Sunday, September 28, 2008

Echo Park

Echo Park

Michael Connelly is the bestselling selling author of Lincoln Park, and The Closers.

Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.

 After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat.  In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.

After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. 

Taken from the official web site of bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Now for my review For “Echo Park,”

 A Police Crime Story

I was fortune enough to meet Michael Connelly at the Florida Mystery Mingle in Sarasota Florida, March of 2008. Michael Connelly is quiet but his writing is not. This was the first book of his that I have read and what a find. His style is fast and grabs you with his detective Harry Bosch. Echo Park is just the type of story I like to read, and with no extra words he moves the novel forward effortlessly making it one of the better police crime books I've read in awhile. Every chapter seems perfect as the story unfolds. 

Harry Bosch works the open unsolved cases and one of them surfaces again when the DA calls informing Bosch that he missed a clue back in 1993 that could have solved the disappearance of Marie Gesto and sent the suspect to jail.

Required to take the suspects confession, Bosch is part of a team escorting the killer into the woods to identify the victims remains when he escapes and Harry Bosch is left to find him.

I loved this book, it embraces all the levels required to deliver a terrific police crime story.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Conqueror Worms

I love discovering a new author, at least one that is new to me, Brian Keene, a well known name in the horror world was just that. Being a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award for “Jobs in Hell.” in 2001, and again in 2003 for his well received zombie tale “The Rising.” Then a 2004 Shocker Award (Non-Fiction) for “Sympathy For the Devil.” His list of works is staggering. I’m going to stop here for a long second and go into my consulting mode and do some arithmetic, 15 novels, 10 short story collections, 3 non fiction collections, 140 Novellas, Novelettes and Short Stories, and the list goes on...I think you get the idea, a massive amount of work.

His background or at least his occupations before becoming a full time writer gives him plenty of first hand accounts of characters to dip in and pull from his stories.

His novel “The Conqueror Worms,” takes place in West Virginia. Interestingly most of his novels are about that region of the country. Born in 1967 and growing up in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia, it’s not surprising this is the hunting ground for his horror. 

The rain won’t stop, I mean it goes on forever. Keene introduces us to a world of large things that crawl in the mud coming to the surface only to feed and terrorize us. This West Virginia story of two old timers attacked by monstrous earthworms is very descriptive. The story is told through the first hand account of Teddy Garnett and his friend Carl Seaton as they struggle to live each day. They are joined by survivors from a helicopter crash, and this small band meet the monster of all monsters, worms that rise from beneath their house destroying it and taking lives. Creative concept, next time it rains you will look at earthworms differently. You might want to think twice before squashing one of those juicy night crawlers just in case its mother shows up. 

Norman Applegate

Needles & Sins

This may be the horror novel of the year.

What a thrill to have met this author at the 2008 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, casually talk to him about writing and discover John to be a soft spoken, oh yeah he lost his voice traveling to the convention, truly nice guy.

I find when reading a collection of short stories there are usually a few I’m not fond of with but John’s collection I found myself turning pages, drinking cold coffee cause I wouldn’t put the book down for an instant and realized this is without a doubt one of the best gathering of horror tales compiled into a novel I have read.

Two time Bram Stoker award-winning author John Everson plunges deep into the gory syrup of what makes horror writers wish they had written these 19 stories of “Needles & Sins,” and readers of the dark and twisted screech with parched throats as they cradle this treasure of a book.

Having published nearly 100 short stories, winning the Stoker for Covenant in 2004 and Sacrifice in 2007, I suspect he’s in line for another with this book

My favorite story, if there is one, OK there’s a three way tie, The Char-Lee, “He stood, gore dripping down the hair of his chest like perspiration.” 

Mutilation Street, “The best part is, when she gets really wicked, she stuffs chunks of his bloody colon into the fridge after he’s passed out and then fries them up for him to eat with his eggs in the morning. Talk about a breakfast that sticks to your ribs.

And The Devils Platoon, how Germany almost won the war, with a sacrifice, an alliance with Satan, and the Devil on their side.

Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with this one...

Norman Applegate

Darkness Springs

The thrill of shocking and captivating a reader is almost as big a turn-on as stroking cool leather on a warm thigh.” - Cassandra Lee

Do you ever wonder where horror authors come from, I think I know. Imagine sitting in your mother's favorite rocking chair while watching Chiller Thriller Theater in the great white north, Manitoba Canada and realizing that horror soothe the winter chills. 

But wait there’s more, from her college days studying journalism, to lead singer for a rock band, and keeping journals between all those gigs, Cassandra Lee has a writing style of frank reality with the gift of keeping it relaxed.

The novel I had the honor of previewing is Darkness Springs, with Shelby McDonald a fifteen year old boy vacationing with his family in the crisp mountain air of Banff, Alberta. As in all good horror stories you have to have a love interest, Debbie Foster, and what happens to them is gripping.

