Saturday, 24 July 2021

ARMAND ROSAMILIA - BELFORD STORIES 2 (2017)

 


Synopsis/blurb ...

October 1992...  

Another Friday night in the small fishing village along the New Jersey coast. With another pending snowstorm aiming at the town, everyone has to make a choice: stay in and write the night off or go out and see what trouble they can get into.  

Guess which choice most of them will make?  

Check back in with Willie, April, Tommy, George, Frankie, Gary, Billy, Jimmy, Suzanna, and Garrett five years after the events of the original Belford Stories!  

A really enjoyable slice of small town life and a welcome catch-up with some familiar characters. Armand Rosamilia's original Belford Stories was read and enjoyed last December. Belford Stories 2 picks up five years on from the first installment.

1992, a cop, an ex-criminal, a jobless cousin, families feuding and misunderstandings, a bar fight, drunkenness, an olive branch, a return home, homelessness, a new job, a snowstorm coming, a life without purpose of direction, an almost girlfriend, an abusive relationship, domestic strife, a pregnancy, a college jock, a demanding parent, a fractured marriage, mistakes, regrets, the breadline, poor choices, growing up, maturity, new starts and a lot more besides.

I liked how the book unfolded. Small scenes or vignettes with a few of the characters, before the focus changes and switches to someone else. Everyone is wrapped up in their own little dramas, which advance throughout the course of the book. Some of the issues for the characters seem to take a positive turn and the future seems if not brighter, a little bit clearer. Some characters may have just taken a wrong turn from which it will be difficult to extricate themselves from.

I really like Rosamilia's work when it focuses on ordinary people, in everyday situations. You care about most of the characters and even the ones that are less sympathetic, there's still a fascination for seeing what life is going to throw at them.

Very, very entertaining with a marvellous narration from John Carter Aimone. 

Roll on Belford Stories 3.

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2021
Published - 2017
Page count - 210 (5 hrs 48 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Friday, 23 July 2021

2 BY ANDY MUIR

 A bit of Aussie crime fiction to brighten up anyone's day....



I think the only chance I'm ever going to visit Australia is in my reading.

Andy Muir has written these two interesting looking crime fiction novels. 


From his bio on Goodreads, he has also written for Neighbours and Home and Away. Can't get much more hard-boiled than that!

Andy Muir is a television screenwriter with credits ranging from Neighbours and Home and Away to comedy series Thank God You’re Here.

As a member of the writing team for the hit franchise Underbelly, crime stole his heart. Nominated for an Australian Writers Guild Award for Underbelly Squizzy, he also adapted that TV series for the novelisation Underbelly Squizzy: The Story of Australia’s First Celebrity Gangster.

Originally from Melbourne, he lives in Sydney. Something for Nothing is his first novel.



Something for Nothing (2017)

It’s not every day a bloke stumbles on a dismembered torso on Nobby’s Beach.

Lachie Munro is starting to feel like he’s is a magnet for trouble. The day before he fished a giant haul of heroin out of his favourite abalone poaching spot near Newcastle.

There’s a better than even chance that the two are connected and he should leave well enough alone.

But the opportunity to clear his gambling debt and get ahead of the game is too good to pass up.

But how do you sell several kilos of heroin? It’s not like drug dealers are listed in the Yellow Pages. And what happens when the owners come looking for their missing package? Is the torso a warning to anyone thinking of crossing them?

Now a person of interest to the police, Lachie needs to stay one step ahead of them, a local bikie he’s managed to insult, play off a big time dealer from Sydney, placate the neighbour’s labrador, Horace, and win the heart of the gorgeous new Fisheries Officer he’s fallen for. Or will he discover that getting into the gun sights of the crooked, the dodgy and the downright shady characters of Newcastle and beyond is more than a man can handle.

But, if Lachie can pull it all off, he might just get Something for Nothing.

 

Hiding to Nothing (2019)


Lay low, stay out of trouble and don’t get pulled over. It was probably the best advice I’d ever had.

How long until I ignored it?

All Lachie Munro wants is a quiet life in sunny Newcastle. But Lachie and quiet don’t seem to get along.

When Lachie’s estranged dad, Terry, turns up fresh out of prison, he’s packing more than the usual family baggage. Suddenly there are two murderous goons on Lachie’s doorstep and the police are paying him special attention. But Terry’s on the hunt for a long-lost fortune, and he won’t be leaving Newcastle – or Lachie – without it.

Hiding to Nothing is the next caper from the master of beachside noir, Andy Muir, a wild ride driven by brilliant characters and fast-paced dialogue.

The underworld has never been so much fun.


Thursday, 22 July 2021

TIM MILLER - RAPE VAN (2016)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

Andy and Bridget like to travel. Their windowless van is their home. Speeding across the Texas countryside they pick up hitchhikers and weary travelers who see the pair as a nice couple showing southern hospitality. However, Andy and Bridget are not what they seem. In their plain-looking van, there is no telling which town they will pass through or who will they pick up next.

Hmm, I debated briefly whether to post on this book or not, but I kind of thought.... well, I've read it so why wouldn't I? I suppose my concern was - does reading a book with a horrible title and some extreme graphic content, by definition make me a horrible person? Did the explicit content in the form of sexual violence and graphic torture excite, titillate or arouse me. No, it didn't. Did it disgust me? Not especially. 

There is a part of me that thinks some of the content was unnecessary and could have been left to the reader's (or listener's) imagination, but the author should be free to write what he wants and if this is what Tim Miller wants to write and there is a fanbase for it, crack on then. No one has to read it if they don't want to.

I found the story or plot interesting. A couple of serial killers travel around taking advantage of people and doing horrible things to them, before crossing paths with some bigger and badder predators. I'm not usually a fan of serial killer books as they don't especially interest me. I'd rather read about a robbery or a con than a murder spree.

The writing was smooth enough. The plot moved fast. The characters were divided into predators and prey, no half measures. I was entertained, but not especially thrilled. I was invested enough in the outcome to want to finish the book and the author delivered a few twists and turns along the way. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not in a hurry to delve deeper into the author's back catalogue. It probably ought to come with some kind of warning attached to it and maybe some sort of age limitation on who could read it. 


3 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2021
Published - 2016
Page count - 227 (2 hrs 37 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible



* I have heard from a couple of book friends that this author is a 'piece of human garbage' who seemed to think it appropriate forwarding unsolicited videos of himself engaged in private activities. 
Please don't support him or his work.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

JOHN GALLIGAN - DEAD MAN DANCING (2020)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

In this sequel to the “gritty, brash, and totally gripping” (The Real Book Spy) thriller Bad Axe County, Sheriff Heidi Kick is investigating an illicit cage fighting ring with ties to white nationalism when her husband suddenly goes missing.

It’s a time for celebration in Bad Axe County as the town gathers for the annual Syttende Mai—Norwegian Independence Day—festival. During this rollicking family-oriented event filled with dancing and food, Sheriff Heidi Kick discovers a dark and shocking event—a migrant worker has been savagely beaten but refuses to explain what happened. Then, a sudden murder of a band member shatters the festival. Something is deeply wrong in Bad Axe County.

As she looks for answers, Heidi plunges into a secret underworld where high-stakes cage fights double as combat training for the White Nationalist movement. Then all hell breaks loose for Heidi when her husband disappears and a secret he’s been keeping from Heidi is revealed.

An enjoyable second book in John Galligan's Bad Axe County series. Bad Axe County was enjoyed earlier this year and the next in the series, Bad Moon Rising is already lined up. 

It's another busy book featuring ....... white supremacists with small town minds, fixed illegal fights, a Norwegian festival, a beaten Hispanic kid, a female sheriff in a male world, encumbered with an idiot brother-in-law, a secretive husband, and a 'difficult child.' We also have .... a dead author musician, a dodgy, untrustworthy colleague, a mixed race kid caught like a rabbit in the headlights far from home, an acid attack and to cap it off a kidnapped husband to save and an impending domestic terrorism attack to avert. All in a day's work (okay maybe a couple) for Heidi Kick. 

