Thursday, September 28, 2006

The James Deans - Reed Farrel Coleman

Just finished Mr. Coleman's book and it is incredible. There is a reason why I think it is incredible. It seems, at first like a good PI story, not unlike Chandler's The Big Sleep - the detecctive, in this case Moe Prager, is summoned by the powerful and wealthy client and given a job he doesn't really relish but can't leave alone either. The PI gets emotionally involved, gets given the run around, even gets knocked on the noggin. None of this stopshim from doggedly pursuing the case, sinking his teeth into the killer's leg and refusing to let go even when it is in his best interest to do so, even when it becomes dangerous to hang on.

But the incredible part comes with the fact that Moe Prager is so fully human yet his development is slow and evenly spread out throughout the book. His wife is mentioned early on, but I didn't know she would be so central, not to the plot, but to Moe's life. And there it goes. There's the incredible part really: Moe Prager has a life. By the last words, he felt as real to me as many of the people I actually know. So did his family, so did his friends. And yet, I can't point to any one place where Coleman forced me to think of them this way. No place where he sat me down and hit me over the head with Prager's life. There was sleight of hand involved I'm sure.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The New Interviews are here!

Like the title says, the new interviews are on my site. Go here to find them. What you're looking for is my chat with Bill Crider, solo and with a crew of people connected to the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine anthology: Linda Landrigan, IJ Parker, Steve Hockensmith, James Lincoln Warren, SJ Rozan.

This should be fun, but if it's not, let me know and you'll get a refund :-).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The New CrimeSpree's Here! The New CrimesSpree's Here!

Guess what? The new CrimeSpree's here! Crimespree Magazine is out and about and extra cool this month. Why? Because it has a story by me? Nooo! That helps, but here's what I'm really looking forward to: John Rickards versus Mark Billingham . I hear from Rickards that the two men have hated each other for years and this interview will be the smackdown of the century. He guarantees this though the century is only a half decade old.*

Also, looking forward to the essay by Ayo Onatade, the one by Reed Farrel Coleman and one by Julia Spencer FLeming . And I also going to be looking up Sandra Ruttan's essay on her magazine. Good stuff all around.

I think I get a couple of contributor's copies. If so, I'll have a contest here. Really a good way to be introduced to an excellent publication.

* Okay, actually, John and I have never spoken of Mr. Billingham, and, in fact, we haven't said a word to each other face-to-face since the last Bouchercon.

Monday, September 18, 2006

And yet another story...

Thought I'd put out the news that my "End of the World" story has come out. It's called "A Smile for the End of the World." It is about smiling and the end of the world. For more than that, take a look for yourself.

Of course, don't forget my other "End of the World" story, which is still up at Coffee Cramp. Click here.

Let me know which you like best. Leave a comment at Firefox or leave one here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

More About Me...

Vivian Lake, the bookauthority, has put up an article about me on her blog . It's good stuff if you want to know more about me and my plans for total global, I mean, my career. Take a look.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A new story online

Thought I'd let people know that I have a new story up on a site called The Summerset Review . The story is called "Desert People." It involves a person not from the desert who must interact with people who are from the desert. This is the one that I have called my first strictly literary story ("poignancy ensues") and it earned me a small but nice check.

I hope you like it. Certainly do let me know what you think either way.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

On the other hand...

While PW decided to pass on my latest book Missing in Precinct puerto Rico, Library Journal absolutely loved it. They gave me a starred review and had this to say: "Torres's writing is pure music for the soul. Highly recommended for all collections."

"Pure music for the soul..." I don't think a review can get much better than that. They also call the series an award winning one though so far it's only garnered one award and that was a very minor one (as far as the mystery world is concerned at least). Of course, I wasn't aware of that one award until a month after I'd been awarded it and it came in the mail (a heavy glass bookend). So for all I know I've won another award and haven't been told yet. Maybe I should check with MWA to see if they've given me anything.

In any event, the PW review is the only bad one so far. Perhaps given the subject matter I should expect more of those, but, as a sometimes optimist, I hope for more like LJ and even Kirkus (usually tough though they've given me a couple of starred reviews in the past). Kirkus said "his procedural engages interest with strong prose, convincing detail and local color."

And Harriet Klausner liked the book, gave it five stars over at B&Ns site. Now, you may think, "Well, HK likes everybody..." but that's certainly not true. She only writes you up if she likes the book and I was deathly afraid that given the subject matter and the fact that chapter five is a little hard to take, I'd thought she'd take a pass on this book. Or worse, go out of her way to give me a negative review.

