Sunday, 30 November 2014

STEPHEN SOLOMITA - THE STRIVER


Synopsis/blurb….

A young and ambitious New York gangster; two dedicated New York detectives. The city just isn't big enough for them all . . .

Teddy Winuk has it all going on. He's young, ambitious, dedicated, ruthless and blessed with enough energy to fuel a crew twice the size of the one he's assembled. Teddy has a game plan, too, a marketing strategy worthy of the financier he once aspired to be. New York City is home to more than three million immigrants from all over the world. Naturally, a small percentage is in need of the drugs and the loans he's prepared to supply. All he needs to do is reach out to them through a network of junior partners drawn from those very communities.

Yes, Teddy Winuk is on his way up, yet like all entrepreneurs, there are hurdles to overcome. Two especially, in Teddy's case. First, the John Pianetta crime family and the tax they impose on the profits of ambitious criminals like Teddy. Second, a pair of New York detectives named Boots Littlewood and Crazy Jill Kelly. Funny thing about Jill and Boots. They just won't give up.

My second outing with this author having read his Monkey in the Middle back before I began the blog. I’m scratching my head wondering why I’ve kind of forgotten about him and if not for this one popping up on Net Galley, he might have remained that way. (I’d probably have remembered at some point as I do have a few of his early books with Stanley Moodrow on the unlogged mountain of books I’m sorting.)

New York, an Italian mob family, an up and coming hood, a rape in progress, a murder, an investigation, a couple of cops with a personal history, our rape victim and her surprising efforts at evening the score, our murder victim’s crime lord father and the threat the death poses to his reputation and empire, his own ill-conceived inquiries into the slaying of his son, pimps, prostitution, gambling, drugs, police politics, a touch of romance......

Character, setting, pace, plot and action are all present in abundance. It’s interesting how Solomita creates engaging and likeable characters that are operating on both sides of the law and that you know inevitably are going to end up butting heads come the end of the book. It’s like he’s playing with the reader.

Solomita in addition to the action and inevitable violence touches on stronger themes where we consider family, church, neighbourhood, community, friendship and love in addition to money, power and ambition.

A fantastic story with a satisfying outcome; another top rated read for this month.

5 from 5

I’m looking forward to more from this author in the future. Solomita's website is here.

Acquired on Net Galley

Saturday, 29 November 2014

KEITH NIXON - RUSSIAN ROULETTE

Synopsis/blurb…..
Meet Konstantin Boryakov, the enigmatic ex-KGB agent and tramp from the best-selling debut novel, The Fix. He’s a man with a dark history and darker future. 

Trouble has a habit of seeking out Konstantin, whether he wants it or not. Starting with small time drug dealer Dave the Rave from the moment he arrives in the seedy seaside town of Margate where he’s supposed to hide, to Nikos the loan shark and Fat Gary, all round idiot. Then there’s the so-called good guys, the councilors and lawyers who are worse than the criminals. 

But Konstantin isn’t alone, despite his wishes. Fidelity Brown, aka Plastic Fantastic, dildo wielding dominatrix who has her own m√©lange of secrets and lies, and nightclub owner Ken who’s connected to all the wrong people, help the Russian with the heap of problems delivered to his doorstep. 

Cue deception, murder, mayhem as Konstantin settles into his new life. Margate will never be the same again. 


‘Keith Nixon gets better with each new book. Among a promising crop of new writers he's the one to watch. A rare and diverse talent who has the ability to surprise and impress ... sometimes in the same sentence.’ 
Tony Black, author of The Last Tiger and The Inglorious Dead 

‘If you told me that Konstantin put the K in KGB, I wouldn't even argue. This character is a badass of the highest calibre.’ 
Gerard Brennan, author of Undercover 

‘Hardboiled action and sharp, gritty humour. Highly recommended.’ 
Paul D. Brazill, author of Guns Of Brixton and A Case Of Noir 

‘Flat, monotoned, dreary landscapes against which two of the most original characters ever seen in literature—Konstantin and Fidelity—operate together and separately in linked stories in a series of nourish nightmares that will have you screaming inside your skull. This is what noir is all about. Masterful, deadly and powerful.’ 
Les Edgerton, author of The RapistThe Bitch and The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping 

Russian Roulette is Keith Nixon’s collection of novellas; the first three of which were previously available as individual pieces – DreamLand, Plastic Fantastic and Fat Gary. Bullet, Infidelity, Close Contact and A Chorus of Bells complete the set.

I don’t think it’s harsh on the author to state that his original brand of crime fiction will not be to everyone’s liking, but for me it ticks a helluva lot of boxes…..setting, character, pace, action, humour. When all those elements are present – strap me down and I’ll enjoy the ride.

Across the range of the seven connective pieces, we are initially introduced to our ex-KGB Russian Konstantin and his new home, the run-down seaside town of Margate. Konstantin has a way of attracting trouble, mainly because of his inability to turn a blind eye to others in need. That attribute is recognised by the troubled dominatrix, Felicity aka Plastic Fantastic and for a few of these vignettes we have our nightmare duo operating in tandem.

