Friday, 29 June 2018

J.A. MARLEY - GODSEND (2018)



Synopsis/blurb....

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



Thursday, 28 June 2018

THE SWEDISH SIX

Another Scandinavian half dozen that were acquired then buried....

Six from Sweden from Mari Jungstedt, Johan Theorin, Anders De La Motte, Peter Wahloo, Hakan Nesser and Hans Koppel



Peter Wahloo - The Lorry (1962)
I've read the first in the Martin Beck series and saw this one which is half of the double act on their own. It sounds quite interesting, but I've not read it yet.

From Per Wahloo - co-author with his wife, Maj Sjowall, of the internationally bestselling Martin Beck series of mysteries - comes a suspense novel about a former German soldier wanted for questioning about a murder in Spain.

Willi Mohr--former German soldier, starving artist, enigmatic drifter--is arrested by the police and subjected to a lengthy and perplexing interrogation. Unwillingly, he is drawn back to the previous year he spent in Spain, the mysterious death of a Norwegian couple he shared a house with and his tireless attempts to discover how they died. As the interrogation intensifies, Mohr realizes that his own secret activities have implicated him in a dangerous political situation. Exhausted, at the end of his money, worn down by the police, he takes decisive action that leads to a profound personal release.

Hans Koppel - She's Never Coming Back (2011)
Speculative punt - I quite liked the sound of it, but haven't cracked its spine.

Mike Zetterberg lives with his wife Ylva and their daughter in a house just outside Helsingborg. One evening, Ylva isn't home as expected after work. Mike passes it off as a drink with a work friend, but when she's still missing the next day, he starts to worry. As Mike battles suspicion from the police and his own despair, he is unaware that Ylva is still alive, just a stone's throw from his own home. Ylva has been drawn into a twisted plot of revenge and tragedy that leads back into her and her abductors' shared past...



Mari Jungstedt - Unspoken (2007)

Years ago (2011) I read something else by her which I liked - Unseen. Worth having a second look at her work IMO.

It is winter on Gotland, and fourteen-year-old Fanny is missing. She had no friends to speak of other than the horses she took care of at the local racing stable, and seems to have been an unhappy and isolated teenager, the daughter of an absent Jamaican musician and an instable Swedish mother. Is her disappearance somehow connected to the recent brutal murder of alcoholic photographer Henry Dahlstr√ɶm, who had won a large sum of money at the racetrack right before his death? Inspector Anders Knutas and his team investigate under pressure from the media. 

Fanny is finally found, strangled to death and left on a lonely heath, covered by moss and branches. At the same time, grainy but explicit photographs of the girl with a stranger are discovered, hidden in Dahlstr√ɶm's darkroom. Intrepid TV journalist Johan Berg, sent from Stockholm to cover the two deaths, pushes the investigation one decisive step ahead while still trying to resolve his relationship with Emma, which has been simmering since they first met during the investigation into a series of murders on Gotland this past summer. 

All evidence points to one of Fanny's coworkers at the stable, an American who has left the country for a short vacation. As Knutas and his team wait for his return to make the arrest, the inspector takes a well-deserved weekend off with an old friend, and at the lonely cottage in the woods, the pieces finally fit together. But this time, Knutas has gotten too close. . . .


Anders De La Motte - Game (2012)

My wife read and enjoyed this without feeling an overwhelming urge to get to the next in the trilogy. Hopefully it doesn't have a cliffhanger ending, which will probably piss me off if it does. I can't help but think of Keith Lemon and Celebrity Juice whenever I see this author's name.


"A taut thriller that will leave the reader excited for the next book in the series" (Kirkus Reviews) - the first novel in a groundbreaking international thriller trilogy about a deadly game that blurs the line between reality and fiction.

One Sunday morning after a long night of partying, Henrik "HP" Pettersson, a slacker with a lot of ego and very little impulse control, finds a cell phone of an unfamiliar make on a commuter train. Through insisting and slightly unnerving messages that refer to him by name, the phone invites him to play a game. HP accepts without hesitation.

The rules are that HP must complete tasks that range from childish pranks to criminal acts, as allocated by the mysterious Game Master. The Game starts out innocently enough and then becomes increasingly risky, threatening the safety of someone close to HP. He is determined to become a superstar, but when the dark and tragic secrets of his family's past are at stake, HP must make a choice. Will he suffer the humiliation of defeat, or will the need to win push him to the limit - no matter the cost?

