Every month we feature a different author, publisher or bookseller who has earned the RLK! seal of approval! We will highlight and review their books/company as well as providing author biographies (where available) and publishing information. We hope you enjoy RLK! Spotlight On....

Author Bio:

Ed Gorman became a full-time writer after twenty years in advertising and since then has written extensively in the mystery, thriller and horror genres.

His books have won him consistent praise from many discerning judges.

He is founder and editor of Mystery Scene, a magazine dedicated to the advancements of mystery writing.

He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with his wife, novelist Carol Gorman.

RLK! EXCLUSIVE Author interview:

Ron Clinton, USA Contributing Editor for Richard Laymon Kills!, recently had an opportunity to speak with one of the most prolific and talented living authors America has to offer: Ed Gorman. Mr. Gorman's approach to writing is refreshingly unconventional by refusing to be pigeonholed, displaying his versatility in a multitude of genres - mixing flight and noir'ish fright in the horror and suspense fields, tinkering in science fiction, dabbling in international espionage, riding the sunbaked and bloodsoaked western range, adding to one of his thrilling mystery series, flexing his editorial muscle in dozens of anthologies - and racking up an impressive literary track record. And yet within each genre's contribution, every Gorman novel or short story resonates with the same exemplary qualities: flawless pacing, crisp and unadorned dialogue and, most crucial of all, characters that live and breathe, fear and love, bleed and die. These features are vividly evident in THE POKER CLUB, recently reprinted in paperback by Leisure in the USA. And so, RLK! is excited to present...Mr. Ed Gorman.

Richard Laymon Kills!: Thanks for joining us, Ed. Let's do a quick overview of your writing career and then we'll move onto more recent issues. First off, I know you grew up on a steady diet of the old, hardboiled Gold Medal novels featuring such talents as Dan Marlowe, Gil Brewer, Harry Whittington, Charles Williams, David Goodis, Jim Thompson and so on. What early impact did these authors have on your budding desire to become a writer?

Ed Gorman: Graham Greene once noted that the most influential books are those we read in our early years. I think that's true. GOLD MEDAL novels have stayed with me. They taught me how to shape stories and they also--the best of them--reinforced my perception of life. I grew up on the same working-class streets many of the Gold Medals were set on.

RLK!: It certainly seems like you've accomplished a great deal in your career thus far - "prolific" is often a word associated with your name.

EG: I've been selling for eighteen years now but I don't think of myself as prolific at all. I generally write six pages a day, virtually every day of the year. Three in the morning, three in the afternoon. Sometimes two pages at a time, three times a day. Books accumulate, I guess.

RLK!: You started off with a number of straight-forward mystery novels, branched off into a mystery series or two. Could you briefly tell us about these early works that launched your writing career?

EG: The first few were rather routine novels, as I recall. Very much by the numbers. What redeemed them, I think, was their humor. I don't think there's anything else to particularly recommend them.

RLK!: After these initial books, your writing seemed to mature and take a somewhat darker turn with the introduction of Jack Dwyer, the protagonist of such mesmerizing novels as THE AUTUMN DEAD and CRY OF SHADOWS. How did this fascinating character come about?

EG: Dwyer was my protagonist from the git-go. What happened was that my editor thought I had this talent for comedy, so I wrote two serio-comic books about a short, alcoholic movie critic named Tobin. The books--to judge by the reviews--were funny but they were also darker than anything I'd written before. SEVERAL DEATHS LATER, the second Tobin, is probably the bleakest novel I've ever done--yet it's guised as a comedy. The experience of writing those two books--which I did quickly back-to-back--changed me when I went back to Dwyer and THE AUTUMN DEAD. I think the Tobins were the first books I wrote in my own real voice, that mixture of drama and comedy.

RLK!: From these private-investigator books there was what seemed a natural progression to more suspense-oriented, non-series works such as the early NIGHT KILLS, a classic of its kind. What made you venture outside the relative safety of a series character to try your hand at these types of novels?

EG: Non-series books offer you freedom. You can, if your editor will let you get away with it, kill off your protagonist. He can also be much less of a nice guy than a series hero. NIGHT KILLS was my book about loneliness. I wanted to deal with three very isolated people coming together. I couldn't have done it in a series novel.

