Tuesday 1 October 2019



“A surprisingly dark, thoughtful, action filled, hardboiled thriller with a heart as black as pitch. If you like dark fiction, this is it.” --Christopher Black.

“The Hard Cold Shoulder is clever, ruthless and hardboiled enough to give the meanest tough guy the shivers.” -- Frank Larnerd.

“Every step leaves ex DI Ben Pitkin wrestling with his own sanity, takes him deeper into seedy shadows thick with money and greed, deeper into the sickness of a country tearing itself apart under the pressures of austerity. Northern Noir at its most fierce, Sykes’ novella takes a hard, cold look at the desperate actions of desperate people caught in the effects of psychological trauma.” --E.S. Wynn

“This is hardboiled noir. This is updated noir. This is a book you have to read.” --Joseph Patchen, Lurid Lit

L.A. Sykes is a force to be reckoned with. His writing is crisp and to the point, His no-holds-barred stories would make Donald E Westlake and Jim Thompson proud. When I first read him it was a jolt of electricity. It made me want to stand up and scream, “Hell Yeah!” --Mark Slade, writer and podcaster: Dark Dreams and Blackout City

A few random scattered thoughts on this one.

A fast-paced, hard hitting, one sitting read from L.A. Sykes.

Manchester setting, and an ex-cop PI on the hunt for a missing girl..... in short order .... train stations, hospitals, bars, belligerent drunks, taxi rides, encounters with old colleagues, all-round bad eggs and victims, a nightclub, drugs, people trafficking, gun play, a rescue, consequences.

I read this one a few weeks back and the memory of it is fading, which isn't to say I didn't enjoy it. I quite liked the main character, he's dealing with a few issues but has a strong moral compass. I enjoyed the Manchester setting. I've not visited the city too often, but every time I have it's been raining. There's a grim, dour vibe to the place which the author captures. That said it's probably lovely now, seeing as my trips were the best part of 25 years ago.

Plenty of action and violent confrontation confined within the pages of this one. Elements of black humour as well. Another couple of ticks in the box. I do like tales of outsiders, those residing on the fringes of society, as opposed to everyday Joes with normal lives.

Did what it was supposed to - entertained.

4 from 5

L.A. Sykes is a writer I'll be keen to read more from in the future - which is just as well as his collection of short fiction - Noir Medley sits on the pile.

Read - September, 2019
Published - 2013
Page count - 108
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle


  1. I like the Manchester setting, too, Col. I've not read enough that takes place there. And if you're going to have a noir story, it's nice to have some dark wit woven in, too, here and there. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I might look it up for one of those times when I'm ready for something really dark.

    1. Margot, I've not visited the city too often myself, which is remiss of me. I hope you bear it in mind for when you fancy something on the dark side of the street!

  2. I definitely need to read this. I wonder what its availability is over here. Off to find out . . .