Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Honest, officer, it's only research," by Donna Moore

Research can get you into a lot of trouble. And it’s fraught with danger if you are a writer of comic crime fiction. If you write a serious police procedural series, you can telephone your local police station with worthy questions such as ‘can you tell me the length of a police baton?’ or ‘what do you use to shine your uniform buttons?’ that make people want to give you expansive, knowledgeable answers. I, unfortunately, don’t get the same reaction. I just don’t understand what’s wrong with calling my local police station and asking ‘can you tell me the best way to break out of one of your cells?’ or -- and apparently this is an even worse question -- ‘how easy would it be for an elderly woman and a teenage boy to storm the police station and take you hostage?’ If I can give you a spot of advice, I would suggest that you don’t bother asking those questions. They won’t tell you.

When researching Old Dogs (new from Busted Flush Press), I nearly got myself arrested in a local museum. I believe I was already being carefully watched by the security guards for spending more time peering behind or under the exhibits to see how they were secured. However, at the time I was oblivious to the fact. The museum in question is a lovely grand old building, and one of the features inside, in some of the interior walls are big, fancy metal grilles. I was peering through one of the grilles into a dark tunnel beyond when there was a cough behind me. ‘Can I help you... madam? There was a distinct gap before the heavily inflected madam. I’m sure he what he actually wanted to say was ‘Can I help you... you maniac?’

‘I was just looking through the grille. Why is it there?’

‘It’s where all the pipes are. There’s enough room for the workmen to walk through.’

Really?’ I said. ‘That’s fascinating. How would a person get in?’

He looked at me suspiciously. ‘I’m not sure I should tell you.’

‘Oh please tell me. I just want to know if you could hide in there when the museum was shutting, and whether the tunnels are interconnecting so that you could walk through them without getting spotted by the security cameras and... wait... why are you grasping my elbow so tightly and frog-marching me out of the museum...?’

So you see, when you have no skills or talents that would actually fit you for being a crime writer, it’s tough. Many of the writers I know have walked the walk -- police, FBI agents, lawyers, PIs, bodyguards, criminals and, in one case, possibly a spy (even though he doesn’t admit to it). They tell you to write what you know. Well, being a pensions consultant doesn’t quite make the grade (what am I going to do... bore someone to death by reading them a set of actuarial tables?)

That’s not to say I haven’t come into contact with the long arm of the law. But it’s always been on the periphery. Now, I don't know about you, but whenever a policeman turns up at my door and says "Are you Donna Moore?" I always start to panic. Of course, it's to be hoped that a policeman isn't going to turn up at your door and say "Are you Donna Moore?" That's an altogether different problem (and one for which you would have my sympathy). My immediate response is to think a) Oh my God, what's happened to everyone I love?, followed swiftly by b) What the hell have I done? and sometimes c) Has someone sent me a strip-o-gram?

Now, it just so happens that every single time a policeman has turned up at my door I've been on the decidedly underside of dressed.

The last time I had a brush with the law, it was early one Saturday morning. There was a knock on the door and it was a policeman who had come to interview my (now) ex and I. I was in my pajamas so he said he'd give me a few minutes and then come back. I must have looked pretty scary because he didn't turn up until half an hour later. When he finally arrived I said to him ‘Sorry if my appearance scared you so much that you gave me enough time to go out to the dancing.’

What had happened was that a couple of days previously an elderly man was knocked over in the street and he died. Complicating matters was that it was a police car which knocked him over, so, obviously, they have to do a really thorough investigation. The policeman said that it was like doing a murder enquiry, even though it wasn't a murder. He had to fill in forms for both John (my ex) and I.

He said, ‘We'll go to the first person first’ and turned to John.

‘Excuse me,’ I said. ‘But who's to say he’s the first person?’

He looked a bit shocked but laughed and said, ‘OK, you can go first then... it's just that he was sitting nearest to me.’

