About Me

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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Check it out: Thomas Perry's POISON FLOWER

POISON FLOWER is the seventh novel in Thomas Perry’s highly acclaimed Jane Whitefield series, about a Native American "guide" who helps "runners" to escape from their enemies. In the past Jane has helped women disappear from abusive husbands and helpless witnesses elude drug cartels. In POISON FLOWER Jane plans and executes a daring courtroom breakout for James Shelby, an innocent dupe unjustly convicted of his wife’s murder. Things go perfectly for Shelby, but not so great for Jane herself, who is immediately abducted by a group of men posing as cops, shot in the leg, and tortured for answers on the whereabouts of Shelby.

Drugged and in agony Jane summons all of her willpower to keep quiet in the face of her torment even while she dreams of ancient Seneca warriors and the ghost of Harry Kemple, her one past mistake, a poker player she originally spirited away into a new life and then accidentally betrayed to a clever killer.

Refusing to give up Shelby’s only infuriates her captors, who work for the wealthy man who actually killed Shelby’s wife. Eventually she’s given up to auction–where all of evil adversaries of her previous runners gather together to bid on the chance to personally enslave or kill her.

But as any fan of the series knows, Jane is no weak lily. Instead, she’s quite a poison flower herself, prepared to do battle to the very end.

With a Perry novel you get full-on, relentless suspense and pretty much non-stop action. But smart, intense action. It’s not just a wild flurry of blood and killing, but instead wisely parceled out doses that build naturally upon character and narrative. Even when things get very nasty, the bloodletting only progresses the plot. One of the most fascinating elements of the series is how Jane draws on the lessons and traditions of the Seneca tribe in order to survive her adventurous life and dispatch her foes. POISON FLOWER is classic Perry, a novel that hurtles down desert highways at triple digits and will leave you with blisters on your hands from flipping pages so fast.

Mysterious Press
March 2012
$24

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Harlequins from Hell


For those of you paying attention, and even for those of you who haven't been, my next novel THE LAST KIND WORDS hits in hardcover from Bantam in May. Just turned in the sequel THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK to my editor a couple of weeks ago. Since then I've been continuing on with a new short novel WHAT MAKES YOU DIE, due out from Apex next year. I'll also have a zombie novella--yes, you heard that right, chillun--entitled PALE PREACHERS out from Creeping Hemlock in a few months.
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The great writer/editor/reviewer/critic Thomas Roche recently did a hell of a thoughtful review of my noirella EVERY SHALLOW CUT. "If you're a washed-up fourth-rate writer with no hope for redemption -- or sometimes worry that you might be -- Tom Piccirilli's Every Shallow Cut is like ripping the scab off the place where Dr. Benway amputated your soul."
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Fresh on Kindle are three of my previously out-of-print books. My Stoker Award-winning suspense/horror/whatever novel THE NIGHT CLASS, the story of college student Cal Prentiss who returns to his university after the winter break only to learn a girl has been murdered in his room. Along the way he begins to suffer stigmata whenever someone on campus is killed, and his hands are bleeding a lot.

Also available now are PENTACLE, my short story collection following a modern-day warlock known only as the Necromancer and his demonic companion "Self" as they get into various occult adventures and battle a host of folks including the reincarnation of Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, a flooded town full of mutant demon fish-critters, and evil Navajo spirits.

A LOWER DEEP is my "Self" novel, originally published by Leisure Books, that continues the travails of the Necromancer and Self as they face down their former corrupted coven and try to stop them from bringing about Armageddon by resurrecting Christ before God Chooses to do so. The last half of the book takes place in Jerusalem, a city that lends itself to the themes of Biblical history, prophecy, witches, the mystical, and ancient pagan cultures.

Also, for the month of October, my collection FUTILE EFFORTS is selling for just $.99. Serious, for under a buck, you get 16 stories and novellas and something like 50 poems, plus introductions to each piece by likes of Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Simon Clark, Thomas F. Monteleone, Ray Garton, and bunches of other great generous folks.

And even though I'm pushing my e-books here, for the love of god, people, go to a real live bookstore today and buy a real live book. This is the one time when it's fine to be materialistic. I'm really hoping we learn to find a balance between e-technology and physical books. I just don't want to think about a world where there are no bookstores. Do you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some Recent Reads

Been meaning to post about a bunch of recent reads, but I was fighting to beat out a few deadlines. Now that I've finished up a couple of projects, let me tell you all about some first-rate books that have recently hit:

BAD MOON RISING by Ed Gorman. This is Ed's latest Sam McCain novel. Chronologically, about ten years has passed between the first McCain novel THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED and this one, which brings us up to the late 60s and the collision between Black River Falls, Iowa's middle class mores and the influx of the hippie movement. While a local hippie commune outside of town keeps some of the more staunch white bread citizens in an uproar, the larger number of townsfolk don't seem to mind the bohemians much. Not until the daughter of one of the wealthiest families in town is found murdered on commune property and an unstable Vietnam vet becomes the prime suspect. The always sympathetic attorney and PI Sam McCain takes the case that nobody else wants, and soon finds himself butting heads on all sides of the political and social issues exemplified by the curious circumstances.

As is his forte, Gorman knows how to vividly portray his characters as they become swept up into a hurricane of historical importance. Small town America is portrayed honestly, filled with just as much darkness, bitterness, and long-standing secrets as there is apple pie, quaintness, and civic charm. Gorman writes with an emphasis on poignancy and pathos. You feel for these people as they try to navigate their way through turbulent times, trying to protect loved ones, understand complex politics, and stay friendly with nearly unrecognizable neighbors.

THE SIEGE OF TRENCHER'S FARM (STRAW DOGS) by Gordon Williams. Rereleased by Titan Books (www.titanbooks.com) to coincide with the recent movie remake, Gordon Williams's original novel that inspired both versions of STRAW DOGS proves exactly why it's the perfect source material for powerhouse filmmaking. American professor George Magruder rents Trencher's Farm in his wife, Louise's, isolated hometown of rural Dando parish, Cornwall. Cornwall is one of those small villages where you're considered an outsider no matter how many decades you might live among the people. If you're not born in Dando, you're not one of them. George doesn't seem to mind much as tries to finish his definitive study on an unknown eighteenth-century diarist. The fact that he and Louise have been drifting farther apart hardly seems to break his focus. Nor does the general rudeness of the local men even as he clumsily tries to befriend them. As Louise grows more and more discontent, George withdraws further into his work and his mannered, bumbling persona.

But when George accidentally runs over a mentally handicapped convicted child killer, Henry Niles, and the vicious locals set out to lynch Niles, George finds it within himself to defend the man and his own home from trespassers. Here, on Trencher's Farm, all the Dando men are outsiders, and George is soon fighting not only for the life of a guilty man, and the safety of himself and his own family, but for some innate sense of blood debt.

Williams has not only written a gripping novel that manages to show all sides to an oddly complicated set-up in the black, white, and gray area of morality, but he does so by stressing realism. The confused reasoning of George, the perplexing nature of his and Louise's relationship, the curious nature of the brutal Dando men, all lends itself to thoughtful and profoundly affecting themes. We're really not sure who to root for, who might be considered sympathetic, who are the innocents, and who is the guilty or mad. It's provocative storytelling at its finest.

NOIR AT THE BAR edited by Jedidiah Ayres & Scott Phillips. A first-rate crime fiction charity anthology designed to help out the beloved St. Louis indie bookstore SUBTERRANEAN BOOKS (http://store.subbooks.com/). Very few anthologies manage to hit on all cylinders, but this is one of those rare ones where there's not a dud to be found. Tales by Sean Doolittle, Laura Benedict, Jonathan Woods, Derek Nikitis, Frank Bill, and Anthony Neil Smith all win over the reader. These are dark, brutal, inventive, sharply-wrought, grabbing stories that will hopefully invite audiences to seek out more work by everyone listed in the table of contents. I'm honestly ashamed that I wasn't already familiar with more of the authors within and that I hadn't read more short fiction by those I was. If I had to choose a couple of faves, I think I'd go with Dennis Tafoya's "Doe Run Road," a cleaved to the bone narrative about a gut-shot loser trying to make it home just so he can face his hated mother once again; and Pinckney Benedict's "Pig Helmet and the Wall of Life," about a powerhouse burnt-out cop who should've been born in the savage dark ages, who manages to discover an odd form of grace while watching a carny motorcycle act where the riders whip around the inside of a wooden cylinder. Both tales offer even-handed subtleties even while they offer up hard left hooks to your heart. Go, order now.

