Friday, January 18, 2019

Ten-Seven Launches Monday

That’s right, Ten-Seven drops on Monday so this weekend is your last chance to pre-order it before the great unwashed masses who actually wait for books to become generally available get their grubby paws on it. (Editor’s Note: The author loves his great unwashed grubby-pawed readers as much as any others. This description is a shameless ploy to generate hype among those susceptible to it.) (Editor’s Note to the Editor’s Note: To those who are susceptible to the arbitrary generation of hype, please be advised the author meant no disrespect. He loves and admires your boundless enthusiasm.)

Where was I before I was so rudely interrupted? Right. Ten-Seven. As this is the final weekend before launch, I’m making this one time only offer: anyone who buys a copy of Ten-Seven this weekend—before the launch—is entitled to one free signature of mine in the book you purchased. You may, and are encouraged to, buy more than one book and I will provide one signature per book purchased. This offer has no restrictions. Anyplace you find me, at any time, present your copy of the book or books and I will sign it or them to the specifications you request. (Editor’s Note: He’ll do that for any book, not just the pre-ordered copies. I don’t know why he insists on being so melodramatic.)

So far all you’ve had is my word for it that you might want to give Ten-Seven a try. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust me, either. That’s why this time I’m including what these three big-time authors had to say:

"Consistently one of the best in the business. As good as any I've ever read. Dana King, to quote Don Kirkendall of Men Reading Books, is 'top-shelf entertainment.' Ten-Seven keeps that ball rolling." --Charlie Stella

"Dana King's latest novel Ten-Seven returns his readers to Penns River in a propulsive mystery thriller that showcases his ear for dialogue, penchant for wry humor, and mastery of the police procedural, all while his finger is firmly on the pulse of America's Rust Belt. Ten-Seven is the perfect novel for fans of Elmore Leonard and Tana French and will leave his readers hungrily awaiting the next installment." --Eryk Pruitt, Anthony Award-nominated author of What We Reckon

"Ten-Seven is a prime example of the kind of small-town procedural that tells you as much about the town and its denizens as it does the crime at hand. The The Ice Harvest and The Walkaway
kind of solid plotting and characterizations I love in another favorite Pennsylvania crime writer, the great KC Constantine." --Scott Phillips, author of

Now that you’re slavering at the bit, it’s only fair to tell you where to go to get a copy (or copies) of your very own.
Amazon — Trade Paperback | eBook 
Amazon UK — 
Trade Paperback | eBook 
Barnes & Noble — 
Trade Paperback | eBook 
IndieBound — 
Trade Paperback 
iTunes — 
Kobo — 
Play — 

I know this past week has been pretty intense. I promise to go back to more standard programming you can safely ignore in a little while.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Ten-Seven Launches Next Week

I try to stay from the hard sell, especially in this blog. My philosophy is that I want people to get to know me and my writing a little and they can decide to buy the book or not. Most muster the courage to read this free blog and skip paying for a book and that’s okay. No one has time to read everything. Even I can’t keep up with all the books I want to read. Hell, I can’t even keep up with all the books I want to read that are written by personal friends. So I’m not going to fault anyone for reading the blog and not buying the book, though I obviously wish you would. (Editor’s Note: Calling bullshit. Good taste forbids me from repeating what he says about those skinflint anti-intellectual MAGA-heads who read the blog for free and don’t buy any books. That’s him, though. He’s like that. I try and I try…)

That said, Ten-Seven drops one week from today, so the next week or so are going to be dedicated to flogging the book. I’ll try to do it in the most polite and non-intrusive way I can, but this is my Fortnight of Blatant Self-Promotion (FBSP to those in the know) and I need to grab what attention I can.

Here’s the tease for Ten-Seven:
Vicki Leydig thought she was going to have a few drinks with her friend Mary and maybe get to spend a little time with Doug Strinweiss at the Allegheny Casino. She didn’t expect Doug to offer her a ride home, and she sure didn’t expect to watch a stranger blow Doug’s head off in the parking lot. Penns River police don’t have much to go on until Detective Ben “Doc” Dougherty interviews casino employees and learns of drug deals going down in and around the property. Leads show promise and fall apart with depressing frequency until the local prosecutor turns a minor charge into a statement that leads Doc and the rest of the police force to a surprising conclusion, though not before tragedy strikes one of their own.

