Friday, 16 August 2019

THOMAS WAUGH - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (2019)


Synopsis/blurb....

"Dark and punchy. An enigmatic hero takes on the dangerous streets of London." Shaun Baines, author of Pallbearer


Two Albanians, sitting in a car, are selling cocaine outside a school again.


Enough is enough, James Marshal, an ex-Para, tells himself as he observes the drug dealers.


Marshal assaults the Albanians. But it's just the start, rather than the end, of things.


The ruthless gang, led by Luka Rugova and Viktor Baruti, demand retribution. The blood debt must be paid.


To gain intelligence on the criminal organisation Marshal approaches the fixer, Oliver Porter.


In return for providing Marshal with information, Porter asks a favour of his former associate. 


Marshal must drive the fixer's niece around for a couple of days.


But a lot can happen in a couple of days.


When Marshal returns to London, the Albanians find him. The blood debt still needs to be paid.


Marshal must end what he started, one way or another.


Enough is Enough is the follow-up title to the acclaimed and bestselling novel Gun For Hire.


Recommended for fans of Graham Greene, Lee Child and Stephen Leather.

A decent start, followed by a lull, then about halfway it warmed up again and recaptured my interest, before a kind of hurried finish which kind of brought us full circle - Marshal settles up with the Albanians.

I'm unsure if the loss of urgency was the story or just a bit of ennui in my reading. I have multiple books on the go at any one time usually and I didn't make much headway with the others, so I'm guessing me.

I liked the start. Ex-military man, James Marshal gets the hump with some Albanian drug dealers, pushing their wares near the school on his street. Marshal sends them packing with a few injuries and several dents to their macho pride. Their culture and gang fidelity demands retribution, something Marshal is aware of.

Pre-empting things, Marshall contacts an old comrade for some intelligence details on the gang. Oliver Porter is a fixer. He provides the information in return for a favour. Marshal has to chauffeur his niece around town for a couple of days and avoid hitting on the retired model in the meantime.

The middle segment of the book sees Marshal assessing the intelligence while ferrying the niece around town as they slowly fall for each other. Women and commitment aren't Marshal's thing, as we previously discover in the opening passages of the book. But maybe he just hadn't met the one.

Conversations on books, poetry, music, property, plans and ambitions follow as the pair (girl's name escapes me) get to know each other. There's a quick punch-up at a party as Marshal defends one of the attractive catering staff's virtue from some drunken boorish hooray Henrys.

Then it's back to London, back to the Albanians, then back to romance.

I think I kind of expected more full on action throughout as opposed to heavy romantic undertones taking over the story for a decent chunk of the book. I didn't dislike it, it showed our main character had more layers and depth to him that a caricature fighting man full of biff, bash, bosh with nothing between his ears.

Quite a quick read once I committed to it and stopped dithering. Enjoyed eventually and definitely an author I would read more from in the future.

More than a 3.5 - just about a 4 on balance.

Thomas Waugh's Nothing to Lose has been enjoyed before.

Read - August, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 144
Source - review copy from publisher - Sharpe Books
Format - PDF

Thursday, 15 August 2019

JAMES SALLIS - OTHERS OF MY KIND (2013)


Synopsis/blurb....

At age eight, Jenny Rowan was abducted and kept for two years in a box beneath her captor's bed. Eventually she escaped and, after living for eighteen months on cast-offs at the local mall, was put into the child-care system. Suing for emancipation, at age sixteen she became a legal adult. Nowadays she works as a production editor for the local public TV station, and is one of the world's good people.

One evening she returns home to find a detective waiting for her. Though her records are sealed, he somehow knows her story. He asks if she can help with a young woman who, like her many years before, has been abducted and traumatized. Initially hesitant, Jenny decides to get involved, reviving buried memories and setting in motion an unexpected chain of events.

As brilliantly spare and compact as are all of James Sallis's novels, Others of My Kind stands apart for its female protagonist. Set in a near future of political turmoil, it is a story of how we overcome, how we shape ourselves by what happens to us, and of how the human spirit, whatever horrors it undergoes, will not be put down.

'Haunting and immensely readable' - Spectator

'The thriller writer's thriller writer. His prose is intense... his stories so dark they almost inflict pain, and his sense of place exact' - Daily Mail

'Original, unexpected, moving, harsh harrowing, emotionally complex, written with subdued brilliance and utterly absorbing' - Times

My first time reading James Sallis in about a decade, I reckon and whilst it wasn't the best book ever there was enough to have me wanting to read him again a bit sooner next time.