There is something that has overrun the Hot Springs cave that will scare the pants off you, I mean I had to go back and re-read a section that, well for lack of a better term, gave me shrinkage, quite literally. Cassie’s descriptive detail of the anguish, horror and impalement to a victim in her novel was exceptional. What lurks in the slimy walls of shadowy caves and in the endless chasm of the darkness will haunt you... I’m never going in a cave again!

Cassandra Lee is the author of Darkness Springs and The Raising (Blu Phi'er Publishing). Other works include her novella in the anthology Gifts of the Flesh slated for release December 2008 (Blu Phi'er Publishing) She has also contributed to the following anthologies: Concrete Blood, Tabloid Purposes IV, Word Weavers Anthology, Darkened Horizons, Diabolic Tales II and Cadaver Girls Magazine.

This is her first novel, and I'll be looking for the name Cassandra Lee with genuine interest, there is more on the way. 

Norman Applegate

Diverse Tales

When Clive Barker say’s “Nicholas, I salute you!” the rest of us need to take notice

Creativity is a force we think we have, or at least some of us wish we had, well, Nicholas Grabowsky owns it. Consider this, author, actor, singer, songwriter, and tutor, which includes novels, screenplays, poetry and songs...WOW.

His journey of writing the short story goes as far back as elementary school and years later went by the pen names of Nicholas Randers (and occasionally Marsena Shane) but in the mid-nineties, the horror writer we know as Nick Grabowsky emerged.

His list of titles include Halloween IV, Sweet Dreams Lady Moon, The Rag Man, Nancy, Diverse Tales, Tale of the Makeshift Faire, Shocker II (for Wes Craven, though never produced), The Wicked Haze, Diverse Arcanum, a series of self-help books, scripts, poetry and short stories. 

In 1995, he moved from Southern California to Sacramento, and in 2003, founded a publishing/promotions organization Diverse Media.    

     A couple of note worthy points, his novel The Everborn was awarded the 2005 Predators & editors top 10 finisher, and with the Halloween novels he is helping to establish Mike Myers as an American horror icon.

His novel Diverse Tales published in 2004 with 13 short stories is an honor to review. Did I say 13 stories, oh yeah; I failed to mention there is more, as an added bonus a collection of poems and thoughts. His writing style is colorful, alarming and is guaranteed to leave you with scary thoughts that will come back and haunt you in your dreams.

If you are allowed to have a favorite story among so many I do, The Newspaper Rack. I don’t know where it comes from but out of no where Nick surprises you. Here is a story of a young hotel employee who works the night shift and out of boredom develops a personal challenge to help himself to whatever he finds, and can loot, but gets so much more. In the tradition of the Grabowsky horror, layers are added to this tale until we realize were in the middle of a chain reaction of events that end with a nightmarish finale.

With titles like The Wanting Seed, The Falling, and Mental this collection of macabre stories will remind you why Nicholas is a major voice in horror. 

Norman Applegate

Dance with the Dragon

Dance with the Dragon

DAVID HAGBERG has published more than seventy novels of suspense, including the bestselling JOSHUA'S HAMMER, SOLDIER of GOD, and ALLAH'S SCORPIION.

Former Air Force cryptographer David Hagberg is a bestselling author of international thrillers who has a knack for creating fiction that becomes fact. In THE WHITE HOUSE he predicted North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. In JOSHUA’S HAMMER he foresaw the 9/11 attack on the United States by bin Laden and his al-Quaeda, in DESERT FIRE Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions, in HIGH FLIGHT the downing of airliners as a method of terrorism on a massive scale.

Born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, David Hagberg joined the Air Force right out of high School where he was trained as a cryptographer, stationed in Greenland above the Arctic Circle and in Germany where he helped construct the (then) world’s largest crypto center on the planet. He attended the University of Maryland, Overseas Division and the University of Wisconsin studying physics, mathematics and philosophy.

But he learned to write as a cub reporter on the Duluth Herald & News-Tribune and later as a news desk editor for the Associated Press. His first novel TWISTER was published in 1975 by Dell, and since that time he has published more than 70 novels of suspense in a career that includes a nomination for The American Book Award, three nominations for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award and three Mystery Scene best American Mystery awards.

Taken from the Official David Hagberg web site at  HYPERLINK ""

Now for my review For “Dance with the Dragon,”

 A Non Stop Thriller

David Hagberg is as good as it gets. Dance with the Dragon is by far one of the best action-adventure thrillers to come along in years. Every chapter is action packed and keeps you guessing right to the end. 

In the opening scene, there is a murder of a CIA agent in Mexico. As Hagberg works the plot, his dialog, narrative and description are riveting. David Hagberg's retired CIA director Kirk McGarvey gets pulled into this murder only to find that each woman involved in the case has a dark past with sub plots that he must snake his way through. It’s a fast read, as you will be racing to turn the pages to see what’s behind this cruel Chinese general and his spy game. From the opening to the last chapter you keep wondering how it will all come together...and it does! It just better not be true!

This is Hagberg’s 10th thriller featuring ex-CIA director Kirk McGarvey, and his next in the McGarvey series is due late fall, early winter of 08.

Norman Applegate