Sunday 22 June 2014


Hugh C. Rae is a Scottish author who has flown under my radar for many years until a recent e-mail from 280 Steps - a new to the scene e-book publisher announced the re-issue of a 70's crime classic - The Shooting Gallery

Having been relieved of my ignorance, I did a bit of web browsing and found some more of his probably long forgotten crime books he put out in the late 60's and early 70's.

Book blurbs and synopses, inaccurate or otherwise for crime fiction books of 40 to 50 years ago are usually scant, always assuming you can find one at all. On that basis, I’ve taken a punt on a few of his books, which are readily available at affordable prices on-line. Ok so one of the ones I bought apparently features a ghost, but I’m sure I will enjoy it when I get around to it.

Mr Rae after absenting himself from the crime fiction scene at some point during the past 30 to 40 years, continues to write and sell today as ………. Jessica Stirling. I doubt my desire to push the boundaries of my reading will extend to Scottish historical romances, but never say never.    
Jessica Stirling

Peggy over at Peggy Ann's Post has recently read and enjoyed one of the Stirling books for her Read Scotland challenge – something I signed up to but haven’t yet fully embraced.

Rae has also penned books as James Albany, Robert Crawford, R.B. Houston and Stuart Stern. His-her website is here.

Skinner and Night Pillow are his first two published novels which initially appeared in the mid-60's. I have lifted the blurbs from the back covers of my printed editions. Skinner is a 1988 reprint and Night Pillow is a 1972 Penguin - one of those ones whose typeface I find so off-putting and unattractive.


Skinner is the story of a psychopath.

Skinner is a nondescript member of the sleazy world of petty crime; his only distinguishing characteristic being his predeliction for killing. Women in particular.

From the outset of the book, Skinner’s guilt is not in question – not to his sister and not to the police – Skinner even boasts of it.

But proving it is another matter. Skinner’s macabre dance with death and the law embraces four more brutal murders before, by a deft twist of the plot, the police get some very hard evidence and Skinner….

Night Pillow

Alice rises from love-making with university student Malcolm, only to be knocked down and raped by Jacko, a motor-cycling Rocker with a hard and whip-muscled body. Which of them is the father of the baby she conceives? Which one of them does Alice want the father to be?

Alice has to contend not only with her own feelings, but with her family’s provincial Scots pride as deep as a clan’s; with repressions as primitive as village superstition; with vendettas and counter-vendettas; with emotions so twisted, so knotted, they can only be undone by violence……

 At some point I will read these two, as well as The Shooting Gallery and my ghost book!

Tuesday 17 June 2014


I have had a few of Jones' books on the pile for a while, but never get around to reading them, which is something that defies logic. But then so does my whole approach to acquiring reading material.

From his website........Matthew F. Jones is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Cooter Farm, The Elements of Hitting, A Single Shot, Blind Pursuit, Deepwater, and Boot Tracks, as well as a number of screenplays, including adaptations of Boot Tracks and A Single Shot, both currently in production. His novel, Deepwater, was made into a film in 2005. He was born in Boston and grew up in rural upstate New York. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife, Karen and son, Reuben.

A Single Shot - the book has been praised by Daniel Woodrell and A Single Shot - the film has come out in the past year and stars Sam Rockwell. It doesn't have especially high ratings on the IMDB website, but it's something I'd still like to see, especially with the comparison to Winter's Bone; which is itself an adaptation of a Woodrell book.

I did enjoy Rockwell's performances in Matchstick Men - one of my favourite films and books, Moon and last year's The Way Way Back.

Matthew F. Jones

The Cooter Farm

Jones’s blackly humorous first novel, set on the Cooter family’s failing dairy farm in New York State, is firmly grounded in the gothic tradition. Wryly narrated by 10-year-old Ollie Cooter, it blends frequent hilarity, startling violence and a gripping plot. Ollie’s uncles, coarse rednecks nicknamed Hooter and Looter, are keeping their senile father’s farm afloat while Ollie’s hypochondriac dad Scooter is a traveling peddler of top-notch bull semen. Their jaded 13-year-old sister Mary Jean, Ollie’s aunt, is his constant companion; with her, Ollie confusedly notices the symptoms of sexual awakening. Fear and evil soon engulf the Cooter farm: Scooter’s imagined maladies and refusal to defend himself against Hooter’s relentless jibes alienate his wife; Hooter is incestuous, adulterous and homicidal; Mary Jean discovers “The Power,” a malevolent force that inhabits an abandoned house, and enlists Ollie’s help in releasing it with instructions to kill Hooter. Mary Jean and Ollie’s helplessness, Hooter’s lack of remorse and the suffering wrought by The Power–perhaps ghost, perhaps defense mechanism–arouse childhood angst and terror in this alternately amusing and tragic coming-of-age tale.