No real plot as such. An adult women was abducted as a child, escaped, lived for a period as a scavenger in a shopping mall, before being helped by the authorities and the system, and has now integrated back into society. She works as a TV news editor, is amazing at her job, but is quite solitary and has no real friends.

We get snippets of her back story and in the present we see her reluctant involvement in helping another abducted and freed woman come to terms with her situation. Fast forward, she traces her real parents and somewhat unbelievably reaches out to a powerful politician - either a Vice President, wife of a dead President, or Presidential candidate soon to become President - when her son is abducted.

I enjoyed time in our main character's company. I liked the bond she developed with Jack, the detective who asked for help. I liked the connection with her new charge, Cheryl and her relationships with the people around her at work, albeit she conceals her true identity and past from them until her cover is blown at least.

In some respects her character was a bit too perfect. She is totally bereft of anger, rancour, bitterness, jealousy, greed or another other negative human trait. She kind of makes Mother Theresa look like a bad egg. She brings food parcels to the local squat and engages with them all. She meets her abductor on his death bed and fulfils his dying wish.

I kind of get her, in regards to acceptance of her past and taking the positives from her experience. She felt loved and cared for and has an continued emotional attachment that persists through the book with her abductor, but me I'd be full of poison after such an experience.

Lots of great writing and profundity expressed by Sallis throughout the book, which sadly because I have screwed up my Kindle I was unable to highlight and now recall. But there was plenty there to give me pause and reflect on.

A bit of a weird one overall. I'm sure James Sallis is conveying a message of ..... what? hope, time healing, move on, etc etc. who knows? I suppose those are the positives I take from it, albeit with a certain pinch of salt as he stretched the bounds of believe-ability more than once.

3.5 from 5

Read - August, 2019
Published - 2013
Page count - 192
Source - owned copy
Format - Kindle

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

JUNE 2019 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH

An enjoyable month's reading - 18 books covered in the month - impressive huh? Not really when you consider 9 of them are sold alone short stories on Amazon and one was a novella weighing in at less than 80 pages. So 8 proper books read in the month.

No 5 STAR READ in the month - but a couple that came very close

4.5 STARS - David Swinson's 3rd Frank Marr book - Trigger and S.A. Cosby's debut novel My Darkest Prayer.

I honestly couldn't split them if choosing one to re-read, so it's either 2 BOOKS OF THE MONTH or none - let's say 2!






















4 STAR READS.....
novel - Chris Hammer's Scrubland, 

novella - S.W. Lauden's That'll Be the Day: A Power Pop Heist, 

short story collection - Toni Kan's Nights of the Creaking Bed, 

novella plus short story collection - Graham Wynd's Love is a Grift

short stories - Tim Stevens and Snout, Steve Brewer with 5 solid kick-ass tales - Found Money. Cemetery Plot, Payoff, Love's Gone and Showdown, Shoshana Edwards and Freeze, Mike McCrary with Separate Checks

3.5 STARS - John Brady and Golden Palms

3 STAR READS - Day Keene's There Was a Crooked Man, Joe Clifford's Rag and Bone and an okay short story from Mike McCrary - Broken

I spent time in the company of......

a straight cop turning crooked

a couple of low-level crims with poor decision-making skills

a gaggle of spies with a traitor amongst them

an ex-cop PI and his new recruit, working to clear an old friend

a plethora of Nigerian characters and their trials and tribulations

an undertaker’s assistant with a short fuse and some investigating to do

a lecturer turned political lackey helping the natives in LA

criminals, biker chicks, outlaws, grifters, hit men and more

a grave digger and his intended occupant

a feisty old-timer with a temper and a gun

a couple of drinking buddies and a women who's come between them

two friends - one with a secret, one with a grudge

a gang of old ladies reluctant to say goodbye

a blind women and her support worker

a former couple trying to reconcile or maybe not

a reluctant former pop star unsure of a comeback

a PI type with a long held grudge

an Aussie journalist investigating a mass shooting and its aftermath

Settings...... Haines City, Florida; London; Washington DC; Lagos, Nigeria; Southern Virginia; Los Angeles; Galway, Brussels, Helsinkini, Dundee and more; Oklahoma and Memphis; Ashton, New Hampshire; Riversend, Victoria, Australia and assorted bars, trailer parks, cemeteries, homes, restaurants and more in unspecified locales...

