CRIMESPREE ISSUE 61 Jul14

CRIMESPREE ISSUE 61

Crimespree issue 61 featuring CHRIS HOLM!   Our next issue will be shipping in a couple weeks, Chris Holm is on the cover with an interview from Erica Neubauer. Chris , along with Kristi Belcamino are both debuting new on going columns. There are some fun interviews including Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Lisa Brackman and Robert Crais and Lisa Scottoline along with great articles book and DVD reviews and other features.     If you need to subscribe or renew information is RIGHT HERE  ...

Author Workspace: John Schulian Feb13

Author Workspace: John Schulian

It’s a sunny afternoon in an El Nino winter and I’m at home looking out my office window at the kind of view readers might never expect if all they had to judge me were the damaged knight valiant, soiled angel, show-biz pimp and relentless sociopath who populate my noir novel A Better Goodbye. At the far end of the swimming pool, the last red roses I’ll see until spring are leggy and proud. A blood orange tree heavy with fruit sits on the slope above them, hard by a historically puny orange tree and a lime tree that will produce endlessly. On the flats of my patio, potted plants slumber and my tangelos and Meyer lemons look ready to pick. Meanwhile, two New Zealand tea bushes are gearing up to burst forth in a riot of color. And to think I once worked on a newspaper whose newsroom looked out at the Baltimore City Jail. Of course, in those days I thrived on that kind of thing. It made me feel like I should be wearing a fedora, smoking unfiltered Camels, nipping from a pint of Old Crow between editions, and shouting “Hello, sweetheart – get me rewrite!” whether or not the occasion called for it. I reveled in the ink-stained life until I lit out for Hollywood, where the pay was better and I got fussier about offices. It’s still hard to believe that one show I worked on housed its writers in a converted photo processing plant. Then there was a converted warehouse on a dead-end street where gang kids gathered on Friday nights to drink themselves into the mood for trouble. At Paramount I found myself working out of the Jerry Lewis Building on one show and the Clara Bow Building on another. Universal was an improvement even though my office was at the bottom of a parking garage. I had privacy, an unimpeded view of the Los Angeles River when it flooded, and the pleasure of telling visitors they could find me on Muddy Waters Drive. Addresses didn’t get any cooler than the one named after the man who electrified the blues. When I went house hunting for myself in 1996, I wanted a home with a media room that could accommodate a TV the size of an aircraft carrier. Once I found it, I managed to control my euphoria long enough to look at the rest of the place. That was when I first laid eyes on my office, in the southwest corner of a half-acre lot, beneath a 150-year-old oak tree. I’ve been here nineteen years now, and though I’ve become the proud owner of a TV the size of two aircraft carriers, the room where that monster sits is nowhere near as appealing to me as my office. It is where I turn words into sentences and sentences into stories, both fiction and non-fiction. It may sound like factory work to you, but I love it until those occasions when the right words won’t bubble to the surface. But even then I never hate it. I look around the room and see remnants of the wonderful moments writing has brought me. Waiting to greet visitors is a framed enlargement of the award-winning cover of the boxing anthology that my old friend George Kimball and I edited for the Library of America. To the left of it is a photo of me with Bill Veeck, the last great promoter who will ever own a team in any major professional sport. Across the room hangs the letter in which Steven Bochco, the legendary TV writer-producer, invited me to take a shot at writing a script for L.A. Law. It changed my life. I would keep my hand in sportswriting, of course, but I was a TV writer first and foremost for twenty years. The rest of the photos in my office bear out...

Williams, White and Willig talk about THE FORGOTTEN ROOM...

