The Classic Film Noir Protagonist and Inspector Sullivan

Brooding, hard-boiled, anti-social loners who take up the profession of detective. It’s the very definition of the male protagonist in classic film noir productions. Think your job is tough? Compare it to the standard working conditions of the noir male lead. His daily life is spent in the toughest part of towns, usually at night and almost always alone, hunting down dangerous individuals who are just as ready to betray our male lead as kill him. Our detective’s world seems to nothing more than a life filled with crime, betrayal, danger and loneliness. The very city our man lives in dehumanizes him with its tall, concrete buildings, shadowy alleyways and rundown neighborhoods.

Caught up in this confusing moral swamp, the male in the noir story is often filled with inner turmoil. What is right? What is wrong? Thus it is that our male lead becomes by necessity his own man. He lives by his own code. So long as he stays true to his code, he is true to himself and what he believes is right, or in many instances, justice.

Given this grey code of truth, the noir detective is often finds it perfectly acceptable to break the law in order to arrive at the truth, protect his client and if there is such a thing, the innocent.

As with any genre, there is leeway in how a character can be written, so long as the basics are adhered too.

Inspector Sullivan is certainly no exception. His past is filled with violence, betrayal and pain. Pain inflicted both by others and himself. Sullivan stands apart to a small degree from the traditional noir lead for he is a man with a conscience. Not one, but two as I would have it, his own and that of the bothersome Anglican priest, Father Nathan, who befriends Sully whether he wants a friend or not.

Sully is capable of incredible violence, some of which he is perfectly indifferent about and other times troubled by his actions. In his mind the moral difference is determined by whether or not justice was served. The law is nice, but justice is what Sully seeks in his world. In his life he has seen far too much injustice with far too few people who seek to provide justice, particularly for those who cannot defend themselves. That source of injustice could be a single criminal or an entire system aligned against the hapless individual.

Life lived alone means a life that has fewer opportunities to be hurt and more important to Sully, fewer opportunities for others to be hurt. Guilt is Sullys constant companion and belies his tough exterior and attitude of indifference. So is his defined sense of responsibility for those who, for better or worse, become part of his life.

It has been Sullivan’s experience that women are trouble, making him the typical noir protagonist. In the case of the mysterious Sarah, Sullivan is at best confused. She certainly has some of the elements of the femme fatale. Sarah is beautiful, mysterious and as the reader learns, potentially dangerous. It turns out Sarah and Sullivan share a painful secret from their past that tortures them both.

Indifference towards Sarah is not possible for any man. In Sullivan’s case, their relationship is a confusing one on a good day. He feels like a father figure towards the strange, aloof young woman yet cannot help but notice her alluring charms. For her part, Sarah sends as many mixed signals as is possible for a woman, all of which seems to draw Sullivan in deeper and closer to the troubled young woman.

As the series unfolds, the pair grows closer in ways neither could have foreseen.

Despite his desire to live his life alone, Sullivan as a character diverges from the norm for a noir protagonist. He develops a few close friends, excluding Sarah, all of which but one are male. His is a male world and Sully likes it that way.

If you like thrillers and classic noir stories, you’ll like the Inspector Thomas Sullivan series.

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Author Interview

Author Mercedes Fox was kind enough to interview me recently. The interview can be found on her writer’s blog.

Take a moment if you would and visit Mercedes’ website. She has lots of other author interviews on her site. If you find authors interesting, spend some time browsing what she has made available.

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Editorial Review for Last Train To Nowhere

Thomas Sullivan has another case, this one possibly threatening the peace established by the Anti-Cloning Treaty more than thirty years ago. Forced to work with what some would call his nemesis, Sullivan is up to his eyeballs in intergalactic thrills, chills, and mayhem. Unfortunately, due to his own mistakes, he begins to alienate some of his very few friends, resulting in devastating consequences. Last Train to Nowhere by K.C. Sivils is an evolution of the classic good cop/bad cop conflict and reinvents that trope into something totally unique that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

I had never read an Inspector Thomas Sullivan book before, but he was an interesting character and the book was a thrilling example of what a good story can be. With a mystery/crime drama mixed with science fiction and lightly coated with a noir quality edge, K.C. Sivils is a talented writer able to blend multiple genres and create a story that fans of all of the above genres will enjoy. The narrative flowed very well and it was easy to understand the plot. I felt driven by both the characters and the interwoven plot threads of the story. There were a LOT of characters, but overall the large cast added a really great sense of a bustling world. If you’re looking for something new and different, make sure to give Last Train to Nowhere a shot. I will definitely be returning to try more in the series.

