Wednesday 8 January 2020


Half a dozen crackers I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into later in 2020.......

step forward ...... Samantha Kolesnik, Joe R. Lansdale, Tom Leins, Mike Knowles, Emma Viskic and Pascal Garnier

Five of the six authors I have enjoyed previously with Samantha Kolesnik the only unknown.

Hopefully I actually get around to reading some of these hot picks this year, as my six for 2019 all got ignored when I eventually laid my hands on them.....


Samantha Kolesnik - True Crime (2020)
Horror-cum-borderline crime this drops next week......

Suzy and her brother, Lim, live with their abusive mother in a town where the stars don’t shine at night. Once the abuse becomes too much to handle, the two siblings embark on a sordid cross-country murder spree beginning with their mom. As the murder tally rises, Suzy’s mental state spirals into irredeemable madness.

"A debut with the power of a nuclear bomb. Ranks alongside Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door and J. F. Gonzalez's Survivor." -- Brian Keene, author of The Rising

"... could easily become one of the most talked about novels of 2020." -- Waylon Jordan,

"I’ve taken in a lot of rather dark literature over the years, but I can unequivocally say True Crime is the most disturbing book I’ve ever read." -- Jeremy Dick,

Tom Leins - The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men (2020)

Another January drop. I have enjoyed Mr Leins' work several times in the past (*see below), but similar to other Brit-Grit favourites... Paul D. Brazill and Paul Heatley for example - he writes them faster than I can read them......

Testament, Florida is the town where the American dream bottomed out. A town that was bled dry and kicked into the weeds by venal men with bad intentions. A town so insignificant that it no longer appears on any map.

During the 1980s, however, it was home to the Testament Wrestling Alliance, the chaotic wrestling promotion that made stars of Gringo Starr, ‘Voodoo’ Ray Blanchette and the Jazz Butcher. The man who made it happen was promoter Frank ‘Fingerf*ck’ Flanagan, who ruled his territory with an iron fist. A tough man willing to make tough decisions, Flanagan’s personal road to hell is paved with dead wrestlers.

The Good Book is an interlinked, 20-story collection that takes place between 1980 and 1993. These stories are grubby, hardboiled tales that explore the lives of desperate menw—men who can’t leave their rivalries in the ring. In Testament, every action has a reaction and every feud ends in carnage. If someone else wins, you lose.

* Skull Meat (2017)
   Meat Bubbles and Other Stories (2018)

Joe R. Lansdale - More Better Deals (2020)

I've enjoyed Lansdale and his East Texas tales, usually in the company of his double act Hap and Leonard more than a few times in the past. More Better Deals is a standalone....

Edgar award-winning author Joe Lansdale returns with the hard-boiled story of a no-nonsense used car salesman ready to turn his life around

Ed Edwards is in the used car business, a business built on adjusted odometers, extra-fine print, and the belief that "buyers better beware." Burdened by an aging, alcoholic mother constantly on his case to do something worthier of his lighter skin tone and dreaming of a brighter future for himself and his plucky little sister, Ed is ready to get out of the game.

When Dave, his lazy, grease-stained boss at the eponymous dealership Smiling Dave's sends him to repossess a Cadillac, Ed finally gets the chance to escape his miserable life.

The Cadillac in question was purchased by Frank Craig and his beautiful wife Nancy, owners of a local drive-in and pet cemetery. Fed up with her deadbeat husband and with unfulfilled desires of her own, Nancy suggests to Ed- in the throes of their salacious affair- that they kill Frank and claim his insurance policy. It is a tantalizing offer: the girl, the car, and not one, but two businesses. Ed could finally say goodbye to Smiling Dave's, and maybe even send his sister to college. But does he have what it takes to see the plan through?

Told with Joe Lansdale's trademark grit, wit, and dark humor, More Better Deals is a gripping tale of the strange characters and odd dealings that define 1960s East Texas.

Emma Viskic - Darkness For Light (2020)

Aussie series crime and the third in Viskic's Caleb Zelic series after Resurrection Bay and And Fire Came Down - I've still to read the second one.

