Sunday 30 April 2017


Another dirty half dozen in March.......

Down and Out Books and Net Galley
Shayna Billups left Tommy Ruzzo and Seatown, Florida in smoking ruins before escaping to New Orleans. She’s slinging rum drinks at a pirate-themed dive bar when a treasure map grabs her attention. All alone and thirsting for adventure, Shayna follows the clues to North Carolina where she assembles a band of drug-dealing pirates to wage war on a murderous mayor and his blood-thirsty biker gang.

As the bodies pile up, Shayna wonders if Ruzzo will find her before she ends up in Davy Jones’ Locker.

Praise for Crossed Bones:

“Crossed Bones introduces readers to a cast of deliciously flawed characters, all of whom pursue questionable agendas by sketchy means. S.W. Lauden captures the complexity of human morality in a fast-paced tale of greed, manipulation, and obsession.” —J.J. Hensley, author of Resolve, Measure Twice, and Chalk's Outline.

From Seventh Street Books
Belfast 1988: a man has been shot in the back with an arrow. It ain't Injuns and it isn't Robin Hood. But uncovering exactly who has done it will take Detective Inspector Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on the high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave. 

Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece. 


Amazon FREEBIE in the month.
What would you do if the most important person to you had been kidnapped? One minute your daughter is there, and the next she has been bundled into a van right under your nose. They want something of your father’s. You don’t know what that is, and your father mysteriously disappeared over 7 years ago. Going to the police is not an option. And the answers will slowly appear in the most unlikely of places.

As single-parent Eddie’s world falls apart, an unlikely alliance forms between friends and neighbours who put their differences aside, to help get his daughter Daisy back. As the mystery unfolds a huge secret is uncovered that not only will affect Eddie and his family, but the whole of mankind…

Amazon FREEBIE again

An explosive new crime thriller from a best-selling author

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for.
But it wasn’t a stranger.
Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.
Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.
Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.
There is only one problem... Charlie doesn’t know where it is.
Copy from the publisher - Penguin
'While her husband prepared to murder a young man he had never met, Bridget O'Neill completed her packing for Christmas with her in-laws.'

Francis O'Neill is a terrorist, trained to kill for his cause. Bridget is his wife, expected to be loyal and stand by her husband. She has learned not to hope for much more, until the day she glimpses, for the first time, the chance of a new life. A life without violence, without secrets, and without knocks on the door in the dead of night. A life without her husband.
But what if freedom for Bridget means grave danger for Francis?
In A Traitor in the Family, bestselling author, Nicholas Searle, tells a story of shocking, intimate betrayal. Can a treacherous act of the most personal kind ever be, in this darkly violent world, an act of mercy?

From Freight Books
A woman’s corpse is discovered near a Welsh community. Harry Probert-Lloyd has returned
home from London and is preparing to inherit his father’s work as magistrate – but is also
slowly going blind. He suspects the remains belong to the love of his life, Margaret Jones, who
disappeared seven years before. He pushes for an inquest but, thwarted, undertakes his own
investigation, supported by childhood friend and local solicitor, John Davies.

Cardiganshire still suffers the aftermath of the infamous Beca riots, where men dressed as
women, attacking and destroying newly constructed tollbooths. Are the Becas responsible and
where is the firebrand leader and clergyman Nathanial Howell? Will Harry unpick the conflicts
and lies at the heart of the community before more fall victim to the ruthless

Meticulously researched, None So Blind is a wholly authentic evocation of a fascinating but
neglected historical period as well as a complex and deeply satisfying crime thriller where
nothing is as it seems.

Saturday 29 April 2017



Too Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!

When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow...

Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.

Another engaging offering from Hartlepool’s premier wordsmith.

128 pages long – or short if you like - a romp of pure comedy gold with Mr Brazill resurrecting his unhealthy obsession with Himmler’s ring-piece.

