Sunday, July 29, 2007

When to use your safety word.

In every sado-masochistic relationship, the participants always agree on a safety word, the one word from the whipee that will tell the whipper to stop with the whipping already.

So, dear readers, I have to ask. When do you move on? When do you shit-can a project that's not selling, an agent who stops returning your calls, or an editor who wants to change your masterpiece about the reanimated hooker into something for the YA market? When, in this S&M relationship we call publishing, do you use your safety word?

Recently, a young friend landed an agent for his first novel. I've read a fair chunk of the ms and if I had to categorize it, and we always do, I'd say it's a suspense novel as written by Peter DeVries. It's funny, the characters are loveably left of center, but there is a dark note that plays throughout.

For a little less than a year, his agent has tried to sell the ms with no success. That's not all that surprising. But what intrigued me, and made me want to solicit your opinion, was a note the agent sent to my friend. I'm paraphrasing it so that I won't get my friend into trouble, but here's what the agent said:

"I've heard from a reliable source that some agents send a ms. from a new client to only 8 editors. If those editors reject the ms, that project is dead and that client stops getting his calls returned. I'm not like that. I really tried to place your ms with every editor in the known universe and no one bit. It doesn't look promising. Editors who bought humorous suspensers in the past aren't buying anything new. What they want now is non-fiction. No suspense, especially with male protagonists. Women's fiction and erotic fantasy or romance still sell and the buzz on the next big thing is urban fantasy."

Then the agent tells my friend that if he writes anything non-fiction or urban fantasy, to let him know and they'd talk.

My friend asks my advice and I'd suggest moving on to the next book and letting this one go. I'd also start looking for a new agent when the new ms is done. I think what we have here is a first novel that isn't quite ready and an agent that isn't enthusiastic about future work, both so common in this business as to be near universal.

My questions to you, dear friends, are these:

1. Have you heard of agents flagging new clients and soliciting a select few editors?
2. Is suspense with male protagonists dead? After reading Ray Banks, Sean Doolittle, Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, Victor Gischler and Jim Born in just the past few weeks, I'd say no, but maybe things are changing.
3. What would your advice be to this young writer? Should he move on to a new novel and a new agent, as I've advised? What would you tell him?
4. What the fuck is urban fantasy?

I've referred my friend to this space so he'll read your comments. I appreciate your help.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Killer Pussy.

This is Oscar and he's getting quite a reputation for tricks. Or, one trick.
He can predict when someone's about to catch the next bus to Deadtown.

Oscar lives in a nursing home, so he has plenty of opportunity to perform. He's so good at hearing the approach of time's winged chariot that when he curls up with a patient, the staff calls the family to gather round. Because that patient usually has less than four hours to pack up the old kit bag.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa, who writes about Oscar and his grim talent in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The staff noticed that Oscar wandered the unit and when he sat down with a patient that person would, within a few hours, join the choir invisible.

According to Dr. Dosa, Oscar isn't normally a friendly cat. And while he's given some families comfort, he also spooks the bejesus out of others and rightfully so.

Scientists are trying to figure out how Oscar knows the reaper is near. The theories range from scents patients give off before the Big Sleep, the behavior of nurses around a terminal patient, or maybe it's just the heated blanket the staff puts on a dying person.

I've lived with cats for years and my money's on the blanket.

But the next time a kitty cuddles up to you, you might want to get your affairs in order. That cat might know something you don't.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

There's one less grand old bastard on the planet.

And we're a poorer place for it.

Robert Sherrill was 82 when the reaper finally caught up with him at home. He died on July 6 and I didn't know until Sunday, because that's how casually we treat heroes here.

If Bob had been a sports star, he'd have made the front page. If he'd sung and danced his way through B-musicals, the local news would have shown clips of a younger Bob hoofing it on celluloid.

But Bob was a writer, and a goddamn good writer.

In 1992, I read a piece in Esquire called
The Truth About Getting Old and when I saw that Bob lived here in Durham, I was so knocked out that I looked him up and called. It was a Sunday morning and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, is this Robert Sherrill?
Bob: I'm a Robert Sherrill.
Me: The Robert Sherrill who wrote the cover article for this month's Esquire?
Bob: Yes, I'm that Robert Sherrill.
Me: I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it.
Bob: Well thanks.