RLK!: Eventually, your writing led into the direction of political thrillers under the thinly-guised penname of E.J. Gorman: THE MARILYN TAPES, THE FIRST LADY and SENATORIAL PRIVILEGE, all three absolutely incredible, character-driven works of suspense and espionage. Do you have any other intrigue novels planned for the future?

EG: Maybe. If I can find a subject that interests me. Richard North Patterson has done some nice stuff with the genre. And Richard Condon, of course. He was the master. Tom Gifford is also a master. Great stuff. When I read him, I want to do another MARILYN or FIRST LADY. We'll see, I guess.

RLK!: Which leads us to the present tense wherein you've penned a string of exemplary and chilling suspense novels: BLACK RIVER FALLS (in my opinion, one of the finest novels written in the suspense genre in the last decade), COLD BLUE MIDNIGHT, RUNNER IN THE DARK, THE SILVER SCREAM, THE CAGE OF NIGHT, SHADOW GAMES, DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS and others. Care to elaborate on this "dark suspense" genre that the aforementioned works have helped nearly make your own?

EG: One of my primary influences has always been Georges Simenon. I had a nun who loved him and passed his books on to me. I remember reading my first Maigret when I was thirteen or so. But whether writing Maigret or straight novels, his books always ran around 45,000-50,000--perfect for French tastes but an abomination here. American publishers want books that give you back aches to pick up. I think of BLACK RIVER FALLS and SHADOW GAMES and CAGE OF NIGHT in particular as my Simenons: short novels of psychological suspense crossed with occasional horrific effects (the bloody severed head in the refrigerator in SHADOW GAMES etc).

RLK!: Where do you see this type of fiction heading in the future?

EG: I hope there is a future for novels like this but when one says "psychological suspense" editors always think you mean damsels in distress.

RLK!: Additionally, you currently have a couple series in tandem: the Payne/MOON suspense series and the Sam McCain mystery series set in the 50's. Could you briefly tell our visitors a bit about each?

EG: When you write mysteries, you write series. I always try and come up with something that'll hold my interest for four or five books. The Payne books are very, very dark but very humane, too, I think. Payne's the first truly decent guy I've ever written about. But I've done five Paynes and I have no idea what else to do with him and nobody's clamoring for more so it seems a good time to end the series. Sam McCain books are set in small-town Iowa in the mid-50s. They're a lot of melancholy fun to write. I think of them as jukebox songs, hopefully the kind you want to hear more than once. I always disliked "Happy Days" and "Grease" because they were so fraudulent. The 50s were a great time if you were white, Christian and middle-class. But if you weren't... So far people seem to like my balancing act with Sam. He definitely believes that the 50s were a good time in small-town America (which they were) but he also points out the flaws, some of them serious such as racism, red-baiting, etc. I hope this series goes on for several more books.

RLK!: From your earliest books to your most recent, western fiction seems to consistently play a role. In fact, STORM RIDERS, your newest western, was published earlier this year. What is it about writing westerns that continues to appeal to you?

EG: Freedom is what you get from westerns. You can tell virtually any kind of story--love story, hardboiled crime story, historical story, comedy, tragedy, whatever. A reviewer recently said "Gorman doesn't write westerns, he writes midwesterns" and I think that's true. Most of my westerns are set in the middle of the country at the end of frontier days, that transition to the new century on the horizon. The old "Mavericks" were largely set in the Midwest. That's my all time favorite western show. I've got a boxfull of Maverick tapes and whenever I get depressed I just pop a couple in the machine and feel at least a bit better. I grew up reading one or two westerns a week. But I realize that my son's generation has no real interest in them.

RLK!: Onto another arena in which you excel: short stories. The genres and sources in which your shorter material has appeared in are as varied as your full-length novels: horror, mystery, western, science fiction and so on. I believe you've had four short-story collections published. CAGES, your short-story collection from Deadline Press, was in particular an outstanding tour de force of literary power and sweeping variety. To do short stories with such regularity and distinction, I can only assume you must enjoy the short format immensely.

EG: It's this simple: I've been writing short stories since I was in fifth grade. After all this time, I couldn't stop if I wanted to.

