Sunday, 9 December 2018


The lovely folks at Pushkin Press have gotten into the Christmas spirit by offering blog readers the chance to win 2 paperback sets of Martin Holmen's Harry Kvist trilogy set in 1930s Sweden.

(The offer is unfortunately limited to participants in the UK and Ireland.)

Here's a bit about  Martin Holmen’s gritty Stockholm Trilogy featuring violent ex-boxer Harry Kvist.

Clinch (2016) (Book 1)

An ultra-gritty piece of contemporary Swedish noir, set in a decrepit, highly atmospheric 1930s Stockholm that is a far cry from the modern, egalitarian capital city of today.

The writing's on the wall for Harry Kvist. Once a notorious boxer, he now spends his days drinking, and his nights chasing debts amongst the pimps, prostitutes and petty thieves of 1930s Stockholm. When women can't satisfy him, men can. But one biting winter's night he pays a threatening visit to a debtor named Zetterberg, and when the man is found dead shortly afterwards, all eyes are on Kvist.

Determined to avoid yet another stint in prison, Kvist sets out to track down the only person who can clear his name. His hunt will lead him from the city's slums, gangster hideouts and gambling dens to its most opulent hotels and elite nightclubs. It will bring him face to face with bootleggers and whores, aristocrats and murderers. It will be the biggest fight of his life.

Blending noir with gritty violence, Clinch is a visceral, compulsive thriller that packs a punch and leaves you reeling.

Col's Criminal Library thoughts on Clinch - here

Down For the Count (2017) (Book 2) 

The second hard-hitting Harry Kvist thriller - fresh out of prison, Harry is determined to avenge a friend's murder, and expose a police cover-up protecting people in high places...

Harry Kvist walks out the gates of Langholmen jail into the biting Stockholm winter of 1935. He has nothing to his name but a fiercely burning hope: that he can leave behind his old existance of gutter brawls, bruised fists and broke bones.

But the city has other ideas. Nazis are spreading their poison on the freezing streets, and one of Kvist's oldest friends has been murdered. Before he can leave Stockholm's underworld for good, he must track down the killer. As Kvist uncovers a trail of blood leading to the highest echelons of Swedish society, the former boxer finds himself in a fight to the death with his most dangerous opponent yet.

Born in 1974, Martin Holmen studied history, and now teaches at a Stockholm secondary school. Down for the Count is the second thriller in The Stockholm Trilogy, following on from Clinch. The trilogy will be completed with Slugger published by Pushkin Vertigo in 2018.

Col's Criminal Library thoughts on Down For the Count - here

Slugger (2018) (Book 3)


'Sin City meets Raymond Chandler in this atmospheric and compulsive series' Attitude

It's summer in Stockholm, and the city is sweltering in the grip of a rare heatwave while fascists and communists beat each other bloody in the streets. Harry Kvist has had enough. It's time for him to leave. But first he has some business to take care of. His old friend and ex-lover, Reverend Gabrielsson, has been murdered, and the police are more interested in anti-Semitic rumours than finding the truth.

Kvist investigates the only way he knows how, with his fists, uncovering a Nazi terrorist plot and a cabal of corrupt cops. Before long he finds himself caught in the middle of a turf war between two of the city's most brutal gangs. Can he fight his way out of one last corner and find a way to freedom, or has Kvist finally taken a punch too many?

What readers have to say about The Stockholm Trilogy

'Harry Kvist is a great character... Swedish noir? Yes, please' - Goodreads reviewer

'F**k me. This was amazing' - Goodreads reviewer

'A true noir... dark, dirty and bruised' -Goodreads reviewer

'A Swedish noir par excellence. Bravo' - Goodreads reviewer

To enter leave a comment below and/or email me at before Friday midnight and I'll draw the two winners from a hat next Saturday.

I'll also accept entries via comments or messages received on the Facebook and Twitter posts advertising the giveaway.

Pushkin Vertigo will be sending the winner's copies out and all personal data will be deleted after the competition ends.

The Pushkin Press website is here.

Thursday, 6 December 2018


Canadian author, Elka Ray's Saigon Dark was recently read and enjoyed - on the blog here.

Elka was kind enough to humour me by answering a few questions about her writing......

Is the writing full time? If not, whats the day job?