CHICAGO LIGHTNING by Max Allan Collins. The short stories featuring Collins's classic private eye Nathan Heller have finally been collected by Thomas & Mercer. This is an excellent companion piece to the recent Heller novel BYE BYE BABY, featuring Heller's involvement with solving the Marilyn Monroe case. The Heller tales offer up terrific historical PI fiction. Heller's career spans practically the entire history of American crime. In the short stories we meet up with the likes of Frank Nitti, Mickey Cohen, Eliot Ness, Thelma Todd, all involved with real cases of the 30s and 40s that Heller always winds up in the middle of.

Collins's does his homework. These pieces read like actual historical documentation, the eras and famous personages taking on a real and authentic sense. The pieces are vivid, have depth, and traverse the arena of mystery fiction from noir to hardboiled to police procedural. Heller also grows as a protagonist, his past shaping him as he goes along from one piece to the next.
I missed a lot of these tales on their first publication so I was thankful to finally get a chance to check out those I hadn't seen before, as well as the revamped "The Perfect Crime," a tale that was originally written for a Philip Marlowe compendium that was rewritten to become an even more entertaining Heller piece. My fave might be "The Blonde Tigress," a smart, fun, playful, twister of a mystery that's put together in such a way that you'll reread it immediately just to see how smoothly it was done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Last Kind Words

That’s our new puppy Dash(iell Hammett). We found him at the pound where the poor little guy had already been through eight miles of hell. He was an abandoned stray, survived Parvo, and just got over a bad bout of pneumonia. Now he’s active, healthy, putting on weight, and a total joy.

Although the publication date of THE LAST KIND WORDS is still eight months away, you can pre-order it now from Amazon. Standard discount is already in place, so you can save yourself over 30% on the cover price. As soon as ordering info is up at B&N and elsewhere, I’ll relate that info here too. No cover art yet, but you can bet a dog will be on it.

Even if you’re not inclined to purchase the book at this time, I’m hoping fans will stop by and "like" the page, add a few Amazon tags, or start a discussion.

THE LAST KIND WORDS is the story of a young thief named Terrier Rand who returns to his criminal family (each member of whom is named after a different breed of dog) on the eve of his brother Collie’s execution. Collie went mad dog for apparently no reason and went on a killing spree murdering eight people. Now, five years later, Collie swears he only killed seven people, and the eighth was the work of someone else. Terry not only has to deal with an ex-best friend, a former flame, some mob guys, and other assorted badasses, but he’s also forced to investigate that night his brother went crazy and find out if Collie is telling the truth. But more than anything, he really wants to know the reason for why his brother went on a spree, in the hopes that Terry himself is never pushed to that kind of edge.

But at its heart this story is a family drama, about Terry’s search for his own identity amidst all the usual conflicted emotions we have for our loved ones and our own personal histories. Is he anyone special if he’s not doing what he does best? Can he really turn his back on the people who accept him for who he is despite his flaws and his past? Can he ever live with the guilt of abandoning his girlfriend? And can he survive his own covetous nature in wanting his best friend’s life, wife, and child, the life he could’ve had himself?

Currently I’m working on the sequel THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK.

A few blurbs from some of the biz’s most talented and generous people. My undying thanks to them all:

"Perfect crime fiction...a convincing world, a cast of compelling characters, and above all a great story."--LEE CHILD

"Tom Piccirilli is clearly a writer to embrace now before he becomes huge. In THE LAST KIND WORDS he takes us inside a mutated family of crooks and unleashes a stunning story that ranges far afield at times but never truly leaves home, a place where shadows grow in every corner. It’s superbly told, with prose that doesn’t mess about or flinch from evil and characters who are best known from a distance."–DANIEL WOODRELL

"For the first time since The Godfather, a family of criminals has stolen my heart. A brilliant mix of love and violence, charm and corruption. I loved it."–NANCY PICKARD, author of The Virgin of Small Plains

"You're in for a treat. Tom Piccirilli is one of the most exciting authors around. He writes vivid action that is gripping and smart, with characters you believe and care about. I always pay attention when I see his name."–David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of FIRST BLOOD and THE NAKED EDGE

"You don't choose your family. And the Rand clan, a family of thieves and killers, is bad to the bone. But it's a testimony to Tom Piccirilli's stellar writing that you still care about each and every one of them. THE LAST KIND WORDS is at once a dark and brooding page-turner and a heartfelt tale about the ties that bind. Fans of Lee Child will love this hard-boiled, tough-as-nails novel."–LISA UNGER, New York Times bestselling author of FRAGILE

"A modern noir master, Tom Piccirilli's usual propulsive prose and relentless storytelling are on display in THE LAST KIND WORDS, but it's his sense of relationships and the haunting power of family that lifts his writing beyond others in the genre. A swift-moving and hard-hitting novel, THE LAST KIND WORDS reads as if it's being whispered to you in a dimly lit bar where violent men, tough women, and powerful ghosts flicker in the mirrors."–Michael Koryta, Edgar-nominated author of SO COLD THE RIVER

"There's more life in Piccirilli's THE LAST KIND WORDS (and more heartache, action, and deliverance) than any other novel I've read in the past couple of years. Nobody in crime fiction is doing a better job than Tom Piccirilli right now. Simple as that."–Steve Hamilton, Edgar Award-Winning Author of THE LOCK ARTIST

"Tom Piccirilli 's narrative voice is one of the most stylized and fearless of the current batch of neo-noir novelists."–Crime Factory
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Also coming up: more ebook releases of my out-of-print stuff. My first ever zombie novella entitled PALE PREACHERS will see print from Creeping Hemlock Press. And another short novel along similar lines to Every Shallow Cut called WHAT MAKES YOU DIE, published by Apex.

People: Remember that writers and other artists live and die by word of mouth. Readers, fans, critics, keep reviewing books, films, and other creative product as much as you can. On Amazon, B&N, your blog, on Goodreads, message boards, wherever. We could always use more feedback. Send notes and emails to your heroes. Make sure you review a book, indie film, or some other piece of art today. Talk them up. Promote, publicize, keep the creative impulse alive. We need you, folks.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

FANTE: A Memoir

Dan Fante grew up in the shadow of his father, John, a damaged, raging writer of great literary talent who always believed he’d sold out his genius for the easy Hollywood screenwriting check. Much like his father, Dan grew up a victim of his own chaotic emotions, driven to succeed and doomed to sabotage his accomplishments with drugs, alcohol, violence, and his own intense, unstoppable self-loathing.

In his new memoir FANTE, Dan explores his relationship with his father and examines how familial resentment and envy drove him from his hometown of Los Angeles to the mean streets of New York. He takes the reader on a harrowing, sorrowful, and detailed tour of hell, exposing the seedy and seductive side of quick cash, perverse sex, and numbing booze. His battle with drugs and alcohol brought him to the edge of suicide and madness many times over, but he always managed to make it through the storm of frenzy. Among dozens of dead-end jobs Dan also became a carny, a runner for the mob, a private eye, the owner of a booming limo company, manager of a musician, and eventually, with the help of his father’s own typewriter, a novelist.

In a fascinating and poignant fashion FANTE offers up touching lessons in passion, pain, forgiveness, acceptance, survival, and redemption. It makes for captivating and gut-wrenching reading, the kind of savagely explicit and candid prose we just don’t see enough of anymore.