Reviewed By Katelyn Hensel for Readers’ Favorite

Science Fiction Novel Crime Noir Thriller
Last Train To Nowhere
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The Predator and The Prey Wins Award

Each month The Book Designer website (Marin Bookworks) holds a monthly cover design competition. I was excited to learn the design done for The Predator and The Prey by Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Designs earned a Gold Star Award as one of five finalists out of 90 designs!

Design Award

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Interview on It’s Write Now

I had the fun experience of being interviewed as an author for the first time recently. The interview appears on the book site It’s Write Now.

Interview with author K.C.Sivils

To read the interview,  CLICK HERE.

Author K.C. Sivils

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K.C. Sivils

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My TOP TEN List of Science Fiction Novels

Books can have a huge impact on an individual’s life. These ten novels each, in their own way, had a huge impact on me as a young reader as well as giving me hours upon hours of entertainment as my imagination took each story and played it out in my own adapted version.

Number One: 1984 by George Orwell

Growing up in the Cold War in a family that understood all too well what the ramifications of the west losing Cold War meant, this was a scary novel for me. Orwell, a former Socialist himself, predicted so many things that have come to pass. This novel, despite its namesake year having coming and gone, is still incredibly relevant. Don’t think so? Name a place of business where there is not a television screen playing mindless repetitive news spewing the media’s mantra. Doublespeak? Try political correctness on college campuses and just about everywhere else. If this world is utopia, I think I’ll do without.

1984

Number Two: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) by Philip K. Dick

This one has it all as far as I am concerned. Moral and philosophical issues, replicants, futuristic technology and a fantastic noir atmosphere set in the nightmarish Los Angeles of the future. Decker could have been written by Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler just as easily as Phillip K. Dick.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Bladerunner
Bladerunner

Number Three: Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

The novel that spawned five movies, two television series and who knows how many comic books. I will never forget the scene where the hunt for the humans starts, in either the novel or the film. What a great twist for the ending as well!

Planet of the Apes

Number Four: The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I loved this story as a young boy and still enjoy reading it. Professor Challenger is a larger than life character and Professor Summerlee it turns out is a match for Challenger. What a grand adventure, going to a hidden land where dinosaurs still live!

The Lost World

Number Five: Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Hard to believe, but this science fiction class, also made into a movie, is anti-war. The novel version though seemed to be pro-military. There is a difference. At any rate, the war with the Bugs makes for great action and some really creepy aliens.

Starship Troopers

Number Six: Dune by Frank Hebert

A masterful creation of a completely new universe to tell a story in. Hebert’s imagination and his ability to bring his vision to life via the printed word is magnificent.

Dune

Number Seven: Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

A fun story that takes a look at what it means to be a sentient being. Little Fuzzy can’t help it if he’s cute. Piper’s tale also looks at the dark side of human nature as the need to declare the Fuzzies as non-sentient in order to protect profits shows the lengths mankind will go to because of the deadly sin of greed.

Little Fuzzy

Number Eight: Runaway Robot by Lester Del Ray

YA Science fiction and it was a great adventure! A boy and his robot, instead of a boy and his dog. One of the first science fiction books I ever read and I still get a kick out of it.

The Runaway Robot
The Runaway Robot
The Runaway Robot
The Runaway Robot

Number Nine: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Jules Verne may have been off with a lot of the science in his novels, but he had a way of predicting things that would come about such as man traveling to the moon and nuclear power. Given that he got those two big ones right, he gets a pass for thinking it was possible to descend into a volcano in Iceland and travel to the center of the planet.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Number Ten: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam

Triffids sound horrible if you weren’t blind. I can’t begin to imagine the sheer horror of facing these strange plants with my eyesight being normal. An early story of global disaster without relying on the Cold War theme of a nuclear holocaust.

