"With the Near-Death Experiment Glassman has introduced a unique voice to the choir that sings the Florida mystery novel," Albuquerque Journal.

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Floridaís own special literary genre, full to the brim with the down and dirty, bizarrely populated, weird and wonderful world of trailer parks, seedy motels, motorcycle mamas, and tattered remnants of Old South aristocracy, needs to shuffle over a notch to make room for another contender for the Trash Tiara. Steve Glassmanís new suspense-mystery thriller," The Near Death Experiment," has it all, Tampa Tribune.

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A thriller of "cinematic venues and frantic action," Library Journal.

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"Glassmanís characters are as darkly wacked-out as those of Charles Willeford and what goes on inside their lives makes a Hiaasen plot seem tame. The real triumph though is Glassmanís ability to bring humanity to all these goings-on," Florida Today.

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Just when you think you've read all there is to read about corporate corruption, Florida style, along comes a crime novel with a fresh look at yet another version of sin in the Sunshine State. There are some rough edges here, but it's that Charles Willeford kind of roughness that somehow contributes to a sense of pulpy, no-frills reality. The orange-industry plot proves appropriately juicy, and as a zesty bonus, Glassman delivers some top-notch villains, a bent bunch of misfits from a dysfunctional family that suggests General Sternwood and his daughters in The Big Sleep, Booklist.

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Glassman, with his first novel in that gritty, violent PI tradition, is beginning what looks to be a very promising career. For readers who want a tour through the dark side of modern detective fiction, this novel clearly illuminates the way, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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"Steve Glassman introduces readers to librarian Melba T. Appleyard in his new hard, fast-paced thriller The Near Death Experiment, a novel full of strong, memorable characters," Florida Libraries.

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". . . a tale of product tampering for fun and profit. The plot moves faster than a gator after a poodle," Orlando Arts Magazine.

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"The Near Death Experiment is a compilation of crime, compulsion, copulation, comedy, and consequence. Filled with violence and valor, fornication and faith, the book pummels the emotions-truly a fun read," Midwest Book Review.

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Raymond Chandler meets Jerry Bruckheimer would be an apt Hollywood pitch for Steve Glassman's detective novel, The Near Death Experiment." Edís Internet Book Review.

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Steve Glassman has created a hilarious rotten-orange-kicking romp that keeps the reader turning the pages at breakneck speed ó faster than Deputy Sheriff Hank Smith can burn down a bikerís chemistry lab, faster than Sheriff Shelby Buckett can fisheye everyone in the room, and faster than Melba can wash out her panties. Upside down and round and round, it seems like everybody keeps bumping into everyone. After a couple of dozen pages it becomes addictive ó maybe even transforming." Orchardpress.com.

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Glassman offers an intriguing look inside the Florida citrus community and the politics behind it. THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIMENT is engrossing and well written, Myshelf.

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In The Near Death Experiment, Edgar-nominee Steve Glassman (Blood on the Moon) entangles Bru in a messy string of crimes, including a secret from his past and several attempts on his life, at the same time that his wife leaves him for his best friend, and a ruthless, drug-addicted heiress tries to seduce him at every turn, Publisherís Weekly.

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Fast and clever. The Near Death Experiment starts out strong like a hurricane and never seems to calm. Glassman spins out a tropical mystery incorporating a well-contrived conspiracy. Full of witty dialogue, descriptive and fast-flowing narrative, The Near Death Experiment is a Florida-hot mystery, The Book Browser.

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The Near Death Experiment certainly pays homage to the rock hard-boiled detective novel, but it does more than follow a blueprint. Glassman tosses into the mix a startling life-after-death sequence and a series of bizarrely hot-and-bothered women. And of course, we learn plenty about the orange juice industry, from grove-obliterating diseases and behind-the-scenes virus machinations by juice magnates to that stuff you blithely pour into your glass every morning, Crescent Blues.

