Friday 28 August 2020



Hubert is a killer. He loves the sport of it - the thrill of the hunt - and Hubert can feel and share in the pain of his victims as they breathe their final breath.

Larry is a young boy who dreams about death before it happens. He can't remember his dreams by day, but by night he is haunted by the faces and words of the dying. When the two end up in the same town, and become aware of one another, a classic battle of good and evil ensues. Blood Dreams is an old school supernatural thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Another book enjoyed on Audible over a couple of days and one with crimes in it; i.e. murders though with a supernatural twist to it. I've seen it classified as horror, but I wouldn't necessarily agree with that. Horror fiction I kind of expect to be, if not necessarily scared at the very least made to feel uncomfortable and I didn't get that vibe here. Supernatural thriller sounds about right.

Small town setting, a bereaved family with a young boy and his mother relocating, a bookseller with a cruel streak and a semi-normal front, an elderly loner and a new cop in town, dreams and nightmares - a precursor to death, a certain inevitability about confrontation, conflict and a settling of matters.

I liked the characters and their stories, their histories and the paths that got them to where they were now. I liked the new connections and friendships that came from the arrival of Larry and his mum in the town. I was probably less enamoured by the supernatural bits...... the connectivity between the good Larry and the evil Hubert, the conversations Hubert had with his first human victim etc etc. I didn't necessarily dislike these bits as they were important to the story the author was telling, just they didn't really grab me. I would probably have enjoyed it more if the author had found a way of pitching the protagonists into combat through a more normal manner.

Overall more to like than dislike though.

3 from 5 

Jack Maclane was a pseudonym of the late Bill Crider. Bill Crider's work has been enjoyed before - Piano Man and Outrage at Blanco   

Read - (listened to) August, 2020
Published - 1989
Page count - 352 (7 hrs 32 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Thursday 27 August 2020




Gloria Jones has had enough. She’s sixty-five, approaching retirement, and nearing the end of her tether. If she gets abused in the street by another toerag, someone’s going to swing.

When Gloria collects a gun she saw being thrown into her local park, her decision to turn it in is quickly scuppered after she’s attacked on her way to the police station. Using the gun to make her attackers back off, she accidentally pulls the trigger, and ends up killing them both. In that moment, her life changes forever.

As she struggles to come to terms with what she’s done, Gloria begins to realise there is injustice all around and finds herself transforming from a shy, peaceful woman into a confident and ruthless vigilante, determined to help victims of crime unable to defend themselves. And so begins a three-month campaign, taking revenge against violent criminals up and down the country, helping those who can’t help themselves.

After all, who’s going to question a little old lady just going about her business? Turns out, quite a few people, on both sides of the law, and one in particular seems to know exactly what she’s been up to.

A fast fun read in the company of a granny vigilante, snapping after one bruising encounter too many with the local pond life terrorising her community. What begins as an accident, soon builds up a head of steam as Gloria Jones travels the country dispensing terminal justice to those the law seems incapable of dealing with.

Straightforward street justice? Maybe but with a consequence not just for her victims. Random notes keep dropping through her letterbox, informing Gloria that someone knows exactly what she’s been up to and that they’ll be keeping a keen eye on her. Who is onto Gloria and what’s their grand design?

Parking my incredulity meter at the door, I really enjoyed this one. Fun, frantic, implausible, unlikely and a great read. Our main character, despite an impressive list of kills to her name at only the halfway point in the book, is likable, friendly, loyal and loving. She cares for her family, friends and community and despairs at the damage done to all of them by the curse of drugs and the criminality it causes after addiction takes hold. Despite her path and journey, she isn’t some embittered hag, yearning for the days of hanging and national service. She just longs for a kinder and safer society.

Decent characterisation, an improbable but fun plot, a pre-millenium setting of 1999, a bit of a road trip – ok rail trip around England….. London as a main base for the action, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle and the wilds of Essex, plenty of incidents, a fair pace and some decent prose which collectively kept this reader turning the pages.

Bang Bang You’re Dead is an impressive debut novel from Evan Baldock. I’ll be interested in seeing what he turns out next.

