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Black Lens: Part XIV

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, and Part 13.

The Cop

He felt an ice chill down his spine, thought

‘Jesus, touchable.’

He’d been tracking the Cabal, obsessing over them, like some damn schmuck rookie, he’d never figured, they


Knew about him.

She saw his fear, said

‘Use it.’

Took him a moment then


She drained the glass, the gal could sure put the shit away, said

‘Creepy –crawl, Ransom’s term for instilling fear based on Ransom’s credo, ‘Do the unexpected, No sense makes sense, you won’t get caught if you don’t got thought in your head.’

And she smiled, that ravishing radiance, said

‘Sounds like Ransom’s utter crap but it persuaded those middle class all American girls to butcher a pregnant woman and those attendant.’

His mind was reeling, a black lens of evil potency, and he asked

Had to

‘Why are you warning me?’

Continue reading “Black Lens: Part XIV”

Continue reading The Bayou Trilogy

Next week, we are re-publishing Daniel Woodrell’s three Rene Shade novels, Under the Bright Lights, Muscle for the Wing, The Ones You Do in one beautiful package called THE BAYOU TRILOGY. We will be excerpting the first chapter of each of the 3 novels here over the next few weeks. We began with Under the Bright Lights and continued with Chapter 1 of Muscle for the Wing. We conclude with The Ones You Do, which the Chicago Tribune praised for  its “Fine writing…. Deeply atmospheric and oozing with the mojo of the swamp… Woodrell’s work echoes that of William Kennedy, William Faulkner, and Walter Mosley.”

Part I




AFTER HIS wife stole the gangster’s money and split on him, she wanted to rub his nose in her deed, so she sent him a note. John X. Shade was sitting on a stool behind the bar in the main room of Enoch’s Ribs and Lounge, his gray head bowed, his lean shaky fingers massaging his temples. The safe gaped open and empty behind him, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark, sour mash salvation, sat sealed and full on the bar top before him.

The note that was meant to make him feel pitiful as well as endangered was delivered by his ten-year-old daughter, Etta. She came in the side door and through the sea shell and driftwood decor of the lounge where her mother had been the musical entertainment before taking up thievery, carrying a small pink vinyl suitcase that had a picture of Joan Jett embossed on the lid. The girl had thick black hair cut in a fashion her mother, Randi Tripp, considered hip, this being a feminine sort of flattop with long rat-tail tresses dangling down the back of her neck. She wore a green T-shirt that was pro-manatee and raggedy jeans that were hacked off just below the knees. A black plastic crucifix hung lightly from her right ear. Her actual name was Rosetta Tripp Shade, but she preferred to be called Etta.

“Mail call,” she said and tossed the envelope onto the bar beneath John X.’s chin. She climbed up onto a stool across the rail. “She said you should read it pronto.”

Enoch’s wasn’t a popular spot until late at night when last-call Lotharios from along the Redneck Riviera would fill it up, rooting around after pert and democratic Yankee tourists whose off-season dream vacations had yet to be consummated. It was not open at all this early in the day, so the two were alone. Hot Gulf Coast sun beat in through the smoked windows, warming the joint. On the walls there were community bulletins announcing upcoming fish frys, Gospel shows, ten-K runs for various Mobile charities, and several large, glamorous glossies of Randi Tripp, the ’Bama Butterfly.

John X. started to rip the envelope, then saw the sweat on his daughter’s face and felt a trickle stream down his own temples. He shoved the shiny beverage cooler open and said, “I ain’t King Farouk, kid, but I’ll spot you a bottle of RC.”

Etta grinned and grabbed the cold bottle of Royal Crown Cola that he slid to her.

“Well, I ain’t Madonna, neither,” she said, “but I could drink one.”

He opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. It was on yellow paper scented with lilac, and he spread it flat on the bar to read.

Continue reading “Continue reading The Bayou Trilogy”

Chapter 3 of Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Keep reading GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark, which is on sale now. If you missed the Prologue, Chapter 1 or Chapter 2, catch up here.


Lieutenant Hales pulled up to the Biltmore, guided me out of the car, and walked me to the front entrance. Through the fog of denial and disbelief, the shocked features of Angel, the doorman, floated before me.

“Rachel, what’s wrong?” he asked as he opened the door and took the elbow Hales wasn’t holding.

“She’s had a tough night,” Hales said tersely.

“I’ll take it from here,” Angel said proprietarily, with an accusatory glance at the lieutenant.

I didn’t have the energy or the sentience to explain that it was nothing the lieutenant had done. I remained mute as Angel led me inside and steered me toward the elevator.

He managed to get me to my room, and I meant to thank him, though I’m not sure the words made it out of my mouth. All I know is that the moment the door closed behind him, I pulled out the bottle of Russian Standard Platinum vodka someone had given me a while ago and poured myself a triple shot.

I looked at the television. Was the story being aired yet? I decided I didn’t want to know. And I couldn’t bring myself to call Toni. Talking about it would make it real. Right now, all I wanted was oblivion. I tossed down my drink, then poured myself another and didn’t stop pouring until I passed out cold.

