Charlie Stella (www.charliestella.com) was born in 1956 in Manhattan, New York, and raised in Brooklyn. He started writing during his sophomore year at Minot State College in North Dakota when he met Dave Gresham, a friend and teacher that Charlie credits with “changing his life.”
Charlie started a family and finished college at night while working full-time as a window cleaner in New York. He taught himself how to type and worked as a word processor while learning the ins and outs of New York’s “street life.”
Charlie worked and lived in these two worlds for the next 18 years during which he had three plays produced off-off Broadway.
Charlie’s first two novels, Eddie’s World and Jimmy Bench-Press , received excellent reviews, establishing him as a new voice in the hard-boiled fiction market. His third novel, Charlie Opera , had the distinction of being selected as one of the Best of 2003 (Mystery) by Publishers Weekly. Cheapskatessearned him comparisons to such literary greats Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake and Mario Puzo.
Currently residing in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, Charlie continues to write about the lifestyle of the small-time operators who drive the big machinery of organized crime.
Spiked with rare authenticity and crackling dialogue, Stella’s world is a kaleidoscope of danger, violence, humor and sometimes love.
It’s the summer of 1973. Disco is King and the New York mob is at the peak of its power.
John Albano, an out-of-work construction worker with child support and rent payments he can’t keep up with, is driving for a local car service when his quick hands and honorable nature place him in the middle of a perfect storm of danger. He’s just trying to make ends meet with a weekend stint counting heads and collecting the take at illegal screenings of the recently banned porno film, Deep Throat, for Mafioso Eddie Vento.
But a devious ex-wife, her more devious ex-husband, the wiseguys behind the film (including one obnoxious wannabe with a frenzied beef for Albano), the Fleetwood Eldorado used in the opening scene of the porno film and a host of cops (both good and bad—including the deranged one Albano punched out) snowball into an often humorous, sometimes violent, action-packed page turner loaded with the masterful dialogue that earned Charlie Stella six *starred* reviews and countless comparisons to such masters of the genre as George V. Higgins, Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard and Mario Puzo over the course of his six contemporary crime novels.
World rights available ex: English N/A (Stark House Press), Russia (Centrepolygraph), Poland (ZYSK I S-KA, S.J. )
Praise for JOHNNY PORNO
Don’t be fooled by the title – it’s just a gangster moniker. Elmore Leonard fans are going to love Stella’s entirely original contribution to the slice-of-criminal-life genre, down-and-dirty division. This is the seventh novel from Stella who has made the underside of the New-York underworld his home. Booklist
Combine equal parts Mario Puzo and Elmore Leonard, throw in a dash of George V. Higgins and a pinch of Donald E. Westlake and who do you get? Charlie Stella, that’s who. San Diego Union Tribune
Set in New York City in 1973, Stella’s vibrant seventh crime novel catches the cadence and daily grind of organized crime grunts … Stella tosses an eclectic cast of characters into the mix … admirers of Elmore Leonard and George V. Higgins will be happy. Publishers Weekly
Mr. Stella is a natural. As soon as I finished Johnny Porno I gave the book to my son so we could both be wiser-guys. Now I’m going to find all his other novels. He’s a true master. Dow Mossman, author of The Stones of Summer
This is a hell of a novel. Epic, yet human scale and so real and set in its time and the feel of the 1970s. Almost like one of those great 1970s crime films that somehow became lost and was just discovered. Yet it doesn’t have that embalmed or time-capsule feel so many historical novels lapse into. It’s wonderfully fresh and alive. Johnny Porno is just audacious and great and transcendent… Craig McDonald, author fo Head Games and Print the Legend
Johnny Porno is a terrific Nixon Era crime caper reminiscent of Elmore Leonard. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and violence, and stars a seemingly hapless chump struggling to survive in a cesspool. With the fun look at pop culture in circa 1973 enhancing the plot, readers, especially boomers, will enjoy Johnny Porno’s New York joy ride. Harriet Klausner, The Mystery Gazette
