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Crime Thrillers

(Revisionist) Western Thrillers

Conspiracy Thrillers

Dramatic Thrillers

Horror Thrillers

Science Fiction Thrillers

Espionage/Mythological Thrillers

 

 

Thrillerville

My primary passion for writing is creating the thriller, in all of it's beautiful facets.

The list on this page will take you to pages within the site where you can read

excerpts from novels or complete short stories from my work in the form.

Crime Fiction:

In Risk We Trust

In the wake of a tragic school shooting, certain members of the victim's families perpetrate a plan to remove the shooter

from police custody, in order to administer their own brand of justice, but this act has long-reaching implications that

none of them foresee.

Pair O' Dice: (app. 1983-1985)

It's hard to talk about this project without revealing anything. What I can say is that "Risk" has been with me longer than any of my human friends. He was born in something like 1983, and I was ten years old. His name then was Billy and he was a cat burglar in Los Angeles, with a partner named Marty. Billy and Marty specialized in penthouses and had invented a special rig that made it easy to slide down the surface of a building to the top floors' windows. I pictured them as modern day Robin Hoods who stole from the rich to give to themselves; somehow good guys despite thier criminal occupations.

Billy and Marty did other things to make ends meet. The bulk of the story has them acting as bodyguards for Angelo Brizzati, a low-level mob numbers-runner for the LaBarrione Family in Los Angeles. Brizzati saw something he shouldn't have, and now fears for his life, thus enlisting the services of Billy and Marty. Predictably, a series of violent skirmishes ensue. I called it a practice novel, and is loosely named "Pair o' Dice." At 12, I knew no one was going to publish me, and also knew it wasn't well-written, anyway. It was good pulp, though, and when it was done, I felt conviction that I could and should be doing what I was.

I took a break at 14 to write a short novel that has no connection to the saga of Risk, and so I won't divert us.

Risk: (app. 1985-1989)

The second try with the material would be called Risk for over twenty years, as I searched in vain for a more worthy title. This version of the story was similar and yet significantly different from Pair o' Dice. I kept the partners-aspect of the story (a by-product of watching so many cop/buddy movies in the late 80's), but this time one of them took center stage and he went by the nickname Risk, but no one knew why and I never explained it. The truth was: I didn't know myself; I just knew that no one who specialized in shadowy concerns would go around using his real name. Except that Risk's "concerns" weren't shadowy of the nefarious variety. Risk ran a company of two in New York City; sometime-bodyguards, sometime-private dicks. They were the team you called when you were in trouble and couldn't call the police.

The other half of the team was named Josh Partell. Josh possessed the shady edge that Risk didn't ... and didn't know about. It is Josh's predicaments which arehalf-responsible for propelling the story. Josh has recently been released from prison, and his childhood friend, Risk, brings me in from the cold, due to their hisotry. Josh, meanwhile, is reinstated to his old world of crime almost immediately by a dirty detective nicknamed Barry "Traxx" Montgomery. Traxx's equally dirty partner is named Reggie Cates. Traxx and Cates have Josh by the balls, so to speak, and put him to work assassinating a local drug lord known as "Elmore Felice." (Yes, named after one of my idols: Elmore Leonard, a great and prolific writer of crime novels who was also from my hometown of Detroit).

Josh's job is to make it all look like a simple smash-and-grab operation. Felice is out on his rounds, collecting whatever graft might be due that particular day. It's also known that Felice often moves kilos during these outings, and the scenario should look like Felice tried in vain to protect his powder. What actually happens is that Felice isn't alone that day; along for the ride are the driver of his klimo and an associate: an undercover cop named Jerry Hagemore. Of course, none within the partnership of Traxx, Cates or Josh know this, and Josh is forced to shoot his way out, killing Felice and his two-man entourage.

The paralleling half of the story is Risk's new gig as the shadow-bodyguard of a wealthy and well-known socialite by the name of Sheila Max. Sheila is afraid that her famous club-owner husband, Jay, suspects infedility and hatches secret plans to have Sheila killed (set up like an accident, of course). He can't divorce her; she'll acquire enough of his assets to rival his remaining buisness interests. As events proceed, we can see the romance blooming early between Risk and Sheila.

The two seperate story lines converge via Josh Partell, who is involved with Risk's business at the same time that he's tied to the murder of Felice. Evidence, you see, puts Josh at the scene of a triple murder, but for the time being, remains out of the hands of investigators and in the hands of Traxx and Cates, who put it aside for a rainy day when Josh might make a nice umbrella. 

However, Cates learns from Partell that Risk is safegarding the city's most famous woman. He decides to pay a visit to Jay Max, and offers up the Felice-murder evidence as leverage over Josh, not only to assassinate Sheila, but also her newly-suspected paramour, Josh's best friend, Risk. Max allows Cates to leave with the evidence but sends one of his enforcers by the name of "Demarco" (alias "Dipesto") to follow Cates home and retrieve it.

Here we find the crux of the problem: in order to stay out of a prison cell for the rest of his life, Josh is ordered to commit another two murders (one of them a best friend since childhood). What ensues is a cornucopia of betrayals, violence and intrigue, all of it being uncovered by the diligent and soon-to-retire Detective Emil Cabal, a fatherly-type who also nails every animal he's ever been sent to capture.

It took me four years from the completion of Pair O' Dice to the completion of Risk (that break at 14 to write a separate novel notwithstanding); this of course taking place during an active school-life and working after school as a paper delivery boy for The Detroit News. After the completion of Risk I sent letters out to agents in the hopes of being successfully represented. The first one who showed interest was the Jay Garon Agency, which at the time had their hands full promoting an up-and-comer by the name of John Grisham. I was never officially rejected by them; I made, instead, a rookie mistake. I actually called their offices in New York and asked if they'd had a chance to look at it yet (after a waiting period of two months, I should add). A few days later I received Risk back in the mail, with no comment from them at all.

When I'd finished this latest permutation of a story (and a second stab at creating the character of one man who used to be two), I found--despite the rejection (which I likely initiated)--I was quite fond of the final product, but something was still missing. Not for this reason, but I nonetheless put it in a drawer to focus instead on a far different project. I simply couldn't ignore the calling to expand my self-perceived powers within a much wider, and far more complicated, framework. For my sins, I was given inner certainty that I could and should embark on a project called Fixing Truth, (one that very nearly drove me insane); we'll get into that fiasco later.

 It would be almost 15 years before Risk was resuscitated for the third and final time.   

 

In Risk We Trust: (2005-2013)

By 2005, profound changes had taken place in my life. I had gotten married in 2002. I had written several novels, scripts, and short stories. I had been to film school and  various other colleges. I was busy writing short fiction and editing long fiction and, in my mind, Risk was that novel which had shown early promise but never come to fruition in the way I wanted. I'd more or less designated it a great practice novel, but no longer took it seriously compared to the rest of my canon.

And then, somewhere in the winter of 2005, I did...

I couldn't help thinking of the time I'd spent on those first two drafts, and started to subconsciously mull over ways to make it more unique; after all, the essential story was guy meets girl, guy falls in love with girl, guy has to deal with the jilted husband. Hardly was I to attribute myself the distinction of inventing anything original. The power of that novel lay in its complexity of the story surrounding Josh Partell. In the wake of completing Lazarus Cane, (unwittingly the first book of a trilogy ultimately titled The Mosaic), I realized something about Risk that practically slapped me in the face: I had no idea who this character was, where he came from, what set him on the course through this dark world he lived in? I couldn't answer any of these questions. Both previous attempts at creating the character I wanted to read about were best self-described as "pulp" novels. In pulp, a character's origins are usually an afterthought, if considered at all.

Abruptly, the secret to this enigmatic character dawned on me, and for my life I couldn't point to the source of inspiration.

The meat and potatoes of this character wasn't the character himself. It was, instead, the forces which had made him. What possessed him to maintain an occcupation of defending peopple, without addvertise himself? Could it be that something from his past was responsible for keeping a saint who lived in the shadows? At the moment these questions occurred to me, I saw this character for the first time. As one revelation after another crashed like waves in my head, I still struggled with only two things: why the prevailing name of "Risk" and what significant event was responsible for creating both a killer and a saint in the same man?

I can answer the first question easily. He'd chosen the name "Risk" in the years before arriving in New York because it was a commonly used word, and could therefore be passed in coded language. Such as "In this case, perhaps taking a risk is the best way to go." This suggested faintly that he might have associates with similarly common codenames. By using such monikers, entire warnings or pleas for help or instructions could be spoken over a phone line, while making no one listening any the wiser.

As for that aforementioned "significant event," it could only be tragic in it's nature. So...I used the most tragic event I could think of.

