Sunday, 7 March 2021

OCTOBER 2020 - FILMS + TV (HOME VIEWING)

Ha, five months after the event and most definitely more for my own amusement than anyone else's - and before they vanish totally from the memory banks....



                                          Law and Order UK - Series 6 (2011/12) - ITV Drama

Missed this series first time around when it aired which was disappointing. I was a fan of the US show and have enjoyed this one just as much. I like the set up, with the crime, the police and the prosecution case. I like the main man, Bradley Walsh as the ever present detective, which all the other main players having been replaced by fresher faces. There is a season 7 and 8, but I might need to track down a DVD for them as they didn't get a re-run this time.

From IMDB.....

S6, Ep1 - Survivor's Guilt
 
A drive-by shooting outside the Old Bailey leaves one police officer dead and another wounded in what appears to be a targeted attack on a witness giving evidence in an attempted murder trial.
  
ImmuneS6, Ep2 - Immune
 
A bungled robbery leads to a have-a-go hero being shot dead and a hostage seized by two armed gunmen.
  
S6, Ep3 - Haunted
 
The deathbed confession of a petty criminal to the murder of a teenage girl leaves DS Ronnie Brooks shaken to the core as he is forced to reopen a case he thought he had put to bed fourteen years ago.
 
S6, Ep4 - Trial

The murder of an elderly janitor in his home one afternoon is carried out with such precision and planning that the only evidence the killer leaves is designed to lead the detectives a merry dance.
 
S6, Ep5 - Line Up
 
A murder enquiry is launched when a concerned citizen alerts the police to a shocking video spreading like wildfire on the web.
 
S6, Ep6 - Dawn Till Dusk
 
Over one long day, the team work flat-out on three separate cases involving a serial killer, a family dispute turned murderous, and an accusation of police intimidation.
 
S6, Ep7 - Fault Lines

The frenzied stabbing of a police forensic lab technician unsettles our team in a way they never expected when DS Sam Casey falls for the killer’s next intended victim.


                                                    The Paramedic (2020) - Netflix Film

Another tense edge of the seat drama, with a few moments where you find yourself yelling at the screen, imploring a character to get out and get away. It's a Spanish film which we watched dubbed in English. None of the cast was familiar to me, but it didn't stop us enjoying it. Make sure you have a cushion handy to cling on to if you view it.

From IMDB....

Angel works in an ambulance service. After a tragic accident, his personal life begins to deteriorate as he becomes more and more suspicious of his partner Vane.



                                         Ratched - Season 1 (2020) - Netflix TV Drama

One I enjoyed without ever being stunned and amazed. I do like seeing Sarah Paulson on screen. I'm not putting my life on hold waiting for the second series.

From Wikipedia....

Ratched is an American psychological thriller streaming television series created by Evan Romansky, developed by Ryan Murphy and starring Sarah Paulson in the title role. The series, a prequel to Saul Zaentz's 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (based on Ken Kesey's 1962 novel of the same name), depicts the life of Mildred Ratched prior to the events portrayed in the film, albeit in a different state (California as opposed to the film's Oregon). Ratched received a two-season series order; the first season premiered on Netflix on September 18, 2020.




                                                                Jungle (2017) - Film

Very tense and enjoyable, and based on a true story. Daniel Radcliffe proves there is life after Harry Potter.

From IMDB.....

A group of friends join a guide for a trek into the Bolivian jungle, searching for an Indian village. The men soon realize that the jungle is a difficult place to be.



Saturday, 6 March 2021

CHARLES RIVER EDITORS - LEGENDS OF MUSIC: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF TUPAC SHAKUR (2012)

 


Synopsis/blurb....

*Includes a Suggested Playlist of some of Pac's lesser known songs.

*Discusses both the New York shooting and Las Vegas shooting in detail, explaining who was likely responsible for the shooting.

*Discusses the beefs during Pac's life and the various conspiracy theories surrounding his death.

At the renowned Coachella music festival in 2012, crowds looked on with awe and stunned silence as the world’s most famous rapper took the stage to deliver a fiery performance of two of his well known hits alongside friend and former collaborator Snoop Dogg. The legendary Tupac Shakur had just overshadowed every other performer at the festival, despite the fact he’d been dead for over 15 years.