The first novel in a fast-paced and riveting trilogy, Game will leave you guessing. Follow the rules, and everybody gets hurt...


Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room (2009)

Another author I know next to nothing about and who I have never read.

It is bitter mid-winter on the Swedish island of Oland, and Katrine and Joakim Westin have moved with their children to the boarded-up manor house at Eel Point. But their remote idyll is soon shattered when Katrine is found drowned off the rocks nearby. And the old house begins to exert a strange hold over him.


Hakan Nesser - The Mind's Eye (2008)

A few people whose views I respect rate this series. I bought a few and never got around to the. Pretty much the story of my reading life.,

The highly anticipated first novel in the Inspector Van Veeteren series in now available in English. At last, American readers will be able to enjoy, from its very beginnings, this addictive series by one of Europe's most beloved and best-selling crime writers.

Chief Inspector Van Veeteren knew that murder cases were never as open-and-shut as this one: Janek Mitter woke one morning with a brutal hangover and discovered his wife of three months lying facedown in the bathtub, dead. With only the flimsiest excuse as his defense, he is found guilty of a drunken crime of passion and imprisoned in a mental institution.

But Van Veeteren's suspicions about the identity of the killer are borne out when Mitter also becomes a murder victim. Now the chief inspector launches a full-scale investigation of the two slayings. But it may only be the unspoken secrets of the dead'"revealed in a mysterious letter that Mitter wrote shortly before his death'"that will finally allow Van Veeteren to unmask the killer and expose the shocking root of this sordid violence.



Tuesday, 26 June 2018

2 BY STEPHEN GREENLEAF

Wind back Wednesday and another couple of books from nearly 40 years ago and author Stephen Greenleaf.






















They're a couple of PI novels from San Francisco in the late 70s, early 80s. I’ve enjoyed more than a few from another San Franciscan PI series – Bill Pronzini's Nameless, so I’ll be interested to see if Greenleaf and Tanner give him a run for his money.

There’s 14 books in the series in total, with Ellipsis the last one published in 2000. Greenleaf also has a handful of non-series books to his name.

There's an interesting article on the series over on The Thrilling Detective Web Site .....
Death Bed, in particular, has always struck me as one of the most powerful P.I. novels I've read, and the murderer's M.O. is one of the nastiest imaginable.




Grave Error (1979)


The first novel in Stephen Greenleaf's classic series featuring John Marshall Tanner, San Francisco ex-lawyer turned private detective.

When her husband begins acting strangely, the wife of a famous legal crusader hires San Francisco P.I. John Marshall Tanner to find out why. Tanner is convinced the case is a simple matter of blackmail. Certainly a man like Roland Nelson has made his share of powerful enemies in a career devoted to exposing fraud and corruption among the mighty.

But Tanner's investigation soon takes a tragic and personal turn. Suddenly Tanner finds himself on a trail of buried secrets, frustrated passions, and smoldering revenge as he races to stop a killer.





Death Bed (1980) 

Hired by dying millionaire Maximillian Kottle to locate Kottle's estranged son, San Francisco private eye John Marshall Tanner begins a quest to locate the former sixties radical who is also wanted for murder

Monday, 25 June 2018

PRESTON LANG - SUNK COSTS (2018)


Synopsis/blurb....

Dan is a con man and a drifter just looking for a ride east. A strange woman in a business suit picks him up on the highway, and soon they’re going 70-miles-an-hour and she’s got a gun pointed at his head. Instead of shooting him, she hits him with a proposition to make some fast money. Against his better judgment, Dan sneaks into her office and steals the key to a safe deposit box. He thinks he’s made a clean getaway until he’s stopped on the way out by Kate, a sultry accountant who knows something is up and is looking for a way in on the score. 

Kate offers Dan a better deal, and the two figure out a way into the box. But there’s no money inside. What they do find is enough to track down a shady photographer who holds the promise of even more treasure. But deception, misdirection, and murder keep Dan on the run, as he begins to realize that Kate the office drone is not what she seems, and the lady on the highway who he double-crossed may be the most dangerous criminal he’s ever met.


Sunk Costs is the third book I’ve read and enjoyed from author Preston Lang. His debut The Blind Rooster was amazing and his second novel, The Carrier pretty damn good. Sunk Costs is his fourth and didn’t disappoint.

A con man, Dan meets a couple of like minded souls during the course of Sunk Costs, trading up one crazy lady with a proposition for a score for another slightly less deranged model, Kate and a better slice of the cake.

Steal a key, impersonate a dead man, access a safety deposit box and home free. If only life was that simple. Inevitably complications arise. There's no fortune in the box, just a further puzzle to solve. 

Chuck in the unwelcome appearance of a couple of additional parties claiming rightful ownership of the missing money and prepared to back their claims with violence, with crazy lady number one hovering in the background and some ongoing trust issues with Kate and Dan has his work cut out coming out ahead.

A fast pace, an easy languid style of writing, a great story, a shady character or three, some sprinklings of brevity throughout with a couple of scenes which made me chuckle. One in particular with Dan thinking on his feet and persuading the overly helpful neighbour not to assist with demolishing the non-existent wall in front of the bathroom, still cracks me up thinking about it.  

Not overly long - less than 200 pages of prose - just about perfect length for me. A great main character, Dan with not much of a back story,  just enough to show us he's been around the block a couple of times. A satisfying resolution - it couldn't really have ended any better in my opinion.

Preston Lang writes the kind of books that I want to read. All Due Respect publishes the kind of books I want to read. Hats off to both.

5 from 5

Preston Lang
has his website here.

Read in June, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 206
Source - review copy received from Chris at All Due Respect (cheers)
Format - paperback

Saturday, 23 June 2018

ANDREW BARRETT - THE NOTE (2017)


Synopsis/blurb....

A thrilling novella introducing Eddie Collins, CSI

Have you ever had that feeling of being watched but when you turn around no one's there?

I have.

It was raining, and I was working a murder scene around midnight when that prickle ran up my spine. If I’d listened to that feeling, if I’d thought back to my past, maybe I could have prevented the terror that was to come.

Back at the office, I found a death threat on my desk.

I had no idea who sent it or why they wanted to kill me.

But I was about to find out.

I’m Eddie Collins, a CSI, and this is my story.

Another Eddie Collins short-ish story from author Andrew Barrett after reading The Lift earlier this month. Longer than the last one, more detailed and with a bit more depth to the main character I liked it.

Collins processes a crime scene, has a row with the attending officer, recognises the victim and gets unnerved by a death threat back at his office. A short journey home to his isolated cottage, a cautious approach - but not cautious enough with an immediate ambush. Eddie starts to fear the death threat - Your going to die tonight - might be about to come true.

Domestic violence, a complaint, murder, mental health issues, familial problems, a gun, a bite or two, an old girlfriend, a trip down memory lane, a violent confrontation, a kettle lead, no coffee, some dodgy plumbing, a familiar but unwelcome police presence, some butting of chests, an armed response unit, a knife, more bloodshed, a taser and a relaxing cigarette.

Lots going on, a fast pace, some inner dialogue and humour, a decent story line, lots of connections between characters and events without being overly coincidental and a decent pay off at the end.


4 from 5

Andrew Barrett has his website here.

In addition to the couple of short Eddie Collins stories I've read, there are four novels in the series.
The Third Rule - CSI Eddie Collins Book One
Black by Rose - CSI Eddie Collins Book Two
Sword of Damocles - CSI Eddie Collins Book Three
Ledston Luck - CSI Eddie Collins Book Four

Read in June, 2018
Published - 2017 originally (2018 by Bloodhound Books)
Page count - 51
Source - review copy from Bloodhound
Format - kindle




Thursday, 21 June 2018

SIX FROM NORWAY

I've not read too much crime fiction from Scandinavia over recent years. More intent on stock-piling than actually reading them. I have six different authors from Norway to get my teeth into at some point....

Gunnar Staalesen, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo, K.O. Dahl, Anne Holt and Jorn Lier Horst



K.O. Dahl - The Fourth Man (2007)


Dahl is an unknown quantity - this has sat on the pile for a fair few years, along with the second in the series.

In the course of a routine police raid, Detective Inspector Frank Frolich of the Oslo Police saves Elizabeth Faremo from getting inadvertently caught in crossfire. By the time he learns that she is the sister of Jonny Faremo, wanted member of a larceny gang, it is already too late. He is obsessed. Suspected, suspended, and blindly in love, Frolich must find out if he is being used before his life unravels beyond repair.


Gunnar Staalesen - The Writing on the Wall (1995 - probably later in translation) 

Enjoyed something from Staalesen about a year ago - Wolves in the Dark, but I've not rushed back to him.

In this crime drama, set in Bergen, Norway, detective Varg Veum's adventures take him into a dark world of privileged citizens who have been drawn into cross-dressing, drugs, and prostitution. When the local judge is discovered dead and clad only in women's lingerie in a luxury hotel, Varg is called in to explain the judge's death. Soon, when a teenage girl suddenly goes missing and her parents ask that he find her,Varg finds that all of the clues lead him deeper into Bergen's criminal underworld.




Karin Fossum - Don't Look Back (2002)


Another author I thought I might have read, but I was wrong  - confusing her with Sweden's Karin Alvtegen, doh....


Beneath the imposing Kollen Mountain lies a small village where the children run in and out of one another's houses and play unafraid in the streets. But the sleepy village is like a pond through which not enough water runs - beneath the surface it is beginning to stagnate. When a naked body is found by the lake at the top of the mountain, its seeming tranquility is disturbed forever. Enter Inspector Sejer, a tough, no-nonsense policeman whose own life is tinged by sadness. As the suspense builds, and the list of suspects grows, Sejer's determination to discover the truth will lead him to peel away layer upon layer of distrust and lies, in this tiny community where apparently normal family ties hide dark secrets. Critically acclaimed across Europe, Karin Fossum's novels evoke a world that is terrifyingly familiar. Don't Look Back introduces the tough, ethical Inspector Sejer to British readers for the first time.


Anne Holt- 1222 (2007)

Another speculative punt in the dark. I've heard of this series, but only bought this one which I liked the sound of.

1222 metres above sea level, train 601 from Oslo to Bergen careens of iced rails as the worst snowstorm in Norwegian history gathers force around it. Marooned in the high mountains with night falling and the temperature plummeting, its 269 passengers are forced to abandon their snowbound train and decamp to a centuries-old mountain hotel. They ought to be safe from the storm here, but as dawn breaks one of them will be found dead, murdered. With the storm showing no sign of abating, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. But Hanne has no wish to get involved. She has learned the hard way that truth comes at a price and sometimes that price just isn't worth paying. Her pursuit of truth and justice has cost her the love of her life, her career in the Oslo Police Department and her mobility: she is paralysed from the waist down by a bullet lodged in her spine. Trapped in a wheelchair, trapped by the killer within, trapped by the deadly storm outside, Hanne's growing unease is shared by everyone in the hotel. Should she investigate, or should she just wait for help to arrive? And all the time rumours swirl about a secret cargo carried by train 601. Why was the last carriage sealed? Why is the top floor of the hotel locked down? Who or what is being concealed? And, of course, what if the killer strikes again?



Jo Nesbo - Phantom (2012)

Read a few Nesbo's but only one Harry Hole so far - The Bat - 5 1/2 years ago!

When Harry left Oslo again for Hong Kong - fleeing the traumas of life as a cop - he thought he was there for good. But then the unthinkable happened. The son of the woman he loved, lost, and still loves is arrested for murder: Oleg, the boy Harry helped raise but couldn't help deserting when he fled. Harry has come back to prove that Oleg is not a killer. Barred from rejoining the police force, he sets out on a solitary, increasingly dangerous investigation that takes him deep into the world of the most virulent drug to ever hit the streets of Oslo (and the careers of some of the city's highest officials), and into the maze of his own past, where he will find the wrenching truth that finally matters to Oleg, and to himself.



Jorn Lier Horst - Dregs (2011)

Liked the cover, liked the blurb, bought the book, shelved it, forgot it.

