Monday, 14 November 2016

OCTOBER 2016 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH

October's reading in summary. 

I kind of struggled in the month to concentrate on my reading which might explain why I watched so many films instead. A break towards the end of October with a few days away with my wife, saw me spending more time loitering in book shops and the book sections of charity shops than actually reading. Hopefully November sees an improvement.

Nick Triplow - Frank's Wild Years - best book in the month!

A bit of a stretch considering the length of some of these, but hey hoh - my blog, my rules - 11 books read in the month.

They were....

Andrew Nette - Gunshine State (2016) (4.5)

Nick Triplow - Frank's Wild Years (2012) (5)

Stephen Puleston - The Devil's Kitchen (2016) (3)

Aidan Thorn - Criminal Thoughts (2013) (4)

Eric Beetner - The Year I Died Seven Times Book 1 (2014) (4)

Garnett Elliott - The Drifter Detective: Volume 1 (2013) (4)

William Marshall - Yellowthread Street (1975) (4)

Martin Stanley - The Curious Case of the Missing Moolah (A Stanton Brothers thriller) (2014) (4.5)

K. A. LaityHard Boiled Witch: Toil & Trouble (Hard-Boiled Witch Book 2) (2014) (4)

K. A. Laity - Hard Boiled Witch: Charms O'erthrown (Hard-Boiled Witch Book 3) (2014) (4)

Adam Maxwell - The Defective Detective: Murder on the Links (2011) (3.5)

Book of the month - Nick Triplow - Frank's Wild Years - October's only 5 star read. 

2 x 4.5 stars - Andrew Nette and Martin Stanley. 
6 x 4 star ratings,
1 x 3.5 and 1 x 3 stars - another month where they all entertained me and nothing was a struggle to enjoy.

A bit more trivia or data........

10 different authors.

5 of the 10 were new-to-me authors........  Stephen Puleston, Aidan Thorn, Garnett Elliott, William Marshall, and Martin Stanley - I have more from all of them in the library.

5 authors have been read before - Andrew Nette and Nick Triplow have been read one time previously,  Eric Beetner has half a book credit to his name - I read Over Their Heads - a novel he co-authored with J.B. Kohl earlier this year. Third go for Adam Maxwell and fourth and fifth time around the block with K.A. Laity.

Gender analysis - no surprises here - 9 dudes, 1 lady - up on September! The lady was read twice.
Could do better Mr Keane.

3 authors hail from the US, 3 from England, 2 from Australia, 1 from Wales, 1 British (Welsh, Scottish or English but unconfirmed.)

All 11 reads were fiction.

1 was a paperback read, 10 were Kindle books.

10 from this decade - with 2 from this year. 1 book from the 1970s.

10 of the 11 books were pre-owned!
Though at a glance a few of them would have been Amazon Freebies when bought.

1 was received from the publisher 280 Steps via an early reviewing website - Edelweiss.

Favourite cover? Gunshine State - Andrew Nette




Garnett Elliott's The Drifter Detective is probably my second favourite cover.










My reads were this long 306 - 216 - 70 - 61 - 41 - 106 - 128 - 106 - 27 - 27 - 27
Total page count =  1115 (1789 in September)



4 < 50,
2 between 51 < 100,
3 between 101 < 200,
1 between 201 < 300,
1 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Andrew Nette's Gunshine State was the longest @ 306.







Sunday, 13 November 2016

GARNETT ELLIOTT - THE DRIFTER DETECTIVE: VOLUME 1 (2013)


Synopsis/blurb......

A DRIFTER DETECTIVE LONG SHORT STORY. #1. (Paperback and eBook include the bonus short story “Fighting Chance.” Paperback also contains a preview of Hell Up in Houston, the second book in the Drifter Detective series.) -- Jack Laramie, grandson of the legendary U.S. Marshal Cash Laramie, is a tough-as-nails WWII vet roaming the modern West. He lives out of a horse trailer hitched to the back of a DeSoto, searching out P.I. gigs to keep him afloat. With his car limping along, Jack barely makes it to the sleepy town of Clyde, Texas, where he stops at a garage. While waiting for repairs, he accepts a job from the sheriff, pulling surveillance on a local oilman allegedly running liquor to Indian reservations in Oklahoma. When Jack runs afoul of several locals and becomes dangerously close to the oilman’s hot-to-trot wife, he wonders if the money is worth his life.

A PI novella here with a difference. Instead of the gloomy office with the desk and the obligatory bottle in the bottom drawer, we have a travelling PI, Jack Laramie. Laramie is driving through Texas, trying to eke out a living picking up cases town to town. Our setting is post-WWII.

