Murder Man

If you were trying to get crosstown by taxi in New York City a little over two decades ago and happened to see the face shown above peering back at you from the rear-view mirror, you could be forgiven for wondering whether your cabbie had murder on his mind.

And you would have been right, since your driver was then in the process of launching his new career as a murder novelist whose debut book, A Twist of the Knife, was "like riding an avalanche all the way to a satisfactorily explosive finale," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

At the risk of blowing this cabbie-turned-author’s sinister image, I’ve gotta tell you that in reality Stephen Solomita, who’s a longtime personal friend of Eddie’s and mine, is a sweetheart. He just happened to be able to summon an evil-eye for his first (and still only) author’s portrait that’ll knock you right off your recliner if you contemplate it at a vulnerable moment.

Above: Steve’s first book alongside three later ones that are favorites of mine.

You may not be all that aware of Steve the Author since he suffers from a stubborn disinclination to promote himself on TV—a trait that’s inexplicable to a media whore like me. (Are you listening, Today Show? I’m right here near the phone when you’re ready.) But I’ve been happy to see a fresh flow of new novels from him being ushered into print lately by Severn House, a publisher in the UK. For my money, the only crime novelist I know who can match my pal Steve’s mix of grit, perversity, and class is the masterful David Cray—and that’s because Cray is Steve writing under a different name.

Steve is on my mind right now because I just finished reading his latest book, Cracker Bling. As usual, my expectations about the course its plot would take had been duly whipsawed right and left by the time I reached the last page, a familiar experience for anyone entering Solomita territory. His previous book, Monkey in the Middle, spun my brain around midway through in similar fashion. One hopes for those kinds of reversals in gritty police procedurals, of course, where horribly devious sociopaths match wits with supposed "good guys" who aren’t always that non-devious themselves.

And as an added bonus, Steve has a gift for vividly observed detail that makes his descriptive prose the kind of delicious reading pleasure commonly associated with so-called "literary" novels.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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One Response to Murder Man

  1. Kevin Moore says:

    I will have to take your word for it that Solomita is a nice guy, because those eyes are not reassuring me. Thanks for the reader’s advisory. Crime is a deficit in my reading habits I want to make up.