London, Warsaw, pubs and hotels, hospitals and bedrooms, Russian gangsters and an aging odd couple, Leslie and Sidney - still with the chops to go head to head with a biker gang and our dangerous foreigners, hat-tips to Pink Floyd and Bowie, Rod Stewart and Coldplay, Nazi memorabilia - Lugers and Himmler’s legendary Totenkopf ring, wheelchairs and crutches, vodka and Guinness, a mcguffin – Jim McGuffin, memory loss and murder, jelly and a whip – but not party food, coke and cock, and a passing reference to a short ginger bloke with sunglasses.

There aren’t many better ways of spending a couple of hour’s reading-time in the company of one of Brazill’s books…… mystery, cultural references, action, violence, enough boozing to sink a battleship, memorable characters and a genius for situational comedy……

Leslie and Stanley and the aftermath of a business meeting with the Russians…

“Speaking of which,” said Leslie. She unzipped Sidney’s fly.
“You know how murder always gets me horny. And we do have the room until tomorrow.”
“What about them?” said Sidney.
He nodded toward the corpses spread around the room.
“Let’s deal with the other stiffs after I deal with this one,” said Leslie.
“Fnarr fnarr,” said Sidney.

Further on…..

When I got to Carl’s gaff, Velvet answered the door in a red leather dress that was made with just about enough material to make a wallet, and looking like a long limbed drink of water calling out to a thirsty man.

A top read

4.5 from 5

I’ve featured Paul’s work on the blog before……..13 Shots ofNoirThe Last LaughKill Me QuickGuns of Brixton

His website is here and he’s active on Facebook here and on Twitter - @PaulDBrazill

Read in March, 2017
Published – 2017
Page count  - 128
Source – review copy from author

Format - Kindle

Friday 28 April 2017



Zelmer Pulp brings their A game to the mean, rain-swept streets of noir. This collection features new stories from all the Zelmer Pulp regulars as well as stunning noir photography from Mark Krajnak and an introduction by Brit Grit Godfather Paul D. Brazill.

Zelmer Pulp arrives with both guns out in this Volume 1 noir collection.

An enjoyable short story collection from the dudes at Zelmer Pulp – 116 pages long comprising 7 tales and a piece from Hartlepool legend Mr Brazill, plus some photographs from Mark Krjanak.

I liked the tales – some more than others which is par for the course. 6 of the 7 authors were new to me, familiarity with Gareth Spark having only been achieved the week before when I read his collection Snake Farm.

Chris Leek (Smoke ‘Em if You’ve Got ‘Em) and Ryan Sayles (War Path, That Escalated Quickly and The Subtle Art of Brutality) exist on the device unread.

Last Exit - Chris Leek ……. love and loss, a dead hooker and a cop looking for retribution…..a great opening……..People say life begins at forty. It doesn’t. The fact is it’s been going on all the while, only you’ve been too busy to notice; forty is just the age when you start to worry about how much of it you have left.

Omega Man - Benoît Lelièvre …….. another tale of lost love and obsession with a sting in the tale

Give a Good Day - Isaac Kirkman …… a short time-trippy tale of an old man’s day – ghosts of the past and memories, haunting……. He feels at times there are versions of himself in other worlds crying, using up all the tears he was allotted in this life before he got the chance.

Once Upon a Time in the Woods - Brian Panowich …… the kidnap of a young woman goes pear-shaped – a female Dr. Doolittle-type at one with the animals…..WTF – face biting squirrels and frogs and princes!

Taking Flesh - Chuck Regan …… a photographer and his nightmares about carnivals and sacrifices

Lazarus Come Forth - Gareth Spark ….. gangsters, a girl, a takedown and betrayal

The Roach Motel Reputation - Ryan Sayles ….. a brutal tale of a hunter looking for a murderer ……… In the back of the unmarked, squirming inside the cage, Thomas is crying. Screaming he’s sorry. He didn’t mean it. If he could turn back time… if only this. If only that.
Apologies mean nothing to me. Especially from a rapist drug dealer with a chip on his shoulder who sets up a man to accidentally kill himself and two children.

An enjoyable couple of hours reading and a nudge to myself to get to reading Sayles and Leek at some point.

