Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mystery Scene Issue No. 149

The latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine—No. 149—is at a newsstand near you. As usual, it is packed. It features Ron Miller’s terrific article “Why Can’t the Movie Be Just Like the Book?” “The Small World of Modern Thrillers” by Nicholas Barber and the second part of Lawrence Block’s “How to be a Writer Without Writing Anything,” which I’m still using as a blueprint for my future projects.

It also features my short story review column, “Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered.” All of the column reviews are currently available in the print edition and most are also available at MS’s website. In the column I discuss:
Bound by Mystery, edited by Diane D. DiBiase, is an anthology celebrating Poisoned Pen Press’ 20th anniversary.
Anatomy of Innocence is an anthology, but also something very different from my usual coverage since it features true stories about men and women of have been wrongly convicted, and since released, of crimes they didn’t commit.
The January/February issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, featuring stories by Hugh Pentecost, S. J. Rozan, Brendan DuBois and nine others. Unfortunately this is a print exclusive.
The Purple Flame and Other Detective Stories, collecting 15 traditional mysteries by Frederick Irving Anderson.
There are also three of my book reviews in Issue No. 149. The titles: Heretics by Leonardo Padura, The Day of the Lie by William Brodrick, and Undertow by R. M. Greenaway. The book reviews are all available at MS’s website:
Heretics by the Cuban author Leonardo Padura is an interesting and well-developed, if a little long, private detective novel set in Cuba.  
The Day of the Lie by William Brodrick is the fourth novel featuring Father Anselm that is more thought provoking than thrilling.
Undertow by R. M. Greenaway is a fine Canadian police procedural set in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The reviews are available online at Mystery Scene’s website—click the titles above.
Mystery Scene is available at many newsstands, including Barnes & Noble, and available for order at MS’s website.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

COPP ON ICE by Don Pendleton

The fifth in the Joe Copp series, Copp on Ice, is pure hardboiled fun. Joe Copp, the toughest most righteous P.I. in Southern California, is hired on a short term basis as the chief of police for the growing inland city of Brighton. The city manager has promised him 48 hours, but Joe will be lucky if he makes it 36. His mission: find Brighton PD's corrupt cops and kick every last one to the curb, dead or alive. And corruption is exactly what Joe finds. Enough to make him good and angry.

Heavy on the hardboiled—prose and attitude alike—Copp on Ice reads like a shot of rock candy. The mystery quick and satisfying. The social commentary rough-edged, but illuminating and surprisingly relevant more than 25 years after its original release. The fun includes a climactic gunfight shot in the nude, more than a handful of murders, mostly cops, a house of sin and graft, sexual perversion and more. And Joe Copp, the man on a mission, the man with a code, the man who gets the job done, the man who is anything but an enigma, is always entertaining in his rough, over-the-top tough guy way.

Friday, April 07, 2017


Dan J. Marlowe.  The name alone brings an echo of the hardboiled—

“I’ll be leaving one of these days, and the day I do they’ll never forget it.” 

He wrote in the heyday of the paperback original.  His best work was published by Gold Medal, and his novels stand above most of his contemporaries as hard, uncompromising masterpieces of hardboiled crime and suspense. 

His life was as strange as his fiction: he is likely the plainest womanizer exported by Massachusetts; he gambled professionally for several years; he befriended, lived with, and co-wrote several short stories with the notorious bank robber Al Nussbaum; and late in life he developed memory loss and something called aphasia—“partial or total inability to write and understand words.”     
And all that is only the beginning.  Not to mention it was parroted from the introduction, written by Marlowe’s biographer Charles Kelly, to the new trade paperback double published by Stark House Press.  It features two of Marlowe’s best novels, which really, are two halves a single story: The Name of the Game is Death (Gold Medal 1962), and One Endless Hour (Gold Medal 1969). 