Meet Chief Inspector William Wisting, Head of CID in Larvik, Norway, the latest unforgettable import from Scandinavian crime fiction. An experienced policeman who is familiar with the dark side of human nature, he lives in challenging times for the Norwegian police force, meeting them with integrity and humanity, and a fragile belief that he can play a part in creating a better world. A police report of a shoe containing a severed foot washed up on the sand introduces CI William Wisting. Soon a second is washed up, but it is another left. Has there been some kind of terrible accident at sea? Does it indicate the killing and dismembering of two victims? Is there a link with the unsolved mystery of a number of disappearances in the Larvik area in recent months? In this gripping police procedural, Wisting gradually gets to the bottom of the mystery with the help of his all too human colleagues and his journalist daughter, Line.



CORNELL WOOLRICH - FOUR NOVELLAS OF FEAR (2010)


Synopsis/blurb...

Cornell Woolrich, best known as the author of Rear Window, is unsurpassed in his ability to create and sustain sheer suspense. In his tales of terror, ordinary people find themselves in the most extraordinary circumstances and, as readers, we share their spine tingling tension every step of the way. Here, collected for the first time, are four of his most nail biting novellas.

Eyes That Watch You

Greedy Vera Miller plots her husband’s murder right under the nose of her mute, paralyzed mother-in-law. After all, the old lady won’t be able to tell anyone about the crime. Or will she?

The Night I Died

Nice guy Ben Cook, goaded by his scheming common-law wife, fakes his own suicide and moves to another town—all to trick his life insurance company into making a large payout. No one en route or at the new address will recognize him, will they?

You’ll Never See Me Again

Ed Bliss’s new bride, miffed by her husband’s insults about her biscuits, promises that Ed will never have to see her again—and storms out! When she doesn’t return within a few days, Ed begins to suspect foul play—but when he reports the crime to the police, he’s the first one they suspect!

Murder Always Gathers Momentum

For his wife’s sake, Dick Paine approaches a former employer for back wages he is owed—but things go terribly wrong and the old boss ends up dead. Now the guilt-ridden Paine, who’d never before committed a crime, is convinced that people will figure out what happened. As his paranoia gathers momentum, anyone he meets is at risk of becoming his next victim. 

A collection published in 2010, but all the stories were from the 30s and early 40s. I've not read anything from Cornell Woolrich before and was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed these - a helluva lot more than I was expecting to.

My favourite was You'll Never See Me Again. A newly wed couple have a row over her biscuits, harsh words are exchanged, pride gets in the way and the wife walks out. Anger, turns to regret and worry. The wife has vanished. A visit to the parents, a few odd incidents, a report to the police, a frenzied car journey or two, a race against time, and a sort of happy ever after. Humorous to begin with, followed by ratcheting tension. I liked how seemingly innocuous details in the story, acquired significance later on when the puzzle is resolved.

Eyes That Watch You was clever. Murder is planned in front of a helpless witness. The woman is paralysed and unable to speak, she hears her daughter-in-law plot to kill her son with her lover. An event which happens. Patience, intelligence and respect all play a part in bringing justice to bear.

Murder Always Gathers Momentum read a bit like one of Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected with the twist at the end. A couple of incorrect assumptions and a lack of bravery lead a good man to make a wrong choice and the end result is murder; with an ever-increasing sense of paranoia and an escalation as events spiral out of control. One death begets another and another. The final twist is just one more nail in our protagonist, Dick Paine's coffin - a somewhat ironic nail.

An insurance scam, a faked suicide, a plotting, calculated wife, an unfortunate meeting, an untimely newspaper report - crime doesn't pay in The Night I Died.

I liked Woolrich's writing. I wasn't too concerned about figuring out how things would get resolved at the end of each story, I was content to enjoy the ride and see where the author took me. I enjoyed the fact that the resolutions to the stories were varied. There's a couple where there is a happy ever after of sorts, but no actual fairy tale ending. A loved one has died, loss is endured and justice is delivered to the perpetrators. The outcome is as good as it gets. In the other two, a couple of ordinary Joes discover the hard way that breaking the law can have some harsh outcomes. An event, an unintended consequence, some panic and some poor choices from which there's no turning back.


4.5 from 5

Cornell Woolrich was fairly prolific during the 20s, 30s and 40s. He also wrote under the names George Hopley and William Irish. He died in 1968.

I have a couple of his novels on the pile, which I'm looking forward to with a bit more enthusiasm than before - The Bride Wore Black and I Married a Dead Man.