RLK!: Along with your own short works, from nearly the beginning of your career, you've had an extremely active hand in the field of anthology editing. Your anthologies have long been recognized for their excellence and singular attention to quality; some, in fact, have introduced a whole new generation to the hardboiled and noir paperback geniuses of a lost era. What are a few of the highlights you've experienced?

EG: The most fun I've had editing are the collections of crime stories Marty Greenberg, Bill Pronzini and I have done over the past few years--AMERICAN PULP, LOVE KILLS, PURE PULP. We believe that the fifties--not the thirties and forties as the scholars would have it--were the real golden age of the noir crime short story. It's nice to see all those great stories of our youth back in print again.

RLK!: Many of these early pulp authors commonly utilized psuedonyms. I believe most people are familiar with your own Daniel Ransom penname in which you've written a host of horror novels, a couple terrific suspense novels (THE SERPENT'S KISS and THE LONG MIDNIGHT) and a few science fiction novels. In fact, Ransom recently made a reappearance in a DAW sci-fi anthology. But I understand there have been several other pennames. Care to disclose any?

EG: No comments on other pen-names, other than to say I get credited for a lot of stuff I didn't write.

RLK!: I know in the past you've discounted the worth of many of your Ransom horror novels. Yet some might question that view - perhaps most notably THE BABYSITTER, which has an opening that is as frightening as anything you've written. Now that a few more years have gone by, do the Ransom books hold any more favor with you?

EG: I really couldn't say. I never reread my books.

RLK!: Okay, onto more recent matters. Just within the last few months, you've had a number of pieces of fiction published: WAKE UP, SUZIE (a Sam McCain mystery), STORM RIDERS (the aforementioned western), THE POKER CLUB (hardcover by CD Publications, paperback reprint by Leisure) and FAMOUS BLUE RAINCOAT (short-story collection). Have I missed any?

EG: The final Payne, VOODOO MOON, will be out this spring sometime. I should point out that this list of books is less imposing when you consider that all but two of them are old books. VOODOO MOON, by the way, came off reading three Fredric Brown novels in a row.

RLK!: Sounds intriguing. Brown's a terrific writer.

EG: It's structure is that of a 1958 Gold Medal, notably a book Brown did for Dell originally called MADBALL. I've always wanted to try a story that linear, no side trips whatsoever.

RLK!: That's still an impressive amount of fiction to have published in a short period of time. How do you account for your success at what is normally viewed as a position of sporadic reward: the "mid-list writer"?

EG: It's six pages a day for nearly twenty years. And in light of that, not all that "prolific." My heroes tend to be the big producers: John D. MacDonald, Evan Hunter/Ed McBain, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Bill Pronzini, Donald Westlake, etc. I'm successful enough to make a good wage and I consider myself blessed to write full-time. But I don't ride around in limos. I wish "People" magazine would quit writing about these gazillionaire writers. The working writers I know are just everyday folk.

RLK!: What advice would you give aspiring writers on how to achieve similar success in the publishing world?

EG: Write and read; read and write. And just keep submitting. Breaking in right now is tougher than ever. But it can be done.

RLK!: What publishing trends do you see developing in the horror and suspense/mystery fields? What role do you feel small presses - Cemetery Dance, for example, a publisher whose imprint made an auspicious debut in 1992 with the publication of your first short story collection, PRISONERS AND OTHER STORIES - will play in the future of these genres?

EG: We're all waiting to see where the Internet will take us because at some point, and soon enough, the Internet is going to profoundly change publishing as we think of it. And small presses will be a big part of it. CD and Rich Chizmar did an amazing job with my book PRISONERS. And Rich is doing it over and over again. Small presses are starting to pop up in the mystery field now, too.

RLK!: THE POKER CLUB has just been released this month by Leisure in US paperback - following a CD Publications hardcover that met with much acclaim - and is widely available in bookstores everywhere. But originally this exemplary tale of suburban fear started out as a Subterranean Press limited-edition chapbook novella, OUT OF THE DARKNESS. What made you decide to expand this story to novel length?

