Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Freebie: Ed Falco Prize Package!

Congratulations to Rhonda Lomazow, winner of last week's Friday Freebie giveaway, the quartet of new novels: Fallout by Sadie Jones, Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson, Secrecy by Rupert Thomson, and The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton.

This week's contest celebrates the release of Edward Falco's new novel, Toughs, freshly-published by the good folks at Unbridled Books.  Here's what Kirkus Reviews had to say about the book: “The action moves from the mean streets of the Bronx to basement speakeasies and the fabled Cotton Club, showing Falco's grip on environments from cold-water tenements to greasy intriguing read for crime-fiction fans.”  In addition to Toughs, one lucky reader will win a copy of two previous novels by Ed Falco, Saint John of the Five Boroughs and Wolf Point, and the short story collection Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha.  The deepest of thanks to Greg Michalson who provided the books for this week's giveaway.  You can learn more about Ed Falco at his website.

Now here's the lowdown on the books up for grabs...

Toughs is set during the Great Depression and based in part on real characters and a series of historical events.  The novel follows the story of Loretto Jones as he finds his life intertwined with the fate of Vince Coll, a 23-year-old Irish gangster who for a brief moment rose to the level of a national celebrity during his war with Dutch Schultz, Owen Madden, and Lucky Luciano.  Tagged "Mad Dog Coll" after killing five-year-old Michael Vengelli in a botched assassination attempt, Coll was the subject of a shoot-to-kill order issued by New York City Police Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney, a $50,000 bounty offered by Dutch Shultz and Owen Madden, and $30,000 in reward money from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the city's newspapers.  Loretto and Vince are bound to each other by years spent in an orphanage and on the streets, but in the summer of 1931, with Loretto in love with newly-divorced Gina Baronti, and Vince in thrall to the beautiful Lottie Kriesberger, their world of tough guys in tough times is hurtling toward disaster, and Loretto finds himself faced with impossible choices.

Saint John of the Five Boroughs “dissects the effects of violence, both personal and cultural, on his characters' lives and does so in a novel that transcends the suspense genre.” (Richmond Times Dispatch) When 22-year-old Avery Walker, a senior at Penn State, meets Grant Danko, a 37-year-old performance artist from Brooklyn whose stage name is Saint John of the Five Boroughs, her life changes radically as she leaves college to live with Grant in Brooklyn and pursue a life as an artist.  Worried about Avery, her mother, Kate, and her aunt, Lindsey, and Lindsey’s husband, Hank, travel to Brooklyn, where they all face a crisis of their own and make life-altering choices.  Grant is an angry guy with a curiously attractive personality and a coterie of bright, artistic friends.  He’s used his good looks and his accomplishments, and the accomplishments of those friends, to get by while he works hauling stolen goods for his gangster uncle.  He carries dark secrets that have caused his life to go off the rails.  Grant is about as lost as a man can get, adept at making wrong choices.  But when he finally faces his explosive moment of truth, something extraordinary happens.  Saint John of the Five Boroughs is beautifully turned—a stunning and layered novel about the effects of violence, both personal and cultural, on its characters’ lives.  It’s about the way violence twists character, but also about the possibilities for redemption and change, for achieving a kind of personal grace.  Edward Falco once again proves to be a master of urgency and suspense, of events careening out of control, as he brilliantly explores why we make the choices we make—both the ones that threaten to destroy our lives, and those choices that might save us.

Wolf Point is, according to the New York Times Book Review, “Hitchcockian...the story hurtles like a brakeless truck toward its bloody denouement.”  Tom “T” Walker, a 57-year-old businessman, knows better than to pick up a beautiful young woman hitchhiking with her dangerous-looking boyfriend, but he stops for them anyway.  He’s been living alone, his life ruinously off course, in such utter isolation from everyone he has ever loved that he welcomes the company and the excitement.  But as T finds himself pulled into the chaos of their world in a way he will barely survive, he comes to see his personal history and experiences in an altered and troubling light.  “Wolf Point is beautiful, bold, heartbreaking and wise.  It calls to mind the work of several contemporary masters--people like Richard Yates, Andre Dubus, Richard Bausch and Theodore Weesner--writers who never get in the way of their own stories, truth-tellers for whom the lives of their characters are the most important element of all.  This is a major work by a writer who deserves legions of loving readers." (Steve Yarbrough)

Here's the publisher's dust jacket copy for Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha: For a long time now, Edward Falco has quietly established his place among the absolute best American storytellers.  Those who haven’t yet read him don’t want to miss this chance.  That’s why we’re so excited to offer the very best of his work, gathered together for the first time, to a wider readership.  Falco’s stories are unforgettable, dangerous as a high-wire act without a net, filled with dramatic action, and peopled with believable characters challenged by events into making risky moral choices, so emotionally true that readers will carry them around for a long time.  His prose is tense, sharp, and beautifully, wonderfully rich.  In story after story, Falco’s characters find the comfortable order of their lives ambushed by an upswelling of dark forces beyond their control.  In order to protect the lives of family—lovers, wives, and especially children—from a catastrophe, they often must summon up the personal courage to climb back from their own monsters, to set aside old, private scars.  The decisions they make reveal their bonds, the set of their hearts, and the harsh nature of the culture we all live in today.  If someone out there could write the contemporary counterpart to Flannery O’Connor’s classic short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” it would be Falco.  His are good, old-fashioned, hard-to-find stories set way out there on the edge.

If you’d like a chance at winning this fabulous Falco freebie, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Aug. 7, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Aug. 8.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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