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Exposure to the Underside

Brent Kroetch Author Interview

Brent Kroetch Author Interview

The Biggest Little Crime In The World is the third book in the popular Ham McCalister Series and follows the lives of two Las Vegas Homicide detectives turned private eyes. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?

This one flowed naturally from the book before. Although each is written as a standalone so that they may be read in any order, the ending of each at least hints at the start of the next. In this case, the wedding between Drew and her beloved superstar was foreshadowed and thus the book began as such. And that led to the story arc, a rather natural extension of the characters and their responses to life, incidents both good and bad. The denouement arose from the investigation and, though the why and the who were a surprise to me, the ending was at least partially suggested by the plot outline developed before writing began. And it did tie nicely to the series, I am pleased to say.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I love this question because it’s the foundation that makes writing such an enjoyable endeavor. The answer is that in this book, as in each I’ve written, the players never cease to surprise me. They say and do as they please, and take the plot in directions I had not anticipated. That despite the rather extensive plot and character outlines. It’s so much fun to run the other way from that which was anticipated. In sum, the characters act it out and they and they alone dictate the plot development.

I love the dynamic relationship between Drew and Ham. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

Drew and Ham are complicated by their exposure to the underside of life. As homicide detectives for the Las Vegas police department, they saw and experienced more that most of the underbelly of society. Both are imperfect characters in that both are inherently honest and rigidly law and order, yet both are not above bending the rules when the circumstances, as they see them, warrant the dishonesty therein. And both struggle with that dilemma, the eternal battle between that which we see as ideal and that which we refuse to allow, no matter the moral cost. It is a constant struggle for both, as each seeks truth and justice, rewards for their efforts, conviction of the guilty and protection for the innocent—this while refusing to bend to niceties when evil rises before them. Erasing evil, to the both of them, takes precedence over a simple genuflect to the rules.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

The next book is The Curious Case Of Ham On Wry. It follows Ham and Drew as they try to exonerate their client, U.S. Representative Harold Wry from a charge of murdering his Washington intern. I expect the book to available sometime next summer.

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The Biggest Little Crime In The WorldHam McCalister and Drew Thornton, Nevada’s most accomplished private detectives, are on the hunt again. And this time it’s personal…

Shots ring out and two find their mark, just under the arch that declares Reno “The Biggest Little City In The World.” A crime, an assassination that the press will dub “The Biggest Little Crime In The World.”

That very day Ham McCalister had walked his dearest friend and business partner, Drew Thornton, down the aisle to wed her rock superstar betrothed, Russ Porter, one of the frontmen of the legendary band Truckee River. In that happy moment, what neither he nor Drew could have foreseen was the sudden tragedy that would greet them on the streets of Reno, mere minutes after the wedding bells chimed. For there, under that iconic arch, Russ Porter falls victim to an assassin’s bullet, along with an unknown second casualty.

While Russ is tended to at Reno’s finest medical center, by the state’s finest physicians, Ham and Drew race to uncover the who and the why behind the unspeakable evil unleashed in the aftermath of the wedding of Drew’s dreams. And then exact a revenge that she will personally inflict.

What they find, what they don’t’ expect, what they finally uncover, is The Biggest Little Conspiracy In The World.

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Good Old Fashioned Heist

Quintin Peterson Author Interview

Quintin Peterson Author Interview

LT: The Voynich Gambit follows Special Police Officer Blalock as he is put to the test when D.C.’s most infamous artifact dealers set their sights on a mysterious treasure. What was your inspiration for this novel and how did it develop as you wrote?

Quintin Peterson: The Folger Shakespeare Library was the inspiration for The Voynich Gambit, like its prequel, Guarding Shakespeare. I worked there as a special police officer with its Department of Safety and Security following my retirement from the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC on April 23, 2010. (http://tinyurl.com/jppths4)

LT: The novel is set in modern day D.C., where you describe polished skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and endless traffic. Why did you choose this as the setting for you book?