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Glassman, Steve. The Near Death Experiment. 2001. 265p. Tropical; dist. by Seven Hills, paper, $16.95 (0-9666173-7-1). Booklist

Just when you think you've read all there is to read about corporate corruption, Florida style, along comes a small-press crime novel with a fresh look at yet another version of sin in the Sunshine State. Rupert "Bru" Bruton, a biologist recently fired under mysterious circumstances from a south Florida college, takes a research job with a multimillionaire in which he is asked to prove that a certain substance in orange-juice containers is harmless. What Bru doesn't know-but eventually figures out-is that he's the fall guy in an elaborate and deadly scam aimed at controlling orange-juice stock. There are some rough edges here, but it's that Charles Willeford kind of roughness that somehow contributes to a sense of pulpy, no-frills reality. The orange-industry plot proves appropriately juicy, and as a zesty bonus, Glassman delivers some top-notch villains, a bent bunch of misfits from a dysfunctional family that suggests General Sternwood and his daughters in The Big Sleep. -Bill Ott

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Mystery column

Bruce Southworth

Special to the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Published Nov 14 2001

Two intensely hard-boiled novels offer glimpses of the underbelly of society even among the very richest individuals. The protagonists in both, ensnared almost unwittingly, must get down and dirty to restore balance and order to their worlds.

Gone South

In "The Final Country" by James Crumley (Mysterious Press, 310 pages, $24.95), Milo Milodragovitch, Crumley's rugged and often violent PI, returns after five years, when he last teamed withC.W. Sughrue, in "Bordersnakes." Relocated from Montana to Texas, Milo owns a bar and is in a relationship that also has gone south. Boredom spurs the aging Milo to return to detecting. ("Mostly pissant jobs no self-respecting private investigator would take.") By chance, he stumbles into a complicated case of murder and corruption that almost kills him.

When ex-con and drug dealer Enos Walker (not "any larger than a church or any more incongruous than a nun with a beard") kills the owner of a local dive and then disappears, Milo is convinced the killing was self-defense and hopes to find Walker and bring him in. The cops want Milo to find Walker too, but they want to hit Walker with a murder one charge.

Shortly thereafter, a woman comes to Milo with the tale of her raped and murdered sister and tells him her plans to confront the man who did it. She wants Milo at the meeting for protection. But during a skirmish at the rendezvous, the man is killed and the mysterious woman vanishes. The man was not a killer it turns out, but a local cop and the brother of the district attorney. And he was carrying the gun belonging to Milo's ladylove.

James Crumley has turned out only five detective novels since 1975. He is renowned for his dense, action packed plots and violent, cynical yet justice-seeking protagonists, and "The Final Country" is no exception.

It's in the OJ

Steve Glassman, editor of a study of Florida crime fiction, has turned his hand to writing his own noir novel, "The Near Death Experiment" (Tropical Press, Inc., 265 pages, $16.95.), set in the Sunshine State. Microbiologist Bru Bruton's life is at its lowest ebb. His daughter has died, he's been dismissed from his college teaching position and his wife has left him for his best friend.

Bru takes on a contract offered by Billy Goins, one of the richest men in the world, to prove that a chemical found in plastic orange juice containers is non-toxic. The chemical is suspected of causing an epidemic illness in young children. Made suspicious by the offer of a large bonus if his report is what Goins wants, Bru is also suspicious that there might be a connection between his ouster from the college and Goins.

As the reader learns early, a quiet million-dollar donation from Goins did indeed buy Bru's dismissal. Further, Goins ("Mean as a snake, but a whole lot greedier"), is setting Bru up to take the fall if Goins' plan to corner the worldwide orange juice futures market fails. But Goins is confident declaring, "Nobody, but nobody, can beat a guy with three billion dollars in the legal system in this country."

This basic premise is soon complicated with more plots and conspiracies. Goins' beautiful, oversexed daughter, Elizabeth, and her accomplice, both residual followers of "primo-guru" Charles Manson, are out to eliminate her father and take over his fortune. Add a "kill crazy" sheriff's deputy with "a round face and Howdy Doody ears," and the danger and body count climb.

Any new work by Crumley, a major voice in the gritty, violent ' PI tradition, is always welcome. Glassman, with his first novel in that same tradition, is just beginning what looks to be a very promising career. Neither Crumley nor Glassman will be to everyone's taste. The characters are violent, vulgar, over-sexed and often drunk or stoned. But for readers who want a tour through the dark side of modern detective fiction, these two novels clearly illuminate the way.

-- Bruce Southworth lives in St. Paul and writes reviews for Publishers Weekly and Bookpage.