 

Peruse excerpts from In Risk We Trust here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revisionist Western Thrillers:

 

"Crazy Willie Rides On" (1999)

When I was a kid, westerns didn't interest me muuch, but I respected the reasons so many people loved them. One reason had to do with the shoot-outs, the stagecoach and train robberies, the fierce battles between Indians and Cowboys. Trust me, every young boy understands a certain gravity to these confrontations, even though their knowledge of what actually took place is likely different from the truth. Since the dawn of filmmaking, there have copious amounts of "western" films. The good guy wore a white hat, the bad guy wore a black hat, and the "Injuns" were red-skinned. Everything else was either black and white, and the word "gray" in reference to morals was anethema. Then, near the dawn of the seventies, western films began to leave their roots behind them. Every western became gray, and thus the term Revisionist Western was born. Revionist Western merely seeks to tell the truth, which is that good men sometimes do bad things, just as bad men sometimes do good things. As for the "Redskins," some were benevolent sages while others were constantly on the warpath.

Steven Spielberg directed a movie called "Cowboys & Aliens," which was about an attempted extraterrestrial landing near a townful of country folk, and this concept comes directly from the presen ce of extraterrestrials in great art going back to the time of Jesus. In other words, why should the aliens not be visiting us during the days of the fabled Old West? That, to me, is a revisionist western. Yes, it's a western, but a heretofore logical possibility has been ignored. Examine photos of cave-dwelling tribes during the period and you'lll find a veritable heap of paintings on the walls closely resembling what we, today, call aliens or what our parents called "little green men."

I had a similar story in mind when "Cowboys & Aliens" came out, but this isn't something I've encountered with most of my books. Someone else gets there first, I can't let it drive me to jump out the window of a very tall building. Eventually, I rework the original idea to create something entirely different. This is what happened in the Risk saga; as my knowledge of modern literature and film grew through adolescence, I began to realize I had not invented the fundamental storyline used for that project, so I shelved it for a couple of decades until I'd devised a wholly original approach (I hope!) to the original idea. My version of the cowboy/alien concept was absorbed into a trilogy I'll explain below called The Mosaic. For now, let's stay focused.

My first attempt at the revisionist western collided with my inclination to write a story where a bunch of bounty hunters are accompanying a horse thief back to the ranch from which he stole, to face the punishment of the owner. From the start, our protagonist (nicknamed "Crazy Willie" for his wild bets at the poker table) is relieved of any firearms, obviously. So, as the trip across several states commences, if Willie has any hope of avoiding this certain-to-be fatal monkey trial he's headed for, can only use his words to turn each of the men in the posse against another. To me, the prospect of using non-violent means to overcome one's enemies was in the Territory of Revisionist Western, not to mention the aspect of staging a story in virtually one room (in this case, a barn belonging to one of their employer's confederates, during a storm). The battle takes place on a psychological level, instead of an instinctual "he's a horse thief, (thus "bad guy") so hang him!"

 

Peruse excerpts from "Crazy Willie Rides On" as well as other stories from The Night Show, Vol. 1: The Great American Night Available now

 

 

 

 

Presque was my earliest attempt to blend the genres of horror and the (Revisionist) western. Because of the horror element, I have listed my commentary under "Horror Thrillers" below.

 

 

 

 

 

(Read an excerpt from "Presque's Last Night" from The Night Show, Vol. 1: The Great American Night) Available Now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conspiracy-based Thrillers:

"Catching Smoke"

Local residents of a rural community perpetrate a UFO hoax in order to draw in a representative from the Air Force, for whom each has

distinctly different ideas of finding out the truth about extraterrestrial life on our planet.

(complete short story from The Night Show, Vol. 2: Signals From Noise)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dramatic Thrillers:

"2 For 1 Night At The Crazy Hour"

(part 2 of Flip City Blues)

The second installment from Flip City Blues, following the events of a man with delusional tendencies who

ends up far from home without his meds in the middle of a desolate Ohio winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Thrillers:

 

Lazarus Cane: (2005)

 

 

 

"Presque's Last Night" (1999)

A bandit and army deserter seeks anonymity as a trapper in the Rocky Mountains of 19th century "Colorado Territory." While seeking shelter in a trapper's abandoned cabin, he soon realizes he's being observed, by something that may or may not be a figment of his imagination.

 

 

Undecided Excerpt from Lazarus Cane (Book I of The Mosaic Trilogy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Thrillers:

"Beethoven's Ninth Army vs. The Church of Chuck Berry" (from Blackwoods Drive) Coming Soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Day Mythology/Espionage Thrillers:

The Mosaic