The “2Pac Hologram” was only the latest buzzworthy headline that Tupac has generated long after he was infamously gunned down just off the strip in Las Vegas back in September 1996. Since his death, Shakur’s estate has released far more music posthumously than Pac released in his all-too-brief career, amazing fans and music critics alike. In addition to the music that still keeps finding the light of day, the hologram performance was another fitting example that music fans continue to refuse to let him go, with some even going so far as to speculate that he faked his death.

Why does Pac continue to hold such a high place in pop culture among anyone who grew up in the last 40 years? The answers can be found in his turbulent life, unsolved murder, and the fact that most of the topics of his music continue to be relevant today. Born to a single mother who later developed an addiction to crack, Pac’s childhood was marred by constant moving, living in squalor, and eventually being homeless as a teenager in “The Jungle”, Marin City. Always a fan of performing, Pac channeled his rage, energy, and charisma into a rap career, fueled by his inability to forget how he grew up and the social ills he witnessed.

Rising from roadie for Digital Underground to his own spectacular single career, Pac rode his controversy and classic music to the national forefront, becoming front page news for both his arrests and hit records. Becoming the first man to have a #1 album while in jail, Pac was eventually bailed out by Suge Knight, CEO of Death Row Records, and from 1995-1996 became rap music’s biggest name. He would release the first original double CD in rap history with All Eyez on Me in February 1996 and the classic Makaveli album, recorded and produced in just a week, in November 1996. Both went #1, but Pac wasn’t around to see Makaveli’s success, having been infamously gunned down after a Mike Tyson fight on September 7, 1996 in Las Vegas. His murder remains unsolved.

Having become a rap icon cut down in the prime of his life and career, with the music to match the story of his life, Pac’s name and legacy are sure to endure. Legends of Music: The Life and Legacy of Tupac Shakur details the life, career, and legacy of the world’s most famous rapper, detailing how his upbringing shaped his philosophy and music, the theories surrounding his death, the conspiracy theories that he faked his death, and descriptions of Pac in the studio.

Learn about Tupac Shakur like you never have before, in no time at all.

A bit of a departure from my normal reading (or listening) with this short offering on rap legend Tupac Shakur.

Did I enjoy it? Did I learn anything? Was it a waste of my time?

Hmm, it was ok. 

A few snippets ie I never knew Shakur was friends with Jada Pinkett Smith, though I'm not quite sure what good that bit of trivia is ever going to do me.

No, I don't ever regard as time spent in a book as a waste of time. I have been considering trying to introduce more non-fiction into my reading, so it's a small step in that direction. That said, towards the end when Shakur's unsolved killing is discussed you have fact, blended with the speculation and gossip and conspiracy theories.

I think what it might force me to do is visit You Tube for a sampling of some of his better known songs, none of which I can claim familiarity with by virtue of title alone. Maybe I'll recognise them if I listen to them. 

Sad when lives end abruptly and prematurely and in this instance from a gun. Sad for the victim, sad for the friends and family. No winners.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) March, 2021

Published - 2012

Page count - 42 (2 hrs 7 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible

Friday, 5 March 2021

ALAN BAXTER - THE GULP (2021)

 



Synopsis/blurb....

Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it.

The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don't even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.

A truck driver thinks the stories about The Gulp are made up to scare him. Until he gets there.

Teenage siblings try to cover up the death of their mother, but their plans go drastically awry.

A rock band invite four backpackers to a party at their house, where things get dangerously out of hand.

A young man loses a drug shipment and his boss gives him 48 hours to make good on his mistake.

Under the blinking eye of the old lighthouse, a rock fisher makes the strangest catch of his life.

Five novellas. Five descents into darkness. Welcome to The Gulp, where nothing is as it seems.

The last few months has seen my reading re-visiting the horror genre, mainly by virtue of some Audible listening. Most of them have been a blend of horror-cum-crime/mystery. Alan Baxter's The Gulp is similar, though probably edging more towards horror. 