Read in June, 2018
Published - 2010 (previously separately, 1936, 1939 x 2, 1940)
Page count - 192
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

2 BY JOSEPH HANSEN

Another Wednesday and a couple of books from the 70s and Joseph Hansen























Hansen wrote a dozen or so books featuring a gay insurance investigator - Dave Brandstetter.

The first - Fadeout was published in 1970 with the others following at regular intervals up to the early 90s.

Hansen according to Fantastic Fiction website wrote about 40 books in his lifetime, but only 20-odd are listed on the site. He died in 2004.


His full Brandstetter series is as follows....

1. Fadeout (1970)
2. Death Claims (1973)
3. Troublemaker (1975)
4. The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (1978)
5. Skinflick (1979)
6. Gravedigger (1982)
7. Nightwork (1984)
8. The Little Dog Laughed (1986)
9. Early Graves (1987)
10. Obedience (1988)
11. The Boy Who Was Buried This Morning (1990)
12. A Country Of Old Men (1991)
Brandstetter and Others (1984)
The Complete Brandstetter (omnibus) (2007

Fadeout is the only one I've read to date and it was enjoyed back in 2013. Thoughts here. Not sure why I have left it nearly five years to give him any thought.

I think the series has recently been republished for Kindle for anyone who likes the sound of these and doesn't fancy tracking down dog-eared old paperbacks. Me, I kind of like them.

Death Claims (1973)

After forty years, Hammett has a worthy successor' The Times

Dave Brandstetter stands alongside Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and Lew Archer as one of the best fictional PIs in the business. Like them, he was tough, determined, and ruthless when the case demanded it. Unlike them, he was gay.

Joseph Hansen's groundbreaking novels follow Brandstetter as he investigates cases in which motives are murky, passions run high, and nothing is ever as simple as it looks. Set in 1970s and 80s California, the series is a fascinating portrait of a time and a place, with mysteries to match Chandler and Macdonald.

John Oats is dead; drowned in the treacherous waves of the Pacific. But was it accident, suicide, or murder? Between the mysteriously absent son, the bitter ex-wife and the current lover, there are plenty of people with reason to lie to Dave about what really happened that night - and why.




Troublemaker (1975)


Rick Wendell never made an enemy in his life, but he died all the same; and Larry Johns was found standing over him with the gun in his hand still smoking. Only Dave can't see it as an open-and-shut case - what was Johns' motive? What happened to the cash Wendell withdrew that day? As his investigation progresses, he comes to realise the danger of assumptions, particularly where love and money are involved.

Monday, 18 June 2018

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH DALE BRENDAN HYDE

Dale Brendan Hyde, author of The Ink Run (on the blog yesterday - here) answers a few questions for me...






















I’m guessing the book writing’s maybe not full time? If not, what’s the day job? Can you give us a quick biography of yourself?

Writing is my full time work, I have done many jobs over the years from Sales jobs working abroad, time shares, running my own sales team in Belfast, working in the Middle East doing casual jobs, like fuelling boats on the jetty, but for the past fifteen years all I have concentrated on is to enhance my writing skills.

Do you have a typical writing schedule?

No, I don’t have a typical writing schedule, I only got into some kind of routine when writing my debut novel, which I found was necessary to put into some kind of schedule to complete the typing of the manuscript, I usually work by hand writing everything first, making note books with ideas and then I build from there into some more kind of structured document, until I find it is time to start the actual typing.

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

I have used certain friends and family members to reflect in my debut novel, I certainly focused on my Mother and Father, especially my Father as one of the main characters Stan! I do have to point out though, that he is nothing at all like I have portrayed him in the book, only certain characteristics and mannerisms that I found suited to the structure of the book.  I also used certain names from my family tree, that I attached to characters in my book.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

Yes, when I start plotting in my note books I have always have a strong feeling of how the end of the novel will read, as I continue to hand write ideas into the note book. I always draw and sketch the front covers and titles, I also work on the blurb for the back covers.

Are there any subjects off limits? From my reading of The Ink Run (a few pages to go now) and the trials and tribulations Otiss endures, I’m guessing not many.

