Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ann Savage (1921-2008)

Christmas 2008 saw the passing of a legendary film noir femme fatale, Ann Savage. Best known for her role in the 1945 noir classic, Detour, Savage died at the age of 87.

When Megan Abbott edited Busted Flush Press's 2007 female noir anthology, A Hell of a Woman, she added a 50-page appendix of essays by authors, booksellers, critics, and aficionados of the genre, in which they were asked to pay homage to their favorite noir writers, characters, and performers. Critic /crime writer Tribe contributed a short piece on Ms. Savage, and with his permission, it's reprinted here:

"From her first appearance at the side of the road in Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour (1945) you know Ann Savage is why hitchhikers have a bad name. All skin-tight sweater, wind-swept hair, an icy look that should freeze over the hellish desert landscape, venomous sneer, she plays Vera with all the subtlety of Kali, the Hindu Triple Goddess of fertility, death and regeneration. When she suddenly turns to face schmuck Al Roberts (Tom Neal) for the first time in the middle of his soliloquy, you fully expect her to sprout another set of arms, stick her tongue out to her navel, rip his head off, and have her way with the corpse. That’s the mojo she radiates in Detour. Sex and death. Robert Graves knew it. Once in proximity to the Queen Bitch, you're touched forever. Besides, Kali ultimately kills everyone in the end. Is it really a surprise that actor Tom Neal would shoot his real-life wife in the back of the head with a .45 twenty-years later?"

[In the author's own words: "Tribe fancies himself a critic and writer, but obviously does neither terribly well. Tribe has had short stories published in various print and internet sources including Plots With Guns."]

We also asked noir novelist Christa Faust (author of Money Shot) to say a few words, too: "Ann Savage was a brilliant, beautiful actress with amazing talent and range, but to me she will always be Vera in Detour. Sweaty and disheveled, venomous and ferociously sexual, Vera was less of a constructed, conniving femme fatale than an unstoppable force of nature. Savage imbued that character with a raw, aggressive and almost masculine power that evokes the same kind of dangerous, unpredicable animal magnetism exhibited by Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill. She was, unquestionably, a hell of a woman."

[Christa provided an essay in A Hell of a Woman on 1950s pulp writer Helen Nielsen, as well as an original noir story, "Cutman."]

Friday, December 26, 2008


Nearly 14 years after its initial publication with Pantheon, Vicki Hendricks's Miami Purity is still getting attention... in this past Sunday's Virginian-Pilot, book reviewer Timothy Lockhart reminded noir fans of the lasting relevance of this Queen of Noir's 1995 debut:

"Vicki Hendricks has been called the 'Queen of Noir,' and after reading Miami Purity you'll know why. After accidentally killing her lover, stripper Sherri Parlay tries to clean up her act by taking a mundane job in a laundry run by a mother-son team, but the son (a mama's boy, figuratively and literally) soon has Parlay thinking bad thoughts about a variety of dirty deeds. As in James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, one of the inspirations for this novel, the harder the characters in Miami Purity try to step out of the mud, the deeper they sink into it."

2008 Edgar Award nominee Vicki Hendricks -- a graduate of the same Floria International University creative writing program that also helped produce Dennis Lehane, Barbara Parker, and Christine Kling -- says, "It was a thrill to see my thesis published as my first novel, and now thirteen years later, I get to enjoy the comeback of Miami Purity thanks to Busted Flush Press. I love knowing that new readers are enjoying the book and it continues to live on its own."

Take a test drive with Miami Purity's opening paragraph:
"Hank was drunk and he slugged me -- it wasn't the first time -- and I picked up the radio and caught him across the forehead with it. It was one of those big boom boxes with the cassette player and recorder, but I never figured it would kill him. We were sitting in front of the fan, listening to country music and sipping Jack Daniels -- calling each other 'Toots' like we both enjoyed -- and all of a sudden the whole world changed. My old man was dead. I didn't feel like I had anything to do with it. I didn't make that choice."

Check out Miami Purity for yourself and find out why it's still heralded as a noir masterpiece. Vicki also has an original story -- "Gator"-- in the brand-new Out of the Gutter 5.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oy! Can’t Anyone Around Here Spell My Name Correctly?, by Reed Farrel Coleman

This entry comes to us from Busted Flush Press author -- and two-time Edgar Award nominee -- Reed Farrel Coleman...

