Friday, August 6, 2010

Coercion by Mark Boss

When Al shows up at Frank's house, there's a bloody mess all over the floor. Frank's been working on his iron game. But instead of hitting a few balls at the driving range, he bashed in his wife's lover's head. Al hesitantly agrees to help Frank dispose of the body, the first in a string of just horrible decisions Al will make.

So begins the Mark Boss short story Coercion, up at Beat to a Pulp. One of the great crime fiction forms is what I like to call the "character beatdown." It's when the characters board an express train to hell. Boss nails this form--it's violent and fast, populated with vivid details that fit the dark mood. And he finishes with a counter-intuitive ending--one that highlights the psychological complexity of the crime.

Boss will soon be shopping a manuscript to agents, a thriller called Hired Guns. Here's his blurb on the project:
Paroled LA gangbanger Hector Tombs is putting his life together--attending community college, working as a security guard at the high-tech Signum Corporation, and dating a pretty co-worker, Lisa.

Ron Haraldson is a rogue scientist with a Chinese biochemical weapon lost since the Korean War, a plan to get rich, and a vendetta against Hector's boss.  His strong right hand is Alexander Turgenev, a former Spetsnaz commando with a price on his head.   

When Ron's plot kills Lisa, and poisons Hector's mentor and two thousand civilians, Hector leads a team of specialists into battle against Turgenev's mercenaries to capture the antidote.

Bound by duty but motivated by vengeance, Hector must use the skills that put him in prison to save thousands from the grave.