Continue reading “Chapter 3 of Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark”

A Dream Come True

So far this week, Marcia Clark has appeared on Good Morning America, NPR’s Morning Edition, WPIX and Good Day New York. The Los Angeles Times published a feature on the origins of her novel.  The Richmond Times-Dispatch praises how “Clark develops her plot with ingenious twists and laces it with plenty of humor and a bit of romance….the writer’s pen is a perfect fit in Clark’s deft hands.” The Boston Herald runs a Q&A with Clark as well and the Hartford Books Examiner calls GUILT BY ASSOCIATION “a dazzling debut that marks the emergence of a new literary luminary…Our verdict: It would be criminal to miss this book.” And, don’t miss rave reviews from Jen’s Book Thoughts, Linus’s Blanket, Bermuda Onion, Booking Mama, and Pop Culture Nerd. Here, Marcia tells us a bit about the origins of the novel.

I’d dreamed of writing fiction since I was a kid, and every so often, ideas for books would occur to me, but I never actually made the commitment and put pen to paper. Then I became a criminal lawyer. And a few years later, I joined the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. And so came the stories, the people, the adrenaline rush of trial; suddenly I was awash in the best material any writer could hope for. But I was in the thick of it, too busy living the ride to step back and write about it.

It wasn’t until years later, after I’d written scripts for television, that I found myself thinking seriously about finally writing a novel. And then, inspiration came from an unexpected source. A friend recommended the series of novels, “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin. From the very first page, I was entranced with the beautiful, exciting, warm and witty world he’d created, a world filled with fun, quirky and interesting characters. That’s when I realized that it was time to write that novel, and that what I really wanted to do was revisit my happiest years as a prosecutor, and create a world that would be an ongoing series with recurring characters who’d – hopefully – also be fun, loveable and interesting.

Continue reading “A Dream Come True”

Black Lens: Part XIII

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11 and Part 12.


The cop was getting excited.

Seriously excited.

He’d read the news about the Manson interview.

He was , as was now his habitual London gig,

sitting at the corner table in the Earl’s Court’s pub,

The Nelson.

It had two major bonuses:

1…..The ubiquitous Ozzie community shunned it.

2. ..It had ice cold Bud.

Thank fook. In a country that prided itself on tepid to warm bitter, a CHILLED Bud was a true find.
He’d learned the custom of asking the barman:

‘Something for yerself?’

Their system of tipping he figured.  What the hell ever, you bought the guy a brew, he treated you like you mattered. Meaning,

His corner table was reserved for him, the next Bud brought to him as he finished the previous.

Got to love it.

His bottle near full as he poured over his research. The birthday of the beast, Alistair Crowley was close.

The same day Manson had been arrested.

And now the interview.

Continue reading “Black Lens: Part XIII”

Five Favorite Female Crime Fighters

This week, the world will meet Rachel Knight, the heroine of Marcia Clark’s new novel GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. Marcia has provided us with 5 of her favorite female crime fighters.Tell us your favorites in the comments. We’ll choose 3 to receive signed first editions of GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. Don’t miss Marcia on Good Morning America this morning.

Emma Peel (aka Diana Rigg) of “The Avengers”: Before it was cool to let women fight and carry guns, this woman did it all, and in a black cat suit no less.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in “Prime Supect”: Jane is brilliant, tough, straight-talking; a woman who walked the walk without ever resorting to the cartoonish extremes of either trying to be a man or the outrageous coquette. And Helen Mirren is literally the only person who could play her.

Rita Fiore: The hottest female lawyer on two spectacular legs (thanks, Robert B. Parker!). She was Spencer’s “go-to” gal for all kinds of help and information. Every bit as predatory, tough and smart as any man, she and Spencer shared a perpetual, yet unrequited lust.

Scully of the “X Files”: Cool as a cucumber, the rational, scientifically-minded counter-part to Mulder. Scully was a woman who could run without pin wheeling arms and wield a gun with believable authority. And, for a change, a woman was the logical, more emotionally balanced end of the team.

Nancy Drew: one of the earliest intrepid females and the heroine of my early childhood. In fact, she’s one of the reasons I wanted to be a thriller writer. At eighty years old (yep, eighty) she’s still out there crushing crime.

Marcia Clark is a former LA, California deputy district attorney, who was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case. She wrote a bestselling nonfiction book about the trial, Without a Doubt, and is a frequent media commentator and columnist on legal issues. She lives in Los Angeles.

A Conversation with Alafair Burke

BangAlafair Burke is a lawyer-turned novelist and the creator of two of the most memorable female crime fighters on the scene today: NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Jen Forbus is a tastemaker in the crime fiction community and the force behind Jen’s Book Thoughts. Here, they discuss writing great characters, changing perspectives and the best bulldog on earth: The Duffer.

Jen: Hey Alafair!  I thought I’d start off by asking you how you define a great female character.

Alafair: Thank you for jumping back in, Jen. The greatness of a female character should be the same for any character. I like characters who feel real. Who have backstories. Who have good days and bad. Who have unpredictable and yet fully explained reactions to their environments. Who are flawed but likable. Whose voices ring in your head long after the book is closed.

