Friday 30 August 2013



Jack Till, who has retired from the LAPD after a respected career as a homicide detective, now works as a private investigator, comfortable chasing down routine cases while visiting his 24-year-old daughter, Holly, who has Down Syndrome. But when the parents of a recently murdered young girl, about Holly's age, ask for his help when the police come up empty, Till reluctantly takes the case.

It was discovered after her death that the victim had been working as a high-class prostitute, and the police are content to assume she was killed by a client, common in such a dangerous line of work. Yet as Till digs deeper, he realizes that the victim is just one of several young female escorts killed in different cities in the exact same way - all had strawberry blonde hair, and all were shot with a 9mm handgun in the sanctity of their apartments.

Till must find his way around the tawdry and secretive online escort business, and decode ads placed by young women who all use false names, sometimes advertise using other women's pictures, and move from city to city every few months. Yet when Till is finally able to catch up with the killer, he finds that the man he's after is far more dangerous and volatile than he ever could have imagined. As the body count rises, Till must risk his life to find this seductive and ruthless killer whose murderous spree masks a far deadlier agenda.

Thomas Perry has authored 20-odd books during his career so far including The Butcher’s Boy, one of my favourite books in the genre. I have read maybe 3 or 4 of his and at some point in my reading hope to catch up with a lot more of his stuff.  I think he is currently writing books in continuation of a Clive Cussler series character, an author I have never tried.

His latest, The Boyfriend didn’t disappoint. His investigator, Till was interesting and sympathetic, though could perhaps have done with a couple of minor flaws in order to appear more “real.” Maybe spitting on the sidewalk or swearing at an old lady who cut him up in traffic, would have made him that bit more rounded and human, and to me in some perverse way more likeable and more sympathetic. (I’m not advocating 
swearing at old ladies here!) 

The plot was interesting and the book read fast as Till pursued “the boyfriend” from city to city, always one step behind. How he figured out and tried to anticipate the killer’s next move was plausible, as were the killer’s steps to avoid and outwit him.

Overall a great read and time well spent.

4 from 5

I borrowed my book from my local library.

I’m away for a few days and will respond to any comments on my return, when I get caught up. Don’t want anyone to think I’m being rude! I’m off to swear at a few people in the traffic now....


Wednesday 28 August 2013


It’s week 21 of the Crime Fiction Alphabet journey hosted by Kerrie at the Mysteries in Paradise blog. It would be fair to say my shelves aren't brimming with U’s and that without resorting to some recent book buying, I wouldn't have particularly much to write or enthuse about.

Udall.......1 enjoyed

Brady Udall – Letting Loose The Hounds

I read this short story collection, originally published in 1997, a couple of years ago and to be truthful can’t recall very much about it. I probably purchased the book on the basis of the cover – who wouldn’t to know more about those guys?  Udall has had a couple of novels published, one of which – The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint – sits unread on the shelves also. One of these years.....

Set in the small towns of Utah and Arizona, most of the stories in this collection deal with letting loose - or wanting to - in all its forms. Even when disaster looms in the tales, Udall's sense of the comic sustains his men and women in their sometimes extravagant efforts to connect and cope.

Underwood, Ure, Ulfelder, Unsworth, Uhnak...... 5 unread

Michael Underwood – Murder on Trial
This is a recent addition and Underwood’s first novel, which features Simon Manton. Underwood was a barrister and most of his books have a setting in the legal profession. Manton features in about 12 or 13 books from 1954 up until the mid-60’s. Underwood authored nearly 50 books up until his death in the early 90’s. I’m fairly sure that I used to see his books when browsing my local library’s shelves as a teenager, I don’t reckon I ever took the plunge then, but he’s worth a look now. My copy is a plain hardback without dust-jacket and isn't particularly photogenic.

Her name is Maisie Jenks and that's her father with her. They live up in St. John's Wood way, and she knows who the murderer is . . .'

William Tarrant is on trial for the murder of a police constable. Before he can give evidence in his own defence, however, he is shot in Court 1 of the Old Bailey.

In his debut case, Detective-Inspector Simon Manton has to solve the puzzle of a missing juror, a nervous warder, and a girl, Maisie, who screams just before the deadly shot is fired . . .

