Two nuns murdered. Two elderly, wonderful women brutally stabbed to death outside their ghetto mission as they went into the streets to gather the addicts and human waste for a night’s rest. Motive? None. If scum are willing to come out of the shadows just to kill, they get paid in little more than blood. In this neighborhood, blood is gold.
Private detective Richard Dean Buckner aids his best friend and former homicide partner Graham Clevenger in working the case. The local priest sees Buckner’s handiwork—and rage—firsthand and hires him with the intention of hopefully saving the killer from the worst of the bare knuckle detective’s rampage.
Buckner develops a lead and hunts the suspect down, but as Clevenger develops a second, less likely and more earth-shattering suspect of his own, friend is pitted against friend as they race to prove who really did it. All the while Buckner is trying to ignore a similar case from his past where he allowed his pride to railroad the suspect into an early grave. Fearing Clevenger is about to do the same thing, Buckner realizes just how bleak his mistake was.
To hunt a man who slaughtered two nuns, Buckner needs to use a junkyard dog as a landing cushion, make a victim remember the worst night of her life and undo years of therapy, smoke PCP and use a barnyard blow-up doll to strangle a man. So be it. Just another day.
By George Ebey
Author S.A. Stovall brings us the next installment in his Vice City crime series featuring ex-mob enforcer Nicholas Pierce.
Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Pierce faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy-enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.
Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.
The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.
But he’s not going out without a fight.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Stovall to discuss his book as well as what it takes to craft great suspense.
By David Healey
Florida and crime fiction go together like windshields and bugs on a summer night while speeding down Alligator Alley. A good plot is like that oddly satisfying smack against the glass, leaving an imprint on the mind.
One such book that hits with a satisfying smack is TUSHHOG by Florida native Jeffery Hess, who continues the adventures of his protagonist, Scotland Ross. Ross is a veteran who finds himself caught up in the underbelly of the Fort Myers area, and tries to do the right thing, even if there are a few bodies along the way.
So what exactly is a Tushhog? To set the record straight, the term is defined in a note at the start of the novel. Rather than give that away here, the definition is best left up to Hess.
Recently, Hess took some time out from his favorite writing spot on the screen porch of his Tampa home to talk about his own brand of Sunshine State noir.
Hess is a Florida native and has set his novels in the early 1980s, a period that was just starting to see meteoric development. At that time, Hess was a teenager.
“Back in the ’80s it was kind of the Wild West,” he says. “Florida was half the size in terms of population. The growth has been nonstop.”
Back then, the popular TV show Miami Vice glamorized the East Coast lifestyle of fast cars, Ray Bans, and pastel-colored clothing—often paid for with drug money. Hess recalls that the West Coast—of Florida—wasn’t like that, but had its own vibe, which is why he chose to set his novels in that time and place.
Cooper and Davis are a couple of jam band-obsessed Texas ex-pats growing some of Denver’s finest organic cannabis and living the good life on tour. Or, at least they were, until legal weed put the squeeze on their market and cramped their playboy lifestyle.
When their last out-of-state distributor gets busted by an Illinois task force, they’re left with no choice but to turn to their reckless former associate Elroy “Sancho” Watts to unload one last crop down in Teller County, Texas.
But Sancho Watts has troubles of his own in the form of Texas Ranger Russ Kirkpatrick, tasked under the table with nailing Watts for anything that will stick because of his involvement in the drug-induced suicide of a state senator’s son.
Not to mention his infamous new business partner, Heisman quarterback and NFL burnout Bobby Burnell, a man working to rise from the ashes of his self-destructed football career by making a name for himself in his criminally inclined Teller County family, no matter who he has to double-cross to get there.
What ensues is a pine-curtain criminal jamboree where everyone involved keeps their cards close to their vest, and all the high-stakes two-stepping is sure to result in bloodshed.
TEXAS TWO-STEP author, Michael Pool, met with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest novel:
Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation.
DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.
Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.
But as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.
Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…
Bestselling author Rachel Amphlett spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the latest installment in her Detective Kay Hunter series, CALL TO ARMS:
No one takes down deranged killers like L.A. detective Brick Morris. But a crazed maniac is savagely murdering Hollywood starlets and sending Morris grisly calling cards. And that’s just the first phase of a fiendish “death machine” the relentless killer plans to unleash on Los Angeles. Every move Morris makes triggers another step in the psychopath’s doomsday scenario. Morris has only one choice to stop the killings: the one the killer never expected…
Author Jacob Stone recently met with The Big Thrill to discuss the third Morris Brick thriller, MALICIOUS:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I’m hoping readers will find MALICIOUS an exciting and terrifying thriller that will keep them turning pages late into the night. MALICIOUS is the third Morris Brick thriller, and as such, readers will also get to revisit Morris, his charming wife Natalie, his bull terrier Parker, and the rest of the MBI (Morris Brick Investigations) team.
