, LAPD Detective is on the rocks. No amount of financial or celebrity security can fill this need in Callahan, and this makes him feel helpless. And when Callahan feels helplessMick C he tends to break things.

The story opens in Las Vegas, where a daring raid is perpetrated on a casino by a team of terrorists…maybe. As the private security force, Blackwatch, along with the Vegas PD move in to foil the terrorists, using the the crowd of tourists and the worn hookers sporting fraudulent breast, as cover a package is passed by one of the terrorists right before he blows himself up. Mean while, in L.A. Mick has an appointment with a pro bono client, Calvin McCann – a man with a gambling problem whose luck is Running Cold as well as a tendency to stay high on pot when he can’t stay high on winning. He comes to Callahan who despite a tough exterior has a soft heart. He’s in deep with a shady bookie who doesn’t take defaulters to court.  Callahan is in the mood for violence if it comes his way, and is apt to go looking for it, - and a drink - when he is feeling lost in love. Callahan, after getting Calvin to agree to do service as part of his AA commitment, approaches the bookie and his thug, Quinn and agrees to pay off Calvin’s debt. In the process he is rescued by a young waitress.

Back in Vegas, Calvin’s son, Wes, a hard as nails ex paratrooper has lost his own gambling stake in an effort to win the money for his dad’s debt. He ends up sleeping at the train station and stinking of booze and back alley’s waiting for the train to take him back to L.A.. He is recognized by an old high school girl friend, who he can’t really remember in his hung over condition, but she comes on to him anyhow. She goes out side for a last cigarette before boarding her own train and leaves Wes to guard her suit case. When she doesn’t return before Wes’s train, he take the suit case with him. He’s got her email address and figures it will be a good excuse to meet up with her. Wes gets home and has to tell his dad that he lost their stake, but Calvin tells him not to worry, Mick is going to square things for him. Wes goes off to stash the suit case and find the girl. While he is gone, Calvin is murdered viscously. Mick stumbles on the crime scene just as the police arrive, and Wes drives by just in time to see Callahan there. He blames Callahan for sticking his nose in where it didn’t belong.

Mick is now primed with anger over his broken heart and retribution for the bookie for seemingly backing out on their deal, but it doesn’t make sense that a bookie would kill a guy over a few thousand dollars. Strung tighter than a cross bow, Mick starts his own investigation, and pity anyone that gets in his way. mean while, Wes does the same and these to dangerous men are aimed right for each other. Soon, there are more suspects and motives than meets the eye. Throw in crooked cops and nefarious computer hackers and you’ve got a top drawer murder mystery fuel by the anger and need for revenge of two deadly individuals in Mick and Wes. Somebody is going to get hurt. Probably a lot of somebodies.

Harry Shannon

Harry Shannon just gets better and better as more facets of his hero, Mick Callahan are revealed. This series is bound to go down next to the best in the genre.

The Dirty Lowdown

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Dirty Lowdown for May

Good news is I survived turning 56 in April…well, it was good for ME anyhow. The rest of you can stuff it! Eat, Sleep, Read

I’d like to remind everybody that May is “Get Caught Reading” month and there is no better way to express your love of books than the “Eat, Sleep, Read” tee-shirt pictured in the photo here.  Get yours by following the links and emailing Jason Frost, the manager of Russo’s Books Bakersfield, Calif. These are high quality tees and are way cooler than the “I’m With Stupid” shirt you wore last year.

I had a great time last month doing my first author interview with Mike Faricy, the author of some great, cross genre books. If you didn’t get a chance to read the interview, it’s not to late. We had a lot of fun and gave away some great books. Also had a great time reviewing Harry Shannon’s Mick Callahan novels.

Mick Callahan Novels

On deck this month is a book by a great new author I met through doing the Mike Faricy interview, Sean O’Neill. As you know if you read the interview and have already bought out Mike’s supply of books, Mike lives in St. Paul, Minnesota part of the year and Dublin Ireland the other part. Turns out Sean is from Scotland originally, but lived in Ireland until recently when he moved to….drum roll please….St. Paul, Minnesota! It’s a small world, but I still wouldn’t want to have to paint it.Sean O'Neill

Sean sent me one of his books, Muscle For Hire, which is not only a great read, but is dark, violent and cynically funny! We’ll be doing a review here of this hidden treasure of an author you will love!

