Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I'm pleased to announce that, for the first time in four years, a brand new Joe Hannibal novel is now available. 
It is entitled GOSHEN HOLE and can be purchased as an eBook original via Amazon Kindle. (Other eBook formats will be available soon, but there are currently no plans for a print version.)
The Amazon link provides a lengthy Product Detail introduction as well as an opening chapter sample. But a more concise blurb might be as follows:

Following the life-altering events of THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY, Joe Hannibal is back in action! Operating now out of the Lake McConaughy region in west central Nebraska, Joe still carries a PI ticket but doesn't solicit investigative cases like in the old days. This doesn't mean, however, that trouble doesn't still have a way of finding him, even when he doesn't go looking for it.
As a favor to a new friend from the lakeside community, Joe agrees to do some discreet checking on the pal's ex wife who seems to have gone missing from her digs in nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming. In no time at all, Joe finds himself at odds with a shady local businessman, on the radar of a bloodthirsty Mexican crime boss, and in the crosshairs of a rogue bandito who won't hesitate to take down not only his primary target but also anybody/everybody else who tries to get in his way.
Before he can find the answers he set out after, Joe must endure the fight of his life and in the process learns that the dusty back roads and wide open spaces of the high plains can be every bit as dangerous as the meanest streets from the cities of his past.

I've already used this new setting for several Hannibal short stories that have appeared over the past couple of years and have found it to be exciting and re-vitalizing to me as the author—I am in hopes that readers will like it as well.
GOSHEN HOLE is the seventh novel in the series (along with twenty-one short stories) and I recently completed the eighth, BLADE OF THE TIGER, which we'll be bringing out some time next year. 2012 will mark thirty years since Joe first appeared in the now-defunct Spiderweb Magazine—making the series one of the longest-running, still-active ones on the scene.
Nevertheless, if you give GOSHEN HOLE a try (for the bargain price of $2.99!) I think you'll soon find out that Hannibal still has enough gas sloshing around in his battered old tank to keep things interesting.


In conjunction with the release of Hannibal #7, my third Hannibal novel, THE BRUTAL BALLET, is also being re-issued in eBook format. Originally published as a Dell paperback in 1992, this is one of the few mystery novels (or novels of any kind, to my knowledge) to take an in-depth look at the world of professional wrestling as part of its back story. Which brings me to the admission that I have long been—and continue to be—a big fan of pro wrestling. (You might say it's in the blood … one of my grandfather's boyhood friends growing up in Nekoosa, WI, went on to become the famed 1920s era grappler Ed "Strangler" Lewis, and my sweet, shy maternal grandmother would attend live matches and turn into one of those raging "Hatpin Mary" types who would sit at ringside and cuss a blue streak at whatever "bad guy" was breaking the rules.)
Anyway, I was eager to use the wrestling scene (this was in the days before the term "sports entertainment" was in wide use and most organizations were still going through the pretense of pretending everything was "real") as the backdrop to a story and I think it turned out pretty well. Unfortunately, distribution was lousy and the book went on and off the shelves in about a week so very few readers ever saw or heard of THE BRUTAL BALLET. I am in hopes that, through the magic of eBooks, this can be corrected.
The blurb for this one goes:

While trying to prove or disprove his client's suspicions of a cheating spouse, Hannibal is drawn into the violent and bizarre world of professional wrestling. Almost immediately, however, he finds himself grappling with issues far more serious than infidelity when his investigation slams him up against a vicious murder. And where there is one murder there is always the seed for more.
Double-dealings, illicit sex, blackmail, and kidnapping are all on the card as Joe battles to uncover the truth. He will taste hot sweet kisses and bitter rage and his own blood before he is through. But innocent lives are being threatened with death … and the kind of unbelievable degradation that can be even worse. Hannibal won't stop until the predators and killers are revealed and made to pay.

"Noir" seems to be the popular catch phrase used for a lot of stuff coming out these days, but what the Hannibal books and stories are is plain old-fashioned "hardboiled" … a tag I think I am qualified to attach. In the preface to an interview I did a couple months back, the interviewer used the term "red meat mysteries" for my work … I kinda like that, too.
So if you're looking to add a little red meat to your holiday pastries and cookies and candy canes, why not give the Hannibal books a try? I think you'll be glad you did—and so will Joe and I.