The killer in MALICIOUS has built an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, and this forced me to construct an equally elaborate and intricate plot that I hope will keep readers guessing until the very end.
By Tim O´Mara
I had just finished WRATH by Thomas Lowe, checked out his website, and did some research. We’d decided via email when a good time to talk would be, and I call him at the mutually agreed-upon time.
“Hey, Tim,” Lowe says as he picks up the phone. “Let me just move from the den to my office so we can talk.”
“Wait a second,” I say. “You have a den and an office?”
He pauses for a beat, then says—and I can almost hear the shrug—“I live in Northern Michigan.”
Nice, I think. I live in Manhattan and the closest I’ve got to a den and an office is when I move my laptop from my wife’s desk in our bedroom to our couch in our bedroom. Anyway…
I remember from his website that Lowe says he enjoys the “loneliness” of the writing process. Now that I know he has a den and an office, I ask him to elaborate.
“It’s not the loneliness I really like,” he explains. “It’s just that I have to go to my office, close the door, and shut myself off from the distractions of home. I need to be able to read my stuff out loud and hear the dialogue, hear the rhythm of the sentences. Once I get started, the writing takes over. I usually produce about ten pages a day. I don’t stop writing. I fly through, get about ten pages done a day, and figure I can put the band-aids on later.”
Ten pages a day? Nice day at the office. Now I wonder why the creator of the Sean O’Brien series and the Paul Marcus trilogy has decided to start a new thriller series with a female protagonist, Elizabeth Monroe.
Linda Sands talks fast, the words spilling from her mouth in a torrent, as if there isn’t enough time to get everything said, much less everything done. You won’t find grass growing beneath her feet, that’s for sure. And if it seems as if she’s in perpetual motion, well, that’s because she is.
For instance, if you’d been looking for her the last Sunday in February, you’d have found this Georgia Author of the Year and two-time Silver Falchion winner in Atlanta attending a NASCAR event. It’s not so much that she’s in love with fast cars, although she can probably take one apart and put it back together (I’m not sure about the blindfolded part); it’s that she’s heavily into researching her next Jojo Boudreaux novel, Checkered Cargo, while the second in the series, PRECIOUS CARGO, is ready to hit bookstores in April.
In PRECIOUS CARGO, Boudreaux and her co-driver and boyfriend, Gator Natoli, are at a truck stop in Austin when they’re approached by a frightened young girl who begs them for a ride. After delivering her to safety, they run into her again in Oklahoma City. Only this time, she doesn’t want to be saved and Jojo and Gator wind up getting involved with the Somali Mafia, where powerful people manipulate a hundred-billion-dollar industry of prostitution, drugs, and international sex trafficking.
The Cargo series came about accidentally. Sands, who became fascinated by truckers and the life they lead, had been working on a nonfiction photo essay book on them. She was living in Northern California at the time, and her neighbor was a long-haul trucker. Tired of being awakened by the noise of his truck parked in front of her house, Sands knocked on his door to ask him to park it elsewhere.
“He was this very large man who looked kind of mean, but he turned out to be just the opposite,” she says. “His name was Grisly, and he became my pal. He showed me his truck, and I was hooked. I photographed the cab and the area where he slept, and realized this would make a wonderful coffee table book.”
Homicide Detective Veranda Cruz will stop at nothing to take down the Villalobos cartel. But when a wave of violence in the city escalates, she fears that the secrets of her past will take her down instead.
Adolfo Villalobos is a crime boss who’s determined to stake his claim. To prove that he’s ready to run his family’s sprawling criminal empire, he devises a plan to silence his siblings and destroy Veranda, leaving a trail of destruction through downtown Phoenix that makes national headlines. Veranda believes the task force she’s been assigned to lead will end the cartel’s reign of terror, until Adolfo’s revenge takes a cruel—and highly personal—twist.
Author Isabella Maldonado spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, PHOENIX BURNING:
An unknown killer is waging a war on drugs. The murders are horrendous but with a silver lining—now stop signs are the only objects lingering on corners in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Half the city calls for the police to end the killer’s reign. The other half cheers the killer on, denouncing the tactics but celebrating the progress police haven’t been able to achieve.
The gritty details of Cleveland’s drug underworld are nothing new to Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz. Two years earlier, Cruz worked undercover narcotics and was poised for a promotion that would have placed him in a coveted position within the drug organization. The deal went bad. Now he has a new face, a new job, and a new case.
The killer moves through the streets with impunity, identity still unknown. Demands for progress from his superiors, accumulated grief of the victims’ relatives, growing pressure from the public, and elevated stress from his family quietly pull Cruz apart. With no out, the detective moves all in, putting his own head on the line to bait a killer.
The Big Thrill caught up to author TG Wolff to discuss her soon-to-be-released thriller, EXACTING JUSTICE:
At twenty-seven, magician Natalie Webb is already a has-been. A card-trick prodigy, she took first place at the World of Magic competition at eighteen and has never again reached such heights. Shunned by the magic world after a disastrous liaison with an older magician, she now lives alone in a New Jersey apartment with her pigeons and a pile of overdue bills. In a desperate ploy for extra cash, she follows up on an old offer to write for a glossy magazine and pitches the editor a seductive topic: the art of cheating at cards.
But when Natalie meets the perfect subject for her piece―a poker cheat who dazzles at sleight of hand―what begins as a journalistic gamble soon becomes a test of everything she thinks she knows about her talent, and herself. Natalie soon finds herself facing a dangerous proposition that could radically alter her fortune―to help pull off a $1.5 million magic trick that, if done successfully, no one will ever suspect happened. With Kardos raising the stakes chapter after chapter, BLUFF is a breathtaking work of suspense from a writer at the top of his game.
The Big Thrill caught up with award-winning author Michael Kardos to discuss his latest thriller, BLUFF:
Not all great thrillers are about global threats. Rick Mofina has created a pulse-pounding nail-biter focused on a single family’s trials in his latest standalone, LAST SEEN.
The story centers on Cal Hudson, a reporter who seems to be living the dream: he’s got a great job, a devoted wife, a loving son, and a home in a tranquil suburban community. That dream becomes a nightmare when the unthinkable happens, and his nine-year-old son is snatched. Hudson is a regular guy and a good man who, as it turns out, has done some terrible things and managed to keep them secret.
“His heart’s in the right place,” Mofina says, “but he’s far from perfect and when all seems lost he’s uncertain he can do the right thing.”
That may not make Cal a hero in the traditional sense, but it certainly makes him interesting. That’s one way this is not your typical thriller. Another is that the reader does not learn who the villain is until late in the narrative.
“We have a lot of suspects and a lot of threads that are tied to all the characters,” Mofina says. “The antagonist is woven into the fabric of the situation and emerges near the end.”
That doesn’t mean that LAST SEEN is totally plot driven. Along with that strong storyline there is no shortage of interesting, engaging people. Mofina clearly feels that a good story must have both: compelling, realistic characters and threatening situations that test them. The author may have a unique perspective on good people in menacing circumstances thanks to his own extensive career as a reporter.
But he quickly learns the case isn’t really about a petty theft. Pretty soon there’s a murder, and a connection to large-scale drug smuggling, and to a pair of Albanian crooks who are looking to expand their operations and don’t care how they do it. In addition he finds himself drawn to the mysterious singer Geneva Chance, who has secrets of her own.
What seemed straight-forward becomes both complicated and dangerous.
THE SONG OF GENEVA CHANCE author, Keith Dixon, sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller:
Lydia, daughter of Swatara Creek Police Chief Aaron Brubaker, is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Jason Russell, handsome but feckless stepson of Clay Stoneroad, a famous writer who recently moved to a farm outside town.
Daniel ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, now a county detective, is determined to prove Lydia’s innocence. His job is made more difficult when the weapon her father insisted she carry is found missing.
Mysteries surround the Stoneroad family. Vickie Walker, a strange young woman also recently arrived in town, insists Nan Calder, the writer’s secretary, is her sister, a claim Calder denies. Then Diana Wozniak, reporter for a sleazy tabloid, is the victim of a hit-and-run accident and police learn she attempted to blackmail the writer.
The sudden disappearance of Lydia and Vickie puts Hetrick and his friends in a desperate race against time to find them, unravel secrets and apprehend the real killer.
The Big Thrill caught up to author J. R. Lindermuth to discuss his latest novel, IN SILENCE SEALED:
Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he’s begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding the case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.
To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt lurks on every corner . . . and so does her stalker.
