Thursday 30 November 2017


Another month with more new books in than were read and cleared out.
Six of them were.....

Courtesy of Endeavour Press the publisher. I think the title alone would make you want to read it!
Lieutenant Josef Slonský has been a policeman in Prague for nearly forty years. In that time – which includes the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia – he has worked his way up from the lowest of the low to a position of almost no influence whatsoever. 

But he has learned the difference between the law and justice. His remaining ambition in the police force is to make it to retirement age without any young yob bashing his skull in with a lump of wood. Oh, and needling his superiors just enough to satisfy his sense of insubordination without leaving him vulnerable to reprisals.

But when the sardonic Slonský is called in to investigate the death of a young woman found with a wad of bank notes rammed - somewhere! - he finds himself embroiled in a series of scandals that reach to the highest levels in Government. In his personal search of the truth – and his next coffee, beer, sausage – Slonský trawls through the mean streets of Prague keeping alive the fine tradition of the maverick detective. 

Dave Warner's latest - he won the Ned Kelly last year! Courtesy of Text Publishing.
In 1999, a number of young women go missing in the Perth suburb of Claremont. One body is discovered. Others are never seen again. Snowy Lane (City of Light) is hired as a private investigator but neither he nor the cops can find the serial killer. Sixteen years later, another case brings Snowy to Broome, where he teams up with Dan Clement (Before It Breaks) and an incidental crime puts them back on the Claremont case. Clear to the Horizon is a nail-biting Aussie-style thriller, based on one of the great unsolved crimes in Western Australia's recent history. Its twists and turns will keep you guessing to the end.Dave Warner's Before It Breaks (Fremantle Press) won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction in 2016.This novel brilliantly combines the sleuthing skills of two of Warner's best-known characters and looks at how unsolved crimes can continue to haunt communities long after the fact.The book references the Claremont serial killings, Western Australia's most notorious cold-case. It's a case that real-life investigators recently made a giant leap forward on: arresting a man for the murders of two women.Warner's work has strong support from newspapers like the Herald Sun, Sydney Morning Herald and Weekend Australian and reviews of his last book were syndicated to newspapers across the nation.Warner is a known musician with an existing fan base and is likely to feature on local NSW and WA radio.

Amazon purchase
A man is the sole witness to a fatal accident. Thugs warn him against testifying; but nobody warned the thugs...

Jack Crane retired after a hectic career in the British Army. This resourceful, unassuming mid-forties bachelor had limited romantic experiences – his only love lay in the past. He was enjoying the peace and quiet of country life, until one fateful day he was the sole witness to a tragic accident. He ignores the threats of some bad faces, and picks out the young man responsible. 

The man’s father orders the thugs to carry out their threats. However, an innocent man is killed in the process.

The police cannot act without hard evidence, but Crane will get it come what may. Whilst striving to obtain that evidence, he re-discovers his lost love, but is she to be trusted? Crane becomes involved with a number of bad faces that try to put him out of action. Eventually, a professional hit-man is put on Crane’s tail, but the perpetrator finds that Crane’s resolve has no bounds, that lead them both to the USA.
From Edelweiss early reviewer site
Ben Shippers doesn't have much use for school, friends, or pretty much anyone except his smartass siser, but he does harbor a secret passion: Trash Mountain, the central feature of the noxious landfill next to his house, the fumes from which have made his sister ill. After a botched attempt to destroy Trash Mountain with a homemade firebomb, Ben begins a years-long infiltration operation that leads him to drop out of school to work alongside homeless trash-pickers, and then, eventually, intern at the very place he meant to destroy. Ben's boss there, a charismatic would-be titan of sanitation, shows Ben the intricate moralities of the trash industry, forcing him to choose between monetary stability and his environmental principles. With dark humor, Trash Mountain reflects on life in small southern cities in decline and an adolescent's search for fundamental values without responsible adults to lead the way.

A bit of True Crime courtesy of Net Galley
Bobby BlueJacket illuminates a neglected history of American crime, identity, and politics in the 20th century. This is the extraordinary true story of a man who went from career thief and convicted killer to celebrated prison journalist—ultimately becoming a respected Eastern Shawnee activist and orator. Bobby BlueJacket draws upon 5 years of interviews with the subject, long-buried law enforcement and trial records, prison archives, news accounts, and interviews with others such as filmmaker and photographer Larry Clark.

Born in 1930, BlueJacket came of age as a Native American in white Oklahoma—passing through Indian Schools, teenage rumbles, and Midwest safecracker crews. While incarcerated, he remade himself as a prison journalist. By the 1970s, he would act as a political impresario, used tire salesman, and prison rodeo emcee, and later as a venerable tribal elder. At each turn, BlueJacket sought out success and self-definition by any means necessary. More than just an underworld tale—Bobby BlueJacket is an in-depth exploration of one man’s experience in a brutal post-war world.

Bobby BlueJacket is illustrated with almost 90 photographs from never-before-seen personal archives, as well as images from prison publications and newspaper clippings.

Edelweiss again thanks to ECW Press
Three crooked cops going straight after a murderer

Woody was working on getting high when the phone rang. Dennis was on a date — it was a date he paid for, but a date all the same. Os had blood on his hands from a little extracurricular law enforcement. All three men picked up their phones because they were cops, and cops are never really off-duty — not even when they’re crooked.

Detective Julie Owen was savagely killed in her own bed, and the unborn child she was carrying is nowhere to be found. The grisly crime has the brass breathing down the necks of the three detectives tasked with finding Julie’s killer. Woody, Dennis, and Os each shared a bond with Julie that went deeper than the blue of their uniforms and have their own reasons to want to find the person responsible for her murder. Secrets drive the investigation — secrets that need to stay buried long enough to solve the case.

Wednesday 29 November 2017



In Knuckledragger, hooligan and low-level criminal enforcer Jason “Candy” Stahl (“Irish” to his sometime girlfriend Rosario) has made a good life collecting money for his boss Otis, breaking the occasional leg or elbow, fucking Rosario, and living the life in Revere, MA. One collection trip, though, at the Diovisalvo Liquor Store, unravels events that turn Candy’s life into a horror-show.

In quick succession he moves up a notch in the organization, overseeing a chop shop, while he falls in lust with Otis’s girlfriend Nina, gets beaten for insubordination, and is forced to run when Otis finds out about Candy and Nina’s affair.

Events stretch as far as Houston, Texas, where Otis and Candy have a final showdown where everything is at stake. Loser gets nothing.


“Knuckledragger is fast and hard as a punch you remember for the rest of your life. The prose bursts with rough-hewn power, the pace is blistering, and the characters will break your heart. You couldn’t ask for a better slice of modern noir.” —Nick Kolakowski, author of A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps

Harsh, brutal, violent - populated almost entirely by criminal low-lives and assorted hangers-on. In short - my kind of book!

Our tale concerns Candy. Candy is a collector for Otis. He's capable at his job; relatively untroubled by inflicting physical pain on those falling behind with their loan payments. There's no guilty conscience stopping him from sleeping at night. He has a regular squeeze, Rosie but's it's a relationship of convenience for them both. Nothing discussed, nothing official.

Candy's wandering eye gets him in trouble with the boss. Nina, Otis's girlfriend is trouble and a bit too much chat and a few too many glances, has Otis's crew dishing out a severe beating. Candy's smart but where Nina is concerned, his brains have relocated southwards of his trousers belt.

Broken bones and on the naughty list, Candy's taking some R and R with Rosie when a previous collection comes back to bite him on the bum. More testosterone and butting of heads ensues. Rosie's getting a feel for the kind of guy Candy is.

Hostilities over with Otis for now, a surprising promotion and his bones on the mend, Candy has a second opportunity to advance withing the ranks of his criminal fraternity.  But once bitten twice shy is not an adage our man intends to live his life by.

Candy fails to take on-board the previous warning. Otis unleashes his hounds and Candy and Rosie are running.

Despite the lack of many redeeming qualities I was rooting throughout for our main man, Candy. Maybe he was just less repellent than Otis, but probably we just spent more time in his company. It was interesting and obvious (to this reader at least) to observe his downward spiral. A bad choice made, consequences suffered. You kind of felt an inevitability about the outcome. Perhaps Candy himself, with a lack of any ambition in life or any real goals, knew his fate also.
Barnes kind of surprised me with Rosie's versatility and commitment to the cause.
I'm becoming a big fan of Rusty Barnes's work.

4.5 from 5

Ridgerunner was enjoyed previously - see here for a few thoughts.
Reckoning and Mostly Redneck sit on the pile. I'm looking forward to a future Ridgerunner sequel which is in the pipeline - either later this year or early-ish next.

In addition to the novels and short stories, Barnes has a couple of books of poetry which have been published - I Am not Ariel and On Broad Sound. He also runs the paying blogazine - Tough.

Rusty Barnes has his website here.
He's on Facebook here.
Catch him on Twitter@rwilliambarnes

Read in November, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 200
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF file

Tuesday 28 November 2017


Two this week from another unread, languishing on the Kindle author – McDroll! 

Not someone I know a great deal about, other than I liked the look of these two short story collections when browsing.

From her Amazon author page…….

McDroll lives in Argyll, Scotland which is easily one of the most beautiful places in the world, steeped in history from prehistoric standing stones to Celtic crosses or castles and countless lochs and glens.

She sits at night, laptop on knees and writes about murders…well, what else would she do?

She has an author Facebook page (somewhat inactive) here and a Twitter account - @McDroll

Both collections come in around the 70-odd page mark, so not too much of an investment time-wise. What am I waiting for then?


KICK IT TOGETHER is McDroll's 10 original crime/noir stories now together in one amazing edition!

Read about Gemma Dixon, the young CID officer who doesn't stand for any nonsense from her male colleagues and can kick and punch her way out of any difficult situation.