As well as writing suspense and mysteries for adults, I work part time as an editor and write and illustrate kids' picture books.

Can you give us a quick biography of yourself?

Elka Ray is a Canadian author and illustrator who lives in Central Vietnam.

Do you have a typical writing schedule?

I usually start work at 8 a.m., after my kids go to school, and work through lunch until 3.30 or 4 p.m., when I go for a swim in the ocean.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

While I've learned to plan my novels chapter-by-chapter, things change along the way. I'll go through most of Draft One convinced X is the culprit only to learn that Y did it.

Is it a different process writing a short story as opposed to a novel?

With a novel there's always that moment of blind panic. It's like being given a huge pile of scraps and spare parts, no instructions, and told to build a motorized vehicle.

I’ve just finished and enjoyed Saigon Dark, how long from conception to completion did it take? Was it a smooth process (if you can remember) or were there many bumps in the road along the way?

Thank you. It took about a year to write, with much of that time spent revising. As the title suggests, the story has some dark moments, involving grief, lies, and betrayal. Writing was emotional as the story grew from the death of my first child. I wanted to explore the irrationality of grief - and how pretending to be fine is self-defeating. In her despair, the main character, Lily, makes an irrational and morally questionable choice that forces her to live a lie.

Did it end up being the book you anticipated at the start of the process?

I think so but who knows? I've heard many people describe the same past event in contradictory ways. We edit our memories to fit our current beliefs.

From the bit of research Ive done, you had an earlier book Hanoi Jane published in 2012, a collection of short stories in 2016 What You Dont Know and next year a new book - Divorce is Murder drops. Oh and you also write (and illustrate?) books for children. Do you favour one of your books over than the other? Which would you press into the hands of a new reader?

Readers who like thought-provoking suspense should try Saigon Dark. Those looking for a mystery that's light and funny will prefer my upcoming mystery Divorce is Murder.

The kids' books are all about Vietnam - where I live with my family.

Your next book seems to break with tradition, with a setting of British Columbia, is it an area you are familiar with? I believe you hail from Canada (albeit via the UK)?

Divorce is Murder is set in Victoria, British Columbia, where I grew up. Vancouver Island is beautiful, quiet and pristine, making it the perfect setting for some mayhem.

Your adult books all seem to have elements of murder or at least mystery at the heart of them, though Ive seen a description of your debut, Hanoi Jane as a fine mix of mystery and chick lit.I dont think Saigon Dark could be any further from chick lit. Do you see yourself as a crime writer per se? Were you ever tempted to go the chick lit route with your fiction?

I write two types of crime: domestic suspense/noir and lighter, funnier mysteries. Divorce is Murder is somewhat chick litty, although the term makes me cringe, evoking dilemmas about as deep as a powder compact. The story involves a Chinese-Canadian divorce lawyer, Toby Wong, who seeks to clear a client charged with the murder of his nasty estranged wife, who bullied Toby as a teenager.

Whether I'm writing darker, heavier noir or light suspense, I'm exploring wrong-doing. If no one's behaving badly, there's no story.

Do you anticipate more Canadian based work in future, or will you be heading back to the familiar territory of Vietnam and South East Asia? I sense theres a strong connection with Vietnam from you. How long have you lived there?

Seventh Street, the publisher of Divorce is Murder, is angling for a series, which would mean more Toby Wong books set on Vancouver Island. I hope that pans out. A short story set in Thailand, titled One Hit Wonder, will come out in the anthology A Time for Violence in early 2019. I've lived in Vietnam for over two decades, so more stories set in Southeast Asia are inevitable.

Whats been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

I'm excited about Divorce is Murder. But I'm always excited about the next book.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Unpublished, yes. Gems? I doubt it.

Any advice for prospective authors out there?

If you feel the need to invent stories, keep at it. Writing is a craft - like wood-working. You need good ideas but more than that, it takes grunt work: sawing, hammering, sanding.

Whats the best thing about writing?

That moment when a new story takes hold and you can't not write it.

The worst?

While rejection is never fun, it gets easier. If someone dislikes one of my stories I figure 'oh well, maybe you'll like the next one'. But even if you don't - someone else will.