Join The Big Thrill and author Lissa Marie Redmond as she discusses her thriller, A COLD DAY IN HELL:
By J. H. Bográn
Eric Beetner´s new novel, THE DEVIL AT YOUR DOOR, is the final installment of a trilogy where protagonists Lars and Shaine have returned to a quiet life on the islands.
This story revolves around Lars, a man trying to live down the mistakes of his past and set them right in the only way he knows how. It’s also a book about family—the one we create, regardless of biology.
When Lars lands in a hospital, Shaine is called in from a thousand miles away, and she must take the lead in the last job of Lars’s storied career of “death for hire.” Over the course of three books, Lars and Shaine’s relationship has inverted—and here, Shaine must step in to run the show while Lars takes a back seat. It’s a test of how well he has prepared her, and whether she’s had time to learn the most important lesson of all—the cost of killing.
As the end of the trilogy looms ahead, Beetner admits he found it hard to say goodbye to his characters. “Lars is, in many ways, the type of character I write best,” he says. “A man on the wrong side of the law, and yet someone you root for. He has a good heart beneath his abhorrent deeds.”
Beetner is perhaps more invested in the characters due to the nature of writing a series.
“These two have been more personal for me than any other I’ve written,” he adds.
When the Twin Cities are rocked by the “crime of the century,” Holland Taylor is the one PI who’d rather not be right in the thick of it. Still wounded by the long-ago death of his wife and daughter, Taylor does (delete “simple”) background checks and other simple cases with no interest in more challenging work. But almost by accident, what should have been an easy job becomes something much more far-reaching and dangerous.
Eleanor Barrington, the doyenne of a socially prominent family of great wealth, has been arrested for the murder of young woman. Emily Denys was her son’s fiancée, and Barrington made no secret of her disdain for the victim, convinced that she was trying to take advantage of her son and her family.
Holland Taylor had been brought in to do a full background check on Emily, only to discover that her name and her background were all fabricated. Before he could learn more, she was murdered—shot in the head outside her apartment.
Barrington had been overheard threatening her son’s fiancée and an eyewitness claims to have seen her kill Emily. But that’s not the worst of it. Barrington’s own son has even worse accusations to make against her. And the family, which has a long history in the area, is involved in a controversial business development that has all sides heated.
Caught in the dark tangle of a twisted family and haunted by his own past, Holland Taylor returns in the first new novel in this award winning, critically acclaimed series in almost twenty years. And what Taylor finds is that the truth remains elusive, frequently expensive and quite often fatal.
Award-winning author David Housewright spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, DARKNESS, SING ME A SONG:
May, lonely drifter and small-time weed dealer, has spent years running from her ugly past. As a damaging nor’easter takes aim at her sleepy island home of Folly, however, she rushes to shore up, settle in and keep safe. Though most of the islanders have evacuated, May is not entirely alone. Spoiled city kid Curtis, fleeing his own dark secrets, along with naïve local boy Tommy, are also stuck on the island, both boys tweaking, both desperate but only one grows vile and violent. To save the boy and to save herself, May must learn to be bad.
The Big Thrill spent some time with MAY author, Marietta Miles, to discuss her latest novel:
By Dan Levy
Who doesn’t love a story that starts with a protagonist to whom life hasn’t dealt a great hand? Maybe she’s a bit rebellious and hasn’t quite found her place in the world. Then, when she least expects it, finds her calling and perseveres until she reaches her goal? In many ways, that’s the story of author T.R. Ragan.
Today, Ragan, a once struggling romance writer, has found a home in the thriller genre. HER LAST DAY, which debuted October 24, is Ragan’s 17th published novel, and premiers her Jessie Cole series.
Below are excerpts from an email interview conducted with Ragan for The Big Thrill, which were edited for style and length.
What started you writing 17 novels ago? Is that what keeps you writing today? Or, have you found new/different motivations?
Pregnant with my fourth child and on leave of absence from work, I was bored. My sister handed me a romance novel and instantaneously I was taken to another world. The escapism I experienced was life changing. I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I started writing that day.
In the beginning of my writing journey, I wanted to show my kids that hard work, perseverance, and determination would get me that coveted publishing contract. That determination, and also the contest wins and signing with an agent, kept me motivated for many years. My passion for storytelling keeps me writing every day.
Earl Javorsky’s protagonist died in his first adventure, so of course he’s back in a new book, DOWN TO NO GOOD.
Charlie Miner, who kept shuffling on this mortal coil in Down Solo despite his condition, continues his post-life career when he’s called on by cop pal Dave Putnam to help the L.A.P.D.
