Art Taylor’s A Drowning at Snow’s Cut



EQMM May 2011 with Taylor’s “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut”

An excerpt from Art Taylor’s interview from The Digest Enthusiast book four:


TDE: “Your stories often include a particular interest or experience like sailing, houseplants, prep school, etc. What influences these choices? Do you draw mostly on existing knowledge or research?”

AT: “Some of my fiction draws on my own background and experiences. “Rearview Mirror”—the opening of On the Road with Del & Louise—was inspired by a trip my wife and I took to New Mexico several years ago. Similarly, “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut” was based in part on a boat trip my father and I took down the North Carolina coast. “A Voice from the Past” centers on some hazing incidents very similar to the rat system at the boarding school I attended. All those are pretty heavily fictionalized beyond those core elements, of course, but building from that foundation has helped to fuel the imagination.”Incidentally, the cover of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine with Art’s “Snow Cut” story, features a gallery of EQMM’s esteemed review team by Tom Roberts. From left to right: John Dickson Carr, Allen J. Hubin, Anthony Boucher, Jon L. Breen, and as

Incidentally, the cover of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine with Art’s “Snow Cut” story, features a gallery of EQMM’s esteemed review team painted by Tom Roberts. From left to right: John Dickson Carr, Allen J. Hubin, Anthony Boucher, Jon L. Breen, and as conductor, Howard Haycraft. This issue marked the last regular installment of the review column “The Jury Box” by Jon L. Breen, who would hand the gavel to Steve Steinbock for June 2011.

Sherlock Holmes & Mr. Mac in: The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby and The Case of the Unseen Assassin by Gary Lovisi

lovisi-cAuthor/bookseller Gary Lovisi is a frequent contributor to The Digest Enthusiast. I like his writing. In fact, that’s why I publish it myself. I’ve read plenty of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, but never The Valley of Fear, where the young Scotland Yard detective, Alec MacDonald (aka Mr. Mac), was first introduced. Now he’s back, with a prominent role in two new Sherlock Holmes adventures in Black Gat Books #11.

It’s obvious from the historical notes that follow each story that Lovisi did his homework before attempting to follow in the footsteps of a legendary author like Doyle. His grasp of the characters, the times, and where these new adventures fit in the Holmes canon are to be commended. The reference points in the stories themselves are kept brief and pertinent, adding credibility without digressing into fannish indulgence.

Both stories are nicely plotted with plenty of complications and twists to keep readers engaged and mystified. The pacing strikes the right balance between the style of Doyle’s originals and today’s more fast-paced narrative drive.

The first story, “The Affair of Lady Westcott’s Lost Ruby,” is the more traditional of the pair. Steeped in English custom and courtesy, it begins with Inspector MacDonald’s investigation of a suspicious burglary attempt. Events escalate quickly into a major dilemma when Lady Westcott herself disappears, compelling Mr. Mac to draw Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson into the affair. A missing person case with no apparent motive and no apparent kidnapper presents just the sort of challenge the great detective and his fans relish.

The second and final story, “The Case of the Unseen Assassin,” pits Holmes and his companions against a more modern-day threat—a serial sniper whose victims have no discernible connection to their killer. Armed with only their wits and the tools of the 19th Century, the trio of Holmes, Watson, and MacDonald must stop the killer before another victim is murdered.

The Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Mac stories of Black Gat Books #11 offer two entertaining mysteries in the style of the original Doyle classics. Fans of the great detective and old English police procedurals would do well to conclude both are worth their immediate engagement.

Black Gat #11 and earlier books in the series are available directly from Stark House Press and the big river for $9.99.

Down on the Street by Alec Cizak

downonthestreetAs the designer on Pulp Modern Vol. 2 No. 1, edited by Alec Cizak, I was predisposed to enjoy his latest book, Down on the Street, from Down & Out Books. Fortunately, the novel goes far beyond any struggle for objectivity. It is simply, terrific.

As crime fiction goes, Down on the Street is on the deep, dark side. Its main characters embrace one bad idea after another to make the rent or pay off an urgent obligation that looms around the corner. Lester Banks is a balding, world-weary cab driver who ekes it out in the same run-down apartment building as Chelsea Farmer, a college girl who looks arrestingly out of place in her squalid surroundings.

Their stories intertwine with touches of humanity between their lousy choices and the lousy consequences that follow. Like their mutual brainwave to pimp out Chelsea, making her fair game for a series of Johns who seem intent on turning prostitution into property. It all seems real, sprung to life inside the reader’s mind, through the characters’ street-smart dialogue and shortsighted schemes.

Even before I put the first chapter behind me, I was caught, transfixed as Lester and Chelsea plunge headlong into their world of excess, violence, and sex. Dangerous and vicarious at first, things quickly turn raw and sobering, as these broken spirits scrape toward rock bottom.

Cizak’s novel is a fast, brutal trip down on the street. The writing is terse, with a lyrical quality that belies its spare, driving narrative. “The air outside wobbled from the heat. He hustled to his cab and cranked the engine to get the A/C working.”

