Tuesday 28 August 2018


A couple from Mick Herron this week.

I love Herron's Slough House - Jackson Lamb series, but he's written a lot more than that - three standalone novels and four with PI Zoe Boehm.

From what I've read from Herron so far Slough House stuff only, he's the kind of writer who could entertain me with his shopping list.

The Marylebone Drop (2018), 

The List (2015)

Dead Lions (2013)

Slow Horses (2010)

Smoke and Whispers (2009)

When a body is hauled from the River Tyne, Sarah Tucker heads to Newcastle for a closer look. She identifies the dead woman as private detective Zoë Boehm, but putting a name to the corpse only raises further questions. Did Zoë kill herself, or did one of her old cases come back to haunt her? Why was she wearing a jacket a murderer had stolen years before? And what's brought Sarah's sparring partner, Gerard Inchon, to the same broken down hotel? Coincidence is an excuse that soon looks pretty unconvincing. Sarah can't leave until she's found the answers to her questions, however dangerous they might turn out to be.

Nobody Walks (2015)

Tom Bettany is working at a meat processing plant in France when he gets a voicemail telling him that his estranged 26-year-old son is dead.

Liam Bettany fell from his London balcony, where he was smoking dope. Now, for the first time since he cut all ties years ago, Bettany returns home, to find out the truth about his son's death.

But more than a few people are interested to hear Bettany is back in town. He might have thought he'd left it all behind when he first skipped town, but nobody really just walks away.

Monday 27 August 2018


Another dirty half dozen into the collection.......

Suzanne Berne - A Crime in the Neighbourhood (1997) - second hand purchase

I was looking up something else when I happened upon this one. A little bit intriguing....

When the murdered body of a local boy is found in the woods, suspicions transform young Marsha's once-secure neighbourhood. Marsha begins to watch her neighbours and when Mr Green, the shy bachelor from next-door, takes an interest in her mother, Marsha is drawn into a cruel chain of events.

Paul Heatley - Violent by Design (2018) - review copy received!

The third in a loose trilogy from Heatley, I have the first, An Eye For An Eye and will end up buying the second coz that's how I roll.....

After a raid on one of Neil Doyle's drug houses, his new right hand man Jimmy Finlay is determined to keep the news quiet from Neil and to deal with things himself. The person responsible, however, is not someone that can be dealt with quickly. He's a dangerous man with a bad reputation. Things are primed to get bloody in Newcastle, and that's the last thing Neil needs as he works on the unveiling of his brand new nightclub.

f Jimmy can't get things under control, Neil's going to have to turn to one of his firm's old hands, Graeme Taylor. Trouble is, no one has seen or heard from Graeme in close to a year, save for his surrogate son Tracksuit Tony Gordon, and he's not in any rush to give him away.

But there's only one way things can with men this violent by design.

Martin Stanley - Fighting Talk (2018) - purchased copy

The latest Stanton Brothers episode from Martin Stanley - that must make six or seven in total. My kind of book, my kind of mayhem. Get Santa and The Curious Case of the Missing Moolah have been enjoyed before.

All for a good cause - so please buy one!

Eric Stanton is used to getting the dirty end of the stick. So, he’s not entirely convinced when his loan-shark boss tells him he's got an easy job for him to do. His boss assures him it’s the kind of task that requires “somebody with a light touch”. All Eric needs to do is visit his boss’ favourite client and ask why she’s fallen behind with her payments.

Easy, right?


All it takes is one visit to send the Stanton brothers on a crazy journey through derelict buildings filled with junkies and drug dealers, rough pubs, and abandoned farms, as they attempt to right some wrongs and bring down a dog-fighting syndicate. It all starts with a bit of fighting talk, but it’s going to end with blood and broken bones.

Fighting Talk combines fast-paced storytelling with snappy banter, wild and brutal action, and some very nasty villains to create a funny, ferocious crime thriller that will keep you glued to the page.

From the author of The Glasgow Grin and The Curious Case of The Missing Moolah, comes the brand-new thriller, Fighting Talk – featuring the Stanton brothers in their grittiest adventure yet.

It would be a crime to miss it.



Michael Redhill - Bellevue Square (2017) - purchased copy

An email from publisher No Exit Press hit a nerve. Liked it, bought it.

Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist

A darkly comic literary thriller about a woman who fears for her sanity - and then her life - when she learns that her doppelganger has appeared in a local park.

