Posts Tagged ‘United States’

LITTLE’S TOOLBOX: BOOK ONE The Shocking Real Life Events That Lead To The 1986 Toolbox Sacramento Murder by LAURA SAVAGE

In crime on October 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm

This is a very personal story for me, and it is a story that I could not have told without the help of Tim Sugars. It is the product of many thousands of pages of letters exchanged between us over the years since 2006 when I contacted Tim myself. In Book One I will tell you all the story of Toolbox Tim, convicted of a gruesome crime in Sacramento, California back in 1986.  Book One is the story of the people that where closest to him in the years leading up to his crime and incarceration.

In the second book, Toolbox Tale’s, which is due to be released in December 2012, I invite you to listen to the same story told from the perspective of Toolbox himself. You will see it is a vastly different story to Little’s version.  In Book Two you will witness a man locked in a battle to keep himself together after a life altering brain injury and a plunge into the dark life of a drug addict after the abandonment of his family.

Like me, you may weep to see him fall as he did. But he is not a man to stay down and his story continues to ‘Surprise’ me, even faced with a life time in prison. I hope you enjoy both of my introductory Novels, Little’s Toolbox Books One & Two.

New to the world of Novel publication, “Little” Laura Savage was born in 1964 and immediately adopted into a Sacramento, CA. family. By the time I was in the second grade ours was one of the first broken homes and as a result my brother and I were raised in poverty.

I had my first child when I was only seventeen and in love with an older guy. Now I am Mother of two great people and one very awesome granddaughter. As a parent I finally chose to move my children out of the Sacramento valley and find a small country town to raise them in.  We ended up in the Nevada City area where we all learned more about living sustainably and taking care of the environment. I am a country girl at heart who also loves books, great stories, ghostly stories, growing her own food, animals of all shapes and sizes, sustainable living, family and rascally kids.

I love all kinds of music, but especially Alanis Morrissette, Queen and Puscifer to name a few. My favorite movie is Fiddler on the Roof, hands down and my favorite books are far too numerous to list, but here are a few that come right to mind; Cleopatra’s Memoirs, the entire Horse Clan series, Arthur’s Goon, anything by Anne Rice or Steven King, all Dragon Riders of Pern books,  on and on. So many thousands of books I have read and loved.

Now that I am in my forty’s I felt that contacting my sons dad in the California prison system and learning the truth of his story was going to change more than just my own life. I was ready to go beyond the dirty rumors that had circulated for years and dig up the real deal. There are some things that I feel very passionately about a few being; the state of California’s Prison State/System, Freedom of Religion, California’s Proposition 215 patient rights, and the value of the Herbal Therapist and our basic human rights to Healthy Medicine, Cosmetics and Food.

As I became interested in the prison system for my own personal reasons, it became impossible for me not to notice the state of the California prison system, not to mention the state of America’s prisons. Most especially the number of Lifer prisoners rotting away towards old age, locked in cages and completely dependent. My son’s dad, who now goes by the name Toolbox or Tool, has been in prison now for more years that he lived as a free man, nearly thirty years. His story is only one of many. And through even Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kline knows that recidivism among Lifers is Less than 1% and we have over 14,000 of them over 55 years old, we fear their release, even if we don’t know or understand their crime.

Aside from a creative fiction class at the local community college here and a basic passion for books and writing, I have no great qualifications to write this or any book. With respect to that, I still think that you will greatly enjoy both stories. Little’s Toolbox Book One and Toolbox Tale’s Book Two.



In crime on September 3, 2012 at 6:54 am
Joyce Nance, award winning documentarian, video editor, Albuquerque Sports News publisher, and paralegal at the Public Defenders Office, has written her first book. She is currently pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice and working on her next project about an unsolved mass murder in New Mexico.
Her current book, “Escaping the Arroyo” is about a 1981 abduction and kidnapping of two University of New Mexico coeds as they walked home from getting a cup of coffee. This book is based on the true story of what happened that night. It is a gritty tale of of unspeakable violence and the relentless search for justice, but it is also the story of a young woman’s incredible will to live….and her life-long struggle to escape the legacy of that deadly arroyo.  
Escaping the Arroyo is available on ebook and paperback at
Joyce Nance can be found on Facebook: 


