Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Hi folks,

I just finished reading one of the best novels I've read in a long, LONG time and wanted to share my thoughts about it with you. The author is a friend I've known for a long time, but this was the first time I'd read any of her work. I know her as Robin Billings and she's chosen to use an old family name (Martin) for this book. Robin has done a ton of great things to help my own career--she introduced me to the great Paul D. Brazill for one very big thing!--and I'm just happy that I can hopefully return the favor a bit by recommending her book here. Below is the review I posted in Amazon and Goodreads. It's one of those books that I know will become part of me and a book that will forever help inform how I see women from now on.

Like they say by the watercooler--You've got to read this! You really do.


I’ve just turned the last page on a wondrous book, titled The Hiding Place Girl by Robin Martin. I’m just now getting my breath back. I’ve only experienced the feeling I got from Robin’s book a couple of other times. One was when I finished Dr. Richard Selzer’s Letters to a Young Doctor. I was in one of my MFA residencies when I read Dr. Selzer’s book and the next morning, I was privileged to eat breakfast with him. Later that day, he gave a talk to the student body and faculty and afterward, I was walking on the grounds in an absolute daze after the experience and a fellow classmate came running up to me, telling me he’d gotten stuck in town and hadn’t been able to make it.

“How was his talk?” he said.

I thought for a long moment. I didn’t have the words to describe the experience. Finally (and weakly), I came up with my answer. “It was like being in a cathedral and hearing the voice of God,” I said. And it was. Dr. Selzer had deeply touched every good emotion a human being is capable of feeling.

I felt the same way upon finishing Martin’s novel. I have never understood women as well as I do now after reading her work and have never loved women as much. What a marvelous creation they are! What wondrous brains and hearts and souls they have!

Thank you, Robin. This is every bit as good as Dr. Selzer’s book and it’s every bit the revelation of the open, totally honest heart of a human being as anything Walt Whitman ever revealed. This is true and it is intelligent and it is the kind of thing I think of when I think of poetry and literature.

I am in awe and I thank you.

Hope you get a copy! You'll thank me.

Blue skies,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Canadian crime writer Rob Brunet reviews THE BITCH

Hi folks,
Canadian crime writer, Rob Brunet just posted his review of my book THE BITCH (winner of the Preditors & Editors Award for Best Thriller and nominee for the Spinetinger Magazine Award for Best Novel (Legends Category) on his blog.

THE BITCH in Les Edgerton’s novel is not who or what you might expect from the title, but it’s a serious bitch nonetheless. It hounds Jake, Edgerton’s matter-of-fact narrator, from chapter one to the very last page. And along the way, Edgerton makes sure we get to know the bitch real well.

For the most part, the story takes place outside of prison, on the bricks, but the joint casts its shadow large from the moment Jake’s former cellmate calls him out of the blue. Walker Joy is a cruel oxymoronic name for a guy who brings a shit storm into Jake’s life—a good life he’ll do anything to protect.

In a jocular passionate voice, Jake leads the reader step by rational step into dark corners completely foreign to your average "civilian". The horrific decisions Jake has to make would be much less believable if it weren't for Edgerton's masterful hand. Given what’s at stake, there’s hardly a moment when a you can argue with the path Jake takes—even as the grotesque results pile deeper by the page.

This is the kind of book you're going to reach for at 3:30 in the morning because whatever crap is disturbing your sleep won't stand a chance against the terror looming in the next chapter.

THE BITCH doesn't rely on bad luck or cheap device to create drama. Nothing pops out of the closet when it oughn't. Jake plays the cards he's dealt. It's a lousy hand and he does all he can to make it better. He's got optimism, criminal skill, and solid execution. He even gets a couple good breaks. But the deeper he goes, the more the bitch laughs in his face.

And where THE BITCH takes him ain't funny at all. Even if it makes tragic good sense.

Thanks, Rob! It means a lot to me when another writer likes my work. 

Blue skies,

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review of THE RAPIST by The Fright Site

Hi folks,

(Warning: Some of the language and content below may not be suitable for younger readers.)