The novels tell the genesis story of Marlowe’s Earl Drake series character.  Drake is not a likable man.  He is a bank robber with a predilection for killing people.  He doesn’t kill simply to kill, but kill he does.  The Name of the Game is Death opens at the scene of a botched bank robbery with Drake shot in the escape.  He and his partner split up, and Drake finds a doctor and a dark place to hide until he is recuperated and the heat is off, which is when the story really begins.  His partner went missing with the money, and Drake is broke.  The rest of Name of the Game is Drake’s search for his partner, and the money, and One Endless Hour is the fallout.

The two novels merge into one complete and engrossing story, which is not to say either is dependent on the other; both are complete with beginning, middle, and end.  However the plot in One Endless Hour is built directly from Name of the Game.  In fact, the final chapter of Name of the Game is included, with a few adjustments as the Prologue to One Endless Hour.  

Name of the Game is the stronger of the two novels.  It includes an exposition of Drake’s childhood, explaining (without apologizing) for Drake’s seeming amoral character.  Its backstory emphasis and character development is reminiscent of John D. MacDonald, but only just.  Its prose is raw and hardboiled—

“I swear both his feet were off the ground when he fired at me.  The odds must have been sixty thousand to one, but he took me in the left upper arm.  It smashed me back against the car.  I steadied myself with a hand on the roof and put two a yard behind each other right through his belt buckle.  If they had their windows open they could have heard him across town.”

—and it is more thematically related to Jim Thompson than John D.

One Endless Hour is more of a straight caper novel.  It lacks Name of the Game’s character development, and backstory, but it flashes pure action.  And, if you consider the two novels as one story, it is the climactic resolution.  The differences in pacing and plotting act to strengthen the two novels’ impact rather than diminish it, and the new Stark House edition is the perfect way to experience the story arc.  

Purchase a copy of The Name of the Game is Death / One Endless Night at Amazon.

This review was originally posted May 19, 2013, but I thought it might be of interest again.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thrift Shop Book Covers: "Recalled to Life"

Recalled to Life was serialized in the June and August, 1958 issues of Infinity Science Fiction. The edition that caught my eye is the mass market published by Lancer Focus in 1967. The dominantly orange high tech machinery below a solid white background is marvelously dated. The artist: Unknown (to me at least).

The opening paragraph:
“That morning James Harker was not expecting anything unusual to happen. He had painstakingly taught himself, these six months since election, not to expect anything. He had returned to private law practice, and the  Governorship and all such things were now bright memories, growing dimmer each month.”

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Western Fiction Review's Take on RED ROCK RAMPAGE

Western Fiction Review reviews Blaze! Red Rock Rampage in a very nice way. Steve Myall, editor of WFR, is an expert on series Western fiction and his review means a great deal to me. A few of my favorite parts:

“This is Ben Boulden’s first entry into this multi-authored series and what a terrific addition it is. Filled with action from the word go the author weaves a twisting plot that sees both J.D. and Kate facing many deadly situations.”
“Ben Boulden’s descriptive writing puts you right there in the thick of the action and his characterization of both good and bad is very well drawn, enabling you to share their emotions.”
“…this fast moving tale that ought to please all fans of westerns.”
You can read the entire review at Western Fiction Review.

Blaze! Red Rock Rampage is available in ebook, exclusively for Kindle (also available for Kindle Unlimited), and paperback everywhere.

If you read RRR, let send me an email and let me know what you think.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Don Pendleton's Stewart Mann Series by Stephen Mertz

I read this essay about five early Don Pendleton novels, featuring Stewart Mann rather than Mack Bolan, written by DP devotee, all-around great human, and terrific writer Stephen Mertz a few years ago. Steve was kind enough to allow me to reprint it here. The books are difficult to find, and maybe even harder is trying to filch a decent cover scan or two. And if you find these books, take pity and send a few to me.

I was in need of some light reading, and so just finished one of Don’s earliest books, a Stewart Mann, private eye novel called The Hot One (1966), written as by Stephan Gregory.

