DUKE CITY HIT on sale now

My latest crime novel came out this week and it's a doozy. DUKE CITY HIT, written as Max Austin, is the second in a trilogy I've written for Random House's Alibi imprint, and it's available as an e-book original for $2.99.

DUKE CITY HIT is the story of an accomplished hit man named Vic Walters, an Albuquerque resident who learns he has a grown son. And the son wants to get into the family business. It's a tight, gritty novel with a big, shooty finish.

Early reviews have been good and the book currently is featured on a tour of book blogs. You can see reviews here and here. Also, an interview with "Max Austin" is here.

The third Duke City novel, DUKE CITY DESPERADO, is now available for pre-order. It's scheduled for publication next June.

I just finished work on what would be the fourth Duke City book, assuming the series continues, and I've started outlining a new novel that I'll start writing in January. Whenever people ask if I'm working on a new book, I say, "Always."

December also finds me gearing up for my Jan. 3 speech to SouthWest Writers and preparing for the spring semester at the University of New Mexico, where I'll be teaching "Meet the Authors" in the Honors College.

Busy time, but happily so.

Happy holidays to you and yours!


New boxed set will slay you

Say hello to DIE LAUGHING 2, a new boxed set of full-length novels from Ben Rehder, Paul Levine, Parnell Hall, Bill Fitzhugh and yours truly.

Our first e-book collection, which is called -- surprise! -- DIE LAUGHING, came out over the summer and has sold very well, gaining us some new readers in the process.

My contribution to the new collection is CALABAMA, a novel of hillbilly noir set in the wilds of Northern California. It's the story of a young slacker whose life goes so wrong, he winds up in a doomed kidnapping plot. I love this story. Very dark humor. A great villain named Rydell Vance.

I've read the stories by Fitzhugh and Hall, and they're superb. Looking forward to the other two, soon as I can get to them.

I'm staying very busy as autumn arrives here in Albuquerque. My writing seminar at the Honors College at
the University of New Mexico is going full steam ahead, and I'm planning a "Meet the Authors" class for next semester. My latest manuscript is with my beta readers, but I'll be giving it a final polish soon.

Bouchercon is less than two weeks away.

Last, but certainly not least, we're gearing up for the Dec. 16 launch of my second Max Austin crime novel, DUKE CITY HIT. Today, I heard from a reviewer who really liked an advance copy. "Great plot," he said. "Great characters."

Music to my ears.


Looking forward to Bouchercon!

I'm delighted to report that I'll be on two author panels at Bouchercon this November in Long Beach, CA.

Bouchercon is the world mystery convention, the biggest event of the year for fans of crime fiction of all kinds. The convention moves around the country (and occasionally overseas) and I try to go every year or two.

A big chunk of what we do at these conventions consists of panel discussions by authors, publishers, fans and others, who talk about mysteries old and new, trends in the publishing industry, the best ways to write, etc. Because most of my crime novels include humor, I'm usually assigned to the "murder is funny" panels, and this year is no exception.

On Thursday, Nov. 13, I'll be on a panel called "A Spoonful of Humor Helps the Murder Go Down" with five other authors, including Paul Levine and Bill Fitzhugh, two of my cohorts in the recent box set DIE LAUGHING. Then on Saturday, Nov. 15, I'll join Donna Andrews, Daniel Stashower, Deni Dietz and others on a panel called "Make 'em Laugh: The Value of Humor in Mysteries."

I really look forward to seeing all my pals -- authors and fans alike -- at these mystery conventions. And I look forward to introducing more people to the new books I'm writing under the pen name Max Austin. For the schedule of events and other info, visit the Bouchercon website here.

By the way, DIE LAUGHING, which also includes full-length novels by Ben Rehder and Parnell Hall, is only available at Kindle until Sept. 30. A great sampler of comic crime for only 99 cents.


Big laughs, low price

I can't believe I forgot to blog about my latest offering, an e-book "boxed set" of five comic crime novels called DIE LAUGHING. The set, which includes my heist novel LOST VEGAS, is only 99 cents on Amazon.

The set includes novels by Bill Fitzhugh, Parnell Hall, Paul Levine and Ben Rehder, who spearheaded this little side project. You can see the titles on this shot of the cover art that I clipped from Amazon. (Don't try to "look inside" here. Click on the title above for details.)

The boxed set is one of the many experiments authors are trying to get readers' attention in the midst of the e-book boom. So far, this one has sold pretty well, and I hope it will get more people interested in my books. The set is available until Sept. 30, though the books will still be available separately.