Low-life criminals, tramps, dodgy councillors, priests, prostitutes, fake lawyers, ‘roid-raging family abusers, pimps, pub landlords, clairvoyants, scouse gangsters, the Margate underworld, Dungeness, a trip up North, old school friends, Aussie barmen, the Stanley twins, a botched robbery and amongst it all a trip to South Korea where we witness Konstantin functioning in his previous life.

Gritty and glorious, dirty and dynamic, fast and furious, etc etc
 
5 from 5

Nixon currently resides in Broadstairs, once home to a chap called Dickens. I know who I would rather be reading.

Other offerings still waiting on the pile from him are The Fix and The Eagle’s Shadow – a historical mystery set in Rome.

Keith was kind enough to send me a copy of Russian Roulette, but I was enjoying it so much I did the decent thing and went and bought my own!


  

Friday, 28 November 2014

MARK PRYOR - THE BUTTON MAN



Synopsis/blurb…..

In this prequel to The Bookseller, former FBI profiler Hugo Marston has just become head of security at the US Embassy in London. He’s asked to protect a famous movie-star couple, Dayton Harper and Ginny Ferro, who, while filming a movie in rural England, killed a local man in a hit and run. 

The task turns from routine to disastrous almost immediately. Before Hugo even meets them, he finds out that Ferro has disappeared, and her body has been found hanging from an oak tree in a London cemetery. Hours later a distraught Harper gives Hugo the slip, and Hugo has no idea where he’s run off to.

Taking cues from a secretive young lady named Merlyn, and with a Member of Parliament along for the chase, Hugo’s search leads to a quaint English village. There, instead of finding Harper, more bodies turn up. Teaming with local detectives and then venturing dangerously out on his own, Hugo struggles to find connections between the victims. Is this the work of a serial killer—or something else entirely? Knowing he’s being tailed, the killer prepares for the final, public act of his murderous plan, and Hugo arrives just in time to play his part. . . .

This is the fourth Mark Pryor - Hugo Marston book but the first chronologically as we find our US head of embassy security working in London and babysitting a glamourous, high-profile Hollywood couple. The two movie stars are under investigation after a local farmer’s son was killed in a hit and run.

I've previously enjoyed The Bookseller and slightly less so The Crypt Thief and initially I was drawn into this one as it started promisingly. Sadly for this particular reader an occurrence-event-death kind of derailed this train just as it was picking up a head of steam. I kind of thought – really, you just did that……oh ok, where are we going now then?

London, Hertfordshire, Paris, film stars, local community, hotels, pubs, private clubs, MPs, journalists, hangings, shootings, graveyards, trains, S&M, leather, secrets, death penalty, family history, executioners, Madame Tussauds…all figure.

After the occurrence that threw me, I was reading but not ever so invested in the plot, the characters or the ongoing investigation. We have further deaths, involvement with the local police force, our MP who like Hugo has managed to insert himself somewhat unconvincingly into the case, a local journalist and a burgeoning relationship with a hotel worker with a predilection for S&M.

Later in the book, when our keen bibliophile and security chief Marston catches the Eurostar to Paris and just so happens to find an abandoned magazine on his seat – the Bookdealer the trade journal for the book trade – I think you would probably have heard my groan in Paris. I was lost after that.

I read on, as I do. Overall it was fairly well-written, just a bit far-fetched and unconvincing. Our murders get solved and resolved at the end. But did I enjoy it, like it, was I satisfied…..no. Did I loathe it…….nearly. It was okay, just disappointing for me. I kind of thought if it had gone in a different direction it would have been a totally different and for me more enjoyable book.

Still probably just about a 3 from 5 as it did have its moments and I wasn’t tempted to gouge my eye out with a spoon at any point. (My wife has hidden the sharper cutlery!)

I’ll read the fourth in the series – The Blood Promise and I’ll be hoping for better things.

Mark Pryor’s website is here.

Thanks to the team at Seventh Street books for my copy of this one.
 
 


Thursday, 27 November 2014

KEITH NIXON - FAT GARY


Synopsis/blurb…..

Vengeance stalks Konstantin Boryakov in the obese shape of Fat Gary.
From the author of The Fix comes another episode in the life Konstantin Boryakov, the enigmatic tramp who claims to be ex-KGB and in hiding. A man with a dark past and a darker future.

Konstantin receives a letter. Perfectly normal for you and I, but not for our Russian. Because no-one should know who he is, or where he lives. Apparently Konstantin has inherited some money. He knows there’s something very wrong with the picture, but Konstantin can’t help check it out.

Enter Fat Gary and his gang, a big man with a bigger score to settle, back from when Konstantin first arrived in Margate.

But that’s not Konstantin’s only problem. A bed-ridden Fidelity Brown is getting bored…

Another outing with Konstantin Boryakov and another enjoyable hour or so reading Keith Nixon’s violent but humorous tales of our enigmatic ex-KGB operative.

Konstantin has been targeted in revenge for a happening in an earlier episode - Dream Land

Someone is trying to set him up and despite his caution, our man meets is intrigued and decides to let the situation develop – it might make a change from drinking vodka and pub brawls.

Fat Gary and his cohorts have headed south from Liverpool to extract some street justice. Konstantin gets a bit of an outing around Kent having received a letter purporting to be from a firm of solicitors. Having rocked up at the rendezvous with his spidey senses on full alert, the inevitable violence flares. Guns are drawn and our Russian has reason to be thankful for the intervention of Fidelity AKA Plastic Fantastic - arisen from her sick bed.

Fat Gary and his chums soon have further cause to regret the trip south as other elements of Margate’s underworld cover Konstantin’s back.

I like the grit, the action, the characters, the run-down setting and as much as anything the humour and imagery Nixon introduces. When Gary is laying in his hospital bed, feeling a tad sorry for himself – the last thing he wants is the chippy OAP in the next bed giving him grief……

The old guy in the next bed farted and cackled.
See what I mean?” said Fat Gary.
“Share and share alike,” said the old guy. “Your feet stink.”
“It’s a skin infection. I can’t help,” spat Fat Gary defensively.  

When our fake lawyer reports back to Gary’s Liverpudlian cohorts by phone….Frank sighed. Neil could imagine his fingers, the size of healthy sausages, gripping the phone tightly.       

The third instalment in Nixon’s Russian Roulette collection rates as a 5.

Dream Land and Plastic Fantastic were read and reviewed earlier.


Bought earlier this year on Amazon for Kindle

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

BEN SOLOMON - THE HARD-BOILED DETECTIVE 1

Synopsis/blurb……

"My highest recommendation for The Hard-Boiled Detective by Ben Solomon."
— Robert W. Walker, author of Cutting Edge and Grave Instinct

For the first time, the original 11 yarns from Solomon's ongoing, throw-back crime series are available in one volume. His nameless detective faces murderers, blackmailers, adulterers and racketeers—and that's only the first story in this collection. Ten more tales cover a never-ending parade of lowlifes, misfits and suckers, all narrated by the hard-luck gumshoe in his statements to the cops. If you're a fan of Black Mask," Chandler and Hammett, you'll get a bang out of Solomon's take on old-school detective fiction.

"Ben Solomon draws you in like a moth to a jail cell light bulb. And then you are captured. His lean prose and jazz rhythms run from Lower Wacker Drive to the Club De Lisa. Ben Solomon raises the bar on Chicago noir."

—Dave Hoekstra, Chicago author and former patron of Mike's Cop Bar

Ben Solomon appeared on my radar last year. He has to date churned out three Hard-Boiled Detective yarns monthly for the past 18 months or so over on his siteThe Hard-BoiledDetective. That’s a pretty intense writing schedule to set yourself, but so far he hasn’t appeared to stumble or strike a false note if all 60-odd are indicative of this collection of 11.
Lean tales of marital woes, missing people, conmen, gamblers, blackmail, sexual assault and death, populated by car chases, shootouts and double crosses in smoky bars, clubs and on the streets - all with an indeterminate setting and ambiguous time-frame.

Each tale is different but as we progress through the cases we encounter some recurring characters, which I liked. Our hero emerges from each, sometimes shaken and roughed up but largely unscathed with an answer to the questions posed at the start of each, albeit not always to his client’s satisfaction.
Solomon, can write fantastically and if I knew how to highlight on my device, I’d have plenty of examples to illustrate his powers. I’ll settle for two…

Mundy’s face went dumb as a dead herring.

Timing. It played with me all day. Strung me along like a windup toy…..Good old blind coincidence. You ever know coincidence to have twenty-twenty vision?

Great lines scattered throughout these interesting tales.

If I have a criticism it would be the lack of self or personality of our detective. I was hoping for some back-story or knowledge of his life away from the job and the next case. Learning a nugget or two of personal detail as each story unfolded would have added an extra layer and increased my enjoyment. Being able to connect or empathise with him would have elevated the stories just that bit higher, still a great collection though and I’ll be eventually reading my way through the next 50 or so.

4 from 5

Well worth a trip over to his site to check Ben out, or conversely this collection is on Amazon.

The author was kind enough to send me a copy of this for review.



Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2 BY JOHN B SPENCER

Time Out described Spencer as 'the best kept secret in British noir fiction... seriously good and dreadfully underrated.'

This is something I have yet to put to the test. Before his death in 2002, Spencer had produced 7 novels with an eighth published posthumously. He was also a talented Blues musician.

His Guardian obituary is here.









He wrote four books concerning his character Charlie Case, the first two of which are quite difficult to find. I'm not sure if I have them or not, I expect I'll find out in the next year or so!

Not rushing headlong towards reading these just yet - I reckon I have had them on the pile for a good 10 years, so another few probably won't hurt. They do seem quite slim tomes when I get there, so that's a major plus point.



Perhaps She'll Die




A crime novel in which a businessman becomes involved in a dangerous relationship with a woman whose husband is known for his underworld activities.

The cover design is quite basic but it has a certain minimalist appeal. There's a lot not going on.


This one is 192 pages short, the other weighs in at 160. If all my books were this length I would be laughing!