Quintin Peterson: I wanted to write a noir mystery thriller using the Folger Shakespeare Library as the backdrop. The Folger Library is located in my hometown, Washington, DC. (http://www.folger.edu/)

LT: Lieutenant Norman Blalock works at the Folger Shakespeare Library as a security guard protecting its treasures for over two decades. What themes did you want to capture as you developed Norman’s character throughout the novel?

Quintin Peterson: I just wanted to write an entertaining and enlightening good old fashioned heist story. I had the same goal for the first in the Norman Blalock Mystery Series, Guarding Shakespeare, and I have the same goal for the third installment, The Shakespeare Redemption.

LT: What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Quintin Peterson: Right now I am working on the second installment of my Private Eye Luther Kane Series, The Last Goodbye. Afterward, I will working on The Shakespeare Redemption. Like all of my books, The Last Goodbye will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, et al.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

The Voynich Gambit: The Sequel to Guarding Shakespeare (Norman Blalock Mysteries Book 2) by [Peterson, Quintin]Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock, who has been guarding the treasures of the Folger Shakespeare Library for 25 years, has been coerced into a plot to heist from the Folger Museum “the most mysterious book in the world,” the Voynich Manuscript, on loan from Yale University. Under threat of suffering the consequences of their involvement in the botched plot to heist another priceless artifact from the Folger underground bank vault several months earlier, Blalock and his partner-in-crime Kavitha Netram are once again under the thumb of nefarious businessman Rupert Whyte, and have no choice but to play along.

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The Voynich Gambit

The Voynich Gambit: The Sequel to Guarding Shakespeare (Norman Blalock Mysteries Book 2)

Author Quintin Peterson returns from Guarding Shakespeare with his next enthralling piece of crime heist fiction, The Voynich Gambit. The cunning mind of Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock is put to the test when a slew of D.C.’s most infamous artifact dealers set their sights on a mysterious treasure of immense value, the Voynich Manuscript. Blalock must outwit and outmaneuver enemies from all angles in this gripping noir tale of mystery, motive, and deceit. True to style, Peterson beautifully weaves the rich history of The Folger Shakespeare Library and the manuscript into the gritty drive of its ruthless pursuers. The Voynich Gambit is an epic tale of cat-and-mouse, arguably fit for a play by the Bard himself.

The novel is set in a bustling modern day D.C., a mecca of polished skyscrapers, historic landmarks, and endless traffic. Peterson’s vivid imagery is infused throughout the novel, generously describing the luxury of these looming buildings. At the Folger Shakespeare Library in downtown, Lieutenaunt Norman Blalock has been working as a security guard for over two decades, protecting its treasures from the likes of handsy museum-goers and would-be theives alike. His seasoned tenure makes him a trusted employee to the security staff, but it also makes him an invaluable asset to Rupert Whyte, an aristocratic con-artist who is scheming up a heist fit for the history books. Whyte reads from the pages like a regular King Pin – a ruthless blueblood brimming with determination for ill-gotten gains. When he requests that Blalock palm the Voynich Manuscript, an ancient archive of medical knowledge, Blalock must decide where his true loyalties lie – in riches or in righteousness. This is a conflict as old as time, weighing greed against integrity, and Norman is no exception to this struggle.

To complicate matters even more, the buxom beauty Kavitha Netram has arrived at Blalock’s door, suitcase in hand. Kavitha certainly has the looks to be a trophy wife, but Norman must trust his instinct that she’s here for much more than just a cuddle buddy. As their relationship begins to develop, author Peterson injects a modest amount of cheeky pop culture into the mix, noting some current brands along with a famous U2 song. These moments of reference feel quirky and endearing, and offer a refreshing change of tone from the steep historical passages. Don’t be surprised to find yourself absent-mindedly humming along to “With or Without You” as you read along.