Meanwhile, the publication date for DUKE CITY HIT grows ever closer. The novel, second in the series I'm writing as Max Austin, will be published Dec. 16, but it's available for pre-order now.

The first one, DUKE CITY SPLIT, has received good reviews. The novels are set in Albuquerque's underworld, and form a loose trilogy of crime thrillers. I'm writing one now that would be the fourth in the series.

Hope you all had a good summer. I taught my first writing class of the semester this week at the University of New Mexico's Honors College, and we're having a few unseasonably cool days here in Albuquerque. Feels like autumn is just around the corner.


Great cover art!

My publisher has just revealed the cover art for my next crime novel (written as Max Austin), and I think it's terrific.

DUKE CITY HIT, a story about a hitman who discovers he has a grown son, is the second in a trilogy being published by Alibi (an e-book imprint of Random House). Publication date for the action-packed thriller is Dec. 16.

One of the nicest things about publishing with Alibi has been the cover art. I loved the blue Sandia Mountains on the Scott Biel-designed cover of the first one, DUKE CITY SPLIT, which came out in April. The art for DUKE CITY HIT delivers a real New Mexico feel, with its lonely highway and blazing sky.

All three crime thrillers are set in Albuquerque, with intertwined characters and locales. I can hardly wait to see what artists come up with for DUKE CITY DESPERADO, which is scheduled for publication in June 2015.

While the deal with Alibi is for three books, I've been writing a fourth one that features characters from the other novels. Just finished the first draft of DUKE CITY HEAT, and it rocks. Lots of revision to come, of course, but I get a short breather this week, including the annual family reunion in Corona, NM.

For more about the Duke City series, check out the Random House website here.


Duke City summer

Temperatures are in the 90s in Albuquerque this week, perfect for staying indoors and writing.

Seems as if every time I update this blog, I'm coming up for air between projects. The latest one to be wrapped up is the third book in my Duke City series, written as Max Austin. DUKE CITY DESPERADO is at Alibi/Random House now, in the pipeline for a June 2015 release.

The first in the series, DUKE CITY SPLIT, is selling briskly as an e-book original from Alibi. Reviewers have given nice notices to the crime novel, which features two bank robbers who are forced to fend off other crooks who want the loot. The second one, DUKE CITY HIT, about a hitman and his son, is slated to be published in December.

I'm really proud of these Duke City novels, which are tight, fast-paced books about crooks and their lives. Now I'm working on the outline and research for a fourth one, which will bring together characters from the first three novels. A complicated project, and it likely will take all summer to write the first draft.

Meanwhile, work continues at the fixer-upper we bought in February. Most of the work on the house itself is done, we've got new solar panels on the roof and the new flowerbeds out front are in bloom. But lots of work remains to be done to the long-neglected back yard.

Good thing my wife and son enjoy working outdoors, or those landscaping projects might never get done. I'd certainly never get to them. I'll be indoors all summer, writing.


Body of work

 I've gained a lot of new readers lately, including some who only know me by my new pen name, Max Austin. But I'm a 20-year veteran with 25 books to my credit.

   Latest to hit the public eye is DUKE CITY SPLIT, a crime novel that is Max Austin's debut. DUKE CITY SPLIT was published this month by Alibi, the new mystery imprint at Random House. Next in the series, DUKE CITY HIT, is scheduled for December release.

It's been 20 years since my first novel, LONELY STREET, introduced bumbling private eye Bubba Mabry to the world. Since then, Bubba has starred in eight other stories and a Hollywood film.
Lots of mystery readers prefer to read series (and authors' work in general) in chronological order, so I thought I'd share my body of work with you. The ones with asterisks are the Bubba Mabry series. 
"Lonely Street," 1994, Pocket Books*
"Baby Face," 1995, Pocket Books*
"Witchy Woman," 1996, St. Martin's Press*
"Shaky Ground," 1997, St. Martin's Press*
"Dirty Pool," 1999, St. Martin's Press*
"End Run," 2000, Intrigue Press
"Crazy Love," 2001, Intrigue Press*
"Cheap Shot," 2002, Intrigue Press
"Trophy Husband," 2003, University of New Mexico Press
"Bullets," 2003, Intrigue Press
"Fool's Paradise," 2003, UNM Press
"Boost," 2004, Speck Press
"Sanity Clause," a novella, in "The Last Noel," 2004, Worldwide*
"Bank Job," 2005, Intrigue Press
"Whipsaw," 2006, Intrigue Press
"Monkey Man," 2006, Intrigue Press*
"Payoff," a short story in the anthology "Damn Near Dead," 2006, Busted Flush
"Cutthroat," 2007, Bleak House
"Limbo," a short story in the Mystery Writers of America anthology "Crimes by Moonlight," 2010, Berkley
"Firepower," 2010, Amazon/Smashwords
"1500 Rules for Successful Living," 2011, Amazon/Smashwords
"Calabama," 2011, Amazon/Smashwords
"The Big Wink," 2011, Amazon/Smashwords
"Lost Vegas," 2011, Amazon/Smashwords
"Surf City," a short story, 2011, West Coast Crime Wave
"Party Doll," a novella, 2012, Amazon/Smashwords*
"A Box of Pandoras," 2012, Amazon/Smashwords

"Showdown," a short story, 2012, Amazon/Smashwords

"Found Money," a short story, 2012, Amazon/Smashwords

"Yvonne's Gone," a short story, 2012, Amazon/Smashwords

"Cemetery Plot," a short story, 2013, Amazon

Writing as Max Austin:

"Duke City Split," Random House/Alibi, 2014

Quite a list, eh? I'm proud of every one of those stories. I hope to write many more.


Elvis lives! And so does Bubba

I haven't done any public events lately, too busy writing and moving and rehabbing the new house. But I've got an event coming up the evening of April 4 that should rock. As part of "Elvis Day" in Albuquerque's Old Town, I'm signing LONELY STREET and other books at Treasure House Books & Gifts.

In LONELY STREET, bumbling Albuquerque private eye Bubba Mabry is hired by a stranger who appears to be the living Elvis, long after the King went to rock 'n' roll heaven. LONELY STREET was my first published novel -- 20 years ago! -- and it's been in print ever since. It was made into a 2009 Hollywood comedy starring Jay Mohr, Joe Mantegna and Robert Patrick..

If you're on Facebook, you can see more about the Old Town event here. Treasure House owner John Hoffsis says an Elvis impersonator may perform in the store. You've been warned!

I'm amazed that I've spent 20 years with Bubba and Felicia and Lieutenant Steve Romero and the rest. During those two decades, I've written eight other Bubba adventures, as well as 20 other books and a fistful of short stories.

The latest novel, DUKE CITY SPLIT, will be published April 8 under my new pen name, Max Austin. DUKE CITY SPLIT is a crime thriller, first in a trilogy set in Albuquerque. All three will be published by Alibi, the new mystery e-book imprint at Random House. The second, DUKE CITY HIT, comes out next December.

And before you ask: Yes, I'll probably write some more Bubba stories. Not right away, but someday. He's always hanging around.


Another moving experience

Every time we think we've settled into some sort of serene groove, Life bumps the turntable.

Yes, we've moved again. We hope this is the last time for a long while, but who knows?

We bought this house by accident. We weren't really looking for a place to buy, but a "For Sale" sign appeared in the yard of a fixer-upper in our neighborhood, and we couldn't resist

The past two months have been a whirlwind of paperwork and moving and workmen and cardboard and noise
and sawdust and paint. I've acted as general contractor, madly writing checks to get the house whipped into shape. We're almost there. A few small repairs remain, but the boxes are unpacked and the painting's finished and we've got new blinds and steps and rugs and refrigerator in place.

The house is adobe-colored stucco like many Albuquerque homes, but we've dressed up the porch with sage-green paint and white trim. Our son Seth did the painting, and he soon will launch into a major landscaping project. But that's being designed and supervised by my wife Kelly, so I can hang up my general contractor hat for a while.

Now I'm doing revisions on DUKE CITY DESPERADO, third in the thriller series I'm writing as Max Austin. The first in the trilogy of crime novels, DUKE CITY SPLIT, comes out April 8 from Alibi/Random
House. The second, DUKE CITY HIT, will be a December publication. Both will be e-books. DUKE CITY SPLIT, which is available for preorder now, is the tale of two bank robbers who hit it big, only to have all the other crooks in town come after the loot. The first review on Goodreads says it's "a thrill on every page."

If all that's not busy enough, I'm also teaching my weekly "Become a Better Writer" class in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. I've got a full class of 17 very bright undergraduates, and we're having a lot of fun so far.

We've only been in the new house for a couple of weeks, and we're hoping things slow down now so we can enjoy it and get accustomed to living here. Get into a new routine. You know, find a groove . . .