A psychic-to-the stars has provided information about three murders, and it’s info that makes the police department look bad. Who better to look into a psychic than a detective who’s deceased but somewhat inexplicably ambulatory?
Charlie sets out to do his best, though he’s still struggling with what he calls Swiss cheese brain and coming to terms with his situation.
Shifting from Charlie’s first-person-point of view to third-person with Dave, Javorsky leads readers on a page-turning journey that continues the explorations of a hero who was troubled even in life, and who continues to struggle with addiction and related family issues.
It’s an interesting and rousing take on crime novel territory that’s won Javorsky a lot of praise from authors such as T. Jefferson Parker, who said of the first book in the series: “Earl Javorsky’s bold and unusual Down Solo blends the mysterious and the supernatural boldly and successfully. The novel is strong and haunting, a wonderful debut.”
The Big Thrill recently posed a few questions to Javorsky about his Charlie Miner universe.
Sacramento Police detectives John Penley and Paula Newberry investigate a case from Paula’s past. The prime suspect in the murder of a former cop is a man already serving time in prison. He has the ultimate alibi and orchestrates a plan to overturn his conviction and lays the blame on detective Newberry as bodies continue to pile up. Someone has to pay for the crimes, and as political pressure mounts, John Penley and Paula Newberry risk it all to keep the right man in prison and keep Paula out.
BURY THE PAST author James L’Etoile discussed his latest novel with The Big Thrill:
Earl Marcus thought he had left the mountains of Georgia behind forever, and with them, the painful memories of a childhood spent under the fundamentalist rule of his father RJ’s church–a church built on fear, penance, and the twisting, writhing mass of snakes. But then an ominous photo of RJ is delivered to Earl’s home. The photograph is dated long after his father’s burial, and there’s no doubt that the man in the picture is very much alive.
HEAVEN’S CROOKED FINGER author, Hank Early, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel:
LAPD Homicide detective Davie Richards is called to an airport parking garage to investigate the shooting of a retired U.S. Army Ranger and Vietnam War veteran. As Davie unravels baffling clues, one murder becomes two and a pattern begins to emerge. Racing to save the killer’s next victim challenges Davie’s physical and emotional endurance and tests the bonds of brotherhood and friendship.
OUTSIDE THE WIRE author Patricia Smiley spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel:
Angel Luis Colón invites you on a short tour of the world as a literary mix tape to that strange Goth girl with the lazy eye who still wants nothing to do with you–no matter how good that fedora looks on your head.
So what’s in store for your brain?
Follow three major moments in the life of gambling addict and mafia muscle Sean Clarke as he goes from soft-hearted kid to full-blown bastard to broken old man.
Thrill at the short-lived and incredibly violent courtship, marriage, and honeymoon of Hank and Annie.
The set of the country’s most popular trash TV talk show is appropriately trashier than what makes the air.
Beards make absolutely terrible trophies.
Sometimes you’ll crawl through the fire and smoke for a chance at a semi-decent score and a way out of working in a place called “Meat City.”
All that along with even more violence, revenge, Lee Van Cleef, light sex crimes, and cannibals than you can shake a stick at!
The Big Thrill caught up with Angel Luis Colón to discuss his latest novel, MEAT CITY ON FIRE:
Enigmatic clues and codes from a missing colleague and brother-in-law about the seepage of sensitive FBI data lead to the sudden death of a team member and leave Delta A spinning. Two new agents, with special talents akin to Ellie’s, join the team and ramp her alarm sensors even higher. Her niece’s social media life offers clues to a horrifying network and its activities.
Working under a directive from the Director of the FBI and with the Wayward Son Protocol, Ellie and Delta A work to disentangle leads from the darknet, stem the flow of death, and bring her family home.
METABYTE author Cat Conner spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the ninth installment of The Byte series:
With her enemies unmasked and her career spiralling out of control, Kay’s determination to seek vengeance for the victims brings her dangerously close to those who want to silence her.
Undeterred, she uncovers the real reason behind a plot to destroy her career and sets in motion a terrifying chain of events.
Could Kay’s need for revenge be her undoing, or will she survive to see justice served?
Bestselling author Rachel Amphlett spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the latest novel in her Detective Kay Hunter series, HELL TO PAY:
Working the nightshift for fellow detective Sam Kincaid should have been an easy job, but after saving a kidnapped child from a blazing house and attending a drive-by shooting in Beacon Hill, it proves to be anything but. The trouble is the wealthy target, Daniel Hunt, doesn’t want to complain and Grant’s bosses try and shut him down.