Drowning tells the story of a support for learning teacher who comes to the end of the road in more than one sense.

McDroll writes about people on the edge, struggling to survive against the odds and the momentous decisions they have to take to survive.


Ten plate-steel short stories with a beating heart. A great mixture of noir, crime, humour and slice-of-life dramas.

McDroll’s crime fiction has a nip of noir and a splattering of Scottish humour and can be found floating around in the digital world, most notably in Shotgun Honey, All Due Respect and Near To The Knuckle. Other stories can be found in the anthologies Off the Record, The Lost Children, Burning Bridges and True Brit Grit.

McDroll is the author of the crime novella The Wrong Delivery and the short story collections Kick It Together and Kick It With Conviction.

Monday 27 November 2017



NYPD Officer Charles Griffin, a known drunk, a notorious bully, and dirty cop is involve in stealing drugs and money from drug dealers, is involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler that kills him, one other cop, and leaves 2 other cops critical.

Detective Tony Philadelphia, a homicide detective from the 9th precinct, is asked by the Precinct Captain to find out what happened. What happens next is a trail that goes thru dirty cops, brutal cops, using their badge to rob drug dealers, force sex, and get the Columbo Mafia family involved. In every page are descriptions of cop abuse, killings, and assorted cop dishonor that is fresh out of today's news stories.

A self-published book littered with typos and spelling mistakes and at times a wandering plot, definitely in need of a decent edit, but one which at the same time I really enjoyed.

The plot as such has a cadre of dirty cops and two far from squeaky clean ones (drinking and fornicating while on duty for starters) investigating them. Our main guy is Tony Philadelphia. Philadelphia is honest, treats street people with respect, doesn't use excessive force, loves women and has certain skills and unrivaled stamina that has the ladies loving him back. Philadelphia and his partner Ed Longo have to investigate after the death of a dirty cop in a road traffic accident.

The investigation uncovers a catalogue of crimes - stealing drugs from dealers and reselling them, carrying out mob hits and basically doing anything other than protect the public. It's an investigation which needs to be done with care - remember Serpico? There's the unwritten code of blue looking after blue, not ratting on a fellow cop.

Interspersed with the investigation, are numerous anecdotes regarding the police and how they act towards the street people they come into contact with. Young cops set targets by the hierarchy for arrests, stoppages, numbers of tickets issued, etc within a monthly period. Their behaviour towards the skels (NYPD slang for scumbags) as a consequence brutal - inflicting violence and planting drugs, false accusations of resisting arrest the standard excuse for the beatings handed out. After a while there's a certain monotony about these incidents recounted and witnessed by Philadelphia and his partner on their way to stakeouts or the local bar for free drinks.

The language used in the book is frequently crude and there's plenty of graphic sex scenes as Matlick endows his hero Tony Philadelphia with legendary bedroom skills. If you are easily offended this won't be a book for you. Fortunately I'm not and I found the dialogue and action amusing and entertaining. I do wonder if there's a slight exaggeration to the portrayal of so many cops as either on the take or abusive.

Another theme prevalent throughout the book is misogyny. The male cops on display, especially our hero are placed in a testosterone driven, Alpha-male environment where women are primarily viewed as receptacles for the male seed. All the sex is consensual and the women are all willing, a sort of cop-groupie type thing going on, but on the whole there appears little respect for them. In the light of recent harassment headlines in workplaces around the globe, mainly celebrity - Hollywood types and political - politicians in the UK, I wonder if it's an accurate portrayal of a modern police department. All women can't surely just be viewed as pussy and ass.

The plot kind of takes a slightly far-fetched turn with Philadelphia at the behest of his bosses, getting close to a Mafia widow in an effort to secure evidence against her extended family - all of whom are connected and participated in the death of the widow's husband and father.

Another interesting point made was the cooperation or lack of it, between all the different enforcement agencies. Each somewhat unwilling to share information, in the hope of claiming the collar for themselves.

Best book ever? No.
Was I entertained? Yes
Did I ever wish I was reading a different book at the time? No
Would I read more from the author? Maybe

Enjoyable, funny, crude, at times violent and at times repetitive. Not sure Matlick will be hired as a PR rep for the NYPD.

3.5 from 5

Read in November, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 304
Source - review copy from author via Kelsey @Book Publicity Services
Format - paperback



Cop Andy Bastian is offered a thousand dollars in exchange for a favour – not an insignificant amount in the early Sixties.

He’s to deliver Ralph, the brilliant son of wealthy parents, to Kansas to be detained in a mental health facility. 

It’s a long journey from California, but they don’t get far before it’s clear they’re being followed.

Initially suspecting the boy’s father is merely keeping a close eye, it quickly becomes clear that something much more sinister is afoot.

Just who is trying to get to them?

And can he get Ralph safely to the asylum before they do?

Praise for Richard Wormser

‘Realistically told… carefully controlled, fast paced’ – Kirkus Reviews

Richard Wormser is not an author I had heard of until very recently with Endeavour Press re-issuing some of his novels from the early 60s. Drive East on 66 is the first of two books featuring Andy Bastian.

