Friday 15 February 2019


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.


  1. Those look really interesting, Col! That Block, especially, looks good. I mean, how can you turn down an offer like that when you're such a fan? I'll be really interested in what you think.

  2. Well, yes, but the Chinese New Year has now been and gone too, so . . .

    I've gotta confess that, of the six, it's the Fearns that leaps out at me. Pity it seems to be Amazon-only.

    1. Yes, I know but hey. I acknowledge my addiction!

      Is that deal-breaker for you? Amazon only?

    2. (a) The physical copies almost never get into the library system. (b) Although I have a Kindle app on the tablet/e-reader, I never remember to open it up and read the books in that format. I'm an .epub kid.

    3. Ah ok, I wondered if it was some moral or ethical objection to them.

  3. Interesting, a new Matthew Scudder book and a new Harpur and Iles book. But I have only read 1 or 2 in both of those series, so I may never get that far along in the series.

    1. I do hope to get back to the Scudder series and complete them. I hope to read this one this month.

      I've given up on any thoughts of completing the Harpur and Iles series, I think I only read the first. Skipping forward to no. 36 won't irritate me too much.

  4. FORGED IN FLAMES caught my eye. Thanks for the list, Col.

    1. Elgin, that's another I hope to read this month.

  5. Col, I doubt I'll keep off NetGalley even if I wrote "I will not visit NetGalley" a hundred times as punishment, like I used to back in school. Of course, I read fewer books from the books site.

    1. You and me both Prashant, though I do try and kid myself that I'm exercising some form of restraint when I visit there.

  6. Well of course the Block is the magnet here - what a great cover and great title. But nuns in Liverpool investigating crime - sounds like it was invented for me....

    1. I knew I'd get you with nuns in Liverpool! I think she has a follow up out as well. Not sure if the nun is a recurring character or not. Hopefully....