Dorothy Uhnak –The Bait

Bought last month in preparation for this week’s alphabet entry, The Bait won the author an Edgar in the late 60’s. She followed this with 2 more concerning Christie Opara and about 6 or 7 standalone cop books. This will probably be the first one on this list of U’s to see daylight.

In this Edgar Award - winning debut novel, a dedicated cop becomes the ultimate prey when a serial killer gets out on bail

It begins when New York Police Department Detective Second-Grade Christie Opara arrests a man on the subway for indecent exposure. Within hours, Murray Rogoff, a burly giant, his crazed stare concealed behind thick glasses, is out on bail.

Soon after, the body of a young dancer is found stashed behind the stairway of a Bronx apartment building. The girl was brutally raped and strangled, and a clue links her with two previous murders. 
The killer takes a signature trophy: a hacked-off lock of the victim's hair. A few days later, Christie starts to get strange, late-night phone calls. Although Rogoff never spoke when he was in lock-up, the detective's instincts tell her that Rogoff's the serial killer they're hunting. With the reluctant approval of her boss, Assistant District Attorney Casey Reardon, Christie prepares to become the bait of a deadly psychopath.

Steve Ulfelder – Purgatory Chasm

The first in a recent 3 book series featuring Conway Sax. Hopefully I enjoy it when I get to it, but I’m in 2 minds about liking it too much, because I know I will have to chase after the other 2 he’s followed up with. The OCD in me wouldn’t have it any other way!

'Tander Phigg was an asshole, but he was also a Barnburner. Barnburners saved my life. I help them when I can. No exceptions.'

The job seems simple. Conway Sax, a no-nonsense auto mechanic with a knack for solving difficult problems, has never liked obnoxious blowhard Tander Phigg. But a promise is a promise. Tander's a Barnburner, a member of the unique Alcoholics Anonymous group that rescued Conway, and when a Barnburner has a problem, Conway takes care of it. Besides, all Tander wants is to get back his baby, a vintage Mercedes that's been in a shady auto shop far too long.

But Conway soon discovers there's much more to the problem than Tander first let on - especially when Tander turns up dead. Conway was the last person seen with the victim, and on top of that, he has a record, making him the cops' top suspect. He must catch the killer to clear himself, but beyond that, he's a man who honors his promises, even when the guy he made them to is dead.

In the tradition of Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane, Steve Ulfelder's crackling debut mystery features a gritty, razor-sharp new voice in crime fiction. Conway Sax isn't a hired gun or a wise-cracking urbanite. He's just a mechanic trying to make his way, a blue-collar guy whose ideas about family and loyalty are as deeply held as they are strong. He'll break your heart if you're not careful.

Louise Ure - Forcing Amarylis

I hope it’s noted by some readers that when bolstering the ranks of the U’s I selected 3 female authors to sample and try! This won a Shamus Award for best first novel. She’s written a couple more subsequent to this, but I’m sticking on 1 for now.

From a gripping new author comes the haunting story of Calla Gentry, a trial consultant determined to discover the truth about her sister's brutal rape. A trial consultant in Tucson, Arizona, Calla Gentry devotes her time and energy to victims in civil cases rather than criminal trials. The rape and near murder of her sister Amaryllis has done much more than affect Calla's career; she hides behind locked doors and jumps at shadows, a veritable victim by proxy after Amaryllis is left in a coma following a failed suicide attempt. When Calla is assigned against her will to the trial of Raymond Cates, a wealthy landowner's son accused of rape and first degree murder, she cannot help but note the parallels between the crime he stands accused of and her sister's assault. Determined to uncover the truth, Calla begins an investigation of Cates and the events of that fateful night. But things are seldom what they seem-and her investigation leads Calla to buried lies and a whole new world of violent rage.

Cathi Unsworth – The Not Knowing

Unsworth’s debut has received praise from James Sallis among others. She’s a music journalist turned novelist with 4 books out to date. This is her debut.

London, March 1992. Nearly a year after the release of Brit noir sensation, Bent, the capital is still in the grip of its cultural and stylistic impact. Diana Kemp, journalist on the alternative arts magazine Lux, is dismissive of the film's cult following but admires the technique of its debut director, Jon Jackson. In fact, some of her admiration has a more personal nature and when Jon disappears following a triumphant Guardian lecture, she feels the loss, acutely. Two weeks' later, Jackson's body is found in a condemned lock-up in the arches behind Camden market. A victim of his own success? Perhaps - the murder site resembles the particularly bloody final scene of Bent. But why would anyone want to destroy the golden boy in such a way? Attempting to put a lid on the past, Diana buries herself in work. But an assignment, at the ICA's Crimewave festival, leads her on a voyage of discovery where not knowing might be the only thing that saves her.