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. She's never seen her, but others swear they have. Apparently, her identical twin hangs out in Kensington Market, where she sometimes buys churros and drags an empty shopping cart down the streets, like she's looking for something to put in it. Jean's a grown woman with a husband and two kids as well as a thriving bookstore in downtown Toronto, and she doesn't rattle easily - not like she used to. But after two customers insist they've seen her double, Jean decides to investigate.

She begins at the crossroads of Kensington Market: a city park called Bellevue Square. Although she sees no one who looks like her, it only takes a few visits to the park for her to become obsessed with the possibility of encountering her twin in the flesh. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers, and vagrants - the regulars of Bellevue Square - are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, she fears her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate much stranger than death.

Michael J. Clark - Clean Sweep (2018) - review copy received

From the same Canadian publisher as blog favourite Dietrich Kalteis, ECW Press. Published in March, my cheeky request for a copy struck gold....

A reformed smuggler finds himself embroiled in a mind-bending criminal conspiracy in this page-turning debut

Pastor Tommy Bosco runs a Winnipeg skid row mission that caters to ex-criminals and ex-addicts trying to make a better life. Sometimes that better life means leaving the city — and the good and bad guys — completely behind. A former smuggler, Bosco can make anyone disappear, faking deaths and extracting people across the Canada-U.S. border. But then his ex shows up, fresh from the murder of a biker-gang boss. She’s got plenty of baggage, including the biker’s cryptic ledger that everyone in Winnipeg’s underworld wants to get their hands on. Bosco finds himself a fugitive at the center of a conspiracy that has him staying far away from the cops, the hired hitmen, and even his dear old dad. Navigating through a harsh Prairie winter, Bosco must help his ex escape without having to make an escape himself.

Gabriel Tallent - My Absolute Darling (2017) - purchased copy

Supermarket browsing and an impulse buy. After reading the blurb, I'm surprised I haven't seen any fuss online about this one.

"The word 'masterpiece' has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one." - Stephen King

A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl's heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero - and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Sunday 26 August 2018



In Killing Pace, Douglas Schofield, author of Time of Departure and Storm Rising, delivers a heart-pounding tale set in Everglades City, Florida and Sicily, Italy with three important questions: Where am I?... How did I get here?... and most importantly... Who am I? 

It's been two months since Lisa Green crawled barefoot and bleeding out of a terrible car accident. Her boyfriend Roland has been nursing her back to health under close watch. Lisa has amnesia. They both know that, but only Lisa knows that she hasn't lost her ability to reason. And reason tells her that she is not Roland's girlfriend. She is his prisoner. Gradually, Lisa remembers training and skills that she didn't know she had and is able to make her escape. When a sheriff's deputy finds her, she tells him she wants to report a missing person: herself.

What follows is a high-octane international chase, which involves US Border Control, the Sicilian mafia, and a shadowy organization specializing in trafficking infants taken from Syrian refugees and made available for adoption to wealthy American couples. Lisa, whose real name is Laura Pace, must figure out who she can trust and how to stay alive.

Another decent read which was enjoyed but which truth be told wasn't especially memorable. I don't imagine it will linger too long in the memory banks. This isn't a criticism, it did what it was supposed to do - entertain and for a few hours forget about the outside world.

I did enjoy the opening set-up with a women unsure of herself and her unfamiliar surroundings, not buying the story her "boyfriend" is telling her. Her situation resolves itself with an opportunity on a shopping trip. Her memory and identity soon returns - she's a law officer called Laura Pace - along with the realisation that she has been used while held captive. Further bad news arrives in the form of the news that she is a fugitive and wanted for a double murder.

We then track back in time to her role the year before in Italy as an undercover Customs agent investigating a counterfeit goods scam with auto-parts, while simultaneous vetting boatloads of refugees, for possible extremist affiliations and leanings. Whilst in her role, she is alerted to a baby trafficking operation which she endeavours to bring down - and which is also the cause of her present predicament. Someone has framed her for murder because she is getting too close.

It was a decent plot. We spend time in Italy with Laura, learning about her job and investigating dodgy shipments before the baby trafficking angle drops. We learn about her family history and lineage, something which is obviously very important to her - the need to live her life honouring the memory of her dead Nonna. We get her back story too. (Me personally, I'd just rather crack on with mine and not spend too much time debating with myself whether my long dead Grandparents were happy with me.)  The baby angle which has a Mafia connection gets investigated, resulting in a return to the US.