This has all the trappings of classic Stella – decent guys, wise guys of various standing in the mob, good/dirty cops, but most importantly, dialogue that makes you want to stand up and beg for more. Through Stella, you can practically smell the garlic on the breath of the wiseguys trying to intimidate, strain to hear cops jerking each other around through hot dog stuffed faces, wince at the lunacy of an ex-wife going off the deep end, and nod approvingly when someone does a decent thing for Johnny. Why Stella’s books aren’t flying off the main table at the front door of Barnes/Noble and Borders is, in itself, a crime. East Coast Don, Men Reading Books
Praise for other novels by Charlie Stella
Set in New York City in 1973, Stella’s vibrant seventh crime novel (Johnny Porno) catches the cadence and daily grind of organized crime grunts … Stella tosses an eclectic cast of characters into the mix … admirers of Elmore Leonard and George V. Higgins will be happy. Publishers Weekly
Johnny Porno is a terrific Nixon Era crime caper reminiscent of Elmore Leonard. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and violence, and stars a seemingly hapless chump struggling to survive in a cesspool. With the fun look at pop culture in circa 1973 enhancing the plot, readers, especially boomers, will enjoy Johnny Porno’s New York joy ride. Harriet Klausner, Genre Go Round Reviews
Fresh, fast and darkly-funny. A sure-footed debut from a writer with a spare, no-nonsense prose style who can make you like characters you think you shouldn’t. Kirkus *Starred* Review
This is Charlie Stella’s first novel. Readers may be reminded, in both style and substance, of George V. Higgins’ underworld thrillers, especially the classic “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.” The comparison is not odious; Stella stacks up well against the master. He plots cleverly, keeps his finger firmly on the suspense button and moves the action along briskly. He is also blessed with a gift for dialogue, likely springing from his experience as an off-Broadway playwright. San Diego Union Tribune
Stella moves confidently into territory staked out by Elmore Leonard … for fans of unrelenting underworld fiction … This solid follow-up to Eddie’s World should spread Stella’s name wider … Publishers Weekly
It’s even harder to be soft-hearted about the gangsters in Charlie Stella’s blood curdling, convincing “Jimmy Bench Press” … Stella is a kind of obscene Ring Lardner, finding a lean, rancid poetry in his characters’ vernacular, and rendering it with flawless precision and humor. Washington Post Book World
For his third brilliant crime novel, following Jimmy Bench-Press (2002)…Stella’s dialogue is electric and funny…This outing Stella offers us quite a few sympathetic characters, from Charlie and the cocktail waitress he’s falling for, to strong-arm men Francone and Lano. You actually feel sorry for the poor New York Mafioso, dropped in Las Vegas like sharks flipped into a pool of piranhas. Publishers Weekly *Starred* Review
“Stella is carving himself a niche in crime literature somewhere between the late Eugene Izzi’s street noir and Elmore Leonard’s ironic tragicomedies. Bottom line: it works. Stella is a rising star.” Booklist *Starred* Review
“Stella’s Goodfellas do their wild and crazy thing once more … the pace never slows, and you’ll like tough, tenderhearted Charlie a lot.” Kirkus Reviews
“Combine Mario Puzo and Elmore Leonard, add a dash of George V. Higgins and what do you get? Charlie Stella, that’s what. His flamboyant characters, violent action and picturesque dialogue place his work among the best of underworld thrillers, past and present.” San Diego Union Tribune
“It takes a finely tuned ear to write dialogue that rings true, and Stella (Charlie Opera , etc.) has it. With his hapless crooks and wry humor, he belongs in line behind Elmore Leonard and Donald E. Westlake… Readers will eagerly await the next book from this talented author.” Publishers Weekly
Stella writes with intelligence and wit, infusing his stories with the reality of the streets and a sly sense of humor. He might just be the best crime writer you’ve never read.” Chicago Sun Times