A bit of a sparse entry to be honest and rest assured it won’t be alone in this regard with the few weeks ahead of us on this journey through the alphabet.

Back next week with the V’s.

You can see other bloggers selections for this week here and no doubt pick up some more recommendations for your book mountains.

Thursday 22 August 2013


No-one asked me, but I want to play anyway, more for my own amusement than to spark a debate, but here I go.......

What are you reading right now?
I always have a couple on the go. I’m currently reading Sandra Brannan and Noah’s Rainy Day, the 4th in a series with Liz Bergen. My first taste of this author and at the halfway point I’m enjoying it without being stunned or amazed. Liz is a newly recruited FBI agent drafted into assist in the investigation of a missing 5 year old.
My second book is The Boyfriend by Thomas Perry which is on loan from my local library. I’ve read a few by Perry before and loved them. I’m only 30 pages in so far, but I’m liking it.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
A few possibilities – Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins which my wife nabbed from me and read. She absolutely loved it.
Or, The Necessary Death Of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay, a first novel about a Glasgow hitman.
Or Tomorrow City by Kirk Kjeldsen, another debut novel set in China.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
No classics or great literature for me......
 Jess Walter – Over Tumbled Graves
Charlie Stella – Rough Riders
Mike Nicol – Killer Country and Black Heart
Olen Steinhauer - “Milo Weaver” books
Robert Littell – The Company

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
Lounge only, no reading material in the bathroom.
A few old issues of National Geographic that were passed on to me.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
A tie between Jack Kerouac – Lonesome Traveller and Brett Easton Ellis – American Psycho.....both equally grim!

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
American Psycho – I just didn’t get it.

My wife read the 50 Shades trilogy because of the hype and because her colleagues at work were reading them. Because I read what she reads (eventually), I manned up and read all 3.....Oh Christian, Oh Anna, Oh Christian, Oh Anna, creaking bed-springs and the sound of a riding crop whishing through the air, followed by a sharp yelp, Oh Christian, Oh Anna etc etc .........well at least I won’t have to suffer through that again!

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
A Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving - but no-one listens!

What are your three favourite poems?
Without cheating and going to look something up, I don’t have three. I was always touched by the poem John Hannah recited in Four Weddings and a Funeral but the title eludes me....Stop the clocks????

Where do you usually get your books?
Amazon UK – you can thank me for my contribution to the continuing demise of small bookshops up and down the country, sorry!

Where do you usually read your books?
At home, on the sofa, in bed, in the garden. Sitting in the car waiting. Work with a few snatched minutes at my desk at lunchtime

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Quantity over quality, which might have stuck with me into adulthood.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
I love my sleep too much to do that!

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Many, many times. The one that springs to mind Leonie Swann – Three Bags Full. Absolute rubbish, I wanted to stick pins in my eyes so I could experience a different type of pain when reading it, still I have no-one to blame but myself.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Too long ago to be honest, I did used to like the Hardy Boys, but couldn’t remember too much about them, was one called Jeff?

What book changed your life?
Possibly Elmore Leonard’s Unknown Man No.89 or The Hunted, my first introduction to crime fiction probably late 80’s or early 90’s. I was quite saddened by his passing earlier this week.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
Sorry, I don’t save quotes or passages. Nothing springs to mind.

Who are your top five favourite authors?
Elmore Leonard
John Irving
Charlie Stella
Michael Connelly
Marcus Zusak

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Tom Kakonis – Michigan Roll

What 3 books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
John Irving – A Prayer For Owen Meany
Jess Walter – Citizen Vince
Norman Green – Shooting Dr. Jack
Marcus Zusak – The Book Thief – 4 then!

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?
Terry Shames – A Killing At Cotton Hill

What is your favourite classic book?
Not very well read in this department, so I’ll go with my “O”- Level Literature book, Charles Dickens – Great Expectations

Other Notable Mentions?
Ken Bruen, Roger Smith, Daniel Woodrell,

You can find more rounded responses from Angela, Margot and Bernadette on their blogs.



