What I’m Reading (Oct 2015)

October equals colder, wetter weather and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. This October also involved a trip to Charlotte for work, which meant a few hours of uninterrupted reading time on the plane.

It was hard to choose a best book of the month as I read so many good ones this month.


Jim Thompson. What can you say about one of the best noir writers ever? A number of years have passed since I last read Thompson, so I thought I’d re-read a few of his book and read some others for the first time. He writes as well as I remember. There’s a reason so many writers point to Thompson as an inspiration. He is the best. Superb characters (as in twisted, tortured, and sometimes downright creepy), fast moving plots, and pure entertainment. I only got through a handful of them and it doesn’t matter where you start. Each one is fantastic: A Swell Looking Babe, The Grifters, Pop.1280, After Dark My Sweet, The Getaway, and The Killer Inside Me (which might have one of the creepiest psychopaths for a main character in any book ever).

No Tomorrow by Jake Hinkson. He’s one of my favorite modern day noir writers and No Tomorrow is another outstanding addition. I wrote about it here.

Some other good books:

  • Van Halen Rising: Howe a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal by Greg Renoff. An encyclopedic look at the creation of Van Halen. Entertaining.
  • How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor. Everything you wanted to know about Star Wars and fans of Star Wars.
  • The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. An insightful book on what it means to ask someone for help.
  • The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh. Another very good food book from Robb Walsh, this time on another favorite dish of mine- chili.
  • He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond. British noir. So good.


A few shows I’ve started. Fargo (season 2). So far, excellent!

A show that might have promise, this one from Amazon, The Man in The High Castle. Amazon has only released two episodes to date, but the rest are due to be released on November 20. The show operates on the premise of the US having lost WW2 and Germany and Japan having control of the United States.



Taken For Granted is out and available. If you’ve read it, I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? The ebook is only .99. The response has been great and I’m hard at work on another book, no title yet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Month on The Bike: 46 Is Not the New 26 (Or Even 36 For That Matter)

The day of reckoning looms on the horizon. Time, like a vulture, circles above, preparing to swoop down upon its prey. The accumulation of years are beginning to catch up to a person. Or more likely, tackle him to the ground.

The joints creak and pop. The muscles become sore and stay sore for days. The body is stiff. Guttural groans emanate when standing. Recuperation is a multi-day event. And bedtime, it comes earlier and earlier.

In September, another birthday rolled around. I turned 46. I’m in pretty good shape for my age. But I’m not the man I used to be.


I made an offer to my son. “If you want to train for a 5k, I’ll run with you.” He’s 10 and doesn’t go much for athletic endeavors. I expected him to say, “No.”

Never offer to do something when you’re counting on the other person saying, “No.”

He said, “Yes.”

And so it began.


At one time, as a much younger person, I could play basketball for hours on end every day and never feel any pain or stiffness or soreness. I expected it to go on like that forever.

In college, the Saturday before classes were to start, a friend asked me to join him on a run at the track. In the middle of the afternoon.

It was August. In West Texas. The temperatures reached one hundred degrees and stayed there.

I went. We ran. It was fun.

As soon as I returned to the dorm, another friend asked if I’d hit baseballs to him.


We jogged over to the baseball field. I hit fly ball after fly ball to him for about an hour. Then we switched and I shagged fly balls.

Again, as I returned to the dorm, I ran into another friend.

“Up for some tennis?”

I was.

We played four or five sets.

And I felt great. Then and the following day. No sore muscles. No stiffness. No achy knees or ankles. No pain. Ever.

Those were the days.


To train for a 5k, we used the couch to 5k app. The app starts you off easy and progresses to the point where you can run an entire 5k.

How hard could it be? I’ve been riding a bike for 5-10 hours a week for over 10 years. Before that, I used to run 3 miles 4 times a week. I am in shape.

Conditioning was not the problem.

Remember all those years of playing basketball from age 7 to 20 on concrete courts 7 days a week? My knees do.

As we began our 5k training, I also maintained my normal biking regimen. We ran on Mondays or Wednesdays, Fridays and Sunday mornings. I also biked on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. During the week, I biked for an hour, on Saturday and Sunday, the bike ride could be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

The first week went well.

