Wednesday, 3 October 2018


Ten books read in the month which is my monthly target. One standout FIVE STAR read, several very, very good reads, a few good and a couple okay with just the one which I wasn't particularly enamoured with.

We spent time in the company of a hitman-turned-protector; a cop fixer for the stars in 60s San Francisco; a Paignton PI getting down and dirty; another guilt-ridden PI caught up in the Los Angeles Rodney King riots in the early 90s; a Floridian orange grower caught unawares in New York at Christmas time; a low level mobster grave-robbing and framed in 60s New York; a jaded reporter on the hunt for a story and a missing girl in Las Vegas; a simple Glaswegian graveyard worker inadvertently caught up with a criminal gang; a Luxembourg based head-hunter and a magazine of crime fiction shorts and reviews.

My favourite in the month and the FIVE STAR amazeballs was Kevin Wignall's For the Dogs

Three other books were scored a fraction less with 4.5 STARS each - Jerry Kennealy's Screen Test, Paul D. Marks and White Heat and Meat Bubbles and Other Stories from Tom Leins

The full ten were.....

Matt Phillips - Bad Luck City (2016) (4)

Jerry Kennealy - Screen Test (2016) (4.5)

Kevin Wignall - For the Dogs (2004) aka The Hunter's Prayer (2015) (5)

Paul D. Marks - White Heat (2012) (4.5)

Ed McBain - Downtown (1989) (4)

Ian Rankin - A Cool Head (2009) (4)

Tom Leins - Meat Bubbles and Other Stories (2018) (4.5)

Keith Jeffrey (ed.) - Bullet Issue 3 (2004) (3)

Donald E. Westlake - The Busy Body (1966) (3.5)

Daniel Pembrey - The Candidate (2013) (2.5)

3 of the 10 were 4 STAR reads and very enjoyable - Matt Phillips and Bad Luck City, Ian Rankin's A Cool Head and Ed McBain's Downtown

1 - 3.5 STAR read enjoyed a fraction less Donald E. Westlake's The Busy Body

1 - 3 STAR read which was okay - Bullet Issue 3 - edited by Keith Jeffrey

1 - 2.5 STAR which didn't really do it for me - Daniel Pembrey's The Candidate, though the format probably didn't help - an Audio Book which kind of bumped me out of it as the narrator was rather annoying.

10 reads from 10 different authors,

3 of the 10 were new-to-me authors - I can't really count editor Keith Jeffrey in the mix. I have more to read on the pile from Paul D. Marks, Kevin Wignall and Jerry Kennealy

Ian Rankin, Ed McBain, Donald Westlake, Tom Leins, Matt Phillips and Daniel Pembrey have all been enjoyed before and I still have them all sitting on the TBR pile. I do also have more issues of the Keith Jeffrey edited Bullet on the TBR pile as well.

Gender analysis -  9 male authors, ZERO female - OOPS - shocking but no big surprise. Deja-vous - I keep deferring my all female reading month. There were female contributors to Bullet, but that's just lame claiming that. Quickly moving on.

Of the 9 authors read, 2 are English, 5 hailed from the US, 1 from Scotland, 1 born in Belgium but might class himself as English and the editor of Bullet might possibly be English, who knows?

9 of the 10 of the reads were fiction - 5 novels, 3 novellas, 1 novel length set of inter-connected short stories. Bullet Magazine was a combination of fiction short stories and non-fiction reviews and hat tips to musicians, books and authors.

5 books were from this decade, 1 from 2018, 2 from 2016, 1 from 2013 and 1 from 2012.

3 were from the noughties, a couple from 2004 and 1 from 2009

1 was a late 1980s book - McBain's Downtown from 1989 and lastly one from the 60s - Donald E. Westlake's The Busy Body, originally published in 1966

I'm quite pleased that a few of the books - 4 were read from the collection, now re-homed in my man-cave garage after being in storage for about 18 months during a protracted on-off-on again house move. I hope to dip more from my book tubs in the future. I have too many books for conventional shelving!

Settings -  Las Vegas present day, 60s San Francisco, 90s Los Angeles, 60s and 80s New York, Glasgow and Edinburgh from 10 years ago, modern day Paignton on England's Riviera, Luxembourg. Kevin Wignall's For the Dogs offered a road trip around Europe - Italy, France, England, Switzerland, Hungary and the Caribbean as well as Australia fleetingly.
Our crime fiction magazine probably took us everywhere but the story locations weren't exactly highlighted.

Publishers - 2 from Near to the Knuckle (aka Close to the Bone), 2 from Down and Out Books, 1 from Mysterious Press, 1 from Mandarin, 1 from Simon and Schuster, 1 from Orion Books - Quick Reads, 1 x magazine enthusiastically self-published, 1 x Amazon Media/Audiobook

7 of the 10 reads were pre-owned. 3 were provided by the publisher - 2 from Down and Out Books, 1 from Near to the Knuckle. I think they are referring to themselves as Close to the Bone now.

Favourite cover? Jerry Kennealy's Screen Test - got to love Steve McQueen ain't ya?

Second favourite cover - Tom Leins and Meat Bubbles and Other Stories

My reads were this long 128 - 320 - 228 - 252 - 256 - 128 - 213 - 44 - 179 - 142

Total page count =  1890 (1511 in August ) ....... an increase of nearly 380

2 were Kindle reads, 2 were Audio Books (something quite new to me) and 2 were paperbacks, 1 was a hardback, 1 was a PDF, 1 was an ePub file read on my laptop and 1 was an A5-sized magazine

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

Jerry Kennealy's Screen Test was the longest read at 320 pages

Keith Jeffrey's edited Bullet Issue 3 was the shortest at 44 pages long.


  1. Col, I didn't realise reading books could produce such impressive statistics. 10 reads from 10 different authors is a fine way to go about reading every month.

    1. Prashant, I've obviously got too much time on my hands....

  2. I'm glad you had a solid reading month, Col. Nice to see that most of your reads were either very good or even better than that. You make an interesting point, too, about the format of a story. I wonder sometimes whether books I've read would have appealed to me more if I'd listened to them, or vice versa.

    1. It's a tricky one and hard to put to an actual test. Am I going to try and re-visit a book in a different format? Probably not. I'm more likely to move on and get to a different book in all honesty.

      I think my enjoyment of Daniel Pembrey's The Candidate did suffer from an almost comedic array of accents in audio narration. I most certainly would have enjoyed it more if I had read it conventionally. Still in the month there were many more ups than downs.

  3. I just keep looking at that Steve McQueen cover...My goodness he was a handsome chap.

  4. Wignall was on my list to look for at the book sale but nothing turned up. I will seek out something online.

    1. There are a fair few to choose from Tracy, hopefully you like whatever you try.