March 8th, 2012 16:26 by Albert Tucher
In researching my Diana Andrews stories I have done a lot of reading. I no longer remember where I encountered the most valuable single comment I have ever encountered on the topic of prostitution. It came from a veteran vice cop who said, "There's no degree or licensing exam in prostitution." In context, he seemed to mean that no one is formally training prostitutes or enforcing standards and practices, which in turn means that within broad limits, there's no way to get it wrong. If it sounds plausible, it is plausible, and somebody in the business probably does it, whether it's a sexual practice, a business practice, or a way of relating to a client. Conversely, nothing is true across the board.
Each woman in the business has a unique story. If the reader needs evidence, an intriguing case has just hit the news. I refer to Anna Gristina, the housewife, pig rescuer and entrepreneur just arrested in New York for running an escort service.
I have a feeling those pigs are going to appear in a Diana story.
February 24th, 2012 18:09 by Albert Tucher
Every year since 2006 I have attended the Crimebake conference in Dedham, Massachusetts. The Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America always join forces to produce an enjoyable conference that is of great value to writers.
I always try to enter the short story contest held in memory of the author Al Blanchard, but that requires some scrambling on my part. Writers who are not New England residents are required to use a New England setting in their story entries. The problem is, my knowledge of most of New England is at the "Well, I drove through it" level. One of the few places I know a bit better is the Harvard campus. Over the years I have visited a friend there several times. I decided that a story set in the past would camouflage the gaps in my expertise. Maybe a post-WWII time frame?
I googled "Harvard 1947" and found an article from the Harvard Crimson about Harvardevens. In 1946 the Army was eager to downsize, while Harvard urgently needed housing for the returning veterans who were enrolling in large numbers. The Army leased Fort Devens in nearby Shirley to the University. According to the article,the manager of the new facility refused to grant law enforcement authority to the local police, but he couldn't get the FBI interested in what was still Federal property. Much went intriguingly unstated about the manager's reasoning, but he did say that he hoped residents of Harvardevens would behave themselves.
And there was my story. Obviously, for my purposes, residents would not behave themselves.
In 1948, with the Cold War rapidly intensifying, the Army took Fort Devens back. As we know, the downsized military didn't last long.
BTW, the story won an honorable mention. It now appears in the excellent online magazine Mysterical-e.
February 3rd, 2012 15:53 by Albert Tucher
It started on a beach outside Hilo.
On a weekday morning about ten years ago I had the beach almost to myself. Almost, because a group of five young men were sprawled on the sand about fifty feet away from me, smoking pakalolo (marijuana). They weren't doing anything overt, but I had filed them away in my "keep an eye" folder.
From the direction of Hilo came a young woman in a coordinated hiking outfit. That and her blond hair made me think German or Scandinavian. I think most women would have detoured around the young men, but she walked right through their territory.
It raised an interesting question. If they viewed her actions as provocative and decided to respond, who was there to intervene? No one but me.
Fortunately, I did not face the test. The young men let her pass, but what if they hadn't? The scenario had a story in it, and I decided to give the story to Detective Errol Coutinho of the Hawaii County Police. In two of my unpublished novels I send Diana Andrews to the Big Island, where she meets Coutinho. They don't get along, but I find him congenial company. This is the first story featuring him that I have managed to get published.
January 25th, 2012 01:15 by Albert Tucher
And as so often happens, her sidekick Mary Alice aka Crystal is the cause of it.
The Worst Thing in the World is now linked in my writing samples. It's another story based on the experiences of my technical consultant, whose material will never run out. Several times she rescheduled our meetings because she was sick, and I realized that her line of work exposed her to almost as many bugs as a room full of schoolchildren. Here's one way it could play out.
December 20th, 2011 17:39 by Albert Tucher
The up-and-coming publisher of e-books, Untreed Reads, has just brought out a Diana story called Value for the Money
To get herself out of a jam with the police, Diana investigates old money and murder and risks becoming the next victim.
December 6th, 2011 14:56 by Albert Tucher
My technical consultant gave me the title, Enlarge Your Penis, and challenged me to write a story under it. What else need I say?
November 4th, 2011 13:27 by Albert Tucher
I'm over at Patti Abbott's place blogging about a book I stumbled over in the unplumbed depths of the Newark Public Library's biography collection. It's a prison memoir called Lonesome Road, by George Harsh, and it has the kind of improbable twists that would earn only derision in fiction.
The Library was founded in 1883, and many of the older collections were cataloged according to pre-automation rules, which gave little access beyond authors and title--no subject analysis, no Dewey classification. They are simply filed alphabetically by the biographee. To make things worse, despite our unceasing efforts since the early 1980s, many of the 1.5 million items in the Library's collections have been missed in the conversion to our current online catalog. In other words, nobody knew we had this book until I pulled it off the shelf.
Here it is now:
October 21st, 2011 23:55 by Albert Tucher
Frisson, one of my favorite flash stories, which originally appeared in the lamented zine Thug Lit, is now linked to my writing samples section.
August 24th, 2011 17:06 by Albert Tucher
Another online friend, Wayne Dundee, is engaged in putting his novels and stories about PI Joe Hannibal out on e-books. Joe is a great hardboiled character, but to me the best part of Wayne's work is his use of underserved locations like Illinois and Nebraska. If Truman Capote hadn't already alerted us to the noir potential of the Midwest, Wayne's stories would do it.
Check out a representative novel:
and Wayne's website:
August 20th, 2011 23:04 by Albert Tucher
Another of my online writing friends has a new e-book out. Timothy Hallinan has just published the second novel in his Junior Bender series:
The author describes the book as follows:
Junior Bender is a San Fernando valley burglar, an unhappily divorced man who still cares for his former wife and adores his 12-year-old daughter, Rina. Junior's a very, very good burglar. Despite plying his trade for most of his late-teen and adult life, he's never been arrested. He also runs a profitable, if dangerous, sideline: he works as a private eye for crooks. When someone does something crooked to a crook, the police are often not an option. The option is Junior.
This moonlighting has not made him popular with some members of the LA underworld, and with the cops also interested in him, Junior lives in a series of motels, in a region that's especially rich in awful motels. The motel of the month is part of each book, in one way or another. (In LITTLE ELVISES, it's Marge 'n Ed's North Pole.)
In LITTLE ELVISES, Junior is forced by a corrupt cop to go to the rescue of an old record producer, a guy who, in the sixties, grabbed handsome boys off of Philadelphia stoops and turned them into little Elvises for six months or a year, until the fans got tired of them. A supermarket-tabloid journalist has been murdered on Hollywood Boulevard and the cops think the music producer did it because -- well, because he was planning to do it. He was even scouting for a hit man, which someone told the cops, but somebody else got to the journalist first. So the story takes Junior into the arena of old-time rock-and-roll, missing persons, the world's oldest still-dangerous gangster, a murderer of young women, and a terrifying if somewhat hapless hit man named Fronts.
Look like a rip to me, and it's on my list.