Tuesday, 19 February 2019

ALAN PARKS - FEBRUARY'S SON (2019)


Synopsis/blurb....

Bodies are piling up with grisly messages carved into their chests. Rival gangs are competing for control of Glasgow's underworld and it seems that Cooper, McCoy's oldest gangster friend, is tangled up in it all.

Detective Harry McCoy's first day back at work couldn't have gone worse.

New drugs have arrived in Glasgow, and they've brought a different kind of violence to the broken city. The law of the street is changing and now demons from McCoy's past are coming back to haunt him. But vengeance always carries a price, and it could cost McCoy more than he ever imagined.

The waters of Glasgow corruption are creeping higher, as the wealthy and dangerous play for power. And the city's killer continues his dark mission.

Can McCoy keep his head up for long enough to solve the case?

Bruised and battered from the events of Bloody January, McCoy returns for a breathless ride through the ruthless world of 1970s Glasgow.

Bloody January from Alan Parks was one of my favourite books of 2018 and I was curious to see if the second in a planned 12 book series measured up. I'm happy to report it does.

70s Glasgow, a murdered professional footballer - not just murdered but mutilated into the bargain and one with links to a heavy hitter criminal boss, Jake Scobie. Celtic player Charlie Jackson was engaged to Scobie's daughter and it looks like one of Scobie's close confidants and enforcers, Kevin Connolly has done the deed. Apparently Connolly had a thing for Elaine Scobie.

Simples then - find Connolly and close the case. If only.

Mental illness, a struck off doctor with a penchant for conducting lobotomies, unrequited love, a falling out of criminals, a picture in a paper, a suicide, a terminal illness, an obstructive lawyer, ghosts from the past, an escalation, a river rescue, family friction, an insider takeover (?), manipulation and scheming, more victims, a peeping Tom act, a hotel raid, a disturbing look inside a diseased mind, a kicking with the promise of more, some plans for retribution, a childhood bond, a busy reporter, a poorly mother, dabbling with drugs, revenge goes awry, an escalation, a funeral, a plan of action, a few bevvies, a few pies and some tension between old friends, shooting for the stars, a lucky escape, a guilty conscience and a tearful confession, and a helluva lot more going on here.

Harsh, brutal, graphic and enlightening. There's a lot of pain in this book and a lot of ghosts that get exorcised, particularly for our main character, Harry McCoy in a story strand that runs tangentially to our main aim of capturing our very obvious villain, Kevin Connolly. All the bits and bobs of the tale overlap and entwine and eventually get wrapped up with consummate skill and very satisfactorily too.

I loved the main character Harry. Parks makes us care about him and we feel his pain and the suffering the weight of his memories causes him. His casual drug use and over indulgence on occassions with alcohol is understandable and cathartic for him in many respects. That he is an honest copper mostly, is a testament to his strength and resilience. I do like the loyalty to and the interactions with childhood friend and up-and-coming major villain Stevie Cooper. I enjoy his banter with young Wattie and their partnership with Wattie feeding off the old pro McCoy and having his eyes opened to the sights and perils of big city Glasgow. I like the fact McCoy has a boss, Murray who has his back.


Looking forward to book three, whenever that drops. 2020 - hurry up!

4.5 from 5

Read in February, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 368
Source - review copy from publisher Canongate
Format - paperback

 

Monday, 18 February 2019

2 BY LEONARD CHANG

A couple from an author I haven't read for a year or two - Leonard Chang.

I previously read his novel - The Fruit 'n Food way way back, long before the blog began and I remember little about it.  I obviously must have enjoyed it enough to get a few more books from him, including these two.
























Fade to Clear is part of a three book series featuring Allen Choice. It's the third in the series after Over the Shoulder and Underkill, and was nominated for a Shamus Award in 2005. Choice is a security specialist-cum-Korean American investigator.

Leonard Chang's latest - The Lockpicker dropped in 2017 and is on my wishlist. I need more books like a hole in the head, but that's a discussion for another day.

Chang was a writer and producer on one of my favourite TV series of recent times - Justified.