Bastian is a cop and has the opportunity to earn a few extra dollars, moonlighting as a delivery driver for a rich businessman, Sidney Bartlett. The cargo is the businessman's son, Ralph who needs to be delivered to an asylum, without fuss and avoiding any publicity. Our book is a road trip. Travelling with Bastian and Ralph is Olga Beaumont, a graduate student in psychology. Olga has been helping with Ralph at Bartlett's mansion.

Andy, with his cop spider sense soon gets the feeling that they are being followed. A mechanical breakdown with Bartlett's nearly new Cadillac enhancing that suspicion. Investigating further he soon dismisses the likely pursuers as too dim to be up to no good. Subsequent incidents occur on our trip which positively confirm that persons unknown do not want Ralph to reach his intended destination.

I quite enjoyed this one. We have the three main characters in the vehicle and its interesting seeing how the relationships between them all evolve during the course of our eventful road trip. Ralph's moods and mental well-being fluctuate wildly on our trip. Little stresses rapidly changing his personality from likeable, friendly, funny and great company to irrational and unpredictable. Bastian works well with Olga in recognising when he is about to mood-change and in heading off most of the possible explosions. Not always though.

Ralph outwits Bastian and Miss Beaumont on one occasion, leading to police involvement after an incident that leaves a young adult in hospital. Bastian has to use his skills and authority to divert police attention away from his young charge. An Indian reservation cop and the girl's father is not so easily put off. His reappearance later in the book adds to the tension.

Enjoyable without setting my reading world alight. I warmed to our trio as the novel progressed and was happy enough with the plot and the subsequent conclusion and rationale. I'd be happy reading more from Wormser in future.

4 from 5

Richard Wormser had 14 books published between 1934 and 1972, some under a pseudonym Ed Friend. He wrote Westerns as well as crime/mystery fiction. He died in 1977.

The University of Arizona has more info about him - here.

Read in November, 2017
Published - 1961 (republished 2017 by Endeavour Press)
Page count - 174
Source - Net Galley
Format - Kindle

Saturday 25 November 2017



2017 Macavity Award nominee, Best Novel

Perfect for fans of Michael Connelly and Robert Crais

Private Investigator Rick Cahill fears the next knock on his door will be a cop holding a warrant for his arrest. For murder. La Jolla Chief of Police Tony Moretti is convinced Rick killed a missing person. No body has been found, but the evidence that's piling up says murder and it all points to Rick. With Moretti on his tail and the bank about to foreclose on his house, Rick takes a paying case that will stave off the bank, but pits him against Moretti and the La Jolla Police Department.

Brianne Colton, a beautiful country singer, is convinced her estranged husband's suicide was really murder. Rick is unconvinced, but the mortgage has to be paid. Each new piece of evidence convinces him she's right. He breaks his number one rule and falls for Brianne, even as he begins to question her motives.

As Moretti cinches the vise tighter, with Rick unable to trust the FBI, evil forces emerge from the shadows who will do anything, including torture and murder, to stop Rick from uncovering the truth.

Dark Fissures is my third time reading Matt Coyle and his ex-cop, PI Rick Cahill.

Here Cahill is in trouble. The bank is about to foreclose on his property, his La Jolla PD nemesis, Chief Moretti is threatening him with imminent arrest for murder and his only ally seems to be his dog, Midnight. Looking into the death of a cop, Jim Colton ruled as suicide on behalf of the victims estranged wife, Brianne might not win him any friends with La Jolla PD, but it might defer foreclosure for another month or so.

The suicide ruling initially looks reasonable, but on closer examination there are unexplained questions - the rope that helped with the deed was of the rock-climbing variety and Jim Colton was scared of heights. His cell phone was missing. There were unexplained phone calls to the FBI in the days before his death and doubts over whether Colton would do such a deed in the knowledge that his son would be the one to find the body.

Coyle gives us lots to ponder with plenty going on here..... a sexy widow, who has a bit of a reputation and may just tempt Cahill into breaking a few of his golden rules, the ex-SEAL background of our victim, possible issues of corruption at work - Chief Moretti again, the increased volume of phone calls to his ex-service buddies, the shadow of previous events dogging our main man, to mention a few.

Not my favourite book in the series, but enjoyable enough. I like Rick Cahill as a character, but on this occasion the constant fear of his past catching up with him, kind of irritated after a while. The present day case was interesting and the slow unravelling of the threads binding the mystery was well done. I was unsure who could be trusted as events edged towards a climax. Coyle kept me off-balance, as I tried to determine who was responsible. There's a clever twist at the end, which might hopefully put the past to bed for Cahill and enable him to move forward.

Overall 4 from 5

The two previous books in the series are Yesterday's Echo and Night Tremors. The fourth in the series - Blood Truth is published soon.

Matt Coyle has his website here.

Read in November, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 360
Source - review copy from author

Format - trade paperback ARC

Thursday 23 November 2017


Yesterday saw a few thoughts posted on Christopher Farnsworth's Hunt You Down posted on the blog, link - here.