Here's one of the first pre-pub reviews of my forthcoming (March 20, 2013) novel, THE RAPIST, from The Fright Site an online site dedicated to horror entertainment, with frightening fiction, scary movies, gruesome games, bizarre comics, stimulating movie reviews, commentary on the horror genre, and weird diversions. The Fright Site's movies and internet fiction have won numerous awards. Online since 1995, The Fright Site is one of the oldest horror sites on the web.

The review of THE RAPIST was written by Adam Groves.

By LES EDGERTON (New Pulp Press; 2013)

Here we have a genuine rarity: a truly original entry in a rather hackneyed subgenre. THE RAPIST is so unique, in fact, that I’m finding it difficult to adequately describe. It’s a bit like THE KILLER INSIDE ME crossed with THE STAR ROVER, being a stark crime procedural, a gritty account of prison life (the author, unsurprisingly, is an ex-con) and a near-psychedelic depiction of the whorls of a deranged mind, all contained in an economic 142 pages.
     The first person protagonist is one Truman Ferris Pinter, a rapist-murderer reflecting back on his life and crimes from his death row cell. In contrast to the protagonists of most crime novels, Truman is extremely well educated, a Harvard bred snob whose nature is reflected in his often absurdly erudite prose (example: “I had more profitably recalled a sonnet of Andrew Marvell or a scene from Aeschylus, both examples far loftier than grubby, nefarious depravations of some inconsequential peasants…”).
     That Truman is an unreliable narrator is evident early on when he provides two separate accounts of the brutal rape and murder of a young woman that led to his incarceration. He’s trying desperately to convince us (and himself) of his innocence, first by claiming his crime wasn’t “actually” a rape and the woman’s death an accident, and then by questioning the very concept of rape, arguing that rape is instrumental in propagating the species and that other cultures have more aggression-friendly views of sexuality than ours.
     Some blunt descriptions of prison life follow, with Truman admitting to being raped by another inmate (“I felt nothing during it other than wishing he’d speed it up”) and breaking a tooth on a piece of gravel mixed in with his food. Truman also engages in a lot of freeform musing about the events of his life, during which he reveals a most intriguing tidbit: that as a child he could fly. Truman claims to have regained that ability, and proves it (in a manner of speaking) when his mind eventually unmoors itself entirely from the here-and-now and enters a subconscious realm where Truman time-trips, speaks with God and witnesses his own death before undergoing a painful self-realization.
     Eccentric pulp fiction or avant-garde literature? I’ll leave it up to you to make that distinction for yourself. It won’t take you more than a couple sittings to read this short, shocking and profound novel, but I can guarantee you will be indelibly impacted by the experience. 

More to come...

Blue skies,

P.S. The second part of the interview I did with Alex Laybourne can be seen here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Early review for The Rapist, a birthday gift, and an interview

Hi folks,

Lots of stuff happening in the last few days. First, I got a call from my best buddy, Tom Rough who owns the Taglio Salon in Scottsdale, AZ to wish me a happy birthday... and to give me a present. He knows I'm a lifelong and avid fan of the S.F. Giants so he's flying me out to Arizona for four days on his dime and got tickets for us to the Giants-Reds spring training game. He was amazed that they were sold out--in a spring training game!--but among his friends is an announcer for the Diamondbacks and through him we got seats.

And, while I'm out there I'm going to have lunch with a bunch of my online class students! I began this class while teaching online for Phoenix College and they still form the backbone of the class. I can't wait to break bread (and the seal on a Jack Daniels' bottle) with them!

Easily the best birthday present I've ever received! And, I get to hang out with Tom and his gorgeous wife and daughter, Lisa and Nicola. More J.D.... And sun! Sun! No snow! Can't get better than that!

Me and Tom on my last visit to him at his house in The Boulders, Carefree, AZ.

Then, my publisher at New Pulp Press, Jon Bassoff, emailed me the link to an early review of THE RAPIST and it's a honey! Check it out here. Getting a comparison to Jim Thompson is the cherry on top of the sundae!