Dispatches from the Cold (1998)

What would you do if strange letters began appearing in your mailbox? Read them? When the narrator of this novel opens misdirected letters, he enters the harsh, disturbing world of Farrel Gorden who hates his new Korean-American boss and is on the verge of losing control of his hatred. As we watch the narrator reconstruct the recent events in Gorden's life, including an affair with his boss' wife and the wrenching consequences that follow, the paths of these two disparate characters - letter writer and letter reader - converge violently as each intrudes in the life of the other. This is a story that blurs the distinction between the real and the imaginary, and negotiates the exterior world and interior workings of a vengeful mind.








Fade to Clear (2004)

In this new installment, Allen Choice, now a full partner at Baxter & Choice Investigations, finds his life in upheaval by the reappearance of his ex-lover Linda. Over the objections of his current girlfriend Serena, Allen reluctantly takes on the case of finding Linda's niece, who was abducted by her father in a bitter divorce battle.

Fade to Clear is Leonard Chang's most electrifying and riveting crime novel, following the critically-acclaimed successes of Underkill and Over the Shoulder.

As Allen delves deeper into the investigation, unearthing links to drug smuggling and money laundering, he becomes the target of larger, deadlier forces that strike a tragic blow. In the wake of personal loss, he compels himself forward in this perilous case and at the same time makes profound decisions that will reverberate throughout his life.

Once again, Chang weaves a masterful tale that is as much an edgy, fast-paced mystery as it is a deep look into the complex interior life of Allen Choice, a fallible and human character who is quickly becoming a truly memorable name in the world of noir.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

DEON MEYER - THE WOMAN IN THE BLUE CLOAK (2018)


Synopsis/blurb.....

The Woman in the Blue Cloak is a brilliant novella which will thrill and entertain fans of Deon Meyer's much-loved detective Benny Griessel.

Benny Griessel is a cop on a mission: he plans to ask Alexa Bernard to marry him. That means he needs to buy an engagement ring - and that means he needs a loan.

So Benny has a lot on his mind when he is called to a top-priority murder case. A woman's body is discovered, naked and washed in bleach, draped on a wall beside a picturesque road above Cape Town. The identity of the victim is a mystery, as is the reason for her killing.

Gradually, Benny and his colleague Vaughn Cupido begin to work out the roots of the story, which reach as far away as England and Holland... and as far back as the seventeenth century.

The Woman in the Blue Cloak was another enjoyable outing in the company Deon Meyer's Cape Town detective Benny Griessel. Instead of the usual 400 page plus novel, this one was a 160 page novella, with enough story and teeth to keep me interested.

It's an interesting starting point with an unidentified dead body and the local cops soon realising after a day or two, that it's a job for the big boys. Griessel and his partner Cupido draw the case. In a separate narrative we also have an anonymous man on the run, in fear of his life pursued by four men.

Establish the identity, investigate the victim - an overseas visitor and art expert with no real connection to South Africa and someone who has recently quit her job in the UK, track her movements and local contacts, especially those with a vicious, corrupt ex-cop known to Cupido and now one of Cape Town's leading PIs - Billy de Palma, get an art history lesson on Carel Fabritius, a pupil of Rembrandt and a well-regarded 17th Century Dutch artist in his own right and discover our victim was on the trail of an undiscovered Fabritius painting worth in the region of US $100m - a massive temptation to murder someone.

I really liked this one. I liked the blending of events from several centuries ago in a convincing murder investigation. I'm also minded to look into The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - based on a real Fabritius painting - and a pivot point for events occurring here.

In addition to our murder, we also get to admire Griessel's ongoing sobriety - 147 days and counting and fret with him over the source of financing for the 22000 Rand engagement ring he hopes to buy for his intended future wife.

Overall verdict - a brief and engaging outing in familiar company. That's two Meyer-Griessel books I've enjoyed in a matter of months. Hopefully I can schedule my reading to accommodate something else by him this year as I've yet to be disappointed in his work.

4 from 5   

Heart of the Hunter (2003)Blood Safari (2008),  Cobra (2012) and Trackers (2011) (before the blog began) have all been enjoyed before.

Read in February, 2019
Published - 2018
Page count - 160
Source - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline early reviewer site
Format - ePub read on laptop

Saturday, 16 February 2019

JOHN MULLIGAN - SHOPPING CART SOLDIERS (1998)


Synopsis/blurb......