Quake City

Charley Case is the hard-boiled investigator of the future. But of a future that follows the 'Big One of Ninety-Seven' - the quake that literally rips California apart and makes LA an island. A future where 'cred' status is everywhere and without it, you're a big fat zero. It begins when Charley is offered a simple job ... Apartment sitting. Simple. But before he's finished, Charley will have been embroiled in a trail of blood that leads directly to the steps of the Oval Office, and more sudden death than a popular abattoir sees in a wet Los Angeleno fortnight.


Monday, 24 November 2014

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART EIGHT

Another 50 this week......
Tub 8
A couple from Peter Lovesey and Howard Shrier, plus a Virgil Tibbs book by John Ball

Maitland - blame Moira, Uhnak - read her earlier this year or late last, William McIlvanney, Peter Temple and Adam Kennedy

3 new-to-me authors - Brandon, Bradley and Fleetwood, plus Red Hammond who is Anthony Neil Smith -an old favourite of mine and a Christopher Fowler standalone

Hugh Fleetwood - Brothers

Two Walter Walkers, another Kennedy, another Maitland and Jefferson Parker again.

4 by Harlan Coben, one of my better half's favourites and Lisa Jackson

Parker again, Jeff Abbott, Gilles Pettel (French?) and De La Motte

Garcia-Roza

2 Parker's - different dudes, Peter Doyle - Australian, Jim Nisbet and some short stories from the US  

Up my street - D. W. Wilson

Dibdin, Disher, Tim O'Brien, Izzo and Toltz

Sean Lynch, Duane Swierczynski, Matthew F. Jones and Alexander Baron

Love this guy and I've only read a short piece of fiction by him so far!

Loren D. Estelman, another Matthew Jones, a book on the history of Barcelona football club and a crime novel from actor - John Gordon Sinclair - remember Gregory's Girl?

UK Crime - Kevin Wignall
I think this might be the favourite tub so far, park me in a chair with my glasses, slippers and a cup of tea and I'm sorted I reckon. Not too much here that I'm scratching my head thinking why? Maybe the Lisa Jackson looks a bit formidable on size alone, but that apart.....bring them on!

Tub 9 next week!

Full list as follows:

AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES
ABBOTT JEFF ADRENALINE 2010 SC1
BALL JOHN FIVE PIECES OF JADE 1972 VT4
BARON ALEXANDER FROM THE CITY FROM THE PLOUGH 1948 WT1
BRADLEY ALAN THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN'S BAG 2009 FDLM2
BRANDON JOHN CITRUS COUNTRY 2010
BURNS JIMMY BARCA 1999
COBEN HARLAN BACK SPIN 1997 MB4
COBEN HARLAN ONE FALSE MOVE 1998 MB5
COBEN HARLAN THE FINAL DETAIL 1999 MB6
COBEN HARLAN PROMISE ME 2006 MB8
DE LA MOTTE ANDERS GAME 2012 HPP1
DIBDIN MICHAEL CABAL 1992 AZ3
DISHER GARRY WHISPERING DEATH 2012 IC6
DOYLE PETER GET RICH QUICK 1996 BG1
ESTELMAN LOREN D. LITTLE BLACK DRESS 2005 PM5
FLEETWOOD HUGH BROTHERS 1999
FOWLER CHRISTOPHER PLASTIC 2003
GARCIA-ROZA LUIZ ALFREDO SOUTH WESTERLY WIND 2004 IE3
HAMMOND RED XXX SHAMUS 2013
IZZO JEAN-CLAUDE TOTAL CHAOS 2005 MT1
JACKSON LISA SHIVER 2006 NO3
JONES MATTHEW F. THE COOTER FARM 1992
JONES MATTHEW F. BOOT TRACKS 2006
KENNEDY ADAM THE DOMINO PRINCIPLE 1970
KENNEDY ADAM THE DOMINO VENDETTA 1983
LOVESEY PETER STAGESTRUCK 2011 PD11
LOVESEY PETER COP TO CORPSE 2012 PD12
LYNCH SEAN WOUNDED PREY 2013 F+K1
MAITLAND BARRY ALL MY ENEMIES 1996 B+K3
MAITLAND BARRY SPIDER TRAP 2006 B+K9
McILVANNEY WILLIAM THE PAPERS OF TONY VEITCH 1983 JL2
NISBET JIM DEATH PUPPET 1989
O'BRIEN TIM IF I DIE IN A COMBAT ZONE 1973
PARKER T. JEFFERSON LA OUTLAWS 2008 CH1
PARKER RICHARD STOP ME 2010
PARKER T. JEFFERSON THE JAGUAR 2012 CH5
PARKER T. JEFFERSON THE FAMOUS AND THE DEAD 2013 CH6
PETEL GILLES UNDER THE CHANNEL 2014
SCHWARTZ STEPHEN JAY BEAT 2010 HG2
SHRIER HOWARD BUFFALO JUMP 2008 JG1
SHRIER HOWARD HIGH CHICAGO 2009 JG2
SINCLAIR JOHN GORDON SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN 2012
SWIERCZYNSKI DUANE POINT & SHOOT 2013 CH3
TEMPLE PETER IRON ROSE 1998
TOLTZ STEVE A FRACTION OF THE WHOLE 2008
UHNAK DOROTHY THE LEDGER 1970 CO3
WALKER WALTER A DIME TO DANCE BY 1983
WALKER WALTER RULES OF THE KNIFE FIGHT 1986
WIGNALL KEVIN FOR THE DOGS 2004
WILSON D. W. ONCE YOU BREAK A KNUCKLE 2012

Sunday, 23 November 2014

JONATHAN AMES - YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE


Synopsis/blurb….

A hero whose favourite weapon is a hammer clearly has issues. Lots of them.

Novelist, essayist, and creator of the beloved HBO series "Bored to Death," Jonathan Ames is celebrated not only for his comic sensibilities and devotion to the absurd but for his lurid attraction to inner demons. In this shocking and suspenseful new novella, the author goes darker than noir, with an ass-kicking and psychologically tormented guardian angel who rescues others but refuses to save himself.

A former Marine and ex–FBI agent, Joe has seen one too many crime scenes and known too much trauma, and not just in his professional life. Solitary and haunted, he prefers to be invisible. He doesn't allow himself friends or lovers and makes a living rescuing young girls from the deadly clutches of the sex trade. But when a high-ranking New York politician hires him to extricate his teenage daughter from a Manhattan brothel, Joe uncovers a web of corruption that even he may not be able to unravel. When the men on his trail take the only person left in the world who matters to him, he forsakes his pledge to do no harm. If anyone can kill his way to the truth, it's Joe.

"You Were Never Really Here" is a tribute to Raymond Chandler and to Donald Westlake and his Parker series, and it testifies to Ames's versatility and capacity to entertain in any medium or genre. A character for the ages, Joe shows us, with every bent cop, junkie, and pimp he confronts, that it's hard to be an angel in a fallen world.

PRAISE FOR “YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE”

“Like most people, I like my Jonathan Ames LONG, but it's amazing what he can do in 18,000 words, too. This piece would make Raymond Chandler happy.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of “Super Sad True Love Story”

"Ames' single is a good choice for lovers of Michael Connelly, Lee Child or Vince Flynn who are interested in character-driven thrillers." —Courtney Crowder, Chicago Tribune

Another short book this time, though in fairness it is over 50 pages so I am stretching myself here!

It’s another new author for me and someone who would have remained unknown to me had it not popped up in my recommendations from Amazon. Initially intrigued by the cover – I always find masks a bit freaky if I’m honest, especially animal-type ones in films, I clicked on the book and from the blurb above decided this was definitely up my street.

You can’t beat a bit of ass-kicking and psychological torment when the reading mood calls for it.

Dark, brooding, moody, powerful, violent, black, grim and sad – when we understand what Joe endured growing up. We discover Joe’s capabilities and indomitable will during the course of this short novella. He’s a loner, allowing no- one into his life. He lives with his mother, but they don’t communicate. We all know why.

Joe’s takes on a job rescuing a politician’s daughter, but things spiral out of control when the politician has a change of heart. When Joe’s mother and contacts and the only people Joe has a connection to – albeit with an emotional distance - become targets; Joe does what he does best with a frightening ruthlessness and capability.   

It’s quite interesting to consider what latitude we give the “good guys” to take down the “bad fellas” – are their actions excused because of the end result that’s delivered? An interesting question to consider in these difficult times.

I absolutely loved this one.

I did go and look up Ames' other books and this piece almost seems out of context with his other work. I have ordered a copy of I Pass Like Night though - short, cheap and off-beat.

5 from 5


Acquired recently on Amazon for Kindle. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

LEE GOLDBERG/JANET EVANOVICH - THE SHELL GAME

Synopsis/blurb…….

When rookie FBI agent Kate O'Hare meets career conman Nick Fox there's bound to be a sting in the tale.

Fresh out of Quantico and looking forward to her first FBI assignment, Kate O'Hare is teamed up with high-end security expert, Nick Fox, to help protect a shipment of valuable Peruvian relics. Problem is, nothing is what it seems. Nick Fox is actually a con artist and he's about to play the shell game with special agent O'Hare in a high-speed chase with armoured cars, a few smoke bombs and a little light flirting. It doesn't take long for Nick to discover Kate O'Hare is smart, tenacious, and when she's conned, she holds a grudge.

Hot on the heels of Pros and Cons another short interlude with the Goldberg-Evanovich combo of Fox and O’Hare. Equally as brief – 30-odd pages but with enough substance or meat on the bones, to convince me that these two authors and their two protagonists have some legs in them yet and to get me immersed in their longer books.

I do enjoy books with a lighter touch and they don’t necessarily need to be filled with death and copious amounts of gun-play and mayhem. Not always granted – but on occasions I do like to read about characters who would be engaging enough to have a drink with in a bar, rather than be crossing over to the other side of the street to avoid them. I must be getting soft in my old age!

There’s an interesting dynamic developing between both main combatants that is fun to observe. O’Hare and Fox are both competitive and intent on having the final say, add in a spark of attraction and the chemistry becomes more volatile.

Here we have the odd-couple purportedly working on the same team as Fox brazenly works with O’Hare while all the time plotting to steal some priceless artefacts. Thirty pages on…. one of them definitely has the upper hand for now. Roll on The Heist!

