Wednesday 29 January 2014


In the absence of having completed a book in the past few days - anyone seen my reading mojo? - I'll post a couple more soldiers from the ranks of the unread Criminal Library.

I can't actually recall where and when I heard of McIlvanney, but from my less than comprehensive notes, I acquired his three Laidlaw books back in the second half of 2012.

Laidlaw was read back in October, 2012. For some bizarre reason I scored it a 4 from 5.

Numbers 2 and 3 are as yet unread, though I have signed up to a Read Scotland Challenge and will hope to tackle them this year at some point.


Originally published in 1983 and nominated for an Edgar Award in 1984, a prize which was scooped by Elmore Leonard's La Brava.

McIlvanney once again sets out on the dark side of Glasgow with Detective Jack Laidlaw. "The wine he gave me winsy wine" were the final words of Eck Adamson to Laidlaw, his only friend. Laidlaw is convinced the Eck was murdered and that an elusive young student, Tony Veitch, holds the key to the mystery


Third and last in the series, published originally in 1991.

A detective story that searches for answers to deep questions about life's injustice seeks to find out why Glasgow investigator James Laidlaw's brother stepped in front of a car.

Sunday 26 January 2014



The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire. 

Spademan used to be a garbage man.  That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets.  His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal.  He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter.  But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill.  Spademan must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.  

Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.
Not my usual read in that I’m not a fan of books set in the future, albeit a future just around the corner, with enough of today’s realities present that it wasn’t a totally alien landscape. I just don’t like, get, understand or enjoy sci-fi-type fiction full of gizmos and gadgets and techno-doodahs that I can’t visualise – though to be fair on this occasion there is not a lot of that present. (I’m just having a bit of a rant.)  Why read it then? Well I do have a soft spot for hitmen and the premise would indicate that there’s a guy doing a lot of hitting here and in a noir-ish fashion.

Well it was okay in a time filling, not the worst thing I’ve ever encountered way. It started brightly and I wanted to read on and see how things played out and at no point did I feel like quitting. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in the outcome.

Our hitman was a former garbageman, like his father and in some respects he’s stayed true to his vocation, only the garbage now is of the human kind. New York – post dirty bomb, he’s lost his wife, he has no children and few friends. I couldn’t feel his motivation for his work. He’s hired for a job that he takes, until he realises that it conflicts with his rules, which then sets him at odds with his employer. The story then continues until it doesn't and we have a resolution.

Dynamite? No
Gritty? Sort of
Violent? In places
Funny? Not especially
Riveting? Not particularly
Tender? Didn’t think so
Brilliant? Nah

Verdict 2 or a 3, 2 or a 3, 2 or a 3? Hmm........3 on balance.

 A bit of credit due for trying something a little bit out of the box, and like I said I didn’t ever feel like throwing in the towel and quitting. Hopefully others enjoy this one a lot more than me.

Shovel Ready is available now for kindle and I believe is published in July in paperback.

Another Net Galley book.

Friday 24 January 2014



Montreal 1970. The “Vampire Killer” has murdered three women and a fourth is missing. Bombs explode in the stock exchange, McGill University, and houses in Westmount. Riots break out at the St. Jean Baptiste parade and at Sir George Williams University. James Cross and Pierre Laporte are kidnapped and the Canadian army moves onto the streets of Montreal.

A young beat cop working out of Station Ten finds himself almost alone hunting the serial killer, as the rest of the force focuses on the FLQ crisis. Constable Eddie Dougherty, the son of a French mother and an Irish-Canadian father, decides to take matters into his own hands to catch the killer before he strikes again.

Set against actual historical events, Black Rock is both a compelling page-turner and an accomplished novel in the style of Dennis Lehane.

This is the third novel I have read by Canadian crime fiction author, John McFetridge following on from Dirty Sweet and Swap aka Let It Ride.  McFetridge’s books have been compared in the past to both Elmore Leonard and Ken Bruen, both favourites of mine, so it was pretty much a no-brainer that he would make it onto my reading radar at some point.

Black Rock takes us back to the early 70’s in Montreal and a time of social unrest not just in Canada; but worldwide, with protests in the US and Europe mainly against America’s involvement in Vietnam, but also race riots, student riots and a more prolonged period of unrest in Ireland.