I often compare writing to wood-working. Let's say I built a cabinet. Maybe you're looking for a table. Or else you're in the market for a cabinet but prefer antiques, while mine's modern. By not buying my cabinet you're not saying I'm a bad wood-worker, or - more importantly - that I'm a crap person. I think many new writers take rejection very personally.

What are the last five books youve read?

A quick check of my Kindle reveals:

Under A Dark Sky - Lori Rader-Day (now reading)

Tangerine - Christine Mangan

The Wych Elm - Tana French

Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell

In a Dark, Dark Wood - Ruth Ware

Who do you read and enjoy?

As the above list reveals, I read a lot of suspense. Many of today's best crime writers are women, including Tana French, Belinda Bauer, Sabine Durrant, Jane Harper, and Megan Abbott.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Scott Smith's A Simple Plan. A couple of guys find a bag of cash in a wrecked plane and do the wrong thing. Scott Smith - wherever you are - please stop writing screenplays and write another novel.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I love being in the ocean.

Whats the last film you watched that rocked you?

TV addict or not? Whats the must watch show in the Ray household?

I rarely watch movies or TV but am secretly and severely addicted to true crime podcasts. Below, in no particular order, is a list of ones I recommend:

The Teacher's Pet

Phoebe's Fall



Someone Knows Something, especially Seasons 1 & 5

Missing & Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams?


Serial, Season 1

Up and Vanished


Death in Ice Valley

In a couple of yearstime.....

I hope to be as happy as I am now.


Many thanks to Elka for her time

Catch her at her website -

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


Jeffrey A. Cooper's first Bad Apples caper Burn One Down was recently enjoyed.

Jeff was kind enough to submit to a bit of gentle questioning about his reading and writing habits.....

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don't have a typical schedule.  Writing is an ongoing thing for me.  If I'm not working a job, chances are I'm either writing or reading something.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I'm definitely a plotter.  I do an outline so that I know where I'm going and want to end up, but I allow for flexibility so that if a better idea comes along, or if I can expand the scope of a particular character or angle, I can fit that idea into the context of the original outline or change the outline if necessary.

Are there any subjects off limits?

There are subjects that I won't write about because they don't fit the genre or my particular style of storytelling, but as long as the subject can be done well and fits with the story I'm telling, probably not.  After all, I write about criminals.  To quote Dr. Dre, "You are not now in the presence of nice guys."

I do try not to include too many pop-culture or other references that will date the story.  I want people to read this in ten years and understand everything that's going on, not to take themselves out of the story and ask, "Who the f&^k is Meek Mill?"

I’ve enjoyed Burn One Down recently, how long from conception to completion did it take?

A little over a year.  I can usually bang out a first draft in two months.  The rest of the time is spent questioning, second-guessing, cursing, re-writing and editing everything I wrote up to that point, then returning back to the original idea that I had in the first place.  Yes, it's annoying.

Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way? 

I understand my writing process, so even with all the creative back and forth, I'm aware that's how I do things.   I love the process.  I love trying to figure it all out, wondering how I'm going to get from A to B, and how I'm going to write engaging characters and tell a story that's funny and compelling.  It's my jam.

Without any spoilers, the conclusion left plenty of scope for further adventures with Jack Apple, where are you with a follow up?

Yes, there are further adventures of Jack and Diane in what I'm calling the "Bad Apples" series.  I have four more books plotted out and am currently writing the follow-up to "Burn One Down", which will be ready to go sometime in 2019.

Burn One Down was your second novel after How to Steal a Truck Full of Nickels was it an easier book to write than your debut?

I knew that I could get the book written despite whatever struggles I might be having, and that knowledge helped push me forward on "Burn".  Progress might go slow, but as long as I was moving the ball downfield, that was enough to keep me going. 

There seems to be a common theme running through your work – criminality, thievery, hustling – are these works semi-autobiographical in any way? What makes you want to write about criminals as opposed to cops?

Criminals are interesting.  I know why people want to fight crime.  But what makes someone put their lives, their personal freedom, and their well-being at stake by breaking the law?  Is it money?  Arrogance?  Greed?  Revenge?  Sex?  Stupidity?  That's interesting to me.  Not on a personal level, of course.  I don't know any criminals (I mean, as far as I know), nor do I want people like this in my everyday life, but I'm fascinated as to why they do it.

