Wednesday 31 July 2013


It’s time for this week’s installment on the 2013 Crime Fiction Alphabet Journey hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. Visit her website and see what other blogging participants in the journey have selected for their choice this week.

The Q’s are up for scrutiny this week and it’s fair to say I’m not overly spoilt for choice here. Racking brain frantically for a couple of days, I’ve been unable to find 3 qualifying reads I have made in the genre.

Quirk, Quinlan.........2 enjoyed

Joe Quirk – The Ultimate Rush

No Exit Press published this in the UK back in 1999, I had never heard of the author and probably seduced by the cover bought the book. I sat it on the shelf until the mid-2000’s when I finally got around to reading it. Fast, exciting and a little bit unbelievable. Ok in as much as it wasn’t the worst book I ever read. I never really troubled myself to keep tabs on the author to see what else he might have done. Not especially a recommendation, just a “Q” I’ve read that pads the post out. I wouldn’t put anyone off reading it either.

As the sole rollerblade courier at a San Francisco delivery service, Chet Griffin is the fastest messenger in town. Every day, he delivers critically confidential packages, but when he hands over an already-opened envelope containing a floppy disk with billion-dollar information, a deadly serious customer demands satisfaction. On a routine run, Chet's co-worker gets killed, the finger's pointed at him, and Chet finds himself on a rush job to save his own life.

Patrick Quinlan – Smoked

Smoked came out in 2006 and the author seemed to be on a bit of a roll, with 3 more books out up until 2009, The Takedown, The Drop-Off and The Hit. Since then nothing, whether the creative juices have dried up or he’s been dropped by his publisher or he’s had a complete career change, I don’t know. I enjoyed Smoked and the second and third books and the last is waiting on the TBR pile. I like tales of a lone man up against an organisation and this is a great one.

Smoke Dugan is on the run. An aging bomb-maker, he was a prized asset to organized crime for most of his life. But when he finds out that one of his bombs was used to take down a plane with innocent women and children aboard, he is furious. He takes his revenge, killing the mafia boss and taking his 2.5 million. Now he’s the most wanted man on the east coast. Hiding out in Portland, Maine, only delays the inevitable as one by one, some of the most memorable killers, hit men and lowlifes in recent fiction take their shot at Smoke and his tough-as-nails girlfriend, martial arts expert Lola Bell. As the cat and mouse game plays out, the only thing left is a violent showdown on the streets of Portland in a conclusion that will leave readers gasping for breath.

Quigley, Quinn, Quirk, Quammen..............4 unread

Sheila Quigley – Run For Home

This one came out in 2004, the first in a 5 book series featuring Lorraine Hunt. My wife read and enjoyed the first 3. All her books, including her current second series featuring a male DI this time, carry song titles as the name of the novel. My wife enjoyed the ones she read, so at some point I should try a new female author, with a strong female lead. The series runs as follows:  
Lorraine Hunt
1. Run for Home (2004)
2. Bad Moon Rising (2005)
3. Living on a Prayer (2006)
4. Every Breath You Take (2007)
5. The Road to Hell (2009)

It's 1985. A man is hunted down and killed by a woman assassin known as The Head Hunter. Sixteen years later, his body turns up and Detective Inspector Lorraine Hunt is called in to investigate. The day the body is found, Claire Lumsdon is the victim of a violent kidnap - the fourth in a series of abductions of young girls. For Claire and her sixteen-year-old sister Kerry, it's the beginning of a nightmare. Convinced the police can't help, Kerry sets out on a frantic search for her sister. But her hunt leads her to much more than she'd bargained for: a violent underworld; a sixteen year old murder; and, finally, the secrets about her past - and her father - which her mother hoped she'd never have to face. And all the time, the clock is ticking for Claire –

Peter Quinn – Hour of the Cat

If it wasn’t for my participation in the Alphabet journey, I probably wouldn’t have this recently acquired book on my shelf. Browsing through the mystery section for Q surnamed authors on Fantastic Fiction I happened on this author and his 3 book historical mystery series featuring Fintan Dunne, the third of which is published in October. If I enjoy this one, I will probably go for the second. It’s not like I have too many unread books already!

On the eve of World War II, "just another little murder" in New York City draws two vastly different men - an American detective and a German admiral - into the Gathering Storm. Hour of the Cat is a stunning achievement: tautly suspenseful, hauntingly memorable, and brilliantly authentic.

