Murder and Mayhem in Tucson by Patrick Whitehurst

Punk Noir Magazine

The closest I’ve ever been to Arizona is the movie Raising Arizona by the genius Coen brothers.

However, after reading the immersive and fascinating Murder and Mayhem in Tucson by Patrick Whitehurst I feel as though I’ve been there many times.

I’m a big fan of crime non-fiction and Whitehurst has smashed the ball right out of the park with this latest release. It really doesn’t matter if you have an interest in Tucson, Arizona or if you’ve lived there. This book chronicles the cities bloodiest histories.

War stories, murders, robberies, cold cases, all of the city’s dirty deeds are dragged out into the harsh light of the Arizona sun and laid bare with a cast of characters including none other than the most infamous bank robber of all time; John Dillinger and The Godfather Joe Bonanno.

I really enjoyed this and would highly recommend it to fans of crime non-fiction across the board.

Hitting on September 27th make sure to put it on your To Be Read list.

Tucson is a vibrant, growing city, but beneath the sunny surface lies a dark history. Eva Dugan was convicted of murder and hanged here, the first woman to be executed in the state of Arizona. Gangsters like Joe Bonanno and bank robber John Dillinger were drawn to this corner of the Southwest, and it was home to killers like Robert John Bardo and Charles Schmid, a serial killer nicknamed the “Pied Piper of Tucson.” In 1892, William Elliott, stabbed by a notorious criminal, became the first Tucson police officer to lay down his life in pursuit of justice, but he wouldn’t be the last. Join author Patrick Whitehurst as he delves into the chilling history of Tucson. (Blurb)

About the Author

Patrick Whitehurst is the author of the Barker Mysteries novellas and three books in the Images of America series. His most recent book, Haunted Monterey County, reveals the many ghostly locations found in the Central Coast community. His short stories have appeared in Shotgun Honey, Switchblade Magazine and Hoosier Noir. His book reviews and author interviews can be found in Suspense Magazine. Patrick lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit him online at patrickwhitehurst.com

Stole everything but her heart by Robert Ragan

Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

Leslie Madison had to let Terry Charles go. If not, she would have been stuck in the cycle of addiction forever, and she could never have a damn thing.

It was bad enough that he allowed her to support him plus feed his habits. But when she couldn’t, he took everything.

“Baby, I know I was wrong for selling the ring your grandmother gave you, but as far as that gold necklace with the heart-shaped charm, I don’t feel bad about that at all. Who was it from, by the way?”

“Doesn’t matter either way. You got to smoke the crack with me too, right?”

When Terry said that, Leslie’s mind took her back to the day her grandmother gave her this special gold ring. All the trees and flowers were in full bloom. They sat together outside on the swing and talked.

Leslie’s mother chose to go on the run with another outlaw. While her father served a life sentence for multiple armed robberies and attempted murder.

So basically, her grandma was her mother, and that ring meant the world to her. So damn right she smoked the crack with him. Her tears falling on the can weren’t strong enough to put out the sizzling melting rock.

Leslie had her mother’s piercing blue eyes. The same long dark hair. Unfortunately, she also had her addictive personality and poor taste in men too. The only difference was Leslie would work and take care of herself, while her mother wanted everything handed to her from a man.

Her father couldn’t keep her high and still give her all the other fancy things she wanted and look where it got him. Thinking of her dad, Leslie figured he would probably have ended up in prison, even if he had never met her mother.

Terry brought up her father after the time he borrowed her car and sold the stereo system, plus the rims off of it for crack.

Leslie said, “First of all, my father wasn’t such a pathetic thief that he had to steal women’s jewelry. From what I hear, he was a violent ruthless bastard and would have fucked you up for breaking my heart the way you do.”

Terry was close to being a skeleton, with sunk in raccoon eyes and horrible teeth that told him of his addiction. 

It was sickening to hear him say, “We’ll, ya daddy can’t save you, so just hope he doesn’t drop the soap, ok sweetheart.”

That day Leslie showed Terry she could save herself when she got up and left his sorry ass.

What a fucking bum; Terry wouldn’t work anywhere.

Hand jobs, blow jobs, and foot jobs. He once said those were the only kind of jobs he liked and damned if he wasn’t telling the truth. Always so quick to want to mess around, only it wasn’t very attractive the way he sat around and wouldn’t even clean the house while she worked all night at the diner.

By the way, plenty of men wanted her more than a late breakfast. It would have been nothing to leave Terry and move on.

Leslie stuck by him through everything, but when she decided to get sober, it became clear that she had to let him go. He lived in the trailer she rented, so she had to make him go.

Leslie broke the news to Terry on a rainy Saturday morning. She said she was leaving to spend the day with friends, and when she returned, she wanted everything he owned out of her place. 

That evening when Leslie got back home, she saw that Terry had not only removed his belongings but some of hers as well.

This loser stole her T.V., laptop, even her fucking couch! Leslie could understand the electronics, but who on earth would sell someone’s couch for crack cocaine?

Only Terry Charles could pull off such a thing. And this time, Leslie didn’t go out searching for her stuff in pawn shops and crack houses. She didn’t even file a police report.

Terry could have it all just as long as he left her the fuck alone.