There’s no such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell your name right. How many times have you heard that one? Well, I’ve got a problem. No one, it seems, except critics giving me bad reviews, manage to spell my name right. Okay, so it’s not quite that bad, but, man, sometimes it sure feels that way. The weird thing is that the misspelling seems to be getting more frequent and to be taking on new dimensions. When I was being published by one of the largest and most prestigious imprints in all of publishing, the PR department sent out a press release accompanying the ARC of my latest novel with my name spelled Reed Farrell Coleman. When I called to point out that my middle name has but one L and that all the PR department needed to do was look at the cover of the ARC to check the correct spelling, I was told, in no uncertain terms, to stick to writing the books. Over the last ten years, I cannot count the number of times my middle name has been misspelled in this way. In recent years it’s gotten so bad that I have considered either dropping my middle name altogether or going back to Reed F. Coleman, the name I used as a poet. I would say that roughly half the letters, Google Alerts, blog entries, name badges, reviews, etc., I receive come with my middle name misspelled. It happens so frequently that when you Google Reed Farrel Coleman, you get a prompt asking you if you meant Reed Farrell Coleman. Basically, it happens so often, I can almost laugh off. Almost. Recently, things have taken a strange turn. A few months ago a blogger called me Reed Farel Coleman. One L, yes, but one R too! Then a couple days ago in a major magazine's article on Bleak House Books’ list of Edgar nominees, I was referred to as Read Farel Coleman. I believe it has since been corrected. I’m sure many of you reading this are wondering why I take it so seriously. I’ll tell you why. For one, it’s my name. I use my whole name because in some ways it sets me apart and because it’s a small way to honor my late parents. Secondly, what do author’s really have other than their names and reputations? As a professional in a very competitive business—writing is art, publishing is business—in the age of computers and nearly instant cross-referencing, getting the name right is crucial. And it is because of the easy access to cross-referencing sources that I am most perplexed by people’s inability to get my name right. When I’m writing, I always have my internet explorer at the ready. This way if I need to check the proper spelling of a name, place, manufacturer, or product, I have my answer within seconds. Okay, I’ve had my say. It won’t do any good. I think I’ll just change my name to Michel Connolly or Janet Avonovitch or Lea Childe or…

Reed Farrel Coleman is the 2008 Shamus Award-winning author of The James Deans and Soul Patch. Visit him online at http://www.reedcoleman.com/. Note that you don't need to know how to spell his middle name in the URL!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Free Ken Bruen swag!

As a special promotion when A Fifth of Bruen (a collection of 2-time Edgar Award nominee Ken Bruen's early novellas and stories) was published, I made up some Fifth of Bruen-etched Zippos. Here's your chance to get a free, ultra-cool, limited-run Zippo -- perfect for yourself or as a gift for the Bruen fan in your life... Just be one of the first 10 people to answer this question correctly:

According to Ken Bruen, there are three films based on his books in production. Name them. (Hint: One's listed on IMDB, but for the other two you may have to be a little more creative to track down.) E-mail me your answers a.s.ap. Please don't post your guesses as a blog-post response. ;-)
[And if you don't win a Zippo, you can still buy them -- and the book, too! -- through BFP's website.]

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last week's trip to Minneapolis and Consortium!

After three years of running the press by myself -- the last year with the wonderful assistance of Juann and Garland, without whom I'd fall apart (and yes, McKenna helps, too!) -- I am proud to announce that Consortium Books & Distribution will begin handling BFP titles, starting June 1st, 2009. As a bookstore employee for 19 years, I'm a big fan of how Consortium operates -- with bookstores, readers, and behind the scenes. They distribute such superb publishers as Soho (home of Cara Black, Martin Limón, Peter Lovesey, Rebecca Pawel, and more... we adore Soho!), Akashic (they do the award-winning, area-specific noir anthologies, such as Dublin Noir and Brooklyn Noir), Bitter Lemon (where they publish original, English-language foreign crime novels, like those by Friedrich Glauser, who is considered the Swiss Simenon), and Serpent's Tail (where authors like Ken Bruen and George Pelecanos got their start).

I met with the fine women & men of Consortium last week, and it was like being welcomed by a close-knit family. I'm honored and proud to be a part of that organization, come next summer.