I'll confess a bit of confusion, as I must have stopped paying attention. She's been framed for a murder, but she was also on her way to her own execution, before a car crash which left her with amnesia and also at the mercy of her would be killer, who decided he could have a bit of fun before eventually ending her. I would have thought one or the other would suffice and don't quite get the need for both scenarios to be in play. If the author explained it, I must have missed it.

After the murder frame, which sees Laura a fugitive, we then spend the next portion of the book on the run, trying to join up all the dots with the help of some unlikely allies, solving the case which at the same time will resolve her own frame up.

I did enjoy it overall, though I may have over-elaborated on the bits that didn't work so well for me. We have a capable, intelligent main character, if not someone who is a little bit too good to be true. We have an interesting investigation and the European, US, refugee, organised criminal activity bit was well explained and plausible and in the end all the loose strands are tied up and explained satisfactorily. I liked the dual settings, especially the backwoods held as a captive environment as well as a bit of time in Italy. And the pacing was ok.

3 from 5

Killing Pace is Douglas Schofield's fifth novel.

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 276
Source - review copy from Smith Publicity
Format - hardback

Saturday 25 August 2018



Morte Point is a wonderful spot for a holiday. Only that’s not why Ben Bracken is here.

He’s here because in this sleepy part of England, events are now unfolding that could cause death and mayhem, and not just for the unfortunates in the plane that has just crashed into the sea off the North Devon coast. 

Sent to locate the source of the problem, ex-soldier and patriot Ben finds himself both hunter and hunted. But who is after him, and why do they want to capture him so desperately?

It’s only when, on the edge of physical and mental exhaustion, he meets a young Kosovan microbiologist, that he begins to understand the scale of the plot he has been drawn into, and the weight of responsibility that the authorities have placed on his shoulders. So it’s probably just as well they don’t know about his slightly shady past.

But then, as Ben is rapidly finding out, those in authority aren’t always what they seem, either.

Morte Point is an original, non-stop action tale with twists and turns that will keep you enthralled from start to finish, and a memorable lead character who is far from the typical action hero. Fans of Lee Child and Andy McNab will be hooked!

Praise for Morte Point
‘Ben Bracken is a character with a bright future.’ – Alan McDermott, bestselling author of the Tom Gray series

More thriller than crime fiction in my opinion and no less enjoyable for that distinction. Ben Bracken was last encountered in A Wanted Man, almost single-handedly taking down a Manchester crime syndicate, after escaping from prison.

We pick up here with Ben in Spain, our one man band taking out another low life currently enjoying his ill-gotten gains (courtesy of 40-plus Post Office raids) beyond the reach of the National Crime Agency. Not for long once Bracken does his thing.

Urgently summoned back to the UK by his close-lipped NCA contact, Bracken rocks up in Morte Point. An unidentified object needs interception and recovery, something easier said than done given the paucity of information provided. One plane crash into the sea later and Bracken has a rather large clue as to the location of the object as least. A swim and a dive later and Bracken recovers an earring from the hands of a decapitated corpse on the fractured aircraft. Just in time, as a couple of military response units descend on the stricken plane seconds after Bracken's departure. The precious cargo is in popular demand.

A game of cat and mouse ensues as Bracken tries to leave the Morte Point area with his prize while a manhunt is launched for him. The size of the resources at the disposal of his pursuers along with the manipulation of the media regarding the plane crash indicate to Bracken - Government involvement. Bracken's contact is of limited help at this stage of the proceedings.

I do like a "man on the run book." Bracken with his military past demonstrates a few survival techniques and his physical prowess in a couple of altercations. He does however reveal a darker side to his character when giving a likely ally a full and frank interview, for want of a better word. You can understand Bracken's motives and admire his love of country and his capabilities but events reveal he's not especially likable. There's an element of arrogance on display, with a his way or the highway mentality which persists through to the end.

The nature of the item is revealed and the bigger picture emerges showing what is at stake. It's high stakes with a number of organisations extremely interested in acquiring the goods, which might not be prudent.  A few philosophical questions are raised in how governments and ministers should behave in the protection of its citizens. The contrasting answers providing options for Bracken as he realises he can't stay on the run forever. An interested party makes Bracken a more attractive proposition if he can bring himself to trust them. Accommodations and some hard choices will need to be made.