Today Chris is back answering a few questions.....

Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job? Can you give us a quick biography of yourself?

I’m lucky enough to write full time now. I was born and raised in Idaho, and worked as an investigative and business reporter before I sold a screenplay to MGM. After flinging myself at Hollywood for a while, I switched to writing novels when I published BLOOD OATH, about a vampire who works for the President of the United States. I’ve written five more novels since, as well as three novellas. I still write scripts and the occasional article, too.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I try to treat it like a regular job. I put myself in front of the computer after I get my daughters out the door for school, and I try to stay there all day. Some days are better than others, but I am a firm believer that you can’t wait for inspiration. As Jack London said, some days you have to hunt it down with a club.

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

I use the names of people I know for some of the characters in my work, and place names from when I was a kid. A friend recently emailed me because he recognized the name of a dive bar from our hometown. I love it when that happens. It makes me feel like people are paying attention.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I always know where a book starts and ends when I begin writing, but I don’t usually keep to a strict outline. And I don’t usually write linearly. I know the scenes I want to write, and then as I get close to the end, I see how they all fit together. It’s like a combination of a map and a jigsaw puzzle.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Now that I have children, it’s much harder for me to write — or even read about — violence against kids. I find it terrifying and disturbing in a way I could never comprehend before. I’ve still written a few scenes that involve threats against children, and each time, I’ve had to ask myself if I’m doing it because the story requires it, or because it’s such an easy way to raise the dramatic stakes. I used to look at some of my work like a video game or cartoon — I thought it was all just harmless explosions and noise. But given what’s going on in the real world, I’m trying to be more thoughtful about the actual cost of violence. I don’t know if I’m succeeding, but I’m trying.

I’m intending to read Hunt You Down shortly, which I believe is the second John Smith book after Killfile, without any spoilers will we be seeing more of Smith in the future? Is he a character which has legs or are you onto pastures new?

I am at work on another book about John Smith. There are also a lot of stories left to tell in John’s world, which is sometimes uncomfortably close to our own. He’s one of the best — and only — people who can operate at his level, so he has insanely rich clients lined up for his services. But his clients also have incredibly wealthy enemies. He’s one man dealing with people who have the wealth of nations.

I’m also at work on another novel, a standalone, which I’m keeping secret for now.

How long from conception to completion did Hunt You Down take? Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way?

Fortunately, it went very quickly. I signed the contract for the book in January or February and delivered it at the end of August. John makes it easy.  He’s a lot of fun to write. Because of his unique gift, I get to write in what someone else called “first person omniscient.” He knows what almost every other character is thinking, so I can skip over to their perspectives as well.

In addition to the John Smith books, I believe you also have a 5 book series featuring Nathaniel Cade as well as a standalone novel – The Eternal World. Can you tell us a bit about your other work?

The Cade books are about a vampire secret agent who works for the President of the United States. In Cade’s world, every dark horror story, every legendary monster out there is real — and Cade is the first response and last line of defense against them. He’s paired with a human handler, Zach Barrows, and together, they try to stop the nightmares from infecting the daylight world of the American dream. There are three Cade novels and two Cade novellas, starting with BLOOD OATH.

THE ETERNAL WORLD is a standalone novel I wrote based on an idea from movie producers Tom Jacobsen and Monnie Wills. It’s about a group of Spanish Conquistadors who discover the Fountain of Youth — and then slaughter the native tribe guarding it. They use the water to amass wealth and power over the centuries. But when they begin to run out of the water in the present day, they hire a young scientist to replicate it. However, they’ve been tracked over the centuries by the tribe’s sole survivor, a woman named Shako — who finally sees her chance for revenge.

There’s also a collaborative effort with James Patterson – Dead Man Running, how did that come about?

As with so many things in my career, I got lucky. James Patterson’s editor, Trish Daly, is the former assistant of my editor at William Morrow, Rachel Kahan. She thought I’d be a good fit to work with him. It was actually very cool. I got to tell my mom I was writing a book with her favorite author. DEAD MAN RUNNING is about Dr. Randall Beck, an unorthodox psychiatrist with a brain tumor. He’s working against a ticking clock, which makes him fearless in many ways. And when one of his patients is gunned down in front of him, he’s drawn into a conspiracy that could lead all the way to the White House.

Is there one of your books, you are more proud of than the others? Which would you press into the hands of a new reader?

I will always have a soft spot for BLOOD OATH, because it was my first, but usually I give people a copy of KILLFILE and tell them to start there.

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

Not sure this counts as my writing career, but David Mamet pulled a coin from my ear after I gave him a copy of one of my novels. I was grinning about that for days.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Unpublished, yes. Gems, debatable. I wrote four novels before I was published for the first time. I have one about a team that rescues people from Hell that I always liked, but it remains in purgatory.

What’s the current project in progress?

I’m working on the top-secret new novel and John Smith #3. I’m also working on a social interactive fiction game, a group of connected short stories based on a nightmare I had, and a new screenplay.