4.5 from 5
Read in April, 2017
Published – 2014
Page count – 116
Source – owned copy

Format - Kindle

Thursday 27 April 2017



'A fantastic debut: dark, addictive and original. I couldn't put it down'
Robert Bryndza, author of The Girl in the Ice

Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake - the perfect new addiction for fans of LUTHER.

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children's Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home's manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis' favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O'Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders - but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

'Wreaks havoc with your assumptions. Hill has a hell of a career ahead of him'
Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls and The Darkest Secret

Fast-paced and full of tension, with a dual timeline narrative – which is always a winner for me in my reading.

The 1980s and we have a poorly supervised children’s home, where the manager has more interest in running a lucrative drugs business on the side, than caring for his charges. He is using a couple of the young boys as couriers, with a weekly kickback to the local constabulary the price of remaining in business. Our home manager, Gordon also has some issues controlling his temper and though it is never explicitly conveyed, he abuses one of the boys under his care. A more serious crime occurs soon after which some of the boys are bullied into helping conceal. Events culminate in a fire which devastates the home and results in fatalities.

Present day and some of the survivors from the home are starting to get killed off.  Detective Ray Drake is trying to stop the killings without revealing his own links to the children’s home from the past. What secret is he trying to keep buried?

A rather simplistic precis of the book above, but to expand too much more on the full cast of characters and the twists and turns would kind of spoil the enjoyment of reading this one for yourself.
Interesting dynamics throughout – Drake and his team, especially Flick Crowley, Drake and his daughter, Drake and his dead wife, Drake and his mother, Flick and her sister, Flick and her dad – ex-old bill, and the different relationships between the inhabitants of our home.

Plenty of action, plenty of secrets, plenty of bodies, an investigation which Drake tries to manipulate and control – I’m kind of reminded of Line of Duty which I’m currently watching. I also enjoyed the North London setting of the 80s. It’s interesting to note the lack of concern or involvement of the authorities in supervising the running of the home – no apparent duty of care to the young wards of the state.

The author wrong-footed me a few times but I don’t think I was too far from the mark in guessing who was who and what was what. One of the reveals at the end did take me by surprise though and I admired the way I was blind-sided by it. I was saddened by the demise of one of the characters towards the end, as I had been rooting for him and his efforts to make his partner proud of him. Testament to Mark Hill’s skills in creating believable and sympathetic characters, as well as those you loathed – Mrs Drake Snr, I’m talking about you. 

I did have a couple of minor gripes – mainly that our Two O’ Clock Boy has several opportunities to end Grace and fulfil his plans, but toys with him instead, deferring until later. I didn’t quite buy that one. Otherwise a tremendous read and a bit of a surprise when considering that it’s the author’s first book.

My longest read of the month – 424 pages and it took about 3 days to devour.

4 from 5

Mark Hill has a website here and is on Facebook here and Twitter@markhillwriter

Read in April, 2017
Published – 2016
Page count – 424
Source – review copy from publisher Little Brown
Format  - paperback



Wednesday 26 April 2017


A fairly light month's crime-mystery-horror viewing in February numbers-wise anyway.

Friend Request (2016)

I find it hard to believe this is a 15 rating, or it could be that I'm just a scaredy-cat and have too nervous a disposition to sit through films like this. I lost count of the number of times my legs shot out while watching this - enough to suffer from RSI by the time the film was over. I don't like films like this and the more I protest the more my youngest daughter insists on a fright night!
When a college student unfriends a mysterious girl online, she finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends.

Inspector George Gently (2007 - 2017)
I was unaware of this series until catching up with a few episodes on the Alibi channel during the month. I'm puzzled that I didn't even know of its existence when it has just entered it's eighth season. (And it was aired on BBC1!) It's a series set in the 60s by the looks of things and stars Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby. I like Ingleby, but I'm not a massive fan of Martin Shaw - still unable to forgive him for the faux-pas curly perm back when he was on The Professionals with Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson. Shaw give him his due, is starting to grow on me though.

The show derives from a series of crime fiction books penned by Alan Hunter in the 50s and set in East Anglia.

