Friday, December 29, 2006

More astute reviewers...

Thought I'd post about a couple of new reviews I've noticed on the web for my fourth novel Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico. First up is Sandra Ruttan at Spinetingler. I met Sandra in Madison Wisconsin and managed to confuse her about when my book was coming out. My bad. I spent a lot of time talking about a book that is coming out next Summer. In any event, she uses the word "sizzles" and I think that makes the review a keeper. Never had that word applied to anything about me, but it's nice to know my books will go places I personally can't. It's like watching a child grow up and surpass you.

Also singing the praises of the latest Luis Gonzalo are the good people at Mystery Scene Magazine. Here the reviewer had the following to say: "Finely written and well paced, Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico holds one's interest to the end." This though as Verna Suit explaned to me herself (also at Madison) the book isn't for everyone. I'm thankful that she was able to see that though the subject matter may make it the wrong read for some, it isn't a bad book because of that.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Best of the Year

I don't read nearly fast enough to have a whole top ten of favorite mysteries I've read throughout the year. In order for a list like that to be valuable to me, I'd have be able to say I read forty or fifty books and left out a bunch of good stuff. If I've only read eleven or twelve books, then...

Here then are a list three really good books that I was privileged to read this past year:

Dope by Sara Gran
The Guards by Ken Bruen
The Blood Knot by John Galligan

If I were more organized and a real go getter, I would have cajojled the reviewers at Nasty, Brutish, Short into giving out an award for the best mystery short story reviewed that year. I'd have called it The Shortie, andmy nomination would have gone to G. Miki Hayden's story "Murder at Marcus Garvey Park". A beautifully told story.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Am I the Last...?

Am I the last person to thank Graham Powell for running one of the most useful sites in the mystery writing world? The fact that he also runs another nifty blog type thing which attempts to cover some of the mystery short stories that get published and which he graciously invited me to work on, only means I have two things to thank him for. Thanks, Boog.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Not that I need more books, but I can't pass up a bargain. I went to my local library's weekly booksale and bought Robert Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin. Perfect condition. I've started reading it and it is (so far) really hard to put down. I also picked up James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss. I figure the good people at CrimeSpree have never before steered me wrong, so... This book was also in perfect condition.

I also got five mystery short story anthologies. One of them includes a story by either Ross Thomas or Ross MacDonald. I can't ever keep them straight, but one of them is supposed to be one of the great writers in the field, so I'm hoping I got the right one.

In any event, I have several books that I hope to finish reading before the year ends. These include one from Megan Abbott and three from Jonathan Santlofer. All of this reading is for interviews I'm working on.

January is for reading as well as writing - two writers whose books I have and who I'm hoping to dive into ASAP? IJ Parker and Will Thomas. These are strictly pleasure reads - presents I give myself when the grading is done.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Manuel Ramos had to say...

I first met Manuel Ramos in Las Vegas for a Bouchercon held there a few years back. It was my first Bouchercon and my first (non-academic) convention. He came up to me at the end of the first panel I'd ever been on and introduced himself, said we should talk, etc. I, young and foolish as I was, had no idea who he was, but I figured it out before I left Vegas. Of course, as things like this go, there wasn't an opportunity to catch up with him.

Later, I was supposed to be on a panel with him in El Paso, but he couldn't make it. Ah well. Later I interviewed him for CrimeSpree. In doing that, I read all six of his novels and whatever short stories I could find. All the writing is delectable. If you haven't yet read his books you have missed out on some of the smoothest writing in English. Ask Jen Jordan. I'll wait...

Anyhow, I asked Mr. Ramos to take a look at my latest book The Concrete Maze, and he liked it. This is a relief to me. Here is his blurb:

The Concrete Maze is a tough, brutal and disturbing story about lost innocence, a desperate search to avenge a young victim, and the reluctant “hero’s” inevitable acceptance of the notion that sometimes justice has to be imposed – with force. Steven Torres gives his readers a black and white, finely drawn picture of a heinous crime and the emotional aftershocks suffered by the victim’s family. The predators who prowl the Bronx streets in Torres’s book are straight from a dark and terrible nightmare; the victims are young, rebellious thrill-seekers; and the would-be rescuers are everyday people thrust into inhuman chaos. The human toll -- the damage -- is on the page where there is no place or time for soft-peddling. Most of us do not want the world to be this way but we know that Torres got it right. His characters have the kind of texture that connects readers to them at the most basic levels -- pain, anger, frustration. We share their need to act, to strike, because there is no other way of dealing with the terror. These people have only themselves and there cannot be a happy ending in this story but there will be a bloody, violent and scarred resolution. This is fiction that hurts.

Manuel Ramos, Edgar nominated author of
Moony’s Road to Hell

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Death Artist by Jonathan Santlofer

I met Mr. Santlofer* at a mystery convention in Texas earlier this year - ConMisterio. It was a great convention and Jonathan was a very provocative speaker. With mild manner, he explained scenes in his first novel that involved cutting hands off of living victims. The hands get discarded, but what happens to the stumps...well, read the book. I did.

The Death Artist is a strong debut in a series that I hope to continue reading in as soon as I'm done with (mountains and mountains of) student papers. In it, bold and beautiful Kate McKinnon, statuesque, former NYPD, current millionaire's wife and Ph.D. in Art History (don't you want to meet her already?) gets called to duty when some freak starts killing her friends and acquaintances in ways that mirror paintings by the great masters. (Not Jackson Pollock, however. Strange that. That's the first one I'd go for if I were of a mind to the style of the great Art Masters...)

In any event, will she figure out whodunit before the killer covers all the greats? Of course. But will she kick his ass, literally, in a brawl at night in the rain? Sorry, different book. Now, I think there was one pas that was faux when it came to police procedures. I won't mention it because a- I could be wrong and b- I don't think I've seen it mentioned elsewhere and I wouldn't want anyone to think it will ruin the pleasure of reading this book. It most definitely won't. I enjoyed it and plan to dive into another Santlofer book soon. In fact, I've heard that now his books come with pictures. Can't wait.

In the meantime, I've asked him whether he really introduces readers to the Art scene, and the answer is a vigourous Yes. Santlofer, you see, is a real live artist - a painter who gets his paitings into galleries and shows and exhibits, etc. Fascinating to me, then, to read what he has to say about the art world, a world I'm pretty much shut out of as there has been no revival of stick figure drawing.

* By the way, even if you're not a fan of Santlofer's writing (yet) you can certainly go to his site and appreciate his artwork. Free.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You want New Interviews...?

Both Laura Lippman and Jonathan Santlofer have answered my questions. The interviews are now up on my site. Whether this move will turn out to be the beginning of the end of both their careers only history will be able to say. Predictions range from "Yes. Of course," to "It will be the start of a gradual and probably reversible decline for them both."

I was supposed to link to my reviews of their books on this site, but a) I'm not sure how to link to a specific posting on blogger and b) I haven't written the reviews yet.

In any event, go read what they have to say. They're both successful writers, nice people, and...well, that should be enough, no?