This volume includes the two underground cult-classic novels By the Balls and Five Shots and a Funeral, along with two brand-new short stories, a new introduction, and over a dozen short essays by industry luminaries. The tales follow the exploits of Ben Drake, a detective with a passion for small cigars and big fights, a love of Old Grand-Dad, and a weakness for women in trouble. North of Las Vegas in the fictional town of Testacy City, Drake sniffs out killers, thieves, kidnappers, cock fighters, double crossers, crooked cops, and numbers runners—all culminating in the bizarre murder of Gentleman Joe Biggs, a well-loved local bowling hero. And as he continues to crack clues in the case, Drake is drawn deeper into a citywide criminal conspiracy.
“Readers who enjoy their hard-boiled detective fiction seasoned with self-referential humor will welcome this collection, which includes two new short stories…The title work, a novel first published in 1998, is the highpoint, as a murder in a bowling alley claims the life of Gentleman Joe Biggs, the city’s leading bowler. Along the way to a crafty solution, the authors wink at the readers—a light touch that leavens a grim fictional universe.”—Publishers Weekly
“With their tongues well placed in their pulpy cheeks, these stories could be read as fairly faithful homages to the classic mystery noirs of the 1930s (and '40s, and '50s) as well as wickedly playful satires...A definitive package of noir throwbacks that will tickle your fancy if you're a fan of Hammett, Spillane and Chandler.”—Shelf Awareness
About the Author
Tom Fassbender: Tom Fassbender is a writer, editor, and content strategist who has written, edited, and published both novels and comics. By day he manages the creative team at a Southern California financial institution. He fills the rest of his time by being a father, tending beehives, running long distances (preferably in the Angeles National Forest), and seeking new adventures in and around Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
The True History of By the Balls and the Birth of Ugly Town (2013) 9
"Fireproof" (2013) 19
"Partners" (2002) 42
Five Shots and a Funeral (1999) 67
"A Punch in the Gut and a Bag Full of Oranges" (2000) 251
"Faze Out" (2002) 263
By the Balls (1998) 275
"Across the Line" (2013) 435
Kind Words (2013) 453