Monday, May 14, 2007

Donna Moore

Donna Moore's debut novel is …Go To Helena Handbasket, winner of the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award and other accolades.

I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Oooooh, I love talking about books I've enjoyed, so thank you for this opportunity. I love books which are dark, warped, nasty and funny. If I can get all those in one book then I'm as happy as Larry (that's Larry the dark, warped, nasty person your mother warned you about by the way). Two of the books I finished recently featured a crucifixion, and not in a good way (is there a good way?).

Ken Bruen's Cross is the sixth in the Jack Taylor series. Jack has given up drinking (again), despite the fact that his surrogate son is in hospital and Jack feels it's his fault. When another young man is crucified, Jack is drawn into the investigation despite his better judgment. Things just happen around Jack and crimes appear to be solved despite him, rather than because of him. Jack Taylor is one of crime fiction's most interesting, touching, tortured protagonists and Ken Bruen's writing skill just has me in awe.

Allan Guthrie's Hard Man is a wonderful combination of all my favourite elements. It's violent, vicious, in-your-face and hilarious. The psychopathic Baxter father and sons find themselves not quite psycho enough (surprisingly - since they are pretty damn psycho) to take on Wallace, the husband of their pregnant teenage daughter/sister, May. Wallace is a serious head case. So they try and hire Pearce - an ex-con who loves his dead mother and his three-legged dog - to sort Wallace out. And if that's not enough to tempt you, this is the only book I've ever read that contains a masturbating hamster.

The book I have most recently finished is Joe Lansdale's Lost Echoes which is sort of supernatural noir. The main character, Harry Wilkes, suffered a childhood illness which left him with a gift - or more precisely a curse. He sees visions of horrific crimes or accidents. The visions are triggered by sounds - a door slamming, the rustling of a bush - anything can set it off and Harry does his best to deaden the sounds with alcohol. He only faces his visions head on when a childhood sweetheart asks for his help in solving what she thinks was the murder of her father. Joe Lansdale weaves such a wonderful tale. For me he is just a master storyteller.

I'm now reading Kevin Wignall's Among the Dead. Five friends accidentally kill a fellow student in a hit and run. Ten years later their decision not to own up comes back to haunt them. So far, it's haunting this reader too - very atmospheric and gripping. Guilt, morality, friendship, loyalty are all thoughtfully put under the spotlight in this stylish character study. I really enjoy Kevin Wignall's writing. He deserves to be far better known than he is and I'm really looking forward to the new book coming out later this year, called Who is Conrad Hirst?

I'm also dipping in and out of two excellent short story collections. One is Murdaland, which is a literary journal in book format. This first issue features some favourite authors of mine such as Daniel Woodrell, Ken Bruen, Anthony Neil Smith and Gary Phillips, as well as new to me authors Patricia Abbott, Cortright McMeel and J D Rhoades. The stories I've read so far are really good. The other anthology is Simon Wood's Working Stiffs which is a collection of workplace related crime stories. Very varied stories and each one has a distinctive voice. I'm thoroughly enjoying this one.

And on the "I'm really looking forward to reading" front, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Mark Haskell Smith's Salty which is due out very soon and which features an unemployed rock star and recovering sex addict whose supermodel wife is kidnapped in Thailand. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. What more could a girl want?
More about Moore:
The Page 69 Test: …Go To Helena Handbasket.

The first chapter of …Go To Helena Handbasket.

Sarah Weinman's post about "Donna Moore Appreciation Day."

Kevin Burton Smith named …Go To Helena Handbasket to January Magazine's Best of Crime Fiction 2006 list.

Donna Moore's biography at Point Blank.
--Marshal Zeringue