Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Violent Demise...

The horrible laughter had died now and he felt wrung out and debilitated. He stared dismally at his hands and contemplated the emptiness, the harrowing finality of Florence's violent demise.

Death, today, was a lost breath. Death was the slim, crawling red-brown rope of frozen blood spinning from Florence Hagan's throat.

Death was the dark silence of Lew's mind.

Death lay profoundly formless in gathering shadow, musing in the sunless forenoon, puddled and stiffening on the cot, gleaming dully on the walls, feeding contentedly on the lost echoes of Lew's unnatural laughter.

Gil Brewer's Wild To Possess.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Any Number of Things...

1.  Lists are great. If you don't believe me, then check out all the great reasons listed right here. See? I told you.

2.  I promised Heath Lowrance I'd mention how great The Bastard Hand is, on account of this post here. But you don't really need me to tell you that, do you? I mean, you have been paying attention haven't you? It's bloody brilliant, is what it is.

3. Not that I really need another copy of the book (I'm not one for hoarding much these days), but I love the subject of noir music, or music to listen to while reading noir, which is not quite the same thing. It does, however bring up the age-old question: how do we define noir? An interesting attempt is underway at Noirboiled Notes. It starts here, and continues here and here, with more to come.

4. Speaking of number 2 and number 3, Heath promised (in these very pages, no less) that he would be updating his history of noir and hardboiled literature. Well, part 1 is here, covering the early days, and part 2 of a promised 9 moves onto the early giants - Hammet, Chandler and Cain, as well as a few others who aren't quite so well-remembered. I just hope this isn't keeping him from his next novel.

5.  In other news, a London publisher says "I am confident you will be published by a respected publisher, but do not think this is the book that will prove to be your breakthrough. We would be keen to see any future manuscripts... as we think you definitely have potential." They were the last of the places I queried to still be considering it.

I long ago came to the same conclusion about my first book - it's very definitely a 'first book'. I'm proud of it but I learned a lot and have improved a lot as a writer.  In other words... The Debut Novel is Dead, Long Live the Debut Novel.

6.  The new debut novel is, of course, the very one that I am avoiding writing a query letter and synopsis for by writing this blog post and reading Heath Lowrance's blog and Noirboiled Notes etc etc. I am a writer, ergo, I procrastinate.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Breaking A Sweat...

I'd forgotten about The Science of Paul: A Novel of Crime. When the marketing ramped up, before it was published, I thought to myself 'That sounds jolly interesting,' and forgot all about it. I do that sort of thing.

Then Heath Lowrance mentioned it offhand on his blog and I happened to be almost between books and - guess what? - it's reasonably priced on Kindle and Wow, what a book.

I mean, this Aaraon Philip Clark guy is a talented writer. Talented in that effortless way, where he hardly seems to be trying and as a reader you're breaking a sweat to keep up and re-reading passages because they just sound so damn good. It has a lot of pace and action and seems calm and reflective at the same time. Accumulatively deep without getting heavy, for the most part. And hardboiled to the core.

Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect. Occasionally he hammers away because he seems unsure if his writing is sharp enough to drive the point home. His writing is sharper than the knife edge his protagonist walks, but there you go. This is a first novel, and it's a seriously stylish, assured and well-crafted debut.

I for one can't wait to see what he produces next.

In other news: the rainy season is throwing no surprises over here, and humidity levels are breaking several laws of physics, I'm sure. If anybody knows a cure for sweating, I'm all ears. Yes, I've tried drinking.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Finishing Off...

Wedged under the desk, Thompson's body spasmed as if jolts of electricity were shooting through his chest. His hands were jammed between his legs, protecting the balls Pearce had threatened to crush in the desk drawer.
..."I'll be checking. Can I trust you?"
Thompson sniffed. "I'll stay away."
"Okay." Pearce held out his hand.
"Don't." Thompson crossed his arms in front of his face. "Please."
Pearce touched Thompson's elbow with the back of his hand, lightly. "Shake."
Slowly Thompson lowered his arms, red eyes dripping, face shining with tears. His lips quivered as he held out his hand.
Pearce grabbed it and squeezed. Quickly, he turned and left. He was finished here and he didn't want to keep his mum waiting.

It's black. It's bleak. It's uncompromising. But even Scotland's toughest guys don't like to keep their mum waiting.

Allan Guthrie, Scotland's premier psycho-miserabilist. His first novel, Two-Way Split, is now out on Kindle for just 99p. Rude not to, really.