Armand Rosamilia has a lot going on in his head. At any given moment, he could be writing a crime thriller, a zombie novel, an over-the-top humor book, or a paranormal thriller. With more than 150 stories published—from shorts to novellas to novels—the only time he’s not writing is when he’s sleeping.
“I keep it all in my head,” the New Jersey boy and Florida transplant says. “I usually write three to five projects at once. I’m not sure how I do it. I just do it. “
Rosamilia’s latest, DIRTY DEEDS 3, continues a crime thriller series starring main character James Gaffney. This time around he’s called upon to give testimony against The Family, a branch of the New Jersey mob operating in Philadelphia. The Philly crew takes exception to Gaffney’s impending testimony and attempts to eliminate him. At the same time, the FBI is working hard to implicate him on kidnapping and child deaths spanning many years.
You don’t have to read Gaffney’s two prior adventures to enjoy this one, but Rosamilia admits it helps to know his full backstory, so we started there.
Who is James Gaffney and what drives him?
James Gaffney is a man hired to kill children. If you’re a sports star or a rock star or a millionaire and you’ve had a baby with someone and it’s making your life complicated, James Gaffney will take care of it. Only he doesn’t actually kill the child. He saves them, gives them a new life. He’s part of this system himself, so he knows what it’s like to have a parent or parents who want you dead. It has guided him into his mid-forties.
By George Ebey
DERANGED by Jacob Stone is the first in a brand new thriller series featuring former LAPD detective turned consultant Morris Brick.
They call him the Skull Cracker Killer. He drugs his victims. Breaks open their skulls with a hammer and chisel. The rest is inhuman. Five years ago he terrorized New York City, claiming twelve victims before the killing stopped. Now he’s racking up victims on a fresh hunting ground. Where former LAPD homicide detective Morris Brick is working as a consultant on a serial-killer film. Where a desperate mayor pleads with Brick to take on the case. And where the only way he can stop the next wave of murders is by outsmarting a madman—before he strikes again, this time much too close to home . . .
The Big Thrill recently caught up with the author to learn more about this exciting new series.
What first drew you to writing crime stories?
I’ve been an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction since I was a teenager. Some of my favorite writers include Dashiell Hammett, Rex Stout, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Donald Westlake, and Ross Macdonald, and so it made sense that when I started writing I’d be drawn to crime fiction, although I also write horror. So far I’ve had eleven novels published (DERANGED will be my 12th), as well as dozens of short stories, and I’ve written everything from lighthearted and amusing mysteries to pitch-black noir. While there’s a big difference between my lighthearted Julius Katz stories and my noir novels, like Small Crimes and Pariah, what they have in common is that the stories are driven by tension and suspense, and even humor, and those elements are partly why I enjoy writing crime fiction so much.
But questions gnaw at his gut: Where have his folks disappeared to? Why do old friends want him gone? And who wants him dead?
Teaming with his high school sweetheart turned legal Valkyrie, a hulking body shop bodybuilder, and a razor-wielding gentleman’s club house mother, Jay will unravel a tangle of deception all the way back to the bayous where he was born. With an iron-fisted police chief on his tail and a ruthless mob captain at his throat, he’ll need his wits, his fists, and his father’s trusty Vietnam war hatchet to hack his way through a toxic jungle of New Jersey corruption that makes the gator-filled swamps of home feel like the shallow end of the kiddie pool…
The Big Thrill had a chance to catch up with Thomas Pluck to discuss his latest novel, BAD BOY BOOGIE:
Jackson Donne has spent the last year in prison, where his mentor, Kenneth Herrick, has kept him safe. One night, Kenneth tells Donne a “friend” has bought them out of their sentence. Confused, Donne goes along. And finds himself in the clutches of a partner from Kenneth’s past.
Learning of the release, Matt Herrick decides to pursue his father. But when he finds that his terminally ill mother is now married to Kenneth’s old partner, Herrick turns his investigation into overdrive. And that could cost him everything.
Kenneth’s old partner gives him an ultimatum: steal millions of dollars from the Federal Reserve in New Jersey, or let the disease kill his ex-wife. Donne has no choice but to help his new mentor.