The first books considered frontlist under Consortium (so, anything published from September 2009 forward) will be Tower (by Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman), a reprint of Ace Atkins's first Nick Travers novel, Crossroad Blues (with extra bonus material!... pictured at the right is the original St. Martin's cover), and further reprints of A. E. Maxwell and Cynthia Smith. In the meantime, we'll have the first two Maxwell thriller reissues due this winter/spring -- Just Another Day in Paradise and The Frog and the Scorpion -- and the second Emma Rhodes high-society mystery by Smith, Impolite Society.

Thank you so much for dropping by and seeing what's up with Busted Flush... in the coming weeks we'll offer an interview with A. E. Maxwell (who are really husband-and-wife writing duo Ann & Evan Maxwell... Ann is best known for her best-sellers as "Elizabeth Lowell"), something from Ace Atkins on the Crossroad Blues reprint, a contest for FREE (always the magic word) stuff, and much more. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TOWER teaser

Coming fall 2009, Tower marks the first collaboration between crime writers Ken Bruen (The Guards, Once Were Cops) and Reed Farrel Coleman (The James Deans, The Fourth Victim), and the first original novel published by Busted Flush Press. With four Shamus Awards and four Edgar Award nominations (and plenty of other trophies!) between them, Bruen and Coleman combine forces with a novel that is steeped in metaphysics, baseball, and brutality... Over the next few months leading up to publication, we'll reveal here bits and pieces about the book, with interviews, excerpts, contests and more. Today, we have a sampling of the cover copy. Enjoy, and please spread the word! [If you need any Ken Bruen or Reed Farrel Coleman bibliography checklist bookmarks, just shoot us an e-mail.]

"Born into a rough Brooklyn neighborhood, outsiders in their own families, Nick and Todd forge a lifelong bond that persists in the face of crushing loss, blood, and betrayal. Low-level wiseguys with little ambition and even less of a future, the friends become major players in the potential destruction of an international crime syndicate that stretches from the cargo area at Kennedy Airport to the streets of New York, Belfast, and Boston to the alleyways of Mexican border towns. Their paths are littered with the bodies of undercover cops, snitches, lovers, and stone-cold killers.

"In the tradition of The Long Goodbye, Mystic River, and The Departed, Tower is a powerful meditation on friendship, fate, and fatality. A twice-told tale done in the unique format of parallel narratives that intersect at deadly crossroads, Tower is like a beautifully crafted knife to the heart.

"Imagine a Brooklyn rabbi/poet—Reed Farrel Coleman—collaborating with a mad Celt from the West of Ireland—Ken Bruen—to produce a novel unlike anything you’ve ever encountered. A ferocious blast of gut-wrenching passion that blends the fierce granite of Galway and the streetwise rap of Brooklyn. Fasten your seat belts, this is an experience that is as incendiary as it is heart shriven."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Best first line since THE LAST GOOD KISS

Beyond the cover, which initially attracts the eye of a passing reader, a book's first line is very important to winning over potential book buyers. One of my personal favorites in crime fiction is this, from John D. MacDonald's DARKER THAN AMBER (the 7th Travis McGee):

We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.

Probably the most famous in the genre is the late James Crumley's THE LAST GOOD KISS:

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonora, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

Who wouldn't want to keep going after that?

Well, I mention this because a reviewer for Booklist (in a starred review) recently had a few nice things to say about Reed Farrel Coleman's new Joe Serpe novel, THE FOURTH VICTIM (writing as Tony Spinosa; Bleak House):

"Spinosa, aka Reed Farrel Coleman, has ginned up a really hard-edged novel set in a wonderfully gritty milieu and filled with fully fleshed characters. The plot lays out a labyrinthine but believable trail of violence, murder, corruption, politics, deep-dyed racism, and big money. Serpe and Healy are a terrific odd couple, but a dozen lesser characters are also compelling, often for their sheer coarseness or loathsomeness. Even Spinosa's depiction of the fiercely competitive, hardscrabble business of home heating-oil delivery rings with authenticity (the author actually has a commercial license to convey hazmat materials). If thats not enough, the first line of this fine novel... is one of the two best first lines this reviewer has come across in 25 years of hard-boiled reading (the opening to James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss is still the best)."

The first line of THE FOURTH VICTIM:

At his best, Rusty Monaco was a miserable, self-absorbed prick, and tonight he was paying even less attention than usual to the world outside his head.

