From St. Paul Pioneer Press: 

Final Flowers_ebook_CoverIn this sequel to “Dive Bartender: Sibling Rivalry,” it’s 1977 and Frank Ford is on the run from Minnesota after killing two sisters who were implicated in the death of his brother. He’s got a tattered copy of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and he’s going to follow the beat poet’s journey to California, even though Frank is 36 and a little long in the tooth to emulate Kerouac.

When Frank stops in Denver to see an old friend, whom he thinks is a rich lawyer, he finds Larry isn’t what he seems. Larry’s trying to put together a development deal with three rich young guys, one of whose fathers owns a hidden, luxury ranch. Frank, who ends up staying at the ranch, has got voices in his head that he’s named: the Hater, probably his late father; Easy Forgiver, his mother; the Judge, origin unknown, and the Equivocator, Frank’s deceased brother.

Then, singer and songwriter Evelyn Raines arrives and Frank will do anything for her. Evelyn is a lead singer for a band, headed for national stardom, but she’s not happy. When she’s physically threatened, Frank, her brother and two friends have to do a take-down to get her back. Evelyn and Frank are interesting characters, well-imagined and in a believable relationship.

Although O’Neill says he writes from the noir end of the mystery genre, “Dive Bartender” is not a violent book. Some of it is funny and there is tenderness in Frank’s all-consuming devotion to Evelyn. Also, there are gangsters and drugs.


From SPR Review: 

Final Flowers_ebook_Cover

“Painting a gritty and visceral picture of life on the road, specifically the rugged west, author T.K. O’Neill crafts a haunted hero in his latest novel, Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert.  Frank is itching for a new chapter in Denver, but there aren’t enough mountains in Colorado to keep old habits and bad luck from catching up. Navigating a seedy minefield of manipulation, desperation, desire, and even hope, this wandering rogue of a protagonist finds himself in strange company, compelled to stay just a bit longer in decadence and pleasure, and delaying his California dreams one day at a time.

Love, loss, brotherhood, and purpose clash in a timeless examination of freedom through a drug-addled lens. With a clever and original flourish for simple, unexpected descriptions, the prose hums along at an even clip, occasionally taking time to wax poetic, à la Kerouac, with the urgency in Frank’s mind and movements reminiscent of Sal Paradise, if not Dean Moriarty.

Comparisons aside, this book is far from derivative; it is a refreshing homage to beatnik life, telling an accessible story with a familiar lesson – you can’t go home again, and home is wherever you make it.”  

From BooksGoSocial, The International Review of Books:

“I’m not bothered in the slightest by gritty novels (a bluntness in language, sex, violence, drugs), but they aren’t novels I naturally gravitate toward. So I was both shocked and thrilled when I realized, only a few chapters into T.K. O’Neill’s Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert, that Frank Ford’s blunt grittiness wasn’t just a literary choice. It was a clever and calculated decision regarding a character that turned out to be one of the most likable protagonists I have ever encountered in a novel before. Ever! For all Frank’s flaws (which are many, and he’ll tell you all about them, bluntly, in the book), I adored him! I couldn’t get enough! I loved him so much I completely ignored his mysterious and questionable past as I was drawn ever deeper into a novel filled with rational but misguided decisions, unfortunate events, and increasingly twisted and intersecting story lines.

Dive Bartender: Flowers in the Desert was a naughty, but utterly delectable treat for me that I devoured from cover to cover. Normally I might be compelled to say it’s not for the politically correct or easily offended. But that would have been before I’d read it, and enjoyed it so much, and came here to unrepentantly announce as much in this review. Yes, this book is blunt. There’s language, sex, violence, and drugs, and I loved every second of it! The entire book is fantastic, filled with weaving mysteries, nagging doubts, and loads of suspense. Phenomenal on every level! My favorite was still Frank though, who wasn’t a saint and wasn’t a hero, but carried the book in flying colors by being a regular guy dealing with a dark past, self-doubts, and, perhaps to his surprise, a chivalrous streak that might just carry him into a new future and love.” —Masa Radanic, The International Review of Books


From SPR Review:  

Northwoods Pulp Reloaded by T.K. O'Neill“Capturing the raw energy, resilience, and murky lawlessness of a bitter wilderness, Northwoods Pulp Reloaded by T.K. O’Neill is a stirring and wild collection.