Ex-army sergeant Daniel McEvoy is ready to say goodbye New Jersey's lawless underworld and concentrate on his new life as club owner and bona fide boyfriend. But when he's abducted and driven into the Hudson by a vengeful crime boss, he realises that the New Jersey underworld isn't ready to say goodbye to him.

If Dan is to survive, he will have to evade bad guys on both sides of the law and find the missing aunt who once taught him how to handle boobs.
Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl novels, turns his outstanding talent to a world as criminally funny as it is dark and compelling.

Well I had been looking forward to this for a few months now, having lapped up the first Colfer crime caper, Plugged when it came out back in 2011. Plugged introduced us to Daniel McEvoy and his small circle of friends, Zeb, Sofia, Jason and Ronelle. Fast, fun and fresh it was one of my best reads of 2011.
Second time around for McEvoy and the gang and I was bored and unimpressed for the most part. I can typically gauge my gut reaction to how a book is going by the speed at which I read it. This was 310 pages long and it took me a week or thereabouts to get to the halfway point.  Never a good sign.

Yesterday morning, on page 164 Colfer has McEvoy musing ......If it was up to me, I would throw in the towel right now and spare myself the rest of this shitty day.  Spooky how at that particular moment in time I couldn’t have felt any closer to Daniel!

However, being made of sterner stuff I cracked on and it improved enough for me to knock off the remaining half of the book yesterday morning and evening.  There were a few chuckles to be had and some enjoyable passages, particularly when McEvoy was at the mercy of the dodgy cops, Fortz and Krieger and also when he dealt with Freckles and Shea-ster.  These glimpses of sunshine alone weren’t sufficient to overcome what was for me a dull and uninspiring book.

McEvoy in the two years since I read the last outing is in exactly the same place emotionally as he was before. We have the same flashbacks and memories of his abusive father and difficult childhood. He has the same relationship issues with his delusional on/off (or never on to be more accurate) “girlfriend” Sofia. He shares the same tired banter with his irritating friend Zeb and his nemesis Mike is still on the scene.  Colfer puts McEvoy into situations with firearms that you know won’t result in him taking decisive action which could have concluded the book a hundred pages earlier.....why not?

In the final analysis, I was deeply disappointed having expected much more.  I haven’t been put off Colfer totally and I would read him again but not with the same cast of characters.

Oscillating between scoring it a 2 and a 3. Disappointment prevails 2 from 5

I borrowed my copy from my local library.


Monday 19 August 2013


We have reached week 20 on the Crime Fiction Alphabet Journey hosted by Mysteries in Paradise.  

It’s the turn of the T’s and after a bit of pondering I've come up with a few favourites from the Criminal Library shelves that grabbed my attention in the past and a few that will hopefully do so in the future.

So ignoring Paul Thomas, Ross Thomas, Mark Timlin and the under-appreciated Jim Thompson, here we go.....

Tosches, Thompson, Thornburg........3 enjoyed    

Nick Tosches – Cut Numbers

This one was originally published back in the late 80’s. I would have read this sometime during the 90’s but don’t have a clue whether it was beginning, middle or end. I can’t recall too much about it, only that I was enamoured enough to buy at least one more book by the author- Country, a non-fiction book on a popular musical genre that every time I hear something from its stable has me reaching for the bottle of bleach to pour in my ears. Wise guys, tough guys, Mafia hoods........lovely jubbly! I have saved this for a re-read sometime.

This stunning Mafia thriller, now available in paperback for the first time, bears many of the hallmarks of Tosches's celebrated nonfiction: an uncanny familiarity with the darkest chambers of the human heart and a wildly elastic prose style. As Cut Numbers unravels a diabolically elaborate scheme to fix New York State's lottery, it reveals the Mafia that only insiders know - not the powerful, well-oiled crime machine of myth, but the messy day-to-day business of violent crime, pornography, gambling, and extortion.

Neville Thompson – Jackie Loves Johnser, Ok?

Late 2000’s for this one. Probably not crime fiction, more of a novel about people and it reminds me a lot of Roddy Doyle in the depictions of working class Dubliners. I have more from Thompson to get to at some point....including Two Birds/One Stoned and Mama’s Boys. Not as hard as Kerrigan but enjoyable nonetheless.  

Johnser and Jackie grew up the hard way, fighting their way on a glass-splattered playground on a Ballyfermot estate.

They're both satisfied with their career choices.

So why did Jackie marry Jeffrey the nice fella ?
And why did Johnser marry Tara the slut ?

And why was a gun pointed at Johnser's head as he relaxed on a Saturday night ?

Newton Thornburg – To Die In California

The mid-70’s saw the publication of this one, though it didn’t cross my path until 2010, when I happened upon a re-issue with an introduction by George Pelecanos. An absolute belter of a book and I found it unbelievably sad. What parent couldn’t fail to be moved by Hook’s total sense of loss and bewilderment and his efforts to understand the tragedy that has befallen his family? Thornburg followed this with another highly regarded book, Cutter and Bone which I have yet to get to.

Informed by the police that his son Chris has committed suicide, David Hook, an Illinois farmer, knows that this cannot be true. He knows that something else must have happened in California to cause the death of Chris who loved life too much to take his own. He also knows that he must go West to find out what did happen.   

Temple, Trevanian, Thompson.......3 unread,

Peter Temple – Truth

I think I have had this since about 2009, seeing as it first hit the shelves the year before. This is the second in a series, following on from the Dagger Award winning The Broken Shore; which I have read and enjoyed.  Temple is a four-time winner of Australia’s Ned Kelly Award and has three stand alone books and another series of four featuring Jack Irish. Although I haven’t read too many of his books, those I have got to have been superb. Probably about time he had something new out.

Stephen Villani is the acting head of the Victoria Police homicide squad. But his first months on the job have not gone well: two Aboriginal teenagers shot dead in a botched operation he authorised in the provincial city of Cromarty; and, no progress on the killing of a man in front of his daughter outside a private girls' school. Now five men are found dead in horrifying circumstances on the outskirts of the city. Villani' superiors and the media are baying for arrests. To add to his woes, some of the country's richest people are alarmed by the baffling killing of a young woman in the high-security tower where they live. Villani, a man who has built his life around his work, begins to find the certainties of both crumbling. As the pressure mounts, he finds that he must contemplate things formerly unthinkable. "Truth" is a novel about murder, corruption, family, friends, honour, honesty, deceit, love, betrayal and truth.

Trevanian – Shibumi

Trevanian was an author I can recall figuring prominently on bookshelves in the shops maybe 30 years ago. His most famous book is probably The Eiger Sanction which was adapted for the big screen and starred Clint Eastwood. A few of his books could probably be classed as Spy Fiction, which I developed an interest in a couple of years ago. I have probably had this on the Library shelves maybe two or three years. More recently, Don Winslow (another habitant of C’sCL) penned a follow on to Shibumi – Satori, another unread tome in the library; though one not quite as dusty.

A westerner raised in Japan, he survived the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world's most artful lover and its most accomplished assassin. His greatest desire is to attain a state of effortless perfection . . . shibumi. But he is about to face his most sinister and corrupt enemy - a supermonolith of espionage and monopoly bent on destroying
him. . . .

 Keith Thomson – Once A Spy

When tracking down some espionage type fiction a year or two ago, I came across Keith Thompson and his Once A Spy and Twice A Spy books featuring a father and son team. They weren’t especially easy to get hold off, as I don’t believe they’ve been published in the UK. But at some point I’m hopeful I can squeeze in this short two book series into my reading schedule.

“Huffington Post columnist Thomson’s wildly [espionage] original debut, a darkly satirical thriller, features an unlikely, if endearing, father-son spy duo: retired appliance salesman Drummond Clark, who at age 64 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and Charlie Clark, a down-on-his-luck gambler who owes $23,000 to Russian loan sharks. Soon after Charlie rescues Drummond from the Brooklyn streets, where he’d been wandering, the older man’s house blows up and the two barely escape with their lives. Clark and son begin an adrenaline-fuelled cross-country flight in which they must evade ruthless CIA assassins long enough to understand why they’re being targeted. During rare moments of lucidity, Drummond hotwires a car and effortlessly kills multiple assailants, suggesting to Charlie he was once much more than just a washing machine salesman. Poignant themes of love and redemption underpin an action-packed story line that includes exotic locales, high-tech gadgetry, and international intrigue.” —Publishers Weekly 

Back next week with some U’s.

Check out the link to see what other bloggers have selected for their T contribution.



