Evergreen Review reviews The Guys Who Spied for China

Dec 21, 2010 - 3:57 am


Evergreen Review‘s New Edition:

The Guys Who Spied for China

By Gordon Basichis

Evergreen Review reviews "The Guys Who Spied for China"

(Minstrel’s Alley, 2010)

Review by Kevin Riordan


This roman a clef puts us face to face with some extraordinarily paranoid individuals, along with the proof that, yes, they have been paying attention.  Rather than going for literary extravagance, Basichis has assembled a dossier with quick, sometimes shopworn phrases, heightening the fact that the events actually happened to him. Where there is a flame, you can be sure there’s a moth nearby, but there is a comfort in clichés; the lack of contrivance is wholly fresh.

The narrator remains something of a cipher, nameless, wise-cracking, ready for action despite no evident training for international political intrigue. He seems to get all the good lines, as when one hard case tells him

“I put myself through school that way. Assassination.”

“Yeah? Me, I worked in a drugstore.” {page 41}

The entire story takes place over the length of the Eighties, but we are never reminded of who’s president or what’s on the radio, nor are we bombarded with period detail. The ready availability of phone booths is the main clue that we are in the past at all, although the technology invoked is both elaborate and quaint. The historical framework is what holds it together, culminating just before the infamous protests in Tiananmen Square.

The most outrageous incidents are related and then retold as they appeared in the press, which is nicely disorienting, as we follow an odd couple of citizens who unravel a huge Chinese spy operation involving satellites, munitions manufacture, survivalists, college professors, even an oddball Bishop. None of the Chinese characters get much exposure, but you don’t want to get too attached to them. Crusty Noah Brown steals the book, evoking William Burroughs as he appeared in the 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. The book also brings him to mind through its similarity to And the Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks, in its thinly veiled confessional aspect.

After being introduced to the narrator as someone capable of using deadly force, we are drawn in to a gradually clarifying stew of dubious men and squirrelly subplots. In contrast to the beach read spy novel, the violence and weaponry is not depicted with a lascivious glee, but with genuine frustration and concern. By the storm-drenched climax, there was no place else I would rather have been than on that mission, from the safety of my armchair.

In hindsight perhaps the great irony is that the Chinese didn’t need to spy on us in order to see that what we value the most is cheap pedestrian crap, and we don’t much care if the dignity of labor was involved in its mass manufacture, as long as we can buy it on credit.

http://www.evergreenreview.com/125/review-guys-who-spied-for-china.html

Minstrel’s Alley to Expand Its Book List

Dec 14, 2010 - 6:58 am


(Los Angeles) Minstrel’s Alley, an independent publishing and media group, has announced its intention to expand its book publishing efforts in the forthcoming year.   The Los Angeles based company has scheduled three books for publication in 2011.   The books will be published as trade paperbacks as well as in the EBook format.

“The success of our initial book publishing efforts has enabled us to publish three books in the forthcoming years,” said M.J. Hammond, Publisher and President of Minstrel’s Alley.   For the year 2011 we will add to our book list with The Blood Orange, a romantic mystery thriller by Gordon Basichis. The novel is set in contemporary Los Angeles but harkens back to the days of old, Spanish California.  The story is one of corporate and government intrigue.

“ We will also be publishing Ghosts of Havana, by Cameron Lee, and a non-fiction work, tentatively entitled, The Sorority Letters.

“Ghosts of Havana, is a romantic mystery thriller with an international scope,” said Hammond.   “The novel begins in pre-Castro Cuba and reaches its climax in the North Sea in contemporary times..

“The Sorority Letters is a multi-decade spanning compilation of actual correspondence among  friends  who lived together in a Tri-Delta Sorority back in the sixties.  This is an exciting project, and we have high hopes for its commercial potential.”

Hammond points to the success of its three previous book publications, all written by author Gordon Basichis.  The Guys Who Spied for China was a roman a clef based on the author’s  real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States.   It was a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition and was published as a trade paperback as well as on Kindle, Apple iPad, Sony Reader, and other Ebook formats.