Being of an age where I would have been 6 when the events described within Black Rock happened and having no knowledge of the political situation in Canada at the time, I was happy to get myself a bit of an education. The Front de libération du Québec was a terrorist organisation committed to seeking independence for Quebec from the rest of Canada. In the late 60’s and early 70’s there were a multitude of bombings, riots and eventually kidnappings for ransom with safe passage to Algeria or Cuba demanded for the perpetrators as well as $500,000 in gold bar.

Black Rock is set against this back-drop where police resource and attention is diverted away from investigating crime to chasing around after the FLQ and reacting to the bombing campaign. Our focus in the book is Eddie Dougherty a young patrolman who is frustrated in his duties and wants to make a difference. For Eddie making a difference will be catching the Vampire Killer who so far slain three women. Eddie gets the attention of a homicide detective when a local girl in his childhood neighbourhood disappears, a suspected victim of the elusive killer.

Dougherty is a well-drawn character with depth to his persona. We learn about his upbringing, his childhood and education, as well as run-ins with his peers in the neighbourhood. There’s the previous conflict with his father over his choice of career, his on-going relationship with his parents and the continuation of family squabbles, this time between his parents and his younger sister Cheryl. Family drama is realistically portrayed. Eddie now a man has reconciled with his father and after a degree of separation is back in the family fold having attained a measure of equality with his dad, now more tolerant and accepting of his son’s choices.     

Eddie under the tutelage of Detective Carpentier progresses the investigation. Along with his girlfriend, Ruth and her studies and interest in the killings and her theories on progression, Eddie moves closer to catching his man.

An interesting book, with McFetridge expertly weaving fact and fiction together to produce a satisfying read. Some enjoyable pop culture references, even though I wouldn’t claim to be a big fan of Joplin, Hendricks or Morrison.

 I still have a few McFetridge books to get to. Below the Line, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere and Tumblin’ Dice await me, hopefully later this year. (Potential Canada Challenge?)

4 from 5

Another Net Galley read. Black Rock is published by ECW Press in May, 2014. 

Wednesday 22 January 2014


It's been a couple of years since I read Nisbet's amazing Lethal Injection and at some point I need to get back to reading more from this under-rated author.

In total he has written around a dozen novels including the intriguingly titled The Octopus on My Head and last year's Snitch World.

His website is here, and in addition to his writing he also designs and manufactures furniture to house electronics and sound systems. If you happen to live in the San Francisco area and need such things.

Two recent additions to the library are Old and Cold and A Moment of Doubt, which I will enjoy at some point in the future. I think I regard my books and library as akin to a wine cellar. I like stocking it up with all types of different vintages, enjoying the fact that I have them available to pick up and look at and examine, but I don't want to drink them all at once.

Old and Cold

The new noir tour de force by the riveting Jim Nisbet. What's a guy to do, when he lives under a bridge and has an unshakeable thirst for martinis? kill for cash. so goes the logic at the heart of Old and Cold, leading to a spree of hits that are sometimes perfectly executed, sometimes messy, set against the backdrop of San Francisco's beaches, bars, and murky darkened streets. told at breakneck speed in a bravura voice, this novel is Jim Nisbet's finest work yet, reminiscent of Jim Thompson at his best and Tarantino at his most irreverent. a tough and tender love letter to a city's underbelly, this is a shockingly funny tale of suspense that won't let you go.

Ken Bruen pontificates – “Nobody has Nisbet’s distinctive style, humor and sheer craft...One of the finest masters of noir.”

A Moment of Doubt

The streets of San Francisco ooze with danger, sex, poets, and technology in this hard-boiled mystery, creating a story that is at turns hilarious, thrilling, and obscene. Set in the 1980s, this is the tale of an idealistic and angst-ridden writer who struggles with day-to-day responsibilities such as paying his rent on time. Exploring ways to exploit technology, the writer flirts with hacking, while dealing with a world of bars, bordellos, and the AIDS virus. When the writer learns the passwords to the inner workings of the publishing industry's digital realm, he finds himself facing dangers from unexpected places.

Another plus point is he can usually be relied upon to get the job done in less than 200 pages. Not one from the school of writing that subscribes to the dictum........"Why settle for one word, when you can use fifty?" 

