The Blood in Snowflake Garden


The Blood in Snowflake Garden
Author: D. Alan Lewis
Narrated by: Clark Clayson

Christmas can be murder, a murder most foul. Murder and a note from S. Claus, pleading for help, was the only thing which could draw retired Inspector Max Sneed back to active duty. A duty to investigate the murder of the North Poles Premier. Robert Watson, sent by a London paper to write about the jolliest place on Earth, is put instead straight to work by Max. In a twinkling he finds a merry chase through Civil Rights, Labor Disputes and Cold War politics. Robert’s sugar-plum laced pipe dreams of the cheeriest city on Earth are quickly shredded. The more Max and Robert slog through the sleazy, underbelly of the North Pole, the thinner the ice upon which they stand. This murder investigation is rife with a delicious trail of red-herrings, each with the lustre of new fallen snow. Do you want to know the secret history of Santa? How the city at the North Pole was founded? What is it about cupcakes? Once you know the answer, you may never see pastries the same way again.
The answer to these questions, and many more, will impact the world. The Cold War is heating up at the pole. Whoever is in charge at the North Pole could change the course of history. What is the connection between electronic toys and the military base proposed outside the warm zone?
The Blood in Snowflake Garden is one D. Alan Lewis’s earlier books. As such, while this tale does have a few rough edges compared to his later books, the visions within will dance in your heads. His talent for blending real world historical events combined with a different take on a well-known mythology will satisfy your sweet tooth for knowledge. Though you be in ‘kerchief or cap, and settled down in your bed, the last thing you will be taking is a long winter nap. Thoughts of all else, except what lies upon the next page, fly away like the down on a thistle.
The narrator, Clark Clayson, has just that right tone to bring the necessary grittiness upon the breast of the new-fallen snow sprinkled throughout the story. Switching easily between the world weary detective and the wide eyed reporter, err..journalist, to The Jolly Old Nick himself, Clark’s narration helps to create an alternate history you can believe as the tale is unraveled. His enunciations are clear and there is no background noise. His voice is the little old driver of the tale by which soon you will know, there is nothing to dread.

The Blood in Snowflake Garden


DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I was not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.



Foray into Noir

Noir, what is it?

Noir fiction (or roman noir) is a literary genre closely related to hardboiled genre with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator.

My first foray into the genre is with Once Upon a Mystery. The challenge of it was to create a 1920’s – 1930’s story using fairy tales as a base. I chose a setting comparable to 1929, just before and as the stock market crashed.

I drew the “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. I was almost dismayed when I began researching the story. Of all the uninteresting, straightforward stories, but I decided it was a challenge. There are some interesting points to the story. There were several themes in the story. Greed, patience, cunning, and a few others if you look for them. To incorporate these into the time period was not as difficult as feared once the story was laid out. Adding layers of intrigue to this straightforward story while maintaining its core was the trick.

Following is an excerpt from “Three Billy Goats Gruff: A Noir Fairy Tale”

“Orland squinted as he tilted the bottle. Disappointed with how little remained, he downed it in a swallow; then held it upside down. Where were the answers that were supposed to hide at the bottom?

He knew why there were no answers. He already had them.

It was late and the office echoed. Still, he looked over his shoulder. Billy needed the new medastinum surgery to fix his lungs. Orland had lost his wife. He was not going to lose his son.

Before his last swallow of liquid nerve waned, he made a few quick pen strokes. There! It was finished. Tomorrow, as part of routine processing, a clerk would set up an ongoing transfer of funds to his secret account. He was an honest sort, but the company had refused to help. His salary was just not enough. The evidence was well-hidden and another clerk processing it was the final shield. Even the best auditors would be hard-pressed to track this back to him.”

An Old Interview

Writer of the Week: Ernest Russell

Sep 16, 2016

Happy Friday, noir fans!  Today we’re welcoming back another author from the Monster Mayhem Anthology.  Ernest Russell is partnering with artist Andrew Spalding on Three Billy Goats Gruff.  Enjoy learning more about him and his craft in the interview below!
Tell our readers a little about your artistic background.

Writing has been an enjoyable pastime for as long as I can remember. Some of the earliest stories I can recall were mysteries a la The Hardy Boys. Just the taste of those early creative writing projects and experimenting on my own with Poetry, Nonfiction, fan fiction, science fiction, pulp and fantasy and I was hooked. Addicted even, because writing is not something you do for the money. It is because there are worlds and people within just bursting to get out. They say you are what you eat; a writer is what they read. Reading anything, articles, essays, short stories, and novels are what feed a writers imagination. Does not matter what subject or genre, just read. I am coming into being published late in life. It is something I always wanted to do but was afraid. Rejection is not so bad, life does go on and because of rejections I have learned a lot about the differences between writing for my own pleasure and for the pleasure of others. Follow your dreams; you never know what might happen.

What inspired you to join the OUAM Anthology project?

I had a lot of fun with my first project with this group of talented artists and writers. Fun was definitely first. Pulps and Noir genres have always been a fun read for me. I am thinking Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, so many possibilities and was offered Billy Goats Gruff. Wow, a very straightforward tale with very few variants. It was so simple and opened ended that it became a challenge. Fun and a Challenge, could not have been more hooked if I were a bass hitting a fly. After meeting my collaborator artist, Andrew Spalding, the excitement became palpable. Been great bouncing ideas with Andrew and am stoked to see what he comes up with for the story. You will be too.

What makes you excited about transforming your fairytale into a noir mystery?

Can I just say see above? (No, you must have an answer.) It is the challenge and the world building. Short stories are a snapshot of a character(s) life; bringing someone into my world and making them want to see more of it. Noir as a genre is often thought of as hardboiled detective novels. And they often are, but Noir is also more than that, it is the regular Joe who has hit hard times, maybe had a bad break, made a bad decision. Now they have to deal with consequences. Might be moral twisting and cynical, chances are you may not like the main characters. For me, taking a tale as well known as Billy Goats Gruff and twist it to fit this genre? Yes, this excites me.

What about the project do you think will be most challenging?

Keeping it the required length! I always, always overrun my first drafts. The challenge after that is trimming the story while maintaining essential elements. The first major hurdle for any story has already been overcome. Have an angle, characterizations, and rough outline. It has been a lot of fun passing ideas back and forth with my artist/collaborator/partner Andrew Spalding. I have a good start, in spite of packing for a move, and looking forward to 1st draft later this month.

Tell us some of your favorite artists or authors.

Hmmm, how much room do we have for this? Seriously, favorites of mine run the gamut. For some reason my third grade teacher thought it was time we were introduced to Edgar Allen Poe. We read 2 stories by him, ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ and ‘The Tell Tale Heart’. Majority of the class was put off and a bit scared by these stories. I giggled. This REALLY bothered the teacher and so I was sent to the office. Still love Poe. Lovecraft, and Barker, are among my favorites. The fun and fantasy Jim Butcher infuses his worlds. Many modern current authors I enjoy are Alexander Brown, Kimberly Richardson, Jen Mulvihill, Jim Beard, Frank Adams. All good authors and have some really good reads.

Artists, well, once again there are many. One really stands out; her art has been inspiration in my life as has she. I have had the pleasure of following the career of Marrus for close to 30 years now. Search her under Marrus Art and look for her book.

Where can we find your work online? Website, Instagram, published work?

Admittedly, I do not have the online presence I should. You can see my work online in Violet Windows – the Journal of the Eccentric. Check out some of the other cool talent while you are there.

In print, you can find me in Monster Mayhem Anthology available through Lulu Press.

Keep an eye for me in upcoming anthologies with Pro Se Productions.