Saturday 31 March 2018



From Shamus Award finalist Max Everhart comes ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL, a collection of stories exploring the complexities of relationships. Whether its a single father who buys a lake house with a dying man still living in it, or a young Red Sox fan who plots to assassinate George Steinbrenner, or a devoted mother who joins the Army Reserves on her thirty-fifth birthday, just before Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, these eleven stories charm, provoke, and confound. Not to mention examine up close that most conflicted of emotions: love.

An enjoyable short story collection consisting of......

THE MAN WHO WORE NO PANTS...... I initially didn't know what to make of this one so ending up reading it twice. I'm still scratching my head a bit though. Great writing and an interesting cast of characters..........a former Chinese government worker, now an owner of a Mexican restaurant, separated from his wife, looking after their fat son (his weight is being addressed) and buying a lake house from a dying man who won't leave the abode, until he's passed. Other characters include a private detective and a Swedish woman, who dances naked. I could read it another half a dozen times and still be none the wiser. I can't say I didn't enjoy it though.

CRY ON DEMAND .... brotherly love

EVERYWHERE LONELY....... sisterly love

ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.... baseball and parental support

VIRGINIA IS A DIFFERENT COUNTRY..... a family of three, the independent, strong-willed mother signs up to the Army reserve prior to Saddam and Iraq invading Kuwait, invoking a strong sense of abandonment and anger from the young son, already disappointed and bewildered at his mum's refusal to marry his father.

FIVE O’CLOCK LIGHTNING.... a shared love of baseball and an adult son supporting his father's improbable dream of glory

LOVE BRUISES.... friendship or more, boundaries, fear, disappointment and an impulsive act

NAME-CALLING... baseball and corporate greed

LARCENY BY TRICK... school basketball, public humiliation, a coach who urges our man to never quit

77 LIVES ON THE ROCK RIVER...... a blind storage auction, coping with loneliness, a touch of Ronald Reagan

JUST GUS..... a father and son road trip to college, some moments of awkwardness and tenderness

I won't claim to understand all these stories or whatever message if any the author was trying to convey. I did enjoy them though. Several of them feature the same family at various points in their lives. Maybe some of these are semi-autobiographical in nature.

Tribulations on love, friendship and relationships, with disappointment, anger, concern, support and every other emotion that you've ever felt for your family or friends thrown in. That said I can't say I spotted any forgiveness in the collection.

A few of the stories have baseball as a back-drop and whilst I enjoyed this setting, some of the finer nuances and references eluded me.

A collection that was a bit different from my usual reading, but enjoyable nonetheless.

4 from 5

Max Everhart is the author of the Eli Sharpe PI baseball mysteries and the previously enjoyed Alphabet Land (here).

Max Everhart has his website here.

Read in March, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 240
Source - review copy from the author
Format - Kindle

Thursday 29 March 2018


Another happy half dozen onto the already creaking TBR shelves...
Tom Leins - Snuff Racket (2018) - Amazon purchase
Enjoyed Tom Leins earlier offering last year - Skull Meat - this one sounds right up my dingy, dark reading alley!

A missing video. A dismembered girl. A deranged ex-con. And a disgraced private investigator. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it... 

SNUFF RACKET is the pulse-pounding new thriller from the author of SKULL MEAT.
Still recuperating from his previous case, Paignton private eye Joe Rey is hired by a mysterious stranger to track down one of the few remaining copies of a notorious 1970s Giallo movie - only to find himself embroiled in an increasingly vicious running battle with a demented ex-convict. 

(Author's note: this book contains scenes and language that readers of a sensitive disposition may find disturbing.)

Jeffery Hess - Tush Hog (2018) - Net Galley

Third book in the series by Jeffery Hess. I ought to read the other two first - more reading time required please!

It’s 1981 in Fort Myers, Florida. Scotland Ross hasn’t given up drinking, but he has sworn off of trouble. 

At a waterside tavern the day the Pope got shot, Scotland drank to cloud the memories of his dead infant son on an anniversary such as this. Distraction comes when the bar owner needs his help. Despite his vow of living within the law, Scotland soon finds himself tangling with a redneck clan, a Cuban gang, a connected crew from New York, and the very friend he set out to help. 

