Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy

Posted in Uncategorized on August 24, 2016 by C. J. Edwards

Mr. MercedesRight around my mid-twenties I became an avid reader of Stephen King. I enjoyed many of his short stories and his novels that didn’t quite fall into the full blown horror genre. Creepy was okay, but I’ve never been a big fan of full throttle horror tales. So The Stand, The Gunslinger series, and The Green Mile are examples of the King books that I really enjoyed during that period of my life.

Then for some reason I sort of lost interest in King’s work. The last book I remember reading of his was Wolves of the Calla followed by an abortive attempt at Under the Dome. At that point his Gunslinger had really started to drag for me. I think I purchased the next book but never started it. The sheer size of Under the Dome ended up discouraging me. Work, kids, and the fact that I had started to attempt to write my own stories seriously made finishing the mega-novel impossible.

A couple months ago, several years after my last attempt at a King novel, I was talking with a co-worker and fellow detective who told me about this really good book that I just had to read. This book ended up being Mr. Mercedes. When she told me it was by Stephen King, I remember a skeptical grimace crossed my face. My co-worker saw this and reassured me I needed to try it. “It’s about a serial killer,” she said. Another wince. I’ve never been a big fan of serial killer novels. But she went on to tell me that the main character was a retired cop and kept on about how good it was. So I went for it and grabbed a copy of Mr. Mercedes.

I’m glad I did. Mr. Mercedes was a great detective novel and a lot of fun to read. For the most part King sticks to the classic detective story line but there are hints of his darker self that always come out in his writing. The story starts out with a mass killing outside a city government building when a big Mercedes plows through a crowd of people waiting in line for a job fair. From there the case goes cold and then the lead detective retires.

Mr. Mercedes is a master class in novel writing, and I was completely pulled into the story. The main character, Bill Hodges, is a classic example of a good investigator whose drive to solve the case and find the bad guy is so strong that even his own health won’t hold him back. Hodges is surrounded by an eclectic group of other characters that are each interesting and loveable in their own distinct way. As an example of investigative realism, I found that King did an amazing job of writing just enough to make the book’s investigative procedures seem real without making real world police detectives like myself scream out “That’s not how we do it!” in the middle of the book.

Mr. Mercedes is followed by Finders Keepers and then the third book in the trilogy, End of Watch, which just came finders keepersout in June of this year. Finders Keepers begins with the murder of a great American author and the theft of a safe full of unseen manuscripts that the recluse has been hording for years. This case also goes cold until Hodges and his crew happen to be brought in years later to help a boy who finds a trunk of buried treasure. This was my favorite book in the series. The whole treasure trove of lost works really did it for me. End of Watch rounds out the trilogy with a return to the evil that never went away in the first book. Of the three King’s talent for writing scary stuff comes out in force and reminds you, oh yeah this is a King novel. End of Watch fully develops the earlier hints of something supernatural and evil that is only hinted at in the first two books.

end of watchOverall, I thought all three were fantastic highly entertaining reads. With these three detective novels King has found his stride with me in creating a story that make me really want to hit the keyboard with my own fiction as soon as I finished the last page of each. For me, that is the highest compliment I can give.

Confession

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2016 by C. J. Edwards

confession

Alright, I confess! You can take that bare bulb out of my face and stop shouting at me. I admit that I have neglected this shabby blog for way too long. I’m a horrible horrible blogger. If anyone out there actually read my posts in the past, I’m sure they have given up hope of any more long ago as a hopelessly lost missing person.

Does anyone really follow blogs anymore? I am just as bad at reading blogs as I have been at writing my own. There is only one blog that I actually signed up to receive all the posts to my email. I’m signed up. Each post the author writes appears faithfully in my email at least a couple times a month. They come and I think, “I should probably read that.” Then I delete them. I’m a horrible blogger/blog supporter.

There is one blog I do catch on Facebook on a regular basis. Hardboiled Wonderland is written by Jedidiah Ayers and you can find it at spaceythompson.blogspot.com. I check this blog on a regular basis because Jed has a lot of movie recommendations, some of which are thankfully on Netflix. I can’t remember a movie that he has suggested that I’ve watched and not liked. He writes of other good stuff too, but I admit I got there mostly for the movie suggestions. Sorry Jed, I use you like a movie pimp.

So, what to do with this blog? Recently I have stepped back from crime fiction a little bit and gone back to the fiction favs of my earlier years. I’ve started hitting Fantasy and Sci/Fi pretty hard again. I’m looking for new fiction in those genres, and old too, that grips my imagination like some of my all-time favorites. Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, L. E. Modesitt, S. M. Sterling, George R.R. Martin, are just a few. My writing interests have shifted in this direction as well, although it remains to be seen if I will have any success with that or not.

This shift isn’t total however and I still have an intense interest in crime fiction and crime in general. With my career as a police detective, it’s impossible to get away from. So what I am thinking is to post about books that I really enjoy, books that I would rate three stars and above, five being a book that is not only good but so good that it makes me want to stop what I’m doing and write a story myself regardless of genre. These are rare and I get very excited when I find them. There are a number of authors that have had this effect on me. Stephen King has done it a few times, Robert Jordan as well. In the world of Crime and Noir there are some too. Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock had the unique effect of making me want to write and giving me a feeling of utter worthlessness as a writer. He has a new novel coming out next month that I am really looking forward to. Tom Franklin, Frank Bill, and Joe R. Lansdale are some others that have really inspired me to not only to write, but write better. So when I find books that have this effect on me, I will definitely dedicate a post to them.