Weak, very weak. He asked name, address, age, telephone number, where I was born (I bit my tongue before saying Newport Pagnell Gas Station -- pump 4, and just answered the county) and height. As he was writing down my height I said ‘Oh God, you're not going to ask my weight are you?’ Luckily he said no. Then he asked whether I was known by any other name. I didn't think that Badsville Broad was relevant, so I kept schtum. I hope I don't get hauled up for withholding evidence.

Then he gave me the form to fill in the next bit - you had to circle your hair colour, eye colour, build (oh God -- the ignominy of having to circle 'fat'; but 'pleasantly plump' or 'the tubby side of voluptuous' just weren't on the form. Skin type 'pale' (I decided not to go for 'spotty' even though a huge zit had appeared on my chin that very morning -- I just hoped that it would disappear in a couple of days and not be a permanent distinguishing feature). Then there was a question that asked for tattoos/piercings/peculiarities/ scars.

‘Do you have any extra sheets -- I can't fit all my peculiarities in on 3 lines.’

Then it was John's turn, or ‘Person number 2’ as the policeman called him from then on. I liked that. I used that from then on.

While person number 2 was filling in the form the policeman said ‘I'll now be able to go back to the Equal Opportunities officer and tell him that I did everything correctly.’

‘How humiliating.’ person number 2 said.‘Yes, you've learned a valuable lesson here today’ person number 1 said.

Meanwhile, person number 2 was agonising over his form: ‘Do I have light brown or dark brown hair? Is it straight, or short? Or straight and short?’

‘Is there a box for old-fashioned?’ I said. ‘If not, straight and short will do.’

And I could see him visibly sucking in his stomach when he got to the 'build' question. 'Slim' was the look he was going for I believe. I caught a glimpse of his form as he handed it back. God help the police if they ever need to search for John. They'll be looking for someone who looks remarkably like Johnny Depp, when Johnny Rotten would be more accurate.

Then the policeman's cell phone rang. Imagine this big butch bloke in a uniform (steady), and his cell phone's trilling away with Britney's 'Oops I did it again'.

‘How disappointing,’ I said. ‘I would have expected you to have the theme tune from The Bill or The Sweeney.’

‘I have. When the station rings it plays The Sweeney.’

So there you have it. If I ever come to write a story about a police investigation I have some background research. I'm not exactly sure that it's any use though. He probably went out of here thinking ‘Two dodgy characters if ever I saw them. Pale and Fat was a bit mad. Tall, Slim and Good-Looking is obviously a pathological liar. And what the hell were all those books with 'murder' in the title?’

But if you can’t walk the walk, then at least you can closely observe the people who do walk the walk, right? Wrong. I must be one of the least observant people on the planet. One morning, I went to catch my bus to work, only to discover that the bus shelter was already full. With about six police, and a bloke and a woman both looking slightly the worse for wear. So, rather than interrupt this cosy little chat, I stood next to the bus stop, waiting for my bus, while wondering what this guy had done. Maybe he'd dropped some litter? Daubed some badly spelled slogans on a wall? Been drunk in charge of a bus shelter?

Just before my bus arrived, one of the policemen came around the side of the bus shelter, looked at me funny, and bent over to pick something up. I looked down. There, 2 inches away from my feet was a saw. Apparently the guy had tried to cut his girlfriend's head off with the saw while she was sleeping. Luckily, she had woken up before he could get very far, realised that he wasn't holding the saw in order to put up a couple of shelves and had run out of the house, with him chasing her, still wielding the saw. Obviously sensing that this was not your normal DIY episode, a passer-by had called the police, who arrived mob-handed in double quick time, complete with riot gear. Enter your humble narrator to trample all over the evidence.

It’s a tough life doing research.