Shopping Cart Soldiers is a modern day Odyssean tale of the atrocities of war and its even more appalling aftermath. Set against the brutal realities of the conflict in Vietnam, John Mulligan tells the story of Finn MacDonald, an eighteen-year-old boy who is drafted soon after he emigrates with his family from Scotland. Upon returning from Vietnam, Finn is plagued by the terrible memories of all he has seen and is pushed into a haze of self-destructive behavior that tests his will to survive. Shopping Cart Soldiers chronicles Finn's painful and remarkable journey -- and his triumphant path to spiritual renewal and recovery.

"As dreamy and eerie, singular and compelling a novel as you will ever read. A prime piece of storytelling." - Larry Heinemann, author of Paco's Story

After 20 years on the TBR pile  - I bought this new back in the day, we have a bit of a Marmite book. I've seen reviews for it oscillate between 1 star and 5 stars, sadly I'm one of the readers less enamoured with this one.

Most of our action is in Finn MacDonald's head and his dealing with, scrub that failing to deal with the return to America after his time in Vietnam. Very obviously suffering from PTSD and haunted by events from his year at war, he drowns himself in alcohol and lives the life of a vagrant, pushing a shopping trolley around San Francisco, having effectively resigned from his role as a husband, father and son.

I guessed early on that this was going to be a difficult read and so it proved. Most of the action takes place inside our main character's head ...... ghosts of former comrades, enemies, a Nazarene (Jesus?), Robert Louis Stevenson and the good and bad sides of his personality - his id maybe ......try to simultaneously keep him down and out, or endeavour to help him come to terms with his past, forgive himself, forgive others, give up the demon drink and try to become a functioning human again. A lot of our thoughts also concern Alba, the Gaelic name for Scotland and our main character and author's homeland and a desire to return there and be at peace.

I don't know much about the author's own personal story. He hailed from Scotland originally. I believe he served in Vietnam and had issues on his return to the "World" and I guess this was semi-autobiographical in places maybe and helpful as a form of therapy for him in writing this, but I couldn't connect personally. Not quite like swimming through treacle, but not a book that flowed for me. (A bit of subsequent Googling - tells me the author died in 2005 after being struck by a car.
SF Gate obituary is here.)

Hopefully it helped him, hopefully others enjoyed it - Larry Heinemann, author of two of the best books I've ever read about the Vietnam experience - Close Quarters and Paco's Story - seemed to like it.

It did nothing for me, even the outcome where our main character reconciles - mainly with himself - left me feeling indifferent.

2 from 5

Read in February, 2019
Published - 1998
Page count - 256
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Friday, 15 February 2019

JOEL MOWDY - FLOYD HARBOR STORIES (2019)


Synopsis/blurb......

"Stories of desire and loss, crime and trouble, play out among the abandoned docks and potato barns of what had once been a quiet community. . . . The part of eastern Long Island portrayed here is Joel Mowdy’s Yoknapatawpha—he knows it and makes us want to know it.”—Zachary Lazar, author of Vengeance

The twelve linked stories in Joel Mowdy's first book take place in and around Mastic Beach, a community on New York's Long Island that's close to the wealthy Hamptons but long afflicted by widespread poverty. Mostly in their teens and early twenties, the characters struggle to become independent in various ways, ranging from taking typical low-paying jobs—hotel laundry, janitorial, restaurant, and landscaping work—to highly ingenious schemes, to exchanging sexual favors for a place to stay. A few make it to local community colleges; others end up in rehab or juvenile detention centers. However loving, their parents can offer little help. Those who are Vietnam veterans may suffer from PTSD; others from the addictions that often come with stressful lives.

Neighborhoods of small bungalows—formerly vacation homes—with dilapidated boats in the driveways hint at the waterways that open up close by. The beauty of the ocean beach offers further consolation, as does the often high-spirited temperament of youth. Joel Mowdy brings to his affecting collection both personal experience and a gift for discerning and lingering on the essential moments in his characters' stories. He intimately and vividly illuminates American lives that too seldom see the light.

A decent enough collection of short stories, but in truth one which probably won't live too long in the memory. None of the tales were especially stunning for me - no shock and awe registered with this reader. Nothing grated either. I kind of hoped for more though.

Maybe, I'm an inattentive reader, but I expected a bit more connectivity and crossover with events and people than I actually felt there was between these twelve tales. Some events and a couple of the people did register across the stories and I did enjoy the mattress tag-switching scam and the involvement of the disabled guy in the scheme.

Nothing to hate, nothing to love. Just a mild sense of disappointment overall. Maybe not disappointment - more indifference.

3 from 5

Floyd Harbor Stories is I think Joel Mowdy's debut collection.

Read in February, 2019
Published - 2019 - due out in May
Page count - 252
Source - Edelweiss Above the Treeline early reviewer site.
Format - ePub read on laptop

JANUARY 2019 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

So Col when's the book embargo start? New Year isn't it.

Yeah. Chinese New Year, 5th February. Sorted.

Lawrence Block - A Time to Scatter Stones (2019) - review copy from the author
This one rocked up in my inbox mid-January. I'm a bit of a Block and Scudder fan. It would be churlish to refuse!


MATT SCUDDER RETURNS. More than 40 years after his debut and nearly a decade since his last appearance, one of the most renowned characters in all of crime fiction is back on the case in this major new novella by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Lawrence Block. Well past retirement age and feeling his years—but still staying sober one day at a time—Matthew Scudder learns that alcoholics aren't the only ones who count the days since their last slip. Matt's longtime partner, Elaine, tells him of a group of former sex workers who do something similar, helping each other stay out of the life. But when one young woman describes an abusive client who's refusing to let her quit, Elaine encourages her to get help of a different sort. The sort only Scudder can deliver. A Time to Scatter Stones offers not just a gripping crime story but also a richly drawn portrait of Block's most famous character as he grapples with his own mortality while proving to the younger generation that he's still got what it takes. For Scudder's millions of fans around the world (including the many who met the character through Liam Neeson's portrayal in the film version of A Walk Among the Tombstones), A Time to Scatter Stones is an unexpected gift—a valedictory appearance that will remind readers why Scudder is simply the best there is.

From Booklist (Starred Review):

“Block's unlicensed New York City investigator Matt Scudder debuted 40 years ago but has been absent for the last decade… Block has never been predictable, as this novella demonstrates… A superb book and a reminder to his longtime fans that this crime-fiction master hasn't lost his touch.”


David Beckler - The Money Trap (2019) - review copy from author

David Beckler got in touch and offered a peek at a couple of novellas which seem right up my street. Guilty conscience! I still have an unread ARC of his novel Brotherhood on the TBR pile.


London, England 1996
Ex-Royal Marine Byron Mason is used to fighting for survival, but when he comes up against Gideon Metzler, a ruthless financier, he’s out of his comfort zone.
He’s building a successful business to support his growing family and stretches his resources to land a big contract. When Metzler puts pressure on him, he worries if he’s made the right decision. But these opportunities don’t come along every day.
After a series of misfortunes, he finds himself fighting for the future of his business. He has to dust off old skills whilst trying to master those he needs to survive in a new environment he discovers is as ruthless as any he’s encountered.
Alongside Adam Sterling, an old comrade, he begins the fightback. But, outnumbered and outgunned, will the two of them survive against a determined enemy?
Then Metzler makes an offer which will make his problems disappear.
Byron has to choose between the safety of his family and doing the right thing.


David Beckler - Forged in Flames (2018) - review copy from author

Ditto above...

Manchester, England 1996
Ex-Royal Marine and Firefighter, Adam Sterling, rescues Kim from an inferno. She reminds him of someone in his past.
Kim is being targeted by a violent arsonist, but why? She’s in witness protection, but even Eddy Arkwright, the policeman investigating her attack, can’t find out why.
Adam feels compelled to help her, but can he keep her out of the clutches of the people hunting her?
He has to use all his abilities as a firefighter plus some older skills as he fights to survive and save Kim.


David Swinson - Trigger (2019) - Net Galley
Third in David Swinson's Frank Marr series. If anything it should act as a spur to get the two earlier books read - Crime Song and The Second Girl.


He's a good detective... with a bad habit.

'A down-and-dirty thriller with real heart from an author who knows what he's talking about. This is firmly in George Pelecanos territory and it doesn't get much better than that.' Mark Billingham on THE SECOND GIRL

Frank Marr was a good cop, until his burgeoning addictions forced him into retirement from the Washington D.C. police. Now, he's barely eking out a living as a private investigator.

