Outside the Law

Author and journalist Phillip Thompson’s latest crime novel, OUTSIDE THE LAW, follows the aftermath of violence within the world of street-level drug dealers and the mobsters who control the dealers and the flow of drugs in a rural Mississippi county. While the events and characters are never less than absorbing, the novel’s overall impact is deadened due to Thompson’s leisurely pace and shifting perspective.

Colt Harper, Sheriff of a small rural Mississippi county, has a problem on his hands. Small-time drug dealers who operate in his town are showing up brutally murdered. It isn’t long before Sheriff Harper confronts Hack, a sharp dressing, intelligent talking and completely cold-blooded assassin hired by a Memphis mobster to eliminate the dealers. Hack immediately sees Harper as an obstacle to his assignment, but a very expendable obstacle.

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The Jukebox Kings

Doug Allyn’s latest crime novel, THE JUKEBOX KINGS, presents a little-known side of the music business in the mid 1960s, when recordings were made in houses renovated into studios and records were promoted more by popularity on jukeboxes in locals bars and clubs than airplay over the radio. Along the way Allyn also unsparingly presents the greed, ambition, and violence that are also parts of the professional music world.

“Irish” Mick Shannon is a professional boxer who suddenly finds himself in debt to the mob when his manager bet heavy and Shannon looses his latest match. Unable to come up with the cash, Shannon ends up working as the collector for Moishe Abrams, an aging mobster who runs the jukes and collections in Detroit’s 8 Mile area.

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The late Gregory Mcdonald is remembered primarily for his popular Fletch and Flynn series. So much so that only his most devoted readers know that he also wrote several stand-alone crime novels. Hard Case Crime hopes to correct this with SNATCH, which presents two long out-of-print Mcdonald novels about kidnapping. And although they both share this common element, they are two completely different novels in all important regards.

SNATCH, the first of the two novels (first published as WHO TOOK TOBY RINALDI in 1978) takes place in the 1970s and focuses on the United Nations Ambassador to an unnamed country in the Middle East. The Ambassador’s son, Toby, is kidnapped by those who wish to prevent the Ambassador from presenting a resolution that will affect the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf. The Ambassador and his wife search for their abducted son while enlisting the assistance of the country’s designated officers. But the panicked parents soon suspect that these officers can’t be completely trusted.

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Koreatown Blues

As the title implies, Mark Rogers’s debut crime novel is set in the seldom-celebrated section of Los Angeles known as KOREATOWN. It features a protagonist who finds himself unexpectedly entangled in the traditions of the Korean population he lives and works among.

Wes Norgaard has worked for several years at a carwash in Koreatown. At night he hangs out at a bar not far from where he lives and works, and often finds himself the only white guy in the place.

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Dead Gone

DEAD GONE, the debut novel from by Luca Veste, editor of two previous story anthologies, is a generally impressive and inventive work. The crime tale involves the hunt for a shadowy serial killer while commenting on important but often neglected themes. Sadly, however, Veste’s constantly shifting perspective prevents this debut from being totally satisfying.

The body of a young woman is found in a park in Liverpool, England. The case goes to veteran homicide inspector Detective David Murphy and his new partner, Laura Rossi. They quickly discover that the murder victim was a student at the City of Liverpool University.

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In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper

Themed short story anthologies are usually the result of an editor suggesting a specific topic to a group of authors, or an editor gathering together previously published stories that are similar in subject. Master crime author and editor Lawrence Block took a slightly different approach for IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW.

Block suggested that his fellow authors use one of the paintings by American narrative artist Edward Hopper as the inspiration for a story. “His work bears special resonance for writers and readers,” Block notes of Hopper in his foreword, “and yet his paintings never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within.” The result is one of the most varied and yet rewarding story anthologies to appear in a long time.

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The Wrong Side of Goodbye

wrongsideMichael Connelly’s latest novel, THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE, continues the saga of Harry Bosch. Once again, we find the LAPD detective working as a private investigator (as we did in 2003’s LOST LIGHT). But this is not the only activity keeping Bosch busy, as we learn in this overly complex but only minimally involving addition to the series.

As part of the settlement of his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department, Harry Bosch has resigned from his 30-year post with the LAPD and works as a private investigator. But he doesn’t advertise, doesn’t keep an office, and is very picky about who he works for. Then, through another former LAPD contact, Bosch is called to the home of a reclusive, elderly billionaire.

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Sinner Man

sinnermanSince its inception, Hard Case Crime has mined the long backlist of early works by crime fiction Grand Master Lawrence Block (previously published under his own name and one of his many pen names). Now, Hard Case Crime offers SINNER MAN, heralded as “Lawrence Block’s First Crime Novel. Lost For Nearly 50 Years.” And while it may be his earliest effort at the novel length and form, it impressively demonstrates the skills with plot and character that would distinguish Block’s notable works to follow.

Dan Barshter returns home one evening from his boring insurance job. As usual he’s had a few too many drinks before returning home; and, as usual, he immediately gets into an argument with his wife. This time, however, the argument escalates into violence and Barshter accidently kills his wife.

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Road to Perdition: The New, Expanded Novel

roadperditiionIf you think you’ve read the novelization of ROAD TO PERDITION, first published in 2002, author Max Allan Collins is here to tell you that you really haven’t – that is, not as he intended it. But now that Brash Books is republishing his “Perdition Trilogy” (which includes the two sequels, ROAD TO PURGATORY and ROAD TO PARADISE), Collins has taken the opportunity to restore the opening title to how he first wrote it.

Based on Collins’s graphic novel (with artwork by Richard Piers Rayner) and set in Depression-era Chicago, ROAD TO PERDITION tells the story of Michael O’Sullivan, a man devoted to his wife and two young sons, Michael, Jr. and Peter. But O’Sullivan makes his living as the lethal enforcer for the powerful gangster leader John Looney. And O’Sullivan is so good at what he does that he’s known as the “Angel of Death.”

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Cornered! / The Long Ride

corneredLike many authors of his time, James McKimmey produced works in several popular genres, published mostly in paperback, including crime fiction, adventure stories, westerns, and science fiction (resulting in an on-going correspondence with admirer Philip K. Dick).

Two of McKimmey’s crime novels are now republished as part of Stark House Press’s Crime Classics series. Both aptly demonstrate McKimmey’s considerable skills with style and character, and are as satisfying as when they were first published.

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