And, then, today, an interview I did with a writer in Holland came out. You can read my exchange with Alex Laybourne here. This is Part I and Part II comes out tomorrow, so if you enjoy the first part, bookmark the site and come back tomorrow. Our mutual friend, Kristen Lamb, introduced us. Thanks, Kristen!

I forgot to ask him if he's ever stuck his finger in a dike... That's probably a stereotype, right, Alex?

And, now, Mary and I are off to visit my youngest daughter Sienna and her terrific husband Jason and our cute-as-hell and smart-as-hell grandson Logan for the day in Michigan. Haven't seen her in two years so this is going to be a great day!

Blue skies,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Hi folks,

Years ago, I published my first writer’s craft book, FINDING YOUR VOICE with Writer’s Digest Books. It enjoyed wonderful success and last year sold out all of the print copies. My agent, Chip Macgregor was able to secure the ebook rights to it and with his help I was able to put out an ebook version of it. We changed the cover and everything else remained the same. And, it’s still selling like crazy!

In the last few days, Chip has graciously posted a couple of excerpts from it on his blog and he got a lot of great comments on the posts. You can access them here.  This link will take you to the most recent post and if you just scroll down, you’ll find the two posts on Finding Your Voice.

I thought it might be helpful today to include an exercise I used to give when I was the visiting writer-in-residence at the University of Toledo. I stole it from my buddy, Jane Bradley. (Keep in mind what they say: Good writers borrow—great writers steal…)

The impetus behind it is knowing that every single person and living thing sees the same exact scene in a different way. Take a single city block. Say, a residential street in a lower-class neighborhood. Take two different individuals, one a welfare worker and the second an aluminum siding salesman.

The welfare worker might notice the tricycle standing upended and with a missing wheel  in the front yard that needs mowing and weed removal, along with the sack of empty beer bottles at the curb awaiting pickup, and think, “I need to check with the people in this house to see if there’s any child abuse going on.”

The siding salesman might not even see or register the trike or the empties at the curb, but might see the peeling paint of the house next to it and think, “Damn! Here’s a guy who could use some new siding.” The things the welfare worker saw might be invisible to him. He sees them perhaps, but he doesn’t see them.

These are just two small examples of how different people look at the same exact scene but each registers very different things.

It’s this condition we all operate under that you can use to inform the characters in the novel you’re writing. Let’s say you have a burglar in your story and you have him walk down that same street. He might not notice the trike in front of the one house nor the peeling paint job of its neighbor, but he might indeed notice the widescreen TV he sees through the front window of the second house and notice that the door is slightly ajar and the wood appears to be a bit rotted. Easy access… Neither the welfare worker or the siding salesman noticed what your burglar focused on. We all practice selective vision depending on who we are, what our jobs are, and on a myriad of other factors.

And, this is how you get into your character’s frame of mind. If you’re writing a story and have a character who’s say a game warden, then climb in your car and take a drive in the country. Get yourself inside what you perceive is a game warden’s mind and try to notice the kinds of things such a person would notice. Really look for the things a game warden might notice that you yourself probably wouldn’t. Let’s say you drive by a woods and notice a pickup truck parked in the open field next to it. If you were driving down that same road in your normal frame of mind as a novelist or a housewife or a Laundromat owner or whatever and whoever you are in “real life,” you might notice there’s a truck there, but it would most likely be a blip in your minds’-eye and quickly be gone without much or even any thought to it. But… in your game warden frame of mind, you notice that it’s July and as far as you know there’s no hunting season going on and you wonder if maybe that truck belongs to a deer poacher.

Now you’re thinking like your character! This is the time to return home and begin writing the scene from the game warden’s pov. You’ve just became that game warden yourself and will write with the kind of verisimilitude a real game warden might bring to the typewriter or computer.

See how this works?