There are no subjects off limit to my writing at all as I actually got into my writing as I have a number of social issue to write about from a personal point of view, I would say that The Ink Run covers a lot with reference to the abuse of children in the home, and also covers the abuse of patients in asylums, where my second book,The Death Row Thrift shop is more of a main stream crime/horror story, and the only reason that I have decided to write something of this nature is in the hope I can get into a bigger publishing company where I can then get the main book published which is titled STITCHED. I am getting quite tired of the main stream writers that are out there and seemingly at the top of the game, I respect their craft of storytelling, these however do not seem to be pushing the boundaries of social problems, which I hope to eventually cover within my own novels, as for instance the third novel that I will be publishing under the title of Stitched, covers the horrific social stigma of enduring a miscarriage of justice.I found whilst researching, that only the highest profile of case get some kind of media attention, the Stitched book will highlight the little man on the street, the one that does not have a big shot lawyer or has some kind of business in the echelons of high society that may be able to influence the outcome of trials, while most miscarriage of justice centre around murder, my intention is to highlight fully the stigma of an innocent man dealing with a rape case.

How long from conception to completion did The Ink Run take? Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way?

The Ink Run took at least 15 years to complete, that doesn’t mean I sat at a type writer for 15 years, I would put it in that time bracket as an example from when I first initially wrote anything first used in the novel to the actual day of typing the end. It certainly wasn’t a smooth journey, there were many obstacles in my own personal life that put the book on the back burner, from things as being totally skint and having to put my laptop into the pawn shop, and due to having no money to get it back out I lost it! Then having to save for a new laptop to work on to more, personal horrific bumps in the road like being diagnosed with bowel cancer, which then spread to the liver and lung! Which for the past five years has slowed the process down, but did not stop me from getting the book finished and published.

Did the end result mirror your expectations at the start of the process, or is it a very different book to what you imagined?

The book was completed totally as I imagined from how I had written the manuscript, although I put off typing this due to the monumental task of editing it, but once I had taken the plunge and over a couple of years steadily edited into the hand written manuscript I found that once I began typing the book it almost typed itself as I had read the book through so many times, this was implanted into my mind as an already completed piece of literature.

Is The Ink Run your only published work to date or do you have more stuff out there?

I do have more published work, although this is not out for sale, I first published through Route a poetry book, which I entered in for the TS Elliot prize, I have also contributed to a friend’s book called Why about the alienation of fathers in custody battles and why this is important to have both mother and father present in their lives as they grow up, many magazines I have also written for, which include MMA Uncut, Glasgow Eyes Magazine and Inside Time the national paper for prisoners.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

I do have a few unpublished gems in my bottom drawer, things that have been plotted out and given titles to, such as Concer and The Different Doors in Heaven, and I am also in the future going to re-package and publish my poetry book, which is now newly titled, The Gods R Watchin.

What’s the current project in progress?

My current project in progress is as mentioned previously, The Death Row Thrift shop based in Dripping Springs, Texas and is a crime/Horror novel, it follows a widower from Ireland who flees Ireland to America and gets caught up with three serial killers who are all operating in her new hone town.

What’s the best thing about writing?

The best thing about being a writer is the freedom to write anywhere in the world at any given time and to have the chance to have your thoughts read all over the world, if you are writing something that is a powerful perception of a certain subject, then that can become a very appealing reason to become an author in the first place.

The worst?

The worst thing about writing is, spending many years working very hard and feeling that sometimes you have not been given the money/pay that reflects your hard work.

What are the last five books you’ve read?





The last books that I have read are the two follow up books to the Steig Larsson trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, after his unfortunate death A writer called David Lagercrantz took up the mantel of the trilogy using the same characters and in my opinion did a marvellous job, I have had many books on my to read list but due to writing my own things haven’t got around to, but I have managed to read a book that Jamie Byng the director of new books at Cannongate sent to me it was a book about alcoholic writers by Olivia Laing titled A Trip to Echo Springs, I found this a very thought provoking novel about the literary giants that wrote with what some assume as a burden, not my personal thoughts however. Another great book I have read that won the Man Booker Prize was A brief History of Seven killings by Marlon James, which covers the political turmoil which surrounded the shooting of Bob Marley in Kingston, Jamaica.  Whilst on holiday in Mauritius I read Steinbeck’s buccaneering novel The Cup of Gold about the life of the Pirate Sir Henry Morgan, which given the setting only added to the genius of the writing.

Who do you read and enjoy?