Crimes of violence, drugs, and theft pale in comparison to the failure of self-restraint in this humid town on the Gulf coast. 

When Scotland’s activities involve his girlfriend, he kicks himself into a higher gear. He didn’t know until it was too late that she’d been involved long before they even met. He’s not fully prepared for the ramifications of that, but there is no time to waste. 

Can Scotland save his girlfriend, clear his name, get justice for being screwed over, and stay out of jail? 

Tushhog is dark noir set in the state of sunshine. A story of crime and compulsion and the depths to which people rise or sink.

Advance Praise
Praise for Jeffery Hess and the Scotland Ross Thrillers

"A great read."  —Richard Lange, author of Angel Baby and This Wicked World 

Kevin Roberts - Decker (2016) - Smashwords purchase

Saw a review of this over on Goodreads by James Thane and was drawn both by the premise, the review and an amazing cover.


Ex-marine and ex-con Tom Decker, paint clerk at Decker's Hardware, keeps his secret life from everyone except O'Neil, his ex-con pal and owner of the local bar. In his spare time, Decker robs banks, with the goal of building up enough cash to buy the hardware store from his despised boss whose family cheated his father out of it during the depression. Things are moving along nicely until he hooks up with the ex-wife of a NY City mob boss. It's not long until Decker is in way over his head.

"All the other writers of crime fiction who can write this well are dead." -- Robert Sabbag, best selling author of Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade.

John Marrs - The Good Samaritan (2017) - review copy from Net Galley

Sounds pretty intriguing, not an author I have tried before.

She's a friendly voice on the phone. But can you trust her?

The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn't want them to hope. She wants them to die.

Laura hasn't had it easy: she's survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn't love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.

But now someone's on to her - Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?

The sinister truth is within Ryan's grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to... 

Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.

Revised edition: this edition includes editorial revisions.

Lawrence Block - Step by Step (2009) - E-Bay purchase

I'd read this guy's shopping list,he's that good.

From the revered New York Times bestselling author comes a touching, insightful, and humorous memoir of an unlikely racewalker and world traveler

Before Lawrence Block was the author of bestselling novels featuring unforgettable characters such as the hit man Keller, private investigator Matthew Scudder, burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and time traveler Evan Tanner, he was a walker.

As a child, he walked home from school (mostly because he couldn't ride a bike). As a col-lege student, he walked until he was able to buy his first car (a deep blue 1950 Chevrolet coupe named Pamela, after the Samuel Richardson novel). As an adult, he ran marathons until he discovered what would become a lifelong obsession--never mind if some people didn't think it was a real sport--racewalking.

By that time Block had already spent plenty of time walking through the city of New York. But racewalking ended up taking him all over the country, from New Orleans to Anchorage, from marathons in the punishing heat to marathons in the pouring rain. And along the way, as he began to pen the books that would make him a household name among suspense fans all over the world, he found that in life, as in writing, you just need to take one step after the other.

Through the lens of his adventures while walking--in twenty-four-hour races, on a pilgrimage through Spain, and just about everywhere you can imagine--Lawrence Block shares his heartwarming personal story about life's trials and tribulations, discomforts and successes, which truly lets readers walk a mile in the master of mystery's shoes.

Ruth Sutton - Cruel Tide (2016) - Patreon purchase from publisher website

A bit of a punt, not heard of or tried this author before - but I like crime set around the 60s and 70s.

Cumbria. 1969

A gruesome discovery on the beach may just give local reporter Judith Pharaoh her first real chance to impress her editor. 

Assisted by young DC Sam Tognarelli, Judith is dragged into a dangerous mire of corruption and deceit where truth and justice struggle to prevail.

Cumbrian author Ruth Sutton's first crime novel is set in England's rugged far north-west and is the first in a new series of novels featuring journalist Judith Pharoah and builds on some of the settings and characters contained in her previous trilogy Between the Mountains and the Sea 

“Ruth Sutton's trilogy about a West Cumbrian family and community was very good. Here she's developed into a fine crime writer…”

Wednesday 28 March 2018



Looking for a fast-paced and unputdownable thriller? Then discover the unmissable Dead Watch today.

Life for the firefighters of Red Watch, East Brighton, is already complicated due to the imminent closure of their fire station. But this is soon to be the least of their worries.

