Wednesday, December 5, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING: BROKEN WINDOWS (P.I. Duke Rogers Series – Book 2)

I was tagged last Wednesday by my friend and fellow mystery-thriller-suspense author, Dave Zeltserman for this.

What is the working title of your next book?

Broken Windows. It's the second installment in the Duke Rogers series that started with White Heat.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My then-agent wanted me to do a sequel to White Heat. At that time it wasn't a series, I wanted to do something else. But she talked me into it.  As the first book, White Heat, was set in 1992 during the time of the Rodney King riots, I needed to set it around that time.  So it's set a couple years later when Proposition 187, which dealt with illegal immigration, was a big thing in California.  It seemed like a logical progression, as White Heat dealt with racial issues stemming from the Rodney King riots. That said, both novels are noir-thrillers, with some topical overtones.

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery-thriller. Noir.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If Nick Nolte were twenty years younger he'd be perfect for Jack.  For Marisol, Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayek.  And for Duke Jeremy Renner.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Investigating the murder of an undocumented Mexican worker, P.I. Duke Rogers finds himself sucked into the political turmoil of 1990s Los Angeles.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I don't like to outline, so my "outlines" are generally screenplays – I write the early draft/s in screenplay format for a variety of reasons, but one is that I can work faster that way.  I'd say the first drafts of the ms to work out the plot and characters took about two months and then I moved onto the prose drafts.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Some readers or critics have compared White Heat to Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block and Michael Connelly. Chandler and Hammett.  So I guess you could do that for Broken Windows too since it's in the same vein and continues Duke's and Jack's story.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

In the form of a mystery-thriller, White Heat, the first Duke Rogers book, explores racial tensions after the Rodney King trial verdict came in in 1992. I wanted the sequel to deal with another topical subject that could also stand in for today.  California's 1994 Proposition 187 and the "illegal alien" controversy seemed to fit the bill for another thriller that worked on more than simply that level and is certainly a hot topic now.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I like to deal with various issues in my writing.  In White Heat it was racial tensions, which are still evident today.  But sometimes it helps to look at things in the past to get perspective.  In Broken Windows it's the immigration issue.  And I hope, in both, that I tackle it from all sides.  Different characters have varying opinions on the various issues – meanwhile the roller coaster of the plot keeps moving forward.

And now the hand off to Elizabeth Barone, author of Sade on the Wall, Outlaw Love Story and others:

Look for her post next week and consider trying...her Next Big Thing!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mystery, Murder & Mayhem in Palmdale

I'll be speaking to the Palmdale City Library's Mystery Book Discussion Group tonight about my novel "White Heat."  It's at 7 p.m. at the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center, 38350 Sierra Highway, Palmdale, CA.  For more info, please call the Palmdale City Library at 661-267-5600. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bogie, Bacall, David Goodis & a Return to ‘Dark Passage’

277 copyDark Passage (1947) with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, screened on Los Angeles station KCET over Labor Day weekend and on Turner Classics on Wednesday of this week. The screenplay, by Delmer Daves (who also directed), is based on a novel by David Goodis. This is a movie that I like to see at least once a year, both for the story and the terrific San Francisco locations, some of which you can still see today.
Vincent Parry, an innocent man, is thrown into San Quentin for the murder of his wife. For a Goodis story it has what might be considered a happy ending. And I think, in this case, the movie improves on the book. It takes what's good about the novel and fleshes it out in ways that68741_n (1) copy work.
Historian and critic Geoffrey O'Brien said "[Goodis] wrote of winos and  barroom piano players and smalltime thieves in a vein of tortured lyricism all his own, whose very excesses seemed uniquely appropriate to the subject matter. As his titles announce—Street of the Lost, Street of No Return, The Wounded and the Slain, Down There—he was the poet of the losers…" *  
It is through the movie version of Dark Passage that I discovered Goodis many years ago. And he is now one of my favorite writers – truly the King of Noir. His stories often deal with people who were once riding high and who've fallen on hard times, to say the least.
Goodis did a stint as a Hollywood screenwriter, eventually leaving Hollywood to return to his native Philadelphia, where he led an "interesting" life to say the least.
dark_passage_1947 (1) If I had to pick a favorite Goodis novel it would be Down There, upon which Truffaut's movie Shoot the Piano Player is based. And I know what I'm going to say is heretical to some, but I like the book a lot more than the movie in a lot of ways and, in fact, I don't like the movie much at all, though it's still worth watching. That said, Dark Passage, both the book and the movie are definitely worth checking out.
*Hardboiled America, Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir; Geoffrey O'Brien; Da Capo Press

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Noir Music from The Clash


 Somebody got murdered,
His name cannot be found,
A small stain on the pavement,
They'll scrub it off the ground.