Arriving in Clyde, he lays up while his car receives some necessary repairs. A trip to the saloon, a drink with the sheriff and he has a new case. He's hired to keep watch on the comings and goings at an out-of-town ranch owned by a rancher turned oilman Thomas McFaull. The sheriff suspects McFaull of running illegal booze to an Indian reservation. A few days in and Laramie thinks he's been sold a pup.

An interesting story; we have a small town with the gossiping inhabitants, each with a whisper in the stranger's ear about the sheriff, there's obvious friction between him and his deputy which Laramie finds himself in the middle of. A couple of dames adding to the mix. Laramie is rooming at the boarding house run by the lonely widow woman, where a few night-time shenanigans occur,  and McFaull has an attractive buxom wife, one who is quite generous with her favours to a couple of the locals.

Great sense of time and place and a decent twist at the end. Elliott has created an intriguing character in Jack Laramie and drops just enough snippets about his history to make me want to read the next Drifter Detective tale and discover a bit more.

At the back of this 106 page e-book there's a great bonus story - Fighting Chance. A boxer gets slipped a mickey while celebrating his acquittal in a court case. He wakes up in the ring, where he has to fight for his life literally, his mob boss displeased at recent events.


Excellent reading fare - 4 from 5

Garnett Elliott has penned a few more Jack Laramie tales, some of which I have on the kindle. There's eight in the series so far with three of them penned by other authors. BEAT TO A PULP is the publisher.

I can't find an author website, but he's on Twitter@TonyAmtrak


Read in October, 2016.
Bought a year or two ago for Kindle.
106 pages









Saturday, 12 November 2016

ADAM MAXWELL - THE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVE: MURDER ON THE LINKS (2011)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Clint had woken up in some strange places in his time. Narcolepsy is like that. But even he had never woken up on a golf course next to a dead body. Until today.

When one of his friends reveals himself to be a detective Clint jumps at the chance to tag along. But his friend is an idiot. And the police are beginning to suspect that he was involved. The identity of the killer seems obvious but can Clint get to the bottom of the mystery and save his own skin before the stag party catches him?

Murder. Intrigue. Alcohol. Detectives. Clues. Golf. Laxatives. What else do you need?

Another short story/book to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Best story ever? No but I do like Adam Maxwell's entertaining writing style.

We have our man Clint, a narcoleptic plotting revenge on a group of friends on a stag do - a bit of schoolboy humour and a prank with some strong laxatives. All goes to plan, but fast forward and Clint wakes up in a bunker on the golf course next to a corpse.

The police fancy him for the murder, but with some questioning of the witnesses in the vicinity, some applied logic and a bit of luck Clint can clear himself........always assuming he can stay awake long enough.

A couple of lines I really liked.....

Waking up in public with subtlety is something that's difficult to achieve.

It's amazing how much information you can glean from an idiot with a personality bypass.

3.5 from 5

I've read Adam Maxwell previously - Dial M for Monkey (short stories) and his novel The Dali Deception.

Adam has his website here. He's on Twitter - @LostBookshop


Read in October, 2016
Copy received from author after a sign-up on his blog/website
Kindle read - 27 pages.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

K. A. LAITY - HARD-BOILED WITCH: TOIL AND TROUBLE (BOOK 2) (2014)


Synopsis/blurb......

Hecate Sidlaw finds herself caught between a wannabe witch and one of the oldest hereditary powers in the land. When she and her familiar Henry end up as seconds in a magical duel, will anyone be left standing at the end of the shootout? Enter the dark streets and weird magic of HARD-BOILED WITCH and your life will never be quite the same. This is the second episode in the short story series.

In truth, not a book that will live long in the memory but you know what - it was short, (27 pages), it was seasonal - I read it around Halloween, it had witches and it was a lot shorter than Rowling's HP offerings.


Hecate's working away, her new neighbours turn up and introduce themselves. They're interrupted by the arrival of a young woman done up in her best Stevie Nicks clobber. A young witch is being harassed - drum roll please - Hecate Sidlaw and her cat Henry to the rescue.

Spells turning cobwebs into intruder alarms, pin-sticking magic in beeswax figurines, protection charms and a silent toad called Elvis, we climax with some duelling witches and a granny riding to the rescue.

An enjoyable half-hour or so's reading. A few cultural references, a bit of history and a bit of humour interjected into a narrative fuelled by an over-active imagination.

4 from 5

I read the first in the series of short Hard-Boiled Witch tales - Hocus Pocus You're Dead last year.

K. A Laity has her website here. Catch her on Twitter - @katelaity

An author I'll be reading more from in the future.

Read in October, 2016
Bought on Amazon for Kindle.
27 pages.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

2014/2015/2016 READING CHALLENGE - DOWN UNDER - AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND


Well nearly three years down the road, I've managed to complete an arbitrary sidebar challenge for myself - 12 books from Down Under, though I managed 13 all in all. 

I've neglected and totally ignored New Zealand. Maybe I ought to challenge myself again to read a dozen just from NZ!

And the observant among you will notice I've managed to ignore women totally as well - no female authors in sight!

The 13 were......

William Marshall - Yellowthread Street (1975) (4)

Andrew Nette - Gunshine State (2016) (4.5)

Iain Ryan - Drainland (2016) (4.5)

Dave Warner - City of Light (1995) (4)

Iain Ryan - Four Days (2015) (4.5)

Kenneth Cook - Fear is the Rider (2016) (4.5)

Garry Disher - The Heat (2015) (5)

David Whish-Wilson - Line of Sight (2010) (5)

Peter Temple - Ithaca In My Mind (2012) (4.5)

Brian Stoddart - The Pallampur Predicament (2014) (4)

Brian Stoddart - A Madras Miasma (2014) (5)

Peter Robb (AKA) B. Selkie - No Sweat (AKA Final Cut) (AKA 1/3 of Pig's Blood and Other Fluids) (1995) (3)

or

Peter Robb - Pig's Blood and Other Fluids (Maybe) (1999) (3)

Garry Disher - Two Way Cut (2004) (3)

Re-visiting the original review posts to compile the links for this, I think I've confused myself again over the Peter Robb - B. Selkie - Pig's Blood Other Fluids - No Sweat - Final Cut - Lime Juice saga..oh well. 

Of the batch above - two were set in British Colonial India and one in Hong Kong the rest were all in Australia.

I had hoped to read some Peter Corris, some Robert G. Barrett and a bit of P. M. Newton but they'll all keep for another day. Ditto David Owen and Paul Thomas and Ray Berard.

Rest of the covers below.......













Monday, 7 November 2016

WILLIAM MARSHALL - YELLOWTHREAD STREET (1975)


Synopsis/blurb.....

The first in Marshall's unforgettable, classic series of police procedurals - suspenseful and hilarious in equal measure.

Yellowthread Street is the sort of place that breeds more crime than any cops can handle.

Among the gangsters and the goldsmiths of Hong Bay, Chief Inspector Feiffer and his police department had their hands full . . . tourist troubles, a US sailor turned stick-up artist, and the jealous Chinese who solved his marital difficulties with an axe.

Then the Mongolian with a kukri brought an extra touch of terror to the district . . .

Yellowthread Street brings to vivid life a seamy world where people called Osaka Oniki the Disemboweller, Shotgun Sen and The Chopper feel at home, a world of surreal possibility recorded with unique humour and a poignant sense of humanity.

Praise for the Yellowthread Street series –

“Marshall has the rare gift of juggling scary suspense and wild humor and making them both work.” – Washington Post Book World

“Marshall’s style – blending the hilarious, the surreal, and the poignant – remains inimitable and not easily resisted.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Marshall has few peers as an author who melds the wildest comedy and tragedy in narratives of nonstop action.” – Publishers Weekly

A series opener from Australian born author William Marshall, Yellowthread Street was originally published back in 1975. Set in British controlled Hong Kong it was followed by 15 more books with the last To the End coming out in 1998, the year after the British Handover to the Chinese took place.

At first I found Marshall's writing style quite confusing and had to re-read the first couple of pages several times to see whether I had missed something in respect of our opening crime scene. I soon settled into the book.

It kind of reminded me of an episode of  Hill Street Blues as we have more than one crime occurring and a team of officers dipping in and out of the narrative each following their own particular case.
There are seven or eight police officers in the team at Yellowthread Street police station. In the course of the book we get to know them a bit better, understand their rivalries and get a slight feel for their lives outside the job with a couple of them.

We have a double murder with an axe, a stake-out at a cinema which was previously held up by a US sailor when his ship last docked at the port, a report of a missing American tourist by his wife, the aforementioned missing American tourist getting drunk and out of control at a bar and finding himself arrested for attempted rape and a Mongolian extortionist removing fingers, hands and ears with a ceremonial Nepalese knife. Oh and one of his victims also steals a wheelchair from the hospital where she was treated. Plus the Chinese have turned the water supply off again.

All in 128 pages - so it's non-stop busy.
  
Enjoyable without being the best book ever and its definitely a series and a set of characters I'll be interested in returning to, which is probably just as well as I bought the first ten in the series blind.

Plenty of humour in the narrative, especially in the scenes between the cinema owner and the detective working the ticket booth on the stakeout. He gets continually harangued for allowing customers to access dearer seats at cheaper prices. Little touches like that which add to the enjoyment of the book.

Overall 4 from 5.

William Marshall has penned another eight books outside this series. I can't find a website for him, but according to Fantastic Fiction he is still with us. There a Wikipedia page for him here.

Read in October, 2016
Paperback copy bought secondhand a couple of years ago.
Page count - 128.