Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ordinary and Loving It

I went to a bookstore yesterday. Such an ordinary sentence. Once. Such an ordinary act. Before.
Now it was like a rock concert, a hug from a friend and dinner in a restaurant, all rolled into one. Hopefully we’ll get back to those three someday, too. For now, though, I’ll take my bookstore and be damn grateful for it.
California is slowly loosening its coronavirus restrictions, and retail businesses are now allowed to open their doors to limited numbers of people at a time. My happy place, Face in a Book bookstore in El Dorado Hills, Calif., decided on a maximum of four customers at a time. They’d been offering free local delivery for a while, which was great—but not a lot of browse-able fun. So yesterday, I was there, my masked nose pressed eagerly against the glass as I waited my turn to get in.
Once inside, two other customers and I kept our distance and soaked in everything on the shelves. Cookbooks, gardening, the new Mary Kubecka, a biography of Billy the Kid, the Hunger Games prequel, so much more. After restraining myself from actually touching every book in the store, I was rewarded by getting to talk to a friend. She works there and we were able to catch up. What would have pre-Covid been a nice chat became, now, a meaningful, wonderful conversation.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been places since the pandemic started. I’ve gone to the grocery store and the hardware store. I’ve gone into work a few times when I couldn’t do an office task from home. But this … this was a place I wanted to be. Those other outings were getting on with living; this was getting on with life.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Year 5 of an Indie Writer: Week 22: Early Momentum Counts

Scott D. Parker

Hey! Back to words and not a video. Why? Dunno, really. Just felt like typing some thoughts rather than speaking them.

Keeping a Record

So, Summer 2020 started this week. In case you missed the video in which I talked about the summer writing season, we have a longer-than-normal summer this year which means there are more days and weeks to start and complete projects: 104 days and 15 weeks. Minus the one we just completed.

I woke early on Monday and got back to one of my current stories. One of the best things about earmarking a certain day to begin writing is the eagerness to start. I woke with hardly any effort so excited was I to pick up this Calvin Carter story again.

The enthusiasm continued throughout the work week. Each morning, I started a new habit: wake a 5:00 am and get the writing done before the day job kicks in. I’ll admit: the writing muscles were a tad rusty, but the week went by with new words added to the story and a new transition into Act III. Can’t go wrong there.

I have resurrected an old habit I used to do: keep a word count record per day. Incredibly motivating. Heck, yesterday, I reached a logical conclusion—and the alarm I set to tell me to stop writing and get ready for the day job was sounding—and I realized I had 599 words. Argh! I left it alone and got ready. But it’ll be nice to see those numbers climb.

Another thing that spurs me along is a schedule. If I frequently put myself on a Starting Date, I rarely resort to a schedule. That is, be finished with Project A by a certain date. But I have now. I want to see how it works. If it motivates me to ignore alarms and write even when an alarm’s blaring, I might be onto something.

So, the Summer Writing has kicked off well. How about your writing?

Murder by the Book and Zoom

Did you catch the Facebook Live session yesterday with McKenna Jordan, Gregg Hurwitz, and Michael Connelly? You didn’t? What’s up with that? For nearly an hour, Hurwitz acts as interviewer to Connelly, writer interviewing writer, but with Hurwitz acting as host as well as fan. Excellent interview, including the viewer questions. It’s on Murder by the Book’s Facebook page so go watch.

Grant – The Mini-Series

The big television event of the week was the History Channel’s three-part, six-hour mini-series on Ulysses S. Grant. Loved it. As a historian, I welcome popular histories that can reach a broad audience. I wrote a review about it yesterday in which I give more details. Highly recommended.

The Next Video

I kept up with The Road to The Empire Strikes Back video series this week with Episode VI: The Music. I’ve had a blast with this series and this was one I looked forward to the most (apart from the movie re-watch). Empire ranks in my Top 5 soundtracks of all time.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Lovely review for Beau Johnson's ALL OF THEM TO BURN

Reviewed by Ian Ayris

All of Them to Burn is a collection of thirty-nine stories - nineteen of which follow the exploits of Bishop Rider and his quest to rid the world of every piece of scum that ripped his world apart. The Bishop Rider stories in this collection - more vignettes of vengeance than stories- are not for the faint-hearted.