Inspector George Gently (also known as George Gently for the pilot and first series) is a British television crime drama series produced by Company Pictures for BBC One, set in the 1960s and loosely based on some of the Inspector Gently novels written by Alan Hunter. The series features Martin Shaw as the eponymous Inspector, Lee Ingleby as Detective Sergeant John Bacchus, and Simon Hubbard and Lisa McGrillis in supporting roles as police constables for the fictitious North East Police Constabulary.
The series is notable for moving the setting of the stories to North East England, centering on Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland and County Durham, as opposed to the Norfolk, as portrayed in the books. As the series begins, the death penalty is still in effect in Britain, and is used as a plot feature in some early episodes. The abolishment of the penalty in 1965 is a change that is noted in the series. The earliest episodes are set in 1964, and the series progresses in approximately real time, with the closing scenes of the seventh series taking place in January 1970.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

I picked this film up just before Christmas for a pound. It's a film I have heard of but never seen. I had seen the book years ago by Patrick Mann but never read it. Looking up a bit of detail for this post, I find an article that tells me its based on a true story. I always thought it was fiction. See here. Interesting seeing Al Pacino from 40 years ago. An enjoyable film, but a bit slow in places. Hard to see any bank robbery-hostage-siege situations playing out like this these days.
When inexperienced criminal Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) leads a bank robbery in Brooklyn, things quickly go wrong, and a hostage situation develops. As Sonny and his accomplice, Sal Naturile (John Cazale), try desperately to remain in control, a media circus develops and the FBI arrives, creating even more tension. Gradually, Sonny's surprising motivations behind the robbery are revealed, and his standoff with law enforcement moves toward its inevitable end.

Santa Clarita Diet (2017)
Another new series my son, got us into - 10 half hour episodes and I've watched maybe half. I'm a big fan of Drew Barrymore and I love Timothy Olyphant in Justified. Comedy and horror, as Barrymore morphs into a flesh-eater while still living a fairly normal suburban life as a mum, wife and realtor. Husband Olyphant tries to find a cure for her affliction-cum-predeliction while she is trying to satisfy her appetite for fresh meat.

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant star in this Netflix-original series as married realtors, Sheila and Joel, who are living a quiet life, raising their teenage daughter in Santa Clarita, Calif. Their world unexpectedly changes when Sheila goes through a dramatic transformation that sends her down a road of death and destruction -- but leaves her looking and feeling better than ever. Barrymore and Olyphant also serve as executive producers, alongside showrunner and creator Victor Fresco ("Better Off Ted").

Revenant (2015)
Second time around for me, this time watching on the small screen at home. I enjoyed it (again), but I'm still not a massive fan of Leo. I didn't realise until second time around that his nemesis in this film is played by Tom Hardy. I do like Mr Hardy. He's up there with Jason Statham as one of my favourite actors at the minute.

While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains life-threatening injuries from a brutal bear attack. When a member (Tom Hardy) of his hunting team kills his young son (Forrest Goodluck) and leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back to civilization. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, the legendary fur trapper treks through the snowy terrain to track down the man who betrayed him.

Tuesday 25 April 2017


11 books read in January - now 11 books read in February - WTF! Let's hope I can retain my reading mojo for the rest of the year.

They were...

John Murray (with Sharon Murray and Abby Jones) - Code Name: Papa (2015) (2)

Larry D. Sweazy - Where I Can See You (2017) (4.5)

Mick Herron - Dead Lions (2013) (4)

Patrick E. McLean - The Lucky Dime (2017) (4.5)

Georges Simenon - Maigret's Dead Man (1948) (4.5)

Thomas Pluck - Get Plucked: 13 Twisted Tales (2015) (3)

Joe R. Lansdale - The Steel Valentine (1991) (4)

Daniel Vlasaty - A New and Different Kind of Pain (2017) (4.5)

Frank Westworth - Third Person (2014) (4)

Larry Fondation - Common Criminals: LA Crime Stories (2003) (3)

Todd Luchik - The Children of the Transmission (2015) (2)

Book of the month - no 5 STAR read, but a few that ran close - all 4.5 STARS ......Larry D. Sweazy, Daniel Vlasaty, Georges Simenon and Patrick E. McLean - on balance The Lucky Dime - a short story from McLean gets the nod
Book of the month!

