Tuesday, 25 February 2020



Isaac Reid, a former professional thief, has just finished a ten-year stint in prison for a botched job turned bloodbath. Now all he wants is to go straight and make amends with his wife and young son. On his first night of freedom his loved ones are brutally slain by a bitter enemy. Surviving the encounter, Isaac struggles with his choices: do right by his late family’s wishes and abide by the law, or seek vengeance. But he’ll need to decide quickly, as another mysterious force from his past is now in play: a cold killer wearing a wolf mask, leading a band of pig-masked assassins. To Isaac, these men are strangers, but they’re prepared to kill any who get between them and him.

A book from Book Sirens review site that I was attracted to initially because of the cover. I think I'm equally enthralled and repelled by animal masks. (Dead President's masks have a similar effect.) Add a pig mask to a horror film, however lame and I'm hiding behind the sofa. Once I'd seen the image I needed to look at the book.

Interesting premise - an ex-con (always a tick in the box) just out and looking to go straight. Until his wife and child are murdered. So basically a tale of revenge and street justice as events from the past come back into play, though we have more than one candidate looking for retribution.

Our sympathies lie with Isaac, the now family-less ex-con, though because of the speed of the demise of his wife and son, I didn't really feel the loss as intensely as our main man. Maybe if we had spent more time reconnecting with the family after a ten year incarceration, I would have been more invested emotionally in the book.

There's a decent story. Events today are triggered from the fall-out from a botched kidnap which saw Isaac put away for ten years. Determined to go straight and win back his family, he's severed ties with his former accomplices. The demise of his family and with two different pursuers on his back - one known and one unknown - sees him reluctantly reconnecting with his former criminal "family."

I liked the action, the fast-pace, the way in which the author reveals the events of the past and the character's shared histories leading us up to the present antagonism and situation. There's a rekindling of former friendships with some initial awkwardness but no lack of trust.

As the story takes hold we have plenty of casualties.  There's a high body count, but not insanely so. The book's a bit of a page turner. I kind of blasted through 120 pages one morning, 30 more in the evening and the final 130-odd the next morning.

Decent characters with believable motivations, decent action scenes, decent outcome. I liked the Chicago (mostly) setting. It's a quick read and I enjoyed it, though more as an impartial observer than with any real stake in the outcome.

3.5 from 5

Pigs is author, Daniel James' debut novel.

Read - February, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 283
Source - Book Sirens review site
Format - PDF read on laptop

Monday, 24 February 2020


The halfway stage on the trek through the alphabet.

M is for .....

Miami - I've a few to choose from Jeff Lindsay and Dexter, a bit of John D. MacDonald (sort of - Miami adjacent apparently with Travis McGee), the odd James W. Hall, or Carl Hiaasen. 

Instead I'll have a bit of....

Charles Willeford and Miami Blues - the first in Willeford's Hoke Moseley series

Miami Blues (1984)

Freddy "Junior" Frenger, psycho fresh out of San Quentin, flies into Miami airport with a pocketful of stolen credit cards and disappears leaving behind the corpse of a Hare Krishna. Soon homicide detective Hoke Moseley is pursuing the chameleon like Frenger and his airhead hooker girlfriend through the smart hotels, Cuban ghettoes and seedy suburban malls of Miami in a deadly game of hide and seek.

My second Miami book is

Les Standiford and his first Johnny Deal book - Done Deal

Done Deal (1994)

Building contractor Johnny Deal does things the hard way, always on the edge of Miami society. Deal is developing a piece of land and his wife is pregnant, so maybe things are going Johnny's way. But after a crash on the highway, Deal's car is recovered, but not his wife's body.

M is for ....

Malcolm Mackay - one of my favourite Scottish novelists, scrub that one of my favourite novelists per se.

With Mackay I can't really look any further than his Glasgow Trilogy of novels along with a short Kindle single making a fourth of sorts.

Glasgow Trilogy
   1. The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (2013) - thoughts here
   2. How a Gunman Says Goodbye (2013) - thoughts here
   3. The Sudden Arrival of Violence (2014) - thoughts here
    Anatomy of a Hit (2013) - thoughts here

He's written a further five novels since then, all of which I have and none of which I've read yet. Go figure.

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (2013)

An arresting, gripping novel of dark relationships and even darker moralities: introducing a remarkable new voice in crime fiction.

A 29-year-old man lives alone in his Glasgow flat. The telephone rings; a casual conversation, but behind this a job offer. The clues are there if you know to look for them. He is an expert. A loner. Freelance. Another job is another job, but what if this organisation wants more? A meeting at a club. An offer. A brief. A target: Lewis Winter. It's hard to kill a man well. People who do it well know this. People who do it badly find out the hard way. The hard way has consequences.

An arresting, gripping novel of dark relationships and even darker moralities, The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter introduces a remarkable new voice in crime fiction. The second book in the Glasgow Trilogy How A Gunman Says Goodbye will follow soon...

M is for ....

Mucho Mojo by Joe R. Lansdale, which is the second book in Lansdale's long series featuring Hap and Leonard, a couple of friends - one black, one white, one gay, one straight both usually neck deep in trouble.