Here we have 5 novellas linked to each other by virtue of place - Gulpepper an out of the way, end of the road, coastal town in Australia - and a strange haunting dream which infects inhabitants, new and old and overlaps through our stories.

Out on a Rim .... concerns a couple of lorry drivers, one old and retiring and tasked with breaking in the new recruit. Our experienced driver is wary and fearful of being stranded in The Gulp overnight. Our newbie is young and sceptical. Needless to say an overnight stop is what we get.

Mother in Bloom .... a bedridden mother, a millstone around her offspring's necks

The Band Plays On .... road trip tourists, a gig to remember, an ongoing everlasting after party, with three visitors seduced and under the spell of their hosts and one impervious to the eclectic charms of The Gulp and its inhabitants. There's a real manic energy to the writing, especially the description of the gig which sets things up.

48 to Go .... a drug deal goes wrong, a clock is ticking, recompense is needed, a burglary leading to some dark goings on and a somewhat grisly opportunity 

Rock Fisher ... a morning's fishing, an unusual catch, a bonding, an obsession, an overwhelming compulsion to nurture a strange egg, one which throws our young angler, off kilter and out of sync with normality, but then The Gulp doesn't really do normal. Not when you scratch beneath the surface.

Overall The Gulp is a cracking collection of loosely linked stories, each of them gradually ramping up tension, oozing dread and offering a thoughtful pay-off. Some of our characters over-lap and appear, sometimes fleetingly in other tales in the set. While they all work well on their own (especially the introductory tale - Out on a Rim as we get to experience The Gulp through fresh, unafraid youthful eyes as well as cautious and wary peepers - both outsider perspectives). 

The lasting effect is that the sum of the whole is greater than that of the individual parts; somewhat haunting, atmospheric and slightly disturbing.    

4 from 5

Deal me in if Alan Baxter wants to re-visit Gulpepper in a future collection.


Read - February, 2021

Published - 2021

Page count - 316

Source - review copy from author

Format - Kindle

Thursday, 4 March 2021

ANN GIRDHARRY - GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL (2016)

 


Synopsis/blurb....

The darkest crimes can't stay hidden forever

A dead journalist?

A dead matron at a children's home

A young body washed up by the river

The twisted killer is a man of power and influence.

A man who believes himself beyond the reach of the law.

His Achilles heel - a thirst for revenge that spans generations.

Only one person can nail him - Kal Medi - and she's the daughter of a criminal.

Kal Medi trusts no one and least of all Detective Inspector Spinks.

She's always hidden the fact that her father was a criminal

and he trained her to follow in his footsteps.

But when her journalist mother goes missing, Kal takes on the investigation.

Murder, trafficking and dark family secrets, she'll be forced

to confront her own worst nightmares, to nail a twisted killer.

My second time reading this author after sampling her work with Chilling Tales of the Unexpected a couple of years ago. Good Girl Bad Girl is a deeper piece of fiction with some tough subject matter at its heart. It's also the first in her Kal Medi series.

Kal Medi is our main character and focus. Her mum is an investigative journalist and she's gone missing. Medi's father, now dead was a criminal and taught her a few tricks, especially in the "how to look after yourself" department. She's conflicted over her relationship with her father, there's a combination of pride and shame. She has an Indian heritage. I can't actually recall if she is the mixed race or not. Regardless, she is proud of who she is. 

Here she is obviously concerned about her finding her mum and resolves to stick her nose in, with the assistance of some capable friends, all the while trying to keep the police at arm's length. Something of her father's spirit remains embedded in her, wiith her suspicion of the authorities. Her mum, unbeknown to Kal had a rich, philanthropist, doctor-surgeon boyfriend, Alistair Kealy who does some amazing things with his bio-tech company concerning articificial limb replacement for amputee Indian street children.

Kal scratches beneath the surface to discover things aren't exactly what they seem. Part London setting, part overseas, with some of the events and action occurring in India as Kal goes undercover as a volunteer at one of her target's facilities. She discovers some harrowing stuff ... trafficking, abuse, exploitation. 