 Brutal doesn't even come close.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Clampdown

By David Nemeth

I'd like to say I have some witty hot takes about the pandemic and subsequent quarantine – actually, I probably do have a couple, but I won't be sharing them here. The internet overflows with posts like that.

I could write about this is not the time introverts have been waiting for. It's not. Introverts do not want to be trapped in a dwelling with other people.

Do something or do nothing.

Have I found some magical process that helps me discipline my time better? No. Binging and surfing still have a strong pull.

There's the dread that fills the empty spaces.

Guinness on draught, dinner with friends, and watching soccer in the stands are some of the things I miss.

I think of my wife's Aunt who passed away several weeks ago, and I wish I could drink some bourbon with a friend who's grandmother recently died.

I wait.

I read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


 Long time no speak huh?  How you guys doing? The last time we were together I was preparing for my upcoming book tour in support of ny book Blacktop Wasteland, and choosing what kind of luggage I was going to buy. 

As my grandmother would say , life is filled with swift transitions. The world has ground to a halt and in that halting is forever changed. One might ask in this new world what is the use of books, of stories, of movies about the worst of human behavior and how that can cause both despair but also be the catalyst for a kind of rough revelation. 
    I think now more than ever stories are necessary. They are vital. Not only as a distraction but as road map on our way back to normality. Books can be a kind of time machine. They can take us back to the before times or they can take us foreword through the darkness and into the bright new day of the aftermath. 
   'For my part I'm still writing , still reading and still watching all kinds of books and movies. I've discovered some new favorites like Autumn Christian and Bracken Macleod , not crime writers per se but great authors nonetheless , I've become reacquainted with old friends  like Ross Macdonald , Donald Goines and Barbara Neely. I've struggled through my technophobic tendencies and participated Zoom based Noir at the Bar events where I've heard some of the best crime writers in the world perform their work with an extra edge, an extra bit of urgency because they understand just like I do and I suspect you do too ...
We need stories. Like we need oxygen. 

     And with that I'd like to take a few minutes to tell you about a movie that you may or may not remember but I love unabashedly even though I know its got it's problems. But it also has Nic Cage in prime Nic Cage mode . A weird over the top bag of tics and twitches that only uses plastic spoons. 

    I'm talking about 1995's KISS OF DEATH. 

   In 1995 David Caruso thought he was pretty hot shit. I mean why wouldn't he? He had just starred in the hottest show on TV in at least a decade. He was the breakout start and so of course he left after the first year. A lot of pop culture critics like to use Shelly Long as short hand for acting hubris. Her name became synonymous with a performer who overestimated their appeal. 
David Caruso snatched that crown from her like a thief in the night. 
   In hindsight Caruso made a serious miscalculation. He not only left a highly respected show he talked piles and piles of that  hot fecal matter about the show and television in general. He didn't come off as an actor trying to find a new medium to express himself. He came off like an ungrateful jerk. 
   Its unfortunate that he worked so tirelessly to ruin his own career because he starred in two very interesting movies in 1995. Jade, a sad and obvious rip off of Basic Instinct( I know that sounds harsh but trust me it is accurate) and a moody dark but also hyper kinetic crime drama called Kiss of Death. 
       The plot of 1995 Kiss of Death is only tangetially similar to the orginal Kiss of Death with a giggling Richard Widmark playing sociopath Tommy Udo. In Caruso's movie he plays Jimmy Kilmartin a former car thief trying to go straight. Michael Rappaport plays his cousin Ronnie a character so sleazy and grimey he leaves skid marks on your tv screen. Ronnie is in deep with Big Junior Brown and his son Little Junior Brown played by Nicholas Cage. 
    Big Junior is a standard variety crime boss. But Little Junior , oh my, Little Junior is Nic Cage at his most weird unhinged but oddly charasmatic. Its like Sailor from Wild At Heart had a love child with Castor Troy that was raised by the couple from Raising Arizona. Little Junior is a walking talking asthamatic definition of toxic masculinty clad in all white like a fallen muscle bound angel. 
     Jimmy helps Ronnie move some stolen cars for Little Junior and of course they get pulled over by the cops. During the exchange one of Little Junior's henchmen tries to shoot Samule L. Jackson's Det. Hart. Jimmy puts his hand in front of the gun slowing the bullet. Hart is shot just below his eye. For the rest of the movie he has to continually dab at it with a white handkerchief  like some cursed monk in a gothic romance. These three characters along with a coke addled gangster played by Ving Rhames and an overzealous federal prosecuter played by Stanley Tucci circle the drain of bad decisions and machismo like toy boats in a toilet bowl.  
    No one can stand toe to toe with Nic Cage's performacne but Caruso gives Jimmy a quiet intensity and an everyman feel. It helps that Caruso is a native New Yorker with just enough big city toughness to play a gangster but also some suburban tenderness to soften his sharp edges. 
    Kiss of Death currently holds a 68 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its not a classic but I'm here to tell you it's not nearly as bad as you think it was. Yes Caruso was nominated for a Razzie for his role but I think that was more about behind the scenes politics than his actual skill. If Kiss of Death came out today it would be a smoldering hit on Netflix. As it stands it's a claustrophobic crime thriller that exists in that rareified space between bad timing and bad assumptions. 
 This is the hill upon which I stand.....
You guys seek it out and if you don't like I'll.......probably disagree with you. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

