Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Rack Archives


Looking Back at Some Favorites Part 2   By OFW Editor: Renée Miller    Publish Date: September 28, 2013

Clay rarely allows anyone but Mike Keyton or Sheri into his domain, but since he’s still recovering from an unfortunate gunshot wound to a rather delicate area, I’m still on Rack-watching duty. Instead of our typical Rack, which I’m not equipped (or allowed ) to oversee, I thought it’d be fun to continue looking at some of our most popular Rack questions and compare our favorite authors’ answers.

Question: Elmore Leonard listed ten rules, one of which is: 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel.' What rule or piece of advice would you add to the list, and if you know his ten rules, which one would you break?

Looking Back at Some Favorites   By OFW Editor: Renée Miller    Publish Date: September 21, 2013


Clay rarely allows anyone but Mike Keyton or Sheri into his domain, but he’s recovering from an unfortunate gunshot wound to a rather delicate area. Sheri is understandably busy making sure he recovers, so I’ve snuck in to make sure everything’s running smoothly in here.

Instead of our typical Rack, which I’m not equipped (or allowed ) to oversee, I thought it’d be fun to look at some of our most popular Rack questions and compare our favorite authors’ answers.

Question: Which literary character would you like to sleep with?

Jonathan Maberry   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: September 14, 2013

Me and Sheri Lamour were talking, shooting the breeze. Work was slow that week and there was little else to do. The office needed cleaning but one look at Sheri tells you everything you need to know about her. She don't do cleaning, her skills lie elsewhere, and mine mostly involve drinking bad liquor and solving crime.

“Anything interesting?” I was talking about the book in her hand, not the small television permanently on mute. It’s a box for stumblebums grazing on fried chicken or breeding the new feral horde. Give me a book I can open or close, occasionally burn.

Sheri ignored me, her eyes on the book. I noticed she had only four pages to go and I was down to my last four fingers of bourbon. For the moment it was quiet, the way I liked it. But the fly was about to land in the ointment. When she closed that book Sheri would be wanting to talk about it, and the bourbon wouldn’t last that long.

She closed the book, a small smile on her face. “One damn hot book,” she said.

Did I tell you that Sheri has a voice like honey and a figure to match?

“Who’s it by?”

"Jonathan Maberry."

A shiver ran up my spine. It was that kind of name. Sheri noticed. She pouted, her lips like dark cherries holding a worm.

"They say he's good."

I gave her my shark's smile, the one with teeth. "What else do they say?" I've always found 'they' useful. Rumour's cheap. Informers you pay.

Lisabet Sarai   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: September 07, 2013


She knew all right. When a dame walks that way she knows someone is following, and judging by the look she’d cast my way in the bar, she’d have a fairly good idea who.

Me, I was patient. I had to be. I didn’t know what she was after, only that if I made the wrong call, I’d pretty soon be dead.

I pulled up my collar, lowered my hat until only my eyes showed, and made my way across the rain-drenched street. She opened the door on my first knock, and I had the impression she’d been standing on the other side…waiting.


My heart stopped.

Then she breathed, and the ground vibrated, either that or my heart had made a sudden career move as a punch-bag to Joe Louis.

A shadow moved silently behind her. The dame didn't notice. She was still staring, and now she had a gun in her hand. Maybe she sensed antipathy. Maybe she knew what it meant. Maybe thinking about it caused her to hesitate. She turned a fraction too late. Sheri's fist connected and Miss Nightshade slid to the floor.

"You got what you came for?" I needn't have asked.

Sheri patted her breast pocket. "Yes - but we're late. She'll be waiting."

Lisabet Sarai. "

She slipped her arm into mine. "Too right Lisabet Sarai, and she don't hang around."




Amy Raby   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: August 31, 2013

She was packed with enough fissionable material to blow the place sky high…and she was looking at me. Maybe I should have been excited, given her some kind of dopey smile and whisked out some flowers from behind my back, but this dame was trouble. A man had been beaten to death because of her and now she had me in her sights. Me…? I’m…I’m…

"You're Clay Cross and you're dreaming." Sheri gently stirred me awake. "What was it this time?"

"Same as the last time and the time before that. There's a man that's dead and there's a dame in a tight-fitting dress and she knows more than she's telling." I stopped. There was something else, too. I was forgetting my name, who I was, what I was doing there. Not the greatest advert for a P.I. Not even the finest one east of LA.

But Sheri knew. She was a dame who knew everything and made it up when she didn't. "You've forgotten who you are - in the dream I mean."

"Just so long as they know, the punks and bent judges and cops with deep pockets. Just so long as they know," I snarled.

"And when they don't?" Sheri put on her dark glasses like she was doing a philosophy class.

"Well then I'll stop dreaming."

Sheri was going to say something more but just then the bell rang and I knew I'd been spared.

Sheri leapt to her feet. "Amy Raby," she said. ...more

Tim Waggoner   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: August 24, 2013

A car screeched by and then stopped. A door slammed shut and I heard the high clicking of heels…a dame, preferably one with a drink in her hand and lips that would make it all go away. She called my name but it made no sense. Jeez, who the hell was I? Had they taken that away from me as well? A Chev ran over my shoulder, reversed and ran over it again.

"Clay, Clay honey wake up."

The chev became more insistent, began talking like Sheri Lamour, and I thought how far we'd come since Henry Ford and his goddamned one-colour cars. Now the goddamned things talked, exuded an odour of Lentheric Confetti , and just now one was pounding my shoulder like Godzilla in heat.

I opened an eye, and two eyes stared back at me, beautiful eyes that made me want to holler and whoop and do all manner of things. Sheri Lamour has that effect - even on stiffs. I call it the Lazarus touch.

"Tim Waggoner's here," she said. Her glance shifted to the two empty bottles of Kentucky Red-eye. "Be kind," she said. "It's not his fault you're hung-over."...more

Ian Alexander Martin   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: August 17, 2013


The punk groaned. Then his face softened and dripped in shadow. Then there was me - Clay Cross - stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time, something Sheri tells me often, usually at night. The punk had vanished, but not the alley.  That rustled in presence; shadows, some darker than others, racing over concrete and brick, and all of them bent on me as their main course. Or maybe I was the dessert. I wasn't staying to find out. There are some things guns are no good against. Besides I had an interview that required my kind of questioning. Ian Alexander  Martin had questions to answer, like how come he had the Atomic Fez and how come Hezbollah weren't after him yet....more

Mark H Williams   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: August 10, 2013

Sheri was daydreaming. I knew because she was humming her favourite tune, Seventy-Six Trombones and doing interesting things with her hips. I approached cautiously, hoping there was a place for me in that dream, or at least my trombone.

"You sound happy, kid."

She turned, giving me the smile that made my stomach do flip-flops. I am, she said.
Mark H Williams is waiting for us on the Rack....more

Stephen Leather   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: August 03, 2013


The lights were on low and Monk was playing even lower on the turntable. I would have said Thelonious but I'd drunk too much and his name would have come out in spit. Sheri sat beside me, blowing long blue rings. I watched them drift in and out of moonlight like fat contented ghosts, blew several in pursuit, and then sipped my drink, a ten year old bourbon Jake Needham had left behind.

My desk was back and we were celebrating, blowing the breeze, doing all manner of things best not said here. And then Sheri sighed.

There are sighs and there are sighs. Some sighs herald the loss of a world, others cloak anticipation in regret. It was the latter kind, the kind that says I should be doing something else.

"What's up."

Stephen Leather," she said. "He's waiting for us the cellar." She leapt to her feet and I followed more slowly, leaving Monk in a room blue with moonlight....more


Jake Needham   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: July 27, 2013

There was a strange smell in the office. It smelled of jasmine and poppy and tea - and Sheri? Well, she looked different, too, her hair up, held in place by a long bamboo pin. She bowed and ushered me to one of several cushions and it was then I realised my desk had gone - replaced by a reed mat and some grey and white porcelain.

"Tea, Clay?" she whispered.

She saw the fear in my face. My desk had gone. With wood you calculate age by counting rings. This desk had every kind of ring, and then some, most of them glass rings stained dark in bourbon. The desk was old, belonged once to Ulysses S Grant and reeked of tobacco and gin. And now it was gone, replaced by...cushions.

"Desk's in the next room, Clay...I just thought we should make the effort?"

"Who the hell for," I growled. "The king of Siam?"

"No," Sheri breathed. "Jake Needham, and he's one hell of a guy."

I knew then there was no point in arguing. Sheri picked up guys like an industrial hoover and spat them out again when she was done. But some guys were different. I glanced round what had once been my office. Jake Needham was different. ...more

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