Just as importantly it should reinvigorate the name of Fante so that readers will immediately seek out John Fante’s wonderful books ASK THE DUST, BROTHERHOOD OF THE GRAPE, and DREAMS FROM BUNKER HILL as well as Dan’s powerful novels CHUMP CHANGE, MOOCH, 86'D, and SPITTING OFF TALL BUILDINGS. Go now and read FANTE: A MEMOIR, and then grab everything else you can by these two wild giants of the dark heart and back alleys.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs

When recent Word War II vet Bull Ingram, a sort of private investigator, is hired by a Memphis radio station owner to hunt down vanished employee Early Freeman. Early’s job was to push new records and grease palms at privately-owned small southern radio stations. But somewhere along the way it’s believed that Early crossed paths with Ramblin’ John Hastur, a blues man said to have sold his soul to the devil. Hastur’s brand of music brings out the darkness in people. It’s said to be able to drive folks insane with rage and desire, and to raise the dead.

As Bull travels across the backwoods of Arkansas trailing Early and Hastur, Sarah Rheinhart has just left her drunken, abusive husband to return with her daughter to the family plantation. Once there, Sarah reestablishes her relationship with her mother, a bitter woman dying from Lupus, and her best friend, Alice, the family housekeeper. She also finds her curiosity piqued by the family library, full of books on the occult that seem to call to her and infect her dreams. She seeks out Father Andrez, a local priest who was also once in charge of the Vatican’s secret library of occult literature.

After Bull faces down the evil personage of Hastur during a riot at a bayou speakeasy, he finds himself being cared for by Sarah. Clearly great forces rather than coincidence are drawing these people together as ancient evils and apathetic gods abound in a savage, grand mystery.

Jacobs shows real skill with weaving all these elements together, especially where the Lovecraftian mythos is concerned. I’ve never seen the mythos handled in quite this fashion, as background material to strengthen the main tale, but also with a unique spin. Here, the Old Ones are actually the first gods, the Titans, called the Prodigium, who are mostly indifferent to humanity. But they’ve severed off portions and aspects of themselves into a variety of lesser gods, referred as the "angry teenager gods," many of whom hate their very existence because they’re incapable of returning to their "parents." There’s also the concept of "Godshatter," which describes possession by these demons/deities. It’s funky stuff, and anybody who can pull off any kind of new flair where Lovecraft’s mythos is concerned gets high marks from me.

If you dig crime/horror/dark fantasy/southern gothic crossover (and who doesn’t?) written with a confident voice and a haunting, poignant edge, pick up John Hornor Jacobs’s debut novel SOUTHERN GODS. I recommend it wholeheartedly and look forward to whatever else Jacobs presents to us next.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spinetingler Raves...

Thought I'd share this extremely generous and thoughtful review of my noirella EVERY SHALLOW CUT written by Nik Korpon (author of STAY GOD and OLD GHOSTS) over on the illustrious Spinetingler Magazine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bye Bye, Baby by Max Allan Collins



Mark your calendars, kids. Nate Heller, "PI to the stars" and the hero of Max Allan Collins’ historical mystery series, returns on August 16, 2011 with BYE BYE, BABY.

The novel is vivid, rich, evocative, and atmospheric. You feel L.A. here, the classic L.A. era as it was in the early 60s, just before MM’s death and JFK’s assassination ushered the innocent days out and the age of Viet Nam in.

As Marilyn Monroe goes to war with her studio, fighting off a smear campaign by the powers that be who want to leverage the control of her career, she hires Nate Heller, her friend and occasional lover, to bug her phone. She wants proof of what’s being said by the likes of studio head Darryl Zanuck as she counters reports that she’s been addled by drugs and alcohol. Heller does as he’s asked but soon discovers that Marilyn’s house is already being bugged by a colleague, under orders from Jimmy Hoffa...and perhaps others as well. Turns out that Marilyn’s become a chess piece among powerful political opponents of JFK and Bobby Kennedy, both of whom have been among her lovers. Nate knows big trouble is right around the corner for Marilyn, though he’s unable to truly break through to the still somewhat naive girl who still resides within the heart of the most fabulous sex symbol of all time.

Soon Marilyn is found dead of an overdose, an apparent suicide. But Nate knows that there’s a lot more that’s gone on behind the scenes, and he launches his own investigation into Marilyn’s death, hoping to make someone pay. Collins has put a mind-boggling amount of research into this work. It reads with an authenticity that is rare among mysteries that deal with historical subject matter as mythic as Monroe, Sinatra, Sam Giancana, Joe DiMaggio, Peter Lawford, Jimmy Hoffa, Bobby Kennedy, and JFK. Their literary versions are almost never humanized, but Collins’ has gone to extremes to give us not only an informative and entertaining account, but also a realistic one, walking a narrow and neutral line so we see our legends in a genuine light.

Another thing I appreciated in BYE BYE BABY is just how long Marilyn is in the novel. From the synopsis you might think that she’s only in the story for the opening chapter, nothing more than a catalyst for action. But Collins isn’t satisfied with just providing impetuses–he gives us full flesh and blood characterizations.

Another excellent entry in the Heller series. In fact, I think it’s my favorite to date. A gripping and fascinating read that takes us from the bright lights of Hollywood and deposits us in the alleyway shadows of shattered dreams.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

All My Crushes Are Dead

We live and die by our great and minor loves. Our lifelong obsessions and our constantly changing compulsions. Our new favorite songs, movies, books. Glimpsed faces on the street, hopes in the night. Some of which stay with us for decades, and some of which drop away after a few days or weeks, only to be replaced by others that will drop away in days or weeks. We love. Sometimes forever, sometimes for a little while. We crush.

We find ourselves overcome by that profound burning delirium and adoration for whoever...whatever. A carefully stored moment. A scene, a lyric, a verse. Rock stars, movie stars, literary legends. Flavors, colors, dynamics, touches, textures. We lose ourselves in daydreams. We run the clip over and over.

You shut your eyes and you’re there again, in your place of safety, exchanging the same dialogue you’ve exchanged before. Maybe only twice, maybe ten thousand times. The voices are clear in your ear. You tell your dead father the things you never got to tell him before. He reacts. You see him smile. He holds that smile like a yellowing photograph framed on your night stand. He’s been holding it for about forty years. He’ll be holding it until the end of time. Until the end of you, the end of me.

I need him to hold it. I won’t ever not need him to hold it.

And it’s a bright hot summer day with only the barest breeze. It takes us back to another summer. To a street whose name we don’t recall.

To talk to a poet who wrote something that lives inside you like another chamber of your heart. The poet is long gone. Perhaps because of love. The kind of love we’re talking about. The kind of love that feels as if it will never dissipate, even though it sometimes does.

We dream about dancing with and fucking our imaginary lovers, sitting and drinking top shelf whiskey with our rugged heroes, coming face to face with our long-gone parents or high school sweethearts. Our biblical myths. Our faces for God. Our perfect selves, where we’re younger and trimmer and much more beautiful, and we know the right thing to say all the time, and the right things are said to us, all the time. We live inside songs. We live within frames of film. We live between lines of books.

We sometimes die but we die performing brave and lasting actions. Gorgeous, sweet girls shed tears for us. Handsome men make gestures of brotherhood and pride as we sink beneath the water, fall into cracks in the ice, burst into flame, drift away from pulsing chest wounds, die on the cross.

I’ve died for my crushes. And they’ve died for me. Right now, as I write this, they’re all dead. I crush on matinee idols no one remembers, I read books no one else owns. I play songs over and over that no one else remembers the words to. Maybe I’ll resurrect them with this sentence, or the one after it, or in my next story. Because they’re trapped in me, protected for now. And new loves are always waiting somewhere on the street, in the park, in the next bookstore aisle, or in that slim volume of poetry on the shelf.

Another night’s dream, another wild obsession that brings me this much closer to edge of the big ledge. The thing that dooms and damns and kills me by inches, and yet is somehow also the thing that, at least so far, has always kept me alive.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting Off: A Novel of Sex & Violence by Lawrence Block



Lawrence Block has written it all. Just check out his website for more than 50 years worth of material in a wide array of genres under a whole helluva lot of pseudonyms. Noted primarily as a crime writer, and voted a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, Block is one of the most beloved and highly awarded mystery authors in the world. Hard Case Crime even started its line off with the first-class Block reprint GRIFTER’S GAME, which remains a favorite title among HCC fans. With another bestseller on the shelves at the moment, the latest in his long-running Matt Scudder series A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, the author seems busier than ever. Also, for a guy who just celebrated his 73rd birthday, he’s utterly at ease with the inner works of social media. Just check out his Facebook, Twitter (@LawrenceBlock), newsletter, and brand new blog. It’s safe to say that Lawrence Block hasn’t slowed his step up in the least.