So Long, Mr. Cobb

He died yesterday, but I figured it's not too late to mark here my own farewell to the great jazz drummer, Jimmy Cobb.  He was 91, died in Manhattan, and was the last surviving member (for the last 30 years!) of what's often called Miles Davis' First Great Sextet (or Quintet).

What does this have to do with writing?  Nothing much.  Except that Kind of Blue (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960) and "Naima" from John Coltrane's Giant Steps (1959) -- to name but a few and the most famous of the things Cobbs played on -- are albums and pieces I never tire of listening to and that I find perfect as accompaniments to late-night dreamy thinking, the kind of thinking often conducive to useful ideas.  I never write with music on, but playing music before or after writing, to get in a mood or to wind down from writing or just to provoke the imagination in its wanderings, is something I do frequently, and many pieces Cobb played on during his long career I find ideal for pre-writing or post-writing music.  

Anyway, thanks for all the great stuff, Jimmy.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day


Disabled American Veterans
Beginning at 4 p.m. EST, DAV’s National Adjutant Marc Burgess will deliver a “Salute to Fallen Heroes” address on Facebook Live. DAV will then premiere their “Honor Wall” compilation video, featuring tributes from DAV ambassadors, members and supporters who will share words of remembrance for their loved ones who have passed.

National Museum of the Pacific
Livestream begins at 10 a.m. CST and includes remarks from Candy Martin, president of Gold Star Mothers of Texas/Oklahoma and the playing of “taps.”

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
Remembrance ceremony livestream begins at 10 a.m. EST. Remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

National D-Day Memorial
In partnership with Virginia-based videographer Ryan Anderson, the memorial will release two scripted virtual programs -- one on Memorial Day and one on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial
Online livestreams begin at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. CST. To Honor and remember those who sacrificed. 

Parade of Heroes
Parade of Heroes
HISTORY, the Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest Generations Foundation, Heroes of the Second World War, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., and Combined Arms presents "Parade of Heroes".
Monday, May 25th at 11:00 a.m.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Today is MAY day for Beau

Today, Beau Johnson takes a look at MAY, from DSD's own Marietta Miles.

“May will haunt you long after you close the cover. Its every page is fraught with peril. Its every word oozes with tragedy You know it’s coming, but you won’t dare look away, lest you miss one of the freshest, most scintillating voices in Southern crime fiction.” —Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbags and What We Reckon

“May is gripping and yet poignant. May Cosby and the people around her struggle against the present and the past, trying to piece together a life that’s worth living. Set along the fragile Folly Island of North Carolina as a frightening storm approaches, May looks back upon her choices and does her best to come to terms with them. Extremely atmospheric and at times heart-wrenching, May is a story of choosing to leave the wreckage of the past and search for hope in the future.” —Jen Conley, author of Cannibals