Blood in, blood out by Cody Sexton

Micro fiction


He lay in pieces on the kitchen floor wondering how long he would have to lay there before someone found him and could put him back together again. He wasn’t entirely broken up however, some pieces were still attached, if only by hacked up sinews of cartilage.He had accidentally cut himself shaving this morning, when to his surprise, he found that he apparently could no longer bleed.He tried opening the wound repeatedly throughout the day but still nothing would come out. At which point he decided to retrieve the hatchet from the garage and began hacking away at himself in hopes of finding any blood that might still be left within him, but he was unsuccessful in his search.The carving knife hadn’t been very helpful either and it was then that he panicked and mutilated himself.At least he wouldn’t have to worry with bandaids ever again.


Cody Sexton is the managing editor for A Thin Slice of Anxiety and author of All the Sweet Prettiness of Life. His work has been featured at: The Diverse Perspective, Writer Shed Stories, Detritus, Revolution John, Due Dissidence, and As It Ought To Be Magazine where he is a regular contributor. In addition he is also a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee for his pioneering essay The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton.

Trench by Stuart Buck

Flash Fiction

how do i explain that it feels like silver? that when they shell us, it goes beyond sound. i can reach out and touch it. it coats my fingers with oil. i don’t know how to tell you. what would i even say. i saw our friend robbie the other day. he was coming back from a raid, three pairs of socks on his hands. you  have to take the socks, you see. when you crawl back from the opposition trench, you pass all the dead bodies, and you have to take the socks. lucky time you might find a double pair. the fucking rain is constant, the mud the worse. your feet get real wet real quick and if you cant find dry socks its done for you. can’t fucking believe i am waist deep in shit and piss fighting a war that no one asked for. its the mud what does it you see. you go to bed under your plastic sheet and when you wake you have no bloody idea where you are. i mean, some of it is because this fucking place sends you mad. all this horror. how do you even begin to process it. ivo said he shared a smoke with a guy who had left his girlfriend with a sprog in her tummy. he was beaming, kept going on about getting back to her, how the baby would be born without him but he’d make up for lost time. we buried what was left of him three days ago. shot to fucking pieces on a raid. pound and some other cunt dragged his limbs back. i asked them why. why didn’t they leave him like the others. they wanted his fucking socks. cunts. absolute bastards. what was i saying? the mud! the mud! the rats! it slips around at night. it sits on your chest and it slides inside you like a dripping cock. mud inside me. mud inside me. i want my mum. its the fucking smell, you know? you put twenty stinking cunts in a hole in the ground and ask them to bury the bodies where they shit and piss, what the fuck do you think is going to happen? the lads in the sap have it worst. shit and piss up to your elbows in there, and if you try and get a look at the sky they take your fucking head off. sap is every other night now, most of our lot are dead. mustard gas. could hear the weeping for days. i bet that cunt haig has never heard a young lad scream like i have. call for his mum. that’s what it always goes back to. you want your mum. i want my mum. you want her to make the pain go away. to get it out of your eyes. please mum. make it stop. and for what. so we can gain a good inch on the hun. so haig and his bent fuckers at home can move a little wooden block on a map. saps like this. you go up and listen out for the hun. for any noise really. it was up sap that ivo says he saw the kid. said he was glowing in the dark. thought for a minute it was gas affecting his eyes but this kid just walked calm as you like through the wire and down into the trench. ivo says he wanted to shoot at him but pound had told him not to. pound is a dry fucker though, wouldn’t shoot a nazi if it was fucking his sister. listen, none of us would. we are so tired. shelling don’t stop you see. it’s like being under the ocean, ‘cept the water is screaming at you. it wants you to die in the most terrible ways. but it isn’t the germans you see. its the officers. bloody lads like us just want to die or go home. our feet are leaking. i cant sit down for fear of ripping open my shitter. its no life this. i want my mum. rained last night and all the bodies came back up, like vomit. can’t bury these fuckers deep enough. when it rains here, it rains. the water pours into this death hole and turns the whole place into porridge. you forget you buried them and then you wake from your three hour sleep and you are soaking wet, lying next to the fella you looted for smokes a couple of days before. the guy who had his hand shot off by a sniper. wanted me to tell his mum he loved her. then the rats ate his liver. the rats! the rats! like a shimmerin’ carpet of obscenity. most of them are black here. every time i wake up i have these bastards on my face or in my uniform. more fool them, i cant even imagine what it smells like. if you ever want to know what rat piss tastes like, ask someone who has fought in a trench. rat piss and stale bread. the diet of a glorious soldier. ivo has taken to pissing on a rag and wrapping it round his mouth. says pound told him something in the piss will stop him getting gassed. fucking idiots. course, pound will say that. it lightens the mood, some cunt going around sniffing his own piss while we all get shot at. here is the layout of the trench, for whomever should need it. its 800 metres long. zig zag like, all up and down so that the bosch cant just look straight up us and fuck the whole lots of us with one burst. a bastard to dig out i expect, but we got off easy and just walked straight in. easy is subjective of course. nothing easy about watching rats and flies eat your pals face. anyway, the sap is a little round pit at the end of a thin little alleyway. you have to go single file and edge sideways to get to it, so the mud coats new parts of your clothes every time. we go there to spy on the germans and keep an eye out for shells