As it becomes obvious to Norman that Rupert Whyte isn’t the only artifact dealer dipping his hands into the cookie jar, he must strive to stay two steps ahead of this dangerous game of fidelity and fortune. Peterson’s quick writing style will keep you engaged, even through the varying pace of lavish history and casual conversation. Peterson writes confidently, and it’s admittedly impressive how far his knowledge seems to spread. Art, history, crime, action, and romance – The Voynich Gambit honestly has it all. I would heartily recommend it to any fellow lovers of the noir style.

Pages: 152 | ASIN: B072BHSNKZ

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The Tenth Nail

Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.

Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.

The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.

“Look at her fingernails,” Rawls observed from the other side of the body.
“What about them?”
“Most of them are broken and some are torn free of the quick. Some are missing.”
Nate slowed his visual scanning of the girl and focused on her hands. Rawls was right, the nails were ragged, broken, and torn. Some of her fingers ended with just the bloody fingertips.
It made his injured finger hurt. Maybe this was why this murder haunted him from the start.

The girl’s hands were bagged in plastic to preserve evidence that hopefully was there. Gently, Nate lifted a hand, holding it on his open palm. He looked at the girls eyes, that looked down and away from him.
“I don’t know what happened that led you to this place. I don’t know why you chose to live the life you did. But you deserved better than this.”
Rawls looked at Nate with an expression that asked, “What are you doing?”
Nate glanced at the technician and then focused again on the girl’s hand.
“I promise you, I give you my word, I will find who ever did this to you and I will bring him to justice. I will hold him accountable for this. Rest assured.”
Gently, as if he didn’t want to wake her, Nate lowered the girl’s hand to the pavement. He stood and Rawls stood with him.
“Do you want to tell me what that was all about?”
Nate studied the bearded tech, “I made her a promise.”
“Nate, you and I both know solving the death of a streetwalker is one of the hardest crimes to solve. Unless she was killed by her pimp, or another girl jealous of her, the doer is a complete stranger. There’s just not enough to tie the two people together.”
Rawls shook his head, “You’ve worked more of these than I have. You know how difficult this is going to be.”
Nate looked at Rawls, placed a hand on the technician’s shoulder, “I made her a promise.”
He turned and walked from the alley, giving the technician a controlled wave, “See you at the morgue.”

The Tenth Nail is the story of a homicide detective obsessed in finding the killer of a streetwalker. It is fast paced, with well developed characters and a twist at the end most will not see coming.

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The Seal of Confession

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A Burning in the Darkness follows Father Michael serving at an airport when he becomes the prime suspect in a heinous crime. What was the inspiration to the setup to this thrilling suspense novel?

Essentially it was the opening set up/dilemma. An anonymous voice in a darkened confessional confesses a murder to Father Michael Kieh. Circumstance and evidence points to the Michael’s guilt but he remains faithful to the Seal of Confession and doesn’t betray the identity of a young witness. Michael’s dilemma is between remaining true to his ideals or saving himself from a long prison sentence.

Father Michael Kieh is an intriguing and dynamic character. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

In relation to Michael, I often asked myself: Is it possible to be so good that it becomes self-destructive? Is it possible to have the same degree of love and imaginative sympathy for the entire human race as one’s family and not be overwhelmed? Even asking the question seems exhausting and tiresome but the answer is self-evident. You would be overwhelmed to the point of physical and psychological destruction. Yet Michael comes close to this form of destruction.

Michael’s childhood was forged in the horrors of the Liberian civil war, but he chose a life dedicated to the Good. Michael has the moral freedom and strength to be different to his environment. He was a child witness and was protected from harm so he knows the importance of the strong protecting the weak. But we all need a little selfishness to survive. And Michael certainly has a smattering of selfishness because he is not afraid to assert his need for love as a strong-willed lover. But the reader roots for Michael because he refuses to betray his higher ideals. I wanted the novel to justify Michael’s faith in the ideals of putting the needs of others who cannot protect themselves before your own needs. It’s easy to talk the talk on this, but entirely different to walk the walk when you have to make a big sacrifice.