I enjoyed the book. I do like the main character, Heidi Kick though she does seem to have trust issues regarding her husband. The author never seems to cut her a break. Maybe he is just illustrating the problems some women have balancing a career with a young family. Plenty of guilt for Heidi.

I do like books where white racist mofos get a decent comeuppance at the end. I suppose the sad thing is how easily the disenfranchised and down on their luck, buy into their lies and scapegoating. Let's blame the minorities and those different from us for all our problems. That works.

Best book ever. No, but solid entertainment with more than a few thrills and plenty of excitement along the way. Roll on book 3. 

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) June, 2021
Published - 2020
Page count - 301 (8 hrs 48 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Monday, 19 July 2021

JUNE 2021 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

 Another half dozen into the collection....


A.W. Hart - The Ranger (2021) - purchased copy

A new-to-me author. It's the first in a series. I'll see how I go before committing to more in the series. Or I could just read some of the books I already have .....

Concho Ten-Wolves is a Texas Ranger working the Rio Grande border between Mexico and the U.S.. His father was black, his mother a full-blood member of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. He remembers neither of them. Both disappeared soon after Concho’s birth and his Kickapoo grandmother raised him on the tribal reservation just outside Eagle Pass, Texas.

Often bullied as a youth for his differences, Concho soon grew into the promise of his big hands and wide shoulders. Hatred of him remained in some; fear joined that emotion in others. Concho learned to walk a solitary path, which first took him away to college and then to Afghanistan as an Army Ranger.

Now, a group of Neo-Nazi terrorists have taken over a mall in Eagle Pass. One hostage is the woman Concho loves. The only path Concho can see is straight ahead and through.


Thomas Perry - The Left-Handed Twin (2021) - review ARC from publisher Mysterious Press

I've loved some of Thomas Perry's work in the past (The Butcher's Boy in particular), along with a few others that haven't quite rocked me. This is the ninth entry in his Jane Whitefield series. Not a series I've tried yet, but I've heard good things about it.

Rescue artist Jane Whitefield leads a deadly crime syndicate on a wild chase through the Northeast

Jane Whitefield helps people disappear. Fearing for their lives, fleeing dangerous situations, her clients come to her when they need to vanish completely—to assume a new identity and establish a new life somewhere they won’t be found. And when people are desperate enough to need her services, they come to the old house in rural western New York where Jane was raised to begin their escape.

It’s there that, one spring night, Jane finds a young woman fresh from LA with a whole lot of trouble behind her. After she cheated on her boyfriend, he dragged her to the home of the offending man and made her watch as he killed him. She testified against the boyfriend, but a bribed jury acquitted him, and now he’s free and trying to find and kill her.

Jane agrees to help, and it soon becomes clear that outsmarting the murderous boyfriend is not beyond Jane’s skills. But the boyfriend has some new friends: members of a Russian organized crime brotherhood. When they learn that Sara is traveling with a tall, dark-haired woman who disappears people, the Russians become increasingly interested in helping the boyfriend find the duo. They’ve heard rumors that such a woman existed—and believe that, if forcibly extracted, the knowledge she has of past clients could be worth millions.  

Thus begins a bloodthirsty chase that winds through the cities of the northeast before finally plunging into Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. But in a pursuit where nothing can be trusted, one thing is certain: only one party—Jane or her pursuers—will emerge alive. 


Tony Knighton - A Few Days Away (2021) - review ARC from publisher Brash Books


Another author I've been meaning to try for a few years. His previous books, Happy Hour and Three Hours Past Midnight already sit on the TBR pile.

A stunning, hard-charging new crime novel that evokes the best of Richard Stark, Lawrence Block and Thomas Perry.

On Valentine’s Day, a professional thief and his partner robbed a bank in a Central Pennsylvania town. It all went well... until the getaway. His partner was killed, the money was lost, and the injured thief barely escaped with his life. Now, four months later, he’s going back for his money. But he’s not the only one after it. Corrupt cops, warring street gangs, white nationalists and crooked politicians all agree on one thing – they want him gone. Permanently.