This isn’t the only thing Penns River has on its plate. A consent decree signed with the federal government has brought three new female officers to the force, and Deputy Chief Jack Harriger continues his push to take over the top job from Stush Napierkowski. Doc learns his young friend Wilver Faison may be a key player in the local drug trade and one Penns River cop has a secret he’d just as soon keep to himself.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh mob boss Mike Mannarino faces increasing pressure from his bosses in New York, so much so he’s thinking of reaching out to Chicago for protection. What the rest of his crew has to decide is whether Chicago is the only other organization Mike might make an arrangement with.

It’s another week in the town of Penns River, with distractions that range from petty vandalism to a bridge jumper keeping the cops’ full attention away from the critical task at hand.

I also teased a couple of excerpts in previous blog posts.
In Chapter 20 Doc interviews casino employees in the hope someone saw something he can use.

In Chapter 6 a lawyer shows up at the station to represent the prime suspect.

Piqued your interest? You can pre-order Ten-Seven from Down & Out Books; it’s also available at these fine retailers.

• Amazon — Trade Paperback | eBook 
• Amazon UK — 
Trade Paperback | eBook 
• Barnes & Noble — 
Trade Paperback | eBook 
• IndieBound — 
Trade Paperback 
• iTunes — 
• Kobo — 
• Play — 

This fine piece of American entertainment is available in both trade paperback and e-book formats.

Not to get all Bartles and Jaymes about it, but thank you for your support.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ray Donovan Season 5

What the actual fuck happened to this show?

Seasons 1 and 2 were brilliant. I’d been aware of Liev Schreiber but his portrayal of Ray was a revelation. The relationships between the brothers and Mickey (Jon Voight) and Mickey’s criminal past threw off endless subplots that complemented the main stories, which were themselves artfully constructed examples of Ray using one client’s problem to solve another’s with everyone coming out ahead. (At least as far as Ray’s clients were concerned. Everyone else was on their own.) Watching Ray’s relationship with Ezra (Elliott Gould) as Mickey came back into the picture was engrossing.

Then Ann Biderman left the show, replaced by David Hollander.

(Editor’s Note: Spoilers don’t just abound from here on out. That’s pretty much all that follows. Consider it a warning or a public service message. Your choice.)

Things didn’t collapse in Seasons 3 and 4. They eroded into Season 5, which is a hot mess of what Ray Donovan might look like if it were a Lifetime movie that decided to re-imagine The French Lieutenant’s Woman over a span of twelve weeks instead of two hours. (And two hours of that was more than enough.)

Most of the first two-thirds of Seasons 5 teases about how Ray’s wife Abby (Paula Malcomson) died. First it appears she recovered from cancer, then symptoms pop up at unexpected time just as she and Ray are reconnecting. We see this through a series of lengthy flashbacks that serve the dual purpose of not only killing the story’s momentum, but confusing time frames and references beyond all recognition. The “Previously on Ray Donovan” teases last several minutes in a valiant effort to refresh your memory on what happened several weeks ago, when last this subplot appeared.

Characters doing things that weren’t really in character if the writers needed something to move the plot has always hampered the Hollander era. Season 5 uses this weakness as a foundation. Both Terry (Ray Marsan) and Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) tell people things that can serve no earthly good except to create conflict. Bunchy (Dash Mihok) does things so stupid he barely qualifies as a sentient being. Given any choice, he inevitably makes the one calculated to do the most damage.

Two weak spots really tore the season apart. Bunchy, distraught because the diaper bag he was carrying $1.2 million in was stolen in a robbery he just happened to wander into (I swear to God I did not make that up), arrives drunk to pick up baby Maria from day care, so Mickey has to do it. Bunchy gets arrested and Mickey gets sidetracked, so no one picks up Maria the next day. We see the say care provider making a phone call, but no one answers.