Donna Moore is the author of Go to Helena Handbasket, winner of the 2007 Lefty Award for most humorous crime novel. She has short stories in various anthologies, including BFP's Damn Near Dead and A Hell of a Woman. Donna runs the blog Big Beat from Badsville, which focuses on Scottish crime fiction. Her newest book is Old Dogs, about which Library Journal says, "The author's clever wordplay, irreverent humor, and vivid characters will please Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, and Carl Hiassen fans, not to mention the Ocean's Eleven crowd."

Monday, August 30, 2010

New cover for David Handler's fifth Hoagy book!

Check out the BFP cover for next summer's reprint of David Handler's fifth Stewart Hoag mystery, The Boy Who Never Grew Up (trade paperback; $15). In The Boy, Hoagy, ghostwriter to the stars, heads to Hollywood when he's hired to pen the memoir of a hot young director.

We're going in a different direction from any of David's previous book covers... what do you think??

Find the first four in the series in two omnibus editions:

The Man Who Died Laughing / The Man Who Lived by Night
The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald / The Woman Who Fell from Grace

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Busted Flush Press joins forces with Tyrus Books!


Two of Crime Fiction’s Most Respected Independent Presses Merge

MADISON, WI— August 26, 2010 — Tyrus Books, Inc. today announced the acquisition of Busted Flush Press, LLC., in a move that brings together two of crime fiction’s most recognizable independent presses.

“We’re very excited to add the Busted Flush brand to Tyrus Books. David Thompson is a dedicated and tireless advocate of crime fiction and I look forward to seeing the Busted Flush brand continue to grow,” said Benjamin LeRoy, Publisher and President of Tyrus Books.

Thompson, Publisher of Busted Flush Press, will continue in his current role, selecting approximately twenty titles a year for publication. The combined companies will have approximately 45 books in print by the end of 2010 with another 20 titles scheduled for spring 2011.

"I am very excited to join forces with Ben and Tyrus Books. I’ve long been a fan of what Tyrus has been doing,” Thompson said, “and I believe Busted Flush Press will be a good fit."

With this acquisition, Busted Flush becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyrus Books. Both companies are distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

About Busted Flush Press
Busted Flush Press has published previously out of print books from authors such as Ace Atkins, Daniel Woodrell, Reed Farrel Coleman, Don Winslow, Zoë Sharp, and Ken Bruen. Works published by Busted Flush have won or been nominated for nearly all major awards in the crime fiction field including the Shamus, CWA Dagger, Macavity, Anthony, Derringer, and Edgar Awards. For more information about Busted Flush Press please visit http://www.bustedflushpress.com/

About Tyrus Books
Tyrus Books, founded in 2009, publishes crime and dark literary fiction from emerging and established authors including Loren D. Estleman, Victoria Houston, Peter Gadol, Angela S. Choi, Victor Gischler, Seth Harwood, and Mary Logue. Before starting Tyrus Books, Publisher Benjamin LeRoy founded and presided over Bleak House Books. For more information on Tyrus Books please visit http://www.tyrusbooks.com/

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Win a signed copy of INNOCENT MONSTER!

Head on over to Sara J. Henry's blog for a chance to win a signed copy of Reed Farrel Coleman's upcoming Moe Prager novel, Innocent Monster (Tyrus Books; October)! Hurry... contest closes September 2nd.

"Sashi Bluntstone, the 11-year-old Next New Thing on the New York art scene, has been abducted, and Moe Prager—former NYPD cop and former PI—is asked by his estranged daughter, Sarah, to join the search. He expects only tragedy; Sashi has already been missing for three weeks, and he hasn’t been a PI for seven years. Now a well-to-do wine merchant, Moe agrees, primarily to attempt to restore his relationship with Sarah. He quickly learns that nothing increases the value of paintings faster than the death of the painter. Suspects abound: wealthy, self-important collectors; greedy gallery owners; odious rival artists; even the victim's parents. But Moe abides. This sixth Moe Prager novel is pretty much note-perfect. Coleman's take on the art world as a den of iniquity is priceless, as is Moe himself—intelligent, street smart, and tough, especially for a sixtysomething. He’s also sophisticated, despite seeing himself as a 'poor schmuck from Brooklyn.' He’s a mensch, and his bone-deep world weariness and mordant sense of humor should enthrall lovers of old-school, tough-talking, loner private eyes (think Loren D. Estleman's Amos Walker)."—Booklist (starred review)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New cover for Don Winslow's 2nd Neal Carey book!

