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.


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


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 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

Pulp Modern

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2015 by C. J. Edwards

the-thicket-by-joe-r-lansdaleI started reading The Thicket in mid-December of 2014 and finished it this morning before work. It was one of the best reads of last year and 2015 will be hard pressed to deliver a better one as well.

Joe R. Lansdale has been one of those authors that I keep hearing about and keep planning to read. (There are a lot of you out there.) I finally dropped the hammer on a short story of his included in Rogues.

rogues coverRogues is a short story collection edited by one of my favorite Fantasy authors George R.R. Martin. It is a fantastic read and includes an interesting collection of authors of various genres and some really great stories. His story in this collection featured his characters Hap and Leonard. From Dead_Aim_by_Joe_R_Lansdale_Trade_Coverthere I found his novella Dead Aim also featuring this memorable duo.

While searching for something else to read by Lansdale I heard about Cold In July but wasn’t able to find a copy. It was then that I stumbled upon The Thicket. I am not really big on reading westerns, but when I saw the back description, I knew I had to give it a try.

A tale of love and vengeance at the dark dawn of the East Texas oil boom from award-winning novelist Joe Lansdale

Jack Parker thought he’d already seen his fair share of tragedy. His grandmother was killed in a farm accident when he was barely five years old. His parents have just succumbed to the smallpox epidemic sweeping turn-of-the-century East Texas—orphaning him and his younger sister, Lula.

Then catastrophe strikes on the way to their uncle’s farm, when a traveling group of bank-robbing bandits murder Jack’s grandfather and kidnap his sister. With no elders left for miles, Jack must grow up fast and enlist a band of heroes the likes of which has never been seen if his sister has any chance of surviving. But the best he can come up with is a charismatic, bounty-hunting dwarf named Shorty, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave named Eustace, his constant companion a 600-pound feral hog, and a street-smart woman-for-hire named Jimmie Sue who’s come into some very intimate knowledge about the bandits (and a few members of Jack’s extended family to boot).

In the throes of being civilized, East Texas is still a wild, feral place where oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. And Jack will soon find out that blood and redemption rule supreme. In The Thicket, Joe R. Lansdale lets loose like never before, in a rip-roaring adventure equal parts True Grit and Stand by Me—the perfect introduction to an acclaimed writer whose work has been called “as funny and frightening as anything that could have been dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm—or Mark Twain” (New York Times Book Review).

One review called it “Hellish and hilarious.” I would have to agree, not to mention anything with a bounty hunting dwarf, a whore, and a giant hog as main characters is something I want to read. Also, the half-black-half-white-half-Comanche Eustace steals many of the scenes in this dark and funny novel.

By the end, you will realize that the story is less about the narrator Jack and the trouble he finds himself in and more about the characters around him and what makes them who they are. As Jack learns their stories, he learns about himself and the how he will mark his own way in a hard and often bloody world where doing the right thing isn’t necessarily the best thing.

For me the best scene is where the unlikely posse comes to a trading post to confront Fatty, one of kidnappers. Eustace, Hog, and Shorty produce one of the most comical confrontations I have ever read.

With The Thicket has produced a story that is wickedly funny as well as being a very dark and violent thriller. It is the story that all big Hollywood Westerns are trying to make and ultimately fall short of. In fact, I learned today after posting that exact comment on Facebook that The Thicket is slated to be made into a movie with Peter Dinklage signed on in the role of Shorty.Peter Dinklage Hopefully the film will stay true to Lansdale’s original vision. If they do, I can’t wait to see it.

A Man Alone by David Siddall

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2014 by C. J. Edwards

Alone PhotoToday Full Dark City Press has released a book we are very excited about. David Siddall’s A Man Alone is a fast paced crime novella from the UK. The story takes place in Liverpool and deals with some hard choices a man must make when defending his family. This book is fantastic, but don’t just take my word for it. Here are some of the things people you might all recognize are saying.

“Just when you despair of the mystery novel along comes A Man Alone which has the three essentials of great writing, a keep you on the edge of your seat narrative, and a burning intensity to the style…Highly entertaining.”- Ken Bruen, author of Purgatory

“David Siddall’s brilliantly hard-boiled novella A Man Alone is a gripping urban western worthy of a Walter Hill film.” – Paul D Brazill, author of Guns of Brixton, Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI

“A compact, paunchy thriller that takes a classic situation – what happens when one Competent Man won’t back down? – and adds some clever twists. Siddall writes with great skill and verve, wasting no words as he coolly maps out the route taken by his maybe-hero.” – David Longhorn, editor of Supernatural Tales

We are very proud to release David Siddall’s book and are confident that you will rip through it and come to the same conclusions as the very talented men above. When you do, we hope you leave some honest reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Kindle users can buy immediately. The print version will be available soon. 

Happy Reading!


Life: The Real Writer’s Block

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2013 by C. J. Edwards

WritersblockRecently I was given some new motivation to start a novel based on a couple of short stories of mine published in Needle: A Magazine of Noir. Things rocketed off to a great start, and I was packing words onto the page at the tune of 2000-3000 words a day. If I could have continued at that breakneck pace, I could have finished two novels by now. Then the inevitable happened…LIFE.

In my limited experience so far, life is the biggest form of writer’s block that there is. Work, kids, a second job, school, illness, holidays, and whatever else you can think of all conspire to take you away from your great masterpiece in the making. Life is so much deadlier than mere writer’s block. It seems to happen at an exponentially greater rate as well.

So there I am banging the shit out of this novel and one of my old root canals decides it’s time to go on strike and give me an infection. As the fog of pain builds, my word count dwindled till not only was I getting ZERO words per day, I had to call off the day job for an entire week. The whole debacle went on for about a month and included two visits to the endodontist before I was back to normal. Yes! Word count going back up.

Just as I was getting up past 1000 words per day again my body decided to take a dump on me and get sick. A common cold mutated into a sinus infection which dropped into my lungs like a skydiver with a faulty chute. This inspired my asthma to wake up and say hello. I am now into the third week of this life sucking ailment, and I am barley making 1000 words every other day if I’m lucky.

To really put this in perspective, the first three weeks I was working on this particular novel I wrote close to 20,000 words. Rock on, right? In the weeks since with all this lovely LIFE happening, I am now sitting at 26,000. I really hope I can get back to normal and start rolling again. 

I hope people don’t think I’m bragging about being able to really crank out the words when I’m health and not too busy. I know the amount doesn’t matter at all. For some a couple hundred a day is a lot while I have heard about people that could push into the multi-thousands per day consistently. What is important is that LIFE happens to us all and no matter what roadblocks are thrown in our way, we have to keep at it. Get yourself in front of that keyboard EVERY day, even it it’s only for five minutes to tap out a few sentences or edit some previous paragraphs. Finish those pages no matter how long it takes. If you don’t, you’ll regret it.

Look at me. I’m giving advice like I know what the hell I’m talking about. Well I have wasted enough words on this blog. It’s time to get back to the novel and hope my sickness induced asthma will leave me alone for a while.

Good luck to all of you in your own writing.

Interview with Manifesto Destination Author Alec Cizak

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16, 2013 by C. J. Edwards

MFManifesto Destination really plays up the idea of a really corrupt society. Did you take inspiration from true events when you wrote it?

I think that because I grew up in the wake of Vietnam and the fall of Nixon I have a naturally cynical attitude about the channels of power in this country (and the world, for that matter).  I’m not really a Christian, I’m not a rainbow-farting liberal, I’m not a hard-line conservative who wears a smile over a frown, so I don’t have any of these manufactured elixirs of cheeriness designed to shield the mind and the eyes from the very real existence of corruption in society, particularly on the part of those with power.  If you think about it, power is the ultimate manifestation of a control freak’s personality disorder.  Why does someone want power?  To control the lives of others.  This is true from security guards and police officers to teachers to medical workers right on up to politicians and world leaders.  So Manifesto Destination attacks the need by some to control many.  It’s a natural instinct, in my world view, to accept that any structured, organized society has corruption at all levels.  I know cynicism and satire are frowned on these days because (as Manifesto Destination quite accidentally predicted), Americans have had their collective spine removed, but that just means a text like Manifesto Destination is more useful now than when it was written back in ’01.

I know you wrote this in LA. How much did living there influence your portrayal of t he darker sides of Indianapolis?