GETTING OFF is the first new novel Block has written for HCC and its first hardcover release. It revives his "Jill Emerson" pen name from his lesbian porn-writing past, and follows the bloody swath made by Kit Tolliver, the beautiful and psychotic anti-heroine of the novel. Kit has some impulse control issues thanks to the early trauma from advances made by her child molesting father. Now Kit has become a chameleon, whose identity is always changing but whose compulsion remains the same: she needs to have a lot of sex, and she needs to kill the men she sleeps with.

When the narrative begins Kit is already a wily, self-reliant killer who’s chalked up a lot of victims, but as they say, too much is never enough. Kit soon becomes obsessed with the five men she slept with who, for one reason or another, managed to get away alive. Now she’s on a mission to hunt each of the five down and scratch them off her list. Along the way she revisits an early boyfriend, finds herself the plaything of a murderous couple's sex game, and possibly even discovers true love.

This is racy, raucous, highly readable, and just plain fun naughty material that is as much a blazing satire of sexual dynamics as it is an over-the-top actioner of a serial killer stalking victims. Various chapters read like self-contained short stories (and according to the copyright page, some sections have appeared as complete tales in a couple of anthologies). You can practically hear Block chuckling as he tackles such scenarios and topics as married businessmen on the prowl in hotel lounges, slipping roofies to unsuspecting dates, sneaking out of bed before your one-night stand awakens, conjugal visits with the dame who set you up, the proper technique to snap somebody’s neck, and of course, how to clean blood off your icepick and whether to dispose of the body or just leave it where it lies.

So go and make room on your bookshelf now. Block is back, Jill Emerson is back, HCC is back, Scudder too is back, and the sexual revolution is back. And it’s a killer.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Camouflage by Bill Pronzini




Every time I finish off a Bill Pronzini novel I proclaim that it’s one of his best. And I do not lie. There’s a reason why he was elected a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master a couple of years back. The man raised the bar on himself and crime fiction decades ago and keeps it as high today as he ever has. Case in point, his latest Nameless Detective novel CAMOUFLAGE.

CAMOUFLAGE is a spot-on title that perfectly illustrates the theme of the novel’s two side-by-side plotlines. We’re talking about sociopaths who hide their inner evil from the rest of the world beneath a so-called normal exterior.

Nameless and his partner Tamara are asked by obnoxious well-to-do David Virden to hunt down the third of his three ex-wives so he can have the marriage annulled, leaving him free and clear to marry wife #4, an heiress who will set him up for life. However, after wife #3 is found Virden claims that Nameless and co. have made a mistake and he’s never met this woman before in his life. Soon after, Virden disappears, leaving Nameless and Tamara to wonder exactly what’s going on. Is it a case of mistaken identity, identity theft, or something much more sinister?

Meanwhile, employee Jake Runyon is taking care of a personal matter dealing with Bobby, his new lady interest Bryn’s son, who appears to be the victim of abuse. Covered in bruises and with a recently fractured arm, Bobby refuses to discuss the matter with his mother. Jake steps in to offer the kid some much needed guidance that Bobby isn’t getting from Bryn’s ex-husband, and he slowly earns the boy’s trust. Soon Jake is dealing with a psycho with a past full of cruelty and eventually finds himself knee-deep in murder.

The set-ups are relatively simplistic until you realize just how much truth, honesty, and humanity Pronzini has filled the novel with. In an age of thriller material that whips by at bullet train speed, the author purposefully slows the pace of his work in order to concentrate on authentic motivations, reactions, fears, and perplexities. Nameless has never been a brawling, gun-toting superman, and as he’s grown older he’s become even more of a sympathetic understandable everyman kind of character. Therein lies the strength of the series, and our unflagging interest in Bill Pronzini’s discerning, heart-felt literature.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Choke Hold by Christa Faust

In CHOKE HOLD, the follow-up to Edgar Award-nominated and true noir classic MONEY SHOT, author Christa Faust brings former porn star and black angel of vengeance Angel Dare back for another go-round of sex, danger, brutality, and all-around fun pulp nastiness.
After the events of MONEY SHOT, where spitfire Angel wound up cutting a murderous swath through the Croatian mob and testified against the human trafficking ring, she was placed into Federal Witness Protection, given and new identity, and promised complete safety. But black angels of vengeance rarely live the quiet life, and after nineteen months of normalcy, Angel found herself outside her therapist’s door listening to a familiar Croatian voice, and was forced to go on a run again.

Angel finds herself a waitress in an Arizona desert diner, using the outlaw owner to set herself up with a new passport, when in walks "Thick" Vic Ventura, a former lover and fellow star of adult cinema who just so happens to be meeting his eighteen year old son Cody for the very first time. So what’s noir fiction without at least one major coincidence to set the fuse on the whole explosive story? When Vic is blasted in the back by a bunch of punks, Angel promises to help the kid, a Mixed Martial Arts wannabe champion, get to Vegas and an MMA tryout. Along the way they pick up Cody’s trainer, the punchy but good-hearted Hank, and the trio is forced to outrun various killers and high-powered criminals through the desert and along the Mexican border.

Faust knows action; how to start it up and keep it going, and make it burn and jump either with gunfire, asskicking, or raucous sex. Her narrative is lean, readable as hell, and full of humor with just the right amount depth when it comes to her growing feelings for Cody. Angel’s attracted to him even while she’s forced to act as his surrogate parent, which is kind of funky and weird and adds a different kind of spin on the dynamics here. Angel’s also interested in brain-damaged Hank, who may be forgetful and loopy but is also a gentleman, the kind not often found in any of Angel’s previous spheres.

Fast-paced, witty, and engaging, CHOKE HOLD is likely to snap your clavicle or fracture your sternum with its high intensity action, violence, and stylish naughty verve. Also, let's all give it up to TITAN BOOKS for helping to keep our beloved Hard Case Crime going.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott




Lizzie Hood and Evie Verver are two inseparable 13 year-old best friends who share in everything from field hockey to picnics at the lake. Evie’s older beautiful sister Dusty is sophisticated and loved from afar by all the schoolboys, a dynamic but damaged young woman who offers the girls an exciting view of what’s to come in their own near-future. Evie’s father is a handsome, strong, and giving man who has replaced Lizzie’s own distant father.

So when Evie goes missing one afternoon after school Lizzie is left feeling not only frightened for her friend but incomplete in herself. As the Verver family stumbles along day by day with a fruitless police investigation, it’s up to Lizzie to pull together fleeting impressions and half-remembered comments made by Evie that might hold the answer to where she’s gone or who may have taken her.

Did she have a secret boyfriend? Were there troubles with classmates? Problems at home? As Lizzie’s pubescent crush on Mr. Verver grows, he entertains her with stories of his own adolescence and dazzles her with visions of what she can look forward to where heartache and true love are concerned. As dark intentions and veiled ambitions are slowly revealed, Lizzie is forced to come to a decision on exactly how much she should keep hidden and what she should acknowledge.

Author Megan Abbott’s narrative is exquisite, atmospheric, muscular yet subtle, exploring the mythic essence of truth as much as developing the story by parceling out clues and observations on characters and the secret spheres they inhabit. The plot is naturally and intricately built upon Lizzie’s memories, dreams, and sometimes imperfect understanding of the Verver family and the larger world around her. Like in life, small gestures take on greater significance: A hesitation, a glimpse, a half-spoken whisper, a touch on the wrist become powerful earmarks and signs for a pubescent girl.