So 4 rated 4.5 STARS,

3 rated 4 STARS, a Joe R. Lansdale short, a Frank Westworth Stoner short and a Mick Herron - Slough House novel.

2  a 3 STARS - Larry Fondation and Thomas Pluck - both short story collections.

and a couple of 2 STAR disappointments - Todd Luchik with a short story that I didn't get and a co-authored bit of non-fiction nonsense that nearly bored me to tears - Code Name: Papa from John Murray and cohorts.

More useless trivia......

11 different authors.

5 of the 11 were new-to-me authors........simple maths tells me 6 authors have been enjoyed before.  . I'd be interested in reading more from most of them in the future.

I'm definitely done with John Murray.

Mick Herron - I'd read his shopping list.

Joe R. Lansdale - I probably have his shopping list on my shelves already.

Patrick E. McLean has his full novel out 1st May - The Soak, which I will probably get.

I've loved 3 books already from Larry D. Sweazy and have a fourth to get to - A Thousand Falling Crows.

Larry Fondation, Frank Westworth and Georges Simenon - I have more sitting on the Kindle and the library tubs to get to.

I'm up to date with Thomas Pluck, Todd Luchik and Daniel Vlasaty for now at least!

Gender analysis - no surprises here - 10.33 male reads, .67 female

I think 10 authors hail from the US, (3 contributed to the one book)
2 authors are English, 1 deceased was from Belgium.

10 were fiction reads, 1 was a memoir of an espionage-type-covert-secret-agent-life

2 were collections of short stories, 3 were short story reads that have been published on their own.

8 were published this decade - with 1 from 1940s, 1 from the 90s, 1 from the 00s.

4 of the 11 books were pre-owned - 1 an Amazon FREEBIE! 5 titles came from the publisher, 2 from the authors, courtesy of signing up to their websites for author updates..

Favourite cover? Larry Fondation - Common Criminals: LA Crime Stories.

Get Plucked from Thomas Pluck is my second favourite cover.

My reads were this long - 326 - 254 - 350 - 29 - 240 - 100 - 29 - 79 - 40 - 145 - 16
Total page count =  1608 (2687 in January)

4 < 50,
2 between 51 < 100,
1 between 101 < 200,
2 between 201 < 300,
2 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Mick Herron's Dead Lions was the longest @ 350.

Monday 24 April 2017


A few good looking acquisitions during February......

Irish crime from the publisher - Bonnier Zaffre
For fans of Alex Barclay and Niamh O'Connor, Little Bones introduces Cathy Connolly, a bright young heroine set to take the world of crime fiction by storm.

Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress - and, concealed in its hem, a baby's bones.

And then the dress's original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic - and now he's in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn't know dangerous - and personal - this case is about to become...
Down and Out Books via Net Galley
As if things aren’t bad enough in Penns River, development and funding of a new religious-themed mall grinds to a halt when heavily-armed assassins cut down five leaders of the town’s fledgling drug trade while eating lunch in the food court. The television minister behind the mall has associates not normally associated with a ministry, outside drug gangs may be muscling into town, and the local mob boss could have an angle of his own. The cops have this and all the usual local activity to contend with in a story that extends beyond the borders of Penns River.

Praise for Resurrection Mall…

“Dana King’s Resurrection Mall is a patchwork of desperation from a depressed river town written with genuine style and grit.” —Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of What You Break

“Another thoughtful, taut, suspense filled novel from one of America’s best new writers, the great Dana King.” —Adrian McKinty, author of the Sean Duffy trilogies

French crime from Pushkin Vertigo

It was fate that led her to step out in front of the car. A quiet mountain road. A crushed violin. And a beautiful woman lying motionless in the ditch.
Carrying her back to his lodging on a beach near Barcelona, Daniel discovers that the woman is still alive but that she remembers nothing - not even her own name. And soon he has fallen for her mysterious allure. She is a blank canvas, a perfect muse, and his alone. But when Daniel travels to France in search of her past, he slips into a tangled vortex of lies, depravity and murder. The Executioner Weeps is a macabre thriller about the dangerous pitfalls of love.

