Tuesday 25 October 2016



A tragic accident?

When two bodies are found sprawled at the bottom of the Devil's Kitchen in the mountains of Snowdonia, it's believed the man found dead killed his wife and then committed a suicide. But something doesn't feel right to DI Ian Drake and his gut instinct has never let him down before.
Or murder on a mountain?

Drake suspects at least one of the deaths could be suspicious, but who would kill such an ordinary couple and why? This might be Drake's first murder inquiry, but his years as a detective have taught him one thing - every murder has a motive, and every killer leaves a trace.

An Amazon FREEBIE and a 70 page introduction to Stephen Puleston’s DI Ian Drake character. Puleston has written three full length novels featuring this detective – the first of which Brass in Pocket was also hoovered up when it was an Amazon FREEBIE.

We have a double death in the Snowdon Mountains, which to first appearances seems to be a bit of domestic strife. The husband stabs the wife then kills himself by throwing himself to his death. Its Drake’s first major case and quickly he’s under pressure from his super to wrap things up, pass it to the coroner and stop wasting time.

Drake isn’t in such a rush and wants to establish beyond all reasonable doubt that everything is at it seems. Obviously it isn’t as otherwise we wouldn’t have a particularly interesting narrative. Drake and his investigative partner Caren Waits interview witnesses on the mountain, work colleagues, family (eventually) and fellow members of a ramblers club, which in addition to the husband’s diary and his suspicion of her conducting an affair, eventually shed a bit of light on who did what and why. The investigation was quite thoughtful and methodical.

Puleston gives Drake a few mannerisms or traits which add flesh to the bones of the character. He’s obsessively neat and tidy with shoes spit-polished to within an inch of their life – though he probably didn’t spit. He’s a bit anal. By contrast, Waits has to be his polar opposite – she turns up late, eats her food with her mouth open, and is a lot less fastidious about her appearance. All irritants to Drake. We also have the potential for some domestic strife in future books. Drake’s wife Sian is resentful of his dedication to his job and the disruption it causes to their family life, the couple having two children. I can’t see this marriage lasting three more books, if I’m honest.

Verdict – enjoyable enough. I quite liked the progress of the investigation and Drake’s approach, though I wasn’t totally sold on the characters. Maybe I read it grumpy, but I kind of felt that the author was trying a bit too hard to make the main character memorable. All I could think though was – he’s Adrian Monk’s annoying Welsh cousin, assuming he has one. Conversely though – what’s the alternative? A stick figure for a detective with no back-story or life outside the job.
Maybe Brass in Pocket will have me warming to both Drake and the author, though I’m not rushing towards it for now.

3 from 5  

Stephen Puleston has his website here.

Read in October, 2016
Amazon FREE download


Saturday 22 October 2016


Eight books read in the month which I'm disappointed in - two less than par. That said they were all very good and not a stinker among them.

They were......

E. Michael Helms - Deadly Dunes (2015) (4)

Paul D. Brazill - The Last Laugh (2016) (5)

Daniel Vlasaty - Only Bones (2016) (4.5)

David Putnam - The Squandered (2015) (4)

Frederic Dard - Bird in a Cage (1961/2016) (5)

Frank Westworth - Fifth Columnist (2016) (4.5)

Martin Holmen - Clinch (2016) (4.5)

Mike McCrary - Genuinely Dangerous (2016) (4.5)

Book of the Month.... well two 5 star reads to choose from - Paul D. Brazill's - The Last Laugh and Frederic Dard's Bird in a Cage. Dard's dead and Brazill's breathing so step forward PDB!

Paul D. Brazill has the last laugh fittingly with The Last Laugh!

Of the rest - 4 reads at 4.5 and 2 rating 4 stars

A bit more trivia or data........

3 of the 8 were new-to-me authors........ Martin Holmen, Frederic Dard, Daniel Vlasaty - all of them I would want to read more from and hopefully will

5 authors have been read before - Mike McCrary and Frank Westworth (once each), a third go for both E. Michael Helms and David Putnam and Mr Brazill has been enjoyed multiple times.

Gender analysis - no surprises here - 8 dudes, no chicks - 1 less than last month.
Must do better Mr Keane. (I'm no Donald Trump I can assure you)

4 authors hail from the US, 2 from England, 1 from France, 1 from Sweden

All 8 reads were fiction.

3 were paperback reads, 4 were Kindle editions, 1 was a hardback.

7 from this decade - 5 from this year. 2 from last year, 1 from the 1960s originally, but only brought to an English readership this year.

None of the 8 books were pre-owned!
I'm going to have a fat chance of clearing the tubs if that trend continues!

3 were kindly sent by the authors, 5 were sent to me by publishers - Pushkin Vertigo (2), All Due Respect Books (2) and Coffeetown Press (1) - many thanks to all!

Favourite cover? Clinch by Martin Holmen.

Bird in a Cage a close second. Stylistically I really like the new covers from Pushkin. The old ones near on induced an epileptic fit trying to ascertain what the book was and who it was by.