“The Cooter Farm will remind readers of John Irving one minute, Joyce Carol Oates the next. An altogether remarkable debut.”
— Gene Lyons, Entertainment Weekly

“Dickens and Irving are high standards against which to measure any novel, let alone a debut. It’s a tribute to The Cooter Farm that those are exactly the comparisons it invokes.”
— Steven Kane, Los Angeles Daily News

“‘The Cooter Farm‘ is a novel that defies categorization. It brings together elements as diverse as the black humor of Flannery O’Connor, the rude hilarity of Kurt Vonnegut, and the nostalgia for childhood of Harper Lee. A truly amazing first novel.”
— Sharon Lloyd Stratton, Richmond Times Dispatch

Boot Tracks

Boot Tracks is a commanding tale of a man and a woman struggling against a destiny they cannot control, told in Matthew F. Jones’ characteristically taut, economic style. An assassination gone terribly wrong; a couple searching for one last chance to find a safe place in a hostile world. With these elements Matthew F. Jones weaves a harrowing tale of suspense, violence and compassion.

Charlie Rankin has recently been released from prison, but prison has not released its grip on him. He owes his life to “The Buddha,” who has given him a job to do on the outside: he must kill a man, a man who has done him no harm, a man he has never met. Along the road to this brutal encounter, Rankin meets Florence, who may be an angel in disguise or simply a lonely ex porn star seeking salvation. Together they careen towards their fate, taking the reader along for the ride.

“More than just a very good crime thriller, this dark but illuminating novel shows us the psychopathology of the criminal mind. Brilliantly chilling in its step-by-step examination of the mechanics of committing a criminal act – the novel’s true terror is an interior one: an extreme close-up vision of the drive toward homicide. A nightmare thriller with the power to haunt.
— Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review

“Boot Tracks” is a strange but artful novel enlivened by some of the best low-life dialogue this side of Elmore Leonard….and Jones, who has written other well-regarded novels, is a writer worth meeting.”
— The Washington Post

“The ex-con just out of prison with one last job to do is a familiar noir premise, and Jones does it proud in this powerful tale. The sense of horrible inevitability is almost overpowering here, but Jones has us following Rankin’s Boot Tracks anyway. If only Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le Flambeur) were still alive to make the movie version.”
— Booklist

“For those who like their noir fiction dark, gritty and intense, the stunning crime novel, Boot Tracks by Matthew F. Jones is a gripping page turner. The terse prose of this remarkably visual novel is permeated with sensory immediacy. One can almost smell the stale sweat and the cheap musty perfume rising from the unwashed bodies of the author’s unpleasant, alienated and often-grotesque characters. This is a tight, tense read, and one you won’t soon forget.”
— Mostly Fiction Book Reviews

Friday 13 June 2014


Earlier this year, I  had the good fortune to read Les Edgerton's The Bitch. It was my first taste of this author's writing but not my last. He's been on my radar for a while, but as I have more books than I have time available to read them, they've sat patiently on the shelf and the e-reader for a while now.

If an author's stories can be fuelled by the kind of life they've led thus far, Mr Edgerton's books will undoubtedly be entertaining and should offer a life view that's far from mundane.

In his own words, on his blog......... To introduce myself, I'm a full-time writer with fifteen books in print and I teach creative writing on the university level, through private coaching of writers, and on various on-line venues. I write in a variety of forms: novels, short stories, nonfiction books, screenplays and the subjects I choose to write about are just as varied, including sports, literary fiction, thrillers, black comedy and the craft of writing. I'm married to Mary and we have a son, Mike. I have two daughters--Britney and Sienna--from a previous marriage. I immigrated to Ft. Wayne, IN from the U.S.A. and it's where I still live today. Doing my best to learn the language and adjust to the culture. I have a checkered past, having spent two-plus years incarcerated at Pendleton Reformatory back in the sixties for burglary. I'm all cleaned up now and you can invite me into your home and don't have to count the silverware when I leave. Graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in General Studies (Honors of Distinction); obtained an MFA in Writing from Vermont 

Just Like That

Les Edgerton’s buddy novel, JUST LIKE THAT, is based on an actual trip he took with an ex-prison cellmate under similar circumstances as protagonist Jake Mayes does in this narrative. The scenes in Pendleton are also based on true experiences he had while incarcerated. Approximately 85% of the novel is taken from real life.