Me: I just wanted to tell you that.
Bob: OK, thanks.
Me: Because it was really good.
Bob: Glad you liked it.
Me: Uh, yeah, so...

Not having planned anything more to say, we stumbled through good-byes. Years later I met him at a friend's home. I reminded him of that call and again told him how much I liked that article. He shrugged it off. For the rest of the afternoon we sipped whiskey on the deck and talked of poets. Or Bob and my host talked of poets. I listened.

I regret not getting to know him better. So I won't pretend by pasting bits of his past cadged from other writers who did know him. I'll just give you links to two remembrances. This one in
Esquire and this one from our local independent called, oddly enough, The Independent.

And I'll leave you with an excerpt from The Truth About Growing Old, the article that prompted me to call him on that Sunday morning 15 years ago. I urge you to go read the whole thing.

I have been watching myself, and I have been collecting stuff -- lies, propaganda, myths -- that says that growing old is great, and have come to one dazzling and, I think, irrefutable conclusion: Growing old is spinach.
Bye, Bob. And wherever you are, keep a light on for us.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Good Old Days.

I've worked in advertising for a long time, which means I'll most definitely be going to hell.

But before I go, let's look at some great moments in capitalism.

I've always been a little creeped out by edible critters advertising their luscious selves like little pink piggies selling pork barbecue or chickens happily hawking buckets of their fried family members. But this illustration from a French meat packer has got to take the trophy for weird.

Parents are always good targets for advertising. The little bastards always need new shoes or, if they're a little older, therapy. But what about products for parents? Leave it to the pharmaceutical industry to have that shit covered.

And if the little screamers get to be just too much, get them interested in science with this real toy from the 50's. This thing exposed children to a radioactive isotope that causes all sorts of lethal ailments. Cool, Mom!

Jesus, it's no wonder we're so fucked up.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'll be here for the next 18 months. Tell your friends.

This morning, George Bush did his stand-up routine at the Nashville Bun Company.

Here's one of his jokes:

"You can't make buns if the Democrats take all your dough!"

(cue laugh track).

Dear God, somebody shoot me.

Another one caught with his pants down around his ankles.

I've said it before. The people most obsessed with other people's sex lives are the freakiest people on the planet.

Earlier this week it was David Vitter (R-Freaktown), a promoter of abstinence and one of the senators who made a big deal out of Clinton's White House hummer. A Really Big Deal.

This time Vitter was in high dudgeon over people asking about his private sex life. The senator harrumphed that it was nobody's business but his, his wife's and the hookers he paid for sex and diapers.

And I wish I was making that last part up. He likes diapers. Ew.

This morning the news broke on another conservative who couldn't control his dingly-dangly bits, even with the help of Jehee-zus! Coy Privette, a former Baptist minister was caught paying a prostitute for sex. That's him up there with the lovely hooker. Not exactly Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, are they.

The Reverend Privette was also the president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, a group who wants God to toss drinkers, tokers, pornographers, gays, the ACLU and the multitudes of employers who discriminate against Christians (?) into the Everlasting Burning Lake of Fire.

Hmm, their web site makes no mention of adulterers. So that must be OK.

If only we had known that in the nineties. It might have saved us 77 million dollars and a lot of newspaper ink.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chickenhawks on Parade.

I have nothing but contempt for young men who want war as long as someone else does the bleeding.

It's this simple. If you support this conflict, sign your ass up. If you let someone else take your place on the line, you're a coward.

Watch the video. I particularly like the young man who declares himself "not gay" and the ex-football jock who thinks basic training would be too hard.

I'd support a draft if I thought it would put one or two of these smug fucks into the gun turret of a Humvee.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reading, writing and really wrong reviews.

I've been reading a lot lately, which means I haven't been writing. It was so bad that I considered quitting a few weeks ago. The thought lasted less than 10 seconds, but it scared the dookies out of me. I mean, WTF?

But I'm back on track, writing every day. I'm also trying to keep time open for reading, because I had missed it. In fact, I think it was reading Bruen and Starr, Westlake and Gischler, one after another, that got me back to the keyboard and inspired me to keep going.

I just wanted to thank these fine gentlemen.

But I read another book that didn't inspire me to do anything except toss the damn thing across the room. This book was by a Big Name, one who has won Big Awards, armloads of them, and written a series I'd rather enjoyed in the past. (No, it's not anyone who normally reads the Planet, at least not that I know).

