Saturday, December 29, 2007

Once Again, I'm a Winner...

Just got the most astounding email. I've been selected as one of five winners of the UK National Lottery Sweepstakes' International. As a winner, I am guaranteed a million pounds. They don't say what the million pounds will be of, but one has to assume something good, no? And even if it were a million pounds of scrap metal, well, I could sell that.

Speaking of scrap metal, anyone remember the TV series with Andy Griffith where he owned a junk yard and constructed a spaceship out of odds and ends? And the thing actually worked. I think Jim Nabors was his co-pilot.

And speaking of Jim Nabors, I bought a vinyl record where he sings Christmas carols at the Goodwill recently. I had forgotten that he had a real set of pipes on him.

Speaking of vinyl records, I also bought Fritz Reiner conducting Bela Bartok. You can't go too far wrong paying only a dollar for vinyl though I'm not yet a fan of Bartok. I know what you're thinking: "Closed minded prig! Bartok is one of the greats of the 20th century, and you are a little, little man!" You're probably right.

But speaking of Fritz Reiner, do I recall correctly if I say he was Leonaard Bernstein's teacher and one day a disgruntled student came looking for the maestro, gun in hand and both Reiner and Bernstein hid under the teacher's desk?

And finally, speaking of death and classical music, was it serial composers that killed classical music? Or is it the fact that melody was relegated to the back burner so that with the exception of a very, very few compositions since 1950 nothing is hummable anymore?

Of course, I could keep this up with a comment about serial killers, but I'm thinking no one's reading at this point.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I should point out...

That there is an interview with me conducted by the honorable Russel McLean...There's no joke there.

In any event, the interview is available in the latest copy of Crimespree Magazine. I know what you're thinking - "I'm not going outside to score a copy of Crimespree on a day like today what with the wind, the rain, the snow, the cold etc just so I can read what Torres has to say about...wait for it...Life. Love. And Laughter. After all, I can read Torres's prattlings any day of the week. Or possibly even his books if I'm of a mind to..." Well, in response, I would point out that you've gotten far too worked up about it all. I haven't even suggested you go out and get a copy right this instant*. Tomorrow will do just as well.

And don't forget there are plenty of other interviews, articles, and a short story by Julia Thomas, wife of Will Thomas and a fine story crafter in her own right. Most importantly, there's Russel. He asks questions. And he's really smart. He has two short stories coming out with AHMM soon, and it's about time since he's one of the finer short story writers around. Between the two of us, we get to the bottom of this whole "definition of Noir" thing so that I've been assured by various highly placed authorities the issue will never crop up as a panel topic at a conference again.

Another thing I should point out is that The Concrete Maze was recently reviewed in Mystery News. Ted Hertel called it a nightmare, and he knows a thing or three about crime fiction. Wait. Nightmare doesn't quite sound as positive as the review does.

Let me quote at greater length: "This is as close to reality as a book can get in this genre. It is dark. It is frightening. It is powerful. It is a nightmare brought to life on the printed page, one that readers can be thankful they lived through only vicariously."

I thank Ted and Russel both for their attention. Perhaps more than I deserve, but I'll take it anyway.

* Though it is true I was planning to make that exact suggestion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And the winner is...

Ikkinlala! I think I spelled that right. A few people complained that blogger wasn't taking their comments. Can't really help that. Can't even explain that. In the end I counted in a couple who got to me via regular email - all names tossed into a box and one pulled out as you see above. Sorry if anyone was exasperated.

In any event, I also mailed out five boxes of books today, and I will be happy to mail out another box as soon as I hear from Ikkinlala.

If I can remember, there will be another drawing set up here tomorrow - not nearly as grand, but still free so do drop in. Drop in later rather than earlier.

For now, I've got to listen to Jascha Heifetz play the Elgar Violin Concerto - I've heard the concerto twice before and haven't liked it yet, but one lives in hope... This is a Naxos CD.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Christmas Giveaway...Manuel Ramos!

Merry Christmas. Jaskie drew the short straw on my last giveaway and will be getting a baker's dozen of books when I get her address.

As for this giveaway - here's the deal - Manuel Ramos has published six novels, all of them quite fine. I'm a great admirer as are all those in the know. The prose is as smooth as you'd ever want, the stories are compelling, and humanness seeps from the pages - a rare condition. The man's been nominated for an Edgar and is truly one of great master of the genre even if you may not have heard of him.