4 from 5

Read – August, 2020
Published – 2020
Page count – 342
Source - review copy from publisher Red Dog Press
Format - paperback

Wednesday 26 August 2020



"James Hazell, private investigator, is engaged by a widow to prove that her late husband was a murder victim and not a suicide. Hazell discovers that they key to the problem lies with a gang of small-time con men who work the Three-Card Trick... The result is a satisfying comedy thriller you will be sorry to finish"  - Manchester Evening News

"A cunning plot and full-blooded characters" - Police

"Good, wry humour and ripe Cockney dialogue" - Oxford Times

"A bit of orl right" - Liverpool Echo

A warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia washed over me as I read this one, remembering fondly the TV drama featuring Nicholas Ball as PI James Hazell. As a shy, spotty, ill-at-ease-in-my-own-skin teenager, Nicholas Ball was everything I wasn't....... smooth, cocky, charming, confident and attractive to the opposite sex. I suppose I should have hated him really.

Here, Hazell is setting up as his own man and scrambling for jobs and cash. A small case to help a bereaved widow claim her late husband's life insurance leads to Hazell being led a merry dance around London by an aging conman. One with more faces than a town clock ....... the hen-pecked husband, the down at heel card sharp, the one-room lodger, the successful car salesman, businessman and gigolo....

Great dialogue, great characters, London 70s setting, full of charm, nostalgia, rough edges, seediness, villains including a Mr Big and the rumours surrounding his plundered safety deposit box, irate cops, good time girls, a cruise ship, hustlers, heavies, solicitors and more. There's a fair few twists along the way as Hazell strives to stay in step with the geriatric conman and his buxom companion. 

There were three Hazell series books in total and I'm looking forward to reading the others at some point. This soft-hearted and not so cynical PI is great company.

An interesting side note to the books concerns the author(s). P.B. Yuill is a pseudonym for Gordon Williams (author of The Siege of Trencher's Farm aka Straw Dogs) and Terry Venables, better known as a successful footballer and manager - England, Tottenham, Barcelona and others.

I'm forever curious about author collaborations... who did what, how big a role did x play versus y. Here we have a professional writer and a sportsman. Did Venables write or did he just throw a few anecdotes and jokes at Williams? I don't suppose I'll ever know.

4 from 5

Read - August, 2020
Published - 1975
Page count - 208
Source- owned copy
Format - paperback

Tuesday 25 August 2020



Welcome to Felicity Grove....

This upstate New York village is as small as it is peaceful. But somehow, Jonathan Kendrick's eccentric grandma, Anna, always manages to find trouble. Crime, scandal, you name it...this wheel-chair-bound senior citizen is involved. So, when the phone rings at four a. m. in Jonathan's New York City apartment, he knows to expect some kind of dilemma. But Anna's outdone herself this time. She's stumbled across a dead body in her trash can.

The first in a two book series featuring Jonathan Kendrick and his grandmother Anna and a bit of amateur sleuthing.

Small New York village setting, a family history and back story featuring alcoholism, murder, life-changing injuries, bereavement, marriage, divorce, betrayal, jail time, a dog, a maybe new romance, football, - and that's without mentioning the body in the dustbin. 

I quite liked the two main characters, their bonds and their shared history and their inability to leave things alone when they feel the local police chief isn't working the case properly and has something to hide. The chief's deputy, an old school friend of Jonathan's isn't averse to Kendrick and Anna sticking their nose in and is happy enough discussing the investigation amidst his own concerns about his boss.

Quite a busy book with the backstories woven into the narrative. I enjoyed the small town setting where everyone seems to know everyone else;  where some characters have evolved and have seen the wider world and the contrast with others who have never left the town and who hark back to the glory of their school and college days when they were a minor somebody.

The investigation gets complicated when another body appears at the same location with a different murder method.

Enjoyable enough, no real annoyances or irritation while listening to the audio book, neither was I ever overly excited or left breathless by a turn of phrase or a descriptive passage. It just did it's job by holding my interest throughout and providing a plausible outcome to the questions that needed answering.