Jake and his pal Bud’s journey begins six months after he is released on parole and is occasioned when his girlfriend Donna dumps him and aborts their child. After an aborted suicide attempt where the Norelco shaver cord he used to hang himself broke, on an impulse—the source of the title; everything in Jake’s life happens “just like that”—he calls up Bud, who lives by the same credo, and the two take off with no particular destination in mind. They’re just going “south”--somewhere where it’s warm. An hour before they leave, Jake on another impulse, holds up a convenience store to get some traveling money.

Ultimately, they end up in New Orleans and then Lake Charles, Louisiana and from there, back to Indiana.

Along the way are many “watercooler” moments, such as when an inmate sinks a meat cleaver into another inmate’s blue-clad stomach, a physical encounter with two rednecks in Kentucky where Bud shoots one of the men, the bullet bouncing harmlessly off the man’s thick skull, Jake’s ongoing romance with Donna, the funeral of Jake’s father which he attends with a whore, multiple burglaries, armed robberies, a brief affair with a black woman, and an adventure with a drunk Santa Claus. Near the end Jake takes another fall when he is caught burglarizing a bar back in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and gets shot in the leg and is returned to Pendleton where he kills the inmate he’d had a nasty encounter during his first stay in prison. In the process, Jake’s philosophy of life undergoes a sea change and he comes up with this:

Portions of JUST LIKE THAT have previously appeared as short stories in the literary magazines High Plains Literary Review, Murdaland, and Flatmancrooked. The story that appeared in High Plains was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was selected for inclusion in Houghton-Mifflin’s “Best American Mystery Stories, 2001.”

As a note of possible interest, Cathy Johns, the P.R. Director and Assistant Warden of The Farm (the infamous Louisiana state prison at Angola) read this novel and told Edgerton that he'd captured the true spirit of the criminal mind better than anything she'd ever read.

The Perfect Crime

A bomb hooked to a banker’s back, a one-eyed busted-out former cop, hooker/biker bars on Airline Highway in New Orleans, drugs in the French Quarter, a 300-pound female bartender, an ex-con whose main goal in life is to have more expensive shoes than anyone else, a drug czar named Fidel Castro (a cousin of the more famous one in Cuba), money laundering schemes, and a criminal genius, who enjoys pulling his victim’s fingernails out with pliers and who did everything right in what should have been the perfect crime save for one tiny mistake—all assembled and put into motion by an author who was a real-life criminal and ex-con and was advised that if he didn’t publish this book but instead used it to create the perfect crime he’d make a lot more… This is what you get (and more) in Les Edgerton’s The Perfect Crime.

Later this year when we get away for a week, I'm going to be sat by a pool somewhere in Tuscany sipping either a cold Peroni or glass of Chianti and allowing myself the luxury of reading both of these!

Wednesday 11 June 2014



Teach Her is a fast moving, darkly humorous novel. A who did what to who and why.
A teacher is in for the chop. An ex pupil with psychotic tendencies wants answers. A one legged soldier home from war has revenge in his heart.

Tension is rising as a diverse set of people struggle to live side-by-side in a small town.
A sparky and quirky tale that will leave you questioning the influence of teachers and the value of a fake leg.

‘I really enjoyed this book, fast, funny and judgemental. A glimpse at lives we rarely get to read about.’ Sean Lock

I need to read more books like this to get my reading back on track. Fast paced and funny, 205 pages…..BANG read on a Sunday afternoon, whilst keeping one eye on the French tennis final!

We have a fractured marriage, with the jaded wife, Shirley who is also a jaded teacher walking out on her barber husband, Jim. Jim in truth isn’t too surprised and their spotty, adolescent, teenage son Luke couldn’t really give a monkey’s.

We follow Shirley’s in her new life and her dance classes. We see Jim in his daily routine, semi-oblivious to the needs of his son. Luke has his own issues and concerns – are these spots ever going to clear up, will he ever gain acceptance from his peers and graduate from the lonely awkward geek that he knows he is?

Danny, now enters the mix. Danny’s just back from Blair’s last crusade overseas and he’s a damaged man because of it. As a favour to Danny’s father, his drinking compatriot, Jim takes Danny on at the shop trying to teach him the ropes.