Abbott puts as much emphasis on the pained human condition as the whos and whys of the tense mystery. The often cruel and confused motives of the human heart underscore a grand and involving maze of conflict, giving the story a broad and gripping canvas. This is mainstream literature by way of noir anguish and page-turning suspense. Dramatic, complex, poignant, and gut-plucking, The End of Everything is the kind of realistic yet dark-hearted coming-of-age story that’s likely to reintroduce you to the skeletons in your own bricked-over family closet.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Conclusion, LKW Launches, and How Brian Keene Almost Blew Up the World

Lots of updating to do, so here goes.

I received word that my next novel due out from Bantam in hardcover THE LAST KIND WORDS officially launched to the sales force a few days back. After a couple of painful delays this means that the novel will now definitely be coming out in spring of '12. That gives me a year to create as much mega-buzz as I can, beginning with my proposed sex scandal. I fully intend to send hundreds of strippers, porn stars, and prostitutes into laughing fits by showing them pictwitpics of my pee-pee. Headlines will be forthcoming.

Speaking of headlines, my tribute to my pal Brian Keene, “How Brian Keene Nearly Caused the Nuclear Apocalypse and Yes, Every Word of This is True, Mostly,” taken from this year's World Horror Convention Program Book, has been posted on Brian's site. Don't just read it, my friends, learn from it. For God's sake, learn from it!

An all-new original story of mine "The Conclusion" has been posted over on Horror World. Check it out for free.

The 4th issue of NEEDLE magazine has just hit, including work by Ray Banks, Todd Robinson, Patti Abbott, Scott Morse, Don Lafferty, and many others, including my own contribution "Osteoporosis."

Not sure when it will hit, but be on the lookout for my lengthy tale "The Void It Often brings With It" in an upcoming issue of ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

Also keep your eyes open for "Riding the Bus" in Warren Lapine's new anthology FANTASTIC STORIES.

Several more terrific reviews have come in for my little slice of noir hell EVERY SHALLOW CUT, including one by Paul Goat Allen over at the B&N Bookclubs, who says, in part: "This was a fascinating – and fast – read. Every Shallow Cut isn’t quite crime fiction or horror, but a story that deftly treads the boundaries between both genres. If I had to categorize it as anything, I’d call it a darkly nuanced thriller since it’s essentially an exploration into what happens when the stresses of modern day life become too much to handle for one man. And there’s a real sense of authenticity and timeliness here – Every Shallow Cut does a brilliant job of reflecting the feelings of economic and existential hopelessness that so many people are experiencing in today’s society. This powerful little noirella will surely delight – and disturb."

Also, a Milwaukee Public Library blog that compares Every Shallow Cut to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. Finally, I can hold my head high!

Jessica Blanchard of The Hipster Book Club had these generous words to say: "While he may not become a tween girl favorite, Tom Piccirilli's ability to relate the maddening but human experiences of unfulfilled hope or fear of failure through an evocative and exhilarating story makes EVERY SHALLOW CUT a standout. The story will resonate long after the short time it takes to read."

Since our May $.99 sale for NIGHTJACK was such a hit, we're doing another one in June. Get my SHORT RIDE TO NOWHERE noirella for under a buck on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords or just about anywhere!

SUPERNATURAL NOIR ed. by recent Bram Stoker winner Ellen Datlow is due out next week, including a tale from me. If you don't mind a little horror or fantasy mixed with your crime and noir, check it out. Here's the TOC:

"The Dingus" by Gregory Frost
"The Getaway" by Paul G. Tremblay
"Mortal Bait" by Richard Bowes
"Little Shit" by Melanie Tem
"Ditch Witch" by Lucius Shepard
"The Last Triangle" by Jeffrey Ford
"The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven" by Laird Barron
"The Romance" by Elizabeth Bear
"Dead Sister" by Joe R. Lansdale
"Comfortable in Her Skin" by Lee Thomas
"But For Scars" by Tom Piccirilli
"The Blisters on My Heart" by Nate Southard
"The Absent Eye" by Brian Evenson
"The Maltese Unicorn" by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
"Dreamer of the Day" by Nick Mamatas
"In Paris, In the Mouth of Kronos" by John Langan

One last thing. For anyone interested, I'm still offering critiques. $50 for a story 4k words long or under, 2-3 pages of comments. $50/hr, minimum 6 hours for a full-length novel manuscript, 8-10 pages of comments, pointing out strengths/weaknesses/trouble areas with characterization, plot, style, narrative voice, momentum, etc. Just drop me a line here or at PicSelf1@aol.com.

And how's everybody else doing?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Headstone by Ken Bruen

I just finished HEADSTONE, the latest Jack Taylor novel from Ken Bruen, and my friends it's a serious rip-snorter. In this one JT goes up against a group of youths who are devoted to the idea of killing off "misfits," including homosexuals, alcholics, the mentally handicapped, and pretty much anybody they just don't like. And, as you might guess, they really don't like Jack. After he and his two companions--Garda Ridge and the erstwhile ex-con Stewart--all receive miniature headstones in the mail, they know they're on the list of undesirables. Meanwhile, the cold and calculating Father Gabriel hires Jack to chase down another priest who absconded with certain church funds set aside for a satellite group of priests called the Brethren who are apparently up to no good.

Jack trudges through his cases even while he makes plans to meet with his current lady love, an American he had a whirlwind affair with in Paris and who might just be able to lift the darkness from Jack's heart, at least for a while. He's at the whim of his own history, constantly thinking about his sins and his life's small graces. The lessons of his late father spur him on, and friends and enemies from the past seemingly come out of every piece of woodwork.


All the JT books are savage reads but HEADSTONE goes to very wild, deep crevices. Bruen almost gleefully tortures his protagonist, giving him a ray of hope and happiness before quashing it. He falls into the clutches and traps of his enemies time and time again, only to survive with greater scars. It's a tremendously brutal and bleak read, but you're not reading Ken Bruen for butterflies and giggles. You want him to take you to that stinging knife-edge, and he does so with skill, poetry, and honesty, and without reservation.

Monday, May 9, 2011

THE KILLER IS DYING by James Sallis




If you don’t already know who James Sallis is, then shame on your ass. Just keep your eyes open for the film version of his brilliant harboiled noir actioner DRIVE, coming to theaters everywhere with the mega-cast that the story so richly deserves. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, and...well, I’m stuck on the gorgeous Christina Hendricks and can’t think beyond her, but lots of other cool people are in the flick too. Get your tickets early. But what you should do right now, this minute, people, is run out and pick up the novel DRIVE and any other Sallis book you can get your hands on, including the very hip Lew Griffin series that takes place in New Orleans.



Also, it’s time for you to pre-order his next novel THE KILLER IS DYING. A taut, cerebral, quirky, and punchy tale of a, well, no spoilers here, a killer who is dying. As the hitter, named Christian, faces the grand mystery, he also reflects on his own life and the various choices he’s made along the way. He’s not a whiner or a coward, not a sadist (unless you cross him in a bad way) or an animal. He’s an insightful, thoughtful, curious person about to take the first and final step beyond the veil, almost with a curious and hopeful air about him.



On his heels is a cop named Sayles, whose dying wife has withdrawn from him to face her own losing battle alone, a situation he can’t fully accept but must acknowledge. He hunts for Christian, called the Dollman thanks to the code words clients use to garner his services, but he’s not one of those brutally obsessed detectives burning with self-righteousness and a crazed need for justice. He too is more circumspect, doing his best to accept the world on its own terms.



The final thread of the narrative belongs to Jimmie, a teenager whose parents have simply abandoned him and their home in order to go their own way. Jimmie, a very enterprising kid, is amazingly adept at accepting adult responsibilities. He works a full-time job via eBay, buying and selling antique and offbeat products, especially toys. He’s an extremely capable lad, in control of his own fate, except for the fact that he’s having bizarre dreams. They turn out to be Christian’s dreams. Somehow he’s apparently attuned to the dying killer, and is drawn into nightmares and memories not his own.



Let me tell you, only James Sallis has the kind of cojones and skill it takes to throw these sorts of disparate elements into a story and make it all work. He’s a craftsman almost completely disinterested with the usual forms and techniques of crime fiction, choosing instead to center on minimalist meditations on life, dying, and death. This is an intricate, complex and poignant examination of three disconnected souls who somehow find consolation in each other despite remaining separate throughout the novel. It’s a wildly courageous gambit, but Sallis is a sharp and proficient artisan who makes it all work. Nab THE KILLER IS DYING asap and see for yourself.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Remaining Strange

I’ve talked about my father a lot, in this blog and across most of my fiction. Which remains strange because I barely knew him and all that I really discuss is this man’s shadow and myth and the Oedipal trauma under which I continue to labor. He was a handsome slim Sicilian kid who lied about his age to join the Navy during the tail end of WWII. He was a jock and engineer and the foreman of his crew at Gruman. He helped build the Apollo 11 space module. He spent the last year of his life taking me to a ton of horror movies. He left a deep impression on me.

I didn’t know he was sick. I was seven. Most seven year olds are apparently sharper than I was.

I don’t fully understand why I didn’t quite get it, except that my mother, knowing I was a sensitive kid, apparently fought to keep me in the dark. We borrowed a barker lounger from my uncle to give my father some comfort. I recall leaping up onto his lap and hearing him groan loudly. It scared me. I faced him and spotted a long, inflamed biopsy scar across his throat. I remember being shocked into silence while he tried to soothe me, saying, "Don’t be scared, it’s okay, Tommy."

He was dead a short time later. I didn’t know about it. They didn’t tell me until after the funeral. I was shuttled to my aunt’s place where the family took turns looking after me while they sneaked out to attend services and wakes. It probably isn’t so easy to fool most seven year old’s but I was blithely unaware. I was a dumb shit. They took advantage of that fact. They decided it would be easier to break the news to me after first pumping me up full of laughter. My 18 year old brother and my cousins took me down in the basement to teach me how to play Monopoly. They rigged the game so I’d win all the property and money. I was overjoyed and giggling like a hopped up pothead when my brother brought the sledge down. He was a dumb shit himself. He said, "I’m your new father. Dad died."

I tore ass up the stairs and made an Olympiad standing jump into my mother’s arms. She was waiting alone on the couch.

Later on the anger hit. I felt betrayed and empty that I hadn’t been able to mourn with everyone else. I felt abused and hyper-assinine because they’d all been in the know, creeping around me in my ignorance. Somewhere down the line I found my brother’s journal. I wasn’t interested in his anything about it except one day. Nov. 4, the funeral. I read the couple of pages over and over. It had stormed horribly and my brother drew a few gravestones with slashes of rain.

The next day I went to read the journal again and it was gone. I found it torn to pieces in the trashcan. I questioned him about it and he told me I’d violated him by reading his secret thoughts. Like I said, he was a dumbshit kid too. He didn’t pick up on my need to share in the mourning. He wasn’t wise enough to understand the need for a closure I could never entirely have.

So my old man was gone at 46, and the number took on a greater meaning the closer I came to it. Writers live and die by these kinds of symbols. They lend meaning and purpose to the craft and the intent. We’re all painfully self-aware of our own need for drama. And so I give you my upcoming birthday on May 27th. On that day I turn 46. I match the extent of my father’s life, if not his testament. No matter what I accomplish in this life I feel like I can never match him. I know that at least a part of this is wild insecurity on my part. The rest has something to do with living in the looming shadow of the dead.

All of this has added to my incessant struggle and pursuit for identity. Taken as a body of work, I would say that my fiction deals mostly about the search for identity. And nowhere else is this more clear or obvious than in my original-to-digital novel NIGHTJACK. The symbolism is clear. So’s the theater and the drama. So’s the fear.

In an effort to do some damn thing to semi-celebrate my b-day, to note this watershed year, I decided to reduce the price on NIGHTJACK to .99 all across the board. On Amazon, B&N, the Crossroad website, everyplace. Go, enjoy. And find yourself.

Here's the info:

On the day of his release from a mental institution Pace is taken "hostage" by Faust, Pia, and Hayden, three escapees from the hospital who disappeared after the presumed rape and beating of Cassandra Kaltzas, daughter of the Greek munitions tycoon Alexandra Kaltzas. Each suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder, experiencing complex delusions and sometimes fantastical identities. Pace tries to piece together what happened when apparently one of their alternate personalities tried to kill Cassandra.

Pace himself is an alternate of William Pacella, a man whose wife died in a restaurant fire set by a local mobster for insurance money. William Pacella "dies" so that Nightjack can be born-a new personality who may or may not be Jack the Ripper.

For unknown reasons, Pace is able to see others' delusions-when alternates take over members of the group, Pace alone is able to interact with each persona. Included among them is Princess Eirrin, a ten thousand year old sorceress and heir to the Atlantean throne; Smoker, a half-breed gunman from 1880s Arizona; Thaddeus, friend and companion to St. Paul; and the ancient Greek architect Daedalus, who soared among the clouds with his home-made wax wings and watched his son perish in the sea.

Now the four find themselves under attack from assassins sent by Kaltzas to punish the person who attacked his daughter. Conflicting stories abound about Cassandra-whether she was raped, if she was perhaps murdered, or if she and Pace somehow crossed paths even before the hospital. In fact, she may not even exist.

As the attacks persist, the group is forced to face their own personal traumas and terrors, and go in search of Kaltzas in Greece. There, on an island where fantasy, myth, and truth are all entangled, Pace and his many alternates must sift through madness and deceit to unlock the mystery. And everyone may wind up dead unless Pace willingly unleashes the most brutal killer of all: Nightjack.

PRAISE FOR TOM PICCIRILLI & NIGHTJACK

"Tom Piccirilli straddles genres with the boldness of the best writers today, blending suspense and crime fiction into tight, brutal masterpieces."-JAMES ROLLINS, New York Times bestselling author of The Judas Strain

"You're in for a treat. Tom Piccirilli is one of the most exciting authors around. He writes vivid action that is gripping and smart, with characters you believe and care about. I always pay attention when I see his name."-David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of FIRST BLOOD and THE NAKED EDGE"

Tom Piccirilli is at the forefront of the new breed of crime writers, welding his sense of history to a modern sensibility, creating a strong new voice."-Max Allan Collins, author of ROAD TO PERDITION

"Tom Piccirilli writes like a crazed banshee. I love his work."-KEN BRUEN

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are you reading Gifune?

Well you damn well ought to be. It’s no secret (I say so here, here, and here) that I’ve been writing and reading less horror in recent years, but one author who can always make me dive back into black waters is Greg F. Gifune. He’s got a gripping, literate sensibility soaked in atmosphere with a narrative momentum built on seriously muscular prose. He cooks up a flavorful stew full of characters out of myth, serial killers, acts of violence, and the ever fucked-up reality as nightmare, nightmare as reality theme that many attempt but few can pull off with any real style or meaning. Gary Braunbeck can do it. TM Wright can do it. And Greg is another stylistic master of the motif.

Greg was kind enough to send me a package of his latest releases, and in the past five days I’ve finished up both GARDENS OF NIGHT and DREAMS THE RAGMAN.

GARDENS OF NIGHT follows the sordid story of Marcus Banyon, who after suffering an unspeakable trauma vacations with his wife and best friend to a chalet in the deep woods where his apparently newfound capabilities to see and communicate with animals and the very forces of nature lead him to a farmhouse that’s been taken over by the three fates.

DREAMS OF THE RAGMAN focuses on two long-time friends, one now a junkie locked away by a small-minded, sadistic sheriff, who have been haunted by the Ragman, a serial killer who’s been on the prowl for decades, using the trains to enter towns and escape without a trace. The Ragman may or may not be a mythic boogieman, but his very presence has corrupted the lives of the protagonists and torn their friendship apart.

But don't stop there. Keep reading all the books and stories by Greg Gifune that you can get your hands on. I still haven't had enough and will be starting LONG AFTER DARK tonight. Go, now.

Special shoutout to Robert Dunbar of UNINVITED BOOKS for making his new publishing company's debut novel release Greg's own GARDENS OF NIGHT. Is this man wise or what? Hell yeah.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Having Fun with Duane Swierczynski


Just finished an advance copy of Duane Swierczynski's next novel FUN & GAMES, the first in a trilogy from Mulholland Books. Book 2: HELL & GONE and Book 3: POINT & SHOOT will come out in short order, just four or five months apart. It's a rocket of a read, about Lane Madden, a noted actress who's being hunted by "the Accident People," a shadowy organization connected to the Hollywood establishment that seems to have all-powerful connections. They clean up Hollywood's power elite's messes, and if you happen to be a part of that mess, as Lane is, they clean you up too.