and snipers. not that any of us can do anything about either of those things if they so choose to attack us. its hard enough to live in this place. hell is cold and full of mud, let me tell you. pound is the captain here. well, i say captain. no one really knows anymore. days are just spent staggering and shitting. sky goes black and some of us try to sleep. raid last night was biblical. crawled over twenty metres of jagged wire and dead bodies until the nazi stakes loomed over us like crucifix. the sky spat with bullets and pulsed red like a bloated corpse. it took three hours to get there and back and not one fucking german did we see. par for the course nowadays. if it wasnt for the metal flying through the air, i’d say we were the only fuckers left on this scorched earth. the dugout is a little mud room down a flight of mud steps they dug to keep us from dying from the shells. stupid really. the mud, such as it be, is drier down there at least. mud walls, mud floor, mud ceiling, once the shells start up—and really when do they stop? – the lads get down there and watch the ceiling sink and sag like distended skin until its time to go out and check on the corpses. a good life this one. real fucking good. we stuck sandbags along the bottom edges of the steps. absorb the near constant bloody rain. its difficult to describe the rain. its been here so long that by rights we should set it a place at the dinner table. least it washes the piss downstream, that’s something good about it. i dont even know if i am alive anymore. maybe i got shot and this is my penance. but what did i do? i just did as i was told. three days ago he came. just walked through the guns and the wire. naked as a fucking baby and not with no sense you or i have. they say he cant see or hear. but he made it somehow and half the men are already talking about how he is some sort of savior. the answer to all our prayers ivo said. a naked boy. a fucking ghost. the answer to our dreams. fucking hell. this trench is sending us all mad. what happens when you die? i am terrified, let me tell you. i dont think i believe in god anymore. or if i do, its an angry god. would he put me in this trench, watching my friends covered in lice and scabs, getting bombed or worse, day after day? what have i done to him. what did any of us do? i wish i was dead. new boots came. three sizes to big. i slicked them with whale oil. now they are three sizes too big and they fucking stink. we all sat in the dug out last night listening to the waves crash over us. i looked hard enough at the mud that it turned a deep blue., like the ocean. shells like a skipping record above us. blood beats in our ears. it goes tick tick tick tick tick tick tick then crash like cymbals and you check if you are dead or not. most times you are not. you have to take whatever happiness you can down here. ivo spent the night crying. his foot has gone bad. the boy says we will all be healed when we die. that the only path out of suffering is death. the boy sits in the dug out, shivering. but he ain’t cold. he’s fucking alive, full of thick blood and screamin’. ivo told me this. he said the boy showed him his childhood one night in a dream. said he was born in some fishing village in kyoto, which is a part of japan. anyway, this boy was neglected he said, by everyone except his gran, who he called sobo. but she stank of fish! fucking reeked of fish guts because she was always killing or cooking fish. she used to give him her thumb to suckle on when he was young and for the rest of his life everything tasted like blood.  ivo said that the boy had told him  one day, when he was on his own, he sunk a pencil as far as he could into his ear and that he enjoyed it. actually enjoyed the pain. so he is covered in blood now and he does it again, in the other ear. then both eyes. pops his eyeballs right there and then with the point of the pencil. shoves it so far into the socket he might have touched his brain if sobo hadnt run in and found him. he never made a sound the whole way to the hospital. had the whole bloody village screaming, pulling the family this way and that trying to get them to the hospital. they pumped him full of blood and kept him in for six months. his family had to give up fishing and look after him full time. i dont believe any of it, sure i dont. i’ve seen the boy and he’s got eyes and ears like every other bloody man. they just dont work. shelled all last night again. and this morning. i want my mum. the boy writes things down. over smokes last night in the sap, pound told me the boy has a following now. richards and flight. sit by him day and night. listening, pound says. but the boy, he never makes a noise. just sits there. ivo told pound he was fierce, shivering with anger. but ivo is ivo you know. foreign. the boy. he’s got something not right about him. like he don’t belong here. well, of course he don’t belong here. but not even of this earth. worse than that, why ain’t any of us bothered by this? how long have we been here now? seems like months on our own but we only run ten days up in the front. germans entered the trench last night. ivo and myself ran to the sap to hide like cunts. no heroes here my friend. just alive or dead. the gerry were throwing their potato mashers along the trench to flush everyone out. some of our lot ran to the dug out where the boy was. pound swears he saw the lad walk out in front of the germans. just staring at them. then he opened his eyes and they were black as the night sky. pound said the germans heads just exploded. blood everywhere. then the boy just walked back to the dug out and drew the tarp across the door. course, i dont believe what pound says. there was a guy in here a few days ago called jones. don’t know where he went. people seem to come and go. but always pound and ivo, alongside me and now, of course, the little boy. hate this place but can’t end it. sometimes i sit in the sap and hope the fucking germans will get a bead on me. he writes things down, does the boy. things you shouldnt read. i don’t understand things anymore. all i hear is the ringing in my ears. like i’m deep down in the world. like i have dug deep down with my bare hands, past the corpses and the seams of coal. past the gases and the fire. i’ve crawled all the way down to the centre of the earth and he is there. the boy. but he has too many arms. i can’t see. mum. help me. i can’t see.