The full list for the month was.... Day Keene - There was a Crooked Man (1954) (3)

Steve Brewer - Found Money (2012) (4)

Tim Stevens - Snout (2012) (4)

David Swinson - Trigger (2019) (4.5)

Toni Kan - Nights of the Creaking Bed (2019) (4)

S.A. Cosby - My Darkest Prayer (2019) (4.5)

John Brady - Golden Palms (2019) (3.5)

Graham Wynd - Love is a Grift (2019) (4)

Steve Brewer - Cemetery Plot (2013) (4)

Steve Brewer - Payoff (2012) (4)

Steve Brewer - Yvonne's Gone (2012) (4)

Steve Brewer - Showdown (2012) (4)

Shoshana Edwards - Freeze! (2013) (4)

Mike McCrary - Broken (2019) (3)

Mike McCrary - Separate Checks (2019) (4)

S.W. Lauden - That'll Be the Day: A Power Pop Heist (2019) (4)

Joe Clifford - Rag and Bone (2019) (3)

Chris Hammer - Scrublands (2019) (4)


If you're not asleep yet - anal analysis for my own amusement - read on if you're an insomniac ......


New to me authors in the month - 6 - Day Keene, Toni Kan, S.A. Cosby, John Brady, Shoshana Edwards, Chris Hammer

I have more on the pile to read from Day Keene

Authors enjoyed before - 7 - Steve Brewer, Tim Stevens, David Swinson, Graham Wynd, Mike McCrary, S.W. Lauden and Joe Clifford

There's more on the TBR pile from 6 of them - Steve Brewer, Tim Stevens, Graham Wynd (or her alter ego K.A. Laity at least), S.W. Lauden and Joe Clifford

18 reads from 12 different authors.
Steve Brewer was read 5 times, Mike McCrary was read twice

2 were series books .....

Joe Clifford's Rag and Bone - the 5th in the Jay Porter series,
Trigger was the 3rd in David Swinson's Frank Marr series

Gender analysis - 2 female authors, 10 male.

Another poor attempt at diversity in my reading! Deja-vous.
It looks like I'll have to sort out another all-female reading month later in the year to address the imbalance.


Of the 12 different authors read, 9 hailed from the USA, 1 from Nigeria, 1 from Australia and 1 from England - as best I can tell.

All 18 of the reads were fiction,

17 of the 18 books read were published this century - this decade
9 from 2019, 1 from 2018, 2 from 2013 and 5 from 2018

1 book was from 1954,

1 came from the man-cave blue tub stash in my garage.
Day Keene's There Was a Crooked Man

Publishers -  Mulholland Books x 1, Fox Spirit Books x 1, Cassava Republic x 1, Oceanview Publishing x 1, Wildfire x 1, Intrigue Publishing x 1, Universal Paperbacks x 1, Certified - Human - Books x 1, Bad Words Inc x 2, 7 probably 8 via Amazon Media - 1 has been removed from sale so who knows?

(A few of the above probably pass as self-published but I'm fine reading that.)

4 of the 18 reads were pre-owned,

1 was accessed at Net Galley early reviewer site, cheers to publisher Mulholland Books. I actually ran out of time reading it so had to by myself a copy to finish

2 were accessed at Edelweiss - Above the Treeline, early reviewer site, thanks to Oceanview Publishing and Cassava Republic

1 was a review copy courtesy of Reedsy Discovery website

1 was received directly from the publisher - cheers to Fox Spirit Books

1 was borrowed from Leighton Buzzard Library

9 were read as part of a month long Kindle Unlimited trial

Favourite cover? David Swinson - Trigger



 Second favourite cover -  Toni Kan - Nights of the Creaking Bed











My reads were this long 112 - 11 - 33 - 352 - 176 - 222 - 288 - 256 - 11 - 14 - 9 - 11 - 14 - 20 - 18 - 74 - 256 - 500

Total page count = 2377 (1712 in May) ....... an increase of 665 pages

10 were Kindle reads, 2.5 were ePub files read on the laptop,  2.5 were paperbacks, 2 were PDF files and 1 was a hardback

9 < 50,
1 between 51 < 100,
2 between 101 < 200,
4 between 201 < 300,
1 between 301 < 400,
1 > 400 pages

Chris Hammer and Scrublands was the longest read at 500 pages

Steve Brewer with Yvonne's Gone was the shortest at 9 pages long.

Monday, 12 August 2019

2 BY WILLIAM McINTYRE

A couple from William McIntyre, an author I have yet to read.






















William McIntyre is a Scottish lawyer who has written about 10 books in his Best Defence series featuring a defence lawyer, Robbie Munro. He also has a standalone novel and some non-fiction to his name.

