Thursday 30 May 2019



The Ehrengraf Fandango is the twelfth story featuring Margtin Ehrengraf, the famously criminous criminal lawyer. Ehrengraf, sustained by the presumption that any client of his is perforce innocent, somehow manages to free his clients without ever needing to appear in a courtroom.

When LB ePublished the other eleven stories as Kindle Select titles, he held off on Fandango, to give Subterranean Press's edition of Defender of the Innocent an early lead; for the same reason, he held back Fandango pending its inclusion in the long-delayed collection Buffalo Noir, published by Akashic Books. 

Ehrengraf fans and followers have the option of buying the ebook or print edition of Defender of the Innocent, containing all 12 stories, Fandango included. But if you've already read the other eleven stories, and want to buy Fandango by itself—or if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber and want to read it for free—now's your chance.

Throughout the Ehrengraf saga, it's been evident to some perceptive readers that the dapper little lawyer lives and works in Buffalo. This is abundantly clear in Fandango. Still, readers are cautioned against assuming any connection between Martin Ehrengraf and a real-life Buffalo criminal defense attorney who was a classmate of LB's at Bennett High School as well as a brother in Upsilon Lambda Phi fraternity. Any similarity is purely coincidental.

The Ehrengraf Fandango was nominated in 2015 for a Shamus Award for Best Private Eye short story. This was a stretch, as Ehrengraf is not a private eye but an attorney. As the story didn't win, we can let it go at that, can't we?

A mighty blurb blurb for what is a 26 page short story, including an afterword from the author.

Ehrengraf is a criminal lawyer, a defender of the innocent and the man who frees his clients without ever setting foot in a court. Our case or cases here involve two women, one found with a gun in her hands in the proximity of  three dead bodies, and the other, the mastermind - the women who put her up to it. Allegedly!

I wouldn't say it's Block's best ever work, despite the Shamus nomination but I liked it well enough. There is the trademark humour present, the usual off-page amorous shenanigans on the leather office sofa - a bit of a bonus (in triplicate) for Ehrengraf delivering the two women from the clutches of the law. The third encounter is reward from a grateful ghostwriter who will tell the women's stories and earn a tidy penny, thus ensuring Ehrengraf gets paid for his endeavours. There are a couple of neat resolutions to our client's legal difficulties. It's interesting how Block leads you down the garden path, having you believe in someone's guilt before offering a credible alternative outcome. 

It's my first time with Block's Ehrengraf and its clear, albeit subtly inferred in the story and blatantly obvious in the afterword, that our lawyer isn't above getting his hands dirty to ensure his clients walk free. Here the "guilty" party meets an untidy end and Block's form of justice is served.

Not my favourite Block character yet, but once I've read a few more of Ehrengraf's cases I'm sure he will grow on me. I have the compilation edition of all 12 cases - Defender of the Innocent -somewhere on the TBR pile.

4 from 5

Read - May, 2019
Published - 2014
Page count - 26
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle

Wednesday 29 May 2019



Perfect for fans of Robert Harris’s Munich and The Fatherland

Stag Maguire, a burnt-out journalist hardly able to prop himself up in the wake of tragedy, agrees to help a friend move. They find an urgent message—HELP ME—written on a piece of silk tacked behind a long-forgotten portrait. The message from an address in Berlin is urgent; though it had to have been written pre-World War II. Curious, Stag and his friend begin to research the address and whomever might have written the message. They trace the address to an apartment, a sealed time capsule that has not been lived in since 1942. And from one phone call to that apartment, the men unleash a nefarious plot and brutal security forces long thought vanquished. Events begin to cascade without mercy, and Stag—a broken man from the Midwest—finds himself pitted against a vestige of the Third Reich with powerful forces ensuring the propagation of Heydrich’s infamous SD—Nazi’s intelligence agency—in today’s world. Will ordinary-man Stag Maguire prevail in his lone stand against evil?

A book I enjoyed a bit more than I initially thought I was going to, not least because it imparted a bit of knowledge about Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architect's of the Nazi's Final Solution, the SD, Interpol (did you know one of the presidents of the organisation in the late 60s, early 70s was a former ranking SS officer?) and war time fears about Germany's attempts to develop the bomb. I'll confess to some ignorance at worst, or memory loss at best and say I don't think I have previously heard of Heydrich.

Our story starts in the US with the present day discovery of a message in a painting, linked to a Berlin flat which was the war-time apartment of Heydrich and his mistress, faithfully maintained in lock down by a powerful and secretive organisation.

Long story short - the organisation preserve the flat under instructions from it's former occupant in the belief that it holds clues to Heydrich's secrets. ie that Heydrich had managed to develop some form of nuclear bomb and had squirrelled it away somewhere in the Alps. This organisation wants to possess the bomb, then sell the device to the highest bidder, as opposed to establishing itself as some form of Fourth Reich.

Stag Maguire, a crippled journalist who lost his pregnant wife in a shooting, trips our baddies radar with his enquiries about the flat. The almost instantaneous death of his friend grabs his attention and sets in motion a one little man against the powerful machine type thriller. What does Maguire know that they don't, how can they find it out, when can they kill him and get their hands on the prize?

The plot sounds almost too fantastic to provide a credible thriller, but I really enjoyed the book. Maguire is an unlikely hero (aren't they all?)....... grieving, relatively few friends and at a loose end and now angry and irritated beyond belief that his friend has been killed. The organisation he is pitted against has unlimited resources, dealing in security and secrets.

