Friday 20 March 2020


Another dirty half dozen into the collection........

Three bought, three acquired from generous authors and publishers...

R.C. Hartson - Fatal Beauty (2015) - from publisher Black Rose
Another new-to-me author, well worth a look with some decent reviews and not too long which is a bonus.

"A first-rate crime novel told in the classic noir tradition of Raymond Chandler, Jonathan Cain and Dennis Lehane." –Best Thrillers

The Book Nook Top 5 Books to Read

Ex-con Bart Hodgkins is abducting women at random in the windy city. A man without conscience; bold, high on drugs and alcohol, he is self-assured when he manipulates girls like Chelsea Rohrman into his web of evil and certain death.

His "silent partner" in subsequent serial killings is a former Cook County judge and university professor Lewis Lisecki, who is bald, unflappable and soft-spoken. Plagued at birth, given a dumpy fat boy's body, one with flaccid arms, a short neck and bad eyesight, he's forced to wear thick, round glasses that make him look like a goldfish staring out from a fish tank.

Ex-Chicago homicide cop, and private eye, Cleve Hawkins is a hard-boiled former Marine hired by Betty Rohrman, to help in finding her missing sister. Through treacherous twists and turns, Hawkins works to solve the case of the missing woman but finds a clandestine world of evil.

Jimmy Sangster - Fireball (2020) - purchased copy

Fourth in Sangster's James Reed Mystery series. I have a few Sangster's on the pile but haven't read him yet. Probably someone that would have remained off my radar if Lee Goldberg and Brash Books hadn't recently been re-publishing most (maybe all) of his earlier works.

This is the long-lost, never-before-published fourth book in Jimmy Sangster's wickedly inventive, darkly funny, and critically acclaimed "James Reed" series of crime novels.

Ex-cop James Reed is a self-styled beach bum, living in the Malibu house he scored in the divorce settlement from his brief marriage to a famous actress. Life should be easy...but he has terrible luck. His first date with a woman he meets on a tennis court goes very, very bad, getting him beaten, accused of murder, and pursued by killers. And that's just in one night. Now he's trapped in nightmare of sex, blackmail and murder...and to get out, he must go to New York...and worm his way into the rotten core of the Big Apple.

Praise for the James Reed series:

"Crammed full of sex, drugs and Hollywood. This book is a bright evocation of La-La-Land. Welcome Mr. Reed. Come back soon." Hartford Courant

"Adept plotting and achingly human characters." Booklist

Ryan Sayles - I'm Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy (2016) - purchased copy

I have enjoyed his earlier double release with Chris Rhatigan - Two Bullets Solve Everything (2014)

From a bank robbery gone horribly wrong to a shipwrecked man with a serious anger problem to a lonely teenage Peeping Tom, Ryan Sayles's second collection of stories steam rolls along. Need a transvestite beating up her drug dealer? Got it. What about a guy trying to stuff a dead hooker into his trunk? Got it also. Need a Richard Dean Buckner story? Got two of 'em. Come on in and join the mayhem.

Jimmy Nail and Ian La Frenais - Spender: The Novel (1992) - charity shop purchase 

Overcome by nostalgia I couldn't resist this one when I spotted it in a charity shop. I quite liked this series and Jimmy Nail back in the day. And then he ruined it by opening his mouth and having a singing career. Though to be fair, his Wikipedia page states singing was always his first love. If only there was a novel of  Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. I can't actually think of Crocodile Shoes without nearly being overcome by nausea.

A Newcastle abattoir gets torched, and it's on Spender's patch. So there's no good excuse for not having a sniff. Being busy won't do. Who cares that he's near to popping a team who are dealing in protected rare birds, or that's he's about to collar a low-life who's been peddling drugs so cut with chemical toxins that they're topping half the users in the city? Who cares?

Spender, the tough undercover cop with time served in the big smoke and Whitehall credentials, has personal pressures, too. Trying - belatedly - to be a do-right father to his children. Trying to be a friend - but no more - to his ex-wife. Trying - failing - to put some distance between his job and his private life. Trying - half-heartedly - to keep an eye and a rein on Stick, his criminal buddy, whose thieving tendencies have survived every attempt at cure. When the owners of the abattoir strike back, things take a heavy turn. There's a lot of blood about, but this time it's human.

In a turbulent story where villainy and misguided innocence have violent and sometimes horrific consequences, the enigmatic Spender and his unofficial oppo, Stick, head up a cast of characters as memorably maverick as millions of television fans have come to expect. 

Mike Donohue - Shaking the Tree (2011) - copy from author

Another author I hadn't heard of until recently. This was a freebie after signing up to a newsletter. Worth a punt IMO.

What would you do if you found a locked suitcase in the woods?
Would you keep it? Would you try to open it?
What would you do when someone came looking for it?

Max is starting over. Fresh out of prison, he just wants to keep his head down, go to work, and maybe grab a cold beer at the end of his shift. He doesn’t even care that the program stuck him in Essex – a nice, but nowhere small town. With his head already full of bloody memories, he’d like it just fine if his past and future stayed nice and quiet.

Too bad the present just got really messy.

A body in a tree. A missing briefcase. A Russian hit man. A DEA agent bent on revenge. Not to mention a sheriff with dangerous ambition and some pissed off bikers. Things are suddenly very interesting in sleepy Essex county. Bodies are turning up. Secrets are coming out. Questions are being asked.

It’s not good being the new guy in a small town.

Tom Pitts - Cold Water (2020) - review copy from author

I'm a big fan of Mr Pitts' work - 101 (2018)American Static (2017), Piggyback (2012) have all been enjoyed before. Hustle and Knuckleball - a couple of his earlier books still wait their turn.

After a miscarriage, a young couple move from San Francisco to the Sacramento suburbs to restart their lives. When the vacant house across the street is taken over by who they think are squatters, they’re pulled into a battle neither of them bargained for. The gang of unruly drug addicts who’ve infested their block have a dark and secret history that reaches beyond their neighborhood and all the way to the most powerful and wealthy men in California.

L.A. fixer Calper Dennings is sent by a private party to quell the trouble before it affects his employer. But before he can finish the job, he too is pulled into the violent dark world of a man with endless resources to destroy anyone around him.


  1. You've got some good 'uns here, Col, from the look of it. I'm especially interested in the Pitts (I'd like to explore some of his work) and Fireball. And I have to say, I like that title: I'm Not Happy Till You're Not Happy. There's something catchy about it. Hope you'll enjoy these.

    1. Thanks Margot, I'm looking forward to all of these - hopefully sooner rather than later. I'd be keen to hear what you think of Tom Pitts' stuff.