Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Everybody Lies in Hell

Scott's Note: Dave Zeltserman revisits this week to talk about his new novel, Everybody Lies in Hell.  It's a book that blends genres, part PI story, part psycho noir, part horror, and Dave will fill us in on what drives its characters, a human foible that is universal but that crime writers focus on like nobody else -- lying.

Here's Dave: 

Is there anything more noir than someone being damned to hell?

In my new novel, Everybody Lies in Hell, Mike Stone is not only a resident of Hell, but he could be Hell’s only working private eye, and other souls hire him to uncover truths that they already know. The only thing Mike’s clients can hang onto are those lies and self-delusions that they need to believe in, and even though they might not realize it, the last thing they can afford is to have those lies stripped away.

A staple of psycho noir is self-delusion. The most devastating moment in Jim Thompson’s great Savage Night is when Carl Bigelow (aka Charlie “Little” Bigger) is forced to confront the truth about the one moment of his life that he takes pride in. Then there’s Frank Dillon from Thompson’s A Hell of a Woman who’s buried so deep in his delusions that he can’t tell up from down. And in the brilliant noir movie Angel Heart, Harry Angel is led down a path of self-discovery that is damning. 

In my own novel, Killer, Leonard March having to face the truth about himself is the hell there’s no escape from.

Classic noir might not have the same level of self-delusion as psycho noir, but it is also filled with all the little lies noir protagonists must tell themselves.  In Cain’s Double Indemnity, Walter Huff convinces himself that he’s committing a crime for the money and the beautiful woman when he has an even darker, more cynical reason. In Cain’s Postman Always Rings Twice, Nick and Cora have convinced themselves they can commit murder for love and money and live happily ever after, when deep down inside they have to know that’s not true. This pattern of self-deception, delusions, and lies can be found throughout noir, and is really the path to Hell that these noir protagonists stumble down.


Paul Tremblay on Everybody Lies in Hell: “Mike Stone’s eternal damnation is a private detective’s office in a re-imagined Brooklyn. In Hell, the beautiful woman with a case opens a literal Pandora’s Box, and Stone is soon inundated by all-too-recognizable evils and lies of Hell’s tortured souls, powerful ancient demons and devils, and haunting personal ones. Classic pulp, noir, and horror—think James M. Cain and Bukowski and Palahniuk–are all ground up in a blender and the result is a nasty, wild, and ultimately redemptive novel that only Dave Zeltserman could write.”

You can pick up Everybody Lies in Hell here.

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