Total page count = 1789 (about 30-odd down on August)

1 < 50,
0 between 51 < 100,
2 between 101 < 200,
2 between 201 < 300,
3 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

David Putnam's The Squandered was the longest @ 352.

Friday 21 October 2016


Mike McCrary, author of the recently enjoyed Genuinely Dangerous was the latest to submit to a gentle inquisition.

Over at his website - his bio gives up the following detail......

Mike is a screenwriter and the author of Remo Went Rogue, Getting Ugly and Genuinely Dangerous. His shorter work has appeared in ThugLit, All Due Respect, Dark Corners, Shotgun Honey and Out of the Gutter.

He's been a waiter, a securities trader, dishwasher, bartender, investment analyst and an unpaid Hollywood intern.

He has quit corporate America, come back, been fired, been promoted, been fired again. Currently, he writes stories about questionable people who make questionable decisions.

Genuinely Dangerous was on the blog yesterday - here.
A few thoughts on Getting Ugly appeared here.

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

Yeah, “satisfying” is not a word I’d use to describe the writing career. Painful, soul-crushing, long nights crying in the bathtub would probably be a closer description.  In all seriousness, it’s when someone likes your stuff, right? When I see a good review with some kind words or I get an email from a stranger telling they dig what I wrote, that’s pretty damn cool.

What’s your typical (book) writing schedule? 

When I’m really into something (like I am now) I write pretty early in the morning. Like really early in the morning. There’s no distractions and I can rip through a 1,000 plus words in a pretty short amount of time. I try to think of a book in blocks of a 1,000 words. That makes it easier to digest and less terrifying than thinking about hitting a 60-70k mark.

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

Try not to, but I think it’s unavoidable. At the very least I try to avoid inserting people that I see all the time or people that are currently in my life. I might drop in some asshole that I knew from high school or some shit-stain that I used to work with, but I try to keep clear of using anything that can be easily detected. Never want that uncomfortable conversation over the holidays or at a bar. Of course some people want you to put them in a book and I’m always thinking, “Have you read my stuff? Do you really want me to dump you into the middle of that?” People love punishment I guess.

How long did Genuinely Dangerous take from conception to completion?

That’s hard to say, because Genuinely Dangerous really took on pieces of ideas that I’ve been screwing around with for years. Some stray thoughts that didn’t have a home until I put them together for this one.  I’d say once I put the idea together it probably took about 8-10 weeks to get a good first draft and then another 4-6 to get the final draft to the editors. Not too bad, I guess.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

A little of both. I usually put together a short outline, more of a beat sheet of quick bullet points with the story broken down in 3 acts. That process is a holdover from screenwriting. Each of those beats will be a bullet point of a sentence or two max. Then as I get into the thing I might get halfway through the beat sheet and then decide that the rest of what I mapped out is complete bullshit and then just wing it as I go along. I think you have to at least have something planned before you start writing. If nothing else I think you’ve got to have a general plot idea and/or the main character. I don’t know how you sit down to write a full-blown novel without knowing those things.

Are there any subjects off limits?

That’s great question. I don’t think that there are, but I will say if you want to sell a lot of books then you have to think about that kind of stuff. Like it or not there some ideas that sell better than others. Of course as I’m saying that I realize that dino-erotica is selling like crazy — so forget what I just said. No, there are no subjects that are off limits.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

No. A few unsold scripts that I might rework at some point, but no books hanging around that I’m holding onto.

Genuinely Dangerous, Getting Ugly and Remo Went Rogue are your three published works to date. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of that any of the others? Which and why?

I’m proud of all of them. They are all different in their own way, even though Remo makes a brief appearance in Genuinely Dangerous. I’ll go with Genuinely Dangerous though. It’s always your last thing, right?  It’s the book I set out to write and I was able to work through some demons as far as some of my past failures in Hollywood, plus it’s the first time I tried to write in first person and also the first time I feel I’ve written a full, big boy novel coming in at 70k + words. Not to mention it was so damn fun to write.

Who do you read and enjoy?

I read all kinds but the big ones that have influenced me the most are Chuck Palahniuk, Duane Swierczynski, Don Winslow, Charlie Huston, Victor Gischler and Johnny Shaw. There are others, of course, but I keep going back to those.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

I’ll give you two — Big Maria by Johnny Shaw and Severance Package by Swierczynski.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

Got a new pulpy, action thriller thing I’m knee-deep in right now and I’m having a blast writing it. Its kind of a mix between Remo and Genuinely Dangerous as far as tone and style and I can’t wait to unleash it on the world. I hope to have a first draft done in a few weeks and have a final draft not long after that, but who knows. Things get fucked up all the time.

Many thanks to Mike for his time.

Catch him on Twitter - @mcmccrary and on Facebook - here.

Thursday 20 October 2016



Art is about to imitate a life of crime.