Muscle For Hire

Naturally, Mike and Sean have already gotten together to compare rap sheets …I mean notes. They tell me it was for “coffee” but I’m giving 3 for 2 there was a “wee goldie” (that’s Scottish for a dram of whiskey) near the coffee pot. So, if there are reports of Irish shenanigans from the twin cities, we’ll know who to blame.

Also this month, I’ll be reviewing Mark Terry’s latest Derek Stillwater thriller, Valley of Shadows Valley of Shadows. The book will be available to the general public on June  7th but you can preorder now at Amazon. Mark tells me the publisher is sending the ARC to me next week, but I am already reading the PDF Mark kindly provided. valley has gotten great advanced reviews, and if you are a fan of top drawer thrillers, then you know Mark  Terry writes them better than anybody in America. If you like Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn, well you are going to LOVE Mark Terry.


Stay tuned because Mark will be doing a Blog tour and will be making a stop here, on The Dirty Lowdown. he’ll be giving away all expense paid trips to the Bahamas…. or was it Dearborn, or maybe it was just high-fives, I forget….anyway, it promises to be fun.

Also this month, I am hoping to squeeze in Declan Burkes, Eightball Boogie. Just waiting on my copy to arrive.


Declan has been described as the heir apparent to Ken Bruen in Irish Crime Fiction (I had so many Irish connections last month, you’d think it was Saint Patty’s). It is a special treat to finally get Eightball in the states.

Well, I am going to cut this short, probably add my favorite music for the month later on, but I have been fighting off a cold for about a week, finally broke down and went to the doc yesterday and he tells me my cold is pneumonia and he gave me all these pretty little pills to take….. think I’ll count them pout, pour a “wee goldie” and crawl back under the covers.Scotch

The Dirty Lowdown

“Muscle for Hire” by Sean O’Neill

“The Taco Town takings were took from Tori’s Toyota on the way back from Tulip’s” Jimmy nodded. “The Toyota too.”

What a great find! I was interviewing author Mike Faricy, and a comment was left by one Sean O’Neill. Mike is from St. Paul, Minnesota but lives half the year in Dublin, Ireland and of course writes great thrillers. Sean on the other hand is from Ireland, via Scotland where he was born, and now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota! And, as we are about to discover, writes thrillers! Sean sent me a book, “Muscle for Hire” which is one of the greatest books I didn’t know I was going to read last month….okay, let me put it this way. What a great book! Like finding a signed first edition of The Maltese Falcon for a dollar at a yard sale.

Ralph Tooley is a “gap year” student, in English…okay in American English, that means he is taking a sabbatical, a few months off of college. Tooley has already completed his first year at Glasgow University in English Literature when his dad gave him an ultimatum. Quit hanging out with his rough friends or leave the country for a few months. At least that is his dads excuse. After all, Tooley is getting good grades, but as we learn, no ones motive is exactly on the up and up in this dark, dangerous, violent and oh so damn cynically funny novel.

So, Tooley comes to St. Paul to work for his uncle Alex, a thoroughly corrupt ScottishBlood menagerie_O'Neill Mobster running numerous rackets in the Twin Cities. While a lot of kids take a break from school, most learn to say, “You want fries with that.” Tooley beats people up, wrecks furniture, breaks legs and intimidates customers of uncle Alex loan shark & protection rackets. Nothing like a little life experience to make one a better man….

Now, our Tooley isn’t a big guy, he’s only just over five and a half feet tall, but he grew up in the “poorer sections of Glasgow” where you learn to be good with your hands. And Tooley is very very good, and he most likes beating the Holly shite out of bigger men who under estimate him.