Now Matt Herrick is faced with a choice: Can he let his dad and Donne save his mother, while letting the heist go off without a hitch? Or can Matt Herrick save his mother, and stop the the heist before everyone ends up in prison—or worse—dead?
Award-winning author, Dave White, recently discussed his latest novel, BLIND TO SIN, with The Big Thrill:
When the McCray’s, a family of backwoods Missouri marijuana farmers, signature strain begins to infringe on the St. Louis market, a Mexican Cartel that had recently taken over the city’s drug trade, sends a dozen Cartel soldiers to dispatch the small time growers. The McCray’s slaughter the hit squad and desecrate the bodies, kicking off a war between the two crime families. Unbeknownst to the McCray’s, one of the Cartel soldiers they killed was an undercover F.B.I. agent. Jill Murphy, a bi-racial F.B.I. agent, is chosen to lead a team to the McCray’s hometown to investigate them for the murder of the agent, Jill assumes the identity of a local girl who left town as a child by blackmailing the girl’s father to pass her off as his long lost daughter. With her cover established, she is accepted into the community and quickly establishes a surprisingly easy and comfortable bond with the McCray’s. Things come to a head on a steamy Missouri night when the McCray’s, the Cartel ,and the F.B.I. collide in an explosion of violence that will change all of their lives forever and end some altogether.
Author Jesse James Kennedy took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss MISSOURI HOMEGROWN with The Big Thrill:
Ken Sligo returns in THE KILLERS ARE COMING, a cat-and-mouse investigation across the backstages and back alleys of “The Block,” Baltimore’s red-light district. Forged by the criminals and police, to isolate criminal activity, it can’t contain the various mobsters and shake-down artists sticking their toes outside the perimeter.
The paint hasn’t dried on the door to Sligo’s detective agency, and he’s contemplating closing shop. When Rudy Cohan offers him a cash-filled envelope in Baltimore’s Penn Station, Sligo crosses his fingers and hopes for the best. Is Rainy Dawn cheating on her producer boyfriend? Where does she get her extra spending money? The answers don’t align with the questions, and Sligo realizes his client is holding out, but not before a mob hit points the finger right at him …
Prolific author, Jack Bludis, discussed his latest novel, THE KILLERS ARE COMING, with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A sense of what it is like to be a fledgling Private Investigator.
Innocents are being sacrificed in the name of greed, retribution, passion and the lust for power — and the only worthy opponent of this senseless evil is the uncompromising resolve to rise above it, rather than descend to its depths.
The heart pounding sequel to the acclaimed novel Gravesend— from Shamus Award-winning author J.L. Abramo—CONEY ISLAND AVENUE continues the dramatic account of the professional and personal struggles that constitute everyday life for the dedicated men and women of the Six-One—and of the saints and sinners who share their streets.
Award-winning author, J.L. Abramo, spent time discussing CONEY ISLAND AVENUE with The Big Thrill:
Detective Errol Coutinho of the Hawaii County Police has a serial killer of prostitutes to catch and a shortage of leads to pursue. Office Jessie Hokoana of the Honolulu P.D. has an undercover assignment that tests her loyalties and takes her to the brink of death.
When their cases collide in the rainforest of the Big Island, family ties turn deadly, and there may be no pu’uhonua—no place of refuge—for anyone.
The Big Thrill had the opportunity to interview author Albert Tucher about his latest novel, THE PLACE OF REFUGE:
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
The rainforest of the Big Island of Hawaii is a unique setting for dark crime fiction. Lightly policed, the region known as Puna is home to marijuana farmers, meth cookers, fugitives, survivalists, and 60s holdovers. While several local cases have attracted the attention of true crime writers, I know of no novelist who has used the setting.
Dean Goodnight, the first Choctaw Indian employed by the Oklahoma County public defender’s office, pulls a new case—the brutal murder of a once-promising basketball star. The only witness is Caleb, the five-year-old son of the prime suspect. Investigating the murder, Dean draws four strangers into his client’s orbit, each of whom becomes deeply involved in the case—and in Caleb’s fate.
There’s Aura Jefferson, the victim’s sister, a proud black nurse struggling with the death of her brother; Aura’s patient Cecil Porter, a bigoted paraplegic whose own dreams of playing professional basketball were shattered fifty years ago; Cecil’s shady brother, the entrepreneur and political manipulator “Big” Ben Porter; and Ben’s wife Becca, who uncovers a link between the young Caleb and her own traumatic past.
