Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Pyres Reviews

Glad to report that last month's publication of the trade paperback of Pyres has eared the book some renewed attention, including some fresh reviews from newspaper and online sources. Here's a sampling:

Nikitas does a nice job of weaving in a surprising amount of Norse mythology into an otherwise very modern thriller. . . [T]he novel's final chapter, titled Ragnarok (twilight of the gods in Norse mythology), vies with any epic opera for explicit and apocalyptic violence.

Nikitas keeps the tension high in Pyres while creating a compelling cast of characters. Detective Hurd could be a springboard heroine for a noir series set in the woodsy idyll of upstate New York.

--Kathy Kerr, The Edmonton Journal (full review here)

Derek Nikitas' Pyres garnered good notices, but not widespread acclaim, when it was published last year. But now that the book, nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel, is out in paperback, it has a chance to reach the audience it richly deserves.

--Ruth Myles, Calgary Herald (full review here)

An Edgar Award nominee for best first novel, Pyres is a harsh, bleeding nightmare full of Scandinavian angst and American mayhem, a fairy tale with all "the brutal bits."

In a genre ploughed deep, it breaks new ground. Don't miss it.

--John Sullivan, Winnipeg Free Press (full review here)

It's hard to believe this tour de force is a first novel. However, the author is an acclaimed short-story writer and clearly has honed his fiction chops. Another surprise, given the male author, is that the main characters are women and a major theme running through the book is mothers and daughters trying to make peace. To Nikitas' credit, the characters and relationships are all quite convincing. Nikitas is also close enough to his youth that he gets his younger characters right. I admit that when Luc started seeing Nordic gnomes (tomten) that led her on the right path, I paused. This was verging on fantasy, something I usually avoid. But everything about the story was so well done and so compelling that I was willing to suspend disbelief and keep on reading. I was glad I did. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

--Verna Suit at I Love a Mystery (full review here, complete with doofy candid of the author)

And here's a nice bit about my story "Runaway," in the Killer Year anthology (St. Martin's Minotaur, edited by Lee Child):

The best story in this collection is the superbly chilling "Runaway" by Derek Nikitas. Two fifteen year-olds have made a building site their playground and a concrete underground bunker their den - and then they discover that a runaway black girl is hiding inside. The captivating Rhonda Peach is a revelation to the boys. But things increasingly get beyond their control. Nikitas's writing is evocative and sensual and rooted in teenage angst.

--Eileen Shaw, The Bookbag (full review here)

But perhaps my favorite review of Pyres yet comes from the "Nerd of Noir" (aka Peter Dragovich) Here's a snippet, but please do read the whole profane thing:

But what really makes this fucker hum is the action. This is some of the most intense violence you will read anywhere, depicted on a level that is arguably McCarthyian - no shit. ..Some shocking stuff happens in this motherfucker and when it isn't completely disgusting, it is absolutely riveting.

I can't wait for Nikitas to pump out another book. This dude has the chops to intrigue both the beret-wearing totebag-carriers and the folks like you and me who want our pulp to go all the way. He's fighting the best fight and I support the shit out of him for that.

Finally, and by contrast, here's a message board over at Women's Day, where a nice group of folks are currently reading and discussing Pyres.

The Long Division

I think I can say now that the title of my second novel will be...

The Long Division
. Aside from being thematically related to the book in several ways, the title is also a play on the old Chandler, Hammett, Ross McDonald titles that were euphemisms for death: Red Harvest, The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, etc.

The hardcover ought to be coming out this September. I think I can also divulge a quick synopsis of the book as well:

An Atlanta housecleaner flees her nowhere life to reunite with the son she gave up for adoption. The teenage boy joins his long-lost mother on an unlawful road trip that proves how much they both have to lose by finding each other. Elsewhere, a deputy must track down the shooter in a drug-related double murder before other investigators discover the deputy's illicit ties to the case. The killer is an unbalanced college kid hunted by vengeful drug dealers and the police, haunted by loves both dead and forbidden. When the renegade mother and son arrive, past sins and present gambits will ensnare them in the violent endgame between the deputy and the desperate killer.