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Howard Owen is a novelist and journalist...

Struck by either an epiphany or a midlife crisis, Howard Owen wrote his first novel, "Littlejohn," at the age of 40. The first draft took him about 100 days. At the time, Owen was sports editor of a daily newspaper. He is now editorial page editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has never taken a sabbatical, adhering instead to a schedule that includes about an hour a day for writing or revising. He finds that it is possible to do great things with an hour a day, every day. Owen's tenth novel, "Oregon Hill," published in 2012, won the Hammett Prize for best crime literature in the U.S. and Canada, given by the International Association of Crime Writers. The sequel, "The Philadelphia Quarry," came out in July of 2013. The third Willie Black mystery, "Parker Field," was published in 2014. The fifth, The Bottom, comes out in August of 2015.

Latest review for The Bottom (Aug. publication)

  New York Journal of Books   August 31, 2015

The Bottom by Howard Owen (Willie Black Series, Book 4)

Reviewed by D. R. Meredith

The Bottom by Howard Owen races along at breakneck speed, hardly pausing long enough to allow one to catch a breath.”

Willie Black, hard-smoking and hard drinking crime reporter for a Richmond, Virginia, newspaper is trying to reform after a drunken argument with girlfriend Cindy. “I hardly drink anymore, and I’ve cut way back on the Camels.” Willie is exaggerating as he admits to himself. “Of course, this means two drinks a day instead of six and maybe six cigarettes instead of a pack.”

The point is that Willie is trying to be a better person, but one area where he has no intention of changing is his obsession to track down a story, tackle it to the ground, and write it up for the front page. “I just want to get a story and sink my teeth into it like a pit bull with anger issues.”

His current story is the Tweety Bird Killer, a serial killer who in the last eighteen months has killed four young women and tattooed the cartoon character on their ankles. Willie is not above lying to get his story. Perhaps lying is the wrong word. When he interviews the guard of the train station where the body is dumped, Willie doesn’t lie, not technically anyway.

“I tell him I have a few more questions about the dead body that somehow materialized just outside the lobby, on his watch. I somehow forget to mention that I’m asking on behalf of our shrinking readership rather than the police.”

Thanks to this oversight on Willie’s part, he learns the guard was lured from his post to a bar by a phone call from Willie’s own daughter, Andi. This is not good news. Willie is not happy to see Andi involved even in a small way in the Tweety Bird Case.

“I got this call, on my cell. The guy said there was an envelope under the napkin at the bar. . .there were two twenties and a note. The guy said one twenty was for me and the other one was for drinks for this guy I was supposed to call.”

Willie’s problem is to track down whoever made the phone call, a difficult job since he has no idea who he is looking for. Neither do the police until a low life photographer named Ronnie Sax started showing his neighbor some porn shots of underage girls. The neighbor calls the cops, who find photos of two of the victims on Ronnie’s computer.

This is not Ronnie’s first arrest on porn charges. On the previous occasion Willie was blunt about his feelings. “As the father of a daughter, I think now that, in a similar situation, I might have shot Ronnie Sax.” Still, as a serial killer Ronnie Sax is not a serious suspect as far as Willie Black is concerned.

A better suspect is Wat Chenault, a fat, aging former state senator, whose political career was torpedoed when Willie discovered that Chenault was cavorting with a 14-year-old girl in a hotel room, and wrote a story about it, with an accompanying photo.

Chenault is suing the newspaper because Willie resurrected the story after the sleazy Chenault announces plans to develop The Bottom, a section of old Richmond where an unmarked slave cemetery is supposed to exist. Willie is bi-racial, and it’s possible some of his father’s ancestors are buried in that cemetery.

Putting aside Chenault’s plans for real estate development, the slave cemetery, and his penchant for underage girls, there is the fact that Willie can find no trace of the teenager who originally ripped away the former state senator’s mask of respectability. She disappeared shortly after Willie originally broke the story and has not been seen since.

Ronnie Sax is arrested. The Tweety Bird Killer is in jail. Richmond women are safe. When Willie receives letters from someone claiming to be the real killer, and furthermore reveals details about the victims that the police have withheld from the public, Willie knows the murderer is still free. “Sax looks like a natural. I was pretty much ready to pull the switch myself. Now, with the letter, I’m not so sure.”

