Saturday, April 10, 2021

Of Course There Are Mobsters in New Jersey in Bury the Lead by David Rosenfelt


Scott D. Parker

If it's New Jersey, of course mobsters are involved.

In this, the third book featuring lawyer Andy Carpenter and his intrepid pooch, Tara, our hero is taking it easy since his last case. By taking it easy, we're talking not working. While he might be itching to get back in the courtroom, Andy's barely lifting a finger.

Until his friend, Vince Sanders, comes calling. He's the owner of the local newspaper, and his star reporter might need some legal help. Young Daniel Cumming is being used by a serial killer who kills women and then severs their hands from their bodies. Daniel writes stories about the killer, including direct messages. Vince just wants Andy handy to absolve the newspaper from anything untoward should anything go awry.

And something does go off kilter. Big time. The latest victim is found in a park in the same condition as all the others. The difference is Daniel. He's also in the park, unconscious and wounded. He claims he tried to stop the killer, but the police ain't buying it. Now, Andy has a real client with real stakes. Daniel is put on trial as a serial killer, and Andy must defend the cub reporter.

Step one: learn about Daniel and his background. But with each new revelation comes new wrinkles in the case and new layers about Daniel's past. 

And, of course, the mob gets involved.

Famously, when he was crafting the template that would become the Perry Mason TV show, author Erle Stanley Gardner stated that no one cared about Perry's personal life so there was hardly anything mentioned. David Rosenfelt has a different opinion and it's one most of us appreciate. We get a lot of Andy's personal life in these books, and it's one of the things that makes them so interesting. Andy isn't some cardboard character going through the motions. He comes across as a real flesh-and-blood guy. We get a lot of personal details in this third book, including his desire to marry his girlfriend, Laurie. She also serves as his private investigator. He wants to and she's noncommittal. Quite the flip from the usual way we think about relationships.

Speaking of unusual, Andy's an interesting guy. He's very smart when it comes to the law, but not always keen on other aspects of life. He's not what you'd call a man's man. Sure, he drinks beer, watches sports, and bets on them, but he doesn't own a gun and he's not that great in a fight. In fact, there are a few scenes where he's scared to death. I find that wonderfully refreshing in a character. It does make him more relatable as a regular guy who gets caught up in irregular events. I don't bet on sports and I typically only watch the NFL, but there are more than a few things about Andy to which I relate. Perhaps that's why I'm enjoying this series so much.

We also get more dog stuff. Author Rosenfelt and his wife rescue dogs, so it is natural for his character to do the same. In a continuation of events from past books, Andy is in partnership to create a kennel. He's a dog lover and with his substantial inheritance, he wants to give dogs good homes and places to live in the meantime. It's a great character trait and one clearly used to sell the series. Want proof? Check out the covers.

Five of the first six book covers are your standard-type mystery cover you see on a dozen other books. Book five, Play Dead, features a dog. Then, starting with book seven, New Tricks, there are dogs on every cover. It works. In fact, it helped sell me my first Andy Carpenter novel, Dachshund in the Snow back in December.

I'm listening to this series so I have to again give a shout out to Grover Gardner. He voices Andy's first person narration with a wry tone in his voice. I've listened to many other Gardner-narrated stories, but he has fast become "Andy Carpenter" to me.

If you want a good mystery series with honest and real characters and a lead who is not a superman, then the Andy Carpenter series is right up your alley. 

Other books in the series:

Open and Shut

First Degree

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Beau is on the hunt


This week, Beau takes a look at BOISE LONGPIG HUNTING CLUB by Nick Kolakowski


When you want someone found, you call bounty hunter Jake Halligan. He’s smart, tough, and best of all, careful on the job. But none of those skills seem to help him when a shadowy group starts taking his life apart piece by piece.

First Jake comes home to find a dead body in his gun safe. He thinks it’s a warning—and when you drag people back to jail for a living, the list of people who want to send that kind of message is very long indeed. With backup from his sister Frankie, an arms dealer and dapper criminal, Jake plunges into the Idaho underworld, confronting everyone from brutal Aryan assassins to cops who want his whole family in jail.

But as Jake soon discovers, those threats are small-time compared to the group that’s really after him. And nothing—not bounty hunting, not even all his years in Iraq—can prepare him for what’s coming next. Jake’s about to become a player in the most dangerous game ever invented…

Boise Longpig Hunting Club is a wild ride into the dark heart of the American dream, where even the most brutal desires can be fulfilled for a price, and nobody is safe from the rich and powerful.


“Nick Kolakowski spins a ripping pulp yarn of smart-ass bounty hunters and bad-ass crime queenpins caught in the Jean-Claude Van God-Damnedest take on The Most Dangerous Game since Hard Target, but with no bad accents.” —Thomas Pluck, author of Bad Boy Boogie and Blade of Dishonor

“Bounty hunters, a Monkey Man and Zombie Bill, explosions, sharp violence and even laughs. Kolakowski brings the goods with this one!” —Dave White, Shamus Award-nominated author of the Jackson Donne series

“A bounty hunter, his underworld criminal sister, and a dead body stuffed in a gun safe. What could possibly go wrong? In Boise Longpig Hunting Club, Nick Kolakowski unleashes a sordid and delightfully twisted tale of double crosses, revenge, and good ol’ redneck justice. Like the bastard child of Joe Lansdale and James Lee Burke, this one is well worth the sleepless night you’ll spend captivated.” —Joe Clifford, author of the Jay Porter thriller series and The One That Got Away


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Writers' Room Wednesday: Justified

On Story: 513 Justified: 

Inside the Writers’ Room

Writers from the hit show Justified discuss adapting Elmore Leonard’s short story for television and the evolution of the show’s tone, rhythm, and setting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Joshua Chaplinsky on 'The Paradox Twins'

Scott's Note: Joshua Chaplinsky guest blogs this week, talking about his new novel, The Paradox Twins. Chaplinsky is the managing editor of, as well as the author of the novella Kanye West - Reanimator and the story collection Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape.  The Paradox Twins is his first novel, and it is, quite clearly, a genre blender. 