Into this set-up wanders Charlie Hardie, a house-sitter/kinda-ex-cop who winds up running afoul of the Accident People and trying to protect Lane from near-omnipotent foes. He’s threatened, beaten, stabbed, tasered, poisoned, bushwhacked, and shot. But Charlie's already survived a couple of serious syndicate hits, and he's just too stubborn to die.

Duane takes no prisoners here (not that he ever does). It's a speed demon narrative that doesn't slow down for a second, not even while taking vicious and violent hairpin turns. Some of these scenes are bound to tie you in knots. The story bounces and whip-cracks and peels out, but instead of shaking the reader loose it just manages to grab hold of you that much tighter. Make sure you have a day set aside when you start FUN & GAMES because once you turn to page 1 you're strapped in for the full wild ride.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Deep Cuts



In the newly revamped CHIZINE you'll find new original fiction by me as well as a lengthy (& enlightening & totally hilarious, natch) interview called Deep Cuts. You'll also find fiction and poetry by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Ed Lynskey, Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, Patricia Lee Macomber, Ursula Pflug, and Rain Graves. Also, over on Allan Guthrie's new CRIMINAL-E website, there's another (very brief) interview with me focusing on digital crime novel releases and my original digital novel NIGHTJACK. Some recent anthos my work appears in include PORTENTS, edited by Al Sarrantonio, a gathering of quiet-horror stories in the Charles L. Grant tradition, featuring Gene Wolfe, Joyce Carol Oates, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Tia V. Travis, Steve Rasnic Tem, Elizabeth Massie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and Brian Keene; and CRUCIFIED DREAMS, edited by Joe Lansdale, an antho of reprints fearing the likes of Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Joe Haldeman, David Morrell, and Norman Partridge. Both are well worth their pricetags and I'm proud to be a part of both finished projects. Still doing critiques, folks. $50 for a 4k words and under short story, 2-3 page long critique. I charge $50 an hour for full-length manuscripts, minimum of 6 hours, max of 20, send the ms. on for an estimate. If interested, just drop me a message here, on Facebook, or at PicSelf1@aol.com. Also wanted to say thanks to everyone for making EVERY SHALLOW CUT one of my fastest moving, well-touted small press works. You guys are the best.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Boycott Dorchester/Leisure

As a former Leisure author I can attest to these folks' shenanigans. I didn't have quite as many troubles as the current stable of authors seems to be going through in the face of Dorchester's near-bankrupcy and constant scrambling to find purchase in the new world of e-publishing. But I've been keeping to my own personal boycott since I parted company with them under a dark cloud back in 2005.

Now my pal Brian Keene is calling readers to arms. If you've been following his blog for any length of time you know the uphill battle he's been having with these people. Now he lays it all out on the line and asks for your help here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pre-order Sara Gran's Latest Now


So I just finished an advance copy of wildly inventive mystery CLAIRE DEWITT & THE CITY OF THE DEAD, the first in a new series by the ever-impressive Sara Gran. You get a serious bang for your buck here, kids, because this one has got it all. It’s a gut-clencher of a crime novel that tackles the concept of Mystery with a towering capital "M", offering up a unique perspective on exactly what drives someone to look for answers and unveil secrets that nobody really wants known.

Claire DeWitt is the world’s greatest PI, a one-time Nancy Drew teen-queen of deductive reasoning who has since become a follower of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette, whose mysterious handbook Detection has led Claire to using the I-Ching, omens, her prophetic dreams, and mind-expanding drugs to help her solve cases along the way. And it’s cost her greatly–she’s lost her friends, family, and even her mind.

Now, still recuperating from a nervous breakdown, Claire is hired to find a respected D.A. who’s gone missing in New Orleans either just before, during, or shortly after Katrina. Is he just one of the storm’s many victims or did something else happen to him?

As powerful as Gran’s descriptive power of a decimated New Orleans is--both the place and the people--Claire’s backstory is just as riveting. We discover that she was mentored by the late, brilliant Constance Darling, a contemporary of Silette, who devoted much of her life to trying to find Silette’s vanished young daughter, and who was murdered in an act of unfathomable violence. Claire, too, lost someone close to her. Her best friend as a teen, who disappeared from a subway station and has never been seen again. These awful mysteries haunt her and drive her forward, consuming her dreams and offering bizarre clues to current cases. The book Detection is her bible, a contradictory text that seems to almost revel in the fact that it pushes Silette’s followers to the edge of sanity. Gran populates the novel with other once-famous, now fallen detectives. Iconic Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe-like figures who were shattered beneath the overwhelming truth that you don’t actually seek out mysteries, your mysteries seek you.

This is a sharp, smart, wry work, the perfect opener to a series that’s bound to draw readers in from all neighboring genres of mystery: fans of horror, fantasy, and noir will all be invigorated by Gran’s offbeat fusion of the mysterious and the mystical. And if you’re anything like me, as soon as you finish CITY OF THE DEAD you'll be clamoring for the next Claire Dewitt adventure.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

ESC is Music to Keene's Ears

My big thanks go out to my little bro, Brian Keene, for his gracious comments about EVERY SHALLOW CUT.

"With an already-impressive body of work behind him, Piccirilli delivers his greatest book yet with Every Shallow Cut. Piccirilli's prose is stripped-down and almost acoustic for this effort. Every word counts... and cuts. If this were music, Every Shallow Cut would sit right alongside Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, Johnny Cash's American Recordings, and Neil Young's Harvest Moon. Highly recommended."--Brian Keene

And don't forget to pick up Brian's latest rip-snorter JACK'S MAGIC BEANS from Deadite Press.

Monday, February 28, 2011

EVERY SHALLOW CUT Starred PW Review


EVERY SHALLOW CUT received a starred review in Publishers Weekly today. Check 'er out, friends.
"Lovers of gritty noir will devour this stand-alone from Piccirilli (Shadow Season), a pulse-pounding account of a writer's descent into despair and violence. The unnamed narrator's wife has left him; he feels guilty about their decision to have an abortion; and his once-promising literary career, which netted him several awards, has petered out. As the story opens, he's a homeless drifter, alone except for his dog, Churchill. When three punks attack him on a Denver street, something snaps and he fights back, seriously injuring his assailants. He pawns his few remaining possessions from his late parents and uses the cash to buy a gun, before traveling across the country to seek out his brother in New York. On his tortured odyssey, he revisits parts of his past in an effort to tease out some sort of meaning. Piccirilli makes his fall from grace utterly convincing and his emotional rage all too understandable. (Apr.)"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do You DRIVE ANGRY?


My pal Patrick Lussier's new film DRIVE ANGRY hit the screens on Friday. This movie is pure action-packed grindhouse gore galore, a total rip-snorting speed demon of a flick. The trailers have done everything but crabwalk backwards to hide the fact that this is a supernatural pure 8-valve horror-grinder. The trailers imply it's another Gone in Sixty Seconds or Fast & the Furious kind of whiz-bang on wheels picture, but don't be fooled. DRIVE ANGRY gives you the cars and the crashes but you also get buckets of blood, hot naked chicks by the barrel, ten million bullet casings and shotgun shells, and a face full of hellfire.

The film follows the adventures of Milton (Nicolas Cage), a badass who recently escaped from the meanest prison of all...Hell! He's returned to earth in order to chase down the Satanic cult that's murdered his daughter and stolen his newborn granddaughter to sacrifice under a full moon in an abandoned Louisiana prison yard. Why? Who the fuck knows or cares? This is a grindhouse picture, baby. You just strap in as best you can, prop your feet up on the dashboard, and try not to take a header through the windshield.

Along the way Milton hooks up with Piper (Amber Heard), a badass chick with a heart of gold, who just happens to have an amazing right cross and doesn't take shit offa nobody. Together they tear up the road in her super-hot (like her) black Charger and kill about a thousand cultists in a variety of heinous ways while trying to stay ahead of the bad guys, the cops, and the Accountant (William Fichtner), a suave representative of Hell sent to retrieve Milton's soul and balance the books.

You'll especially love all the gorgeous muscle cars and the various wicked crashes, the shotgun blasts to the heads, guts, and kneecaps of various crazed villains, Tom (THE MAN) Atkins as a sheriff out to stop Milton at any cost ("Aim for their tires, and when I say tires, I hope you all understand me to mean their heads"), and William Fichtner as the Accountant. He's the ultimate in cool and hilarious to boot.

And for an extra couple bucks you get all of this in 3D. Unlike other flicks which are converted to 3D after the fact, director Lussier films to take full advantage of the digital format so that you not only get razor-sharp shit flying at your eyes all the time but a real depth of focus to the film with the ongoing effect. This movie doesn't just come after you, you fall INTO it.

So all you fans of grindhouse, go now and fly your colors and loudly pronounce your love of badass flicks like this. Rip-roar and do 110 down the highway (but drive safely) to see DRIVE ANGRY.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Every Shallow Cut


My new noirella EVERY SHALLOW CUT is due out from Chizine Pubs on March 15th. You can order a paperback, signed limited hardcover, or ebook here: http://chizine.com/chizinepub/

Some nice advance reviews/blurbs have come in over the past couple of weeks.

"Written in the sparest prose, Every Shallow Cut can easily be read in 90 minutes—and it should be. Doing so makes Piccirilli's matter-of-fact portrait of utter despair more compelling and drives home its austere beauty. Inspired by current economic hardship and possibly by his own worst nightmares, Piccirilli dedicates the book to readers who share such fears. Ninety minutes spent with Every Shallow Cut will sting for years."—Thomas Gaughan, Booklist

"Sometimes we write in blood, sometimes in tears, and in EVERY SHALLOW CUT Tom Piccirilli has done both. It's a book that is profoundly moving and astonishing, his most vulnerable, shining, stunning hour."–Ken Bruen, author of The Guards and London Boulevard.

"It's the rare and gifted writer who can convincingly relate abject despair and be funny without diluting the impact."—Eddie Muller, Founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation.

"Every Shallow Cut is bloody brilliant. So many emotional wallops in so few pages."—Sarah Weinman, Crime fiction columnist for the LA Times

"I love the writing here. It is stripped down to a kind of Charles Willeford-Charles Williams simplicity that is all the more effective for its bluntness and accessability. The dialogue is dead-on....Tom Piccirilli has written many fine books and stories but at this point in his career, for me anyway, I would call Every Shallow Cut his masterpiece."–Ed Gorman, author of The Day the Music Died.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

While the World Freezes


Baby, it's cold outside. We've had a balmy autumn and winter thus far, but last night we hit negative numbers and still haven't come out of them. It would make for good writing time except a new story I just started takes place in summer, and I just can't even remember right now what summer feels like.


So while the world freezes, here's a bit of what's been happening here:


My noirella FRAYED is now available via Amazon Kindle. Thi sis one of my earlier attempts at writing an offbeat crime story at the novella length, with some slight (possible) brushes of dark fantasy.


From the jacket:


“Are you the one who helped him kill the angel?”


Twenty years of repressed anger and memories. A bitter knot of hatred that binds and divides two friends. The dark secret that fuels and devastates them both.


“He killed it. I only helped him to bury it.”


Eddie's doing his best to get by, but every day the good fight just gets harder. And now there's a new burden to shoulder. Gray - his best friend and nemesis in literature, romance, and life - has landed in a bizarre mental hospital, known for its radical treatments, because Gray couldn't bear the weight of an unspeakable trauma. The last time they met, Gray almost killed Eddie, but it seems that all is finally forgiven. Tonight, there's a wild hootenanny up at Gray's house. The nuthouse. And Eddie's invited.


A new interview with me is now up at Spinetingler, focusing on the e-publication of NIGHTJACK.

Another nice review of NIGHTJACK can be found HERE.


The one and only Ed Gorman had some generous comments for my upcoming noirella EVERY SHALLOW CUT, due out in March from Chizine Publications. Ed states: "I love the writing here. It is stripped down to a kind of Charles Willeford-Charles Williams simplicity that is all the more effective for its bluntness and accessability. The dialogue is dead-on....Tom Piccirilli has written many fine books and stories but at this point in his career, for me anyway, I would call Every Shallow Cut his masterpiece."


Here's the product description of EVERY SHALLOW CUT: "He's nameless, faceless, and has nothing left to lose - and now he has a gun! Alone except for his beloved bulldog, Churchill, a man who's failed at his career, his marriage, and his own simple hopes makes his way across the American landscape and the spectacle of his own bitter past, heading home to his brother when he knows there's no home left for him. Tom Piccirilli brings us a story for our current struggling times, taken directly from a broken heart. It is full of realism, grit, and a depth that gives voice to the fears most of us can barely imagine. The terror of loss, the overwhelming dread of failure, the horror of missed-out, mediocre dreams. And the all-too average explosive rage."
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Also: Still doing critiques for those who are interested. $250 for 5-10 single-space critique of a full manuscript or $50 for up to 40 pages of a short story, novella, or opening chapters of a novel, 2-3 page critique. Drop me a line here or at PicSelf1@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cabin Fever

Suffering through a touch of cabin fever since the weather's been less than peachy with snow and wind storms the past few days. But it looks like it'll be rather balmy today. Man, I can use a stroll around the lake or at least a visit to B&N. Anybody else feel like they're going out of their frickin' heads this winter?

But being locked away inside has at least kept me busy working steadily on THE LAST WHISPER IN THE DARK, the tentatively-titled sequel to THE LAST KIND WORDS, my next novel due out from Bantam...some time this year, hopefully. About 20k words in and pleased with the feel and direction of the book.

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The first generous comment has come in for EVERY SHALLOW CUT, via Twitter: "ESC is bloody brilliant. So many emotional wallops in so few pages."--Sarah Weinman, Crime fiction columnist for the LA Times. This noirella is due out from Chizine Publications on March 22.

Comin' at ya this February, a new anthology from Joe R. Lansdale and Tachyon Books. Crucified Dreams looks like another great compilation from Hisownself, and I'm proud to be part of it. Also included are: Stephen King, Harlan Ellison®, Joe Haldeman, Norman Partridge, David Morrell, Charlie Huston, Lewis Shiner, Jonathan Lethem & plenty of other talented folks. This one will feature a reprint of my lengthy piece "Loss."

Also, due out in Oct. from St. Martin's, is The Monster's Corner ed. by Christopher Golden. The theme of this anthology is that all the stories are from the monster's point of view. Included here are: Jonathan Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, Sharyn McCrumb, David Moody, Kelley Armstrong , Dana Stabenow, Chelsea Cain, Heather Graham, Tananarive Due, Michael Marshall Smith, Gary A. Braunbeck, and Simon R. Green. My own offering is entitled "The Cruel Thief of Rosy Infants."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Critiquing

I've been critiquing the novels of friends and professional colleagues for years, and now I'm going to offer my services to others. $250 for 5-10 single-spaced pages of critique pointing out strengths and weaknesses of narrative voice, characterization, plot, dialogue, and what bestseller Steve Berry calls the "oomph factor." What I won't do: red-pen your ms. where grammar/typos are concerned or help you find an agent or publisher. Depending on what kind of a response I get, the return time could be anything from a couple of hours to a couple of months. If you're interested, drop a line here, on my Facebook, or privately at PicSelf1@aol.com. Keep in mind I've written everything from cozies, noir, occult, horror, dark fantasy, and erotica in my twenty-year career. Don't send me romances. Not because I'm biased against them (I'm not) but I haven't written in the form and so don't feel comfortable offering advice in the genre. Otherwise, have at it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Last Deep Breath



My noirella THE LAST DEEP BREATH, which was originally published by Tasmaniac and went out of print in short order, is now available in digital format from Crossroad Press. Only $2.99. You'll find it up on Amazon Kindle in a day or two.