Benjamin Whitmer was born in 1972 and raised on back-to-the-land communes and counterculture enclaves ranging from Southern Ohio to Upstate New York. One of his earliest and happiest memories is of standing by the side of a country road with his mother, hitchhiking to parts unknown. Since then, he has been a factory grunt, a vacuum salesman, a convalescent, a high-school dropout, a semi-truck loader, an activist, a kitchen-table gunsmith, a squatter, a college professor, a dishwasher, a technical writer, and a petty thief. He has also published fiction and non-fiction in a number of magazines, anthologies, and essay collections. Pike is his first novel.
He lives with his wife and two children in Colorado, where he spends most of his free time trolling local histories and haunting the bookshops, blues bars, and firing ranges of ungentrified Denver. Right now, he’s probably sitting with a book in hand, staring out his window and dreaming of a tar paper shack somewhere in the Rockies, about fifty miles removed from his nearest neighbor.
By Benjamin Whitmer
Published July 2010
Size: 5 by 8
Page count: 224 Pages
Subjects: Fiction, Thriller
Douglas Pike is no longer the murderous hustler he was in his youth, but reforming hasn't made him much kinder. He's just living out his life in his Appalachian hometown, working odd jobs with his partner, Rory, hemming in his demons the best he can. And his best seems just good enough until his estranged daughter overdoses and he takes in his twelve-year-old granddaughter, Wendy.
Just as the two are beginning to forge a relationship, Derrick Kreiger, a dirty Cincinnati cop, starts to take an unhealthy interest in the girl. Pike and Rory head to Cincinnati to learn what they can about Derrick and the death of Pike’s daughter, and the three men circle, evenly matched predators in a human wilderness of junkie squats, roadhouse bars and homeless Vietnam vet encampments.
Listen to author Benjamin Whitmer read the preface to Pike below.
"Benjamin Whitmer’s novel Pike is the most exciting, kick ass debut of the year."
--Jedidiah Ayres, Hardboiled Wonderland
"Pike may just be the best noir novel that we’ve seen in years, a true black novel if there ever was one. I won’t name names but much of the purported noir class of crime fiction just can’t hold a candle to what is on display here, Pike is hardcore and the real deal all others are pale imitators."
“Without so much as a sideways glance towards gentility, Pike is one righteous mutherfucker of a read. I move that we put Whitmer’s balls in a vise and keep slowly notching up the torque until he’s willing to divulge the secret of how he managed to hit such a perfect stride his first time out of the blocks.”
"Benjamin Whitmer’s Pike captures the grime and the rage of my not-so fair city with disturbing precision. The words don’t just tell a story here, they scream, bleed, and burst into flames. Pike, like its eponymous main character, is a vicious punisher that doesn’t mince words or take prisoners, and no one walks away unscathed. This one’s going to haunt me for quite some time."
"This is what noir is, what it can be when it stops playing nice--blunt force drama stripped down to the bone, then made to dance across the page."
--Stephen Graham Jones
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
- 2011 Spinetingler Award Best Novel: New Voice – WINNER
Well, this is sure as hell not something I expected, but somehow Pike won Spinetingler Magazine‘s award for Best Novel: New Voice.
- Maybe All It Takes Is Patience
The following was written by M.A. Littler, as an attempt to compress the experience of his new movie, Kingdom of Survival, into verse.
- Pike by Benjamin Whitmer
Nik Korpon, author of Stay God, has a new review of Pike up over at Spinetingler Magazine. It’s the kind of thing I could quote all day, and though I’ll try not to, just because it’s not fair to you poor bastards who have to li...
- A great choice
Just when you think our local police couldn’t get any more stupid or brutal, they do something so insane you start to wonder if they’re padding the precincts’ walls these days. This time it’s the Lakewood police — ...
- Five questions
Scott Montgomery recently asked me five questions in anticipation of this month’s Hard Word Book Club in Austin. Here are the results.