Persevere — WD

Friday, December 9, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: DEAD MEN'S HARVEST by Matt Hilton

This sixth adventure in the popular Joe Hunter series is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish and author Hilton holds the pedal to the metal on practically every page.

Hunter, former military man and agent for the mysterious counter-terrorism outfit Arrosave, once again finds himself pitted against Tubal Cain—a vicious serial killer also known as the Harvestman due to his quirky little habit of "harvesting" bones and other souvenirs from his victims. What makes their clash all the more unnerving this time around is the fact that Hunter thought he had killed Cain a number of years ago (as related in DEAD MEN'S DUST, the first entry in the series). When Cain escapes from the ultra-maximum security prison where the CIA had been holding him for mysterious reasons known only to them, the Harvestman is hell bent of getting revenge against Hunter and also wiping out Joe's brother John, who is in Witness Protection waiting to testify against the crime boss who helped spring Cain.

The plot is marvelously complex, with numerous back stories and ulterior motives all interwoven around the central thrust of events building steadily toward the inevitable clash between Hunter and Cain. Some of the action strains real-life credibility and Hunter's straight-ahead-at-all-costs method of doing things is borderline reckless to say the least … but, ultimately, that is part of the fun. Hunter is a larger-than-life hero made to overcome larger-than-life challenges. And Tubal Cain is a cunning, well-realized, thoroughly despicable villain who makes a very worthy adversary.

The cutting back and forth between first- and third-person narrative has become somewhat common in thrillers these days and in several instances I, for one, have found it unnecessary and annoying. Here, however, author Hilton does it skillfully enough—and the insight/information learned in the third-person segments are important enough—to make the shifts not only justified but seamless in the reading. Also, Hilton does a terrific job of writing the action scenes that are crucial to this type of thriller, and a hell of a lot harder to do than you might think.

All in all, an exciting, slam-bang tale with a hero you'll want to see more of. Be sure to check it out, and—if you haven't already done so—also check out the other titles in the series. You'll be glad you did.

Persevere --- WD

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Noteworthy Reads: THE ZINC ZOO by Ed Lynskey

This sixth outing for PI Frank Johnson is another solid entry in an already strong series. It also continues something of a banner year for author Lynskey, who scored back in the summer with the noir hit LAKE CHARLES and then again this fall with the crime thriller ASK THE DICE. Earlier, in the spring, he kicked things off with the well-received cozy mystery QUIET ANCHORAGE … The guy can do it all.
But, while I'm inclined to check out anything with Lynskey's byline, I have an admitted bias for good private eye thrillers so the Frank Johnson books are my favorites. By the way, in addition to the novels, several Johnson short stories have also been published, including one collection titled OUT OF TOWN A FEW DAYS.
THE ZINC ZOO, set in 2005, finds Johnson recently returned from a grueling overseas case. His life is in transition, as he and his fiancĂ© Dreema are now living together and Frank has moved from his beloved Pelham to the suburbs of Richmond … the dreary gray sameness of this setting amounting to the "zinc zoo" of the title. Furthermore, Frank is on the outs with his friend and former boss, high-profile attorney Robert Gatlin, who is about to marry a woman Frank suspects—but cannot prove—to be a cold-blooded killer. Without clients being steered his way by Gatlin, Frank's difficulties in adjusting to the changes in his life are only aggravated by having little or no call for his PI services.
And then Zani Huang shows up wanting to hire him to find her missing husband. From there things build momentum rapidly and, before you know it, Frank has found the corpse of a murder victim, his client has disappeared, he's been framed for the murder and finds himself on the run from the cops. From there the pace never lets up. Aided by his bounty-hunter pal Gerald, Frank races to stay ahead of the police as he searches to find both his missing client and her husband and at the same time try to solve the murder he has been tagged for in order to clear himself. And, just incidentally, he is also working to solidify his relationship with Dreema and prevent his friend Gatlin from marrying the woman with the arsenic green eyes whom Frank believes is hell bent on making herself a widow (again) as soon as possible.
The writing is fast-paced and spot-on descriptive as presented in Lynskey's distinct writing style. The plot—along with a couple of subplots—is complex and intriguing, with some unexpected turns and a tension-filled double twist near the end. The secondary characters are colorful and well realized. And the action, when it comes, is kick-ass.
Not a lot more you could want in a private eye thriller. This one delivers the goods. Strongly recommended.

Persevere --- WD