Fast-paced, a decent story line that I was happy to go with - I'm always happy to listen to conspiracy theories and generally think the worst of authority - so I could buy the premise and the behaviour of the parties involved. It's an interesting dilemna Ben has to deal with, topical in a lot of respects...... threats to a nation's security, media manipulation, fake news, and more - I'm avoiding flagging up the obvious one. 

Well-written, decent action scenes and an ending I enjoyed. I do think the thriller of the lone man pitted against the authorities type, with the fate of the nation hanging on the outcome requires a temporary suspension of disbelief to fully enjoy them and this book is no exception. I was happy to go with that. A bit of a cliche but Morte Point is a bit of a page turner and a fast read - two work days which is quick for me.

I did like this a bit more than the previous Parker book featuring Ben Bracken. Bracken and author Parker are on a bit of an upward curve.

4 from 5

Robert Parker has his website here. He also authored the country noir book - Crook's Hollow.

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 266
Source - review copies received from both author and publisher - Endeavour Quill
Format - paperback

Friday 24 August 2018


July's book of the month!

July was a decent month's reading with a return to double-digits on the completed stats, though most of them were devoured during a one week period in the middle of the month in Tenerife.

The runner-up!

Nothing sucked with two 5 STAR contenders for book of the month.

By a short head over Mick Herron and The Marylebone Drop - the champagne and flowers go to Alan Parks for his amazing debut - Bloody January!

The full reading list was as follows.....

Eric Beetner - White Hot Pistol (2014) (4.5)

Anthony Neil Smith - The Cyclist (2018) (4.5)

Marti Green - The Good Twin (2018) (3)

Jane Harper - Force of Nature (2017) (4)

Jack D. McLean - Confessions of an English Psychopath (2016) (4.5)

Adam Howe (ed.) - Wrestle Maniacs (2017) (4)

Alan Parks - Bloody January (2017) (5)

Alex Segura - Silent City (2016) (3.5)

Aidan Thorn - When the Music Stops (2015) (4.5)

Mark Ramsden - Dread: The Sacred Art of Serial Killing (2015) (4)

Grant Nicol - The Mistake (2015) (4.5)

Robert Stone - Chasing Black Gold (2015) (4)

Mick Herron - The Marylebone Drop (2018) (5)

More trivia for my own amusement ....

5 - 4.5 STAR reads - Eric Beetner, Anthony Neil Smith, Jack D.McLean, Aidan Thorn and Grant Nicol 

4 of the 13 were 4 STAR reads and very enjoyable - Jane Harper, Mark Ramsden, Robert Stone and an anthology edited by Adam Howe

1 - 3.5 STAR read from Alex Segura

1 - 3 STAR read - The Good Twin by Marti Green - which wasn't the worst book ever..

13 reads from 13 different authors,

7 of the 13 were new-to-me authors, Jane Harper, Mark Ramsden, Robert Stone, Alex Segura, Grant Nicol, Marti Green and Alan Parks. I have more to read from Harper, Segura and Nicol.

Anthony Neil Smith, Eric Beetner, Jack D. McLean (aka Jack Strange), Mick Herron, Aidan Thorn and Adam Howe (in his own right) have been enjoyed before with more to come from each of them in the future.

Gender analysis -  11 male authors, 2 female - shocking but no big surprise. Deja-vous - I keep deferring my all female reading month.

Of the 13 authors read, 7 are English, 4 hail from the US, 1 from Scotland, 1 from New Zealand - I unknown - possibly from Canada!

All 12 of the reads were fiction - 11 novels - 1 anthology of  short stories and a non-fiction biographical tale of an adventurous life - Robert Stone's Chasing Black Gold.

All of the books were published in this decade ....3 from 2018, 3 from 2017, 2 from 2016, 4 from 2015 and 1 from 2014. I've definitely lost the knack of reading older books.

6 of the reads were pre-owned. Of the other 7 - 1 came from the author, 1 from the publisher and 1 from a publicist for participation in a blog tour, 2 came from Net Galley and 2 came from Edelweiss, another early reviewer site.

Favourite cover? Best Book and best cover - Alan Park - Bloody January!

Second favourite cover - second favourite book - Mick Herron - The Marylebone Drop

My reads were this long 119 - 190 - 263 - 432 - 239 - 221 - 336 - 304 - 136 - 130 - 164 - 320 - 112

Total page count = 2966 (1816 in June) ....... an 1150 page increase

7 were Kindle reads, and 3 were paperbacks, 3 were EPub files read on my laptop

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

Jane Harper's Force of Nature was the longest read at 432 pages

Mick Herron's The Marylebone Drop was the shortest at 112 pages long.