EG: I liked the set-up and I liked the people. It's the type of story I've always loved to read. Everyday folks caught up in something far bigger than they are…

RLK!: It's a terrific read, extremely suspenseful and chilling. The ordinary characters, driven to violence by paranoiac motivations, ring as true as any you've written. THE POKER CLUB is certainly among your finest works…and one of my favorites. What are a few of yours other books that you feel best showcase your abilities as a writer?

EG: Oh, gosh, I never know how to answer that question. I'd say BLACK RIVER FALLS, WHAT THE DEAD MEN SAY, THE AUTUMN DEAD, BLOOD MOON, THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED and my collections are probably my favorites.

RLK!: What Gorman books can we next look forward to?

EG: There's one in the pipeline, LAWLESS, a Jim Thompsonesque western from Berkley in April; and a very long horror novel that I'm presently writing for DAW. As for Leisure, Don D'Auria's one of my all-time favorite people and I hope to do many more books with him.

RLK!: Well, Ed, I appreciate you generously taking the time to answer these questions. If any of RLK's visitors wishes to contact Ed directly with further questions, you can reach him at his Masters of Terror message board at http://guestbooks.netservices.gr/readgb.cgi?name=EdGorman. Thanks again, Ed.

Books Published:

Click on the title of the book you wish to view or just scroll down

  1. The Poker Club
  2. The Silver Scream
  3. Harlot's Moon
  4. Cold Blue Midnight
  5. Black River Falls
  6. Blood Red Moon
  7. Hawk Moon
Clicking on any book title will bring you back to the top.


It all starts so innocently. It is just a group of buddies meeting for a weekly poker game. No harm done-until the night an intruder breaks in while they are playing. They don't mean to kill him, that is an accident. They think if they throw the body in the river no one will ever know. That's where they are wrong. The intruder hasn't come alone. His friend is waiting for him outside the house and he sees it all. Suddenly the game has changed. What starts out as a simple poker game now becomes a game of cat and mouse. The stakes are raised too-to life and death. And it looks like the attacker in the shadows holds all the cards.
8 . 5 / 10


Not all short stories can be fleshed out to adequately fit the frame of a novel but Ed Gorman has magnificently managed to do just that with THE POKER CLUB.

The original theme and plot of the Subterranean Press '96 chapbook, OUT THERE IN THE DARKNESS, remains the same: four respectable suburban men learn deadly lessons in personal honesty and civic responsibility when they try covering up their accidental killing of a burglar and outwitting his vengeful accomplice who manages to escape them. Gorman uses the expanse of the novel format to further develop distinct personalities for his protagonists and evoke paranoid fears as their secure world of middle-class values grows increasingly unstable and violent. Better still, he fleshes out the anonymous and implacable accomplice who stalks them night and day. The lean, terse first-person narrative allows the reader to delve into the frightened and desperate motives of Aaron Tyler, the lawyer in whose house the killing occurred, and understand how easily the ordeal unhinges the lives of his himself, his family and three friends. Gorman's lean, terse prose is a perfect fit for both the thrilling suspense sequences as well as the poignant personal overtones of love, family and honor.

Ed Gorman, one of this generation's finest writers, has dealt his legion of readers a winning hand with THE POKER CLUB.

- - Ron Clinton, USA


Parkhurst is a fine Iowa town - pretty, well ordered and peaceful. Most of the time. But that peace is about to be destroyed forever. All it takes is a single day.
Writer Darcy McCain is not what you'd expect in an escaped convict. Gentle young women don't bust out of jail and hop freight trains with half the state police on their trail. But Darcy's serving time for murder and she's got one hope of overturning her conviction. Right now that hope is fading fast on a bed in Parkhurst...
Judge Carmichael lies dying while the March rain beats down outside. He's been a hard man in his life and a hard road lies ahead. But it's not death that troubles him now, it's his conscience. And whether he can speak his mind before his time runs out...
With her alcoholic husband in crisis and three daughters to support, Police Chief Amy Foster carries more than the burden of office. Now Darcy's on the run there's a manhunt on her hands. And, unless Amy can nail her quick, the lid might blow off a whole can of worms that she and her family have worked all their lives to protect. A can of worms otherwise known as the peaceful town of Parkhurst...
7 . 5 / 10


Ed Gorman follows up his classic small-town noir, BLACK RIVER FALLS, and subsequent thrilling action/suspense novel, RUNNER IN THE DARK, with this novel that combines the elements of both, though primarily revisiting the small-town dark underbelly. Unfortunately, THE SILVER SCREAM is a bit of an uneven mix.
Novelist Darcy McCain has just broken out of prison, her hopes for vindication buoyed by a letter she receieved in prison, a letter by a respected judge who hints at the knowledge of her innocence. She sets out to unravel the strands that caused her to be unduly convicted of murder and, along the way, discovers a vast framework of conspiracy and vigilantiism in her own backyard.
In the hands of another, less talented author, this novel may have been predictable and unworkable. In Gorman's exemplary hands, it is simply predictable. Gorman brings forth the usual trademark array of intriguing characters and sizzling dialogue, but his plot structure in this book leaves little room for surprise or misdirection.
While not up to par with his most recent other suspense novels, THE SILVER SCREAM is still a great read and a worthy addition to Gorman's stellar body of work.
- - Ron Clinton, USA


A shabby motel where husbands take their girlfriends is not a place where you'd expect to find a priest. At least, not a dead one with his tongue cut out. Former FBI investigator Robert Payne knows he's seen worse sights, but he can't remember when.
In life, Father Daly was an attractive man, particularly to his female parishioners - which might explain the gold earring Payne spots on the bedside table. In death, the priest is a potential scandal and Payne's job, he suspects, is to hush things up. The trouble is, if he doesn't catch the killer then Payne himself might be hushed up. Permanently...


The axe is heavy in his hands, moonlight glinting on the blade...
In Indiana the condemned fry at midnight. Men like Peter Tappley, a killer born to privilege and wealth, who lived in his mother's shadow and visited his hatred on trusting young women. Only his mother mourns him now.
Footsteps echo on the flagstones as he walks towards the cellar door. He knows what he must do...
Six years on from Tappley's execution, his ex-wife Jill is trying to live down the family connection. From time to time the media spotlight turns in her direction. Which is why she hires a private detective when she spots that her apartment is being staked out once again. But how is Jill to know that her problems far excees press harassment? That there is someone out there in the chilly autumn night who still blames her for her husband's crimes? And who is powerful enought to put her in the frame for atrocitites yet to be committed.
In the darkness his victim waits, too terrified to scream...


Gorman is at his best in this book. Wickedly filled with black humor, the plot speeds along until a terrific conscusion! Who do you believe, who can you trust, who do you turn to as your world is shaken and you feel yourself going insane? This one is certainly worth it's weight in gold! Great characters, terrific storyline and suspense. You'll rip through this novel as the pace quickens towards a terrificly terrifying and original climax. If you're going to read just one Gorman novel, this is it! Get yourself a copy.


Who would want to kill a beautiful young woman like Alison? And why? Whatever happens, nineteen-year-old Ben Tyler will protect her...
It's not been easy for Ben. The boy the other kids always picked on. But now Ben has Alison and at last things are going his way.
Until he learns a secret so ugly that his entire life is changed. A secret that will destroy those he loves. A secret as dark and dangerous as the tumbling waters of Black River Falls...

Among his contemporaries, Ed Gorman is often cited as one of the best writers working in popular fiction today. And rightly so. Sadly, his talent and voluminous output is often ignored by a reading public hungry for the next bland bestseller. Perhaps BLACK RIVER FALLS, one of Gorman's very best, will work to change that inequity. Rich with vivid characterizations, sparkling dialogue and staccato pacing, FALLS is a relentless examination of a family torn asunder by duplicity and violence. Gorman's skill at creating tangible characters and storylines of dark, startling poignancy has never been so seamlessly displayed. BLACK RIVER FALLS is suspense writing in its most exemplary, undiluted form and, if there is any justice in this world, will garner a wider audience for an author whose acclaim is richly deserved...and, for the most part, long overdue. -- Ron Clinton, USA