Pronzini and Wilcox combine their superlative talents--and their two popular San Francisco-based detectives, "Nameless" and Lieutenant Frank Hastings--on a harrowing case of murder and bizarre conspiracy surrounding an old California wine-making family.

I’ve read a couple of novels that were collaborations, most recently the Hard Case Crime series starring Max, co-authored by Jason Starr and Ken Bruen. Going back further, there was The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub and coming forward again a PJ Tracy novel which is apparently a mother/daughter writing duo. What these all have in common is that I’m ignorant of which author wrote which bit. This time with Twospot there is probably more clarity as to which author provided which section of the novel. There are chapters devoted to Nameless that are written from his point of view and chapters from Wilcox providing a perspective of the investigation from Hastings. (I say this claiming certainty, but I guess they could have had some fun and changed things up.)

This is the fifth outing for Pronzini’s Nameless detective and it also introduced me to Collin Wilcox and his cop, Frank Hastings. Prior to this I was ignorant of both Wilcox and Hastings, but there is a 19 book series starring the detective. These were published between 1969 and 1995, with the last appearing a year before the author’s death.  Twospot dates back to the late 70’s. One interesting thing for me was Hastings referral to Nameless throughout the book as Bill. Throughout the 40 book series, the author never ascribes his detective a moniker, so it was fun to see Willcox do it for him.

We open with Nameless engaged by Alex Cappelani to investigate his mother’s latest companion. Alex is suspicious of Jason Booker’s motives and is certain he is trying to worm his way into her affections and gain a stake in the family business. Nameless visits Alex at their vineyard, arriving just after Alex has been attacked and rendered unconscious. Nameless himself is attacked and gives chase, but eventually loses his man. When Alex recovers and his suspicions about Booker are confirmed, Nameless is asked by Capellani to meet him so he can confront the boyfriend. Nameless shows up, Alex doesn’t and when our PI inspects the property he finds Booker dead. This is when we meet Willcox’s detective, Frank Hastings.

Hastings and his team start investigating the murder, whilst Nameless fades into the background. Until there is a second attempt on Alex’s life and he is engaged by the matriarch of the family to adopt a bodyguard role for Alex.  With some disgruntled employees and some sibling rivalry in the mix Hastings and Nameless work from opposite ends to resolve the mystery. There’s an interesting twist which shows us, that all is not as it seems.

I enjoyed this outing and it was interesting to see Nameless share the limelight with another author’s well established detective. Probably not my favourite of the 5 in the series that I have read so far, but far from a waste of time. Hastings shares many of the same characteristics of Nameless......honesty, decency, a desire to ensure justice is served and there’s a mutual respect between the two detectives which was to be expected. Nameless in this book, also seems less obsessed with his health having established that his troubling lung lesions are benign; for now at least.

My other 4 reviews are here;

I will be continuing my journey with Nameless and look forward to the next in the series. To be honest, I’m probably not going to revisit Willcox and Hastings unless the book fairy deposits some of his case files on my doorstep as a gift. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy meeting Frank, there’s just too much other stuff both new and old already waiting.  

4 from 5

I obtained my copy second hand recently from Amazon.


Wednesday 14 August 2013



Meet Lennon, a mute Irish getaway driver who has fallen in with the wrong heist team on the wrong day at the wrong bank. Betrayed, his money stolen and his battered carcass left for dead, Lennon is on a one-way mission to find out who is responsible--and to get back his loot. But the robbery has sent a violent ripple effect through the streets of Philadelphia. And now a dirty cop, the Russian and Italian mobs, the mayor's hired gun, and a keyboard player in a college rock band manoeuvre for position as this adrenaline-fuelled novel twists and turns its way toward its explosive conclusion.

One thing's for sure: This cast of characters wakes up in a much different world by novel's end--if they wake up at all.

About 4 hours of fun reading this in the one sitting on Sunday afternoon. I read this originally back in the late 2000’s and rated it a 4 on my own little scoring chart. Selected as my Goodreads Pulp fiction group’s monthly read for August, I was initially tempted to give it a miss because of my previous reading. Bu then as the book was available relatively cheaply second hand I thought why not?

Glad I did to be honest as second time around it ticked more boxes for me than it managed to a few years ago. Fast and frenetic with an intriguing main character and a decent support cast of double-crossing gangsters, corrupt cops, Russian Mafiya and Italian wise-guys. Horrible people doing horrible things interspersed with mainly “decent” people forced to do horrible things......lovely!

