Saturday, 15 June 2019

CRIME DOGS - PART ONE

Half a dozen crime dogs from the collection and a bit of a hike around the globe - Canada, Scotland, Australia, France, the USA and Mexico, courtesy of Michael J. Malone, Henry Brock, Don Winslow, Peter Temple, Georges Simenon and Iain Levison......

Henry Brock - Vicious Dogs (2016)

Tipped off to this one courtesy of Paul D. Brazill, three years on still not read it. Would be a nice fit for my current ongoing Canadian crime reading challenge.

Derek Lasker may consider himself a private investigator, but he
hasn't worked in months. He lives in a fleabag motel and spends his
days wondering how his life became such a complete disaster. He is
shocked when his mobile phone rings with an offer of a case.

Within twenty minutes Derek is meeting with Bob Linehan Sr., who found
a headless cat in his backyard. He believes his potentially psychotic
teenaged son, Bob Jr., killed it. He wants Derek to follow Bob Jr.
and make sure he doesn't commit worse crimes. Despite the risk that
emerges when Bob Sr. admits that his son has a closet full of knives,
Derek takes the job with an eye on the money.

The case takes a grisly turn when a cat head with a human tongue in
its mouth is found on a stake in front of Bob Jr.'s high school. The
story becomes front page news. The Humane Society offers a $10,000
reward for the arrest and conviction of the person who committed this
act, and this gives Derek even more incentive to crack the case.

However, Derek is out of practice and has his eye on the wrong
psychopath. The mistake will cost him.

Vicious Dogs is a fast-paced novel with an nail-biting ending.



Michael J. Malone - Dog Fight (2017)

A bit of Scottish crime and the second from Malone featuring Kenny O'Neill, after the earlier Beyond the Rage. I've not read anything from Malone yet.

Kenny O Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs. When Kenny s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless. With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family. Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?



Peter Temple - White Dog (2003)

A bit of Aussie crime from the recently departed Peter Temple. White Dog is the fourth in his Jack Irish series. I've enjoyed a few from Temple over the years - The Broken Shore and more recently An Iron Rose.

Sarah Longmore's apartment was in Kensington, on the rough edge, near the Dynon railyards in a cracked and potholed dead-end street with unpaved verges, weeds battling to survive. Just before a six-metre corrugated iron wall, I turned into a small cinder yard. A yellow Ford ute, better days seen, had its blistered nose to a building - partly brick, partly cinder-block, partly rusted tin. I parked the Lark next to the ute, switched off the wipers, sat listening to the engine note. Jack Irish - gambler, cook and cabinetmaker, finder of people who don't want to be found - has a new job, hunting for evidence that might save the beautiful sculptor Sarah Longmore from going down for murder. Jack soon discovers there was nothing straightforward about Mickey Franklin's death, and between the case and his own dealings with dodgy racehorses, falls headlong into a world of shady deals, sexual secrets and country rednecks.



Georges Simenon - The Yellow Dog (1931)

An early Maigret novel from Simenon. I've still only read one of his - Maigret's Dead Man

The small French town of Concarneau is a summer resort. In winter it becomes the deserted, rainswept scene for a series of murder attempts that attract the interest of Maigret. While his assistant Leroy uses "science" and "deductions" to trace the murderer, Maigret's instincts unerringly guide him to the real killer past a labyrinth of fascinating characters: a paranoid failed medical doctor turned real-estate shark; a passive, working class waitress whose heart secretly burns a torch of passion; an aristocratic politician who pressures Maigret to "make some arrests"; and a snarling stray dog that knows the murderer's real identity.



Iain Levison - Dog Eats Dog (2008)

Another unread Scottish author. His other two books - How to Rob an Armored Car and Since the Layoffs also sit ignored on the TBR pile.

Philip Dixon is down on his luck. An escape from a lucrative but botched bank robbery lands him bleeding and on the verge of collapse in a college town in New Hampshire. How can he find a place to hide out in this innocent setting? Peering into the window of the nearest house, he sees a glimmer of hope: a man in his mid-thirties, obviously some kind of academic, is rolling around on the living room floor with an attractive high-school student. Professor Elias White is then blackmailed into harboring a dangerous fugitive, as Dixon - with a cool quarter-million in his bag and dreams of Canada in his head - gets ready for the last phase of his escape.

