Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Texas Two-Step by Michael Pool

Cooper Daniels has come up with a sure fire plan. Take the marijuana he and his buddy, Davis, has grown and processed, stuff it in some furniture, load that furniture and a bunch of other assorted junk into one of those container units, and ship it down to Texas. Let somebody else do the high risk deed of driving the pot across state lines. Legalized pot in Colorado is killing their ability to sell his illegal weed. The market is collapsing around their ears and being the brains of the duo, it is up to Cooper to get them out of their latest problem. A problem made massively worse thanks to a taskforce in Chicago that busted the guy he was going to sell his latest thirty pounds of high quality weed.

Things are changing and Cooper and Daniels are struggling to keep up. The old network is going under thanks to the wave of marijuana legalization sweeping the country. Cooper and Davis aren’t getting the bucks they are used to which is killing their life style. A life style built on concerts, parties, and getting blasted while staying at the best places and having the time of their lives. It has been grand, but they are getting older and things are changing in many ways.

In one last desperate attempt to get a big pay day, Cooper reaches out to an old contact down in Teller County, Texas. Elroy “Sancho” Watts is thrilled to hear from Cooper and is willing to work a deal. Neither Cooper or Davis wants to go back home to their old Texas stomping grounds, but the plan is to get in, do the deal, and get out of Texas as fast as possible and for good reason.

One of the many things they don’t know is that things have changed in a major way in Texas as well. One of those changes is the involvement of a man known to one and all as Bobby Burnell. Known to folks as “Bobby Burnout” for good reason the man is a human disaster zone. Involved in the deal, he as well as Sancho and several other folks are under the watchful eyes of local and state law enforcement. All of this and more means trouble, often at the point of a gun, for all involved.

Published by Down & Out Books, Michael Pool’s latest crime fiction feast, Texas Two-Step is a high octane ride. Shifting through various characters it becomes clear as the read powers towards a deadly confrontation that nearly everyone involved has dirty hands. Some are just a little worse than others.

As he did in other reads, author Michael Pool quickly pulls the reader in to a crime fiction tale populated by complex characters doing their best in their own ways to get through that brings far more trouble than one would expect on the surface when the decision happens.  Texas Two-Step is an intense read that works on every level. Highly recommended.  

Texas Two-Step
Michael Pool
Down & Out Books
ISBN# 978-1-946502-56-8
Paperback (also available in eBook format)
280 Pages

Paperback review copy provided by Wiley Saichek of Saichek Publicity for my use to read and review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

Grandparent Time

Today was a treat as my son, Karl, his wife, Amy, and their two sons, Jacob and Justin, came down the long distance from their home in far northern Collin County. This also was my first chance to see Justin, the latest Tipple, who will be five weeks old as of this Thursday. He slept most of the several hours he was here. I did not get a chance to hold him yet as Mom kept a firm grip on him.

Amy and Justin

I did get to hold Jacob a little bit until he got tired of being on Grandpa's lap. He is a high energy boy and likes to move around a lot. But, I did manage to sneak in a few minutes.

Most of the time it was his Dad chasing him and hanging on to him outside the house.

As well as inside the house.

It was a blast. I am also one very tired Grandpa.

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 5/21/18

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 5/21/18


TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR May 21-27,...: Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of May 21-27, 2018:  Special Events: New Ideas 2: A Festival of New Plays , Dallas, May 18-26 El...

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: Double Wide by Leo W. Banks

Double Wide by Leo W. Banks (Brash Books, 2017) is an entertaining mash-up of unrelated elements (societal dropouts, baseball, gold mines, and economic botany) that add novelty to the usual smuggling along the border of Arizona in this compactly plotted debut. Prospero (Whip) Stark was an up-and-coming pitcher with a professional player contract and a killer fastball when his career crashed beyond salvaging. He retreated to the exquisitely beautiful desert outside Tucson, living more or less off the grid in a trailer and renting a few other trailers to those like him with no particular liking for society. Content with life, Whip comes home after a grocery run to find a shoebox on his front porch and is dismayed to find the severed hand of his friend and catcher from his professional baseball days in it. A short time later he finds the dead body of a stranger within a couple of miles of his trailer community.
Uneasy about the crime wave in his area, he knows he has to figure out what happened to his friend, which brings Whip back to the baseball field where he had his greatest successes. There he meets Roxanne Santa Cruz, a hard-drinking reporter ever on the hunt for a good story and she thinks Whip has one. Their investigation encounters a parade of eccentric characters including a retired professor of botany who has gone on the run with a stripper, the professor’s reclusive mentor who greets visitors with a shotgun and attack dogs, a sleazy sports agent, a naïve teenager with a wild pitch that he thinks is his ticket to fame and fortune, and a machete-toting drug smuggler.
Banks describes Arizona with the enthusiasm and detail of a travel guide. His characters are credible, if unusual. This convoluted and fast-moving story won the 2018 Spur Award for Best First Novel and the 2018 Spur Award for Best Contemporary Western. It was also True West Magazine's Best Western Crime Novel of the Year. I am looking for a sequel featuring at least some of the people introduced here.