Additionally, Minstrel’s Alley published in the EBook format “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story.”   The non-fiction work documents the tempestuous affair during the Ronald Reagan Presidential Administration between department store scion, Alfred Bloomingdale, and his long time mistress, Vicki Morgan.  The hardback book was originally published by Santa Barbara Press, and for twelve years was licensed by Books on Tape. It sells briskly as an Ebook through Minstrel’s Alley.

Minstrel’s Alley also published in EBook format, The Constant Travellers.  “The quirky Western fantasy was first published in hardback by G.P. Putnam’s,  and its film rights were optioned by Twentieth Century Fox and MGM.   It was later published as a trade paperback when Basichis and  iUniverse published it as part of the Author’s Guild “Back in Print” program.

“The Constant Travellers is an unsung classic, a story set in the old West but told in the modern idiom,” says Hammond.   “The novel is fresh and relevant and never received its due.  It appeals especially to a younger audience as well as the Boomer set.

Hammond remarked that Minstrel’s Alley is a small company on a limited budget that has grown cautiously in spite of the tentative nature of the book publishing industry.   “We believe we can find our way in what is a shaky market.   By specializing in quality books with a strong commercial value we believe we can bring together the best of both worlds.”

Aug 13, 2010 - 3:00 am


Minstrel’s Alley Acquires Kindle and eBook Rights to The Constant Travellers

(Los Angeles)Minstrel’s Alley has just acquired the Kindle, Smashwords, and other eBook publishing rights to “The Constant Travellers,” a novel written by Gordon Basichis.  The ad copy refers to itself as sex and drugs in the West That Never Was and tells a comic, but metaphysical Western tale involving a journey between  a young Civil War veteran and an Indian Shaman.  The two meet in the middle of the desert, and as they embark on a journey where they encounter endless colorful characters, they discover their destinies have long been intertwined.

“We are thrilled to be offering  “The Constant Travelers,” in a Kindle, Smashwords, and other ebook versions, “ said M.J. Hammond, president of independent publisher and media company, Minstrel’s Alley.   It is part of our program where we bought all electronic rights to Gordon’s books.   Film rights for “The Constants Travellers” had been optioned by two different film studios, Twentieth Century Fox, and MGM.  But at that time special effects technology could not fully render the scope and texture of this wonderfully funny epic Western.”

“The book was first published in hardback by G.P. Putnam’s, but it was so quirky and psychedelic, mixing genres, that it was way ahead of its time.   It was then published as a trade paperback when Basichis and  iUniverse published it as part of the Author’s Guild “Back in Print” program.

“The Constant Travellers,” we believe,  is an unsung classic, a story set in the old West but told in the modern idiom.   The novel is fresh and relevant and should appeal especially to a younger audience as well as the Boomer set”

Hammond maintained that the steady flow of sales in trade paperbacks inspired Minstrel’s Alley to acquire the E-rights to the book and publish it through Kindle and Smashwords.  It will soon also be available through other electronic books platforms, including the Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple’s  iBooks.

Minstrel’s Alley recently published “The Guys Who Spied for China,” its first publishing effort.  “The Guys Who Spied for China,” also written by Gordon Basichis, is based on his real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States in the eighties and nineties.   Basichis is now the Co-Founder of Corra Group, which specializes in background checks and corporate research and investigation.

“We look forward to treating the world to “The Constant Travellers.”  The book is like nothing else on the market.  It is irreverent, philosophical, and very funny.  It is a joy to read.”

IPPY Highlights “The Guys Who Spied for China”

Jul 20, 2010 - 9:06 pm


Gordon Basichis’ book, “The Guys Who Spied for China” has been selected as a “Highlighted Title” by Independent Publishers Online (IPPY).   Here is their endorsing quote:
“As if to demonstrate how the recently exposed Russian spy ring could exist, this timely and entertaining book explains how easily you might find yourself with a ‘spy next door,’ or even be recruited to be one yourself! ‘The world is indeed a strange place when your allies and your enemies are often the same,’ muses the hero in a quirky cast of characters involved in the full range of spy activities, from utterly boring surveillance to fiercely violent gun battles. Based on true events, Gordon Basichis’ book brings insight to news stories past and present, and points out just how commonplace international spying really is.”
– Jim Barnes, Editor, Independent Publisher Online

Publisher’s Weekly review of The Guys Who Spied for China

May 3, 2010 - 9:33 pm


ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer

The suburbs of Southern California house a cluster of unlikely international spies in this espionage novel set in the 1980s. Witty journalist/novelist (unnamed) meets a pocket of second-amendment-loving weapons enthusiasts when his dentist, Louis Dubin, invites him over for a small gathering at his home. There, he meets federal agent Noah Brown, who’s secretly keeping tabs on the group. Noah later reveals that the bunch of “Average Joe’s, dressed in Levi’s and L.L. Bean” is part of a network that feeds information to the Chinese government. As one of the group members says, “Power is information, and information leads to wealth.” As Noah draws the journalist further into his battle with the Chinese spy community, the journalist finds himself relishing the rush despite the danger involved. Even though the novel takes place more than 30 years ago, the story still feels fresh, as socially marginalized “techno-happy gun nuts” banding together in the name of political radicalism doesn’t seem that far-fetched in today’s culture. The dialogue between the journalist and Noah, which is necessary to explain complicated portions of the plot, gets tedious, but when the author shows rather than tells, it’s an engaging and suspenseful read. The story, however, never really gains traction, as each encounter Noah and the journalist have with the enemy (whomever the enemy happens to be in each scene) seems fragmented from the arc of the book. Fans of espionage, though, will likely relish the tale of good guys gone bad.cover China Book

TAN Magazine – Today’s Author News

Apr 30, 2010 - 8:23 pm


In the April edition of TAN Magazine (Today’s Author Magazine) David Ewen includes suggestions for great Summer Reading.  David has several  radio shows  where he has been supporting authors since 1998.   He gives a shout out to Gordon Basichis‘ “The Guys Who Spied for China” (Minstrel’s Alley).

To find the piece on this new book, open the link and flip in 5 pages!   Other great suggestions contained  there as well.

David’s show can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/ewenprimecover China Book

Minstrel’s Alley Book, The Guys Who Spied for China, on Apple’s iPad

Apr 26, 2010 - 5:30 am


(Los Angeles) “The Guys Who Spied for China,” by Gordon Basichis has just been released on the Apple iPad.   The novel is based on his real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States in the eighties and nineties.

“The Guys Who Spied for China,” is being published by Minstrel’s Alley, an independent publishing and media group.  The book was also released as a trade paperback and Kindle and is available through Amazon, Ingram, Baker and Taylor as well as bookstores around the country.

“We are very excited about seeing “The Guys Who Spied for China released through iPad” said M.J. Hammond, publisher and president of Minstrel’s Alley.  The Apple iPad is a breakthrough platform for many applications, including EPublishing.  And we believe E-Publishing is the wave of the future.”

“The Guys Who Spied for China,” is our first published offering, so we naturally wish to oversee every stage of our marketing effort.  We are pleased that it is now a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition.cover China Book

“This roman a clef is a most unusual spy book as it breaks the mold for this genre.  It tells the story of what it is like to be suddenly thrust into the world of espionage.   We believe it. should draw not only from spy freaks but from a wider, more literary readership as well. ”

Hammond describes the book as quirky and authentic with touches of dark humor that will engage the reader.   “If you are looking for more than the basic mainstream spy book, you are in for a pleasant surprise.   This tells a much richer story.  This is a timely book, given the ongoing headlines about Chinese Espionage and the growing tensions again between the United States and China.”

Gordon Basichis is the author of two previous books, “The Constant Travellers,” and “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story.”   He is the co-founder of Corra Group, a Los Angeles based company that conducts employment background checks and corporate research for companies throughout the United States and around the world.

M.J. Hammond is a former entertainment industry executive who founded Minstrel’s Alley to publish popular books not found in mainstream publishing.

“Mainstream publishing has its purpose,” said Hammond.  But the industry’s focus on celebrity and genre based books has left readers wanting.  We hope to help bring a sense of adventure back to books and publishing.”