You can't have great heroes without great bad guys (or girls).  Imagine "The Dark Knight" battling Victor Buono's version of "King Tut"?  Not so good.

Do you favour one of your books over than the other? Which would you press into the hands of a new reader?

They're like your kids, aren't they?  The first one never calls and the second one always wants money.  I don't favor one over the other.  They're both funny, well-crafted stories according to the reviews I've received (including you, thank you very much), and that makes me happy.  That was the idea.  They have good hooks, so I'd press whichever one they responded to since I keep copies of both in the boot of my car.   At least these kids won't get anyone pregnant.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Every day that I don't have to do something else.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Of course.  But why would I unleash that Pulitzer-Prize winning, worldwide bestseller that would make me a beloved literary icon who would be known throughout the ages and whose movies get made into three-hour, special effects-laden extravaganzas starring Tom Cruise or (my luck) Jimmy Carr?  Obscurity and financial insolvency are so much more attractive, am I right?

Any advice for prospective authors out there?

All writing competitions are shit.  Don't take advice from anyone as successful, or less successful, than you are. 

What’s the best thing about writing?

You know the feeling you get when you walk away from a situation and that's when you think of the perfect thing that you should have said when you were in the middle of that situation?  That's my job.  On the page, I'm that guy:  smooth, charismatic, daring, dangerous, sophisticated.  Real life?  Eh, not so much.

The worst?

Trying to get your work noticed.  It's not like there's a shortage of middle-aged white guys writing books these days.  Maybe I'll publish my next book using the name Mongo Santamaria.  I mean, he's not using it anymore.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Miles: The Autobiography by Miles Davis

Little Big Man by Thomas Berger

Who do you read and enjoy?

I enjoy great storytelling, regardless of genre.  Off the top of my head...

Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Richard Matheson, Patricia Highsmith, Carl Hiaasen, Raymond Carver, Kazuo Ishiguro, Paul Beatty, P.D. James, Jeffrey Eugenides, Dorothy Parker, Stephen King, John Irving, Marlon James, Flannery O'Connor.  There are many others I'm forgetting.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Not a book, per se, but there is a single paragraph near the end of Jeffrey Eugenides "Middlesex" where our narrator Cal describes using men's restrooms for the first time in his unpredictable and very confused life.  It is one of the funniest, most real descriptions in any book I've ever read.  I recall the passage every time I'm in a public restroom and it makes me giggle, which has led to many awkward stares.  That's the kind of book I strive to write.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Hanging out and exploring Los Angeles with my family.  The city isn't as vapid and culture-deprived as it's made out to be.

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

Avengers: Infinity War.  From a storytelling standpoint, what Marvel has done over the past ten years (and in over twenty films and counting) that culminates with this two-part finale is staggering.  With the goldfish-like attention spans of today's audiences, that Marvel has successfully threaded this compelling narrative through all of these different characters, subplots and worlds is nothing short of miraculous.  They'll be writing books about this era for years.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Cooper household?

Unquestionably.  I love TV, and as far as I'm concerned, this is a golden age.  There has never been a greater selection of terrific shows and great writing.  It used to be that the big talent went to features, but now everyone's on television because it's the most interesting work. 

As far as favorite shows, it depends on who you ask.  My New Zealand born wife watches British TV, which we get on an app called AcornTV.  My daughter is a freak about Anime.  I like watching crime shows since it gives me wonderful ideas for people that I'd prefer not to meet in real life.

In a couple of years’ time.....

I'll be three books into the "Bad Apples" series.  The feature script that I keep optioning will finally get made.  The TV show will sell.  I will still have hair on my head and not on my back, and I haven't gotten too terribly fat or uninteresting.

Many thanks to Jeff for his time. You can catch up with him at his following haunts....




Billy Bonus time - a giveaway (digital).

Jeff has kindly made available several copies of both of his novels to interested readers.
Feeling lucky? Leave a comment below or email me - col2910 (at) for a chance to enjoy

Here's a bit about both......

Burn One Down

A career thief named Jack Apple is offered a low-risk, six-figure payout to heist a medical marijuana dispensary from the feisty and impetuous Diane Thomas after Diane steals the robbery plans from her shady ex-husband Alvin, hoping to beat him to the score.

