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Showing posts by: Robert K. Lewis click to see Robert K. Lewis's profile
Apr 2 2014 7:00pm

Critical Damage: New Excerpt

Robert K. Lewis

An exclusive excerpt from Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis, the second dark crime novel featuring former San Francisco cop and recovering junkie, P.I. Mark Mallen (available April 8, 2014).

When ex-cop and recovering junkie Mark Mallen is asked to track down two very different girls who have gone missing, he doesn’t think twice about putting himself in harm’s way to find them. Bloodied and bruised, Mallen shakes down the pimps and hustlers who could crack the cases wide open,leaving no stone unturned in San Francisco’s criminal underground.

But something isn’t right. Somebody’s trying to scare Mallen off, and it’s no ordinary street thug. With heat coming at him from all angles, Mallen’s search for the truth leads him to men who will stop at nothing to make sure their twisted desires never see the light of day.


Chapter 4

Mallen and Gato drove around the Mission district of San Francisco all afternoon, Gato asking everyone he knew if they’d seen Lupe. It was turning into late afternoon when Gato’s cell rung. He checked the number, then answered.

Si?” Gato listened for a moment. Motioned to the glove box for something to write on. Mallen opened it up and found a pen, some .357 shells, a couple condoms, and a menu for a Chinese restaurant. He grabbed up the pen and menu. Nodded to Gato that he’d take down the address. “Bernal district. Corner of Jarboe and Bradford,” Gato told him. “White house, ugly red trim.”

Mallen wrote all this down. Not too many houses with red trim. Gato listened a bit more, then said, “Okay, thanks,” and hung up. He grinned as he looked over at Mallen, saying, “Think we got him, bro.”


“Lupe’s pimp, vato. Teddy Mac.”

[Continue reading Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis...]

Feb 12 2014 4:45pm

S.W.A.T. Made Me Put Spock in a Foil Codpiece

There are some shows that change your life when you’re a kid. For some of you out there it might’ve been The Outer Limits. Or maybe it was Night Gallery. Perhaps even The A-Team.

For me?

S.W.A.T. was one of those shows.

In some other posts I’ve done here, I talked previously about a couple television shows that predate S.W.A.T., The Mod Squad, and also Harry O. I talked about how those shows reflected the times in which they were created, and I mentioned how S.W.A.T. was different. Now I’m going to tell you why.

Some background: The show had a two season run, 1975-76, and it starred Steve Forrest as Lt. “Hondo” Harrelson, Robert Urich as Officer Jim Street (he of Vegas and Spenser for Hire fame), Mark Shera as Officer Dominic Luca (he of Barnaby Jones fame), James Coleman as Officer T.J. McCabe, (he of fame that’s hard to find) and Rod Perry as Officer “Deacon” Kay (he came back for the 2003 S.W.A.T. movie). These five actors formed a core group that saw a LOT of action. Every episode was filled with a ton of tough talk and a room full of bullets.

Enough with the run down. No, wait… some more background. As a ten-year-old kid (yes, I’m getting old), this show blew my head off my shoulders. I ran right out (well, with my mother) and bought the tie-in action figures. 8” tall S.W.A.T. guys. I remember having the McCabe one because he was the sniper of the group and came with the cool rifle.

[Snipers beat Spock any day...]

Jan 30 2014 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux

Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux is a literary thriller featuring a psychiatric hospital, forgery, and an international conspiracy (available February 4, 2014).

I had to sit here a long while after finishing Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies. Why? Because I was literally stunned by the novel I’d just finished. To use a very trite phrase, I could not put it down.

I want to start with the story first and then finish up with the writing itself. This is sort of like eating your peas and carrots, and saving the steak for last. Strange Bodies is the story of Nicholas Patrick Slopen, a man of letters, a man asked to verify the authenticity of some letters by an eighteenth century lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson.

And that is where we begin.

Except I have to mention one thing here, and this is not a spoiler as it is claimed by Slopen himself in the very opening pages: Slopen is dead, but his consciousness has survived his bodily death. What unfolds after this reveal is a complex web-work of story as we are thrust into one of the truest noir books I’ve read in a very long time. Noir, at its core, is about an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary and dark circumstances. And that’s exactly what happens to Slopen. Strange Bodies begins with verifying the authenticity of some papers, and it ends with… well, I guess I cannot tell you that, can I?

[You could, but then you'd have to kill us. Wait...]

Dec 5 2013 12:00pm

Oh, Harry O!

David Jansen as Harry O

Oh man, O Man.

I need to come clean on something before I get going. And that is that I was only nine or so when this very incredible, very thoughtful TV show first came on the scene. I was too young to stay up that late. I only vaguely remember the second half of the first season, when the show was moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. Some sort of money thing, as shooting in San Diego quickly became too costly. Harry, played to the hilt by David Janssen, was the penultimate private eye. Harry Orwell had been a cop but was wounded in the line of duty. However, getting shot in the back didn’t kill him; it killed his career as a policeman instead. What I love about that bullet is that it serves as a powerful symbol for the wounding that Harry’s view of the world took. In an even more powerful bit of symbolism, he owns a derelict boat named The Answer. Can you get any more symbolic, right? And of course, he’s always working on The Answer. (Yes, I just had to get that in, sorry.)

Harry of course has a cop friend on the force (which private detective doesn’t?). Captain Manny Quinlan, played by Henry Darrow. He was given a difficult role, was Henry, having to play the foil for Harry’s character. One moment he’s a source of information, then in another he’s the cop who threatens to yank Harry’s private eye license. I would like to add here one totally bad-ass bit of awesomeness in the Captain Quinlan character: his ties rival Michael Douglas’s in The Streets of San Francisco. After the show moved to Los Angeles, Darrow’s character was replaced by Lt. Trench of the Santa Monica PD, played to perfection by Anthony Zerbe (who won an Emmy for his role).

[Put these all together and what do you get?]

Apr 1 2013 9:30am

Untold Damage: New Excerpt

Robert K. Lewis

An excerpt of Untold Damage, the first novel in the series featuring former San Francisco undercover police officer Mark Mallen (available April 8, 2013).

Estranged from his wife and daughter, former undercover cop Mark Mallen has spent the last four years in a haze of heroin.

When his best friend from the academy, Eric Russ, is murdered, an address found in his pocket points to Mallen as the prime suspect. Mallen sets out to serve justice to the real killer. But first, he’ll have to get clean and face the low-life thugs who want him dead.

Chapter 1

“Gold in Peace, Iron in War.” – SFPD motto

Mallen woke up with the needle still in his arm.

Waking up with the pin still in him was something new. First time, actually. Made him think of how Vodka was the last drink a chronic drunk can take. Because their stomach’s given out from all the abuse heaped on it. Vodka was the last stop before a coffin. The last line in the sand, crossed. That bit of knowledge was just like waking up with the needle still in you. He yanked it out. Threw it onto the scratched coffee table.

[Read the full excerpt of Untold Damage by Robert K. Lewis]

Dec 30 2012 11:00am

On Jaws, or How I Came to Love the Summer Blockbuster

The first ever blockbuster. Began Steven Spielberg’s career. That legendary musical score. Had Robert Shaw in it.

Yes… I’m talkin’ Jaws.

Where to start, right? This was the movie that gave us the “summer blockbuster.” It also began the long series of “nature gone angry” genre films such as, The Swarm, Day of the Animals, Piranha, and of course…Grizzly.

Now that I write that, I have to wonder if I should praise Jaws, or condemn it for what it brought into the world. Naw… just joshing. I have to praise this movie. It’s one of the best films ever done. My sister, four years older than me, got to see this film before I did. I wanted desperately to see it. I mean, it had a friggin’ SHARK in it attacking people, right? EVERYONE was talking about it. It was HUGE. Anyway, my sister told my mother that it was a film that was perfectly appropriate for a ten-year-old boy to see. Happily for me, my sister was off her nut. In the end, my mother agreed to let me go and off we went to the local movie house.

[If Mom only knew...]

Oct 23 2012 10:30am

Fresh Meat: The Devil Doesn’t Want Me by Eric Beetner

The Devil Doesn’t Want Me by Eric BeetnerThe Devil Doesn’t Want Me is a humorous noir novella by Eric Beetner, recent recipient of the Stalker Award for Most Criminally Underrated Author (available October 23, 2012).

I’ve never done one of these Fresh Meat things before, and was a bit nervous about it. I mean, giving my opinion when it’s asked for is something new to me. I’m fine when it’s NOT asked for… in fact, I’m in a whole ’nother realm when I give unasked for advice. But after reading Eric Beetner’s new novella, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, I was certainly glad I got the opportunity. Why?

Because this is an incredibly fun and awesome book, that’s why.

[Do tell...]

Apr 2 2012 1:00pm

Who are the Go-To Bad Guys of Crime Fiction?

The Nazi zombie.There was I was, sitting in my latest favorite bar in the city, Held Up in Traffic, when the door opened and in walked a Russian secret agent, an old mobster, and a Nazi zombie.

Yeah, I know. Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke. Work with me here, yeah?

I looked at them, then back at my drink. What the hell had the ’tender put in my glass? I blinked. Nope. They were still there. Blinked again.

No go.

This was real.

[Really really real?]

Mar 23 2012 10:30am

You Gonna Drink That? The Class System Colors of Booze

Scotch on the rocksSo there I sat, at the stick in my latest hangout, The End of Times, having another Scotch on the rocks. The guy on the stool next to mine reminded me of Orson Wells during his “We will sell no wine before its time” Paul Masson phase. For some reason, this guy kept looking over at my drink and snickering. After he did it about five times, I turned to him and said, “Something funny, Orson?”

He didn’t get the reference, only smirked at my drink again. It was then that I noticed he was drinking something clear, with no rocks. “What’s that,” I inquired, nodding at his glass. “Everclear?”

[Pick your poison...]

Feb 22 2012 10:30am

What a Crime (Story)!

The cast of Crime StoryThis post was going to be all about the fun 1980s TV show Crime Story, starring the awesome Dennis Farina as Lt. Mike Turello, the man with the +3 Moustache of Broomness. However, after reacquainting myself with the show, I just couldn’t do it. Yes, it’s still a ton of fun, and still holds up in a lot of ways. But, no, it didn’t hold up well enough, in my opinion, to where I could do an honest post extolling its virtues, etc.

So, instead, I decided to write about the ONE part of the show that still kicks major ass, even by the major ass kicking standards of today.

And that, my friends, is the series pilot.

[When was the last time you saw a pilot better than the show?]

Dec 13 2011 1:00pm

What Is Noir?

Portland 1948 Street Scene“So,” said the lovely dame sitting next to me, “what really is Noir?” Smiled as she said it. Like she knew she was setting me up. A level of mirth on par with seeing me nude for the first time.

I sat there quietly, looking at my glass. Tried to find a good answer. All of my literary heroes were, and still are, Noir writers. But, damnit, what really constitutes “Noir” writing and stories?

It was a bitch of a question, and that was a fact.

[But, dammit, we’ll try to answer it anyway.]

Nov 22 2011 10:30am

Police Story: When the Story Was the Star

Police StorySo there I sat, on my couch, having just pushed the “stop” button on the remote.

I had been, as they say, raptured.

Why? Because I had just finished all six discs of the first season of what was THE most groundbreaking cop show of the 1970’s (’73 – ’77). Maybe the most freakin’ groundbreaking cop show ever.

Police Story.

Created as an anthology series for TV by the greatest cop writer ever, Joseph Wambaugh, this show was tough and gritty, with realism not ever seen before. I mean, before this we had Adam 12 with their plastic but fun cops, Martin Milner and Kent McCord. They were awesome and all that, but really… it’s like using your GI Joe and a Ken doll to ride the streets of late 60’s Los Angeles to fight crime.


[Not to mention the Barbie dolls that went with those Ken dolls.]

Nov 15 2011 2:00pm

Death Wish: Pure Vengeance

Death Wish PosterIt was a late, rainy afternoon in the city as I sat at the stick belonging to my new favorite watering hole. The name of the joint was My Wit’s End, and that made me laugh…

“Where are you, honey?” she said.

“I’m at My Wit’s End!”  he replied.

I’d changed bars because I’d given Bill and The Cornerstone the ol’ heave-ho (for very good reasons you can find here).  In front of me on the on the gashed, burnt, and scarred stick lay a copy of Brian Garfield’s brilliant crime novel, Death Wish. I’d finished it earlier in the morning, after finding an old 1974 copy from Coronet Books, London, on teh Internetz Tubez. I was very happy to find that the book was every bit as enjoyable as the movie. If you can track down a copy, and there are still some 1989 editions left here and there, you will not be disappointed. Trust me on this.

[If you’re lyin’, you’re dyin’...]