Jasper knows you don’t quit the movie business. The movie business quits you. 
He wants back in – Badly.
Needs a comeback – Badly.
And Jasper truly believes he can make a movie Hollywood will want – Badly.

Genuinely Dangerous follows the nightmarish yet hilarious journey of Jasper Tripp, a down-and-out filmmaker who embeds himself in a crew of wild and mysterious criminals so he can film a documentary that’ll land him back in the Hollywood fast lane. 

From Mike McCrary, author of REMO WENT ROGUE, comes another unfiltered, unpredictable romp of a thriller where the insane becomes sane and life itself becomes Genuinely Dangerous.

Praise for Genuinely Dangerous and Mike McCrary

"McCrary's prose practically bounces off the page ... An energetic tale (Genuinely Dangerous) that will make readers root for its disreputable characters." 
- Kirkus Reviews

"Either somebody set Chuck Palahniuk and Elmore Leonard up on a blind date or we have a new mad genius on our hands.”
- Peter Farris author of LAST CALL FOR THE LIVING

"A firebomb hurled at Hollywood leaving a trail of death a destruction in its wake. A slapstick crime caper that veers from documentary to action flick to snuff film. Genuinely Dangerous is exactly that - and so is author Mike McCrary."
- Eric Beetner author of RUMRUNNERS and THE DEVIL DOESN'T WANT ME

A week or two after reading this I'm still shaking my head and thinking - what the hell! 

Jasper Tripp is a film-maker or at least he used to be. His first venture was a success, his second a bit of a vanity project bombed - his finances taking a dive along with his reputation. Now he's toxic. It's a difficult situation exacerbated by the soaring success of former childhood friend and film school graduate Wilson Gains.

Wilson was like a brother to me. And now?
Well, now, he's kind of a dick?

Catching a shot of himself on TV with the caption under his picture - The Rise and Fall of Jasper Tripp doesn't help. Tripp's in a bad place.

I need to sleep. Losing the respect of the people you know and the people you don't, it'll suck the life right out of you.
So tired of being tired. 

But don't panic, he's plotting a comeback - a documentary featuring some real-life criminals engaging in heists, robberies and stick-ups. He's sold the concept to his brother Alex, not-withstanding some serious reservations and once he's got the finance in place. He's good to go.

We have some absolutely hilarious scenes with Jasper trying to engineer an in with a gang of heisters. ...he meets a crazy lawyer named Remo, who pulls a gun in a coffee shop and we have a bizarre greeting ritual at a Korean massage parlour with Tripp meeting his contact - sans trousers exposure full.

Eventually The Pope sets him up with the Shaw Gang. The Pope gets killed as their introduction. Then the Shaw Gang get taken apart in front of him.

I wasn't watching a great white eat seals.
I was watching a great white being eaten alive, pulled apart by something meaner.
Something that has yet to be defined.  

Tripp gets kidnapped and then has to try and sell the deal to the new band of reprobates.

"Are you criminals? I know you're killers......I need filmable crime. Do you commit crimes I can film in order to create an entertaining narrative?"
Blank stares.
It was as if I asked a twelve-year-old boy how to properly work a clitoris.

Tripp's now in the hands of a deranged family of crims - Choke, the patriarch and his three offspring - Harry, Boone and Ruby. And this family has some serious issues.

We may get a film, we may get killed, we may become a part of someone else's plans for an alternate future away from the controls of blood and kin. Read it and find out.

An absolute belter......pace, action, comedy, violence, sex, dialogue, bizarro gross-out moments, with a plot that continually twists and evades you, just when you think you have a handle on it.

McCrary's narrative voice in the form of our protagonist Jasper Tripp is pitch perfect. I lived his failures, his fears, his humiliations, his wild, crazy romp.

4.5 from 5

Mike McCrary has his website here. Facebook - here. Twitter - @mcmccrary

An earlier book by him - Getting Ugly was reviewed here.
Remo Went Rogue still shamefully sits unread on the pile.

Read in September, 2016
Review copy received from author.

Wednesday 19 October 2016



The first book in the Harry Kvist Trilogy

You can put the gloves on the shelf but it takes a long time to wash their smell from your knuckles.

The writing's on the wall for Harry Kvist. Once a notorious boxer, he now spends his days drinking, and his nights chasing debts amongst the pimps, prostitutes and petty thieves of 1930s Stockholm. When women can't satisfy him, men can. But one biting winter's night he pays a threatening visit to a debtor named Zetterberg, and when the man is found dead shortly afterwards, all eyes are on Kvist.

Determined to avoid yet another stint in prison, Kvist sets out to track down the only person who can clear his name. His hunt will lead him from the city's slums, gangster hideouts and gambling dens to its most opulent hotels and elite nightclubs. It will bring him face to face with bootleggers and whores, aristocrats and murderers. It will be the biggest fight of his life.

Blending noir with gritty violence, Clinch is a visceral, compulsive thriller that packs a punch and leaves you reeling.