See above

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The book I wish I has written is Papillon, by Henri Charriere who was sentenced to life in a French penal colony for a murder he didn’t commit, it has been quoted on the cover as the best adventure story ever written.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I used to enjoy boxing and training however due to the ongoing issues with my health I am unable to train to my full ability, I do however enjoy socialising with my friends, the cinema and spending time with my dog Nap

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

On my way home from my last holiday in Hong Kong, on the inflight entertainment I watched a great film put together by polish students it was an animated adaption of Van Gogh’s life and murder/suicide, using the actual paintings he produced as the back drop of the film, which was titled Loving Vincent.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Hyde household?

I don’t usually watch much TV as I find this a distraction to my writing and I know that the majority of people have seen The Sons of Anarchy, but for me I am only just bingeing out on this on Netflix,

-----------------------------
Many thanks to Dale for his time.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

DALE BRENDAN HYDE - THE INK RUN (2017)


Synopsis/blurb....

Book Description

OTISS is an abused child, physically & mentally tortured for years in the home by his sadistic parents. His Father STAN plots an elaborate alibi enabling him to set up the boy for the murder of his own Mother.

A trial of sorts, hanging on the basis of a defense of automatism( murder when sleepwalking) sees a detainment to the FABERON institution for the criminal insane.

In this cloudy pond, where the staff are every bit as dangerous & disturbed as the patients.

Young OTISS is placed on a wing funded as a trial by the Government which uses olden day methods from centuries past to cure madness.

Eventually released a decade later as an even more tortured soul, he sets up THE VILLAGE EYE pub as a front to his real nocturnal activities of being a VIGILANTE.

Warning beatings on the scum of the village soon becomes tiresome as he reaches new limits of retribution.

Still traumatized from youth, will he find the courage to finally confront STAN?

You can't truly escape your blood lines DNA as fatal mistakes see a familiar face from the INSTITUTION reveal that our main protagonist has not been the only one keeping the VIGIL & upping the ANTE.

The Ink Run is the debut novel from author Dale Brendan Hyde. It's a book which catalogues the life of Otiss from childhood and the sadistic abuse of his father with the indifference to his suffering by his mum, who is also a victim. Onward through the false imprisonment and his detention in an asylum, after being framed for his mother's murder. To his life after freedom and a continuation of the violence which has accompanied him throughout his life, albeit with Otiss now as the harbinger.

Intense, dark, disturbing, cruel, uncomfortable and challenging. I don't think I could say I enjoyed it, who could with such a life described? It was a book I needed to read in short bursts over a prolonged period of time.

Difficult themes are explored ...... child abuse, institutional abuse and a corrupt justice system. These are contrasted with displays of resilience, spirit and defiance and the comfort gleaned from friendship and strength garnered from shared experiences.

Pre-imprisonment, there are temporary moments of light and respite in a solitary friendship with Johnny and the brief connection Otiss forms with his grandfather, but they are few and far between. Normality for Otiss is abuse.

We also get a feel for incarceration and the sadistic nature of the institution Otiss finds himself in. Staff abuse is commonplace with the hierarchy a cruel regime. One early hope for compassion and humane treatment in the guise of  Doctor Woo is quickly extinguished with Woo's departure and Otiss' suffering continues, indeed greatens.

Post freedom, I struggled to empathise with Otiss and his actions. Our victim turned vigilante and whilst the targets of his ire were bullies and deserving of punishment, in some ways it was sad that Otiss was the one to dispense it. A balancing of the scales for previous sins suffered in some ways diminished him in my eyes. The D-Day showdown with Stan - father and chief architect of Otiss' misery was gratuitously prolonged and cruel. Violence begets violence, which may be the author's point. I wish he had walked away and broken the cycle. Easier said than done, I guess.

On the downside - it could have been much shorter and we could have gotten where we were going in a few less pages. The numerous incidents related from the first stage of life, pre-murder after a while seemed a bit repetitious and numbing. I got the message early and was a little bit irked by the narration of another episode of cruelty, followed by another incident of abuse and and ....

On the upside - it's a thought provoking novel which doesn't shy away from presenting abuse and putting it to the forefront of your mind. Better to be confronted by such things, than exist in a bubble where you can pretend they don't happen. 

A difficult read - very challenging but worth the effort.

3 from 5

Read in May/June 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 416
Source - review copy from author
Format - paperback