Here’s the exercise I gave my students: I prepared a list of all kinds of characters and made little slips of paper with each character on it. A typical list might be: a nun, an armed robber, an astronaut, a six-year-old girl, a German shepherd, a person from Ghana on their first day in the U.S., an Amish teenaged girl who’d never been away from her farm before today, a sparrow, an alcoholic with no money and no booze, a pimp and so on. You can put virtually anything and any kind of character you wish on the list. I then ask the students to draw out one of the slips and not tell any of their classmates what they drew. They’re then asked to go out into the campus and note what they see but through the eyes of that character. When they’re done, they’re to return to class and take ten minutes to write a brief scene through that persona. Nowhere in it are they to reveal who or what they are, other than through the artifacts they describe seeing.

When they’re done, each student stands up and reads his or her scene. Then, the rest of the class tries to guess who or what they are. It’s a very rare occasion when the class doesn’t guess almost instantly who they are, even if their character is really esoteric, like the Amish girl or the German shepherd. This is absolutely one of the best exercises I’ve ever come upon for showing writers how to get inside their fictional characters hearts and minds. It’s also extremely instructive in illustrating how the same scene is seen very differently by the various characters. Most just go out into the quad the campus buildings are around so most are using the same exact scene. But, if there are twenty people in class, we’re treated to twenty very different descriptions of the same exact scene. I’m not big on most writing exercises, but this is one that really works. Try it for your own novel or short story if you’re writing a character that isn’t you. You’ll be amazed at how much more accurate your depiction becomes once you’ve walked around your neighborhood or taken a drive in your town looking at ordinary vistas you look at every day but through the eyes of your particular character.

Plus, it’s just plain fun to do! I guarantee you no one misses that class when they know it’s coming up. They’ve heard too much about it from kids who took the class previously.

This exercise and other info on how to write in your own particular and unique voice are within the pages of FINDING YOUR VOICE. Hope you glom onto a copy and more than that, I hope you find it valuable in your own writing.

Blue skies,

My agent, Chip Macgregor in a photo showing all the power of Photoshop and how it can remove literally dozens and dozens of imperfections...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review of Bob' Stewart's thriller, FIRST BORN

Hi folks,

Today, it's my genuine pleasure to talk about my good friend Bob Stewart's newest thriller, recently released, titled FIRST BORN. Below is the review I posted in Amazon and Goodreads. 

Five stars *****

Bob Stewart made a national name for himself with his bestselling true crime books such as NO REMORSE. He’s doing the same thing these days with his thrillers.

Stewart delivers one of the most chilling murderers in contemporary fiction with the introduction in FIRST BORN of Percy Kilbourne, known to most as “No Mercy Percy” Kilbourne, who misspells his own last name as “Kill Born” to reflect what he sees and owns as his evil destiny. What Stewart has done here is nothing short of remarkable. He has turned the plot of Pygmalion upside down and created a character who began as the white-trash rapist in Deliverance and is transformed during his stint in prison into a smooth, cultured, educated, sophisticated guy who can charm preachers and old ladies out of their socks, while creating a personal apocalypse for those he has vowed vengeance against. Sent to prison by a jury bent on ridding society of a murderer, even when presented evidence that legally he should be set free, No Mercy Percy gets set free by the same lawyer who served as jury foreman for his conviction… and sets out to destroy the lives of all who sat in judgment on him.

Over and over again, while reading this novel, I kept thinking of Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Max Cady in the remake of Cape Fear. I’ve always thought of that performance as the best depiction of the single scariest villain in any movie or book—much more frightening even than Hannibal Lector. Well, Stewart’s No Mercy Percy is the guy who could take down Max Cady. He’d have him for breakfast. To steal a line from one of my own stories that seems apt: Wherever this guy was became the bad part of town.

This is one scary guy. You’ve got to read this book. And then, send letters to DeNiro’s agent. This is a role that was made for him.

That's the review. And you can take this to the bank--this is indeed, one scary dude!

I'm kind of worried now. Later this summer, Bob is picking me up along with our mutual friend, Carl Brush, and we're driving on to the Writer's Retreat Workshop in Minnesota where I'll be presenting and they'll be... drinking? Now I wonder if I should be in a car with a guy who can dream up people like No Mercy Percy... 

I'm pretty sure I won't be dozing off...

Get his book. It's a winner.

Blue skies,