When the team stumble upon a car in a ditch, they discover the driver is dead and a bag containing five hundred thousand pounds in cash. Before anyone arrives, the crew decide to take the money, believing it to be a victimless crime.

When they later learn that the driver was killed by a bullet wound to the head their world is turned upside down.

Then a stranger appears at the station claiming the money belongs to him.    

Soon the firefighters are drawn into a dangerous underworld and find themselves at the mercy of violent criminals.

But is this stranger who he claims to be?

And can Red Watch escape with the money and their lives intact?

Another enjoyable debut novel and another one from the stable of Bloodhound Books. Dead Watch offers up a Brighton fire crew, ill-advisedly lifting a holdall full of cash from an RTA. The driver of the vehicle is dead and has no further use for the money. No-one's going to miss half a million in cash, are they? Yeah, right.

Their short-sighted decision has consequences and even after handing the drug money back to the "owner" the Dead Watch crew are now on the hook and end up doing the bidding of the crime lord.

Not the most perfect of books, I can think of a couple of areas where the rationale is a bit weak and the reasoning is a bit of a stretch. I did enjoy it nevertheless.

The author is I believe a fireman (or former) and that comes through in the narrative. There's a fair bit of detail regarding duties and procedure and the effects of cutbacks and policy, both local and governmental on the fire service, which I enjoyed. The role of the union in fighting their corner is well-argued and not an opinion your average Daily Mail reader finds in his newspaper. He makes his points without ever sermonising or holding up the story.

The camaraderie of our crew as they attempt to extricate themselves from a mess of their own making is well-evident. There's a range of characters in the watch (too many to mention, as I'm rushing this piece) who annoy, irritate, amuse and anger each other at various points in the book, but whose loyalty to each other is never in doubt.

Fast-paced, a little bit educational or informative about the fire service, great characters, a decent story line, a setting I enjoyed - Brighton on the South Coast and a battle between the good guys and some villains, with family, ambition, friendship, a dash of romance and plenty of action on show.

4 from 5

Dead Watch is I think Steve Liszka's debut. Write what you know, they say. Well he has, (maybe not the stealing money bit), I'll be interested to see what he comes up with next time.

Catch him on Twitter -  @SteveLiszka

Read in March, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 381
Source - review copy from Bloodhound Books
Format - Kindle

Tuesday 27 March 2018


A couple from Dana King this week.

I bought three of his books back in 2013, eventually read one in 2017, bought another three thereafter, because Worst Enemies was absolutely amazing. In between times, a publisher sent me another one of his, followed by accessing an eighth novel on Net Galley.

I'm scratching my head why I'm annoyed at not having his latest - Bad Samaritan - even though I'm seven books behind already!

Worst Enemies was one of my best reads in 2017, time to read something else by him.

Dana has a blog here and Facebook Author page here.

Dana King's full bibliography is.....

Penns River
1. Worst Enemies (2012) review here
2. Grind Joint (2013)
3. Resurrection Mall (2017)

Nick Forte Mystery
1. A Small Sacrifice (2013)
2. The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of (2014)
3. The Man in the Window (2015)
4. A Dangerous Lesson (2016)
5. Bad Samaritan (2018)

Wild Bill (2011)

A Dangerous Lesson (2016)

Chicago Private Investigator Nick Forte’s official task is to find out what he can about Jennifer Vandenbusch’s new suitor, who fails to measure up in the eyes of the family matriarch, Jennifer’s grandmother. This seems par for the course for Forte, as his personal life has been leading him through a series of men who treat women badly, though none nearly as badly as the Thursday Night Slasher. Forte lives on the fringes of the investigation run by his old friend Sonny Ng until elements of Forte’s case and life dovetail with the Slasher investigation, leading to Forte discovering more about the crimes—and himself—than he wanted to know.

Wild Bill (2011)

Will Hickox is a decorated FBI veteran with a legendary ability to cultivate informants, much closer to retirement than to the days when he earned the nickname “Wild Bill.” Operation Fallout should cut the head off of the Chicago mob and provide a fitting capstone to his career. When Outfit boss Gianni Bevilacqua dies and the resulting war places Fallout in jeopardy, Hickox does what he can to save it, and his retirement plans with his lover, Madeline Kilmak.