Now I'm hoping for a positive review from Oline Cogdill and then I'll feel confident.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gratuitous Violence and Sexual Deviancy

Okay, Publishers Weekly didn't like my book, but then, I didn't like their review, so we're even. Here's the deal about why I didn't like the review - they cited the book for sexual deviancy. It is a book about pedophiles. There is not a single sex scene in the book, not a one. Essentially, unless I'm misunderstanding, this means they were going to cite the book for sexual deviancy from the time they read it was about pedophiles on the back of the book. That is to say, they didn't have to read the book to know it was about pedophilia and make the claim. Again, not a single sex scene, deviant or otherwise, in the entire book. What they mean is just that I chose a topic they didn't like. I'm not sure that's responsible reviewing, is it?

Then, as for violence, I'm not sure what is being referred to with the word "gratuitous". My books are generally violent, there can be no doubt about that. This is NOT a cozy. The violence here happens mostly on the page. But, compared to my first novel, for instance, there isn't all that much violence, and I don't see how any of it is gratuitous. I mean it isn't like I put in extra shootouts and fistfights just to fill pages. There is a scene of police brutality. There is a scene (first few pages) where a girl is murdered. An officer gets punched in the jaw, and a little boy gets pushed around by his older sister. I think this just about covers the violence. In chapter ten of my first novel, bodies drop like a swarm of flies drawn to a zapper. All of the violence in this book is there for a reason and, I think, pretty good reasons. PW begs to differ, I won't argue this one as much.

I think the problem may be that I write abot a small town in a tropical setting. Maybe the reviewer at PW was expecting a cozy. I tell people that I do "hardboiled cozies". Small town, closed community, everyone knows everyone, but when there's violence it is out for the reader to see. I don't believe in keeping that stuff off the page - realism to me means that a punch in the nose hurts. When a man gets sent to prison, his life is ruined. Violence is NEVER gratuitous. Even when a psychopath uses hedgeclippers to sheer the toes off a live victim - that might be gratuitous to the psycho, but I guarantee you it isn't to the victim. (btw, there are no hedgeclippers in my novel).

So far, Library Journal and Kirkus have liked the book which makes me happy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Die a Little - Megan Abbott

Wow. Take one beautiful young lady with a disreputable past, marry her to a straight arrow DA's detective, give that detective a straight arrow sister who can elegantly and eloquently narrate, give her a boyfriend whose day job is fixing problems for Hollywood studios, throw in some sex, some violence, some drugs and a little black book, and what do you get? In the hands of Megan Abbott you get a wonderful novel that will keep you reading long past your bedtime (and my bedtime is generally like three in the morning).

Probably the best thing about Abbott's book, however, has nothing to do with the elements of the plot which, as you can see, are varied and, of course, interesting. (I forgot that one of the persons mentioned above has an inate need to protect another and, more generally, to see that everything works out - the amount of trouble this need can cause is not to be underestimated.) The best thing about the novel is the obvious care Abbott has taken in selecting each word. The prose is fine at the micro and macro levels. That is, her sentences are great, but the paragraphs and the longer sections (there are no chapter breaks, but that won't bother you, trust me, I'm easily bothered) are exquisite. It's as though she polished every aspect of the book to a high sheen, not just the plotting which a lot of mystery writers do, but down to the word selection --- that's 70,000 words that she cared for.

This is far from my method which is generally to type as fast as I can until I get to the end and then print out, find an appropriate sized envelope, stuff it in, get some postage and mail it off. I even make sure to keep my fingernails trimmed to ensure faster typing.

See, what this care that Abbott take tells me is that everything she writes will be similarly blessed. Sadly, the only thing else she has to her credit is a short story in Damn Near Dead by Busted Flush Press . Will she rectify that with further publications? Will she ever take her game down a notch so others can feel like her equals? Will she ever explain how a nice girl like her came up with a nasty plot like that? Maybe if I interview her, no? But will she deign to answer questions from someone like me? That remains to be seen.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Counting Coup by Brian Thornton

This was a highly enjoyable Western setting story in the latest AHMM . It reminded me a great deal of other Western stories I've read recently including, especially, Steve Hockensmith's Amlingmeyer series.

In this story, there is the odd couple of Wash and Chance as they make their way through Cheyenne country at a time when the Cheyenne aren't happy to have people come through their country. They hole up with several other travelers in a train depot, taking shelter from a storm, when in comes a mountain of a man and his Cheyenne prisoner. Behind them, a Cheyenne war party who'd like the prisoner back. The mystery comes in when, in the middle of the dark of night, the prisoner disappears and one of the fellow travelers is found dead. Who dun it? Ask Chance and Wash, they'll figure it out.

In any event, the story is well written, fast paced, and the lead characters are well drawn though I do wish Mr. Thornton had taken a few thousand more words so we can get get to know them better. It's a fun read and recommended.