Our marriage break-up, initially one of apathy and indifference, becomes increasingly fractious and Luke and his failing at school becomes a battleground between the estranged spouses. Shirley takes matters into her own hands.

Danny’s return has re-awakened an enmity in his brother, with disastrous consequences, which brings our one-legged veteran, Carl into the fray.

One further twist, reveals a connection between Shirley and Danny’s brother which itself re-awakens old wounds and fuels a need for revenge.

Darkly humourous in places……how far would you go to ensure your daughter’s dog was permanently exiled from the household? Teach Her was a short, sharp, quick satisfying read which ticked a helluva lot of boxes for me.    
4 from 5

Many thanks to Lucy at Legend Press for my copy of this. Legend Press website is here.

Our author, Mark Kotting has led an interesting life so far. His brief biography on Amazon supplies the following details. Mark was born and bred in London, and moved to Sydney for a while to look at the surf. He has written TV and radio comedy including two plays for BBC Radio The Match and Gulf and is the author of Teach Her, Babble and Squeak and Nappy Rash.

Mark is a London Cab Driver, who once played second division Rugby League. He recently embarked on a 10,000 motorbike ride from London to Beijing. 

I wouldn’t be averse to reading either of his other books, as I reckon they’re right up my street. 

Tuesday 10 June 2014



A wonderfully creepy novel, macabre and blackly comic with a deeply unsettling and original hero." Rosamund Lupton

"Very clever. A creepily alluring voice" Julia Crouch, author of Cuckoo and Tarnished

"Phil Hogan is a brilliant writer." Peter Bradshaw

"One to watch: An eerie page-turner." -- Cathy Rentzenbrink Bookseller

"In terms of subject or style. Phil Hogan resembles John Updike or Richard Yates, figures from that classical seam of American fiction so rich in detail, domesticity, and murderous compromise." Sunday Herald

Book Description
In the excitement of moving into your new home did you think to change the locks? Are you sure no-one else is making use of your key? Compelling, unsettling and macabre social satire.

You won't remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.

That's absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?

The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.

William Heming's every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it - perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours...

Not that I haven’t got enough books of my own, but having seen a few reviews of this recent release, I was interested enough to reserve it at my local library. Currently of the 25 scores on Amazon UK, 15 give it top marks and 10 settle for 4 stars, with no dissenting voices as yet.

Our narrator is Mr Heming, a small town estate agent with a propensity for copying and keeping client’s keys, allowing him access to come and go from their lives as he sees fit. His passion is in knowing everything about everyone….. where you work, what you eat, where you shop, what you earn, etc. He’ll rifle through your drawers, but whilst he’ll take a small memento, he won’t get his thrills from stealing your wife’s panties. 

“Think of me as an invisible brother or uncle or boyfriend. I’m no trouble. I may be there when you are, or when you are gone, or more likely just before you arrive. I agree it is an idea that takes some getting used to. But do we not all have a life to make, to mould it somehow around that of others, to search for the dovetail that seems best to fit?”

Creepy, unsettling and disturbing. The more we get to know William; the flashbacks to incidents from his childhood help and the more he rationalises his behaviour, the more you realise you are in the presence of a seriously deranged individual, with enough of a cloak of respectability and invisibility to pass himself off as normal.

Incidents at school and with neighbourhood children, allow his closest relatives to glean a glimpse at the malevolence lurking within the real Heming. Adulthood and a fortuitous route into a career in estate agency, allows him opportunity to perfect his art. 

Some deft interventions allow Heming to almost convince us that his role is as a benign guardian of his town – disruptions to unwanted residents of his neighbourhood and an unsubtle campaign of dirty tricks……. credit card orders for holidays and garden furniture, pipes suddenly leaking, travelling tarmac contractors arriving unexpectedly…… before you know it, the unwanted have been vanquished and Heming has restored order and balance to his community.

An incident with an un-scooped dog turd and a row with Douglas Sharp, the dog owner changes the course of Heming’s life. Soon after having honed his radar on Sharp, his attentions are drawn to Abigail, Sharp’s mistress. Heming’s new obsession sets in motion a violent change of events. Whether William Heming survives the fall-out depends on the lengths he’s prepared to go.

Always interesting with never a dull moment, I enjoyed Hogan’s book. Whilst it was impossible to like Heming, I never disliked him and could understand and empathise with some of actions which were incredibly funny on occasions. I must admit I’m with him as regards poetry is concerned… "Poetry, I admit is the locked room to which my mind cannot quite be relied upon to find the key," Hopefully that’s where our similarities end!
4 from 5

Borrowed from Leighton Buzzard library.