Author Tom Piccirilli sadly died in 2015. He's left behind a decent body of work in multiple genres - crime, horror, mystery and thriller. I've read him previously, before I started blogging - The Cold Spot and Fuckin' Lie Down Already - and I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

3.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) August, 2020
Published - 1997
Page count - 226 (5 hrs 35 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Monday 24 August 2020



Bobby Saxon lives in a world that isn’t quite ready for him. He’s the only white musician in an otherwise all-black swing band at the famous Club Alabam in Los Angeles during World War II—and that isn’t the only unique thing about him...

And if that isn’t enough to deal with, in order to get a permanent gig with the band, Bobby must first solve a murder that one of the band members is falsely accused of in that racially prejudiced society.

A compelling 40s set LA murder mystery, concerning itself with questions of race and identity against the back-drop of the second World War.

I don't think I've encountered such an interesting protagonist for a long while in my reading. Bobby Saxon is a pianist trying to get a start in the music business. There's more to Bobby though than meets the eye.... he's conflicted, confused, secretive, naive, brave, talented and desperate.

In return for a permanent gig with a black band, Bobby has to try and solve the murder of a German industrialist for which a hostile band member has been fitted up for. It's a task he's ill-equipped for, though he does possess the advantage of being able to move in circles, denied to his band's manager.

I quite liked Bobby's blundering around. During the course of the investigation he forges alliances with a cop, a gangster and the boyfriend of another missing women connected to the murder victim. His confidence grows as the books unfolds.

There's a musical backdrop to the novel which I enjoyed despite not been a big fan of jazz or swing. I liked the other strands which Marks also wove into the narrative ....... race, gender identity, discrimination, anti-semitism, Nazis, the war effort, organised crime, graft, gambling and elements of romance/sexual attraction amidst the confusion over self. Sad to say that 80 years on, some of the same issues are prevalent in today's world.

4 from 5

Paul D. Marks has been enjoyed before - White Heat and Broken Windows  

Read - July, 2020
Published - 2020
Page count - 396
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle on laptop

Sunday 23 August 2020



Why do a sleazy antique dealer and a wealthy collector suddenly become interested in an unknown artist named Jo Allison? Is it the mysterious goblet she used in three still-life paintings? Jo's apartment is burglarized, and she is followed and threatened. When she attempts to determine the provenance of the goblet, she discovers that it might be a priceless artifact. Thieves follow her to Chicago and to the home of a blind woman in Riverside who also owns one of the goblets. The exciting climax takes place on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, between the roaring lions.

Not a book I would have contemplated reading other than the need to read a Helen for a Goodreads challenge. The ones I had on the pile weren't really singing out to me.... Helen MacInnes mainly and the advantage to this was it was an Audible book, so I could multi-task - not something you can say about many men - by working and reading at the same time.

The plot is exactly as above and I was moderately interested in the goings-on. Our main character, is Jo Allison. Events are related as they impact on her. Namely an unhealthy interest in her work as a ruse to possess a priceless goblet... burglary, stalking, threats, intimidation, escalation and on the upside a chance to get close to the cop looking into the initial burglary. Romance and a possible brighter future if the goblet mystery can be put to bed.

Overall it was okay, nothing amazing or stunning, conversely nothing too irritating. The main character was likable and the author does a decent job in building tension and portraying Jo's increasing isolation and fears as she worries over who she can trust throughout the book.

Not great, not awful, bang average if I'm honest. If I was a big fan of cozy type mysteries I'd probably have enjoyed it more.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) August, 2020
Published - 2012
Page count - 229 (6 hrs 14 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Saturday 22 August 2020



What would you do if..

..someone offered you a great job with a company car, an expense account and the chance to drive the girl of your dreams around all day? You'd bite their hand off, right?

What if the guy offering the job is a violent gangster and the girl of your dreams is his only daughter? Still keen?

Ross Fleming decides to go for it but his dreams turn into nightmares as the girl takes him on a ride he'll never forget.

Revenge, justice, loyalty, lies, love, anger and an identity crisis. Turns out, the new chauffeur is not her only driver.

My first outing with author Peter Carroll, but after enjoying this one, definitely not my last.

Scottish crime, mostly in the company of villains and reprobates, lots of complicated relationships and family histories and secrets, different motivations for our main characters which puts them in conflict with each other.