And that’s the end of it. After having made a point of showing this predicament, the writers drop it. We don’t see the baby again for at least four episodes, when mother Teresa (Alyssa Diaz) is seen holding her after returning from several weeks on the road with a professional wrestling troupe. (ISTGIDNMTU, either.) Since Ray gets a call when anyone else gets a hangnail, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t on the emergency list, except that it would have been inconvenient for the writers if Ray found out what Bunchy and Mickey were up to just then. Another subplot that suggests itself would be for the day care center to call Child Protective Services, but that never happens, either. The kid just disappears.

Where the show jumps the shahk (as Ray would say), is in what we discover Ray did to get Abby into a surgical trial she was originally denied. He:
  1. Gets Lena (Katherine Moenning, woefully underused) to find out everything there is to know about the three people who got the spots Abby didn’t. This takes Lena what appears to be no more than a couple of hours, never mind medical privacy and computer security systems. She’s good, but the only person in the world who’s that good is the goofy chick on NCIS.
  2. While Lena does this, Ray hooks up with Avi (Steven Bauer) who sets him up with a Mossad agent working deep undercover in New York who just happens to be able to provide
  3. A vial of meningitis bacteria that Ray has to take by force because Avi got arrested for heroin possession 38 seconds after getting off the plane in New York
  4. After which Ray sneaks into a hospital wearing a bloody shirt and multiple lacerations and contusions (I’d call them cuts and bruises but we’re in a hospital) to
  5. Inject the meningitis into the IV of the kid Ray wants to knock out of the trial, assuming Abby is the first alternate.

Had enough? As they say in commercials, “But wait! There’s more!

After learning Bridget has fallen in love with the kid he aced out of the trial and learning she hates him and does something so dumb (and unlikely) I’m not even going to waste time on it here (except for when she’s in jail and needs Ray to get her out), Ray finds a conscience and
  1. Arranges with the Hollywood mogul he’s working for to force the doctor Bridget pulled a gun on to do the operation anyway (See? I don’t you it wasn’t worth going into)
  2. In a special secret operating theater stuffed into a strip mall in New York City, because this is entirely out of protocol for the trial and people will go to jail if word gets out (how a Hollywood mogul has the juice to do this is just assumed)
  3. Where the operation goes well. The doctor releases the kid to Terry and Bridget for a few days of home care—and here’s a list of the meds he’ll need, no prescriptions—after brain surgery.

Rest assured that’s only about half of the glaring plot holes and confusions in Season 5, but I already had to sit through it once. I’m done here.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Favorite Reads 2018

A couple of life disruptions put a dent in my reading this year, so my books read are down 15 – 20%. That doesn’t mean I had a bad reading year. Here are the gems, in the order in which I read them. (Books marked with * are re-reads.)

The Given Day*, Dennis Lehane. Still Lehane’s magnum opus in my eyes. I track my reads in a spreadsheet and my note for this book reads, “Maybe the best book I’ve ever read.”

All the Pieces Matter, Jonathan Abrams. An oral history of The Wire, and it lives up to its subject matter. I have no higher praise.

The Choirboys*, Joseph Wambaugh. Spreadsheet note reads: “No offense to The Given Day, but this is the best book I’ve ever read.” (Editor’s Note: I’m due to read The Onion Field again one day, so even this is subject to revision.)

Beast of Burden, Ray Banks. The last of the Cal Innes novels and I’ve never read a better series finale.

Playing Through the Whistle, S.L. Price. A brilliant look at the fall of Aliquippa PA since the departure of the steel industry as seen through the prism of the high school football team. Price isn’t from the Pittsburgh area, but he understands it as few others do.

Swann’s Last Song, Charles Salzberg. This book grew on me. I liked it as I read it, and the affection grew in the week or so after I finished it. Get the Down & Out Books edition with the original ending in an afterword. You’ll see why the author preferred it and also why the original publisher had him change it.

Absolution, Caro Ramsey. The first of her books I’ve read and a real treat. Wonderful and wholly unexpected plot twist and the procedural aspects and dialog are first-rate.

