Thursday, May 23, 2013


A big part of what gets me through Sundays during the NFL’s off-season is the Ice Road Truckers series that the History Channel runs on Sunday evenings.
I’m not exactly sure why, as I am not a big fan of “reality TV”, but from the second I inadvertently stumbled across this show in its first season I have been a huge fan.
For one thing, I had no idea that such a thing as “ice roads” and the various industries that function around (and because of) them ever existed; let alone the remote, isolated communities that absolutely are able to exist due to the services the provide. What a fascinating slice of still-existing frontiers and the rugged people who inhabit them is presented here!
Another thing I like is that the “stars” of the program are not a bunch of bizarre individuals reveling in their dysfunctionality. For the most part, they are simply working stiffs taking a shot and willing to work hard at it in order to make a big score for the betterment of their lives and their families.
To be sure, there are some colorful characters in the mix. Such as:
Hugh “the Polar Bear” Rowland  >  a literal bear of a man who is gruff, profane, but one hard-working, balls-to-the-wall sonofagun; he also has exhibited a sentimental side a time or two when he visited co-worker/friends Alex and Rick on occasions when they were hospitalized; and another time when Alex presented him with a special framed of Hugh’s father.
Alex Debagorski  >  also tall and imposing and as hard-working as Hugh, but gregarious (with a rumbling, hearty laugh), always willing to lend a hand to others, and very pious (he never curses and often says prayers aloud when facing challenging conditions).
Lisa Kelly  >  the show’s “eye candy” who just keeps getting sweeter and also more competent as she works genuinely hard to improve her independence and overall trucking skills.
Rick Yemm  >  the chain-smoking, chronic complainer of the bunch who leans toward Mohawk haircuts died different wild colors and seems to have a love-hate work relationship with Hugh.
(One of the funniest exchanges came at the start of last season when the truckers were gathering to start out on the haul road. Alex cracked to Hugh (who was partnered once again with Rick, having shown up with a bright blue mohawk): “Did you tell him yet that he’s really your son?”  To which Hugh dryly replied: “I tried to explain to him that I **bleeped** a parrot once when I was a teenager, but I don’t think he got the hint that he might be the result.”

Anyway, as recently as a few weeks ago I was under the impression they might not be airing Ice Road Truckers this year. The horror!
However, I now know there will be a new season and it starts on June 9.
If you’re not already an IRT fan, I suggest you give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Guest Blogger: John L. French - author of PARADISE DENIED

WD:  John L. French is a very lazy individual who only finds time to be a dedicated family man, work a full time job as a crime scene investigator for a major eastern city, edit a number of highly entertaining crime anthologies, and write novels and stories in a widening span of genres.
Otherwise, I have no idea how he occupies himself.
But here's John himself to fill you in a bit more: 

Hi, I’m John L. French. First of all I’d like to thank Wayne for inviting me to be a guest blogger. It’s somewhat appropriate. I’m a writer (among other things) and I don’t know if Wayne realizes it but he is partly responsible for my being one. Way back in 1985 Wayne started Hardboiled Magazine. It was put out on a copying machine and sold through the mail. It was in its pages that I discovered C. J. Henderson’s Jack Hagee (“What You Pay For” HB #4) and Wayne’s Joe Hannibal. It didn’t take long before I started writing my own PI stories and eventually “Past Sins” showed up in the pages of Hardboiled 13, now edited and published by Gary Lovisi.

That was a little more than 20 years ago and thanks to the help and support of Wayne, Gary, C. J. and others I’ve gotten some books published and even edited a few. Wayne gave me stories for Bad Cop No Donut (his award winning “This Old Star”) and To Hell in a Fast Car (the deserving of an award “Starless Midnight”).

By nature I’m a short story writer, writing crime, pulp, supernatural and lately science fiction – whatever the editors ask for. Given that my paying job is crime scene investigation for an east coast city (I can’t say more because of new rules issued by the department) most of my stories have some kind of crime element in them.

The reason Wayne invited to guest blog is that I have a new book out. It’s a collection of short stories I’ve written over the past twenty years. It’s called Paradise Denied and it’s got crime, superheroes, hitmen, vampires and zombies. Not all in one story although that would be one hell of a tale. Paradise Denied is published by Books of the Dead Press. The publisher has asked me to put the word out about it and knowing that I’m too lazy, er, make that busy, to write a blog myself Wayne was kind enough to help. In order to get people reading, and hopefully buying, Paradise Denied, the publisher has asked me to make it available to those willing to post a review on Amazon. If you’re interested, write to me at and I’ll send you a copy in pdf, mobi or epub.

That’s it. Thanks for your time. Hope to heat from you soon. Wayne, thanks again for having me as a guest.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

MORTAL LOCK by Andrew Vachss

This collection of 20 short stories and one original screenplay proves two things:
One, nobody writes tight, tough, powerful crime fiction any better than Andrew Vachss; and Two, despite the core purpose of his writing having always been to serve as a vehicle for carrying the message and truths of his central life's works -- i.e. to protect our society's young and vulnerable by impacting laws and perceptions and shedding light on the predators who prey upon these victims, thereby perpetuating a cycle of violence by "creating our own monsters" -- Andrew's skill as a pure writer and stylist, always being honed and expanded and experimented with, has never been on better display.

For starters, the sheer range of stories, as far as the span of settings, plots, and characterizations that they incorporate, are imaginative and impressive. One story ("Postwar Boom") reaches into the noirish past; another ("Underground") looks ahead into a grim future. The distinctive voices incorporated into the individual narratives as well as the different characters are spot-on and indicative of a writer always reaching, always stretching, never settling for a "comfort zone".
True, a number of the stories have urban jungle backdrops that Vachss is probably most closely associated with. But others are dark slices of suburbia, science fiction/horror, mysticism, and betrayal and sacrifice found in remote villages far removed from any steel and concrete urban sprawl. Vachss's popular Cross character is featured in one of the stories, "Profile"; and the character Veil is teamed with Joe Lansdale's rowdy Texans, Hap and Leonard, in the raucously entertaining "Veil's Visit".
The final and lengthiest entry in the collection is the aforementioned original screenplay, "Underground". Following along may take some getting used to for those unaccustomed to reading a screenplay format, but getting into the flow is worth the effort. The tale is set in a futuristic subterranean world -- a dystopian world, if you will -- of violent gangs and strict boundaries. It sets a dark and gloomy outlook but, in the end, it ultimately teaches that even under the dimmest, grimmest conditions, love and hope can blossom.

If you've never read Vachss before, then this is a fine place to start -- a sampler to discover what can be found in the rest of his work. I'm betting that MORTAL LOCK will have you seeking out more.
For those already familiar with Andrew's work, well, this will serve as a reminder of why his byline keeps you coming back.

Strongly recommended.