Phil Hogan is an author and journalist. He has previously written 3 other novels and has published a collection of his columns about family life. I don’t have any of his other books, but wouldn’t rule out reading him again in the future.


Monday 9 June 2014


After a recent blog post - here, which lamented the departure of Tom Kakonis from the writing scene, I was delighted to see the news this morning via a post from Not The Baseball Pitcher.

Tom Kakonis

There's a new Kakonis book due out in September called Treasure Coast. (Published by Brash Books.) Their website is here.

A compulsive gambler goes to his sister's funeral on Florida's Treasure Coast and gets saddled with her loser-son, who is deep in debt to a vicious loan shark who sends a pair of sociopathic thugs to collect on the loan. But things go horribly awry...and soon the gambler finds himself in the center of an outrageous kidnapping plot involving a conman selling mail-order tombstones, a psychic who channels the dead and the erotically super-charged wife of a wealthy businessman. As if that wasn't bad enough, a killer hurricane is looming...

It's "Get Shorty" meets "No Country for Old Men" on a sunny Florida coast teeming with conmen and killers, the vapid and the vain, and where violent death is just a heartbeat away. 

"Kakonis is a sharp new gambler in the literary crap game -- he just takes the pot." The New York Times 

"Aptly compared to Elmore Leonard, Kakonis builds exquisite tension...steamy with a high-rent, low-life atmosphere...and an unforgettable cast." Publishers Weekly 

"Tom Kakonis is a master of the low-life novel. Nobody does it better." Ross Thomas

I'm seriously tempted to re-read his Timothy Waverley series from the start, just to see if its as good as I remember, or if there's a certain rose-tinted nostalgia clouding my memory. 

Timothy Waverly
1. Michigan Roll (1988)
2. Criss-Cross (1990)
3. Double Down (1991)

4. Shadow Counter (1993)

Waverley is an ex-con, ex college professor and gambler. Michigan Roll was definitely one of my favourite reads of the 90's, if not all-time.  


“Kakonis can really write. In Waverly, he gives us a wonderful character in a brutal world,” Tony Hillerman 

“Michigan Roll is fast, strong, harsh and beautiful,” Donald Westlake 

“A wonderful novel – smart, light and mean,” T. Jefferson Parker 

"Tom Kakonis is a master of the low-life novel. Nobody does it better." Ross Thomas 

“A cold-deck nightmare of high-stakes peril,” Daniel Woodrell 


Ex-con, professional poker player Timothy Waverly travels to Traverse City, Michigan for a break…and falls into bed with a seductress named Midnight. She’s an out-of-towner, too, there to rescue her self-destructive brother, who has stupidly ripped off a fortune in cocaine from a vicious Chicago mobster. Now she is being chased pursued by Shadow, a hemorrhoidal hitman who gleefully specializes in torture and rape, and Gleep, his muscle-bound henchman. The odds are stacked against her, but Waverly is a gambler who knows how to play them… 

“A sure narrative voice, a richly shaded hero and heroine, nightmare-vivid villains, and a plot paved with switchbacks and big curves add up to classy, if brutal, crime entertainment: this one cooks,” Kirkus Reviews 

"Aptly compared to Elmore Leonard, Kakonis builds exquisite tension." Publishers Weekly 

“Original, brutal, nightmarish. Kakonis is a sharp new gambler in the literary crap game. He just takes the pot,” 

The New York Times 

Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but he writes the kind of books I want to read.

His two other books were published under the pseudonym of Adam Barrow and were titled, Flawless (1995) and Blindspot (1997). I've read the first and enjoyed it. 

Flawless has an intriguing premise..........

A woman is found brutally murdered, the pattern all too familiar. Her killer, long gone from the scene of the crime, is a man named Michael Woodrow, a flawlessly handsome and intelligent thirty-year-old. As successful as he is as a corporate consultant, he cannot control his compulsion to kill. And kill again.

His father, Norman Woodrow, is every inch the educated English professor of distinction. Now in his sixties, he's finally released from jail. And though the iron bars may be gone, what remains are the images of a horrible crime from the past. Lizabeth Seaver is the Woodrows' new neighbor, a young woman rebounding from a broken marriage. Through her own healing, she manages to bring a distant father and son closer, and a romance with Michael inevitably begins. Threatening the growing harmony is Victor Flam, a tough and ill-mannered private investigator, who is hired to find the killer of a slain woman.