But the last phase is always the hardest. Attractive and persistent FBI agent Denise Lupo is on his trail. As for Elias White, his surprising transition from respected academic to willing accomplice poses a ruthless threat that Dixon would be foolish to underestimate.



Don Winslow - The Power of the Dog (2005)


The first in Winslow's three book Power of the Dog series. None of which have been read. The Cartel (2015) and The Border (2019) - complete the set.

Don Winslow's masterpiece is not only a page-turning thriller but also a rich and compelling novel about a very mixed group of characters, each in his or her own way seeking some sort of salvation or redemption. The plot is essentially simple: how the US government and some of its quasi-autonomous agencies (CIA, FBI, DEA) all for their own reasons encouraged, sponsored and actively financed and helped the development of the drug cartels and their trade in Mexico. Groups of characters - a young Chicano boy from the Barrio who makes good and becomes a Senator (and who is the target of an assassination plot that tops and tails the book); a morally troubled DEA boss who tries to do good, but who is driven by events and by a desire both for salvation and revenge to sleep with the devil; and the various gang leaders, some of them psychopathic, others urbane, civilised and deadly; a high-class prostitute; and a charismatic Catholic priest who is dedicated to the improvement of the lives of his people.




Tuesday, 11 June 2019

TONI KAN - NIGHTS OF THE CREAKING BED (2019)


Synopsis/blurb......

Nights of the Creaking Bed is full of colourful characters involved in affecting dramas: a girl who is rejected in love because she has three brothers to look after; a middle aged housewife who finds love again but has an impossible decision to make; a young man who can't get the image of his naked, beautiful mother out of his mind; a child so poor he has to hawk onions on Christmas day - and many others. Some, initially full of hope, find their lives blighted by the cruelty of others, or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by just not knowing the "right" people. Corruption, religious intolerance, gratuitous violence, the irresponsible attitudes of some men to their offspring and the importance of joy are some of the big themes that underlie this memorable collection.

Fifteen short stories from Nigerian author Toni Kan, some of which I enjoyed more than others, some I didn't really understand, but on the whole a decent investment of reading time. Much more to like than dislike.


STRANGERS ..... two young lads appear in a community, arousing excitement, happiness, speculation, before it turns sour - mistrust of strangers, jealousy, anger, mob-rule, death and a further unintended consequence.......powerful, thoughtful, sad - probably my favourite of the bunch

THE PASSION OF POLOLO ..... an adulterous parent, anguish, anger, confusion, arousal, secrets, a relationship ruined

MY PERFECT LIFE ...... first love - found and lost, life goes on, a new life, husband and children, a chance re-union, that old spark, a difficult choice to make - or maybe it was easy...... another one of my favourites, one with an ending which raised an eyebrow  - "I have made my choice. The sound of my own laughter sounds better to my ears."

THE HARBINGER ....... war, absent fathers and the bringer of bad news, dread, fear, relief, a manipulative messenger, payback

BRODA SONNIE ....... a doomed romance, Christians and Muslims, religious intolerance with a fatal outcome

NIGHTS OF THE CREAKING BED ..... a kept woman, family shame,

THE ECHO OF SILENCE ...... a corpse on the doorstep, an urgent appointment, a false alarm

GOD IS LISTENING ...... a death in the family, a new life - more difficult than the old, love found or so she thought, a pregnancy, an abandonment, a birth, another abandonment, despair, a lack of hope, grief and when you have nothing more to lose - a rape.

AHMED ..... village life, family, escape, the lure of the big city, danger and death

BUZZ ..... a homicide detective, a known victim, a murderer to catch

ONIONS ..... a poor boy out selling onions on Christmas Day

THE DEVIL'S OVERTIME ....... family, abandonment, a new-found friendship, a party trick, an early grave or two

THE CAR THEY BORROWED ...... a message, a borrowed car, anxiety, fear, embarrassment, confusion for this reader!

