A New World of Fiction

Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday where anything can–and usually does–happen. Today is all about what I’ve been reading.  I hope you’ll stick around and share what you’ve been reading at the end of this post.

Owning a Kindle has opened new world of reading material for me.  Exploring new authors has never been easier–or cheaper.  If I had never gotten a Kindle, I’d have never discovered Blake Crouch.

There’s a lot of internet buzz about giving away books and pricing books too cheaply.  For all the negative things that can be said, I’ll counter with one positive.  I would have never discovered Blake Crouch had Serial (Uncut) not been free.

The novellas contained in Serial (Uncut) explore the monster hiding behind every warning ever uttered about hitchhiking.

(from Amazon.com’s description of the book)

Remember the twin golden rules of hitchhiking?

#1: Don’t go hitchhiking, because the driver who picks you up could be certifiably crazy.

#2: Don’t pick up hitchhikers, because the traveler you pick up could be certifiably crazy.

So what if, on some dark, isolated road, Crazy #1 offered a ride to Crazy #2?

The stories in Serial (Uncut) are told from the point-of-view of the serial killers–the bad guys.  Serial (Uncut) is horrifying, at times humorous, and always intense.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but it was too fascinating to put down once I started reading.

[Note: There are several different editions of Serial available for download.  Serial contains novellas available elsewhere, so read carefully to avoid double purchases.]

When I finished Serial (Uncut), I couldn’t wait to read more fiction by Crouch and Konrath.  Because I liked the characters Mr. Crouch contributed to Serial (Uncut), I purchased Desert Places, which is about the characters in Serial (Uncut).

Desert Places was originally published in 2004 and was Mr. Crouch’s first published novel.  The following is a homemade summary (by me):

Successful horror writer Andrew Z. Thomas  gets a letter telling him there is a body buried on his property.  This body is covered in Andrew Z. Thomas’s blood  A knife from the set in Thomas’s kitchen is with the body.  If Andrew calls the police, his loved ones will die.  Andrew’s only choice is to let a madman take control of his life and see if he can survive.  Andrew’s fight for survival brings into question his sanity and his own ability to murder.

[Note: If you’re interested in Desert Places, be aware that all three Andrew Z. Thomas books are available for one low price under the title Thicker Than Blood.  Had I read more carefully, I could have saved myself a couple of bucks.]

I also purchased Perfect Little Town, which is a short story that reminded me of both “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and Children of the Corn by Stephen King.

Here’s the Amazon.com summary:

Ron and Jessica Stahl are a power couple from Southern California, on a Christmas driving holiday in the Colorado mountains.

When they stop for the afternoon in sleepy Lone Cone (Pop. 317), they’re charmed by the quaint tourist town which is filled with B&Bs, candy stores, and gift shops.

But the folksy hospitality will vanish as the sun drops behind the mountains. A winter storm is approaching, and the Stahls couldn’t have picked a worse night of the year to get snowed into this perfect little town with a dark, dark secret.

[Note: Perfect Little Town is available in Fully Loaded: The Complete and Collected Stories of Blake Crouch.  The purchase price is only $1 more than buying the Perfect Town by itself.  Yes.  I made the same mistake twice.  If I had read more carefully, I could have saved some money.]

I enjoyed both Desert Places and Perfect Little Town.  Locked Doors, the second book in the Andrew Z. Thomas trilogy, is on my To Be Purchased list.  I’ve already read the sample and am hooked.  If you think you’re interested in these books, read my note above about Thicker than Blood.

Kindle has also given me the opportunity to purchase out of print books by my favorite authors.  Sure, these books are easy to find at used book stores or at garage sales. If I purchase the Kindle book, though, a little of the money filters into the author’s pocket.

 Cold in July by Joe R. Lansdale was my first out of print purchase.  This novel was originally published in the late 80s.  Even though I consider myself a Lansdale fan, I’d never even heard of it.

Here’s the summary (courtesy of Amazon.com):

Richard Dane shoots and kills a gun-wielding burglar in his living room. It’s clearly a case of self-defense, but the dead man’s father, Ben Russel, doesn’t see it that way. Russel wants to extract Old Testament-style justice: an eye-for-an-eye, a son-for-a-son. Straightforward menace takes a 90-degree turn, though, when certain unexpected truths come to light, and soon Dane and Russel find themselves working together for a common cause. Their investigation puts them at odds with the cops, the Feds, and the Dixie Mafia, but they’re determined to find the answers that lie at the end of a very dark and twisting path.

I enjoyed the heck out of this novel.  It had the usual laugh out loud Lansdale-isms, but it was more than just that. Cold in July explored the psychological change the protagonist underwent in the aftermath of killing an intruder in his home.

This and several other out-of-print books by Joe R. Lansdale are .99 cents right now.  You can’t beat that price for a full length novel.  And, besides, it’s Joe R. Lansdale.