If the Tweety Bird Killer isn’t Ronnie Sax, and it isn’t Wat Chenault, and Willie now has a good reason to believe that Wat may be a scumbag, but not a killer, then who is raping and murdering the young women of Richmond?

The Bottom by Howard Owen races along at breakneck speed, hardly pausing long enough to allow one to catch a breath. Written in sparse journalistic style, with few adjectives and no unnecessary words, The Bottom features wonderful characters who are just eccentric enough to be amusing without being stereotypes. While some mystery fans may not care for Willie’s use of profanity, it is appropriate to his character. This is a perfect read for those who like their mysteries blunt and to the point.

 

    

 

The Bottom

 

Here are some nice pre-publication reviews for The Bottom, the fourth Willie Black mystery. It comes out in August. 

Publishers Weekly

Howard Owen. Permanent, $28 (208p) ISBN 978­1­57962­392­0

Willie Black has the tenacity of a bulldog when chasing a story or a bad guy, as shown in Owen’s satisfying fourth mystery featuring the Richmond, Va., newspaper reporter (after 2014’s Parker Field). A serial killer dubbed Tweety Bird has just claimed his fourth victim, a 14­year­ old girl, probably a runaway, found in Richmond’s rundown Main Street train station. On her ankle is the killer’s signature tattoo of a cartoon bird. After the police arrest sleazy photographer Ronnie Sax for the crime, Willie starts receiving threatening handwritten letters with information only the killer could know. Meanwhile, a former state senator is pushing an ambitious development plan for the Richmond neighborhood known as the Bottom, much to its residents’ dismay. Willie carries a lot of personal baggage, including a fractured (but not broken) family, three divorces, a couple of rocky romances, and a drinking problem sort of under control, but readers can count on him to deliver in the end. (Aug.)

Booklist  June 1, 2015

Aug 2015. 208 p. Permanent Press, hardcover, $28. (9781579623920).


Newspaperman Willie Black was born 60 years too late, and he’s unhappy about it. His century’s 

reporters were bourbon soaked, and when they weren’t playing poker, they were bringing down

scoundrels. Nowadays, the birdcage liner—his term—Willie works for in Richmond, Virginia, is 

staffed by sycophants and run by weasels, and he loves to tell us all about it. His rants are 

interrupted by murders he must solve. This time (following Parker Field, 2014), someone is 

killing teenage girls, and after the cops jail a former newspaper photographer, Willie still has his 

doubts. After all, he keeps getting letters from someone claiming to be the real killer. And he has 

inside dope. As the story unfolds, Willie faces the killer, battles a greedy developer’s plan to 

junk up the landscape, and installs a spine in the newspaper’s publisher—all the while displaying 

an easy humor and a sweet good nature that belies his cynicism. At one point, he wonders if his 

woman could really care about, “a 53-year-old bald man who needs to lose weight.” Of course, 

she could. We do.   — Don Crinklaw


Kirkus Reviews   Review Issue Date: June 15, 2015; Online Publish Date: June 4, 2015


THE BOTTOM  Author: Howard Owen 


Publisher:Permanent Press Pages: 208; Price ( Hardcover ): $28.00; Publication Date: August 31, 


2015; ISBN  978-1-57962-392-0;Category: Fiction; Classification: Mystery      


Willie   Mays Black, reporter/drinker/police gadfly, searches for a serial killer in Owen's (Parker 

Field, 2014, etc.) fourth crime caper. Young women, each corpse marked with a distinctive 

tattoo, have been discovered in Richmond, Virginia. Ronnie Sax, one-time photojournalist, full-

time pornographer, possessed all the right perversions, and the cops jailed him. Even Willie 

thinks he's guilty until he begins getting threats that his single, pregnant, bar-tending, college-age 

daughter, Andi, will be targeted unless Sax is released. Sax's sister provides an alibi, and he's 

freed. Willie's suspicions turn to an ex-pol he exposed for bedding an underage girl. Now 

lobbying to desecrate a slave burial ground with big box stores, that fellow, Wat Chenault, is 

"fronting for a bunch of bright-eyed hustlers who claim they'll grow the tax base." Owen drops 

deft characterizations page upon page: Willie as "a busybody who loves getting paid to snoop," 

and the true killer as "something out of the latest chainsaw movie." Clean and clear, not an 

extraneous word or scene, Owen's plot flashes along like a tense edition of Law & Order: SVU. 