Here he is:

April 6th marks the release of my debut novel, The Paradox Twins, courtesy of CLASH Books. It’s an epistolary work comprised of excerpts from various memoirs, novels, screenplay adaptations, and documents of public record. These conflicting sources combine to tell the story of estranged twin brothers who reunite at their father’s funeral to discover they have aged differently and no longer look alike. 

A pretty good setup, if I do say so myself. One that could go in any number of directions. I find doubles and doppelgangers to be inherently noirish tropes, and although this sounds like the setup for a Hitchcockian thriller, I should be honest—The Paradox Twins is not a crime novel. 

So that begs the question, What am I doing here on Do Some Damage? I mean, aside from Scott inviting me. I assume he knows The Paradox Twins isn’t a crime novel. I didn’t even consider the alternative at the time—he made an offer and I accepted. When it comes to promotion, I’m a “say yes to everything” kind of guy. So don’t blame him. 

If I’m to continue being honest, I’m not sure what category The Paradox Twins falls under. It definitely doesn’t adhere to a single genre’s rules. At its core, it’s a family drama set firmly in reality, but it’s also a sci-fi novel and a ghost story. It’s got elements of existential horror and satire as well. It plays with structure and format in a way that could be described as ergodic. I wouldn’t necessarily call it experimental (although the “e” word did find its way onto the cover copy), but if I did, I would say it’s accessibly so. There’s a lot going on under the hood, which doesn’t make it easy to target a specific audience.

Which is why I decided to target all of them.

Well, not all of them. My approach is a little more focused than that.

You see, I’ve found a certain overlap in readers of modern genre fiction. Especially denizens of the small press scene. Maybe that’s because a lot of the best small presses run the gamut, publishing everything from poultry farm crime dramas to metaphysical high school murder-sleaze to intergalactic sex romps. Presses like Perpetual Motion Machine, Apocalypse Party, Word Horde, Weird Punk Books, Broken River Books, Soho Press, Kingshot Press, Down & Out Books, and of course my own publisher, CLASH Books. In the last few years they’ve published an impressive array of titles, everything from African horror, gothic fairytales, and military sci-fi to video game influenced poetry, personal memoir and dystopia. Hell, they’re even publishing an entire book about ska. Ska! It’s almost as if they’re a genre unto themselves. Like a lot of these presses.

So it made sense for me to go where fans of these publishers congregate, no matter what genre banner they rallied under. Most venues proved welcoming to outsiders. It wasn’t long before I had a nice little blog tour going. I scheduled an interview with a speculative fiction site and a guest post on a horror blog. A small transgressive press agreed to host an excerpt. I secured reviews on a number of horror, literary, and weird fiction websites. Twins was recommended in roundups on IO9 and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. I’ve guested on three different podcasts so far, one of which is a Random House podcast for serious-type authors (not sure how I managed that one).

I also took note of the trails blazed before me. One novel that influenced my approach was the genre-defying masterpiece Liminal Space, by Zack Parsons. 

For my money, Liminal Space is one of the all-time great genre experiments. And it achieves this without mashing everything together into an unrecognizable gray mush. It’s kind of like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, but without the nesting doll structure or changing cast of characters. One reviewer described it as “a helter-skelter journey through mind-blowing SF, western dime novel, noir mystery, and near-future dystopian horror that somehow manages to become a cohesive, thought-provoking whole.” The nearly unanimous consensus is that it shouldn’t work, but it does. Like gangbusters. 

It’s books like Liminal States that are constantly at the back of my mind when I’m writing. Whenever my self-doubt says, “You can’t do that!”, Zack Parsons says, “Oh yes you can, motherfucker!” (because I imagine Zack Parsons would curse, and it sounds cooler that way). David Mitchell, on the other hand, would be more reserved in his encouragement to break the rules. More of a “Go for it, old chap!” kind of guy.

Then, when I’m staring at the finished product thinking, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” I look to books like Liminal States to guide me in my promotional efforts. Where did Parsons get reviewed/do interviews? What circles were tweeting about his novel? Was he covered by each of the genres represented in his writing? Did the more conservative outlets go out of their way to feature his book? You do this with a handful of examples and you start to bank options.

Of course, they say if you’re going to break the rules, you’d better do it well, and if Liminal States was a turgid pile, no one would have paid any attention. The few who did would be clucking their tongues. So if the imaginary version of one of your favorite writers is encouraging you to take risks, you need to be confident in their abilities as well as your own. And then you need to go out there and share your risky business with anyone who’ll listen. Because although genres may be rigid, communities don’t have to be. 

Am I implying I broke the rules well? How the hell should I know? My book just came out. You probably shouldn’t be coming to me for advice. And now that I think about it, I don’t remember Liminal States selling that many copies. I once tweeted at Zack Parsons asking him when he was going to write another novel, and he told me hopefully never, because it was a horrible experience. 

So there’s that. 

You can get The Paradox Twins right here.