It was a hoot and if you haven’t yet sampled the Mann series (there were five books), you owe yourself a glance at another side of Don that he rarely (understandably) revealed in the Bolan novels: he was one funny dude.  I’ll always remember his warm Arkansas chuckle.  The Mann novels are cast in the Shell Scott/Carter Brown style of sexy, breezy, funny, hard-hitting short mysteries that were popular in the 1950s and 60s.  In fact, The Hot One totally holds its own in the Prather level of ribald detective fun. 

This isn’t the voice Don used in his Joe Copp private eye books, by which time he’d firmly carved his own distinctive writing style, but is that of an enthusiastic young writer stretching his muscles for the main event (Bolan is three years away, remember).  But there is foreshadowing of the big guy to come.  Towards the end of this book, Mann has his moment of despair and considers bailing when he has a chance, but Don has him reflect, “Bug out, Mann, bug out.  And I started to.  But I knew I’d spend the rest of my life feeling like a whipped pup.  I did care about the people involved.” 

But about the humor: as this is a “sexy” 1966 paperback, most of the funny stuff are witty asides about this gal or that; my favorite is when Stew and a chick are trapped and it looks for sure like they’re gonna die, but when she sees Mann, she starts touching up her face.  Don writes, “I watched idly, marveling at that creature called woman.  At the gates of hell a woman would ask Lucifer for a comb and lipstick.”  The plot is the purest hokum, seat-of-the-pants plotting with holes big enough to drive the War Wagon through…and I loved every word.

Well, almost every word. 

A few caveats are in order if this series sounds interesting enough to you to go on-line in search of it.  The ones to start with are The Insatiables and Madam Murder, which were published exactly as Don wrote them.  The Hot One and The Sexy Saints were “spiced up” with about 10 pages of graphic sex (written by the editor) scattered throughout each book.  Don was a romantic writer and these passages are easy to spot in their crudeness (and easy to skip over).  More problematic is Don’s wonderful naming of Mann’s self-destructive sex impulse: ol’ creature.  Just when everything is going hunky-dory for Mann, on a case or with life in general, ol’ creature stirs.  Stew got booted from the Marines for doing a General’s daughter.  Kicked off the cops for doing the captain’s wife.  It’s a great literary device.  Well, in Saints and Hot One, ol’ creature becomes ol’ baldy.  Which I think is hilarious.  Whenever the subject came up in conversation, Don invariably repeated the new name, rolled his eyes and there was that soft Arkansas chuckle again. 

The only Mann to avoid is The Sex Goddess, which is incomprehensible through no fault of Don’s.  The book was over the word-length so the editor arbitrarily deleted three consecutive chapters from the middle of the book.  Yowza.

Upon finishing The Hot One, I found myself leafing through my correspondence with Don from when I was just a writer-in-the-making—a year from my first professional sale, two years from my first book sale.  I had initially written Don a straight up fan letter, and waited awhile before letting on that I nurtured dreams of a writing career.  In a letter to me dated 24 March 1974, Don wrote:
“I could have guessed that you too are a writer.  Keep at it.  Nobody ever said it was easy—and I’ll let you in on another little truth.  The more “successful” you get, the harder “it” gets.  I used to knock out those Stephan Gregory books in 5 or 6 days and never feel a pain.  Now I pace the floor and sweat blood to get 8 or 10 pages a day.  But it’s all worth it, so hell keep at it.”

Thanks, Don—for Stewart Mann, and for the advice.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Bullet Reviews: A smattering of praise

You may have noticed already (or not) that I’ve been struggling with posting new reviews on the blog recently. This is due to myriad reasons, none are of interest to anyone other than me (but check out my short story review column in Mystery Scene Magazine and my new book Blaze! Red Rock Rampage). So, to keep things moving I thought I would post a few small reviews, to the point with no fluff, written for places like Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Each review runs short—anywhere from 40 to 150 words—but I hope everything needed for an appropriate review are still there.

Night Show by Richard Laymon

An early Richard Laymon novel, Night Show, has all the elements that make his work special. Likable, if poor decision making, characters, cinematic plotting, smooth prose, and a mixture of subtle humor and horror. The setting, backstage B-movie horror special effects, is a bonus, too. 

