Friday, January 20, 2012

Randy Rawls

Randy Rawls is a retired US Army Officer and Department of Defense civilian. He is the author of Thorn on Roses, the Ace Edwards, Dallas PI series as well as a number of short stories. A North Carolina native who called Texas his home for a number of years, Randy Rawls lives in South Florida.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I have to open with the fact that I am an avid reader. I always have a book near me, ready to open—home (of course), doctor's office, bank, post office, etc. Of course, that's easy because I read on a Kindle. I've had one since early in the K-life and am now using a K-3. I suspect there is a Kindle Fire in my future.

I have my favorite authors from the NY publishers, but don't read as many of those as I used to. Publisher-greed has caused me to look to them much less than once upon a time. Some of those are John Hart, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, PJ Parrish, C.J. Box, Michael Connelly, and many others. However, paying more than $9.99 for an ebook goes against my sense of fairness. In my opinion, the big publishers are simply gauging the public.

So, what I love to do is find a new author, one who has not gotten the NY treatment. I used to search a lot of books by people I'd never heard of, looking for a good read. Recently, after being burned many times by badly written stories that are not ready to be published, I've quit looking at self-epub'd unless I happen to know the author, or someone I trust recommends it. Too much dreck out there to sort through. And before I start getting the blistering emails, I know there are some worthwhile, even good, books being self-epub'd. But honestly, I don't have the patience to dig through the pile to find them.

So with those standards in mind, I look at small publishers and their authors. One of those I found is Tom Lewis. He is published by a small press in North Carolina. My last read of his is Fifty Years to Midnight. Tom has taken the typical "can't go home again" story and transitioned it into one with more twists and turns than a mountain road. The protag, a NC highway patrolman, retires after seeing one too many young people die in an automobile accident. He returns to his hometown, a village in eastern NC. Many of his high school classmates are still there with varying degrees of success, and he is welcomed home. However, his fascination with a strange young woman who wanders homeless through the town, supporting herself on hand outs and dumpster-diving soon causes his friends to distance themselves from him. That's the simple part. The rest is so complicated, I won't even try to unravel it for you. I strongly recommend Fifty Years to Midnight. Mr. Lewis has several other books out that I have read. Only one of those fails to meet the high standard I have set for him. (Interestingly enough, I just discovered he has a new one out I haven't read. I'm downloading it now.)

Another pleasant find is Kyle Mills' The Immortalists. Apparently, Mr. Mills already has some popularity, but this was my first exposure to him. He takes an ultimate medical cure for progeria and drug for immortality into the world of thrillers and writes a fast-paced international plot versus naïve young biologist and wife. Some of the escapes are too convenient to believe, but the writing is crisp and the plot moves fast. I may look at some of Mr. Mills' other works.

Darcie Chan's The Mill River Recluse violates my rules against self-epub'd. However, after reading Ms. Chan's comments in a Wall Street Journal article, I decided to gamble on her. She said, or that's how I read it, that she thought her book needed professional editing. Reading that from an author is always a shock. The Mill River Recluse was an interesting read. While I agree some hard-nosed editing would improve it, I thought her storyline was strong enough to overcome it. It is written in two timelines—a young girl who grows into a recluse living on the hill and looking out over the town—and the death of that recluse and its aftermath on that same small town. Each story was interesting enough to stand alone. My biggest complaint was that Ms. Chan did not know when to stop. The last half-dozen chapters, or so, could have been condensed into no more than a couple and the book would have ended on a higher note. However, I can recommend this book. I hope Ms. Chan will have more stories published—after a hard-nosed editor works them over.

My last comments concern some people I know, talented writers in their own right. Yes, they have self-epub'd, but I know and trust their writing and think they're worth anyone's effort. Gregg Brickman writes mysteries featuring nurses (not the same nurse in each book). Gregg has a knack for walking along the edge of the medical profession without inundating the reader with unpronounceable medical terms and procedures that only a medical academic can understand. Take a look at her (yes, Gregg is female) Illegally Dead featuring Tony Conte, an ex-Army Special Forces medic and martial arts expert turned nurse. Murder abounds and Tony is caught in the middle, even as his wife develops a life threatening illness.

A second friend in the self-epub'd world is Vicki Landis. Vicki is multi-talented person who paints as well as write in multiple genres. Her self-epub'd mystery is Blinke It Away. The story is set in Hawaii and the trip through the non-tourist areas of Oahu are worth the trip. The mystery of who killed Blinke's best friend, leaving her four small children motherless, is icing on the cake. I suggest you put a lei around your neck and take this one on a vacation.
Visit the official Randy Rawls website.

--Marshal Zeringue