Bye, Bye, Baby, Allan Guthrie. Guthrie is one of the authors I created my list of authors who must be read periodically so the vicissitudes of life don’t allow them to fall through the cracks, and this book shows why he has a spot on that list.

Sick Puppy*, Carl Hiaasen. The first Hiaasen I read, back at least 15 years, and still a gem.

The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis. A brilliant look at two Israelis who formed an unlikely friendship and changed the way we think about how we think.

101, Tom Pitts. No one holds multiple yet connected plot threads together better than Pitts. No one. Everything makes sense, too, another quality not to be overlooked.

The Backlist, Frank Zafiro and Eric Beetner. This had been lingering on my shelf and I picked it up as part of a “clearing out the backlist of books I have lying on the shelf.” It’s books like this that make me keep such lists, as my world would have been a lesser place had this fallen through the cracks.

Plaster City, Johnny Shaw. My second Jimmy Veeder fiasco and just as good as the first. Shaw is a master at providing laugh out loud humor in violent novels without diminishing either.

Where the Bullets Fly, Terrence McCauley. Prohibition-era noir? Check. Modern techno-thrillers? Check. A World War I story? Check. Now a first-rate Western. Shows what a nice guy he is that I don’t hate him with the power of a million suns. Fucking guy can write whatever he sets his mind to.

The Hook, Donald Westlake. Speaking of people who can write whatever they set their minds to (and no offense to Mr. McCauley), Westlake was the gold standard. Spent 80% of this book wondering where he was going it and the reminder wondering how he was going to pull it off until the very last page.

Charlie 316, Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro. Scored an ARC and liked it so much I’m giving all of you a heads up. It doesn’t come out untuikl June but you’re going to want to read it. Mixes law enforcement, politics, and media as well as anything I’ve read since The Wire.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Movies Since Last Time

L.A. Confidential (1997). Yes, Mike Dennis. Again. When things need put right in the world and I don’t mind if a few rules get bent, this is my go-to movie.

The Post (2017). There’s enough material here for two really good movies. Unfortunately, this is neither. It’s not bad, but the story of Katherine Graham’s decision to fully take the reins of the Washington Post deserves a film of its own, as does how the New York Times and the Post broke the Pentagon Papers story. Putting both together only broke
up each story’s momentum as it was getting going. Meryl Streep was brilliant, as always, and the supporting cast was solid, led by Bob Odenkirk. Tom Hanks—who I usually love—stepped all over his role as Ben Bradlee, never quite deciding whether to use an accent, or which to use. He started out in a hole—I’m sure even people who knew Bradlee remember him as looking like Jason Robards if they saw All the President’s Men—so Hanks would have been better off plying it straight. (Speaking of All the President’s Men, OBAAT wishes calm seas to the late William Goldman, who may have been the greatest screenwriter ever.)

Hickok (2017). Jesus Christ is this a bad movie. I don’t mind historical inaccuracy—I revere
Deadwood—but, damn, make it entertaining and at least have it fit in with the history of you’re going to use its façade. Luke Hemsworth plays the shortest Wild Bill Hickok in history. (Think Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher except Cruise actually pulled it off.) The dialog is shitty, the action timing is off, and the continuity is inconsistent. (Hickok’s badge disappears and re-appears as he walks across the street. Another character’s wound magically moves from leg to leg.) This film’s primary virtue is its brevity, coming in at 88 minutes.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) The Coen Brothers meet Netflix, which means no studio interference. This sequence of six vignettes—essentially a collection of short stories—sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t, on multiple levels. Dead End Follies does a much better job than I have space (or talent) for here, but suffice to say the little stories told herein are the kind that will stay with you. It’s a film that has made more of an impression on me than I thought while watching it, and isn’t that what a truly outstanding movie (or book) should do?

The Ice Harvest (2005) Too often overlooked when crime fiction aficionados discuss Christmas movies, this adaption by Harold Ramis (director), Richard Russo, and Robert Benton (screenwriters) of Scott Phillips’s novel hits every note while maintaining perfect balance. John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton play affluent losers who rip off mob boss Randy Quaid. Dark humor abounds and the plot twists are more like elisions so everything remains believable throughout.  

Elf (2003) Relatively recent but still a holiday classic. Will Ferrell plays a mix of sweet and naïve without being stupid, James Caan is just hard enough that you can believe his transformation at the end, and Zoey Deschanel is (as The Beloved Spouse™ puts it) as cute as she wants to be. Made for kids but a good choice for an hour and a half where you can just turn off the stress and be entertained. The special features on the making of the film are first rate, too.

Big Trouble (2002) This movie flew under the radar and lost a fortune, probably because of the timing of its release. (Originally scheduled to come out right after 9/11, pushed back into early 2002 because of terrorist plot overtones.) Based on Dave Barry’s novel, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty, Men in Black) and featuring a top-rate cast that includes Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Dennis Farina, Tom Sizemore, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Foster, and Zoey Deschanel (among other recognizable faces). The Beloved Spouse™ and I discovered this as one the added trailers in the special features of The Ice Harvest. Laugh out loud funny throughout.

Die Hard (1988) Because, Christmas, man.

Mississippi Burning (1988) Not as compelling as when I first saw it in a theater, but maybe
that’s because I’m hip to a lot of things I didn’t know then. This is the kind of film we all need to watch periodically, as it makes its point with a minimum of preachiness, letting the conditions tell you everything you need to know. Interesting point: The “interviews” with locals used actual people from the area and were largely ad-libbed. This cause director Alan Parker some discomfort, as he was never sure when they were “in character” or telling him what they actually thought. This was in 1988. They’re out there, folks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

An Excerpt From Ten-Seven Now Available for Pre-Order. Release Date January 21.

Happy Boxing Day. As part of the Christmas spirit (and because I don’t feel like being overly creative as I type this), I have a gift for you: a sample chapter pulled directly  from Ten-Seven, which releases January 21 from Down & Out Books.