“Every page has a lovely line, something to savor, even as the story uneasily slips under your skin. There’s beauty in the violence in this novella about loneliness and the lengths people go to free themselves from its grasp. You read May and imagine Marietta Miles sitting at the edge of the abyss, peering into it and scribbling into her notebook.” —E.A. Aymar, author of You’re As Good As Dead

“Marietta Miles is a unique voice in modern noir, a writer of such dark scenes that only the power of her words can provide the light that releases the reader into a world where hope remains. Showcasing a Southern sensibility that reminds at times of Flannery O’Connor, Miles continually reveals further breadth (and depths) to her characters. A book of dark charms, May adds to the staggeringly beautiful intoxication delivered by last year’s Route 12.” —Rob Pierce, author of Uncle Dust and With The Right Enemies

Get yours here

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dead Girl Blues: Living With the Monster.

Back when I was an aspiring writer, one thing would always puzzle me, and that thing was the oft-repeated phrase “Find your own voice.”

“Understand character,” I got, as I did “Know the difference between story and plot,” but the own voice thing – especially because it was often referenced adjacent to finding your character’s voice – confused the hell out of me.

Til I discovered Lawrence Block. The first thing I read was a Bernie Rhodenbarr novel ( “the burglar in the closet,” I think) then I dipped into – and was quickly consumed by – The Matt Scudder novels. I devoured the Keller books, and then purchased his collected shorts “Enough rope,” and – in short order – everything I could lay my hands on. And as I read – and fell in love with – Block’s work, the phrase began to make sense.

Here was a body of work that had, as protagonists, a chatty sweet bookseller cum cat burglar, a brooding, depressive alcoholic ex-cop, a philatelist funding his hobby (habit) by killing people for money.

But what they have in common – what Block is a master of – is the authorial voice. The characters are varied, but the storytelling is conversational. When Block’s recounting a tale it’s like the days when your dad read you a story at bedtime, it’s (aptly for this book) the stranger in the bar who’s so entertaining you stand him several Jamesons and have the best night of your life. You’re in the story until a little aside pops up – may be irrelevant, may be entirely relevant - and you go with it because it’s hugely enjoyable.

Because his voice tells you stories you’re gripped by, tells them in such a way that even when they’re about the darkest things possible (Scudder accidentally killed a child while drunk, precipitating his exit from the NYPD, the end of his marriage and his slide down to a point where – in the earlier books – we feel he’s never far from putting the business end of his revolver in his mouth and pulling the trigger) you want to know what happens next. No matter how bad it gets.

And so we come to Dead Girl Blues, Lawrence Block’s  latest standalone novel. Block’s voice is key here, because this is a book about a man who commits an atrocity, and of what happens to him in the decades that follow.

It’s a horrible book, insofar as it (in this reader at least) inspired horror.

And it’s an absolute triumph.

We meet a man. He tells us, right up front, what he’s done, and we wait. To find out what happens next. Until we realise that we’re in the hands of a Scheherazade who knows no more than we do. This is not a Genius serial killer, or a deranged psychopath. Nor is it any of the dozen or so immediately recognisable tropes that are often used in these types of tales.

Here, instead, is an average man. Who walked into a bar one night. And did something terrible. There’s no pretence that what he did was an anomaly – we learn that the thought that triggered the act remains, that the consideration of the act itself is, in a way, a pleasurable act, and one which both keeps our protagonist away from repeating the act even as it edges him closer to an encore.

His self-awareness – the fact that this man knows what he’s done, knows he wants to do it again, and knows that only a series of quirks of fate have prevented him becoming the beast he fears he is – makes him even more horrifying than all the cartoon killers on the shelves.

Because this one feels real. He diverts on to topics as wide-ranging as favourite TV shows, or the challenges of having grown-up kids about to go off to college. He’s the man who could live next door; nice but unremarkable. He’s the husband you met later in life; the step-father you always wanted. And his normality is what makes him truly horrifying.

Block’s ability to tell us terrible stuff that rings true, to mix it with the mundane and instantly recognisable, and to retain our interest in - dammit, at times even our sympathy for - the character telling the story elevates this book into something that’s by turns chilling, warming, disturbingly erotic. It’s touching in its gentle descriptions of a marriage that becomes a love story, and the story’s ethics – Blocks empathy, which I have always felt is a hallmark of his work – makes it an odd sort of <and this is not a spoiler> redemption story.