The second week…

We ran on a Friday night. Saturday morning I got up and biked three hours. Sunday morning we ran. Sunday afternoon, I went for a bike ride. Well, I was on a bike and pedaling. I had no speed or energy and everything hurt. My wrists, my shoulder, my neck, my back. I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. An early indicator of tendonitis.

I could’ve eased up. Could’ve.

Ice became my friend. After every bike ride, I iced both knees.

One Friday, while we were running, my son cut in front of me. I felt a sharp pain along the back side of my right calf.

I added the application of BenGay cream to the affected area to my daily regimen. The pain went away after three days. During that time, I continued running and biking.

The following weekend, I felt a sharp pain in my left calf. I knew what to do: ice on the knees, BenGay cream on the calf, and maybe some pain relievers.

I invested in some leg compression sleeves for my calves when we ran. They seemed to help.

I kept thinking I would start to feel better. My body would adjust to the running. Or at least I hoped it would. We were only three weeks into an eight week plan and we’d yet to run anything longer than three minutes at a time.

Maybe it wasn’t a matter of fitness, but a matter of age.

And decay.

I hope not.


On the second Saturday in September, I lined up at the start line for the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, a 59 mile bike ride. The wind was light and from the north. The temperatures mild. A perfect day for a bike ride.

As for my asthma flareup in August, I’d recuperated fine. The only drawback, I’d spent two and half weeks doing nothing, then had two weekends of bike riding to get ready for the Cowtown Classic. Finishing would not be a problem, how I would ride would be the issue. I forgot about trying to set any PR (personal record). After all, I’d been sick and was set to turn 46 in a week.

Have fun. Take it easy. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

Sometimes, I don’t listen to myself all that well.

We set off at eight o’clock. Up and down rolling hills at the start. I started well. Calm. Focused on breathing. Averaging a decent speed. I snuck into a group or two and drafted off the others.

I was riding smart. Conserving my energy.

I checked my time at the one hour mark. Woah! Faster than expected and at a moderate pace. How could I be doing so well? I’d been sick for two out of the last four weeks. This made no sense.

At the one and a half hour mark, I checked my time again. Even faster. A quick mental calculation and I discovered that if I maintained my current average, I’d annihilate my previous PR by nearly half an hour.

A monster PR and my 46th birthday only a week away.

What is this thing people call getting old?????

I turned down a road that went flat for a particularly long stretch. I maintained 25 mph and hit 30 mph in some stretches. (Fast for this amateur rider). I could not believe how well I was doing.

The road turned to the left. Then came a stop sign where we turned left again. The road cut to the right and went straight up.

My memory of last year’s route came back. I’d forgotten about it until this point. (Was this a sign of senility?) The first half of the course was fast and flat, the second half slow and uphill.

One uphill climb came after another and another and another. That astounding average time dropped like a rock. I recalculated my potential finish time. Getting a PR looked suspect.

At mile 56, we crested a hill, turned a corner, and faced another uphill. I requested an increase in power from my legs.

“No,” they answered.

“Let’s go. Only three miles to go!”

“No!” they shouted louder.

“Mind over matter!”

I felt a little twinge in my left hamstring.

“Feel that?” they said.


“Keep asking us to push harder and we’ll initiate cramps that’ll make you cry.”

“Can we make it to the finish line?”

They conferred. I couldn’t hear what they said.

“We’ll pedal at a rate we deem capable. But if you send a message to increase the power. It’s over.”

We compromised.

Or, depending on your perspective, I surrendered to their demands.

With no energy left, I spun light gears and pedaled fast. I tried to sneak into groups, but they were either going too fast or fading faster than I was. I dropped my forearms onto the tops of the handlebars and tried to make myself as small a target for the wind as possible. It didn’t help that I faced a headwind.

I continued to check the time. I still might get a PR. As long as my legs kept up their end of the deal.

The last mile or two contained a multitude of turns. Every time I came around a corner, I hoped to see the finish line. I didn’t. I wanted to be done and off the bike. Finally, we rounded a corner and the finish line appeared. I tested my legs to see if they had anything left.