It's been a long while since I read any crime fiction with a legal lawyerly slant and McIntyre's books might be a good place to start, especially as they contain elements of humour.

From Fantastic Fiction

Based in Scotland and drawing on his thirty years as a criminal defence lawyer, there is a rich vein of dry-humour running through the series, which William describes as an antidote to crime fiction featuring maverick cops chasing a serial killers, emphasising that justice is not only about convicting the guilty, but also about acquitting the innocent.

The two I've managed to acquire are the seventh and eighth in his series. Ideally I would pick up the first and work my way forwards to these. Time and finances may dictate otherwise!

For reference the series opener is Relatively Guilty

Present Tense (2016)

Criminal lawyer, Robbie Munro, is back home, living with his dad and his new-found daughter. Life as a criminal lawyer isn't going well, and neither is his love life. While he's preparing to defend the accused in a rape case, it all becomes suddenly more complicated when one of his more dubious clients leaves a mysterious box for him to look after. What's in the box is going to change Robbie's life - forever.

`Crime with an edge of dark humour. The Best Defence series could only come out of Scotland.'-Tommy Flanagan, Braveheart, SOA, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2











Good News Bad News (2017)

Life's full of good news and bad news for defence lawyer Robbie Munro. The good news is he's in work, representing Antonia Brechin on a drugs charge. The bad news is that she's the granddaughter of notorious Sheriff Brechin.

Meanwhile, another of Robbie's clients, Ellen Fletcher, has won the lottery and asked Robbie to find her husband Freddy, who disappeared having swindled the evil Jake Turpie. Unfortunately, Jake's not willing to bury the hatchet - not unless it's in Freddy's head.

Robbie juggles cases and private life with his usual dexterity, but the more he tries to fix things the more trouble everyone's in.

"McIntyre's outstanding third mystery featuring Scottish defence counsel Robbie Munro perfectly blends humour and investigation...Readers will want to see a lot more of the endearing Robbie.""--Publishers Weekly *

Sunday, 11 August 2019

T.S. HUNTER - CARELESS WHISPER (2019)


Synopsis/blurb....

LOOSE LIPS COST LIVES.

It’s 1986, and Adam Cave, lead singer of the pop sensation Loose Lips, is struggling to stay in the closet, especially as his group is going through a messy split, and media speculation about the reasons behind it are high. 

Joe Stone is assigned to Adam as a runner for the behind-the-scenes, warts and all expose of the recording of the bands last album, and an unlikely friendship begins to form.

But when Adam’s manager, Jack Eddy, is found dead in Adam’s hotel room, in what looks like a sex game gone wrong, Joe turns to his flatmate, Russell, to help him clear the pop star’s name, and keep his secret.

Russell, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. He’s just been for a test, the results of which may change his life forever.

Another enjoyable visit to Soho mid-80s in the company of Joe Stone and flatmate Russell, with the pair of them teaming up to solve the murder of a gay band manager, rather than allowing lazy policing to conspire in an innocent man's conviction.

What I enjoy about these books is the sense of time and place Hunter portrays when describing life as a gay man in a minority community in somewhat less enlightened times..... Soho, London, music, fashion, community, attitudes, a killer disease on the rampage and the fear and worries that accompany it. 

A boy band, an unhappy lead singer, unrequited love, public image, an investigative journalist with a scoop in mind, an ambitious film-maker, friction in camp, an impending implosion and a murder.

This is probably not the most complex mystery ever written, but I liked it. Russell is a former Met Detective forced to resign after a sex sting operation conceived to out and expose his sexuality. He still possesses the skills from his former job and the ambition to get even or even one up on Skinner, the architect of his removal and the current lead on the case. Do what Skinner fails to - ask the right questions of the right people and apply a bit of pressure when required. See through the half truths and mis-truths and murder solved. Albeit with the help of a pal, Joe.

Overall verdict.

Entertaining, instructive, enlightening but never preachy. An interesting enough mystery, decent pace, characters full of heart, conviction and loyalty, a trip back down memory lane with the music and fashion of a period when I was in my early 20s myself and only 120-odd pages long. Perfect for a one-sitting read.

4 from 5

The first in T.S. Hunter's London Noir series, Tainted Love has been enjoyed before. The second, Who's That Girl sits on the pile.

Read - August, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 126
Source - review copy from publisher - Red Dog Press
Format - paperback

Saturday, 10 August 2019

JULY 2019 - FILMS + TV (+ THEATRE) (HOME VIEWING - MOSTLY)

A decent month's small screen viewing and a family outing to watch a black comedy drama play around the corner at our local library theatre.

Wild Bill (2019) (ITV Drama series)

The last couple of episodes from this one were watched and enjoyed. I'm hoping Rob Lowe comes back for a second series as I've enjoyed his portrayal of an American cop running a rural police force. Plenty of action, plenty of different types of cases........ family feuds, witness protection, money laundering, a corrupt cop and conflict with the man who put him in his position.

From IMDB....

US police chief Bill Hixon lands in Lincolnshire with his 14 year-old daughter Kelsey, hoping to flee their recent painful past. New community forces Bill to question everything about himself.

Creators: Dudi Appleton, Jim Keeble, David Griffiths
Stars: Rob Lowe, Bronwyn James, Anthony Flanagan



4 Latas (2019) - Film - Netflix
A French subtitled film watched in Slovakia on Netflix. Subtitles always demand I pay attention when watching as I'm totally fluent in absolute no languages other than English - even that's debatable. Jean Reno is a familiar face - Leon and Ronin. I quite liked it - a road trip across the desert for a sad re-union with a dying friend.

From Google....

Hoping to reunite with a dying friend in Mali, two longtime pals cross the Spanish Sahara with their friend's estranged daughter. Along the way, they recall trips the three made together in the 1980s, crossing Africa in cars they would later sell.


Dinner - Moira Buffini - Local Theatre
Five go theatre.... the stars aligned and my wife, myself and all 3 children were free to congregate and spend a quality evening at our local theatre. A play featuring.... death, crime, food, arguments, a creepy butler, an unexpected guest, infidelity, jealousy, anger, secrets and confrontation.
Enjoyable and very funny in places. A great night out.

From Wikipedia...

Dinner is a 2002 play by the British dramatist Moira Buffini. It premiered at the Royal National Theatre, London on 18 October 2002.

Paige Janssen invites some friends over to dinner to mark the publication of a book, Beyond Belief, written by her husband, Lars. A succession of unusual courses, interrupted by the arrival of an unexpected guest, lead to some surprising revelations and, eventually, to death.


London Kills (2019) - BBC Drama 

A five-part drama which aired over consecutive nights, though I watched on catch-up. Five different cases of murder to be solved, but an over-riding story arc concerning the recent disappearance of the lead DI's wife. I liked the cast - Hugo Speer and Sharon Small in particular.

I enjoyed watching the dynamics of the small team of detectives involved in the show.... mistrust, suspicion, secrets, tensions, naivety-borderline-stupidity, and a loose sense of camaraderie. With the questions the ending posed, I guess there'll be a second series. If so, count me in.

From Google...

Following the detectives of an elite murder investigation squad in London; the team is lead by the experienced Detective Inspector David Bradford, whose wife has been missing for the past three months: a case he has been unable to solve.


Waco (2018) - TV Drama

Binge-watched the six episodes of this one with my wife.

Sad, disturbing, horrible and outrageous. There's two sides to every story and this series portrays the Branch Davidians in a more sympathetic light than my recollections of mainstream media during the siege and the immediate aftermath. It does make you suspicious of authority when you see how the FBI worked to bring this thing to a head and the subsequent reported findings of the investigations. I think the days of accepting at face value what Governments tell you are long gone. Maybe I'm just a sad, pinko liberal, seeing conspiracy and control around every corner.

A previous FBI stand-off at Ruby Ridge is referenced here. Another tragic event that I don't think I was previously aware of.

Michael Shannon stars as FBI negotiator, Gary Noesner. He's the only authority figure with a clear head and the patience to end the siege peacefully. An opportunity denied him with tragic consequences. Taylor Kitsch stars as hypnotic religious leader David Koresh.

Powerful, gripping and anger-inducing. Highly recommended.


From Wikipedia...

Waco is an American television miniseries, developed by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, that premiered on January 24, 2018, on Paramount Network. The six-episode series documents the 1993 standoff between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas and it stars Michael Shannon, Taylor Kitsch, Andrea Riseborough, Paul Sparks, Rory Culkin, Shea Whigham, Melissa Benoist, John Leguizamo, Julia Garner, and Glenn Fleshler.


The Handmaid's Tale - Season 3 (2019) - TV Drama

Five maybe six episodes watched from the current series of 13. I think at the minute, nine have aired, so we aren't ridiculously behind. Gripping and tense would be an understatement. God I hate the Waterfords. Recommended viewing, but start with the first series otherwise it's wasted.


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.



I Am (2019) - TV Drama - Channel 4
One from three watched so far - I Am Nicola - with Vicky McClure (This is England and Line of Duty.)  Nicola is in a relationship with a controlling boyfriend. Scary, tense, troubling, a kind of watch behind the sofa, through your fingers kind of drama - especially when the arguments start. Very powerful and very thought-provoking. A lot of the time you're shouting at the screen - "GET OUT! GET OUT!" Domestic abuse is horrifying.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the other two episodes bring to the table.


From Radio Times ....

Channel 4’s ambitious new anthology series “I Am…” stars Oscar nominee Samantha Morton, Humans’ Gemma Chan and Line of Duty‘s Vicky McClure in three standalone “female-led” stories.

Created by Bafta winner Dominic Savage (The Escape), each hour-long film follows a different women as they experience “moments that are emotionally raw, thought-provoking and utterly personal”.

Shot over the summer and autumn of 2018, each of the three episodes is co-authored and developed by its female lead, a collaborative process that Samantha Morton compared to “singing a duet” during a Q&A at the BFI & Radio Times Festival.



JULY 2019 - FILMS (CINEMA)

Not as many trips as the previous month, but still value for money from the monthly subscription.

Four in total - the least annoying of the Superhero genres, a comedy-romance with a musical backdrop, a re-made Disney classic and a horror-ish/funny film about a cult in Scandinavia.....


Spider-Man Far From Home (2019)

An okay watch. I've never been a massive fan of the Superhero thing, but I did enjoy the Tobey Maguire - Kirsten Dunst films of a few years back. Tom Holland is Spider-Man, Jake Gyllenhaal and Samuel L. Jackson also feature. From memory the ones from back in the day all seemed to be set in New York, here we have a bit of a road trip around Europe. The plot as it is was related to Avengers End Game apparently. Something I didn't enjoy at all.

A couple of hour's entertainment, a trip out, the coffee and snacks were good and my eyeballs didn't bleed during the viewing. Can't say I exited the cinema feeling more culturally enriched than before I went in.


From IMDB....

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.


Midsommar (2019)
My wife and daughter thought it was a load of crap and two and a hour hours of their life wasted. Me, I quite liked it. Who ya gonna believe?

Some young Americans make a trip to Sweden for a Midsommar Festival and get caught up in the clutches of a cult. There are some quite horrific and stomach turning scenes throughout, but also there are some moments I found incredibly funny. Probably a Marmite film. I only recognised one of the cast - the geeky kid from We're the Millers - Will Poulter. I was kind of reminded of The Wicker Man

From Google......

With their relationship in trouble, a young American couple travel to a fabled Swedish midsummer festival where a seemingly pastoral paradise transforms into a sinister, dread-soaked nightmare as the locals reveal their terrifying agenda.




The Lion King (2019)
A near replica of the original only not animated. I did like Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and James Earl Jones still has a voice like velvet. I quite enjoyed it.

From Google.....

Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival. Scar, Mufasa's brother -- and former heir to the throne -- has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile. Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.




Yesterday (2019)
Music, jokes, banter, a sort of Sliding Doors type alternative reality, a Beatles soundtrack, Robert Carlyle, Ed Sheeran, Sarah Lancashire and a couple of leads (Himesh Patel and Lily James) I can't recall seeing in anything before though I recognised the lady. Oh and the daft one out of Trollied - Joel Fry. I really liked it. I had forgotten just how many decent tunes The Beatles had, though they were slightly before my time.

Danny Boyle directed and Richard Curtis was a writer. And another plus-point the Lowestoft back-drop - a seaside town me and my family have spent many an enjoyable break at over the years.

A real feel good film, up there with Sunshine on Leith in my book.

From Google.....

Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie. After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent.



Roll on August - Jason Statham and a bit of Tarantino await!

Friday, 9 August 2019

OWEN LAUKKANEN - DECEPTION COVE (2019)


Synopsis/blurb.....

A rescue dog, an ex-Marine, and an ex-convict are caught in the crosshairs of a ruthless gang in remote Washington state, in this "first-rate thriller" (Associated Press) for "fans of CJ Box and Michael Koryta" (Booklist).

Former US Marine Jess Winslow reenters civilian life a new widow, with little more to her name than a falling-down house, a medical discharge for PTSD, and a loyal dog named Lucy. The only thing she actually cares about is that dog, a black-and-white pit bull mix who helps her cope with the devastating memories of her time in Afghanistan.

After fifteen years -- nearly half his life -- in state prison, Mason Burke owns one set of clothes, a wallet, and a photo of Lucy, the service dog he trained while behind bars. Seeking a fresh start, he sets out for Deception Cove, Washington, where the dog now lives.

As soon as Mason knocks on Jess's door, he finds himself in the middle of a standoff between the widow and the deputy county sheriff. When Jess's late husband piloted his final "fishing" expedition, he stole and stashed a valuable package from his drug dealer associates. Now the package is gone, and the sheriff's department has seized Jess's dearest possession-her dog. Unless Jess turns over the missing goods, Lucy will be destroyed.

The last thing Mason wants is to be dragged back into the criminal world. The last thing Jess wants is to trust a stranger. But neither of them can leave a friend, the only good thing in either of their lives, in danger. To rescue Lucy, they'll have to forge an uneasy alliance. And to avoid becoming collateral damage in someone else's private war, they have to fight back -- and find a way to conquer their doubts and fears.

All the prime ingredients here for an explosive read.

An ex-convict, a PTSD suffering ex-Marine, widowed to boot, a kidnapped companion dog and a cabal of crooked local cops involved in drug running.

Mason - the ex-con has done one good thing in his life. He trained Lucy, a companion dog for a service veteran. He gets wind of the dog's imminent demise after she attacked an officer of the law. El pronto he heads to Deception Cove to try and save her.

Jess is Lucy's owner. She's damaged, grieving, and in dispute with the local cops. Her dead husband has ripped them off and they want their missing parcel back, or they themselves will be feeling the blunt end of the stick from the next level up in the drug cartel they've been working for.

The cops came a calling and Lucy got protective, threatening to the bite the asshole of their asshole chief. He's now being held as leverage for the return of the drugs about which she knows nothing - the initial transaction and her husband's subsequent death happening while she was away with the military. Jess with her companion gone is feeling more isolated than ever.

I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the set-up and the development of a relationship between Jess and Mason. Hostility and frost from Jess slowly thawing as Mason gradually proves himself to be worthy of her friendship, both of them trying to save their dog's life.

I liked the initial feeling out of the players. Mason the stranger in town, the first meeting with Jess, the first meeting with the cops, the bar visit trawling for information, getting run out of town, running straight back in again, their alliance, the desperation of the police to get out from under, the bully boy tactics, the quirky minor characters - each with a role to play to advance the tale. Lots to like, quite busy, but never confusing.

Small town corruption, dodgy cops, drug operations, other small town low lifes, run-ins, threats, intimidation, fear, a Mr Fix-it, a death to focus the mind, arson, an ally or two, a boat trip, a confrontation, the dusting off of some military skills, an island battle and an outcome.

Setting - tick. Deception Cove, Washington (real or fictitious? don't know) - isolated, coastal setting, small town

Main characters - likeable, interesting, one flawed and damaged, one open, honest and regretful - tick. 

Plot - tick - conflict a good vs evil battle in a nutshell.

Pace - tick. Fast-moving, but never rushed. Time taken to develop the characters and events without losing any urgency.

Length - tick - 339 pages my version, but a quick read.

Resolution - tick. Bang on. They all lived happily ever after - not quite everyone, but ok for the ones that mattered - satisfying!

4.5 from 5

Deception Cove was my first time reading Owen Laukkanen, but not my last. Just as well really as I have a few more from him on the pile.

Read - July, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 339
Source - Net Galley, courtesy of Mulholland Books
Format - ePub

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

PATRICK E. McLEAN - THE SOAK (2017)


Synopsis/blurb......

A searing crime novel that introduces an exhilarating new voice in noir fiction that’s as sharp, cruel, and relentless as the story’s unforgettable hero.

Hobbs is an aging, professional thief who chases one last, big score into the eye of a Florida hurricane. He emerges a broken man, hell-bent on revenge while out-running his own mortality and a ruthless FBI agent gone rogue.

"Richard Stark fans will relish heistmeister Hobbs in this well-plotted tale of robbery, murder and revenge." Publishers Weekly

"A dark, funny, pitch-perfect take on the heist novel and worthy of comparison to Richard Stark and Garry Disher." Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest

"The Soak is tense, fast moving, intricately plotted and layered with the moral ambiguity of the best crime fiction." Garry Disher, multiple Ned Kelly Award winning author of the Wyatt novels 

Well two authors who I have enjoyed in the past - Scott Phillips and Garry Disher liked this one and I'm not going to disagree. McLean's The Soak was definitely my cup of tea.

