The Surreal Killer

The Surreal Killer
Machu Picchu. Peru

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Matador Murders

The fourth volume in my South American mystery novel series, The Matador Murders, was published on Amazon today.  There's a link on this page, to the right.  Roger and Suzanne are back in Montevideo after being summoned by a late night phone call.  The book features lots of action, a good whodunit storyline, guest appearances from several old friends and an old enemy from The Ambivalent Corpse and The Surreal Killer, and occasional opportunities for sightseeing and eating regional specialty foods.  Reviews, Likes, and Tags will be appreciated.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Roger and Suzanne's New Case

For fans of my South American mystery series, the newest entry, an 11,600-word novelette, "The Body in the Parking Structure" was just published on Amazon.  In this new mystery, my first in a shorter story format, Suzanne discovers the body of a Bolivian scientist in the parking garage next to the Medical School at UCLA.  The police treat the killing as just another drug deal gone bad.  P.I. Roger Bowman, Suzanne, and his newly assembled team investigate the murder, which seems to be linked to a small biotechnology company and a new anti-cancer drug they are developing.  The reader is off on a whirlwind tour of Los Angeles and Westwood in search of clues.  The clues are all there: Can you figure out whodunit before Roger does?  This fast-paced mystery story features characters from the author's popular South American mystery novel series working on a murder case at home in Los Angeles.  Enjoy it!  There's a link on the blog page to the book's Amazon page.

Excerpt (950 words):             The Body In the Parking Structure

                                                Chapter 1. Suzanne finds the body

            For the first time since we had met, Suzanne discovered a dead body without me being there.  She was collecting her car at twilight from the UCLA parking structure after a quick trip to the laboratory to change the samples on a DNA sequencer.  The structure seemed to be deserted except for her and a large lump lying lifeless between her car and the garage wall.  She called 911 to report the body then called me. 

            The police and I arrived at the garage at about the same time.  While she was waiting for us, Suzanne took a closer look at the corpse and got her second shock of the night.  She not only counted at least five bullet holes in the body but she also recognized the victim from one of our previous cases.  It was Eugenio Vasquez, a biochemist from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, who we had met the previous year in Lima, Peru.  We had spent a pleasant afternoon with him and his cousin Rogelio, at a couple of museums, eating ceviche for our first time and drinking Peruvian beer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Bad Reviews

Today we have a guest blog by Wayne Zurl on what to do when someone writes a bad review of your good book.  This is a great synthesis of a lot of bits and pieces of advice we've all heard, but sometimes forget......Thank you, Wayne.

Some people have no bedside manner. That’s certainly true of a few book reviewers.

Don’t you hate to get bombed by a blogger who has only six followers and spends most of his/her time passing judgment on kitchen appliances? You ask yourself, “Why didn’t he/she leave my book alone and pick up a Veg-O-Matic?”

How should you handle the pain of a bad review? Let’s take it by the numbers and I’ll give you my thoughts.

1-Allow the steam to escape from your ears before proceeding.

2-Get all thoughts of physical violence and verbal retribution out of your system before moving on to step three.

3-Look at the poorly worded, opinionated, juvenile, asinine, obnoxious, nasty, insensitive, grits-for-brains review, written by an obviously uneducated cretin, OBJECTIVELY and assess its merit. Perhaps among all the hurtful statements, something can be learned from a valid point (no matter how ill-phrased).

4-Do not immediately click on Amazon’s comment box and write, “Oh, Yeah?”

5-If you must reply, (and there may not be a necessity to do so) you owe the reviewer (and your reputation) civility. Type in: “Thanks for your opinion,” and send it on its way. Then without delay, grab a paper and pen and for your mental wellbeing, finish your thought with: You moron! Up yours! What makes you think you would know a good book/story/poem (strike out those that do not apply) if it bit you in the ass? Your psychotherapist will be proud of you for practicing catharsis.

My best advice (and who follows his/her own advice?): Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts of others. Most great authors have received negative criticism from someone.

Second best advice (and I like this one much better): If available, print out a photo of the reviewer and hope you see them on the street some day. This advice, from a kid originally from Brooklyn.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Nexus of Fiction and Reality

In "The Ambivalent Corpse" and in my upcoming (Summer, 2012) novel "The Matador Murders", we meet a character named Andrea, a scientist at the University of the Republic in Montevideo, who is studying affordable methods for the analysis of the microcystins, a family of toxins produced in rivers, estuaries, and lakes by various species of blue-green algae.  She also gets mentioned in some of my other blogs.  Her character is based on a real scientist studying these algal toxins in Uruguay who I've been collaborating with for more than a decade.  So, what's real and what's fiction?  Let me give you a few hints; these are references to, and abstracts from, actual scientific papers published in the peer-reviewed literature that I have copied from Pub Med:

1.  From Brena et al., (2006). ITREOH Building of Regional Capacity to Monitor Recreational Water:  Development of a Non-commercial Microcystin ELISA and Its Impact on Public Health Policy. INT J OCCUP ENVIRON HEALTH 12:377–385.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mystery Writers of America and E-Publishers

The blog site of the Mystery Writers of America organization at has a fascinating tip of the hat to the 21st century practice of E-publishing and their guidelines for approval of an E-publisher for membership in the MWA Organization .  Amazon qualifies, under the revised guideline “During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $1,000, in advances and/or royalties, to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies of books.” 
E-books, themselves, won’t qualify their authors for membership, at least not yet.