Akashic Books via Edelweiss site - a debut novel!
It's 1997 at the dawn of the digital age in San Francisco. Ex-journalist and struggling alcoholic David "Itchy" Crane's fledgling "information consultancy" business is getting slowly buried by bad luck, bad decisions, and the growing presence of the Internet. Before Itchy can completely self-destruct, a crooked private investigator offers him fifty grand to find a missing girl named Ashley. Crane takes the job because the money's right and because the only clue to her disappearance is a dead-on oil portrait of Crane himself painted by the mysterious missing girl--whom he has never met.

As Crane's search for Ashley rapidly becomes an obsession, he stumbles upon a series of murders, gets slapped around by thugs and intimidated by cops, and begins to suspect he's being framed for the murders by a psychotic Guatemalan hit man. Left with no avenue but survival, Crane goes on the offensive, fighting to clear his name, solve the murders, and find the beguiling portrait artist Ashley, who may have a few surprises of her own.

Rob Pierce and the follow on to Uncle Dust from All Due Respect
Vollmer’s a young guy, grows up on ugly streets. He survives by being uglier, hurting people for money, hurting people because he likes hurting people. When he’s hired to track down Dust and bring back the money he stole, keeping Dust alive isn’t a priority. Neither is keeping anyone else alive, even people he loves. Vollmer’s killed people he loves before. “With The Right Enemies” is the bullet-drenched follow-up to “Uncle Dust,” Rob Pierce’s acclaimed debut novel about a bank robber’s disastrous fling with domestic life. 

"Rob Pierce is one of the more imaginative literary voices in our new emerging era of noir." -- James Grady, Six Days of the Condor

"A detailed and empathetic portrait of a personal struggle with demons we may not all face directly, but which always lurk beneath our carefully calculated covers. Pierce rips off that lid and exposes the common darkness of all our souls, whether we want to admit it or not." -- Will Viharo, Hard-boiled Heart, Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me

Fourth or fifth in Ziskin's Ellie Stone series - from Seventh Street Books

Tony Eberle has just scored his first role in a Hollywood movie, and the publisher of his hometown newspaper in upstate New York wants a profile of the local boy who's made good. Reporter Ellie Stone is dispatched to Los Angeles for the story. But when she arrives on set to meet her subject, Tony has vanished. His agent is stumped, the director is apoplectic, and the producer is dead.

Ellie is on the story, diving headfirst into a treacherous demimonde of Hollywood wannabes, beautiful young men, desperately ambitious ingénues, panderers, and pornography hobbyists. Then there are some real movie stars with reputations to protect. To find the killer, Ellie must separate the lies from the truth, unearthing secrets no one wants revealed along the way. But before she can solve Bertram Wallis's murder, she must locate Tony Eberle.

Sunday 23 April 2017



The Disco Boys and THE Band are BACK ... In the early 80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven't spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive ... and forget. With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival - The Big Bang - on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island. Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loves Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy - a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland's finest new voices.

'Crucially Ross's novel succeeds in balancing light and dark, in that it can leap smoothly from brutal social realism to laugh-out-loud humour within a few sentences. It is a triumphant debut novel, which announces a real new talent on the Scottish literary scene' Press and Journal

'More than just a nostalgic recreation of the author's youth, it's a compassionate, affecting story of a family in crisis at a time of upheaval and transformation, when disco wasn't the only thing whose days were numbered' - Herald Scotland

'By turn hilarious and heart-breaking, more than anything Ross creates beautifully rounded characters full of humanity and perhaps most of all, hope. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It’s rude, keenly observed and candidly down to earth' The Scotsman

A bit of a departure for me insofar as it’s not a mystery or some gritty crime fiction. The Man who Loved Islands is a novel about friendships - past, fractured and soon to be mended. Always assuming our main players can forgive, both themselves and each other.