Ostracized by his family after a botched case that led to the death of his cousin, Frank is now clean. He passes the time by robbing the houses of local dealers, taking their cash and flushing their drugs down the toilet. But when an old friend from the police needs his help, Frank is drawn back into the world of dirty cops and suspicious drug busts.

Never one to play by the rules, Frank recruits a young man he nearly executed years before. Together, detective and criminal charge headfirst into the D.C. drug wars. Will either make it out?

Praise for David Swinson:

'David Swinson pulls off a masterly piece of characterization...The writing throws sparks, and the ferocious plot peels back layer after layer of Frank's character as we - and he - find out how much of his humanity is still left.' Tana French



Bill James - Hitmen I Have Known (2019) - Net Galley 

In for a penny in for a pound, another Net Galley temptation and another entry in the author's long running series featuring Harpur and Iles.


Assistant Chief Constable Iles finds himself suspected of murder in the fast-paced 35th installment of the popular Harpur and Iles police procedural series.

Tensions in the community are mounting following the gruesome deaths of two men, both of whom were accused yet acquitted of the murder of an undercover police officer. It looks like vigilante justice, but who is responsible? Alarmingly, suspicion falls on Assistant Chief Constable Iles.

Matters escalate when a TV show investigating the murders is aired, further implicating Iles. Iles seems at ease with the accusations, as are his superiors in the police force. But others are not feeling so secure.

Local crime bosses Ralph Ember and Mansel Shale fear reprisals against Iles will result in their own businesses suffering. And so they begin to plan how to remove potential troublemakers from their path . . .

Catherine Fearns - Reprobation (2018) - Amazon FREEBIE purchase

Well it was free and it looks good and my favourite aunt is a nun. It would be rude not to!


Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

JANUARY 2019 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH

A cracking start to a new year's reading with 18 books done and dusted in January.

I had a couple of 5 STAR reads vying for my pick of the month. Elgin Bleecker's debut Lyme Depot and Kimi Cunningham Grant's Fallen Mountains. On balance, I'd just lean towards Fallen Mountains on the basis of I'd pick it up for a re-read first out of the two.

Pick of the Month
Runner up by a gnat's cock!



Four other books, pushed the bar at 4.5 STARS - Tom Pitts and his latest - 101, Aidan Thorn and Rival Sons, Paul D. Marks with Broken Windows and The Pitbull by Paul Heatley

Nearly everything else was 4 STARS - Peter Church (Crackerjack), Stephen Solomita (Dancer in the Flames), Travis Richardson (Lost in Clover), George Pelecanos (The Man Who Came Uptown), Tess Makovesky (Gravy Train), Allen Eskens (The Shadows We Hide), Owen Mullen (Out of the Silence), Paul Thomas (Sex Crimes) and two short offerings - Steph Broadribb (The Last Resort) and Tony Black (Stone Ginger)

One 3 STAR read which I enjoyed but which I had higher hopes for - Thomas Perry's The Burglar. I've read so much better from him in the past.

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

a Californian dope farmer who crosses paths with the Russian mob and a biker gang

a mostly honest NYC detective and his crazy partner

a fighter with canine opponents and a longing for a family

a retired computer expert turned investigator looking into corporate fraud with menaces

an LA PI still working through a guilt complex

a PTSD suffering student dealing with the aftermath of a mass shooting

a nearly retired sheriff involved in a missing persons case

an ex-con in Washington, trying to go straight,

a bag of bookie's cash and a gang of reprobates trying to keep hold of it

a reporter looking into the death of his father

a Pakistani tale of arranged marriage and serious domestic abuse, cruelty and more

two brothers and a series of events in a day in the life of a small town

an expert housebreaker, a triple murder and a target on her back

a set of tales concerning sex, marital discontent and crime

two more brothers and a family feud,

a criminal getting hunted and a potential starring role in his own snuff movie

a man played by a woman

a trainee female bounty hunter cutting her teeth

Settings......

San Francisco, Oakland and more of California, New York, England's North East, Cape Town SA, Los Angeles, Clover in Kansas (fictional?), rural Pennsylvania, Washingon DC, Birmingham, Minneapolis and Minnesota, Lahore and rural Pakistan, a fictional small town in the US, Los Angeles again, Sydney Australia, a small Scottish town outside Glasgow, London and the Georgia Mountains.

The full list of eighteen reads with links to my thoughts on them below.....


Tom Pitts - 101 (2018) (4.5)

Stephen Solomita - Dancer in the Flames (2012) (4)

Paul Heatley - The Pitbull (2015) (4.5)

Peter Church - Crackerjack (2019) (4)

Paul D. Marks - Broken Windows (2018) (4.5)

Travis Richardson - Lost in Clover (2012) (4)

Kimi Cunningham Grant - Fallen Mountains (2019) (5)

George Pelecanos - The Man Who Came Uptown (2018) (4)

Tess Makovesky - Gravy Train (2018) (4)

Allen Eskens - The Shadows We Hide (2018) (4)

Owen Mullen - Out of the Silence (2019) (4)

Elgin Bleecker - Lyme Depot (2019) (5)

Thomas Perry - The Burglar (2019) (3)

Paul Thomas - Sex Crimes (2003) (4)

Aidan Thorn - Rival Sons (2018) (4.5)

Jeff Johnson - The Animals After Midnight (2019) (4)

Tony Black - Stone Ginger (2016) (4)

Steph Broadribb - The Last Resort (2017) (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 - 7 in total - Steph Broadribb, Peter Church, Travis Richardson, Jeff Johnson, Elgin Bleecker, Tess Makovesky and Kimi Cunningham Grant

I have more on the pile to read from Broadribb, Church, Makovesky, Richardson and Johnson

Authors enjoyed before - 11 - Thomas Perry, Stephen Solomita, Allen Eskens, George Pelecanos, Paul Heatley, Tony Black, Aidan Thorn, Owen Mullen, Paul D. Marks, Tom Pitts and Paul Thomas

There's more on the TBR pile from all of them except Paul D. Marks

18 reads from 18 different authors

3 were sort of series books - Steph Broadribb's bounty hunter Lori Anderson is the main character in her three book Deep series, Jeff Johnson's Darby Holland features in Lucky Supreme and A Long Crazy Burn. Allen Eskens' main character Joe Talbert was the focus of his earlier novel The Life We Bury.


Gender analysis - 3 female authors, 15 male

Of the 18 authors read, 8 hailed from the US, 4 from England, 1 from Scotland, 1 from Canada, 1 from South Africa.
The other 3 - 1 born in Australia, but regarded as Scottish, 1 born in Germany but from the US now and 1 from England but regarded as a New Zealand author

All 18 of the reads were fiction,

All 8 of the books were published this century - 1 from 2003 and the rest this decade.
6 from 2019, 6 from 2018, 1 from 2017, 2 each from 2015 and 2012

Only 2 came from the man-cave blue tub stash in my garage.

Publishers - Down and Out Books (x2), Severn House, Catalyst Press (x2), Mulholland Books (x2), All Due Respect, Shotgun Honey, Orenda Books, Black Swan Crime, Arcade Publishing, Pusher Press, Bloodhound Books, Mysterious Press, Untreed Reads and a couple of self published books. (Probably more because I think a couple of the presses above disguise the fact they they are the authors own output, not that it makes a difference to me.)

8 of the 18 reads were pre-owned, an author and a publisher also sent me a copy of  2 of these. Cheers - Down and Out Books and Aidan Thorn.

3 came from the author directly - cheers to Elgin Bleecker, Tom Pitts and Owen Mullen.

3 were accessed at Edelweiss - Above the Treeline early reviewer site, 1 of which also I got at Net Galley. 3 others came from Net Galley and one I received from the publisher - Down and Out Books



Favourite cover?  Allen Eskens - The Shadows We Hide



Second favourite cover - Tess Makovesky's Gravy Train





My reads were this long 168 - 244 - 83 - 414 - 360 - 198 - 196 - 202 - 252 - 306 - 292 - 194 - 302 - 288 - 152 - 227 - 16 - 55

Total page count =  3949 (1247 in December) ....... an increase of 2702 pages

5 were Kindle reads, 7 were ePub files read on the laptop,  3 were paperbacks, 2 were PDFs also read on the laptop and 1 was a hardback edition

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

Peter Church and Crackerjack was the longest read at 414 pages

Tony Black and Stone Ginger was the shortest at 16 pages long.






Tuesday, 12 February 2019

JANUARY 2019 - FILMS + TV

A decent month's viewing - 7 films, 2 of them fantastic, 1 of them a re-watch and a couple of mini-series on TV - almost as I've yet to watch the final episode of the latest Luther series.