For those who enjoy fantastic cover art here's the unforgettable Lethal Injection.

Read back in the days before I reviewed. 

Sunday 19 January 2014


Product Description
Born and raised in Chicago, Detective John Lynch might just be about to die there too.

A pious old woman steps out of the Sacred Heart confessional and is shot through the heart by a sniper with what at first appears to be a miraculous and impossible shot.

Colonel Tech Weaver dispatches a team from Langley to put the shooter – and anyone else who gets in the way –in a body bag before a half-century of national secrets are revealed.

But soon the sniper strikes again. And Detective Lynch, the son of a murdered Chicago cop, finds himself cast into an underworld of political corruption, as he tries to discover the truth about what’s really going on – before another innocent citizen gets killed.
Penance has one foot in Bourne and the other in The Untouchables, but tells a very human story of loss and atonement. A great thriller that ranges from the streets of 1970's Chicago to the highest levels of modern power, with tight dialogue and righteous violence. One for fans of crime, espionage and mayhem. --Jay Stringer, author of Old Gold

Penance is a rich, gritty, terrific novel. O'Shea can throw a punch and turn a phrase with the very best of them. Even better, he knows the human heart inside out. --Lou Berney, author of Gutshot Straight and Whiplash River

Immediately gripping and immensely compelling, Dan O'Shea's debut novel moves from gritty Chicago streets to the corridors of power with the sure-footedness of a master storyteller. Penance is many things - a thriller, a spy story, a complex tale of betrayal and atonement - but it is always a heart-pounding ride that leaves you breathless, and yet allows for unforgettable moments of grace. A must-read. --Hilary Davidson, author of Evil in All its Disguises

Penance is my best book of the month so far. Part police procedural and part thriller, with conspiracies and cover-ups and black op. government agencies thrown into the mix, in an explosive novel set in Chicago with dual timelines of the early 70’s to the present day.

Chicago, corruption, cover-ups, city politics, black radicalism, homosexuality, family, secrets, death, grief, religion, power, sniping, dark acts, fixers, revenge, government, CIA, police, security, hi-tech savvy, computers, surveillance, shadow agency, US army, Vietnam, post-9/11, journalism, moral compass, truth, loyalty.........

Fantastic, tense, exciting, satisfying, interesting, intelligent....but that’s enough about me. Penance is an amazing book with a credible lead in John Lynch. Lynch is back later in the year in a follow-up Greed. Likeable, capable and honest, what you'd want all detectives to be.

Hard to believe that this is the author’s first book, he’s going to have to go some to match this effort.

Rob at the Blue House reviewed this a little bit more coherently than me, back in 2013. He had a couple of minor niggles, which on reflection I could understand, but which I was more than willing to overlook.

5 from 5

I got a copy of this second hand a few months ago on Amazon. The follow up, Greed will hopefully be read next month.
I will be counting this as my Illinois entry in my US State Reading Challenge. The challenge is hosted by Kerrie over here.


Back by popular demand then..........err not really, just an opportunity to dust off a few books and remind myself as much as anyone else what lurks forgotten on the dusty, hidden shelves of the library.

You've all heard of Bonnie Jo Campbell then? No, me neither until the middle of last year when a passing reference on Goodreads piqued my curiosity. A bit of web browsing later and I was the happy owner of the following two books..........Q Road and American Salvage, one a novel and the other short stories.

So far she has published 2 collections of stories and 2 novels. Unusually for me, I will hold off from buying all her books until I have at least read one or possibly both of her books and cleared down some of the ranks of the unread mountain.