·         File Size: 1763 KB
·         Print Length: 352 pages
·         Publisher: Brash Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2017)
·         Publication Date: November 1, 2017
·         ASIN: B074K1MD1H

Aubrey Hamilton ©2018

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Crime Time : A FAR, FAR BETTER THING – Jens Soering and Bill Si...

Crime Time : A FAR, FAR BETTER THING – Jens Soering and Bill Si...: The mystery for anyone who knows my reading preferences is why I didn't choose one of the many excellent fiction mysteries I've yet...

BLACK GUYS DO READ - Book Reviews Blog: DOWN ON THE STREET by Alec Cizak

BLACK GUYS DO READ - Book Reviews Blog: DOWN ON THE STREET by Alec Cizak: There are many movies, especially the exploitation ones in the 70's, that present prostitution and pimps in a heightened way, whether ...


BUT NOT FORGOTTEN by BJ Bourg is again currently available as a FREE read over at Amazon. I first told you about this one back in April 2016 in my review. This is the first book in the Clint Wolf series and well worth your time. Just go get it!

Amazon Synopsis:

Embattled former detective Clint Wolf is the newly appointed police chief for Mechant Loup, a small swampy town in southeast Louisiana. Usually a quiet town, the tranquility of the place is shattered when a human arm is found in the jowls of an alligator. Once it’s determined the arm belongs to a reputable business owner, the race is on to find the man and figure out what happened to him. Little does Clint know that solving the case could unearth a plot so evil it would go down as the worst event in Louisiana history . . . and he might not live to see it.

(Author's Note: While this book ends on a cliffhanger, the mystery is 100% resolved at the end, and it is a complete novel. The cliffhanger relates to peril--not plot. Book 2 contains a new and separate mystery that is also resolved at the end, and Book 3 wraps up the trilogy with another new and separate mystery.)

(NOTE: Originally published on December 6, 2015 by Amber Quill Press, LLC)


Mystery Fanfare: CRIMEFEST AWARDS: The 10th anniversary of CrimeFest this year is in full swing, and the CrimeFest Awards were just announced at the Banquet this evening...

Lesa's Latest Contest: 1920s Mystery Giveaway

This week, I'm giving away mysteries set in the 1920s - Abir Mukherjee's A
Necessary Evil & Barbara  Cleverly's Fallen Angels. Details on my blog,
https://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com. Entries from the U.S. only,

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Just got home. Had fun. Exhausted.

Saturday Afternoon

By the time this post appears, I should be on the road to or at Michael Bracken's home for his annual Spring gathering of writers. Michael Bracken and his lovely wife, Temple Walker, host this deal each year. Last year was the first time I was able to go and did so by driving over to Earl's place in Fort Worth where we all met up and then Graham Powell drove us both down.

This year I had decided in the wake of everything that had happened here as well as my own worsening health that I simply was not going. Beyond the fact that my grief makes me hard to be around and I am not good company, driving to Fort Worth was impossible. That got very painfully confirmed on so many levels after driving  a far shorter distance to downtown Dallas for Probate Court back on the 7th when my brother was in town. After that day, I knew without question I wasn't going.

That is until Graham Powell offered to come all the way over here and get me before heading to Earl's place.  Once he has me, we will go get the now three time Derringer winner. Then we will head south for the approximately 100 mile trip down to Bracken's place.

It should be a fun afternoon. And one I will be a part of thanks to Graham.

KRL This Week Update for 5/19/18

Up in KRL this morning a review & giveaway of the latest China Bayles
mystery, "Queen Anne's Lace", by Susan Wittig Albert, along with an
interesting guest post by Susan

Also up a review & giveaway of "Sixth Cabin" by Kathi Daley

And an article about some of the noir mysteries of Chris Ould

We also have a review & giveaway of "Apple Strudel Alibi" by H.Y. Hanna

And a review and giveaway of "Follow Me" by Angela Clarke along with an
interesting interview with Angela

We are very pleased to have a mystery short story by Cheryl Hollon, which
features characters from her Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series

And we have a look at the 20th season of Midsomer Murders

Up on KRL News and Reviews we have a review & giveaway of "Newport Ave." by Ken
Kuhlken http://www.krlnews.com/2018/05/newport-ave-by-ken-kuhlken.html

Happy reading,

DFWCon: The Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Conference June 9-10, 2018 at Hurst Conference Center

DFWCon: The Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Conference June 9-10, 2018 at Hurst Conference Center

Brainsnorts: 1-Minute Book Review: State of Wonder

Brainsnorts: 1-Minute Book Review: State of Wonder

FROM DUNDEE'S DESK: Noteworthy Reads: COLD IN THE GRAVE by Stephen Mertz ...

FROM DUNDEE'S DESK: Noteworthy Reads: COLD IN THE GRAVE by Stephen Mer...: Steve Mertz has returned to the private eye genre with an engaging new protagonist, a fresh setting, and a solid murder-mystery that will...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Countess of Prague by Stephen Weeks

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Countess of Prague by Stephen Weeks: Reviewed by Jeanne Countess Beatrice von Falkenburg, half English and half Czech, is married to a man with titles and not much more...

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: HEATHER'S TURN

A Writer's Life....Caroline Clemmons: HEATHER'S TURN: Heather's Turn The Carnie Series Book 1 by Christina Leigh Pritchard Genre: YA Thriller Alice failed. Now it&#...

PW: Was a Hostile Work Environment Behind the Firing of AWP’s David Fenza?

PW: Was a Hostile Work Environment Behind the Firing of AWP’s David Fenza?

Unlawful Acts: Suspect’s Viewpoint: CS DeWildt

Unlawful Acts: Suspect’s Viewpoint: CS DeWildt

Brainsnorts: 1-Minute Book Review: A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

Brainsnorts: 1-Minute Book Review: A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

FFB Review: THIEVES’ DOZEN (2004) by Donald E. Westlake (Reviewed by Barry Ergang)

It has been awhile, but Barry Ergang is back today with an all new review for Friday’s Forgotten Books. The timing is also nice as short stories are highlighted during the International Short Story Month celebrated each May. Make sure you check out the rest of the reading suggestions this week over at Patti Abbott’s fine blog. She has a new book out as well so check that out too. 

THIEVES’ DOZEN (2004) by Donald E. Westlake

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

In “Dortmunder and Me, In Short,” his introduction to Thieves’ Dozen, a collection of stories starring John Dortmunder, “a guy who just keeps slipping the mind of Lady Luck,” and who made his debut in the comic crime novel The Hot Rock, Donald Westlake explains Dortmunder’s genesis along with the genesis of the stories themselves, many of which originally appeared in Playboy.

In “Ask a Silly Question,” Dortmunder is forcibly escorted by two plug-uglies to the lavish Manhattan town house of a “60ish, white-haired, white-mustached elegant man” in urgent need of a burglary consultant. When they divorced, the elegant man’s wife thought one of the items she got was a bronze sculpture by Rodin. In fact, she did not. She received a copy her ex-husband had made and was none the wiser. Recent tax problems have compelled her to make a gift of the bronze to the Museum of Modern Art. To prevent the museum’s appraiser from discovering the truth, the elegant man must find a way to steal the extremely heavy sculpture from his ex’s town house. How to do so—and profit from it—becomes Dortmunder’s problem.

Andy Kelp is Dortmunder’s best friend as well as criminous colleague, and it is he who has lured Dortmunder to a ranch in the “darkest wilds of New Jersey” after meeting the “old coot” Hiram Rangle and learning of a potentially profitable scheme. The problem? It involves stealing a race horse named Dire Straits from its rightful owner to cash in on the enormously profitable scheme Rangle’s unscrupulous boss has in mind for himself. Dortmunder is less than sanguine at the entire prospect but allows Kelp to rope him in. Humor is a subjective matter, so there’s no telling whether other readers will grin or even occasionally get a “Horse Laugh” from this one as I did.