Stuart Buck is a writer, artist and thinker who lives in a basement in upstate New York. When he isn’t creating himself, he runs the fictional online news portal The Bear Creek Gazette and can be found wasting his days on Twitter @stuartmbuck

5 poems by Alec Cizak

Alec Cizak, Poetry

“9/11”

 

 

We didn’t teach that day,

we stood on the roof of

the eyesore in Koreatown

housing my employers and

the corrupt management co.

refusing to exterminate

mice and rats stealing crumbs

from my carpeted floor

at night.

 

We stood on the roof,

my ESL students and I,

smoking cigarettes and

pretending we knew who

Osama Bin Laden actually was,

marveling at the empty

streets below, and the quiet

skies above.

 

New York took the hit,

Los Angeles went to sleep.


 

“Noise”

 

 

Rock and roll deemed it 

a Spiritual Freeway, 

an express lane to

 

nirvana.

 

A microdot, or perforated tab 

sectioned from an illustration— 

Mickey Mouse, Popeye, a dancing bear

 

(like this shit was made for children).

 

I remember November,

a freezing night in Bloomington, 

three hits rewiring my sanity. I sat 

in an old man’s rocking chair 

on an unheated, glassed-in porch.

 

Public Enemy and Anthrax 

shredded skyscraping speakers, 

confused my eyes for my ears, 

listening to the floor, a wild oak sea, 

rolling, rolling, rolling.

 

I calmed the rocking chair, 

the only thing I could

 

control,

 

my mind scrambled for 

meaning in a hallucination, 

struggled to fabricate God

from a vision that did not

 

(actually)

 

exist.


 

“P.O.V. Shot #3”

 

 

The lone window 

in your Bachelor’s apartment 

on Ardmore faces north, 

the dotted hills 

a few miles away, 

a rather quick

jog up Normandie on 

the 206, one-seventy-five 

one way, or three dollars 

for an all-day ticket.

 

Steam paints ghosts 

on the window in the 

mornings when you brew 

instant coffee on a crusted 

hot plate resting atop

a microwave next to a fridge, 

a corner of your tiny room

you call the kitchen.

 

As the sneaky desert 

temperature rises, smudges 

appear on the window, traces 

of your fingers, wiping away

the steam in the morning so 

you may enjoy your instant

coffee, plot your escape

from this four-hundred dollar 

prison while you gaze

at the Hollywood sign and 

remember a time you 

believed 

anything 

could happen.


 

 

“Here and There”

 

 

It’s funny

how quickly

the time arrives

to consider

what you’ve done

so far.

 

Vultures

loiter on streetlamps

grunting

at your belief

you are in a position

to consider

a future.


 

“The Darkness Is No Plague”

 

 

There it sits,

a gargoyle on my shoulder

guarding the keep

from persistent joy;

 

Sometimes it sleeps

and I can see the sun,

feel the atoms of life

halt the grand march.

 

Sometimes the joy

blooms to a sonic boom,

wakes the dragon

and reminds me

 

the darkness

is no plague,

merely,

a destination.

 

 


Alec Cizak is a writer and filmmaker from Indiana. His most recent books are available from ABC Group Documentation. He is the CEO of Uncle B. Publications and the chief editor of the digest magazine Pulp Modern.

I refuse – a poem by Sebastian Vice

Poetry, Sebastian Vice

Are you listening?
No, I refuse
You’re too goddamn boring
Molesting my ears
Filling them with verbal diarrhea
Trivialities and banalities
A pathetic attempt to be interesting

I was raped when I was 11
My father killed himself in 2002
I’ve starved
Been beaten
Abused
I’ve cried alone in the shower
Attempted suicide three times
And I’ve masturbated
Not because I was horny
But for the brief moments I could forget
The pain of being human

So no, I’m not listening, nor do I care
Unless…

You tell me how,
you got blown behind a dumpster,
puss oozed from your dick after an untreated STD,
your nose bled after snorting too much blow,
your botch suicides
your uncle’s molestation

Then I’m listening
Then I care

Sebastian Vice is the founder of Outcast Press, an indie publication
specializing in transgressive fiction and dirty realism. His short
fiction and poetry has appeared in Punk Noir Magazine, and A Thin
Slice of Anxiety. His flash fiction piece “One Last Good Day” has been
nominated for Best Of The Net 2021. He has forthcoming short stories
in Cinnabar Moth Publishing, Close To The Bone, Terror House Magazine,
and Outcast Press’ anthology In Filth It Shall Be Found. His debut
novel Heaven’s Tourist will be published by Cinnabar Moth Publishing
(Nov 2022). You can find him on Twitter: @sebastian_vice.

Fredo by James Lilley

Flash Fiction, James Lilley

A single short sharp horn blast let Jerry know they’d arrive. They had parked a little down the street. He flicked his cigarette, took the stoop stairs two at a time, and headed in their direction in a walk that was not quite a jog. As he neared the beat-up Cadillac, he noticed, the driver’s seat was empty. Which meant he was driving. He opened the car door and climbed in.
“Hey Fredo.” Phil spoke from the passenger seat not looking at Jerry. Jerry buckled his belt and turned to look over his shoulder to see Rick sat in the seat behind him.
“Phil. Rick. Who’s Fredo?” he asked turning in his seat slightly. Phil was holding a little plastic bag filled with white powder.
“Sorry. Slip of the tongue. Let’s get going.” He reached into the bag, pinched a little powder and held it to one nostril. With an audible snort the powder disappeared. When Jerry hadn’t pulled off, he turned his blood shot eyes to the drivers chair.
“Drive.” He told Jerry with less humour than before.
“Sure.” Jerry put the car in drive and joined the steady trawl of traffic outside of his triple decker “Where to?”
“Docklands.”
“Thought we were laying low for a while?”
“Hey Rick, check out the fucking brains on Donnie Brasco here!”
Rick snorted a forced humourless chuckle from behind him. Jerry could tell something was up, Phil was acting erratically, he was high as well.
“You bring your piece?”
“No, you told me not to?”
“Good man. Never use the same piece twice. Especially with the heat. You watch many gangster movies?”
Jerry glanced quickly over at Phil again trying to work out what he was talking about.
“You not slept much right Phil?” Rick interrupted from the back.
“Fuck are you twos? My mother?” he reached into the bag again. “Get us down the docks.”