'Clinch is a dark, atmospheric, powerful thriller, the best debut novel I've read in years' - Lynda La Plante

Read and enjoyed last month, Martin Holmen's Clinch is the first in a planned trilogy featuring ex-boxer Harry Kvist in 30s Stockholm. Harry's retired from the ring, but still finds occasion to put his fists to good use, earning a living as a debt collector.

One job sees him visiting a man called Zetterberg. After a firm "chat", Kvist leaves promising to return the following day. Zetterberg is found murdered shortly after and Harry's looking good for the crime in the eyes of the police.

Kvist is an unusual character. He was destined for great things in the past. His boxing career was on the rise and fame and fortune beckoned in America. His wife and daughter were leaving ahead of Harry, they made the trip - he never followed. Throughout the book, Harry often thinks of his daughter, less so his wife. We have a kind of explanation for his remaining behind, but it's never totally revealed. Intriguing. We see a dark side to Kvist - he's bi-sexual favouring rough encounters with men in toilets and parks......perhaps there lies one reason for allowing his family to fracture.

When Harry is interviewed about the murder, we realise he is known to the police. His sexual appetites have resulted in his imprisonment in the past. Homosexuality is illegal in the 1930s in Sweden.

Fearing for his freedom, Kvist resolves to find a missing witness - a prostitute called Sonja. Harry spoke to her outside Zetterberg's apartment, but the police have been unable to locate her.

An interesting mystery unfolds as Harry endeavours to track her down, after a while becoming well aware that he is not the only one looking for her. Why is a mysterious German dogging his steps?

Further developments over time, advance our tale. The German makes an attempt on Harry's life and what's the story behind the estranged magnate's wife and why is she so interested in securing Harry's affections?

Great setting - Christmas and a bitter wintertime in 30s Stockholm. There's ripples and undercurrents prevalent with the rise of Nazism in Germany. Holmen shows us the life of the working classes in Stockholm at this time - their poverty, the unemployment, their daily struggles.

The undoubted star of the show is Harry himself though - not entirely likable, but never less than fascinating. Capable, intelligent, tenacious, thoughtful and kind, but also violent, sometimes taking a cruel pleasure in hurting others, more in pursuit of gratification than when his fists are the only recourse in securing information to advance his investigation. Definitely a man I'm keen to read more about in the future.

4.5 from 5

Martin Holmen was kind enough so suffer a few questions from me recently here.

Publisher Pushkin Vertigo tentatively advises......2nd in the trilogy is Down for the Count (2017) and 3rd in the trilogy is Slugger (probably 2018)

Thanks to the publisher for my copy.

Read in September, 2016

Tuesday 18 October 2016



A cop accidentally taints evidence. A killer goes free. The cop is defrocked and now lives in his car. Years later, their lives collide again on Malibu Beach and to cop winds up killing the murderer, launching a thrill ride through a dark world of blackmail, pornography, torture, betrayal, vengeance, love, guilt, passion, murder, muscle cars and valet parking.

Another read from over six months ago that I never got around to posting any thoughts on.

Psycho Logic was a continuation of the short story Dead End which was something I really enjoyed back last year. We have a disgraced ex-cop, Johno Beltran crossing paths with the root cause of his downfall - plastic surgeon serial killer Luke Vico.

Beltran burglarises Vico's house looking for further evidence of the doctor indulging in his nefarious hobby of abducting, torturing and killing young women. Vico comes home unexpectedly, the pair fight and Vico goes over his balcony railing, his head opening up like a ripe watermelon.    

Beltran flees but not before being spotted by Vico's neighbour - Alyssa Lido. The dreaded visit from the police the next day never materialises.

Lido has her own agenda. She thinks her psychiatrist husband Karl is cheating on her with a porn star patient. He's got previous in this regard - Alyssa herself being Karl's former client when she was treated by him for paranioa! And she wants Beltran's help. Prove Karl's a cheat and help her exit the marriage without being destitute.

Dr. Karl the husband is a slimy creep, preying on his patients....

In his dreams, Dr. Karl asked an emotionally fragile porn star to tell him about her mother as he duct-taped her naked to a ping-pong table.  

A few more twists and turns ensue.The porn star ends up dead. Beltran and Lido think she's next in the firing line. The cops suspect Johno of involvement in Vico's death, especially when he's spotted visiting the woman who witnessed the crime.

A really enjoyable read here - great characters, dialogue and scenes laced with humour, a bit of sexual tension, intriguing dynamics throughout - Beltran and Lido, Karl and Lido, Beltran and the cops, Karl and Summer Daze, our porn star - and a fitting and satisfying outcome.

Educational as well - I never knew what a fluffer was before Mr Buck enlightened me.

Plenty of bang in this short and fast 130 page read.

4.5 from 5

Dead End was reviewed here. Go Down Hard (another Craig Faustus Buck book, heavily featuring a therapist becoming involved with his patients - a bit of a theme?) here.

Craig Faustus Buck has his website here.

Bought copy a year or so ago. Read in March, 2016.

Thursday 13 October 2016



Old School is a collection of fourteen short stories.