Diane promises to stay out of Jack’s way but can’t help interfering, forcing them to take hostages inside the dispensary when the robbery is interrupted by law enforcement, inciting a media circus that deteriorates into a full-on urban riot.

Everyone sees a chance to benefit from the crime. Street vendors and local businesses. The Sheriff running a tight re-election campaign and hoping to boost his chances with the voters. A political activist looking to raise his public profile and private agenda. The news media that speculates and manipulates the story. Hostages who see a chance to settle old scores and create new opportunities for themselves.

To escape, Jack and Diane must negotiate the hostages, their agendas, law enforcement, the news media, shady deals, corrupt politicians, rioters, opportunists, Diane’s shady ex-husband Alvin, the business partners they didn’t know were involved, and their growing attraction to each other.

How to Steal a Truck Full of Nickels

"How to Steal a Truck Full of Nickels" is a fast-paced, contemporary crime fiction caper.

A small-time hustler and con-man named Reuben Nash heists a U.S. Mint shipment driven by his older brother Rico to resolve a long-standing debt to a loan shark with big-time muscle named Jimmy Friday.

Unfortunately for them, once Reuben and Rico pull off the caper they realize they’ve stolen less money than they need to pay out to satisfy the debt to Jimmy. They need to figure out how to discretely cash in seven million nickels and get safely out of the country before they're arrested or killed.

Everyone wants a piece of them. They're being chased by cops, criminals, and a jilted ex-girlfriend who has her own plans for the truck full of nickels.

Can these two brothers pull off this fast-paced caper without being arrested or killed? Can they do it without killing each other?

Here’s what they’re saying:

“If you enjoy Carl Hiaasen, or Elmore Leonard, you’ll find this a quick and very funny read…”

“The writing is so well-paced and crisp…”

Tuesday, 4 December 2018


A couple this week from Sara Gran, author of the Claire DeWitt trilogy of books. I recently read and enjoyed the third in the series The Infinite Blacktop. Claire as you should know is the self-proclaimed "world's best detective."

City of the Dead is the first in the trilogy and The Bohemian Highway the second.

I have a couple of other of her non-series books on the shelves - Come Closer and Dope.

Sara Grab has her website here.
Sign up to her newsletter and you may get a FREE STORY, or you might not - I did here.

City of the Dead (2011)

Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant deductive skills and is an ace at discovering evidence. But Claire also uses her dreams, omens, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries, and relies on Détection - the only book published by the late, great, and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette.

The tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has just arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans, the city she's avoided since her mentor, Silette's student Constance Darling, was murdered there. Claire is investigating the disappearance of Vic Willing, a prosecutor known for winning convictions in a homicide- plagued city. Has an angry criminal enacted revenge on Vic? Or did he use the storm as a means to disappear? Claire follows the clues, finding old friends and making new enemies - foremost among them Andray Fairview, a young gang member who just might hold the key to the mystery.

Littered with memories of Claire's years as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is a knockout start to a bracingly original new series.

Claire DeWitt and The Bohemian Highway (2013)

Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt's ex-boyfriend, is a popular musician in the San Francisco scene. When he's found dead in his apartment, his cherished guitars missing, the police are convinced it's a simple robbery, but Claire knows nothing is ever simple.

 With the help of her new assistant Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul's fate in her other cases - especially a long-ago missing girl in a gritty 1980s East Village and a modern-day miniature horse theft in Marin.

 As visions of the past reveal the secrets of the present, Claire begins to understand the words of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette: "The detective won't know what he is capable of until he encounters a mystery that pierces his own heart." And love, in all its forms, is the greatest mystery of all - at least to the world's greatest P.I. With a heroine hailed as "a charmer.

Monday, 3 December 2018


A decent month's reading which delivered on my aim of an all-female author reading month. Numbers-wise and page count I was well down on October's figures, but everything was enjoyed even if there was no 5 STAR read.

Fourteen reads in the month - 4 of them merited 4.5 STARS in my opinion.

On the basis that it would be the first one I would pick up for a re-read Margaret Millar's Vanish in an Instant (1952) is my pick of the month.