Flam's investigation will eventually bring him to the Woodrows' front door and will unleash in Norman a terrible suspicion. As the sins of the past reach out, Norman wonders just what the future holds.

Time to attack the stacks and find these!

Great news to start my Monday off with a smile! 

Friday 6 June 2014



From the creator, writer, and executive producer of the HBO crime series True Detective, comes a dark and visceral literary debut set along the seedy wastelands of Galveston.

On the same day that Roy Cady is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he senses that his boss, a dangerous loan-sharking bar-owner, wants him dead. Known “without affection” to members of the boss’s crew as “Big Country” on account of his long hair, beard, and cowboy boots, Roy is alert to the possibility that a routine assignment could be a deathtrap. Which it is. Yet what the would-be killers do to Roy Cady is not the same as what he does to them, which is to say that after a smoking spasm of violence, they are mostly dead and he is mostly alive.

Before Roy makes his getaway, he realizes there are two women in the apartment, one of them still breathing, and he sees something in her frightened, defiant eyes that causes a fateful decision. He takes her with him as he goes on the run from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas—an action as ill-advised as it is inescapable. The girl’s name is Rocky, and she is too young, too tough, too sexy—and far too much trouble. Roy, Rocky, and her sister hide in the battered seascape of Galveston’s country-western bars and fleabag hotels, a world of treacherous drifters, pickup trucks, and ashed-out hopes. Any chance that they will find safety there is soon lost. Rocky is a girl with quite a story to tell, one that will pursue and damage Roy for a very long time to come.

Recalling the moody violence of the early novels of Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, this powerful, potent, and atmospheric thriller is impossible to put down. Constructed with maximum tension and haunting aftereffect, written in darkly beautiful prose, Galveston announces the arrival of a major new literary talent.

Galveston has gotten my June reading off to a cracking start. To be honest it’s a job to pen a review that would do the book justice.

The blurb above has Pizzolatto compared to Cormac McCarthy, someone who I have read and enjoyed (mostly) without feeling able to wholeheartedly endorse for others. At times McCarthy is incomprehensible and loses me, Pizzolatto had me on board for the whole of this ride.   

We touch upon mortality, loneliness, failed romance and regrets. Our protagonist, Roy Cady is diagnosed with cancer. His boss sets him up and Cady survives and flees with a young prostitute.
Most of the cast of characters we encounter are damaged and brutalised and worn out by life in general and are doing their best to survive; some stoically and some with the assistance of substances. This includes law breakers and citizens, whose dreams have soured.

Cady, a low-level career criminal is not a typical hero. He’s killed, he’s capable of, if not always comfortable with, committing acts of extreme violence, but Pizzolatto has such skill as a writer, that he’s sympathetic and someone who you care about. When his travelling companion Rocky, drags her four year old sister, Tiffany into any already tense situation, we have glimpses of the man Roy could have been if his life had trodden a different path.

When Roy’s and Rocky’s situation descends into chaos, after a drunken mistake, Roy has a choice, either to protect the innocent, Tiffany and others in her spectrum or extract revenge on his former boss.    

An extremely satisfying book, filled with broken people, expertly told in an arc that spans 20 years of Roy Cady’s life. Hard to find enough suitable accolades for it.

Highly recommended.

Pizzolatto is probably better known for his writing and producing of the recent US drama, True Detective. His website is here. He also has a collection of short stories out - Between Here and the Yellow Sea. (Something not currently residing on the shelves of the library.)

5 from 5

My friend, Keishon, has expertly reviewed this over at her blog - Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog  - here.
Thanks to her for continually reminding-pestering-nagging me to read this. 

I bought this one recently on Amazon UK for kindle.

Thursday 5 June 2014


Henry Sutton is an another UK author who has only recently appeared on my radar. He's the author of about 8 novels in total including Thong Nation, Flying, Kid's Stuff and Gorleston.

He has also contributed to the DS Jack Frost series of books (R.D. Wingfield) under the pseudonym of  James Henry.

His website is over here. I don't think many of his titles could be classed or categorised as crime fiction, but a good book's a good book, regardless.

Get Me Out of Here

Set in London in autumn 2008, Matt Freeman is tired of the hollow corporate life and empty consumerism around him and desperately searches for a means of escape. Get Me Out of Here is a novel of comic anger, success and failure - and, fundamentally, belief - in a wornout city.