The Dead Man: Face of Evil by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin

The first entry in The Dead Man series, Face of Evil, is entertaining, odd (in a good way) and downright fun. Matt Cahill, a normal working class guy, finds himself in a very abnormal situation. Dead, but still breathing with a nemesis called Mr. Dark. It is an enjoyable mixture of action, suspense and horror. Humor and a tongue-in-cheek quality add marvelously to this very readable story. A terrific start to the series and I very much look forward to the other books.

The Dead Man: The Blood Mesa by James Reasoner

The Blood Mesa, the fifth installment of The Dead Man series, is an entertaining, non-stop action horror novel. Matt Cahill, The Dead Man, is in the Four Corners area of New Mexico at an Archaeological dig where Mr. Dark’s intentions are plain. Everyone must die. A smooth, action-oriented horror novel, high on entertainment. A fast, enjoyable and downright fun read. It reminded me a touch of Richard Laymon’s excellent horror novels, particularly One Rainy Night

The Dead Man: Carnival of Death by Bill Crider

Bill Crider’s Carnival of Death, the ninth book in The Dead Man series, is as much fun as a reader can have with paper and ink. Matt Cahill, The Dead Man, is working security for a carnival when the evil entity Mr. Dark begins playing games and the carnival goers start behaving in violent and disturbing ways. And it is up to Matt and his trusty ax to save the day. A carnival setting is similar to eating cotton candy without any of the less savory side effects (headaches, toothaches, grouchiness), and this story never faltered in its delivery. Action-oriented horror with splatter, a fortune telling love interest and (did I already say this?) a terrific setting. 

Tales from the Otherverse, edited by James Reasoner

Tales from the Otherverse is an entertaining and surprising anthology of alternate history stories. Bill Crider’s story “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” deservedly won a Sidewise Award for best alternate history short story. A world where Buddy Holly didn’t die in an Iowa plane crash and Elvis dumped Colonel Tom Parker as his manager turns out far differently than I would have suspected. “The Hero of Deadwood” by anthology editor James Reasoner is a clever retelling of Wild Bill Hickock’s story with a single moment changing the entire tale. The exchange of seats at a Deadwood poker game, keeping Hickock’s back against the wall.

There is also a fine Stan Wade story from John Hegenberger and seven other entertaining tales from excellent writers like, Scott A. Cupp, Lou Antonelli, Cheryl Pierson, Keith West, Robert E. Vardeman, Scott D. Parker, and Richard Prosch. An anthology very much worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fake or Real? An Ed Gorman Signature

A real-life detective story, or something. I purchased a nice edition, nearly fine, of Ed Gorman’s Dark Trail (Evans, 1990) on eBay a few weeks ago. As an aside (in the listing as in my purchasing decision) it was signed. I have several signed books by Ed, and this one is a little different.

The “G” is very different (an awkward nearly lower case) and the last name is rushed and illegible. The “E” in Ed is similar (with sharper, less rounded edges) to the signatures I’ve seen, but the “d” is a little different. I’ve also never seen Ed cross out his name on the title page.

The signature in Dark Trail is in the top photo, and for comparison sake the signatures in the three photographs below are from Cemetery Dance’s limited edition of The Autumn Dead / A Cry of Shadows (1996), PS Publishing’s limited edition of The Cage of Night (2008), and Leisure’s paperback of The Poker Club (2000).  

The total purchase, including shipping, was $5.50, which I’m pleased with and provides little incentive for forgery.

What do you think? Is the signature is real or fake?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mystery Scene Issue No. 148

The latest issue of Mystery Scene Magazine—No. 148—is at a newsstand near you. It is MS’s special Holiday Issue and it is packed, as usual. It features a terrific essay on recent legal thrillers by Jon L. Breen, a profile of Ian Rankin, who was slated to be an accountant (a profession close to my heart), and the first part of an essay by Lawrence Block, “How to be a Writer Without Writing Anything,” which I’m using as a manual for my future projects.