They didn’t.

I spun the pedals faster in a smaller gear and crossed the finish line 6 minutes faster than the previous year. A new PR.

I’m not sure how I did it.

46 might not be the new 26, but it ain’t 56 either.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Book Review: No Tomorrow By Jake Hinkson

The sign of a good book is this: you want to hurry up and finish so you know what happened while at the same time you want to slow down and enjoy the story. In other words, you don’t want it to end. When it does end, you flip back to the beginning and start again.

No Tomorrow by Jake Hinkson is such a book. If you’re a fan of noir, you’ll enjoy this book.

For readers unfamiliar with Hinkson, you’ve been missing out. His backlist contains gems such as: Hell on Church Street, The Posthumous Man, Saint Homicide, The Big Ugly, and The Deepening Shade (a collection of stories). All of them worth your time to read.

By the way, Hell on Church Street might be one of the best noir books I’ve ever read.

No Tomorrow takes place in 1947. Billie Dixon gets a job as a film distributor of B-grade films to theater owners in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Her assignment takes her to Stock’s Settlement, Arkansas, where the theater owner, Claude Peters, is ready to shut down his theater.

Claude’s main problem Brother Obadiah Henshaw, a blind preacher who has convinced the people of Stock’s Settlement that movies are a spawn of the devil. The people might not agree, but they don’t want to feel the wrath of the fundamentalist preacher.

Brother Obadiah happens to be married to the most beautiful woman Billie has ever laid eyes on, Amberly Henshaw. She married Obadiah before he went off to the war, became blind, and devoted himself to the ministry. On Billie’s way out of the church, after Obadiah has rebuffed her overtures to let the people watch movies, Amberly invites Billie to pay her a visit the following day.

Billie is smitten with Amberly and an affair between the two women commences. The encounter is everything Billie imagined it would be, but, instead of staying in Stock’s Settlement, Billie bolts back to California.

She made one bad decision with the affair. She compounds it by returning to Stock’s Settlement at the invitation of Brother Obadiah. When she comes back, all hell breaks loose.

No Tomorrow has it all- noir, religious fundamentalism, odd characters, and small town oddities- but above all it’s a great story. No Tomorrow is the epitome of noir.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Month on the Bike: Asthma Rears Its Ugly Head

August in Texas. Not my favorite month of the year. It has nothing to do with enduring day after day of hundred degree temperatures, although that’s no great pleasure. Rather, I dislike August for what it brings. Illness. Allergies. Asthma. As someone who enjoys going out for two or three hour bike rides, not being able to breathe because of asthma can be somewhat problematic.


August on the bike started off well. I signed up for the Blazin’ Saddles charity ride in Granbury, Texas, about an hour’s drive away. Their website boasts of it being the hardest ride in Texas. I’ve done some hard rides, we’d have to see how they stacked up.

I maintained realistic expectations about how I’d do. Although I’d been riding and training, I hadn’t been preparing for a hilly, 75 mile ride.

It should be noted about my biking abilities. Yes, I’ve been riding for over 10 years. Yes, I’m dedicated to working out and riding a bike. No, I’m not the fastest guy on the bike, nor do I care. I ride because I enjoy it. You want to pass me? Go right ahead. I’ll still have a good time.

On the day of the ride, after the requisite thanks for attending and warnings to be safe, we set off. I struggled right away. Hyperventilating. It happens from time to time. I’ve never been able to figure out the cause. I don’t know if I start off too quickly or forget to breathe in and out, but within a few minutes my heart is racing and I can’t seem to breathe. I feel like I’m blowing air out, but not taking any in. I’ve learned I have to ease off the pace and concentrate on breathing. Sometimes, I literally have to tell myself- breathe in, breath out, breathe in, breathe out- until my breathing returns to normal.

After a couple of miles, I could breathe regularly again. Time to concentrate on actual riding.

The first half of the ride, I flew. Down in the aero position, hanging over the handlebars, quick cadence of the pedals, going fast- it was a blast.

This was hard?

