Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CHARLIE MARTZ Shows Early Elmore Leonard Work

Charlie Martz and Other Stories by Elmore Leonard is a collection of early, mostly unpublished stories from the iconic crime fiction writer, who died in 2013.

The stories show Leonard beginning to find his trademark style: clean, hard prose along with tight, streetwise dialogue, and salted with simmering menace.

Some of the stories included are crime pieces like the Detroit mobster vengeance tale, "One, Horizontal." Other stories like "The Trespassers," and "For Something to Do," show ordinary people put into threatening situations.

Then there are the Western stories, where Leonard first made his writing mark with novels like Hombre and Valdez is Coming. Two standout tales are the title story "Charlie Martz," and the follow-up "Siesta in Paloverde."

This collection is a varied, interesting read for Elmore Leonard devotees. Leonard was a writer's writer and a rigorous craftsman and Charlie Martz shows how he learned that craft.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

JULIA'S ROOM a Disturbing Suspense Puzzle

Julia's Room by William Wilde -  A sinister puzzle of psychological suspense.

Something happened to Julia inside that scary room and she's never been the same.

Teenager Julia Bell was held captive for years in a basement room before she was released.

Journalist Robert Graham locates the adult Julia living as a recluse and wants to do a book on her ordeal, but he gets entangled in a dangerous mystery. A man who got too close to Julia is now missing. Julia is receiving anonymous threats from someone. And Julia Bell herself may still be a deeply disturbed woman.

As Graham digs deeper into Julia's strange life, he unwittingly opens a door onto a violent new nightmare.

"Julia's Room is a suspenseful mystery that's centered on one woman's psychological makeup. Julia is fragile, mysterious, and somewhat creepy. Something's off about her, but you'll never be entirely sure what that might be.

William Wilde is a gifted storyteller with an eye for the uncanny and unique." -

Margaret Marr - Nights and Weekends Reviews

"I found the events circling Julia too intriguing to resist. I simply had to know what was going on and what would happen next. This disturbing psychological tale left me with a few chills and made my rainy afternoon fly by!" -

Detra Fitch - Huntress Reviews

Now available at Amazon Kindle:


Thursday, June 11, 2015

FINDERS, KEEPERS a Dark Crime Tale From Stephen King

Finders, Keepers by Stephen King is a new crime tale about a famed, reclusive author's unpublished manuscripts and an obsessed fan who will kill to possess those unseen literary works.

The deranged fan is Morris Bellamy, a ruthless sociopath who murders the Salinger-like author and steals the hoard of manuscripts. Morris doesn't want to merely sell the material, he wants to be the first one to read the unseen works by his idolized author. But he never gets the chance. He's sent to prison for another crime and the stolen notebooks remain where he hid them.

Years later, a teen named Pete Staubers stumbles onto the hidden notebooks and plans to sell them himself on the literary black market. But Morris Bellamy is paroled, and when he finds out who has his stolen trove, he goes after Pete Staubers.

The novel brings back a character from King's prior novel, Mr. Mercedes, retired police detective Bill Hodges. It's the stolid veteran Hodges who enters the picture to try to protect Pete from the maniacal killer Bellamy.

The obsessed literary fan theme has echoes of an earlier King classic, Misery. Finders, Keepers is notable mainly for its vivid character portraits and for being written in the author's earthy, idiomatic style.That said, the novel is an entertaining read from Stephen King, even if not at the top level of some of his past work.

Monday, June 1, 2015

GATHERING PREY - New Crime Thriller by John Sandford

Gathering Prey by John Sandford is the latest in the popular crime novel series that features Minnesota State Police investigator Lucas Davenport.

What begins with a young panhandler drifter going missing leads Davenport into a multiple murder case that just keeps spreading in scope.

Lucas gets on the trail of a roving, rag-tag crew of disciples led by a sociopathic, self-styled guru named Pilate. The disciples travel the country in a road convoy, luring and killing random victims to suit their whims.

As Davenport closes in along with a posse of local police officers, the hunt turns into a multi-state chase that leads up to a wild gun battle in a one-horse town in the backwoods of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.

The novel moves like a bullet train through the twists of the chase and the running shoot-out with the fleeing, ruthless disciples. John Sandford continues to produce inventive new plots built around the long running main character of Lucas Davenport. Gathering Prey is an outstanding read that further confirms Sandford's place in the top rank of crime thriller authors.

BEACH RATING: 4 Palm Trees

Saturday, May 23, 2015

AQUARIUS - The Dark Side of the Sixties

Aquarius (NBC May 28) is a new crime series that journeys through both the psychedelic exuberance and the darkest depths of the iconic 1960s decade.

The Sixties era was a time of political turmoil over the Vietnam war, when many kinds of revolution were in the air. It was a period that encompassed psychedelic drugs, the Summer of Love, and visionary rock music from The Beatles, Dylan, The Doors, and Jefferson Airplane.

But the Sixties was also infamous for the crimes of the notorious Manson Family - a ragged communal cult that committed a series of horrific California murders under the mesmerizing sway of the demonic Charles Manson.

Aquarius begins in 1967 Los Angeles as LAPD detective Sam Hodiak (played by David Duchovny) looks into the case of a missing teenage girl. He learns the girl may have joined a creepy band of hippie drifters. That puts Hodiak on the trail of the people who would become the Manson Family killers.

The TV series is set against the colorful backdrop of the Sixties culture scene, when the wild permissive freedom of the era degenerated into the frenzied, amoral blackness of the bloody crime scenes left behind by the Manson Family cult. Aquarius shows that beneath the surface of good vibes and pounding music, something evil and violent was already stirring.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

WAYWARD PINES Series a Sinister Psychological Puzzle

Wayward Pines is a new mystery mini-series debuting on FOX TV May 14. The pilot episode (available now on Comcast On Demand) shows strong potential of a layered puzzle with unexpected twists to come.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke is sent to the isolated town of Wayward Pines, Idaho to look for two missing fellow agents. He's involved in a sudden car crash and awakens in the town hospital. Nothing is normal after that.

Ethan can't get a phone call to the outside world. The local sheriff is menacing and unhelpful. The town residents seem to be hiding something. The highway out is a circular road, leading right back into the town again.

Ethan is suffering from a concussion. References are made to his past mental problems. Nothing about the town seems normal, or is it all in Ethan's own mind? Then it gets worse when he finds the body of one of the missing agents in an abandoned house.

Wayward Pines is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, whose past films have featured artificial reality situations with hidden secrets lurking beneath (Signs, The Village). In Wayward Pines, some characters seem to be manipulating events around Ethan, and at one point, he is referred to by a number. Is the whole town part of some kind of experiment or a test? Or is it a mental treatment facility or even a high tech prison?

Based on the first episode, Wayward Pines looks like a sinister psychological puzzle that should appeal to fans of other enigmatic series like Twin Peaks, Lost, and The Prisoner.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

NIGHTSCAPES Horror Anthology Explores Human Fears

Nightscapes by William Wilde - New short story collection.

Ten dark tales from the landscape of human fears.

A black couple on vacation meet horror in a sinister town ... A former astronaut is hunted by hideous enemies ... Broken people make pilgrimages to a haunted forest ... A pack of robotic creatures menace the streets of a city.

When John and Barbara Norton encounter hostility in the isolated town of Harmony, they think it must be a racial thing because they're black. But is the strange town hiding a different, monstrous secret?

Ben Drake is the Mercury Man, the first astronaut to orbit the planet Mercury. But he saw something there he wasn't supposed to and now he's on the run from horrifying pursuers.

Each of the stories in this collection pulls you into its own uncharted nightscape of fear.

Now available at Amazon Kindle: