Via Jenny D. of Light Reading, I heard about a book that sounds excellent, Black & White, by Lewis Shiner. Black & White, which was on several "best crime fiction for 2008" lists including the LA Times, is published by Subterranean Press (2008, 2009) and as well as being a print book is available for free as a PDF at the Fiction Liberation Front site (direct link to the PDF is at the author's website). According to Jenny, the transfer into Kindle format is very easy. There is also a link to an audio-interview, and many reviews and quotes about the novel. Plot summary:
"When Michael follows his dying father to North Carolina, a lifetime of lies begins to unravel. His pursuit of his father's past–haunted by voodoo, adultery and murder–takes him to a place called Hayti, once the most prosperous black community in the South. Now the mysteries of Michael's own heritage become a matter of life and death, as racial conflicts barely restrained since the 1960s erupt again. Rooted in the true story of the US government's urban renewal policy and its disastrous aftermath, Black & White is a literary thriller, a family saga, and a searing portrait of institutionalized hatred."
Lewis Shiner's autobiography is absolutely fascinating, both as a story of a life and an account of how he learnt to write.
I believed that plotting was my biggest weakness, so I read Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald in the evenings and tried my hand at some mystery short stories. One of the first was called "Buyin' My Heartaches a Beer," about a construction worker who gets framed for his wife's murder. I got a nice long rejection letter from ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE for that one, and though I never did sell them anything, it was the first personal response I ever got on a story and it made me think I was on the right track. I followed it up with "Deep Without Pity," featuring an Austin private eye named Dan Sloane. At the time nobody had done a private eye who was a Vietnam vet, and I had dreams that he would catch on and I could do a series of novels about him.
Less than a month later my first Dan Sloane story, "Deep Without Pity," sold to the new MYSTERY MONTHLY, and for the first time I dared to think of myself as a real, honest-to-god writer. Unfortunately, I was premature again. The editor at GALILEO was "dismayed" with the rewrite I did for him, and I went a year and a half without knowing (or really much caring) if the story was going to be published at all. MYSTERY MONTHLY folded the month before my story was scheduled to come out. It was another three years before my next sale, when SHAYOL, a semi-professional magazine out of Kansas City, finally bought "Kings of the Afternoon."
There is lots more fascinating stuff about the author's path as a SF, fantasy or mystery writer, and here he explains why he now gives away his work for free (link via Jenny D).