Why Old School? Bette Davis famously noted that "Old age ain't no place for sissies." In these stories the protagonists may not all be old, but ain't none of them young anymore. They're past the solipsism of youth, that grandiose narcissism that lets the young imagine the world as a stage devoted to their glories. Every character in Old School knows that life isn't a stage, it's a ring. And you'd better learn to take a punch, because life is the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. You might land a shot here and there, but you are gonna get your ass beat and, in the end, you're going down for the count. Life is however-many-billions and 0, and each of us is just one more digit on the wrong end of that equation.


"Whip smart and razor sharp - these stories are fast, mean, and true to the very bone. Dan O'Shea can write." - Lou Berney, author of GUTSHOT STRAIGHT

"O'Shea is my kind of writer; hard and honest, fast and funny. Old School is full of elders who demand your respect, at the point of a shotgun. The characters talk like real people, and make decisions like desperate people; meth heads, killers, drug dealers and gigolo's, this books got it all. After reading this, I'll always think twice before trying to knock over a Girl Scout." - Jay Stringer, author of OLD GOLD, coming in 2012 from Thomas & Mercer

14 shorts from Dan O'Brien read back in July.

Without referring back to the kindle I can't remember a single one of them, however flicking back through soon refreshed me.

There's a decent cadence to the stories and enough flesh on them to give you pause and acknowledge the consequences of the outcome. At least in 13 of them - one set in Ye Olde Shakespearian times kind of bypassed me - The Bard's Confession on the Matter of the Despoilment of the Fishmonger's Daughter

In Absalom we have some reflections on war and combat in Korea...

....complete disregard to his own life and safety, he wondered if they understood what that meant, what you'd turned a man into when he cared more about killing others than he did about saving himself, and if it was something you ought to give medals for.

Some of the others ......

a hitman, experience pays as he goes to work at an airport getting an unexpected bonus

an unhappy husband with a saggy-assed wife and a decent insurance policy,

a divorced father striving at work to provide for his daughter and getting canned, he's not taking that lightly

a widow disappointed by her grandson, abused by a couple of intruders but with enough mettle to have the final say

an ex-cop on his way out at a residential home and marking time, encountering a suspect from the 40 year old case that's always haunted him

two young brothers fishing and approached by a stranger, getting a soaking might be the least of their worries

13/14 belters.....top class prose - characters, pace, plot, dialogue, outcome - highly recommended.

4.5 from 5  

I've enjoyed a couple of the author's Chicago based novels a year or two ago - Greed and Penance.

Dan O'Shea has a website/irregular blog here and he's on Twitter - @dboshea

Kindle copy - bought a year or two ago.
Read in July, 2016

Wednesday 12 October 2016



Stephen Schwartz'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 behavior 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

Another read from a few months back and my first full length introduction to Stephen Jay Schwartz's cop character Hayden Glass. I've previously had a taste of both from reading the short story - Crossing the Line.

It's always interesting to me when an author portrays a main character that is not especially likable or sympathetic. It's quite a brave move, particularly in a debut novel. Hayden Glass is such a character. A competent, honest homicide cop with a dark side - an addiction to sex. Its ruined his marriage and here when he tackles a killer, the personal nature of the murders endangers his job.

"I am the evidence connecting these crimes."

He wondered if that was his ego talking. Everything revolved around him, of course. There were two things constant with every addict: they had low self-esteem and they were the center of the universe. Hayden remembered the saying that drew a familiar laugh from every addict who heard it - I am the piece of shit the world revolves around. 

Dark, brutal, interesting, an often ugly story showing a dark side of LA that the city's tourist board wouldn't want to boast about. Murder, sex, addiction, friendship, broken relationships, attempts at recovery and relapse, and a murder investigation conducted by a damaged cop juggling a helluva lot of balls single-handedly.

I pretty much loved it, as did.......Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker, Brett Battles, Timothy Hallinan to mention a few.

4 from 5.

There's a second Hayden Glass novel - Beat which I'll be reading, as soon as I've scrubbed LA's grime from my skin!

Stephen Jay Schwartz has his website here.

Bought copy a couple of years ago.
Read June, 2016

Tuesday 11 October 2016



Cashed out from the NYPD after 24 years, Doak Miller operates as a private eye in steamy small-town Florida, doing jobs for the local police. Like posing as a hit man and wearing a wire to incriminate a local wife who s looking to get rid of her husband. But when he sees the wife, when he looks into her deep blue eyes... He falls and falls hard. Soon he's working with her, against his employer, plotting a devious plan that could get her free from her husband and put millions in her bank account. But can they do it without landing in jail? And once he's kindled his taste for killing...will he be able to stop at one?

Enjoyed a few months ago on audio and I have to say, I was kind of glad to be listening to it on my own, as Mr Block's main man Doak Miller enjoys an extremely active sex-life with a variety of willing participants in a variety of different orifices, seemingly favouring one where the sun doesn't usually shine - enough said. Probably too much said - Lawrence Block you'd make a sailor blush!

As for the mystery itself, our PI Miller is engaged by a local cop to entrap a waitress who's suspected of wanting her rich husband dead. Miller takes a good look at the waitress likes what he sees and schemes with her to outwit the sheriff, the husband and still run free to enjoy the proceeds.

Overall I liked it and was entertained by the whole shebang. I do wonder whether the sex elements would have the same impact as just the written word, maybe hearing them spoken gave them a greater power. I'm certainly no prude and chuckled along.

With regards to the plot, I was keen to see if our amorous pair could pull it off. I liked the back story of both, Miller's previous life in New York as a cop and the path travelled by our waitress (name escapes me) in arriving at a place where her husband just has to go.

Amusing and entertaining - you wouldn't expect anything less from Lawrence Block.

4 from 5

Listened to back in March, 2016.  AUDIBLE COPY purchased.

Saturday 8 October 2016



When Great Western Insurance hires the Nameless Detective to investigate an accidental death in a small northern California town, it looks like a routine case—one he expects to solve swiftly so he and his lady friend, Kerry Wade, can take a much needed vacation. But no such luck. Nameless lands in the middle of a violent conflict between a group of greedy land developers and the handful of citizens who inhabit an isolated Gold Rush ghost town. The triumverate of successful realtors plan to "renovate" Musket Creek (nee Ragged-Ass Gulch), and bring back its glory days as a Gold Rush boomtown—this time in the guise of a "theme-style" amusement park.

The town denizens have different ideas. Stark, desolate, crumbling—this is double-dealing, arson, and murder. It's a classic showdown—with death thrown in as the twist.

The twelfth installment in the thrilling Nameless Detective series.

Another enjoyable read from much earlier in the year - March and another one which in the space of 6 months has more or less disappeared from my memory. Not to worry I'll just have to read the next one in the series soon.

So plot - okay I guess, but nothing memorable. Main characters - fine, upstanding, decent and likable. Pace - who knows. Action - some, with no doubt some cerebral sleuthing. Resolution - case solved and Nameless lives to fight another day.

A bland review for an okay, unremarkable but enjoyable mystery. I've read hundreds of books like this in my lifetime and will no doubt read hundreds more in future (hopefully).

4 from 5

Purchased copy of book from who knows where, who knows when.

Read in March, 2016.

Friday 7 October 2016



Behind the doors of an illegal casino, will Quarry find Lady Luck or a lady killer? As part of his plan to target other hitmen, Quarry follows one from steamy Florida to the sober Midwest. But this killer isn't a man at all: she's a sloe-eyed beauty, as dangerous in bed as she is deadly on the job. Has Quarry finally met his match? The longest-running series from Max Allan Collins, author of Road to Perdition, and the first ever to feature a hitman as the main character, the Quarry novels tell the story of a paid assassin with a rebellious streak and an unlikely taste for justice. Once a Marine sniper, Quarry found a new home stateside with a group of contract killers. But some men aren't made for taking orders and when Quarry strikes off on his own, God help the man on the other side of his nine-millimeter.

I read Quarry’s Deal, the third book in the author’s series about a hitman back in March. 6 or 7 months on from that, I can’t actually recall too much about it.

I know I liked it but plot points and resolution evaded me until I flicked back through the kindle edition I read. (I don’t think the fact that I can’t remember a lot deflects from the fact that I really enjoyed reading it. I have a list of absolute favourite books in my head and I could name ten easily but I couldn’t give you a bundle of information about them, other than recalling the warm fuzzy glow I had when reading them.)

Quarry’s a hitman and here he’s poacher turned gamekeeper. He’s endeavouring to stop a fellow professional from doing her job and bag a fee from her intended target for stopping the hit and finding out who arranged it.

In our first paragraph, Quarry’s having sex with a willing participant at a swinger’s resort, where’s he’s undercover and stalking his target. Tough job ain’t it?

An unintended but necessary killing later, Quarry’s in pursuit of Glenna Cole back to the mid-west. Keep your friends close (Quarry doesn’t have any) and your enemies closer. Before too long Quarry, playing the role of Jack is getting down and dirty with Lucille (Glenna). A great twist – he knows who she is, but does she know who he is?

I really like Collins’ style of writing. There’s an economy about his prose that helps move the story on and which keeps you turning the pages – curious to see what happens next. Plenty of action, great dialogue and a lot of tension and suspense with a main character who you really root for.

With the benefit of a second look – really enjoyable and an urgent reminder that I need to get back to this series soon. There’s only another 10 or so books to get to - happy reading ahead!

4.5 from 5

The first two in the series were previously read and enjoyed – Quarry and Quarry’s List.

Bought on kindle a few years ago.

Read in March, 2016

Thursday 6 October 2016


A cracking month's viewing - only one film a DNF - well I kind of finished it as I let it play, but wasn't watching it.