When we see that kind of greatness in female characters, I think we admire it all the more because we sometimes get used to — and perhaps even expect — female characters to fall into one a handful of stock stereotypes: the supportive wife, the hooker with a heart of gold, the femme fatale. I like to think that the women I’ve created are the kind of women readers can imagine themselves knowing and liking in their own lives.

Jen: So do your characters evolve from women you know and like; do those real life women influence how you create characters? Do you feel other writers have influenced how you create characters? Or are they simply organic to the creation of the story?

Continue reading “A Conversation with Alafair Burke”

Chapter 1 of Guilt By Association by Marcia Clark

Keep reading GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark as we prepare for the book’s publication on April 20th. If you missed the Prologue, catch up here.


“Guilty? Already? What’d they do, just walk around the table and hit the buzzer?” Jake said, shaking his head incredulously.

I laughed, nodding. “I know, it’s crazy. Forty-five-minute verdict after a three-month trial,” I said as I shook my head. “I thought the clerk was kidding when she called and told me to come back to court.” I paused. “Now that I think about it, this might be my fastest win ever on a first-degree.”

“Hell, sistah, that’s the fastest win I done heard on
” Toni said as she plopped down into the chair facing my desk. She talked ghetto only as a joke.

“Y’all gotta admit,” I said, “homegirl brought game this time.”

Toni gave me a disdainful look. “Uh-uh, snowflake. You can’t pull it off, so don’t try.” She reached for the mug I kept cleaned and at the ready for her on the windowsill.

I raised an eyebrow. “You’ve got a choice: take that back and have a drink, or enjoy your little put-down and stay dry.”

Toni eyed the bottle of Glenlivet on my desk, her lips firmly pressed together, as she weighed her options. It didn’t take long. “It’s amazing. For a minute there, I thought Sister Souljah was in the room,” she said with no conviction whatsoever. She slammed her mug down on my desk. “Happy?”
I shrugged. “Not your best effort, but they can’t all be gold.” I broke the small ice tray out of my mini-fridge, dumped the cubes into her cup, and poured the equivalent of two generous shots of Glenlivet.

Toni shot me a “don’t push your luck” look and signaled a toast.

I turned to Jake and gestured to the bottle. “Maybe a token?” I asked. He was a nondrinker by nature, but he’d occasionally join in to be sociable.

Continue reading “Chapter 1 of Guilt By Association by Marcia Clark”

Black Lens: Part XII

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 and Part 11.


Sundance was wonderful, the starlet’s flocked round him.

Back of his mind was the niggling thought,


But fuck ‘em.

He was a


Redford even said hello.

Chugging Tequila’s, listening to The White Stripes, he figured

‘Top of the freaking world Ma.’

Continue reading “Black Lens: Part XII”

The Invisible Hero: A Conversation between Zo&#235 Ferraris and David Corbett

mosaic gate, marrakech moroccoDavid Corbett is a former private investigator the acclaimed author of four novels, including the most recent Do They Know I’m Running?. Zoë Ferraris is the award-winning author of Finding Nouf and City of Veils. Here, they discuss how fiction can break down cultural stereotypes, making “strangers” recognizable and the role of the hero in crime fiction.

David Corbett: When I first read Finding Nouf , I was bowled over by how insightful it was about what damage a culture premised on male superiority could inflict on not just women but men. The psychological and emotional limitations were brought to light so specifically and poignantly in that book that I was just mesmerized.

One observation in particular I remember vividly—when Nayir reflects on what a joy it would be to have a sister, a woman with whom he could actually have meaningful, personal conversations without fear of impropriety. That was just heartbreaking.

But the other thing that made me take notice was the timing. The book came out in 2008, with America still in the throes of post-9/11 Muslim-bashing. Muslim men in particular were often viewed as terrorists until proven otherwise.

I thought you were incredibly brave, hoping readers would see as human someone so many Americans had already stigmatized, demonized or dismissed.

And yet I didn’t get any sense of a political agenda on your part, though I did sense an artistic one, a desire to lend a voice to one particular type of voiceless—or invisible—character. Am I correct in that?

Zoë Ferraris: Thanks, David. And yes, there wasn’t so much a plan as a general disbelief. I’ve been hanging around Muslims for twenty years. At some point I took stock of all the Arab men I knew and asked myself how many of them are similar to anything I’ve seen of Arab men in the news, on TV, or in modern fiction. I ran through the checklist: terrorist, rock-thrower, fully-bearded fundamentalist, sleazy souq merchant, wife-beater, oil baron, or billionaire sheikh. The only one who fit any of the above categories was an American I knew who had converted to Islam. His idea of being Muslim was culled from old National Geographic photos; he became a fundamentalist and grew the craziest beard I’ve ever seen.

Same goes for Muslim women. Checklist: any belly dancers out there? Nope.

Continue reading “The Invisible Hero: A Conversation between Zo&#235 Ferraris and David Corbett”