When winter winds come a knocking what respite do we have? If you can’t physically travel to Florida, might we suggest a mind excursion with some sub-tropical crime fiction? Sam Hawken and John C. Cunningham have the prescription to cure you of your cold weather blahs. Cuban intrigue, fast boats, Santeria priests, soaring sea-planes, predatory villains.  Hawken’s Camaro Espinoza and Cunningham’s Buck Reilly are two diametrically opposed lead characters that enthralled us in very different ways in the scorching Florida landscape. The Abysmal Brutes leap into two saltwater thrillers from John C. Cunningham and Sam Hawken.

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It’s been a long time coming and it was well worth the wait. Luke Cage erupted onto the Netflix scene and in short order brought the streaming service to its knees as only Power Man could.  Cheo Hodari Coker has spun a tale woven from comic books, hip-hop and Harlem into a modern myth.  Pop, Cottonmouth, Misty Knight, Mariah Dillard, Shades and Diamond back are the gods and goddesses inhabiting Harlem as Olympus. The Chorus are Raphael Saadiq, the Delfonics, Faith Evans and Method Man.  The Abysmal Brutes wax poetic about the demi-god Luke Cage in this episode.


Every creator of stories can benefit from an emissary oftheir work. A mentor that guides them to greater creative success. Someone whonegotiates the maze-like contracts of publishers and studios.  A guiding hand on your shoulder cajoling youto produce innovative novels or scripts. This multi-faceted being is not a Chimera but an agent. They are as difficult to acquire as the mythical beast but if you find your perfect match they are worth a mountain of gold. On this episode Bill and Rob help you fill your quiver with arrows of insight as you prepare for the hunt of your literary agent. 


The Duffer Brothers took a digital video camera and turned it into a storytelling blender. In this blender, they tossed Stephen King novels, Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter films, Dungeons & Dragons, Winona Ryder and everything we loved about the 80’s. Stranger Things poured out of this blender and into the summer of 2016 just when The Abysmal Brutes needed a reminder of their wonderful childhood. Bravo Duffer Brothers and company. Viva Stranger Things!


John Ostrander wrote his heart out on the Suicide Squad comic run starting in 1987. Artist Luke McDonnell bled on the page to bring Amanda Waller and her Task Force X to life. So why did we feel the Suicide Squad film had no soul? David Ayers is a passionate director. Testosterone fueled cinema is his forte. Bleak humor in the trenches. His characters stare into the abyss and surge forward anyway.  We didn’t see that movie. We got a DC corporate Franken-movie.  You can see it and then judge for yourself. But we don’t recommend it.  Strike three DC!


The Abysmal Brutes are not just plot detectives breaking down pop culture stories. They are ink-slinging narrative criminals too. This episode the simian scribes discuss their latest creative endeavor Supermax Terra. The collaborative process strains and pushes the creative process to the limits, which is where you find every worthwhile story.  Supermax Terra is a shared universe that revolves around a clandestine alien prison that resides on Earth. “Serpent’s Pact” by W.E. Wertenberger and “Ghost the Planet” by Rob D. Smith are the forthcoming novellas that will soon be dropping to an eReader near you.  


For some reason, there is a separation between what is read during the rest of the year and the “Summer”.  Has the publishing industry manufactured the Summer Reading phenomena like the greeting card companies created fake holidays such as Boss’s Day? The Abysmal Brutes do their usual hard hitting investigative brand of podcast journalism as they discover what makes a novel a Summer Read.  Bill pokes his thumb in the eye of publishing conventions while Rob gushes over his ever growing To-Be-Read pile.  Below are some of the books we discuss.

Stephen Graham Jones “Mongrels”, Laird Barron “Man With No Name”, Lisa Lutz “The Passenger”, Grady Hendrix “My Best Friend’s Exorcism”, Megan Abbott “You Will Know Me”, Malcolm MacKay “The Night The Rich Men Burned”,  Hannah Pittard “Listen To Me”, Walter Mosley “Charcoal Joe”, Duane Swerczynski “Revolver”, Gregg Hurwitz “Orphan X”, David Swinson “The Second Girl”, Noah Hawley “Before The Fall”, Iain Reid “I’m Thinking Of Ending Things”, James Sallis “Willnot”

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We call this episode Shane Black & The Nice Guys for a certain reason. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are actually the back-up singers to Shane Black’s lead voice.  Black’s words comically swagger from the page to the big screen in this 70’s hard-boiled Pulp mystery.  Holland March is the private dick and John Healy is a freelance enforcer. Both at the bottom of their respective game but get called up to the Noir big leagues to find a missing girl.  With the help of Holland’s young daughter Holly, the pair might stand a chance against the likes of Blue Face and John Boy. Yeah, this film becomes gonzo in the best way.  All on this SPOILER full episode of The Abysmal Brutes!


We are all spies at heart. Watching and being watched is a part of our everyday lives. So it is no surprise that the Spy genre holds so much appeal to us. Intrigue, power, paranoia and politics.  The Abysmal Brutes debrief the Spy genre.  We discuss the evolution from Cold War espionage to radical terrorist cells depicted in novels, movies, TV and comics.  Ed Brubaker’s Velvet, John Le Carre, Len Deighton, Ian Fleming, the influence of 9/11 on modern Spy genre, Tom Clancy, Warren Ellis’ James Bond, Jason Bourne, The Americans, I Spy. The emotive style and substance of these intelligence agents imprinted deeply on the Abysmal Brutes storytelling psyche as well as millions of fans. 


Ben Venice never lacked for spirit but he has been an apparition of a man ever since he came back from the Second World War. Then he gets the opportunity to ply his skills again and becomes an Agent of G.H.O.S.T.  Rocko Jerome discusses his latest fiction endeavor with the Abysmal Brutes.  Fast cars, cool jazz, femme fatales and secret cabals. You can’t ask for anything more.

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