I wanted to write a page-turner novel, but the action explores a deep morality without, I hope, being preachy and self-justifying. It’s also important to me that whether you’re a diehard atheist or fervent believer that you will be engaged by Michael’s character, dilemma and beliefs.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I wrote a 5 or 6 page outline which I tinkered around with for a year or so, not sure if it was working as a story. This gave me the main plot and character points. It was more like what they call in the movie/TV business ‘a treatment’. I’m a film school graduate, so it was part of my training. I spoke to a close friend of mine about the story and he encouraged me to write it. (By the way, I work as a cinematographer on TV drama.)

I find a problem in well written novels in that I always want there to be another book. Are you writing another book? If so, when will it be available?

Your kind and positive response makes me want to write another. Most of my time and effort has been spent getting A Burning in the Darkness published. Michael’s story is complete so there’s no room to revisit it. I am working on an outline for another novel. Actually, mostly researching it at this point.

A Burning in the Darkness took me a good 7 years to write. That’s too long! I’d also like to write a novella in the meantime. Maybe 80 to 100 pages. I’d like to be able to do it in about 6 months, but I’m a slow writer.

Sadly I lost my wife to breast cancer 18 months ago. I have three amazing teenage children who are the best thing about my life, but being a single dad and working to keep them fed and housed takes up a lot of time. But that’s my primary responsibility. Nevertheless, my kids are also a powerful source of moral strength and determination. And somehow writers always find the time to write.

Author Website

A Burning in The DarknessA murder at one of the world’s busiest airports opens this simmering crime story where a good man’s loyalty is tested to its limits. Michael Kieh is a full time faith representative serving the needs of some of the 80 million passengers, but circumstance and evidence point to his guilt. His struggle to prove his innocence leads him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge.

Michael’s loneliness was eased by a series of brief encounters with a soul mate. When she confides a dark secret, he is motivated to redress a heart-breaking injustice. Together they must battle against powerful forces as they edge dangerously close to unmasking a past crime. But Michael faces defeat when he chooses to protect a young witness, leaving him a burning spirit in the darkness.

Michael’s commitment to helping those in need was forged in the brutality of the Liberian civil war. Protected by a kind guardian, he too was a young witness to an atrocity that has left a haunting legacy of stolen justice and a lingering need for revenge. More poignantly there is a first love cruelly left behind in Africa because of the impossible choices of war. When Michael and his former lover find each other once again they become formidable allies in proving his innocence and rediscovering their lost love.

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A Burning in the Darkness

A Burning in The Darkness

Father Michael Kieh suffered the loss of his family in Liberia as a child. Taken in at a Catholic center for children, he went on to become a priest. Father Michael was stationed at the airport in London, listening to confessions of passing travelers. He became involved with a crime that happened years before involving some of the most powerful people in London, and found himself drawn into a very dangerous situation. Through love, loss, and love again, Father Michael navigates the difficult terrain in which he finds himself, trying to heal his past through his actions in the present and his hopes for the future.

This book ended up being one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in some time. I don’t read a lot of thrillers because I often find myself disappointed with how un-thrilling they turned out to be, but that was not a problem I had with A Burning In The Darkness. I was drawn in from the very first page, finding myself looking for stolen moments to sneak in a few more.

One quirk of the book is that it appears to have been written by a non-native English speaker, which left behind some stilted English. The first time I encountered it in the book I worried it was a bad sign, but on the contrary, I found that the mistakes in English made it quite charming, like listening to someone with an accent telling a story. Though there were some grammatical mistakes in it, on the flip side, much of the language was beautiful and parts of the writing were almost poetic. I found myself, more than once, reflecting on a beautiful turn of phrase.

I felt all of the characters in the book were well developed, and Father Michael was both sympathetic and borderline heroic. I had some strong feelings about nearly every character that appears in the story, and that’s not always an easy task to accomplish. A.P. McGrath did a wonderful job breathing life into each person in the novel, giving them their own personalities and making them deeply likable, or deeply detestable, driving the story forward with strong character development.

If I have one complaint about the story itself, it’s that everyone was perhaps a little too charmed by Father Michael. It seemed that everyone he met fell under his spell right away, and that seems rather too neat for me. I felt as though it was too easy for him to convince the right people to trust him and to help him.

All in all, I found this to be an addictive book. So much so that I was sad to say goodbye to the characters at the end and wish there was a sequel. This is my first exposure to A.P. McGrath’s work, but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next novel!

Pages: 253 | ASIN: B06ZYXJ1KL

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Finding and Convicting the Killer

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

Kwen D. Griffeth Author Interview

The Tenth Nail revolves around a homicide detective Nate and his new partner Manuel as they work together to solve the murder of a beautiful young woman. Where did the idea for this novel come from? 

I spent several years in law enforcement both as a civilian and military. I carry a deep pride and love for the officers of today and respect what they have to survive. Much of that challenge is to survive the emotional impact of witnessing just how ugly and cruel people can be to each other, day after day. I don’t think the story of the true impact this has on officers has ever been told. Over my years in law enforcement I witnessed too many officers die emotionally. This death could be seen through sexual affairs, abusive drinking, physical violence, reckless behaviors, and even stealing. A quick tally to illustrate this is I knew five officers who died while “on the job.” Two of them died in the line of duty, and three of them died by their own hand. The Tenth Nail is an attempt to introduce the stress of being a cop to those who don’t know.

One of my primary goals when I write a story is to get the reader emotionally involved. Via, the victim of this book is introduced as a common street walking prostitute. A kind of victim that is easily forgotten relatively quickly in our society. In these days of limited budgets and overstretched manpower, she represents the kind of crime that is soon to be a cold crime if not solved in the first few days. Nate, the lead detective assigned to the case, shares a private moment with the dead girl and due to a shared injury promises her he will bring her killer to account for her death. This sets up conflict from many directions. The fact is, if it’s not another girl, who killed her, or her pimp, the odds of finding and convicting the killer of a prostitute is difficult, at best.  The department wants Nate to shelve the case to free him to handle cases with a higher possibility of solvability. Manny, Nate’s new partner, and new to homicide, wonders if he should request another training officer. The more he is pushed to release the case, the more resistant Nate becomes.  He refuses to break the promise he made to the dead girl.

The Tenth Nail is a edgy crime novel that throws readers right into the action with a murder in the first pages. How did you balance mystery with answers with crazy twists?  

I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and I was determined to solve the case before the “great detective.” My mother and I watched hours of Raymond Burr as Perry Mason and we discussed the cases as the show progressed. To balance the mystery without giving the story away to soon requires work. Truthfully, I hope I got the job done.

Detectives Nate and Manny are entertaining and intriguing characters that I felt were well developed. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?

Nate and Manny are combinations of several police officers I have known over the years. I admit that both carry a little bit of me in them, as I have been in both positions as senior and junior partner.  I wanted officers (in all cases) who represented more than just the stereotype of cops. I also expected the same from the other characters. One of my favorite scenes is when Manny arrives home after a day much too long and he is still adjusting to his first murder, his first victim, his first expose to Nate and all the rest. Selma, his heavily pregnant wife allows him to lay his head on her lap and stretch out on the sofa.  When he kicks off his shoes, she scolds him for wearing socks with a hole in the toe. To me, that is the center of the Tenth Nail, trying to balance extreme violence with complete love.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

My next book is called Dead Men Walking and it is a continuation of the story of Nate and Clare. Several of the characters from The Tenth Nail will return though the are many new ones as well. The plan is to release the book by early summer.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Twitter

The Tenth Nail by [Griffeth, Kwen]“Nate knelt beside the dead girl. This wasn’t his first homicide, it wasn’t even the first dead prostitute he’d investigated. It wasn’t the first strangling death he’d been assigned to. But, this one bothered him.
Maybe it was her youth, she appeared to be in her early twenties. Maybe it was her looks, as death had yet to rob her of her beauty. Maybe she reminded him of his own daughter, Lizzie, who was only a few years younger. Maybe it was something else entirely.