Mucho Mojo (1994)

When Leonard Pine's Uncle Chester dies Leonard is not expecting to inherit - after all, his Uncle never came to terms with the fact that his nephew was gay. But it seems that $100,000, a house and its contents have all been left to Leonard - along with a mysterious key which doesn't seem to fit anything in the house. But when Leonard and Hap move in to repair the house, they discover a crack house next door and, far worse, the skeleton of a child, hidden in a trunk underneath the floorboards. It seems that Uncle Chester's life was not exactly the way Leonard and Hap imagined it to be . . .

Previous Alphabet entries.....














Another author I haven't yet read, but one who my wife quite likes - S.J. Rozan.

Rozan aka Sam Cabot has written about a dozen novels in her Bill Smith, Lydia Chin series.

The series started in the 90s with China Trade in 1994. The latest Paper Son was published last year. I think I have a couple of the early ones and these two which are the 7th and 9th. I suppose if I love the first, I might delude myself into thinking I can take on another series and get it read.

Her work has won the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, and Macavity awards for Best Novel and the Edgar for Best Short Story. She’s also the recipient of the Japanese Maltese Falcon Award and recently received the Life Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. 

New York settings mostly and a couple of PIs - what's not to like?

Blood Rites (2001) 

S.J. Rozan's reputation grows with every new installment in her lively series starring the redoubtable Lydia Chin, a twenty-something New York PI and her partner Bill Smith. Here Lydia's venerable family friend Grandfather Gao dispatches the twosome to Hong Kong to deliver a jade amulet to the grandson of Wei Yao-Shi, whose American family knew nothing of the son and heir he left in Asia. A simple assignment quickly turns into a kidnapping, as Chin and Smith make their way through the complex world of triad politics, Asian intrigue, and the smuggling of Chinese antiquities. Along the way, Rozan treats us to an insider's view of Hong Kong; if someone you know is headed in that direction, this would be a great guidebook as well as a diverting plane read.

The relationship between the two protagonists has a nice subtext; there's sufficient sexual tension to spice up the narrative, but not enough to slow down the action. Rozan excels at pacing, and her characters are complex enough to linger in the reader's mind after the last page is turned. This is a standout performance from a writer who ought to break out in the bestseller ranks with this eighth in a series that keeps getting better. --Jane Adams

Trail of Blood (2009)

With The Shanghai Moon, S. J. Rozan returns to her award-winning, critically acclaimed, and much-loved characters Lydia Chin and Bill Smith in the first new novel in the series in seven years. Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by colleague and former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades. In Shanghai, excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewelry dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewelry, identified as having belonged to one such refugee - Rosalie Gilder - was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels.However, Lydia soon learns that there is much more to the story than they've been told: The Shanghai Moon, one of the world's most sought after missing jewels, reputed to be worth millions, is believed to have been part of the same stash. Before Lydia can act on this new information, Joel Pilarsky is murdered, Lydia is fired from the case, and Bill Smith finally reappears on the scene. Now Lydia and Bill must unravel the truth about the Shanghai Moon and the events that surrounded its disappearance sixty years ago during the chaos of war and revolution, if they are to stop more killings and uncover the truth of what is going on today.

Saturday, 22 February 2020



"This is either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book ever written!" —Isaac Asimov

Somewhere around 1969 I began to grow dissatisfied with the underlying principle of most novels---that a disembodied voice in the first or third person was telling us a story. I liked the idea of novels passing themselves off as documents, and drew inspiration from Mark Harris's WAKE UP, STUPID, and Sue Kaufman's DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE, the first ostensibly a collection of letters, the second, duh, a diary. (One could, of course, go back further, to the very beginnings of the English novel in the works of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson.) I also found myself interested in writing with greater candor about sexual topics. I had knocked out dozens of soft-core paperbacks, and wanted to try anew with greater freedom and more realism.I wrote three paperback original novels for Berkley under the pen name Jill Emerson, two of them in diary form, the third a presumed collaborative novel written in concert by the three viewpoint characters. These were fun to do and worked out well, and they led to RONALD RABBIT IS A DIRTY OLD MAN. I riffed on the experience of my friend George Dickerson, who like the novel's protagonist had the magazine he was editing folded out from under him; George went on reporting to his empty office for several months, until they found him out when they noticed he'd stopped using his expense account. (A man of many talents, George went on to serve as a reporter for Time Magazine for several years, then segued into a career as an actor; he had a principal role in Blue Velvet.) I spliced in an experience of my own, when I drank for hours at the Kettle of Fish on Macdougal Street, emerging only to be picked up by a carful of rich Catholic schoolgirls from the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Noroton, Connecticut, who essentially kidnapped me and drove me back to school with them. These things happen. I wrote the book in four furious days in an apartment on West 35th Street. I did so thinking it would be another pseudonymous paperback, and that no doubt gave me the freedom to write it as I did; after it was written, the friends who read it liked it so much that I was persuaded to publish it as a hardcover novel, and under my own name. My agent sent it to Bernard Geis, a quirky publisher whose editor—Don Preston—loved the book. Bernie had offices on two floors in midtown Manhattan, and had installed a fireman's pole in case one wanted to get from 9 to 8 in a hurry. All I recall of Don is he told me to avoid seeing Carnal Knowledge, which he hated, and that I must hurry to see McCabe and Mrs.Miller, which he loved. Once I'd managed to sit through McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I knew I'd love Carnal Knowledge.Around the time Ronald Rabbit was published, Bernard Geis slid into Chapter Eleven. I can't think this had a salutary effect on sales. Martin Levin in the New York Times Book Review pointed out that the book was written in the form of a series of letters, which was also the case with Richardson's Pamela, generally acknowledged to be the first English novel. And that, Mr. Levin said, was as much as he had to say on the subject.Well, that's fair. I had the publisher send a copy to Isaac Asimov, whom I'd met a few times over the years. "That's either the funniest dirty book or the dirtiest funny book I've ever read," Isaac told me. "That would make a wonderful blurb," I said. "Over my dead body," he replied.Well, okay. Isaac's been gone over 25 years now, and while I wish he were still around, he's not. And so I'll just remember him fondly, and thank him for giving Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man a helping hand, all these years later.