The Day of the TriffidsThe Day of the Triffids

Signup for The Inspector’s Report Newsletter! Keep up with Inspector Thomas Sullivan and his friends. Get updates on when the next book will be published. Enjoy the occasional short story and read author K.C. Sivils’ musings about science fiction, crime noir and what ever else is on his mind.

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Sign-up For The Inspector’s Report – The Inspector Thomas Sullivan Newsletter!

It has taken me awhile to get things set-up for my author’s newsletter, The Inspector’s Report. I’m not a particularly computer savvy individual so it’s to be expected I suppose.

The Inspector’s Report will be e-mailed periodically. I promise to NEVER share anyone’s e-mail who signs up.

You can unsubscribe at anytime AND you can not feel guilty about it!

The Inspector’s Report will give updates on the availability of the latest offering in the Universe of Inspector Thomas Sullivan and his friends (enemies too). Back history for characters and places on Beta Prime will be provided to answer those nagging questions readers have about this detail or that.

Short stories will be a part of the newsletter on a semi-regular basis and will often feature supporting characters such as Ralph, Alice or Joe.

If you are a fan of science fiction and/or crime noir/mysteries, I will include my thoughts on a regular basis in the form of lists or reviews of books I have read.

I would love it if readers of The Inspector’s Report would ask questions and contribute content as well.

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Roger Ebert’s Ten Characteristics of Noir Films (Novels for that matter)

The late film critic Roger Ebert liked film noir movies. Let’s be honest, some of Hollywoods best films from the Golden Era were noir. The film many critics say is the best American film ever made, Casablanca, is a noir.

Ebert penned a list of what he believed to be the ten characteristics that made a story a noir. Not all film noir movies fit all ten and the same is true for novels. The list however is a great starting point to determine if a film or novel fits the noir genre.

Here’s Ebert’s list:

1. A French term meaning “black film,” or film of the night.
2. A movie which at no time misleads you into thinking there is going to be a happy ending.
3. Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with a high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all.
4. Cigarettes. Everybody in film noir is always smoking, as if to say, “On top of everything else, I’ve been assigned to get through three packs today.”
5. Women who would just as soon kill you as love you, and vice versa.
6. For women: low necklines, floppy hats, mascara, lipstick, dressing rooms, boudoirs… high heels, red dresses, elbow length gloves, mixing drinks […]
7. For men: fedoras, suits and ties, shabby residential hotels with a neon sign blinking through the window, buying yourself a drink out of the office bottle, cars with running boards, all-night diners […]
8. Movies either shot in black and white, or feeling like they were.
9. Relationships in which love is only the final flop card in the poker game of death.
10. The most American film genre, because no society could have created a world so filled with doom, fate, fear and betrayal, unless it were essentially naive and optimistic.

To read more visit this site, Roger Ebert.com

Signup for The Inspector’s Report Newsletter! Keep up with Inspector Thomas Sullivan and his friends. Get updates on when the next book will be published. Enjoy the occasional short story and read author K.C. Sivils’ musings about science fiction, crime noir and what ever else is on his mind.

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Top Ten List of Favorite Science Fiction Movies and TV Shows

I love science fiction. As a little boy I became fascinated with Science Fiction due to early, and by today’s standards lousy, special effects and a new adventure in each television episode. Sometimes today’s SciFi effects are so good it’s hard to tell its a special effect. When I discovered the joy of reading, I read a lot of science fiction to go with the other books I read.

Many of these shows and movies have influenced my ideas in the creation of the universe Inspector Thomas Sullivan lives in. Here are my top ten sci-fi movies and tv shows.

Number One: Star Trek – The Original

Every day when I got home from school I had just over an hour before one of my parents got home. I spent that hour with Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise.

