Sunday, July 28, 2013

Roadkill Review: Wake The Undertaker by Joe Clifford

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Here is the last of my favorite reads from the first six months of 2013. Wake The Undertaker is a gloriously atmospheric slice of noir from the irrepressible, Joe Clifford.

Most people would be content just to sit back and take the plaudits after reaching such a literary high, but Joe Clifford isn't most people. His introduction to Zelmer Pulp's Hey That Robot Ate My Baby! may be viewed by many as his finest work to date, but hold the phone, he has another novel out.

Wake The Undertaker is actually Joe Clifford’s first novel. It beat the much-admired Junkie Love to the punch by a couple of weeks. When that autobiographical tour de force showed up fashionably late with huffing candy around its nose and a sly grin on its face, it immediately set about stealing the thunder from its elder sibling and has been hogging the limelight ever since. While there is little doubt that Junkie Love is a damn fine book, Wake The Undertaker is no ugly sister and it’s high time we showed it some love.

Nineteen year old Collie Spector is a nightclub singer on the up. He’s got the looks and the voice, but he’s also got the boss’s girl, Zoey, and when that boss is Gabriel Christos, the son of Bay City’s crime overlord Cephalus “the Old Man” Christos, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the fall Collie is headed for is going to be a big one.
Gabriel orders a beat down, which includes ending Collie’s career by cutting his vocal chords, and with the help of Bay City’s crooked cops, Gabriel frames the singer for a crime he didn’t commit. Collie does time in the City’s Island prison of Rockville, working on his upper body and trying to come to terms with the fact he will never sing again. When he comes out, he is twice the man he was, but Collie isn’t the only one who has changed during those seven years.

Gabriel is now estranged from his old man and trouble is brewing between them. Collie soon finds himself sucked into their murky underworld of drugs and politics and ends up working for the very man who orchestrated his downfall.

Bay City is a dark and rain-swept place where the hoods date strippers and dirty cops are on the take from nightclub-owning crime bosses. Here, the washed up newspaper men tell it like it is, everyone drinks their bourbon straight and nothing is quite as it seems.
Joe Clifford has delivered an exceptional pulp novel that reminded me of Frank Miller's finest, but without the pictures. If you were to cut Wake the Undertaker with a knife it would bleed with noir. It would also jump back up and shank you with a rusty screwdriver. I really hope that it isn’t destined to become Joe Clifford’s “other novel." Wake The Undertaker deserves much better than second billing and is a true star in its own right. Part of me hates Mr. Clifford for being this good, but most of me can’t wait to read his next one.

My original review of Wake The Undertaker can be found at the online supermax for offensive fiction: Out Of The Gutter

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gloves Off - Free This Weekend!

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Heads up! For a limited time only the guys at Near to the Knuckle are giving you the chance to pick up their kick-ass anthology, GLOVES OFF for free.

GLOVES OFF is a collection of dark stories from the cream of the literary crop. These stories have one thing in common: they will come at you, all guns blazing. There’s a story lurking down every dark alley. Just when your back is turned a plot-twist is ready to attack.
The stories in this anthology are mainly crime, but there is also grim humour and the supernatural; dark tales for an adult audience featuring hit men, mobsters, bikers and stalkers.

This anthology was spawned from the dark, talented minds of: Gareth Spark, Richard Godwin, Paul D. Brazill, Aidan Thorn, Pete Sortwell, B.R. Stateham, Brian Panowich, Ryan Sayles, Chris Leek, David Barber, Vic Errington, Graham Smith, Walter Conley, Tom Pitts, Allen Miles, Jim Spry,Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Mike Monson and Alan Griffiths.

So what the hell are you waiting for? 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The West Is Just About To Get Weird

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Zelmer Pulp is headed west later this month with our new epic collection FIVE BROKEN WINCHESTERS. This time we have invited a friend along and Shotgun Honey supremo, Ron Earl Phillips will also be saddling up to join the Zelmer Posse.

FIVE BROKEN WINCHESTERS spans the whole arc of the western genre from hard-boiled traditional stories of blood and revenge to science fiction and weird western horror. The full line up is as follows:
Obsidian by Ryan Sayles
Red December (A Harmon Brown Yarn) by Brian Panowich
The Atheist by Isaac Kirkman
The Ballad of Jeremy Diggitt by Chuck Regan
The Guns of Justice by Chris Leek
The Last Shot by special guest, Ron Earl Phillips

FIVE BROKEN WINCHESTERS will be available in both e-book and print editions. We are again fortunate that the exceptionally talented Chuck Regan will be providing the book's original cover art. Keep an eye on the Zelmer Pulp website for further updates. This is also the place to go for details of our other publications, special offers, Ryan's transvestite fashion tips and to download our recipe for armadillo and squirrel burritos. 
If you want a little taste of what’s on offer, (the westerns that is, not the burritos) then why not pick up a copy of Brain Panowich’s first Harmon Brown Yarn, BABY JUICE, which is available now for a paltry sum on Amazon. So as Deputy Marshall Rooster Cogburn once said "Fill your hand you son-of-a-b*tch."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Roadkill Review: Fierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres

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Seeing as we are 50% done with 2013, I thought I would take the opportunity to share another of my favorite reads from the first half of the year. The rise of the e-book has seen a massive resurgence in the popularity of novellas and there have been some exceptionally good ones released recently. To my mind “Fierce Bitches” by Jed Ayres is the best of the lot.
Welcome to Politburo, a sweltering hell-hole of dust and heat somewhere south of the Mexican border. This shanty town doesn’t appear on any maps and its residents don’t appear on any census. This town is the last stop for the gringo gun thugs and Mexican whores who have become surplus to the requirements of the boss. Everyone in this town dreams of escape, even if they only want to escape from themselves. Many have died trying, maybe one day somebody will make it out.
I can sum up “Fierce Bitches” with just one word and an exclamation mark—WOW! This brutal and savage story is brilliantly told using intertwined, multiple POVs that meld seamlessly together and allow a harsh beauty to shine through all the blood and the violence. Jed Ayres has nailed it and delivered a hell of a book. Rarely have I come across an author who is capable of such rich and surprising prose. His narrative voice is both intoxicating and addictive.
My full review can be found online at Out Of the Gutter.