Wednesday 31 January 2018



Are you looking for a breathtaking crime thriller full of shocking twists? Then try the gripping and unmissable In The Blood.

Grace Dobbs, a champion at her local gun club, lives a quiet life in Western Australia with her mother.  

But when a violent killing spree in the neighbourhood sees Grace come to the rescue, she is catapulted into the limelight as a local heroine.  

However, her fame spreads much further than the local town, bringing her to the attention of someone in Britain who is very keen to meet her. 

But what does this person want? And can they be trusted? 

As Grace travels to England to discover her true heritage, she is about to learn the real meaning of danger.

Lesley Welsh is the author of The Serial Killer's Daughter and Truth Lies Buried. In The Blood is her final novel and is published posthumously by Bloodhound Books. Her books will appeal to fans of authors like K.L. Slater, Rachel Abbott and Claire Mackintosh 

I think I could tell pretty much after the opening few chapters that I was going to enjoy this book. We have a robbery carried out in London in the late 80s, followed by some repercussions a year or two later on the French Riviera, fast forwarding to almost current times and a murderous rampage in Western Australia. Grace Dobbs stops the killer and unwittingly casts a spotlight on herself.

Over to England and Wales then and we continue - a fractured family - one that was sacrificed, a vengeful criminal with a long memory and some claims to fatherhood, a psychopathic nephew, other assorted misfits, a life lived under the radar, some decent, loyal friends, connections to some shady Irish alphabet organisation, and a game of cat and mouse as Frank Gilligan endeavours to bring his near 25 year crusade to catch the one from the heist that got away. Grace may be his daughter, but she's also a pawn in his game.

As our story unfolds, we see Grace's resourcefulness and determination - a quality she has clearly inherited from her mother. Revelations about her past and the secrets those closest to her have been guarding leave her shocked - hmm.... maybe more surprised, but never overwhelmed or paralysed by fear. She's likable, thoughtful, brave throughout and the star of the show. 

We have plenty of action throughout, with a fair few deaths and casualties, some of them innocents, as the two sides in our ongoing dispute come ever closer to a resolution, though it's doubtful it will be to the mutual benefit of both parties.

Sucked into the story, I read the book over a few days. Fast-paced, interesting settings, especially Anglesey, lots going on, a decent cast of characters and a story which all came together and ended satisfactorily. Nothing that grated, nothing that annoyed me. A pretty exciting read, overall.

4.5 from 5

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 300
Source - review copy from Bloodhound Books
Format - Kindle


2 this week from Joseph Koenig. I can dimly recall reading Floater many years ago and being blown away by the story.

Koenig was on a roll back in the late eighties with three books published in quick succession - Floater, Little Odessa and Smuggler's Notch. Brides of Blood followed in 1993, before a near 20 year gap to False Negative in 2012

His last book - Really the Blues was published in 2014. Reviewed here.

I'm always fascinated by authors that seem to vanish for a period and resurface. I'm not the only one. Sarah Weinman had a piece on her blog about Koenig in 2005, which was re-published at Mystery File

I discovered him and many other US crime fiction authors after reading the same book Sarah references in her piece on Koenig - the excellent Into the Badlands by John Williams.

As a footnote to her article, I was informed that the title Osud attributed to Koenig wasn't one of his * @1MorePage (Pamela Malpas - Literary Agent at Harold Ober Associates) tweeted me lunchtime to advise Osud is actually by an author of the same name BUT NOT THIS Joseph Koenig!

Floater (1986)

A sheriff combs the Everglades for the charming sociopath who killed his ex-wife in this Edgar Award - nominated mystery.

Years after their marriage collapses, Buck White splurges on Irene's coffin. She was found floating in a cypress swamp behind a Seminole village, her beauty marred by sadistic violence, a guitar string buried so deep in her neck that it takes two autopsies to dig it out. Sheriff White knows neither the time nor place of death, but the savaged corpse tells him to look for a serial killer: white, under forty, antisocial, and with a fondness for liquor.

The man White is tracking turns out to be a special kind of crazy. Uncommonly charismatic, he has the wit and cunning to elude law enforcement while seducing new victims. More women will die before White gets on his trail, but no one will hurt the sheriff as badly as Irene.

Smuggler's Notch (1989)

Publisher's Weekly
Tough cop nabs killer in order to avenge his partner's death, compensate for his own fatal blunder and redeem his honor. It's an all-too-familiar theme, but Koenig, known for well-crafted crime fiction ( Floater ; Little Odessa ), puts a spin on it. The setting is rural Vermont, and the hero, sheriff's lieutenant Larry St. Germain, is a big, brawling, lumberjack type. The novel opens with a brutal rape-murder; the victim is the teenage daughter of the state's attorney. St. Germain, who shares a log cabin with his ex-wife Annie whom he wants to remarry, bungles the arrest of sneering psychopath Paul Conklin. Resigning in disgrace, the lieutenant becomes an ambulance driver and settles down to life with Annie. Later the killer is put away but makes a prison break with a gang of thugs who go on a bloody rampage as they veer to the Canadian border. St. Germain hops into his ambulance and brings the action to a dramatic if predictable climax. Local color, authentic characters and gritty dialogue carry this snow-clad thriller.

Monday 29 January 2018



To escape punishment for a murder he didn’t mean to commit, insurance man Don Barshter has to take on a new identity: Nathaniel Crowley, ferocious up-and-comer in the New York mob. But can he find safety in the skin of another man…a worse man...a sinner man...?

Now appearing for the first time under Block’s real name!

An insurance man kills his wife accidentally and weighs up his options. Call the police and face the consequences - his life as he knows it is over, even if it's ruled accidental and not premeditated.
Or leave his old life and re-invent himself in a new town as a new man. With sketchy documents that won't stand too much initial scrutiny, he's going to have to work the dark side of the street and integrate himself into the criminal elements running his new town.

Option A and we don't have much of a story. Option B and away we go. Don Barshter becomes Nathaniel Crowley and rocks up in Buffalo. Strutting around town, dropping a few dollars here and there, beating a man in a bar fight and he's soon on the radar of the local cops and the guys that run the town.

A meeting with the boss, a job as a bar keep - a front for illicit meetings and parcel drops and Nat's new life has begun. Steady and reliable, Nat's gaining credibility and coming to the attention of the right people. A power struggle in the organisation looms and Nat has to choose sides. The old guard or the new broom?

Again option B - getting his hands bloody and becoming the man he's thus far been pretending to be. With his place in the hierarchy assured and a steady squeeze on his arm, a trip to Vegas brings back memories of his old life, when a face from Connecticut semi-recognises him. An interesting if somewhat predictable twist in our tale. Does Don get his comeuppance, or can Nat continue with the good life?

Even fifty years ago, Block could tell a mean tale. I really enjoyed this one - an interesting tale, no real moral dilemnas for the players, only the reader - Nat's a bad egg but there's enough about him that I was hoping he could survive intact.

4.5 from 5

As an interesting footnote, the background to the republication of this a year or two ago by Hard Case Crime is almost as entertaining as the tale itself. Block penned it over 50 years ago, but never knew who had published it and under which of his nom-de-plumes and what title. A chance comment on a web-post a few years ago, brought it back into the light, as someone recognised the plot from Block's description in an article and here we are.   

Read in January, 2018
Published - 1968 (this edition 2016)
Page count - 240
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle   

Sunday 28 January 2018



The Man Who Robbed His Own Post Office is part of THE YEAR OF SHORT STORIES and is one of a limited number of digital shorts released to celebrate the publication of Jeffrey Archer’s magnificent seventh short-story collection, Tell Tale.

Taken from Cat O'Nine Tales, Jeffrey Archer's fifth collection of short stories, The Man Who Robbed His Own Post Office is an irresistible, witty and captivating short read.

Mr and Mrs Haskins are upstanding members of a seaside town, where they rose from their ordinary beginnings to make a huge success of their local fish-and-chip shop. From there it only got better as they took the post office to new levels of prosperity. But just they start to plan how they will enjoy the fruits of their labour the Haskins fall victim to the unscrupulous directors at the Post Office headquarters. Determined to ensure they receive what is rightfully theirs, they take drastic action . . .

Not an author I would usually read but I was out and about shopping with the family and CBA wandering around one particular shop so tried to access something to read through my phone. Not especially fancying any of the free bodice rippers on iBooks this seemed the most likely option for a story I might enjoy.

And I did. We have a fairly straightforward narrative about a couple of kids, fairly oblivious to each other at school, reconnecting through National Service, starting a courtship - I think that's what they called it in the late 50s, marrying and embarking on a series of jobs, working hard and saving to improve their lot. Our couple are of a different generation to today's - no need for instant gratification - work hard and save and go without in between, until the business loan is paid off and then have a holiday.

These values serve them in good stead, as they graduate from bus conductor and fish and chip shop assistant, to owning the fish and chip shop, to running a profitable post office franchise. Their standing in the local community soars - prominent positions in the Rotary Club and the Mother's Union. They have an adult daughter now and a dog and happily make plans for their future retirement. Until they get shafted by the decision makers at the post office, who having knowingly sold them the franchise for a class A post office, downgrade theirs to that of a lower ranking and leave them high and dry, with no hope for regaining their investment.

Our worm turns and the Haskins try and take back what they feel is theirs.

Interesting story, not too many twists, but I enjoyed seeing how it was all going to play out. We have the court case fairly early on in the tale, where the Haskins are found guilty of robbery, so Archer then sets up how we arrived at this point with a subsequent update on the outcome for the Haskins.

Overall 4 from 5.

I'm not rushing to read Archer again, but I wouldn't rule it out in a tight pinch with nothing else to hand. I may have read him about 30 years ago on a beach holiday, when similar circumstances dictated and I was scratching around for a book.

Jeffrey Archer has written many bestsellers and has a somewhat colourful past as a prominent Conservative politician during the 70s and 80s. Financial ruin, court cases, imprisoned for perjury, controversial charity work, Member of the House of Lords, successful writing career. Interesting man with a definite bounce-back factor.

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2007
Page count - 42
Source - iBooks (then Amazon to finish)
Format - phone and Kindle



Hap and Leonard may never go fishing again.

A rustic get-away turns into a life or death dash through an East Texas cypress swamp.

They encounter a victim of camo clad hunters that classify sport in a whole different way.

A head start is as fair as it gets as Hap and Leonard are thrown in the woods and must run for their lives. Their wise-cracks may be sharper than the hunter's arrows, but not as deadly.

Another shortish read at just over 50 pages and another good time had with Lansdale's irrepressible double act, Hap and Leonard.

Our dynamic duo are away fishing and there's the usual banter between the pair - complaints about the accommodation, the crappy coffee, who ate all the cookies, the leaky boat, etc. The moaning stops long enough for a hike in the woods and the discovery of a near-dead woman with an arrow through her body. With her dying breath she tells her tale. She's a working girl and was hired, but was repeatedly raped by the group then hunted.

Her pursuers show up, Hap and Leonard make scarce, then after witnessing the decapitation of the corpse, determine to achieve some measure of justice for the lady. Legal or otherwise. The hunters become the hunted.

A bit graphic and gruesome, fast-moving, great dialogue, tense scenes of confrontation laced with black humour, interesting characters, fantastic setting, not too long - what's not to like?

4.5 from 5

Joe R. Lansdale has penned nearly a dozen novels in the series, with a few novellas and a couple of collections of short stories featuring the pair. Plus a gazillion other things. His latest Hap and Leonard drops in March - Jackrabbit Smile.

My last encounter was Dead Aim about a year ago.

Lansdale's website is here

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2016
Page count - 56
Source -Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Friday 26 January 2018



Keller's a Gemini. He has a murderer's thumb.

Who knew?

Keller's Horoscope originally appeared in Death by Horoscope, an anthology of crime stories with an astrological element. It was subsequently included in the second Keller episodic novel, Hit List, and is now eVailable by itself for the first time.

Another Keller episode from Block and not having read Hit List yet it was a totally new story for me.

Horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, tarot cards, fate, destiny, preordination, murderer's thumbs and a hit or two. Well it wouldn't be Keller without a murder or two for hire.

Keller has his horoscope read and is surprised at the intuitive results derived by his reader. For a fleeting moment he is unsure whether he needs to kill her or not, but it passes. Be very watchful on a specific date in the future she says. Needless to say, against his better instincts he takes on a job. Should have stayed home, methinks. Probably wouldn't have been such an interesting tale if he had though.

Personally, I don't put any faith in horoscopes or the like. I don't have any regard for them. Give Block enough time though, I think he could convince me of anything.

4 from 5

4 down, 7 short outings with Keller to go.

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2001
Page count - 47
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Thursday 25 January 2018


Their counterparts from the Republic featured last week, so its only fair to give a bit of a shout-out to their cousins up North this week.....

Colin Bateman, Sam Millar, Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty, Brian McGilloway and Eoin McNamee - step forward and take a bow!

Colin Bateman - Belfast Confidential (2005)
They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. Well, as far as Dan Starkey's concerned, 'they' can stick it where the sun don't shine because right now helping his wife with the unpacking is the least of his worries...No sooner than Dan has moved into his new Belfast home, his best mate, Mouse, is murdered - leaving him to catch a killer, become Editor of the obscenely successful scandal magazine, "Belfast Confidential", and compile the much-coveted Power List.

Adrian McKinty - Hidden River (2004)
Alexander Lawson is an ex-detective for Northern Ireland's police force. After a disastrous six-month stint in the drug squad, he became addicted to heroin and resigned in disgrace. Now twenty-four, sickly, and on the dole, Alex learns that his high school love, Victoria Patawasti, has been murdered in America. Victoria's wealthy family sends Alex to Colorado to investigate the case, and he seizes the opportunity for a chance at redemption. But things don't go exactly as planned. Struggling to kick his heroin habit, forced to go on the run after the only credible witness to Victoria's murder is accidentally killed, wanted by both the Colorado cops and the Ulster police who believe he has information about a corruption scandal, and with the murderer closing all the time, Alex will have a fight on his hands just to stay alive, never mind solving the case.

Eoin McNamee - The Ultras (2004)
In 1970s Ireland the British establishment conducted its struggle with the IRA in the "dirty war". This novel, set around the real-life figure of Captain Nairac, recreates the intrigue, loyalism and violence of a time when friend could turn foe overnight and nothing was ever quite as it seemed.

Brian McGilloway - The Rising (2010)
When Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin is summoned to a burning barn, he finds inside the charred remains of a man who is quickly identified as a local drug dealer, Martin Kielty. It soon becomes clear that Kielty's death was no accident, and suspicion falls on a local vigilante group. Former paramilitaries, the men call themselves The Rising. Meanwhile, a former colleague's teenage son has gone missing during a seaside camping trip. Devlin is relieved when the boy's mother, Caroline Williams, receives a text message from her son's phone, and so when a body is reported, washed up on a nearby beach, the inspector is baffled. When another drug dealer is killed, Devlin realises that the spate of deaths is more complex than mere vigilantism. But just as it seems he is close to understanding the case, a personal crisis will strike at the heart of Ben's own family, and he will be forced to confront the compromises his career has forced upon him. With his fourth novel, McGilloway announces himself as one of the most exciting crime novelists around: gripping, heartbreaking and always surprising, "The Rising" is a tour de force - McGilloway's most personal novel so far.

Sam Millar - The Redemption Factory (2005)
In a wood at night, a young woman witnesses the murder of a whistleblower by a corrupt businessman, owner of an abattoir. Paul Goodman, a would-be snooker champion who works at the abattoir, has never known his father and believes that he deserted him when young. But he is befriended by the one man who holds the key to the mystery of his disappearance, the man responsible for his death.

Stuart Neville - The Twelve (2009)
Fegan has been a 'hard man,' an IRA killer in northern Ireland. Now that peace has come, he is being haunted day and night by twelve ghosts: a mother and infant, a schoolboy, a butcher, an RUC constable, and seven other of his innocent victims. In order to appease them, he's going to have to kill the men who gave him orders. 

As he's working his way down the list he encounters a woman who may offer him redemption; she has borne a child to an RUC officer and is an outsider too. Now he has given Fate - and his quarry - a hostage. Is this Fegan's ultimate mistake?

Wednesday 24 January 2018



A prison officer and a convicted killer must work together to solve a brutal murder and expose conspiracy inside a prison.

Ariadne Teddington is surrounded by people who lie but that is to be expected when you work in prison where every man claims to be innocent.

Charlie Bell, an ex-Detective, now finds himself in that prison serving time for murder after having taken the law into his own hands.

When a fellow inmate is killed Charlie is asked to investigate the case from the inside. Soon Charlie finds himself working with Ariande but she is a guard, he is an inmate and some lines should never be crossed… 

Can two people on different sides of the law come together to solve the case?

And do the answers lie closer to home than anyone ever imagined?

 "Tense and claustrophobic, with a spine-chilling denouement!" Caro Ramsay, author of the Anderson and Costello series

An okay read from another new-to-me author. I liked the premise of the book - ex-cop behind bars investigating a death inside his prison, but in truth the book just didn't really hit any great heights for me and I can't really put my finger on why.

Setting - a prison and for a while a brief interlude the outside world, before we go back behind bars.

Plot - a death of an inmate, too easily written off as either suicide or accidental - can't remember which and can't be that fussed to go back and check. Charlie our ex-cop gets mysterious messages from the female officer - Ariande Teddington - in the prison. Her sixth sense tells her that something untoward is going on and she wants his help to get to the bottom of it. Two different factions control the block and Bell must navigate between the two, all the while a not very welcome presence because of his past career.

Characters - individually I liked both Bell and Teddington, but there's a kind of chemistry going on between the two that adds a forbidden unfulfilled romantic element to the book, one that I didn't especially buy into. Maybe, I was grumpy when I was reading this, maybe the book made me grumpy?

Pace - not an overly long book, but perhaps because I wasn't fully invested in the characters or the outcome, it felt a bit draggy in the middle.

Resolution - okay, but the outcome and the rationale for the goings-on seemed a bit implausible to me. Our raison d'etre for the whole shebang was a bit too much of a stretch for me.

Overall - glad I read it, an okay read, didn't hate it, definitely didn't love it and will read the second in the author's trilogy - Locked In.

3 from 5

G.B. Williams has her website here. She has a fair few books published already - too many to mention. She's on Twitter@GailBWilliams

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 288
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Tuesday 23 January 2018


A couple this week from Margot Kinberg  and featuring her series character Joel Williams. Williams is an ex-cop turned academic and previously debuted in Margot's hard to find novel - Publish or Perish.

Margot is a writer, an academic, as well a tireless blogger and supporter of both authors and crime fiction bloggers all over.

Visit her at website - Confessions of a Mystery Novelist - and she will undoubtedly be singing the praises of some other author's books, displaying a near-encyclopedic knowledge of both Golden Age and more contemporary crime.

In addition she frequently drops her own crime and mystery short stories on her readers.
Most recently - Fishing Expedition

I've only enjoyed her short fiction to date, but intend to read at least one of these two in the next month or two (maybe three). It might be a bit of a departure from my usual fare - but I'm looking forward to stepping into a different world - academic crime!

Further links to Margot Kinberg on the net......

Facebook - Margot Kinberg, Author
Google + - Margot Kinberg 

B-Very Flat (2017)

Is anyone really safe? At nineteen years old, violin virtuosa Serena Brinkman seems to have it all. A student at Tilton University, she's got good looks, money, people who love her, and rare musical talent. She's also got a valuable Amati violin, a musical rival, friends whose secrets she knows, and an obsessed fan. Serena's dreams are shattered when she dies on the night of a major music competition. Serena's partner is convinced that her death wasn't an accident, and asks for help from Dr. Joel Williams of Tilton's Department of Criminal Justice. Williams, a former detective, soon finds that, far from keeping her safe, Serena's privilege and talent made her vulnerable.

(2017 re-published, originally dropped in 2010)

Past Tense (2016)

A long-buried set of remains…a decades-old mystery

Past and present meet on the quiet campus of Tilton University when construction workers unearth a set of unidentified bones.
For former police detective-turned-professor Joel Williams, it’s a typical Final Exams week – until a set of bones is discovered on a construction site...

When the remains are linked to a missing person case from 1974, Williams and the Tilton, Pennsylvania police go back to the past. And they uncover some truths that have been kept hidden for a long time.

How much do people really need to know?

It’s 1974, and twenty-year-old Bryan Roades is swept up in the excitement of the decade. He’s a reporter for the Tilton University newspaper, The Real Story, and is determined to have a career as an investigative journalist, just like his idols, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He plans to start with an exposé article about life on the campus of Tilton University. But does everything need to be exposed? And what are the consequences for people whose lives could be turned upside down if their stories are printed? As it turns out, Bryan’s ambition carries a very high price. And someone is determined not to let the truth out.

Monday 22 January 2018



William E. Wallace is serving up bare-knuckle stories in old-school style. Superstitious criminals down on their luck, junkies with trigger fingers, mysterious drifters—these are the kind of characters you’ll meet in this collection of lurid tales.

“(Wallace) is a master at building scenes, characters, layering dialogue and description, and filling in back-story with no interruption to the momentum of the story.” Greg Barth, author of Selena and Diesel Therapy 

“The best of William E. Wallace’s work revolves around the concept of justice. . . I’m talking the big, broader cosmic sense. Judgment. Reckoning. Down in the filth and garbage of the street, it’s all street justice.” Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation and December Boys

“It is not easy to combine humor, characterization, and persuasive action but here it's done well. These stories will make you a Wallace fan." Patti Abbott, author of Concrete Angel

“Wallace is quite simply a brilliant writer.” Will Viharo author of Love Stories Are Too Violent for Me

Another new-to-me author and one who sadly passed last year - William E. Wallace.
There's a short piece on him and an extract of his work over at All Due Respect here.

Hangman's Dozen comprises thirteen short stories from Wallace and was an enjoyable introduction to his work.

Superstitious..... three hapless criminals seem jinxed

459...... a junkie with a jones

Bird Hunter.... drugs, a death, consequences

Blackout.... the perils of drink-driving

The Bust-out..... an insurance job, goes wrong

Hide-Out Case..... witness protection ain't all its cracked up to be

Incident on Car 412......a short con on the BART

Max B...... a prison break-out

Recovery Man...... a recovery agent gets lucky

Stand by Your Man.... a love triangle ends badly

The Custodian......robbery, a court case and non-judicial consequences of ripping off the Russian mob

Double Iron Cross....... a loafer onto a good thing, some white supremacists and some funny money

Ladies’ Man....... a psychopathic pervert gets the girl

I really enjoyed the collection and whilst a lot of the story endings weren't especially unexpected or deviously twisted, there wasn't one that bored me. Action and characters are well described and the stories each had an unambiguous resolution. Plenty of grifters, junkies and hapless thieves on offer, most operating at the lower levels of criminality and none too successfully at that. Crime very often doesn't pay.

Bird Hunter, Max B and Double Iron Cross were my favourites.

I'm looking forward to trying some of Wallace's longer work in the future.
Wallace's I Wait to Die and Dead Heat with the Reaper sit on the pile; the titles either poignant or somewhat ironic.

4.5 from 5

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2016
Page count - 155
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Sunday 21 January 2018



Keller, an introspective fellow, is your basic Urban Lonely Guy. He collects stamps. He used to have a dog, until the dog walker walked off with him. Now he soldiers on alone. 

It's his profession that sets him apart. He's a hit man. He kills strangers for a living.

And he's a Guilty Pleasure for an ever-increasing number of readers. "I don't think I ought to like Keller," readers tell me. "But I can't help myself..."

Keller’s Adjustment was written in the early months of 2003, in a small ship cruising the South Pacific from Tahiti to Guam. That was far indeed from New York City, Keller’s home base. (And mine.)

I wrote the novella for Transgressions, a prestigious anthology of lengthy stories by prominent writers, commissioned and edited by my friend Evan Hunter/Ed McBain. It subsequently appeared as a key episode of Hit Parade, my third book about Keller—so if you own Hit Parade, you’ve already read Keller’s Adjustment.

If not, or if you’re ready renew your acquaintance, I’m pleased to recommend the novella to your attention. It was written in the wake of 9/11, and shows Keller’s reaction to the assault on his city. And, as its title implies, it’s about adjusting to a new reality. Perhaps it echoes the story Sam Spade recounts in Hammett’s Maltese Falcon, about a man who has a narrow escape from accidental death on his way to work one morning. He responds by disappearing, and by the time Spade finds him he has recreated his original life halfway across the country. He adjusted to a world in which beams fell, Spade tells us, and then no more beams fell, and he adjusted to that.

Another episode in Keller's life and this time he's prone to as much musing and philosophising as he is actual killing, but I don't have a problem with that as he's still great company. You do wonder though if talking to a stuffed toy in the passenger seat of his hire car, may be a symptom of some deep inner turmoil.

What happened before traffic lights? Is he a sociopath? (He wasn't a bed-wetter or torturer of small animals as a boy, and he never set fires, apart from leaf-burning duties.) Driverless cars?

We have the aftermath of 9/11 and Keller's reaction to the terrible events in his home city - the volunteering with meal service for the guys working the site at Ground Zero. And the effects the event has on his profession with the enhanced security at airports and the hassle of flying especially when trying to stay under the radar.

We execute a couple of contracts and get to blag a bit with the golfing fraternity, while never getting within a country mile of swinging a club. Keller also has his obligatory roll in the hay.

Impressive as ever, enjoyable, entertaining, a sense of deja-vous - Block and Keller - love it!

4 from 5

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2005
Page count - 72
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle



Walking to Babylon is a dark, gritty tale of two transplanted New Jersey boys who grow up together in the desert city of Las Vegas, busting balls for the old man. Sammy Soriano tells us the story as he walks away from a burning car where the body of his lifelong pal, Tommy Two-Guns Viglierchio had been left, along with those of three Mexican nationals that had tried to muscle in on the action. Viglierchio has been losing his battle with cancer for some time and Soriano knew it. There was nothing that he could do to help his friend other than be there for him.

My first time reading Christopher Davis, but hopefully not the last - his novel Crossfire sits on the pile. Here we have an enjoyable tale of the friendship between two boys, Sammy and Tommy. Childhood pals, the pair grow up to work as heavies in the shady world of Vegas casinos.

Plenty of drinking, partying, girls and errand running for the boss, and a gradual moving up the ladder in the organisation, with the odd drive out to the desert for a bit of garbage disposal. Given the nature of some of their tasks, you feel like you shouldn't enjoy their company but you do.

The narrative has an easy cadence to it, which just keeps you turning the pages. Plenty of family in the story; Sammy's girlfriend, becoming his wife, becoming a parent, becoming his ex-wife, remaining friends. Plus there's a fair bit about Sammy's own mother; the aftermath of his father's death and their rapid transplanting to Vegas, the money problems, the jobs she worked to keep a roof over their heads and as Sammy finds his feet in the organisation the role reversal - how Sammy takes care of her. Along the way Sammy also finds out about his deceased father, the manner of his death and the regard he was held in.

Gangsters, friendship and family and casino life - lots to like.

4 from 5

Christopher Davis has his website here.

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 186
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Saturday 20 January 2018



Keller on the Spot is the eighth story about Keller, your basic Urban Lonely Guy and wistful assassin for hire. Like most of the its predecessors, it made its first appearance in Playboy, and in due course won the MWA Edgar Allan Poe award as best short story of the year. 

The life of a hired killer has its rewards, but the opportunity to be a hero is rarely one of them. Here Keller is unquestionably heroic, at least early on...

Keller on the Spot is one of ten adventures that comprise the episodic novel, Hit Man.

My third time reading this little episode from my favourite hit man's life and it never gets old.

Keller gets to play a hero here remembering the life saving skills he was taught as a boy. Our hitman is out scouting a target at a party when he strips to his whites and rescues a young swimmer who cramped unnoticed while the party was in full swing. Not the best cover for a hitman, making yourself the centre of attention.

We get to ponder whatever happened to that life-saving certificate and why the best brandy gives you heartburn, all the while considering whether to fulfill our contract or not.

Entertaining, enjoyable, engaging, never a dull word. 

4.5 from 5

Read in January, 2018
Published - 1998 (as part of Hit Man)
Page count - 30
Source - owned copy
Format - kindle

Friday 19 January 2018


Half a dozen Irish books from the collection, waiting for me to pull my finger out.....

Manning O'Brine, Declan Hughes, Ken Bruen, Neville Thompson, Hugo Hamilton and John Trolan

Spies, PIs, crims, drugs, psychopaths, cops and robbers - what's not to like?

Manning O'Brine - Mills (1969)
 "... With this novel, the pomp and circumstance of Superspy are exploded to reveal the reality of international espionage. Manning O'Brine allows agents to be what they are: people who just want to live and let live--even if they have to kill to do it."--Dust Jacket.

John Trolan - Any Other Time (2000)
1986, Dublin. 21 year-old heroin addict Davy Byrne has just been released from Mountjoy and is tired of the petty thieving and high-risk robberies that he has to pull off in order to feed his addiction. Davy drives himself, and his reluctant pal Mickey, head-first into the drug underworld of Dublin, as they attempt to establish their own turf and gang by buying large quantities of heroin and dealing it themselves.
Declan Hughes - The Colour of Blood (2007)

Still adjusting to being back on Irish soil, PI Ed Loy finds himself caught up in a deadly web of lies, betrayals and shrouded histories. Shane Howard, a respected dentist from the venerable Howard medical family of Dublin, asks Loy to search for his missing daughter. The only information available is a set of pictures portraying nineteen-year-old Emily in a series of very compromising positions.

Seems like a pretty easy case to Loy . . . until people start dying. The very same day that Loy meets Howard, Emily's mother and ex-boyfriend are brutally stabbed to death. But that's only the beginning.

Loy discovers that the Howard family is not all that it seems. For years their name has stood for progress and improvement within Dublin's medical community, but that is only what's on the surface. The true legacy of the Howards is one of scandalous secrets, the type that are best left unearthed. Against his better judgment, Loy is drawn into the very center of the Howards' sordid family history, and what he finds could ruin more than reputations.

In The Color of Blood, Declan Hughes once again brings the city of Dublin to life in all its gritty glory. The dark realities of the streets converge with the lethal secrets of the past in a sinister and graphic thriller that will have readers on edge right up to its shocking conclusion.

Ken Bruen - American Skin (2006)
Stephen Blake is a good man blown in bad directions. He and girlfriend Siobhan, best friend Tommy, IRA terrorist Stapleton, and a particularly American sort of psychopath named Dade, are all on a collision course somewhere on the road between the dive bars of New York, and the pitiless desert of the Southwest. American Skin is the long-awaited American novel by Ken Bruen, the hardboiled master of Irish Noir.

Neville Thompson - Mama's Boys (2006)
The new novel from bestselling author Neville Thompson brings us back to the not-so-nice side of the tracks. Mama's boys tells the story of two childhood friends, Dammo and Bebop, who dream of making a name for themselves amongst Dublin's criminal fraternity. they will steal, cheat, smuggle drugs, and even murder to build reputations as hard men...but despite their criminal ways they will always be Mama's Boys.

Hugo Hamilton - Headbanger (1997)

In a cinema verite style, Hugo Hamilton decimates cliches of cops and robbers with doses of smoldering Irish sectarianism and the realities of a seedy, postindustrial Dublin. "Coyne is a majestic creation.... If Flann O'Brien's lunatic Professor De Selby had genetically engineered a cross between the novels of Raymond Chandler and those of Patrick McCabe, this is what the progeny might well have looked like." — The Times (London)