If you only try one new crime fiction author this year, make it Alec Cizak. His new book is well worth the price of admission and, more importantly, your time.

Copy This! #40: Michael Neno

Copy-This-40_500Cartoonist and illustrator Michael Neno is interviewed by Copy This! editor/publisher D. Blake Werts, in the June 2017 edition, hitting mailboxes now. Michael is of course a regular contributor to The Digest Enthusiast, who has been with us since book one thanks to Blake’s good sense.

Here’s Michael’s response when Blake asked how he juggles so many projects:

“Well, creating and publishing is my real job. I quit my thankless and dead-end IT day job seven years ago (I wasn’t getting any younger!) to live off my creative talents. That includes everything from freelance comics lettering, coloring, penciling, inking and pre-press formatting to mural and web design, logos, mascots, t-shirts and illustrations for books and magazines. I juggle these deadlines with my own projects . . . I’m also commissioned to write weekly film reviews for a site which will be soon going live.”

There’s often a bonus that comes with an issue of Copy This!, this time it’s an 8-page mini comic by Michael called Pictures of Benevolence.

Copy This! is a wonderful ‘zine featuring interviews with long-time indie cartoonists and news from the mini comics community. To inquire about single issues or subscriptions write to D. Blake Werts.


Occult Detective Quarterly #2

Editorial by Sam Gafford and John Linwood Grant
Borkchito: Occult Doggo Detective by Sam L. Edwards and Yves Tourigny (comic)
“The Arcana of the Alleys” by Brandon Barrows, art by Sebastian Cabrol
“The Black Tarot” by Mike Chinn, art by Russell Smeaton
“Conquer Comes Calling” by Edward M. Erdelac
“The Grabber Man” by Tim Waggoner, art by Luke Spooner
“White Ghost in the City” by Tricia Owens
“Devil in the City of Lights” by Bruno Lombardi
The Constant Englishman: John Constantine, Hellblazer by Danyal Fryer (article)
“Light, from Pure Digestion Bred” by Kelly A. Harmon, art by Morgan Fitzsimons
The Man Who is Carnacki! An interview with Dan Starkey
“Death and the Dancing Bears” by Steve Liskow
The Occult Legion Chapter Two: “Terror on the Links” by Joshua Reynolds
Doctors of the Strange: The Tradition of the Occult Physician by Tim Prasil (article)
Describin’ the Scribes
Inside back cover artwork by Mutartis Boswell

Occult Detective Quarterly #2 Spring 2017
Publisher: Travis Neisler
Editors: Sam Gafford, John Linwood Grant, and Dave Brzeski
Layout/Design: Sam Gafford
Cover: Alan M. Clark
8.5” x 11” 104 pages
POD $12.95 from
Electric Pentacle Press website

Rose City Book and Paper Fair

Fantastic-8-1969-500The Rose City Book and Paper Fair began yesterday and continues today at the DoubleTree, Lloyd Center.

The show is new to me, but apparently has been held numerous times in numerous locations, in years past. I hope they keep it here. DoubleTree offers a great space, large enough to host a great mix of booksellers offering everything from children’s books to paperbacks, maps to postcards, and of course, rare first editions signed by the author.

Along with a nice selection of PBOs I was pleased to see a smattering of digest magazines for sale. A few crime books, but mostly science fiction. I picked up this issue of Fantastic and one other. Titles like Galaxy, F&SF, and Astrounding could also be found. If you’re a Stumptown denizen or hail from the area, get down to the show before they wrap things up at 5:00 PM today.

Down on the Street by Alec Cizak

downonthestreetAlec Cizak is the editor of Pulp Modern. He’d published ten issues before I met him over the ether, and he welcomed me to help with its revival in May. Alec is also a filmmaker and author. His latest book, Down on the Street, from ABC Group Documentation, an imprint of Down & Out Books, is out today.

If I was the kind of guy who ever read a book in a single sitting, this would be it. I’m half way through and it’s terrific. If you like your crime fiction dire, climb aboard this one-way fare down the city’s backside. The writing is terse, the journey bleak; just the way I like it.

Down on the Street is available direct from Down & Out Books, select booksellers, and the big river.

9 of the World’s Most Exciting Suspense Stories

suspense_stories_1945One might think this magazine is called Suspense Stories, but it’s actually a one-shot entitled 9 of the World’s Most Exciting Suspense Stories, published by Consolidated Book Publishers in 1945. Compiled by R.M. Barrows, it includes stories by Richard Connell, Wilkie Collins, Damon Runyon (two), Richard Middleton, Agatha Christie, John G. Craig, Frederic J. Stimson, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Remarkably, it includes at least one illustration on every spread throughout its 96 pages, by J. Allen St. John, Stan Lilstrom, Martin Garrity, Robert Sinnott, Bob Logan and Milt Youngren. Measuring in at 6” x 9,” it originally sold for 13¢. Note the Best Books logo on its cover—a cover painted by Stan Lilstrom. It was part of a short-lived series that included 11 of the World’s Great War & Spy Stories and 12 of the World’s Great Humor Stories, both published in 1944.