The big detective looked over the body, careful not to touch or disturb her. He had one of the best crime scene technicians, Winston Rawls, and he did not want to make his job harder.”

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End of the Roaring 20’s

Ted Korsmo Author Interview

Ted Korsmo Author Interview

Wayzata takes place in 1930’s suburban Minnesota, but the tale still carries all the trappings of a 1920’s era LA noir. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

Erm…most L.A. noir stories actually take place during the ’30s, and my story is set in 1939, perhaps for the reason that this time period concerns the end of the so-called “roaring ’20s” and the eventual fallout from that decade (or so) of overindulgence and decadence. During this period, the Great Depression was still in full swing, war was imminent, most people had to scrounge to eke out a living, and crime was on the rise. Dirtbags and seedy establishments permeated society. I thought it might be interesting to set a story in a place insulated from most of that, so why not set this story in a remote, resort town town in the Midwest? It’s also helpful to narratively remove all coincidences, as, in such a provincial locale, everybody knows or at least has heard of everyone else; it wouldn’t be strange for people to run into one another on the street. Then I guess I have to divulge that I grew up near to Wayzata, spent time there, and was familiar with many of the locations, some of which I used in the novel.

I think that the story has roots in classic hard-boiled detective stories. Do you read books from that genre? What were some books that you think influenced Wayzata?

Indeed it does, and indeed I do. As a teenager I was a huge Coen brothers fan; Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing were just great, and I seem to remember seeing an interview with the Coens (who are from Minneapolis), talking about how the latter film sprung from reading their favorite author, Raymond Chandler. Fortunately for me, Chandler was not incredibly prolific, and I was able to devour all seven of his novels during my stint at college. Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain soon followed. These three are pretty well all you need, though there are certainly other excellent pulp writers out there. When I found out I had a knack for constructing similes, this genre seemed like a natural fit. Double Indemnity, the novel and the movie, was definitely an influence. I pay homage to it several times. The novel was written by Cain and the screenplay by Chandler. Coincidence?

Detective Carroll LaRue is an intriguing character. What were the driving ideals that drove the character’s development throughout the story?

Thanks for saying so. LaRue, like most private dicks portrayed in this type of novel, is a kind of highly moralistic individual who has to drink to cope with reality. He, like Marlowe, like Spade, is a kind of non-judgmental angel, slumming it by choice, yet exhausted and saddened by the depravity that surrounds him. (SPOILER ALERT) In Wayzata, when LaRue allows himself to be led astray by a pretty face, it turns out to be his undoing, and the tragedy of the story is that he is, for the most part, aware of it, but does it anyway.

I find a problem with well-written stories is that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

At the moment, no. Since so much noir does tend to carry on with a character appearing and reappearing throughout several novels, I probably should have thought ahead. I have toyed with a notion of a prequel, a story in which LaRue still works in Los Angeles and how he comes to leave that place. He alludes to it in Wayzata. There’s probably something there, but, for the nonce, I am chosen instead to work on a couple collections of short stories and a novella.

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Wayzata

Wayzata3 StarsIn Ted Korsmo’s Wayzata the author reaches way back into literary Americana to dust off an old fedora. While the book takes place in the titular Minnesotan suburb, the tale carries all the trappings of a 1920’s era hardboiled LA noir. The protagonist, a dour, serious-drinking gumshoe, is even named Carroll – a clear nod to Carroll John Daly, the founding father of the genre. Wayzata’s pages rumble from beginning to end like a Packard 8 overflowing with smoke, booze, hard luck women, philandering eggs, and quirky ne’er-do-wells.

Korsmo respects the genre, the material, and the framework. He attends all the logic and sensibilities of Carroll LaRue and his contemporaries as best a modern writer can. For those who have a fond attachment to hard boiled detective stories, there is a great deal to love in Wayzata. Korsmo distinguishes his novella by placing it, not in L.A. or New York or Chicago, but in suburban Minnesota, and this offers up whiffs of bucolic charm that are atypical for a noir. Subsequently, the author plays a deft hand with comic relief. Just as the correctly cynical and self-destructive protagonist threatens to swamp the reader, Korsmo careens him right into an oddball local, usually, to amusing effect.

I wouldn’t say this is an attempt at resurrecting a genre, because hard boiled detectives have never truly gone away. Generously, one could say this book is more of a reminder.  At it’s best, Wayzata is a new recruit into a club that has fallen somewhere between forgotten legend and simply esoteric. Inherently there are problems with a new entry into such a well stocked category, and they are twofold. Firstly, there is absolutely no dearth of hardboiled detective material – some pieces, in fact, are Iconic American literature – so in 2016 it’s hard to justify a new novella as much more than a nostalgic sandbox. Secondly, the hard boiled detective novel, even as subject of periodic revivals, was at it’s best during the era depicted. The content was meant to be de rigueur. Wayzata suffers from this disconnect because the actual detecting gets short shrift as Korsmo pours most of his creative energy into rebuilding the verisimilitude of a world and a character set that are completely alien to modern readers. Much more effort is expended selling the setting, jargon, and early modern sensibilities than is put toward mystery or suspense. The narrative plot of Wayzata is frequently waylaid by paragraphs of hard-boiling.

Wayzata earns a three-star rating, because when Korsmo is at his best, the story delivers some familiarity, some freshness, some humor, and a bit of suspense, but there is a boundary between an authentic aesthetic and a tableau of that same aesthetic. At points Wayzata is an enjoyable read that flows well and finds rhythm within itself. At other points it is very hard to ignore the performance.

Pages: 186 | ASIN: B00MBOYRVQ

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Review: Oversight

Oversight 4 Stars

Sam Crane is an information speculator that arrives at the murder scene of a high society doctor, Xian Mako. His only clue is a pair of antique galvanic spectacles that the doctor was holding at the time he was killed. Sam investigates the homicide through a commercially dystopian future where advertisements are mandatory, planned obsolescence is ubiquitous, and augmented reality is the new craze. To solve the murder he must navigate through corporate bureaucracy that is, at best, overly litigious, and deadly at its worst. Sam finds that the doctor’s murder is only a small cog in a much larger machine that Sam has only glimpsed the shadow of. He must step further into the augmented reality trend and go to the cutting edge of corporate advertisements to unravel a mystery that threatens to simultaneously make everyone’s life better and turn them into slaves for marketing companies.

The book depicts a neo-noir dystopian San Francisco in which technology and marketing has invaded everyday life. A new form of marketing has emerged called Oversight which overlays an augmented reality on top of everything you see. It’s manufactured by a powerful mega-corporation, but is sought after by terrorists and government agencies alike for nefarious purposes. The book describes a beautifully bleak future with details I never thought of; “He stumbles into the shower, but the water is off again. Retribution by City Water, no doubt, for buying the basic service package without the pipe-security upgrade.” Sam has a virtual assistant that helps him access the internet along with other things, but she also schedules advertisements based on where he’s going and what he’s doing so that the advertisements he passes on the street are completely personalized. Which is cool, but what makes it scary is that it’s almost mandatory, to the point where he has to pay sponsors for quiet time where he receives no advertisements at all. This leads to amusingly appropriate advertisements later in the novel when Sam is running for his life from people that want to kill him and then is shown advertisements for running shoes. It’s the small details that really sell the authenticity of the world, like clothes that last a certain amount of time before they disintegrate and you have to buy new ones; capturing the epitome of planned obsolescence. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, although I found Sam’s character dry at times, the world is meticulously created and the ideas that are presented are entertainingly thought provoking. It’s a murder mystery story at its core, but the story regularly detours into commentary on socialism and commercialism that doesn’t do much to move the story along. The story is well written with language often becoming poetic before coming back to being candid and incisive. This was a short novel that hit all the right notes for me. There are eight fairly long chapters, but it feels like no words are wasted to create a world that resonates with the style of Blade Runner and the world building of Neromancer.

ISBN: 0986101605Buy Now From Amazon.com
Pages: 264 pages

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