When they kick at your front door,
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head,
Or on the trigger of your gun.


London calling to the imitation zone,
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone,
London calling to the zombies of death,
Quit holding out, and draw another breath,
London calling, and I don’t wanna shout,
But while we were talking, I saw you nodding out,
London calling, see we ain’t got no high,
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes.

The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in,
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin,
A nuclear error, but I have no fear,
‘Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river.


Monday, July 23, 2012



La Crescenta Library

Join Paul, Sue Ann Jaffarian (author of the Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series and the Madison Rose Vampire Mystery series, and Michael Mallory (author of The Mural and the Amelia Watson Mystery series) for a panel/discussion on "Things That Go Bump in the Night".

La Crescenta Library
2809 Foothill Blvd.
La Crescenta, CA 91214

Monday, July 9, 2012

G.B. Pool’s Johnny Casino Enters with a Bang!

The Johnny Casino Casebook 1: Past Imperfect, Gayle Bartos-Pool, G.B. Pool Today I have a guest blogger, Gayle Bartos-Pool. Her new novel The Johnny Casino Casebook 1: Past Imperfect has just been released. A hot and hard mystery about a P.I. with a past.

A former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool has other published books, including Media Justice, and several short stories in anthologies, LAndmarked for Murder and Little Sisters Volume 1. The former Speakers Bureau Director for Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles, she is also a member of Mystery Writers of America. Her short story appears in the anthology, Dying in a Winter Wonderland, which was voted one of the Top Ten of Softcover Books as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA) of 2008.

Welcome Gayle:

Thanks so much for inviting me to join you on your blog, Paul.

I look forward to your Facebook notices of Noir movies coming on the movie channel. I’m addicted to them, too. Maybe that’s why the main character in my Johnny Casino series is a fan of the genre.

Johnny grew up in a Mob family in New Jersey, so to escape his life he watched old movies on a 13 inch black and white television. Even after he started working for his father, the consigliere for the D’Abruzzo crime family, he still watched those old Noir classics. He took his look from Tyrone Power in the movie Johnny Apollo. That actually isn’t all that odd. Real life gangster “Crazy Joe” Gallo was said to have dressed like George Raft in dark suits, black shirts and white ties because he thought the movie gangster looked cool. And they say movies don’t influence people.

I got that tidbit from the book, Five Families, a terrific read about “the rise and decline and resurgence of America’s most powerful Mafia Empires” by Selwyn Raab. It was a great primer in all things Mafioso. What I didn’t get from that book, I got from a guy whose father was in the Greek Mafia. This guy was a cop. I could see the conflict the former cop had because of his family ties. That was what I tried to put into Johnny Casino’s character.

As I delved into Johnny’s past, I wrote what turned out to be the second story in the first Johnny Casino Casebook. It’s called “The Family Business.” I learned a lot about Johnny from writing that story. It showed me where Johnny came from and why he wanted to get away from that early life.

Another problem came up while writing the first book. My agent wanted Johnny to have a girlfriend. That was another reason I wrote that second story. Johnny likes women, he just can’t trust them. This attitude is very much like the characters in those old Noir movies we love. I prefer either the femme fatal or the lady in distress in most of my stories with Johnny, but he did begin his private detective days working for a woman. And he admires this lady, she just loves somebody else. He did have an affair with a Mafia boss’s wife. Obviously, Johnny likes to live dangerously.

At the beginning of this first book, Johnny Casino states that he is a retired private detective with a past, he just hopes it doesn’t catch up with him. This opens the door for ghosts from his former lives to pop up, both his Mafia past and the time he was a P.I. the first time. I can do stories in flashback when I want to explain how Johnny got to be who he is and I can also have some of those earlier characters appear in the present after Johnny gets back in the detective business. Gayle Bartos-Pool, G.B. Pool

I basically write The Johnny Casino Casebook stories like a TV series. If you remember the old Magnum, P.I. TV show, they did flashbacks and brought in characters from his past every so often to give the viewer a full spectrum of his life. I do that with Johnny.

The first book in the series is subtitled Past Imperfect. Every story concerns someone with a skeleton or two in his or her closet. One story features a famous Hollywood star and a retired Broadway actress. This particular actress has a deadly secret in her closet and she is being blackmailed. The Hollywood actor wants Johnny to help out, but the actor has a few skeletons in his closet, too.