So another amusing diversion for an hour or so, but just as importantly it keeps the scoreboard ticking over, towards the year-end target of 120!   

4 from 5


Acquired recently on Amazon Kindle.  

NORBERT DAVIS - OH MURDERER MINE (1946)


Synopsis/blurb…….

Doan, the 'hero' of this story is a small-time detective with a dry, sardonic wit, and a huge Great Dane (Carstairs--don't call him a "pet") in these absolutely delightful series of humor-tinged mysteries. Great fun that shouldn't be missed!

In this short adventure, the duo investigate another strange murder. The story is more humor than mystery as they get into trouble with thugs and create general chaos all around them. A fine, funny way to while away a quiet weekend.

This is the original and unabridged version of this classic. A must-have for fans of classic mysteries!

Norbert Davis was an American author from Morrison, Illinois. Born 1909, he died 1949 – an apparent suicide.

I have had him on my radar for a while, but more for his Max Latin stories which appeared regularly in the magazines of the day…….Black Mask, Dime Detective, Double Detective and Argosy.

He wrote four Doan and Carstairs books of which, Oh Murderer Mine is the third. Published in 1946 it’s my read for Rich of Past Offences’ monthly meme. Click the link on the year to see who has been reading what for 1946.

Doan is a private investigator, Carstairs is his Great Dane. The duo have been engaged by the famous and much older, Heloise of Hollywood to babysit her younger and attractive husband, Eric Trent. Trent has just secured a position in the meteorology department at Breckenbridge University.

We meet Melissa Gregory, an anthropology lecturer. She’s on her way back to her offices, which she has unknowingly been evicted from in favour of Eric. This immediately brings the two into conflict. Later Melissa gets knocked out and Doan gets shot at when pursuing the culprit. After he disappears, the body of Frank Ames is discovered. Melissa was Ames’ “girlfriend”, though in truth he was more besotted by her than the reverse.

The assault on Melissa brings Humphrey, a policeman into the mix. Humphrey and Doan have previous history together, when Carstairs inflicted a public humiliation on our detective. What follows is an investigation into the murder; with Humphrey trying to arrest the first person in sight at every opportunity. We have further deaths, the involvement of a Mexican investigator who is pursuing the recovery of some stolen historical artefacts, more involvement with Trent’s wife and a look at her history and first husband.

Oh Murderer Mine was an enjoyable read, more for its humour and the clashes between the incompetent Humphrey and Doan, and the almost jaded manner in which Doan could predict his actions in advance. There was a mystery to be solved and it was, and in a fairly cohesive fashion, though it almost seemed secondary to the knockabout tone of the book. Davis also fashions an almost romance between Trent and Melissa. Almost - because for most of the book, Trent is married, albeit not happily. The author had some fun with the interaction between these two characters as well; with animosity used to conceal a spark of attraction.

I liked it, but I doubt I will be troubled enough to find more from this author in the future.

4 from 5


Acquired cheaply on Amazon kindle, where you can pick up this and the other Doan and Carstairs mysteries for less than a pound.     

Thursday, 20 November 2014

LEE GOLDBERG/JANET EVANOVICH - PROS AND CONS


Synopsis/blurb…..

A short story introducing FBI special agent Kate O'Hare and international con artist Nicolas Fox: soon to appear again in THE CHASE.

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg have teamed up for a dynamic new series featuring an FBI agent who's on the hunt - and a master con artist who's enjoying the chase. The con is on in this eBook original short story that's a triumphant prequel to The Heist.

FBI special agent Kate O'Hare has made it her mission to nail international con artist Nicolas Fox. When she discovers his plot to plunder a venture capitalist's twentieth-story Chicago penthouse of all its cash and treasures while the self-proclaimed 'King of Hostile Takeovers' is getting married, Kate is 85 per cent - okay maybe 92 per cent - sure that she's finally going to bag Nick Fox.

Problem is, first Kate has to convince her boss, building security, and maybe even herself, that wedding planner Merrill Stubing is actually Nicolas Fox. Second, she has to figure out how to corner and capture him without disrupting the event of the year. And third, what's going to happen once O'Hare finally gets her hands on Fox? It's going take a pro to catch a con before the fireworks over Lake Michigan go off.

Includes a sneak peek of The Heist, the first novel in the bestselling new series from Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg!

A couple of new authors for me here, operating in tandem. I’m well aware of both but thus far in my reading experiences have yet to sample either.

Janet Evanovich, one half of the double act has written over 20 books with her protagonist Stephanie Plum starring…..as well as about a zillion other novels.



Lee Goldberg, the other half has a similar output with his most familiar character – Mr Monk of TV series fame – having 15 books and also some Diagnosis Murder titles in addition to standalone novels and other series. Goldberg works in TV as a writer and producer. His recent project - Brash Books has seen him adding the title of publisher to his CV – bringing back an old favourite of mine, Tom Kakonis and other neglected, forgotten authors.