Background: Minstrel’s Alley is a Los Angeles based independent publisher that seeks to bring adventure back into the publishing industry by publishing books that have popular appeal but with more complexity than the standard mainstream fare.   The new publishing group distributes its books through Amazon, Kindle, and assorted Internet outlets as well as through bookstores around the country.    You can view Minstrel’s Alley at www.minstrelsalley.com

The Guys Who Spied for China Quarter Finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Competition

Mar 29, 2010 - 6:26 am


DadPhotoSmall(Los Angeles) Minstrel’s Alley, an independent publishing and media group, has had its first release, The Guys Who Spied for China, by Gordon Basichis, selected as a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition.   The book was first released as a trade paperback and then as in E-Book through Kindle.

“We are quite pleased with The Guys Who Spied for China’s selection as a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.,” said M.J. Hammond, publisher and president of Minstrel’s Alley.  “About five thousand books were submitted from around the world, and The Guys Who Spied for China is among the final 230 quarter finalists.”

Hammond described The Guys Who Spied for China as a roman a clef detailing the uncovering of Chinese Espionage Networks in California during the eighties and nineties.  The book is based on Basichis’ real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States in the eighties and nineties.

“We are delighted but not really surprised by the novel’s reception,” said Hammond.  “This is a most unusual spy book as it breaks the mold for this genre.  It is quirky and authentic, with touches of dark humor.   Reviews, so far, have been very favorable.

Hammond noted that sales have been helped by the growing tensions between the United States and China.  She claims the recent CBS Sixty Minutes Segment on Chinese Espionage boosted sales.    She believes the novel gives the reader the feeling of what it’s like to be suddenly thrust into the world of espionage.

“You can’t be an independent publisher and give readers the same-old-same-old and expect it to sell.   Publishing independently is slow going and demands patience.   The good news is when most mid list books from mainstream publishers are on the remainder pile, and independently published book is still going strong.   These days, we are the Energizer Bunnies of the publishing industry.”

She said that in addition to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Baker and Taylor and Ingram are now distributing the trade paperback.  Minstrel’s Alley will soon be extending the E-Book version to Apple’s iPad, the Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble’s Nook.

Gordon Basichis is the author of two previous books, “The Constant Travellers” and “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story.”   He is the co-founder of Corra Group, a Los Angeles based company that conducts employment background checks and corporate research for companies throughout the United States and around the world.

M.J. Hammond is a former entertainment industry executive who founded Minstrel’s Alley to publish popular books not found in mainstream publishing.

Background: Minstrel’s Alley is a Los Angeles based independent publisher that seeks to bring adventure back into the publishing industry by publishing books that have popular appeal but with more complexity than the standard mainstream fare.   The new publishing group distributes its books through Amazon, Kindle, and assorted Internet outlets as well as through bookstores around the country.    You can view Minstrel’s Alley at www.minstrelsalley.com

Minstrel’s Alley Announces Rising Kindle Sales for Beautiful Bad Girl

Mar 25, 2010 - 7:07 am


Beautiful Bad Girl CoverMarch 23, 2010 (FPRC) — (Los Angeles) Minstrel’s Alley announced rising Ebook sales through Kindle for the recently acquired, ‘Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story.’ The book documents the tempestuous affair during the Ronald Reagan Presidential Administration between department store scion, Alfred Bloomingdale, and his long time mistress, Vicki Morgan. The non-fiction novel is told as a first person narrative through the eyes of author, Gordon Basichis, who worked on the book with Morgan, until she was murdered in 1983.

‘We are pleasantly surprised by the Kindle sales of ‘Beautiful Bad Girl,’ said M.J. Hammond, president of independent publisher and media company, Minstrel’s Alley. ‘We acquired the Beautiful Bad Girl, knowing that its trade paperback sales have proved enduring for many years. It is a controversial book dealing with a major sex scandal that Reagan administration back in the eighties. It helped define exotic and obsessive sex practices of the late twentieth century.

‘Beautiful Bad Girl has enjoyed brisk sales from the day we first launched the Ebook version through Kindle. We will soon be launching it through Barnes and Noble’s nook, Sony Reader and Apple’s iPad. No matter what a reader’s preference, Beautiful Bad Girl will be accessible for downloads.’