A former reporter, Owen enjoys knifing the newspapers business's bean counters, eager to ignore 

breaking news in pursuit of the bottom line. A little black comedy provides the knife twist when 

a former publisher makes the obits after an unfortunate meeting of Segway and city bus. Owen 

incorporates regulars like Willie's mother, the dope-smoking Peggy; Awesome Dude, Peggy's 

part-time lodger and part-time street wanderer; and Sarah, a young female reporter Willie fears 

may give up the news beat to chase a bigger paycheck. Owen has a solid grip on people and 

lace and the social and racial tensions buzzing through a city haunted by history—a perfect 

milieu for nuanced crime capers. 


Pulp Den http://pulplair.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-bottom.html, Night To Dawn Magazine 

 The Bottom (Murder Mystery) by Howard Owen   Rating 5-Stars

 

“A Masterful Tale of Murder and Mystery.”

 

Richmond, Virginia is going through some growing pains at the moment, as an ex-senator, now 

a building contractor, is trying to build a business center on the site where slaves were buried 

and the black community is up in arms. Newspaper crime reporter, Willie Mays Black is on their 

side, but he and the ex-senator have a past connection that goes back to when the ex-senator 

was caught in bed with a 14-year-old girl, and Willie helped ruin his political career. The ex-

senator is looking for reasons to sue the newspaper because of Willie and their stand against 

his building project. But Willie has other problems at the moment. The fourth victim of the 

Tweety Bird killer was just found at the train station, and Willie is working on that case. The 

victims are all young girls, runaways, raped and tortured, then tattooed with the image of 

Tweety Bird on their ankle before they were killed. Willie thinks that maybe the ex-senator is 

the guilty party due to his preference for underage girls. Now, the lawsuit may bring a stop to 

his investigation.

This was another fantastic Willie Black murder mystery in his little community of Richmond. The 

author recently retired after 44 years as a veteran newspaper man, and knows the inside and 

outs of newspaper work The reader is pulled into the story, and the characters come alive; the 

reader may even want to drop by Penny Lane for a couple of beers and a Camel with Willie, 

listening to his tales of growing up on The Hill, while he’s taking a break from the office. This is a 

masterful tale of murder and mystery, and Willie Black isn’t afraid of stepping on 

toes—publishers, police or perps. Highly recommended.


Tom Johnson, Detective Mystery Stories 

Woo-hoo! 

OREGON HILL NAMED WINNER OF NORTH AMERICAN HAMMETT PRIZE 
                                                     
The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers is pleased  to announce that
 Oregon Hill, by Howard Owen (Permanent), has been named the winner of the organization's annual HAMMETT PRIZE for a work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing.
The winning title was chosen by a group of three distinguished outside judges: Rob Dougherty, Manager of the Clinton Book Shop, in New Jersey; Janet Groth, author of The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker; and Edward D. Miller, professor of Film and Theatre (CUNY), and author of Tomboys, Pretty Boys, and Outspoken Women: The Media Revolution of 1973. The judges selected from among five finalists nominated from the hundreds of crime books published in 2012. These five titles were selected by the organization's nominations committee headed by J. Madison Davis.
Other books nominated for the 2012 HAMMETT PRIZE were Defending Jacob: A Novel(Delacorte), by William Landay; Truth Like the Sun: A Novel (Knopf), by Jim Lynch; Patient Number 7 (McClelland & Stewart), by Kurt Palka; and Alif the Unseen (Emblem/Canada; Grove/US), by G. Willow Wilson. 
Mr. Owen was awarded a bronze trophy, designed by West Coast sculptor, Peter Boiger.  The award ceremony took place on October 1, in Somerset, New Jersey, during the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association’s  (NAIBA) Fall Conference.

 

Willie Black is back in "The Philadelphia Quarry" a sequel to be released in 2013

The Philadelphia Quarry
PhiladelphiaQuarry.jpg
To be published July 2013

Black is back. Willie Black was last seen, in Oregon Hill, risking the final tattered remnants of his checkered career – and his life – to free a man almost everyone else believed was guilty of one of Richmond’s most heinous murders.

Willie’s still employed by the city’s daily newspaper, still covering the night police beat with its DDGBs and dirt naps, still avoiding the hawk that periodically swoops down to pluck away a few more of his colleagues in a business that was foundering even before the Great Recession. He still drinks too much, smokes too much and disobeys too much. The only thing that keeps him employed: He’s a damn fine reporter. Even his beleaguered bosses would concede that.

In The Philadelphia Quarry (which will be published in July of 2013), Willie puts himself on a collision course with a part of Richmond that a boy growing up in Oregon Hill could only experience through illicit midnight sorties at the city’s most exclusive swimming hole. The Quarry was where Alicia Parker Simpson identified Richard Slade as her rapist, 28 years ago. Then, five days after DNA evidence freed Slade from the prison system in which he had spent his adult life, Alicia Simpson is shot to death at a stoplight en route to her gym.

Hardly anyone doubts that Richard Slade did it. Who could blame him? But Willie has his doubts. When the full weight of the city’s old money falls on him, trying to quash the story, he only becomes more determined to get at the thing that always seems to get him in trouble – the truth. The fact that Richard Slade is his cousin, a link to his long-dead African-American father, only makes Willie more tenacious.

In the end, Willie will be drawn back to the Philadelphia Quarry, where it all started so long ago and where the truth lies, waiting to pounce.

The New York Times said Willie "speaks the local language, a crisp and colorful urban idiom we can’t wait to hear again." Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Willie Black deserves a sequel." Publishers Weekly added, "Readers will hope that Willie will soon return."

By popular demand, Willie’s back, and he’s not backing down. 

Here's what the pre-pub reviewers are saying about The Philadelphia Quarry

Kirkus Reviews

Owen’s (Oregon Hill, 2012, etc.) hard-drinking Richmond reporter Willie Black has an inside track on a blockbuster crime story that’s "red meat for the on-the-airheads."

Richard Slade, a 17-year-old African-American, spent three decades incarcerated for the 1983 rape of debutante Alicia Parker Simpson, daughter of an old-money Commonwealth Club family. It was a he-said, she-said case relegated to an incompetent public defender. Slade ended up in prison.

 Now Slade is proven innocent by DNA technology. Free only days, Slade is jailed again, charged with Simpson’s murder. It’s another quixotic case for Willie Black, the perfect flawed hero, too often with the bottle, too often defying his bosses.

 Willie long ago lost a prime beat and was shuffled to night duty, but when

an innocent guy takes the fall, Willie thinks first with his wrong-side-of-town, chip-on-the-shoulder mindset. Owen’s secondary characters are superb. Kate, an attorney and Willie’s ex-wife No. 3, allows Willie to rent her Prestwould condo and keeps him out of court when he picks up a DUI. She’s also on Slade’s case, seconding spotlight-hound Marcus Green, eager to prove "the racist system can’t do it."

 Willie’s marijuana-loving mother, Peggy, reappears, as does venerable Clara Westbrook, one of the Richmond elite and now a resident of Prestwould. Peggy offhandedly reveals that Willie and Slade are distantly related through Willie’s light-skinned African-American father, and Clara gives him the down low on Alicia’s society-maven sister and schizophrenic brother.

Against a backdrop of advertising-suppressed investigative print journalism, Owen uses race and class, coupled with a Faulknerian family tragedy, to provide a powerful narrative engine. While the complex noir drama keeps the pages turning, crime-fiction buffs might identify the actual rapist early in the narrative, but the murderer and motivation complete the storyline perfectly.

A quick-flowing crime drama that will have fans eager for Willie Black to right another injustice.

 

Booklist

Narrator Willie, who charmed readers in Oregon Hill (2012), is a hard drinking, old-style newsman who still takes notes with pen and pad and takes his chances with the powers-that-be to get at the truth. A well-plotted mystery elevated above the norm by Owen’s mastery of character development and his creation of a compelling hero.