"Sutton's acute rendering of a bloated city in financial and moral freefall, and the ease with which the hatred and violence can overrun its streets, make this a very modern and thoroughly haunting piece of work." (Sunday Telegraph)

"A very funny book for seriously unfunny times, this is the first credit crunch novel, a tale where the laughs are black, bitter, and laced with blind panic." (Tony Parsons)

"Henry Sutton is developing into a high-grade exponent of urban paranoia. A virtuoso portrait of a ground-down metropolitan mind at the end of its tether." (DJ Taylor)

"Henry Sutton - who writes like a dream - has pulled off what Tom Wolfe did for the greed-is-good 80s in Bonfire of the Vanities. He has written - with black, comic brilliance - about out times" (Tony Parsons Daily Mirror, Book of the Week)

"Totally brilliant and I haven't ever read anything quite like it" (Sun)

My Criminal World

A clever, witty crime novel in the vein of Kate Atkinson's celebrated Jackson Brodie series. In awe of his wife, hounded by his agent and ignored by his editor, mild mannered crime novelist David Slavitt finds his life is spiralling out of control. He needs to do something -- but just how far is he prepared to go?

In awe of his wife, hounded by his agent and ignored by his editor, mild mannered crime novelist David Slavitt finds his life is spiralling out of control. He needs to do something -- but just how far is he prepared to go?

My Criminal World introduces us to struggling crime writer, David Slavitt. Living in constant fear that his editor might drop him in favour of the next new talent, David juggles house work and child care alongside plot twists and character development.

But as his wife grows increasingly distant and his agent insists that his new book needs more violence -- a lot more violence -- David is getting worried. He needs to do something if he is to save his career, and his marriage. But just how far is this most mild mannered of crime writers prepared to go? And who is the person really pulling the strings in this story? Interspersed with David's story are extracts from the crime story he is currently writing, which grow increasingly darker as they progress. Does this change in tone reflect the demands of David's agent or is there something more sinister at work? In this clever literary crime novel, there is more than one mystery to be solved.

One for the ladies, by popular request!

"Dirty, scathing and hilarious" - Geoff Dyer

‘Wilfully pulpy, porny and junky’ -- Kirkus Reviews

Zara wants to do it in the Med, Alicia wants a Brazilian to please Mikey, Sally prefers the garden hose to Brian, and Catherine can only find satisfaction on the tennis court. Charlie and Dorothy?s four over-sexed, grown-up daughters struggle to find fulfilment in Blair?s skimpy Britain, as materialism is turned on its head and less becomes more. 

Deeply satirical, Thong Nation follows one extended family?s fortunes and misfortunes over the course of a long hot summer. Zara is a fledgling rep for failing holiday company Majorcan Dreams. Alicia is a teacher at a grossly under-funded inner-city primary school, and hooked up with seedy boyfriend Mikey. Sally has just been made redundant from her high paying IT job, and wishes hubby Brian was ten times more exciting. And Catherine is a very cross single mum. 

Thong Nation?s climax comes at golf-mad Charlie?s not-so-surprise 70th birthday party when all the family, and a few uninvited guests, have gathered in a supposedly luxury seaside villa.

Apologies for the loss of definition, but I have enlarged the photo to provide more impact!

Wednesday 4 June 2014


One of last month’s top reads was R.C. O’Leary’s self-published debut Hallways in the Night, which I reviewed here. Robert was kind enough to humour when when I asked him if he would be willing to answer a few questions about his reading and writing.

As someone who reads only, I’m always interested in how writers approach the somewhat daunting process of constructing a compelling piece of work that when does well, provides me and others with an escape from the day to day mundacity of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life; I love my family; I don’t dislike my job; but I do enjoy being taken to other places to observe and understand other people’s trials and tribulations. I think all readers are voyeurs at heart and I’m no different.

I’m also a bit nosey and so I always want to know what everyone else had read and recommends. If you're reading on the bus or train, I'll be the guy peering over your shoulder, concerned with what you're immersed in.

Our Q + A session is below……

Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby? What’s the day job?

I’m a part-time writer who tries to fit in writing time between my job in hotel real estate and family responsibilities.

I stared writing in 2008 when the financial bubble burst and I realized that my job in real estate was going to be severely impacted. As the market crashed and work slowed down, I decided to write a book that I had been thinking about since the late 1990s. My goal was to turn the negative period of recession into something positive.

I was in my late 30s and had never written a book (or even taken a creative writing class), but I had what I thought was a good idea for a story and was optimistic enough to think I could finish it within four or five months.