On her return to London, the book kind of morphs into a one vs one, goods vs evil battle between Kal and Kealy. Kealy's agenda has roots in the past, where historic events between two families - his and Kal's - sowed discord and a thirst for revenge. Each is highly suspicious of the other, as they pretend otherwise. The missing mum investigation takes on another dimension as the main character tries to bring down the arrogant doctor and end the abuse and exploitation of the child victims, regardless of whether or not she is too late for her mother.

I quite enjoyed this one. I liked the strong, feisty, young female character aided by the backing of her lifelong childhood friend. I liked her softening attitude towards the police detective, as the book unfolded and the manner in which they combined forces. I was happy enough with the outcome, even if there's a certain predictability as to how things will unfold. As with all fiction, there is a certain suspension of disbelief required to enjoy events.

Overall 4 from 5

An author I'd be happy enough reading more from in the future.


Read - February, 2021

Published - 2016

Page count - 302

Source - review copy from author via Voracious Readers

Format - Kindle

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

ED GORMAN - MURDER IN THE WINGS (1986)

 


Synopsis/blurb.....

Jack Dwyer, ex-cop turned amateur actor, is delighted when his agent lands him a role in a local production of Long Day's Journey into Night. The real drama starts, however, when Michael Reeves - the play's angry, bullying director - is found murdered, and Dwyer's friend Stephen Wade, a sweet has-been of an actor, is charged with the crime. Dwyer knows that Wade has been set up. But who did it? And why?

Was it David Ashton, an apparent fortune-seeker and heir to the Bridges Theater by marriage; or Richard Keech, the handsome, pushy young actor who shared the woman whom the dead man loved? Or could it have been Anne Stewart - the aging actress who carries a secret as dark as that of the character she plays? And what of Lenora Bridges, the matriarch of the theatrical family, who never comes out of her room in the building high above the stage?

Sure, all the world's a stage, but for Dwyer, it's not that simple, because a real man's life is on the line. In order to save him, Dwyer's going to have to discover what's really going on behind the scenes at the most bizarre, mysterious, complex theater company west of Times Square.

Another enjoyable enough murder mystery from the mid 80s and Ed Gorman. It's the fourth in his Jack Dwyer, ex-cop PI series and it's set against a back drop of the theatre.

Jack's friend, Stephen Wade, a star on his downers gets fired from the theatre's latest production after performing drunk. Later that night Jack gets a panicked call from Wade. Wade is still intoxicated and has discovered the play's director dead, after calling on him to apologise and plead for his job. His memory is sketchy and needless to say he handled the murder weapon, before ultimately and against Jack's advice going on the run. Primo Murder Suspect #1

Jack does some investigating to see who other than Wade might have a motive for wanting Michael Reeves dead.

Theatre, actors, a rich family, reputations, secrets, a bedridden matriarch, a troubled daughter with a past, a marriage and a gold digging husband (?), breakdowns and mental health, involvement with ex-cons through an acting workshop, trysts and road trips to an isolated property, drug use/dealing, blackmail, a flight from the law, and an investigation conducted with a girlfriend at the elbow.

I liked it and I was happy enough listening along to it. It's one of those books that adequately entertains without ever setting the world on fire. I mean the peripheral characters ie suspects aren't especially likable or horrid, something that equally applies to Jack Dwyer. The murder victim, in the little we see of him, is a horse's ass. Again, not so unlikable I wanted to reach into the book and kill him myself, maybe just punch him a time or two.

There's some tension at one point when him and his girlfriend have broken into a property to search for information and while searching someone else then breaks in to search for something. He gets the answer at the end, and yippee to him for doing so. 

An okay mystery with an okay pace, okay characters, okay setting, with an okay resolution and an alright length. Just lacking any real spark that had me salivating.

3 from 5

Ed Gorman sadly passed, has an impressive body of work to his name and some stellar books. I seem to be mired in reading his bang average ones. I'll persevere.


Blood Moon (1994),  Nightmare Child (1990)  and Murder on the Aisle (1987) have been read before.

Read - (listened to) February, 2021

Published - 1986

Page count - 141 (4 hrs 29 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

2020 - MY BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Late again.... who cares

10 books with top marks from about 190 read in the year.

Scotland, England, Australia and the US were all represented.

Lawrence Block hit the high notes 3 times - I think they may all have been re-reads

Dynamic double act Frank Zafiro and Colin Conway tickled my fancy more than once, more than twice even, but 2 of their Charlie 316 series rocked.

Jane Harper and Ben Hobson shone from Down Under

Closer to home, funny man Paul D. Brazill intriguingly blended wit, action, booze, music, culture with some dark pitches and Scot Peter Ritchie was perfectly on point with a tale of grit and heart

Trivia - 4 books enjoyed via Audible, 2 x paperbacks,  4 read on the laptop as the Kindle was ailing

4 books were published in 2020, the other 6 were from the 2010s

Hopefully 2021 will be just as great....

 



Lawrence Block - Resume Speed and Other Stories (2018) (5)

Peter Ritchie - Maxine's Story (2019) (5)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Fedora (2016) (5)

Lawrence Block - The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes (2015) (5)

Paul D. Brazill - Man of the World (2020) (5)

Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro - Charlie 316 (2019) (5)

Joe R. Lansdale - More Better Deals (2020) (5)

Ben Hobson Snake Island (2019) (5)

Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro - Code Four (2020) (5)

Jane Harper - The Survivors (2020) (5)
















Previous bangers....


2016 - PICKS OF THE YEAR

2015 - PICKS OF THE YEAR

2014 - PICKS OF THE YEAR

2013 - MY FAVOURITE READS OF THIS YEAR

2012 - BOOKS OF THE YEAR

2011 - SUMMARY

2010 - SUMMARY






Monday, 1 March 2021

FEBRUARY 2021 - 28 DAYS, 28 SHORTS!

It's that time of the year again......



1st - Scott Cumming - The Glint of the Knife (Bristol Noir)


2nd - J. B. StevensPerhaps My New Year’s Resolution To Leave My Job As A Mormon Youth Pastor In Order To Take Over The New York Drug Trade Was Not Well Thought Out (Robot Butt)

3rd - April Kelly - Pissing Contest (Tough)

4th - A. R. BenderGirl Blue (Close To The Bone)


5th - Wendy DavisBelow My Window (Mystery Tribune)


6th - Margot Kinberg - End Meeting  (Margot Kinberg)

7th - Joe R. Lansdale - The Dump* (Joe R. Lansdale

* Link will probably take you to a different story as Joe puts up a new one each week.

8th - Tom Leins - Ignorance and Want (Bristol Noir)

9th - Steve Ellis - Off the Beaten Track  (Close 2 the Bone)

10th - Roy Christopher - Facade (Close 2 the Bone)

11th - Tom Vater - Friday (Close 2 the Bone)

12th - Sean O'Leary - This Life (Close 2 the Bone)

13th - Robert Pope - Fungo (Mystery Tribune)

14th - Jim Woessner - Deadhead (Close 2 the Bone)

15th - C.W. BlackwellSmoke and Consequences (Mystery Tribune)

16th - Michael Carter - To Joshua Tree (Close 2 the Bone)

17th - Paul D. Brazill - The Man from Esperanto (Paul D. Brazill)

18th - JM Taylor - That's a Summons, Mate (Close 2 the Bone)

19th - Jess LoureyThe Adventure of the First Problem (Jess Lourey)

20th - Jess Lourey - Death by Potato Salad (Jess Lourey)

21st - ACF Wilson - Fancy That (Punk Noir Magazine)


22nd - Paul D. BrazillThe Final Cut (Paul D. Brazill)

23rd - Alan Gorevan - Rivals* (Alan Gorevan

*Available if you subscribe to his site 

24th - Margot KinbergThe Balcony Scene (Margot Kinberg

25th - Kate Felix - We All Become Our Mothers  (Mystery Tribune)

26th - Cal Marcius - My Turn (Shotgun Honey)

27th - Cal Marcius - The Kid (Shotgun Honey)

28th - Paul D. BrazillThis Old House (Paul D. Brazill)


Previous posts on the same theme......


AUGUST 2020 - 31 DAYS 31 SHORTS!

NOVEMBER 2020 - 30 DAYS, 30 SHORTS!