Doc called the examiner in Pittsburgh on his way back to the interview room when the PA speaker told him of a visitor at the same time Stush asked for a minute. He asked Shimp to wait with Virdon. “You’ve taken polygraphs. Everyone thinks they’re no big deal until they’re strapped into the machine. Let him know what to expect. Bullshit around, see what his interests are. Come up with a couple distracters the examiner can use. If he lets something slip, fine, but we’re not trying to break him. That’s what the test is for.”
Shimp nodded, went on her way. Doc noted she never needed to be told anything twice, entered Stush’s office.
Stush cut right to it. “Stirnweiss died about fifteen minutes ago. The hospital called while you were scheduling the examiner.”
“He ever wake up? Make any kind of statement?”
Stush shook his head. “Doctor said he didn’t know why he wasn’t dead when they brought him in. What they told you before, about how if he made it through another night he had a chance? They couldn’t believe he made it through last night. Figured if he lasted one more, he might be immortal.”
“I’ll call for the autopsy.”
“Already done. You were busy, I had the phone in my hand, so I called Pittsburgh.” Penns River in Neshannock County—pretty much was Neshannock County—had no medical examiner of its own. Farmed the work out to Allegheny. “They’ll pick him up, said they might even get to him this afternoon.”
“Slow day?”
“Must be. When’s the examiner due?”
“Probably an hour, hour and a half.”
“What’s up with your suspect?”
“I sent Shimp in to relax him, tell him what to expect. I don’t want anyone coming back later saying he blew the machine because he was nervous.”
Out of Stush’s office, down the hall, through the locked door to the waiting room. Doc’s visitor a fireplug of a man starting down the road to fluffy. A double chin covered most of the knot in his tie. Doc identified himself, asked what he could do. The man handed him a business card, said, “I’m here to see Robert Virdon.”
“And you…Mr. Crenshaw, are?”
“I’m Mr. Virdon’s counsel.”
“He didn’t say anything about a lawyer. I’m not arguing—he’s certainly entitled to one—I’m wondering why he didn’t say anything before.”
“Can I see him?”
“Sure. Wait here while I find a place you can talk. He’s in an interview room now, with a two-way mirror. We’ll put you someplace more private.”
“You don’t have a room for client consultations?”
“We do, but I don’t know if anyone’s using it.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Uh-uh. You have a right to a confidential meeting with your client, not to roam our halls. I won’t be a minute.”
Doc found the small consultation room unoccupied, put up the “In Use” sign. Walked into the interview room where Shimp and Virdon talked about decks. “Mr. Virdon, your lawyer’s here. I found a room where you can speak privately.”
“Huh? I don’t have a lawyer.”
“You didn’t call a…Alvin Crenshaw?” Doc as confused as Virdon seemed to be.
“How could I call him? I been here with you all morning.”
“You didn’t call him before you came in?”
“No. I didn’t figure I needed one.”
“You want to talk to him?”
“Uh-uh. He sounds like some kind of ambulance chaser. See what he wants.”
In the visitor’s area, Doc said to Crenshaw, “Mr. Virdon says he never heard of you. Who retained you?”
“That’s between Mr. Virdon and myself.”
“Well, Mr. Virdon doesn’t want anything to do with you until he knows who you are. He sent me back to find out.”
“Are you denying me access to my client?”
“No, sir, I am not. All I’m trying to do is find out if you have a client in the building. Mr. Virdon says no.”
“This can be easily settled, Detective. Let me explain to him why I’m here, and he’ll know I’m legitimate.”
Doc wondered if these things ever happened to Lennie Briscoe or Andy Sipowicz. “Counselor, I’m good with that but for one thing: if he didn’t ask for you, doesn’t want you, I don’t know if there are legal ramifications for any potential prosecution down the road. I can go next door and get the city solicitor to give me an opinion. That might take a while. He’s been known to research things to within an inch of their lives.” Doc sensed a Constitution citing about to spring forth, said, “Give me some little thing to tell him that’ll set his mind at ease. I mean, it’s not like we won’t know who hired you sooner or later.”
Crenshaw glowered as if debating the likelihood he’d get to argue the matter before the Supreme Court. “Tell him his mother hired me. Alice Virdon.”
“Why didn’t you say so in the first place? I’ll be right back.”
Through the locked door, down the hall, into the interview room. “Is your mother’s name Alice, Mr. Virdon?”
“Yeah. So?”
“This lawyer—Crenshaw—says he was hired by your mother. Alice Virdon.”
“How’d she know I was here?”
“You didn’t tell her?”
“I told you I came over soon as I heard you were looking for me. I didn’t call anybody.”
“Well, he’s here and she appears to have paid for him. You want to talk to him, I’ll take you right over.”
“I wouldn’t talk to Patty Hewes if my mother paid for her.”
Doc damn sure Vic Mackey never put up with this kind of shit. “Who’s Patty Hewes?”
“On that show? Damages? The actress with the man’s name plays her?”
Doc watched network television about as often as PNC Park allowed dogs to watch Pirate games. Looked to Shimp for help. “Glenn Close.”
Deep breath. “So you’re saying you don’t want your mother’s help.”
“That’s right. I didn’t shoot this guy at the casino last night, but if anyone ever shoots that bitch, I’m the one to look for.”
Out of the interview room, down the hall, through the locked door. “He doesn’t want to see you.”
Crenshaw failed to hide his amazement and disdain. “You told him his mother sent me?”
“Yes, sir. I told him. Do you know who Patty Hewes is?”
“Glenn Close, on Damages. So?”
“She any good as a lawyer?”
“Yes. So?”
“Then you’re in good company. Virdon says he wouldn’t talk to her, either. Not if his mother sent her.” The polygraph examiner came through the main entry door. Doc held up a finger for him to wait. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”
Crenshaw so mad his wattle trembled. “You can’t prevent me from seeing my client! He has rights!”
Doc’s voice icy calm. “That’s correct. He has the right to an attorney. You, however, do not have a right to a client. I know you’ve been on the clock since you got up from your desk to come over here. My advice is to explain the situation to Mrs. Virdon and move on.” Turned toward the examiner, came back. “I’ll call her later and will damn sure take it to the solicitor if I hear you tried to run up a bill on her. We’re done here.”

Ten-Seven is available for pre-order now from Down & Out Books, who will cut you a deal while they’re at it—that’s the kind of folks they are. It’s the Holiday Season®, after all.

Friday, December 21, 2018

We're Mad as Hell and We're Not Going to Take it Anymore (Or Something)

Lot of outrage going around for the holiday season. I’ve been pretty good at staying out of it for the most part, but I don’t maintain a blog so I can keep my opinions to myself.

The biggest recent furor focuses on the Mystery Writers of America naming Linda Fairstein a Grand Master. Then un-naming her. (Or un-mastering her. Whatever.) I pretty much kept my head down over the whole Central Park Five ruckus, mainly because I found a more fundamental reason she should not have received the award: I never heard of her before that day. Not that I should be the official arbiter of who’s a Grand Master, but I am pretty well engaged in crime fiction writing; I’ve heard of a lot of people. When my first thought is, “Who the fuck is Linda Fairstein?” and half a dozen more deserving names pop into my head, that’s a tell.

I’m not going re-litigate the whole Central Park Five thing. Fairstein was the prosecutor, the people she (wrongly) convicted got a $41 million settlement, she’s expressed no remorse, maybe she is prohibited from expressing remorse by the terms of the settlement, maybe she should then have just shut the fuck up and not defended her dubious record there, MWA should have known this about her, why would MWA look if they felt her body of work was deserving, should non-writing actions be disqualifying factors in award giving out…it’s a long list and both sides have been argued to death.

I’ve taken no pro-MWA or anti-MWA position because my interest pretty much died with the “Who the fuck is Linda Fairstein?” question. What she did interests me less in this context than what she didn’t do, which was to earn the award. What has struck me over the past few weeks is this: the vast majority of people arguing either side have been assholes about it.

Those who don’t think the MWA should have revoked the award have called the board everything but pussies for rolling over for a vocal minority, not knowing whether the protest comes from a minority or not. Those who had protested Fairstein’s award then turned on this group with the attitude that anyone who sees any nuance here at all are at best racist apologists who can go fuck themselves. It’s like watching a bunch of permanently adolescent gamers argue about whatever it is gamers argue about. (I have no idea what gamers argue about and I don’t want to know, I just know they do, and they are generally permanently adolescent, especially if they’re arguing about gamer shit.)

Here’s some advice that will serve both sides well: shut the fuck up. There is nuance to everything. Nothing is exactly and completely as it appears on the surface. Did MWA fuck up? Maybe. In my eyes, probably. Did they fuck up again when they revoked the award? Maybe. Saying they should have stuck their guns, right or wrong, is hardly taking an objective look at the situation. Nor is demeaning those who disagree with you because the purity of their progressiveness is insufficient. I’m learning a lot more about the antagonists on both sides than I am about Linda Fairstein and MWA, and very little of it is good.

Todd Robinson posted a video on Facebook the other day talking about the fiction of a writers’ community and how the writers at most conferences fall into two categories: those who will cut your throat to get your little niche of success and those who will cut your throat to protect their little niche. I have as much respect for Todd as I do for anyone in the business, but that hasn’t been my experience. I go to Bouchercon and Creatures, Crimes, Creativity mostly to hang with my tribe (to borrow Reed Farrel Coleman’s term), people who know what it’s like to spend so much time in a room alone and hope some acclaim will come two years down the road. (Maybe a few shekels, too.) I learn about my craft and spend time with people I genuinely look forward to seeing.

Maybe my situation is different because I pretty well dismissed the notion of writing for a living quite a while ago. I’m as close to following Todd’s prescription of why one should write (“to tell your stories”) as anyone, so the potentially vicious networking he refers to passes right by me and my too small to bother with footprint. Yay me. What I do see, though, is that there are people in the industry—I’m not crazy about the term “community,” either, for reasons of my own—who are more interested in telling you why you’re a piece of shit for disagreeing with them than in talking to you about it, and this is on both sides of any argument. There are a couple of writers I don’t read much anymore because they were so virulent and dismissive of legitimate but contrary positions, and a few people I’d probably prefer to spend less time with the next time I see them.

So it goes. It just seems to me that people who spend their lives writing stories to share points of view as a way of broadening their readers’ horizons might want think about the narrowness of their own.