Three intensely told stories capped off with a visceral crime novella, this is a seemingly easy escape read, but the writing is smart and deeper than expected, from high-stakes morality parables to and illicit adventures that quickly get out of hand. O’Neill focuses a bit more on fast-talking dialogue and action sequences than he does on character development, but the world-building is immersive, with colloquial bits of nuance and detail that make the rugged scenes come alive.

The narration and internal monologuing of characters is strong and bold, particularly in the novella, but the dialogue does come off hackneyed at times. However, these stories are ripped from the gritty edge of experience, and even the rougher edges of writing reflect that source material. Told with a reverence for the culture, traditions, and demands of a part of the country that most will never experience, this homage to cold-weather rebels makes for a thrilling read overall.

For any reader who has ever pointed their fortunes north and let their moral compass waver, or loves reading about well-crafted antiheroes, O’Neill’s collection is an intense but entertaining dive into another world.”

From Literary Titan:

“Northwoods Pulp Reloaded by T.K. O’Neill is a collection of fantastic short stories, each one filled with suspense and intrigue. Hole in the World, Snowmobile Stick-up, The Devil You Say, and My Ship Comes In make up this ensemble. Don Enrico is owed a large sum of money by Ginny and Stuart, but when Stuart gets arrested, their plans go awry. The Whiteout Gang robs a bank and escapes on snowmobiles. Elton Kirby investigates satanic rituals and puts his own life in danger. Keith is on the run and finds himself burdened with a boatload of cocaine, beginning a long and complicated journey.

Author T.K. O’Neill certainly has a captivating writing style, creating a feeling of suspense and excitement. Northwoods Pulp Reloaded is an extraordinary collection of short stories that are filled with twists, turns, and surprises that will keep readers guessing. Thanks to O’Neill’s strong character-building technique, the wide assortment of characters are all well-defined and easy to relate to. Readers will get to know gang members, law enforcement officers, criminals, and ordinary people that make you feel like you have known them for years. In addition, each scene is described in detail, making it easy for the reader to form a mental picture, such as the reuniting of long-lost family members and criminal activities.

O’Neill’s uses of different settings add depth to these short stories, giving each one a unique feel and the opportunity to take readers on a new journey. The stories are set in different towns and cities across the United States with an array of exciting locations – a cabin in the woods, boats on the water, houses and buildings. Crime, murder, and mystery are the constant themes throughout the book.

My personal favorite aspect of the book is definitely the author’s fast-paced and succinct writing and the way the locations are described. In addition, the dialogue is splendidly written and carries each story forward from beginning to end.

Northwoods Pulp Reloaded is a riveting short story collection, superbly written to keep readers engaged. A suspenseful and thrilling read where the bad guys are the focus, and the action keeps coming. Due to profanities and erotic scenes, this book is best for mature readers.”


From the Ripsaw:  In the spirit of true pulp… an utter joy… downright good reading.”

From the University of Minnesota Duluth Statesman:   “… immensely entertaining…”

From the Northland Reader:   “… great hard-boiled writing…”

From Murphy McGinnis Newspapers: “Ray Bradbury said zest and gusto are among the most important elements to a writer’s makeup. (O’Neill)… may never have read this advice, but he writes like he has. His work sparkles with gusto…”

“(O’Neill) writes his tales from the dark side well.  His dialogue, in particular, sparks with life, and… the clever by-play between characters drives the plot and develops the characters expertly.”

