Monday, July 25, 2016


It's been a while since I've done any promotional roadwork (the last time, I believe, was in Iowa City at an event with James Ellroy).

This time we're taking the show on the road Big Time, and heading to Ireland.

This will be my second time touring for the Lassiter series in Europe (limited to France that first trip), but the first time anywhere in Ireland.

On August 3, I'll be giving a short discussion about the Hector Lassiter series, mostly about Hector himself, and will perform a reading of Head Games (my first public reading of that particular novel, if memory serves).

Here's a look at the venue:

Here are the specifics:
August 3, 6-7:30 p.m.
Peruke & Periwig
31 Dawson Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
A book signing will follow the program
Twitter: @perukeperiwig

RSVP to 

Sunday, July 17, 2016


If you’ve read my nonfiction books of author interviews, or followed this blog for any time at all, you know James Sallis is a writer I revere.

His exceptional Lew Griffin and John Turner series (the latter including Cypress Grove, Cripple Creek and Salt River,) are personal favorites.

Sallis’ new novel is Willnot (Bloomsbury). It introduces a new protagonist/narrator — a small town doctor and cult Sci-Fi author’s son named Dr. Lamar Hale.

The novel opens with the discovery of a mass grave in Willnot, a place locked in a different era in the sense it lacks chain or big box stores, churches or other common touchstones defining small town life in this uncertain century.

It's haunting opening—a dog turning up all those bodies—is a rock thrown into the quiet, quirky pond that’s Willnot. The rest of the novel is an exploration of the resulting ripples, moving out in widening circles, touching past and present and sometimes blurring those distinctions.

If you come to this book expecting a straight up mystery or crime novel, you need to temper your expectations and open your mind to a broader and far more compelling experience. There are mysteries to be solved here and connections to be made, but it is very much upon the reader to do much of that detective work: you’re not going to be spoon-fed clues as in some damn cozy.

A favorite Sallis quote speaks to this: “Literature is not some imposing sideboard with discrete drawers labeled poetry, mystery, serious novel, science fiction — but a long buffet table laid out with all manner of fine, diverse foods.”

Willnot  is not a Griffin novel, or another Drive, but rather a James Sallis novel closer in spirit perhaps to his haunting Renderings. It’s a mix of genres that defies easy categorization beyond simply stating that at this point, it may be fair and best to say James Sallis is a genre unto himself.

The Griffin series is a tightly interwoven tapestry of “novels about a detective” that can be read discretely, but together call backward and forward to one another, speaking to one another and in doing so telling a larger, richer and far more engrossing story.

A passage or phrase in one Griffin novel may recur in a later installment, encouraging connections and deeper contemplation. An echo in a later installment can re-contextualize something occurring in an earlier book.

Willnot has a similar effect: Images and phrases recur throughout and accumulate.

As a child our narrator fell into an inexplicable coma endowing him with a brand of hyper-empathy and keening identification with others.

In a playful, mocking observation, Hales cites what he regards a perhaps overused assertion by Soren Kierkegaard: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Sallis might wryly add, because “Life rarely gets the detour signs up in time.”

The attentive reader has the sense Doc Hale’s living in both the past and the present, in a sense. And maybe the future, too.

(In a playful passage in this book haunted by the looming spirit of an off-camera science fiction and fantasy novelist, we get this wonderful aside spotted on a bumper sticker: “TECHNICALLY, THERE WOULD ONLY NEED TO BE ONE TIME TRAVELER’S CONVENTION”.)

Appropriately, in Willnot, the walls between past, present and the future are in a subtle state of uncertainty. The novel is appropriately full of aft- and foreshadowing. In that sense, Willnot is a Möbius strip of mysteries twining into other mysteries and revelations.

I’d argue when an author composes novels with this level of attention to detail, focus and singular intent, it’s incumbent upon the conscientious and engaged reader make a first pass study in a concentrated and focused single-sitting read. To do less is to risk missing too much.

I made the error of picking up this Sallis novel at eight o-clock on a Friday night. I finished at one on Saturday morning, head swimming. (And, my God, the dreams…?)

Critic and fellow crime novelist Woody Haut’s declared Willnot to perhaps be Sallis “saddest novel.”

I wouldn’t quibble with that, but I’d add it’s also one of Sallis’ richest novels, and a story that demands further visits I suspect will result in deeper revelation.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


My good friend and Borderland Noir collaborator Jim Cornelius is seeking support for the narrative history book we need and deserve in these tumultuous times.

Please give a look at this fine video and pitch and consider answering the call for this very worthy project, WARRIORS OF THE THE WILD LANDS: TRUE TALES OF THE FRONTIER PARTISANS (A volume of twelve bios of the most badass Frontier Partisans in history — from North America to Africa).

If you've read Jim's excellent essay on Pancho Villa that appeared in BORDERLAND NOIR, you know what you can expect.

If you haven't, I urge you to check out some of Jim's entertaining, historically-informed posts over at FRONTIER PARTISANS for some more flavor and sense of Jim's voice. Here's some more from the man himself on the project.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


The trailer for the last novel in the Hector Lassiter series, coming this November from Betimes Books:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


This autumn, Betimes Books will release the climax of the Hector Lassiter series (novel number ten, if you're counting), THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH.

Back when HEAD GAMES was inching toward publication, this novel was conceived and written as the definitive series closer.

(I had this notion, and left myself wiggle room, to expand the series in the middle if it seemed reasonable to do that...the results were THE GREAT PRETENDER and last year's DEATH IN THE FACE.)

THREE CHORDS takes place one calendar year after HEAD GAMES. Like HG, Hector once again narrates, Bud Fiske returns as primary sidekick, and some surprising faces from HG also return.

Information about pre-orders will be forthcoming. In the meantime, here's a brief publisher's teaser:


In 2007, the Hector Lassiter series launched with Head Games, a literary thriller set along the borderlands of 1957 America—an audacious road novel met with ecstatic reviews and international awards attention, including Edgar and Anthony nominations for Best First Novel by an American Author.

With Three Chords & The Truth, Craig McDonald sets the capstone on the Hector Lassiter saga.

It’s winter, 1958. Johnny Cash and Sun Studios are ascendant in Tennessee, where a wicked snowstorm is doing nothing to cool racial tensions in Music City, USA, or points farther south.

Despite the cold, the U.S. military is also sweating, fearing the worst after a flight crew has been forced to dump a hydrogen bomb off the coast of South Carolina—a weapon of mass destruction whose nuclear trigger has been left to rust at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, threatening the Carolinas with atomic annihilation.

Once again, forgotten history and historical figures are reanimated and given new life and relevance through the Hector Lassiter series, nothing less than a literary Secret History of 20th Century America.

In an up-from-the-heels voice that recalls his first-person narration of Head Games, Hector once again tells his own remarkable story, one that rounds out the internationally bestselling series BookPage has called “wildly inventive” and The Chicago Tribune declared “most unusual, and readable crime fiction to come along in years.”

This is a vintage Lassiter novel, at last revealing the ultimate fate of the author-screenwriter famous for living what he wrote, and writing about what he lived.

ONE TRUE SENTENCE: Paperback/eBook


TOROS & TORSOS: Paperback/eBook


ROLL THE CREDITS: Paperback/eBook

THE RUNNING KIND: Paperback/eBook

HEAD GAMES: Paperback/eBook

PRINT THE LEGEND: Paperback/eBook/audio


Monday, February 29, 2016


Here's a rare chance to learn from one of the BORDERLAND NOIR contributors and a living expert on all things Pancho Villa:


One hundred years ago, on March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary leader General Francisco “Pancho” Villa led an incursion across the border and attacked the sleeping hamlet of Columbus, New Mexico. It was, prior to September 11, 2001, the most significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Local historian, writer and musician Jim Cornelius and The Anvil Blasters will mark that historic centennial with an evening of borderland history and border ballads at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters on Wednesday, March 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Cornelius will read from his essay “Pancho Villa: Fourth Horseman of the Mexican Apocalypse,” published in the crime anthology “Borderland Noir,” edited by Craig McDonald and published by Betimes Books. Then the band will dig into some border-themed music — originals, traditional songs and songs from writers such as Tom Russell and Bob Dylan.

“I’ve been obsessed with the Mexican Revolution for years,” Cornelius said. “It was an earth-shaking event. Most folks north of the border don’t know much about it; we recognize Pancho Villa and that’s about it. The Revolution was going on at the same time as World War I, and the impact is still being felt today. About a million Mexicans died and millions more were displaced. It caused the first big wave of Mexican migration into the United States.

“It’s just a wildly fascinating chunk of history. Talk about your game of thrones — every single major leader of the Revolution died violently. In this case, it wasn’t just you win or you die, it was you win AND you die.”

The Anvil Blasters’ music has always been scorched by the hot desert wind of the borderlands, and Jim, along with Lynn Woodward,  Mike Biggers and Jeff Wester will focus on that part of their repertoire — tales of outlaws, watchful black crows, good tequila and bad women, and compadres in the Sierra Madre — all flavored with some hot chili peppers in the blistering sun.

“We’re going to have a good time,” said Cornelius, “but it’s important to remember that the occasion we’re marking was a terrible one. The attack on Columbus was an act of terrorism that killed 18 American civilians and soldiers and sparked an invasion of Mexico. We’ll explore what that was all about — and who Pancho Villa really was, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Then we’ll turn the book store into a cantina and sing about it.” 
Columbus, New Mexico, on fire after the attack.

"Borderland Noir" will be available at the event and Jim will sign copies on request.

Paulina Springs Books is located at 252 W. Hood Ave. in Sisters. For more information call 541-549-0866 or contact Jim Cornelius at 541-390-6973.

To put you in the mood and entice you this terrific literary and musical event, a Borderland Noir tune from another of the book's contributors, Mr. Tom Russell (with the great Thad Beckman), also performed at an Oregon bookstore, as it happens:

Saturday, February 27, 2016


My most recent interview with the masterful Steven Powell (expert in all things James Ellroy) is now available HERE

Ernest Hemingway, James Sallis, Ken Bruen, James Crumley are discussed, among a host of other topics, including some deep contemplation of Ian Fleming and James Bond.

There's also an exclusive cover reveal of the last Hector Lassiter novel coming later this year, THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH.

In the meantime, here's a music video from Sara Evans that invokes that key and telling title phrase for the last Hector Lassiter novel, coming later this year from Betimes Books.