No good deed goes unpunished!

Sometimes you don’t think, you don’t plan, you only act. When he pulled the blonde from the icy waters, Frank wasn’t thinking about what would happen next. But when she disappears again he’s going to have a hard time explaining the truth to the men who want to find her. And if he is to protect his family, it’s time for Frank to make some hard choices.

Love, or life?
Fight, or flee?
Blondes, or bullets?

With a touch of David Goodis’s everyman-noir, a dash of Brit Grit, and a whole lot of hardboiled, Of Blondes and Bullets shows just how easy it is for the world you thought you knew to crumble before your eyes.

“One good deed is all takes for things to go wrong…Of Blondes and Bullets provides a jarring trek between the cracks of bland suburbia; a hardboiled noir descent into the darker side of Britain. Recommended.” -Lee Sykes (author of The Hard Cold Shoulder)

Michael Young's Of Blondes and Bullets was the first release of 13 in total by Number 13 Press and it was my eleventh outing with the publisher. It's another strong entry in the collection.

Good Samaritan Frank rescues our mystery blonde Kathy from the icy sea. And as the saying goes - no good deed goes unpunished!

Kathy is troubled and secretive and after drying off at Frank's house - the one the under-employed Frank shares with the women in his life, Jean - actually Jean's house come to mention it, Frank finds himself drawn into Kathy's world.

At first we don't really understand what is occurring and it's a slow reveal. Kathy and her fella, Luke - someone we encountered at the start of the book, fighting in a barn while held captive - have crossed swords with another gang and are battling for the possession of a mystery item, currently held by Kathy and Luke. Kathy has the goods, the rivals have Luke.

Frank, the innocent tries to help Kathy without knowing the can of worms he's opening. An amateur stakeout with Kathy on the opposition gets rumbled and a brutal encounter on a suburban street ensues. Kathy scarpers soon after and Frank is violently introduced to the opposition. A home invasion follows and Frank and the unwitting Jean are soon inducted into a violent game with little understanding of the rules.

Tense and gripping, Of Blondes and Bullets is an interesting and enjoyable novella. Frank's involvement gives him the opportunity to reflect on his less than perfect relationship with Jean and whether the life they've being living is a fake. Irrespective of their love or the fragility of it, Kathy's on her own now, Frank determines to save Jean or die trying.

Lots to like, some excellent pacing, the 180 degree volte-face from normal to off the radar dangerous in a flash, the contrasting settings - the ordinary urban and an isolated rural farmhouse, a bit of gun-play, some intense rivalry and violent competition and some strong characters  - not just Frank - each with their own motivations.

Michael Young has a couple of other books to his name featuring Harry Vee a Hong Kong based PI - The Sky Might Fall and All Blood is Red. They look quite tempting.

4.5 from 5

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 81
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

As with others in the Number 13 canon they've recently been re-released by Fahrenheit Press under the F13 umbrella.


Thursday 23 August 2018



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

With Plastic Kidnapping, author Les Edgerton serves up an intriguing caper novel with plenty of black humour, some madcap ill-thought out criminal schemes, a pair of amateur bunglers, the Cajun Mafia and a hooker with a heart.

By the end (spoiler alert) we have a reluctant romance as main man Pete Halliday gets the damaged girl, Cat after surviving the worst their common enemy can throw at them and in Cat's case exacting some retribution on one of her former abusers.

In mostly chronological order we have......a hopeless gambler, a lost baseball career, moderate career ambitions with a po-boy joint, some low level New Orleans hustling, an ill-advised partnership with an incompetent crook - part-Indian Tommy LeClerc, a failed kidnap, some valuable lessons learned, on the run and hiding out, permanent pursuit by an unsympathetic debt collector, a dog fighting sting, jail time, a second go at the main event, amateur amputation hour, some kinky sex, a double cross, an unintentional love affair, a bale of cash, some time on the river, a new career beckoning, into the heart of the lion's den, a rescue mission, a chase, a showdown, some help from an unlikely source, freedom, forgiveness, dodgy plastic surgery and pastures new.

Events are recounted through from Pete's perspective and throughout there is plenty of banter and tension in his relationship with Tommy. Pete has an awareness of the seriousness of their situation and several times considers flight as the only sensible option. (Still aware that there is no rock far enough away on this earth that he can hide under.) However, he is weak in regards to acting on his impulses and is a sucker for Tommy's schemes. Just as well, or we wouldn't have have the book we have if fleeing the city won out.