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Tampa Tribune, October 21, 2001

by Helen Parramore

The Near Death Experiment. By Steve Glassman. Tropical Press. 265 pages. $16.95.

 

A JUICY FLORIDA TALE

Floridaís own special literary genre, full to the brim with the down and dirty, bizarrely populated, weird and wonderful world of trailer parks, seedy motels, motorcycle mamas, and tattered remnants of Old South aristocracy, needs to shuffle over a notch to make room for another contender for the Trash Tiara. Steve Glassmanís new suspense-mystery thriller," The Near Death Experiment," has it all.

Set against the background of Floridaís orange juice industry, a host of wonderfully wacky characters scheme and plot their way to madness and mayhem, with the health and welfare of the nationís children hanging in the balance. A poison has been introduced to frozen concentrate. How? Why? For what ends? Rupert J. "Bru" Bruton, Ph.D., out of a job, out of a wife and home, down on his luck, driving a ten-year-old Fiesta, seems destined to be the one to solve the problem.

Glassman did his homework on the citrus industry, orange juice processing, and citrus diseases, especially citrus canker, to make this thriller interesting, informative and plausible. Itís quite as interesting to learn about the problems of our number one state product as it is to read about his zany characters all of whom are out to do their down-and-dirty darndest devilment. The central character, Bru, is an appealing old professor type with a girl-Friday character named Melba T. Appleyard, from Texas, who is more than competant. They make an interesting duo weíd like to meet again in a future novel. And the "bad guys"? Old Man Goins, multimillionaire citrus king and his schizophrenic daughter and air-head granddaughter start a list of many, each farther out than the others. They really seems too much until you pick up the newspapers and read about the real Florida, then they seem not unusual after all.

Glassman, a professor of English at Embry Riddle University in Daytona, has published other fiction and non-fiction books about Florida.. "Florida Noir" was a study a crime fiction writers in Florida, and "Blood on the Moon" was a historical novel set in the Seminole War period. He also did a critical study of Zora Neale Hurstonís works.

The Near Death Experiment is a romp for those readers who like fast paced excitement and a quick read where the bad guys lose and the good guys win-- but only after many brutal near misses--and love eventually conquers all.

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Unruly Central Florida by by G.K. Sharman, Orlando Arts Magazine, August-September 2001, 17.

As The Near Death Experiment begins, things are looking bad for Bru" Bruton, Ph.D, He has lost his daughter to a rare disease, his wife to an old rival from college and his teaching job at a Central Florida college, apparently out of the blue. You'd think things couldn't get much worse. You'd be wrong.

A sleazy billionaire hires him to write a report on the toxicity of a chemical in orange juice containers. Things are looking up for Bruton, right? Wrong again.

In "The Near Death Experiment," Steve Glassman spins a tale of product tampering for fun and profit. The plot moves faster than a gator after a poodle, keeping poor Bruton barely a step ahead of bad guys who'd like to turn him into pulp.

Like Bruton, Glassman is a professor. For nearly twenty years heís had a day job teaching English and writing at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. He's also an avid gumshoe fan and co-editor of two books about the dark heart of the Sunshine State: Florida Noir, which was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar in 1997, and the recently published Orange Pulp. He also coedited Zora in Florida, a look at the life and word of Zora Neale Hurston.

GLassmanís Central Florida is a wild, unruly, landscape thatís far, far from the calm confines of the well-known tourist attractions. It's a world of scoundrels, rogues, double-crossers, schemers, manipulators, SOBs, criminals, cheating spouses, lying politicians, brown-nosing bureaucrats and the occasional innocent victim. Hairy Harley-riders in town for Bike Week have a new game down at the Boot Hill Saloon: touching live wires to their tongues. On the streets, it pays to be wary of the local law.

O.J. aficionados will enjoy the behind-the-scenes peek at the citrus industry, both cultivation and processing. How Florida, and Central Florida in particular, came to be a juice powerhouse. How a plant disease wiped out small fruit producers. Why Valencias are sweeter than other varieties. How they really makethat frozen concentrated stuff. Youíll never look at a glass of orange juice the same way again.

A word of warning: some of the language is, ahem, blunt and provocative. But it is worth it to hang in there. Saying any more would give too much away.

G.K. Sharman is an Orlando freelance writer and amateur citrus grower. Her orange juice has never killed anyone, that she knows of.