Archive for the 'Hardboiled Collective'

A Cup Full Of Midnight (Jared McKean) by Jaden Terrell

There's a reason I invited Jaden into the Hardboiled Collective of course... From her debut novel I knew she was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the PI genre. With this second novel she proves it again.
Jared McKean, ex-cop and Nashville PI investigates the murder of an evil goth, Razor, to prove his nephew didn't do it. There's also a few subplots, one including Jared's housemate who takes a dying friend with AIDS in his home.
Jared's investigations takes us to dark places and happenings in a community of wannabe-vampires. This is really hardboiled stuff but enriched with a female's touch in the tender scenes with McKean's nephew and friends.
In a particularly nasty fight McKean shows us how tough he is and how strong his sense of justice is. A guy this tough is bound to turn up in a third novel and I will be eagerly awaiting it.

Background Check on: Cliff Walk (Liam Mulligan) by Bruce DeSilva

We asked Hardboiled Collective member Bruce DeSilva all about his newest novel, Cliff Walk.

Tell us what the novel is about.

Cliff Walk is the second novel in my hardboiled series featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter at a dying Providence, R.I. newspaper. The tale begins two years ago when prostitution was legal in the state (true story.) Politicians are making a lot of speeches about the shame of it, but they aren't doing anything about it. Mulligan suspects that's because they are being paid off. As he investigates, a child's severed arm is discovered in a pile of garbage at a local pig farm. Then the body of an internet pornographer turns up at the bottom of

the famous Cliff Walk in nearby Newport. At first the killings seem random, but as Mulligan keeps digging, strange connections begin to emerge. Promised free sex with hookers if he minds his own business--and a savage beating if he doesn't--Mulligan enlists the help of Thanks-Dad, the newspaper publisher's son, and Attila the Nun, the state's colorful attorney general, in his quest for the truth. What he learns will lead him to question his long-held beliefs about sexual morality, shake his tenuous religious faith, and leave him wondering who his real friends are. Cliff Walk is at once a hardboiled mystery and a serious exploration of sex and religion in the age of pornography.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

I began writing the book shortly after my first Mulligan novel, Rogue Island, winner of both the Edgar and the Macavity Awards, was published; and I finished it in six months. The third Mulligan novel, Providence Rag, is also finished and will be published sometime next year.

Did it take a lot of research?

Yes and no. In a sense, the Mulligan novels took forty years to research because they draw on everything I learned about Rhode Island's cops, street thugs, journalists, corrupt politics, and organized crime figures during my 40-year journalism career, about a third of it spent at The Providence Journal, the state's largest paper. I was well prepared to write these books. But when I started Cliff Walk, I did not know much about the inner workings of the state's sex trade. So I spent many dreary evenings hanging out at Cheaters, the Cadillac Lounge and several of the state's other strip clubs where prostitution was openly practiced, discretely questioning bartenders, bouncers, and naked hookers who kept climbing into my lap. Since I'm a married man, that could have had serious consequences. Lucky for me, my wife found my research hilarious.

Where did you come up with the plot; what inspired you?

Unlike Rogue Island, which is entirely made up, Cliff Walk was inspired by real events in our smallest state, a quirky place with a legacy of corruption that goes all the way back to one of the first colonial governors dining with Captain Kidd. In 1978, COYTE, a national organization representing sex workers, sued the state in federal court, alleging that its antiquated prostitution law was so vague that it could be interpreted as prohibiting sex between married couples. The suit was dismissed in 1980 after the state legislature rewrote the law, redefining the crime and reducing it from a felony to a misdemeanor. As it turned out, however, a key section of the new law was left out, supposedly by accident, when the legislature voted on it. Amazingly, however, more than a decade passed before anyone seemed to notice. Finally, in 1993, a lawyer representing several women arrested for prostitution at a local "spa" did something remarkable. He actually read the statute. The only word used to define the crime, he discovered, was "streetwalking." Therefore, he argued, sex for pay was legal in Rhode Island as long as the transaction occurred indoors. When the courts agreed, the state's strip clubs turned into brothels, and a whole bunch of new strip clubs and "massage parlors" opened up. Soon, tour buses full of eager customers began arriving from all over New England. At the height of the state's legal sex trade, 30 brothels were operating openly. Rhode Island didn't get around to fixing the law until a couple of years ago.

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?

When I sat down to write the novel, the first thing I typed was this: "Attila the nun thunked her can of Bud on the cracked Formica tabletop, stuck a Marlboro in her mouth, sucked in a lungful, and said 'Fuck this shit.'" That sentence, which ended up as the opening to chapter five, had the hardboiled feel I wanted and gave me the confidence to keep writing. But the short final chapter, which portrays a weary Mulligan's inner turmoil about the soul-wrenching things he witnessed during his investigation, is my favorite part of the book.

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?

I'm tempted to say Mulligan because he's a lot like me--except that he's 25 years younger and eight inches taller. He's an investigative reporter; I used to be. He's got a smart mouth; I get a lot of complaints about the same thing. Like me, he's got a shifting sense of justice that allows him to work with bad people to bring worse people down. But I have a special fondness for Attila the Nun, a former Little Sisters of the Poor nun who forsakes her religious calling for the rough-and-tumble arena of Rhode Island politics.

I noticed places in the novel where your own life or interests end up in some scenes, like the appearance of your wife Patricia, and a dog with the same name as yours. You also included an appearance by Andrew Vachss and often mention crime writers you personally like. Could you tell us a bit about why you enjoy including these little nuggets?



I want my characters to be real people, and that means giving them interests beyond the job of investigating crimes. Since Mulligan is so much like me, it makes sense to give him similar tastes. So he's a fan of the blues (The Tommy Castro Band, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Buddy Guy.) He reads crime novels (Vachss, Michal Connelly, Ace Atkins.) He drinks beer (Killians.) He smokes cigars. He loves dogs, although his landlord won't allow him to have one. Unlike me, he's no fan of poetry, but his girlfriend is. So when she tries to read poetry to him or takes him to a poetry reading, I toss in a few lines. I suppose I could have tried to write a bit of poetry myself, but I'm no poet. I could have chosen a passage from another poet and then spent weeks trying to get permission to use it, but why go through all that trouble when I've got my own live-in poet? So I included a bit of writing from my wife, Patricia Smith, who is one of America's finest poets.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?

The early notices have been gratifying, with both Publishers Weekly and Booklist giving Cliff Walk starred reviews. Publishers Weekly said, "Look for this one to garner more award nominations." Booklist called the plot "exquisite" and added that the novel is "terrific on every level." I just hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Cliff Walk (Liam Mulligan) by Bruce DeSilva

Liam Mulligan, Rhode Island's hardboiled reporter is back in this great new novel by Hardboiled Collective member Bruce DeSilva.
A child's severed arm shows up on a pig farm... An internet pornographer is killed... A politicial battle is fought over legalisation of prostitution...
These ingredients are enough to keep Mulligan very busy. Add to that some vigilante killings on pedophiles, a new love interest and a gangster boss interested in hiring Mulligan and you end up with a very exciting crime novel.
What makes this novel so great is not just the many interesting plotlines however, but the character of Mulligan and the sharp writing. Mulligan is such a great self-depreceating character and the writing such an effective continuation of Chandler and Parker's hardboiled voices this should be textbook writing for anyone attempting to write a hardboiled crime story.
It worried me that the paper Mulligan works for is going through some bad times, endangering his job. Luckily, it seems there's enough people interested in Mulligan's investigation skills to keep him busy even if he ends up sacked. I wouldn't want to miss this guy, his troubles with his ex-wife, his clumsiness, his interest in crime fiction and his attitude. Looking forward to the third in the series!

Racing The Devil (Jared McKean) by Jaden Terrell


Because this great novel by a Hardboiled Collective member is coming out with a new publisher here's a repost of my review...

Is it because the person behind the writer's name is a woman that protagonist Jared McKean is one of the most emotionally developed of new private eyes? With a gay friend, a son with Down's syndrome and a gothic nephew Jared McKean has plenty of baggage to keep his personal life interesting.
The story starts off with a bang though when Jared picks up a woman in a bar and sleeps with her only to find out it was all a setup to turn him into a murders suspect. Jared shows he can take of himself, using Tae Kwando moves to keep fellow prisoners away from him when he's temporarily incarcerated.
He also shows he's a pretty dogged investigator when he sets out to prove his innocence. The successful merging of the personal side of Jared's life and the murder mystery made this an absolute favorite for me.

There's also an interview to be found here.

The Last Refuge (Sam Acquillo) by Chris Knopf


To celebrate the fact The Last Refuge by Hardboiled Collective member Chris Knopf is coming out on Kindle, here's a repost of the review I did of the paperback edition...
Sam Acquillo used to be an engineer before he decided to quit the business and his wife left him. Now he lives in his dad's old place in Southampton where he spends the time doing not much besides drinking vodka. When he discovers the dead body of his neighbor, an old lady he sets out to fulfill a role as her administrator but also investigates wether her death was really a natural one.

Chris writes Sam as a very 'real' man and he made me care for the character. That's what he excels in, the original characters and the story of a man who seems to have lost all and chosen to. He also writes pretty witty dialogue although some conversations do seem to take a bit too long. That's also the most important gripe I had with the book. It went on a bit slow for me. As a literary novel it works better almost than as a crime novel.

Good reading if you like something slower and different, skip it if you only read Lee Child, Robert Crais and James Patterson.