Throughout I was rooting for Pete and it was interesting seeing him evolve and embrace love for probably the first time in his life. A more successful criminal career or even legit one might have beckoned if Cat was his partner from the start instead of Tommy.

Cat Duplaisir has her own troubled history and past, but part of her appeal is her refusal to be cowed by the cards life has dealt to her. Sold by a parent as a young girl to an abuser, who dispensed with her when a young teen and she was too old for his sick predilections. Damaged yes, but she's a survivor and retains her humanity and heart, whilst having the chops to ensure she won't be taken advantage of again. She's by far the strongest character in the book.

Funny, irreverent, non-PC, larger than life, darker undertones at times, outlandish and highly improbable but extremely satisfying. Great characters, great setting, fantastic outcome. There's nothing fake or plastic about Edgerton's ability to fashion an entertaining and exciting story with a heart.

4.5 from 5

Plastic Kidnapping was my second dance with Les Edgerton's work. The Bitch was enjoyed back in 2014 - thoughts here.

More from him sits on the pile. I shouldn't leave it so long next time - four years plus? Really!

Les Edgerton has his website here.

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 270
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle


Tuesday 21 August 2018


A couple this week from America and Larry Watson.

I read his book White Crosses years ago, but can remember very little about it.

Watson has published 10 books over the years since Montana, 1948 debuted in 1993. I probably have half of them on the stacks. I would hazard his work is more literary crime than anything a bit rougher around the edges. There's plenty of room for these books in my reading palette.

Larry Watson has his website here.

There's a couple of interesting pieces with him online discussing some of his work and his writing.

Ten questions for Larry Watson from 2011 and The Darker Side of Larry Watson from 2014.

Montana, 1948

The events of that small-town summer forever alter David Hayden's view of his family: his self-effacing father, a sheriff who never wears his badge; his clear sighted mother; his uncle, a charming war hero and respected doctor; and the Hayden's lively, statuesque Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations are at the heart of the story. It is a tale of love and courage, of power abused, and of the terrible choice between family loyalty and justice.

American Boy (2011)

We were exposed to these phenomena in order that we might learn something, but of course the lessons we learn are not always what was intended.

So begins Matthew Garth's story of the fall of 1962, when the shooting of a young woman on Thanksgiving Day sets off a chain of unsettling events in small-town Willow Falls, Minnesota. Matthew first sees Louisa Lindahl in Dr. Dunbar's home office, and at the time her bullet wound makes nearly as strong an impression as her unclothed body. Fueled over the following weeks by his feverish desire for this mysterious woman and a deep longing for the comfort and affluence that appears to surround the Dunbars, Matthew finds himself drawn into a vortex of greed, manipulation, and ultimately betrayal.

Immersive, heart-breaking, and richly evocative of a time and place, this long-awaited novel marks the return of a great American storyteller.



Sin-Ema is a filthy and hilarious tale of the sexual revolution. The year is 1971 and the place is Chicago, where Steve, our hero, is running a porn theatre in defiance of the laws of the land and anything close to decency. As the screen drips jism and pulsates with sex, the hottest action takes place among the theatre's motley staff and the demented, lust-crazed officials and customers Steve encounters.

A bit of a speculative punt in the dark with this author and book. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never heard of the author. A review on Goodreads from James Thane regarding one of his short stories had me prowling Amazon to check out his books. This one sounded a bit different and had 5 x 5 STAR reviews, wasn't too expensive so BOOM! Here we are.

I kind of thought it would be a bit more borderline #crimefiction, bearing in mind the illegality of the operation Steve was running, but it mainly focussed on his sexual exploits and adventures with staff, customers and even an adult film star. We did have some cop involvement, but where I was picturing kick-backs and pay-offs and raids, it was a slightly more sordid encounter with a pay-off of sorts.

Amusing, possible semi-autobiographical (Shadow spent time in the porn business in the 70s), probably exaggerated - in respect of Shadow's Olympian-esque stamina and readiness to go and go again, explicit, titillating and thankfully not too long either.

I enjoyed it without it being the best book ever. There's a limit to how many different sexual encounters a person may want to read about before becoming jaded. (In a lot of people's case, I'm hazarding  - none.)

Shadow can entertain though and a lot of the events related had me chuckling, particularly the closing curtain on his cinema career. Definitely an author I will read again in the future but more crime related.