But, deep inside his Celtic soul, Tooley is a writer, he yearns for the halls of academia, the neo-Gothic architecture of  the hallowed halls of the university, the quiet back-street coffee shops, the crowded pubs along Byers Road and Great Western Road enjoying a “wee goldie” and arguing over Shakespeare sonnets in the west end of Glasgow and sipping ‘real ale’. And, Tooley has a muse. Raymond Chandler.raymond-chandler_1234883c Or rather a ghost, seeing as how Chandler can get rather violent himself. Chandler has unfinished business, see, he failed as a journalist and regrets that part of his life. So he mandates that Tooley make this right by becoming a journalist, and Chandler points out that Tooley just may be able to make himself enough money as a journalist to fly back to home and hearth. Tooley takes a job at a publication who’s reputation for truth is only just below that of The National Enquirer….

Along the way, Tooley meets another gangster, Big Ted. Seems uncle Alex has had Tooley collecting from customers claimed by Big Ted, and Big Ted has to do something about it. Namely cut Tooley into many pieces and send them to uncle Alex. Nothing personal, just a business memo amongst hoods. To complicate matters, Tooley is soon harassed by the FBI who has gotten wind of the shenanigans of uncle Alex and Big Ted. They want Tooley to inform on uncle Alex or else they will deport Tooley. Well, this is what Tooley wants except if he leaves uncle Alex, uncle Alex will kill him and if he doesn’t come through with the scoop on an art heist that uncle Alex has planned, Big Ted will kill him, so a friendly deportation is out of the question. And if Tooley hasn’t enough to worry about, suddenly his stash of collection money, along with the pittance he earns moonlighting for the scandal rag starts disappearing from his apartment. He suspects his rather rude neighbor, A. Schneider. And just because there is room in the fire for another iron, Tooley has caught wind of a terrorist plot to blow up President Obama while collecting for uncle Alex.Sean O'Neill2

The story is shamefully entertaining as Sean O’Neill’s use of metaphor and original hardboiled simile is channeled through Tooley’s muse, Raymond Chandler. Chandler is often imitated, but Sean is spot on. Clearly influenced but totally and joyfully original. The story has more twists and turns, so many side capers and mini plots, whacky characters and twists per inch, that you wonder how any author could bring them all around and as Chandler said, “the solution, once revealed must seem inevitable.” And Sean O’Neill not only pulls this off, but pulls it off masterfully. I  think I have found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow  in Mr. O’Neill.,he is sure to be a hit!

Sean O'Neill

Originally from Scotland, Sean has traveled about a bit, including living in Ireland, England (twice), Italy and the USA - which is where He lives at the moment. he has worked as a freelance journalist for about seven years and has had poetry, short stories and articles published in a variety of publications. In April 2011 he published four novels as Kindle eBooks on Amazon. They range from the thigh-slappingly funny, to the nail-bitingly tense, but mostly somewhere between the two. Be sure to get them at Amazon or Smashwords.

The Dirty Lowdown

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day, Mom and thanks for the books.


Mom_fr_Sepia I hadn’t thought of doing anything for mothers day this year, after all my mom’s been gone for near fifteen years. I actually woke up this morning with writing on my mind. I had kind of a mini break through on my novel last night and made the first progress in a month or more. I was kind of proud of myself and thinking about that led me to thinking about books in general and that led me to my mom, Chloe Annette Morand (1937-1996). You see, she is directly responsible for my love of books and the written word.

She taught me to read at three, and I don’t mean “See Jack Run” but to read. I remember ‘Margery Morningstar’ at five, ‘Great American Poetry’ at seven or so, Solzhenitsyn by ten. I don’t much believe in ‘signs’ but her mother named her after a character in a book she was reading when my mother was born. I need to figure out what that book was. She created a monster. I read everything. Record covers, magazines, bumper stickers, ads on bench backs, text books, history books, fiction of every flavor, poetry, song lyrics, philosophy, science, religion, politics literally everything. My wife, when I was married,  used to get perplexed when we were in a restaurant or riding in the car or laying on the beach or at a party, and I’d get quiet, start staring off into space. She’d ask, “What are you doing.” and I’d inevitably say, “Trying to read that sign, or that tee-shirt that guy has on, or that bill board.”