Wind River (2017)

Not a film I'd heard of until recently when an author interview with Finn Bell saw it hat-tipped and then seconded by Noirish blogger and film expert John Grant. My verdict - pretty bloody amazing. Jeremy Renner is fantastic, as is Elizabeth Olsen and the rest of the cast. The cinematography captures the cold and harshness of our setting superbly. I nearly had to put a coat on watching it. It's brutal, violent and a difficult watch at times, particularly the depiction of the attack on the victim, who's murder we are investigating and her boyfriend. Highly recommended.

From Wikipedia......

Wind River is a 2017 neo-Western murder mystery film written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and an FBI agent, respectively, who try to solve a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal and Graham Greene also star. According to Sheridan, the opening "inspired by true events" card was a reference to the "thousands of actual stories just like it" involving sexual assault of women on reservations, his primary motivation for writing the film.

Wind River premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was released in the United States on August 4, 2017. The film received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $45 million against an $11 million budget. While theatrically released by The Weinstein Company, in October 2017, following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, the film's distribution rights for home media were acquired by Lionsgate, with Weinstein's credits and logo being omitted on home media and streaming services, which caused TWC to lose distribution rights.

Dead Pool (2016)
My daughter's boyfriend is a massive Superhero film fan and he brought round the two film box set for us to watch over a couple of evenings. I was initially a reluctant viewer, but actually really enjoyed the first one a lot more than I was expecting to at least. Ryan Reynolds is watchable and the humour in the film tickled me. I must have been caught in an odd good mood when I watched it. I'll probably remember this one for a while.

From IMDB.....

A wisecracking mercenary gets experimented on and becomes immortal but ugly, and sets out to track down the man who ruined his looks.



Dead Pool 2 (2018)
More of the same and to be honest. My mood had soured a bit as the same kicks played for laughs a second time, wore a bit thin. Maybe if we had left it a month or so in-between one and two I might have enjoyed it a bit more. I just found it a bit tiresome after a while. Not the worst film ever though. Ryan Reynolds again.

From IMDB......

Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA. Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy with supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-travelling cyborg, Cable.



Tell No One (2006)
I read the Harlan Coben book a few years ago and enjoyed it without being stunned and amazed. Several people told me the film was good and a bit of post-Christmas charity shop browsing saw this one hoovered up. I really enjoyed it and the story came back to me as I watched. A French film and subtitled, but well worth a look if you get the chance. Assuming anyone else is about 12 or 13 years behind the times.

Harlan Coben - Tell No One (2001) - read in December 2012 - very sketchy thoughts here.

From IMDB ......

An accidental discovery near a doctor's estate stirs up some painful memories eight years after his wife's hideous murder, and now, things are bound to take a turn for the unexpected. Does the good doctor know more than he's letting on?


Manhunt (2019) - ITV drama

A 3 part mini-drama that I almost missed after seeing it advertised prior to airing. Fortunately I managed to catch up with the laptop as it was available on the ITV website, but not on the various catch up services available through my TV.

Martin Clunes has come a long way since his Men Behaving Badly days. He does serious pretty well. Interesting retelling of a police detective involvement running the investigation into the murder of young French women Amelie Delagrange in Twickenham in 2004. Terribly sad, particularly the scenes involving the young woman's parents. Disturbing how the friction between two police forces almost threatened the closure on another high profile case - the murder of Milly Dowler.

From Google.....

Looking at the work of Colin Sutton, who was the senior investigating officer in the hunt for Levi Bellfield, the killer of Marsha McDonnell, Amelie Delagrange and Milly Dowler in the early 2000s.


The Heat (2013)

A re-watch and just as funny second time around. I do like Melissa McCarthy, though she might not be everyone's cup of tea. Sandra Bullock grows on me, each time I see her in something.

From Google....

FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a methodical investigator with a long-standing reputation for excellence -- and arrogance. In contrast, foul-mouthed, hot-tempered detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) goes with her gut instincts and street smarts to remove criminals from the streets of Boston. Sparks fly when these polar opposites have to work together to capture a drug lord, but in the process, they become the last thing anyone expected -- buddies.
Release date: 31 July 2013 (United Kingdom)

Den of Thieves (2018)

I have a major problem investing in certain films and series where I have an irrational antipathy towards one of the main characters. Step forward Gerard Butler. I really don't like him and I don't know why. I did enjoy the film. Butler's character is a massive bell-end. He probably didn't have to extend himself to fulfil the requirements of the role - ha ha only joking. I did enjoy it, though would probably have enjoyed it more with someone else as the lead.