Star Trek

Number Two: Lost in Space

How could a little boy not love this show! Cool aliens, an even cooler robot for a sidekick, Dr. Smith was hilarious (and the real star of the show) and I seem to recall a couple of cute girls too! Oh, the pain, the pain I felt when the weekly adventures were gone due to cancellation!

Lost in Space

Number Three: Firefly

This show is what pushed me over the edge to create the Inspector Thomas Sullivan series of thrillers. If a Space Western could work as a story telling mechanism, then a sci-fi crime noir thriller could work too! Like all Browncoats, I felt the cancellation was a crime against sci-fi fans. Serenity was great, but there are so many stories left to tell about Captain Tight Pants and his crew.

Firefly

Number Four: Bladerunner

Classic noir film with a sci-fi story line. No, Decker is not the inspiration for Sullivan, but the two could probably swap quite a few stories about their jobs. Capital City isn’t as rainy, but if you’re in the wrong parts of town, it is certainly as dreary and dangerous.

Bladerunner

Number Five: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

What a vehicle to explore the ills of society, theological issues, moral issues, you name it. The show was gone too soon and I blame it on the fact the writers and producers simply didn’t know who the real star was: Cameron. For a Terminator franchise to succeed, the Terminator MUST be the star. Lena Headey was great as Sarah Connor, but Summer Glau’s Cameron should have been the focal point of the show.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Number Six: Outland

Basically a remake of High Noon with Sean Connery playing the lone lawman who must face arrival of murderous criminals coming to his mining outpost to exact their revenge. Proof, in my mind at least, that lawmen can make for good protagonists in a sci-fi thriller.

Outland featuring Sean Connery
Outland

Number Seven: Terminator 2 – Judgment Day

Perhaps Arnold’s finest work! A thoughtful, philosophical film about the value of human life. Not to mention it’s a great chase story filled with explosions, cool one liners and a T-1000!

Terminator 2 - Judgment Day
Terminator 2 – Judgment Day

Number Eight: Star Trek – Next Generation

If it wasn’t for the fact the original Star Trek is what got me started on science fiction, I would rate this one as the highest rated Star Trek. As much as I love Kirk, Spock and the crew, Captain Picard was the best Captain, Data was cool as the android and how can you not love Worf and his need to go to Red Alert and launch photon torpedoes! A great mix of philosophical issues blended with a good mix of action.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation

Number Nine: Serenity

Summer Glau stole the show as the character River Tams was finally turned loose. Great Space Opera with plenty of villains, the Operative, the Alliance and those evil Reavers! River as played by Glau is the consummate assassin! How do you stand a chance against an assassin who knows what you’re thinking? The late Ron Glass was good as always as Sheppard Book and Nathan Fillion did a great job as the lost Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Serenity featuring Summer Glau as River Tam
Serenity

Number Ten: Star Wars – Episode IV

Perhaps the greatest Space Opera ever filmed! Of course, had it not been for the 1930s movie serial Flash Gordon Saves the Universe many of the trademark ideas used in the film, such as the rolling story line at the start, Princess Leia’s hairdo, etc. would never have thrilled the millions of Star War fans.

Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon
Star Wars - Episode IV
Star Wars

As always, here’s some lagniappe!

Number Eleven: Logan’s Run

Great dystopian sci-fi film! Talk about taking the concept of over 30 being over the hill to an extreme! Take you pick, the film or the tv series, both center around the rouge law enforcement officer Logan who takes on the system that says humans aren’t smart enough, or valuable enough, to live out their life’s natural lifespan.

Logan's Run
Logan’s Run

Number Twelve: Rollerball

Okay, the list said ten, but this dystopian film based on the novella by William Harrison is just too good not to include. In a future where the world and its people are controlled by seven elitist corporations, the ultra-violent sport Rollerball has been created to teach the masses individual effort means nothing. Unfortunately, nobody told Rollerball MVP Jonathan E.

Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes

Signup for The Inspector’s Report Newsletter! Keep up with Inspector Thomas Sullivan and his friends. Get updates on when the next book will be published. Enjoy the occasional short story and read author K.C. Sivils’ musings about science fiction, crime noir and what ever else is on his mind.

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My TOP TEN List of Crime Noir and Hard Boiled Crime Novels

I enjoy reading crime fiction from past masters like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Rex Stout. I also enjoy contemporary writers like Renee Pawlish, who writes modern crime noir, in a humorous style, combining her love for classic noir in a modern, present day setting. In addition to her Reed Ferguson stories, Ms. Pawlish writes classic noir in her Dewey Webb series. If you like a does of snark and snide humor with your detective mystery, along with a cute half-elf and her human partner, you'll enjoy the Daggers and Steele series by Alex P. Berg.

This list is my choice for the ten best crime noir stories I have read. Feel free to disagree if you want. If you like crime fiction, particularly noir or hard boiled, you should at least check this list. These authors and their stories are part of my inspiration for my own Inspector Sullivan stories.

Number One: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Sam Spade is the best tough guy private detective to ever grace the pages of a novel and Bogie's portrayal is the best to ever hit the silver screen. Hammett's plot is filled with twists and turns, complete with hopeless love, greed and betrayal. If that isn't enough, the villains are almost as fascinating as Spade. Sydney Greenstreet's portrayal of the Fat Man, Kasper Gutman is both creepy and fascinating at the same time.

Number Two: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Included on Time Magazine's list of Top 100 novels, The Big Sleep​ is a novel about death and introduces Raymond Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe. Filled with intrigue, double crosses and social commentary, it is one of the best examples the genre has to offer.

Number Three: The Post Man Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

Banned in Boston in 1934, Cain's novel combines violence with eroticism as the solution to an inconvenient husband leads to one problem after another.​

Number Four: Web of Deceit by Renee Pawlish

For fans of hard boiled crime stories who can do without swearing a graphic sex, modern mystery writer Renee Pawlish has written a wonderful introduction to her second crime series, introducing Detective Dewey Webb to her readers.​

Number Five: Dark Passage by David Goodis

​Made famous by the movie version staring Bogie and Lauren Bacall, Dark Passage tells the story of a man unjustly convicted for the murder of his wife and the need to live with a false identify after escaping from prison. A wonderful commentary on urban life and loneliness.

Number Six: The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett

The Continental Op, the prototype for hundreds of tough guy detectives. This nameless, faceless detective was actually Hammett's primary character, not Sam Spade, appearing in two novels and over 70 short stories.​ Callous, brutal and indifferent at times to suffering of others, the Op always got the criminal, one way or another.

Number Seven: In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

​American noir at its finest, examining the mind of a serial killer in post WW II Los Angeles. This dark story is told from the point of view of the killer who enters a game of cat and mouse with his old army buddy who is now a detective. Adapted for film, starring who else, Bogie, the story was changed to focus on domestic violence.

Number Eight: L.A. Confidential by James Elroy

Centered around three detectives, each with a different view of the world and the job, LA Confidential is filled with plot twists, violence and fast paced noir style writing. Partially biographical, the​ detectives must deal with death and violence as it impacts their lives.

Number Nine: Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

​Los Angeles, 1948. Devil in a Blue Dress will draw you in with its noir atmosphere as the story introduces Easy Rawlins. The story will set its hooks, so be sure to have time to read it in one sitting.

Number Ten: The High Window by Raymond Chandler

​Murder, rape, blackmail and human exploitation, what more could you want in a classic noir novel from the master Raymond Chandler. A mean spirited widow and a missing daughter-in-law plus facts that don't add up for Chandler's detective, Philip Marlow, make this a fascinating mystery.

Number Eleven: Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout

Being from Louisiana originally where we always throw in something extra, a cultural practice known as Lagniappe, this list as an eleventh book included, Rex Stout's introduction to the brilliant detective Nero Wolfe and his legman Archie Goodwin. Presented with a gift of one of the most deadly snakes known to man, the fer-de-lance, Wolfe must solve the mystery of the murder of an immigrant and a college president.

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The Thomas Sullivan Chronicles and Other Stories