Not a massive fan of the original films though they were enjoyable enough in their day. Watched with my wife and son. I quite like Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, though I would struggle to name a film I've seen her in off the top of my head. Plenty of chasing around, plenty of action and brutality and a bit less story. Nothing wrong with that - an okay film for an evening in front of the telly.

I'm a self-confessed Jason Statham fan and here he is an adaptation of one of Ken Bruen's Inspector Brant books. Another high energy film with action and a bit of bother to the fore, as he tries to nail a killer. It's funny, I'm quite forgiving of the police bending the rules in books and films. It abhors me when I read about it in real-life! A much better film in my opinion than Mad Max, or at least a much more enjoyable film - Statham 1 Hardy 0

A 1972 Clint Eastwood film and a Western to boot. Clint's the town drunk and a tracker who gets hired by a big shot to track down some troublesome agitating Mexican rebels. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do....or is that John Wayne? Nevertheless - a really enjoyable watch. Robert Duvall's our big-shot.

Robert Duvall also stars in this 1981 film. I've always been fascinated by the D. B. Cooper story - did he survive or did he perish?  

Believe this and there's no Robin Hood fairytale ending - Has-the-mystery-of-DB-Cooper-been-solved?
An enjoyable romp with a dogged cop tracking down and losing and tracking down and losing and tracking......etc, etc our man.

From IMDB......
Jessica Barden stars in Ellen, a new feature length single drama from Channel 4, developed as part of Channel 4’s commitment to new talent, and marking the debut of breakthrough UK female talent: writer Sarah Quintrell and director Mahalia Belo.

23 year old Jessica (represented by Curtis Brown), one of Screenterrier's original teenage rising stars, was most recently seen in BBC Two's one-hour drama Murder, as well as award-winning feature The Lobster.

The new 90-minute film is a powerful, prescient story of a tough teenager, 14 year old Ellen, trying to take control of her chaotic life, but forced to grow up too quickly.

Newcomer Yasmin Monet Prince stars as Kayla, who is befriended by Ellen and becomes a form of escape. The pair form a deep friendship with the kind of unshakable intensity forged by teenage girls. But just as she’s discovered a sense of fun and freedom with Kayla. »

My take..... extremely hard-hitting, gritty, haunting, disturbing, depressing - highly recommended and one you can't shake off lightly. Topical also - I'll say no more........excellent stuff!

OK film but not a patch on the book. Some books should perhaps be left alone - easy to say with hindsight I suppose! Enjoyable but it was no LA Confidential.

From Wikipedia....The Black Dahlia is a 2006 French neo noir crime thriller film directed by Brian De Palma. It is drawn from a novel of the same name by James Ellroy, the author of L.A. Confidential, and stars Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank. The widely sensationalized murder of Elizabeth Short inspired both the novel and the film. The film's placement as the opening entry at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival on August 30, 2006, was its world premiere. Wide release was on September 15, 2006. Despite its failure — both critically and financially — the film was nominated for Best Cinematography at the 79th Academy Awards, losing to Pan's Labyrinth. Mia Kirshner's performance as the tragic Elizabeth Short was widely praised.

The obligatory horror film in the month and it wasn't too bad all in all. A little bit disturbing and unsettling, but I've seen a lot worse in my time.
A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home through the pages of a children's book.

I enjoy watching Philip Seymour Hoffman on screen and Christopher Walken always seems to have a manic,slightly off-kilter persona on screen. (He's the calm one here.) I watched it for these two alone and wasn't disappointed. Not my usual bag - a celebrated string quartet beset by illness and affairs and troubled inter-relationships and lots of friction.

Last in a gripping 4 part drama. 
A horrific double murder rocks the lives of two families living side-by-side in isolated rural Scotland. But instead of focusing on the investigation, One Of Us explores the fallout for the grieving relatives, and the dark consequences that threaten to shatter their lives.

All gets resolved and there are not too many happy ever after stories.

New Blood - BBC or was it ITV crime drama with a couple of cops. I've been limping through this one as a few family members are viewing and we're having trouble getting our stars aligned. 1 episode of a 2 parter watched - 1 to go and we're done. Enjoyable and hopefully it'll be back with a second series. 

Film of the month - Garage!
Synopsis.....Due to a learning disability, Josie's (Pat Shortt) life in a tiny town revolves around a menial job taking care of a garage that could close at any day. Things start to change, however, when David (Conor Ryan), the son of his boss' girlfriend, comes to work with him. Josie hangs out with David and his teenage friends, bringing them beer, and despite being a grown man himself, finds that the new company lifts his spirits. But his simple-mindedness blinds him to some potential legal dangers.

A 2007 film from Ireland - funny, sad, heart-warming, heart-breaking, thought provoking, entertaining - and one that stayed with me long after the closing credits. Utterly brilliant.  