It’s the third in a loose trilogy of book from Ross – the earlier ones were The Last Days of Disco and The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas.

We have estranged friends Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller and a realisation in middle-age of the importance and enjoyment, their youthful relationship had for them both. Twenty plus years later and with the interference of Hamish May they get the opportunity to resurrect it and enjoy a new adventure.

Best read ever? No but I liked the separate tales of both main characters and friends and family on the periphery. Ross invites us into their lives and we share their individual journeys over the past few years. The author flip-flops the narrative with chapters alternating past and present and differing locations.

We spend a lot of time on the party island of Ibiza and there’s a lot of musical hat-tips and references – some of which weren’t especially familiar to me by title. A trip to You-Tube with a list of tracks soon corrected that. In the 80s I was more of a beer and football bloke, than a dance and raver type. I’m too old for both now!

I liked all the characters and their escapades. I could relate to a lot of the follies of youth – the nights on the beer, the arguments, the laughs, the fights and the hurts. The only difference being, I’m happy to leave my youth and friends from 30 years ago – back in the past. I have a different life now.

There are some moments of pure comedy gold – a couple of amputees with a spinning harness and a hard-on, getting down and dirty brought tears to my eyes.  

Towards the end of the book and our climactic celebratory re-union gig in remembrance of a deceased family member, there’s the surprising addition of rising tension to our tale.

All in all a great read. 

4 from 5

David F. Ross  was answering a few questions on the blog yesterday – here

His website is here. He’s on Twitter - @dfr10

Read in April, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 310
Source - review copy from publisher Orenda Books
Format - paperback

Saturday 22 April 2017


Scottish author - David F. Ross has his third book out in the loose Disco Days trilogy - The Man Who Loved Islands..........

The Disco Boys and THE Band are BACK ...

In the early '80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven't spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive ... and forget.

Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loved Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy.

I'm happy to welcome him onto the blog today, answering a few questions - a bit of a reversal. I'll have some thoughts on the book itself tomorrow.

Is the writing full-time? What’s the day job or what were you in your pre-writing life?

The writing definitely isn’t full-time. I’m the Design Director of a large Scottish-based architectural firm and that pays the bills. However, I don’t see them as dramatically different conceits. Both are fundamentally about people; how they react and respond to the environment that you – as architect or writer – create around them. My books are set in real places as context and often utilise real events as background and I suppose that sensibility comes from a designer’s need to observe rather than speculate.

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

I’ve been fortunate that there’s been a few. Appearing at Aye Write! and the Edinburgh International Book Festival were both good fun to do, but I guess the touring and promotion of the German translation of The Last Days Of Disco in major German cities last year was perhaps the most exciting.
What’s your typical (book) writing schedule?

I don’t really have a formal or fixed approach to writing. My actual job is way too unpredictable to allow any disciplined time management for writing. The first book was written largely while I was working overseas during a 12-month period in 2011. The second and third were a bit more organised mainly because I had something of a contractual obligation deadline with them. They were essentially five to six-month timescales written in sporadic creative bursts. I wish I could be more organised but I’m too indoctrinated in a non-9-to-5 culture.

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

Yes, but mainly just characteristics or interesting fragments, although The Last Days Of Disco has an important female character called Lizzie King. Elizabeth King is the name of my wife’s best friend and we’ve both known her since we were kids. It was initially a just a bit of fun from a time before I had any interest in having it published, but she thought it was funny so I just left it in. There are also real people who infiltrate the books. Margaret Thatcher is a fairly significant character in The Last Days Of Disco, Boy George played an important peripheral part in The Rise & Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas, and there are a number of real people - such as the brilliant Scottish band Teenage Fanclub – in The Man Who Loved Islands. With the exception of Thatcher, for whom I have nothing but disdain, the rest are all treated very respectfully.

How long did The Man Who Loved Islands take from conception to completion?