Our short story concern a serial con-artist, Nicolas Fox and the fledgling FBI agent, Kate O’Hare who is tasked with thwarting his scheme. As an introduction to the two characters, I really enjoyed this. There’s an appeal to both characters and a light humour which I really enjoy. We are introduced to a couple of O’Hare’s colleagues; Carl Jessup - her boss and an irritating fellow agent, Cosmo. Cosmo, diminutive in stature keeps standing on a box and popping his head over the office partition, usually commenting on something O’Hare happens to be eating. O’Hare does seem to eat a lot of the time.

Fox, our conman oozes charm and personality. He’s handsome and confident and has a sense of humour as evidenced by his actions after O’Hare manages to thwart his scam. There’s a chemistry and an attraction between the pair currently operating on opposite sides of the law.     

Probably lighter fare than I’m used to reading, but I’m going to try the series out as I reckon I will enjoy some light entertaining reads. Not too grim, not too violent, not too deep, not too edgy…… decent reads with a spike of humour and some action and probably a bit of far-fetched plotting if this story is anything to go by. I get the feeling that both authors had a lot of fun writing these.

4 from 5

As far as the authors and Fox and O’Hare go; there’s another short story called The Shell Game available (already read and enjoyed) with three full length novels so far; The Heist, The Chase and the recently published The Job.


I got this one on Amazon recently for kindle.  

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

KEITH NIXON - PLASTIC FANTASTIC


Synopsis/blurb………

From the author of best-selling THE FIX, comes another chapter in Konstantin Boryakov’s life, the enigmatic tramp who claims to be ex-KGB and in hiding. A man with a dark past and a darker future.

Fidelity Brown has a problem. She owes a local up and coming hard man cash, lots of it. Cash she doesn’t have because her night job – a dildo wielding, rubber clad dominatrix going by the name of Plastic Fantastic – isn’t paying enough yet.

But Fidelity thinks she knows someone who can help her…

All Konstantin Boryakov wants is to be left alone. Cast out by the organisation that had nurtured and trained him Konstantin is a man without purpose, that is until Fidelity comes knocking on his door.

Cue double dealing, kidnap and revenge as Konstantin rises again.

Praise for Keith Nixon’s Work:

'With a brilliant cast of madcap characters strapped tightly in, THE FIX hurtles along at a cracking pace. A hugely enjoyable debut novel from Keith Nixon.'
Ian Ayris, author of Abide With Me

'Moves faster than a speeding bullet. Can't wait for more from Keith Nixon.'
Tony Black, author of Murder Mile

Boom, crash, bang, wallop! Loved it!

An enigmatic ex-KGB Russian called Konstantin is trying to fashion a life of sorts for himself in run-down Margate. Felicity, a working girl with a bag full of sex aids and the moniker of Plastic Fantastic tries to enlist Konstantin as she endeavours to dig her way out of a hole – she owes cash to a local criminal.

Short, sharp, action-packed, funny and with one of the most interesting leads I’ve encountered in my reading this year. A grimy run down south coast seaside town is the setting for our Russian encounter with low level criminals, dodgy politicians, seedy nightlife and our damaged dominatrix.

Gritty, grimy, slimy, dirty, edgy, but with a heart!

Plastic Fantastic is the second Konstantin novella after Dream Land. Dream Land was read and enjoyed earlier this year. Fat Gary – which I will be reading soon is the third. (Already have at time of posting this!)

Nixon has released all seven Konstantin episodes in Russian Roulette - something which is already close to the top of the November must-read pile.  

Mr Nixon is fast becoming one of my favourite UK crime fiction authors. His website is here.

5 from 5


Bought earlier this year on Amazon for kindle.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

2 BY CHARLES WILLIAMS

Charles Williams was an American hard-boiled author who was published from the 50's through to the early 70's. Author of over 20 books, a lot with a nautical theme, he died in 1975.

A fair few of his made it onto the big screen, most notably Dead Calm - the film of which got me interested in his books.

I think there is at least one of his books available free over on Munseys, if anyone fancies checking him out.

These two were originally published in the 50's.


Stain of Suspicion (aka The Talk of the Town)

Stranded in a small town, a stranger falls for a suspected murderess

Bored, divorced, and unemployed, Chatham is on his way to the Gulf of Mexico when he passes through a small town by the river. It's a miserable little burg - four stoplights and not much else - and he's almost escaped it when a drunk's car darts out in front of him, causing a nasty fender-bender. The thought of three days waiting for his clunker to get fixed is a grim one, but though he doesn't know it, there won't be a dull minute.

Chatham finds hospitality in the lovely form of Mrs. Langton, motel owner and local pariah. Seven months ago her husband was murdered, and though the police could find no evidence to support the theory, everyone in town is convinced she killed him. Now a string of anonymous threats have left her close to a nervous breakdown, and the violence is about to become real. In a town this small there's no room for secrets, but plenty of places to bury a corpse.

A Touch of Death (aka Mix Yourself a Redhead)

It Began As a Burglary - And Ended As a Nightmare

When Lee Scarborough came upon the brunette sunbathing topless in her back yard, getting involved in a heist was the last thing on his mind. But somehow that's where he found himself - sneaking through a stranger's house, on the hunt for $120,000 in embezzled bank funds.


It looked like an easy score. But one thing stood between him and the money: the beautiful and deadly Madelon Butler.