As the trial approaches, these five are forced to confront their deepest disappointments, hopes, and fears. And when tragedy strikes again, their lives are forever entwined.
Sangster doesn’t seem to be able to escape his past as a hit man, no matter how hard he tries. And now it’s his friend, Father Patrick, dragging him back into the life. When the head of a faded Mafia Family in Philadelphia sends the top hit man in the business, Frankie Trigger, to New Orleans to kill Patrick, the priest goes to the only person he can think of for help … Sangster.
Can the former #1 hit man overcome the present #1 hit man and save his friend, while continuing to hold on to his newfound soul?
The Big Thrill recently had the opportunity to interview Robert J. Randisi about his latest novel, ENVY THE DEAD:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope that beyond simply enjoying the story they may come away with some thoughts about their own souls.
In a sealed chamber, deep in the heart of Gilmerton Cove, a mysterious network of caves and passages sprawling beneath Edinburgh, the victim has undergone a macabre ritual of purification.
Inspector Tony McLean knew the dead man, and can’t shake off the suspicion that there is far more to this case than meets the eye. The baffling lack of forensics at the crime scene seems impossible. But it is not the only thing about this case that McLean will find beyond belief.
Teamed with the most unlikely and unwelcome of allies, he must track down a killer driven by the darkest compulsions, who will answer only to a higher power . . .
Author James Oswald recently took some time to discuss his latest novel, PRAYER FOR THE DEAD, with The Big Thrill:
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
I would hope that it widens the idea of what is possible in the genre. All my books suggest at other-worldly forces at play, without specifically acknowledging them. PRAYER FOR THE DEAD examines belief and the extremes people will go to in justifying theirs.
By Dan Levy
Admittedly, novellas are an unfamiliar storytelling platform for me. Positioned somewhere between the plot-driven short story and character-driven novel, novellas can run between 20,000 and 40,000 words (depending on your preferred literary resource). What seems to be common among sources researched for this story is the definition of novella: A work of fiction that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.
Armed with that deep insight, I jumped at the chance to talk to Nathan Walpow. His latest collection of three novellas, THE LOGAN TRIAD is scheduled for release in March. When asked why he favored the novella form, Walpow explained, “What I have found is that with novellas, the time commitment is not proportional to the length of the work. I can kick out a novella in about two weeks once I get started on it.”
For Walpow, the commitment to the novella runs deeper than mere efficiency, “If you’re built to write one kind of thing, and you try another, you may be successful if you’re that rare kind of writer. Otherwise, you’re better off writing what you can do well.”
Though published and promoted like a full-length novel, THE LOGAN TRIAD is a compilation of three novellas:
- Logan’s Young Guns—Readers meet Logan and watch as a talented brood of sidekicks form around the chance meeting of a woman in an emergency room, and the mystery that unfolds around the hunt for the man who put her there. The novella is written in a third-person narrative style.
- Logan Shoots First—Told in first person, the second novella takes readers inside Logan’s head and into a mystery that explores the world of human trafficking and forced-prostitution.
- They Got Logan—Walpow returns to a third-person narrative, as a woman from Logan’s past reappears asking for his help in solving her mother’s murder.
Lono Waiwaiole is the author of the successful Wiley series. Set in his adopted city of Portland, each book has been inspired by an actual event: the murder of a stripper launched Wiley’s Lament, the murder of an upper-class executive by a pimp became Wiley’s Shuffle, the murder of a Portland blues musician turned into Wiley’s Refrain, and the biggest drug bust in the history of the Big Island of Hawai`i was spun into Dark Paradise. But when it came to his latest instalment, the prequel LEON’S LEGACY, Waiwaiole draws on his personal experience as a teacher and coach to pay tribute to another tragic Portland crime.
LEON’S LEGACY addresses what must have happened to Wiley and Leon after their high-school collaboration to put them in their respective places twenty years later. Waiwaiole talks to me about his characters, the inspiration behind the series, and the places that motivate him.
LEON’S LEGACY is the prequel to your award-winning Wiley series. When writing the series did you always intend to go back in time?
