Zero Avenue by Dietrich Kalteis, ECW Press

Zero Avenue: A Crime Novel

Kalteis, Dietrich

  • “If you like your crime hard and fast, Kalteis is for you.” — The Globe and Mail

    Set to the cranking beat and amphetamine buzz of Vancouver’s early punk scene, Zero Avenue follows Frankie Del Rey, a talented and rising punk star who runs just enough dope on the side to pay the bills and keep her band, Waves of Nausea, together. The trouble is she’s running it for Marty Sayles, a powerful drug dealer who controls the Eastside with a fist.

    When Frankie strikes up a relationship with Johnny Falco, the owner of one of the only Vancouver clubs willing to give punk a chance, she finds out he’s having his own money problems just keeping Falco’s Nest open. Desperate to keep his club, Johnny raids one of the pot fields Marty Sayles has growing out past Surrey, along Zero Avenue on the U.S. border. He gets away with a pickup load and pays back everybody he owes. Arnie Binz, bass player for Waves of Nausea, finds out about it and decides that was easy enough. But he gets caught by Marty’s crew.

    Johnny and Frankie set out to find the missing Arnie, but Marty Sayles is pissed and looking for who ripped off his other field — a trail that leads to Johnny and Frankie.


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  • Dietrich Kalteis’s debut novel Ride the Lightning won an Independent Publishers Award and was hailed as one of the best Vancouver crime novels. More than 40 of his short stories have been published internationally. He lives with his family in Vancouver, B.C.

  • Published: October 2017

    ISBN: 9781770413658

    Dimensions: 5 x 7.75 in.

    Pages: 232


“I urge you to take a ride down Zero Avenue in the Zambezi green Karmann Ghia with Frankie and her punk cohorts — you will not be disappointed! The early Canadian punk scene in Vancouver is written with such vivid tang it makes me wish I’d been there — only I wouldn’t have survived! Zero Avenue is written with Kalteis’ characteristic snappy style, with wise-cracking characters scoring sucker punches fuelled by adrenalin and delicious chunks of hash. This book is peppered with verve and great secondary characters — Rita is one of my faves — all in all, Zero Avenue is a treat!” — Lisa de Nikolitis, award winning author of The Nearly Girl, Between the Cracks She Fell, The Witchdoctor’s Bones, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, and The Hungry Mirror

“Dietrich Kalteis does a brilliant job melding crime fiction with early punk rock history in Zero Avenue, and rocks the story off the page. The cast of characters are authentic and believable, especially his beautifully tough female protagonist, Frankie, who can spit on me anytime. This is punk noir, folks!” — David Swinson, author of The Second Girl

“If punk rock noir isn’t a genre, Dietrich Kalteis just invented it. And if it is a genre, then he just raised the stakes. Not unlike the name of his heroine, Frankie’s, band, Zero Avenue is a big middle finger to the establishment, expertly capturing a movement and moment in time that burned bright in its nihilism and fought fierce for its freedom. But that isn’t what makes Zero Avenue so special. Anyone can rage against the machine. What Kalteis manages, in the middle of all the drugs, sex, and general debauchery, is to display an unwavering, expert command of the art of storytelling. In this delicately violent portrait of the outsider, Kalteis infuses in each and every character, however repulsive and suspect, an undeniable humanity.” — Joe Clifford, author of the Jay Porter Thriller Series

“References to actual singers and bands, such as Joey “Shithead” Keithley of D.O.A., will resonate with those who came of age in the late ’70s, and if a literary prize existed for depicting the most offensive club lavatories, this novel would win it hands down.” — Publishers Weekly

“Another absolute belter from Canadian author Dietrich Kalteis... I don’t think there was a dull sentence or paragraph in the book, pedal to metal, a flat-out adrenaline fuelled read.” — Col’s Criminal Library

“From the get go, this book will light up readers feeling nostalgic for Vancouver's punk scene of the 1970s . . . Fast, funny, profane and a pleasure to read.” – Toronto Star

“Kalteis' affection for this time and place permeates every line, and his writer's delight is palpable, even during small moments like a drive across town.” – Scene Magazine

“I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It has the rare perfect blend of era, style and ambiance combined with dialog so spot on that you hear the voices in your head.” — Crime Syndicate Magazine

Zero Avenue is a hardnosed, gritty, grimy, and utterly believable recreation of the sinister underbelly of the late ’70s, punchy in both word and deed . . . Like a rock performance, this novel starts off hot, allows for rising crescendos and momentary lulls to catch your breath before launching into the next song at breakneck speed.”  — Seattle Book Review

Zero Avenue hits you punk rock hard and fast. No wasted words, visceral and brutal like being in the pit, this one will leave your ears ringing and you asking for more from Dietrich Kalteis. It's the punk rock crime novel I wish I'd written.” — Eric Beetner, author of Rumrunners and The Devil Doesn't Want Me

“Who wouldn't want to read a ripping and rocking crime yarn set in the early days of Vancouver’s punk scene? A hard-nosed dope dealer, a desperate club owner, and a copycat bass player take our heroine (not to be confused with heroin) on one wild ride. Bravo! I couldn't put this book down.” — Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour

“Kalteis paints a down-and-dirty picture of a punk-rock scene fueled by drugs and marred by violence but buoyed by a heroine with plenty of faults and a grim determination to succeed.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Kalteis, who is rapidly becoming one of Canada’s top modern crime writers, follows his previous successes with another snarling, fist-swinging, gangland drug tale that is bristling with ambition, desire, hate and brutality.” — Lancashire Post

“I can vouch not just for its authenticity of time, place, and milieu, but its strength of voice, character, plot and atmosphere...Dieter writes in the classically clipped mode of writers like Elmore Leonard, James M. Cain, and Dashiell Hammet, eschewing flowery style in favor or terse, hardboiled, compulsively readable prose that sounds like savagely succinct poetry, much like punk rock itself.” — Digital Media Ghost

“There is a graceful muscularity to his writing. And a sparseness that reminds one of jazz, as well . . . The book is tight and rich and as hard to pin down as smoke. If you love noir, you’ll love Zero Avenue. Simply as good as it gets.” – The Rap Sheet

“Dietrich Kalteis has a riveting way of capturing the heart and grit of his outlaw characters . . . His prose hits as hard and fast as Zeke Chamas with his blackjack . . . One hell of a read.” — The Ottawa Review of Books

“Kalteis’ Zero Avenue is a furious rush of drugs, crimes, and punk music.” — Unlawful Acts