It’s a book about the monster in all of us, and what happens when that monster gets loose. And it’s a book, I think, about learning to live with the monster and the consequences of our actions.

One of the best books he’s ever written.

Dead Girl Blues is our June 24th and you can pre-order it here <or buy it if you’re reading this after June 24th. In which case one has to ask: where the hell have you been? We missed you.>


Derek Farrell is the author of ‘Death of a Diva’ ‘Death of a Nobody,’ ‘Death of a Devil’ ‘Death of an Angel,’ and the novella "Death of a Sinner," all published by Fahrenheit Press.

The books have been described as “Like The Thin Man meets Will & Grace.” “Like M.C. Beaton on MDMA,” and – by no less an expert than Eric Idle – as “Quite Fun.”

Derek’s jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie’s paperboy, and Investment Banker. He has lived and worked in New York, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Prague, Dublin, Johannesburg and London.

Farrell is married to the most English man on the planet and lives in West Sussex. They have no goats chickens children or pets, but they do have every Kylie Minogue record ever made.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

KISS Unmasked at 40

Forty years ago today, the rock band KISS released Unmasked. Over on my YouTube channel, I uploaded a short video of my memories of this album and a review. But I'm also including it here.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson

I don't read as much horror fiction as I used to, but I haven't lost my love for it, and every now and then, I'll get the urge to plunge into something I hope will leave me feeling chilled. When I heard that Michael David Wilson, founder of the great podcast This Is Horror, had written a novella, my interest was piqued, and I decided to pick his book up.

The Girl in the Video did not disappoint.

Freddie and Rachel are two Brits who live in Japan and work there as teachers. They have a strong and stable relationship.  One morning after breakfast, Freddie goes through his "periodic ritual of cycling through social media apps".  His description of the sort of compulsion that drives him to do this is funny, and something that nearly everyone, I think, can relate to:

"Rachel said I had a strange relationship with social media.  That I should delete it if it brought me so much anxiety and despair.  But it's swings and roundabouts.  How else was I supposed to know that Louis from middle school had mown his lawn or that Carys, who I hadn't seen in fifteen years, was holidaying in Malaga.  And without Facebook I certainly wouldn't have seen a picture of Thornby's breakfast - Cheerios every day for the past two weeks.  That's not even an exaggeration, the guy posted a bowl of Cheerios daily, even giving them a rating out of ten, no half marks, integers only."

Among all the usual virtual junk, Freddie notices a new Instagram direct message to him that has a Hello Kitty display picture.  The message is friendly, and Freddie, without thinking much about it, clicks the Bitly link below it.  

That's all it takes.  What he sees is a video from a youngish woman whose face is obscured by a Hello Kitty mask, and the video is both weird and somehow, without being pornographic, sexually arousing.  Of course, Freddie keeps this video and his reaction to it a secret from his wife, and what began with an innocuous click of a link from a stranger turns, with time, into an utter bad dream for Freddie. The Girl in the Video is indeed, as billed, a horror story for the smart-phone age, the digital era, and brings home the unease and terror you can let into your life so easily these days.   

Wilson's novella moves fast and develops tension expertly.  He also knows how to blend humor into the darkness. Freddie and Rachel are both believable and well-rounded, ordinary people pulled into something they in no way deserve.  Or wait: does Freddie, as his video stalker keeps saying, have a secret he needs to hide?  When Rachel tells Freddie that she is pregnant, that the baby they've been wanting is finally on the way, the stakes go up for both of them, and Freddie has to make a final decision on how to deal with his tormentor.  

This is a strong first book by Wilson, and it's ideal as a one-sitting read.