I'm sorry, I've been bad about posting on the blog recently... I've been moving my office to my house, and let me tell you, about 300 boxes, down stairs (no elevator), heat index over 100... it wasn't fun. Okay, I know you're saying, "quit your whining, David." Well, at least that's what my wife says. But I'm back to catching up on things, hard at work on getting books to the printers for the fall & mapping out 2011.

Those of you who have been patiently (God bless you!) waiting for Donna Moore's Old Dogs, you'll be happy to know it ships from the printers in about 10 days... then it takes a little longer to filter through Consortium & on to bookstores & libraries... but rest assured, it's a-coming! (There will be an e-book edition, as well.) And I promise you, it'll be worth the wait... honestly, one of the funniest books I've ever read.

In the meantime, check out the cool new cover of the spring BFP reprint of Don Winslow's second Neal Carey novel, The Trail to Buddha's Mirror... I think this will be a series you'll want to collect in paperback (even if you already own them), simply because the covers will look so great together. Then again, I'm a little biased.

More to come... thanks for checking in!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New praise for BFP books!

Old Dogs (by Donna Moore; paperback original; 978-1-935415-24-4; $15)
"Hilarious... A hypnotic and rollicking experience. Moore has got to be one of the funniest writers in or out of Glasgow." -- ForeWord Reviews (September/October 2010)

UPDATE (08/05/10): "I giggled my way through Donna Moore's Old Dogs... Filled with mayhem, torture, raw sexual banter, creepy chauffeurs, hired killers, and enough kilt-raising Scots profanity to shock a porn star... [A] ribald laugh-a-thon... I recommend Old Dogs highly to fans of Donald Westlake and Carl Hiaasen." -- Betty Webb, Mystery Scene

Killer Instinct (by Zoë Sharp; paperback original; 978-1-935415-13-8; $15)
"A solid, very well-written debut... The urban English setting is nicely realised, and grimy enough to make the reader’s skin crawl on occasion, particularly Charlie’s work at the Adelphi Nightclub. And even so early in the series, the action is so well choreographed that you believe every bone crunching impact on the page. Killer Instinct is a sharp, punchy read; a brutally confident start to a series that would continue to evolve in the best possible ways. Busted Flush Press are going to be reprinting the early Fox novels over the next year or so, and you’d be well advised to check them out and get acquainted with one of the most well-defined and convincing series protagonists I’ve encountered in a long time." -- Russel McLean, Crime Scene Scotland (Read the full review of Killer Instinct and Sharp's Fourth Day here.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

TOWER nominated for a Crimespree Award!

Tower (by Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman; paperback original; 978-1-935415-07-7; $15) has just been nominated for the 2010 Crimespree Award for Favorite Book of 2009!

Tower has also been nominated for the Anthony Award, Macavity Award, Spinetingler Award & the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award (Mystery).

Here are all of the nominations:

Favorite book of 2009
BURY ME DEEP, by Megan Abbott
TOWER, by Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman
TRUST NO ONE, by Gregg Hurwitz
THE AMATEURS, Marcus Sakey

Favorite first Book 2009
RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL, by Jamie Freveletti
EVEN, by Andrew Grant
A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, by Sophie Littlefield
THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST, by Stuart Neville

Best in an on-going series for 2009
THE SILENT HOUR, by Michael Koryta
SHATTER, by Michael Robotham
WALKING DEAD, by Greg Rucka
TRUTH, by Peter Temple

The winners of each of these awards, along with the recipient of this year's Jack Reacher Award will be announced at Bouchercon in San Francisco.