It is unlikely that I will enjoy another book as much as this one this month, but hey I live in hope! (But will probably die in despair...)

5 from 5

Obtained second hand from Abe books recently.


This is week 19 and the turn of the S – authors to hit the spotlight on our Crime Fiction Alphabet Journey.

If you visit Mysteries in Paradise website, Kerrie has been kindly collating everyone else’s contribution to the journey here.

I have probably too much choice on my shelves this week.  Some of the authors who have been over-looked and fail to make the line-up include....Gerald Seymour, Mark SaFranko, Anthony Neil Smith, Lawrence Shames, Doug Swanson, Zoe Sharp, Dan Simmons..... mentioning, but a few.

Sandford, Smith, Smith...........3 enjoyed

John Sandford – Rules Of Prey

I vaguely remember buying this in hardback when it was first published in the UK, which would have been sometime either 1989 or 1990. Read it and loved it and was delighted when he followed it up the following year with Shadow Prey. Fast forward to 2013 and Lucas Davenport figures in the 23rd Prey book – Silken Prey. At some point in the mid or late 90’s with the arrival of the Keane family’s next generation – 3 in 3 and a half years, I sort of fell out of love with time, constantly working and juggling home life with everything else that was this point I lost track of the series and  author. I have a lot of the books, probably not all, but my mission at some point will be to see read through start to finish. I’m interested to see if Davenport changes through the passage of nearly 25 years.  The author has a couple of other series which I have dipped in and out of and would also like to read more of Kidd and LuEllen and more latterly Virgil Flowers.

The murderer was intelligent. He was a member of the bar. He derived rules based on professional examination of actual cases: Never kill anyone you know. Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used. Beware of leaving physical evidence. There were more. He built them into a challenge. He was mad, of course . . .
The killer's name is Louis Vullion, a low-key young attorney who, under the camouflage of normalcy, researches his next female victim until the pressure within him forces him to reach out and "collect" her. Plying his secret craft with the tactics of a games master, he has gripped the Twin Cities in a storm of terror more fierce than any Minnesota winter.
It is after the third murder that Lucas Davenport is called in. It is the opinion of his colleagues that everything about the lieutenant is a little different, and they are right — in the computer games he invents and sells, in the Porsche he drives to work, in the quality of the women he attracts, in his single-minded pursuit of justice. The only member of the department's Office of Special Intelligence, Davenport prefers to work alone, parallel with Homicide, and there is something about this serial killer that he quickly understands. The man who signs himself "maddog" in taunting notes to the police is no textbook sociopath; he has a perverse playfulness that makes him kill for the sheer contest of it. He is a player.
Which means that Davenport will have to put all his mental strength — and physical courage — on the line to learn to think like the killer. For the only way to beat the maddog is at his own hellish game. . .

Martin Cruz Smith – Gorky Park

I’m unsure when I first read this, probably not 1981 but I don’t know. I was still a spotty teenager, probably more interested in football than books in the early 80’s. This period of my life, as does the USSR of Leonid Brezhnev seems a lifetime ago. I read this and its follow on Polar Star and loved both. The author has continued to write about Renko on and off over the years. Tatiana the eighth is out later this year.

Gorky Park is a 1981 crime novel written by Martin Cruz Smith set in the Soviet Union. It follows Arkady Renko, a chief investigator for the Militsiya, who is assigned to a case involving three corpses found in Gorky Park, an amusement park in Moscow, who have had their faces and fingertips cut off by the murderer to prevent identification.

Roger Smith – Mixed Blood

Roger Smith only appeared on my radar late last year. I was shopping with my wife on my birthday in October and chose Dust Devils as a suitable present for my own good self. I still haven’t read Dust Devils but after reading the back of it, was compelled to seek out his other stuff. Mixed Blood was a five-star read late last year for the Criminal Library. He has another book out soon, Sacrifices which will be welcome, but he either needs to slow down writing or I need to speed up my reading!

If you are unsure on whether to take the plunge on Smith’s violent modern day portrayal of South Africa, you could jump in with Ishmael Toffee – a short novella, which will give you a flavour.  