With apologies to David Montgomery, I don't read reviews often, and never before I read the book. But after, I'll often read reviews to see what others think, especially if I thought the book was particularly good or bad.

And in this case, I thought the book was more than just bad, but given the author's past work, it was awful. So I casually took a look at what readers said about this book on Amazon and I have to wonder, did we read the same book?

Most of them gave this guy five friggin' stars. Five! In spite of some of the lamest dialogue I've read in years, unbelievable characters, handy-dandy clues right where the hero needs them, a plot that depends on the hero being an idiot, and an ending you've seen in a dozen direct-to-DVD movies.

What gives? Is it just because I read guys like Westlake and Bruen that my expectations are so high or is it that others' expectations are so low? Could it be just the strength of this author's reputation that makes people give the book a break? I don't know.

So let's talk about reviews.

Do you read them before you read a book or after? Or at all? Do you ever read a review and wonder what the dude was smoking? Do you ever give someone like Crumley or Leonard (and it was neither of these gentlemen) a break because of the body of their work, overlooking what may be a single stinker in a string of gems?

As always, talk to me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nick Lowe, Old Age, and the Looney Tunes Rule of Writing.

What happens when you get too old to be an Angry Young Man?

Nick Lowe, one of the people who drove a stake through the heart of corporate crap rock of the late 70's, has a new album out. I've only heard a few cuts from it and I like it, but what I like even more is this part of a review from The Week magazine:

"With At My Age, the 58-year-old Lowe has delivered a set of excellent original songs and covers, all rooted in the kind of music that inspired him as a young man. He sounds confident and playful, singing ’50s and ’60s-style pop and rockabilly tunes over organic arrangements. The pretension-free disc doesn’t try to be forward thinking—Lowe knows that’s for the kids, said Neil McCormick in the London Daily Telegraph. Other musical veterans should take a page from Lowe’s book: Instead of competing with their own pasts, they should “make music they actually like, with humility, passion, and all the skills they have acquired.”

Which leads me to writing novels. I'm a year younger than Mr. Lowe, and one of the problems I'm having with my WIP, the book I started sometime in the fucking Eisenhower administration, is that I know it doesn't have the edge it would if I was 25 years younger. And that bothers me. Because I'm reading books by Ray Banks, Victor Gischler, Duane Swierczynski and other young punks who are pushing the form.

And I'm not pushing anything, except old age. And I worry that I've lost a step or two. In fact, I know I have. And I see it in other writers I once admired. I'm reading a book right now by one of the revered names of the biz and while the story's OK and the pacing is what you'd want from an old hand, he's written one character that's strictly TV. I mean, sweet Jesus, some of the dialogue is so bad that I thought I was reading Gil Thorp.

So I worry. And I work. And I wonder if what I'm doing is worth a damn. Then I read what I've written and I like it and know that, in the end, that's what counts. That's the Looney Tunes Rule and it applies to everything.

The Looney Tunes Rule: Write What You Like And Others Will Like It Too.

Chuck Jones and Tex Avery said it in every interview - they didn't create those great cartoons to make kids laugh. They created them to make themselves laugh.

So, while I'm not pushing the genre the way some of my younger friends are, I'm writing what I like. No, I don't have the chops of Ken Bruen, but I'm going with the strengths of my age and in the words of that reviewer I'm going to make music I actually like, with humility, passion, and all the skills I have acquired.

It's the best I can do.

I'd like to open the floor to this question of age. Are there writers you think have lost something? Is it the young who push change? Age and writing. What do you think?

Talk to me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Surgeon General's Warning.

I didn't think it was possible to be surprised by the bad behavior that rolls off this White house like stink rolls off a hog farm, but the former Surgeon General's testimony to Congress managed to do just that. So what was it? What detail in Dr. Richard Carmona's testimony surprised even this cynic? Let's take a look.

Was it the fact that the administration frequently censored him and tried to force his public statements to fit politics?

No, that didn't surprise me. I've written short films for two government agencies in the past five years and every script was pored over for Bushian political correctness by a political officer. All the old hands I worked with, Democrat and Republican alike, said they'd never seen anything like it. So, holding the Surgeon General to this administration's standards of what is acceptable speech didn't surprise me. Horrified me, yes, but that's nothing unusual.