Up There - looked better than it actually was. My wife stuck it for 20 mins, I said I'll watch it later. Put it on a fortnight afterwards and was overcome by CBA syndrome. It was on but I wasn't watching. My dogs might have raised an eyebrow, but I doubt it. DNF! Maybe another time with have caught me in the mood, but not going back.
Here's the plot.........
Martin welcomes the newly dead into the afterlife and he dreams of moving up. His plans of ascension are almost ruined when he and his chirpy teammate lose a soul in a seaside town.

The Third Man. I have the Graham Greene book  which I haven't read yet. Apparently the book-cum-novella was written after Greene had done the screenplay. This was either a Film 4 or TCM film during the month.  Enjoyable but I wouldn't consider it one of the greatest films ever made, which it has sometimes been tagged as. It's not even - the greatest film I ever watched during September, 2016. Trevor Howard's character was irritating.

Wednesday 5 October 2016



'The French master of noir' Observer

It felt like the slipknot on a rope round my chest was being tightened without pity

Trouble is the last thing Albert needs. Travelling back to his childhood home on Christmas Eve to mourn his mother's death, he finds the loneliness and nostalgia of his Parisian quartier unbearable... Until, that evening, he encounters a beautiful, seemingly innocent woman at a brasserie, and his spirits are lifted.

Still, something about the woman disturbs him. Where is the father of her child? And what are those two red stains on her sleeve? When she invites him back to her apartment, Albert thinks he's in luck. But a monstrous scene awaits them, and he finds himself lured into the darkness against his better judgment.

Unravelling like a paranoid nightmare, Bird in a Cage melds existentialist drama with thrilling noir to tell the story of a man trapped in a prison of his own making.

'Disturbing from the outset with strong echoes of Dard's hero Simenon' Sunday Times Crime Club, star pick

'Exceedingly clever... you can only squirm more enjoyably into your seat as you read on' Bookbag, 5 stars

'If you're a fan of Film Noir, you'll love Bird in a Cage...if all the novels in the Vertigo series are this good, I predict I'll be needing more bookshelves.' Randall Writes

One of those books where you finish and find yourself marvelling at the author’s skill in executing a perfectly plausible and believable outcome, even while a major portion of your brain rebels against the resolution and the consequences for the main character.

123 pages from start to finish. Short, tense and compelling.

Our main character Albert returns home after four years away. His mother has passed whilst he’s been gone, it’s Christmas Eve and he’s alone.

“How old does a man have to be not to feel like an orphan when he loses his mother?”

A trip outdoors wandering around his neighbourhood has him encountering an attractive woman in a bar, her young daughter in tow. Mme Dravet reminds him of his lost love Anne.

“However strong your feeling may be for someone’s who’s gone, it can’t be called love.”

The two get talking and return first to his house and then hers….big mistake!

Albert you should have stayed home!

I really, really liked this - length - big tick, characters - tick, set-up - tick, writing - big tick, setting - tick, resolution - big tick! Recommended to all.

5 from 5

I look forward to reading more from the prolific Frederic Dard, though my reading will be limited to whatever gets translated and reissued by Pushkin Vertigo. Crush and The Wicked Go To Hell await! Otherwise - je ne comprends pas!

There's some more coherent thoughts on Bird in a Cage over at A Crime is Afoot.

Read in September 2016

Copy received from the publisher.

Tuesday 4 October 2016


2 from Bill Pronzini this week.

I only started reading Bill Pronzini a few years ago having heard nothing but good things about his long running PI series starring the enigmatic Nameless.

The series opener was published back in 1971 – The Snatch. 
Review here. (March 2013)

May, 2016 saw Zigzag – number 46 or thereabouts published. Number 46 if you include a sprinkling of novellas and some short story collections.

To date I’ve managed to read up to and including Nightshades from 1984 (no.12). With most of the series in the tubs, I think Pronzini is going to keep me busy for a good while yet.

Breakdown (1991)

(Book 18 in the Nameless Detective series)

The "nameless" San Francisco detective and his partner Eberhardt are trying to prove that their client Thomas Lujack did not mow down his business partner with his car. Although he suspects his client's guilt early on, the 58-year-old gumshoe spends three weeks looking for flaws in the testimony of the hit-and-run's sole witness. Then Lujack is found murdered, the witness disappears, and the detective, instead of being asked to step up his investigation, is discharged by the victim's brother Coleman. In full moral outrage, the veteran detective bulldogs his way through the case, uncovering evidence about the brothers' employment of illegal immigrants.

Quarry (1991)

(Book 19 in the Nameless Detective series)


Grady Haas is a woman possessed, driven by panic, numbed by shock. What happened to her? And is this a case for the "Nameless Detective" or a psychiatrist? Reluctantly, "Nameless" answers her father's desperate summons and agrees to find out what she's running from. Grady herself is untouchable, silent as the grave.


A skeptical "Nameless" probes the young woman's past, looking for clues to a broken heart. But soon he becomes the quarry as he follows the shocking trail of blood and manipulation... and unwittingly leads a sadistic killer to his prey. Armed with only a few slender clues and his own darkest impulses, "Nameless" must flush out the psychopath before he drives them all to the jagged edge...