The fact that the two protagonists met as hoopers during high school is referred to in all three books, so I guess it was natural to wonder what that meeting was like. At the same time, I started wondering if it would be possible to introduce the series to younger readers by putting the characters in high school.
How have Leon and Wiley developed from LEON’S LEGACY to the later entries in the Wiley series?
Wiley came first, and the idea for his character was sparked from a story in the Portland newspaper. The report said the nude body of a young woman was found in the dumpster behind a strip club during the night. I immediately saw her as somebody’s daughter, probably because I was the father of a young woman myself at the time. I began to wonder what kinds of things must have happened to put her in a strip club dumpster, and what it would be like to be her father and to get this kind of news.
Born in Boston, Susan Alice Bickford grew up in Central New York, then moved to Silicon Valley to live a high-tech life. Not the background one might expect from a novelist, but then, Susan Bickford is full of surprises.
Her debut novel, A SHORT TIME TO DIE, is rooted in a rural community and, unlike many suspense novels, it centers on the perspective of the victim looking out, rather than that of an outsider looking in. The story starts strong, with a young woman fighting for her life against an opponent who should have been her protector. It’s one of the most intense openings I’ve read in quite a while, and the rest of the book didn’t disappoint.
Asked how she managed to pull off such a powerful beginning, Susan says, “I wanted to grab the reader by the throat right away with the initial confrontation and built up layers of action around it. The final touch was to make the physical setting vivid on every page.”
She writes almost every day, usually in the evening, and warms up with “some mental pencil sharpening to get the juices flowing.” Sometimes that means critiquing a short story or outlining her scene points. Waiting for inspiration, though, is not on the menu. She says, “When my mind is full of junk, I set the timer and do free writing without stopping. This pops the nonsense off the stack and good ideas start bubbling up.”
UNPUNISHED is New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black’s second novel in the popular Gardiner and Renner series. In this latest installment, forensic expert Maggie Gardiner investigates an apparent suicide in the newspaper industry. When evidence suggests foul play, Maggie must join forces with vigilante killer and homicide detective Jack Renner in order to catch a murderer. In anticipation of the release of UNPUNISHED, The Big Thrill sat down with Lisa to talk about her latest novel, her background in forensics, and her advice about the craft of storytelling.
What can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
This book is really about Maggie coming to terms with what she has done, with what Jack has done, and how she is to move forward in this new reality.
Please tell us a little about Maggie. What events from Maggie’s past have helped make her the woman—and forensic investigator—she is today?
Maggie is a well-rounded and “normal” person, comfortable in her own skin, but a bit of a loner. She lost both her parents while in college but is close to her ever-traveling musician brother. She had a brief, unhappy marriage to a homicide detective but they are on amicable terms, so it seems that all is well. Without the distractions of a personal life she has indulged her workaholic tendencies until her job is everything.
Gus Murphy and his girlfriend, Magdalena, are put in harm’s way when Gus is caught up in the distant aftershocks of heinous crimes committed decades ago in Vietnam and Russia. Gus’s ex-priest pal, Bill Kilkenny, introduces him to a wealthy businessman anxious to have someone look more deeply into the brutal murder of his granddaughter. Though the police already have the girl’s murderer in custody, they have been unable to provide a reason for the killing. The businessman, Spears, offers big incentives if Gus can supply him with what the cops cannot—a motive.
Later that same day, Gus witnesses the execution of a man who has just met with his friend, Slava. As Gus looks into the girl’s murder and tries to protect Slava from the executioner’s bullet, he must navigate a minefield populated by hostile cops, street gangs, and a Russian mercenary who will stop at nothing to do his master’s bidding. But in trying to solve the girl’s murder and save his friend, Gus may be opening a door into a past that was best left forgotten. Can he fix the damage done, or is it true that what you break you own . . . forever?
Author Reed Farrel Coleman recently spoke with The Big Thrill about his latest thriller, WHAT YOU BREAK:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A sense that they’ve read a realistic and exciting crime novel that makes them think about the weight of grief and the price we all pay for violent crime.
By Rick Reed
Hector Acosta was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States. He spent time in El Paso and Dallas before moving with his understanding wife and dog to New York. His time living on the border left an impression on him, and much of his writing revolves around that area and its people. In his free time he enjoys watching wrestling and satisfying a crippling Lego addiction.