An armoured car heist, a long in the tooth professional thief, Hobbs - with a life partner wanting him to retire, a young gun with an idea, a trusted villain - someone Hobbs knows from jobs before, a financier and a couple of FBI agents - one stable, one a borderline psychopath, a visit to Florida and a hurricane ...... what's not to like.

I really enjoyed this one... the planning, the execution, the outcome, the investigation and the aftermath. It's quite a short book at a little over 200 pages and the action moves quite quickly, but McLean also has the time to develop the main characters and give us their back stories and motivations. Not so much their plans for the future - our heist doesn't end well for many of the participants from both sides of the fence. 

Plenty of snappy exchanges and verbal jousting on display. Lots of black humor. Great dynamics between the two agents - one male, married and steady though suffering from career limbo, one female, attractive, angry, unpredictable and unstable. They made for a lovely couple with a bit of wild sex thrown into the mix as well.

Pace, story, character, action, setting, outcome. All ticks in the box. 

I wouldn't mind seeing Hobbs put off his retirement for one last job.

4.5 from 5

Previously I have enjoyed Patrick E. McLean's short story - The Lucky Dime.

Read - July, 2019
Published - 2017
Page count - 216
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Monday, 5 August 2019

2 BY JOE CLIFFORD

A couple from US author Joe Clifford, someone I have actually already read.























Joe Clifford has written five books in his Jay Porter series.

The fifth Rag and Bone I read recently, having previously enjoyed one of his short story collections - Choice Cuts some years ago.

His Porter series is quite well regarded and comprises

1. Lamentation (2014)
2. December Boys (2016)
3. Give Up the Dead (2017)
4. Broken Ground (2018)
5. Rag and Bone (2019)

There are several other standalones to his name including an autobiographical novel Junkie Love.

Clifford is a former homeless, heroin addict, who has battled through some difficult times. He deserves every success


Broken Ground (2018)


At an AA meeting, handyman and part-time investigator Jay Porter meets a recovering addict who needs his help. In the midst of another grueling northern New Hampshire winter, Amy Lupus' younger sister, Emily, has gone missing from the Coos County Center, the newly opened rehab run by Jay's old nemeses, Adam and Michael Lombardi.

As Jay begins looking into Emily's disappearance, he finds that all who knew Emily swear that she's never used drugs. She's a straight shooter and an intern at a newspaper investigating the Center and the horrendous secret hidden in it - or beneath it.

When Jay learns of a "missing" hard drive, he is flung back to five years ago when his own junkie brother, Chris, found a hard drive belonging to Lombardi Construction. For years, Jay assumed that the much-sought-after hard drive contained incriminating photos of Adam and Michael's father, which contributed to Chris' death. But now he believes that hard drive may have harbored a secret far more sinister, which the missing Lupus sister may have unwittingly discovered. The deeper Jay digs, the more poisoned the ground gets, and the two cases become one, yielding a toxic truth with local fallout - and far-reaching ramifications.


The One That Got Away (2018)

In the early 2000s, a string of abductions rocked the small upstate town of Reine, New York. Only one girl survived: Alex Salerno. The killer, Ken Parsons, was sent away. Life returned to normal. No more girls would have to die. Until another one did.

It's been seven years since Kira Shanks was reported missing and presumed dead. Alex Salerno has been living in New York City, piecemealing paychecks to earn a livable wage, trying to forget those three days locked underground and her affair with Sean Riley, the married detective who rescued her. When Noah Lee, hometown reporter with a journalistic pedigree, requests an interview, Alex returns to Reine and Riley, reopening old wounds. What begins as a Q&A for a newspaper article soon turns into an opportunity for money, closure and - justice. The disappearance of Kira Shanks has long been hung on Benny Brudzienski, a hulking man-child who is currently a brain-addled guest at the Galloway State Mental Hospital. But after Alex reconnects with ex-classmates and frenemies, doubts are cast on that guilt. Alex is drawn into a dangerous game of show and tell in an insular town where everyone has a secret to hide. And as more details emerge about the night Kira Shanks went missing, Alex discovers there are some willing to kill to protect the horrific truth.

In the modern vein of Dark Places and Mystic River, The One That Got Away is a dark, psychological thriller featuring a compelling, conflicted heroine and a page-turning narrative that races toward its final, shocking conclusion.

Praise for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY:

"A great book! I devoured it. Taut, pacey and with a powerful sense of place, Joe Clifford's The One That Got Away is an intelligent and astutely observed piece of American small-town noir." - Paula Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water