Thursday, 19 July 2018


A week away with the family and a chance to catch up on some reading while enjoying the sun and a few Doradas.

One read in progress finished off, seven more completed and the intro to another one started....

Jane Harper, Jack D. McLean, Adam Howe (ed.), Alex Segura, Alan Parks, Aidan Thorn, Mark Ramsden, Grant Nicol and a smidge from Les Edgerton

Jane Harper - Force of Nature (2017)

I hadn't planned on reading this but needed a book that would appeal to my wife as well and having picked up a cheap copy of her earlier, highly praised novel - The Dry - it seemed a good choice. Glad I did - an enjoyable trip to the Australian wildreness.

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Force of Nature begs the question: How well do you really know the people you work with? 

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path. 

But one of the women doesn't come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened. 

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Jack D. McLean - Confessions of an English Psychopath (2016)
I enjoyed an earlier book by the author - Manchester Vice and this was another entertaining outing with Mr McLean and a memorable lead character with a slightly strange way of behaving.

After unscrupulous young Lawrence is recruited to work as an assassin for the British Secret Service, everything goes well - until he gains access to a locked room at his workplace, and uncovers a terrible secret.

Lawrence’s newfound knowledge forces him to choose between going on the run, or engaging in a life and death conflict with his employers.

James Bond meets Dexter Morgan in this savagely funny, twisted novel from Jack D. McLean.

Adam Howe (ed.) - Wrestle Maniacs (2017)
I'm a sucker for short story anthologies and this one sounded quirky after receiving an invite to read it. It didn't let me down. I only had about three in the collection to finish as it was an ongoing read before the holiday.

A dozen dark fiction masters bring their twisted vision to the world of professional wrestling. Twelve original stories of crime, horror, humor, and taboo. Ohhh, yeahhh! This ain’t no kayfabe, baby. This is hard-hitting wrestling fiction that grips like a Camel Clutch, and pins the reader to the page for the count of one, two…THREE!

Includes a confrontational foreword by ring legend 'Pulverizing' Pat McCrunch (as told to Jeff Strand)… An all-new story starring Nick 'The Widowmaker' Bullman from James Newman’s wrestling noir, "Ugly as Sin"… And ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine ("Tijuana Donkey Showdown," "Damn Dirty Apes") returns for another action-packed misadventure.

Original fiction by:
Jeff Strand
Tom Leins
James Newman
Eryk Pruitt
Adam Howe
Ed Kurtz
Hector Acosta
Joseph Hirsch
Duncan P. Bradshaw
David James Keaton
Gabino Iglesias
Patrick Lacey
and Jason Parent


Alan Parks - Bloody January (2017)
Probably the best of the holiday bunch. Looking forward to more from this author with a second due out early next year - February's Son.

An exciting, evocative first-in-series noir novel set in 1973 Glasgow, a city on the cusp of a heroin epidemic, featuring detective Harry McCoy.

When an 18-year-old boy shoots a young woman dead in the middle of a busy Glasgow street and then commits suicide, McCoy knows it can't be a random act of violence. With a newbie partner in tow, McCoy uses his underworld network to build a picture of a secret society run by Glasgow's wealthiest family, the Dunlops. Drugs, sex, incest; every nefarious predilection is catered to, at the expense of the lower echelon of society, an underclass that includes McCoy's best friend from reformatory school - drug-Tsar Stevie Cooper - and his on-off girlfriend, a prostitute, Janey. But with McCoy's boss calling off the hounds, and his boss' boss unleashing their own, the Dunlops are apparently untouchable. McCoy has other ideas.

Fans of McIlvanney's Laidlaw books and Oliver Harris' The Hollow Man, Ian Rankin's and Dennis Lehane's fiction, and TV shows like Idris Elba's Luther will find themselves thoroughly satisfied here.

Alex Segura - Silent City (2016)

First time outing with Segura, though I have most of his Fernandez series on the pile including one the author sent to me about a year ago, that shamefully I still haven't read. Enjoyable and gripping, though the main character did kind of irritate me. I hope he deals with some of his issues before I get to the second in the series

Pete Fernandez is a mess. He's on the brink of being fired from his middle-management newspaper job. His fiancee has up and left him. Now, after the sudden death of his father, he's back in his hometown of Miami, slowly drinking himself into oblivion. But when a coworker he barely knows asks Pete to locate a missing daughter, Pete finds himself dragged into a tale of murder, drugs, double-crosses, and memories bursting from the black heart of the Miami underworld - and, shockingly, his father's past. 

Making it up as he goes and stumbling as often as he succeeds, Pete's surreptitious quest becomes the wake-up call he's never wanted but has always needed - but one with deadly consequences. 

Welcome to Silent City, a story of redemption, broken friendships, lost loves, and one man's efforts to make peace with a long-buried past to save the lives of the few friends he has left. Silent City is a gritty, heartfelt debut novel that harkens back to classic PI tales but infused with the Miami that only Alex Segura knows.

Aidan Thorn - When the Music's Over (2015)

I've read a short story collection from Thorn before and enjoyed it - Criminal Thoughts. This one has sat on the pile for a while - so long in fact it has been re-issued recently along with Dread and The Mistake and all the other Number 13 Press titles by Fahrenheit 13

When Benny Gower murders his business partner few people doubt his good reasons for doing so. Unlike Benny, it’s not as if Harry Weir was popular. But he was the heir to Birmingham’s most violent and dangerous criminal organisation.

For Wynn McDonald, dragged out of retirement for the sake of his old gangland accomplices, motive doesn’t matter. All he cares about is tracking down the nightclub manager turned killer. But before Wynn can extract necessary vengeance he’ll need to turn over every stone on his way to finding answers. And not everybody’s going to be happy with the truths that come crawling out.

Praise for Aidan Thorn

"Moves along at a good pace, but the well-developed characters (Wynn in particular) make you savour, rather than gulp the pages down. It is a story filled with sub plots and depth, with equal parts menace and melancholy, beautifully written to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended." -Robert Cowan (author of The Search for Ethan)

Mark Ramsden - Dread: The Art of Serial Killing (2015)

A bit weird this one, but strangely compelling.

Mr Madden, Dickens enthusiast, muses with his beautiful and bohemian prisoner on possible endings to the famous author's unfinished final mystery. 

Mr Madden, spy, infiltrates a far right nationalist group in order to set up the thugs for something far more serious than their usual boozy street fights. 

Mr Madden, serial killer, sculpts his Candidates into bizarre and macabre artworks within the bare walls of his dungeon workshop.

And if he is to keep one step ahead of the police, the secret service and his own gory instincts, Mr Madden is going to have to find the answer to the one question that hangs over all our heads:

What would Charles Dickens do? 

Praise for Mark Ramsden

"This is a laugh out loud, erudite, sly, blood-and-gore-soaked evisceration of an England we would prefer to pretend does not exist, with a series of cut-throat observations and knock-out one-liners that would make even the best political satirist weep with envy. A set of finely-tuned characters tread the boards in a horrifyingly amusing, twisted, sex 'n' drugs-crazed examination of vengeance - both personal and state sanctioned. Oh yes, and did I mention that it's a love story?" -Lesley Ann Sharrock (author of The Seventh Magpie and Fatal Reaction)

Grant Nicol - The Mistake (2015)

Very enjoyable - a tale of three people, mostly with a dead girl at the centre of things.

Everybody makes mistakes. 

A mutilated body is found on a lonely street in Reykjavik. Detective Grimur intends to see that justice is done. 

Kjartan Jonsson vows that his daughter's killer will be punished. And that the punishment will fit the crime. 

Prime suspect Gunnar Atli desperately needs to prevent his own dark secrets from coming to light. And he's not the only one. 

Fine lines separate truth, justice and vengeance. Put a foot wrong, and any one of them could be making the biggest mistake of his life. 

In Iceland, the winter shadows grow long...

"A tense and atmospheric Nordic Noir. Another belter from Number Thirteen Press." -Paul D. Brazill (author of Guns of Brixton and A Case of Noir)

Les Edgerton - The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping (2014)

I've overlooked Mr E for too long now and time to remedy that failing. Not really started it yet just the introduction so far. Over four years since I read The Bitch - shit!

A mix of Cajun gumbo, a couple tablespoons of kinky sex and a dash of unusual New Orleans settings and you wind up with Les Edgerton’s latest romp fest!

Pete Halliday is busted out of baseball for gambling and travels to New Orleans to make his fortune hustling. Five years later, he’s deep in debt to bookie and in cahoots with Tommy LeClerc, a Cajun with a tiny bit of Indian blood who considers himself a red man. 

Tommy inveigles a reluctant Pete into one scheme after another, the latest a kidnapping scheme where they’ll snatch the Cajun Mafia King and hold his amputated hand for some serious jack. 

Along the way, Pete is double-crossed by Tommy and falls in love with part-time hooker and full-time waitress Cat Duplaisir. With both the Italian and Cajun mobs after them, a chase through Jazz Fest, a Tourette’s outbreak in a black bar and other zany adventures, all seems lost. 

Fans of Tim Dorsey’s character Serge Storms, and readers who enjoy Christopher Moore and Carl Hiaasen will enjoy this story.

“A hard-driving, relentless story with grab-you-by-the-throat characters.”—Grant Blackwood, New York Times bestselling author

Tuesday, 10 July 2018



Award winning author Eric Beetner's latest novel begins with an abandoned truck, a dead body and a sack of cash. So begins a treacherous and twisty tale of escape and survival. A path of blood and destruction follow at every turn. It’s all leading to a showdown. Sometimes there is no escape without confrontation.

Another good time had with Eric Beetner and his tale of escape, family, rescue and revenge.

Jacy, a teenage girl, suffering abuse by her stepfather asks her brother, Nash to return to help her leave. Nash himself fled Noirville under a cloud after the death of the local sports star hero. Events are further complicated by the fact that the stepfather, Brian is also the corrupt sheriff of Noirville and in bed with a local drug gang.

The escape goes to plan, until it doesn't. A stop-off for a beverage, morphs into a fight for survival as the pair discover a truck, a corpse, a bag of cash and a murderer in quick succession. More bloodshed and death ensues and before too long Brian is on their trail, trying to cover his tracks and re-cement his position as top dog in Noirville.

Usual Beetner trademarks prevail; a strong pace, well written scenes of action and confrontation, a few splashes of humour and strong characters you root for, while still admiring the chutzpah of the villains. I was reminded of Jim Thompson's Lou Ford with his portrayal of Brian the abusive sheriff, though here Brian's true character is more obviously identifiable to those he comes into regular contact with.

A lot about family, sexual abuse, drug use, drug gangs, shared history and small town corruption. Underscored by love, loyalty and a determination to break free, exact some vengeance or die trying.

My kind of book.

4.5 from 5

I've enjoyed a couple from Mr B before - The Year I Died Seven Times and Over Their Heads (with J.B. Kohl)

Eric Beetner has his website here.

Read in July, 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 119
Source - Purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Monday, 9 July 2018



In Marti Green’s twisting novel of psychological suspense, twin sisters become engaged in a dangerous deception…

Mallory Holcolm is an unfulfilled waitress and aspiring artist living in a Queens boardinghouse when she learns something astonishing about her past: she has an identical twin sister named Charly she never knew existed.

Charly is a Princeton graduate, a respected gallery owner, and an heiress married to her handsome college sweetheart, Ben. Charly got everything she ever wanted. Everything Mallory wanted, too. And now having it all might be easier than Mallory ever imagined. Because Ben has reasons of his own for wanting to help her.

It begins with his startling proposal. All Mallory has to do is say yes.

But as their devious plan falls into place, piece by piece, Mallory learns more about her sister and herself than she ever meant to—a discovery that comes with an unexpected twist. A chilling deception is about to become a dangerous double cross. And it’s going to change the rules of Ben and Mallory’s game to the very end.

On the whole, an okay read which I enjoyed despite a few issues with the plot. I wasn't entirely convinced about some of the characters' behaviour either. That said, the author has an easy style which once I got into the narrative had me turning the pages fairly rapidly.

Our story in a nutshell. Two twins separated at birth, one - Mallory remained with her mother and was raised without luxuries in borderline poverty, actually no borderline about it. The other - Charly was adopted by mega-rich parents and had an opulent upbringing enjoying the best of everything.

Fast forward a bit, Charly's husband Ben is unhappy. He's been playing away and fancies a life with his mistress without sacrificing the money and lifestyle he has become accustomed to. He meets Mallory somewhat fortuitously and spins her a yarn about Charly's awfulness and convinces her to imitate Charly, so they can do away with her, drop in the long lost sister twin doppelganger and divvy up the wealth before going their separate ways. Mallory somewhat surprisingly agrees to the plan and off they go.

Needless to say there are a fair few twists and turns before things play out. The first half of the book offers events from Mallory's perspective and despite the author's best intentions, I wasn't too convinced by how quickly Mallory was persuaded by Ben's scheme. If she had a history of poorly made choices or petty criminality - eg stealing clothes or art supplies because of a lack of money, you could perhaps understand her being seduced by Ben's proposal. Albeit now making a far bigger jump than anything previously countenanced. But she hadn't.

Eventually we get to meet Charly in person and understand her relationships with her husband, her adoptive father and Grandfather and with money. Needless to say her depiction varies markedly from the skewed portrayal her husband offers us.

I did kind of feel a little bit cheated with the narrative; a feeling which is hard to articulate without spoiling things for anyone else wanting to read the book. We get along fine with Mallory's POV, but important events are concealed from the reader until such time as Charly's story catches up.

Lots to like overall, plenty of pace, plenty of back story and family histories and lots of deception, cheating, lying, secrets and betrayal. The book served up an interesting story line and the presentation of the identical twins was entertaining, with all their shared traits following separation at birth. 

The ending wrapped up all the loose ends, but was a little bit saccharine sweet and slightly hard to swallow. I think Disney might have a problem selling it. The flip-flopping behaviour of the main characters, both of them was a bit of a stretch and kind of undermined what came afterwards. There was a certain ambiguity about which sister could classed as the good twin. Neither probably.

Notwithstanding my pickiness, I did actually enjoy the book and was invested in how things played out.

On balance 3 from 5 - okay but not without a few blemishes.

Marti Green has her website here. She's written a few other books in addition to this one.

Read in July, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 263
Source - Net Galley read after an invitation from Rebecca at Mindbuck Media
Format - ePub. 

Friday, 6 July 2018


A few more reads from the region and a couple each from Iceland, Finland and Denmark...

Lilja Sigurdardottir, Antti Tuomainen, Arnaldur Indridason,  Matti Ronka, Peter Hoeg and Leif Davidsen


Matti Ronka - A Man with a Killer's Face (2017) 
Not an author I know anything about. Written a few years ago (2002)  but only published in translation last year.

According to his dossier in the archives of the Soviet Special Forces (in which he once served), Viktor Karppa has the look of a killer . Except he really isn't one, notwithstanding his ability to sever a man s windpipe with his hand. Despite his messy, ambiguous past, Karppa now has an orderly life as an entrepreneur in Helsinki, and likes it just fine that way. His new girlfriend Marja, an academic, also prefers things as they are tranquil and uncomplicated. Karppa helps members of the downtrodden Ingrian community Russian-speaking ethnic Finns who have emigrated from their native Russia back to Finland adjust to their new surroundings. Thus his dream of a quiet life is regularly thwarted by Finns and Russians on both sides of the law who know too much about him. When he accepts a well-paid case to locate an antique dealer s missing Estonian wife, Karppa discovers the woman is also the sister of a notorious gangster. So begins his descent into an international criminal underworld with all the trimmings: drug lords, former KGB operatives and sundry other heavy characters. Suddenly nothing is as it was not least with Marja, who has become all too aware that her man s line of work is unlikely to bode well for a healthy relationship...

Lilja Sigurdardottir - Snare (2017)
Looks like my cup of tea, I think there's a follow on coming out later this year - Trap.

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Antti Tuomainen - The Healer (2013) 
Another on spec punt.

One man's search for his missing wife in a dystopian futuristic Helsinki that is struggling with ruthless climate change

It's two days before Christmas and Helsinki is battling a ruthless climate catastrophe: subway tunnels are flooded; abandoned vehicles are left burning in the streets; the authorities have issued warnings about malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola, and the plague. People are fleeing to the far north of Finland and Norway where conditions are still tolerable. Social order is crumbling and private security firms have undermined the police force. Tapani Lehtinen, a struggling poet, is among the few still able and willing to live in the city.

When Tapani's beloved wife, Johanna, a newspaper journalist, goes missing, he embarks on a frantic hunt for her. Johanna's disappearance seems to be connected to a story she was researching about a politically motivated serial killer known as "The Healer." Desperate to find Johanna, Tapani's search leads him to uncover secrets from her past. Secrets that connect her to the very murders she was investigating...

The Healer is set in desperate times, forcing Tapani to take desperate measures in order to find his true love. Written in an engrossingly dense but minimal language, The Healer is a story of survival, loyalty, and determination. Even when the world is coming to an end, love and hope endure.


Peter Hoeg - Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow (1993)
Classic, I've heard people rave about this for years but not actually taken the plunge yet.

A little boy falls off a roof in Copenhagen and is killed. Smilla, his neighbour, suspects it is not an accident: she has seen his footsteps in the snow, and, having been brought up by her mother, a Greenlander, she has a feeling for snow.

Arnaldur Indridason  - Arctic Chill (2008)

On of the most accessible Scandi authors I've found.

On an icy January day the Reykjavik police are called to a block of flats where a body has been found in the garden: a young, dark-skinned boy, frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The discovery of a stab wound in his stomach extinguishes any hope that this was a tragic accident. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation with little to go on but the news that the boy's Thai half-brother is missing. Is he implicated, or simply afraid for his own life? The investigation soon unearths tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland's outwardly liberal, multicultural society. A teacher at the boy's school makes no secret of his anti-immigration stance; incidents are reported between Icelandic pupils and the disaffected children of incomers; and, to confuse matters further, a suspected paedophile has been spotted in the area. Meanwhile, the boy's murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.

Leif Davidsen - The Woman From Bratislava (2009)
Enjoyed something else by him a year or two back - Lime's Photograph

Kosovo, spring 1999 and the impossible happens: a NATO plane is shot down. Someone - perhaps a Dane - has leaked information to the enemy. Meanwhile Teddy, a Danish university lecturer visiting Bratislava, is called upon by a woman who claims to be his half-sister, and reveals that their father, thought dead since 1952, in fact lived on for years.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018


Last month was a much better reading month than the previous two. I was hoping for double digit reading figures but nine's not so bad.

The stand-out read and pick of the month was Preston Lang's Sunk Costs - Lang's one of my favourite authors.

The full list is.......

Graham Smith - When the Waters Recede (2018) (4)

Dale Brendan Hyde - The Ink Run (2018) (3)

Andrew Barrett - The Lift (2015) (4)

John Mead - The Hanging Women (2018) (4)

Ann Girdharry - Chilling Tales of the Unexpected (2018) (4)

Cornell Woolrich - Four Novellas of Fear (2010) (4.5)

Preston Lang - Sunk Costs (2018) (5)

Andrew Barrett - The Note (2017) (4)

J.A. Marley - Godsend (2018) (4)

More trivia for my own amusement ....

1 - 4.5 STAR read - Cornell Woolrich with some entertaining 30s written tales.

7 of the 9 were 4 STAR reads and very enjoyable

1 - 3 STAR read - Dale Brendan Hyde's The Ink Run - which had its moments.

9 reads from 8 different authors,

6 of the 8 were new-to-me authors, Andrew Barrett, Dale Brendan Hyde, John Mead, Ann Girdharry, J.A. Marley and Cornell Woolrich - I have more on the pile from Woolrich, Girdharry, Marley and Barrett which I look forward to.

Graham Smith and Preston Lang have been enjoyed before with more to come in the future.

Gender analysis -  7 male authors, 1 female - shocking but no big surprise. I keep deferring my all female reading month.

8 authors read, 4 are English, 2 hail from the US, 1 from Scotland and 1 from Northern Ireland - I think.

All 9 of the reads were fiction - 5 novels - 2 collections of novellas or long short stories and a couple of long stories on their own.

All of the books were published in this decade ....6 from 2018, 1 from 2017, 1 from 2015 - 1 from 2010, though the 2010 collection had previously all been published as separate pieces in the late 30s and 1940.

Two of the reads were pre-owned. Of the other seven - one came from the author and six from publicists/publishers, five of them for participation in blog tours, though I only made the deadline for four of them.

Favourite cover? Cornell Woolrich's Four Novellas of Fear

Second favourite – Graham Smith - When the Waters Recede

My reads were this long 260 - 416 - 51 - 248 - 98 - 192 - 206 - 51 - 294

Total page count = 1816 (533 in May)....... a near 1300 page increase

5 were Kindle reads, and 4 were paperbacks

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

Dale Brendan Hyde's The Ink Run was the longest read at 416 pages

Andrew Barrett's The Lift and The Note were both equal shortest at 51 pages each


A couple this week from LA author, Gary Phillips.  I've read him previously but not for a few years now.

My last time with his work, was an edited anthology of short stories based around one of his character creations - Hollis PI 

There's an author biography for Phillips on the Goodreads site......

GARY PHILLIPS lives in Los Angeles and is best known for his novels and short stories featuring PI Ivan Monk. He has worked a lot of different gigs in his time: a graveyard shift security guard, a printer, a union organizer, co-director of the MultiCultural Collaborative (a nonprofit set-up to improve race relations after the ’92 LA riots) and as political director of a city council campaign. He writes on politics and pop culture for such as the Los Angeles Times, LA Watts Times, Rap Pages, the San Francisco Examiner Examiner, Freestyle and Black Scholar. He occasionally loses money at the poker table, watches his kids play sports, and finds that walking the dog is a fine excuse to light up a stogie. 

The man himself was also kind enough to suffer a few of my questions with good grace back in 2015


In his portfolio there's four books plus a short story collection with series character Ivan Monk, a few with Martha Chainey as the lead and more than half a dozen standalones, plus a load of graphic novel work, which I've not gotten into.

Gary Phillips has his website here.

Perdition U.S.A (1996)

When three young black men--a petty thief, a crack dealer, and a college student--are gunned down within blocks of one another, Ivan Monk sets out to find a link between these seemingly random killings and uncovers a deadly racial conspiracy.

"It takes a certain kind of hard-boiled hero... Ivan Monk is that hero." - Walter Mosley

Bangers (2003)

On The Streets Of L.A. Us against them. That's the law of the cop world. In L.A.'s toughest 'hoods, you gotta bang with the best of the roughnecks. And the best are the five members of TRASH, an elite team of street cops unafraid to go up against the city's worst gangbangers, even if it means bending the rules, planting a piece, or looking the other way for a fellow cop.
The Most Dangerous Person Can Be A Cop...

The crime-infested Venice Heights section is a place Detective Sergeant Rafael "Saint" Santian understands. It's where he grew up, and part of him never left. But the situation is getting out of control. One of the most lethal gangs is making moves, while a politically ambitious assistant D.A. is looking to snare Saint and his men. Meanwhile hidden hands are lighting a torch that will bring up the heat, turning cop against cop as the line gets blurred between gangsta and law enforcer in a city where everyone's riding on the edge...
When three young black men--a petty thief, a crack dealer, and a college student--are gunned down within blocks of one another, Ivan Monk sets out to find a link between these seemingly random killings and uncovers a deadly racial conspiracy.


Monday, 2 July 2018


Another half dozen from the June additions........

Dominique Manotti - Escape (2014) - purchased copy

Not someone I've previously read. Her other books sound good especially Dead Horsemeat!

It's 1987. Two prisoners, both Italian, break out of prison in a rubbish lorry. One heads for Paris, the other to Milan. The first, Carlo, is killed in a shoot-out during a bank robbery under suspicious circumstances. Frightened by the manhunt launched by Interpol, the second prisoner, Filippo, returns to Paris where he becomes a security guard. He spends his nights writing the story of a Red Brigadier, as recounted to him in prison by Carlo. His landlady Cristina finds him a publisher and the book becomes a bestseller. Filippo, carefully coached by his publishers press office, steadfastly refuses to own the story, insisting that all his stories are fiction and that this is a work of imagination. The public don t buy it, neither do the police, and dogged investigations begin to produce the reasons why. Ultimately Filippo cannot escape his fate: that of a man with an assumed identity that carries far greater risks than his own. 

CS DeWildt - Suburban Dick (2018) - purchased copy

I enjoyed The Louisville Problem a few years ago. Dead Animals still sits on the pile.

Private Dick Gus Harris isn’t paid to be nice. Problem is he isn’t paid for much of anything these days. Recently divorced, all Gus wants is a little business to keep his one-man operation afloat and a chance to be a part of his kids’ lives. So when a pair of distraught parents come calling for help locating their missing son, it appears Gus’s luck may be changing. 

As Gus investigates the boy’s disappearance, he discovers something rotten with the Horton High school wrestling team. Gus soon realizes the missing boy may not be missing at all, but rather part of an elaborate embezzlement scheme that serves to keep the team at peak performance and the college scholarships rolling in. Gus is certain that popular high school wrestling coach Geoff Hanson knows more than he’s willing to admit, but has no idea just how far the man is willing to go to keep his secrets from coming to light. 

Soon, the lines between Gus’s work and home life are blurred as he finds himself not only trying to crack the case, but also protecting the people most dear to him from Hanson’s vengeful wrath. 

Praise for SUBURBAN DICK: 

“DeWildt stands alone as a wicked wizard of crime fiction...bold, brash, and completely original.” —Tom Pitts, author of Hustle 

Donald E. Westlake - Corkscrew (2000) - purchased copy

Enjoyed him in the past, but not read a book from him for a few too many years now. I need to get back to his Richard Stark monikered Parker series.

Bryce Proctor has a contract for his next novel, a wife who is trying to extract the last pound of flesh in an ugly divorce, a fast approaching deadline and a serious case of writer's block.

Frank Bill - The Savage (2017) - purchased copy

Crimes in Southern Indiana was enjoyed. Donnybrook still waits for me.

Frank Bill's America has always been stark and violent. In his new novel, he takes things one step further: the dollar has failed; the grid is wiped out. 

Van Dorn is 18 and running solo, dodging the bloodthirsty hordes and militias that have emerged since the country went haywire. His dead father's voice rings in his head as Van Dorn sets his sights not just on survival but also on an old-fashioned system of justice. 

Meanwhile, a leader has risen among the gangs - and around him swirls the cast of brawlers from Donnybrook, with their own brutal sense of right and wrong, of loyalty and justice through strength. 

This is not the distant post-apocalyptic future - this is tomorrow, in a world Bill has already introduced us to. Now he raises the stakes and turns his shotgun prose on our addiction to technology, the values and skills we've lost in the process, and what happens when the last systems of morality and society collapse. 

The Savage presents the bone-chilling vision of an America where power is the only currency and nothing guarantees survival, and it presents Bill at his most ambitious, most eloquent, and most powerful.

Angel Luis Colon - No Happy Endings (2016) - purchased copy

An unknown quantity as yet, but his Blacky Jaguar books are primed and ready to go. Another new one from him drops soon - Pull and Pray.

Nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Novella 

Fantine Park is not the woman her mother was — she's certainly not the safecracker her mother was either. Hell, she's not much of anything useful these days. Fresh off parole after a stint in the joint for a poorly thought out casino robbery, Fantine finds herself confronted by an old partner of her mother's and right back in the thick of it.

Unfortunately, the man dragging her back to the life she left behind, one Aleksei Uryvich, is a complete bully and an idiot — content to believe he can get anything he wants with his brutish nature and the threat of a bullet for Fan's elderly father, Jae.

The score: semen. Yes, semen. Gallons of it. Particularly, the genetic man-batter from supposed Ivy Leaguers and other elite. The material nets top dollar from Asia and Aleksei is foaming at the mouth at the profit potential.

The plan: there is no real plan. Fantine has to get it out of Evensight Storage; a sperm bank situated right by the Battery Park Tunnel in Manhattan. A place barely anyone but a sad sack with an empty sack sees the inside of on a day to day basis.

There's no guarantee anyone involved in this mess is getting out alive, especially when Fantine finds herself face to face with the psychopath known as O Leiteiro — The Milkman.

Frederic Dard - The Gravedigger's Bread (2018) - review copy from publisher

Enjoyed Bird in a Cage and really need to try his other books

A claustrophobic thriller from the French master of noir

Putting dead bodies in the ground for a living could give anyone ideas... 

Blaise is out of work and down on his luck when a chance encounter with a beautiful blonde has him hooked. He'll do anything to stay by her side, even if it means working for her husband, a funeral director. But as everyone knows, three's a crowd.

Praise for Dard's thrillers:

'Worthy of Agatha Christie at her devious best... Classic French noir' Guardian

'Spellbinding' Wall Street Journal

'The wonder is that Frederic Dard's singular take on crime noir is not better known in this country' Daily Mail

Frederic Dard (1921 - 2000) was one of the best known and loved French crime writers of the twentieth century. Enormously prolific, he wrote more than three hundred thrillers, suspense stories, plays and screenplays, under a variety of noms de plume, throughout his long and illustrious career, which also saw him win the 1957 Grand prix de litterature policiere for The Executioner Weeps. Dard's Bird in a Cage, The Wicked Go to Hell, Crush, The Executioner Weeps and The King of Fools are also available or forthcoming from Pushkin Vertigo.

JUNE 2018 - FILMS + TV

There were a few bits and pieces watched in the early part of June before the World Cup took over the TV...... an okay DVD, a disappointing trip to the cinema, an amazing bit of TV, a season 2 continuation and another series embarked upon.

The Handmaid's Tale (2017)

Season two just started and my son informed us that we needed to get caught up on the first one. Sound advice - binge watched 10 episodes over three nights. Pretty bloody terrifying glimpse of a possible future.

From Google....

Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.

The Limey (1999)

Bargain basement or charity shop DVD watched. An okay film, a bit dated. Slightly irritating that every time our crafty Londoner Terence Stamp utters a bit of Cockney Rhyming slang, me ol' China he feels the need to explain himself and translate - presumably for his American audience. What a load of Jack and Danny....

From Google....

The Limey follows Wilson (Terence Stamp), a tough English ex-con who travels to Los Angeles to avenge his daughter's death. Upon arrival, Wilson goes to task battling Valentine (Peter Fonda) and an army of L.A.'s toughest criminals, hoping to find clues and piece together what happened. After surviving a near-death beating, getting thrown from a building and being chased down a dangerous mountain road, the Englishman decides to dole out some bodily harm of his own.

Funny Cow (2017)

Cinema trip to my local library for this one and a bit disappointing if I'm honest. I do like Maxine Peake usually and Paddy Considine for that matter, but it kind of felt a bit like it was trying too hard to be relevant and cutting edge. Alun Armstrong and Stephen Graham also feature.

From Wikipedia....

Funny Cow is a 2017 comedy drama directed by Adrian Shergold, written by Tony Pitts, and starring Maxine Peake, Paddy Considine, Tony Pitts, Stephen Graham and Alun Armstrong. The original songs and score was composed by Richard Hawley with additional songs by Ollie Trevers. The film follows a woman making a name for herself in the stand-up comedy scene of working men's clubs in northern England.[2]

The film debuted on 9 October 2017 in the United Kingdom at the London Film Festival.

The Handmaid's Tale - Season 2 (2018)

More of the same, only the World Cup interrupted us after one or two episodes. Compelling viewing, I'm looking forward to getting caught up soon. Debating whether to take a punt of the book by Margaret Atwood.

From Rotten Tomatoes .....

Critics Consensus: Beautifully shot but dishearteningly relevant, The Handmaid's Tale centers its sophomore season tightly around its compelling cast of characters, making room for broader social commentary through more intimate lenses.

The Sinner (2017)

A few episodes into this eight-parter and I'm enjoying it but not totally glued just yet.
My daughter watched it and enjoyed it enough to press gang me and her mum into taking a gander. Jessica Biel is pretty good, but I can't remember what I've seen her in before.

From Google.....

Young mother Cora Tannetti is overcome by an inexplicable fit of rage that leads her to commit a startling -- and very public -- act of violence, with no explanation as to why she did it. When Detective Harry Ambrose begins his investigation and grows obsessed with uncovering Cora's hidden motive, the two work together to try to get deep into her psyche to learn about the violent secrets that are hidden in her past. The eight-episode thriller -- which tries to uncover the "why" instead of the "who" or "what" -- stars Jessica Biel, who also serves as an executive producer, and Bill Pullman in the lead roles.

Friday, 29 June 2018



Looking for page-turning action and well-placed suspense? Then you'll love the unmissable Godsend.

It has been eighteen months since Danny Felix pulled off the robbery of his life.  His plan brought London to a standstill, but at a heavy price.

Now, living a quiet life running a charter fishing business in the Florida Keys, Danny is trying to come to terms with the death and destruction he had unwittingly unleashed. However, the low profile is beginning to wear thin and he soon starts to crave the adrenalin rush of his former criminal ways. 
Little does he know that three very different women are about to enter his life and turn it upside-down. Soon Danny finds himself right back in the action.

But why has he been chosen? And does he have the appetite to pull off another job where the stakes are so lethally high?

A stop – start stop - start read for me having initially picked it up when in the throes of a house move. Eventually when I got back into it I quite liked it overall.

Our main man is Danny Felix and he’s living an off the grid existence in Florida. Little gifts on his doorstep inform him that his presence and location is known and that his tranquil life in the slow lane (if we ignore the ever increasing panic attacks) is at an end.

Thieves re-united, Danny is sucked back into the game and before too long is planning on taking down a bunch of holy rollers and a drug cartel (sort of with their consent) and levelling the score with Harkness, a nemesis from the London days.

Cross, double-cross, triple cross, seventy year old strippers, a sympathetic priest, an inquisitive and seductive Hispanic police officer, an evangelist with a predilection for kinky pain and some political aspirations, our holy roller’s wife June, who offers more than just the missionary position, Harkness – a reluctant partner, but with trouble brewing between them on the horizon, a trusted Irish lieutenant, an alluring but dangerous drug boss, money laundering, skimming, fishing, BBQ,  confession, anxiety, romance, secrets, sex, dancing, ambition, friendship, guns, a kidnap, a heist, lunchtimes with happy endings, past history and a final reckoning.

Fast-paced once I let the book rip. Lots of angles being played and deception not too far from the surface. The book continually refers back to earlier events in the author’s previous work Standstill which introduced Danny Felix. I wouldn’t say not having read Standstill was a hindrance to my enjoyment, but it may have somewhat spoiled things for me if I do eventually read the series ass-backwards.

Decent characters, dialogue and action, with plenty of humour and banter – it’s not a book that takes itself too seriously. It’s not without a few darker moments though as the story unfolds and approaches the climax. I like reading about robberies and scams more than murder and this offered plenty by way of entertainment. The Florida setting was another plus. If there’s a third Danny Felix book on the horizon – deal me in.

4 from 5

J.A. Marley has his website here.

Read across April, May and June, 2018
Published – 2018
Page count – 294
Source – review copy from Bloodhound Books
Format - Kindle