Hammond noted that Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story was first published in 1985 by Santa Barbara Press. At that time, the political and social climate of the times did not fully allow for it to achieve its rightful place as a best seller. ‘It was put back into print as a trade paperback in 2000, when Basichis and iUniverse published it as part of the Author’s Guild ‘Back in Print’ program.

‘The book sold steadily all these years. For a dozen year the audio version was distributed by Books on Tape, where it was one of their featured books.’

Minstrel’s Alley recently published ‘The Guys Who Spied for China,’ its first publishing effort. ‘The Guys Who Spied for China,’ also written by Gordon Basichis, is based on his real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States in the eighties and nineties. Basichis is now the Co-Founder of Corra Group, which specializes in background checks and corporate research and investigation.

‘We are encouraged by the sales as both a trade paperback and through Kindle on ‘The Guys Who Spied for China,’ said Hammond. ‘The book is getting great reviews and the recent CBS 60 Minutes segment on Chinese Espionage has appeared to have boosted sales even more.

M.J. Hammond is a former entertainment industry executive who founded Minstrel’s Alley to publish popular books not found in mainstream publishing.

‘Mainstream publishing has its purpose,’ said Hammond. But the industry’s focus on celebrity and genre based books has left readers wanting. We hope to help bring a sense of adventure back to books and publishing.’

Minstrel’s Alley Acquires Kindle Book Rights to Beautiful Bad Girl

Mar 2, 2010 - 3:53 am


Beautiful3(Los Angeles) Minstrel’s Alley has just acquired the Kindle EBook Publishing rights to “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story.”   The book documents the tempestuous affair during the Ronald Reagan Presidential Administration between department store scion, Alfred Bloomingdale, and his long time mistress, Vicki Morgan.   The non-fiction novel is told as a first person narrative through the eyes of author, Gordon Basichis, who worked on the book with Morgan, until she was murdered in 1983.

“We are delighted to be offering “Beautiful Bad Girl,” in a Kindle, ebook version,” said M.J. Hammond, president of independent publisher and media company, Minstrel’s Alley.    “This book has created a lot of controversy over the years, as it delves into the obsessive nature of this major sex scandal that helped define sexual and social mores during the Reagan era and late twentieth century.”

“The book sold well when it was first published in 1985 by Santa Barbara Press, but the political and social climate of the times did not fully allow for it to achieve its rightful place as a best seller.   “It was put back into print as a trade paperback in 2000, when Basichis and  iUniverse published it as part of the Author’s Guild “Back in Print” program.

“The book sold steadily all these years and for ten years was distributed by Books on Tape, where it was one of their featured books.”

Hammond maintained that the steady flow of sales in trade paperback inspired Minstrel’s Alley to acquire the E-rights to the book and publish it through Kindle and, eventually, through other electronic books forms, including the Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple’s  iBooks.

Minstrel’s Alley recently published “The Guys Who Spied for China,” its first publishing effort.  “The Guys Who Spied for China,” also written by Gordon Basichis, is based on his real life experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks operating in the United States in the eighties and nineties.   Basichis is now the Co-Founder of Corra Group, which specializes in background checks and corporate research and investigation.

“We are encouraged by the sales as both a trade paperback and through Kindle on “The Guys Who Spied for China,” said Hammond.   “The book is getting great reviews and the recent CBS 60 Minutes segment on Chinese Espionage has appeared to have boosted sales even more.

M.J. Hammond is a former entertainment industry executive who founded Minstrel’s Alley to publish popular books not found in mainstream publishing.

“Mainstream publishing has its purpose,” said Hammond.  But the industry’s focus on celebrity and genre based books has left readers wanting.  We hope to help bring a sense of adventure back to books and publishing.”

Background: Minstrel’s Alley is a Los Angeles based independent publisher that seeks to bring adventure back into the publishing industry by publishing books that have popular appeal but with more complexity than the standard mainstream fare.   The new publishing group distributes its books through Amazon, Kindle, and assorted Internet outlets as well as through bookstores around the country.    You can view Minstrel’s Alley at www.minstrelsalley.com

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