Then came the second half of the ride. Uphill. Uphill. Uphill. We’re not talking the French Alps or anything, but it was up and up and up. Long stretches of hills at times. Steep inclines at others. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s fast going uphill.

At mile 70, the route reached the top of a hill. The event organizers had posted a sign indicating this was the peak of the entire route. Finally, no more going uphill. As I crested the hill, the road went straight downhill. By this time, I was beat. The last hill had taken what little energy I had left.

No energy equals slower reflexes. Going down a sharp descent, the smart thing to do would’ve been to ease off the pace. Tap the brakes. What if a car shot out of a driveway? Or a pothole appeared in the road?


Slowing down meant more time on the bike and getting to the finish line later. I was ready to be done.

I gripped the handlebars tight and hoped for the best.

I managed just fine.

Sorry, no tales of flipping over the handlebars or narrowly avoiding a car.

At the finish line, there was a tent with refreshments. Usually, there’s nothing but water, watered-down Gatorade, warm bananas, and oranges. I wanted something liquid. I grabbed a cup, willing to take whatever came out of the orange container.

It wasn’t water or Gatorade.

Sweet tea.

I stood there and downed three or four cups. Sweet tea never tasted so good.


Asthma. Tightness in the chest. Struggling to breathe. Wheezing, if it’s really bad. I’ve dealt with it my entire life. The earliest occurrence I recall took place in the fourth grade. My mom tells me I was diagnosed at the age of three. I’ll have to take her word on it.

Elementary school and junior high were the worst years. In the fourth grade, on the way to lunch, I had to go to the nurse’s office to use a nebulizer. Every day. In the fifth grade, I spent a week in the hospital. In sixth grade, my mom held me out of PE the entire year after an allergy test demonstrated I was allergic to nearly every type of weed and grass. It also showed that I was allergic to cigarette smoke, cats, and dogs, but that didn’t stop my dad or step-dad from smoking, nor did it propel my mom to give away the cat and the dog.

Eighth grade might’ve been the worst. For a few months, we lived in Phoenix. My routine went like this: Monday= school; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday= home sick; Friday= school; Saturday and Sunday= home recuperating. It was quite the life. I also received allergy shots during this time. They provided no discernible difference.

Once I went away to college, my asthma symptoms abated somewhat. It could’ve been the West Texas air. Or the lack of cigarette smoke, cats, and dogs. The only times I remember having serious asthma problems were after mowing the yard.

For the next twenty years or so, while living in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, my asthma had seemed manageable to me. Yes, I carried an inhaler with me everywhere I went and used it a couple of times a day. But, compared to when I was a kid, bed-ridden, and wheezing, I felt much better.

But there were flareups. Reminders of the stranglehold asthma held over me. One doctor put me on allergy medication. It helped some. Another tried a different allergy medication. It helped a little more. A few years later, after experiencing a flareup that lasted for a couple of weeks, another doctor had me try a preventative inhaler. Dulera. Wow. This is what normal people must breathe like. For the first time in my life, I walked around without an inhaler.

Until I’d have a flareup. Which happens in August. At least for the past four or five years. It has to do with…well, I don’t know what causes it. I only know it happens. It could be the extreme heat in Texas. The lack of air movement. Perhaps it’s ragweed? We haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact culprit.

So this August rolls around and a dread descends upon me. Will the awful asthma rear its ugly head?

It did.

This year, as soon as I noticed a discernible difference in breathing, that tightness in the chest, I called the doctor. She prescribed six days of Prednisone (Hello, headaches and insomnia!). My breathing improved while I was on it. Hooray!

As soon as I went off it, my breathing was worse than before. I spent a Friday night sitting on the couch, struggling to breathe.

Every time I have one of these flareups, I descend into a mental abyss. It’s not depression, but a worrying, woe is me mentality. It’s over. This is it. The asthma is back. The meds won’t work this time. The asthma flare up is here to stay. It’ll be just like when I was a kid. Goodbye, outside. Adios, active lifestyle. See you later, bike.

Unable to do much of anything, I read a few books. I worked on my own book (about the only positive). I did a whole lot of nothing. I ‘slept’ sitting up in bed, propped up by four or five pillows, which equates to not really sleeping.

