Thursday 19 July 2018


A week away with the family and a chance to catch up on some reading while enjoying the sun and a few Doradas.

One read in progress finished off, seven more completed and the intro to another one started....

Jane Harper, Jack D. McLean, Adam Howe (ed.), Alex Segura, Alan Parks, Aidan Thorn, Mark Ramsden, Grant Nicol and a smidge from Les Edgerton

Jane Harper - Force of Nature (2017)

I hadn't planned on reading this but needed a book that would appeal to my wife as well and having picked up a cheap copy of her earlier, highly praised novel - The Dry - it seemed a good choice. Glad I did - an enjoyable trip to the Australian wilderness.

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Force of Nature begs the question: How well do you really know the people you work with? 

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path. 

But one of the women doesn't come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened. 

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Jack D. McLean - Confessions of an English Psychopath (2016)
I enjoyed an earlier book by the author - Manchester Vice and this was another entertaining outing with Mr McLean and a memorable lead character with a slightly strange way of behaving.

After unscrupulous young Lawrence is recruited to work as an assassin for the British Secret Service, everything goes well - until he gains access to a locked room at his workplace, and uncovers a terrible secret.

Lawrence’s newfound knowledge forces him to choose between going on the run, or engaging in a life and death conflict with his employers.

James Bond meets Dexter Morgan in this savagely funny, twisted novel from Jack D. McLean.

Adam Howe (ed.) - Wrestle Maniacs (2017)
I'm a sucker for short story anthologies and this one sounded quirky after receiving an invite to read it. It didn't let me down. I only had about three in the collection to finish as it was an ongoing read before the holiday.

A dozen dark fiction masters bring their twisted vision to the world of professional wrestling. Twelve original stories of crime, horror, humor, and taboo. Ohhh, yeahhh! This ain’t no kayfabe, baby. This is hard-hitting wrestling fiction that grips like a Camel Clutch, and pins the reader to the page for the count of one, two…THREE!

Includes a confrontational foreword by ring legend 'Pulverizing' Pat McCrunch (as told to Jeff Strand)… An all-new story starring Nick 'The Widowmaker' Bullman from James Newman’s wrestling noir, "Ugly as Sin"… And ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine ("Tijuana Donkey Showdown," "Damn Dirty Apes") returns for another action-packed misadventure.

Original fiction by:
Jeff Strand
Tom Leins
James Newman
Eryk Pruitt
Adam Howe
Ed Kurtz
Hector Acosta
Joseph Hirsch
Duncan P. Bradshaw
David James Keaton
Gabino Iglesias
Patrick Lacey
and Jason Parent


Alan Parks - Bloody January (2017)
Probably the best of the holiday bunch. Looking forward to more from this author with a second due out early next year - February's Son.

An exciting, evocative first-in-series noir novel set in 1973 Glasgow, a city on the cusp of a heroin epidemic, featuring detective Harry McCoy.

When an 18-year-old boy shoots a young woman dead in the middle of a busy Glasgow street and then commits suicide, McCoy knows it can't be a random act of violence. With a newbie partner in tow, McCoy uses his underworld network to build a picture of a secret society run by Glasgow's wealthiest family, the Dunlops. Drugs, sex, incest; every nefarious predilection is catered to, at the expense of the lower echelon of society, an underclass that includes McCoy's best friend from reformatory school - drug-Tsar Stevie Cooper - and his on-off girlfriend, a prostitute, Janey. But with McCoy's boss calling off the hounds, and his boss' boss unleashing their own, the Dunlops are apparently untouchable. McCoy has other ideas.

Fans of McIlvanney's Laidlaw books and Oliver Harris' The Hollow Man, Ian Rankin's and Dennis Lehane's fiction, and TV shows like Idris Elba's Luther will find themselves thoroughly satisfied here.

Alex Segura - Silent City (2016)

First time outing with Segura, though I have most of his Fernandez series on the pile including one the author sent to me about a year ago, that shamefully I still haven't read. Enjoyable and gripping, though the main character did kind of irritate me. I hope he deals with some of his issues before I get to the second in the series

Pete Fernandez is a mess. He's on the brink of being fired from his middle-management newspaper job. His fiancee has up and left him. Now, after the sudden death of his father, he's back in his hometown of Miami, slowly drinking himself into oblivion. But when a coworker he barely knows asks Pete to locate a missing daughter, Pete finds himself dragged into a tale of murder, drugs, double-crosses, and memories bursting from the black heart of the Miami underworld - and, shockingly, his father's past. 

Making it up as he goes and stumbling as often as he succeeds, Pete's surreptitious quest becomes the wake-up call he's never wanted but has always needed - but one with deadly consequences. 

Welcome to Silent City, a story of redemption, broken friendships, lost loves, and one man's efforts to make peace with a long-buried past to save the lives of the few friends he has left. Silent City is a gritty, heartfelt debut novel that harkens back to classic PI tales but infused with the Miami that only Alex Segura knows.

Aidan Thorn - When the Music's Over (2015)

I've read a short story collection from Thorn before and enjoyed it - Criminal Thoughts. This one has sat on the pile for a while - so long in fact it has been re-issued recently along with Dread and The Mistake and all the other Number 13 Press titles by Fahrenheit 13

When Benny Gower murders his business partner few people doubt his good reasons for doing so. Unlike Benny, it’s not as if Harry Weir was popular. But he was the heir to Birmingham’s most violent and dangerous criminal organisation.