From Google.....

Nick O'Brien is the hard-drinking leader of the Regulators, an elite unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Ray Merrimen is the recently paroled leader of the Outlaws, a gang of ex-military men who use their expertise and tactical skills to evade the law. O'Brien, Merrimen and their crews soon find themselves on a direct collision course as the criminals hatch an elaborate plan for a seemingly impossible heist -- the city's Federal Reserve Bank.

Luther Series 5 (2019) - BBC drama

Step forward bell-end number two - Idris Elba. Hand on heart, I loved him in The Wire, or at least the first series and a bit of it that I've watched thus far. Enjoyed him in the first couple of series of Luther. Loved the book by Neil Cross - Luther: The Calling, read in the pre-blog days. Then just got a bit jaded by seeing him everywhere. I don't believe I watched the third or fourth series, mainly because of him and my aversion. He gives off the impression (probably wrongly) that if he was made out of chocolate he would have eaten himself a long time ago. Either three episodes from four watched or four from five. I expect I'll finish it in February.



From the BBC....

Idris Elba stars as DCI John Luther, waging his own passionate and ruthless war on crime.

Calvary (2014)

Joint tied for film of the month with Wind River. I haven't enjoyed everything I've seen Brendan Gleeson in. The Guard was a bit lame. Didn't mind him in Harry Potter as "Mad-Eye" Moody, loved him in In Bruges with Colin Farrell. Quite a topical film for me with my Irish blood and Catholic upbringing. Very funny, very dark. I wouldn't mind watching it again in a year or so.

From Google....

An honest and good-hearted priest (Brendan Gleeson) wrestles with a cynical, spiteful community after he receives a death threat from an unknown parishioner.

Monday, 11 February 2019

2 BY STEVE CAVANAGH

A couple this week from Northern Irish author Steve Cavanagh. Cavanagh is yet another author that I have stock-piled on the TBR mountain but haven't gotten around to reading yet.






















Most of his output so far concerns one recurring character - Eddie Flynn, though there's a recently released standalone novel, Twisted and a collaboration with Mark Dawson, Scorpion also available.

The Plea is the second full length Flynn novel and was preceded by The Defence and a shorter introductory novella - The Cross. The Liar is the third in the series.

I do like a legal mystery though don't read enough of them in all honesty. Struggling to remember the last one. Maybe Cavanagh will get me back on track.

The Plea (2016)

Eddie Flynn earned his law degree in the school of hard knocks. Now this con-artist-turned-criminal defense attorney is about to take on his toughest case yet.

Billionaire David Child swears he didn't murder his girlfriend, Clara - even if the evidence suggests otherwise. Home security video showed no intrusion. The murder weapon was in David's own car. He seems guilty as charged. So why won't he plead guilty?

Meanwhile, the FBI needs David's help in taking down a huge money laundering scheme. Now it's up to David's lawyer, Eddie, to get him to take a plea bargain. Otherwise the FBI will use incriminating files on Eddie's wife to send her to jail. Still, David insists that he didn't murder anyone. . .

As the FBI pressures Eddie to secure the guilty plea, Eddie becomes increasingly convinced that David is telling the truth. With adversaries threatening, Eddie has to find a way to prove David's innocence and find out if there's any way he might have been framed. But the stakes are high: Eddie's wife is in danger. And not just from the FBI...

"If you're a fan of John Grisham... you will be a fan of Steve Cavanagh." - Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The Liar (2017)


A missing girl. A desperate father. A case which will tear them apart. Leonard Howell's worst nightmare has come true: his daughter Caroline has been kidnapped. He can't rely on the cops, so Howell calls the only man he trusts to get her back. Eddie Flynn knows what it's like to lose a daughter and vows to bring Caroline home safe. Once a con artist, now a hotshot criminal attorney, Flynn is no stranger to the shady New York underworld. However, as he steps back into his old life, Flynn realizes that the rules of the game have changed - and that he is being played. But who is pulling the strings? And is anyone in this twisted case telling the truth...?