In crime on July 30, 2012 at 6:05 am
T.D. Griggs has lived and worked on four continents as a novelist, corporate writer and journalist.
His latest novel DISTANT THUNDER (Orion Books, 2012) is a Victorian epic, the story of two young people caught up in the machinery of the British empire at its height, but just trembling on the brink of collapse. THE WARNING BELL (Orion, 2009, under pseudonym Tom Macaulay) is a tense modern day father-son mystery, linking back to WW2. His earlier novel REDEMPTION BLUES, soon to be reissued, was a million seller in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Griggs holds British and Australian citizenships. For about three hours he was a member of the volunteer Bush Fire Brigade outside Sydney. He was once stung by a jellyfish and hardly complained at all.
A native Londoner, he studied English and archaeology at Leeds University and University College London. He then worked as a truck driver, labourer, and teacher before breaking into journalism. He spent several years working in Africa and Asia as a science writer and editor before migrating to Australia. There he met his wife Jenny, moved to Oxford, and lived happily ever after.
He has no children but does have a half share in a black Labrador called James.
‘About the only form of writing I haven’t tried is ransom notes,’ Griggs says. ‘Maybe that’s next.’
Check out his website at and follow him on Twitter @TDGRIGGS1


In crime on July 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Saturday July, 28 2012 from 12-4pm     



8400 Pan American Frwy NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87113
Tel: 505-821-0055 | 888-857-9463
505-857-0066 (fax)


Joyce is also one of my guest post for the week of August 4. Don’t miss it!

Escaping the Arroyo - true crime – Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 5, 1981.


In crime on June 26, 2012 at 5:15 am

You gotta suffer if you want to sing the Blues. If you want to write convincing crime fiction, you have to know some criminals. Up close, on a first name and a.k.a. basis. They tend to be a suspicious and sometimes violent lot, so this could be tricky and possibly dangerous. But Art is sometimes a stern mistress, and nobody said this would be easy.

The best way to get to know criminals is to engage in crime. At least marginally. Drug addiction is a quick and sure path. A dizzying percentage of our prison population is serving time for drug-related offenses. So, the minute you pick up an illegal substance, you’re well on your way to understanding the ins and outs of outlaw activity. If a life of misery and despair doesn’t appeal to you, there’s always gambling. Of course the type of compulsive betting that’s likely to expose you to genuine bad guys is no picnic in the park, either.

For the squeamish or morally stubborn, an alternate entre’ into the underworld might be through working in the Criminal Justice System. Parole officers, social workers, and cops come into contact with miscreants all the time. The problem here is that the relationship is usually strained, to say the least. It’s nearly impossible to gain real insight into someone’s psyche who is constantly lying to you. People on the wrong side of the law tend to say what they think people on the right side of the law want to hear. It’s simple self-preservation.

My introduction to the exciting world of lawbreakers came by way of the US Government. Three decades ago the economy was in pretty rough shape, and jobs were almost as hard to come by as now. In a fit of humanitarianism, the federal government instituted a program similar to the Depression Era’s WPA. One of the unintended results was that, at least in my town, it attracted every shady character who could scratch his name on the application. Plus me and a handful of other guys desperately seeking honest labor. To describe me as a Babe in the Woods would be eerily accurate. Especially since we actually spent a lot of time in the woods, clearing brush and cutting trees and generally trying to look busy.

On my first day I met my first criminal. Let’s call him Ray. He was on a work release from Somers Prison. For some reason we hit it off. Probably because we had a common enemy. We were designated as a two-man chainsaw team, and we spent a lot of time trying to keep from being ripped to ribbons. Neither of us had ever used any kind of cutting tool more dangerous than a pair of scissors. We eventually graduated to the wood chipper crew, but I digress.

The days were long, the work repetitive, and Ray liked to tell stories. It made the mind-numbing labor tolerable. He’d been locked up for dealing in stolen merchandise. And possession of drugs. And refusing to rat on some guy. I was never clear on the exact charges, and I didn’t ask. I quickly learned that if I kept my mouth shut, his would keep going. This habit of silently listening, with the occasional knowing nod, served me well with all the felons I became friendly with.

Ray and I took our breaks together and, after a while, began to socialize after work. It wasn’t long before he loosened up enough to school me in everything from how to boost a car radio, to the method of wrapping the butt of a pistol with electrical tape to avoid fingerprints. It didn’t matter that I never showed the least inclination to use any of this information. Ray just assumed the responsibility of passing the knowledge along, just in case. Kind of like an uncle who feels every boy should know how to bait a hook, whether he wants to fish or not.

Some of the other people I got to know on the job made Ray seem as discrete as a mute priest. They struck me as pitifully proud of their crimes, past and present. I soon realized that most of these guys weren’t caught through brilliant police work. If they weren’t shy about talking in front of me, it was only a matter of time until they shot off their mouths to someone who mattered. And talking wasn’t all. I witnessed drug transactions, hot items bought and sold, and I was there the day a particularly scary individual fired several shots into the side of the tool truck. When someone asked him what he was doing, he said he borrowed the pistol from his cousin and wanted to make sure it worked. He went on the say he was planning a B & E for that night. When the same guy asked what was up with the gun, the shooter came back with one of the most chilling phrases I’ve ever heard: “In case anybody’s home”.

The job lasted exactly one year, the term of the program. In that time I got to know shoplifters, burglars, one stickup man, and a lot of people with a criminal bent but no particular specialty. I discovered the purely professional crook was rare. A little like musicians who need a day job to make ends meet. I also found out that familiarity breeds complicity. If you’re around all the time, people begin to assume you belong. I’ve lost touch with everyone I met during that year but, whenever I need a crooked character, they’re right there for me.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Ray. I ran into his girlfriend about six months after I’d last seen him. She was angry that he hadn’t listened to her when she warned him that nobody would keep anything valuable in a warehouse with a three dollar padlock on a wooden door. Ray’s big heist turned out to be fifteen cartons of Left sneakers. Seconds, at that. The cops were laughing so hard they could barely handcuff him. And if that wasn’t bad enough, on his way out of the court appearance for the Sneaker Caper, he got caught stealing a rack of dresses, twenty yards from the courthouse steps. For all his knowledge, he couldn’t get past the impulsiveness that seems so much a part of criminal nature.

Sometimes people can fool you. Sometimes people can change. I like to think that Ray is doing all right and not sitting in some prison cell. Or worse. And I like to think that if he found out how much of him I’ve borrowed over the years, he’d be glad he was able to help out the innocent kid who was, for a brief time, his friend.

Lester Thees can be found on Amazon:

Leaving Town is his new novel.


In crime on June 12, 2012 at 5:16 am

In 2009, I was on a research trip to the James Ellroy archive at the University of South Carolina when I came across a letter addressed to Ellroy written by American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis. In it he describes Ellroy’s novel Killer on the Road as ‘the best novel about a serial killer that I have ever read.’ This is truly remarkable praise considering American Psycho is one of the most famous (and infamous) novels about serial killers, and Killer on the Road is probably Ellroy’s least known work.

Killer on the Road’s obscurity may be attributed to its bizarre plot. Essentially, it is a confessional narrative, with the character of Martin Michael Plunkett giving a first-person account of his life from his troubled childhood to his voyeuristic sexual fantasies and finally the mass murders he commits. Does this form of self-portrayal make the serial killer sympathetic? No, for Plunkett has other off-putting qualities that keep the reader at bay, including his colossal ego. The ‘I’ only seeks to justify his killing spree: he regards his own uniqueness as good enough reason. But the reader is able to see the true reasons for his building rage– his repressed homosexuality and his social awkwardness among them. Feelings which are of course both common and normal, thus Ellroy taps into what truly fascinates and revolts the public about serial killers – that they could just as easily be one of us.

Although he has a huge ego, Plunkett aspires to be invisible to the society he lives in, and he becomes obsessed with a pulp comic book character named ‘Shroud Shifter’ who can make himself invisible. Yet unlike the comic book character, it is the failures of the system Plunkett exploits rather than any super intelligence or power, which gives him success. He drives across the US on a killing spree practically unnoticed, taking advantage of the bureaucracy and rivalry between state police departments. Plunkett is briefly captured by police halfway through the novel, leading to a plot twist which is as unexpected as it is ludicrous. In the final quarter of the novel, the invisibility (as an unknown murderer) and visibility (as the narrator and controller of events) are simultaneously challenged as the focus shifts from Plunkett’s viewpoint to the dogged FBI agent Thomas Dusenberry, who will engage Plunkett in a professional and emotional standoff.

Ellroy readers would probably cite the LA Quartet and Underworld USA novels as his best work. Killer on the Road has not fared so well critically. Published by Avon and released in 1986 under the title Silent Terror, later republished in 1990 under Ellroy’s preferred title Killer on the Road, the novel has been largely overlooked. Ellroy’s own feelings towards the novel are ambivalent. He has repeatedly stated he does not like serial killer novels and when challenged by one interviewer that Killer on the Road is a serial killer novel he replied, ‘Yeah, but at least it’s strictly from the serial killer’s viewpoint and not a roman policier on any level.’ But even this qualification is not strictly true given the late introduction of the Dusenberry character.

Despite its flaws, Killer on the Road is still a fascinating, suspenseful novel which is at its best satirising popular cultures warped fascination with serial killers. In a memorable encounter Plunkett humiliates Charles Manson when they are both serving time in the LA County Jail, as he finds the psychopathic hippie to be more banal than prophetic. Another scene features Plunkett wandering into a cinema where a documentary titled Save Our Seals is being played:

Seals were being beaten to death on the screen. Their yelps were what I had heard, and now they were joined with sobs from the audience. The sound was thrilling, but the sight was ugly and pathetic, so I closed my eyes. The absence of sight brought the taste of blood – the blood of every body I had ever desired. Soon I was sobbing, and the taste deepened until the yelps were replaced by music. I opened my eyes, and people were filing past me, giving out looks of sympathy and commiseration. My shoulders were patted and my hands were touched – as if were one of them. None of the people knew that the origin of my tears was in joy.