The three other close contenders for book of the month were - Elka Ray's Saigon Dark, an anthology of short stories - Switchblade: Stiletto Heeled and Anonymous-9's The 1st Short Story Collection

Six of the fourteen were 4 STAR reads - Wendy Cartmell and No Mercy, Tess Gerritsen and Whistleblower, Jenny Morton Potts and Hiding, Nikki Dolson and All Things Violent, Nanci Rathbun and Honor Kills, and Marietta Miles with her pair of novellas in Route 12.

One 3.5 STAR read- Christianna Brand's war-time murder mystery - Green For Danger

Lastly, three x 3 STAR reads, all enjoyable but for whatever reason they didn't hit any great heights for me. Eva Hudson and Run Girl, Carole Morin with Spying on Strange Men and a non-fiction browsing type book - Older Wiser Sexier by Bev Williams

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

a female FBI agent searching for a missing teenager in London

some British Military Police

a woman plotting to kill her husband

a couple thrown together by a car accident and battling to stay alive, pursued by some rogue government official

a war-time medical team, one of whom is on a bit of a killing spree

a Scottish orphan and a troubled American with nefarious designs

a talented cartoonist

a team of hitmen/hitwomen caught in a love triangle

an inquisitive lawyer with a nose for the truth

a grief-stricken mother who makes a rash decision and spends ten years waiting for her chickens to come home to roost

a female PI working a missing persons case

a vulnerable pair of friends at the mercy of a vicious ex-con

a frightened pregnant lady, an unbalanced loner, and a disturbed preacher

and a plethora of characters in a short story anthology and a short story collection

Settings - London mostly, Carlisle, London again (I think), California, Kent in War-time, Scotland and the US, nowhere, Las Vegas, California again, Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Milwaukee, Appalachia, various haunts and lastly California

The full list of fourteen read with links below ......

Eva Hudson - Run Girl (2014) (3)

Wendy Cartmell - No Mercy (2014) (4)

Carole Morin - Spying on Strange Men (2012) (3)

Tess Gerritsen - Whistleblower (1992) (4)

Christianna Brand - Green For Danger (1944) (3.5)

Jenny Morton Potts - Hiding (2018) (4)

Bev Williams - Older Wiser Sexier (2016) (3)

Nikki Dolson - All Things Violent (2017) (4)

Margaret Millar - Vanish in an Instant (1952) (4.5)

Elka Ray - Saigon Dark (2016) (4.5)

Nanci Rathbun - Honor Kills (2018) (4)

Marietta Miles - Route 12 (2016) (4)

Lisa Douglass (ed.) - Switchblade: Stiletto Heeled (2018) (4.5)

Anonymous-9 - The 1st Short Story Collection (2011) (4.5)

Anal analysis for my own amusement - read on if you're an insomniac ......

New to me authors in the month - 9 in total - Wendy CartmellCarole Morin, Christianna Brand, Jenny Morton Potts, Bev Williams, Nikki Dolson, Margaret Millar, Elka Ray and Marietta Miles

I have more on the pile to read from Marietta Miles and Margaret Millar

Authors enjoyed before - Anonymous-9, Tess Gerritsen, Nanci Rathbun, and Eva Hudson
More on the TBR pile from Tess Gerritsen, Eva Hudson and Anonymous-9

13 reads from 13 different authors, ignoring the anthology of short stories

4 were series books with the added potential for one to become one if the author picks up with the same characters in future

Gender analysis - BOOM - an all female reading month including the anthology of short stories. Hopefully December's reading maintains a female presence. My reading split is never going to be 50/50 but I could do much better on this particular aspect of my reading

Of the 13 authors read, 1 hailed from New Zealand, 4 are English, 2 are Scottish, 2 hail from Canada, 4 are American - I think

13 of the reads were fiction, one was humourous/observational on the vagaries of getting older

11 of the 14 books were published this decade - 3 from this year, 1 from 2017, 3 from 2016, 2 from 2014, and 1 each from 2012 and 2011

1 book came from the 90s - 1992 - Whistleblower from Tess Gerritsen

and 2 were 40s and 50s - 1944 and 1952 respectively - Christianna Brand and Margaret Millar

3 books were read from the man-cave blue tub stash in my garage.

Publishers - 1 each from Pushkin Vertigo, MIRA, Dragon Ink Ltd, Pandora, Summersdale Publishers Ltd, Fahrenheit Press, Crime Wave Press, Cahoots Publishing, Dark Chocolate Press LLC, Caledonia Press, All Due Respect

3 titles were self-published

10 of the 14 reads were pre-owned, 

2 of the 14 came from the publishers - cheers to Pushkin Vertigo and Crime Wave Press,

1 came from the author directly - cheers to Jenny Morton Potts

1 was a Net Galley read which had expired, thanks to author Nanci Rathbun for sending me another MOBI file

Favourite cover? Christianna Brand's Green For Danger which oozes menace

Second favourite cover Margaret Millar's Vanish in an Instant

My reads were this long 176 - 89 - 256 - 150 - 96 - 208 - 165 - 325 - 256 - 235 - 286 - 179 - 176 - 70

Total page count =  2667 (4481 in October) ....... a decrease of 1814 pages

8 were Kindle reads, and 4 were paperbacks, 1 was a hardbacks, 1 was a PDF kill some trees printout, 

0 < 50,
3 between 51 < 100,
5 between 101 < 200,
5 between 201 < 300,
1 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Hiding from Jenny Morton Potts was the longest read at  325 pages

Anonymous-9's The 1st Short Story Collection was the shortest at 70 pages long.

Sunday, 2 December 2018


Not a bad month all in all - 4 TV series completed, a cinema trip, a DVD viewed and a couple of films watched that aired on the small screen in the month... 

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (2018)

Last episode watched and quite faithful to the book. My wife and eldest daughter flagged towards the end of this 10 part adaptation, but I wasn't too bothered. In hindsight it might have been a bit slow with a few episodes where not much seemed to happen, but overall well worth the time invested in my opinion. Patrick Dempsey's my latest man-crush, though I don't think I took to his character. What 30-something year old man, plots a life with a 15 year old?

From Wikipedia......

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is an upcoming American mystery drama television miniseries, based on the novel of the same name by Joël Dicker, that is set to premiere on Epix. The series was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and stars Patrick Dempsey, Ben Schnetzer, Damon Wayans Jr., and Virginia Madsen.


The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair follows "a young writer who heads to Harry Quebert’s home for some inspiration. Instead, he finds that Harry’s been accused of murdering 15-year-old Nola Kellergan, who went missing years prior."

Dark Heart (2018) - 6 part ITV drama series

Not amazing, but enjoyable enough - 3 x 2 part stories viewed. A cop with a troubled history (what cop doesn't have one?) and a sister with a few issues and some secrets she's been keeping from him. Story lines concerned, paedophilia and vigilantism, dodgy illegal organ transplants

From Google....

Whilst devoting his life to his work, DI Will Wagstaffe is a man haunted by his past. With his team in the City of London police force, the investigate a series of horrifying attacks and murders.

Killing Eve (2018) - BBC drama

Took a month off from viewing in October and got back to it in November, caning about 5 or 6 episodes over the space of a few night's viewing. I liked it overall - Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer are both exceptional. I don't know whether it didn't feel as frenetic towards the end of the series, because of the length of time it took us between starting and finishing the series, or if there's a natural drop off in the pace. It wasn't quite as amusing when Villanelle has less people to kill.

From Google.....

Eve's life as a spy is not adding up to what she had hoped it would be when she started. She is a bored, very smart, MI5 security officer who is very desk-bound. Villanelle is a very talented killer, mercurial in mood, who clings to the luxuries of her job. Eve and Villanelle go head to head in a fierce game of cat and mouse, each woman equally obsessed with the other as Eve is tasked with hunting down the psychopathic assassin. Sarah Barnett, BBCA president, says, " `Killing Eve' stands out in a sea of scripted stories as refreshingly entertaining and great fun."

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

A stop-start film, so-far only part-viewed. Tiredness and a touch of not really feeling it caused us to pause it. It might be one to get back to as I do like a shoot 'em up kind of Westerny-type film and there's a few members of the cast I quite like - Willem Dafoe, Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. Johnny Depp has never really floated my boat. It's interesting seeing them all much younger and fresher-faced.

From Google....

Return of the mythic guitar-slinging hero, El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), in the final installment of the Mariachi/Desperado trilogy. The saga continues as El Mariachi makes his way across a rugged landscape on the blood trail of Barrillo (Willem Dafoe), a cartel kingpin with one last score to settle who is planning a coup d'etat against the president of Mexico. Enlisted by Sands (Johnny Depp), a corrupt CIA agent, El Mariachi demands retribution.

