Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Week 11 and the K's are up for attention on this year's hike through the Crime Fiction Alphabet. Other bloggers picks can be found over at Mysteries in Paradise, where Kerrie collates and organises things for us all.

I'm spoilt for choice this week, ignoring the likes of Jonathan Kellerman, Stephen King, Jonathan King and Day Keene but still presenting a strong line-up.

I was briefly tempted to trash the two Marek Krajewski books I've read, but why bother? Let's accentuate the positives in the genre.

King, Kostoff, Koenig.....3 enjoyed!

Danny King – The Burglar Diaries

King has had a few laddish crime books out, including further diaries entries – Hitman, Pornographer and Bank-robber. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but it amused and entertained me when I read it maybe 10 years or so ago. I’ll get back to this and the further entries at some point in the future, assuming I stop buying more books.  

The first-person account of petty thief Bex: a bit of a geezer, who, with long-time partner-in-crime Ollie, just about gets by on the money he makes from house-breaking in small-time suburbia.

Lynn Kostoff = The Long Fall

A much under-rated author who deserves a higher profile and a wider audience. I absolutely loved this when I read it exactly a year ago. It must have been good because my wife enjoyed it also, when my books passed over to her can be hit and miss. I have tracked down his other two books – A Choice Of Nightmares and Late Rain but haven’t yet cracked the spines on them.

In sun-baked Phoenix, Arizona, this never-predictable tale tosses into its antic mix a dead father, his two sons–one a small-time ex-con with a consistent genius for sabotaging his own best interests, the other a straight, uptight solid citizen with a moneymaking chain of dry-cleaning stores and a restive ex-stewardess of a wife named Evelyn.

Recently released from prison for possession of a truckload of black-market saguaro cacti-and in deep debt to an unforgiving crank dealer, Jimmy Coates returns home only to discover that his brother has cut him out of his inheritance. A not-unjustifiable desire to settle old scores and new sends Jimmy on a robbery spree that wipes out four of his brother’s dry-cleaning establishments. But when he finds himself tumbling for a mutinously sexy Evelyn, the impulse to vengeance reverses itself.

Unwittingly, however, Jimmy has already set in motion a series of dangerous consequences-adultery, blackmail, love, betrayal-that culminate in a blueprint for murder. And it could be Jimmy himself who is taking the long fall.

 “[c]raftily written noir thriller…[d]eft, oddball entertainment.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“[t]here is some genuine suspense and dark humor here. Recommend Kostoff to fans of Carl Hiaasen and Corson Hirschfeld.”

“This is a novel that is hard to put down—a quick read. Kostoff has all the moves, all the language down pat for a fast-paced noir thriller.”
RT Book Reviews

Joseph Koenig – Floater

This one of the early crime fiction books that made me fall in love with the genre and set down my reading roots here. I probably read this early 90’s and was blown away by it. Details are hazy now, but I look forward to re-reading it at some point. It was nominated for an Edgar Award in 1987. Koenig followed it up with a few other books, before “disappearing” from the scene for a good few years. He re-surfaced last year with a new book, False Negative.  



     "A fast-paced book, well-plotted, with a devastating ending . . . A splendid procedural expressed in sharp, economical, yet sensitive prose."
                                                         The New York Times Book Review

     "A dandy first novel, heavy shades of Elmore Leonard  . . . Mordant humor, snappy dialogue, and frequent plot twists."
                                                             Kirkus Reviews

     "A stunning debut . . . The murderer is the slickest, most charming madman around."
                                                        Providence, Rhode Island, Journal

     "An eerie, gripping tale . . .Cleverly plotted and filled with wonderfully drawn characters."
                                                       Philadelphia Daily News

     "A tightly written and fast-paced book. Koenig, a former reporter, knows how to weave a taut and mesmerizing mystery with well-drawn characters."
                                                          South Bend, Indiana, Tribune

From the Inside Flap

     A wildlife officer hauled in the corpse from a stagnant pool near the Fakahatchee Strand in the Everglades. This "floater" was the ex-wife of Sheriff Buck White, now strangled and discarded in Florida's all-purpose dumping ground.
     White's remorse and vow of vengeance are diverted by a series of missing person cases. The Miami police feel that a murder-and-larceny team is using White's jurisdiction as a hiding place for themselves. They are also using it for the shallow graves of their victims.
     White's tenacious investigation uncovers a pattern behind the series of murders threatening the lonely--and wealthy--women of Florida's Gold Coast. The killer is a man of uncommon resource and wicked intelligence. But he may be wrong to underestimate a hard working country lawman motivated by revenge.
     In this stunning debut, crime reporter Joseph Koenig profiles society's most elusive and vicious criminal: the serial killer. The author explores the cunning and cruel reason of a murderer--and of the man who tracks him down--in the remote and savage beauty of the Everglades bayous. 