Reluctant bank robber Jack Burn is on the run after a heist in the United States that left $3 million missing and one cop dead. Hiding out in Cape Town, South Africa, he is desperate to build a new life for his pregnant wife and young son. But on a tranquil evening in their new suburban neighbourhood they are the victims of a random gangland assault that changes everything. Benny Mongrel, an ex-con night watchman guarding a building site next to Burn's home, is another man desperate to escape his past. After years in the ghetto gangs of Cape Town he knows who went into Burn's house, and what the American did to them. He also knows his only chance to save his own brown skin is to forget what he saw. Burn's actions on that night trap them both in a cat-and-mouse game with Rudi 'Gatsby' Barnard - a corrupt Afrikaner cop who loves killing almost as much as he loves Jesus Christ and Disaster Zondi, a fastidious Zulu detective who wishes to settle an old score. Once Gatsby smells those missing American millions, the four men are drawn into a web of murder and vengeance that builds to an unforgettable conclusion.

Schwarz, Skipper, Sturges............3 unread

Stephen Jay Schwarz – Boulevard

I’m unsure of the how or the when I came across this author, probably only a year or two ago, but this and his second book, Beat also featuring Hayden Glass intrigued me. I don’t suppose I will get to this soon, but it’s reassuring knowing that it’s safely shelved and waiting for me.

Stephen Schwarz's intensely nonstop thriller is about a LAPD homicide detective who must find a killer responsible for a series of murders that are directly related to him. Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective and former vice cop Hayden Glass is a sex addict. The addiction has ruined his marriage and irreparably damaged many of his relationships. However, he has always been able to separate his behaviour from his career. But, when a series of killings in the L. A. area seem to be meant as a sign just for him, his addiction threatens to ruin both his professional career and his life.

"Raw, twisted, and so hard-boiled it simmers from beginning to end." – Robert Crais

Roger Allan Skipper - Bone Dogs

I was probably sucked in by the cover for this one, though a recommendation by William Gay another author on my book shelves would have helped. I think I got this at some point late 2011 or maybe even early last year, so it isn’t too dusty yet. He has written other stuff, but for once I have exercised restraint and held off from buying anything else by him until I see how Skipper’s Bone Dogs goes.

I think I should maybe extend that mantra to all authors – don’t buy anything new from an author, unless I have read all their other books on my shelves.....yeah right, like that is going to happen!

A pound to a penny, when I start reading this, my kid's take the mickey and claim it's me in 10 years-time! 

Tuesday Price is a wiseass, a boozer, and a loser. Only his wife Linda recalls a smarter, better man, and she's losing faith in that man's return. When Tuesday befriends a strange, silent Vietnam vet who eternally sits with a cooler of beer in a disabled pickup, Linda's had enough. At her departure, Tuesday is left with only his new friend as a companion - until the old vet is found dead, and Tuesday is blamed. Alone and haunted by regret, Tuesday's daily life deteriorates until he must unearth his sordid past to reach a worthwhile future. But his past is a tangle of murder, deceit, and abandonment for which his only punishment has been self-inflicted. In order to reclaim all that has been lost, he returns to his deserted childhood home and, with hammer and nails, rebuilds the sagging structure, reassembling a history quite different than the one he'd believed while finding the future not at all what he'd expected.
"Skipper... brings both protagonists and environment to life in powerful language that ultimately becomes a sort of hard-edged poetry." – William Gay

P.G. Sturges - The Shortcut Man

This author is a fairly recent addition to my shelves and another new author for me, courtesy of a friend of mine from over at Goodreads who recommended him. P.G. is the son of Preston Sturges, a famous American playwright, screenwriter and film director. Sturges Jr. has to date written 3 in the Shortcut Man series and I have the lot, waiting for a window in the calendar to get stuck in and hopefully enjoy. They look like my kind of book.

Recommended or blurbed by Michael Connelly

In the best tradition of James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard, P.G. Sturges has written a smart and entertaining crime novel set in the underbelly of Los Angeles, with a cast of characters that runs the gamut from saints to sinners. In the center of it all is Dick Henry, a "shortcut man," who cuts through red tape for his clients, whether it be an elderly woman ripped off by shady contractors, or a landlord with a pesky tenant many months behind on the rent. Sturges's characters live in a world where right and wrong is a fine line, a line often crossed by our hero, Dick Henry, who knows that the shortest answer to many problems may not always be legal.

Back next week with some T's!