Now, I have all of his books but one of them is in the attic - sorry Manuel, but I need the space. I now have about 1,000 books in the attic and this is after giving away 500 and taking 500 to my work office and arranging 1,000 in my study area. I can't be helped - book buying is my only addiction.

Anyway, the other five books by Manuel Ramos - Moony's Road to Hell, Brown on Brown, The Last Client of Luis Montez, The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz, and Blues for the Buffalo are all up fo grabs here. Since I'm not going into the attic, I've also tossed in a Manuel Ramos short story collected in The Cocaine Chronicles from Akashic books.

If you haven't read Ramos before, there can be no better time to start.

Then, as if that were not enough, I'm adding my own books into the mix. There are four novels in the Precinct Puerto Rico series and a stand-alone paperback original -The Concrete Maze. I'm even tossing in my own anthology - Bronx Noir also from Akashic.

This makes for a total - if I do my math correctly - of 12 books. Half will be signed by me.

Now, you might eb thinking - "This Ramos guy sounds all right, but do I really want any Torres books?" After all, you may have my books already or you may have met me in person and been frightened...That's all right. You'll still get 12 books (I've got plenty of others and the need for space is critical). On top of that, if you win and you say "leave out the Torres stuff" I'll be happy to draw another name for my own novels.

Everything must go! Just leave a comment!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Pot Sweetens...

Okay. The past two book giveaways have been absolute busts. Disheartening? Yes. But am I disheartened? No. It all just rolls over to the next giveaway. This one is decent. Not only do you get the last two bunches of books, but you'll also get three more. These are by Robert Barnard - Robert Barnard who has won just about every major mystery writing award there is on the planet including the Croix de shoot'em up given by the monarch of Monaco, and the Russkie Booksie Policeski given by the Arts Council of Brisbane.

The three books by Barnard are as follows: The Bones in the Attic. In this book, bones are found in the attic and the police are simply too tired to get involved so the homeowner has to figure out the crime himself. No joke. Really, that's what happens. Then there's A Hovering of Vultures. I would tell you what this one is about, but, well, I haven't read it, have I?

Then there is an omnibus containing four of his novels - Death by Sheer Torture, Death of a Perfect Mother, Death in a Cold Climate, and Death of a Mystery Writer.

Frankly, though Barnard has, in fact, won just about every award available so that I hear he will soon be getting awards for "Best First Novel" since there simply isn't anything else left, and though I quite admire his prose style - quite polished - I think the stories are a bit lacking - the one with bones in the attic is a prime example - the police were so little interested you almost expected them to say "Oh, a body in the attic? Not really our job, that."

The total of books is currently at thirteen. Send along a comment if you're interested. It's all you've got to do and there hasn't been all that much competition lately...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another Giveaway...

All right, that last giveaway got very little interest. Not sure why, but we'll try again with another. This one has the five paperbacks on offer with the last giveaway and five others - Robert Crais' Indigo Slam, Richard Hawke's Speak of the Devil, Tony Hillerman's Hunting Badger, John Lescroart's The Mercy Rule and Immoral by Brian Freeman. The Hawke book is an ARC. I thought I'd read these books when I picked them up, but I've thought again and realized that I won't get to them in any reasonable amount of time. Literally they are hundreds of books down on my TBR pile. Sorry about that to their fans. I'm sure they're wonderful books...I just can't.

Anyway, they're up for grabs. Tomorrow's another bunch, then on Christmas there's the last drawing of the year and that one is guaranteed to be a doozy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rickards, Pinter, Wood...oh hell, another bunch of books...

By now, of course, people are asking two questions - first, is Torres saving the best for last? Possibly. Second, when is he going to start mailing books out? Soon. What? You want them fast or you want them free? Thought so...

More seriously, I've collected a couple of addresses and I expect those books will go out on Monday - is the post office open on Monday? Then I've got to collect a couple more addresses. I also have to see if Patrick and Angie are willing to split the last prize. In point of fact, I'm quite busy. Don't even get me started on the student papers I've been reading...

Anywho...Five paperbacks this time, maybe even six if you ask nicely. Here are the titles I've got so far: "Galveston Gunman" by Bill Crider - enough rock'um, sock'um action for two novels really. It's a Western, but don't let that stop you... "The Mark" by Jason Pinter. You've probably read it already. I bought it at a WalMart and when your book is at WalMart being able to quit your day job and write full time can't be too far away... "Winter's End" by John Rickards. It'll make you laugh; it'll make you cry. Scratch that. No laughter. Not really any tears either come to think of it. Good chance it'll weird you out. "Accidents Waiting to Happen" by Simon Wood. Bought it for an airplane ride - it was so unputdownable I finished it before the flight was over and cursed myself for not having another Simon Wood novel handy. And "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. This one is a classic Sci-Fi novel that I couldn't finish. Written well enough (all the nouns and verbs in the right places) but the story had me yawning. I'll leave this one out if you like.

Or I can substitute Eragon by I'm not sure who. That book had some of the worst prose I've ever seen in print and I don't exclude those contests that ask you to write a terrible simile or a bad opening line, etc.

Now, a note on housekeeping matters. After this giveaway, there are only three more. The last one, I think, is spectacular. Jennifer Jordan...You know Jennifer?...Jennifer Jordan would whole-heartedly agree with me on this one. Can't say any more, but really, wow. WOW!* One of her favorite authors combined with another of her favorite authors for a total of ten, maybe eleven books. Nope...Just counted. It'll be ten. Still, you have to admit, that's alotta books. And who knows what else I'll toss in. This might be the grand prize that makes your holiday season...Assuming you live far from actual family members.

That just means you want to pace yourself because if you win early, you can't win late. Unless you trick me with an alternate profile, etc.

* And I don't say "Wow" or use all-caps or exclamations marks often.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Next Giveaway

The winner of the Bruen/Winspear drawing was Carol. I'll have to contact her, but let's keep the ball rolling. Another eclectic group today: The Bloodknot by John Galligan, The Closers by Michael Connelly, The Bridge of Sighs by Olen Steinhauer, and A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes.

Galligan and Steinhauer's novels were both wonderful by my reckoning. Well written, plotted, etc. I couldn't finish the Connelly book. Not to say it was bad, mind you, but I had just read Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin and there was some overlap between the two and well...

The Himes novel was good, but it did feel rushed - which I'm guessing it was. Written in a time before Delete keys and White-Out, when men were men, women were women and authors typed as fast as they could to earn that paycheck. Still, an interesting novel though I did find myself thinking more than once "Really? You can't think of a single other thing to do except follow this enourmously wrong decision...?" Again, that's just me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Graham Powell over at Crimespot has done a wonderful thing - he's set it up so that you can give to others. There's a link on his home page which connects you to THIS. And this allows you to give to the United Way via the magic of the internet. Graham is also promising to contribute more for each of the first ten persons who link to the site on their own blogs or websites as I have done here.

I will join with Graham in this (don't tell him; he doesn't know yet). For each of the first ten people who give and who want one, I will mail out a copy of one of my books - free.

The Fifth Giveaway - Bruen, Bruen, and Winspear...

A fifth of what, you ask...Well, you've got the wrong end of the stick. This is the fifth of I'm not sure how many giveaways this month. Cleaning out my shelves as I've got to make space. So here is another batch you can toss your hat into the ring for - Ken Bruen "The Dramatist" Ken Bruen "The Guards" and, nothing goes better with Bruen than Jacqueline Winspear's "Masie Dobbs."

I know what you're thinking - "But Steven, Winspear has won an Edgar. Bruen has not. Therefore, the two authors don't mix well on the reading palette." Ms. Winspear may well have won an Edgar, but I ask you in return, has she really? Really?*

In any event, I'll also throw in a Paco Ignacio Taibo title to be named later.

Frankly, I wasn't able to finish Maisie Dobbs. Kept waiting for an ax chop or a slash with a tire iron. I guess there really are different types of readers.