Publishers Weekly

Richmond, Va., reporter Willie Black proves himself a dogged, flawed, and tarnished knight of the Fourth Estate in Owen’s strong sequel to 2012’s Oregon Hill, a Hammett Prize finalist. Owen has a knack for creating quirky but credible characters, from homeless “Awesome Dude” to Simpson’s aristocratic older sister, Lewis Witt. 

Virginia Living TV Interview

(Howard Owen is the first interview on both the Virginia Living and Germanna Today TV shows. You may see a short commercial first.)

Germanna Today TV Interview

Howard Owen on Virginia This Morning, WTVR Richmond

Please watch this space for more book signing dates... 

Hammett Prize finalist Oregon Hill...

Oregon Hill
OregonHill.jpg
Newest Release

Willie Black has squandered a lot of things in his life - his liver, his lungs, a couple of former wives and a floundering daughter can all attest to his abuse. He's lucky to be employed, having managed to drink and smart-talk his way out of a nice, cushy job covering (and partying with) the politicians down at the capitol.

Now, he's back on the night cops beat, right where he started when he came to work for the Richmond paper almost 30 years ago. The thing Willie's always had going for him, though, all the way back to his hardscrabble days as a mixed-race kid on Oregon Hill, where white was the primary color and fighting was everyone's favorite leisure pastime, was grit. His mother, the drug-addled Peggy, gave him that if nothing else. He never backed down then, and he shows no signs of changing.

When a co-ed at the local university where Willie's daughter is a perpetual student is murdered, her headless body found along the South Anna River, the hapless alleged killer is arrested within days.

Everyone but Willie seems to think: Case Closed. But Willie, against the orders and advice of his bosses at the paper, the police and just about everyone else, doesn't think the case is solved at all. He embarks on a one-man crusade to do what he's always done: get the story.

On the way, Willie runs afoul of David Junior Shiflett, a nightmare from his youth who's now a city cop, and awakens another dark force, one everyone thought disappeared a long time ago. And a score born in the parking lot of an Oregon Hill beer joint 40 years ago will finally be settled.

The truth is out there. Willie Black's going to dig it out or die trying.

Raves for Oregon Hill:

Willie Black is all business — newspaper business. In OREGON HILL (Permanent Press, $28), Howard Owen’s world-weary crime reporter covers the night beat for a hard-pressed daily in Richmond, Va. When Willie’s number comes up for downsizing, he wins a reprieve by chasing the terrific story he’s working on here — about a headless corpse tossed in the South Anna River. Owen has recruited his sick, sad and creatively crazy characters from a rough neighborhood cut off from the rest of the city when the expressway was built. If anyone is watching out for the forgotten citizens of Oregon Hill, it’s Willie, who grew up there and speaks the local language, a crisp and colorful urban idiom we can’t wait to hear again. -- The New York Times

 Owen knows his setting, his dialogue is spot-on and his grasp of the down-and-dirty work of the police and news reporters lends authenticity to the narrative. This is Southern literature as expected, with a touch of noir, and with a touch of Dennis LeHane’s Mystic River. Willie Black deserves a sequel. -- Kirkus

 The deft and surprising plot builds to a satisfying ending. Readers will hope that Willie will soon return in a sequel. --Publishers Weekly

 Owen is a careful, precise writer, creating characters so real that we have to keep reminding themselves they’re fiction, and stories so haunting that they stay with the reader long after the books are back on the shelf.--Booklist

 Oregon Hill is a wondrous trip into the world of sarcastic newspaper reporters, bad cops, and murder most foul. Mr. Owen writes in a captivating voice, his acute observations granting authenticity to the bullet-speed pace of the story. Newspaperman Willie Black is masterfully created, ink and dark humor coursing through his hardboiled veins. It is hoped that this is the beginning of a series of books starring Willie and crew. Bring on the sequel!--New York Journal of Books

 Reminiscent of Carl Hiaasen’s Basket Case, Oregon Hill is as smart as it is thrilling, a true literary page-turner.--Small Press Reviews

Previous Works...

The Reckoning
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December 2010

George James and Freeman Hawk, a Richmond patrician and a hard-luck North Carolina scholarship student, were unlikely friends. But as Vietnam-era college students, that’s what they became. They were going to “quit the club” and go to Canada together. One did, and one didn’t. Now, in the post-9/11 21st century, they are thrown back together, to make their peace at last. But who’s chasing Freeman, and who is he, really? And what is going to become of George’s son, Jake, a prime candidate for downward mobility?

“The writing is precise and economical; not a scene is wasted. Another fine novel from a consistently interesting writer.” --Booklist

“Owen provides us with a story whose stakes are as high as they are within reach. As a result, the tension throughout the novel is palpable. As readers, we hope for the best for Jake even as his unguided trajectory hurdles him toward apparent disaster. Reminiscent of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and “The Nuclear Age,” “The Reckoning” is ultimately a coming of age tale for a generation raised on constant (if unfair) reminders of its failure to measure up to the overblown glories of the past.” --New York Journal of Books

Littlejohn
LittlejohnHO.jpg
1992

Littlejohn McCain, humbled by age and haunted by tragedy, goes out on the hottest day of his 82nd year to put himself in God’s hands and reflect on a life in which tragedy and redemption lie hidden beneath an exterior as quiet and humdrum as a Presbyterian hymn.  Saddled with a learning disability, scarred by his role in his brother’s death, deeply affected by the horrors of World War II, Littlejohn tells the reader everything, including the secret of the beautiful Sara.

“Littlejohn is a beautifully written novel, and Howard Owen has created a character as fully rounded in his quirks and imperfections, his quiet determination and bravery, as any in recent fiction.” --Washington Post
“A warm and generous novel, a heartfelt celebration of the human spirit.” --The New York Times

Rock of Ages
RockofAgesHO.jpg
2006

Eleven years after her father’s death, Georgia McCain is back in East Geddie, North Carolina, racked with Baby Boomer guilt and stumbling along between marriages.  In this return to the terrain of the best-selling Littlejohn, Littlejohn McCain’s daughter, here to sell the family farm, tries to come to grips with the place she couldn’t wait to escape. She’s brought along her drifting son, Justin, and his pregnant girlfriend. Making her life more interesting will be an overweight psychopath, taboo-flouting lust, a murder mystery and a tall, thin ghost wandering the perimeter of her once and now-again home.

 

“Rich in character and place, this murder mystery is also a haunting odyssey toward redemption and repatriation.” --Publishers Weekly

 “This sequel to Littlejohn is beautifully written and should appeal to readers of Southern fiction and to genre fans who favor character-driven crime stories.” --Booklist

Fat Lightning
FatLighteningHO.jpg
1994

Lot Chastain, who has dreams of eating the oily, flammable pine kindling known as fat lightning, is generally avoided by the people of Monacan.  He is, in the local parlance, full of meanness.  But when the image of Jesus appears in the moss-covered boards of his barn, thousands of tourists flock there. Soon, seduced by a flimflamming female gospel preacher, Lot begins to capitalize on Jesus on the Barn and heads down a dark path that will cause his smoldering core to burst into flames.

“A wise, warm, deeply satisfying story that resonates with imagery invoking the spiritual tradition of such Southern writers as Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.”--Publishers Weekly
“Owen is a master storyteller and a writer to be watched.”--Library Journal

The Measured Man
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1997

Walker Fann is from the right family. He married the right girl. He lives on the right street on the right side of town. But something’s gone wrong.  Maybe he could have gone on forever enjoying the world that three generations of Fanns had built for him and his progeny.  But the voice of Mattie Gray, the shy, pretty girl who shared his life and then left it, haunts him, pressing to win his soul. When a 13-year-old boy dredges up a ghost from Walker’s past, he knows he must at last be measured. He will have to decide between the expedient thing and the right thing.

“A journey of the soul that warms and cheers.” --Kirkus Reviews

"[A] nicely plotted novel inhabited by real people living in a real--and thus complex--world. Fann's struggle to come to grips with his own limitations is well and plausibly detailed." --The New York Times

Answers to Lucky
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1997

Tommy Sweatt, a North Carolina trucker driver with a fifth-grade education, has a teeth-grinding desire to amount to something.  In his twin sons, he sees the vehicle for his family’s deliverance, and he pushes them toward his concept of greatness. When Lucky is crippled by polio in 1954, he becomes a non-person to his father, who turns all his attention on the unscathed twin, Tom Ed. Forty years later, with Tom Ed running for governor and Lucky working as his unpaid driver, all that Tommy Sweatt sowed is about to be reaped.

“The spiritual progeny of Robert Penn Warren’s Willie Stark is alive and charming the pants off everyone in the wonderful new novel “Answers to Lucky,” a 1990s version of “All the King’s Men.” --GQ
“A completely engaging story about the family ties that bind—tight—and the ego-pricking legacy of growing up poor.” --Kirkus Reviews
“A quietly powerful narrative, a poignant study of sibling rivalry and family dysfunction.” --Publishers Weekly

Harry and Ruth
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2000

Ruth Crowder Flood has always told Harry Stein not to torture himself, not to let his life be ruined by what might have been.  But he can’t help it, and neither can she: They both know just how much can be lost by one bad decision. Now, late in the game, Harry is dying, and he wants to tie up a few loose ends. As the second defining hurricane of Ruth’s life closes in, the time seems right.

“A winning story of human frailty and renewal.” --The New York Times

The Rail
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2002

Before he sabotaged his life, Neil Beauchamp was special, the glorious Virginia Rail who terrorized American League pitchers.  He lived and flourished in the world of privilege, adored and accommodated.  Then, it was gone. The only thing worse than spending your life earthbound, he would learn, is landing hard and knowing you’ll never fly again.  Now, long after the fall and just out of prison, the Rail has a chance at redemption, a chance to, for once, not fail those who love him.

“The pace is leisurely, the revelations apt and unexpected, and the coverage of professional baseball rings absolutely true.” --Publishers Weekly
“With this rich, multi-layered narrative focusing on a major league baseball star fallen from grace, Owen adds another volume to a remarkable body of work.” --Richmond Times-Dispatch

Turn Signal
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2004

No one thought Jack Stone of Speakeasy, Virginia, was the kind of man who would try to solve his problems with a .38.  But here he is, on a train to New York, armed and dangerously determined that somebody is going to read his damn novel. Jack once had dreams of bigger things, but here he is, a long-distance trucker with a shaky home life and one last chance to be special.  All that New York editor needs is a little persuasion.

“A poison-pen letter to the publishing industry from Owen, whose loser protagonist hits the big time once he stops playing by the rules.” --Kirkus Reviews

Richmond Noir
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2010

"Richmond Noir" is a collection of all-new stories by a variety of accomplished authors. Each story is set in Richmond, Virginia. In Howard Owen's The Thirteenth Floor, a political reporter reassigned to the night police beat investigates a murder-by-gunshot in his own apartment building.
About Owen's story, "...a well-done contemporary fair play whodunit..." -- Publishers Weekly

AuthorPhotoHO.jpg
Howard Owen

Howard Owen Biography...

Award-winning writer Howard Owen was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree and earned a master’s degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Howard's first novel, "Littlejohn," was published by The Permanent Press in 1992. Random House bought and reissued it as a Villard hardcover in 1993 and a Vintage Contemporary paperback in 1994. It was nominated for the Abbey Award (American Booksellers) and Discovery (Barnes & Noble) award for best new fiction. It has sold, in all, more than 50,000 copies. It has been printed in Japanese, French and Korean; it has been a Doubleday Book Club selection; audio and large-print editions have been issued, and movie option rights have been sold.

Other kudos for Howard Owen and his books:

 

·       Starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly.

·       Included in "The Best Novels of the Nineties: A Reader’s Guide."

·       Included in the LA Times Book Reviews’ "Recommended Titles" for 1997.

·       Several of his novels have been Booksense selections.

·       Owen won the 2002 Theresa Pollak Award for Words.

·       His short story, "The Thirteenth Floor," was included in "Richmond Noir” in 2010.

 

Howard lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife Karen who is also an award-winning writer and editor.

 

Questions or comments? Get in touch with us at:

howardowenbooks@gmail.com

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