Now, I open the floor to you (if anyone's listening)... What is your favorite opening line from a mystery or thriller?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Favorite books of the year!

Okay, I started this damn blog, and I've been lax about posting. My apologies! Starting today, I'll be posting with greater frequency (though more than once a month would be an improvement, right?). Anyway, I'm writing today as a bookseller, not a publisher. Here are my top three favorite books of the year... all in the thriller vein...

1. CHILD 44, by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central)
What can I say about CHILD 44 other that, holy crap, what a page-turner! There's a serial killer on the loose in 1953 Russia, and state officer Leo Demidov investigates. Scenes -- such as several aboard a Gulag-bound train -- had me nail-biting to the knuckles. (The second Demidov novel, THE SECRET SPEECH, is due from Grand Central in May '09.)

2. THE DAWN PATROL, by Don Winslow (Knopf)
The perfect follow-up to Winslow's crime fiction odes to Southern California, California Fire and Life and The Death and Life of Bobby Z. San Diego private eye Boone Daniels surfs, eats, sleeps, and surfs some more... and takes on the occasional case, such as here, when a young woman needs to be found. Problem is, the most bitchin' set of waves of his generation is scheduled to hit the coast in about 48 hours. An interesting variation on a "ticking clock" thriller, though at its heart, it's more a novel about friendship. I ended the book, sad to leave these characters -- which include Hang Twelve, Boone's extra-toed surfer compadre; and Sunny, Boone's on-again, off-again girlfriend, and the lone female member of the self-proclaimed "Dawn Patrol." But never fear... the sequel, THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR (I believe that's the title), is due in late '09.

3. HELL'S BAY, by James W. Hall (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Hall has hit the best-seller lists before, but he still hasn't achieved quite the level of success as fellow Floridian Randy Wayne White. And what a shame because Hall is one of the best thriller writers out there... and this may go down as my favorite of his (so far). Reclusive hero / fishing expert Thorn helps a friend who's launching a new business venture: She's found a way to maneuver a boat around the tangly mangrove roots that have made it impossible to access inaccessible lakes... until now. Out in the middle of nowhere -- no GPS, no cell phones, no radio -- and targeted by a killer, Thorn has mere hours to stay alive and find out who's behind it all. (And this would make a great companion read with Jonathon King's ACTS OF NATURE, which is set during and in the aftermath of a hurricane.)

And if you're looking for an outstanding independent bookstore that stocks these titles, just take a look at the handy list to the right. :-)

Happy post-election, and I'll speak again soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Shamus for Cornelia Read!

San Francisco crime novelist Cornelia Read (A Field of Darkness) won the Shamus Award for Best Private Eye Short Story for "Hungry Enough," in Busted Flush Press's A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir (edited by Megan Abbott)! Huge congratulations to Cornelia!!!

Go to Crimewav.com to download a FREE podcast of Cornelia's "Hungry Enough."

Visit her website here: http://www.corneliaread.com/.

Two-time Edgar Award nominee Reed Farrel Coleman also took home the Shamus Award for Best P.I. Novel for the fourth Moe Prager book, Soul Patch (published by Bleak House Books). BFP is proud to be reprinting the first three Moes, including the all-important series debut, Walking the Perfect Square. Visit his website here: http://www.reedcoleman.com/.

Fingers crossed for Daniel Woodrell (Winter's Bone), who is up for the Anthony Award for Best Short Story for his A Hell of a Woman entry, "Uncle." Bouchercon Anthony Award ballots are being tabulated today, with the awards presented tomorrow (Sunday). Good luck!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

My first entry...

What the hell am I doing with a blog?! Like I have a lot of time on my hands. But one of the toughest aspects of running a small press is getting the word out to everyone. So, here's where I'll try to keep crime fiction lovers updated on future BFP releases, as well as news on previous publications. Thanks so much for visiting! I'd love to hear what you think.

But, firstly, I'd like to extend the best of luck to four Busted Flush Press authors that are up for awards at this weekend's Bouchercon Mystery Convention in Baltimore: Reed Farrel Coleman, Megan Abbott, Ken Bruen, and, of course, Daniel Woodrell, whose chilling noir tale ("Uncle") in BFP's A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir is up for an Anthony Award for Best Short Story. Good luck, everyone!!