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But what happened to him in those missing years? What happened to Maggie, to Bill, and their escape from the murderous Bender family?
Hop Alley answers all those questions as we return to the Wild West and discover Bill Ogden, now living as Bill Sadlaw, running a photo studio near the Chinese part of town know as Hop Alley in the frontier town of Denver in 1878. Left by Maggie, Bill enjoys an erotic affair with Priscilla, a fallen singer addicted to laudanum, who is also seeing his friend Ralph Banbury, the editor of the local Denver Bulletin (neither man minds sharing). Bill’s peaceful time away from Cottonwood turns anything but as he must confront the mysterious murder of his housekeeper’s brother-in-law, the increasing instability of Priscilla as both men try to ease out of her clutches, and an all out-riot across Hop Alley. And when the body count starts rising, Bill will soon start wishing he had never left Cottonwood at all.
Hop Alley proves that no one does the Wild West like noir master Scott Phillips.
"Phillips has a way of writing a bon vivant of the Wild West with testosterone raging without it appearing macho or obnoxious or ego centric. [...] His writing is frank, vivid and hot, but the man is rarely the aggressor. The ladies drop their drawers or veils in an instant in his presence and this is great fun to read. Phillips description is lurid, colorful and powerful. He chooses just the right details and the right amount of details so as not to clutter his sentences which flow tripingly on your tongue. It is a joy to read Phillips." —Huffington Post
"Phillips’s juicy vernacular is perfect for Bill’s louche narrative voice, and his easy, flowing style suits the loose morality and freewheeling spirit of a hotheaded young nation." —New York Times Book Review
"Phillips has a nice touch in using nasty characters as first-person narrators... You can’t help thinking that there’s a third novel looming, this one set in that city by the bay. Let’s hope Phillips spares us from waiting another decade for this book." —The St. Louis Post Dispatch
"Phillips mixes real events, period turns of phrase, a noirish sensibility, and a cast of murderous women, madmen, drunks, grifters, and fools into a wildly entertaining, perhaps sui generis, slumgullion that might well be closer to reality than readers would imagine." —Booklist
"Phillips’s skillful use of real historical events will resonate with fans of George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman series." —Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
"This is fun, propulsive reading for anyone who likes historicals with a touch of mystery." &mdashLibrary Journal
Praise for Cottonwood:
“Wit and gusto... Scott Phillips doesn't really write crime stories. He writes about criminal behaviors—how they originate, how they transform character, how they become part of the cultural norm and, most incisively, how they flourish in certain environments." —The New York Times
"Cottonwood is an adventurous, bawdy, and genre-bending epic. Scott Phillips cements his reputation as a fearless, ambitious writer who never makes a false move." —George Pelecanos
"Scott Phillips is dark, dangerous, and important. Cottonwood is crime fiction at its best." —Michael Connelly
"Frontier Guignol in post-Civil War Kansas and California of the 1870s and ‘80s... [this] droll first-person narrative combines amorality with a genuine, if laid-back, joie de vivre... The blazingly original Phillips writes with a deadpan humor and incisive irony. The story is shaggy, but its unique slant on the Old West is a major achievement." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Cottonwood’s rise from frontier lawlessness to respectability sweeps along briskly, unpacking surprises at every turn Phillips’ vision adds up to an indelible portrait of a haunted town, as starkly delineated and unsparing as an antique tintype.” —Entertainment Weekly
"Western epic, black comedy, and soft porn are cleverly spliced in this genre-bending offering from Phillips (The Walkaway; The Ice Harvest), which relates the experiences of Bill Ogden, sometime farmer, sometime saloon-owner, sometime photographer in 1870s Kansas. Ogden, 27, is a self-taught Greek and Latin scholar and a sexual libertine capable of seducing almost any woman he encounters. Estranged from his wife, he never brags about his peccadilloes, although it seems that his devotion to oral sex sets him apart from rivals and makes him the heart's desire of the voracious women who seem to be everywhere on the frontier. The story, such as it is, centers on the arrival of Marc Leval and his lovely wife, Maggie, in the tiny farm community of Cottonwood. Marc capriciously selects Bill as a partner