Not a book I could easily recommend to others.

3 from 5

Steve Shadow has his website here.

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2012
Page count - 118
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback

Sunday 19 August 2018



In a derelict squat, the Smart Man watches as the new narcotic developed by his shadowy organisation wreaks havoc on it, unsuspecting victims. The drug is now ready for sale on their exclusive darknet marketplace.

Elsewhere, DCI Robert Smith, the retired head of the Cyber Crimes Unit, seeks out crime boss Curtis Slater at his remote farm. He offers to provide Slater with information in exchange for money. But what information is he offering?

Meanwhile, former detective Pete Harris had started a new life, away from the Cyber Crimes Unit, with his daughter and begins to rekindle his relationship with old colleague Grace Brooks.

With his life seemingly complete, Pete’s world comes crashing down as he is drawn into Slater’s game with fatal consequences. He must join forces with his old enemies in a race against time. But can Pete save his daughter and Grace from the clutches of Slater, the Smart Man, and the sinister ringmaster, the Professor?

The Edge of Sanity is a dark and twisty psychological thriller. It can be read as the sequel to the critically acclaimed Enter The Dark or as a thrilling stand-alone. It will appeal to fans of authors like JP Delaney, Mark Edwards and James Swallow.

The second novel from Chris Thomas throws up more nefarious going-ons on the dark side of the internet. A shady group are developing and offering for sale, to a limited criminal elite only, a new designer drug that will change the marketplace forever. Criminal king-pin, Curtis Slater wants in and a major piece of the action, as well as revenge on the do-gooder vigilantes - the Brotherhood of the Righteous.

The Edge of Sanity sees all three organisations set on a collision course, with a young kidnapped child a bargaining chip in the high stakes game. A fair few of the combatants and participants appeared in the earlier book from Thomas, Enter the Dark.

Initially I was slightly puzzled by the involvement of one of the groups, the Brotherhood of the Righteous in the goings on, but it eventually became a little bit clearer as we went along. Similarly, the drug manufacturers, the Smart Man and the Professor, who were calling the shots somewhat bizarrely set puzzles and riddles that needed to be solved before entertaining would be clients into the customer base. I was a little unconvinced about this aspect as well, but went with the flow.

The story worked for me on a more personal level, with the involvement of former cyber crimes cop, Pete Harris working desperately with his former nemesis the Brotherhood of the Righteous, to free his daughter Olivia and less importantly from my POV, his former colleague and nearly girlfriend, Grace (sister to BotR head honcho, Alistair).

Pete and somewhat ironically Curtis were the most interesting characters in the book for me. Curtis is cruel, manipulative and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Often prone to irrational violence and with a sharp, derisory tongue to boot, I enjoyed the scenes involving him the most. Pete is a single father, struggling with his business and would do anything to secure his daughter's safety.

The rest of the bunch, in particular Alistair were less than sympathetic. A couple of the minor characters, Daisy and Danny were interesting and worthy of mention. Daisy, was a victim in the earlier book and is under Alistair's tutelage. Danny is a former cyber crimes cop, now rather unfortunately working as Slater's IT guru.

Overall, I enjoyed this one after a hesitant start. There a fair few twists and turns before we get where we are going. At least one of them, I failed to see coming which was hats-off to the author.

Plenty of action, plenty of violence, a fair pace and all loose ends wrapped up at the conclusion.

4 from 5

Thoughts on the author's earlier book, Enter the Dark here.

Chris Thomas is on Twitter - @cthomasauthor1

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 302
Source - review copy from Net Galley courtesy of publisher Bloodhound Books
Format - ePub

Saturday 18 August 2018



Just a kid, really, with his whole life ahead of him. But he vanished three years ago…

In this chapter of the Dark Teesside series, the events unfold in Thornaby and Middlesbrough...

Introducing Dead Flies, a dark short story by award winning writer Glenn McGoldrick. 

"Another excellent piece of short fiction from McGoldrick, well written and excellently presented. The use of actual Northern locations and the writing style as well hints at Ian Rankin, and hopefully there will be a full length novel in time. A sad and thoughtful short story, that leaves you very much wanting more" - Amazon bestselling author Sam Burnell

A short story and another boost to the reading stats.

Dead Flies was my second taste of Glenn McGoldrick's work and another enjoyable story, one which connected emotionally.

A missing son, no note, no body, no clues, no hint and no explanation - ergo - grief, bewilderment, questions but still a modicum of hope.

