Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On a hot streak

I'll dispense with the usual apology for not posting more and get right to the reasons.
Finishing drafts of a number of projects. The novella Dig Two Graves comes out soon on Snubnose Press. By the end of November if all proceeds as planned.
My other novella, Split Decision is set for December. More on that later.
Almost done with this novel that I love. Jennifer and I have finished our new collaboration and are waiting to hear the response.
But really, I've been reading. Damn, have I been reading. Flush from Bouchercon with a stack of new books I dug in and got lucky enough to get a few advances thrown my way. I'm here to tell you, some hot stuff coming your way soon.
First off, one that is out now is Already Gone by John Rector. I completely adored Rector's last book The Cold Kiss and Already Gone did not disappoint as a follow up. A white knuckle ride, all the cliches. Anyone who knows me knows that the quality I most admire in a book is not knowing what is coming next and Already Gone spun out of control so fast I could not keep up let alone try to predict what was coming next. Fantastic.

The there is Abide With Me from Ian Ayris. Ian is British and I've been a fan of his shorts for a while now. Ian stood out to me as having a very distinct voice. Very British and one I could always hear in my head as I read, you know? I was thrilled to hear he had a novel coming out and I was so keen to have one I ended up slipping through the Amazon cracks and ended up accidentally with a copy of the book a full five months (I think) before it comes out. Since I told Ian I got one in the mail they have stopped the presses and no more will be let loose in the wild until the actual release date.

Well, keep your eyes out for that because Abide With Me is one you will want to add to your list. I guess technically it is a novella. It's short anyway, but it reads very deeply. It is a crime story of sorts, but really it is quite a bit more and the crime tag will do it a disservice. It is a finely drawn character study of two young men in a working class British neighborhood growing up in the turbulent 70s and 80s.

John, our narrator, is a fully realized character with flesh on his bones and blood in his veins. The details and finely drawn characters let me immerse myself in a world I don't know at all but completely understood through the writing.
And then that voice! Ayris creates a world of language that transported me. And isn't that what fiction is all about? John's simple street language isn't fancy but it fits the character. Whenever I would dig into Abide With Me, I left Southern California and was dropped into a rain-soaked neighborhood of row houses and school yards, prisons and football pitches. I didn't always know what John was saying, though the slang became more clear as I went along and I feel like I could hold my own if I was dropped in a London suburb tomorrow. Sure, there's too much soccer...I mean football. But that is the world of Abide With Me and I wouldn't change a thing.
It really isn't until the last third that it becomes a true crime novel and by that point you have such an investment in the characters that what they go through in the finale is that much more heartbreaking.
It's literary, it's crime, it uses the word 'fuck' more than anything I've ever seen in my life. It is so much more than what the 150 page count will make you expect. Expect to be moved and taken to a whole different world that is as real as your own.

Then is Hell On Church Street by Jake Hinkson. I won't spoil my upcoming review in Criminal Element but suffice to say this book was one I'd been looking forward to and that is usually a set up for a big fall. Hell On Church Street was not a disappointment by any stretch. It may well be my favorite book of the year. This one is a keeper for a long time. I'll re-read it for sure and this one is going to be getting a lot of copies given out as gifts by me. It deserves to be a blockbuster and next time anyone asks what is a book that is exactly what I love about crime fiction, this is the one I'll tell them about. I could go on, and I will at Criminal Element. It comes out in December. Get it.

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