The next story finds Dortmunder and Andy Kelp tunneling from the basement of a defunct shoe store to the wall of a bank, on the other side of which is the vault they hope to deplete of funds. They succeed in breaching the wall, only to discover the vault is crowded with bank employees and customers. Learning they’ve been herded there by five ski-masked, Uzi-toting men, Dortmunder claims that he and Kelp are cops who’ve come to rescue the captives. But before they can get them into the tunnel, three of the robbers enter the vault, the apparent ringleader announcing, “Gotta have somebody to stand out front, see can the cops be trusted.” Predictably he seizes on Dortmunder as the go-between. It’s a case of “Too Many Crooks,” albeit one fraught with comical bedlam.   

“A Midsummer Daydream” finds Dortmunder and Kelp in West Urbino, New York, having left New York City temporarily because of “just a little misunderstanding down there…a little question about the value of contents of trucks that had been taken…when their regular drivers were asleep in bed. It would straighten itself out eventually, but a couple of the people involved were a little jumpy and emotional in their responses, and Dortmunder didn’t want to be the cause of their having performed actions they would later regret.” So he and Kelp are staying in the country with Kelp’s cousin, a man named Jesse Bohker who is heavily involved in his town’s summer theater program. The theater is currently performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the first half of which Dortmunder has endured. He chooses to pass on the second half, so while Kelp rejoins the audience in the converted barn, Dortmunder meanders around outside. He is subsequently accused by Bohker of having stolen over two thousand dollars’ worth of paid theater admissions, and must thus figure out who actually stole the money.

“The Dortmunder Workout,” Westlake explains in the introduction, was commissioned by an editor of the New York Times Sunday Magazine for its Health supplement issue in the spring of 1990. This brief vignette finds Dortmunder at his favorite hangout, the O.J. Bar & Grill, trying to get the attention of bartender Rollo while other regular customers discuss their ideas of various health regimens. Physicians and personal trainers, were they to hear some of this, would never be the same. But they’d definitely get a number of chuckles from it.

Having just looted a jewelry store and then traveled over rooftops to the building in which he now finds himself trapped in its fire escape, caught between cops above and below, Dortmunder is on the verge of giving himself over to the penal system when he notices an open window into someone’s apartment. It’s December and the apartment’s occupant has invited friends for Christmas festivities, so Dortmunder becomes a “Party Animal” until he can get safely away. While contending with the hostess, the caterer, and bickering couple, he becomes very worried when a trio of cops enters and begins eyeballing the attendees.

Having stolen some ancient Roman coins from a numismatists’ convention, most of whose attendees are Arabian, Dortmunder has adopted their indigenous garb—aba, keffiyeh, and akal—only to discover it’s quite ungainly when one is trying to make a hurried departure with the loot. The situation he gets himself into when trying to evade capture compels him to “Give Till It Hurts.”

Valuable coins also play a part in “Jumble Sale,” when Dortmunder has no choice but to seek out Arnie Albright because the regular buyer for this kind of merchandise has recently been re-incarcerated. Arnie is astonishingly self-aware about his many personality defects (as well as his unappealing aroma) and people’s reactions to them. He has barely had time to examine Dortmunder’s coins when his doorbell rings and he admits a couple who have been referred by one “Altoona Joe” and who have a truckload of televisions to dispose of. Dortmunder, claiming to be a visiting cousin, wants only hasty egress, especially when the police arrive, but Arnie is even more astute than Dortmunder could have imagined.   

After stealing a brooch which is purportedly worth $300,000, and which superstar actor Jer Crumbie had recently given to his spokesmodel fiancée Felicia Tarrant, Dortmunder is on the subway with the brooch concealed inside a ham sandwich, headed for Brooklyn to see a fence with a reputation for paying high dollar and asking few questions. Considering how many people on the subway are reading the Daily News about the theft, Dortmunder has serious misgivings about having stolen the thing in the first place. When the subway is abruptly brought to a stop just before arriving at the station at which he expects to detrain, his day of anxious aggravation is only beginning, and every subsequent event has him wondering “Now What?” in a very funny tale I don’t want to spoil with further details.    