Possibly a Marmite book for fans of Lawrence Block. Not a crime book, no mystery, some graphic sex, some vulgarity and a couldn't care less attitude on display by the main character.

There are plenty of sexual shenanigans during the course of the book allied with some riotously funny episodes, mostly taking the form of letters to various people....... a wife, an ex-wife, a best friend who has run off with the wife, a former employer, his secretary, his former father-in-law, his landlord and various Catholic schoolgirls of his acquaintance. Very probably we have a few more letters to others.

As per usual I mostly listened to this one on the commute to work. I was tickled pink and laughed like a drain and may have attracted some strange looks from fellow motorists sat in traffic around me. A real mood lifter and fun piece of writing.

Off-hand I can't actually remember the name of our main protagonist, though he is referred to as The Poet, by his adoring posse of schoolgirls. The plot as such is outlined above in Block's recounting of the origins of the story. I loved our man's demeanor, his honesty, his lack of tact, his way with words and his fecklessness.

Marriage, love, sex, employment, unemployment, money troubles, relationship break-ups, alcohol, sex (it does feature a fair bit), lawyers, a road trip or two, and the art of letter writing.

Definitely one that I will listen to again when I've exhausted all the other books in my Audible library.

As ever Theo Holland's narration is pitch perfect.

4.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) January, 2020
Published - 1971
Page count - 194 (3 hrs 59 mins)
Source - Audible download code from the author's assistant, though I do have a physical copy in my collection. I wonder if it's as funny when read as it is listened to?
Format - Audible



Five-time Edgar winner and MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block wrote a monthly column for Writers Digest Magazine for fourteen years. The Liar's Bible consists of previously uncollected columns, chosen to illuminate the often dimly-lit path of the writer of fiction.

Here's what one reviewer said on Goodreads:

"I am fascinated by the creative process and there are few excellent examples of this that I have found – there is Koestler’s The Act of Creation insightful in a general way– but I have found only two worth their salt about working creators – Trauffaut’s interviews with Hitchcock collected in Trauffaut/Hitchcock and Thomas Hoving’s two interviews with Andrew Wyeth – published as Autobiography and Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth – but reading Lawrence Block’s collected columns on writing from Writer’s Digest I have discovered outstanding examples of this somewhat mysterious creative process.

"Now I am anxious to read his other collected columns – Block of course writes so fluidly that, as one Stephen King fan commented, I would probably read his grocery list – but he also asks brilliant questions of himself and does a terrific job answering and commenting on these.
"This is a must read for anyone intrigued by writers, artists, the creative process or those eager to write whether already published or hoping to be soon."

Despite harboring absolutely no aspirations or inclinations to take up writing I was quite happy to listen to this audible edition of a collection of Lawrence Block columns previously published monthly in Writer's Digest.

Handy hints, writing tips and strategies for overcoming negativity and reinforcing positive thoughts towards achieving your very own writing goals. There's also some anecdotes about writing some of his books - the Scudder offering - Eight Million Ways to Die in particular.

What also struck me is the banished notion that anything that flows on the page and is easy to read must have been easy to write. Far from it. I mourned for discarded prose, manuscripts over 100 pages long abandoned because the story wasn't working in the author's mind.

What shines through is Block's dedication to his craft and his professionalism. And his willingness to share some of his lessons learned along the way with other aspiring writers.

An easy narration from Michael Bonner made the progress through this collection a pleasant journey.

4 from 5

Another of Lawrence Block's writer's guides was enjoyed recently - Spider, Spin Me a Web (1988)

Read - (listened to) January, 2020
Published - 2011
Page count - 294 (11 hrs 8 mins)
Source  - Audible download code received from author's assistant
Format - Audible

Friday, 21 February 2020



Hacker and thief Zoe Zimmerman and her team have been responsible for some of the most inexplicable and ingenious heists of the last few of years but what does a professional thief do for Christmas?

Zoe uses her ill-gotten gains to take her decidedly un-criminal Gran and sister to a luxury country hotel. It should be all fine wine, gourmet food and luxury spa treatments and perhaps it would have been if Zoe hadn’t decided to pull a job right under their noses.

Unfortunately, without her team, Zoe has to watch her own back. And without eyes in the back of her head will she be able to see who is coming to destroy her plans?