There is a story about politician with a playmate who has disappeared, and another case where Johnny is asked to return a dead body to the man responsible for the deed. Johnny even helps out the local sheriff whose wife has disappeared. This story takes him across the boarder into Mexico with a redhead you won’t soon forget.

Johnny explains how he met the woman who trained him as a detective in another story. You will see why he likes her so much. And the last story takes Johnny to Miami when his “wife” asks for money to keep her mouth shut. Only thing, Johnny doesn’t have a wife. This tale leaves Johnny with a question: Who the hell am I?

Books two and three are already written, so I know a lot about Johnny Casino. I drop in movie references frequently and Johnny works for various movie stars from time to time. I do change their names, but you might guess who they are. I like these actors too much to associate dead bodies and shenanigans with a real person. It was fun taking their actual time frame and creating a different character around it. I use places where they really lived in some cases and even some of the movies they made, I just changed the titles slightly to keep this fiction. A few come back for guest appearances in other stories later in the series.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I hope you enjoy The Johnny Casino Casebook – Past Imperfect. You can find the book on Amazon or link to it through my website:

Thank you, Gayle.   Good luck with the first Johnny Casino and I look forward to the next one!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Free e-Book and a Guest Blog

Born Under a Bad Sign short story FREE today, tomorrow and Sunday (July 6-8) on Amazon for Kindle.

Sometimes life is a like a David Goodis novel, Kit thought. And sometimes it's like a down and dirty blues rag. He used to listen to the blues. Now he knew what it was to live them.

I'm also guest blogging on Lois Winston's Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers today. The subject is: Did Ya Hear The One About The Two Navy Seals? – A Different Take On Dialogue.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

La Crescenta Library Event – July 2012

Ashley Ream & Paul D. Marks
Join Paul, Sue Ann Jaffarian (author of the Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series and the Madison Rose Vampire Mystery series, and Michael Mallory (author of The Mural and the Amelia Watson Mystery series) for a panel/discussion on "Things That Go Bump in the Night".

When:  Saturday, July 28, 2012, 2:00 PM

Where: La Crescenta Library
            2809 Foothill Blvd.
            La Crescenta, CA, 91214

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RJ Parker: TRIPLE PROMOTION - May 23-24

Check out RJ Parker's blog for details on a special promotion for WHITE HEAT, Bernard DeLeo's HARD CASE and RJ's book UNSOLVED SERIAL KILLINGS.

RJ Parker: TRIPLE PROMOTION - May 23-24: On May 23 and 24,  Unsolved Serial Killings  will be FREE. This book is currently #5 in Criminals in the Top 100 and it's only the second time I've put this book up for free in the Kindle Store.

Also on those two days, my good friend and author, Paul Marks will have his *New Release* White Heat FREE in the Kindle Store. If you haven't read this book, it is quite the read. Here is my Review of White Heat

Another good friend, mechanic, author and I think CIA operative but I'm not sure LOL Bernard DeLeo just released a new book through RJ Parker Publishing called HARD CASE this book will knock your socks off. It's packed with action and DeLeo's usual dash of humor and bantering.

Here's the deal ... When you purchase *HARD CASE* on May 23 or May 24, email the Amazon receipt to RJ Parker's Email and he will GIFT you a FREE digital book from the Kindle Store that you choose by either of the following authors:

Paul D. Marks
Bernard Lee DeLeo
William Cook
RJ Parker

Please share this blog with your friends and on Facebook, thanks so much... RJ

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I was at the Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles booth at the L.A. Times Book Festival at USC over the weekend, selling my new novel WHITE HEAT, as well as several anthologies in which stories of mine appear.  I've been going for several years, though this is the first time I've had a novel that was all me to sell.  So that was exciting.

And it's always nice to socialize with both the public and my fellow Sisters…and Brothers in Crime.  To see people I haven't seen for awhile and meet new fellow crimesters.

But the main objects are to increase the visibility of Sisters in Crime and, of course, to try to sell books.  So why would I try to talk someone out of buying my new novel that I want as much attention and word of mouth as possible for?

Early in my time at the booth a woman came by and talked to me about the various anthologies and the novel.  We had a nice conversation about the books and other things.  And she seemed interested, but ultimately didn't buy anything.  I didn't think anymore of it.

But awhile later she returned with a young man in tow.  He looked to be about fifteen and it appeared from their conversation that she wanted to buy the novel for him.  I was happy that she'd returned and wanted to buy a book.

However, since the book was clearly for her son I felt like I had to say something about the content.

To give you an idea of what the book is about here's the blurb for it: WHITE HEAT is a mystery-thriller that takes place during the 1992 "Rodney King" riots in Los Angeles.  P.I. Duke Rogers finds himself in a racially charged situation.  The case might have to wait....  The immediate problem: getting out of South Central Los Angeles in one piece – during the 1992 L.A. riots  – and that's just the beginning of his problems.  And while he tries to track down the killer he must also deal with the racism of his partner, Jack, and from the dead woman's brother, Warren.  He must also confront his own possible latent racism – even as he's in an interracial relationship with the murder victim's sister.

On the surface the story is a mystery-thriller.  But it also deals with the harsh realities of race and racism.  And in doing so some of the characters use extremely offensive language, from the F word to various racial epithets.  Reviewer M2 says this of White Heat: "'White Heat' is a tough, tersely-written book featuring tough, complicated, and not always lovable characters who might push many readers to the very edge of their comfort zone. But it's honest and it's real, and it doesn't pander to its audience by providing pat or phony answers to the many complex issues it raises."

And while I want as many readers as possible and want people to enjoy the novel on both the plot and deeper levels, I felt I had to warn the young man's mother about the various intense aspects of the book. The choice was hers and she ultimately chose not to buy it and I lost a sale.

I don't believe in censorship of any kind, but this was, in a sense, self-censorship.  When it came to someone as young as this kid I felt it was my obligation to tell his mother and let her or them make up their minds.  I'm not sorry I told them and maybe someday he will read it.

What would you have done?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC

I'll be signing my new novel WHITE HEAT at the Times Book Fest on Sunday April 22, 2012 at the Sisters in Crime booth.  From 2-4pm.  Hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


2641415853_325ea48e8e As writers should we be concerned about the dumbing down of society? Do we even believe this is occurring?
Some time ago, I had been driving in the car with a friend of mine who was a development exec at one of the studios. Somehow we got onto a discussion of whether or not rendezvous is spelled with a Z ? Try as I might, I could not convince her that there was a Z in that word, until we finally got to my place and I could prove it to her with a dictionary. Of course, this was in ye olden days before iPads and smart phones.
Another time I was in a meeting with a story editor. The question came up, what's the difference between East and West Germany, this when there still was an East and West Germany. She had been reading a script and wasn't sure. So I had to tell her, yet with or without my little history lesson she was going to pass judgment on another writer's screenplay.
x6531 A similar thing occurred when another production executive asked me whose side we had been on, the North or South Vietnamese. Another wanted to know who fought on which sides in World War II – things anyone with a high school education should know. All these people had degrees from good colleges. And I could mention so many more similar incidents.
When I was working for a nationally syndicated entertainment radio show the producer/host called another writer and myself into the office and dressed us down for using too many "big" and multisyllabic words. We were trying to raise people up instead of lowering them down and instead we were dressed down. Actually, we weren't even trying to do that. We were just writing the way we thought and we didn't think we were using such big words that people wouldn't know them.
Eventually, I ended up going to pitch meetings or other meetings and dumbing down everything I had to say. After all, I didn't want to insult the hand that was feeding me.
In a different arena, my wife and I have been in our current house eight years now. But one of the significant things I remember when we were looking at houses was how many had few to no books in them. And eight years ago the whole country wasn't wired as it is today. There weren't e-books and iPads on which to store your thousand book library out of sight. And before that, in the mid-90s, when we were looking for our previous house, it was the same. No books in sight.   
I thought this odd at the time. Now I think it's scary. True, people have the internet today for instant reference. But there's something to be said for having a store of basic and shared knowledge in your head that you can recall in an instant, instead of having to look it up here or there. Granted, we cannot know everything about everything, but there should be a rudimentary cultural base that the vast majority of society is tuned into. And why not use bigger words sometimes? I remember sitting and reading books with a dictionary at my side, writing lists of words and looking them up. That's how you learn, how you expand your vocabulary – your knowledge base. So why dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator? Is that really the society we want to live in? dictionary
As writers, I would think we'd want a literate customer base of people who will more often than not get our literary and other allusions, our historical references, etc. I think we should challenge people, both our readers and our editors, producers, etc., to uplift rather than pander to the lowest common denominator. And not succumb to the dictates of those who want everything dumbed down.
And yes, Virginia, there is, indeed, a Z in rendezvous –- look it up.