Was it that the Bush White House banned Dr Carmona from speaking or issuing reports on stem cells, emergency contraception, prisons, mental health and international health issues? Nah, that's expected from a White House that denies any science that doesn't fit into George Bush's preconceived notion of how things should be.

See, the president doesn't investigate facts, because facts are notoriously liberal. No, he forms a belief based on his gut and then sticks with that, facts be damned. So this is Old News.

Was it the watering down of a key report on the dangers of second-hand smoke? Ha! That's so not surprising that I have to stifle a yawn.

What else you got, Doc?

Stem cell research? Dr. Carmona said that "Much of the discussion was being driven by theology, ideology, [and] preconceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect... I was told the decision had already been made. 'To stand down. Don't talk about it.' That information was removed from my speeches." See, there's that George Bush gut instinct at work again. So no surprise here.

Dr. Carmona was told that global warming was a "liberal cause" and that the Special Olympics were politically suspect because they're supported by the Kennedy family.

"I was specifically told by a senior person, 'Why would you want to help those people?'"

Seeing everything, even the Special Olympics, as a Zero Sum political game? No, even that didn't surprise me. Protecting the US tobacco industry? Nope. Sex Ed?

"There was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only, but I felt that was scientifically incorrect," Carmona said.

This bunch getting all freaky about people getting freaky should surprise no one.

So, what was it that completely fascinated me by its sheer weirdness? What was the one detail in the doctor's testimony that revealed the true nature of our Chief Executive?

Dr. Carmona was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of every speech he made.

Did I read that right? So if the Surgeon General's speech is ten pages long, and he's giving a talk on say, genital warts, he has to mention Bush by name 30 fucking times?

What sort of demented person thinks of these things? And what kind of narcissistic, insecure person demands that kind of continuous stroking from his subordinates?

That, by far, is the weirdest thing I've heard in the past six years of dysfunctional weirdness. That takes the trophy.

And how did the White House respond to Dr. Carmona's testimony? They said that this doctor, a decorated Special Forces medical officer who served in combat in Vietnam, was not credible and had his own agenda.

In other words, they attacked his character.

And that, sadly, is the least surprising thing about this whole sad affair.

*Thanks to The Onion for another spot-on analysis of Bush Science.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Today's Hanni-babe.

It's time we checked in on another one of the many right-leaning romantics looking for the perfect conservative partner over at Sean Hannity's love match site.

You read that right. Sean Hannity, along with saving America from radical, far left liberals, is also helping his viewers find life mates.

This is Annita.

This All-American girl tells us she's female and 30.

Race? She says she'll tell us later. Huh?

She's a Catholic who doesn't drink, she's never smoked, loves American food, is self-employed, loves wine (maybe just the communion wine) and Rock Shopping, whatever the hell that is. Annita is also fluent in English because she's American.

How fluent? Here's her profile just as she wrote it:

how are you doing there annita by name am from texas Garland but right now am in west africa with my friend jannet but she has hurt me and left me here follow aman back too the state that am still in west africa rightnow am still a single but looking for honest man were if you like too know more about me am online now thats my yahooid

Sounds like the Texas public schools are in worse shape than we thought.

Hmm, think maybe that isn't really her picture?

Now this is a catch. This is a Hanni-catch.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Checking in on a dead guy.

This is going to leave a mark.

Fred Thompson, the most popular candidate/non-candidate in the GOP, the man who has Republican bloggers all atwitter, was a 30-year-old lawyer during Watergate. He was the guy who asked Butterfield about the White House tapes that unraveled the Nixon administration.

But those tapes are coming back to bite Thompson in the ass.

In spite of his public image as a bulldog chomping at the hindquarters of truth, it looks like he was more of a Republican poodle willing to cooperate with Nixon's criminals.

For instance, Thompson was the stooge who tipped off the White House that the Senate committee knew about the tapes.

When Haldeman told Nixon about Thompson's appointment, Nixon said, "Oh shit, that kid," and called Thompson "dumb as hell."

"Well, we're stuck with him," Haldeman said.

Nixon's lawyer, J. Fred Buzhardt, said, "We've got a pretty good rapport with Fred Thompson," but Nixon expressed concern that Thompson was not "very smart."

"Not extremely so," Buzhardt agreed.

"But he's friendly," Nixon said.