 Kerr, Kerrigan, Knowles........3 unread.
Philip Kerr – March Violets
I have it unread for a few years now I’m afraid, though I did come close a wee while ago. I had a borrowed copy of the Berlin Noir trilogy in my car, ready to start at some point, when my car caught fire and although the book didn’t burn by the time the fire brigade soaked it, my loaner was unreadable. Purchased my own copy maybe 7 years ago, but obviously haunted by the fire I never got back to it!  
Publisher's Weekly
The brutality and corruption of Nazi Germany serve as the backdrop for this impressive debut mystery novel. Scottish-born Kerr re-creates the period accurately and with verve; the novel reeks of the sordid decade that saw Hitler's rise to power. Bernhard Gunther is a hard-boiled Berlin detective who specializes in tracking down missing persons--mostly Jews. He is summoned by a wealthy industrialist to find the murderer of his daughter and son-in-law, killed during the robbery of a priceless diamond necklace. Gunther quickly is catapulted into a major political scandal involving Hitler's two main henchmen, Goering and Himmler. The search for clues takes Gunther to morgues overflowing with Nazi victims; raucous nightclubs; the Olympic games where Jesse Owens tramples the theory of Aryan racial superiority; the boudoir of a famous actress; and finally to the Dachau concentration camp. Fights with Gestapo agents, shoot-outs with adulterers, run-ins with a variety of criminals, and dead bodies in unexpected places keep readers guessing to the very end. Narrator Gunther is a spirited guide through the chaos of 1930s Berlin and, more important, a detective cast in the classic mold. Kerr is at work on a sequel to this sparkling and witty tale.
Gene Kerrigan – The Midnight Choir
Unread and ignored maybe 6 years or so, I had this copy on my shelf before subsequently acquiring and reading both; Dark Times In The City and more recently The Rage. My favourite Irish author, without a doubt, apologies to Bruen, Burke, Hughes, Brennan and Bateman.  
A sophisticated crime story of contemporary Ireland, The Midnight Choir teems with moral dilemmas as Dublin emerges as a city of ambiguity: a newly scrubbed face hiding a criminal culture of terrible variety. Small-time criminals have become millionaire businessmen, the poor are still struggling to survive, and the police face a world where the old rules no longer apply.
Mike Knowles – Darwin’s Nightmare
I acquired this trilogy maybe 2 years ago, sucked in by Thomas Perry’s blurb. I’m hoping to read it soon before falling too far behind with Knowles output. He had a fourth book out last year – Never Play Another Man’s Game, with another book out this year also.
"An angry charge into a bloody underworld free-for-all where a fighter's survival is earned by what he'll do after the bullet hits him. Mike Knowles is a strong new voice in crime fiction."
Thomas Perry
Wilson has spent his entire life under the radar. Few people know who he is and even less know how to find him. Only two people even know his real occupation, carrying out confidential--and illegal--jobs for a very bad man. But one day he crosses the line, saving his friends and earning the hatred of a vengeful mob boss. He survives only by delving even deeper into the underworld of Hamilton. His next job is deceptively simple--transporting a seemingly harmless bag whose contents are both secret and dangerously valuable. Soon Wilson discovers who the bag's real owners are and just how badly they want it back.
Week 12 next week and the L's are in town.



  1. Col - I highly recommend both Kerr's and Kerrigan' work. Seriously. I hope you get the chance to read those novels soon. They are of course different to each other, but they are both excellent novels.

    1. Kerr and Kerrigan will be got to at some point, not sure when, but I've read good things about the Bernie books, and Kerrigan is already a known quantity! Cheers.

  2. Of the three you have read and liked, I am not familiar with any of the authors. And two are US authors (I assume). The Danny King doesn't sound like my type of book, but I like the cover. I am trying to read my way through the 50 states, very slowly. So the book set in Arizona might be worth a try. I have read five of the nine Bernie Gunther books, looking forward to the rest. I also want to try Kerrigan.

    1. Tracy, yes King is probably a lad's author to be honest. You know how immature we are! Kostoff and Koenig both from the US. I enjoy seeking out authors that fly a bit under the radar to be honest. Kostoff, I think you'd enjoy.
      Bernie - I'll be a long time catching you I'm afraid. Kerrigan's The Rage is well worth seeking out if your TBR pile can grow a bit more. A bit of violence, to be fair, but still really excellent in my opinion.

    2. Col, I am off work today and I was looking at a group of ebooks from all over the US and ran into one by Koenig (Smuggler's Notch). Serendipity I guess. Mysterious Press has all of his books in ebook format. Interesting.

      And I will definitely get to The Rage eventually. Sooner rather than later, I hope.

    3. Tracy, I think you crossing paths with Koenig is more than just coincidence, it's obviously a sign from the TBR-God that you must buy!

    4. You convinced me. The one I saw was set in Vermont and looked interesting, and it was at a lower price than usual. So I got it.

    5. Oh, well done, I hope you enjoy it. I think next year I might look at a US state reading challenge, but I'll have to do some research first. I still think the States is my favourite setting for crime fiction.

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  4. Yes I know all about Danny King! But only because I bought his book School for Scumbags for my son, and he made me read it. Also, I have read the Philip Kerr, thought it was OK, never particularly wanted to read any more of the series, though maybe one day....
    I do enjoy your alphabet entries, they certainly tell me about new authors....

    1. Moira, I'm off to your site shortly to see if there is a Danny King review and find out whether you became a convert, though I think I'm heading for disappointment! Your Kerr comment is the most negative I've read about the series, if indifference can be seen as negative.

  5. The Joseph oenig one looks very enticing. I need to see if I can find it in one of the libraries.

    1. Peter, good luck on your hunt, I'm hoping it's still available.