Wild Bill examines the stresses of Operation Fallout from the law enforcement, criminal, and personal perspectives, as Will and his peers fight to keep the investigation afloat amid the power struggle between Gianni’s son and elder statesman Frank Ferraro. Torn between wanting closure to the investigation and starting his retirement, Hickox weighs the dangers of involving himself and Operation Fallout in the war, blurring the line he walks with his informants.

Monday 26 March 2018


Five more from the library in storage.....

John King, Danny King, Jonathon King, Jack O'Connell and Jack Ehrlich

With the exception of Ehrlich I've read all these guys before but not been near a book by any of them for a few years.

Jack Ehrlich - Slow Burn (1961)
No blurbs on those older books and my copy isn't to hand.
Jonathon King - Acts of Nature (2007)
Hailed for his "extraordinary" writing (Publishers Weekly) and his "incisively chiseled characters" (The New York Times), Jonathon King returns with a chilling new thriller featuring Max Freeman, the most thoughtful, well-read, and multilayered private eye hero since Spenser" (Booklist, starred review).

Craving some quiet time together, Max Freeman and Detective Sherry Richards retreat to Max's shack deep in the Florida Everglades. No television. No cell phones. No neighbors. It seems like the perfect getaway until a violent hurricane rips through South Florida, obliterating everything in its path. And that is just the beginning of the nightmare. With Sherry severely injured and no way to call for help, the couple begins a treacherous trip back to civilization only to find that the hurricane's devastation is the least of their worries. The isolation they sought becomes a deadly enemy as undesirables invade the Glades. Some have come to pillage and loot what remains, while others are desperate to protect secrets. All are willing to kill to get what they came for, and Max and Sherry are smack in the line of fire. Evoca- tive and gripping, Acts of Nature traces their race against time and the elements to escape before it's too late.

Danny King - Blue Collar (2009)

What happens when white van man meets gold card girl? Charlie's great. She's everything Terry has ever dreamed of in a woman and more. She's sophisticated, intelligent, funny and beautiful. She enjoys dinner parties and hanging out in the West End's trendiest night spots. She is, for want of a better word, wonderful. Terry simply can't believe his luck. And neither do the lads on Terry's building site. As far as they're concerned this Charlie's just out for a bit of rough. And they're loathe to see Terry fall for such a trickster, particularly after his recent heartbreak. Charlie's own friends seem just as wary as Terry's. They can see this Jack the lad's just after her money. Why can't she? When North London meets South, gastro-pub meets local boozer, and white collar meets blue, Charlie and Terry's love is built on the shakiest of foundations. But it'll take a reality film crew to bring the whole thing down around their ears.

John King - White Trash (2001)
A classic tale of good against evil, John King's new novel pits nurse against consultant; a working-class woman against an upper-middle-class man. Ruby is a locally-born nurse, who enjoys life to the full, lives in the present and likes to find the best in everyone. For her, the hospital in which she works is society in microcosm: a chaotic, exciting landscape of work and play where everyone has a story to tell. For Mr Jeffries, the consultant, however, the patients he attends and the staff he has to deal with are all tarred with the same brush: an ignorant, lazy, drunken, violent, drug-crazed rabble. White trash. One of his main responsibilities is to allocate resources and cut down on expenditure; what he sees as streamlining is, in effect, a terrifying policy of social cleansing. Arrogant and elitist, Jeffries hankers after a class system that has gone - but that he wants re-established. When Joy becomes suspicious about the death of a patient, a clash between the two is, suddenly, inevitable.

Jack O'Connell - Word Made Flesh (1998)

In Quinsigamond, a worn-out New England factory town, a soulless cabal has come to rule the streets. Gilrein knows this dark world, and experienced its treacheries firsthand when his wife, a fellow police officer, was supposedly killed in the line of duty. Now Gilrein has exchanged his badge for the wheel of a Checker cab, yet he still cannot let go of the past or the long-buried instincts he honed on the beat. When he discovers startling and dangerous evidence concerning his wife's death, he begins an investigation that will plumb the deaths of a macabre conspiracy and pit him against a force more sinister than any he's encountered before. Gilrein has only an eccentric grab bag of alleged allies, including a refugee from an Eastern European country who is haunted by memories of a terrible day there; the aloof Inspector with his uncanny ability to make criminals talk; and Gilrein's ex-lover, a young academic obsessed with a century-old murder.

