Thursday, September 22, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: REVENGE by Michael Haskins 
            REVENGE is a gritty, complex mystery/thriller that builds suspense slowly, although with intermittent bursts of violence, and then explodes in a fiery (literally) climax that includes not only plenty of exciting action but also as shocking a final denouement as I've read in a good long while.
            Protagonist Liam "Mad Mick" Murphy is an engaging character, a gonzo journalist who has traveled much of the globe and covered his share of conflict. He is somewhat world-weary, but neither jaded nor overly cynical. His introspection is often self-effacing yet always insightful. He has both friends—and enemies—at many different levels and in positions of varying authority.
            Throughout the novel, Murphy is hopelessly under the spell of the exotic  Michelle—a Filipino beauty who is the sister of a young man Mick had befriended briefly back in college. Moreover, she perfectly fits the image of what has long been his "fantasy love". When Michelle pleads for his help, Murphy ignores what might have been warning bells under different circumstances and wastes little time agreeing to come to her aid.
            What Michelle draws Murphy into is a bizarre chain of shame and family honor threatening to culminate in savage revenge for past abuses. Murphy has contacts, Michelle insists, that can help her provide warnings to prevent this retaliation. It soon becomes apparent, however, that the warnings aren't going to be enough—and before it is done Murphy's choice to ignore those personal warning bells early on come back to haunt him when his involvement damn near costs him his own life!
            This is another title from another one of my fellow authors in the Hardboiled Collective. Good writing, good protagonist, good book. Don't miss it.

Persevere --- WD 

Monday, September 19, 2011

DISMAL RIVER now available on Kindle
My first Western novel, DISMAL RIVER, is now available on Kindle.
So far the reviews I've seen and the comments I've gotten have all been very positive. Print sales could be better. I'm hoping Kindle readers will jump on board in stronger numbers.

The tale is a rousing, old-fashioned Western adventure with action, romance, good guys, bad guys, and a few who are sort of in-between. It is set in the stark, ruggedly beautiful Nebraska Sandhills as they were back in the 1880s and the plot builds upon an actual event—the so-called Yale Bone Hunt—that took place about twenty years prior to my story. The main protagonist is a character named Lone McGantry who, as an infant, was the lone survivor when a family named McGantry was massacred in an Indian attack.
I plan on using McGantry in a series of Western novels. The next, tentatively titled RECKONING AT RAINROCK, is already written.

In the meantime, I am also working on another Western series about a bounty hunter named Bodie Kendrick, who tracks down fugitives in Arizona and New Mexico. The first of these, HARD TRAIL TO SOCORRO, will be out shortly from Western Trail Blazer.

I hope you will keep an eye out for my Westerns. I'm very excited by the opportunity to finally be working in this genre, and I think you will enjoy my stories.

Persevere — WD

Sunday, September 11, 2011



I feel it only appropriate today that each of us pause and reflect back for some measure of time on those tragic, sad, infuriating events of one decade ago. As Americans, they really should never be very far from our thoughts. That day—and those immediately following —showed ourselves and the rest of the world the best parts (although only too briefly) of the American spirit … and the worst parts of man's inhumanity to man.

I will leave it to others to extol the virtues of the Islamic faith and the peace-loving practices of the many millions of "good" Muslims, even though I can't help wondering where their voices are, en masse, speaking in condemnation of the radical Jihadists who perpetrated 9/11 and continue staging countless other acts of mass murder against the vulnerable and unsuspecting. And excuse me if I happen to be boarding a plane with a dark-complected young man jabbering in Arabic and I pause to give him the narrow-eye just a little closer than I would some blue-haired little granny from Boise. Call it profiling if you will, I call it common sense.
I will also leave to others most of the compassion and worldly broad-mindedness. I choose to remain pissed off. Yeah, we finally got bin Laden—where was your "Allahu Akbar" that night, fuckwad, when you were cowering behind two women before the Seals blew your sorry ass away? But that still leaves in his wake tens of thousands of others, all eager to carry on his bloodthirsty goals.

For me, it boils down to this:
Remember the fallen.
Remember the sacrifices.
Remember the heroism …
and Remember the cowardly bastards responsible—they're still out there, and we must never lose sight of that. 

Persevere — WD

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: WHERE ANGELS FEAR by C.J. Henderson & Bruce Gehweiler