A festive Kilchester offering from author Adam Maxwell, which somewhat predictably I didn't manage to read during the holiday season. Late January for me.

Here Zoe the leader of her gang of outlaws is riding solo as far as her latest criminal caper is concerned, though she has a couple of family members in tow. A hotel break over the festive period is the perfect cover for her latest scheme. Unfortunately the rest of her party prove to be a little bit distracting. We get to meet the maverick grandmother and her sister ....... and there's plenty of spikiness and sibling rivalry on display with the two sisters a bit resentful and distrustful of each other. It's a thin line between love and hate apparently.

Best book ever? No, but lots to like. We get to know our main character a bit better and as usual Maxwell serves up some slapstick humour with a few scenes that had me chuckling.

Probably not a spoiler to advise that one of our outcomes sees a bit of peace and harmony restored to the family Zimmerman.

4 from 5

Adam Maxwell has been enjoyed before.
Kill it with Fire (2018)
The Dali Deception (2016) 
The Defective Detective: Murder on the Links (2011)
Dial M for Monkey (2006)

Read - January, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 93
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle

Wednesday, 19 February 2020



Two candles flaring at a Christmas crib. A nurse who steps inside a church to light them. A gunshot emptied in a man’s head in the creaking stillness before dawn, that the nurse says she didn’t hear. It’s 1947 in the snowbound, war-scarred City of London, where Pandora’s Box just got opened in the ruins, City Police has a vice killing on its hands, and a spooked councilor hires a shamus to help spare his blushes. Like the Buddha says, everything is connected. So it all can be explained. But that’s a little cryptic when you happen to be the shamus, and you’re standing over a corpse.

An enjoyable if not at times difficult read for me. I had the misfortune to time the reading of this book with a house move for an elderly mother-in-law and all that that entailed...... solicitors, estate agents, a chain, utility companies, removal men, emails, phone calls and lots more besides. Allied with some year end work pressures and faced with a small type set (37 lines to a page) and old jaded eyes and my December reading plans were doomed before the start.

Once I got into things properly I really liked the book. Clever, complex, dense and it demands that you pay attention - something I'm not always renowned for.

London, post-war, a murdered man and throughout the course of the book a few more victims, and an American investigator, Newman hired to look into the death - and bound by a sense of duty - the subsequent ones.

Property, planning, city development, delays, photographs, diaries, Roman ruins, illicit and at the time illegal liaisons, a police department looking for some easy answers and a patsy, a gangster, lawyers, architects and academics, husbands, siblings, war heroes, affairs, surveillance, domestic violence, the river, a medical examiner with a conscience, an attempted cover-up, money, power, blackmail, kidnap, and after a merry, frenetic dance an outcome.

Some of the detail in Roger's writing is superb and you really get a feel for a London of 70 years ago. Bars, restaurants, clubs, lodgings, barber shops, taxis, hospitals - all seem authentic and you have to wonder that it wasn't written in the time it takes place.

I liked the connections and motivations that were revealed once Newman tied everything up for us. I was kind of reminded of some of the labyrinth like plotting of some of James Ellroy's American Quartet books. Seemingly innocuous meetings and conversations and casual connections later found to contain important detail in respect of the outcome. I think I kind of gave up early on trying to second guess the author and where we were going. I just took my time and enjoyed the ride.

4 from 5

Read - January, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 376
Source - review copy from Matador - an imprint of Troubador Publishing courtesy of the author.
Format - paperback

Tuesday, 18 February 2020



In this "captivating" crime novel (People), Texas Ranger Darren Mathews is on the hunt for a missing boy -- but it's the boy's family of white supremacists who are his real target.

9-year-old Levi King knew he should have left for home sooner; now he's alone in the darkness of vast Caddo Lake, in a boat whose motor just died. A sudden noise distracts him - and all goes dark.

Darren Mathews is trying to emerge from another kind of darkness; after the events of his previous investigation, his marriage is in a precarious state of re-building, and his career and reputation lie in the hands of his mother, who's never exactly had his best interests at heart. Now she holds the key to his freedom, and she's not above a little maternal blackmail to press her advantage.

An unlikely possibility of rescue arrives in the form of a case down Highway 59, in a small lakeside town where the local economy thrives on nostalgia for ante-bellum Texas - and some of the era's racial attitudes still thrive as well. Levi's disappearance has links to Darren's last case, and to a wealthy businesswoman, the boy's grandmother, who seems more concerned about the fate of her business than that of her grandson.

Darren has to battle centuries-old suspicions and prejudices, as well as threats that have been reignited in the current political climate, as he races to find the boy, and to save himself.

Heaven, My Home is the second Darren Mathews book from Attica Locke after Bluebird, Bluebird. I've enjoyed both books without feeling the need to backtrack on the author's earlier works, of which there are a few. (Three)

Here Mathews is forced into an investigation into the disappearance of a boy; the boy's father (incarcerated) and step-father have links to white supremacist groups. Mathews with a potentially career ending event and investigation from an incident in the first book hanging over him, sees the opportunity to solve the crime and manipulate the outcome to save himself. Whether he can also save his marriage is debatable.

Race, politics, a missing child, tension and conflict in a community, FBI involvement, a strained friendship, a more strained marriage, lies, hate, land, history, decline, influence, family, the water, Aryan Brotherhood, an investigation..... and lots more besides.

I quite like Darren has a character. He has his flaws, he might be guilty of some rash decision making and mistakes and he's in a difficult predicament. His heart is in the right place. He's more on point here and less beholden to alcohol as a crutch and he's hopeful he can save the boy when everyone else seems to have given up on him. That he might be able to manipulate events to relieve some pressure on him is understandable.

Race is very important here and plays a big part in the aims of the FBI, with events foreshadowed by the impending Trump administration taking office.

I liked the history element Locke introduces to the narrative, which helps sustain the story. I enjoyed the setting of the book and the tensions and conflict surrounded race added layers to a missing child case. The outcome and the speed at which we came upon it all worked for me.

There is still the over-riding story ARC concerning Darren and his career and marriage still to be resolved, but I didn't feel manipulated by the author into issuing a BOLO for the next book in the series. That said I'll probably want to read it at some point although I'm unaware of a third book coming down the pike.

4 from 5

Thoughts on Bluebird, Bluebird here.

Read - January, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 308
Source - initially a Net Galley book, but borrowed from Leighton Buzzard library to read
Format - hardback


Week 12 and the L's have it.........

L is for .....

Le Crime by Peter Steiner.

Steiner is a novelist and cartoonist and this novel from 2003 is the first in his Louis Morgon series, of which I have a few. I suppose I ought to read them sometime

Peter Steiner - Le Crime (2003)

A cross between The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and A Year in Provence, this ingenious thriller gets stunning raves from one and all:

"A beautiful crime novel."
---Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Nightlife

"Le Crime est superbe."
---Jim Fusilli, author of Hard, Hard City

Former State Department expert Louis Morgon finds a murdered body on the doorstep of his charming little house in France, and he and the local gendarme team up to solve the murder. Thriller and mystery lovers: Bon appetit!

This book was first published by St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books as A French Country Murder.

L is for.......

Leonard - old man and favourite Elmore or son Peter?

I'd be here until next month if I start on Elmore. Peter it is.

Quiver is his unread debut from 2008.
I have enjoyed a couple from him though. Voices of the Dead (2012) and Back from the Dead (2013)

Peter Leonard - Quiver (2008)

One of the most riveting and powerful new voices in crime fiction, Peter Leonard delivers a razor-sharp debut thriller.

Kate McCall's husband has been killed by her son, Luke, in a tragic bow-hunting accident. While Kate struggles with her son's surly guilt, her first love, Jack, an ex-con, reappears, along with a crew of his former "colleagues." While Jack must convince his partners in crime that he really did lose the heist money, his appearance sets into motion a series of events culminating in a life-and-death confrontation with a gang of killers.

Leonard displays remarkable maturity for a first-time novelist in both the plotting of the story and the language of his protagonists. The twists and turns of a love affair, an unrequited crush, and a kidnapping/extortion plot complement a tightly drawn, intimate cast of memorably quick and dim-witted characters.

Quiver marks the breakthrough of a new force in thriller writing---an explosive and unforgettable debut.

L is for......

Los Angeles.

I do like crime fiction set in the US and I've enjoyed a fair few  books set in Los Angeles.... most notably the Harry Bosch series from Michael Connelly and Robert Crais with his Elvis Cole books. Plenty more besides........... James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, T. Jefferson Parker etc etc

I'll pick a couple of slightly less well known authors

P.G. Sturges and The Shortcut Man - it's the first in his four book series featuring Dick Henry.

P.G.Sturges - The Shortcut Man (2011)

A smart and entertaining crime series debut set in the underbelly of Los Angeles, with a cast of characters that runs the gamut from saints to sinners. In the City of Angels, not everyone plays by the rules. When people need a problem fixed fast, and discreetly, they call Dick Henry. Henry is known as a "shortcut man," someone who believes that the shortest answer to many problems may not always be legal. As he cuts through the red tape for his clients, who range from an elderly woman ripped off by shady contractors to a landlord with a tenant many months behind on the rent, Henry always gets the job done, no matter what the cost. In Shortcut Man, Henry spends his days hunting down slimy con men and his nights seducing Lynette, an intoxicating, long-legged vixen. But when Henry gets an assignment from porn producer Artie Benjamin, his life suddenly becomes much more complicated. Now Henry must complete the job, avoid being killed, and somehow figure out what to do with Lynette. Filled with dark comedy, whip-smart writing, and a memorable cast of characters, Shortcut Man evokes Chandler and Hammett - hard-boiled crime at its best - and is an exciting beginning to a crackling new series.

Philip Reed and some car noir! Bird Dog from 1997, was followed by Low Rider in 1998.

I did enjoy one from him a few years ago - Off and Running (2015)

Philip Reed Bird Dog (1997)

Bird Dog In his explosive debut, Philip Reed suggests the best of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen as he guides you on a lethal joyride you won't forget. Harold Dodge is pushing fifty, going gray, and carrying a few extra pounds. He's a good man. But in LA, good men some-times have to do bad things. Harold lives for women and cars...he just never figured on dying for them.

Previous Alphabet entries.....












Sunday, 16 February 2020


A couple from an untried author double act - R.C. Bridgestock

Bridgestock the author is a husband and wife team - Robert and Carol.
And I've ignored their books for a long time.

Payback is the start of a new series.
Poetic Justice is their 9th Jack Dylan book, but is a prequel which is an ideal place for me to start with their books.

I think what drew me to their books is the connection to Happy Valley which I caught up with last year on TV. They served as consultants to the makers of the programme which is testament to their credentials.

They also seem like lovely people on my limited interactions with them on social media.

Their author website is here.
Catch them on Twitter - @RCBridgestock

Poetic Justice (2019)

'A multi-faceted page turner. The perfect way to meet Jack Dylan.' Alison Bruce, author of I Did It For Us

From the husband and wife team who are the storyline consultants to TV's Happy Valleyand Scott & Bailey, comes the brand new book in the D.I. Jack Dylan series, which takes the reader back to where it all began...

When Detective Jack Dylan heads home after a residential course, he has no idea that an extraordinary succession of events is about to turn his life upside down. A vicious, unprovoked attack is just the start. Soon his wife is dead and his step-daughter - dangerously depressed - is being expelled from university for drug use. And at work, two teenagers have gone missing.

An ordinary man might break under the strain, but Dylan is no ordinary man. He knows that his survival depends on him carrying on regardless, burying himself in his work.

He is determined to pursue the criminal elements behind the events - both personal and professional - whether his superiors like it or not. And, as his family disintegrates around him, a newcomer to the admin department, Jennifer Jones, seems to offer some sort of salvation.

Life may have changed, but nothing will stand in the way of Dylan's quest for justice.

Payback (2019)

The brand new series from the storyline consultants to TV's Happy Valley and Scott & Bailey and author of the DI Jack Dylan novels.

Charley Mann left Yorkshire for the Met and a fast-track career - but now she's back, she's in charge and the area's first young, female DI. Her hometown, the Yorkshire countryside, and her old friends all seem unchanged, but appearances can be deceptive. When a brutal murder is discovered, Charley is forced to question everything, and the interest of her ex - reporter Danny Ray - doesn't make it easier.



From the revered New York Times bestselling author comes a touching, insightful, and humorous memoir of an unlikely race walker and world traveller

Before Lawrence Block was the author of bestselling novels featuring unforgettable characters such as the hit man Keller, private investigator Matthew Scudder, burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and time traveller Evan Tanner, he was a walker.

As a child, he walked home from school (mostly because he couldn't ride a bike). As a college student, he walked until he was able to buy his first car (a deep blue 1950 Chevrolet coupe named Pamela, after the Samuel Richardson novel). As an adult, he ran marathons until he discovered what would become a lifelong obsession--never mind if some people didn't think it was a real sport--race walking.

By that time Block had already spent plenty of time walking through the city of New York. But race walking ended up taking him all over the country, from New Orleans to Anchorage, from marathons in the punishing heat to marathons in the pouring rain. And along the way, as he began to pen the books that would make him a household name among suspense fans all over the world, he found that in life, as in writing, you just need to take one step after the other.

Through the lens of his adventures while walking--in twenty-four-hour races, on a pilgrimage through Spain, and just about everywhere you can imagine--Lawrence Block shares his heartwarming personal story about life's trials and tribulations, discomforts and successes, which truly lets readers walk a mile in the master of mystery's shoes.

A bit of non-fiction from Lawrence Block as he recounts his journey from an overweight, exercise free smoker and drinker into a hardened race walker competing in marathons and 24 hour races over a twenty five year period. There's confirmation of a long suspected illness which Mr Block has successfully combated for many years. I say long suspected, maybe I read about it somewhere but forgot the source. Block's honesty and openness is admired.

Along the way we visit a variety of locales and accompany Mr Block and his wife through a vast number of races in numerous states as well as a mammoth trek through Spain as they conduct a pilgrimage. Enjoyable anecdotes abound throughout, though sometimes the recollection of race times and PB improvements that are recounted get a bit tedious. I can understand the need to record times and dates and keep a log as I've done that myself periodically as I've fallen in and out of love with exercise.

I enjoyed the mindset and resolve that Block applied to his training and some of his endurance races. I've tried to do some running myself on and off throughout the years in an effort to retain fitness and control my weight and I can testify to the little voices in your head that tell you ..... to stop, to quit, to give up, it doesn't matter, do it the next time, etc etc. It takes a strong will to shut them out and ignore them. Block's mental strength and determination to persist in the face of the niggling head voice and very often strong physical pain during many races is really inspirational.

I think, as again I'm on another cycle of attempting to regain fitness and drop a few pounds, another positive to draw from the book is the affirmation that exercise can be a good tool for improved mental well-being. I know this but I forget it. Initially the exercise is hard and uncomfortable and painful and exhausting, but eventually there comes a point when you feel better after a run than you did at the beginning of it. It also helps clear my head when I run at the start of a day.

Overall - enjoyable and a welcome reminder to get my head down and get on with enjoying some regular exercise. Improved physical and mental health beckons.

4 from 5

Read (listened to) - January, 2020
Published - 2009
Page count - 365 (12 hrs, 49 mins)
Source - free Audible review copy received from one of the author's assistants. I do have a previously purchased hardback in my collection.
Format - Audible

Thursday, 13 February 2020



Every action has a consequence. But when Li posts a one-star review of a novel on her book blog, the results are far more frightening than she could ever have imagined. Not every story was meant to have a happy ending.

ONE STAR is a previously unpublished horror short story, being released in The Behrg's upcoming short story collection--"The Passengers You Cannot See." It is the author's love letter to book bloggers and reviewers, and thus is being offered as a free download to any book reviewer in part to thank all those who have been a part of the author's journey. And if you haven't yet been a part, there's no better time than now to jump in that car and ride along. Oh, the vistas you will see.

For more free fiction, including the critically acclaimed story "The Lines," and the first book in THE CREATION SERIES, join Behrg's newsletter at TheBehrg.com for infrequent updates and a first look at upcoming releases. Your dopamine levels will thank you.

A short story that can currently be picked up for free over on Amazon and one that would have passed me by if not for catching a couple of posts from some friends over on Goodreads.

Of interest in it's subject matter of blogging and book reviews and the fall out from the consequences of a harsh one star review. Topical in respect of fake news and media manipulation, albeit on a much smaller level.

Also gives me pause for thought when I think of the casual disregard for the feelings of others with internet trolls and the tendency to be cruel rather than kind, derisive and mocking instead of supportive.

Not especially "horror" genre content. I enjoyed the story and where the author took us. There's a decent build-up and pay-off

4 from 5

Read - January, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 17
Source - purchased copy (albeit FREE)
Format - kindle



These two cops will have you roaring with laughter

Officer Boyd and the Sarge are the dumbest cops around. DO NOT call them in an emergency
Incompetent yet lovable, hapless Boyd and long-suffering Sarge have become a huge hit online.

Their legion of loyal fans eagerly await daily episodes full of ridiculous humor.

Find out why Twitter goes crazy every day over their antics.

˃˃˃ Readers can't get enough Boyd and Sarge
"Boyd and Sarge are the busiest pair of comic-cops in the world. Not only are they fighting crime on the streets, but also battling their personal demons, and verbally fencing with each other to hilarious effect. Sarge spares no punches, but Boyd bounces right back up with the most outrageous explanations. The misadventures of Boyd and Sarge generate a laugh a minute - each tweet-sized piece is a brilliant, tongue-firmly-in-cheek commentary that uses the pun to dazzle and delight"

"Sarge and Boyd are a great way to start your morning off with laughter"If you're a fan of The Far Side by Gary Larson, there's a good chance you'll love Boyd and Sarge"

"There are times when his humor is subtle, when it catches the reader a beat after the piece is read. Other times, it is in your face, and one is rolling on the floor in belly laughs"

"I first discovered Boyd and Sarge on Twitter when I stared following the author. Every day, I began looking forward to these Twitter-sized bites of cleverly crafted play-on-words that brimmed with slapstick comedic timing.

So imagine my delight when I jokingly suggested to the author that he should compile all his Boyd and Sarge tweets into a book, and he replied that he had!

This book makes a brilliant gift for the granddad, dad, uncle or adult brother in your life - or anyone who enjoys the bumbling antics of a PG15+ Laurel and Hardy or Mr Bean.

Boyd and Sarge are two unforgettable characters who never fail to bring about a belly laugh with their antics."

˃˃˃ Packed with puns, dad jokes, black humor and fantastic illustrations, everyone will love Boyd and the Sarge
If you're a fan of The Far Side by Gary Larson, there's a good chance you'll love Boyd and Sarge.

Scroll up and grab your copy today.

Best book ever?

No, but enjoyable enough and one that raised a few smiles, a few chuckles and a few groans at the corniness of some of the puns and punchlines. A few of the jokes were telegraphed or more likely had been heard before - Christmas Cracker or the Knock Knock type of thing. I probably managed to avoid an out and out belly laugh and an accompanying roll around on the floor, but each time I put the book down - I think I read it in three short bursts - I was in a better mood than when I'd picked it up. There's a lot to be said for that.

Plenty of little encounters between our two cops, each episode coming in at a length that would please Twitter. I think they all were tweets at one stage.

Cop encounters, stupidity, criminals, judges, wives, girlfriends, partners, driving...... a smorgasbord of characters and scenarios.

There some smart cartoons as well depicting our hapless double act which I liked.

Blair Denholm's Sold was a fantastic read for me - a crime novel with liberal doses of black humour. I have to say I preferred that more.

3 from 5

Read - January, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 122
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF

Tuesday, 11 February 2020



McGill and Gropper are unlicensed private investigators who operate out of a diner and do whatever it takes to get a job done.

When a trucker attacks a prostitute, her pimp turns to McGill and Gropper for protection.

But taking the job means crossing dangerous and well-connected criminals who will stop at nothing to settle the score.

Another top read from All Due Respect, with Andrew Davie's one sitting read - Pavement.

Our two main men - McGill and Gropper encountering pimps, prostitutes, a head sick trucker getting twisted kicks, illegal loads, a family business expanding in a new direction, a new player in town making some noise, and a Miami-based Cuban old-timer trying to set things straight for his boss with some tasty consequences for all involved. Mostly Gropper the do-er and McGill with his butt welded to a chair and stuffing his face with fast food.