Best book ever? No but really enjoyable. I like reading about criminal sorts and their antics. They're usually a lot more interesting than honest Joes. Great dynamics at play here. Just the book I needed to get me in the reading mood, after stalling while reading something else.

Setting, pace, plot, character, outcome - all ticks in the box.

4 from 5

Peter Carroll is the author of the DI Adam Stark series of books. There's a couple on the pile. I'll be interested in seeing what he does with keepers of the peace rather than law breakers.

Read - July, 2020
Published - 2014
Page count - 186
Source - owned copy
Format - Kindle

Friday 21 August 2020




I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.

Praise for The Dry 

'Spellbinding' Ian Rankin

'Stunningly atmospheric' Val McDermid

A couple of mysteries for the price of one here in this much hyped best seller from Jane Harper.

We have the bizarre murder/suicide of Luke Hadler and his family. Hadler's friend, cop Aaron Falk returning to town for the funeral, and at the request of his dead friend's parents looks into events outside of his jurisdiction. With this return to his childhood home, we also re-visit events of his past which saw the death of a childhood friend and resulted in the departure in haste of Falk and his father, pretty much chased out of town under an angry cloud of suspicion and resentment.   

I really enjoyed this one..... great setting - small town, rural Australia suffering the worst the elements can throw it, an unrelenting drought and as a consequence all-round economic hardship, frayed tempers and some short fuses. Small towns can very often mean small minds, long memories, resentments, secrets, and cliques with the bully voices overwhelming the more moderate and timid.

Great characters - Falk himself, solitary with few, scrub that no emotional ties in his life; a couple of sympathetic allies - Raco, the newish cop in town, who works with Falk to pick apart recent tragic events and the local pub owner and Falk's landlord; the head of school - another outsider; the childhood friend and the much aggrieved family of the long deceased girl from Falk's earlier life in Kiewarra.

Perfect pace - exciting when called for, thoughtful and unhurried in other places; a compelling investigation, with a decent flip-flopping of timelines back to Aaron's youth and current day events. I liked the slow drip drip of answers and the eventual uncovering of the facts. I did kind of think it was a bit of a cheat towards the end of the book, where the readers find answers to what happened in the past, but I'm not sure the main characters do. Maybe I'm misremembering.

Overall, a great book which I was sucked into and didn't want to put down. On this occasion I'm inclined to believe the hype.

4.5 from 5

I've read the second Aaron Falk before, a year or two ago - Force of Nature - and I have Harper's 3rd book The Lost Man sat on the pile. Jane Harper is fast turning into a firm contemporary favourite.

Read - July, 2020
Published - 2016
Page count - 416
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Monday 17 August 2020



It took just one bad decision to put his whole life in jeopardy

Tough-talking London Detective Inspector Jack Lisbon now faces a life-changing choice – seek justice or exact vengeance

After a young fighter takes a beating for throwing a bout, DI Lisbon makes a decision that will come back to haunt him – he accepts a bribe to look the other way. With everything poised to go pear-shaped, the embattled cop embarks on a path that could destroy his career, or save him from destruction. One thing you can be sure of, ex-boxer Lisbon never backs down from a fight!

The twist at the end will leave you breathless!

⭐ A story of evil and redemption

⭐ The characters leap off the page

⭐ Jack Lisbon is a kick-ass investigator who packs a punch

⭐ An action-packed page-turner

Follow Jack Lisbon's journey in the upcoming series: "The Fighting Detective"

A cracking 50-odd page introduction to a new series character from Blair Denholm.

A dodgy cop with some dodgy cop mates, more than one fix in the works, a reneging on an agreement, a violent falling out, retribution, an escalation, consequences to health, wealth, career and romance, payback, a new resolution and a fresh start. Welcome to Aus!

Fast, violent, a cop more motivated towards his own personal interests than being a servant to justice. I shouldn't particularly warm to this hard-drinking reprobate, but he's got me rooting for him. I kind of think the new reformed Jack Lisbon is going to be more of the same old Jack Lisbon. Never dull, fond of the drink and a bit of an opportunist.

I'm looking forward to reading more about him in the future. Hopefully in some longer adventures though if push comes to shove I'll settle for some short episodes.   

Decent characters, interesting enough story without offering anything radically new, London setting, entertaining, does what is says on the tin.

4 from 5

Blair Denholm is fast turning into a favourite Aussie author mine. Sold, Sold to the Devil and Boyd and Sarge: NYPD Law and Disorder have all been enjoyed before.

Read - August, 2020
Published - 2020
Page count - 50
Source - review copy from author
Format - ePUB read on laptop

Friday 14 August 2020



More Oddments features 14 more detective stories featuring characters such as Fergus O'Hara and the "Nameless" Detective. The stories included in this collection are:

"Fergus O'Hara, Detective"
"A Craving for Originality"
"One of Those Cases (A "Nameless Detective" Story)"
"I Didn't Do It"
"Quicker Than the Eye (with Michael Kurland)"
"Angel of Mercy"
"Mrs. Rakubian"
"Smuggler's Island"
"A Taste of Paradise"
"Under the Skin"
"Prose Bowl (with Barry N. Malzberg)"

Another Audible offering from an author, I'm quite fond of but have neglected somewhat in the past few years. Pronzini has written around 45 mysteries in his San Francisco set, Nameless PI series. It's a series I like and I was bouncing along in 2015/16 at a pace of one a month and got side-tracked at around the dozen mark after reading Nightshades. Don't know why to be honest.

Here he showcases his skills in the short story format and there's a few I really liked, a few that were ok, and a few that weren't especially memorable.

Top bananas.....

Prose Bowl, the finishing piece in the collection is frantic, pacey and tense...... two writers competing under pressure in front of a global audience to pen a novel/novella from scratch, like two boxers going hammer and tongs at each other for twelve rounds ..... word count is critical, penalties exist for repetition and other writerly sins. It shouldn't really work, insofar as it sounds totally preposterous but it does.

Opportunity..... two cop partners, one skint and ill and deferring an operation and keeping his condition from his wife and his boss, go after a perp and come back with a corpse and a case full of cash. Opportunity, trust between partners and temptation I liked the ambiguity of the ending.

One of those Cases has Nameless on a domestic investigation. An unhappy wife suspects her husband of playing away, Nameless investigates and it's not what she thinks. I liked it without ever being blown away.

In the others, we have......

Chip - a gangster, his son and boarding school   - ok

A Craving for Originality - a hack writer wants to spread his wings - alright

I Didn't Do It - a man down on his luck, a cheating couple, a thick wallet, a blow to the head and a confession - irritating

Angel of Mercy - a Civil War era abortionist is taken to task - undecided

Quicker than the Eye - a kind of locked room mystery with a magician/illusionist, his manager and his assistant - enjoyed

Connoisseur -  nouveau riche, fine wine, envy and resentment - liked it

Smuggler's Island - family secrets in small town community - enjoyed

Under the Skin - friendship, bravery and cowardice - thoughtful

A Taste of Paradise - a fleeting holiday friendship and some regrets - indifference

Fergus O'Hara, Detective - historic Civil War tale, San Francisco, St Patrick's Day, gamblers, Pinkertons, a steamer, a conman, some missing gold - nice twist, but annoying narration with the faux Irish accent

Mrs Rakubian - subject ???? - forgettable 

Like every other collection I've read in the past - a mixed bag.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 2001
Page count - 238 (6 hrs 22 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Thursday 13 August 2020



Shortlisted for Best Independent Voice at the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards

Longlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize


‘Totally addictive. Like Fight Club, only darker’ S.J. Watson

‘I loved this book. Dark and at times almost comical, a great blend of crime thriller and the darkest imaginable domestic noir’ Sarah Pinborough

Dark, deviant and disturbing domestic noir … one of the most entrancing, sophisticated and page-turning psychological thrillers of the year…

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach…

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

My first time reading this author and after being mildly entertained, nothing more very probably my last. I had hoped for somewhat more.

The book revolves around three main characters, two of them married to each other and one who connects with the husband, after witnessing him doing something he really shouldn't. Despite the book being tagged as the 1st in the Detective Sergeant Pace Series, Pace himself would be the fourth player in our drama, but he only has a minor role.

Events initially I kind of found confusing, as to who was doing what and why, but they soon settled down and became apparent. The thing was I couldn't really see any justification or motivation for the behaviour and actions of the main players.

