Catch My Killer: The First Sam Truman Mystery by Ed Kurtz

First off, anyone who’s anyone knows I have a literary hard-on for Kurtz’s writing style. The man has a flow that just leaves me humming like a lady in a Billy Idol song (wanting more more more, for those of you who live under a rock). But how the hell was I to know that he’d be throwing down with a hardboiled/horror crossover when I read Bleed and Rust & Blood?

I had no freakin’ clue. But damn was I excited to see what this man might pull out of his hat next.

From the first word of this series hitting the streets I was sold on it. But truth be told, I can also tell you that the potential for this venture scared the shit out of me. Here’s an author that I admire; two genres that I adore; and a whole lot of “what the hell is gonna happen if I hate this?” roaming around in my head. It made for some semi (but only figuratively) sleepless nights in camp-Colum-land, I’ll tell ya.

But goddamn was I happy when I cracked this sucker open and read the first few “pages” (I’ll explain my hatred of the Kindle “pages” some other time, dear reader). Not only does Kurtz’s style survive the time travel to the 1960s, but it almost seems like it belongs there. The man can throw his punches in different eras, folks. At the end of this little novella, I was left stoked and (again) jonesing more. It’s a good thing this series is planned to go on for a while, cause I haven’t had enough yet.

Sam Truman is a disgraced and unlicensed former private investigator without a proverbial pot to piss in. During a morning mission to scrape up enough bread to pay his rent at the flophouse, Sam intervenes in an attempted armed robbery and ends up shooting the thief to death with a gun he isn’t legally permitted to possess. In the aftermath of the shooting, Sam is visited by the bloody corpse of the dead robber, which is now being inhabited by the spirit of a murdered woman who charges Sam with the task of solving her murder.

Now Sam is up to his neck in a dark underworld of walking corpses, black magic, and Hell’s own army, and all because he agreed to a dead woman’s plea to “Catch My Killer!

– from

This premise sounds very familiar if you’re a frequent flier in the mystery or serial detective stories of yesteryear. The main difference here is… well… it’s modernized, but it’s also a throwback. Let me explain that statement.

Kurtz does everything he can to set the tone and the vibe to match the era this story plays out in, but does so with today’s yearn for action, description, and flamboyant characters. As a character, Truman is truly a force to be reckoned with, but also shows a side that can be completely pitiable, and often times even laughable. Kurtz, while obviously caring deeply for his character on many levels, doesn’t shy away from kicking the crap out of him. I really haven’t seen a character this complex or likable in this sort of genre mash up since Lamberson’s Jake Helman Files, or Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill.

Truman is a down and dirty ass-kicker with an attitude and set of skills that will make most envy his complete make up. I wish I had come up with this character. I really do. I’m envious as hell, and feel as if a new bar has been set in terms of main, anti-hero type characters. I can only imagine Truman taking on a Hawkeye Pierce kind of role in this genre, and look forward to seeing what the future authors of the series will do with him.

As for Kurtz’s bad guys… let’s just say that I was almost peeing myself when he brought them out in this badass little novella. Not in the “scared as hell” kind of peeing, but the “I’m so stoked that he went there” kind. Well, that’s if you catch my drift… let’s stop talking about pee, shall we?

The baddies are immense in this piece, playing on a level field to Truman’s larger than life persona and holding their ground well. I’m a huge fan of the Satanic Panic era of fiction and film, so the evil-doers in this book sat well with me, indeed. From evil shadows to body jumping demon-things, this book is filled with awesome supernatural oddities and more fun than you can shake a stick at. What I would have like to see more of, however, is Kurtz’s signature over the top style, which he’s toned down for what I can only assume is the limits of the time period. Kurtz more than makes up for this shortcoming with a healthy dose of go-go-go and a smattering of gloriously grotesque gore on the side (albeit as a small side dish). It’s really easy to get sucked into this one and find that your breakfast is forever ruined in the toaster. *sigh*

The Truman Series is a promising offering from Abattoir Press, and something I know will feature prominently in the horror literature landscape for years to come. When people ask what mash ups and cross genre fiction are supposed to read like, you can sure as hell bet that I’m going to be pointing them this way first. Kurtz has really hit his stride, and I can only see things going up from here.

Grab yourself a copy of the first Truman Mystery, Catch My Killer!, at Amazon in Kindle format, and keep an eye out for the second Truman Mystery, The Last Invasion, which drops on May 1st.


Tell us about YOUR All Hallow’s Read plans!

If you’ve been following along on our October journey this month you know we’ve been making daily All Hallow’s Read book suggestions for everyone in your life, so you can be prepared to terrify all your loved (or loathed!) ones during the week of Halloween.  (And if you need a specific suggestion, please feel free to ask away! Some of our staff are practically human scary-book encyclopedias.)

We’re dying to know what you horror-fiction folks have planned for our favorite new holiday tradition! Let us know in the comments what you’re doing or what books you’re gifting for All Hallow’s Read this year!

In the spirit of giving great literary scares and horror fare, we here at the DT offices want to extend our holiday book-giving to include our readers.  We’ve been excited to pick out books for our own family and friends, but it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get to celebrate All Hallow’s Read with the folks who make this website such a fun venture!  We’ll select people at random from the comments on this post to receive some fantastic fiction, as our All Hallow’s Read gift to you.

One of our favorite authors around here is Bryan Smith. His work has always been a treat to those of us who like our horror bloody, fast paced, and well written. So we’re giving away two copies of his new e-book, Kayla and the Devil an urban fantasy novel we know you’ll enjoy.

If you’ve been paying close attention to our Facebook and Twitter feeds, you’ll know the amount of love and respect we have for Ronald Malfi. And as we’ve always intended to bring you only the best in horror, we’re going to give away two e-book copies of his new novella, Borealis – a haunting and beautiful read that shook us to the core.

When it comes to Paranormal Romance and Erotic Horror, Melissa Ecker’s Giving Up The Ghost delivers in spades. Her prose is tight, her characters are immediately memorable, and her love scenes mind-numbingly intense. Apart from her prowess in writing erotic fare, she’s also more than capable of scaring the pants off of her readers. We’re going to give this e-book to two of you, along with the chance to get scared stiff. (I had to say it…)

Earlier this year, Colum reviewed 3 fantastic new novellas from Thunderstorm books’ Elemental series. We’ve got 2 signed bundles of those little books to give away: Kelli Owen’s The Neightborhood, Bob Ford’s Samson and Denial, and Mary SanGiovanni’s For Emmy.  You’ll love them as much as we did!

Dreadful Tales is also going to give away a bundle consisting of 4 hardcover copies of Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Yep. You heard that right. One lucky person is going to receive a complete set of Volumes 1 – 4 (Welcome to Lovecraft, Headgames, Crown Of Shadows, and Keys to the Kingdom.) Why? Because we love our readers!

So let us know your plans in the comments! Or even just drop in to say hi.  We can’t wait to share so many awesome books with you folks!  The lucky giftees will be chosen at random from the commenters and announced next Saturday to kick off Halloween weekend…stay tuned!

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’re making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!