Monday, 17 November 2014

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART SEVEN

 Week 7 - another 50 - still on track, but it's early days!

Tub 7
Kevin Sampson - UK author from around Liverpool, Bill James  on the blog last week!

Bill James, Leonard Chang, Nick Oldham, a couple of autobiographies from some Irish footballers

Two from Danny King, two from Harry Crews, Leonard Chang - Us author or Korean extraction

Two from Chester Himes, Mark Timlin, Dan J Marlowe, Winston Groom Vietnam book (he wrote Forrest Gump) 

Got to love a cover like this!

A book on the My Lai massacre, Harlan Coben, Sheila Quigley (my wife's), James W Hall, another Bill James


Two by John Harvey (UK), John Connor (UK), Paul Levine, Herbert Lieberman

Rat-Pack gossip, Vietnam, another Lieberman, two from David Armstrong

Charles Williams, Gerald Petievich, Ross Thomas, Val McDermid and a book involving sheep (really?)

First or second Tony Hillerman book uncovered since the project began

Charles Williams - an old favourite of mine! 

Eugene Izzi - Chicago crime, John Sandford series book, Ian Rankin, Bat-21 - also a film with Gene Hackman and Danny Glover,

Deadmeat by Q - enigmatic or what?


Highlights....uncovering a couple of Danny King's, a couple of Harry Crews that I haven't yet read, a couple of 60's or early 70's Charles Williams books. Looking forward to re-acquainting myself with Herbert Lieberman also

Lowlights......well I'm scratching my head on the Blah Blah book and the Val McDermid looks intimidating - but is probably very good.

50 more next week, hopefully!

Full list.....
AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES FICT/NON
ANDERSON WILLIAM C BAT-21 1980 N
ARMSTRONG DAVID UNTIL DAWN TOMORROW 1995 FK1 F
ARMSTRONG DAVID THOUGHT FOR THE DAY 1997 FK2 F
BILTON/SIM MICHAEL/KEVIN FOUR HOURS IN MY LAI 1992 N
CHANG LEONARD DISPATCHES FROM THE COLD 1998 F
CHANG LEONARD FADE TO CLEAR 2004 AC3 F
COBEN HARLAN DARKEST FEAR 2000 MB7 F
CONNOR JOHN A CHILD'S GAME 2006 KS3 F
CREWS HARRY ALL WE NEED OF HELL 1987 F
CREWS HARRY CELEBRATION 1998 F
FERRANDINO JOSEPH FIREFIGHT 1987 F
GIBSON MAGGIE BLAH BLAH BLACK SHEEP 2001 F
GROOM WINSTON BETTER TIMES THAN THESE 1978 F
HALL JAMES W HOT DAMN 2002 N
HARVEY JOHN LONELY HEARTS 1989 R1 F
HARVEY JOHN FLESH AND BLOOD 2004 FE1 F
HILLERMAN TONY COYOTE WAITS 1990 JL+JC4 F
HIMES CHESTER THE END OF A PRIMITIVE 1955 F
HIMES CHESTER THE CRAZY KILL 1959 CEJ3 F
IZZI EUGENE BAD GUYS 1988 F
JAMES BILL YOU'D BETTER BELIEVE IT 1985 H+I1 F
JAMES BILL HALO PARADE 1987 H+I3 F
JAMES BILL LOVELY MOVER 1998 H+I15 F
JAMES BILL MIDDLEMAN 2002 F
KING DANNY MILO'S RUN 2006 DM2 F
KING DANNY SCHOOL FOR SCUMBAGS 2007 F
LEVINE PAUL 9 SCORPIONS 1998 F
LEVY SHAWN RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL 1998 N
LIEBERMAN HERBERT CRAWLSPACE 1972 F
LIEBERMAN HERBERT THE EIGHTH SQUARE 1973 F
LIEBERMAN HERBERT THE CLIMATE OF HELL 1978 F
MARLOWE DAN J OPERATION FIREBALL 1969 DS3 F
MARLOWE DAN J OPERATION BREAKTHROUGH 1973 DS5 F
McDERMID VAL THE LAST TEMPTATION 2002 TH+CJ4 F
McGRATH PAUL OOH AAH 1994 N
OLDHAM NICK A TIME FOR JUSTICE 1996 HC1 F
PETIEVICH GERALD PARAMOUR 1991 F
Q DEADMEAT 1997 F
QUIGLEY SHEILA LIVING ON A PRAYER 2006 S3 F
QUINN NIALL THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 2002 N
RANKIN IAN TOOTH AND NAIL 1992 IR3 F
SAMPSON KEVIN POWDER 1999 F
SAMPSON KEVIN LEISURE 2000 F
SAMPSON KEVIN OUTLAWS 2001 F
SAMPSON KEVIN CLUBLAND 2002 F
SANDFORD JOHN SECRET PREY 1998 LD9 F
THOMAS ROSS TWILIGHT AT MAC'S PLACE 1990 MMC4 F
TIMLIN MARK ASHES BY NOW 1993 NS9 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES THE HOT SPOT 1953 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES DON'T JUST STAND THERE 1966 F