Finally, I think I want to write about my experiences at work as well. On Facebook there were a number of people who enjoyed my often comical posts titled Things Heard While Working Sex Crimes Quote of the Week. I’d like to do something similar but more in depth to maybe help my fellow writers, as well as the average Joe, understand police work a little better. Hopefully most of these will have an element of the comical in them. I run into a lot of crazy funny shit doing this job, stuff you just can’t make up.

So there you go, fingers crossed. I’d promise to post every week, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure right off the bat. So I will commit to twice a month. So hopefully some of you out there will find some interest in what I write here, and I’ll do my best to read more of all of your blogs. If you stop in to read my words, it’s the least I can do.

C. J. Edwards

Literature: Sometimes it’s a Real Motherfucker

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 by C. J. Edwards

PMYesterday I was on Facebook, which I really need to start avoiding, and I came across a post by Alec Cizak, the editor of Pulp Modern. I found it entertaining and decided to spew forth my meaningless opinion on the subject of that post to the world, mainly to have fun, but also because the attitude of the subject matter pissed me off.

Alec has a new story up at Beat To A Pulp called The Ralph’s On Third And Vermont. It’s a good story. You will find the link to it at the bottom of this post. Apparently Alec got word that a certain reader took offense to his rather prolific use of “Motherfucker.” Now I don’t know if Alec engaged in conversation with this guy or if it was all second hand information. I also don’t know who the gentleman is, but I did find his criticism of Alec’s story somewhat ridiculous. Here is the quote that Alec posted and to which I had such a strong reaction.

“I read five ‘motherfuckers’ in one story and that was too much. Your “Work” is of no value to literature whatsoever with language that makes you sound like some homeless, illiterate. I’m not interested in your ‘work.’ It isn’t ‘Work.’ It’s ghetto language. It doesn’t make you sound gritty or tough. It makes you sound illiterate. Offer me something that has some literate value and I’ll read it. Then, maybe I’ll alter my opinion. And change your picture. You look like you live in a cardboard box.

Pretty fucking wow, right? I don’t even know where to begin with this. I mean, Alec might look like he lives in a cardboard box, but I would never tell him that to his face. That’s just mean. It makes me want to offer up a sniffle or two at Alec might be feeling right now. I’ve never told Alec that he looks like a homeless man because I read an article on Facebook or somewhere that said the lumberjack scruffy look was in, so I just assumed that Alec was fashionably ahead of his time. So anyway, Alec if you ever need someone to listen because people are being mean to you, I’m available. You have my number.

Okay, so the real issue here is that the individual who wrote the above quote has a problem with the word Motherfucker. Apparently Motherfucker has no literary value. You know what, maybe so, but who fucking cares. I don’t care if any of my own stories have “literary value.” I just want to write a story people might like to read. What is “literary value” anyway? Isn’t literature in a constant state of change? Isn’t it evolving all the time? Isn’t that what is cool about the arts in general, that expression is always different from person to person? I wonder when the work “fuck” first appeared in serious “literature.” If anyone knows that, please drop me a line. I’d really like to have that little piece of trivia. I know it wasn’t the Bronte sisters, but aside from Victorian lit, I’m not sure where that first f-bomb might appear.

Another thing that disturbed me was the fact that the gentleman doesn’t seem to be able to differentiate between the literacy level of the author and that of the fictional narrator. Maybe he just doesn’t like stories by homeless people…oops slip of the keyboard there Alec…I mean ABOUT homeless people. I’ve interacted with a fair amount of homeless people, and to my recollection none of them used the Queen’s English to communicate. Along the same lines, most criminals don’t talk like most of polite society. To many of them, at least the ones I’ve dealt with, “fuck” and “Motherfucker” are like fucking pronouns and shit. So any realistic story about these kinds of people might have a few indelicate verbiage choices tossed in.

Stephen King in his book On Writing wrote that when trying to tell a story it is imperative that the author should be honest. He also said that you can’t write successfully if you are constantly trying to not offend your grandmother. It just isn’t honest. It isn’t the truth. Should you use “Motherfucker” five times in one story? Is there a Motherfucker rule? I don’t know, maybe the dude who I’ve quoted above will drop in and school me on that particular literary statute. Of course, I would never abide by such a rule. Sometimes a story really needs a few good Motherfuckers, and some readers just can’t handle the truth.

No Alec Cizaks were harmed during the writing of this Motherfucker. If anyone is offended by any of the above material, they are free to drop me a line and let me know how much of an illiterate Motherfucker I am. Oh yeah…buy Pulp Modern. It’s a real badass Motherfucker

The Ralph’s On Third And Vermont

by Alec Cizak

http://www.beattoapulp.com/wz20150104-ac-theralphsonthirdandvermont.html

Pulp Modern

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=pulp+modern+8&sprefix=pulp+modern%2Cstripbooks%2C772