I had once read that John Grisham writes a book within a three or four month period, so I figured I would follow his template. LOL at me. Suffice it to say, when the book was finally ready for print in December 2013, I was a lot less naive about the process than when I started.

What’s on the horizon book-wise or writing-wise currently?

My next project is the sequel to Hallways in the Night 

While HITN is primarily a legal thriller, the sequel will be more of a political thriller as it will involve a Presidential election and have multiple scenes that take place in and around the White House.

The beginning of the sequel—a small town cop finds the body of a dead widow who looks to have been murdered by someone tied closely to a Presidential campaign—was the story I originally started to write.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

This has been the toughest question to answer because there have been some big moments for me: Reading some of the book to my father as he entered hospice, completing the book and seeing it available for sale, and the chance to interact with readers and reviewers who have read the book. More great experiences than I would have ever expected.

From start to finish how long did Hallways in the Night take from conception to completion?

I had the original idea for what will be the sequel back in 1999. It took me ten years to get serious about writing the book. When I did, it took another 5 years to complete the book while writing on nights and weekends.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

90% of my writing takes place after my wife and kids are in bed. I usually write from ten to midnight, as well as some weekend days. Ironically, I had plenty of time to write during college and graduate school but never took advantage of it. Instead, I waited until I was married with three active kids. And yes, as a matter of fact, that is just as dumb as it sounds. LOL.

Do you insert family, friends and colleagues into your characters? Would they recognise themselves?

My father-in-law was an Atlanta police officer, so a couple of his stories are fictionalized within the book. That being said, none of the characters are based upon anyone I know, however, many of them have elements from people I have met or known during my life. For example, there is one motorcycle chase in the beginning of the story that’s based upon an incident I saw when I was a little kid.

Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?

Not that I’ve found, however, I don’t think E.L. James has anything to worry about.

You’re self-published so far, have you been knocked back in your efforts to find a publisher, or are you content to continue this route?

I had some interest from agents and still believe that traditional publishing can offer tremendous upside, but I chose to self-publish primarily due to the speed of getting my book to market. Once Hallways in the Night was done, I was ready to release it into the world. I also thought by self-publishing it might, eventually, give me a better opportunity to attract a publisher if they were able to see that readers enjoyed the story.

Self-publishing was a much easier process than I expected, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of self-publishing has been the chance to interact with readers, reviewers, and book bloggers while promoting my book.

Five years ago I would have felt compelled to pursue a traditional publisher, but the landscape has undergone such a fundamental change that I thought going to market with a self-published book was the best choice for me at the time.

As a self-published author, how do you edit your work? Do you have a close circle of readers who you can rely on to objectively criticise?    

Once Hallways in the Night was done, I did close to ten rounds of proofing and editing. It took me almost three months. By the fifth round of edits, I felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day.

The most valuable thing I did was a read-aloud of the book which helped me catch several errors that I missed while simply reading to myself.

As far as the overall story, I benefited greatly from several beta readers who gave me some guidance on the plot. I made some significant changes (and deletions) based upon their feedback.

I also had one New York based literary agent who gave me some great advice regarding the book. I ended up changing the ending and came up with the “elevator” scene at the end after listening to his feedback.

What are the last three books you’ve read?

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Not a Penny More or a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer
And then There were None by Agatha Christie

Who do you read and enjoy?

From my perspective, there is nothing better than being in the middle of a great book that has taken you to a different time or place. A few of my favorite writers are John Le Carre, John Grisham, Dennis Lehane, Jack Higgins, Michael Connelly, Frederick Forsyth, Mary Higgins Clark, Robert B. Parker, J.K. Rowling, James Lee Burke, Ben Mezrich, Kathy Reichs, and countless more.

My father was a prolific reader and introduced me to many of the above writers.

Do you have any literary heroes?

I’ve always pulled for the underdog trying to overcome great odds to achieve something bigger than his or herself.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved every page of it and reading it felt like being transported back in time.

If I call back in a couple of years’ time, where do you hope to be as an author? 

My dream scenario would be that our meeting would take place over drinks in a great London hotel. It would be around Christmastime, and I would be working on my third novel.
Many thanks to Robert for taking the time to indulge me.

He has kindly offered 5 free kindle copies of his book to interested readers. If you would like to give the excellent Hallways a go – please leave a comment below.

Robert will hopefully be checking in on the comments during the next few days, so if there is anything else you’d like to ask him, please feel free. 

His website and blog is over here.

I'm off to look up The Count of Monte Cristo.