My mother taught me to read by sounding out words, I guess they call that ‘Phonics’ now, but it was how I learned. She always gave me books for gifts on birthdays or Christmas. The last gift she gave me was Hemingway’s, ‘Finca Vigia Collection’ the summer before she died. When I was in school and started writing poetry, she encouraged me, when I started writing stories – usually baseball, she read them and critiqued them. She had written a story once, from her childhood, about a dog that rescued her and her crippled sister from a snake as mom and Ruby June, cowered in a little red wagon. It was published in Readers Digest in the mid to late 60’s and she was very proud of that.

We grew up poor, five children and a single mother. One Christmas, at probably twelve, all I had to give my mother for a Christmas Present, was a poem about how commercial Christmas had become. She gave that poem back to me on my thirtieth birthday when I was made a director of a data processing company. We never had much money, but we always had books. Stacks of books, home made book shelves of books, boxes of books. If you tripped over something in our house, 2 to 1 is was a book, not a piece of furniture. We moved a lot, house to house, state to state and I always hated carrying all those boxes of books.

When I started publishing my own poetry and short stories in magazines in my late twenties, she was so proud even though the output was sparse. After all, I had a ‘day job’ where I made a decent living. I’d write about whatever I felt like, and when I could find the time. I had a career, I had sports, I had a deep and abiding interest in girls. I had friends, and parties, and hiking, and camping and fishing and travelling, so I didn’t make much time to devote to writing then. Oh, I’d scribble down ideas, or rip off a quick poem. I’d fill notebooks with ideas, characters, rot. I’d do an article about a band I’d heard, or a restaurant I’d visited and I fill notebooks full of great passages from books I’d read and my own scribbles but I never did much with them. I’d tell myself, when I retire, I’ll write. If I win the lottery, I’ll write. If I get a patent on this electronic gadget or circuit, I’ll write.

Then, nearly three years ago I was visited by an auto immune disease, and it effected my eyes, amongst other things.  I discovered there wasn’t much demand for blind engineers. I mourned that for awhile, then I thought, well, now you can write. Reinvent yourself as a writer. Fifteen  years after her death, my mother is still saving me. Still encouraging me. Still making me feel worth while. Happy Mothers Days mom. Thanks for the words and thanks for teaching me how to read.


The Dirty Lowdown

Thursday, May 5, 2011

“Memorial Day” by Harry Shannon “The Mick Callahan Novels”

In Mick Callahamemorialn, Harry Shannon has created a protagonist in the mold of the classic hardboiled detective. He is a man who must walk the mean streets, who himself is not mean. Though tarnished, he is a complete man and a common man –if he wasn’t always, he is now. He is a man of honor driven to do the right thing, perhaps to redeem himself in his own heart, but also for those who need his help. His place is between the law and the bad guys, and his sense of justice, his sense of right and wrong aren’t necessarily defined by the dictionary or the legal books.Mick C

Mick grew up hard, his step father making him fight other boys for money and never letting him quit. Mick ran away from home and became a navy SEAL…almost. He was kicked out for punching out an officer. From there Mick went to school and became a psychologist and rode his talent in this field, and his good looks to fame as a big time radio ‘shrink’ until it all came crashing down in a haze of drugs and alcohol and the death of a patient. Gone is the big money, the fast women and the hedonistic life-style.Now Mick is trying to regain his life, to redeem himself.