No Trees in the Street (1959)
An okay film spotted on one of my satellite channels in the month. Probably a London setting and a bit of a hark back to the bad old days as most of the action takes place pre-War in 1938... poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunity and the one man in the district who made good is the criminal with his undue influence on Tommy and his desire for her sister. The only guy I was really familiar with was Tommy - Melvyn Hayes who was instantly recognisable. Last spotted in Burma and It Ain't Half Hot Mum

From IMDB.....

Surrounded by new 1950s East End high-rise flats, a London detective thinks back to how different things were in the late 1930s. Then it was an area of overcrowded tenements teeming with impoverished unemployed people with little or no hope. He relates the story of attractive young Hetty who desperately tried to stop her younger brother descending into crime while her mother was endlessly urging her to take up with Wilkie, a smooth local racketeer, in the belief this would get the family out of poverty.

Red Sparrow (2018)

A DVD viewing and one I really liked. Jennifer Lawrence is pretty convincing as a ballerina turned agent. Plenty of twists and turns and lots of brutality on display. I might give the book from Jason Matthews a go. I did also enjoy seeing Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons in action. Rampling is quite chilling.

From IMDB...

Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to 'Sparrow School,' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.

The Greasy Strangler (2016)

I taped this one a month or two back when I spotted it on mainstream TV. Started watching with the wife and one of my girls and fair to say they were less than impressed.Turned off el pronto and I finished it at a later date on my own. Filth and depravity sums it up. I liked bits of it and it was very, very funny in places. Hard to recommend and not one I'll be buying on DVD as a present for my mum. Maybe my mother-in-law - ha only joking. Ben Wheatley - who my son is a big fan of - has some involvement in this. None of the actors seemed that familiar.

From IMDB....

Ronnie runs a Disco walking tour with his son, Brayden. When a sexy woman takes the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her love. It also signals the arrival of an oily strangler who stalks the streets at night.

A Star is Born (2018)

A trip to the cinema with the wife for this one. I can't say I needed any tissues at the end but it was really good. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were both amazing. I would struggle (with the exception of Hangover) to name anything Bradley Cooper has ever done. I just thought he was famous for being Bradley Cooper and popping up once a year at Wimbledon to have his photo taken with Gerard Butler, but I guess I might be wrong. Haven't seen any of the earlier versions of this film and probably don't need to after enjoying this one. A great night out with my better half.

From Google....

Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers -- and falls in love with -- struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

Happy Valley (2014) - BBC drama

One I missed first time around, and always kicked myself over. Binge-watched series 1 with the wife over a couple of nights - six episodes in all and I'm glad I did. I would put it on a par with Line of Duty. Sarah Lancashire is pretty bloody amazing and not just a bit scary too. Highly recommended! I'm looking forward to enjoying the second series this month.

From Wikipedia....

Happy Valley is a British crime drama television series filmed and set in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire in Northern England. The series, starring Sarah Lancashire and Siobhan Finneran, is written and created by Sally Wainwright, and directed by Wainwright, Euros Lyn, and Tim Fywell. The first series debuted on BBC One on 29 April 2014, and the second series debuted on 9 February 2016. In May 2015, Happy Valley won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series.

Series 1
Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is a strong-willed police sergeant in West Yorkshire, still coming to terms with the suicide of her teenage daughter, Becky, eight years earlier. Cawood is now divorced from her husband and living with her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran), a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, who is helping her bring up Becky's young son, Ryan (Rhys Connah), the product of rape. Neither Catherine's ex-husband nor their adult son, Daniel, want anything to do with Ryan. Catherine hears that Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), the man responsible for the brutal rape that impregnated Becky and drove her to suicide shortly after Ryan was born, is out of prison after serving eight years for drug charges. Catherine soon becomes obsessed with finding Royce, unaware that he is involved in the kidnapping of Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), a plot instigated by Kevin Weatherill (Steve Pemberton) and orchestrated by Ashley Cowgill (Joe Armstrong). Things quickly take a dark turn as the abductors scramble to keep the kidnapping secret, although Catherine is on to them.

* Blogger is acting the dick again with the refusal to save my black text bits, insisting on keeping them blue. Shan't complain too much it is free after all.