It also features my second short story review column, “Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered.” A column I’m (still) excited about, and, as it turns out a column I am no longer considered as the interim, but as the permanent writer. All of the column reviews are currently only available in the print edition; however, I discuss:

Crimson Snow, edited by Martin Edwards, featuring a slew of Christmas-themed traditional British mystery stories.

The 60th Anniversary Issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

The October – January issue of Strand Magazine, which, amazingly, includes a never before published story by H. G. Wells.

Lyndsay Faye’s Sherlock Holmes collection The Whole Art of Detection, which will be very well appreciated by Sherlockians.

Issue No. 148 also includes my best of 2016 line up (Shadow Games and Other Sinister Stories of Show Business by Ed Gorman, The Mistletoe Murder by P. D. James, and “The Silent Order of God” by Stephen Ross), and three standalone book reviews I wrote. The titles: World, Chase Me Down by Andrew Hilleman, The Edit by J. Sydney Jones, and The Death of Kings by Rennie Airth. The book reviews are all available at MS’s website:

World, Chase Me Down by Andrew Hilleman is a fictional retelling of the larger than life kidnapper Pat Crowe. Something of a campfire tale with both humor and action.

The Edit by J. Sydney Jones is an intriguing, sometimes ugly story of a convicted Nazi war criminal hiding in a South American country.

The Death of Kings by Rennie Airth is an, at times, slow moving traditional British puzzler.

The reviews are available online at Mystery Scene’s website—click the titles above.

Mystery Scene is available at many newsstands, including Barnes & Noble, and available for order at MS’s website.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Giveaway: And the winners are...

The winners of the Blaze! Red Rock Rampage drawing are in…

Drum roll, please—

And the winners are:

Eric H., Youngstown, OH
Bill K., Mesa, AZ

Thank you everyone for entering. 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Book Giveaway: "Blaze! Red Rock Rampage"

I received a box of books in the mail yesterday. And not just any box of books, but a box of my novel, Blaze! Red Rock Rampage. As a celebration, I’m going to send a copy to two lucky or, depending on your perspective, unlucky winners. 

All you have to do is send an email to zulu1611@yahoo, with “Blaze! Giveaway” in the subject line no later than 11:59 PM (MST) February 15, 2017. Unfortunately, due to the cost of shipping the contest is limited to U. S. residents only. 

And to sweeten the pot a little, you can choose to receive the signed paperback or the Kindle ebook version. All I ask is if you read and enjoy it, leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads. The review can be as simple (one sentence) or complex (22 pages) as you want to make it.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

"The Face" by Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman is one of the most undervalued writers of his generation.  His work, at its best, is seemingly simple, but has a subtlety and power rarely approached in genre fiction. His characters tend to the real rather than the flamboyant and caricature.  His 1990 story “The Face” won a Spur Award for best short story, and it truly deserved the honor.

“The Face” is a Civil War story.  It is the first-person narrative of a young Confederate doctor who can see the end of the war, and the true situation of the decaying Confederacy—

“As a young doctor, I knew even better than our leaders just how hopeless our war had become.  The public knew General Lee had been forced to cross the Potomac with ten thousand men who lacked shoes, hats and who at night had to sleep on the ground without blankets.  But I knew—in the first six months in this post—that our men suffered from influenza, diphtheria, smallpox, yellow fever and even cholera; ravages from which they would never recover; ravages more costly than bullets and the advancing armies of the Yankees.”

The Confederate army is disintegrating from the costly war, and its men—in fact mostly young boys of 13 or 14—are beginning to desert.  The narrator’s camp is different; none of the men have deserted and its preparations for war continue.  This changes when a single soldier is brought into camp.  He has no visible wounds, but he is comatose with a disconcerting look on his face.  When he is brought into camp the commanding general physically flinches at the sight of his face and immediately puts him in quarantine.

The soldier’s face is never completely described in the story beyond the camp’s priest’s description—

“It’s God’s face.  I had a dream last night.  The man’s face shows God’s displeasure with the war.”

The men of the camp sneak into the tent to look at the face, and each sees the horror of the war on the soldier’s face.  The men begin to sabotage the camp and desert.  The doctor, whose name we never learn, also begins to dream about the battlefields he has witnessed and worked.

“The Face” is a difficult story to categorize.  It is certainly a historical story, which captures the ugliness of war, but it is also something akin to straight up horror—its soft edged, almost dream like setting creates an atmosphere of the purely gothic.  It is also reminiscent of a superior episode of The Twilight Zone, but it is also as much a piece of literature as anything currently being written and published. 

“The Face” is a story that will survive the ages.  In a brief note included in The Moving Coffin collection, Mr. Gorman explains, “The Face” was inspired by a Civil War surgeon’s journal. It is also the most reprinted of all his stories.  It will surely continue to be anthologized long into the future because it is truly one of the best short stories written in the past twenty years; genre or literary.

“The Face” was originally published in the 1990 anthology Confederacy of the Dead edited by Richard Gilliam, Martin H. Greenberg, and Edward E. Kramer.  It has been reprinted numerous times in both anthologies and author specific collections, including The Moving Coffin (PS Publishing, 2007), and The Long Ride Back (Leisure Books, 2004).  It is currently available in an eBook collection titled Dead Man’s Gun & Other Western Stories (The Western Fictioneers, 2013).

This review first appeared in slightly different form on June 16, 2013.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Virtual Reading of Red Rock Rampage

Click the image to pre-order!
 Some may think, and perhaps I would agree, in a moment of undisguised and shameless self-promotion I turned my camera on and read the first chapter of my forthcoming novel, Blaze! Red Rock Rampage. Then uploaded it to YouTube, shared it to Facebook, and now to Graetapping. These things are all true, but…

…well, anyway, here it is. Me reading a few hundred words of the latest Blaze! novel; the fifteenth in the series if you’re keeping track. I hope you enjoy it.

If you’re interested, Blaze! Red Rock Rampage, is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle now—at the unbelievable price of $2.99—and it will also be available in trade paperback. Its official release date is February 6, 2017.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

MIA HUNTER: L. A. GANG WAR by Stephen Mertz (Jack Buchanan)

A three-man strike force accustomed to rescuing prisoners of war in the jungles of Vietnam is stateside on a rogue mission in Los Angeles. Mark Stone, known as the MIA Hunter, is asked by an old war buddy, now a deputy chief with LAPD, to help rescue Rick Chavez from a Colombian drug cartel. Chavez is a Pulitzer award winning journalist who has been writing a series of hard and insightful articles about the drug trade in L. A. The articles have enough detail that the LAPD and the drug gangs—Crips, Bloods and their Colombian suppliers—want to know where his information is coming from.

When Stone and his team arrive on scene, Chavez is being held prisoner in a palatial home in San Clemente; a few doors down from Richard Nixon's house. It takes the team only a few minutes, several hundred rounds of 9mm lead slung by MAC 10s, some smart one liners, and a close call or three, to pull Chavez out of the house. But this is the beginning for the MIA team because as the team is exfiltrating from the firefight, Stone sees a familiar face. A face that belongs to a man who tried to kill Mark Stone in Vietnam.

MIA Hunter: L. A. Gang War—the thirteenth entry in the series—is an entertaining example of the men’s adventure mania of the 1980s. Originally published in 1990 (an honorary member of the 1980s), it is a time capsule of the era, capturing society’s anxiety with an escalating war on drugs, violent street gangs spreading the poison and in the process claiming entire neighborhoods, all in the shadow of America's defeat in Vietnam. It is non-stop action, accented with betrayal, revenge, and the MIA team’s seeming endless supply of bravado and super hero combat skills. There is also a touch of humor, if you look closely, and even a big idea or two. L. A. Gang War is a top-notch example of both the series and the genre.          

Friday, January 20, 2017

Interview: Ed Gorman (from 2007, annotated and updated)

Ed Gorman was an underappreciated writer of commercial fiction. His novels are thoughtful, complicated and often illuminated with a bleak melancholy that never fully overtook the story due to an understated humor and a grudging admiration of humanity. Grudging because it was the humanity—weakness, ambition, sorrow, perseverance, strength—of his characters that both betrayed and buoyed them.

Mr. Gorman died in October 2016 leaving behind a legacy of more than 150 published novels in a career spanning more than thirty years. He wrote in multiple literary genres, including crime and mystery, suspense, western, horror and science fiction. What is likely his last novel, Backshot (1902), was published in 2015. The following interview was conducted and appeared at Saddlebums in October 2007. It is annotated with additional detail about the books and stories that are discussed. The additional material is identified with brackets. The questions are in italics.

I’m impressed with your works overall diversity. You have successfully written in the western, mystery, horror and science fiction genres. Is there a specific genre you most prefer to work in?

Mystery and suspense, I suppose. But I’ve worked in horror and science fiction with great pleasure.

I want to talk a little about your publishing history, what is the first novel you published? Was it a long time coming, or did you hit print pretty quickly once you decided to write it?

I wrote a lot of stuff for men’s magazines in the Sixties and Seventies. I could never come close to finishing a novel until I met Max Allan Collins who gave me two great pieces of advice—look at each chapter as a story and never look back until you’ve finished the book. Then worry about revisions. I finished Rough Cut and shopped it around. Agents felt that the narrator was more psychotic than the villain. I sent it to St. Martin’s Press where it was fished out of slush and bought. This was 1983.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Probably around age eight. The nuns fed me Jack London and I discovered Ray Bradbury on my own. After reading those guys I never faltered in wanting to be a published writer.

Most of your western fiction is non-traditional. You seem to use many of the same elements as one would find in a crime novel. Is this an effort to move away from the traditional western, or simply expand the definition of what a western is? Do you think these novels would be more popular if they were marketed as a western mystery rather than a traditional western?

I think you have to find a special angle to sell crossover books. Steve Hockensmith with Holmes on the Range brought something fresh and exciting to the crossover and has been very successful for doing so.

Is there a book, or a few books, that you have written and are particularly proud of?

My favorites are The Autumn Dead, Blood Moon, The Night Remembers, and Cage of Night in suspense; Wolf Moon and Ghost Town in westerns.

[Editor’s note: The Autumn Dead (1987) is the fourth (of five) novels featuring part time security guard, actor, and private eye Jack Dwyer. An omnibus edition of The Autumn Dead and The Night Remembers (1991) was published by Stark House Press in 2015, which included an Introduction I wrote.

Blood Moon (1994) is the first (of four) novels featuring consultant and former FBI profiler Robert Payne. These novels are a mixture of suspense and crime and are some of Mr. Gorman’s most entertaining novels.

The Night Remembers is the first and only novel featuring aging private eye Jack Walsh. Heavy—wonderfully so—on working class angst, it is one of Mr. Gorman’s most melancholy stories, which is saying something. It is included in the Stark House omnibus mentioned above.

Cage of Night (1996) is Mr. Gorman’s best horror novel. An expansion of his 1995 short story, “The Brasher Girl,” it is a tightly developed masterpiece of psychological suspense.

Wolf Moon (1993) was a paperback original published by Fawcett Gold Medal that had elements of the western, horror and crime genres. Ghost Town (2001) is one of ten novels Mr. Gorman wrote for Berkley between 1999 and 2006, and one I haven’t read.]

Most writers are voracious readers, and I’m wondering what you read for pleasure?

On my nightstand presently I have the Collected Short Stories of William Faulkner, Ten Stories from Detective Aces pulp magazine, a history of the Homefront during World War Two and a huge volume of the original Jonah Hex comic book stories by Michael Fleischer.

Now I want to turn to the western genre specifically. What first led you to the genre?