They drove in silence for a while, Phil reaching into the bag every so often, twitching and mumbling to himself. Jerry felt a dread creeping in, a worry knotting his stomach, something was up and it was apparent Phil wasn’t taking it well. They drove through the city, passing the bright lights and tall buildings until the hustle and bustle started to dissolve into the dilapidated outskirts near the docks, reaching a place where there were few street lights. A part of the city long forgotten, neglected even. There were less people down here, a few girls on street corners standing under the lights that were working, many sitting or lying on the street. The Cadillac passed through abandoned and crumbling warehouses covered under a night blanket of a starless night.
“In there.” Phil jabbed a white dusted finger at the window, pointing at a warehouse with no doors and roof sections missing. “Dim the lights.”
Jerry felt cold sweat trickling down his back. He didn’t like this. Not one bit. Phil was watching him now. Very closely. He clicked the headlights off and rolled into the darkness of the warehouse.
“Fuck, Phil, I can’t see a goddamn thing.” Jerry remarked straining himself over the steering wheel to try and make out what was ahead of him.
“You ain’t scared of the dark are you?” twisting around in his seat again. “Get a load of Henry Hill here. Scared of the dark. Kill the engine.”

Jerry killed the engine, putting the car in park, the dark was suffocating and all engulfing. He waited for his eyes to adjust trying to slow his breathing down.
Phil sparked a lighter, bringing it to his face to light a smoke clamped in his teeth, the orange glow burning Jerry’s eyes.
“What the fuck is going on Phil? Why you bring me down here and why the fuck are you calling me weird names?”
Jerry felt a movement, heard an audible click, he was sure Phil reaching into the glove compartment by his knees. Without asking, Jerry reached up and tapped the internal ceiling light. Phil had a revolver in one hand, resting on his lap.
“Those names I been calling you Jerry, are all fucking rats’.” Phil said calmly keeping his watering bloodshot eyes fixed on Jerry. “You a fucking rat?”
“Me? You kidding me?”
“Who else could it be? I think you sold us out to them Cobble Hill boys for a bigger cut.”
“Phil…”
Before he could continue, Phil cocked the hammer on the revolver, raised a finger to his lips in a shush gesture.
“I been thinking on it a few days. It had to be you. Who else could it be?” he raised the gun in Jerry’s direction. “I knew it was you…”
His head exploded in a mist of red, spraying Jerry in lumps of brain batter and bone fragments. Jerry raised his hands to shield his face out of instinct. When he lowered his hand, he saw Phil’s body slouched forward on the dash, a big hole in the back of his skull, the only remaining part of his head. The windscreen was covered in red gore pooling on the floor around the dead man’s feet. Pulling himself around he saw Rick calmly sat behind Phil. Holding his own silenced gun.
“Rick, what the fuck?” Jerry said voice wavering.
“Phil got all paranoid about that job going sideways. Was convinced one of us ratted him out. He got all twitchy, wouldn’t sleep, started snorting too much coke.”
Jerry wiped the blood from his face gagging when he saw the red streak it left on his shirt sleeve.
“Why the fuck did he blame me?” Jerry asked getting control of himself.
“Well, I told him it was you.” he replied as if this wasn’t a big deal.
“What the fuck? Why?”
Rick turned the gun in Jerrys, direction.
“Well, there was a rat, it wasn’t going to be me.”
Jerry didn’t hear the shot.

The Case of the Disappearance of Jean Spangler and Always the Dead by Stephen J. Golds @RedDogTweets

Punk Noir Magazine
Glamour Girl Gone Jean Spangler

Besides all the romance and glamour Hollywood has long been a honey-trap for wannabe actresses, hustlers, runaways, chancers, and mobsters. There’s a heart of darkness pumping poisoned blood underneath the glitzy nine white letters spelling out the district’s name.

A place forever haunted by those used, abused and murdered behind its silken, maroon curtains. Haunted by those who have faded away and disappeared without a trace from its sunshine bronzed pavements. A locale pregnant with an unholy trinity of the unexplained, the unsolved and the unspeakable. Many are aware of the stone-cold case of The Black Dahlia. Elizabeth Short, a wannabe actress and party girl discovered posed naked, drained of blood and severed in two in a vacant lot on the west side of South Norton.

Few are aware of the real case that embodies all that is beautiful and rotten about those star-paved streets, the mysterious disappearance of glamour girl Jean Spangler. It’s a case that reads like a story ripped straight from the pages of a David Goodis novel. A stunning starlet, a messy divorce, clubs, movie stars, gangsters, Palm Springs, and a violent ex-lover known to cops simply as ‘Scotty’.

Jean Spangler on set

A cool Friday evening. October 7th, 1949. Dressed to the nines, the stunning 26 year old, dancer and bit-time actress Jean Spangler left home telling her sister-in-law she was going to see her ex-husband, Dexter Benner, about child-support payments for their daughter and after would be going to a studio for a night shoot on the new movie she was working on. She kissed her young daughter goodbye, walked down the avenue and was never seen by her family again.

Dexter Benner – the ex-husband

The next morning, October 8th, Jean’s sister-in-law, worried by the doting mother’s non-communication and strange absence, went to the LAPD and filed a missing person’s report.

The cops checked with the studios and the Screen Extras Guild. There were no records of Jean having worked anywhere that night. To make matters more confounding Dexter Benner, the disgruntled ex-husband, stated he hadn’t seen or even spoken to Jean in over a month. His new wife gave him an air-tight alibi and vouched for his claims.