The meteor came crashing to earth in Dry Well, Nevada a dusty, tumbleweed section on the desert where not much ever happens, except it is the wild west that Mick grew up in. He is covering the local radio station for Loner McDowell, the owner of the only talk show in town. Loner offers the job to Mick while he is out of town for a couple of days, as a favor to help Mick out and give him a leg back into society now that he is sober and clean and not in jail. Mick soon finds that the town is more used to alien abductions than radio shrinks and as he covers the last night with very few calls to the show he struggles to find that personality that made him a star. Then a young girl calls in, she is having boy friend problems and he knocks her around, He’s “deep” into drugs….but before Mick can try and help her she hangs up. On the walk back to his flea bag motel, Mick stumbles across a body in an alley and as he goes to check, he discovers the man has had his finger tips sliced off and his teeth destroyed. There is a neat little hole in the back of his skull, and then there is a gun at Micks head. It is the local law, Sherriff Bass, who had run Mick out of town years earlier. He is quickly eliminated as a suspect, but honors the cops request to keep things quiet and not say anything about the body until the investigation is complete. He also promises to leave town, eager to get to L.A. for an interview and not wanting to stay around this one horse town, even if it was once his home.

Harry Shannon

The next day, he says goodbye to his buddy Jerry, a horribly scarred drifter who keeps an electronics shop and has a reputation as a hacker. But, on the way out of town he stops at the Memorial Day picnic, talks to some old friends and happens to end up talking to a young girl he knew years before. Sandy Palmer, the daughter of the local millionaire who had foreclosed on Micks families dusty little ranch. He gets the feeling that she is the girl that called in to his show the night before, the girl with the abusive boyfriend with the drug problem and since a similar girl died when Mick was famous because he ignored her needs, it weighs on his soul. Sandy comes clean and admits to being the caller,but before Mick can talk to her about her worries, he nearly gets into a fight with three young hooligans, one of which might be the boy friend. Sherriff Bass breaks it up before things can get out of hand and remind Mick of his promise to leave town. Mick heads to the motel to pack his car and Jerry decides to join him since the same three toughs are after him for flirting with another girl in their clique. As they are driving out of town, they notice a lot of commotion in the park. Sandy Palmer has been found dead, beaten, her head busted from an apparent fall onto some rocks, but the local veterinarian suspects she actually drowned in the shallow creek. So Mick stays, feeling an obligation to find her murderer and to see if it could be linked to the body in the alley.The suspects are numerous. The three toughs, the girls half brother, Will Palmer, a misogynist ne’er do well, and yet other locals, but it doesn’t jibe with the mob hit feel of the first unknown victim.Burning Man

Harry paints very real scenes of a dusty Nevada desert town, more dead than alive and builds the story behind some of the greatest action and fight scenes as well as fully fleshed out characters; an old flame who runs the local cafĂ© after going through a few husbands, the Doc with a taste for young girls and porn, Loner who has a bit of a gambling problem, Bass haunted by his own time in Vietnam, Jerry scarred by a woman who didn’t love him, Will Palmer the spoiled rich boy who treats women as toys. And then the three tuffs, none of who will ever win a citizen of the year award. While dredging up his past he discovers that almost everyone has a past worse than his and almost everyone used and had reason to harm Sandy Palmer, but does the past intersect at two murders over Memorial Day in Dry Wells?

Harry has created a great character in Mick Callahan and Memorial Day is the first in the series. I can’t say enough about this character or this book. Harry recently released the first three Mick Callahan Novels in one volume that is available at Amazon.com for $4.99, a great deal for three books that are sure to become classics. besides, after reading Memorial Day, you’ll want to catch up with  Mick in his next adventure, Eye of the Burning Man. Want my advice, buy the collection. You’ll be glad you did.

The Dirty Lowdown

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Authors–Get your books on Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader

anitadiggsAuthors: Your book for sale on Kindle, Nook and SONY readers within two weeks. Guaranteed.

Well written and edited only. No poetry, YA or children's books during this program.

Serious inquires to anita.diggs@gmail.com

Anita Diggs has worked as a Senior Editor at Random House, Senior Editor at Thunder's Mouth Press, Senior Publicist for Time Warner Trade Publishing and Senior Publicist for Penguin Books. She is an industry authority on commercial, literary and emerging forms of book publishing. Columbia Journalism Review placed Ms. Diggs on their “The Shapers” list for the year 2000. The Shapers is a list of prominent New Yorkers who shape the national media agenda.

Call 917-456-2421 or Email: anita.diggs@gmail.com