An interesting question.  I had only lived in L.A. for a few months when I wrote the book.  I think people have a rosy view of Indianapolis and forget that, as clean and nice a city as it looks on the surface, it is still a city and, thus, has some darker sides to it.  When I was a young man I ran with a crowd that is, today, mostly dead or in jail.  I don’t think that those people are/were any less a part of Indianapolis than the shiny, happy yipjacks living it up on the north side of town and all those little suburban cookie-cutter hives on the outskirts of the city.  I was born and raised in Indy, I love the city, but my love is distributed equally among the good and bad parts of it.  It is still a better place to live than most of the cities that look down on it (Indy beats the shit out of Chicago, that’s for sure!).  If you are raising a family and don’t want your kids to grow up with provincial, narrow minds, it’s a great “starter” city.  But be aware that there are still more poor people than rich, that there are people who will do crazy things to escape their despair, and that these things don’t make an individual “bad,” or a “low life,” as some of the snobs in my MFA program might call them.  If we are to achieve something resembling a democracy, we must consider all circumstances with the same set of eyes.

Manifesto Destination has a real dystopian feel to it. Was this intentional or did it just come out that way. If intentional, why portray such a dark portrait of humanity?

I recently watched a collection of videos taken by people on the streets during the 9/11 attacks in NYC.  What struck me were the comments made behind the cameras—people saying things like, “Oh, those poor people.”  It sounded to me like the definition of humanity—a kind of empathy.  Funny that it should come from New Yorkers, who are famous for their “attitudes.”  The truth is, “humanity” wants to be good and noble.  But look at history.  Nothing but bloodshed over really, really stupid differences.  Why portray humanity in a dark way?  Humanity needs to show me that it has evolved, that it deserves a better portrait.  I only write what I see.  In a way, your question is a form of ‘killing the messenger,’ isn’t it?

Is Elmore Johnson based on anyone you know?

Elmore Johnson is about 70 percent me (as a super pissed off and angry, unsober s.o.b. in my early 20s) and 30 percent hybrid of the old private eyes Dashiell Hammett and (especially) Raymond Chandler wrote about.  The women in the book are based very heavily on women from my life.  The bad guys are more or less made up.

You have often mentioned that good pulp writers are just as good as many literary types. Who in your opinion are some of the best pulp writers putting out good stuff right now?

That’s a tough question.  I’m not sure, these days, what qualifies as pulp anymore.  If you look at public taste in entertainment, it seems the more fantastic, the better.  What this means is that society prefers pulp over literary.  I recently watched a gathering of the Minnesota Writers Association (or something like that, I forget their exact name) on TV.  Just a bunch of middle-class midwestern snobs who write uninteresting shit getting together to pat each other on the back for being so goddamned boring and pretentious.  Literary fiction is DEAD.  It’s fucking dead.  I’ll gladly help nail the coffin lid and dump dirt on it.  As for my favorite writers, I tend to be stubborn about this sort of thing.  I still think Garnett Elliott is the best at craft.  David James Keaton is, in my opinion, the most original writer out there.  I just finished Steve Weddle’s book Country Hardball and there were stories in there that absolutely floored me.  Of course I have to mention Frank Bill because he’s an Indiana writer and he refuses to bore his readers, which I think is a talent.  My favorite among women writers is still Jodi MacArthur.  She’s original and, I think, fearless, which is something a great writer needs to be.  Notice, however, that I am not talking about writers on the NY Times best seller list.  That’s because the majors, while aware of how to market a book, wouldn’t know a good writer if he or she slapped them in the face with a chainsaw.  Like Hollywood, they’re entrenched in a formula that earns but doesn’t excite intellectually or spiritually.  In other words, they don’t produce books that anyone will be talking about just five years down the road.  Sad.

What are you working on right now?

I am in the middle of two big projects.  I’m working on a follow up to Manifesto Destination called Daddy Problems.  It’s not a sequel, but it digs into that “dark” side of Indianapolis again.  This time, however, it’s a quieter situation.  I’m also working on my thesis, in which I attempt to write ‘literary’ fiction that’s actually interesting to read (and the way I’m doing it is weaving in noir elements).  And when I finish Daddy Problems, I intend to expand “My Kind of Town,” a short story of mine that appeared in Thuglit, into a novella about Mankato, where I currently live.

I want to thank Alec for taking the time to answer our questions. Please check out his novella Manifesto Destination which comes out tomorrow in print and ebook for Kindle. And also All Due Respect: The Antholgy is still for sale on Amazon. Alec founded the All Due Respect website and his story Methamphetamine and a Shotgun was favorably mentioned in a review of All Due Respect in the latest issue of The Crime Factory.