Probably around six months. I finished it in September of last year, a bit earlier than I had initially anticipated.

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

A bit of both really. I imagine writing is maybe a bit similar to doing a complicated jigsaw puzzle; looking for the edges and borders allows you to fill in the other parts of the puzzle having established these key parameters of timeline and context. However, my books are very character-driven and having invested significantly in their personalities, motivations, dreams and concerns, my job is simply to make sure the characters act – and react – authentically. I spend a lot of time on dialogue, and that is often the part that develops and changes the story as it progresses and different ideas emerge.

Are there any subjects off limits?

No. Apart from ones that simply don’t interest me enough to write about.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

The (hopefully) next published book is a belter. It’s called Glaswegian Rhapsody and is set in the city over a 30-year period. Its structure is stolen from New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, and also Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, in that it features three separate but connected stories about the city and the people who live (or lived) in its underbelly. There are several cameos from Jim Rockford (from the 70s TV programme The Rockford Files). And of course, there’s a blistering soundtrack…naturally.

Can you tell us a bit about your previous books?

I have two books published prior to The Man Who Loved Islands, and all three form something of a Trilogy in that, although not strictly related in terms of plot, they feature a large cast of characters with some coming more to the fore in different books. Hopefully, The Man Who Loved Islands ties up all the loose ends.

Each of the books is essentially about the hopes and dreams of the central characters – especially the younger ones. In The Last Days Of Disco, those hopes and dreams belong to Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller who leave school to start a mobile DJ business in 1982 as the Falklands War begins and a smaller, but no less significant one begins between them and a cabal of local gangsters. In The Rise & Fall Of The Miraculous Vespas, those same gangsters find themselves funding the unexpected success of a local indie-music band as they scale the heights of the UK charts.

The Man Who Loved Islands brings these two separate stories up to the present day but is perhaps a more mournful reflection of life not turning out in the way that the central characters had hoped. There’s regret, depression, pain and an acute sense of time running out for all of them. It’s a laugh-a-minute..!

Is there one of your books you’re more proud of that any of the others? Which and why?

The Last Days Of Disco is a bit more personal – and perhaps autobiographical – than the other two, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. When you realise that you’ve created something that means a lot to other people, it’s a truly fantastic feeling. I’m very fond of the other two (or three, if you include Glaswegian Rhapsody) but in different ways, if that makes sense.

What are the last five books you have read?

The Reflection by Hugo Wilken
Number 11 by Jonathan Coe
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry
The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh

Who do you read and enjoy?

My literary influences are pretty easy to spot. Irvine Welsh, John Niven, Jonathan Coe and Roddy Doyle are perhaps the writers whose books I would always read. Although I’m not a massive crime fiction fan, Denise Mina is a brilliant writer and her books – especially the Glasgow ones – embody the complex and contradictory relationship that I have with the city of my birth.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Plenty. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse, or A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving, or The Rotter’s Club by Jonathan Coe. In terms of sales, I wish I’d written the Bible, and then copyrighted all subsequent bastardised versions of it.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I play football at weekends, and I’m still fairly obsessed with music. When I was younger I had over 5,000 vinyl singles and sold them all. Having accumulated almost the same amount of CDs, I’m now back buying vinyl again.

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

I’ve just finished a stage play based on The Miraculous Vespas book, and there are some interesting ideas in discussion with that. I also have a book draft in progress called ‘Weekenders’ about six middle-aged female friends who decide to go on a weekend away to Barcelona together, but all are hiding some devastating secrets from each other that will inevitably emerge when they spend four days in such close, claustrophobic proximity to each other.

What’s the best thing about writing?

The words ‘The End’.

The worst?

The 80,000 ones that precede those two.

 In a couple of years time…

…I’ll be another couple of years closer to retirement, and a guitar-shaped pool in the Hollywood Hills, after winning a Best Screenplay Oscar for The Last Days Of Disco.

Many thanks to David for his time and Anne Cater at Orenda Books for setting this interview up.

David has his website here. He's on Twitter - @dfr10