Jean had lied. But why?

A clerk at a Farmers Market, a grocery store a few blocks from Spangler’s home stated to authorities she’d seen the beautiful young starlet browsing shelves and seemingly waiting for someone.

October 9th, a purse with a torn handle was discovered in Griffith Park.
Jean’s purse.

The contents – a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, a hairbrush, some lipstick and a letter.

Kirk,
Can’t wait any longer,
Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while
mother is away,

The original letter

Over sixty police officers scoured the park. No other clues were found. Persons of interest named Dr. Scott or Kirk created no fresh leads except for the whispers on the L.A. club scene that there was an illegal abortionist to the stars nicknamed ‘Doc’. The shadowy ‘Doc’ proved allusive and the LAPD were left scratching their heads again.

The newspapers and scandal rags ran amok on theories, rumors and speculation. The Black Dahlia murder was dragged back out into the cold spotlight causing panic and fear of the Los Angeles Werewolf Killer.

Actor Kirk Douglas nervous and publicity conscious contacted the LAPD Chief through his lawyer to state though he did work with Spangler on his newest movie, Young Man with a Horn, the relationship never went further than small talk on set. She was just an extra, Douglas was the star, the lawyer argued.

The cops agreed and focused on two new leads instead. A violent ex-boyfriend of Jean’s nicknamed Scotty. A war veteran who abused Spangler when she tried to leave him previously and Davy Ogul, a mob heavy for Mickey Cohen, currently under indictment and spotted together with Jean in Palm Springs prior to her disappearance.

L.A. Mob Boss Mickey Cohen

These two leads like all the others ended point blank at the bottom of one-way streets and empty alleyways.

Nah King Cole played at The Chi Chi Bar and Grill
Original matchbook

The cops, under pressure from the press and the public, hit the clubs Spangler was known to frequent, The Florentine Gardens, a notorious mob hang-out and The Chi-Chi Bar and Grill in Palm Springs. They turned up nothing but bar gossip and scandalized embellishments. Casting couch skin flicks. Affairs. Murders for hire. Heroin. Unwanted pregnancies.

Desperate for information detectives on the case brought in Hollywood insider and good friend of Jean’s, Robert Cummings. He told the LAPD Jean confided in him “I have a new romance.” Asked by Cummings if the romance was serious, Jean simply smiled and said, “Not really, but I’m having the time of my life.”

Robert Cummings – actor and friend of Jean

Eye-witness accounts continued to flood in. Jean had been spotted in Palm Springs, San Francisco, and Mexico. 

All roads lead nowhere.

Jean was never seen again.

Detectives never found Davy Ogul. He went missing the day before Jean and was probably buried out in the desert somewhere, killed by his cohorts to stop him making a deal with the DA. The ex-lover, Scotty, never appeared. Ditto ‘The Doc’.

The case went cold. Then colder, and then it was dead.

Dexter Benner was awarded custody of his and Jean’s daughter.
The LAPD continued circulating Spangler’s photograph years after but it was no use. The case was dead. It had always been dead. Los Angeles, The City of Angels and the city of Always the Dead.

A week before the 72nd anniversary of Jean Spangler’s disappearance, on the 1st of October, 2021, Red Dog Press will release my semi-fictional noir novel based on her disappearance. A sequel to I’ll Pray When I’m Dying and the prequel to Say Goodbye When I’m Gone. The case has been an obsession of mine for over 16 years and I hope that is evident within the pages of ALWAYS THE DEAD.

Los Angeles, California. 1949.

Scott Kelly is a World War Two Marine veteran and mob hitman confined to a Tuberculosis sanatorium suffering from consumption, flashbacks and nightmares from his experiences of The Battle of Okinawa and a botched hit for Bugsy Siegel.

When his movie actress girlfriend disappears, he bribes his way out of the sanatorium to search for her.
What follows is a frantic search, a manic murder spree, stolen contraband, and a briefcase full of cash.

A story that stretches from the war torn beaches of Okinawa, all the way to the playground of the rich and famous, Palm Springs, California.

An exploration into the depths of L.A crime, PTSD and twisted love.
A semi-fictional novel based around the disappearance of Jean Spangler.

Available for preorder now or from all good booksellers October 1st. 

https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/always-the-dead

“Steeped in the grandest of noir traditions while evoking the finest examples of the genre, Always the Dead is an astonishing novel and simply one of the finest books I’ve read in some time.

The story of Scott Kelly is as emotionally wrought and riveting as you could ask for, and is told with such a lyrical flair and story-telling skill that it renders the novel utterly compulsive – and announces Stephen J. Golds as one of the most exciting and talented new voices in literature, anywhere.”

Rob Parker ~ Author of Far from the Tree

“Following war-haunted, tubercular Scott Kelly as he searches for his missing lover, Always the Dead is a hard-boiled crime novel with a soft heart. It crackles with ugliness and despair, absolutely refusing to flinch as it looks into the darkest parts of 1940s L.A. and the human soul.”

Joey R. Poole ~ author of I Have Always Been Here Before

“Always the Dead by Stephen J. Golds is a powerful, gripping and lyrical noir drama”

Paul D. Brazill ~ author of Small Time Crimes

“A traumatized war veteran with nothing left to lose tangles with the mob in a search for his missing lover. Always the Dead is a gripping and compelling read with all the seedy atmosphere of James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet.”