"He's very good, and he's a genuine Pennsylvanian. Knighton's A Few Days Away is hard-edged and suspenseful, with action that feels real and an anti-hero who can keep all the moving parts in his mind at once." Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author

"A must-read for aspiring criminals, who will learn that going straight offers a much simpler life. I was with Knighton’s anti-hero thief all the way, figuring whatever he netted from this caper, he earned it. Taut writing, crisp dialogue, non-stop action. What more could you want?" Linwood Barclay, New York Times bestselling author

George Hesselberg - Dead Lines (2021) - Edelweiss reviewer ARC

A book which caught my eye and one which is very different to my usual reading. Go wild and expand your horizons-time!

In a lively collection of feature obituaries and related news stories, longtime newspaper reporter George Hesselberg celebrates life, sharing the most fascinating stories that came from decades of covering the obit and public safety beats. 

In more than forty years at the Wisconsin State Journal, Hesselberg frequently found himself writing about fatal accidents, crime investigations, and the deaths of the wealthy, famous, or notorious. But he was most drawn to the curious, the unknown, and the unsung—the deaths that normally wouldn’t make much of a splash, if any mention at all, in the news columns of a daily paper. 

Digging deeper, he uncovered the extraordinary among the ordinary, memorializing the lives of a sword designer, a radio villain, a pioneering female detective, a homeless woman who spoke fluent French, a beloved classroom tarantula, and many more. Their stories are alternately amusing, sad, surprising, and profound. Together they speak to a shared human experience and inspire us to see the people around us with new eyes, valuing the lives while they are still being lived. 


Ed Church - Probably Dead (2020) - purchased copy

Another author I've heard good things about, but haven't yet given a go. This is the second in a three book (so far) series.

Ex-London copper Mick Morley has spent nearly three decades searching for his missing daughter. Now the South African bar that was his ‘fresh start’ is being robbed at gunpoint… How’s your luck, Mick?

But what if someone else is in the bar that night? A Met detective on a career break – name of Brook Deelman. Well, then maybe that changes the odds.

Maybe that could change everything.

Ahead of Brook, a missing person case from the last days of ‘old school’ policing – an age of bloody riots, swinging batons and undercover sources. Those wishing the truth to stay buried will use the full force of the law to keep it that way… Or even just plain force.


Carl Hiaasen - Skink No Surrender (2014) - Audible purchase

One of the funniest authors alive. Skink goes YA. Who cares?


Richard's cousin is missing, and his best hope of finding her rests with the wily, one-eyed, ex-governor of Florida. Carl Hiaasen introduces his iconic character Skink to a younger audience in this nail-biting adventure!

 A National Book Award Longlist Selection

 Classic Malley: her parents are about to ship her off to boarding school, so she takes off with some guy she met online... Poor Richard: he's less of a rebel than Malley, and a lot less trusting. He knows his cousin is in trouble before she does. Wild Skink: he's a ragged, one-eyed, ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, this unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.    

In Carl Hiaasen's outrageous, hilarious, and wildly dangerous state of Florida, there are a million places an outlaw might stash a teenage girl. A million unpleasant ways to die. And two who will risk everything to rescue a friend . . . and to, hopefully, exact a bit of swamp justice.

Friday, 16 July 2021

JOHN L. THOMPSON - TRUCK STOP (2018)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

Moriarty, New Mexico, is about as far as Logan Pierce got before the money and the El Camino gave out. He‘d hoped for a clean start in life as a field mechanic working for any company willing to pay top dollar for his skills in the oil fields of West Texas. Low on funds and out of options, he begins a change of course in his mechanic career and takes a local job as a technician at Duggan's Truck Stop. 

