First published in paperback by PM Press/Switchblade three years ago, The Wrong Thing is the second novel in my Phoenix Noir series. It’s atypical in that, though it ends up in Phoenix, home of the doomed, most of it takes place in Santa Fe. It’s also one of my best books.

When I wrote it, I knew I had written a better book than I had aspired to write, ever. Others seem to agree; it was a finalist for the Spinetingler best novel of the year in the Legend category, even though I’m not a legend. (I was beaten by Lawrence Block, who most certainly is.) 

While the paperback is beautiful, I learned recently that there were formatting or scanning problems with PM Press/Switchblade’s Kindle version, and I think it was a bit pricey at nearly $10. So I’m happy to announce this new Kindle edition, with a new cover and perfect formatting, published by Cracked Sidewalk Press, priced $6.99.

WHO’S AFRAID OF MACHIAVELLI?

I think Machiavelli’s analysis of power is the most brilliant I’ve ever read, so I enjoyed this BBC documentary about him. I have two quibbles with it, one minor, one major.

The minor one is that it is historically erroneous to claim that Neil Kinnock was beloved by the Labour Party during his time as its leader. He was a deeply divisive figure, loathed and despised by much of the party’s membership (including me at the time; I’m one of the many who left the party because of him).

The major flaw of this documentary is that it focuses only on The Prince, with no mention of The Discourses, thus presenting only half of Machiavelli’s theory of power - and, by doing so, somewhat misrepresenting the half it does present.

That said, it’s well worth watching. I now want to pilgrimage to his estate and drink some wine from his vineyard.

I’d been drinking a bottle of root beer. It was on the floor at my feet. I picked it up and went to the kitchen. They’d stopped yelling at each other and were talking calmly now. They both looked at me as I came in. My mother didn’t say anything. My father said, “Get out of here. We’re talking.”

I didn’t say anything either. I just swung with all of my weight and smashed the bottle of soda on the top of his head. He was lucky that it shattered on impact, or it might have fractured his skull. Some of the shards tore his face open. Root beer sprayed over us both. I was still holding the neck of the bottle, which was no longer attached to anything. I let it drop as he fell on his hands and knees.

The Last Tiger is Tony Black’s most brilliant and resonant novel so far

When Tony Black’s first novel outside of the crime genre - His Father’s Son - was published, some saw it as a departure for the author. It wasn’t. Black has always been deeply concerned with father-son relationships (the heart of his Gus Dury novels), and His Father’s Son was a deepening of that exploration. Now The Last Tiger - set not in urban Scotland but in Tasmania - goes even deeper. It’s the best book so far by this fearlessly honest and compassionate writer.