Seth Lynch ~ Author of Veronique

“With Always the Dead, Stephen J. Golds has created a world in which I was immersed from the first page to the last. It reads like an instant classic. The horrors of war are painted with such delicate strokes and the painful existence post-war is handled with delicacy. There is plenty of action in it, but what I loved was the exquisite way in which the main character, Scott Kelly, was built. An incredible story from a very talented writer who is going to be massive. 5 stars.

Chris McDonald ~ author of A Wash of Black

Always the Dead is the tale of a bad man trying to put things right, and reeks of the kind of authenticity you find in an Ellroy novel. Stephen J. Golds is a new writer to keep an eye on.’

Paul Heatley ~ Author of Just Like Jesus

“A hard-nosed, hard-boiled story you won’t soon forget”

Steve Weddle, author of COUNTRY HARDBALL

“An uber-stylish, original and very bloody take on the soldier’s return. Always the Dead is as noir as it gets – gore-filled and fantastic. Tough guys, break-your-heart dames and a shedload of guilt. Stephen J Golds has created one of the most memorable anti-heroes of recent times – a serious new talent has come to town.”

Judith O’Reilly ~ Author of Curse The Day

“Powerful and visceral, Always the Dead left me reeling. It had me at the edge of my seat as I devoured it through the night. Populated with a host of unforgettable characters, this crime thriller is full of action, dark emotion and redemption. Stephen J. Golds is a promising new talent that the world should be reading!”

Awais Khan ~ author of In the Company of Strangers

“Stephen J. Golds has written one helluva noir novel taking us back to the years following World War 2. We follow the Marine Scott Kelly, haunted by his past, on an odyssey across Los Angeles, looking for his missing lover. This book burns. It goes down hard. Golds is one to watch.”

Anthony Neil Smith ~ Author of Slow Bear

“ALWAYS THE DEAD is noir, TRUE noir the way it was meant to be in the Goodis/Thompson tradition. Bold, bloody, and dark as an unlit corner in Hell.”

Todd Robinson ~ author of ROUGH TRADE

“Dare you read ‘Always the Dead’?
“I dared and I’ve been left reeling.
“This is the noirest of noirs. Truly shocking. Almost a horror novel as much as a thriller.
“Old school. Non PC. Violent. Vicious.
“From the gut-wrenching prologue, through the pornography of war, and the cracked psyche of PTSD, author Stephen Golds never pulls a punch. Neither does his black-hearted protagonist, Scott Kelly. Yet, amidst all the blood and guts and shit and vileness, is a dream-like use of imagery and language rare in stories like this.
“And the search for the woman he loves is as brutal as the language. Tainted love!
“Now I need a lie down!”

Tina Baker, author of Call Me Mummy.

Available for preorder now or from all good booksellers October 1st.

https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/always-the-dead

Stephen J. Golds

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

An Interview with a Hard Case — Jason Starr by Stephen J. Golds @JasonStarrBooks

Punk Noir Magazine

I first discovered the talent of Jason Starr when I was belly-laughing, cringing and sweating my way through the absolutely stellar ‘Max and Angela’ Series. Starr and Ken Bruen double-teaming the noir genre with hilarious and pulse-pounding results. BUST. SLIDE. THE MAX. PIMP. If you haven’t made it to that series from Hard Case Crime yet, go and make those the next four books you read. The main protagonist Max is probably my favorite character in crime fiction period. Maybe that doesn’t quite reflect me in the best light as Max is a completely deluded piece of shit who calls himself ‘The M.A.X’ in the third person.

The highly prolific Starr has a wide array of novels and comics to his name. My favorite being Fake ID, the raw story of a psychotic bouncer and bit-time actor, Tommy Russo, in Manhattan who needs big money for the chance to buy in on a race horse. Deciding how exactly to get that cash and the fact Tommy has a serious gambling addiction is really what starts the shit (and blood) hitting the fan. It gets real messy. Another classic Hard Case Crime release – it’s completely different to Starr’s other ‘lighter’ works. Fake ID is a perfect example of pitch black, bleak noir with a hopeless, questionable protagonist doing very questionable things as a means to a blood splattered end.

If you haven’t read Fake ID – go check it out ASAP!

As you can tell I’m a big fan of Starr, so without further ado, here’s the interview with the man himself.

Hi Jason, really appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions for Punk Noir Mag. Kicking off, can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?


In college, I wrote short stories, and after college I wrote plays and screenplays. Later, in my mid 20’s, I started writing novels, specifically crime fiction.

You’re possibly best known for (for me anyway it seems) your Hard Case Crime novel Fake ID. How did that novel come into fruition and what were your inspirations for that bleak as hell story?


Though Fake ID is probably the most “noir” novel I’ve written, it’s definitely not my most known. Cold Caller, Twisted City, The Follower, Panic Attack and Fugitive Red and my graphic novels are probably my most known. Fake I.D. was actually published originally in the U.K., mainly because my agent at the time feared that it was “too dark.” It was published 8 years later by Hard Case Crime. My goal was to write a psychologically honest, relentless story that is purely about a guy who wants something very badly, and the extents he will go to get it. The novel has a horse racing theme and the protagonist, Tommy Russo, is like a horse with blinders.


What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?


Aside from writing great books, to make sure you’re really good at marketing and are willing to spend the time and energy on marketing. If you’re an indie author writing a great book is only the first step. The real work starts after you type “the end.” Also, publishing short fiction online will help, especially if you don’t already have a platform.

What are your plans for the future?


My thriller graphic novel Casual Fling from AWA is on-sale in October, 2021 at bookstores everywhere. My new novel, The Next Time I Die, will be published in 2022 by Hard Case Crime.