“Another of (O’Neill’s) strengths is his action scenes—and there are a lot of them, as you’d expect with violent and unpredictable characters. His pacing is immaculate, and he handily transitions between introspection, slow scenes and pulse-pounding action.”

“(O’Neill) followed his loves and his hates into a book that holds your attention and enters your psyche.  It presents a coherent, if nasty, picture of the human condition and the world we live in.”

“Frankly, a lot of writers don’t get as far as (O’Neill) did… having something to say and saying it with a little zest and gusto.”

From The Paper, Grand Rapids, Michigan:   “This collection of short stories is like a peepshow curtain pulled back. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help it. And, when you do, your disgust is tempered by an amazement that makes you want to look – just a little bit more. There are few heroes— at least not the kind who get the girl, the house or win the lottery.”

…. a lean style that he uses well to establish the outlines of his characters early in the stories. Over the course of a few pages he artfully fills in those sketches, refusing to “stay inside the lines.” His laconic descriptions of failed schemes and skewered lives result in wonderfully entertaining tales about the perils and pratfalls of a menagerie of people that can’t help but make you feel better about yourself.”

“These tales are full of people who live their lives to the fullest, in a bizarre way – and examining where, exactly, they end up can be disturbing. Their dreams, often, are the things that make up nightmares for “normal” people. But his characters are the real McCoy…”

From SHOTS Magazine, UK, reviewed by author Russell James:   “Four tales of the coldest North American states… crammed with hard men, hard language, snow and speed.  The backgrounds are good – low bars, cheap diners, empty motels, lonesome shacks – and the characters are tough and quick with their firearms…  These are punch and shoot ’em stories, make it up as you go along; tough and for all we know, authentic … (O’Neill) can write…”

From judge’s comments at Minnesota Book Awards: “…vulgar, violent, venomous.”

From Canadian Chapters.Indigo review: “A beautiful scene in the wilderness—hiding some grisly secrets… mystery writer (T.K. O’Neill) combines the traditional hard-boiled style of James Cain to create a harrowing story of devil worship, death, lawlessness and crime…”

From SHOTS Magazine, Great Britain, reviewed by Mike Stotter, Editor:   “….His writing is dark and twisted, like his characters.

From Reader Weekly:   “…a part of O’Neill’s talent… a character that no one likes but everyone wishes well.”

“You won’t come away with a warm feeling for the Sunshine State… if anything, you’ll realize how the suffocating heat of the humid Southland seems to encourage slithering snakes and festering parasites.”

From Murphy McGinnis Newspapers: “(T.K. O’Neill) throws worlds of hurt at his ne’er-do-well characters… in the spirit of Raymond Chandler… his writing process builds on trouble… the underside of the American Dream… a perfect example of noir…”

From The Corresponder (Minnesota State University):  “(O’Neill) is a writer who isn’t afraid to take chances with his story. There are no good guys or bad guys here. (O’Neill) lets his characters run wild and take the reader on a fast paced ride. Feels like classic crime noir with the insanity of a mental ward tossed in for good measure.”

From the Lake Superior Sounder:   “…his prose soars fast and high and reflects a keen eye for character, plot and setting, and follows the most convoluted stream of events with ease.”

From barnesandnoble.com, reviewed by Kim Lamson-Scribner:   “(O’Neill’s) talented writing is not for the fainthearted of rough talk and experience.  He gives keen insight to the exterior and interior world of a lost man.”

“While the language and environment are in rough-hewn speak, (O’Neill’s) writing has an underlying elegance and his characterization a developed depth.  There is some playful surface dry humor weaving in and out of a tough world context.  Expressed through the series and in this book is a substantially perceptive sense of humanity and lost humanity.”

“While on a wholly different track, and in a style all his own, there are darkened shades reminiscent of David Lindsey, James Lee Burke and John D. McDonald in the Keith Waverly series.”

To contact Bluestone Press or T.K. O’Neill, email bluestonepress@outlook.com or call 218.724.5806

4 Responses

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: