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.