Johnny Staccato, played by John Cassavetes, is a jazz pianist/private detective. The setting for many episodes is aGreenwich Village jazz club belonging to his friend, Waldo, played by Eduardo Ciannelli. The show featured many musicians, such as Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, Red Norvo, and Johnny Williams. (Ironically, given the show’s New York setting, all of these men were closely identified with the West Coast jazz scene, as the show was filmed largely in Los Angeles.) Elmer Bernsteincomposed both of the main theme tunes used and Stanley Wilson was music supervisor. Cassavetes also directed five episodes.
My latest BRIT GRIT ALLEY column is live at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE.
Lots of updates and news regarding TONY BLACK, SARAH HILARY, NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE etc.
PDB: Can you pitch THE TAKEOVER in 25 words or less?
It’s a story about the underdog and the consequences of apathy and
neglect. It is also a reminder of the dangers of organized crime and its
PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your
The Wire is definitely the best television I’ve ever seen; it’s
incredible in every facet. Game of Thrones has blown my mind, I read the
whole series without a break! When it comes to music I’m a snob; I abhor
the X FACTOR generation and manufactured bands; give me Damien Dempsey
and Fleetwood Mac any time.
PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective readers?
Definitely. Every writer has a distinctive voice and you have to
respect the uniqueness and contrast of styles. You’ll always want to put
your own slant on a story but we tend to be like that as creative
PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or
Never say never. I can spot clichés in films and scripts very easily.
So I’d like to think that I can offer my own voice to a script. Although
I’ve no ambitions at present, I’d rule nothing out. As innately creative
people, we are bound only by our thinking.
PDB: How much research goes into each book?
Lots, The Takeover I had to sit down with two major criminals. They have
long since retired and they had serious insights into the ugly side of
crime. People tend to glamorize crime, these guys were careful to point
out that crime is anything but glamorous! It’s a violent dark world
where life is cheap and prison is a certainty, regardless of how high
PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?
It’s a must. The old medium of newspapers and magazines as a gateway to
the public are diminishing. It’s imperative that every writer master
social media in order to maximize publicity. I’m a novice myself!
PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2014?
Publicize The Takeover. The reviews along with my faith in this story
are strong. So, I have to spread the message as far and wide as
possible. In short; I’m hunting the Tipping Point for The Takeover!
Bio: Jonathan grew up in the North Inner city, Dublin, Ireland. He was raised by a fiercely strong grandmother, Margaret Lynch, who also raised nine sons and four daughters in a three bedroom flat on the North Strand. Jonathan is from a working class background and dropped out of school at age fourteen to work. He worked in menial manual labour jobs; however he developed a love of reading as a child and continued to read avidly all through his teenage years. When a former boss noticed his curious nature he told Jonathan, he was too bright to continue ‘loading pallets’ he returned to education and completed his exams. Although the leaving certificate curriculum in Ireland was six subjects, Jonathan sat nine and passed them all. He admits being ignorant of the world around him before returning to school, ‘I knew nothing of politics, current affairs, history, or the wider world. I went from the extremities of ignorance to an awakening and recognition of the world around me.’As a keen martial artist, Jonathan became heavily influenced by BAFTA award winning writer Geoff Thompson. Through this mentor; Jonathan began to write consistently winning a number of short story competitions. He wrote his first book (Academic Octagon) whilst working in finance and secured a small publishing contract. He admits this book was the work of a ‘novice’ and began studying his craft in earnest. He studied punctuation, grammar and every book he could unearth on writing. ‘I was bursting with ideas but I needed the basic tools and studied relentlessly. It paid off, I had literally hundreds of rejections for my first book, but for Fia The Envoy, I was offered two contracts within three months and Ireland’s biggest literary agent were very interested but alas, I was already under contract. Jonathan lives in Dublin with his wife and two children and writes full time. He is also a columnist for a national martial arts magazine. He has just finished a third book and is beginning a follow up to Fia The Envoy
A Song For Saturday is a full LP this week, from the great VIC GODARD …
Here’s the blurb:
‘After the release of 1978 NOW in 2007 (a re-recording of Subway Sect’s ‘lost album’) recording and releasing Vic’s Northern Soul songs seemed a natural follow on. . .
Initiated into the world of Northern Soul after Paul Myers passed on a bundle of 45s in 1978, the deceptive simplicity of many of the records convinced Vic to start practising songs he had been writing in his bedroom, which would eventually lead to 1979 being one of his most productive song writing years.
An unexpected support slot for Siouxsie and The Banshees in Camden, 1980, meant many of the songs comprising 1979 NOW! got their first airing. Alan Horne recorded everything from their Northern Soul inspired instrumental opener, which was later reprised to close the set – to songs such as ‘Caught In Midstream’ and ‘The Devil’s in League With You.’ The bootleg eventually found its way to Edwyn Collins, who chose to record ‘Holiday Hymn’ for Orange Juice’s 1981 Peel Session.
Nearly thirty years later and the seeds of 1979 NOW! took root, but went on the back burner as attention turned to other things, like recording ‘We Come As Aliens’, gigs and the release of ‘Live In Stereo’ (2009 gnu inc). Fast-forward to 2010 and with WCAA released (CD Overground/Vinyl gnu inc.) attention briefly returned to 1979 NOW! Eventually, after careful consideration, Myers agreed to come on board with Vic’s long time collaborator, friend and fellow Chelsea fan Paul Cook, to record 1979 NOW! and perform live with Subway Sect; Kevin Younger, Mark Braby and Yusuf B’Layachi.
Work began on the first 1979 NOW! tracks at West Heath Studios in 2012 with Edwyn Collins and Seb Lewsley recording and producing. By spring 2013, with four tracks in the bag, AED Records released the ‘Caught In Midstream’/’You Bring Out The Demon In Me’ 7 inch. Recording continued through 2013, mixing and mastering completed in April 2014.’
... with a short yarn called STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS ONE.
Dixon Steele wanders through misty post-war Los Angeles as a serial killer stalks the city. Steele himself sees the world through a dense fog that hides dark secrets, repressed memories and more. Dorothy B. Hughes’ In A Lonely Place (1950) has atmosphere in spades and is well deserved of its classic status.
Here’s the blurb:
‘ Dix Steele is back in town, and ‘town’ is post-war LA. His best friend Brub is on the force of the LAPD, and as the two meet in country clubs and beach bars, they discuss the latest case: a strangler is preying on young women in the dark. Dix listens with interest as Brub describes their top suspect, as yet unnamed. Dix loves the dark and women in equal measure, so he knows enough to watch his step, though when he meets the luscious Laurel Gray, something begins to crack. The American Dream is showing its seamy underside.’
Maybe I Should Just Shoot You In The Face is very cool new collection of short stories from Zelmer Pulp, containing photographs by Mark Krajnak, new stories by Brian Panowich, Ryan Sayles, Chris Leek, Chuck Regan (who also did the cover), Gareth Spark, Isaac Kirkman and Benoit Lelievre, with an introduction from me.
Cool shades, cool sleeves, cool song. Polnareff’s life would make a great biopic.
Michael Haskins’ ‘Nobody Wins’ is a breathless, high-octane international crime thriller with the fast-pace of an ’80s action movie.
The blurb: A simple request of Mick Murphy to find his cousin Cecil Fahey turns into a struggle of avoiding irate SAS soldiers determined to kill Cecil for his IRA activities in the ’80s. Murphy’s quest takes him into the shadowy world of the IRA in Los Angeles, New Jersey and eventually Dublin, Ireland, all the while avoiding efforts to kidnap him and trying to survive attempts on his life. In his quest to locate Cecil and find out who and why someone wants him dead, family and friends lie to Murphy. With a new identity provided by the IRA, Murphy can’t escape his long-time black bag friend Norm’s scrutiny or the MI6 agents following him, while being used to set up an ambush of SAS soldiers. When truths are lies and lies are necessary, Mick Murphy realizes nobody wins.
Meaningful Conversations by Richard Godwin : Dark, rich language that paints a deliciously delirious Ballardian Giallo.
Here’s the blurb:
Meaningful Conversations is a hybrid Noir novel that tackles the modern world and its most tabooed addictions and mythologies. Its protagonist, cellist Bertrand Mavers, is the best adjusted serial killer you will ever meet. His therapist, Otto Wall, calls him the sanest man he knows. What he actually is will surprise and astonish you.
PRAISE FOR MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS
The narrator of Meaningful Conversations is a brilliant mix of Artaud, de Sade, and the narrators of Ellis’ American Psycho and Kosinski’s Steps. He’s in analysis, but he has taken his own temperature. He may be febrile, but he’s a scream. Richard Godwin continues to mix contemporary genres with elegance and power. —Professor Jay Gertzman.
Dark, rich language that paints a deliciously delirious Ballardian Giallo.—Paul D. Brazill author of A Case of Noir and Guns of Brixton.
If JG Ballard and Angela Carter played a game of Chinese Whispers with Anaïs Nin and William Burroughs, it might end up something like Godwin’s latest—a wild and surreal ride that veers from cold horror to steamy kink and offers a unique satire of modern life in bizarre form. Whatever you want to call it, you won’t put it down until you finish it. K. A. Laity, author of White Rabbit and the Chastity Flame series.
No one since H.P Lovecraft explored the depths of human darkness more earnestly than Richard Godwin. Meaningful Conversations is a work of righteous anger and burning honesty that’s supercharged with Jodorowskian eroticism. Godwin marches to the sound of his own drum, but he can do no wrong.—Benoît Lelièvre, Dead End Follies
‘London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.’A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
So, it’s no great surprise that Britain’s capital city has lent itself to its own particular brand of noir, from the likes of con man Harry Fabian and his fellow hustlers in Gerald Kersh’s brilliant 1938 novel Night and the City, to George Harvey Bone, the murderous alcoholic in Patrick Hamilton’s marvelous Hangover Square, (1941).
Outsiders abound, of course, unsurprisingly so in Colin Wilson’s Ritual In The Dark (1960), a ‘modern day’ Jack The Ripper tale which would be called a period piece now. It’s a kind of British Crime and Punishment which takes place in a sexually and socially repressed 1950’s Britain and a vividly drawn Soho. Written in 1949 but published in 1960 it is distinctly pre- The Beatles (pre rebellious youth) and post WW2. It is also a distinctly British exploration of existential extremes featuring a murderer who kills as a creative act, a positive rebellion against the supposed unimportance of his existence. Ritual In The Dark -Post war angst in a world where ‘we’ve never had it so good’ just isn’t good enough.
More up to date is Layla by Nina de la Mer, a gripping and gritty slice of London noir about the downward spiral of a suburban girl who moves down the smoke for a better life and becomes a stripper. And there’s also Richard Godwin’s One Lost Summer, a sweltering, intense noir set among London’s rich and powerful.
And plenty of other crime writers have explored London’s dark side too such as Derek Raymond, Carole Morin, Charlie Higson, Benedict J Jones and Cathi Unsworth.
PDB: Can you pitch Gospel of the Bullet in 25 words or less?
CL: Sure. It’s the heart warming story of a young boy’s forbidden love for his pet walrus. No wait, that’s not right. Gospel of the Bullet is a revenge-fuelled western that puts the blood back into ‘Bloody Kansas’. It’s a story about hope and perhaps also redemption.
PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?
CL: Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer are always on my playlist (those of you born after 1990 may need to ask your parents.) Although more recently alternative country band The Delines and post-punk New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem have found there way on to it as well.
I couldn’t get into TRUE DETECTIVE, but Nic Pizzolatto really blew me away with his novel GALVESTON. Chris Rhatigan’s new short story collection WAKE UP TIME TO DIE is a darn good read too.
The film adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s COLD IN JULY was surprisingly good. Don Johnson is perfect for the role of Jim Bob and he really stole the show, much in the same way as his character did in the book.
PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?
CL: Yes, although it’s not always easy for me. I like nothing better than kicking back with a good book, but that’s the key, it has to be good. There are some authors who can consistently take me away and make me forget I’m a writer. Daniel Woodrell is one, Brian Panowich another.
The problems really start when I’m not enjoying the book. That’s when the writer in me acts up and I find myself picking the thing to pieces. At that point I usually give up on it. I used to read every book right through to the end, but not anymore. Life is just too short to waste time on stuff you don’t dig.
PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?
CL: It hadn’t really crossed my mind until recently, but several people have told me that Gospel of the Bullet has a cinematic quality to it that would play on the big screen. I’ll admit that has kind of got me thinking.
PDB: How much research goes into each book?
CL: If I’m writing crime fiction then not too much, I tend to wing a lot of it, apart from the police procedural stuff. My crime fighting buddy Ryan Sayles stops me from sounding like a complete idiot on that count.
But for the westerns research is actually quite important. It’s a different ball game when you are setting stories around real life historical events. I think I owe it to myself and my readers to at least try for a reasonable degree of accuracy. With Gospel I spent a lot of time researching the mundane things like how much a loaf of bread cost in 1870. Yeah, I know, I need to get out more.
PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?
CL: In short, I wouldn’t be here without it. Social media has its uses as a promotional tool, and it also provides the world with an endless supply of of cat pictures. But for me it’s about the friendship and support of like minded people. There are guys who I met on social media that I now consider to be family.
PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?
CL: It’s going to be a busy end to the year. My fast-paced crime novella NEVADA THUNDER will be out next month from Snubnose Press. Hot on the heels of that is the next Zelmer Pulp issue, MAYBE I SHOULD JUST SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE, and then December 1st sees the much anticipated release of TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND. This Bruce Springsteen inspired collection of crime /noir is a project very close to my heart and with stories from the likes of Dennis Lehane and James Grady it rocks just as hard as the Boss himself.
Thanks for having me over Paul, and by the way, that vase on the bathroom window ledge was like that when I got here.
Bio: Chris Leek is the author of Gospel of the Bullet, Nevada Thunder and the short story collection, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em. He is part of the team behind genre fiction imprint Zelmer Pulp and an editor at western fiction magazine, The Big Adios. He can be contacted via: www.zelmerpulp.com or at his blog: www.nevadaroadkill.blogspot.co.uk