Category Archives: Noir fiction

Interview: New Jersey crime writer, Wallace Stroby

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Wallace Stroby was an award-winning journalist who quit his job as an editor at New Jersey’s Star-Ledger of Newark newspaper, to write crime fiction full time. A life long New Jersey native, he is the author of six books, of which his debut, The Barb Wire Kiss, was a finalist for the 2004 Barry Award for best first novel. His last three books, Cold Shot to the Heart, Kings of Midnight, Shoot the Woman First, feature the female professional criminal character, Crissa Stone. This is an edited version of an interview, which I conducted at Noir Con 2014 in Philadelphia, that originally appeared in issue 17 of Crime FactoryHis latest Crissa Stone book The Devil’s Share, is out now.

Let’s start of with your recent books featuring the character of Crissa Stone. What was the inspiration behind writing these?

I always wanted to write a book from the point of a view of a career criminal. In my third novel, Gone ‘Til November, half of the book was from the point of view of an ageing black hit man but the main character was actually a woman, the only female sheriff’s deputy in a small town, a woman in a man’s world and I liked that idea. So coming off Gone ‘Til November I wanted to combine those two and do a story about a career criminal who was a woman in a man’s world.… Read more

Book review: Trouble in the Heartland

Trouble In the HeartlandWith so many books to get through for various projects and paid journalism, I haven’t been doing much reading for pleasure lately and, what little I have done, hasn’t been very focused. So short story anthologies are the ideal format. Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen is the best of the current crop I’ve read.

I was sold on this book the very first time I heard about it. As an enormous fan of Springsteen and crime fiction, in some respects it wasn’t a very hard sell. That didn’t mean it would necessarily be any good.

The idea is pretty straightforward. Forty one mainly American writers, established and up and coming, were assigned a Springsteen song and told to write a short story inspired by it. If you know anything about Springsteen’s music, you’ll already have a fairly good idea about what a lot of the stories are about: losers, dreamers, men and women whose disappointment with the reality of the American dream runs deep and angry. A lot of the action takes place in greasy spoon diners, farms and crime infested housing projects, and on deserted rural roads. Most of the factories have closed down, farmers are struggling, and most of the characters don’t have a lot of fuel left in the tank and even less hope.… Read more

Book review: GBH by Ted Lewis

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British author Ted Lewis is best known for his second novel, Jack’s Return Home (filmed in 1971 as Get Carter,  the title by which subsequent editions of the book would be known). But many believe his greatest work was his last, GBH, published in 1980, two years before his death.

For a long time, you could only read GHB if you could find and afford a scarce second hand copy. Thankfully, it has recent been re-released by Syndicate Books (along with the rest of Lewis’s work) a subsidiary of the prestigious and well known crime fiction press, Soho Crime.

GHB is the story of George Fowler, former head of a powerful London based criminal organisation that controlled the largest porn distribution network in the UK. His products are far worse than being merely ‘blue movies’, as they are rather innocuously referred to, and include, it is strongly inferred, snuff films, which Fowler sells to a small group of very deranged and very rich clients.

Fowler has everything: money, muscle, a wonderful penthouse with a sunken lounge (the key signifier in Lewis’s books, of any underworld villains worth their salt) and a beautiful, intelligent girlfriend, Jean, who helps run his empire and isn’t at squeamish about what Fowler does.

Then someone starts undermining his organisation from within.… Read more

Post traumatic noir – a note on the passing of Robert Stone

cover600spanThe death of US writer Robert Stone on the weekend has drawn me out of the break I planned on posting on this site over January.

Stone was the author of two tremendous works of neo-noir fiction, both of which I read when I was first getting into the genre.

The first, Stone’s debut novel, A Hall of Mirrors, was published in 1967 and partly set in New Orleans, where Stone lived briefly. It dealt with a dissolute, opportunistic right wing radio broadcaster and the desperate, doomed characters he associates with. It was turned into an excellent film called WUSA by Stuart Rosenberg in 1970 and starring Paul Newman, then in the throws of his battling his own alcoholism (I reviewed it on this site a couple of years ago here.

The second, the better known and probably more influential of Stone’s books, Dog Soldiers, was published in 1974. The 1978 film  adaption, Who’ll Stop The Rain (reviewed on this site here), is also very good.

Dog Soldiers concerns a liberal war correspondent in Vietnam, Converse, who disillusioned with what he has seen, decides to traffic heroin back to the US. He enlists Hicks, his friend in the merchant marines, to take the drugs back to Converse’s wife, Marge, in Los Angeles.… Read more

My top fiction and non-fiction reads of 2014

Time for me to present Pulp Curry readers with the list of my best reads for 2014. As is customary, I will start off by admitting, yet again, I feel I have not read nearly as much as I should have. My reading this year has been dominated by books for work, including material for freelance articles and the various literary festival panels I’ve been involved in. A considerable amount of my attention has also been directed to reading related to the non-fiction book I have been co-editing, Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980, which is scheduled to be published in October 2015.

With all that said, here’s the top ten books I read in 2014. I’ve split my list in two this year – fiction and non-fiction.

My top fiction reads are as follows:

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Escape, Dominique Manotti 

I have long been interested in the political history in Italy in the seventies and eighties, the so-called ‘years of lead’, when left wing paramilitary groups and right wing extremists in the military and police were locked in a shadowy, violent conflict. Dominique Manotti’s Escape is set in the late eighties and deals with the aftermath of that conflict. Filippo is a common street hood that shares a prison cell with Carlos, a charismatic former Red Brigade member.… Read more