Character #1. Yeah, you hate your job, you despise your wife, you can't sleep, you're frustrated, you want something more...... ergo change your life then, why change others irrevocably?

Character #2. You want your husband to pay attention, you portray as a strong women, but you act as his enabler, you support his predilections, until such time as you don't. Why?

Character #3. Yes you're a sad sack loner with OCD and there's something terrible which happened to someone you cared about in the past. Boo-fucking-hoo. Get over it, you muppet.

Character #4, Mr Policeman, well I'd like to have known you better but hey sayonara and all that, it just wasn't meant to be. 

Reasonable pace, twisty-turny-twisty story with a predictable final twisty bit which twirls and pirouettes before finally twisting at the end. A bit boring I suppose.

2.5 from 5

I think I'm obviously out of step with the vast majority of readers. Over 100 reviews on Amazon and 84% loved this. I'm the odd man in seven who was underwhelmed. Each to their own. And in truth I've read worse.

Read - August, 2020
Published - 2018
Page count - 291
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Wednesday 12 August 2020



Eric is an ex-con, bareknuckle boxer better known around his Chicago neighborhood as “Ugly.” He wants to shed his past, build a life with his family, but his past won’t be so easily left behind. His junkie brother Joe has stolen $100K from a powerful drug dealer—and Ugly’s on the hook unless he hands Joe over.

Which is gonna be hard considering he has no idea where Joe is.

Ugly and his “business partner” Nicky hit the streets to find him, each step taking Eric back into the violent life he’s desperate to leave behind. Ugly’s done with it all. He’s pissed, sad, and exhausted, but he’s gotta keep moving if he wants any chance of Joe—and himself—getting out alive.

Praise for STAY UGLY:

“Daniel Vlasaty’s Stay Ugly is a vivid, visceral and bone-crunching tale of loyalty, loss and redemption.” —Paul D. Brazill, author of Last Year’s Man and Man of the World

Another enjoyable trip around Chicago's meaner streets with author Daniel Vlasaty navigating and main character, Eric, better known as Ugly, the company for our journey.

Bare knuckle boxing, hopes for a different life, hopes somewhat dashed with an inevitable descent back into the underbelly of the city....... drugs dealers, a delinquent brother who Eric feels he failed through his absence, family, regrets, history, a rip off, missing money, old friends and acquaintances reunited, and Eric in the frame to put things right, in a late night trawl through the lass salubrious parts of Chicago.

I do enjoy books about criminals, lowlifes, the disadvantaged, addicts, the reckless ..... people making poor choices and the fall-out from them ..... violence, conflict, pain, death, loss, retribution and good intentions going South.

Great story, hardly original but it worked for me. Chicago setting, decent pace, interesting main character and a decent support cast. Not over long. Job done.

My kind of author, my kind of book.

4.5 from 5

Daniel Vlasaty has been enjoyed before - Only Bones and A New and Different Kind of Pain

Read - June, 2020
Published - 2020
Page count - 212
Source - review copy from Chris at All Due Respect
Format - paperback

Tuesday 11 August 2020


Six more into the collection.....


W. Glenn Duncan - False Gods (2018) - Amazon FREEBIE purchase

Seventh in the Rafferty PI series. The first six were penned by W. Glenn Duncan, who sadly passed in 2018. The series has been continued by his son. I do like a PI series.

Teenager Kimberly has run away from home.

Rafferty can do this one with his eyes closed; he’ll have her back by dinner-time.

Hiding somewhere in the Texas desert is a twisted cult leader with a very different idea …

Teenaged student Kimberly Troupe is missing

It’s obvious she’s run away with her boyfriend, though her mom doesn’t want to admit it. All cases should be this easy; Rafferty’ll have it wrapped up by the weekend.

But when Rafferty finds the boyfriend home alone, that idea bears rethinking.

The last sight of Kimberly was of her putting the missionary into the position with charismatic cult leader, Dariell Thof and no-one knows where she’s gone since.

By the time Rafferty tracks Kimberly to a remote compound in the Texas desert, he’s stuck between a pack of gun-toting religious zealots and an ATF agent playing hardball.