For Wynn McDonald, dragged out of retirement for the sake of his old gangland accomplices, motive doesn’t matter. All he cares about is tracking down the nightclub manager turned killer. But before Wynn can extract necessary vengeance he’ll need to turn over every stone on his way to finding answers. And not everybody’s going to be happy with the truths that come crawling out.

Praise for Aidan Thorn

"Moves along at a good pace, but the well-developed characters (Wynn in particular) make you savour, rather than gulp the pages down. It is a story filled with sub plots and depth, with equal parts menace and melancholy, beautifully written to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended." -Robert Cowan (author of The Search for Ethan)

Mark Ramsden - Dread: The Art of Serial Killing (2015)

A bit weird this one, but strangely compelling.

Mr Madden, Dickens enthusiast, muses with his beautiful and bohemian prisoner on possible endings to the famous author's unfinished final mystery. 

Mr Madden, spy, infiltrates a far right nationalist group in order to set up the thugs for something far more serious than their usual boozy street fights. 

Mr Madden, serial killer, sculpts his Candidates into bizarre and macabre artworks within the bare walls of his dungeon workshop.

And if he is to keep one step ahead of the police, the secret service and his own gory instincts, Mr Madden is going to have to find the answer to the one question that hangs over all our heads:

What would Charles Dickens do? 

Praise for Mark Ramsden

"This is a laugh out loud, erudite, sly, blood-and-gore-soaked evisceration of an England we would prefer to pretend does not exist, with a series of cut-throat observations and knock-out one-liners that would make even the best political satirist weep with envy. A set of finely-tuned characters tread the boards in a horrifyingly amusing, twisted, sex 'n' drugs-crazed examination of vengeance - both personal and state sanctioned. Oh yes, and did I mention that it's a love story?" -Lesley Ann Sharrock (author of The Seventh Magpie and Fatal Reaction)

Grant Nicol - The Mistake (2015)

Very enjoyable - a tale of three people, mostly with a dead girl at the centre of things.

Everybody makes mistakes. 

A mutilated body is found on a lonely street in Reykjavik. Detective Grimur intends to see that justice is done. 

Kjartan Jonsson vows that his daughter's killer will be punished. And that the punishment will fit the crime. 

Prime suspect Gunnar Atli desperately needs to prevent his own dark secrets from coming to light. And he's not the only one. 

Fine lines separate truth, justice and vengeance. Put a foot wrong, and any one of them could be making the biggest mistake of his life. 

In Iceland, the winter shadows grow long...

"A tense and atmospheric Nordic Noir. Another belter from Number Thirteen Press." -Paul D. Brazill (author of Guns of Brixton and A Case of Noir)

Les Edgerton - The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping (2014)

I've overlooked Mr E for too long now and time to remedy that failing. Not really started it yet just the introduction so far. Over four years since I read The Bitch - shit!

A mix of Cajun gumbo, a couple tablespoons of kinky sex and a dash of unusual New Orleans settings and you wind up with Les Edgerton’s latest romp fest!

Pete Halliday is busted out of baseball for gambling and travels to New Orleans to make his fortune hustling. Five years later, he’s deep in debt to bookie and in cahoots with Tommy LeClerc, a Cajun with a tiny bit of Indian blood who considers himself a red man. 

Tommy inveigles a reluctant Pete into one scheme after another, the latest a kidnapping scheme where they’ll snatch the Cajun Mafia King and hold his amputated hand for some serious jack. 

Along the way, Pete is double-crossed by Tommy and falls in love with part-time hooker and full-time waitress Cat Duplaisir. With both the Italian and Cajun mobs after them, a chase through Jazz Fest, a Tourette’s outbreak in a black bar and other zany adventures, all seems lost. 

Fans of Tim Dorsey’s character Serge Storms, and readers who enjoy Christopher Moore and Carl Hiaasen will enjoy this story.

“A hard-driving, relentless story with grab-you-by-the-throat characters.”—Grant Blackwood, New York Times bestselling author


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed your holiday reading, Col. A couple of these (the Harper, the Parks and the McLean) sound appealing. Mostly, I'm glad you had a good holiday!

    1. Margot thanks. I think you'd enjoy the three you mention, more so maybe the Harper and Parks. The McLean has plenty of deadpan wit which would also appeal.

  2. So, did you see anything of Tenerife?

    1. Haha - apartment to beach, beach to bar, bar to beach, etc etc.... no touristy things as such - which was just what the doctor ordered!

  3. Welcome back, Col. Looks like you packed a good collection of books. Several of them are now on my list. One was already there. BLOODY JANUARY sounds like a winner – I also like the retro cover. FORCE OF NATURE is intriguing, and I will pass it on to my wife for her book club. They could use a good crime novel.

    1. Cheers Elgin. I think you'd enjoy the Parks book and also the Harper, you can compare notes with your better half!

  4. That is my kind of trip, Col, a lot of reading. I do want to try the Jane Harper novels, although I don't know when. Bloody January sounds interesting. Do you think it is too gritty or dark for me?

    1. You would definitely like the Harper Tracy. I think there are huge elements of the Parks book you would enjoy, though there are large amounts of violence and darkness portrayed - all of it within the context of the times and the story. I don't want to put you off, but be pre-warned.

  5. Sounds like a good holiday to me. I liked the first Jane Harper book, and this one sounds even better.

    1. I will read the first one at some point, despite initially deciding not to. Nice when our tastes overlap!