Matthew Quirk – The 500

I noticed this last year when browsing the shelves of my local supermarket. I managed to resist the urge to buy, though I was tempted. Cheapskate that I am, when I saw a second hand copy earlier this year in a local charity shop, I willingly shelled out my pound to buy it. It could be possibly more of a thriller than a crime novel, who knows?  Its premise reminds me of the John Grisham novel/film The Firm, which I have seen but not read.

Mike Ford is a former con artist who's been plucked from his Harvard Law School classroom to be an associate at The Davies Group, Washington's most high-powered and well-respected strategic consulting firm. Their specialty: pulling strings and peddling influence for the five hundred most powerful people inside the Beltway, the men and women who really run Washington -- and by extension the country, and the world.

The namesake of the firm, Henry Davies, knows everyone who matters; more importantly, he knows their secrets. Davies' experience goes back 40 years -- he worked for Lyndon Johnson, jumped shipped to Nixon, then put out his own shingle as the Hill's most cut-throat and expensive fixer. Now he's looking for a protégé to tackle his most high-stakes deal yet, and Mike fits the bill.
Quickly pulled into a seductive, dangerous web of power and corruption, Mike struggles to find his way out. But how do you save your soul when you've made a deal with the devil?

David Quammen – The Soul of Viktor Tronko

Synchronicity? Coincidence? I was browsing an old National Geographic magazine on Sunday that a friend of my wife had passed onto me and I happened on an article written by David Quammen. Not the one and the same guy? The guy responsible for “Viktor Tronko,” a highly regarded (in some quarters at least) spy novel that has sat around for a couple of years unread on the Criminal Library shelves? Apparently yes. Quammen in recent years has concentrated on nature/science writing. This novel with the name – Viktor Tronko – just piques and intrigues me and makes me want to read about him. Time to pull my finger out and get to it soon!   

Peacefully engrossed in writing a biography of a termite collector, Kessler gets a surprise visit from an old friend. Mel is a one-time CIA agent now ready to reveal an espionage event that occurred two decades earlier. When Mel is murdered, Kessler is seduced by the whiff of a really big story. He pursues the leads that suggest one Victor Tronko was a fake defector let loose to mask the presence of a KGB mole in the CIA's highest levels. When Kessker dislodges the wasps' nest, retribution strikes. Sinuously intricate and compellingly realistic, this cloak-and-dagger caper will be as well received as The Zolta Configuration. While most thrillers let the reader bob like a cork on the surface, this author's knack is to draw down a reader's full attention with complicated dialogue, shifts in narrative, and intense activity. Barbara Conaty, Medical Coll. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Next week it’s the turn of the R’s.


  1. Col - Isn't it interesting how some authors do just seem to appear, and then as mysteriously disappear (I'm thinking of your comments about Patrick Quinlan). I'm had that happen, too. I hope you'll enjoy the one of his you've still got on your shelf.

    1. Thanks Margot - it's something I've encountered a few times with authors I have grown fond of.
      I don't keep too up to date on the machinations of the large publishing houses, but I seem to recall some chat about "mid-listers" getting crunched in favour of keeping big-name big-sellers sweet and generating the sales. Though this revolving door has maybe always been in place. Probably other reasons as well, but it does make me curious.

  2. Not being rude, but slim pickings on the letter Q? Nothing I've even heard of here, but then in my own library I can think of Patrick Quentin and not much else.... I'm guessing R will be more productive.

    1. Moira, you can be as rude as you like, but yes - slim pickings. Quinlan I have enjoyed in the past. The next most interesting for me is Quammen, but none of the mentioned are household names really.
      I have read a book by Joe Queenan, a commentator/journalist/critic/satirist who spent a year travelling the US in the 90's immersing himself in lowbrow culture like Cats - the musical and Kenny G and Michael Bolton. That wasn't that great either.
      I'll look up Quentin as he's no-one I'm familiar with.
      I'll try harder next week!

  3. Of the authors you mention here, the series by Sheila Quigley and Peter Quinn sound the most appealing. I have heard of the Matthew Quirk book, but I would wait until you reviewed it to see.

    1. I will hopefully try Quigley in the next 12 months, as I need to improve on my quota of females I read. The Quinn book grabbed me and the Quirk was too cheap to pass by. It's dangerous to my finances to let me out book browsing!

  4. Nary a one of your Q's have I read. I had enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick but could neither figure out how to claim it was a mystery nor identify a plausible personal connection with the book.

    1. Bill, back to square one then! Maybe next time around.