American Salvage

A lush and rowdy collection of stories set in a rural Michigan landscape, where wildlife, jobs, and ways of life are vanishing. New from award-winning Michigan writer Bonnie Jo Campbell, "American Salvage" is rich with local color and peopled with rural characters who love and hate extravagantly. They know how to fix cars and washing machines, how to shoot and clean game, and how to cook up methamphetamine, but they have not figured out how to prosper in the twenty-first century. Through the complex inner lives of working-class characters, Campbell illustrates the desperation of post-industrial America, where wildlife, jobs, and whole ways of life go extinct and the people have no choice but to live off what is left behind. The harsh Michigan winter is the backdrop for many of the tales, which are at turns sad, brutal, and oddly funny. One man prepares for the end of the world - scheduled for midnight December 31, 1999 - in a pole barn with chickens and survival manuals. An excruciating burn causes a man to transcend his racist and sexist world view. Another must decide what to do about his meth-addicted wife, who is shooting up on the other side of the bathroom door. A teen aged sharpshooter must devise a revenge that will make her feel whole again. Though her characters are vulnerable, confused, and sometimes angry, they are also resolute. Campbell follows them as they rebuild their lives, continue to hope and dream, and love in the face of loneliness. Fellow Michiganders, fans of short fiction, and general readers will enjoy this poignant and affecting collection of tales.

Q Road

Welcome to Q Road, in Greenland Township, where the old way of life is colliding with the new. On the same acres where farmers once displaced Potawatomi Indians, suburban developers now supplant farmers and Q Road (or "Queer Road," as the locals call it) has become home to an unlikely mix of people. The neighbors include a sixth-generation farmer and his rifle-toting child bride, an evangelical bartender, a tabloid-reading agoraphobe, a philandering window salesman, and an asthmatic boy who longs for the love of a good father. These folks all smell the pig manure from the Whitby farm and share the same grand views of the Kalamazoo River and the oldest barn in the township--until one disastrous October afternoon.

Bonnie Jo Campbell's first novel combines offbeat humor, eccentric characters, and unique insights into modern rural America, where family traditions have flown the coop and only the cycle of the seasons remains. At the heart of this tale are three characters so integrally connected and devoted to the Harland farm that they might not survive anywhere else; their lives, their livelihoods, and their sometimes violent love for one another are all rooted in the soil of this square mile.
I'm hoping to read one of these books and tick the Michigan box on my US State Reading Challenge this year. Probably not crime fiction, but a couple of good looking books nonetheless.

Thursday 16 January 2014



So there's video footage of me not washing my hands in the bathroom at work. My dad says it's the kind of the thing that can tank his whole business. That he has to be extra careful. Don't I understand?

Usually when he's spewing all this, I just stand there.

Last week I was his show-and-tell for Sunday school class. We wore matching ties, and I was under strict orders not to smile or look sly. Some of those people were his customers, after all.

I don't know.

Anyway, bam, yeah, the camera caught me: I ran the water but didn't wash my hands.

Over the course of one shift working the window of his father's drive-through urinal, our sixteen-year-old Flushboy will have to not only juggle gallons of warm pee and deal with the worst flood ever (it's not water), but he'll also have to fend off the urine mafia, solve the citywide mystery of Chickenstein, and win his girlfriend back.

"My hat is off to Stephen Graham Jones, because he is the kind of author that makes the frustrated writer inside every book reviewer cringe with self-doubt."—PopMatters

Stephen Graham Jones is the author of ten novels, three collections, and one novella. He is a full professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and in the low-residency program for University of California Riverside—Palm Desert. Stephen is forty-one, and married with children.

What on earth was I thinking?  A book cover with a toilet on and the title Flushboy......and the premise of a 16 year old boy, working at his dad’s drive through urinal. Not sure which part of my brain thought this would be a compelling read.

It wasn't. I don’t doubt the author can write entertaining books, I just don’t think they are entertainment for me.

I wasn't put off by the mechanics of the customer’s usage of the John and Jane cups provided at our innovative business, just bored and indifferent to events due to a lack of empathy for our 16 year old hero.  

Mercifully short at 160-odd pages long, but in my opinion could have been vastly improved by everyone in the book drowning in a tank of urine in the first 10 pages, followed by 150 pages of anything else.......doodles, cartoons, recipes, photos of toilets, anything.

2 stars from 5..........why not a 1? He can write and he deserves a star for at least producing something original if not something I enjoyed.

I might have been better served by reading his Zombie Bake-Off or more likely Growing Up Dead in Texas.

Accessed from Net Galley........something I brought upon myself. 

Tuesday 14 January 2014



Bruno Johnson, a tough street cop, member of the elite violent crime task force, feared by the bad guys, admired by the good, finds his life derailed when a personal tragedy forces him to break the law. 

Now he's an ex-con and his life on parole is not going well. He is hassled by the police at every opportunity, and, to make matters even more difficult, his former partner, Robby Wicks, now a high-ranking detective, bullies him into helping solve a high profile crime--unofficially, of course. 

Meanwhile, Bruno's girlfriend, Marie, brings out the good, the real Bruno, and even though they veer totally outside the law, he and Marie dedicate themselves to saving abused children, creating a type of underground railroad for neglected kids at risk: disposable kids. What they must do is perilous as they take matters into their own hands, battling a warped justice system and Bruno's former partner, who has his own evil agenda.

"I really loved The Disposables. It's raw, powerful and eloquent. It's a gritty street poem recited by a voice unalterably committed to redemption and doing the right thing in a wrong world. I'll be first in line for the next one from David Putnam."
Michael Connelly, New York Times best-selling author of The Gods of Guilt

"What do you get when you give a veteran sheriff's deputy a talent for storytelling and a computer?  In this case you get David Putnam's 'The Disposables,' a dark and disturbing insider's novel that may not make you feel safer on the mean streets of L.A. Dark, disturbing and all too believable, this is the tale of one man's quest for atonement in a world where innocence is a liability."
T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times best-selling author of "The Famous & the Dead," and "The Jaguar"

Another day, another Net Galley book and another new author to check out; this latest being David Putnam’s debut novel.

Well, I perhaps wasn’t as taken with this quite as much as the two crime fiction heavyweight authors above, but it was fast and relentless, with a well-described main character in Bruno Johnson. Johnson a big, black and angry ex-cop/ex-con has with his girlfriend decided to dedicate themselves to rescuing abused children. Marie, with her job in the ER department at the “Killer King” Hospital sees the repeat child victims of parental abuse and neglect. Bruno having suffered a loss the consequences of which saw him imprisoned is a willing accomplice. If he has to commit a few crimes to finance an escape to an alternative lifestyle and provide for the children’s future far away from LA’s dark streets, he’s willing to take that risk.

Bruno and Marie’s mistake is to save a child that is the son of a wealthy foreign businessman, the product of a liaison with a prostitute. The business man wants to care for his child, which brings them to the attention of the FBI, who becomes involved after pressure is applied on high. The FBI liaise with Bruno’s old boss, Robby Wicks, which in turn leads to Bruno’s activities coming under closer scrutiny.

We have a fair few twists and turns along the way.....Bruno’s job, some unrelated crimes that bring Bruno back into an uneasy and unwilling partnership with his former colleague and friend and his double life, the criminal aspect which he keeps hidden from his girlfriend, necessary in his eyes to bankroll the dream of escape and sanctuary for Marie and the rescued children.  

Fast, brutal, relentless.........if not a little bit too busy in the final quarter, as the net closed on Bruno and he tried to formulate an escape route for them all.

The Disposables was an interesting book, which highlighted an important issue of child welfare and the inadequacies of a broken system where those most vulnerable can often fall through the cracks, especially when they are the product of damaged individuals with severe addictions and problems.  
I’d be interested in reading a second book from the author, perhaps at a slightly slower pace, maybe 80 mph as opposed to the full pedal to metal experience here. Putnam is worth keeping an eye out for though.

Overall a 4 from 5

Acquired again from Net Galley. (I’ll read one of my own books soon!)

Monday 13 January 2014



A moonlighting director finds his sideline more dangerous than he expected

Alan Bernhardt is just starting rehearsal when his pager goes off. No one in the small San Francisco theater minds—they know that to make it on the stage, you have to be prepared to do all sorts of odd jobs off of it. But this director’s job is odder than most. He works for Herbert Dancer, head of a boutique private investigation service. A corporate secretary has vanished with a sheaf of valuable documents, and it will take an off-Broadway sensibility to bring her home.

Bernhardt is just closing in on the woman and her boyfriend when he learns that she isn’t running for a profit, but for her life. To save her from the men who hired him, Bernhardt must find her and protect her—because his artistic vision does not include blood on his hands.

This is Wilcox’s first book in a series of 5 featuring Alan Bernhardt, an actor-cum-director-cum part-time Private Investigator.

Bernhardt is hired to track down Betty Giles, a missing researcher. He locates her in fairly short order and after reporting back to his employer is stood down – job done. Before he leaves town, Giles’ travelling companion, Nick Ames is shot dead after leaving a local bar late at night.

Concerned that this is more than a coincidence and that he may be an unwitting accessory to murder, Bernhardt quizzes his employer and after failing to get any answers about who hired him, quits. A decent man with a conscience, Alan Bernhardt then sets out to discover the mystery of Betty Giles’ disappearance and what responsibility he might have for her boyfriend’s death.

After Ames’ killing, Giles goes on the run again. Bernhardt chases her a second time. Unknown to either, Ames’ assassin has been re-hired to silence Betty and permanently eliminate a threat to his employer. With alternating points of view, we follow Bernhardt’s investigation and enigmatic, black hit-man, Willis Dodge in a race to find Betty Giles first.

Interesting mystery, decent protagonist, likeable hit-man, sympathetically drawn quarry, tense pursuit, believable pace and satisfying resolution – with a cameo appearance from Frank Hastings the star of the author’s 19 book long police procedural series. (The first of which; The Lonely Hunter I read late last year.)

Having now read both a Bernhardt and a Hastings mystery, on balance I prefer this particular character to Frank Hastings. With nearly 20 years separating the two Wilcox books I have read; 1969 v. 1988, how much of that is due to the writer honing his craft over the years? Probably quite a lot in fact; Bernhardt’s Edge has a much stronger plot in my opinion.

The full list of Bernhardt books is as follows:
1. Bernhardt's Edge (1988)
2. Silent Witness (1990)
3. Except for the Bones (1991)
4. Find Her a Grave (1993)
5. Full Circle (1994)

With the present backlog of unread books and an embargo currently in place on adding more to the creaky shelves of the library, albeit an imaginary and ineffective one, I will (98% certain) desist from reading more from the author in either of his series.

Enjoyable enough but he hasn’t made it into the ranks of the must read authors.  

4 from 5

Accessed thanks to the fine chaps and chapesses at Open Road Media via Net Galley.     

Sunday 12 January 2014


Of the 156 books I read this year, I rated 24 of them with top marks. It would be a bit bizarre having 24 titles jointly sharing my book of the year accolade, so after listing all 24, I will try and whittle my favourite reads down to half a dozen or so.

Anthony Neil Smith - All the Young Warriors

Deon Meyer - Blood Safari

Deon Meyer - Heart of the Hunter

Arnaldur Indridason - The Draining Lake

Bill Pronzini - The Snatch

Michael Connelly - The Drop

Bill Pronzini - The Vanished

Alan Furst - Mission to Paris

Robert Crais - Voodoo River

Terry Shames - A Killing at Cotton Hill

Brian Garfield - Hopscotch

Gregory Widen - Blood Makes Noise

Duane Swierczynski - The Wheelman

J. Sydney Jones - Ruin Value

Peter Leonard - Back from the Dead

Malcolm Mackay - The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Leif G.W. Persson - He Who Kills the Dragon

Jon Bassoff - Corrosion

J.W. Nelson - Joey's Place

John Florio - Sugar Pop Moon

Elmore Leonard - 52 Pick-Up

P.D. Viner - The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Malcolm Mackay - How a Gunman says Goodbye

Wiley Cash - This Dark Road to Mercy

On the assumption that if all these were laid side by side and I was to be carted off on a desert island and could only take 6 of these books with no particular order then.......

Set in the 30's US crime fiction about prohibition, likeable albino protagonist. 

Intriguing Icelandic crime.

1st in Glagow hitman trilogy - 3rd due out next week, I can't wait. 

40 years late to the party - 1st in an engaging PI series set around San Francisco. Published in 1971. Series is still going strong about 40 books long and I hope to read them all.
Engaging Texas mystery with a likeable decent man as the protagonist!

Possibly the best South African crime writer of the moment, though I do like Roger Smith and Mike Nicol

2013 MY BLOG

Your host!
I started my blog in May, 2012 mainly as a reading record for my own benefit. I used to pick up books when I was out and would scratch my head as to whether I read it previously or not.

Back in 2010, I started recording what I had read, but was surprised when re-reading my list mid-2012 how little I could remember about what I had read. My blog was a note-to-self tool for refreshing my memory about what I had enjoyed and endured previously.

Anyway I did a few posts in May, 2012 and then ignored the blog until October when I started re-posting.

My original aim for the blog still rings true, but the bonus for me has been the connections I have made to a lot of fellow bloggers who read in my preferred genre of crime. In 2013, I have enjoyed reading many other blogs and have particularly enjoyed the chats and banter and conversations with a lot of folks, I like to now consider as friends.

If you have stopped by this year, last year or the year before - thanks. If you've commented - even better. Hopefully I haven't bored the pants off you, if I have, well that's tough!

A few statistics from my blog for last year...........

226 posts in all, making over 300 so far.

At time of writing my 3 most popular posts were,

Lawrence Block - Catch and Release (188 views)

Roger A. Price - By Their Rules (153 views)

Thomas Perry - The Boyfriend (143 views)

Least popular......

Andrew Nette - Ghost Money (9 views)

Gary Carson - Hot Wire (9 views)

Joe Clifford - Choice Cuts (9 views)

Plenty more of the same to come in 2014!

Good luck to you all this year, in your reading and more importantly in life!

Saturday 11 January 2014


Go Eva!
This year saw me read 156 different books and a staggering 76 were from authors I haven't previously read.

Without flicking through my notes; from memory :-

Standouts - Terry Shames, John Florio, J.W. Nelson, Gregory Widen, Alan Furst, Wiley Cash,

Notables - Rob Kitchin, Barry Lancet, Susan Koefod, David Corbett, Joseph HansenLeif G.W. Persson,

Disappointments - Camilla Lackberg, Seeley James, Tom Robbins,

Viva Las Vegas!
JANUARY to MARCH - 18 newbies

APRIL to JUNE -13 newbies

JULY to SEPTEMBER - 16 newbies

OCTOBER to DECEMBER - 29 newbies

2014 will I think see me reading a lot less new authors as I try and concentrate on clearing down some of the unread mountain.

 Ok, I have flicked through my notes........other 5 star discoveries were Bill Pronzin, Jon Bassoff , Malcolm Mackay, J. Sydney JonesPeter Leonard


1930's prohibition!

Wartime intrigue!

Friday 10 January 2014


You rocked!
One of the few groups I'm a member of over on Goodreads has a monthly book poll. I have been a member for just over a year and kind of took on the monthly read as an unstated additional challenge.

I managed to complete the 12 books during the course of the year, albeit late on a couple of occasions, but hey ho.

I don't think I will keep up with these for 2014. My reading tastes are possible evolving way from this sub-genre and additionally, I'm trying to apply some modicum of control to fecklessly adding more and more books to my library when I already have enough for the next 20 years. I think I had to buy half the books here to participate in the group reads.

6 of the books were re-reads, which is probably another reason to step away from these and concentrate on other books waiting.
You sucked!

Still these books I read during 2013 were for the most part enjoyable, with only 2 a wee bit stinky!

January - Lawrence Block- The Sins of the Father (4)

February - Richard Morgan - Altered Carbon (2)

March - Dorothy B. Hughes - In a Lonely Place (4)

April - James Crumley - The Last Good Kiss (4)

May - Elmore Leonard - Valdez is Coming (4)

June - Lawrence Block - Grifter's Game (4)

July - Joseph Hansen - Fadeout (4)

August - Duane Swierczynski - The Wheelman (5)
You sucked!

You rocked!
September - Jim Thompson - The Rip-Off (2)

October - Walter Mosley - Devil in a Blue Dress (4)

November - Elmore Leonard - 52 - Pick-Up (5)

December  - Charlie Huston - The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death (4)

Thursday 9 January 2014


My aim was to read as many books in 2013 as I had managed in 2012. 

This was achieved by October and the final total was 156 which I'm pleased with.

My challenge was.............


156 down, 2500 to go!

Despite having 1 week's holiday from work August was most least productive month, when playing the numbers game. 

November with 20 of varying formats, types and lengths was the most, quantity-wise.  

A great year's reading and probably something that may prove beyond me to replicate in 2014, so I will leave the bar at 120 target-wise.

I will sum up my books of the year in a separate post.

Links to my monthly summaries are above, for those of you who may be seeking a cure for insomnia!

A few more statistics.........only about 14 or 15 female authors among the 150-odd......less than 10% which is pretty appalling!

24 - 5 star reads, 90 - 4 star, 30 - 3 star, 11 - 2 star and 1 book rated 1 star (Marek Krajewski -  The End of the World in Breslau

Only 3 non-fiction reads, I think I used to read about 1 a month before 2013!

13 Scandinavian books read, 8 Irish, 5 Scottish, 4 Australian, 2 South African, 1 Polish......the rest - about 22 from England, (nothing Welsh) leaving 100-odd from the US, which sounds about right.

I read 76 new authors that I hadn't read prior to this year. (The actual number of books read by new authors would be higher, but I have only counted the first book as contributing to the figure and not any subsequent books I read by them, on the premise that they were no longer new after the first book.......does that make sense?)

Popular authors.......Lawrence Block (7), Robert Crais (5), Bill Pronzini (4.5......1 book co-authored), Leif G.W. Persson (4), John D. MacDonald (4),

Regrets..........I haven't kept pace with my wife and sons reads and I haven't stayed on top of authors, who I was previously up to date with, but subsequently got more books by.

A few things to work on in 2014........more females, more European books (France, Italy, Germany), more non-fiction......but mainly to continue to enjoy my reading.

Wednesday 8 January 2014


Notes from my sidebar, (which I can now delete) stated..........Trying to read at least 1 book a month that has previously won either an Edgar, CWA Gold or Silver Dagger, Shamus, Anthony, The Glass Key or Ned Kelly Award,

12 total in the year and I would be happy and could consider the challenge met. If some of them happened to crossover into my Scandinavian challenge and offer the opportunity to kill two birds with the one stone - all good and I do like a bit of double-counting! (3 actually)

Here's the list of what I managed:

January - Jo Nesbo - The Bat (Glass Key, 1998) - (4 stars)

January - Ed Lacy - Room To Swing (Edgar Award, 1958) - (4 stars)

February - Adam Hall - The Quiller Memorandum (Edgar Award, 1966) - (4 stars)

March - Gene Kerrigan - The Rage (CWA Gold Dagger, 2012) - (4 stars)

April - Dick Francis - Forfeit (Edgar Award, 1970) - (4 stars)

May/June - Lawrence Block - Eight Million Ways To Die (Shamus, 1982) - (4 stars)

June - Brian Garfield - Hopscotch (Edgar Award, 1976) - (5 stars)

July - Belinda Bauer - Blacklands (CWA Gold Dagger, 2010) - (4 stars)

August - FAILED!

September - Nicolas Freeling - The King Of The Rainy Country (Edgar Award, 1967) - (3 stars)

September - Karin Altvegen - Missing (Glass Key, 2001) - (3 stars)

October - Walter Mosley - Devil In A Blue Dress (Shamus Best 1st PI Novel, 1991) - (4 stars)

Nov/December - Leif Davidsen - Lime's Photograph (Glass Key, 1999) - (4 stars)

December - Gregory McDonald - Fletch (Edgar Award, 1975) - (4 stars)

In summary, 13 read in total,

6 Edgar winners, 3 Glass Key winners, 2 Shamus winners and 2 CWA Gold Dagger winners, (disappointingly nothing that scooped the Ned Kelly Award.)

11 male authors, 2 females (big surprise, huh?)

5 US authors, 4 UK authors, 1 from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway,

1 from the 50's, 2 x 60's, 3 x 70's, 1 x 80's, 3 x 90's, 1 from the noughties and 2 from our present decade. (Spitting hairs Francis 1970 Edgar winner was probably a 60's book rather than a 70's, so 1 up, 1 down!)

Best book from my unscientific scoring was Brian Garfield's Hopscotch

2 books which I awarded 4 stars to, with hindsight I wish I had given the extra star to as I couldn't really fault them - The Rage (Gene Kerrigan) and The Quiller Memorandum (Adam Hall aka Elleston Trevor)

Not too many lows, least enjoyable was Freeling and Rainy Country, which in truth was probably a 2 star read.


I won't continue this challenge for 2014, but will highlight what has won an award as and when I read something.