The book is quite a quick read, it's fast-paced and I enjoyed seeing Maguire pit his wits against his adversaries. I enjoyed the slow piecing together of clues via a coded book from the flat, the cat and mouse game with enemy; and not least the information offered by the author, regarding Nazi resistance and U-Boats (Jews hiding in plain sight as non-Jews), the hierarchy of the Nazis and Heydrich's role in the war, prior to his assassination in Prague in 1942.

There is plenty of tension at play, as Maguire tries to figure out whether he can trust anyone. There's a femme fatale involved - playing both sides or just playing Stag?, and the involvement of official security services anxious and curious about this secretive rogue organisation and their motives concerning Heydrich's dirty bomb - should it prove to exist. Maguire still isn't sure about whether he's on his own or has allies.

There's doses of humour present, so it's not all doom and gloom. Maguire is quite droll and some of the exchanges with the head of his nemesis are amusing. There's also a lot of fun to be had when the various rivalries in the organisation are explored.

There's a slight suspension of disbelief required during the last bit of the book, once things start ramping up, but I had been thoroughly engrossed and entertained up to that point so was happy to go wherever the author took things.

Overall very good - entertained and a little bit more knowledgeable for the reading of it.

4 from 5

A Room Full of Night is T.R. Kenneth's debut thriller.

Read - May, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 352
Source - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline reviewer site, courtesy of Oceanview Publishing
Format - ePub file read on laptop

Tuesday 28 May 2019



I'd found a life that wasn't based on watching and lying and plotting, on using people, laying traps, practising deceit. But I'd brought a virus with me, carried it like a refugee from some plague city, hiding symptoms, hoping against hope they would go away. And for a time they had. And I was happy.

But when men in police uniforms came to execute me on the roadside, beside dark fields, it was a definite sign that my new life was over.

Mac Faraday is a man with a past living a quiet life in the country - until his beloved friend Ned Lowey is found hanged. Is it suicide? Faraday won't accept that and starts to ask questions.

Why did Ned visit Kinross Hall, the local home for juvenile girls?
Why did he keep press cuttings about the skeleton of a girl found in an old mine shaft?
Who was the beaten girl found naked beside a lonely road?

As Faraday's search begins to uncover chilling secrets, he finds himself thrown back into the past, forced to confront again the dangers of his old life.

Once he was the hunter, now he has become the prey.

I made a notation in pencil in the front of this book FEB 07, which I assume denotes when I acquired it. Twelve plus years sat on the shelf before I read it - what a bloody idiot.  Pace, plot, character, setting and satisfaction at the outcome - all massive ticks in the box. A perfect read.

In a nutshell..... death, suicide, grief, disbelief, some digging, secrets, a can of worms opened, a children's home, a sex ring, abuse of power, a cover-up, an ordinary life lost, some old acquaintanceships reluctantly resumed.

I think the more I enjoy a book, the more difficult I find it to articulate just exactly why.

Great main character - decent, loyal, intelligent, a laugh around the footie and pub mates, sparks in the air when around the fairer sex, plenty of unrealised tension throughout, plenty of humour. Faraday is a bit like an onion, plenty of layers and depths, not all of them immediately on display. His disbelief at his friends apparent suicide immerses him back into the past and his previous life.

Intriguing story, an interesting investigation initially part-time while Mac Faraday is still living the day-to-day life as a blacksmith and part-time gardener. Eventually the investigation consumes Faraday.... small lies uncovered, help from a friend, a few cages rattled, more deaths, another "suicide", history, young victims, fear, a stalled execution and at its heart some powerful men - monied with stellar careers, politically connected, controlling a cabal of corrupt cops; everyone with a sense of entitlement, all perverted and morally bankrupt, all eventually brought down.

Fan-ferkin-tastic. The kind of book which has you rushing to the stacks to see what else you have from the author.

5 from 5

Peter Temple wrote nine books in his career, three standalones of which this is one, four in his Jack Irish series and two in his Broken Shore series. He sadly passed last year.

I've previously enjoyed one of the Irish novels, The Broken Shore and more recently a short offering Ithaca in My Mind.

Read - May, 2019
Published - 1998
Page count - 288
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Monday 27 May 2019


A couple this week from Scottish author Barry Maitland.

Not someone I've read yet, Maitland has a couple of series to his name. His Brock and Kolla series is twelve books long and set in London and he has also penned a three series set in Australia - his Belltree Trilogy, comprising of Crucifixion Creek, Ash Island and Slaughter Park.

Ridiculously I have acquired most of the Brock and Krolla series, despite never having read a word he's written. I guess if I don't like them it might teach me a lesson!

The Chalon Heads (1999)

When Brock and Kolla are summoned to a rare stamps shop, they assume they'll be dealing with a simple case of theft. Not so. An ex-villain has made contact because his wife has been kidnapped: he's sure it must be the corrupt policeman that he helped put away, but the duo aren't convinced.

Dark Mirror (2009)

Newly promoted to Detective Inspector, Kathy Kolla of the Serious Crimes Unit is called in by the forensic pathologist regarding the recent sudden death of a London student from what he's determined to be arsenic poisoning. Marion Summers had no reason to be in contact with arsenic and, though once common, arsenic is now very hard to get hold of. The more Kolla investigates, the more she discovers that certain other things about Summers are also unusual. She moved three octobers ago without leaving a forwarding address or informing her relatives. And her step-father has a disquieting past and, after attacking a constable in a pub, a not-so-savory present. With each turn in the investigation, it becomes increasingly clear that behind what really happened - and why - lies the most difficult-to-crack case the team has ever faced.

Saturday 25 May 2019



A spare and chilling account of the day-to-day experience of Sloper, a janitor in a big-city office building, WASTE explores the import of the discarded--for those who generate it, those who dispose of it, and those who are themselves discarded. From the humble prospect of his station, Sloper uncovers ominous possibility in lives he barely brushes. 

Brian Everson says, "Only Eugene Marten can keep a reader enthralled with the minutiae of a janitorial existence.... Precisely and exquisitely detailed, WASTE is a stark little masterpiece." 

And Dawn Raffel writes, "[P]itch-perfect. WASTE wastes nothing--not a syllable, a beat, a ragged breath." 

And Sam Lipsyte writes, "There is nothing quite like the controlled burn of Eugene Marten's prose."

Not rushing to the other Eugene Marten book on my shelves - In the Blind after reading this one.

Sloper is an office janitor and a strange one. He lives in the same building as his mother - him the basement, her upstairs with no interaction between the two. Initially we follow him on his nightly rounds, where he is rather partial to recovering and eating discarded food from the office bins. We learn his routine and the petty rules and bureaucracies that govern the cleaning crew and we witness his infrequent reactions with late working office staff and his colleagues.

One such female worker is inexplicably discovered dead in the rubbish chute of the building. Sloper recycles her and now has himself a somewhat passive girlfriend. Good job he's got a large fridge. Not such a good job that his mother decides to pay him an unannounced visit. More weirdness follows.

Other subsequent interactions follow with his girl and other tenants of the property including a care-giver and her wheelchair bound charge. Sloper contemplates a career change and marriage. (Not sure what the author was up to here as I kind of lost the thread of the novel.) 

In the end, Sloper's guilty little secret is discovered and he gets to enjoy some cold storage for himself, with company.

Overall, weird and not just a little bit disturbing. I didn't enjoy it necessarily, though it had it's moments. I didn't endure it, as it wasn't a painful slog - its relatively short which helped. I just don't think I totally understood parts of it, which always kind of frustrates me. It's definitely different which I give the author credit for.

3 from 5

Read - May, 2019
Published - 2008
Page count - 132
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Thursday 23 May 2019



Racing to find a killer before he strikes again, an unlikely investigator is haunted by an even more unlikely source in this gripping crime novel.

"Clark writes well and has created some amusingly zany characters." -- Publishers Weekly on Clean Sweep

It's the summer of 1985 and mechanic Steve Mahoney is dreaming big about owning his own shop. He's getting there as slowly as possible, working one night shift at a time for a local towing company. One night, called to retrieve a car from the murky Red River, Mahoney finds the replacement body to his prized but damaged '67 Camaro. There's also a body inside the car, handcuffed to the steering wheel. Mahoney's able to snap the Camaro up cheap at a salvage auction, but once he's restored the car to its former glory, he discovers that its last driver is standard spectral equipment on his new ride, and she's not leaving until she finds out who sent her to a watery grave.

Mahoney's Camaro is a gritty, fast-paced crime novel that will appeal to fans of Ron Corbett and Stuart MacBride. Combining expertise in the automotive world and a passion for storytelling, Michael J. Clark delivers an action-packed joyride that will grip you until the last page.

An enjoyable book, some crime fiction with a supernatural twist in the form of a couple of ghosts - mainly one - somewhat reluctant to depart this mortal coil; at least until someone has paid the price for causing their death. Usually, I'm not a massive fan of unexplainable, otherworldly type influences in my reading, but here I was happy to go with the flow.

Our main man is a graveyard shift, tow truck driver Steve Mahoney who is also a straight Joe, refusing to deal in drugs or girls, which form part of the seamier side of his employer's business.

Mahoney gets the call to fish a Camaro out of the river. Long story short, he acquires the car for himself and comes to the attention of the group who killed the woman in the vehicle and wanted the car for themselves to dispose of any evidence linking them to the body and whatever they had been cooking up with the book-keeping corpse when she was alive.

It's an interesting set-up. Mahoney has his car complete with spectral presence that won't leave, but who doesn't know what happened to her. In alternate parts of the narrative, we are in the company of the crims and we know who did her down and why.

Mahoney, his girlfriend and his car-crazy boys and the ghost of the dead woman try and solve her murder mystery - the cops seem to believe it's a suicide, while the opposition scheme away - new drug deals, smuggling, covering of tracks with attempted murder, double crossing each other, acquiring, selling and re-acquiring leases on roof top properties in preparation for making a killing when cell phones networks roll out across Canada.

After more death, both deliberate and accidental, a fake medium, attempted car theft, a ghostly bus trip, drug dealing, police involvement and a lot more our two parties inevitably collide.

Good fun, a bit of sex, plenty of humour and banter amongst Mahoney and his friends, lots of villainous scheming and plotting and an outcome that worked. There's a lot of love and detail for old cars and bodywork and engines, I think the author's a bit of a petrol-head. Most of it went over my head, but there wasn't so much that it felt like reading an engineer's manual.

I enjoyed the book. I liked the Canadian setting - Winnipeg and the time frame of the mid-80s, which Clark captured through the music Steve listened to. The plot was okay. The tale didn't have too many twists as the reader had an overview of what was going on. The characters were entertaining and I was invested in the outcome without ever being blown away by the quality or quirkiness of the writing. Probably not one that will live too long in the memory, but not one to regret reading either.

3.5 from 5

Michael J. Clark has another book - Clean Sweep - to his name, which I'll hopefully read at some point.

Read - May, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 314
Source - Net Galley, courtesy of publisher ECW Press
Format - ePub read on laptop

1967 Chevy Camaro

Wednesday 22 May 2019



Any wish fulfilled for the right price. 

That's the promise the organization behind The Desire Card gives to its elite clients - but sometimes the price may be more menacing than anyone could ever imagine.