The contrast between Plunkett’s psychosis and the audience’s subliminal delight in their own grief is one of many striking images Ellroy conjures. Once again, Plunkett is invisible. People assume his tears make him ‘one of them’. Killer on the Road is not Ellroy’s greatest work, but it is an interesting novel nonetheless. Ellroy has seldom written about serial killers since its publication but a few words from his introduction to the little-read anthology Murder And Mayhem: An A-Z of the World’s Most Notorious Killers (1992) appear reminiscent of the main theme of Killer on the Road, ‘Fear the killers; pray for their victims; extend sympathy towards murderers’ childhoods. Think of the line between us and them as fragile and in need of jealously guarding.’

Steven Powell can be found on:


In crime on June 11, 2012 at 5:30 am

I have been fascinated with crime fiction from the age of sixteen, ever since I stumbled across James Ellroy‘s American Tabloid in a bookshop while holidaying in south-west England. However, I would not formally study the genre until I began my PhD, returning, after an MA in Victorian Fiction to the author whose work had so defined my teenage years. While studying for my PhD,  Demon Dog: James Ellroy and the Narrative of Persona, I started a blog about crime fiction, The Venetian Vase, to express my more diverse interest in the genre. I have also edited two books and contributed a chapter to a monograph. Although these projects began at different stages of my PhD, they will all be published this year.  Conversations with James Ellroy, published by University Press of Mississippi, consists of a series of interviews Ellroy has given over the course of literary career and includes several interviews that I conducted with Ellroy personally. 100 American Crime Writers, published next month by Palgrave Macmillan, is an anthology of short, critical biographies of the most prominent and influential crime writers to emerge from the United States. My essay Betty Short and I Go Back: James Ellroy and the Metanarrative of the Black Dahlia Case was published in Cross-Cultural Connections in Crime Fiction, which was released by Palgrave Macmillan in May. I live in Liverpool, UK, with my wife Diana and our dog Henry, a Cavilier King Charles Spaniel.

Steven can be found on:

Tomorrow, Steven will be entertaining us with his post “Killer on the Road: James Ellroy’s Forgotten Novel”. Don’t miss it!


In crime on May 28, 2012 at 6:13 am

Blaine Pardoe is a bestselling award-winning author of numerous books encompassing genres from science fiction to business leadership, and from military history to true crime.  He has won awards from the Military Writers Society of America and the Historical Society of Michigan.  Blaine has appeared on numerous nationwide television

and radio programs discussing his writing and has been a speaker at the US National Archives and the US Navy Museum.  Secret Witness is his first true crime book detailing the bombing-murder of Nola Puyear in Marshall Michigan in 1967.  He is currently working on another true crime book, A Special Kind of Evil, about the murder of Daisy Zick in 1963.

More information about his work can be found on Blaine L. Perdoe website.

Tomorrow, Blaine guest post, Writing True Crime. Don’t miss it!


In crime on May 7, 2012 at 6:05 am

Robin is an orthopaedic surgeon and independent author born in Hudson, Quebec, Canada. He now resides in Vancouver,  British Columbia. Robin writes novels about controversial fictional events; events that could truly unfold if mankind were to explore, use, or abuse the further applications of bio-medicine.

More novels by Robin Rickards soon to appear
The Tao of the Thirteenth God
Whip the Dogs
The Organ Donors
Amadeus and Theo Savoie are twins, the products of a childhood torn apart by religion, abandonment and suicide.  Amadeus has ‘contacted’ their long-dead sister Sophia and begins an investigation into a mass suicide cult in Belize. With his partner, Dr. Angelica Pali, Amadeus sifts his way through a maze of religious rituals with all signs pointing to the convergence of a religious and scientific apocalypse.
Whip the Dogs    by Robin C Rickards
Price: $2.99 USD. 124520 words. Published on January 6, 2012. Fiction.
Dr. Michael Andross is a narcotics addict, the victim of abandoned military technology. Each day of his life, he is watched – in the beginning, by the people who used him but now also by the people who stole the technology. Andross has become a pawn in a game of military bluster between the United States of America and a desperate North Korea.
The Judas Kiss    by Robin C Rickards 
Price: $1.99 USD. 45780 words. Published on August 8, 2011. Fiction.
A passionate story of life and death, told through the eyes of a dying man, the sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to immortality.
Robin Rickards guest post tomorrow. Don’t miss it!


In crime on April 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

A young woman gets involved (emotionally, not romantically) with one of the regulars at the cafe she works getting mixed up with the police when he is murdered.

I watched the film in two takes, not because of anything wrong with it, but because I was sleepy and it was late.

I have to say I found the first thirty minutes slightly better than the rest and the director could have asked at least a couple of the actors for a bit more than what they gave,  especially from the ones playing Tom and his buddy.

Overall, a good flick with an interesting plot and compelling characters.



David Dilley


David Dilley