After a lifetime of bad decisions PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He's in therapy, his business is recovering and his relationship with his estranged wife Kat is on the mend.

But soon Caleb is drawn into the tangled life of his troubled ex partner Frankie, which leads to a confrontation with the cops. And when Frankie's niece is kidnapped, she and Caleb must work together to save the child's life. But can Caleb trust her after her past betrayals?

Mike Knowles - Running From the Dead (2020)

Knowles usually writes about outlaws - in particular one guy - Wilson - the subject of a six book series thus far. The latest is a police procedural. Well I thought it was, but from the blurb maybe not

His first three books, all featuring Wilson  - Darwin's Nightmare (2008), Grinder (2009) and In Plain Sight (2010) were enjoyed last year.

"Combining the intense grit of Richard Stark's Parker series with the amorality of Jim Thompson's work, Knowles once again delivers." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review of Rocks Beat Paper

Private detective Sam Jones's six-year search for an eight- year-old boy ends with gunshots in a basement and cold bodies that would eventually lead the police straight to him. Jones had never promised Ruth Verne that he would find her son alive, but he knew deep down that she believed he would -- worse, he had believed it too. Jones wasn't ready to look Ruth in the eye and tell her he had failed. He wasn't ready to admit that he lost everything and had nothing to show for it.

But an unsigned note scrawled on a bathroom door gives Jones a second chance -- a chance for redemption. Thirteen words left by a young girl in trouble give him someone to chase and a reason to keep moving before the cops move on him. Jones follows the trail from an idyllic small town to the darkest corners of the city, running from the boy he failed toward the girl he could still save.

Pascal Garnier - A Long Way Off (2020)

This sadly deceased French author has been a favourite for a few years, ever since Gallic Books started bringing his work to the attention of British readers. A Long Way Off will be the 11th translation they've served up. I'm batting 4 from 10 so far!

The Panda Theory (2012)
How's the Pain? (2012)
The A26 (2013)
Moon in a Dead Eye (2013)
The Front Seat Passenger (2014)
The Islanders (2014)
Boxes (2015)
The Eskimo Solution (2016)
Low Heights (2017)
C'est La Vie (2019)
A Long Way Off (2020)

Marc dreams of going somewhere far, far away - but he'll start by taking his cat and his grown-up daughter, Anne, to an out-of-season resort on the Channel.

Reluctant to go home, the curious threesome head south for Agen, whose main claim to fame is its prunes. As their impromptu road trip takes ever stranger turns, the trail of destruction - and mysterious disappearances - mounts up in their wake.

Shocking, hilarious and poignant, the final dose of French noir from Pascal Garnier, published shortly before his death, is the author on top form.


  1. Morning Col - thanks for including The Good Book! I'll keep an eye out for the other books too!

    1. Tom, you're very welcome. You need to slow down a bit so I can get caught up!

  2. Col, my pick of the lot would be Tom Leins' "The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men" because it's a collection of hardboiled stories, just the way I like to read them; though, long-form crime fiction is always welcome.

    1. Prashant, I hope you can catch up with Tom's books sometime this year. Any and all would be my recommendation!

  3. Oh, I think you're going to have a good set of reads there, Col! I'm looking forward to the Viskic, too. I was privileged to meet her late last year, and heard a bit about this new novel - I think you'll like it. And it's hard to go wrong with Garnier...

    1. Margot, I think this Garnier is the last sadly. The publisher will have caught up with his back catalogue. Lucky you meeting Emma Viskic!

  4. Three authors there that I would like to read someday: Joe Lansdale, Emma Viskic, and Pascal Garnier. Maybe I will make some progress on those in 2020.

    1. Tracy, I've read something from all three, but need to go further with them all.

  5. Promising collection there, look forward to reading the reviews and maybe sampling for myself...

    1. Take your pick, Moira. I might be a while getting to them!

  6. Pascal’s French noir sounds like something to check out. Thanks, Col.

    1. Elgin, you'll like him and they are all short which is another plus!