Despite his sobriquet, Martin “Three Finger” Gillie is not bereft of any of his manual digits. He acquired the nickname in prison because of a particular skill. Now a free man, he contacts Dortmunder about a lucrative proposition. Gillie became an artist in prison and now has forty-three canvases on display and for sale in a Soho gallery. He has also gotten “ink”: i.e., an article about his work in the Sunday New York Times. The problem is, he’s only sold two of the forty-three paintings. He suggests a scheme that can get him valuable publicity and many more sales, while Dortmunder can collect money from the insurance company for the return of the stolen paintings. When he cases the gallery and the neighborhood, Dortmunder spots a fellow thief, Jim O’Hara, and learns that Gillie made the same proposition to him. Then O’Hara spots Pete, another Gillie recruit. Suddenly the whole scheme seems odoriferous—and not in a good way. But Dortmunder, O’Hara and Pete are professionals, so they exercise “Art and Craft” to provide Gillie with unexpected ink.

The collection ends with “Fugue for Felons” which, as Westlake alludes to in the book’s introduction and explains further in a prefatory note to the story itself, is and is not a Dortmunder story. Without elaborating on the why of that sentence lest you experience it yourself, I’ll say only that when Morry Calhoun is arrested for robbing the Flatbush branch of a bank, it’s after he has crashed his (stolen) car into the window of the Sunnyside branch of the same bank. Upon learning about this, John Rumsey, a kind of parallel universe Dortmunder, decides there might be something worthwhile “lying around.” So do several of his colleagues, all of whom are acting independently of one another. How the obstacles each encounters before their paths converge, after which more chaos ensues, makes for a very entertaining caper.

The late Donald E. Westlake was an admirable and versatile writer who could keep readers turning pages whether his stories, under his own name or pseudonyms, were hilarious or hardboiled, and many of which, like the aforementioned The Hot Rock, are modern classics. Readers who like their crimes leavened with laughs should seek out Thieves’ Dozens.

© 2018 Barry Ergang

While his website is http://www.writetrack.yolasite.com/  some of Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s work is available at Amazon and Smashwords.com 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Do Some Damage: Tours, Blitzes, and Getting The Word Out

Do Some Damage: Tours, Blitzes, and Getting The Word Out: Do you have the particular set of skills to publicize your book? By David Nemeth Last week there were several books released but ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Charming Billy, Manhattan Beach, Midni...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Charming Billy, Manhattan Beach, Midni...: Reported by Kristin Nevermore kicked off the week with Charming Billy by Alice McDermott . The 1998 fiction National Book Award...

In Reference to Murder: Mystery Melange for 5/17/18

In Reference to Murder: Mystery Melange for 5/17/18


Mystery Fanfare: FOUR MYSTERY AUTHORS WHO KNOW THEIR PLACE: Guest P...: STEVE BURROWS:  Four Authors Who Know their Place  The popular adage has it that it is not the destination that is important, but the j...

Crime Watch: Review: THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE

Crime Watch: Review: THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE: THE DEVIL'S DETECTIVE by Simon Kurt Unsworth Reviewed by Shane Donald Thomas Fool is an Information Man, an investigator tasked wi...

Only days left to win books by Cleo Coyle, Alice Loweecey, Kathi Daley and more from KRL

Only days left to win a copy of "Shot in the Dark" the latest Coffeehouse
mystery by Cleo Coyle along with some other great items from Cleo, while
there check out a fun Mother's Day related guest post by Cleo

And to win a copy of "Nun After the Other" by Alice Loweecey and while
there check out an interesting interview with Alice

Also to win a copy of "Homecoming by the Sea" by Kathi Daley

And to win a copy "Deep Zero" by VS Kemanis

And for those who also enjoy fantasy, only days left to win a copy of "Burn
Bright" by Patricia Briggs

And don't miss your chance to get some great books and help out some pets
in need-Also up this week mystery author Susan Boles - Author shares about
a boxed set of mysteries where all the money goes to 2 no-kill animal
shelters. The set is called "Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes." There isn't a
giveaway on this one because we want to encourage everyone to buy a copy-I
bought mine already!

Happy reading,

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey: Reviewed by Kristin Good science fiction really draws me in and keeps me reading, watching, and/or listening.   It’s not so mu...