Harrison Stockton has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street fuels his fondness for alcohol and pills at the expense of a family he has no time for. Quite suddenly all of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his job and at the same time discovers he almost certainly has only months left to live.

Desperate, and with seemingly nowhere else left to turn, Harrison activates his Desire Card. What follows is a gritty and gripping quest that takes him from New York City to the slums of Mumbai and forces him to take chances, and make decisions, he never thought he’d ever have to face. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and break his bargain with the mysterious group behind The Desire Card.

The Desire Card is a taut fast-paced thriller, from internationally acclaimed author Lee Matthew Goldberg, that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’t always enough to get everything he desires.

Best book ever? No, but lots for me to enjoy here, despite the book being populated by hugely unlikable individuals, ranging from our main character - the self-absorbed Harrison Stockton to his annoying wife, irritating children, arsehole father-in-law, slimy former work colleagues and shifty former best friend, Nagesh. There's only one individual in the book that you'd be happy spending time in the company of  - an escort, Naelle - and not just because she rents out her body for money.

Despite the lack of sympathetic characters, Goldberg has written a compelling book. Stockton is an alcoholic, he's just lost his job, his marriage is failing as is his health. A collapse in the arms of Naelle, precipitates a hospital visit and a long overdue check-up. He's dying and in urgent need of a liver transplant.

Ill-health, alcoholism, unemployment, relationship issues, old friendships resurrected, history of a friendship and a marriage, family, secrets, black market organ harvesting, Mumbai misery, greed, a scam, an unlikely ace in the hole - The Desire Card - wish fulfilment guaranteed - if you're prepared to pay the price. How much for a new liver? And who pays?

Stockton has a crappy hand dealt to him, but it's hard to sympathise with his predicament as the majority of it is self-inflicted caused by his alcohol consumption. There's a major turning point in the book, when he has a difficult choice to make, one which shows him to be more than a hedonistic, vacuous vessel. A simpler, happier life - still truncated - beckons, assuming his nemesis, the power behind The Desire Card permits it.

Its a difficult read in places, especially when exposed to the realities of the impoverished in Mumbai. There are some graphic illustrations of living conditions, with a stomach churning lack of sanitation, nourishment, shelter, health and most damning of all - hope. Its in sharp contrast to the New York lifestyles of the successful bankers and the privileged elite that are encountered in the book. It's an imbalanced world for sure.

An interesting theme, thought provoking in its contrasts and with a moral dilemna for a main character that kind of grows on you as the book and his story unfolds.

4 from 5

Goldberg has a second offering in The Desire Card series out later this year. I'd be curious to see where he goes next.

I've read Lee Matthew Goldberg previously, albeit in a shorter format.
De/tached was read back in 2015

Read - May, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 312
Source - review copy received from author
Format - paperback

Monday 20 May 2019


A couple from twenty-five years ago when current hot-shot (hot-shit?) Don Winslow was a newly published young pup of an author.

Winslow wrote five books in his Neal Carey series. I've read the first - A Cool Breeze on the Underground, but remember nothing about it. Buddha's Mirror and High Lonely are the second and third Carey books.

I have read more from him - California Fire and Life and The Death and Life of Bobby Z - but not in the last ten years. I do keep hearing amazing things about his books and I've bought a few of them in the meantime, but never got around to reading them.

The current rage is his Power of the Dog trilogy, comprising The Power of the Dog, The Cartel and this year's The Border. Maybe when I've read some of his other books including these two, I'll find out.

The Trail to Buddha's Mirror (1992)

Robert Pendleton is a chemical genius with a fertilizer worth a fortune to whoever controls the formula. Not surprisingly, the Bank, his notoriously exclusive backer, wants to keep an eye on its investment. But so does the CIA. And the Chinese government. And a few shadier organizations. So when Pendleton disappears from a conference in San Francisco, along with all of his research, Neal Carey enters the picture.

Neal knows the Bank is calling in its chips in return for paying his grad school bills. He thinks this assignment will be a no-brainer -- until he meets the beguiling Li Lan and touches off a deadly game of hide-and-seek that will lead him from San Francisco's Chinatown to the lawless back streets of Hong Kong, and finally into the dark heart of China. In a world where no one is what they seem, Neal must unravel the mystery of a beautiful woman and reach the fabled Buddha's Mirror, a mist-shrouded lake where all secrets are revealed.

Way Down on the High Lonely (1993)

Neal Carey's third year of internment in a remote Chinese monastery is ended by a visit from Joe Graham, his one-armed mentor, bringing good news and bad: "Friends of the Family" have bought Neal's freedom - but before he can return to his beloved graduate studies, he has one small errand to run.

Without much choice or enthusiasm, Neal follows Graham to California to find two-year-old Cody McCall, who has been abducted by his father during a custodial visit. The trail leads Neal from Hollywood studios to the wilds of Nevada, where he must infiltrate a vicious group of white supremacists.

His undercover efforts require a saloon fight, a little cowboy work, and some survivalist training before he finds young Cody, and in the bargain learns more about human nature - including his own - than he ever wanted to know.

Weaving a modern private-eye story into an old-fashioned western, Don Winslow has written a gripping, unforgettable novel.

Monday 13 May 2019


A couple from Robert Daley, that I've had on the shelves for more than 10 years, probably 20 and not yet got around to reading.

Robert Daley has written over 20 novels in a career that so far spans from 1959 and The World Beneath the City to The Red Squad in 2013, plus a host of non-fiction. A lot of his books concern the police, probably unsurprising seeing as he served as NYPD deputy commissioner in the early 70s

To Kill a Cop also spawned a TV movie of the same name, followed by a short-lived TV series, Eisheid in the late 70s.

