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Small Crimes Paperback – October 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; First Edition edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852429712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852429713
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 4.9 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Zeltserman's breakthrough third crime novel deserves comparison with the best of James Ellroy. Joe Denton, a corrupt cop, has just been paroled from the county jail in Bradley, Mass., after serving seven years for his drug-fueled assault on D.A. Phil Coakley, whose face was horribly disfigured in the attack. Denton's parents, with whom he's staying temporarily, are uncomfortable having him back in their lives. Likewise, Denton's former colleagues on the force are uneasy. Gang boss Manny Vassey, who's ill with terminal cancer, threatens to cut a deal with Coakley that would expose the tangled webs of graft and violence that have governed Bradley. When the local sheriff demands that Denton take out either Vassey or Coakley to preserve the town's dirty secrets, Denton's hopes for a return to some version of normality are dashed. Zeltserman (Fast Lane) pulls no punches, even as he makes Denton's manipulations, evasions and self-deceptions comprehensible. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Published as a paperback original, Small Crimes just might be a small "piece of crime-noir genius," says the reviewer from the Washington Post, and other critics generally agree. Not only does the novel have clean, simple prose, ample suspense and twists, and a fast-paced plot—standard fare; it also offers brilliant psychological insight into tortured souls, and on a deeper level, it is a moralistic tale about how small crimes beget larger ones. A couple of reviewers note some stock background characters, but overall, Small Crimes convincingly depicts the wide-ranging effects of police corruption in small-town America.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

More About the Author

Dave Zeltserman is the Boston-based author of the award-winning Julius Katz mystery series. His crime novels have been selected by NPR and the Washington Post as best novels of the year. His first novel, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, was short listed by the ALA for best horror novel of 2010, was nominated for a Black Quill Award for best dark genre novel of the year, and was named a Horror Gem by Library Journal. His most recent horror novel, Monster, was named one of the best books of the year by WBUR and made Booklist Magazine's 2013 list of top 10 horror novels. His crime novels Outsourced and A Killer's Essence have both been optioned for film.

Customer Reviews

Like us here in the real world, Zeltserman's characters are a real mix of both.
J. F. Juzwik
About 95% of the books you read, even if you enjoy reading them, five books down the line you can't even remember what they were about.
Garrett Kenyon
Again, to quote the author of the two-star review, "This is a really dumb book."
the way I see it

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G.F. Snell III on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Many years ago, I interviewed the now late Robert Cormier, the author of young adult classics "The Chocolate War" and "I Am The Cheese." Cormier started his career writing adult fiction. Most of his early works focused on working-class French-Canadians struggling to find the American Dream.

After the success of his first book "Now and at the Hour" (1960), Cormier's publisher wanted him to write an epic on the French-Canadian experience. The publisher pictured a 1,000-page opus that would tell the story of French-Canadian family spanning generations. Cormier gave it a go, but he just couldn't make it work.

The canvas was too large. "I like working small," Cormier said. So instead of the epic, Cormier wrote "A Little Raw on Monday Mornings" (1963), the very personal story of a young French-Canadian woman struggling with an unwanted pregnancy.

My conversation with Cormier came to mind as I was reading Dave Zeltserman's crime novel "Small Crimes." You couldn't find two more disparate writers, but both novelists understand the power of a smaller stage. Small stories can produce big results and unveil universal truths.

That's the secret to Zeltserman's fascinating novel about small town corruption and the consequences that follow. Unlike many crime writers today addicted to glamorous, far-fetched shoot-outs, outrageously high-concept plots, and the superhero-like-antics of protagonists, Zeltserman mines the ordinary for the extraordinary.

So instead of a comic book, Zeltserman's readers get a tightly-wrought, character-driven neo-noir thriller that feels like it might be happening - right now. Zeltserman's writing in "Small Crimes" has been compared to Jim Thompson's and the assessment is dead-on (although Novelist Ed Gorman disagrees).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Juzwik on October 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
What can I say about Small Crimes. This book was, beyond a doubt, absolutely brilliant. There is no way you can put this one down once you begin--you won't want to anyway, believe me.

Yes, there is an intriguing storyline with various contributing sub-plots all helping to fill in the total picture, but the strongest draw here is the characters. Forgive the redundance, but it is also the 'character' of the characters.

Noone is all good guy, but noone is exactly all bad guy either. Like us here in the real world, Zeltserman's characters are a real mix of both. He's got a real hero in Small Crimes though, and here's where it gets murky (as life often does) because, what constitutes a hero, really. If you're looking for someone who is always perfect, always on the side of right, always being truthful and honorable, then look elsewhere. The 'hero' in this story is as flawed as they come, but in my book, a hero just the same. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that ultimately, it's what's in the heart that makes a hero. He may have sinned and failed and destroyed and a hundred other vile things, but he still believes and hopes there is some measure of salvation for him. It won't take too long and you too will be believing and hoping right along with him that there is a small place for him in the corner of somebody's Heaven.

You will adore Small Crimes and, like me, you will be anxiously awaiting Dave Zeltserman's next.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Howard R. Malis on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one terrific book by a great writer. A cop turned bad ruins the life of a local DA and goes to prison for the crime. He gets out 7 years later and is immediatley entangled in more nefarious deeds that could either give him freedom or send him back to prison for life. The plot is too delicious to give away here except to say that the story is modern noir at its best with great characters terrific prose and non-stop action. The ending is clever and totally believable. This is a book that you will not be able to put down. I look forward to more from Mr. Zeltserman in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul D Brazill on November 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
A delirious ride into the abyss that lurks inside all human beings and only a few brave authors dare set free. True noir.
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Format: Paperback
I had never heard of Zeltserman before seeing this and his latest book Outsourced on the shelf. The blurbs on the back covers looked interesting so I decided to give him a go and am so glad I did. Small Crimes is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It works because not only is it a survival against the odds type thriller, but it also has a narrator who if you'd heard about what he did in real life, you'd be hoping he quickly gets removed from society, but the writing of this book is so well done that you do feel sort of sorry for him when his parents are treating him badly, and are hoping Joe Denton survives each attempt on his life and avoids being put back behind bars by other corrupt cops' plans. It's just such a well written book, you won't want to put it down once you've begun and won't forget about it for a while after either.

Basic plot of Small Crimes is a crooked cop who stabbed the local district attorney multiple times in the face and left him to burn to death in his office, which Joe had set alight to burn the evidence against him. Joe has now been released and should simply just move elsewhere and start afresh, but Joe doesn't know any other life than the small town of Bradley and naively believes he will be able to reconnect with his young daughters and maybe even his ex wife. However his wife has moved away and his parents tell him they haven't heard from her in years. The sheriff reminds Joe of all he's done for him while he's inside, he's not really grateful that Joe didn't tell of his and the other Bradley law enforcement's corrupt ways in return for a lighter sentence.
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