What is an issue you care about deeply?


Climate change.

What novel are you reading now?


Forward by Andrew Yang.

What music are you listening to now?


Donda, Kanye West.

What did you last eat?


Seriously?

I guess I’ll let that last question ‘slide’…

If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?


Hemingway, Jim Thompson, Albert Camus, Ken Bruen…and William Shakespeare.

What would you like written on your gravestone?


I guess something related to my family. I doubt Fake ID will be mentioned.

Jason Starr

Jason Starr

Biography

Jason Starr was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, he enjoyed sports such as baseball, tennis, and horse racing, but didn’t have much interest in literature. He began writing plays and fiction in college at Binghamton University. Starr is known for his satirical urban crime novels, set mainly in the New York City area. When asked why (until The Pack) he wrote standalone novels and didn’t rely on a series character he said, “New York City is my series character.”

In the 1990s, Starr had several plays performed at Off-Off Broadway theater companies in New York. In 1997, Starr’s first crime novel, Cold Caller, was published by No Exit Press in the U.K. In 1998, upon its American publication by W.W. Norton, Cold Caller was selected as a Publisher’s Weekly First Fiction pick and was hailed by Kirkus Reviews as “just the thing for fans who miss the acid noir that Jim Thompson dispensed in The Grifters.” The French edition of Cold Caller was selected as the official gift of the prestigious 813 book group. In the critical work Twentieth Century Crime Fiction, (Oxford University Press, 2005), author Lee Horsley selected Cold Caller as one of the basic texts for discussion.

Starr’s second novel, Nothing Personal, about a compulsive gambler who hatches a sick kidnapping plot to pay off debts, was hailed as the best novel of the year by Bookends. Starr’s third novel, Fake I.D., concerns a bouncer’s desperate attempts to join a horse-owning syndicate. His fourth novel, Hard Feelings, about a computer networking salesman, trying to do deal with a horror from his past, was a “Penzler Pick” and the first ever original novel published by the prestigious American publisher, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard.

Tough Luck, Starr’s fifth novel, about a young guy in Brooklyn who gets in deep with a mob figure, was an Anthony Award finalist and won the Barry Award for best paperback. Starr’s sixth novel, Twisted City, about the devastating consequences a financial journalist faces when he attempts to recover a stolen wallet, was a Barry Award finalist and an Anthony Award winner. In 2006, Starr’s novel Lights Out, a tale of jealousy and murder set in Brooklyn, was first published by St. Martin’s Press in the U.S. and Orion in the U.K. It was hailed as one of the best crime novels of the year by Barnes and Noble.com and Bookreporter.com. Also in 2006, the heralded American pulp publisher Hard Case Crime, published Bust, a crime novel that Starr wrote with Irish novelist Ken Bruen (BUST was an IMBA bestseller). That same year, Vintage Books published a collection of stories and essays on horse racing called Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology, which Starr co-edited with Maggie Estep.

In 2007, Starr’s thriller The Follower, called “this generation’s Looking for Mr. Goodbar” by the New York Post, was first published by St. Martin’s Press and Orion Books. TV/Film rights for The Follower were purchased by Lionsgate with Bret Easton Ells attached as writer/creator. Also in 2007, Hard Case Crime publishedSlide, a second novel co-authored by Starr and Ken Bruen. In 2008, Starr and Bruen’s third novel, The Max was published in what became known as “The Bust Trilogy.”

Panic Attack, Starr’s thriller about the aftermath of a shooting in suburban New York City, was published in 2009 by St. Martin’s Press. The German/ Diogenes Verlag edition (Panik) was a major bestseller in Austria. It was optioned by David Fincher‘s production company Panic Pictures with Ocean’s Eleven scribe Ted Griffin adapting.

In 2010, Starr’s first graphic novel, The Chill, was published by Vertigo Crime, with art by Mick Bertilorenzi. Starr also wrote many comics for DC Comics (Justice, Inc.). In 2011, The Chill won the Anthony Award for Best Graphic Novel, making Starr one of only nine writers who have won multiple Anthony Awards.

In 2011, Penguin/Ace published Starr’s The Pack, the first book in a new modern day werewolf series set mainly in the New York City area. The second book in the series, The Craving, was published by Penguin in June 2012.

Starr’s prose novel Ant-Man: Natural Enemy was published by Marvel in July 2015, to coincide with the blockbuster Ant-Man feature film. In October 2015, Starr’s novel Savage Lane was published by Polis Books. Polis has also re-issued many of Starr’s novels in new editions.

Starr has also become a prolific writers of comics and graphic novels, writing original works such as The Chill, as well as working on iconic characters such as Batman, Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Sandman for DC Comics and The Punisher and Wolverine Marvel Comics. The Chill won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best Graphic Novel. In October, 2012 Marvel launched its new ongoing series Wolverine Max, written by Starr with art by Roland Boschi. Starr’s original comic The Returning launches from BOOM Studios! in March, 2014, with art by Andrea Mutti (The Executor, Star Wars, Noir).

Starr’s work has been published in nine languages, including in Germany by Diogenes Verlag. Top Job (the German edition of Cold Caller) was adapted as an hour-long radio drama by Deutschland Radio, and was recently chosen as one of the top 50 novels of the past 60 years by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. As a result, in 2006 a new hardcover edition of Top Job was published as part of a popular series of crime novels (SZ Krimibibliothek) by Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Stephen J. Golds

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.