I wonder if it will take me another 20 years to get around to finally reading them?
Hopefully not. Reactions and reviews are subjective but over on Goodreads, To Kill a Cop has an average score of 3.76 (7.5/10) from over 40 readers. Man With a Gun - similar - averaging 3.67 from 39 readers. What am I  waiting for?

To Kill a Cop (1976)

The assassination of two patrolmen has the tired, corrupt and cunning NYC Chief of Detectives Earl Eisheid scrambling not just to find the killers but to save his own career. The assassins are from a group called FEAR--the Freedom and Equality Revolution. Their dream is to make Chief Eisheid's worst nightmare come true.

Man With a Gun (1988)

Publisher's Weekly
This latest novel by the author of Prince of the City may end by focusing on the controversy over a green Deputy Commissioner who commits accidental homicide, but it is really about the fascinating distribution and realignment of power at the top of the nation's largest police force. Foreign correspondent Phil Keefe has been selected right-hand man to New York Police Commissioner Timothy J. Egan, a small, strong-minded former police academy instructor bent on reform of the department. Keefe is coached by a sergeant who has seen awful cruelties on the streets of New York. He is suspected by top brass who fear their power slipping into his hands. And he is resented by his girlfriend, an actress whom he leaves each night to visit the city's cops at work. He is in over his head, though, when police officials saddle him with a difficult hostage negotiation that results in the death of a distraught black trucker. Daley himself is on slightly unfamiliar ground when he brings to task an ambitious senator and assistant DA. And he sometimes pushes too far his recurring theme of the cop as society's martyr. But when Daley describes working cops, he makes clear the aggravation and ugliness of their jobs. And when he examines the methods by which major police officials quietly protect their careers and extend their grasp, he writes like a dazzling pre-glasnost Kremlinologist scrutinizing small changes in photos of Soviet leaders for revealing clues.

Sunday 12 May 2019


Some top books discovered this month - a few purchases, a couple of review copies received and some good reading ahead - always assuming I actually read them and don't just stash them away and forget them!

Antti Tuomainen - The Man Who Died (2017) - purchased copy

A bit of Scandi crime that grabbed my attention. I've heard good things about this author's books - time to make my own mind up!

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he's dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir. 'Right up there with the best' Times Literary Supplement 'The Man Who Died is deftly plotted, poignant and perceptive in its wry reflections on mortality and very funny' Declan Hughes, Irish Times 'The deadpan icy sensibility of Nordic noir is combined here with warm-blooded, often surreal, humour. Like the death cap mushroom, Tuomainen's dark story manages to be as delicious as it is Toxic' Sunday Express 'The Man Who Died by Finnish author Antti Tuomainen isn't your standard Nordic noir. Told in a darkly funny, deadpan style ... The result is a rollercoaster read in which the farce has some serious and surprisingly philosophical underpinnings' Laura Wilson, Guardian

'An offbeat jewel' Don Crinklaw, Publishers Weekly

J.M. Green - Good Money (2016) - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline reviewer copy
I do like to venture Down Under for some crime fiction reading now and again, books being my own probable means of ever visiting the country. I harangue myself for not reading enough female penned crime fiction - so WIN/WIN here.

Good Money has been out for a while, but was recently uploaded to Edelweiss. Green has written a couple more in her Hardy series and I guess assuming this one goes well and I expect it too. I'll be adding Too Easy (#2) and Shoot Through (#3) to my wish list.



Introducing Stella Hardy, a wisecracking social worker with a thirst for social justice, good laksa, and alcohol.

Stella’s phone rings. A young African boy, the son of one of her clients, has been murdered in a dingy back alley. Stella, in her forties and running low on empathy, heads into the night to comfort the grieving mother. But when she gets there, she makes a discovery that has the potential to uncover something terrible from her past — something she thought she’d gotten away with.

Then Stella’s neighbour Tania mysteriously vanishes. When Stella learns that Tania is the heir to a billion-dollar mining empire, Stella realises her glamorous young friend might have had more up her sleeve than just a perfectly toned arm. Who is behind her disappearance?

Enlisting the help of her friend Senior Constable Phuong Nguyen, Stella’s investigation draws her further and further into a dark world of drug dealers, sociopaths, and killers, such as the enigmatic Mr Funsail, whose name makes even hardened criminals run for cover.

One thing is clear: Stella needs to find answers fast — before the people she’s looking for find her instead.

Set in the bustling, multicultural inner west of Melbourne, Good Money reveals a daring and exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction.

Preston Lang - Load (2019) - purchased copy

One of my favourite crime fiction writers of recent times, though I can't claim to have read everything he's written. There's a reason for that - why rush to read them, when the anticipation of doing so offers me a warm, fuzzy glow. Once they're done they're done!

The Blind Rooster, The Carrier and Sunk Costs have been enjoyed. The Sin Tax and his collection of short stories - This One is Trouble are waiting.

Ana Luz is a wily Iraq War vet, getting by working at a laundromat and doing the occasional favor for a neighborhood drug dealer called Espada. Her mysterious boyfriend Cyril convinces her to rip off Espada and sell the product to one of Cyril’s old friends out in Iowa. 

But the old friend isn’t as reliable as he once was, and rather than a clean sale, Cyril and Ana Luz are forced to help move the drugs out west. But the customers are dangerous, the law is suspicious, and Espada doesn’t appreciate being ripped off by a woman who fixing dryers for a living. 