Sunday 25 March 2018


Graham Smith author of the Harry Evans - Major Crime Squad series and the Jake Boulder books answer a few questions on the blog

No Comment was on the blog yesterday - here.

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

I’ve been the manager of a busy Gretna Green hotel and wedding venue since Xmas 2000 despite being a former farmer and a time served joiner. In the past I have lambed sheep, calved cows, built bridges and dug drains.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I write or do something writing related most days. My shift pattern gives me three days a fortnight where I’m off work while my son is at school which gives me some good writing time. When I’m putting down a first draft, I aim for a minimum of 1,000 words per day, which is generally done after family time. When it comes to the editing process, I tend to throw myself at it as I believe that editing should be done in the least number of days possible to maintain the author voice for the character I’m writing about. This process sees me work silly hours on the edits because despite wanting to do them in the shortest time frame possible, it’s not something that can be rushed.

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

I take a little piece of everyone I’ve ever met and into the characters I create. Sometimes I’ll use the name of a real person, but if I do this, I generally try to make the character nothing like the person whose name I’ve used.

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?
Are there any subjects off limits?

I always know what the end “should” be: for instance if I’m writing about a serial killer, they have to be caught or killed. What I don’t know is how I’m going to put the baddie and the hero in the same place at the same time. As I don’t plot too far in advance – more on this in a moment – it can be nerve-wracking to get three quarters of the way through a novel and still have no idea how to get to the final scene that I know has to be achieved. However, I’ve learned to trust my subconscious and I just keep following the story until the answer shows itself to me. This may seem a little conceited, but to date, I’ve written six novels where I’ve had no idea how the hero would identify the villain and each time the solution has come from the story. The most I’ve ever had to go back and alter to make the solution work was 100 words in my debut novel Snatched from Home.

My plotting is haphazard at best but the more I write, the more I find myself plotting. Alongside my manuscript I have another document I call Chapter Info. This is used to keep a track of events, key details and whose point of view I’m telling each chapter from. It’s also a great help when editing as I mark the timeline against each chapter. Where I used to add to the Chapter Info after writing each chapter, I now find myself mapping out up to five chapters ahead. This allows me the freedom of freestyling while also having enough structure to always know what comes next. It also means I am never stuck for something to write. If I get an idea for something that needs added in like a twist or revelation, I’ll mark that down at the bottom of the Chapter Info document and leave it there until the story gets to the relevant event.

I don’t believe any subject should be off limits, but there are certain ones I chose not to write about as I want to entertain readers not depress them with subjects like paedophilia. Other, better writers than me can tackle these subjects with the sensitivity they demand.

I’m intending to read No Comment and When the Waters Recede shortly. I’ve not encountered DI Harry Evans before, is there anything I should know about him before I start? (Subsequently read No Comment.)

There’s plenty you should know about him and plenty you shouldn’t. All I’ll say is that he’s a good man hidden inside the body of a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, renegade who does things his own way with very little consideration for those around him.

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

There’s quite a difference between the two, as No Comment was written in a month and edited in another month. When I sat down to write it, I had no idea of what was going to happen beyond the opening scene. I just put my bum in the seat and followed the clues as they were laid out in the story.

When the Waters Recede was very different as I’d been chewing over the idea in my head for almost a year as I wrote the first two Boulder novels. I often think about the next book as much as the one I’m writing and this meant that for the first time ever, I knew how I was going to put the killer and the hero together at the end when I started writing. Because of this foreknowledge, I was able to put the novel down very quickly.

I don’t tend to have many bumps along the way, and those I experienced were minor ones which were easily fixed with a spot of research or a couple of cigarettes and a good sweary rant.

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 couldn’t possibly say that any one of my books makes me prouder than another as it’s like choosing between children. What I will say, is that each series should be started from the beginning and I feel that each book I write is better than the last.

Your page on Fantastic Fiction separates a couple of your books into a Harry Evans series and a couple into a Major Crimes series, I’m puzzled – is there a distinction between the two?