"But he's friendly," Buzhardt said. "...Thompson [is] most cooperative, feeling more Republican every day ... willing to go, you know, pretty much the distance now. And he said he realized his responsibility was going to have be as a Republican increasingly."

This was during the Watergate investigation. Yes, Fred Thompson, the GOP savior, not only is "dumb as hell" but also a Republican tool during a Constitutional crisis.

Thanks, Fred. You're just what America needs.

On TV.

Monday, July 09, 2007

New word for the day.


kak·is·toc·ra·cy (noun) Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.

Etymology: Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad.

Thanks to rae over at Naked Authors, I have learned a new word today. I think you can guess the context.

Monkey diseases...

and other issues.

Those two guys are The Conchords. They have a new show on HBO you should watch. But more on that later.

Let's talk TV. I like TV. In the words of Chance Gardener, I like to watch.

When I hear someone say they don't I think they're:

1. Lying sacks of pretentious crap, or
2. Having a much more interesting social life than I am.

Because I like TV. Not network TV because, other thean The Office and a handful of others, the stuff that's cranked out for broadcast is one giant crapfest. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those who will go on and on about The Golden Age because TV's almost always been a huge fetid landscape of ordure.

What is American Idol but Ted Mack's Amateur Hour with Vegas production values and a post-millennial mean streak? The game shows that are proliferating across the airwaves like bunnies are just the progeny of I've Got A Secret and Queen For A Day. Jesus, that was 30-minute exercise in national humiliation, all for a new fucking refrigerator.

Is Two and a Half Men any lamer than Three's Company or any other show Aaron Spelling squeezed out from between his withered old white buttocks? I don't think so.

The difference is now we have cable. And I, like everyone, have a few guilty pleasures. I can't pass by What Not to Wear without giving it at least a glance. I don't know why. And I've got stuck on those VH1 sarcasm festivals for hours on a drowsy afternoon when I could have been studying Italian or remodeling my kitchen.

I confess to loving the History Channel, although it sometimes feels like the Hitler Channel. Every time I stop on it I seem to catch that same D-Day clip with the GIs running up the beach and one man falls at the waterline, every damn time. I keep hoping that just once he'll duck the bullet and make it to the seawall, but no, he's destined to fall. And then I wonder who he was and where he was from and is there a family who still has his picture on the mantle and his Purple Heart in a drawer.

I'm also a sucker for the Military Channel, although they carry this warrior worship to almost obscene heights. They breathe just a little too heavily over weapons tech, too. Yes, I think the 1911 Colt and M-1 Garand are fine examples of industrial design, but I can't get all that worked up over the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. I can't.

Then there are the shows that reinforce my suspicion that our culture is in irreversible decline - Bridezilla, My Sweet Sixteen, Fox and Friends.

But the real reason I keep my TV is for HBO. While the networks churn out Big Brother, Dancing With The Stars and endless spin-offs of Law & Order and CSI, HBO is producing shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Deadwood, Six Feet Under and Band of Brothers.

Now that's some goddamn good TV. And here's a new show, Flight of the Conchords, one of the most inspired comedies I've seen in a long time. If you have HBO, check it out.

If you don't have HBO, what the hell are you watching?

Guilty pleasures, undiscovered treasures, shows you love to the amazement of everyone who knows you and shows you don't tell anyone you watch? Come on, confess.

It'll be just between us.

Friday, July 06, 2007

King George and the 4th of July

This morning in the Raleigh News and Observer, a fine American named David Coulter has a letter to the editor that deserves wider publication. So at the risk of attracting the raptor-like attention of the N&O's copyright attorneys, here it is:

"At the July 4th celebration in downtown Raleigh, I was pleased to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence. I couldn't believe my ears, though, when the reader came to the list of grievances against King George III and simply skipped over them, jumping to the end of the document. That list was important enough for those men to fight and die for; it should have been worth the few minutes of our time it would have taken to read. Perhaps he simply didn't want to subject us to complaints like:

'For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury, for transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses ... for taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.'

Maybe they were afraid it would ring a little too familiar in the America of our new King George, of Guantanamo and torture and 'enemy combatants' and the death of habeas corpus. It's a sad day in my country when we have to worry about 'patriotic' citizens being offended by the words of the Founding Fathers."

David Coulter

Play the Blues.