What’s the best thing about writing?

The feeling when it’s all flowing, and the words are coming one after another, and the typing seems effortless, and you look up, and you’ve written twenty pages without taking a break.

The worst?

When it takes you twenty minutes just to get off Twitter and open the (goddamn) word processing program and there’s still nothing there.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

The Dawn Patrol and California Fire and Life by Don Winslow; The Power by Naomi Alderman; Gangster Nation by Tod Goldberg; Tropic of Kansas by Christopher Brown.

Who do you read and enjoy?

Too many to name, but I’ll give it a shot. In no particular order: Don Winslow, Warren Ellis, Claire North, Elizabeth Hand, John Connolly, Mick Herron, David Mamet, Scott Turow, Joan Didion, Colin Harrison, Thomas Pynchon, Ian Tregillis, Lavie Tidhar, Carolyn See, William Gibson, Elmore Leonard, Daryl Gregory, Charles Stross, Kim Newman, Nick Harkaway, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tod Goldberg, Ed Brubaker, Stephen King, Richard K. Morgan… The list goes on and on.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

I can’t answer this. I come to the end of a lot of books and think, “God, I wish I’d written that.” But then when I get to work again, all I want to do is write the best book that I can. I tend to believe that we can only write our own stories.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Reading. I’ve been told I need to get more hobbies.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Farnsworth household?

I used to watch hours and hours of TV, but then I had kids. I’m still an addict though. Right now my favorite shows are Ray Donovan, The Good Place, Archer, Silicon Valley, and Westworld.

In a couple of years’ time…

I hope I’m still doing this: making up stories and having people read them. This has been my dream job since I was five. I always say I’m the luckiest person I know.

Many thanks to Chris for his time and to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for connecting us.

Chris has his website here
Facebook page here
Twitter @chrisfarnsworth

Wednesday 22 November 2017



"Fast, fun and frenetic. A whip-smart edge-of-your-seat thriller," - Ernest Cline on Killfile

An unstoppable, high-concept action thriller for fans of Mason Cross and Lee Child.

John Smith is no ordinary gun for hire.

Smith is a man or rare gifts, and he knows your every thought . . .

Hired to track down a shooter targeting the rich and famous, Smith must complete his mission before another attack takes place. But when a website on the dark net is found to have connections to the murders, Smith realises that taking down a shadowy figure who has weaponised the internet will prove more difficult than he first thought.

And no matter how hard he tries, this criminal mastermind continues to remain one step ahead.


'Slick, fast-moving fun' - Guardian

'Brilliant . . . Produces intelligent and knuckle-biting suspense. Many will want to read this novel in one sitting' - Publishers Weekly

I must admit I’m not usually one for reading books with elements of supernatural or paranormal or the unexplainable, so I was really surprised to find that I enjoyed this one as much as I did.  John Smith is a private contractor, formerly a CIA operative and the product of a years-old government experiment/project to develop ESP powers in a cadre of agents. Smith’s ability is the power to read minds. Hunt You Down is the second book in the Smith series after Killfile, so the back drop to his time as an agent and his training isn’t really explored here which isn’t that important. Smith’s use of his ability - which also includes being able to implant thoughts into someone’s head - has a consequence in that he absorbs and suffers some of the pain from the people whose minds he reads. In Farnsworth’s hands the ability and the limits of Smith’s powers and the subsequent downside sound plausible and I was readily convinced.

As an opener, Smith is body guarding a rich Russian kid when the pair get caught off guard and are briefly held captive. Smith does his thing and all his right with the world again. Moving on, we have an invite to a celebrity wedding. A reality TV star, who Smith rescued (probably first book) is getting married. The wedding doesn’t go to plan as a gang of armed men attack the party. Our man manages to limit the consequences of the sneak attack and is soon re-employed by the bride’s father to bring the attackers to justice. A fragmented mind-snatch thought offers up the word – Downvote - something which means nothing to our man.

Before long, we discover what Downvote is, where it originated from, how it has been corrupted and Smith has a new mission (tied up with his old one), and a new partner and a new target. Our target, also happens to have his own special weapon, a Chinese agent with abilities comparable to Smith’s. And an agenda.

The rest of our fast-paced tale is a bit of a globe-trotting manhunt. Trying to bring down Downvote and the brains behind it, all the while out-foxing a foe who is our equal in every way. Hunt You Down is a thriller, as opposed to my usual crime fiction reading.

Verdict – I really liked this one and a fair bit more than I was expecting to. The action and events are fast-moving. The plot was believable. Smith’s abilities were convincingly explained and with my doubts and scepticism parked at the front page, I was happy to go with the flow. There’s a fair bit of fun to be had when a protagonist can read an assailant’s mind and can anticipate his next move all the while accessing his not so secret thoughts. Farnsworth serves up a decent conclusion and overall lots here to like. If my TBR pile wasn’t so daunting, I’d happily back track and read the first John Smith book.