The only distinction is that the Major Crime series is made up of a short story collection and novellas which feature DI Harry Evans and the rest of the Major Crimes Team. Each book in the Major Crimes series precedes a novel and they all fit together to provide a collection of bite-sized and full length fiction. The novellas also allow me to try different ideas and tell shorter stories that wouldn’t work as a full novel.

Jake and Harry have a fight – who wins?

The reader would be the winner because they’d get to witness a great fight that would be too close to call. Both men would refuse to quit and they’d fight until they were unable to throw another punch.

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

There have been so many satisfying moments it’s impossible to choose just one. It’s a several way tie between launching my first book alongside my friend and mentor Matt Hilton, seeing Snatched from Home adapted into a stage play, being selected to be the very first Crime in the Spotlight reader at Bloody Scotland, reading all the flattering reviews and those times when I’ve been approached by readers who tell me how much they love my books.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

I’m very fortunate in that everything I have written has been deemed good enough to publish.

What’s the current project in progress?

I’m currently working on Jake Boulder 4 which has the working title Die Cold. It sees Boulder working at a ski lodge which gets overrun by terrorists.

What’s the best thing about writing?

I love throwing down the first draft and seeing where the story goes. Because I don’t plot too far in advance, it’s like I’m a reader as I’m following the events in the same way readers do.

The worst?

The editing process is the part I like the least, As I work long hours at it to maintain author voice as mentioned previously, I find that I get irritable. I put this down to the fact that editing is basically spending time looking for examples of your own stupidity.

What are the last five books you’ve read? 

I don’t get to read as much as I like, but these are the last five books. I’m currently reading The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven and finding it to be excellent.
The Satyr’s Dance by Gary Dolman
This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan
The Midnight Line by Lee Child
Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride
Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp

Who do you read and enjoy?

I read lots of authors and enjoy all the different sub-genres of crime and thriller fiction. Authors whose books are automatically placed at the summit of Mount TBR are Craig Russell, Matt Hilton, Stuart MacBride, Zoe Sharp and Tom Cain.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

It’d be easy to choose a book like The Da Vinci Code or a Harry Potter for the money they’ve made, but I’d love to have an idea as clever as the theory in Tom Cain’s The Accident Man

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends.

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

The latest in the Maze Runner series almost rocked me to sleep.

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

I’m not a huge fan of TV and spend most of my free time reading or writing, but everything stops for The Grand Tour & Game of Thrones.

The Grand Bell Ends

In a couple of years’ time…

I hope to be selling enough books to allow me to become a full time writer.

Many thanks to Graham for his time.

Graham Smith links


DI Harry Evans
1. Snatched From Home (2015)
2. I Know Your Secret (2016)
3. When the Waters Recede (2018)

Major Crimes Team
1. Lines of Enquiry (2015)
2. Matching the Evidence (2016)
3. No Comment (2018)              reviewed here

Jake Boulder
1. Watching The Bodies (2017)  reviewed here
2. The Kindred Killers (2017)     reviewed here
3. Past Echoes (2018)                  reviewed here

Saturday 24 March 2018



When a single mother, Julie Simon, is found in her kitchen with a stab wound to her stomach, Cumbria’s Major Crimes Team are handed the case. Under the supervision of DI Campbell and with advice from his former DI, Harry Evans, DC Amir Bhaki fights to discover who assaulted an innocent woman and left her with life-threatening injuries.

Nothing is as it first appears and when the team looks into Julie’s life they uncover a hidden sex-life that may just hold the key to the identity of her attacker.

I've read all three of Graham Smith's Jake Boulder books set in the US, but none of his Cumbrian-set Major Crimes Team books with Harry Evans. Here Evans is no longer with the team, (retired from the force - forcibly?) and is recovering from the death of his wife but is still available to his old squad on a consultancy basis.