Hector Acosta is a spinner of tales that will take your breath. His short stories have appeared in Weird Noir, Thuglit, and in three volumes of Shotgun Honey Anthologies.
HARDWAY is the story of fifteen-year old Spencer who loves professional wrestling. He and his brother Billy start their own wrestling promotion operation in their Dallas apartment complex. Soon after a rival promotion outfit run by Eddie Tornado opens in a nearby apartment complex. Eddie is an unhinged teenager with a connection to Billy’s girlfriend, and an axe to grind. The feud between teenagers heats up and Spencer finds the world of professional wrestling is more real and dangerous than depicted on television.
What was your first experience with being a published writer? How did that experience influence your future writing?
It happened during my first year of college while taking an English class. One of the first assignments was to write a personal essay about an unusually strong memory. I wrote about the time my dad took my brother and I across the U.S border into Mexico to see a lucha show. Lucha is the Spanish word for fight. Lucha libre shows are underground wrestling entertainment events.
I thought my first essay was decent, and the teacher apparently thought so too, because a few days after I submitted it, she took me aside and asked me if it could be reprinted in the college newspaper. She was the editor.
Despite his mistrust of Clayton, Joe Hunter accepts the job of protecting young Cole. But who is he protecting the boy from? And why?
It’s clear Clayton knows more about his wife’s killer, but he isn’t saying. And when his silence places Cole in the killer’s sights there’s…no safe place.
Author Matt Hilton recently shared some insight into his latest novel, NO SAFE PLACE, with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope readers will enjoy a more thoughtful and logical Joe Hunter than the reckless vigilante he was in previous books, to enjoy the lengths he goes to in solving the mystery of Ella Clayton’s murder, and how far he’ll go to protect a vulnerable child.
A volatile hostage situation at a foster home reaches a bitter end: shots are fired, some die, some live to tell a sordid tale. In the midst of the anguish and confusion is one child who will bear the scars of this unbelievable turmoil.
As a special investigator for Child Protective Services, Ivy Nash lives by one rule: she’ll do anything to fight for the wellbeing of children. Something that was never done for her. As a “system” kid, she spent time in seventeen foster homes.
Very quickly, the facts of the case are blurred…accusations of sibling abuse, connections to drugs. Nothing lines up, and authorities want it all to go away. Their target? A ten-year-old boy. Unrelenting in her pursuit to find the truth, Ivy and her new friend Cristina uncover alarming new information to pinpoint who is at the root of the crime.
But evil knows no boundaries. Shockwaves of her most horrific childhood memories erupt into the present, and Ivy knows that she’s in the fight for her life.
Dominick “Dee” de Venise’s textile warehouse has been in the family for generations, but he’ll have to torch it for the insurance money. De Venise has no other choice. The Mezzatesta family is into him for boo-koo bucks and if he doesn’t pay off, he’s history.
The only other option de Venise has is to stage a big-money heist planned by his crooked lawyer friend Arnie, but he’s already turned down that particular deal. Arnie’s plan is too risky, and besides, de Venise knows Arnie long enough and well enough not to trust him. De Venise doesn’t trust anyone to torch the business either. Wanting it done right, he plans to do it himself, then set up an ironclad alibi.
Everything goes like clockwork until the insurance company refuses to pay off on de Venise’s policy, leaving him with no business to run and no money to buy off his wise guy creditors.
With no more cards to play at this point, de Venise agrees to do the European heist. If nothing else, it will get him out of the country, and if de Venise is really lucky and really smart, there’s even an outside chance of him scoring the bucks he needs to get him straight with the mob and put him back in action.
Just like when he was a kid, the name of the game is CO—CO—CALEEVIO—single, double, triple. Catch the ball to win. Fumble the ball and … forget about it.
The demons that drive John “Mocha” Moccia to obsess, to put absolutely everyone under a microscope, and scratch away at every last clue, make him the best hardnosed detective in Brooklyn homicide. But these same demons may very well write the final chapter in his career.
He isn’t the kind of detective to take no for an answer, but in his most recent case answers are damn hard to come by. Partnered with the conscientious Detective Matt Winslow, Mocha endeavors to solve the murder of the wealthy and beautiful Jessica Shannon, a woman who had every reason to live.
As Mocha and Winslow strive to push forward the hands of time and solve the murder, their imposing lieutenant breathes down their necks, suspects are scarce, and all of the evidence seems to be a dead end.
With the last precious grains of sand falling through the hourglass, Mocha pushes ever forward, determined to make an arrest, even if it means this collar will be his last.
Authors Lawrence Kelter and Frank Zafiro recently discussed their novel, THE LAST COLLAR, with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
More than anything, we hope that they will be engrossed in a different world for a few hours, and care about the people in that world. If the idea that we have to live each day to its fullest lingers afterward, that’d be even better.
Fantine Park is not the woman her mother was—she’s certainly not the safecracker her mother was either. Hell, she’s not much of anything useful these days. Fresh off parole after a stint in the joint for a poorly thought out casino robbery, Fantine finds herself confronted by an old partner of her mother’s and right back in the thick of it.
Unfortunately, the man dragging her back to the life she left behind, one Aleksei Uryvich, is a complete bully and an idiot—content to believe he can get anything he wants with his brutish nature and the threat of a bullet for Fan’s elderly father, Jae.
The score: semen. Yes, semen. Gallons of it. Particularly, the genetic man-batter from supposed Ivy Leaguers and other elite. The material nets top dollar from Asia, and Aleksei is foaming at the mouth at the profit potential.
The plan: there is no real plan. Fantine has to get it out of Evensight Storage; a sperm bank situated right by the Battery Park Tunnel in Manhattan. A place barely anyone but a sad sack with an empty sack sees the inside of on a day-to-day basis.
There’s no guarantee anyone involved in this mess is getting out alive, especially when Fantine finds herself face to face with the psychopath known as O Leiteiro—The Milkman.
Angel Luis Colón recently spent some time discussing his latest novel with The Big Thrill.
By Karen Harper
Davie Richards is a female Homicide detective, a petite redhead, a second-generation LAPD cop, an expert marksman who carries a Smith & Wesson .45, and a composite of every strong woman author Patricia Smiley has ever known.
She’s also the protagonist in a new hardboiled detective series that begins with PACIFIC HOMICIDE.
Most cops spend their entire careers without firing a weapon in the line of duty. Davie is an outlier, a cop who killed a suspect to save her partner’s life. While she waits for the police commission to rule on the shooting, she’s called out to probe the gruesome homicide of Anya Nosova, a nineteen-year-old Russian beauty whose body is found in the Los Angeles sewer system.
With her own case in limbo, Davie knows any mistakes in the investigation could end her career. As she hunts for the murderer, somebody begins to hunt her…and it’s no longer just her job that’s on the line.
In PACIFIC HOMICIDE, Smiley has crafted a tight story with a great female lead that seems destined for the big or small screen. In this interview with The Big Thrill she talks about her longstanding work with the LAPD and how it contributes to her career as an author.
This new series is considered “hardboiled,” whereas you have written detective/amateur sleuth novels previously. What do you see as the major differences in these subgenres, and is one more challenging to write than the other?
The difference in subgenres can be boiled down to tone, attitude, and subject matter. All writing is a challenge, but the bigger issue for me wasn’t switching subgenres, it was changing from first person narration to third person. My previous four novels are traditional mysteries with a first-person protagonist who has a sense of humor. It’s an intimate way to tell a story because we always know what the character sees, hears, and feels. The tone in PACIFIC HOMICIDE is darker and the writing is more serious, although for me humor is essential to a satisfying read, so you’ll find some of that in the new book too. The story is told in third person mostly in Davie’s point of view. I chose a less intimate POV to tell the story because of Davie’s stoic nature and her inclination to keep people at a distance. The change was an interesting learning experience.
By Dan Levy
At one point or another, every writer has questioned his or her commitment. Maybe it was when the alarm went off again at 4:30 AM because it’s the only writing time available. Maybe it’s after the latest rejection letter, because you lost count of how many you’ve received. Maybe it was during that moment when the words just wouldn’t come.
How serious am I about my writing? the struggling writer wonders yet again.
For Rachel Amphlett the question burned inside, Then, one day “I made the decision that my writing was more important than my job.” The Brisbane, Australia-based author decided the time was right for a five-week writing sabbatical. “My boss was really shocked. I think my friends and my family were too. I feel like this is it. I’m on the tipping point, and I want to make such a good go of this. I’ve got one chance at this. If I let it go, I don’t think it’s going to come around again.”
The end result was Amphlett’s Kay Hunter series, and the debut novel SCARED TO DEATH appeared on bookshelves last month.
With seven previous published novels to her credit—including the Dan Taylor espionage series—it could be argued that Amphlett had developed a good set of thriller-writing chops. But in her own mind, there was still a lot of untapped potential waiting to break out. “Writing in different sub-genres of crime, you do learn more. You give yourself stretch targets.”
Fina Ludlow is a Boston detective who debuted in Loyalty, then starred in Identity and Brutality, which won the Shamus Award for the best private investigator novel.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer describes the series as, “Sexy, modern noir… [with] a new generation kick-ass heroine” while the Associated Press said, “One could imagine Fina becoming fast friends and colleagues with Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan.” That last bit is funny, since Sara Paretsky is the one who presented that Shamus Award to Thoft at Bouchercon.
The latest novel, DUPLICITY, kicks off when a mother hires Fina’s firm to go after a hip new church, one that she claims brainwashed her daughter. Things only get worse from there, with the death of a prominent church member and the investigation turning complex and explosive, forcing her to face the true meaning of faith.
Thoft now lives in Seattle but grew up in Boston, making the setting completely natural and easy. The detective part wasn’t natural or easy, so she graduated from the University of Washington with a certificate in private investigation.
What do you hope readers take from DUPLICITY?
My top priority is always providing readers with a “good read.” I want them to close the book with a sense of satisfaction, having been engaged and entertained. In DUPLICITY, in particular, I would be thrilled if the themes of faith and loyalty prompt readers to reflect even just a little on their own allegiances. Fina is forced to grapple with the questions of what and who she believes in, and also, how best to respect those whose belief systems are so very different from her own.
As I was writing the book, it struck that in a time of enormous dissent and disagreement in our country, these are questions with which we are all forced to contend.
The best fiction goes beyond entertainment to make a statement or observation about society. A. J. Davidson does both jobs well in his latest novel, JOB’S COMFORT.
The book opens with Deputy Val Bosanquet returning from Guatemala planning to resign from the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Department. Before he can, he is drawn into two investigations that he can’t refuse. Pursuit of the hit-and-run killer of a thirteen-year-old girl, and help a friend framed for murder.
Bosanquet, a decorated former New Orleans homicide cop, has been a wayward and troubled detective for most of his career. After the loss of his unborn child he was eventually lured back to law enforcement as an East Feliciana deputy sheriff, where he puts his detective skills to good use.
“He prefers to work alone to protect those close to him,” Davidson says, “fearing a repeat of the earlier tragedy. Unlike the majority of his peers, Val does not view criminality in terms of black and white, appreciating that everyone is capable of acting out of character if sufficiently incited.”
Bosanquet does not see himself as a hero. Rather, he suspects he has more in common with the criminals he pursues.
Hollywood 1931. A place where bulls interrogate frails, and dewdroppers hang around waiting for their big break. A place where finishing a movie can take precedent over blackmail or even murder. These are some of the challenges that face film studio security chief Neil Brand, ex-cop and former stuntman, in Ray Dyson’s THE NAKED NYMPH IN THE DARK FLICKERS. This hard-boiled crime story is a dazzling mix of noir and Hollywood history, told with the gritty light and shade of a classic black-and-white motion picture.
Ray Dyson studied journalism at Ohio State University and spent many years as a newspaperman, covering crime and sports. I’ve met many thriller authors who began their writing careers in journalism. So that was where I started a spirited conversation with Dyson for The Big Thrill.
How did working as a crime journalist help your approach to crime fiction?
A good reporter must be a good observer. Those two things go hand-in-hand for investigative reporters. The same is certainly true—and to a far greater extent—for criminal investigators. There isn’t a homicide dick in the world worth a lick if he isn’t a first-class observer. Those boys understand a crime is solved by paying attention to the details. I’ve spent a great deal of time watching them at work—or at least exploring the details of those efforts—developing a good understanding of how they go about their duties. It can be a slow, painstaking affair as they work to crack a tough case, but when you talk to them afterward it can be fascinating to learn how they put the puzzle together. Hopefully, that carries over to my stories.
Keith Dixon, UK author of the popular Sam Dyke tales, kicks off a new series with the story of a man trying to escape an event that ruined his professional life, and leaves him vulnerable to the kind of riff raff that put him in a tight spot in the first place.
But when he finds himself drawn to a manipulative con-woman and is dragged into a high-profile antiquities scam, Storey realizes escaping his past may not be as easy as he’d hoped. In fact, it could turn deadly.
In this interview with The Big Thrill, Dixon shares his inspiration for this new series, talks about his love for Elmore Leonard, and what it’s like to start with a fresh new character.
What can you tell us about your new series protagonist, Pail Storey?
Paul Storey is a man who has been extremely good at his job in law enforcement but an unfortunate event undermines his self-belief. Storey has come home to Coventry because he feels his professionalism has been compromised by what transpired in London, and he can’t get his head straight to function properly in that former role. He wants to reset, find something different to do—returning to Coventry to take care of his father’s property is a good prompt to do just that.
What’s your relationship with Coventry?
I was born in Yorkshire but raised in Coventry. When I was growing up it was a dynamic place, the home of many car manufacturing companies, and called a “boom town” by the press, partly because of the rebuilding it underwent after the German bombing of World War II. My previous crime novels had all been set in the North West of England, where I’d spent many years, and I thought it would be interesting to revisit my home town almost as a stranger. Because I had a new character to deal with, it seemed sensible to give him a different location to roam around in, a place where he could best the bad guys.
Private Investigator Rick Cahill fears the next knock on his door will be a cop holding a warrant for his arrest. For murder. La Jolla Chief of Police Tony Moretti is convinced Rick killed a missing person. No body has been found, but the evidence that’s piling up says murder and it all points to Rick. With Moretti on his tail and the bank about to foreclose on his house, Rick takes a paying case that will stave off the bank, but pits him against Moretti and the La Jolla Police Department.
Brianne Colton, a beautiful country singer, is convinced her estranged husband’s suicide was really murder. Rick is unconvinced, but the mortgage has to be paid. Each new piece of evidence convinces him she’s right. He breaks his number one rule and falls for Brianne, even as he begins to question her motives.
As Moretti cinches the vise tighter, with Rick unable to trust the FBI, evil forces emerge from the shadows who will do anything, including torture and murder, to stop Rick from uncovering the truth.
Author Matt Coyle recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest novel, DARK FISSURES:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
An enjoyable read. A greater sense of who Rick Cahill is, but to still have a few questions about what makes him tick. To put themselves in Rick’s place and wonder if they’d make the same decisions he did.
Simon Maltman began his artistic career as a singer/songwriter, and his experience as a lyricist shows in his spare, cut-to-the-bone writing style, and the rhythms of his characters’ dialogue. His debut novel, A CHASER ON THE ROCKS, is set in Northern Ireland and is best described as a mystery noir with a twist ending worthy of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island. The similarities are primarily in tone rather than content, though, so no spoilers here.
When asked about his writing journey, Maltman says, “I first started writing crime fiction shorts about four years ago. Before that I dabbled in different types of writing, though mostly in music. I started getting some stories published and gained a few nice reviews from bloggers and magazines. I’ve just been building it up really, trying to find a bit of an audience.”
The novel is structured as a story within a story, as modern-day private eye Brian writes a 1940s narrative about a character named Chapman. This narrative, undertaken at the suggestion of Brian’s therapist, contains echoes of and clues to Brian’s current circumstances.
Please join me in welcoming Maltman for a chat about A CHASER ON THE ROCKS.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your new book. Why don’t we start with how you decided on the parallel structure for this novel?
I had been approached by an agent to write a novel, and I had been trying out a few ideas. I particularly favored two protagonists that I had used in a number of shorts. The idea just hit me along the way that Brian could be writing the Billy story. It then just grew from there, that Brian writes stories as part of his mental health recovery. Then came the linking them together and trying to structure it so it’s not confusing for the reader.