in his scheme to attract Texas drovers to a railhead, while Maggie plays a less-than-discreet game of spider and fly with Bill, the Kansas Casanova. In the meantime, an outlaw family embarks on a crime spree that eventually pits Bill against Marc and sends Bill and Maggie fleeing. Jumping ahead 20 years, Bill's story resumes in San Francisco, where he is making his way as a photographer and sexual athlete. He learns that Maggie, from whom he is long separated, has returned to Cottonwood, so he abandons his life in California and returns, bent on rekindling their love affair. Bill's salaciousness rivals Don Juan's and he is utterly devoid of scruples, but his deadpan humor and cunning indifference to life's vicissitudes keep him likable. Lively pacing and artful prose lend polish to Phillips's cheerfully grotesque chronicle of western antics." —Publishers Weekly
"In the always interesting, often surprising online January Magazine, Bill Crider talks about the general lack of respect paid to mysteries set in the Old West. Crider... will probably be as delighted as I am with this third book from Scott Phillips, whose first two novels set in 20th century Kansas were bleakly comic affairs connected by a brilliant link of shared history. There's a similar link in Cottonwood, but you have to wait for the epilogue to fully appreciate it. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the pleasures of Phillips' unique and pungent prose, as well as his skill and daring in moving us through a landscape that at first glance might seem to have been well-covered.... However, it's not Phillips' thoughtful, exciting plotting but rather his amazing ear for the sad sounds behind the words of his people that make his novels so exceptional." —Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune
"At first glance, Phillips' third effort seems like quite a departure from his previous noirish crime novels, but it quickly becomes apparent that the author's brand of sly humor and his skilled depictions of nasty human behavior translate well to the historical genre...Romance, intrigue, dueling pistols, and a Charles Willeford feel translated to the frontier--a little something for everyone.” —Booklist
"If, in his debut performance, a rookie ballplayer slams the first two pitches into the bleachers, some fans will insist he's the next Babe Ruth. ...Perhaps it's a good thing that Scott Phillips' game is crime fiction and not baseball. The Wichita native not only has hit the literary equivalent of three homers in a row with his first three novels, but each one has been a grand slam. In Cottonwood, Phillips has delivered a historical drama every bit as compelling as his acclaimed The Walkaway and The Ice Harvest. Those first two disquieting works took a sharp scalpel to the notion that denizens of the heartland are somehow less prone to violence, depravity and corruption than their brethren in the big cities. His many characters are imaginatively conceived, multi-dimensional and well worth knowing... Like the photographs Ogden takes of lynchings, scalped hunters, and slaughtered buffaloes on the prairie, Cottonwood opens our imaginations to a long-gone world that's far more intriguing and frightening than any we could have imagined.” —Gary Dretzka, Chicago Sun-Times
"In a book that is as much history as mystery, Scott Phillips' Cottonwood makes the dirt streets and rough life of the Kansas prairie come alive.” —Kansas City Star
Praise for Rake
"With Rake, Scott Phillips proves himself the unparalleled master of the noir anti-hero. Mad, bad, and dangerous to know, his Crandall Taylor is the quintessential American huckster on the scene, and in Phillip’s sly, deft hands we find ourselves sinking down eagerly with him, glorying in the beautiful muck." —Megan Abbott
"Rake is full of vicarious pleasures for us to indulge in...from one of the most original practitioners of noir working today..a hilarious Hollywood satire, the fuck-journal of a mad man and an ingeniously twisty old-school noir along the lines of James M. Cain.” —Spinetingler Magazine
“Scott Phillips is an author whose books are always at the top of my reading pile. His smart prose and conscience-deprived anti-heroes turn crime fiction into social satire. His latest, Rake, further proves his talent for making noir funny With Rake, Phillips has once again created a protagonist whose voice suits his writing style. You might dislike him, if he wasn’t so cavalier and intelligent. While he gives us wild justification for his actions there exists a little hypocrisy in him, at least when he tells his tale. It’s also hard to admit we’d behave differently if we could get away with it. One could say that Scott Phillips gives us a cold look at his characters, and the film business, but the narration and the protagonist’s devil-may-care attitude give Rake a sleazy warmth. Rake is Scott Phillips at his most entertaining. His wonderfully amoral and hedonistic characters, with their scheming and trouble shooting, provide a subtle yet laughable loud look at how the US has exported its worst traits abroad.” —Mystery People