You can get The Girl in the Video, which is published by Perpetual Motion Machine, here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Roller Derby and Mystery

I’m happy to welcome A.J. Devlin back to Do Some Damage today. We’ve known each other since meeting at Bouchercon in Toronto several years ago. Back then, he was a yet-to-be-published writer. Now he’s an acclaimed, Lefty Award-nominated author whose second novel came out Friday. I’ve been waiting impatiently for it ever since I read the first one in his series. Imagine my delight when I found out it’s about bad-ass roller derby queens.
A.J.’s been compared with Carl Hiaasen, and I couldn’t agree more. Here he is with more on Rolling Thunder. - Claire
“I’m the Queen!”
“You’re gonna die!”
“Cross my path?”
“You’re gonna fly!”
That is an actual chant used during warm-up by some women’s flat-track roller derby teams, one that I borrowed and utilized in my latest mystery-comedy novel Rolling Thunder.
The first book in the series – Cobra Clutch – is set in the world of independent professional wrestling and tells the story of “Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead, an ex-pro wrestler turned sleuth in Vancouver, looking for a kidnapped pet python being held for ransom.
For Jed’s follow up adventure I wanted to maintain the quirkiness inherit to a fringe sport but also showcase something completely different – which is why it made total sense to me that a wrestler character from the first book could very believably trade in the squared circle for the ferocity of flat-track roller derby. Both pro wrestling and roller derby have a taste for the theatrical, from their monikers to their costumes to the sometimes-brutalizing way in which these amazing athletes punish their bodies.
But there’s something special about roller derby that really sets it apart from anything else – and if I had to boil it down to a couple of words, I would have to say female empowerment. As the father of a particularly spirited five-year-old daughter, I can already imagine my little girl kicking butt and taking names on the flat track, competing in a truly unique and competitive sport while simultaneously celebrating her womanhood. Roller derby – or as the ladies call it, just “derby” – is a punk rock, anti-establishment, counter-culture sport. It features blood, sweat, and tears, but it’s also more than that. In the words of Jack Black from School Of Rock, it’s about “sticking it to the man.” Roller derby is fierce and fun and allows its competitors the freedom to embrace their inner badass while also reaping the benefits of a team sport.
Everything about roller derby is awesome. This is why I layered in as part of the plot for Rolling Thunder a narrative in which some wealthy investors are flirting with commercializing the sport and trying to take it mainstream. Similar to independent professional wrestling, roller derby isn’t about broad appeal or watering down something edgy in order to make it more appealing or palatable to the masses. The sport of roller derby answers to no one – and if you don’t like it then as far as the skaters, coaches, and fans are concerned, you can take a damn hike.
The sport of roller derby also offered a kind of a mirror effect for “Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead, who himself is considered a bit edgy and outside the norm (as an atypical detective). Like roller derby, Jed does things his own way, often ruffles feathers or butts heads with authority figures, and answers to no one but himself. I had a blast writing Jed as he navigated his way through this raucous sport, and it was fun to see him both amid familiar surroundings but also completely out of his element at the same time.
I was incredibly fortunate to have my high school classmate, multimedia journalist, and former skater with the Terminal City Rollergirls of Vancouver not only proof-read but also advise me as I wrote the next chapter in the “Hammerhead” Jed mystery-comedy series. I was quite frankly spoiled by my friend Jenna Hauck – aka “Hydro-Jenna Bomb” – and her incredible insight and feedback. Just knowing that a retired roller derby player of her stature and strong woman and mom of her caliber not only approved of but also liked Rolling Thunder meant the world to me.
While I intend to keep taking “Hammerhead” Jed on new adventures and throwing him into different arenas while continuing to push him out of his comfort zone, there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when a person who has lived a life in the world in which you’ve done your best to research and are trying to do justice gives you the thumbs up.
Just like independent professional wrestling, women’s flat-track roller derby is a spectacle that needs to be seen to be believed. So, if you get a chance, check out a game if you can, because I guarantee you every woman on the track competing is there for one reason and one reason alone – to embrace and celebrate what makes these warrior women the passionate and powerful people they are.
You can find Rolling Thunder through an independent bookstore at Indiebound, at publisher NeWest Press, or on Amazon

 A.J. Devlin grew up in Greater Vancouver before moving to Southern California for six years where he earned a B.F.A. in Screenwriting from Chapman University and a M.F.A. in Screenwriting from The American Film Institute. COBRA CLUTCH, the first entry in the “Hammerhead” Jed ex-pro wrestler turned PI mystery-comedy series, was nominated for a 2019 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery and won the 2019 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel.