Archive for the ‘crime fiction’ Category

Noir2Tomorrow night (Oct, 29), I will be one of the crime and thriller writers doing a reading at Noir at the Bar in Philadelphia. Join us! But look, you. I took the fall for a dame who played me for an all-day sucker. Now I’m on the lam for a murder rap. If John Law shows up, you never saw me. Keep that pretty kisser of yours shut, got me?
Anyway, we’ll be at the Misconduct Tavern, 1511 Locust St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Many great writers will be on hand to do readings, including Jon McGoran, Dennis Tafoya, Bill Lashner, Erik Arneson, Wendy Tyson, Robb Cadigan, Don Lafferty, Merry Deedee Jones, and Duane Swiercynski. With an introduction from Peter Rozovsky, the father of Noir at the Bar.

See more information here:

My apologies. The blog’s been dormant for a while. A bunch of stuff came up — primarily a new job — and I was obliged to put it on the back burner. But I’d like to start it back up. So how about I begin with a new, original novelette, presented to you for free?

Here’s the deal. I have a young, talented friend named Frank who portrays a character known as “Cuddles McSpanky” at haunted attractions. He knows I’m a writer. At a recent party, we got into a discussion about our mutual love of horror and noir. And we agreed that it might be fun if I tried writing a story featuring his character. I found myself really getting into it. To my surprise, the short story I initially intended to write somehow expanded into a novelette.

I tried including it in my short story collection, “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take No Requests,” due out from Codorus Press early in 2016. But my publisher told me we’re a bit late in the process for that.

So I figured, what the heck. I wrote it mainly as a fun project anyway. And I’d like Frank to be able to share it with his friends and followers. So here it is, presented as a freebie. Enjoy. Share it, if you’re so inclined. And if you like it, keep an eye out for “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take No Requests.” Or check out my Pushcart-Prize-nominated debut novel, “The Freak Foundation Operative’s Report.” You can find Cuddles McSpanky’s page here. And if you’re REALLY brave and/or crazy, you can go see him in person here.

For the record, this is a work of fiction and is not intended maliciously. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any other resemblance to actual events, groups or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

So here goes:



By Tom Joyce

Based on a character created by Frank Paul Staff IV



Somewhere in the night-darkened pines to Kevin’s left, chainsaws buzzed like mechanical hornets. Followed by screaming.

Startled, a cluster of girls in Kevin’s group let out screams of their own, giggling at themselves immediately afterward. The Trail of Terror at the BloodShed Farms haunted attraction in Pierce Township, N.J., followed a snaking trajectory, frequently turning back on itself. Intermittent cries from the densely encroaching pines on either side signaling that the group ahead had encountered whatever as-yet-unseen horror would ambush Kevin’s group next, be it zombie, vampire or psychopath.

An unnerving effect, Kevin had to admit, jangling his already jangled nerves.

Kevin trailed behind a dozen or so teens and adults venturing through October darkness punctuated by pale lights on poles set at infrequent intervals along the paved path. Wishing that the night’s errand was already over. He yanked the brim of his baseball cap down lower on his forehead and pulled the hood of his sweatshirt tighter about his face.


FortuneI hate to admit this, but I’m guilty of using the terms “hardboiled” and “noir” interchangeably. The fact that lots of people do it is no excuse. Hell, you could argue that it’s an even greater sin in my case, since I know better and do it anyway.

The tough, street-smart detective prowling the back alleys like some modern-day knight errant? Wise to the mugs and their schemes? Ready to mete out justice with fists or gun? That’s not noir. That’s hardboiled.

Noir is about losers. Not losers as in rough-edged heroes fallen on hard times and looking for one last shot at redemption. Losers as in irredeemable fuck-ups going through the motions of their preordained downfall.

In some ways, I see noir and horror as similar genres. With noir, as with horror, it’s sometimes difficult to explain the appeal to people who aren’t already fans. Stories from both genres frequently introduce not-particularly-sympathetic protagonists, then put them through the wringer. And both have a tendency to use deceptively pulpy, sensationalistic narratives to obliquely comment on social ills.

You can check out a nice little noir story for free (better yet, make a donation) at writer Erik Arneson’s Website here.

Erik Arneson is also one of the writers behind the wonderful flash fiction site “Shotgun Honey.” If you’re a fan of hardboiled, noir or just crime fiction in general, do yourself a favor and check it out.

On Arneson’s Website, you can download a comic called “Fortune,” written by Arneson with art by Dillon Samuelson, through NoiseTrade.

If you’re a noir fan, you already know the title will turn out to be ironic. It’s a story about guys stealing cooking grease, which can be converted into biodiesel fuel.

Unlike some noir, “Fortune” isn’t presented as a comprehensive dissection of modern society’s failings. It’s an intentionally low-key story about a couple of fuck-ups … well … fucking up.

I guess you could read deeper into it as an examination of how any opportunity to make a dime in our society is going to draw skeezy people looking for illicit ways to get the highest profit for the least effort. Mostly, though, it’s just a fast-paced, efficiently told, wryly funny snapshot of a decidedly unglamorous criminal enterprise.

So check it out. It’s a good read. As an added bonus — if you’re trying to lose weight, it will make you never want to eat another French fry.