On Monday, I called the doctor again. This time, she had me come in. No messing around this time. Antibiotics, steroid shot, and another round of methylprednisone.

By the end of the week, I felt better. Two and a half weeks I’d been down. Doing nothing. Sitting around.

As Saturday approached, my mind drifted towards the bike. Did I dare go outside? For a bike ride? Into the nasty, allergen polluted air? Should I risk it? Or take it easy?

What to do?

Yeah, I risked it. A two hour bike ride on Saturday and another on Sunday.

I waited for the inevitable asthma attack. A few days passed. It didn’t come. I might be out of the woods.

Until next August


My thoughts turned to September. Another ride was coming up. The Cowtown Classic. A 59 mile ride. Could I do it? Essentially, aside from the Blazin’ Saddles at the beginning of August, I’d sat on my rear.

I would have Labor Day weekend to get in some long rides. Would it be enough? Should I even try?

I stared at the registration page. I pondered the possibilities. I hit the submit registration button.

Of course I would ride.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading (September 2015)

The big news of the month

Taken for granted ebook final copy

Two years in the making, Taken For Granted, is now out and available. Only .99 for the ebook.

In case you forgot to get me a birthday present (it’s in September as well), don’t worry, just order a book or two or three. (One for yourself and a few copies for some friends.)

Go ahead. The rest of this post can wait a minute.

Done yet?


And thanks!


Aside from my own book, which you should buy and read, here are some other books I enjoyed this month.

Book of the Month: This should actually be plural for books of the month. I stumbled upon a new favorite writer, Malcolm Mackay. He’s written an enjoyable trilogy, The Glasgow Trilogy, which contains the following three books: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, How a Gunman Says Goodbye, and The Sudden Arrival of Violence. Although the books center around crime organizations and their fight to stay in control, the main character in all three books is a hitman hired by one of the organizations. First, he’s a freelancer. Then he’s brought into the organization. Last, he has to decide if he wants to continue living the life of a hitman. Great stories. Excellent writing. Definitely worth the read.

Some other books I read this month:

  • The White Van by Patrick Hoffman- Russian gangsters, a bank robbery, and desperate people. Good crime novel.
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. A memoir of sorts. This is the second time I’ve read this book. It’s about running, writing, and life.
  • The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr – A book about memoirs and writing memoirs. Really good book.
  • Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer- A look at Mormonism, particularly fundamentalism. The things people will believe.
  • The Race to the Truth by Emma O’Reilly- She worked for Lance Armstrong at one time. Then she told the truth. He ripped her in the press and made her life hell. Then he confessed to his doping practices and apologized. This is her story.
  • The Backup Men and Twilight at Mac’s Place by Ross Thomas- More crime novels by Thomas.


I’m still sort of plodding through Deadwood. I haven’t watched much else. Looking forward to the return of Fargo.


Did I mention I published a book this month?

And yes, I’m already onto the next book. I’m about halfway through the second draft of the last novel in this series, which somehow became a series.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New Book: Taken For Granted

Taken for granted ebook final copyMy next book, Taken For Granted, will be released September 22, 2015. Taken For Granted is a follow-up to my first novel, Secrets To Keep, and follows the lives of Jefferson, Linus, Al, and Max as they deal with the fallout that took place in Secrets To Keep.

Taken For Granted is currently available for pre-order from Amazon (ebooks .99 and paperbacks 10.95) and will soon be available at iBooks, B&N, and other sites.


Max can’t get seem to get a break. His two best friends are dead. He’s broke, homeless, and stealing cars to earn money. 

Jefferson did everything they said and it wasn’t enough. He can do what they say or lose everything. Of course, doing what they want might land him in prison.

When the police can’t find who murdered John Petri, his employer hires Linus to investigate. The case leads Linus back to the people responsible for him being forced out of the police department. 

Al prides himself on thinking of everything. In his business, it’s paramount if he wants to remain free. His new money laundering scheme is working to perfection. Then Al’s partner wants him to kill someone who has become a problem.