The Forgotten Room is a riveting and insightful book. With captivating characters, an intricate plot line, and just missed opportunities it shows how people can be affected by the choices they make. An added bonus is the realism of the settings and the behaviors of the times. Anyone wanting a captivating novel should read this story. Elise Cooper: How did you meet, were you all seated together in the “W” section? Beatriz Williams: We met each other on the writing circuits and would sometimes meet up during book tours as some of our novels would be released at the same time. We had so much fun together, joining each other for dinner. As our friendship built we thought how we all had similar styles, narratives, and used different time lines. EC: Why did you decide to write a collaboration? Karen White: We were all interested in the impact of the past. I learned while writing a previous anthology just because you are a writer does not mean you are a good co-writer. An anthology is just writing your own story, with a short word count, and working in isolation separate from the other authors. Part of my reluctance to do it again is due to the word count. I’m just used to thinking in more sweeping saga-type stories. Instead I chose to write a collaboration, something I would not have done with just anyone. I wanted to do it because we all had the same work ethics and the same goals, which made it is much more involving and fun. It was something I enjoyed immensely. EC: How did you write the actual story? Beatriz: We decided who is going to do each narrative and timeline and then created a detailed chapter outline. Once that basic framework was in place we started writing round robin style. One person would write their chapter and pass it to the next person. We took cues from each other that we built into the next chapter. Our voices were different notes in the same symphony. We became one person with one ego. Karen: It was constant communication so there was no need to edit each other. I joke it was like reading one of my favorite novels and then the author gave me the opportunity to write a little bit for it. EC: Who came up with the idea? Lauren Willig: Karen had the idea of having three different people from three different time periods connected by a building. It would represent how people and neighborhoods can regenerate themselves. We found this perfect building that used to be owned by Beatriz’s husband’s family. It is now a private hospital on the Upper East Side of New York so we marched up to the door and asked if we could look around, explaining we are authors. Beatriz: This used to be a breathtaking mansion. It was our inspiration since it started out as a private mansion for an industrialist and has now become a hospital. When we looked around we saw that every floor was more inspiring than the next. To get to the top floor there was this spiral staircase. There was this amazing room now used for storage that had depictions of Saint George and the Dragon. We started to think who would have lived here. Anyone who has read my book A Hundred Summers might remember the character Aunt Julie. She is based on a real character that grew up in this house. EC: Why did you choose the eras of the 1890s Gilded Age, the 1920s Roaring Twenties, and the end of World War II? Lauren: All these periods are times of great influx. The 1890s had the great crash and woman suffrage when New York was in great disarray. The 1920s, coming right after WWI, had hemlines beginning to rise and women entered the workforce. WWII had Rosie the...

Q&A with Jack Getze

 by Rob Brunet Jack Getze is serious about being funny. If you’ve read any of his BIG series, you’re familiar with the helplessly self-aware Austin Carr. Layering Austin’s humorous point of view into tales chock full of crime and skirt-chasing is a craft Getze doesn’t tire of honing. As generous as they come, Getze coached me on book promotion a couple years ago with the following quip: “I think the best way to spend my marketing time from now on (well, 90%) is trying to write a better book.” Luckily for his readers, he keeps doing just that. You write ‘funny crime’. Which comes first? The crime or the funny? The funny. At least that’s what I’m shooting for when I write. You never know how people are going to take your art. (Unbelievably, my humor doesn’t appeal to everyone.) I just received a three-star review from a guy who never mentioned a laugh, giggle or chuckle, only the plot, including the “exaggerated” scene of a 70-year-old woman involved in a shootout. I’m sure plenty would agree with him, but the man was a Goodreads winner and probably signed up for a lot of free books all at once. Austin Carr will never be this man’s cup of tea, as exaggeration is a series trademark and one way or another, part of every book description. We’re funny first because of the main character: Austin sees everything through a screwball’s eyes. When you’re not writing, how dark is your laugh? Not dark at all. Most people who meet me seem to believe I’m a friendly, funny guy, my laughter easily brought out and sincere. That’s because I love to laugh and can—when the work hums—entertain myself that way creating the events and dialogue of Austin Carr and his pals. You want dark from me personally, you have to mess with my kids, my pets or my income. How do you find new sources of humor in a series character? This is something I struggle with, although it’s Austin screwball nature that provides most of the laughs—the way he talks to the reader about his own actions. He loves to make fun of himself no matter what’s going on. I’ve brought his growing children into the storylines, though, and I think that helped. Mama Bones started as a walk-on but now wants to take over the series. So maybe new characters is a good way for new laughs. I do have to admit I’m getting tired of the redheads. If any person with half a brain had so much trouble with any particular kind of woman, I’m pretty sure they’d try something different next time. Maybe I’ll introduce a blonde. Are there places you want to go in the BIG series which aren’t funny? Oh yeah. I touched on the subject in Big Shoes by mentioning Atlantic City and children being kidnapped, stolen and traded like cash down there. Mama Bones rescues them early and then involves Austin. In the next novel, I plan to bring this on-going tragedy and Mama Bones’ existing rescue operations into sharper focus. Austin and Mama Bones will battle slave traders—or somebody working for them. When did you get serious about your fiction, and what have you done to deepen that commitment as you find readers? I thought I was serious about my stories fifty years ago. I’ve written virtually every day since 1965 or 66. But now I think serious arrived in 1998: I’d produced nine or ten novels in the dark hours before work, including three or four versions of Big Numbers, but only once even attracted an agent (who failed to sell the manuscript). This one Sunday in 1998 my wife showed me a feature story in the newspaper at breakfast, a piece about Writers Retreat Workshop, a place where novelists took their novels to be shaped up by other writers and teachers...