If you're looking for an imaginative mix of spookery, action, and high adventure told in a well-written, slightly pulpy style—then look no further than this collection of rousing tales penned by C.J. Henderson and Bruce Gehweiler. There are eleven stories in all, running the gamut from encounters with everything from a prehistoric flying lizard to zombies to a headless horseman from the past still raising hell as he gallops through the misty night in modern-day Delaware.
At the center of these encounters is the unlikely pair of Dr. Hugh Blakely and Dr. William Boles, both renowned professors at Duke University. Blakely is a crypto-zoologist, a seeker of hidden or unknown animals; Boles is a parapsychologist, an explorer of all things supernatural who is aided by his own psychic visions. In addition to the differences in their chosen fields, the two are equally diverse in physical appearance and techniques for confronting a challenge. Blakely is big, rugged, outdoorsy—ready to plunge head-on against whatever stands in front of him, if necessary with flying fists or a blazing gun; Boles is slight in stature and far more cerebral, preferring to reason things out based on first-hand observation combined with his unique visions and vast general knowledge. That they are teamed together at all is necessary to satisfy the stipulaltions of a hundred-million dollar endowment to the university.
The banter and conflicting styles of the two men add a healthy dose of wry humor to the otherwise often grim situations in which they find themselves. During an encounter with a Sasquach-like "skunk ape" in the Okefenokee swamplands of Georgia, Blakely and Boles also encounter the local sheriff, auburn-haired Donna Fargo. After her world has been turned upside down by the events of that bloody episode, the formidable and determined Miss Fargo gives up her sheriff's star and joins the two professors in subsequent adventures, thus adding some sexual tension to the already potent brew.
The pace of these stories never flags and amidst the heroics and horrors there are a number of memorable secondary characters as well as some interesting insight contained in the narrative.
Exciting, highly entertaining stuff. Not to be missed.

Persevere --- WD

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: HANK & MUDDY by Stephen Mertz

This is a rare treat—a book unique in concept, executed with obvious passion and considerable skill by author Mertz.
Shreveport, Louisiana, 1952 … Two musical legends-in-the-making—Hank Williams and Muddy Waters—are in town, their career paths on very different trajectories. After phenomenal early success, Hank is on the downslide. His marriage is on the rocks, his excessive drinking is out of control, and he's just lost his spot on the popular and prestigious Grand Ol' Opry. He's in Shreveport hoping to turn things around and regain some status by appearing on the Louisiana Hayride, the only other program to rival the Opry. Muddy, on the other hand, is riding along on a high note. His biggest problem seems to be that his most popular band member, Little Walter, is making noises like he wants to strike out on his own. Oh yeah, and Muddy has one other nagging problem … he can't make his you-know-what behave, especially when it comes to willing white women. And since this is the deep South in the early '50s, you just know that's bound to lead to trouble.
When trouble arrives, it comes big … and keeps on coming. A vengeful sheriff, crooked cops, dubious FBI agents, local mobsters, and some riled-up Klan members all figure into the mix as this tale picks up speed. There are strong elements of crime, danger, a touch of noir, and moments of hilarity. But above all there is deep insight into to the two main characters, their first-person narrative told in alternating passages. Their voices are distinct and authentic and, through them, we not only learn more about each man but we get a clear and resonating sense of time and place.
This novel is being mostly promoted as mystery/crime and, as stated, it certainly contains those elements. But it also is much more—twin character studies that read as dead-on accurate as any biography; and a slice of history that, even though fictionalized, is rich, colorfully textured, and memorable.

This is a terrific book by my friend Steve Mertz.
Don't miss it.

Persevere --- WD

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: DEEP WATER (& More) by Paul Bishop

            DEEP WATER (originally published as SAND AGAINST THE TIDE) is the second adventure of Calico Jack Walker and Tina Tamiko. In their first outing (originally published as CITADEL RUN and now available on Kindle as HOT PURSUIT), Walker was nearing his retirement from the LAPD and Tina was his rookie partner. Now Walker has retired from the force and is running a fishing charter business with his son, Ren. Tina still wears a badge but her and Jack remain a team via the romance that blossomed between them while they were working together.
            Things start out routinely and smoothly enough when Walker and Ren take out a pair of fishermen one day, even though Walker finds something unlikable about them. His instincts turn out to be warranted when the two men attempt to hijack Walker's boat, the Thieftaker, and Ren is seriously wounded in the process. Walker manages to thwart the attack and, leaving the would-be pirates in the drink, races back to shore to get his son medical attention.
            From there the story only picks up speed and the acceleration never lets up.
            This is an intricately-plotted crime thriller/adventure written by a sure hand, told with authentic details and high-spirited imagination. Subplots, conspiracies, corruption, intrigue, greed, torture, revenge, and wry humor all come into play as everything builds toward a rip-roaring, shatteringly explosive climax. Yet author Bishop also makes time for several key back stories and layers in plenty of character depth, managing to keep the wilder plot elements from going too far over the top.
            For thrills and excitement it's hard to beat Calico Jack and his "Take no bull, cut no slack – Hook 'em, book 'em, and don't look back" way of dealing with things.
            You can read OPEN WATER as a stand-alone, but you'd be cheating yourself if you didn't check out HOT PURSUIT as well. It's more high-speed mayhem with Walker and Tamiko and another exciting read. I, for one, could go for more adventures featuring this colorful pair … That's a hint, Paul, in case I'm being too subtle.

            And for another display of Bishop's diverse talents, be sure to check out his short story anthology, RUNNING WYLDE, also available on Kindle. Here is a wide-ranging assortment of stories covering the gamut from grim to humorous, but certainly never un-interesting. I have an admitted bias toward this collection because it contains three stories that originally appeared in Hardboiled magazine back when I was running the show there—including one of my all-time favorites, the Shamus-nominated "Quint and the Braceros".
            All good stuff. Guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Persevere --- WD