Who knew trying to kill one man could unravel so many lives?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading (August 2015)

August equaled a superb memoir, a further descent into the work of Don Winslow, an introduction into the work of Ross Thomas, and the long-awaited publication of Huraki Murakami’s first two novels into English.


Book of the Month: The Splendid Things We Planned by Blake Bailey. Known more for his biographical works, The Splendid Things We Planned, is Bailey’s memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family and dealing with an older brother’s addictions. Heart-wrenching story of attempts to deal with a brother held in the chains of addiction.

Other great books this month:

Wind & Pinball by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is one of my favorite writers and his writing is mesmerizing. For the first time, his first two novels are available in English along with an introduction on how Murakami came to be a writer, which is worth the price of the book itself (and shall not be spoiled here- although a few book reviews have).

I continued to be amazed by the writing of Don Winslow. Three more great crime novels from his backlist.

  • California Fire and Life
  • The Winter of Frankie Machine
  • The Dawn Patrol

Somebody mentioned Ross Thomas on Twitter, indicating that during his day, he happened to be one of the best crime writers working. So far, Thomas has not disappointed.

  • Briarpatch
  • The Cold War Swap
  • Cast A Yellow Shadow


I’ve heard much praise heaped on Deadwood, an HBO show, but I’ve never given it a look. Not finding much to watch, I decided to give it a try. I’m only part way through the first season, but the praise is warranted.

I’ve managed to watch one episode of Mr. Robot and it looks intriguing.


Two years in thTaken for granted ebook final copye making, look for Taken For Granted in September. The cover is done. I have one last copy edit to make.

Max can’t get seem to get a break. His two best friends are dead. He’s broke, homeless, and stealing cars to earn money. 

Jefferson did everything they said and it wasn’t enough. He can do what they say or lose everything. Of course, doing what they want might land him in prison.

When the police can’t find who murdered John Petri, his employer hires Linus to investigate. The case leads Linus back to the people responsible for him being forced out of the police department. 

Al prides himself on thinking of everything. In his business, it’s paramount if he wants to remain free. His new money laundering scheme is working to perfection. Then Al’s partner wants him to kill someone who has become a problem.

Who knew trying to kill one man could unravel so many lives?


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading (July 2015)

Hype. It seems that every month, if not every week and day, someone is hyping something. This movie is Must See! That show is the BEST! This podcast (well, maybe podcasts don’t get hyped to the same level as movies and shows- although if you’re not listening to Mystery Show, really, I don’t know what to say) And yes, even books- this story is riveting!

In my experience, the product rarely lives up to the hype.

Thus, when I come across something, like a book, that matches and even exceeds the hype, well, that book will be the book of the month.


Books of the Month (yes, books in plural)- Recently, Don Winslow released The Cartel, which is a follow up to his earlier book, The Power of The Dog. I must’ve been hiding under a rock when The Power of the Dog was released, because I’d never heard of it until The Cartel came out.

I can’t recall, at least in recent memory, hearing so much praise for one book. Since it garnered so much praise and was a crime novel, I had to give it a try. However, since The Cartel is a sequel to The Power of the Dog, I started with it, although that’s not necessary.

Taken individually, each book is a standout. Taken together, they are phenomenal. Masterful.

In short (which is a bit of a misnomer, since the two books total over 1300 pages), Winslow tells the story of two men, Art Keller (DEA Agent) and Adan Barrerra (cartel drug lord) over a forty-year period. An early friendship turns into a life-long battle with each man wanting to get the other. The story of these two men is told against the backdrop of the drug wars in Mexico over the last forty years. Graphic and dark in sections, the storytelling is hypnotic.

If I had to compare these two books to anything, I’d liken them to James Ellroy’s LA Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential, and White Jazz).

Having been blown away by Winslow’s writing, I delved into some of his other books:

  • SavagesThe Kings of Cool, and The Death and Life of Bobby Z. How best to describe these two books? Ken Bruen meets SoCal (Or maybe Ken Bruen is Don Winslow meets Galway.)

Other books I read this month include Small Crimes by Dave Zeltersman (noir), The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas (an in-depth look at Sherlock Holmes), and The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy by Filip Bondy (an entertaining look at the infamous Pine Tar Game).