4.5 from 5

Christopher Farnsworth has his website here.

Read in November, 2017
Published – 2017
Page count – 368
Source – review copy from publisher, Bonnier Zaffre
Format - Paperback

Tuesday 21 November 2017


A couple from Chris Rhatigan this week – one a collection of short stories and the other a 120-odd page long novel/novella (what’s the difference?)

Both of these are published by All Due Respect books, as well as two further goodies from Rhatigan – Race to the Bottom and The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other

From his website……

I’ve been involved in the crime fiction world as an editor, publisher, and writer for almost a decade.

Chris Rhatigan's website is here

His website is more concerned with his editing services than him blowing his own trumpet about his own work.

I've probably read a couple of his short stories around the internet, but none of his own longer pieces or collections. Time to break my duck I reckon.

Wake Up, Time to Die (2014)

Delusions of grandeur. Furby with an assault rifle. More convenience store robberies than ten seasons of Cops. This is Wake Up, Time to Die. Sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, and always filled with bad coffee and cheap cigarettes, these stories highlight the weird crime side of Chris Rhatigan's repertoire.

 “Rhatigan is an expert at sketching out incidents that feel real, but are steeped in irony and dark humor.”
~Heath Lowrance  - author of The Bastard Hand and City of Heretics

 “Wake Up, Time To Die is noir cut with Novocain; sharp as a junkie’s needle, yet hazy as the morning after. Reality is a fatal disease and this stepped-on high is your cure. Medicate now.”
~Chris Leek - author of Smoke ’Em if You Got ’Em

Squeeze (2016)

Scumbag newspaper reporter Lionel Kaspar aimlessly wanders from one scam to the next. Trying to claw his way to anywhere, Kaspar fabricates news stories and blackmails a local bureaucrat. What little success Kaspar stumbles upon he wastes betting on sports and drinking. But when Greg Hulas, his competitor, starts investigating him, Kaspar becomes desperate to maintain his position.

Monday 20 November 2017


Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks and All the Wicked Girls (on the blog yesterday), answers a few questions...

Is the writing full time now? If not, what’s the day job? 

I wish. I trade in the stock market but do so from home (with my own money) now, so no boss to answer to, though it hurts a lot more when I lose. I do write every day, usually into the early hours, which is why I look a bit ill all the time. 

Both your novels Tall Oaks and All the Wicked Girls have a small town America setting, yet I read you were born in England and spent 10 years as a financial trader in the city. I’m scratching my head here, can you explain why you aren’t setting your books in Watford or Stevenage, for instance?

It’s partly an escapism thing. I sit down at my desk and feel the need to move far from my street and town and life, I like that total separation. And America is just a great setting, with such a sprawling, varied landscape. I think there’s a little more freedom when it comes to police structure and guns etc, it lends itself very well to crime writing.   

What’s easier – a career in the City, or life as an author?

I’ve yet to find anything more difficult than writing a book. I did work very hard in the city, but there was a clear structure to my day, and a clear way of ascertaining whether it was a successful day (I made money or I didn’t). Writing is like beginning a journey and having no idea where you’re going or if you’ll ever get there. Did I make that up? God, I sound like a knob.     

What’s your typical writing schedule?

Write a little, delete a lot. And then ponce around on Twitter. I’ll do this until a deadline looms and then panic and write all night for weeks.  

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

I don’t think so. Though perhaps I do it subconsciously. I never set out to copy traits. I do like to tell people I’ve modelled a horrible character on them, it’s endlessly entertaining.    

How long was the debut book, Tall Oaks in conception, before it finally saw publication and hit the shelves?

Around two and a half years from slush pile (talent pool!) to shelves.   

Did the end result resemble the book you envisaged when you set out? Were there many bumps in the road along the way?

The end result was a long, long way from what I started with, though the heart was always there, a story about a small town trying to move on following the abduction of a child. Once my editor got involved the story went through some major changes. It’s a steep learning curve and if you’re precious about your work then you’re in for a rough ride, but I had such total faith in the team at Bonnier.

We lost a character, added a narrative, changed some plot points and massively tightened up the crime element.

Did you have to conduct a lot of research in respect of the settings for your books, or have you got a strong connection with similar places in the States?

No connection, all research, all painstaking. Maps, books, audio transcripts, interviews. There is no shortcut, I have to put in the hours and grind it out. I set my stories wherever I see them best.  

Was your latest book, All the Wicked Girls an easier book to write than your debut?

No, definitely not. It was a horror. It wasn’t just the weight of expectation, it was writing something fairly heavy and dark, in almost a different language, and writing from the perspective of a teenage girl.

Do you have a favourite from the two? Which would you press into the hands of a new reader first?

Ah there’s no way I could choose. Tall Oaks was my first born and led to so many brilliant things happening. ATWG was the difficult second child, waking me in the night and shitting on me, forcing me to neglect everything else in my life so I could focus on it. I love them both in different ways. So, read both. Or read one and I’ll come round and read you the other.  

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Unpublished, yes. Gems, no.

