Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top Suspense Group: Dave Zeltserman Dying Memories

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Dying Memories

by Dave Zeltserman

Dying Memories opens with a woman shooting a man to death on a crowded street in Boston, claiming that this man raped and murdered her eleven-year old daughter. Except he didn't, because this woman never had a daughter. Another man stabs an MIT professor to death in front of a crowd in Harvard Square, insisting that he witnessed the professor running down his wife in the street. Except the MIT professor was three thousand miles away when the man's wife was killed.

Reporter Bill Conway discovers that these victims are connected to ViGen Corporation, a shadowy pharmaceutical company. When he tries to investigate ViGen Corporation and their role in these deaths, things quickly turn dangerous for him. The following short excerpt has Bill being questioned after being grabbed from the street and thrown into a van, with his interrogators insisting that his real name is Jeffrey Vozzmer.

“Yes you do, Jeffrey. We’re not idiots here. Tell me what I want to know and this will all be over.”

“Check my wallet,” Bill pleaded. He was nauseous, his left ear throbbing. “My driver’s license will show you that I’m not this Jeffrey Vozzmer.”

“And what would that prove?” Simon asked. “That you took the precautions to be carrying a fake ID? Please, Jeffrey, we’re not amateurs. You should know that.”

“This is all fucked up,” Bill insisted weakly. “I’m not Jeffrey Vozzmer. I never heard that name before.”

Simon ignored Bill, said patiently, “Tell me what I want to know.”

“I don’t know what you want to know.”

The same behemoth who had punched him before raised an eyebrow, asking an unspoken question. Simon, sitting opposite Bill, took his time before shaking his head.

“No, I don’t believe that will be necessary,” he said. “I’m sure we can facilitate Jeffrey to talk without having to resort to any further violence, even if it won’t be of his own volition.” Then to Bill, “One last time, tell me what I want to know.”

Numbly, Bill shook his head. “I swear, I don’t know what that is,” he said.

Simon sighed and picked up a small leather case that was on the seat next to him. He opened the case carefully, almost lovingly, and took from it a hypodermic needle, which he held up for Bill to look at.

“Relax,” Simon lied. “It’s only sodium pentothal. More than enough to loosen your lips but not enough to cause any serious damage. At least not usually.”

Simon then leaned forward. Bill tried to struggle, but the two thugs held him steady.

“If there was a chance that you would cooperate and remove your jacket I wouldn’t need to inject this inside your gum,” Simon cooed softly. “But one must do what one must do. Now, please open your mouth or I’ll have my associates force it open.”

Then it was as if a bomb had been detonated.

Bill escapes this ordeal, but soon finds that it’s not just these mysterious forces after him as he’s framed for a brutal murder. Or at least Bill’s pretty sure he’s been framed. The thing is, as with the reader, Bill’s never quite sure what’s real or not. All he knows is his peril, as well as the stakes involved, keep escalating by the minute.

Dying Memories has some similarities with my crime novels. It’s bullet paced with whiplash-inducing twists and turns throughout which will keep both Bill and the reader off balance. Where it’s very different than my crime novels, like Small Crimes, Pariah, Killer and Fast Lane, is that while they’re pitch black descents into the abyss, Dying Memories is more of a rollercoaster ride colored a murky gray that’s brightened by constant flashes of red. And where my crime novel protagonists, Joe Denton, Kyle Nevin, Leonard March and Johnny Lane, are, putting it as delicately as I can, pretty much bastards who readers root for (at least at some level) to find the hell they deserve, the hero of Dying Memories, Bill Conway, is very different. He’s someone the reader is going to be able to care about.

I hope you enjoy Dying Memories.

Ed here: I think we can all agree that Dave Zeltserman's body of body is one of the most original and powerful in modern crime fiction. What makes it even more remarkable is its range of voices and styles.

For instance the Julius Katz novels and stories. First of all they're fair clue mysteries and damned good ones. Second of all even though they're homages to Nero Wolfe they're cutting-edge clever and ultra-modern. I mean Julius Katz as a stand-in for Nero ok but a two-inch square computer chip standing in for Archie? This is mystery fiction as fresh as it comes. And it appeals to readers of every kind. No wonder the Katz stories have won not only the Shamus but the Ellery Queen Reader's Award (first place in a very heavy competition.)

For a copletely different instance how about this starred review from Publisher's Weekly for The Caretaker of Lorne Field."
rom Publishers Weekly

Starred Review." Zeltserman's superb mix of humor and horror focuses on Jack Durkin, the ninth generation of firstborn sons in his family who have daily weeded Lorne Field to purge it of Aukowies, bloodthirsty plants that could overrun the world in weeks if not attended to. Though Jack takes his job seriously, no one else does: his oldest son doesn't want to follow in his footsteps; his wife is tired of living poorly on his caretaker's salary; and the townspeople who subsidize him are increasingly skeptical of purported menaces that no one has ever seen because Jack diligently nips them in the bud. With his support dwindling, Jack finds himself driven to desperate measures to prove that he's truly saving the world. Zeltserman (Pariah) orchestrates events perfectly, making it impossible to tell if Jack is genuinely humankind's unsung hero or merely the latest descendant of a family of superstitious loonies. Readers will keep turning the pages to see how the ambiguous plot resolves"

See what I mean about a body of work with so many different styles and voices. And the books are so damned good.

You can find Dave's books on Kindle and Nook.


Anonymous said...

It would benefit Mr. Zeltzerman to give close study to Elmore Leonard. Mr. Leonard's dialog is true to life, and doesn't resort to crutches, such as he lied, or he said patiently, or he insisted weakly.

Dave Zeltserman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Zeltserman said...

This is from a short excerpt from the Maltese Falcon:

"But mightn't he?" she insisted.

"There's always a chance." Spade nodded judicially. "But you can trust us to take care of that."

"I do trust you," she said earnestly, "but I want you to know that he's a dangerous man. I honestly don't think he'd stop at any-thing. I don't believe he'd hesitate to—to kill Corinne if he thought it would save him. Mightn't he do that?"

I've read a lot of Elmore Leonard. I like him, but I like Hammett more, who at times relied on these "crutches", as do other writers I respect. What it comes down to is that writers need to trust their instincts and their ear, and they need to listen to the rhythm of what they're writing. That there are no absolutes, that every situation is different. There are times when my prose is Leonard-like sparse, and other times when it isn't--it depends on the situation, as well as the genre. I'm not writing this to be argumentative or defensive, but so that newer writers who stumble on this realize you can't jump to a knee jerk reaction as to what constitutes good writing. What works for one writer doesn't necessarily work for another, at least not in every situation. The same is true for readers.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Ed:

I'ved tried sending you an email with information about my soon to be published biography of Dennis Hopper, but whether it is sent from yahoo or gmail, the delivery fails. Here is the error message gmail sent:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 #5.1.0 Address rejected (state 14)