Mine is the last generation that really grew up on westerns. I saw them in the theaters and on television and I read them in comic books and paperbacks. Writing them came naturally. I owe Bob Randisi a lot for first getting me published as a writer.

What are a few of the western writers who have most influenced your work?

Max Brand, Elmore Leonard, Loren D. Estleman, Clifton Adams, Dorothy Johnson would be a few of them.

If you could bring back the work of one western writer who would it be? Is there a specific title?

I’d bring back six or seven of the best Clifton Adams novels.

You also write mysteries, and it seems there has been—both historically as well as today—a significant number of authors who do good work in both genres. Do you think there is a relationship between the mystery and the western that promotes this crossover, or is it simply the economics of professional writing?

Again, I think it’s generational. You don’t find many—or any that I can think of—of the Thirty-somethings writing westerns and mysteries today. Loren is the last of the breed. He’s in his Forties I think. And he’s one of the all-time best, too.

[Editor’s note: Loren D. Estleman continues to write and publish Western novels. His latest is the fine The Long High Noon (2015).]

The mystery genre is thriving, but many believe the western is in decline. What do you think about the western genre today, and what do you think the future holds for the western story?

I’ve been asked this a couple of times. I wish I had some wisdom on the subject. But I don’t. To me cops replaced cowboys.

Okay, now let’s get down to your current work. What is your latest novel?

My current novel is Fools Rush In. This is my take on how small town Iowa responded to the Civil Rights movement of the early Sixties. I have another novel called Doom Weapon, the last in my Cavalry Man series coming in paperback from HarperCollins. It’s probably out now though I haven’t seen a copy. In the Spring I have a St. Martin’s novel called Sleeping Dogs, a political whodunit. I used to write speeches for [a] congressman. Lots of anger in this book.

[Editor’s note: Fools Rush In (2007) is the seventh (of ten) novels featuring small town lawyer and private investigator Sam McCain. Mr. Gorman told me he planned to write another title in the series, but due to illness and then his death in 2016 it is unlikely we will ever see the planned title.

Doom Weapon (2007) is the third (of three) novels in the Cavalry Man series featuring Federal Agent Noah Ford. These novels are westerns, but the stories and character always reminded me a little of Sam McCain, which is a great thing.

Sleeping Dogs (2008) is the first (of four) novels featuring political consultant Dev Conrad. Mr. Gorman mentioned it is laced with “[l]ots of anger,” which is true, but there is also humor and a very nicely rendered traditional mystery. Similar to the Sam McCain series, Mr. Gorman planned to write another Dev Conrad title, but likely never finished it due to illness in the final few years of his life.]     

Can you tell us about the novel—or any other projects—you are working on now?

My next novel will be in the suspense realm. I never talk about work in progress.

[Editor’s note: This novel was the paperback original, The Midnight Room, published by Leisure in 2009. A serial killer story that departed from the standard—blackmail, revenge, class struggle—featuring a vividly rendered dark cast of victims and demented but uncomfortably human villains.
It is Ed Gorman’s final suspense novel capping a successful body of work in the genre that includes Run to Midnight (1992) and Now You See Her (1993) as by Chris Shea McCarrick, Shadow Games (1993) Cold Blue Midnight (1996), Black River Falls (1996), Runner in the Dark (1997), The Silver Scream (1998), The Poker Club (2000).]

I have one last question, and I must warn it is a little vague. If you could choose any project to work on, what would it be?

That’s a good question and you know, I have no idea. My best stuff seems to have just happened without much planning on my part. I wrote three or four novels that were part of a Big Plan to increase the size of my audience. I think they were adequate, one of them I like, but somehow they weren’t as much fun to do as the work that somehow seems to get done on its own.

[Editor’s note: The “Big Plan” books were The Marilyn Tapes (1995), The First Lady (1995), and Senatorial Privilege (1997). All three were published by Forge. Each of the novels, except Senatorial Privilege, have been released in ebook form, which makes me think Mr. Gorman thought very little of it.]

A few of my favorite Ed Gorman novels: