Heated question for y'all, from Canada of all places, frozen as it is.

So, you get a doorstopper galley of something called The Finger's Twist, from a local (Winnipeg, Manitoba) publisher (Turnstone) dumped on your desk, with a note from the books editor to maybe take a look. So, of course, you ignore it. You're a senior editor at the only major independent broadsheet west of Toronto, review mystery/crime/suspense as a labour of love, certainly not for the money -- there isn't any. You get a couple dozen books a week dumped on you. You get to review 4 in a monthly column -- but it's one of the few remaining full-zoom Books sections in the country.
So why lug this bloody thing home? You read a couple pages while you're waiting for some slug freelancer to file. You got 4 sections a week to put out and three websites to run -- not much time to play. What's this? Some bozo and a dame in a wheelchair? Who the F cares? Toss it aside. Sits for another week. Then, what the hell - nothing to read. Column's done, another batch of heavyweights knocking off dicta-novels, even some favourite guys like Crais and Kellerman and Connelly. So, lug the F-ing thing out to the car, dump it in the back seat, where it sits for another week.
Now, absolutely nothing to read but this year's 9th James Patterson autopilot thing with no-name collaborators -- a fate worse than death. Pick Twist up. Next stop -- 6 am.
So, wangle a stand-alone review. First time. Name it Canadian mystery of the year. But the eastern critics don't bite. Starts selling out locally, but so what? That and a loonie'll buy you a cuppa coffee. And it starts selling out in Toronto and Calgary 'cause there are only 1,100 copies, and maybe the publisher hasn't a clue what to do if all of them sell out.
Then you get blabbing online with this Lamothe guy, who turns out to be "one of us", an ex-Toronto Sun crime-desk guy who's written some well-regarded true-crime Mafia books, but just two novels, including the one you've just read. And he sends you maybe the last remaining copy in THE KNOWN UNIVERSE of his FIRST novel, The Last Thief, and it's MAYBE BETTER.
What the F do you do to help get this guy out there?
And yes, I'm sure there are a bazillion writers in exactly the same situation, wondering exactly the same thing.
So, I'm asking the question, and tellin' ya this: If you can get this guy from, do it.
John Sullivan
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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On Boxing Day, Lamothe's new book, The Finger's Twist, was the lead item in Margaret Cannon's crime fiction review column in Canada's leading national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

It's a rave. The country's most influential critic has predicted that Twist will be a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel of 2009, the Canadian counterpart to the Edgar.

Here's the review:

I see that Lee has joined the fray here on CrimeSpace. Good on him.
Thanks. And compliments to Lee.
K. Barrett it took me a moment to get your humorous comments about the clearly vast free time I have at hand. I think there's enough about me on the Web and on my profile, but maybe not. If you have questions, ask and I'll fill your boots. Yes, I plan to get a Web page although it seems to me to be too self-promoting. I've located a wizard and when I sober him up we'll put something together. Regarding buying the last book -- good. Folks tell me they see a corelation between myself and my wife and my characters, Charlie Tate and Elodie Gray, so you may get some biodata there. But you don't need to pay for the privilege of "telling me what I want, what I really really want" by buying a book. I don't actually care mucy about sales; my goal in writing is to have people reading it. So hop down to the library, give 'er a read. Save yourself fifteen bucks or so. If you buy one, then when you're done give it to a pal or drop it off at an old folks' home or leave it on the transit. And, because I can't tell if you're a reader or a writer, let me know; if you have a book -- or a series of books -- out, I'll buy up a bunch. Lee Lamothe
Oh, Lee, you sound like me eight years ago. I still hate self-promotion and do too little of it. You must think of your web site not as self promotion but as a way to keep readers informed and help them find the books and perhaps understand them better. It's a service you perform.

As for not caring about sales: the publishers care so much about sales that they won't think twice about dropping you if you don't make them enough money -- even if they love your books. And then it will be very hard to get another book published, no matter how loudly your fans clamor for it.
In the interest of "completing the circle", here's what I wrote on the usenet newsgroup rec.arts.mystery

"I made a fool of myself over at crimespace over the Christmas Holidays. I usually don't hang out at crimespace, but I was bored and looking for books, so I went over. In the forum an agent was talking stream of consciousness about a book he'd been assigned to read but he kept it on the back seat of his car, avoiding it. Finally he gets around to reading it and lo and behold its great. (With friends like these who needs enemies?) This is a Canadian agent for a Canadian publisher talking about a Canadian author writing in a Canadian locale about Canadian characters - so I figure there've been any number of threads here about 'who's a good Canadian author' so I'll check it out.

Ha! Like there's jack on the web about the author Lee Lamothe. Maybe 5 hits on Google, links to his mafia books on Amazon, nutting on wikipedia. But there is one book review in a Canadian newspaper that loves the book. I go to Amazon and buy the "last" book merely on the strength of this one review. I go back to crimespace and the author has posted saying yeah, one of these days I'll get a web page so folks can know who I am. Well. Y'all know what happens next. I lost it. I figure what? Does he *not* want to be read? So I say I bought the book and since the internet isn't a passing fad maybe he should get a web page where people can read the first few pages of his work. Why make the public work so hard to find him and his works? Then I realize what a jackass I am for saying that and I haven't been back to see the scalding retorts.

To paraphrase our dear friend Ali Karim

'The Finger's Twist' has a fresh voice, fresh characters and deals with a true to life (or what I'd imagine to be true to life) crime and corruption. And all in Canada! Who'd a thunk Canada was so vibrant?

His characters are Charlie Tate, a big muscle-bound guy from a poor background who knocked around the world before coming back to Canada to settle down. And Elodie Gray a crippled heiress in a wheelchair. But these definitely are *NOT* Deaver's Sachs and Rhyme characters. These characters are people. They have good days, they have bad days, they can be petty. Tate & Gray do background checks for clients who have usually lost money in financial crimes. For this they do not need PI licenses, so like many other crime fiction characters they are knights for hire. They wind up getting sucked in to a political bombing incident and the game's afoot.

What I like about the book is the way Lamothe deals with crime - probably because he's written 3-4 books on the mafia he knows something about the way the world works. No one's nice. Everyone has an angle. No one does nothin' for nothin'. And, like a good spy novel, there are layers upon layers. What you think's happening isn't.

Lamothe also writes very well. And, sorta like Jonathan Letham's 'Motherless Brooklyn', he starts out laying down a hip patter that is - to middle-class suburbanites like me - startling but still familiar, learned from various gritty novels and films along the way. There's no sweetness and light here. There's no - how shall I say it... - eye towards how Hollywood will adapt this as a screen play so therefore he'll write in a certain vein that'll be familiar no matter who reads it. Hollywood and I suppose most publishers and even the audience expect a good cop, a bad cop, a corrupt politician, a sterling hero, a stalwart friend. While I'm not saying Lamothe doesn't give you these, he doesn't give you them in the way you expect or are familiar with.

Anyway, I liked the book. So far its the best of 2010 and y'all should - well I *was* going to say read the first chapter on line to see if you agree, but the author is a technophobe, so it'll be a long time before you can do that. I guess you'll have to read the synopsis at Amazon. I'm glad I persisted in researching & finding the guy. The book is available in paperback (PBO?). I hope someone nominates it for an Edgar.

Lee's publisher Turnstone Press has an exerpt of this book as well as other interesting looking Canadian crime fiction. (I think)

K Barrett
K. : You got it exactly right. Good on you. Now go try to find his first one, The Last Thief. Maybe better. But what do I know?
That was very funny, K. Barrett, and I'm not saying you're not right. Lee ought to be very pleased with your opinion.

Still, keep in mind that many authors are shy and worry a great deal about coming across as crude promoters of their own stuff. Some of us were raised believing firmly that pride is one of the seven deadly sins and a character flaw, and humility is not only a virtue but essential good manners.
I. J. - I understand what you are saying but I gather from reading sites like crimespace that publishers expect authors to do most of their own promotion. If that's a 'given' then an author has to get over him/herself and create some sort of a web presence since that's the first place people go to get information. Better still to have something online that you wrote yourself to put your best face forward. Like I say, why make the public work so hard to find you? But Lee says he's working on it, so I'll take him at his word and I'm off to find 'The Last Thief'.


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