SAD EYES ...... friendship, abandonment - another one where I didn't quite find myself on the same page as the author

THE PHONE CALL GOODNIGHT ..... a family row, a sulk, a phone call, danger, fear and panic turns to relief and joy

A better than average collection, more enjoyed than not and a wide range of issues covered..... community, suspicion of outsiders, religious intolerance, sex - unfulfilled, forbidden, fatal, forced, first, sneaky, adulterous, families - mainly fractured, damaged, grief, loss, love, poverty, death, murder, and lots more beside, all in a mainly Lagos setting. On occasions the author dips into local dialect, which slightly threw me, but it never served to bump me out of a story.

Toni Kan is the author of the novel - The Carnivorous City

4 from 5

Read - June, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count -176
Source - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline early reviewer site, courtesy of Cassava Republic Press
Format - ePub file read on laptop

Monday, 10 June 2019

2 BY CHRIS OFFUTT

Chris Offutt is another author that I haven't read in a number of years. His first novel, The Good Brother dropped in 1997 and while I read it and still have my copy I can recall nothing about it.






















Offutt writes it all - non-fiction, novels and short stories.

His second novel - Country Dark was published in 2018.

He's not quite as prolific an author as his father, Andrew who wrote over 400 pornographic novels to support his family, including pirate porn, ghost porn, zombie porn, and secret agent porn.

The two below are short story collections.






Kentucky Straight (1992)

Kentucky straight is bourbon with no mixer. Kentucky Straight is Kentucky seen without nostalgic gloss. These riveting, often heartbreaking stories, take us through country that is unmapped. They are set in a nameless Appalachian community too small to be called a town, a place where wanting an education is a mark of ungodly arrogance and dowsing for water a legitimate occupation; where hunting is not a sport but a means of survival. These are stories of coal miners and backwoods medicine men, of gamblers and marijuana farmers, tales of real tragedy and unutterable strangeness that convey their sense of place so vividly that we feel its ground rise beneath our feet.

Offutt has received a James Michener Grant and a Kentucky Arts Council Award.





Out of the Woods (1999)

From the critically acclaimed author of the novel The Good Brother and memoir My Father the
Pornographer, Out of the Woods is Chris Offutt's fiercely original short story collection the New York Times calls "a magical book".

Arriving seven years after Offutt's debut collection Kentucky Straight, Out of the Woods returns a masterly writer to the form which garnered him not only critical praise but many prestigious awards. Offutt, who "draws landscape and constructs dialogue with the eyes and ears of a native son" (The Miami Herald), is on strong home turf here, capturing those who have left the Kentucky hills and long to return. These nine stories of gravediggers and drifters, gamblers and truck drivers a long way from home, are tales so full of hard edges they can't help but tell some hard truths.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

MAY 2019 - FILMS (CINEMA)

A flurry of cinema trips in the month; seven in all as the better half and I took advantage of the recent sign-up to the Odeon's Unlimited Pass scheme.

A couple of absolute belters, a few enjoyed and one that I'm fairly sure will be played to me continuously on a loop in hell when I eventually get there.......


Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Not a fan of the Superhero genre TBH. I'll enjoy a Batman or Spiderman film but that's my limit. Big hitters in the cast, but nah not for me. If it ever pops up on TV, I'm going out. 180 plus minutes, but it seemed longer.....

From Google...

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers -- Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner -- must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos -- the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.


John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)
I've enjoyed the first two John Wick films and the third didn't disappoint. There are some pretty incredible fight scenes and it's a couple of hours of high intensity, action packed nonsense - I mean that in a good way.  I do enjoy watching Keanu Reeves. Ian McShane and Halle Berry also feature.

From Google.....

After gunning down a member of the High Table -- the shadowy international assassin's guild -- legendary hit man John Wick finds himself stripped of the organization's protective services. Now stuck with a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target of the world's most ruthless killers.


Greta (2019)
Unable to see this in April due to a cinema glitch, we managed to catch it eventually and it's a decent thriller. Worth a look and I'll watch it again if it pops up on TV. There are several moments where I was watching through my fingers.

From Google...

Frances finds a handbag on the New York subway and promptly returns it to Greta, an eccentric French piano teacher who loves tea and classical music. Having recently lost her mother, young Frances strikes up a seemingly harmless friendship with the lonely and kindly widow who enjoys her company. But when Greta's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and obsessive, Frances does whatever it takes to end the toxic relationship before things spirals out of control.


Red Joan (2018/19)
I remember seeing the book Red Joan on the bookstore shelves a few years ago, but managed to resist the temptation to buy it, despite the incredible story it told. Wait for the film, I must have said to myself. An enjoyable watch. I'm a fan of Dame Judi Dench and she never fails to deliver. No need to hunt down the book now.

From Wikipedia....

Red Joan is a 2018 British spy drama film, directed by Trevor Nunn, from a screenplay by Lindsay Shapero. The film stars Stephen Campbell Moore, Sophie Cookson, Tom Hughes, Ben Miles, Nina Sosanya, Tereza Srbova and Judi Dench.

Red Joan had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2018 and was released on 19 April 2019, by Lionsgate in the United Kingdom.

Premise
Red Joan is based on a novel of the same name written by Jennie Rooney, which was itself inspired by the life of Melita Norwood. Norwood worked at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association as a secretary and supplied the Soviet Union with nuclear secrets. The materials that Norwood betrayed to the USSR hastened the pace at which the Soviets developed nuclear bomb technology.


Rocketman (2019) 
I can't claim to be a massive Elton John fan, but the trailer for this looked good and I do like most of the hits - there's probably a best of CD stuck at the back of a cupboard somewhere. Taron Egerton (never heard of him before) is amazing as Elton. Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin similarly shines. Their enduring friendship is one of the high points of the film.

I found the portrayal of his family relationships incredibly sad. I'm kind of surprised he lived to tell the tale considering the amount of drugs and alcohol he was consuming during the 70s and 80s. The flip-flopping backwards and forwards to childhood and the difficult period when John started to face up to his addictions and problems worked for me. The music was amazing. I could happily have watched it again as soon as it had finished.

From Wikipedia.....

Rocketman is a 2019 biographical musical film based on the life of musician Elton John. Directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall, it stars Taron Egerton as John, with Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film follows John's early days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin. The film is titled after John's 1972 song "Rocket Man".

An Elton John biopic had been in development for almost two decades, with the project going through studios including Walt Disney Studios and Focus Features, directors including Michael Gracey, and actors including Tom Hardy and Justin Timberlake. After creative differences with Focus halted an initial production start in 2014, John took the project to Paramount Pictures, with Egerton and Fletcher signing on in April 2018. Principal photography began in August 2018 and was completed later that year.


Rocketman premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 16 May 2019, and was released in the United Kingdom on 22 May 2019 and in the United States on 31 May 2019. The film received positive reviews from critics, with Egerton's performance and the musical numbers receiving general praise. It is the first major Hollywood production to show a gay male sex scene on-screen.


The Hustle (2019)

Hmm, I kind of thought I would enjoy this a bit more than I did, as I'm a fan of the con in my reading. It had its moments, but where Rebel Wilson is quite naturally funny, you can't really say the same about Anne Hathaway. Her posh woman act was unconvincing and I don't think she has a funny bone in her body. My wife enjoyed it more than me, but it got us out of the house and I'd rather watch this three times than Avengers twice. Not the worst film ever, not the best. 

From Wikipedia.....

Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson star as female scam artists, one low rent and the other high class, who team up to take down the men who have wronged them.


Long Shot (2019)

A bit of arm-twisting was required to get me along to this one and I'm glad I succumbed. I do find Seth Rogen quite funny. Charlize Theron is very good as well. A few laughs were had, so it did it's job.

From Wikipedia.....

Long Shot is a 2019 American romantic comedy film directed by Jonathan Levine and written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. The plot follows a journalist (Seth Rogen) who reunites with his former babysitter (Charlize Theron), now the United States Secretary of State. O'Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, and Alexander SkarsgÄrd also star.

The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 9, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States and Canada on May 3, 2019, by Lionsgate. It received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the performances and chemistry of Rogen and Theron

Saturday, 8 June 2019

MAY 2019 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

Three books bought, a couple received via Edelweiss - Above the Treeline early reviewer site and one courtesy of Black Rose Publishing........



Toni Kan - Nights of the Creaking Bed (2019) - Edelweiss
Interesting cover and blurb which attracted me to this one. Not over long either which is another plus point.

Nights of the Creaking Bed is full of colourful characters involved in affecting dramas: a girl who is rejected in love because she has three brothers to look after; a middle aged housewife who finds love again but has an impossible decision to make; a young man who can't get the image of his naked, beautiful mother out of his mind; a child so poor he has to hawk onions on Christmas day - and many others. Some, initially full of hope, find their lives blighted by the cruelty of others, or by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by just not knowing the "right" people. Corruption, religious intolerance, gratuitous violence, the irresponsible attitudes of some men to their offspring and the importance of joy are some of the big themes that underlie this memorable collection.


Liz Jensen - War Crimes for the Home (2002) - bought copy
Charity shop bargain buy, again sucked in by a fantastic cover and the fact that I just don't read enough female authors

'You know what they say about GIs and English girls' knickers,' ran the wartime joke, 'One Yank and they're off.' When Gloria met Ron, he was an American pilot who thought nothing of getting hit by shrapnel in the cockpit. She was working in a munitions factory in Bristol during the Blitz, but still found time to grab what she wanted - ciggies, sex, American soldiers. But war has an effect on people. Gloria did all sorts of things she wouldn't normally do - evil things, some of them - because she might be dead tomorrow, or someone might. 

Now, fifty years on, it's payback time. In her old folks' home, Gloria is forced to remember the real truth about her and Ron, and confront the secret at the heart of her dramatic home front story. 

In a gripping, vibrant evocation of wartime Britain, Liz Jensen explores the dark impulses of women whose war crimes are committed on the home front, in the name of sex, survival, greed, and love.


Hans Olav Lahlum - The Human Flies (2014) - bought copy
A series recommended to me by Kate Jackson, the blogger - Cross Examining Crime, as opposed to Kate Jackson, the Charlie's Angel. I'm partial to a bit of Scandi crime, when I can remember to actually read it.

Oslo, 1968. Ambitious young detective Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen is called to an apartment block, where a man has been found murdered.

The victim, Harald Olesen, was a legendary hero of the Resistance during the Nazi occupation and at first it is difficult to imagine who could have wanted him dead. But as Detective Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen (known as K2) begins to investigate, it seems clear that the murderer could only be one of Olesen's fellow tenants in the building.

Soon, with the help of Patricia - a brilliant young woman confined to a wheelchair following a terrible accident - K2 will begin to untangle the web of lies surrounding Olesen's neighbours; each of whom, it seems, had their own reasons for wanting Olesen dead. Their interviews, together with new and perplexing clues, will lead K2 and Patricia to dark events that took place during the Second World War . . .

The Human Flies by Hans Olav Lahlum is a gripping, evocative and ingenious mystery - the first in a series featuring K2 and Patricia - which pays homage to the great Agatha Christie and will plunge readers into Norwegian history, and into a world of deceit and betrayal, revenge and the very darkest murder.


Russell Rowland - Cold Country (2019) - Edelweiss
My cup of tea......

Montana, 1968: The small town of Paradise Valley is ripped open when popular rancher and notorious bachelor Tom Butcher is found murdered one morning, beaten to death by a baseball bat. Suspicion among the tight-knit community immediately falls on the outsider, Carl Logan, who recently moved in with his family and his troubled son Roger. What Carl doesn't realize is that there are plenty of people in Paradise Valley who have reason to kill Tom Butcher.
Complications arise when the investigating officers discover that Tom Butcher had a secret--a secret he kept even from Junior Kirby, a lifelong rancher and Butcher's best friend. As accusations fly and secrets are revealed one after another, the people of Paradise Valley learn how deeply Tom Butcher was embedded in their lives, and that they may not have known him at all.

With familiar mastery, Russell Rowland, the author of In Open Spaces and Fifty-Six Counties, returns to rural Montana to explore a small town torn apart by secrets and suspicions, and how the tenuous bonds of friendship struggle to hold against the differences that would sever us.


Wayne D. McFarland - Tales from the Day (2018) - Black Rose Publishing
Invited by the publisher to have a gander at this one. It should make a bit of a change from my usual reading

A collection of 19 humorous, moving, and often heart-pounding stories.

Yeah, this is a memoir of sorts, if shark fishing in one’s underwear, roping a bear, getting drunk with your Grandfather, or losing ten grand at the Hollywood Sign is a memoir. The Day Johnny Cash Hit On My Wife is on the roster as well, for the only name drop in all the stories. There’s also a thing about getting shot in Arkansas and a road trip with a monkey. I can’t deny these were life shaping events, but truth be told they all happened under the heading of “oops.”


Hans Olav Lahlum - Satellite People (2015) - bought copy
The second in Lahlum's series of five novels thus far.

A gripping, evocative and ingenious mystery which pays homage to Agatha Christie, Satellite People is the second Norwegian mystery in Hans Olav Lahlum's series.

Oslo, 1969. When a wealthy man collapses and dies during a dinner party, Norwegian Police Inspector Kolbjorn Kristiansen, known as K2, is left shaken. For the victim, Magdalon Schelderup, a multimillionaire businessman and former resistance fighter, had contacted him only the day before, fearing for his life.

It soon becomes clear that every one of Schelderup's ten dinner guests is a suspect in the case. The businessman was disliked, even despised, by many of those close to him; and his recently revised Will may have set events in motion. But which of the guests - from his current and former wives and three children to his attractive secretary and old cohorts in the resistance - had the greatest motive for murder?

With the inestimable help of Patricia - a brilliant, acerbic young woman who lives an isolated life at home, in her wheelchair - K2 begins to untangle the lies and deceit within each of the guests' testimonies. But as the investigators receive one mysterious letter after another warning of further deaths, K2 realises he must race to uncover the killer. Before they strike again . . .

Friday, 7 June 2019

TIM STEVENS - SNOUT (2012)


Synopsis/blurb.....

TWO SUSPECTS. ONE TRAITOR. NO ROOM FOR ERROR.

London, 1979. A new government is about to take power in Britain, and the intelligence services need to be purged.

Roy Nichols is pushing fifty, a little too fond of a drink, and frustrated in his career. He's also in charge of a division of MI5 in which a Soviet mole has been found to be operating. It's his job to identify and expose the enemy agent.

Nichols has two acolytes, both with their strengths and weaknesses. Which is the mole? As the shadow of suspicion falls on Nichols himself, he finds the pressure almost more than he can bear, and resorts to an unorthodox method of coping: he starts a diary...

A tense, chilling Cold War spy mystery in the spirit of Le Carre, Snout is an 8,000-word story of suspense and high drama that will keep you guessing right up until the final twist.

Tim Stevens is the author of the acclaimed action/espionage thrillers Ratcatcher, Delivering Caliban, Jokerman, Tundra, Severance Kill and Annihilation Myths, and the Cold War spy novella Reunion.

Another previously enjoyed author revisited through a long short story. I'm building up to trying one of his novels eventually!

I've not read enough Le Carre to confirm whether the comparison with one of the masters of the espionage trope is merited, but I liked what I read here. I do like dipping into the espionage genre. There's always someone with something to hide, always someone playing someone else.

Here.......duplicity, double dealing, treachery, betrayal, an investigation, suspicion, a lack of respect, a few home truths and after twists and turns and a final twist, a resolution and answers for the reader.

I wasn't especially stunned by the final outcome, I think when you read a lot of mysteries/thrillers/crime fiction the last "unexpected" twist is mostly a given. You may not know exactly what it will be, but you anticipate it's arrival.

4 from 5

Spiked has been enjoyed by the author before.

Read - June, 2019
Published - 2012
Page count - 33
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle




Thursday, 6 June 2019

MAY 2019 - FILMS + TV (HOME VIEWING)

A decent month's home viewing with a few films and some TV enjoyed in the month....
(I'll do a separate post on the Cinema trips in the month)


The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) - Netflix film 

Not a film I would have picked to be truthful, but my youngest daughter was in control of the remote. Not too bad, a few scary moments, though I did find myself frustrated at the passivity of the family when initially getting terrorised - fight back FFS. An okay watch, but not one to live too long in the memory.

From Google....

Mike and his wife Cindy take their son and daughter on a road trip that becomes their worst nightmare. The family members soon find themselves in a desperate fight for survival when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park that's mysteriously deserted -- until three masked psychopaths show up to satisfy their thirst for blood.


The Virtues (2019) - TV drama

Only one episode of it watched so far - we need all five of us together at the same time - and its harrowing. I'm a big fan of Stephen Graham. Not going to be a barrel of laughs here.

From Google....

Written and directed by Stephen Meadows, `The Virtues' is an emotionally charged drama that teeters on the edge of total self-destruction. Joseph is already in a precarious situation battling an alcohol addiction and memories from a dark childhood, but his life is thrown into further disarray when his ex-partner moves to Australia and takes their son with her. With no one to turn to but a bottle of liquor, an all-night bender prompts Joseph to confront his haunting past and he heads to Ireland. There he finds compassion from a sister who thought he was dead but also a familiar face that strikes feelings of fear within him.


The OA (Season 2) (2019) - TV drama

I was press-ganged by my son into watching the first series, which was okay. Not sure that I totally got what was going on, and maybe that's the point. The internet seems to be full of conflicting opinions about both series as to what it all means. Not a discussion that interests me. I'll just do what I'm told and watch. One episode down, seven to go I think. I do hope Jason Isaacs dies horribly.

From Google...

Part I
The series centers around Prairie Johnson, an adopted young woman who resurfaces after having been missing for seven years. Upon her return, Prairie calls herself "The OA" (for "Original Angel"), exhibits scars on her back, and can see, despite having been blind when she disappeared. The OA refuses to tell the FBI and her adoptive parents where she has been and how her eyesight was restored, and instead quickly assembles a team of five locals (four high school students and a teacher) to whom she reveals that information, also explaining her life story. Finally, she asks for their help to save the other missing people whom she claims she can rescue by opening a portal to another dimension.

Part II
The second season follows the OA as she traverses to another dimension and ends up in San Francisco to continue her search for her former captor Hap and her fellow captives, as Prairie crosses paths with private eye Karim Washington to assist in his investigation of the surreal disappearance of a missing girl that involves an abandoned house with a supernatural history and an online puzzle game. Meanwhile, in the original dimension, a series of unfortunate events propels the OA's five companions to embark on a road trip across America to assist the OA on her journey.



Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002) - film

A few Shane Meadows films rocked up on TV as a warm up for The Virtues. I hadn't seen this one previously. Funny in places without being laugh out loud. Sad in others. I like Robert Carlyle and Kathy Burke. Not amazing, but an okay watch.

From Wikipedia....

Once Upon a Time in the Midlands is a 2002 British romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows, starring Robert Carlyle, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke, Ricky Tomlinson and Shirley Henderson. It is set in Nottingham, in the East Midlands region of England.

Plot
Set in Nottinghamshire, Dek (Rhys Ifans) proposes to his girlfriend Shirley (Shirley Henderson) on TV. When Jimmy (Robert Carlyle), "the great love of her life" and father of her daughter Marlene (Finn Atkins), sees this, he returns in an attempt to win back her heart. However, after deserting his friends in Scotland during an unsuccessful robbery of some clowns, his friends turn against him and come to the Midlands to try to track him down. In the end, Shirley refuses to go with Jimmy and professes her love for Dek; likewise, Marlene refuses to have anything to do with Jimmy, and accepts Dek as her father figure.

Death Wish (2018) - film

I enjoyed the original with Charles Bronson and didn't even know there had been a remake. I like a bit of Bruce. And Billy Bonus - Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Law and Order) also stars as his brother. I don't think it's that different to the original version. A decent hour and a half's watch. I doubt they will do a 2, 3 and a 4 remakes, but you never know. I probably still prefer the book from Brian Garfield and by a spooky coincidence have another of the author's books sitting on my bedside table. It's been a while since I read him.

From Google....

Dr. Paul Kersey is a surgeon who often sees the consequences of the city's violence in the emergency room. When home intruders brutally attack his wife and young daughter, Kersey becomes obsessed with delivering vigilante justice to the perpetrators. As the anonymous slayings grab the media's attention, the public begins to wonder if the deadly avenger is a guardian angel -- or the Grim Reaper itself.



The Shield (Season 1) (2002) - TV drama

One of those series I never watched in the day and always kind of regretted not getting involved in. Channel 4 have all 7 seasons (or is it 8, available on their box set doodah). Four episodes in and I'm liking it, maybe a bit more than my wife. Not sure if we will both have the stamina to get through all 80 plus episodes. I hope so.

From Google.....

Vic Mackey is a rogue cop in an experimental division of the Los Angeles Police Department, willing to sink to the criminals' level in order to take them on -- but his misdeeds eventually come home to roost. He breaks the law to, in his mind, bring some semblance of order to a chaotic world.


The Bucket List (2007)
Enjoyable. I like seeing the two main actors doing their stuff. Best film ever? No, but well worth the time invested in watching it.

From Google...

Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in the same hospital room. The men find they have two things in common: a need to come to terms with who they are and what they have done with their lives, and a desire to complete a list of things they want to see and do before they die. Against their doctor's advice, the men leave the hospital and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.



Welcome Home (2018) - film

Another Netflix punt and a decent film, not without it's creepy moments. I don't think I knew any of the cast, but they were okay - not amazing, not wooden either. It was quite tense and uncomfortable in places with a decent sting in the tale.

From Wikipedia.....

Welcome Home is a drama/thriller film starring Aaron Paul and Emily Ratajkowski as Bryan and Cassie, a couple that tries to solve their personal problems with a romantic trip to Italy. Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio plays the supporting role of Federico.

Lead casting of Paul and Ratajkowski was announced in April 2017.[1] The film was written by David Levinson, produced by Allan Mandelbaum and Tim and Trevor White and directed by George Ratliff for Voltage Pictures. On September 7, 2018 the film was set for a video on demand release on November 12, 2018. The first trailer for the film was released on October 4, 2018.


The Green Mile (1999) - film
A re-watch of a long long film over a couple of nights and it's still bloody amazing.

From Wikipedia....

The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy crime drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from Stephen King’s 1996 novel of the same name.

The film stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb and Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey, with supporting roles by David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, and James Cromwell. The film also features Dabbs Greer in his final film, as the older Paul Edgecomb. The film, told in a flashback format, tells the story of Paul's life as a death row corrections officer during the U.S. Great Depression, and the supernatural events he witnessed there.

The film received positive reviews from critics, and was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Clarke Duncan, Best Sound, and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.



Line of Duty (Series 5) - TV drama
Last couple of episodes watched at the beginning of May and it got a bit better after nearly losing me earlier on. I think my favourites scenes always take place in the interview room. Great cast as always, but this one was my least favourite series of the 5. Maybe time to call it a day guys. Dot's magic fingers was a bit of a stretch.

From the Radio Times ........

Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston are confirmed to be reprising their roles as the officers of AC-12, returning to the job as Supt. Ted Hastings, DI Kate Fleming, and DS Steve Arnott.

The new series will also see the return of Maya Sondhi as PC Maneet Bindra, Polly Walker as public relations expert Gill Biggeloe, and Aiysha Hart as Murder Squad cop (and Steve’s ex girlfriend) DS Sam Railston.

Tony Pitts will return as Detective Chief Superintendent Les Hargreaves, while Andrea Irvine plays Ted’s estranged wife Roisin Hastings.

A first-look image has also been released, revealing “Balaclava Man” John Corbett (Stephen Graham) and Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall). These two guest leads are pivotal figures in a deadly organised crime group which is known to have links with corrupt police officers.

Stephen Graham’s character is the “most dangerous” Line of Duty villain yet
Other newcomers joining the cast include Taj Atwal as PC Tatleen Sohota, Richard Pepple as PS Kyle Ferringham, and actors Susan Vidler, Sian Reese-Williams, Ace Bhatti, and Elizabeth Rider.

Take a look at the trailer and you get a few clues as to what he’s hinting at – including an ominous shot that appears to show Ted Hastings standing in a prison cell. The pressure is clearly on as we see not just one balaclava man but a whole gang, headed up by Stephen Graham’s John Corbett, with three police officers murdered in a hijacking.

And over it all hangs the big unanswered question: who is “H” – the shadowy police insider with direct command of a network of balaclava-clad criminals? (And no, Adrian Dunbar is NOT happy about those Line of Duty hints that Hastings could be H.)