Two Films About Old Age Feb12

Two Films About Old Age

45 YEARS Directed by Andrew Haigh Written by David Constantine Starring: Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtney THE LADY IN THE VAN Directed by Nicholas Hhtner Written by Alan Bennett Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings Although these films were very different in tone, subject and story, both dealt with being old in the UK, or anywhere perhaps. Both were helped enormously by great acting and a terrific story. Alan Bennett, who wrote THE LADY IN THE VAN about his own experiences with a homeless woman who took up residence in his driveway (for 15 years!), excels in writing plays and stories about quirky characters. Himself included. Maggie Smith plays the irritating, irascible and more than a little crazy lady of the title. She’s been passed from driveway to driveway on his street and his suits her longest. Her back story, when it comes out, is a sad one. Parallels between his relationship with the lady and his mother are interesting and poignant. Maggie has never been better. 45 YEARS is perhaps the better film because it nails how a long and supposedly happy marriage can unravel quickly. Secrets from the past are no farther away than an attic hovering menacingly above. Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling play the childless couple who are planning an anniversary party, which threatens to become a wake. Perhaps the camera dwells lovingly on Rampling’s face too often, but it is certainly a worthy one. You can’t help but wonder if those 45 years have been lived mainly by rote rather than by passion. Rampling’s face and eyes are able to convey so much information. What a gift. And Courtney, in the less developed role, is touching. Highly recommended for those who love great writing. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

Lisa Genova’s INSIDE THE O’BRIENS is this week’s giveaway Feb12

Lisa Genova’s INSIDE THE O’BRIENS is this week’s giveaway...

This week, Crimespree magazine, in conjunction with Friday Reads Facebook page, is offering you a chance to win a copy of INSIDE THE O’BRIENS by Lisa Genova INSIDE THE O’BRIENS From the New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice Lisa Genova comes a powerful and transcendent new novel about a family struggling with the impact of Huntington’s disease. Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing? As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate. Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.   About The Author: Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, and Inside the O’Briens. Speaking about the neurological diseases and disorders she writes about, Lisa has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, the Diane Rehm Show, CNN, Chronicle, Fox News, and Canada AM and was featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary film, TO NOT FADE AWAY. To be entered in the drawing shoot an email over to Jon?@crimespreemag.com (remove the question mark) And put CONTEST in the subject line. Also please put your address in the body of the email. We will pick the winners on February...

Phillip Margolin’s VIOLENT CRIMES Reviewed

Violent Crimes Book Five in the Amanda Jaffes series Phillip Margolin Harper Collins Feb. 9th, 2016 Violent Crimes by Phillip Margolin brings back the “take no prisoner” defense attorney Amanda Jaffe. In this fifth book of the series she has two clients suspected of the same murder, one accused while the other confesses. Beyond that readers get an interesting glimpse into the court process given Margolin’s ability to use his experiences of being a former top-notch defense attorney. The plot begins when Amanda is asked to defend Tom Beatty, a former Special Forces Warrior, who has PTSD, and is accused of using excessive force in a bar fight. Although the charges were dismissed Tom’s troubles are only beginning after he is suspected of murdering his co-worker and dealing drugs. Shortly after getting him out on bail another lawyer, Dale Materson, is found dead, also beaten to death. While investigating the case Amanda finds that Materson’s business practices are suspect. The case gets more complicated when his son, Brandon, a radical activist determined to martyr himself for his cause, claims he killed his father. Amanda now has to defend two clients, trying to prove both innocent. The contrast between defendants makes for an interesting read. Tom is someone everyone will root for, while Brandon is as dislikeable as they come. Margolin explores how sometimes a person’s background can influence how he is regarded. Because Tom was a former Warrior and now has PTSD he is seen as dangerous, but Margolin does a wonderful job of showing him as loyal, bright, and caring. On the other hand, Brandon is seen as an obsessed eco-warrior who resents his father for representing the interests of oil and coal companies. Being Dale’s son it becomes evident that the apple does not fall far from the tree considering Brandon is an egomaniac and thoroughly unpleasant. Hopefully no one will ever be put into Tom’s position because Margolin points out in the book “Defending a murder case is expensive… two hundred and fifty thousand to start.” The plot explains how a death penalty case is unlike any other criminal case including a regular murder trial. In death cases the same jury decides not only the person’s guilt, but also a day or two later if they should receive the death sentence. Violent Crimes allows the readers to understand what defense lawyers are up against. Even seasoned pros like Amanda Jaffe must make hard ethical and moral decisions. Violent Crimes is a captivating legal thriller.   Elise...