“The first scene in Rake is a fight. It’s not surprising that a Scott Phillips book opens with violence; he’s known for exploring the baser side of humanity with dark humor and noirish style Rake makes no bones about its main character being a bad guy. But bad guys can make for good reads, and this one does.” —The Wichita Eagle
Praise for The Adjustment
"This is Wayne's story, and what makes it memorable is his hulking presence, drifting through the world as hungry and blank-eyed as a shark . . . There's something compelling about that sort of rage, about its compression, its control . . . But what draws us to the book is Phillips' taut and vicious vision, so clean we cannot help but inhabit it, even when we find ourselves repelled." —The Los Angeles Times
"Written in pitch-perfect noir form." —Library Journal
"Sly and worthy . . . Crime fans, especially those who favor a vivid sense of place and time, will love it." —Booklist
"The author's unapologetic depiction of a thoroughly bad egg will appeal to hard-boiled fans who don't need redeeming features to become engaged with a character." —Publishers Weekly
"Wayne Ogden is a prince of a fellow, as long as you judge this bad-boy protagonist of Scott Phillips’s caustic crime novel . . . according to his own perverse code of ethics." —New York Times Book Review
"Phillips' novel is a brilliant work of noir, narrated in an Ogden deadpan that at times pokes the ghost of Raymond Chandler. Phillips' place of residence qualifies The Adjustment for this 'Best of St. Louis' honor, but regardless of where he chose to hang his hat, his book would rank among the best published this year." —The Riverfront Times, Best Book by a Local Author
“ as good, if not better, than The Ice Harvest . . . Like Jim Thompson with Lou Ford, Scott Phillips successfully manipulates the reader via Wayne Ogden. He forces you to stop on the side of the road, to look at the crash, and then to get out of your car to inspect every tiny details of this twisted wreckage of a man. The Adjustment is hardboiled, hardcore, and hard to put down.” —crimefictionlover.com
"Playing fast and loose with the dark side of the Greatest Generation, Scott Phillips once again creates a tight, funny noir that's rich in character, and makes the profane sacred." —from Indiebound's Next Great Reads selection
“Like all Phillips novels, you never know where The Adjustment is going and the storytelling is nothing less than completely compelling... [this is] the best novel that I’ve read all year.” Spinetingler Magazine
Praise for Scott Phillips
“Scott Phillips is dark, dangerous and important . . . crime fiction at its best.” —Michael Connelly
“A fearless, ambitious writer who never makes a false move.” -George Pelecanos
“I simply can't wait to see what Scott Phillips will do next.” -Richard Russo
And so when we arrived at the city of Omaha, Nebraska I thought to regain some of her favor by checking into the Cozzens House hotel, which was reputed to be the finest in the middle of the nation, despite the town’s reputation for roughness, violence, and general squalor. Viewed from a purely economic standpoint this was not the wisest course of action open to me, but I hoped Maggie’s spirits would revive once she’d tasted a bit of the vie de luxe away from which I’d spirited her.
As I signed the guest ledger in a lobby whose opulence verged on vulgarity I asked the clerk where I could securely store a wagon loaded with photographic equipment and chemicals. He sniffed before each sentence he spoke, as though an air of imperiousness might counteract his hickish demeanor.
“You can store it where you stable your animal, sir,” he said. “Burwick’s livery is across the street and they’ll lock it away real tight for you.”
“Pardon me, sir,” said a small, portly man standing nearby as I walked away from the desk holding the room key. He wore a well-cut suit of gabardine, and he spoke so quietly that it was necessary to lean in closely to understand what he was saying. This, I surmised, was due to embarrassment over his pronounced lisp.
“I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but am I to understand that I am addressing a member of the photographic profession?”
“You are,” I said.
“My name is Daniel B. Silas. I am an attorney-at-law, and it happens that I have a client who’s in need of a good photographer. You are staying only for the night, or could you be persuaded to stay in our city for a day or two?”