The truck stop is a miniature city within a city that has all the luxuries for a home away from home feel for the over-the-road truck driver. Under it all, Logan discovers there is also a dark side, which people claim is operated by the Dixie Mafia. Then there is the persistent rumor that affiliates of the Mafia are looking for a quarter-million in missing cash skimmed from over a five-year time frame. The job was meant to be a temporary solution but that was before Amy Hauser entered the picture and presented him with additional problems. 

They want nothing more than to leave New Mexico for a new life, but then again…there’s that rumor of a quarter-million in missing mob cash. And Logan just may well have discovered where it’s hidden, but soon finds that some people want it more.

Two word review - not great, sad to say. Others have enjoyed this one more than me and at the end of the day this is just one man's opinion. On Goodreads - 5 people rated it a 5 and 5 people rated it a 4. 

From the premise, with a truck stop, the Dixie Mafia, and some missing money this seemed like the kind of book which would be right up my dark alley. Unfortunately, I just didn't vibe it at all. I think it was written in the present tense and it just jarred with me listening to it. I didn't dislike the narrator. His voice, accent, inflections didn't grate. It was just the words coming out of his mouth..... I did this, I did that, then I did something else. Too much detail. Too much information. Too many boring incidents or reflections which didn't advance the story any.

Secondary issues - I didn't really feel anything for the main character. Beat him, shag him, shoot him, kill him, even crucify him. Tumbleweed and indifference. The story itself had some promise, but it was just so slow. I think the book would have benefited by a savage edit, cutting it by about a quarter - at least.

Some exciting moments, but not enough to sustain my interest. There was a romantic angle to the story with Logan Pierce falling for a woman married to a prominent member of the mob. Again it wasn't a thread that especially excited me.

Overall a bit disappointing. I was never minded to not finish the book and in fact I'd be happy enough giving the author another go in the future. I have another book, Monkey Wrench lined up on Audible for another day. 

2.5 from 5 

Read - (listened to) July, 2021
Published - 2018
Page count - 317 (9 hrs 30 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Thursday, 15 July 2021

PAUL HEATLEY - BLOOD LINE (2021)

 


Synopsis/blurb ....

He’s quiet, ordinary looking. But if you cross him – welcome to your worst nightmare.

Tom Rollins has gone AWOL from his CIA black-ops unit and is living off-grid when he hears that the woman he loves, Alejandra, has been murdered by a person or persons unknown.

Rollins is determined to punish her killers and sets out on his own personal search and destroy mission. Applying pressure as only he knows how, he quickly discovers who was behind the killing – a vicious gang of hardened criminals.

Using his dizzying array of lethal skills, Rollins begins to take out the leaders of the gang, one by one. But then he discovers that Alejandra’s murder was part of a larger conspiracy, one that threatens death and destruction on a horrifying scale.

The conspirators are clever and ruthless. They’ve thought of everything, covered every angle. Except one - Tom Rollins.

I'm probably not going to offer anything new in terms of insight or analysis to a book that has already been reviewed overwhelmingly positively nearly 700 times on Amazon UK. I liked it. I've enjoyed the author's work many times before and this one was no different in that respect.

One man, albeit with a little bit of family support, fights back against a group of white supremacists and other more powerful establishment figures who are operating in the shadows. For Tom Rollins, sick of some of the operations he was forced to participate in the service of his country, it's personal initially. His brother's wife, the woman he loved was murdered. His brother almost. Retribution is necessary.

At some point in the tale it turns into a matter of duty and patriotism, or for Rollins having dispensed with such frivolities, just a matter of doing the right thing.

I do like a one man against a machine type book. I liked our main character's personal code and abilities. I enjoyed the complex difficult relationship he had with his brother and less so his father. There's plenty of action, excitement and conflict during the course of the book, but it's supported by a decent storyline. Any book which sees a bunch of racist knuckleheads getting their asses handed to them gets my vote anyway.

Lots to like and I'm looking forward to the second Tom Rollins outing soon - Wrong Turn. Blood Line is Round One. Roll on Round Two..... ding ding.


4.5 from 5

Read - June, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 305
Source - review copy courtesy of Net Galley and publisher, Inkubator Books
Format - Kindle