Twelve Cents Shy
The Blue Bayou
Hillsborough, NC
9:30 to 1:30

After being out for more than a year we're back on the bandstand until we drop. And considering I've been up since 4 and won't get to sleep again until 3 tomorrow morning, that could happen sooner than we expect.

I'm old.

But not too old to kick it tonight. If you're in the area, come on by.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Black Dog

It's what I've called it for years.

Sometimes he stays for a few days and sometimes he camps out for weeks.

Last week I learned that Churchill called his depression the black dog, too. So, along with the hard and fast rule to never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast, the late PM and I also have this in common.

Funny, it doesn't make me feel better knowing that I'm in such elevated company.

Perhaps elevated isn't the right word.

The roster of people who have lived with the black dog reads like an artist's who's who. TS Elliot wrote The Wasteland. Jesus, just the title alone makes you want to take a bath with your toaster. And music, while it may calm the savage breast, can also give you the blues. A friend said she can't listen to anything with lyrics when she's depressed. I understand. I turn on country radio and I want to drive into a train.

And could a playwright who wasn't depressed have created Blanche DuBois? I don't think so.

Then there are the novelists like Twain, Faulkner, and Hemingway. Hemingway put his sardonic finger on a lot of our troubles when he said, "That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward." Gee, low pay AND depression. Thanks!

Faulkner, ironically, said it shorter than Hemingway: "Only vegetables are happy."

My uncle, one of the smartest and funniest people I've ever known suffered so badly from depression that my cousin says it cast a pall over his entire childhood. So this definitely runs in the family.

Congratulations! You got your mother's eyes, your father's hair, and your grandfather's suicidal tendencies.

Of course, writers are prodigious self-medicaters. For myself, I find that with enough vodka I can't load my pistol or tie a decent knot, so I've been relying on this tactic for some time.

As most of my readers are also writers I have to ask, does it bite you? And when it does, can you write? Can you go out and be social? Are you a shit to live with when you're depressed?

And have you found a way to muzzle the black bastard?

If you're so inclined, talk to me. I could use the company.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Are you going to hell?

Take the test and find out if you're on your way to eternal damnation for stealing that sourball when you were six.

See if your favorite invective is enough to get your soul tossed into the ever-burning Lake of Fire.

Does God cut you any slack for giving to the poor? (Hint: Put on your asbestos underwear because He does not give a Holy Fuck.)

Have you:

Thought briefly about following Cthulhu for the chicks? Check.

Told your mom you were in the library when you were really kissing your girlfriend beneath the bleachers? Check.

Wondered what your French teacher would look like naked and slathered in paté? Check.

Your ass is toast.

And as they say in the movies, "I'll see you in hell."

Beach Reading.

I didn't go to the beach to read this, dammit, and I need a vacation.

That's not Jim Born's fault.

OK, maybe I should start over.

Thanks to Jim's generosity, I picked up this book and some grits while I was in South Carolina and I enjoyed both. One was good with a vodka tonic and the other was good with fried eggs and both made me happy as a pup.

As you know, I don't do reviews. One, I'm lazy and two, who gives a fuck what I think?

(Did I mention that I really need a vacation?)

So if you're looking for some dissection of plot here, forget it. Just know that Jim Born goes around armed most of the time and it's in your best interest to buy his books and like them. Innocent people have been swept up "accidentally" in drug raids before.

So what's it going to be, $2000 for a defense attorney or $20 for a book? Just shut up and get out your wallet.

Born's working with a new character here, an ATF agent named Duarte, a guy who's quick to kick a bad guy in the teeth, but not so fast with a quip or the ladies. And that's fine.

The other characters are good and one killer is surpringly likeable. The plot unfolds as it should, and comes to a point where it's hard to trust anyone, just like in real life.

I ghost-wrote a novel with a plot that's similar (hey, how many are there, really?) and an ending a lot less satisfying than Jim's. My ending was so bad that I think Mary Worth figured in the denouement somehow, but I'm not sure. I've repressed that.

But Jim's work is solid and a good actioner to take along with the Coppertone. I would if I was going on vacation.


Maybe I can contract some flesh-eating bacteria* that will put me in the hospital for a few weeks. No, it's not a vacation, but at least I'll get caught up on my reading.

*Now Born will bitch forever about the time I mentioned his book and flesh-eating bacteria in the same post.