Is there a current work in progress? How’s it going? Any hints as to what it’s all about?

I am currently writing book 3. It’s about a little girl looking for revenge. Her name is Emily. I’m just starting out so that’s all you’re getting I’m afraid.  

What’s the best thing about writing?

Getting to live in another world for part of the day. When it’s going well, when you’ve a strong sense of place, you know your characters and what’s in store, you sit down and before you know it you’ve written an effortless thousand perfect words, it’s the best job in the world. Working with some of the most creative, talented, lovely people I’ve ever met. Seeing the cover, holding the proof, the first reviews, having a laugh with the bloggers, the launch party.  

The worst?

I am unable to switch off. I’m distant when I’m working through a plot, I’ll be so utterly focused on the story I’m writing that the other facets of my life will take a back seat. I’ve never thought of myself as a selfish person but I become increasingly single-minded as I write.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

The Perfect Victim – Corrie Jackson

The Confession – Jo Spain
My Little Eye – Steph Broadribb
Dark Pines – Will Dean
The Tall Man – Phoebe Locke

All of them are absolute stunners, I urge you to grab them when they’re out.

Who do you read and enjoy?

G.J. Minett is a friend and also a master of the plot twist. He has a new one coming out soon, Anything For Her, and I just know it’s going to be special. Jo Spain. Dennis Lehane. John Hart. Cormac McCarthy. Sunjeev Sahota, I still think about The Year of the Runaways. I have to break from crime now and again.        

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Harry Potter. I would be a hero to my children.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Lovemaking. Often alone.  

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

Sing. It was awesome.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Whitaker household? 

Total TV addict. I’m finally watching The Wire and it’s perfect.

In a couple of years’ time…

Having still not delivered book 3, I will be avoiding my editor.  
Many thanks to Chris for his time and to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for setting this up.

Chris is on Twitter@WhittyAuthor

Sunday 19 November 2017



For fans of Lisa Jewell, Holly Seddon and Local Girl Missing, All the Wicked Girls is a gripping thriller with a huge heart from an exceptional talent.

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

'A very real, very rare talent' Sarah Hilary

'Chris is so amazing. He just has this real knack of creating characters that you're completely engaged with . . . I was hooked by his beautiful prose and by the end I was absolutely ruined' Lisa Hall, author of Between You And Me

Difficult to do this one any sort of justice in a review. After a slightly slow start, once I got into the rhythm of the book I really liked it and was loathe to put it down.

A 15 year-old girl, Summer Ryan goes missing and it isn’t the first disappearance that the small communities in the area have experienced. Several girls have previously vanished and the mythical Bird is responsible. Only he’s not just a made-up bogeyman to frighten the kids, he’s real.

Raine, Summer’s twin and the more wilful of the pair has little faith in Chief Black’s ability to find her sister, so takes to riding the lanes and countryside around Grace with a couple of misfits Noah and Purv to look for her sister.

We experience parts of the book through Summer’s eyes and gradually uncover her secrets and in time discover her fate.

I think I would have enjoyed reading this book, even without the mystery of the disappearance of Summer and the other girls. Whitaker paints an incredibly detailed picture of a small God-fearing bible belt community Grace. The town is in economic decline, work is scarce. There are limited prospects for the youth, criminality could be a legitimate career option.

Within our community we have the usual conflicts and shared histories. The twin’s father, Joe Ryan was sent away, jailed for a number of years and missed a large part of their childhood. Raine blames Chief Black and hates him with a vengeance. Uncle Tommy stepped in and looked out for the pair during Joe’s absence. Chief Black has issues. His authority is under threat. His own faith in his competence is shaky, perhaps the bottle and the magic medicine he injects between his toes isn’t the best way of dealing with things. The manic preacher, Pastor Lumen semi-retired after a stroke still holds great sway in the community. His replacement, the milder meeker younger Pastor Bobby has his own skeletons and burdens to carry. Him and his wife, Savannah are dealing with the loss of their baby son separately, their grief and guilt driving them apart. Savannah is Summer’s cello teacher and Bobby is an important influence in her life.

The two characters who gripped me were Noah and Purv. Almost brothers, one long-suffering at the hands of his abusive father, with bruises and welts Purv’s normality and Noah. Noah has his own burden to carry. His long dead dad was a lawman and died in an incident involving Chief Black, a death which many blame on Black. Orphaned, Noah lives with his ailing grandmother and his dream of following in his father’s footsteps may not be fulfilled. His growing fondness and love for Raine may not be reciprocated and could add to the load he carries. A load borne without self-pity.

It’s been a while since I shed a tear reading a book, but Whitaker pushed me close. The characters were that real and that haunting. Guilt, secrets, love, loss, grief, awakening, maturity, friendship, community, family – all resonate strongly throughout.

5 from 5

Chris Whitaker’s debut novel, Tall Oaks sits on the pile – not for too much longer. 

Read in November, 2017
Published – 2017
Page count – 448
Source – review copy from publisher Bonnier Zaffre
Format - paperback