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Archive for November 8th, 2007

Today I’m pleased to have on the spotlight author Michael Simon and his latest crime thriller, The Last Jew Standing. To promote the release of his novel, Simon will be on tour during the whole month of November. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post in order to be eligible to win a free copy of his book. Too see his other stops, please visit the Pump UP Your Book Promotion Virtual Tours site.

The Author:

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Born in Levittown, Long Island, the birthplace of mass-produced housing, Michael Simon is a former actor, playwright, and Texas probation officer. He has taught at Brooklyn College and New York University.

In 2004, Viking published his first novel, Dirty Sally, which introduced Dan Reles, a half-Jewish, New York Mafia-born Texas homicide detective. Dirty Sally was lauded by The Chicago Tribune as “A bloody and intriguing delight for noir aficionados.” The Seattle Times called it “the finest crime-novel debut since Dennis Lehane’s A Drink Before the War in 1994.” It was named one of the Top Ten Thrillers and Mysteries of the Year by Amazon.com.

In 2005, the second book in Simon’s Texas series, Body Scissors, was published, also to critical acclaim. The Rocky Mountain News called it, “Fast paced and suspenseful from start to finish.”

Viking signed on for two more Dan Reles thrillers, Little Faith (2006) and The Last Jew Standing (2007).

To date, Simon’s works have appeared in Swedish, French, Italian, Japanese, and on audio tape.

He lives in New York City.

Visit his website.

The Book:

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Lieutenant Dan Reles has a new house, a beautiful wife, a son, and a great career as head of Austin Homicide. The past, however, has a way of catching up with you. When Dan’s ex-con father—a Mafia legbreaker who’s spent the last twenty years on the run—shows up on Dan’s doorstep with an escaped prostitute and a stolen car, Dan gets caught on the wrong end of a mob vendetta.

Sam Zelig is the last of the Jewish crime bosses, a giant of a man with boundless rage and a passion for pain—other people’s pain. Zelig chases the old man to Austin to retrieve his stolen girl and extract his pound of flesh. But when Dan’s father won’t hand over the girl, Sam Z takes the city itself hostage, forcing Dan to run the gauntlet: a trial by fire and water, a hail of bullets, a bridge embankment and one very angry woodchipper.

In the wake of revelations about his New York past and the mother who abandoned him, Dan has to choose between his new family, his father, and the town he’s sworn to protect.

Part Damon Runyon, part James Ellroy, Michael Simon paints “an authentic noir landscape and peoples it with equally authentic characters—tarnished cops and haunted hookers,” writing with a rhythm and a soulfulness that raise the bar on crime fiction. Fast paced and suspenseful, The Last Jew Standing thrills to the very last minute.

See the Trailer.
Excerpt:

Pax Berelman met with a regrettable incident involving a hotel room in Elmira, New York, a piece of exhaust pipe, and his trachea. Whether it was an accident or suicide, or a simple misassessment of the laws of biology, is a total crapshoot, owing to Pax’s rumored general dizziness and his habits regarding hallucinatory drugs. He was known to be a garbagehead, that is, someone who will get high using anything he can get his hands on—grass, meth, cleaning products— but while his chemical habits may have contributed indirectly to his early death, they had little to do with the exhaust pipe itself. Investigators at the site considered but dismissed theories that he may have been employing said pipe to create a more direct route for intoxicants to travel to his stomach or lungs. Moreover, his drug use proved unrelated to the loss of his vehicle, a jet black Buick LeSabre with racing trim, to the hands of a driver not known to him, barrelling down Highway 15 in a southerly direction toward the Pennsylvania border. The loss of the vehicle in question occurred several days subsequent to Pax’s demise, and was therefore unlikely to create the heartbreak which might cause him to fall or thrust himself upon the rusty 18-inch fragment of exhaust pipe, now lodged longitudinally in his gullet.

What makes this a subject of further inquiry is how Pax’s unfortunate accident resulted in a chain of occurrences leading to me, four days later and two thousand miles away, pinned in the front seat of my cool blue Chevy Caprice, which faced north on the six-lane Congress Avenue bridge in Austin, Texas, at four AM as a big black Lincoln rammed into its driver’s side door. The blow thrust my Caprice sideways and tore its tires as my vehicle skidded on its rims, up the curb and onto the walkway, while Mora, who had been standing by the passenger door, ran for cover. As I tried to break loose, the Lincoln backed up in a screeching curve across the six lanes, pulled forward and then backed up hard, again pummelling my driver’s side. It crushed the door inward as far as the steering wheel and rammed my Chevy against the guardrail, barricading the passenger door and me inside. I struggled to roll down the passenger window and jump, when the Lincoln burned rubber and rolled ass-first, hitting the Chevy a third time, now decimating the driver’s side and pushing it up into the air so the two-foot guardrail, instead of protecting me from a fall, served as the fulcrum I’d be tipped over when the Lincoln made the inevitable final strike and knocked me over the rail, trapped between the battered doors, toppling into the cold, dark water below.

One could argue this event was only one part of the inevitable cascade of events set off days earlier by Pax Berelman’s untimely death, or even decades earlier with my family’s first involvement in certain circles. But considering the issues at hand, the story really began when it walked in on my otherwise manageable life just two nights before.

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