One sudden change of setting mid-way gave me such a jolt, before the story settled back down. I kind of envisaged things heading in a different direction, but the author took us elsewhere.

Well written, invoking a great deal of reflection and sadness. This is reality for a number of families.

Not a story I will let go of lightly.

4.5 from 5

Glenn McGoldrick seems to specialise in short stories. His website is here.
Red Marks was enjoyed a month or two ago - thoughts here.

Read in August, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 14
Source - purchased
Format - kindle

Friday 17 August 2018



When a teenage boy shoots a young woman dead in the middle of a busy Glasgow street and then commits suicide, Detective Harry McCoy is sure of one thing. It wasn't a random act of violence.

With his new partner in tow, McCoy uses his underworld network to lead the investigation but soon runs up against a secret society led by Glasgow's wealthiest family, the Dunlops.

McCoy's boss doesn't want him to investigate. The Dunlops seem untouchable. But McCoy has other ideas . . .

In a helter-skelter tale – winding from moneyed elite to hipster music groupies to the brutal gangs of the urban wasteland – Bloody January brings to life the dark underbelly of 1970s Glasgow and introduces a dark and electrifying new voice in Scottish noir.

Seventies Glasgow and a public murder which our lead character, Detective McCoy had been warned about but which he was unable to prevent, has Bloody January off and running at a ferocious clip. Alan Parks had me hooked early and cliche or not it was a struggle to put the book down. 

Murder, suicide, manipulation, drugs, prostitution, sordid sex parties, sick minds and cameras, films and photographs, blackmail, S&M, cops consorting with gangsters, a good time girl as a girlfriend, more deaths and disappearances, an untouchable family, political interference, corruption, police rivalries and affiliations, a young recruit, a failed relationship with child bereavement a huge shadow, a disturbing upbringing at the hands of the Church, a lifelong friendship forged in terror under abuse, two different paths, massage parlours, beatings and torture, poverty, a stop start investigation and a relentless doggedness to ensure those responsible pay one way or another.

Interesting dynamics throughout - especially Harry and his childhood friend and Glaswegian criminal terror Stevie. A shared history and a perceived debt binds them together and forces Harry to overlook Stevie's criminality, despite the possible cost to his career.     

Not a book for the faint of heart, very dark and graphic in places, very in your face in the descriptions of a long ago Glasgow where poverty and crime seemed prevalent. A different time when police and thieves had arrangements and understandings.

Setting - tick.
Pace - tick.
Storyline - tick.
Characters - tick.
Grim and gritty quota - double tick.
Resolution - tick.

Debut novel from author - tick (unbelievable)
More books from Alan Parks - yes please.
A second McCoy book drops early next year - February's Son

Alan Parks might just usurp Malcolm Mackay as my favourite Scottish crime writer.

Overall verdict - bloody marvellous!
5 from 5

Read in July, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 336
Source - Edelweiss early reviewer's site courtesy of publisher, World Noir
Format - kindle 

Wednesday 15 August 2018



This book relates the journey of a medical innocent through the wilds of the hospital system. It is a comic account of life on the business side of the medical looking glass, written to encourage others as they face the uncertainties of life in the hands of modern-day medical practitioners.

Not my usual kind of reading, but flicking through the kindle it popped up and jumped out at me. I vaguely recall the author offering a copy for a review sometime and I was in the mood for something a bit different.

Here the author chronicles his second encounter with leukemia after having previously battled the disease. It's not a subject normally associated with humour, but Sheppard does his best to lighten the mood while documenting his journey.

Bowel movements, nose bleeds, self-medicating, weight loss, invasive fingers, cancelled appointments, officious hospital staff, surly doctors, argumentative nurses and yo-yo-ing blood counts, the painful and at times callous hunt to locate a vein and a flatulent bus ride.

Having seen both good and bad indifference when in hospital, both as a patient and a visitor, I can relate to a lot of the anecdotes Sheppard shares - the Australian medical profession having much in common with the NHS.

A few smiles, one laugh out loud funny moment - almost two, plenty of sharp intakes of breath and wincing and a fond wish that Sheppard retains his stoicism and sunny demeanour in his on-going fight with a cruel disease.

4 from 5

Read - August, 2018
Published - 2016
Page count - 73
Source - review copy from author
Format - kindle

* Having checked back in on the author over on Goodreads, sadly it appears that he lost his fight and passed in March, 2018