I really should keep an ongoing log of what I watch (which isn’t much), because when the end of the month arrives, I can’t remember what I’ve watched. I gave up on True Detective after episode 3, the story made no sense. I watched the first episode of Rectify– seems promising. That’s about all I can remember.

Except for the Tour de France. I did watch that.


Here it comes, an actual drop-date (or semi drop-date) for my next novel, Taken For Granted. Look for it by mid-September at the latest, if not earlier. Hopefully, I have one last copy edit and then it will be ready.

In case you missed it, this month I reduced the price of the ebook version of Secrets To Keep to .99.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What I’m Reading (June 2015)

A few good books and an interesting documentary.


Book of the Month – All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer. This is a page-turning spy thriller well worth the read. (Review here.)

I also read the following:

  • Dirtbags by Eryk Pruitt (review here)
  • A trio of noir books by Bill S. Ballinger: RaffertyThe Body in the Bed, and The Body Beautiful.
  • Quack This Way by Bryan Garner. Backstory on this book: I listened to an interview with Bryan Garner on The Moment with Brian Koppelman. Years ago, Garner wrote a book, Modern American Usage, and David Foster Wallace (one of my favorite authors) wrote a ninety-five page essay about the book. Wallace and Garner then became friends and Quack This Way is an interview of Wallace by Garner about language and such.
  • Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chestnutt by Kristin Hersh. I first heard of Vic Chestnutt, a singer, when he appeared on a song or two with Jack Logan. Who was this guy? Chestnutt was a quadriplegic, who developed a cult following with his music. He died a few years and this book, written by a friend of his, is a close up, unflinching perspective on the complications of friendship with Vic Chestnutt.
  • The Badger: The Life of Bernard Hinault and the Legacy of French Cycling by William Fotheringham. A long overdue biography on the five time winner of the Tour de France.
  • Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living by Jason Gay. A humorous book on life and living. Gay is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.


Going Clear– A documentary about Scientology based on the book of the same title. All I can say is ‘Wow, the things some people will believe.’

True Detective (Season 1) – A little late getting to this one. I can see why so many people liked it, although I’m not sure about the last episode. Pretty good viewing though.


Taken For Granted is in the copy-editing phase. Not sure how long it will take, hopefully not too long. My goal is fall at the absolute latest. Sooner if possible. There might be some news on the cover soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review: All The Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer

I read across a wide variety of genres, noir being preeminent among my reading, but I don’t read many spy thrillers, unless your name is Graham Greene or Olen Steinhauer. I’ve been a reader of Steinhauer since the beginning, when he released The Bridge of Sighs, the first in a five book series about a fictional Eastern European country after the end of WW2. Since completing that series, he has transitioned to modern day spy thrillers, and his latest, All The Old Knives, continues in that vein.

The story takes place over two nights, one in the present and the other in the past. The narration alternates between the perspective of Henry and Celia. The central question concerns who fed information to a terrorist that led to the slaughter of innocent people.

Henry, a current operative, invites Celia, a former operative and his former lover, to dinner. Celia has moved on from the spy game, trading the spy game for marriage and family. Despite their breakup, Henry still pines for her. Henry is investigating who gave the information to the terrorist.

The past sequence revolves around the day in question when a terrorist group hijacked a plane and demanded the release of certain prisoners. They threatened to kill everyone on board if their demands were not met. An operative inside the plane begins sending text messages to the other operatives with details about the terrorists. His messages continue until someone outs him to the terrorists, resulting in his death. Who sold him out and caused the deaths of everyone on the plane?

Back in the present, the former lovers and operatives try to figure out what the other knows and the evening climaxes with the revelation of the truth. All The Old Knives is an outstanding page-turning spy thriller.


If you haven’t read Steinhauer’s previous books, you should check them out:

  • The Cairo Affair
  • The Milo Weaver stories (The Tourist, The Nearest Exit, An American Spy)
  • The Ruthenia Quintet (The Bridge of Sighs, The Confession, 36 Yalta Boulevard, Liberation Movements, Victory Square)
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment