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By Michael Haskins

TREACEROUS: GRIFTERS, RUFFIANS AND KILLERS, the short stories of Gary Phillips, is a new collection from Perfect Crime Books that brings together for the first time the various tales of chicanery and odd goings on the veteran mystery writer has produced over the years. For instance in “The Thrill is Gone” (from SEX, LIES AND PRIVATE EYES), a hit man rescued from the agonies of Hell is a reluctant envoy sent back to Earth to dispatch evil for Heaven; in “Roger Crumbler Considers His Shave” (from LOS ANGELES NOIR), a mild-mannered middle-aged accountant on his birthday contemplates much more than having a second slice of cake; and in “Branded” (from FLESH AND BLOOD: EROTIC TALESS OF CRIME AND PASSION) a philandering husband wakes after a night of debauchery with a tattoo in a…rather uncomfortable location that will be hard to explain to his out-of-town wife.

“As a writer you learn a lot when you have to write a short story. Establishing your characters, setting the plot in motion, and, if the crick don’t rise, delivering the big punch in the end, well, there’s no room for error. You gotta make that story work in an efficient and entertaining manner. Hopefully readers will agree if they give this collection a try,” Phillip says of his writing. “I enjoy telling stories in various medium about various characters.”

Phillips lives in Los Angeles and is best known for his novels and short stories featuring PI Ivan Monk. He has worked a lot of different gigs in his time: a graveyard shift security guard, a printer, a union organizer, co-director of the MultiCultural Collaborative (a nonprofit set-up to improve race relations after the ’92 LA riots) and as political director of a city council campaign. He writes on politics and pop culture for publications such as the LOS ANGELES TIMES, LA WATTS TIMES, RAP PAGES, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, FREESTYLE and BLACK SCHOLAR. He occasionally loses money at the poker table, watches his kids play sports, and finds that walking the dog is a fine excuse to light up a stogie.

“Ultimately I write the stories I want to read,” Phillips said of his short fiction.“I am mindful of critiques of my work, at least the ones that are constructive, and try to improve my craft in whatever it is I’m writing. Writing can seem like a long slog at times but often getting to the end of a story, that is after rewrites and edits, there can be a great sense of satisfaction as well.”

The collection of eclectic stories spans nine years of Phillip’s writing for such magazines as ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE, DUBLIN NOIR, BLACK NOIR, editor by Otto Penzler, and a large selection of anthologies.

TREACEROUS: GRIFTERS, RUFFIANS AND KILLERS will be released in February from Perfect Crime Books, 230 pages, trade paperback, $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-935797-20-3.


Gary Phillips draws on his experiences as state director of a political action committee to delivering dog cages in writing his tales of chicanery and malfeasance. Recent work includes The Underbelly, a mystery featuring a homeless Vietnam vet; The Rinse, a comic book mini-series about a money launderer; co-editor of the incendiary Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail! anthology; and a short story set in the ‘70s in Crime Square.

To learn more about Gary, please visit his website.

Michael Haskins
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