*Actually, I should look that up because I'm not really sure.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another Giveaway

Well, no one claimed the last pot, so it goes mixed with the current one. Comment about your interest before today is over (that's midnight NYC time)and you'll not only get your named dropped in the hat for the previously mentioned books by Crouch Pawel and Crider - this really should be enough for anyone - but you'll also get a second jackpot, to wit, "Prayers for the Assassin" by Robert Ferrigno, "Most Wanted" by Michelle Martinez, "Last Car to Elysian Fields" by James Lee Burke, and "Mr. Clarinet" by Nick Stone. All these are hardcovers so you'd be getting a total of six hardcovers and one paperback.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Giveaway No. 3 - Crouch, Pawel, and Crider

Okay, so JD Rhoades won the first batch of books (gotta contact him) and Manuel Ramos won the second batch. This doesn't mean there aren't other batches - I'm cleaning house...literally. These books are not signed, but there are a bunch of them. Today's group includes "Desert Places" by Blake Crouch - a creepy book by a nice guy. "Death of a Nationalist" by Rebecca Pawel - fellow Stuyvesant alum and a hell of a writer (this book earned her an Edgar). And Bill Crider's "A Mammoth Murder" - a story featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes (no relation to Dusty or Cecil...) and bigfoot. You'll like the book and if you knew Bill, you'd like him too.

In any event, I'll check back tomorrow afternoon to see who wants their names in a hat and to put up another contest. Tomorrow's contest might very well "Blow you Away..."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Eisler, McBain, Aleas & Bruen/Starr

Dusty Rhoades got the first bunch of books. Here is a second bunch. Enjoyed them all in the past year or so. The titles, in an order that matches the author names above are as follows: Rain Fall, The Gutter and the Grave, Little Girl Lost, and Bust.

If you ask for my favorite of the group, I'd have to say McBain. Of course, if any of the living authors is reading this, then I really liked their book the most...

There is no question you have to answer, nor does being first help you. Just leave a comment if you'd like to be considered, and I'll pull names out of a hat...not random names, the names of people who leave comments.

Just for fun, I'll toss in a bonus question - first to answer correctly wins a book to be named later, probably The Concrete Maze.

What classic crime novel, mentions a "tarantula on a slice of angel food cake"? There. That shouldn't be too hard.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Because I am a river to my people..."

A line from one of my favorite movies. Be the first to give me the full name of the character who says it and you'll win a prize. What prize? you'll be asking. Good question. Let's just say I'll be giving away some of the books I read in the past year and a half. These are not the ones that authors have signed personally to me - it seems a bit rude to do that - but they are good. Some hardcovers, some paperbacks, all in sets of three or four.

Of course, you're asking "But which writers are we talking about? I mean, is this just Torres trying to give away more of his own books?" Nope. We're looking at names like Eisler, Crider, Rickards, Himes, and Bruen and a bunch of other really great writers.

Anyway, be the first with the correct answer, and you'll get "Jade's Photos" by Randy Rawls, "Castle Finlaystoke" by David Ciambrone, "Drive" by James Sallis and "Psychosomatic" by Anthony Neil Smith (a book for which Neil has personally apologized to me...). You'll also get a chance to win other sets though for those you'll need to get your name in a hat like everyone else.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Posting to Amazon...

Really? Does it have to be that hard? I was scrolling around one of their forums on Thrillers. Someone asked a question - they wanted to know if their were thrillers with female assassins - Tim Maleeny came to mind. I clicked on to reply and was told I had to register. I did that and tried to send my very simple message again. Then i was told that I had to have made a purchase. Of course, I've made many purchases through Amazon - I'm one of those people that supports that book industry. I figure I must have registered for Aazon before, but I just can't recall how. In ay event, I didn't get to send my message, and I don't plan on buying a book just so I can let people know about Maleeny - buy his books, by the way.

Someone else wanted to know who wrote the Native American female character who helps people disappear. I haven't read the books, but I'm pretty sure this is Thomas Perry, no? That didn't go through either.

Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking - "Torres, you're just technologically challenged and as techonology marches onward you will be left further and further behind, so get used to it..." Still, I can't help but ask how restricting access to the forums helps Amazon make sales. I'm sure that this must be what they're trying to do with this restriction, but I just don't see the upside.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I made the cut...

The Bookbitch selected THE CONCRETE MAZE as one of her favorite thrillers of 2007. High honor for me, and TCM is in very good company. If you don't believe me, take a look for yourself. I'll wait.

Now, if I could just get that Quertermous guy to read the book...