Grant isn’t one for shutting down and it doesn’t take him long to discover that Hunt wasn’t the intended target. After a foiled robbery and a squashed dog, the case turns personal, then the stakes really go through the roof.
BEACON HILL author Colin Campbell stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller:
In “Mesa Boys,” Ronnie plots a haphazard heist with a twisted con man. In “The Feud,” tough-as-nails Rex lets his resentment for a local pot dealer cloud his judgement. And in “Bar Burning,” a mysterious drifter goes toe-to-toe with his new lady’s psychotic ex-husband.
ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS is a hellfire ride through working class America’s angsty underbelly.
Author Matt Phillips spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, ACCIDENTAL OUTLAWS:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My hope is that readers hop in, latch their seat belts, and enjoy the ride. These stories are a wild journey down a long desert highway––pure speed, fun, and danger.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
This book draws a direct line to the rural noir thrillers of Jim Thompson, Daniel Woodrell, Harry Crews, Flannery O’Connor, and others. If noir is to be rural, I believe it must be honest in its depictions of the rural mindset and tendency to dabble in the outlaw side of life (whether that’s right or wrong). I hope the book is a contemporary take on the outlaw mindset from my own experience and perspective.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I was surprised at my own understanding and continued realization of the rural-urban dichotomy. This is a growing rift in American society, and I was interested in exploring this dynamic as a person who, now, lives in a major American city. I used to live in a rural area and it made a huge impact on me (both for good and ill).
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
This book, in so many ways, is a subtle exploration of personal ties––you’ll find sons abandoned by fathers, a drifter intent on severing all earthly ties, and often futile attempts at salvaging love and joy.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Harry Crews wrote the most unique stories––I appreciate his constant willingness to experiment and let his characters lead him to surprise. Thomas McGuane, I think, taught me how to write about family in a compelling way. Ben Whitmer and Joe Lansdale are two writers I’m returning to again and again… Jim Thompson’s Savage Night. Dorothy B. Hughes with The Expendable Man and In a Lonely Place. I’ll stop there because I can go on and on and on…
Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books include Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. He has published crime stories across the web at Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Manslaughter Review, and elsewhere.
To learn more about Matt, please visit his website.
By George Ebey
Author James Tucker brings us a new kind of detective in his debut novel, NEXT OF KIN.
A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork–and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Tucker to learn more about his exciting new tale of suspense.
Tell us a little about your main character, Buddy Lock. What has his journey been like up until now?
Too many fictional detectives are superheroes who know everything. I wanted my detective, Buddy Lock, to be smart, but I wanted readers to learn things along with him. He makes mistakes, and his flaws make him more engaging. Yet Buddy is a different kind of detective. He’s a former prodigy at the piano. As a boy and young man, he performed all over the world. But he gave up that life to join the NYPD. He’s relentless about his job and about seeking justice. His musical background and training help him to see detail and patterns that others can’t see, and make him one of New York City’s best detectives.
By Dawn Ius
Few authors revisit their debut after it’s published—at least not beyond typical nostalgia for it being the first. But Michael Slade has not only cracked the spine on his first thriller, he’s completely gutted and re-imagined it, giving it new life not only on the bookshelf as a limited hardcover, but also coming to the small screen in 2018 as an eight-part TV mini-series.
HEADHUNTER, first published in the 1980s, is a horrific tale that grew out of his pioneer ancestors’ frontier history with the Wild West Mounties, his mom’s 1944 adventures in “the Land of the Headhunters,” the death of Slade’s dad when Slade was nine and the crisis that produced, along with ten years of practicing criminal law with modern-day Mounties in a hundred murder cases—many involving insanity.
“When e-books came along, the paper edition was scanned into a Word file. That gave me the opportunity to re-imagine the story the way it would have been written back then had I known what I know now,” Slade says.
“My pre-law studies were in modern history. It takes thirty years, a professor said, to objectively understand current events. Because HEADHUNTER captures my real-life homicide experiences in the sexual underground of Vancouver during the Sexual Revolution, and thirty years have passed since its original publication, there was more to write in the horrific plot of my most personal novel.”
No way could Slade leave the book in a form that, in his opinion, wasn’t his best. So he dropped every other project—including the fifteenth novel in his Special X series—and carved out two years to completely re-conceive his first “Mountie noir” thriller. This month, a legion of fans is frothing at the mouth to get their hands on an updated novel that—even back then—was both terrifying and disturbing.
Slade took some time to talk to The Big Thrill about the story that ignited his writing career and first brought him to the attention of horror fans.