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs Reviewed

SPACE CASE Stuart Gibbs 2015 Simon & Schuster SPACE CASE by Stuart Gibbs is a clever “whodunit” set in the year 2041, where NASA has rebooted and has made a permanent human colony on the moon, cleverly dubbed “Moon Base Alpha”. The story revolves around a 12 year old Hawaiian boy named Dashiell Gibson, a lunarnaut. Dashiell was sent with his family up to “Moon Base Alpha” because both his parents are brilliant scientists who were thought to do some good on MBA. They were told it would be full of all the comforts of home. The friendly description was far from the truth. Firstly, there were no murderers back home. Secondly, there was not evil plumbing or claustrophobic rest areas. The man murdered on MBA was Dr. Holtz, an expert on low-gravity human physiology. The doctor was murdered early in the morning by being locked into an airlock with no source of oxygen or protection. Though, before Holtz died, Dashiell was in the bathroom and heard Holtz was having a conversation with someone but there was no response. When the news broke, the base captain, Nina, said it was a suicide, but Dashiell thought differently and was punished. Despite that, Dashiell persisted and tried to get video footage by asking a newcomer, Kira, to hack the security system. They found that Holtz had left a message in sign language which leads to the discovery of the murderer. During the period after the discovery of the message, both Dashiell’s and Kira’s lives were in danger, from giant robotic claws to crazy rich pricks. What makes the story more interesting than it already is, is that the characters have literally nowhere to go. You are permanently trapped with a murderer. Even in Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap”, the people could have departed from the house and into the snow, but here; the land outside is a wasteland with no air or food and even if you brought some, you would die in a day, and you know what they say, “no one can hear you scream in space”. The end is also extremely satisfying with one huge twist that explains everything clearly. This being my first review for Crimespree, this was a very good book to start my time writing for the magazine. Review by Conor...

CITY OF ROSE By Rob Hart Reviewed

CITY OF ROSE Book Two in the Ash McKenna Series Rob Hart Polis Books February 2016 It’s unfair to compare someone’s follow-up book based solely on the preceding work. Each instalment should be judged on its own merits, but in the case of Rob Hart’s sophomore effort, CITY OF ROSE, all I could think about was, “How is this going to work?” The answer of course is, “Very well.” In NEW YORKED, Hart introduced us to Ash McKenna, a self-styled “blunt instrument” who operates as an unlicensed private investigator who does favors for friends in need. Ash sets out on a violent mission of vengeance when his one true love is found murdered. The reader is witness to Ash’s tour of violence as he chases down every clue, every hint of what happened when Chell was killed. Now here’s the thing: on this rampage of vengeance, the city of New York becomes the story’s star. Ash’s New York is a living, breathing thing. And next to Chell, the city is the only other thing Ash holds dear in his heart. And then, when it’s over? When the killer is found and the blood is drying? Ash looks inside himself and doesn’t like what he sees. So he does the only thing he can do. Ash leaves the city he loves in order to save his soul. So how can you tell a Batman story without Gotham? What is Ash McKenna without New York? When CITY OF ROSE opens, Ash is no longer an unofficial PI; he’s now an unofficial bouncer. At a strip club in Portland. A vegan strip club. Because, Portland. On a path of spiritual recovery, Ash has cleaned himself up. No more smoking, drinking Jameson, or doing recreational drugs. And no more violence. He’s trying real hard. It also means he’s getting his butt handed to him regularly, because he isn’t much use in a fight any more, but he’s more than happy to take a punch so no one else has to. Add these bruises to Ash’s complete and total fish-out-of-water New-Yorker-in-Portland vibe, and the first half of the story is surprisingly wry. Ash’s narration is endearing and wonderfully charming. Crystal is one of the dancers at Naturals, the club where Ash works. When her daughter disappears, she suspects it’s the girl’s father who has made off with her. Crystal is convinced the police would have zero sympathy for her, since she’s a mother who happens to be a stripper and a recovering addict. Feeling like she’s out of options, she turns to Ash for help tracking down her daughter, Rose. Teaming up with Crystal, we now see things from the perspective of Crystal being on her home turf, and Ash being the outsider. Batman is no longer in Gotham. He’s in Metropolis now. And he has no idea where the hell anything is. And the transit system sucks. And the pizza is garbage. And the guy at the liquor store gives him crap for buying macro brewery beer. The humor here was refreshing. Ash has his demons, and he absolutely fits in the classic tight-lipped tough guy mold, but having him paired with Crystal is genius. This way, Hart gives us a logical device to get Ash talking. Crystal keeps asking Ash about himself so she can keep her mind occupied and not slide into panic.  Ash and Crystal stumble around Portland, pretty much clutching at threads. Eventually finding the thread that to the conspiracy that leads to the missing Rose, Ash is forced to fight against his true nature. Hart presents the hard questions, the questions that most people don’t want to find the answers to: who are we really? And can a person really grow and become someone new? Like Ash’s adventures in Portland, Rob Hart gives us something new as well. CITY OF ROSE shows wonderful growth and change from his...