Kindle Matchbook…and Other Bargains

Jake Lassiter in his study?

By Paul Levine

Amazon keeps amazing me.

On July 22, 2000, I purchased “Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War” by Bob Greene in hardcover from Amazon.

On March 4, 2002, I purchased “The Wise Women of Havana” by Jose Raul Bernardo in hardcover, also from Amazon.

Kindle Matchbook: Oh, Those Insanely Clever Computers

No, I don’t remember buying either one. Amazon’s smart computers just reminded me under the Kindle Matchbook program, in which many titles which you previously bought in hardcover or paperback are now available as Kindle downloads at $2.99 or less.

At first I was puzzled. Why would you want another copy, albeit electronic, of a book you already read? I don’t know! But you do want the ebook if it is priced right, according to Amazon’s flawless research. Yes, I know. It’s a little scary. Amazon probably knows what you ate for dinner last night and what movie you’re going to buy next week. Love Amazon or hate Amazon, can we agree that founder Jeff Bezos is pretty much always the smartest guy in the room?  (He was the valedictorian of Palmetto High School’s Class of 1982 in Miami, then added a Princeton degree in computer science (duh!) and engineering).

For more info on all the bargains available, and to find out if books you’ve bought over the years from Amazon are available for bargain e-book prices, take a look at the Kindle Matchbook homepage. (The publisher has to agree for its products to be in the Kindle Matchbook program).

Disclosure: Several of my works are available for 99 cents each under Kindle Matchbook, if you now buy (or previously bought) the books in print form. The list includes “State vs. Lassiter”, “Lassiter,”, “Ballistic,”, and “Habeas Porpoise,” among others.

Kindle Matchbook logo

Which brings me to all the other bargains available on Kindle. Here, I’m talking about the Monthly Deals ($3.99 or less), the Daily Deals, the Countdown Deals, and Kindle Exclusives. Take a look at the Kindle eBooks homepage, and you’ll see what I mean.

Kindle Matchbooks bargains
Lots of Bargains on the Kindle Ebooks Homepage.

As this is written, in Monthly Deals, you can buy Faye Kellerman’s “The Ritual Bath” for $1.99.  Likewise, in Daily Deals, you can get Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Hillbilly Heart” for $1.99. Earlier this week, it was James Lee Burke’s “Light of the World” for $2.99. The Monthly Deals are extensive, broken down into categories including “Mystery and Suspense,” “Romance,” Literary Fiction, “Science Fiction,” “Biographies and Memoirs,” and “Children’s Books.”

Other Deals: Countdowns and Exclusives

The Countdown Deal is a new and intriguing feature. Ebooks go into bargain “countdown” for a week, starting at a huge discount (often for 99 cents) then usually go up in price gradually through the week until they resume the original price. Here’s the Countdown Deals homepage, which of course, changes every day as new books are added and others drop out of the deal.

Today, you’ll find Elle Lothlorien’s “Alice in Wonderland” for $2.99, Julie Smith’s “Jazz Funeral” for $1.99 and my “Solomon vs. Lord” for 99 cents.

Kindle Matchbook bargain
99 Cents…What a Bargain!

Then, there’s the Kindle Ebooks Exclusives, books you can only find on Amazon. Here’s the Exclusives homepage. My books have historically done very well on the Exclusives Best Seller list.

Bottom line, whether it’s the Kindle Matchbook program or one of the “Deals,” there are ebook bargains to be had every day.

Paul Levine

Mystery Books Hard-Boiled: From Spade to Lassiter

By Paul Levine

This question recently appeared on Facebook: “Who’s your favorite character in hard-boiled fiction?”

The answers were smart and reflected knowledge of both classic and post-modern noir crime fiction. Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer were among the answers. So, too, of course was Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. How could he not be an icon of hard-boiled mystery books with lines like this from “The Maltese Falcon?”

“When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him.”

Hard-Boiled Mystery Books Sam Spade
In the field of mystery books, a hero doesn’t get  any more hard-boiled than Humphrey Bogart in “The Maltese Falcon.”

More contemporary tough guys like Dave Robicheaux from James Lee Burke’s mystery novels, Matt Scudder from Lawrence Block and Easy Rawlins from Walter Mosley were also on the list. So, too, were Spenser and Travis McGee. I think those two iconic tough guys display a tad too much sentimentality to be considered characters of old-school hard-boiled mystery books, but no one can deny that Robert B. Parker and John D. MacDonald created protagonists who will live forever. The occasional female character also cropped up. Lisbeth Salander, from Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series, made an appearance, as did Sara Peretsky’s V.I. Warshawski.  Hard-boiled babes, as it were.

Wikipedia defines hard-boiled fiction as:

“[A] literary genre sharing the setting with crime fiction (especially detective stories). Although deriving from romantic tradition which emphasized the emotions of apprehension, horror and terror, and awe, the hardboiled fiction deviates from the tradition in the detective’s cynical attitude towards those emotions.”

Can Heroes of Hard-Boiled Mystery Books Have Tender Hearts?

One answer on Facebook blindsided me. That was Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer in 10 of my mystery books, including the recently released “State vs. Lassiter.”

Funny thing is, just as with Spenser and Travis McGee, Jake never seemed that hard-boiled to me. Oh, there’s the occasional tough-guy line: “They don’t call us sharks for our ability to swim.”

Then he’s occasionally getting punched out, digging up graves, and flirting with disbarment.

But is that enough? I always thought he had a hard bark but a tender heart. To determine whether Jake is hard-boiled or merely cynical, I recently had a not-too-friendly conversation with him:

Paul: You look like you’re still in shape to play for the Miami Dolphins. How do you do it?

Jake: Being fictional helps. By the way, you look like pelican crap.

Paul: You’re just peeved because I got you indicted for murder in the new book.

Jake: I don’t get “peeved.” I get pissed, and when I do, someone gets decked.

Paul: Let me ask you a tough question.

Jake: Take your best shot, scribbler.

Paul: You’ve been called many things. “Shyster.” “Mouthpiece.” “Shark.” But murderer?

Jake: I’m not bad. You just write me that way.

Paul: Okay, in “State vs. Lassiter,” your client’s money goes missing…

Jake: I never stole from a client, bribed a judge, or threatened a witness, and until this bum rap, the only time I was arrested, it was a case of mistaken identity.

Paul: How’s that?

Jake: I didn’t know the guy I hit was a cop.

Hard-boiled mystery books Jake Lassiter
Mystery Books: Is “State vs. Lassiter”  hard-boiled crime fiction or a legal thriller or both?

Paul: Okay, at the start of the book, you’re having an affair with a beautiful woman who also happens to be your banker.

Jake: So sue me. Women think I look like a young Harrison Ford.

Paul: One keystroke, I’ll turn you into an old Henry Ford. You and your lady are having a fancy dinner on Miami Beach. She threatens to turn you in for skimming client funds, and next thing we know, she’s dead…in your hotel suite.

Jake: Is there a question in there, counselor?

Paul: What happened?

Jake: I take the Fifth. Ever heard of it?

Paul: You go on trial for murder.

Jake: Hold your horses. No spoilers!

Paul: “Hold your horses?” What are you, an extra in “Gunsmoke?”

Jake: Sorry if I’m not hip enough for you, scribbler. You won’t find my mug on Facebook. I don’t have a life coach, an aroma therapist, or a yoga instructor, and I don’t do Pilates.

Paul: So you’re not trendy. You’re not a Yuppie.

Jake: I’m a carnivore among vegans, a brew and burger guy in a Chardonnay and paté world.

Paul: You’re a throwback, then?

Jake: If that’s what you call someone with old friends, old habits, and old values.

Paul: Bring us up to date. You first appeared in “To Speak for the Dead” in 1990.

Jake: Yeah, and Hollywood made a TV movie with Gerald McRaney. My ass is better looking than him.

Paul: Who should play you in a movie?

Jake: Easy. The Duke.

Paul: John Wayne? You’re kidding.

Jake: “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on.” Sort of sums it up, don’t it?

Paul: “State vs. Lassiter” is the tenth in a series of mystery books. But you’re facing life in prison. Is this the end?

Jake: Not entirely up to me, is it scribbler?

Paul: Last question. Do you consider yourself hard-boiled?

Jake: (Reaches across the table and pops Paul with a left jab. Ka-pow!). What do you think?

Paul: Ouch! You’ll pay for this, Jake.  Wait till the next book.
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“State vs. Lassiter” is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook from Amazon Books.