Not a lot to say really. Fast-paced and my kind of book. Outsiders crafting a living on the wrong side of the tracks, which in my opinion makes for more interesting reading than ordinary Joes. Enjoyable setting - an unnamed location off the I-95 south (unless in my haste to turn the pages I missed it) and a splash of Miami.

Action, violence, and plenty of victims along the way, some deserving of their fate, some unfortunately not. Ticks in all the boxes. I especially liked the references to the Millwall brick, harking back to the 60s and the terraces.

My cup of tea.

4.5 from 5

I'm definitely interested in what this author does next.

Pavement's been saved for a re-read when I need to blast away some cobwebs in the not so distant future when my reading hits a wall.

Read - December, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 114
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback


Week 11 on my alphabetical journey through my collection of books and it's the turn of the Ks.

K is for ......

King......... Stephen or John or Danny and Jonathon

Danny King it is and one of his standalone novels which might be more of a laddish book than crime.

I did enjoy a few entries in King's series of diary books many years ago....... Burglar, Pornographer, Hitman and Bank Robber.

The last thing I read from him was a short collection of stories - A 4-King Cracker

Blue Collar (2009)

What happens when white van man meets gold card girl? Charlie's great. She's everything Terry has ever dreamed of in a woman and more. She's sophisticated, intelligent, funny and beautiful. She enjoys dinner parties and hanging out in the West End's trendiest night spots. She is, for want of a better word, wonderful. Terry simply can't believe his luck. And neither do the lads on Terry's building site. As far as they're concerned this Charlie's just out for a bit of rough. And they're loathe to see Terry fall for such a trickster, particularly after his recent heartbreak. Charlie's own friends seem just as wary as Terry's. They can see this Jack the lad's just after her money. Why can't she? When North London meets South, gastro-pub meets local boozer, and white collar meets blue, Charlie and Terry's love is built on the shakiest of foundations. But it'll take a reality film crew to bring the whole thing down around their ears.

K is for .....

Jonathon King - an American author and not the dirty, disgusting paedophile DJ - has a seven book series featuring Max Freeman under his belt. Pretty sure I've read and enjoyed one of them a few years ago - the title of which escapes me.

Acts of Nature is the fifth. I do like books set in Florida.

Acts of Nature (2007)

Hailed for his "extraordinary" writing (Publishers Weekly) and his "incisively chiseled characters" (The New York Times), Jonathon King returns with a chilling new thriller featuring Max Freeman, the most thoughtful, well-read, and multilayered private eye hero since Spenser" (Booklist, starred review).

Craving some quiet time together, Max Freeman and Detective Sherry Richards retreat to Max's shack deep in the Florida Everglades. No television. No cell phones. No neighbors. It seems like the perfect getaway until a violent hurricane rips through South Florida, obliterating everything in its path. And that is just the beginning of the nightmare. With Sherry severely injured and no way to call for help, the couple begins a treacherous trip back to civilization only to find that the hurricane's devastation is the least of their worries. The isolation they sought becomes a deadly enemy as undesirables invade the Glades. Some have come to pillage and loot what remains, while others are desperate to protect secrets. All are willing to kill to get what they came for, and Max and Sherry are smack in the line of fire. Evoca- tive and gripping, Acts of Nature traces their race against time and the elements to escape before it's too late.

K is for ......


Funny enough I haven't come across any Korean crime fiction authors in my collection of books so far, I'm sure there are some out there. Next best thing is a police detective series with the unlikely setting of North Korea

Author James Church (a pseudonym) is an American and a former Western intelligence officer. He has six books in his Inspector O series, which provide "a vivid window into a mysterious country".

A Corpse in the Koryo (2006)

A Corpse in the Koryo is the first in the series.

Sit on a quiet hillside at dawn among the wildflowers; take a picture of a car coming up a deserted highway from the south. 

Simple orders for Inspector O, until he realizes they have led him far, far off his department's turf and into a maelstrom of betrayal and death. North Korea's leaders are desperate to hunt down and eliminate anyone who knows too much about a series of decade's-old kidnappings and murders---and Inspector O discovers too late he has been sent into the chaos. This is a world where nothing works as it should, where the crimes of the past haunt the present, and where even the shadows are real. 
Author James Church weaves a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart after decades as an intelligence officer. 

“. . . an outstanding crime novel. . . . a not-to-be-missed reading experience. ” 
---Library Journal (starred)

“Inspector O is completely believable and sympathetic . . . The writing is superb, too . . . richly layered and visually evocative.”

---Booklist (starred)

K is for ....

Keeper - the first in an untried series by Greg Rucka featuring bodyguard Atticus Kodiak
Finder is the second

Keeper (1996) Finder (1997)

Keeper (1996)

In a heartbeat, a crowded auditorium or a city street can become a killzone, where life and death are separated by a split second. For AtticusKodiak, professional bodyguard, the object is to keep people alive, and thereis no margin for error. Now Kodiak faces his toughest challenge: to protect awoman and her daughter from a killer with a fanatic agenda of his own....
Tense, taut, and as brutally real as this morning's headlines, "Keeper" marks the debut of a talented young writer of tough, unflinching prose--and thebeginning of an electrifying new series.

"An impressive debut... "Keeper" is one to hang on to."


Previous Alphabet entries.....