Interviews and Articles
- Benjamin Whitmer - The Crime of It All
- Dancing With Myself - Nigel Bird
- The Guns of Pike - Benjamin Whitmer
- Psycho-Noir: Nigel Bird's Essential Noir
- Interview with Benjamin Whitmer - Spinetingler Magazine
- Interview with Benjamin Whitmer - Hardboiled Wonderland
- Pike Review - Crimespree Magazine
- Kick Him Honey - Jedidiah Ayres, BN Mystery Blog
- Pike Review - Spinetingler Magazine
- Pike Review- Temporary Knucksline
- Pike on The Pulp Primer
- Pike on Signs and Wonders
Benjamin Whitmer on The Crime of It All
By Len Wanner
The Crime of It All: At the Critical Edge of Crime Fiction
The highest order a writer can aspire to is…
to be one of those that strike that perfect balance between artistry and just letting it all hang out on the page. Nothing gets me more excited than reading a great metaphor, a perfectly hewn sentence, or a brilliantly developed theme. Nothing. But, at the same time, I just can’t read fiction where there’s nothing at stake. It’s gotta come through that the book meant the whole world to the author. That they put absolutely everything they had into it.
By Jedidiah Ayres
October 29, 2010
Benjamin Whitmer’s novel Pike is the most exciting, kick ass debut of the year. There, I said it, the book backs me up. Set in the harsh wilds of rural Kentucky, Ohio and on the streets of Cincinatti, Pike bristles with danger, menace and mortal volatility. The bleak, rugged physical terrain mirrors the psychic and emotional interiors of each character who have been put through hells as diverse as the intentions that paved the way.
Over at his blog Benjamin Whitmer said that crime fiction is “supposed to be scary”. He also says that noir isn’t “supposed to be the police procedurals and wisecracking detective serials that dominate the crime shelves” and that they should be something different: “This is nightmare, hunker-down-in-your-soul, how-deep-can-you-dig, release-the-fucking-bats territory.”
Kick Him Honey
By Jed Ayres
Ransom Notes: The BN Mystery Blog
Friday, October 29, 2010
Pike, the new novel from Benjamin Whitmer is the most exciting debut of the year. It is a relentlessly violent tale of revenge and redemption that amount to too little, too late and features one of the most compelling protagonists this side of Charles Willeford. When we first meet Douglas Pike, he is having his twelve-year-old granddaughter, whom he’s never met, pawned off on him by his estranged and deceased daughter’s friend. He argues that he’s unfit to care for anyone, let alone a bereaved little girl, to no avail. There is no one else to do it.
One of the books that I’ve been looking forward to reading the most this year was Pike by Benjamin Whitmer...Pike may just be the best noir novel that we’ve seen in years, a true black novel if there ever was one. I won’t name names but much of the purported noir class of crime fiction just can’t hold a candle to what is on display here, Pike is hardcore and the real deal all others are pale imitators.
In a just world Pike will salt the Earth and reset the clock for noir in the 21st century, forcing others to re-examine what can be done with the form.
November 1, 2010
Certain writers should be required reading in schools the way certain movies should be required viewing in schools (American History X, etc.). Pike is one of those books … the way Cormac McCarthy's works have etched their way into our literary Americana, so does Whitmer’s Pike belong there. This is superb writing, start to finish. Absolutely mesmerizing. This morning I reread Pike during my commute because it is really that good.
By Graham Bowlin
The Pulp Primer
Dark, dangerous, tragic, beautifully written debut. The story of a small town in Ohio where pain is a way of life and redemption doesn't come cheap, PIKE cuts the human condition open and puts it on display for the world to see. Take a look.
By Rod Norman
Signs and Wonders
I recently heard my buddy Jed Ayres of "Hardboiled Wonderland" raving about a book he'd just read called Pike. Well, I just finished up Benjamin Whitmer's debut novel, and the praise was warranted. The book was published by PM Press & Ben was nice enough to have them send me a copy. It may be a bit strong for those who love cozies, because there is nothing comfortable about Pike. It is in your face, gritty, honest,and it revels in a world few dare to tread. Whitmer takes us on a journey through Hell and back (Cincinnati in fact) and exposes the underworld of dirty cops, drug addicts, prostitutes, and characters you'll love that aren't real like able. The book explores a hard world inhabited by even harder people. "This book is for those who like their Noir straight up, not stirred". I can't wait to see what Mr. Whitmer has for us next. I'll be keeping a close on Benjamin and PM Press.