My head was cocked at quite an angle trying to understand him, and at first I heard “city” as “shitty,” but I maintained my poise and didn’t snicker. “Our plan was to depart in the morning,” I said, trying to appear casually disinterested but in fact overjoyed at the prospect of recouping what this extravagant interlude was draining from our meager savings. “I would have assumed that a town of this size was full of photographic studios.”
“Yes, sir, it is.” He looked around the lobby as though afraid he’d be overheard saying something incriminating, which piqued my interest further. “None of them will take this job. On moral grounds.”
“A-ha,” I said. “I understand. That’s not something I’d be willing to risk, either. In any event the world is already full of ‘girlie’ photographs.” I had no moral objections to dirty pictures, certainlyI had after all taken a few, purely for my own pleasure, back in Kansasbut I didn’t wish to run the risk of having them confiscated, thereby drawing attention to myself.
I had shocked him, and he hastened to correct my misapprehension. “Oh, no, sir, you mistake my intent. What this gentleman wants isn’t anything objectionable. His problem is the local fellows either think it’s buncombe or they can’t make it happen.”
“Can’t make what happen?”
He looked around, as though someone unseen might be listening, then leaned in just as I was doing.
“Make the spirits of the dead appear,” he whispered, his eyes widening for effect. “On a wet plate.”
Of course it was buncombe, of the purest and most foolish kind, but if there was money in it I was hardly in a position to turn it down. I’d never made a spirit photograph before but the gist of it was simple double exposure, and the examples I’d seen of the genre seemed either inartistic or unconvincing or both, and I loved a challenge.
“Oh, I can make them appear. Tell me, who’s this gentleman?”
Posted May 3, 2015
Posted May 3, 2015
OH MY GOSH!!! I love your story so much! I have a character if you want to use her!<p> Name: Murtaugh Calduron<br> Age: 18 <br> Looks: black, shaggy hair that covers his shocking blue eyes. Muscular and never smiles. 5'8"<br> Powers: he taught himself to control lightning<br> Other: has a crush on Isabelle<p> l completely understand if you can't use Murtaugh. I just gotta say! Your story is amazing!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2015
Posted May 3, 2015
I'll try Blu.
<br> "Woah! What?!", lsabelle stared at Tasha.
<br> "You just rescued that pig and now you want to eat it?", Adam was incredulous.
<br> "No, that's his name, we can't keep refering to him as /the pig/", said Tasha.
<br> "Her", all heads turned to Mr. Brentlis. "Its a girl", he shrugged, "my family, on my mom's side, were farmers."
<br> "Since its got a name l guess we keep it", Sarah sighed and looked over at Mr. Brentlis.
<br> "She", Tasha corrected under her breath.
<br> "Put her in the garage, there should be straw in a bag, you can use the metal fence parts to pen her in, we can give her our leftover vegetables", Mr. Brentlis decided.
<br> "l'll help", lsabelle offered.
<br> "'kay", Tasha shruged and pulled Bacon out of the house and into the garage.
Once they were finished, Bacon had half of the garage for her room and was happily eating a partly eaten water melon.
<br> lsabelle patted her on the head and left.
<br> Tasha stayed, enjoying the quiet.
<br> "Hows the pig?", Adam asked when lsabelle returned in the living room.
<br> "She's okay, l think."
<br> Adam nodded and returned to his book.
<br> "What'cha reading?", lsabelle attempted to continue the conversation.
<br> "Blood of Olympus", Adam muttered.
<br> At this Tasha pranced in, "Hi."
<br> "Hey", Adam smiled at her, "how's our to-be-meal?"
<br> Tasha ignored him and sat down next to lsabelle.
<br> "Well, how's the pig?", Adam refrased his question.
<br> "She's really happy", Tasha told him.
<br> "She's a /pig/ how can she be happy?", lsabelle wrinkled her nose.
<br> "Pig's are really smart animals", Tasha informed lsabelle.
<br> "What ever, they're still just animals", lsabelle rolled her eyes. She got up and left the room, walking up the steps to her bedroom. She sat on her bed and stared at the door.
<br> "What did l do wrong?", she asked herself, "Why doesn't Adam like me? Everyone likes me." She repeated the question in her mind, over and over again.
Real short chapter, sorry, but l've got to get to know lsabelle better. I don't really know what much she can do.
Posted May 3, 2015