Our case - a woman attacked in her own home and now fighting for her life. She's in theatre undergoing surgery and unable to provide details of her attacker. Her daughter who found her doesn't know a lot more

There's an interesting dynamic with the small team. The new chief, DI Campbell is trying to establish his authority and have his underlings operating within well-defined boundaries. My impression is that Evans cut corners and played hard and fast with the rules, the end result justifying the methods used to get there. One of the team, DS Chisholm has computer skills which push those boundaries. DC Lauren Phillips isn't above using her physical charms to reduce a suspect's defenses and have him drop his guard with a flash of leg or cleavage. DC Bhaki is a capable and sensitive interviewer, continually referring back to Evans with information to his mentor, for his insights. Evans himself isn't above cooperation with Carlisle's main criminal family if it gets him answers.

An interesting case - the reason for the attack unclear and elusive, but key in finding the perpetrator. A son's incarceration in a young offender's institute - a possible avenue of investigation. As is our mother's secret Tinder lifestyle.

I really liked this one and will definitely back track and read more from this series of books. It's interesting seeing Smith's writing set a lot closer to home than his Boulder series. I never used to like reading books set in the UK, I'd far rather read about incidents on foreign shores. Graham Smith, Paul D. Brazill, Martin Stanley, Ben J. Jones and others are convincing me of the shortsightedness of this stance.

4 from 5

Graham Smith has his website here.
Catch him on Facebook here and Twitter@GrahamSmith1972 

Read in February, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 99
Source format - review copy offered by author
Format - Kindle

Friday 23 March 2018



Are you looking for a fast-moving, intricate psychological thriller? Then you'll love the unmissable Midday.

Four men. Five hours. Eight million euros.

When his alarm goes off at 7 am, bank manager Vincent assumes he is waking up to a regular working day. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Minutes later, one of the most ambitious heists in Dublin’s history is underway — and Vincent finds himself at the centre of it.

While his boyfriend Ryan is held at gunpoint by two aspiring gangsters, Vincent is tasked with entering the vaults of the four branches he manages to steal two million euros from each one.

If he doesn’t return by midday with all of the money, Ryan will receive a bullet to the head.

As each minute ticks by, it becomes clear all is not as it seems.

But just who is calling the shots?

And can Vincent make it back in time to save his boyfriend’s life?

The clock is ticking.

Midday is an explosive psychological thriller which will have you on the edge of your seat. It will appeal to fans of authors like; Claire Mackintosh, Mark Edwards and Adam Croft.

"Well-written, captivating and gritty to its core" - Bookstormer

My first taste of David B. Lyons work (okay, it might be his debut novel!) but after this one definitely not my last.

An €8 million heist novel with a difference, set in my long ago home town of Dublin. I do like my tales of robbery and deceit and this one is very tasty.

I like the way our tale is presented. We have alternating chapters giving us the perspective of each of our four main players.

J.R. is the robbery mastermind and the eyes and ears on Vincent.
Vincent is the bank manager tasked with removing two million from each of the bank branches he controls, after an unexpected early morning visit from Darragh.
Darragh is J.R.'s accomplice in the robbery. Not the sharpest tool in the box, his job is to babysit, Ryan - Vincent's stay at home kept-boyfriend.
Ryan, a lover boy and loafer. Now a hostage.

Vincent has a deadline of midday to deliver the eight mil or Darragh gets to shoot Ryan in the face. 

Over the course of the tale, we get back stories and histories, involving love, loss, grief, crime, drugs, murder, family, career, ambition and the lack of and plenty more.

Very tense in places, especially as the deadline approaches.

Very funny in others.... Ryan having a tommy tank in front of the telly, his money shot coinciding with a camera cutting from the sexy presenter Susanna Reid to Piers Morgan's ugly mug. Darragh yet again is the source of some amusement as the deadline passes and the caper reaches a climax.

The book I also found quite reflective and sad at times. Grief is an emotion pretty much everyone has to encounter. Disgust and outrage was felt at others. Plenty of secrets revealed and a twist which I kind of anticipated - as in I felt something was coming, but knew not what and which I still found fairly audacious.

5 from 5

David B. Lyons has his author Facebook page here.

Read in March, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count  - 291
Source - ARC from publisher Bloodhound Books
Format - Kindle

Thursday 22 March 2018


Another decent month's reading with 19 books devoured in the month and not too many short ones among the pile.

Nothing sucked only 1 - 3 STAR read

3 x 5 STAR reads - Blair Denholm's Sold - David Young's A Darker State and Steve Brewer's Homesick Blues

Pick of the month - Sold by Blair Denholm - on the basis that at the time of typing, this one would be what I would pick up out of the three for a re-read.

I read seven Lawrence Block books last month, only four this time around, but still more than any of the other guys and gals enjoyed. There were two from Steve Brewer and a couple from Ray Banks in the month after a 10 year sabattical. Everyone else was a one-hit wonder.

The full list with links...

Blair Denholm - Sold (2017) (5)

G.B. Williams - Locked In (2018) (3)

David Young - A Darker State (2018) (5)

Andrew Webber - Today (2015) (4)

Nick Kolakowski - Slaughterhouse Blues (2018) (4.5)

Ray Banks - Wolf Tickets (2013) (4.5)

Steve Brewer - Shotgun Boogie (2016) (4.5)

Andy Rausch - Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties (2017) (4.5)

David Owen - Big Red Rock (2017) (4.5)

Ray Banks - Trouble's Braids (2017) (4.5)

William Paul - Sleeping Pretty (1995) (4)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Designated Hitter (2001) (4)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Fedora (2016) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Homecoming (2011) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Quotidian Keller (2007) (4.5)

Margot Kinberg - Past Tense (2016) (4)

Steve Brewer - Homesick Blues (2016) (5)

Graham Smith - No Comment (2018) (4)

T.M. Logan - 29 Seconds (2018) (4.5)

Dissecting the month to the nth degree.....

10 x 4.5 STAR READS...... Lawrence Block x 3, Ray Banks x 2,  Andy Rausch, Nick Kolakowski, David Owen, T.M. Logan and Steve Brewer 

5 x 4 STAR READS.....Lawrence Block, Margot Kinberg, Andrew Webber, Graham Smith and William Paul

1 x 3 STAR READ ..... enjoyable, but not without a few niggles - G.B. Williams and Locked In

19 reads from 14 different authors, 4 from Lawrence Block, and a couple each from Steve Brewer and Ray Banks

5 of the 14 were new-to-me authors....... Blair Denholm, David Young, Andy Rausch, Margot Kinberg and T.M. Logan 

Of these newbies, I have more waiting from Margot Kinberg and David Young on the pile.

By definition, 9 authors have been enjoyed before - obviously! Lawrence Block, Nick Kolakowski, Graham Smith, Ray Banks, G.B. Williams, Steve Brewer, David Owen, William Paul and Andrew Webber

I have more on the pile from Lawrence Block, Graham Smith, Steve Brewer, Ray Banks, David Owen and William Paul

Gender analysis -  mostly male authors, 2 females - Margot Kinberg and G.B. Williams....... despite assertions that I'm going to correct the imbalance in my reading, I never do.
(An all female reading month is coming soon!)

I believe of the 14 authors I read, 4 are English, 5 hail from the US, 3 are Scottish, 1 is Australian and 1 originally hailing from Zimbabwe, but a long time settled in Australia.

All 19 of the reads were fiction - 13 novels and 6 long short stories or novellas, including a collection of 3 novellas from Andy Rausch, 5 reads were less than 100 pages long

Only one of the books - Sleeping Pretty by William Paul, pre-dated the 2000s (and that was re-issued last year).

2 of the Lawrence Block reads were penned in the 2000s, the other 16 books were from this decade - including five 2018 books, four from 2017, four from 2016 with one each from 2015, 2013 and 2011.

9 of the 19 books were accessed via a Kindle Unlimited trial, 4 were review copies made available from the publisher - Bloodhound Books, Bonnier Zaffre (x 2) and Clan Destine Press, 3 came from the authors and 3 were pre-owned.

Favourite cover? Shotgun Boogie by Steve Brewer

Second favourite – David Owen's Big Red Rock

My reads were this long 328 - 277 - 384 - 109 - 172 - 189 - 327 - 102 - 312 - 210 - 217 - 33 - 96 - 70 - 428 - 41 - 342 - 99 - 434

Total page count = 4170 (2761 in January)....... a 1400 page increase

14 Kindle reads, 1 x PDF and 4 x paperbacks.

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

T.M. Logan's 29 Seconds was the longest read at 434 pages.

Lawrence Block with Keller's Designated Hitter was the shortest at 33 pages long