There's a psycho on the loose...
When former FBI criminologist Robert Payne receives $10,000 in an unmarked envelope he knows there has to be a catch. The catch comes in the shape of a glamorous blonde. She wants Payne to find the man who killed her daughter.
...the kind who kidnaps little girls...
Macho is not Payne's style, he's more the laid-back type. But he's an expert in criminal profiling so he knows the kind of man he's looking for - callous, cruel and very clever.
...and feeds them to the beasts!
Payne keeps the money and packs his bags and sets off beneath the blood red moon...
7. 5/10


BLOOD RED MOON introduces Ed Gorman's legion of fans - readers and scores of fellow writers alike - to an engrossing new series character, Psychological Profile Investigator Robert Payne.
Payne is a respected figure among police investigators whose skills are exemplary and reputation legendary. Gorman has fleshed out a fully-formed, intriguing character who exudes confidence and style yet whose humanity and approachable persona makes Robert Payne instantly likeable and sympathetic to even the most jaded reader. A refreshing change from many of the thrillers now in vogue - and, to some extent, even Gorman's own Jack Dwyer - Payne is not confused and/or alcoholic and/or tormented by personal tragedy; he is strong, capable and thoughtful.
In this first novel of his MOON series, Gorman has crafted a tale of procedural suspense featuring a murder in the Iowa heartland and of a family's tragic heritage...and those its lingering horror threatens to destroy. It's first-person narrative strikes a perfect chord for Payne's easy and natural investigative ability and charm.
BLOOD RED MOON is an admirable first installment of this exciting new series. While perhaps my personal preferences still lie with Gorman's dark, noir-ish small-town dramas (BLACK RIVER FALLS, etc.), this remains a novel not to be missed. -- Ron Clinton, USA


A life spent studying the worst kind of killers and sociopaths takes its toll on a guy. But ex-FBI invesigator Robert Payne works hard at being an optimist. Sometimes it's difficult.
Like when his client is a pretty Native American and her husband is falsely accused of murder and ritual maiming. Payne will bring to the case all his skills in the art of criminal profiling and up-to-date forensic techniques. He will do his damnedest to prove the young Indian is not responsible for the slaughter and mutilation.
Some things don't change in a hundred years. Like bigotry and prejudice and the yearning of evil men for the slick flowing river of another human's blood...


Ed Gorman, the "Poet of Dark Suspense" (The Bloomsbury Review), follows up the debut novel (BLOOD RED MOON) of the Psychological Profile Investigator Robert Payne series with HAWK MOON, a suspenseful novel of murder, secrets and lies that involve Native American lore and a splendid cast of past and present-day characters.
Two Indian women are found with their faces mutilated, an ancient practice of inflicting penalty for infidelity. Payne knows there's more - much more - to the case than appearances would suggest. He sets out to discover why these women were slaughtered and, in the process, finds a dark link to the town's frontier past...a secret a prominent family would kill to keep secret. This intriguing plot, with its parallel flashes to past events involving a young Indian brave, echo with assured mastery as only Gorman can deliver.
Always one to shatter preconceived notions, Gorman once again shows his incredible versatility and demonstrates that a sequel can indeed outdeliver its predeccesor. With the exciting maturing clearly evident in Robert Payne's character development and the MOON series itself, it will exciting to see what MOON Ed Gorman will explore next. -- Ron Clinton, USA

Previous releases by Ed Gorman include:


Ed Gorman does not currently have an official website,
but a terrific bibliography of his work can be found at

Where to buy:


For those who order online, try:

Amazon UK!   Buy Laymon & Others Here!   

 RLK! Spotlight On...
Past Features

 February 2000: Harry Turtledove Click here to view.
 January 2000: J. N. Williamson Click here to view.
 December 99: Phil Rickman Click here to view.
 November 99: Paul Thomas Click here to view.
 October 99: James Lee Burke Click here to view.
 September 99: Leisure Books Click here to view.
 August 99: Gerald Seymour Click here to view.
 July 99: Brian Lumley Click here to view.
 June 99: Michael Connelly Click here to view.
 May 99: Stephen Laws Click here to view.
 April 99: Gemma O'Connor Click here to view.
 March 99: Simon Clark Click here to view.
 February 99: Obsidian Books Click here to view.
 January 99: John Case Click here to view.

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