The result is a high-speed chase from the tenements of upper Manhattan to the flat heart of America. Ana Luz and Cyril find themselves pursued by corn-fed hustlers, Dominican gangsters, and some suspicious small-town cops. The couple will need all their cunning and muscle just to make one simple drug deal and come out alive.

Rafael Bernal - The Mongolian Conspiracy (1969) - review copy from publisher Pushkin Vertigo
Happy as a dog with two dicks when this rocked up in my mailbox a week or two back.  Francisco Goldman's tag-line certainly grabbing my attention. I'm looking forward to cracking the spine on this one.

A noir cult classic set in Mexico City during the Cold War



Filiberto García is in over his head. An aging ex-hitman with a filthy mouth, he has three days to stop a rumored Mongolian plot to assassinate the President of the United States on his visit to Mexico.

Forced to work with agents from the FBI and the KGB, García must cut through international intrigue. But with bodies piling up and the investigation getting murkier, he starts to suspect shady dealings closer to home, and to wonder why the hell he was hired in the first place.

Rafael Bernal (1915–1972) was a Mexican diplomat and the author of many novels and plays. The Mongolian Conspiracy was published in 1969 and is regarded as his masterpiece.

Lanny Larcinese - I Detest All My Sins (2018) - purchased copy

A book I've seen a bit about on Facebook and one with some decent reviews - my kind of thing, I reckon.

Bill Conlon's lust for a high school girl has caught him a stretch at Graterford Prison and led to his kid brother's suicide. And when Bill witnesses his young friend, Mikey, get shanked in the yard of the prison, his guilt comes into high relief. Catching Mikey's killer would make everything right. Or would it? After his release, Bill begins to stalk Deadly Eddie, a former fellow inmate who Bill suspects is the killer. But like a late afternoon shadow, trouble is glued to Bill's shoes. As bodies pile up, Detective Sam Lanza is brought on to investigate and he points to Bill as a strong suspect in the murders. Meanwhile, Bill's girlfriend, Louise, goes missing and he is against the clock to find her before anything happens to her. Can Bill find Louise before she is damaged beyond repair, and finger the real killers before Lanza takes him down for crimes he didn't commit?

Philip Elliott - Nobody Move (2019) - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline review copy
An eye-catcher when browsing the Edelweiss site, like I haven't got enough books to be getting on with. Cover -tick, setting - tick, set-up - tick. Elmore Leonard - Quentin Tarantino - comparisons - tick!

Eddie Vegas made a terrible mistake. Now he has to pay the price. After a botched debt collection turned double murder, Eddie splits, desperate to avoid his employer, notorious L.A. crime boss Saul Benedict, and his men (and Eddie’s ex-partners), Floyd and Sawyer, as well as the police. Soon he becomes entangled with the clever and beautiful Dakota, a Native American woman fresh in the City of Angels to find her missing friend—someone Eddie might know something about. Meanwhile in Texas, ex-assassin Rufus, seeking vengeance for his murdered brother, takes up his beloved daggers one final time and begins the long drive to L.A. When the bodies begin to mount, Detective Alison Lockley’s hunt for the killers becomes increasingly urgent. As paths cross, confusion ensues, and no one’s entirely sure who’s after who. But one thing is clear: They’re not all getting out of this alive.

As much a love letter to neo-noir cinema and L.A. as it is satire, the first book in the Angel City novels is a lightning-speed crime thriller equal parts Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino.

Saturday 11 May 2019


April's reading saw nine books enjoyed, one short of my monthly target of ten, but all fairly good reads. 

Pick of the month and the only 5 STAR read - GOODBYE TO AN OLD FRIEND by Brian Freemantle, an early 70s Cold War thriller


4.5 STAR READS - 3 of; Ralph Dennis and The Charleston Knife is Back in Town, E. Michael Helms and his Vietnam memoir - The Proud Bastards and Charles Willeford and his mid-50s novel  Pick-Up

4 STAR READS - 4 of; Attica Locke - Bluebird, Bluebird, David B. Lyons and Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake, T.S. Hunter and Tainted Love and Lawrence Block with his dirty little tale - Sweet Little Hands

3.5 STAR READ - 1 of - David Gordon's The Bouncer

I spent time in the company of......

a bouncer with a secret background and easily able to break the law, with an FBI agent in pursuit

a black Texas Ranger with an alcohol dependency investigating murder with possible racial connotations

a dying man seeking urgent answers to his daughter's disappearance

an ex-cop PI with his sidekick trying to save a kid, bag some loot and avoid the sharp end of the Charleston Knife's weapon of choice

a pair of alcoholics, tired of life

a couple of grieving friends, trying to find a murderer 

a raw recruit, about to experience jungle warfare on the other side of the world

a Russian defector and a British intelligence officer trying to de-brief him

a married couple spicing up their lives with murder


New York; East Texas; Dublin; Atlanta; San Francisco; Soho, London; Parris Island and Vietnam; London and Kent, maybe Surrey also; unknown - probably New York

David Gordon - The Bouncer (2018) (3.5)

Attica Locke - Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, Book 1) (2017) (4)

David B. Lyons - Whatever Happened to Betsy Blake? (2019) (4)

Ralph Dennis - The Charleston Knife is Back in Town (1974) (4.5)

Charles Willeford - Pick-Up (1954) (4.5)

T.S. Hunter - Tainted Love (2019) (4)

E. Michael Helms - The Proud Bastards (1990) (4.5)

Brian Freemantle - Goodbye to an Old Friend (1973) (5)

Lawrence Block - Sweet Little Hands (2011) (4)

If you're not asleep yet - anal analysis for my own amusement - read on if you're an insomniac ......

New to me authors in the month - 3 - Attica Locke, David Gordon and T.S. Hunter

I have more on the pile to read from David Gordon

Authors enjoyed before - 6 - David B. Lyons, Brian Freemantle, Lawrence Block, E. Michael Helms, Charles Willeford and Ralph Dennis

There's more on the TBR pile from 5 of them - Freemantle, Block, Helms, Willeford and Dennis

9 reads from 9 different authors. 

4 were series books.....

The Charleston Knife is Back in Town is the second in Ralph Dennis's 12 book Hardman series

Bluebird, Bluebird is the first in Attica Locke's Highway 59 series. 

The second drops later this year. Tainted Love is the first in T.S. Hunter's Soho Noir series, the second drops in June. 

David Gordon's The Bouncer is followed by The Hard Stuff which also features his main character.

Gender analysis - 1 female author, 8 male.
Another poor attempt at diversity in my reading, and the same as March!

Of the 9 different authors read, 6 hailed from the USA, 1 from Ireland, 1 from England and 1 who describes himself as UK - half-Welsh,

All 8 of the 9 reads were fiction, with 1 non-fiction read - E. Michael Helms' Vietnam War Memoir - The Proud Bastards

5 of the 9 books read were published this century and all this decade.
2 from 2019, 1 each from 2018, 2017 and 2011

1 book was from 1990, 

2 from the 70s, 1973 and 1974 - re-published last year

1 was from 1954

2 came from the man-cave blue tub stash in my garage.

Publishers -  Mulholland Books x 1 - Brash Books x 1 - Mysterious Press x 1 - Bloodhound Books x 1 - Red Dog Press x 1 - MacDonald x 1 - Pocket Books x 1 - Lawrence Block x 1 - Pan Books x 1 

4 of the 9 reads were pre-owned,

2 were accessed at Net Galley early reviewer site, cheers to publishers Mulholland Books and Mysterious Press

2 were received directly from the authors - cheers to E. Michael Helms and David B. Lyons

1 was received from the publisher for participation in a blog tour - cheers to Red Dog Press

Favourite cover? Charles Willeford - Pick-Up (1954) - part of a 1991 MacDonald Omnibus edition which also includes, The Burnt Orange Heresy and Cockfighter

 Second favourite cover - E. Michael Helms and The Proud Bastards

My reads were this long 224 - 249 - 305 - 170 - 196 - 132 - 273 - 144 - 21

Total page count = 1714 (2265 in March) ....... a decrease of 551 pages

5 were Kindle reads, 1 was ePub file read on the laptop,  2 were paperbacks, 1 was a hardback omnibus edition

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

David Gordon and The Bouncer was the longest read at 305 pages

Lawrence Block and Sweet Little Hands was the shortest at 21 pages long.

Friday 10 May 2019


A pretty decent month's viewing - 4 cinema trips (my wife and I have just ponied up for monthly cinema passes with Odeon), a continuation of an on-going currently airing TV series and a couple of other films courtesy of the DVD stash and Netflix

Pet Sematary (2019) - Film

Cinema trip no. 1 - actually 1 and 2, as I had to see it twice - long story short, my younger daughter missed it first time around, so I took her. I've read the book (years ago), I've seen the original (1989 - can't forget Fred Gwynne's googly eyes and teeth as tall as gravestones) and from memory this one doesn't offer too much different from what went before. I enjoyed it both times. I wasn't scared shitless, but I did jump a few times, even second time around, even though I managed to anticipate most of the impending jolts to my nervous systems. Jason Clarke is pretty good, as is the young girl who plays his daughter. I also enjoyed John Lithgow's performance

From Google....

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his neighbour Jud Crandall, setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unspeakable evil with horrific consequences.

Line of Duty Series 5 (2019) - BBC Drama
A couple of episodes watched in the month - up to no.3 I think and if I'm honest not my favourite series of the bunch. I've enjoyed all of the earlier ones more. Slightly implausible, improbable, unbelievable - I can't actually buy into Stephen Graham's OTT manicness and totally off the rails behaviour. Sorry.  

From the Radio Times ........

Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston are confirmed to be reprising their roles as the officers of AC-12, returning to the job as Supt. Ted Hastings, DI Kate Fleming, and DS Steve Arnott.

The new series will also see the return of Maya Sondhi as PC Maneet Bindra, Polly Walker as public relations expert Gill Biggeloe, and Aiysha Hart as Murder Squad cop (and Steve’s ex girlfriend) DS Sam Railston.

Tony Pitts will return as Detective Chief Superintendent Les Hargreaves, while Andrea Irvine plays Ted’s estranged wife Roisin Hastings.

A first-look image has also been released, revealing “Balaclava Man” John Corbett (Stephen Graham) and Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall). These two guest leads are pivotal figures in a deadly organised crime group which is known to have links with corrupt police officers.

Stephen Graham’s character is the “most dangerous” Line of Duty villain yet
Other newcomers joining the cast include Taj Atwal as PC Tatleen Sohota, Richard Pepple as PS Kyle Ferringham, and actors Susan Vidler, Sian Reese-Williams, Ace Bhatti, and Elizabeth Rider.

Take a look at the trailer and you get a few clues as to what he’s hinting at – including an ominous shot that appears to show Ted Hastings standing in a prison cell. The pressure is clearly on as we see not just one balaclava man but a whole gang, headed up by Stephen Graham’s John Corbett, with three police officers murdered in a hijacking.

And over it all hangs the big unanswered question: who is “H” – the shadowy police insider with direct command of a network of balaclava-clad criminals? (And no, Adrian Dunbar is NOT happy about those Line of Duty hints that Hastings could be H.)

Fisherman's Friends (2019) - film
Cinema visit again. Alright I suppose - think Sunshine on Leith but shit. Noel Clarke's character is annoying. Daniel Mays is alright, but I'm kind of used to him get killed off after about 10 minutes of whatever he is in. I didn't fall asleep, I laughed a few times, I'm glad I didn't pay full ticket prices though. I might have been more disappointed. The better half wasn't mega-impressed, but it was an evening out.

From Wikipedia.....

Fisherman's Friends is a 2019 biographical comedy-drama directed by Chris Foggin from a screenplay by Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and Piers Ashworth.

The film is based on a true story about Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends, a group of Cornish fishermen from Port Isaac who were signed by Universal Records and achieved a top 10 hit with their debut album of traditional sea shanties.[1]

The film stars an ensemble cast headed by Daniel Mays, James Purefoy and Tuppence Middleton with David Hayman, Noel Clarke, Dave Johns, Maggie Steed, Sam Swainsbury and Christian Brassington playing key supporting roles.

It was produced by Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and James Spring, who produced hit film Finding Your Feet through their production companies Powder Keg Pictures and Fred Films.

Greta (2019) - film
Abort, abort booked, rocked up at the cinema and they couldn't show the film - no licence. Thanks for letting me know guys! Went to see Hellboy instead, so as not to waste the trip.

From Google...

Frances finds a handbag on the New York subway and promptly returns it to Greta, an eccentric French piano teacher who loves tea and classical music. Having recently lost her mother, young Frances strikes up a seemingly harmless friendship with the lonely and kindly widow who enjoys her company. But when Greta's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and obsessive, Frances does whatever it takes to end the toxic relationship before things spirals out of control.

Hellboy (2019) - film
Cinema and not something I was intending to see. Ok, mildly entertaining, a few laughs, but I'm not a fan of the Super Hero genre. I've seen the first in the series years ago - who hasn't? Don't think I've ever seen the second. Ian McShane is in it. He must be about 130 years old now, he seems to have been around for ever. I stayed awake throughout, so it wasn't that bad.

From Wikipedia.....

Hellboy is a 2019 American superhero Fantasy Horror film based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name. Directed by Neil Marshall, the film stars David Harbour in the title role, alongside Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, and Thomas Haden Church. It is a reboot of the Hellboy film series, and the third live-action film in the franchise. The film draws inspiration from the comic books Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, The Storm and the Fury, and Hellboy in Mexico.

The project began as a sequel to Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), with Andrew Cosby and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola writing the script. Guillermo del Toro was not offered the full writer-director capacity he had performed in the first two films, and Ron Perlman, who portrayed Hellboy in the previous films, refused to return without del Toro's involvement. The project was turned into an R-rated reboot after Marshall was hired as the director and Harbour cast as Hellboy. Principal photography began in September 2017 in the United Kingdom and Bulgaria and ended in December 2017.

Catch Me if You Can (2002) - film

I was away with the wife for a day or two in Norfolk and the place we stayed at had a TV, but no TV licence. We ended up rooting through their DVD collection and found this gem. I'm not a massive fan of either Leo or Tom, but have to admit the more I see of them, the more they are growing on me. Christopher Walken also stars in this, and him I do like. I really liked this one. I do like a con man in my reading, and also my viewing. I liked the film even more once I realised it was based on a true story, undoubtedly told with a bit of artistic licence.

This one pushed Matchstick Men close as my favourite of the little con man niche - more recommendations welcome!

Funnily enough, as the guy's name - Frank Abagnale Jr. - dropped, I thought I'm pretty sure I have a book by him......

From Google....

Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) worked as a doctor, a lawyer, and as a co-pilot for a major airline -- all before his 18th birthday. A master of deception, he was also a brilliant forger, whose skill gave him his first real claim to fame: At the age of 17, Frank Abagnale, Jr. became the most successful bank robber in the history of the U.S. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) makes it his prime mission to capture Frank and bring him to justice, but Frank is always one step ahead of him.

The Highwaymen (2019) - Netflix film 

Saw the advert, thought I'll have some of that. Enjoyable retelling of the hunt to capture/kill 30s legends, Bonnie and Clyde. I liked it and so did the wife. Watched over two nights, as it was a bit long. I do like a crime-cop-gangster-movie and the cast was pretty good; Woody Harrelson - loved him in Three Billboards - Kevin Costner and Kathy Bates are prominent.

From Netflix......

The Highwaymen

2019 2h 12m Crime Dramas

Two steely former Texas Rangers are tasked with tracking and killing infamous criminals Bonnie and Clyde in this crime drama based on real events.

Starring:Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Kathy Bates

22 July (2018) - Netflix film

Sad, sobering, chilling, heart-breaking. Not a film you enjoy, more like endure. Incredible performances. How quickly you forget, I can't believe it's nearly eight years since this happened.

From IMDB.....


In Norway on 22 July 2011, right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 young people attending a Labour Party Youth Camp on Utøya Island outside of Oslo. A three-part story. About the survivors of the attacks, the political leadership of Norway, and the lawyers involved. Written by Ulf Kjell Gür

The Avengers (2012) - DVD film

Instructions were issued by daughter #1 - watch this one ahead of the forthcoming blockbuster.

Not a fan of this type of film TBH. If anyone can do anything, at anytime - I have issues believing in the characters and the events portrayed.

A stellar cast - a few favourites actors which I enjoy watching. Very long - IMO. I got bollocked for cat-napping towards the end - can you blame me?

Absolutely buzzing for the cinema trip in May to catch the next installment - NOT!

From Google.......

When Thor's evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Joining Fury's "dream team" are Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).