I may be a huge horror fan, but I’ve also got a special fondness for the crime/mystery genre. Especially P.I. stories.
So what if the dark streets that Marlowe and his ilk walked down had more lurking in them than common hoods? That’s the conceit of the Sam Truman mysteries, a series of novellas from Abattoir Press. The series takes a hard-boiled, down-on-his-luck private investigator, and throws him cases with a decidedly horrific/supernatural bend.
Although I’ve read Sam’s first few adventures, this isn’t a review. Why not? Well, because I’ve got a horse in this race, and a straight-up review extolling the virtues of these books could be construed as unseemly.
Series creator Ed Kurtz approached me about writing an installment and the result was Bound By Jade: The Fifth Sam Truman Mystery a 20,000 word novella that brings Sam to Chinatown.
It was a joy to write and quite a departure from anything I’ve done before. Not just because it’s a crime story set in 1961, but because I was working in an established world, with characters that other writers had left their fingerprints on. The pressure was high not to mess it up.
If that’s a situation that sounds like it’d be limiting, it wasn’t. Ed sent me the series “bible” which gave me a rundown of the major characters, locations and the story-so-far, but outside of that I was just told to create the P.I. story of my dreams, just as long as it had a horror element.
And really, would the P.I. story of my dreams not have a horror element?
There’s a simple genius to the way the series is set up that allows the authors to be as self-contained as they want, while not feeling like their installment doesn’t fit into Sam’s metanarrative.
Which leads me to my next point: you should read the four stories before mine to maximize your enjoyment. It’s in no way required to understand the plot of Bound By Jade (which is fairly stand-alone, the entire case taking place in only a little over 24 hours), but they’ll give you a better feel for the world and the route that Sam’s life is taking.
They’re super quick reads, but they’re also super cheap (two bucks each for the ebooks). For you insistent paper-only people, there will be print editions of the stories collected in multi-novella omnibus editions. The first print book will be out late 2012/early 2013, but I wouldn’t wait if I were you. Grab first three (Catch My Killer by Ed Kurtz, The Last Invasion by Brandon Zuern, and Soft Kiss, Hard Death by Tobin Elliot), get the fourth when it’s available, then I’ll be in touch about hassling you to buy mine.
One last thing: just because I can’t review these books doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. If you like Sam, please tell others about him (amazon, goodreads, your blog, the walls of rest-stop bathrooms, all the usual suspects).