Can Rafferty get Kimberly out before the two sides come together and all hell breaks loose?

Billie Sue Mosiman - Wireman (1984) - Audible purchase

An author I've heard of but never tried before. Sadly, she died a couple of years ago.

"Billie Sue Mosiman's novels are edge-of-the-seat all the way!" Ed Gorman, award winning author of BAD MOON RISING.

"There are only a handful of authors in the world who can craft true suspense, and Billie Sue Mosiman is one of the best." C. Terry Cline, Jr., author of REAPER

The killer in the night.
He waited in the shadows, a dark and deadly presence. He was no novice at this terrible trade--he had struck before and he would strike again. And with each new killing he became less human...and more vicious.
He stood patiently, a wire garrote in his strong hands, ready to claim yet another victim. Soon he would have one more to add to his growing list unless they could stop him. But how could they when they didn't know who he was? What he was? To a terrified city he was known only as the Wireman.

Set in the 1970s, two brothers return from the Vietnam war with blood on their hands. Learning to kill the enemy wasn't something that would go away when they returned home to Houston, Texas. Could one of them be the serial killer, Wireman? Could the other stop him?

Loosely based on true crimes which occurred in Houston, Texas in 1978-80.

A suspense thriller by Edgar-Nominated author, Billie Sue Mosiman.

Michael P. Dineen - Suburban Gangsters (2018) - Amazon purchase
A Billy bargain - reduced to a couple of quid, some very positive reviews and another speculative purchase.I like reading about crims.

Sometimes in life the direction you choose could come down to making a choice that at the time didn’t seem like a big deal, only looking back you knew it wasn’t smart. Had his conversation gone differently with his father in the spring of 1985, Patrick may never had become a criminal. While shooting hoops with his old man that breezy afternoon in April, they struck up a conversation. Patrick had been kicked out of Walt Whitman High School a few months earlier, but had been working full-time ever since. He was working hard at the time and would have kept at it. But his dad’s rejection, and the way he did it, burned Patrick badly.

Patrick doesn’t blame his dad for becoming a criminal, but that was the final straw. Somehow, he was determined to find a way to get that Mustang GT his dad wouldn’t cosign for him. Selling cocaine would help him to achieve that. That’s when he began hustling.

This was just the beginning of Patrick’s drug selling days. He sold and trained and trained and sold. He worked with the cops, the FBI, and the DEA.

It may feel like a quick high. You may think just one more big sale and you can get out. But you’ll learn that the life of drugs and crime doesn’t pay.

About the Author

Michael P. Dineen grew up in Huntington, Long Island, New York. He studied and taught karate for over 20 years. He was a trainer to professional athletes.

After high school, Dineen pursued a life of crime for more than 20 years and survived to tell this story, his story.

Eric Helm - Body Count (1984) - review copy from publisher Sapere Books
Years ago I was big on Vietnam War memoirs and accounts as well as enjoying some fiction relating to the period. I'll be interested to see if this one re-piques my fascination for this tragic conflict.

Republic of Vietnam, May 1964

On an isolated hill near the Cambodia border, three hundred men are working non-stop to construct a special forces camp.

US Captain Mack Gerber and his ‘A-team’ Scorpion Squad are put in charge.

With help from the local Tai tribesmen the Americans are on a mission to establish a stronghold in an area long ruled by the Viet Cong.

But the VC aren’t going to let them have it without a fight…

Gerber is in a race against the clock to fortify the camp before the VC begin their attack.

But faced with the incompetence of his general and disobedience in the ranks, it looks like he could be destined to fail.

Soon all hell will break loose and there’s a good chance no one will get out alive…

BODY COUNT is an action-packed, authentic military historical thriller following an American battalion as they fight to survive during the brutal Vietnam War. It is the first book in The Scorpion Squad series,

Pete Brassett - Avarice (2016) - Amazon FREEBIE purchase
Sounds like a decent Scottish crime series. It was free, what's not to like?

When a body is found in a remote Scottish glen, DI Munro comes out of retirement to investigate

The Police chief wants everything wrapped up before the upcoming regatta, but the locals are remarkably unforthcoming with helpful information.

Sassy and quick, London detective sergeant Charlotte West is roped in by DI Munro to help solve what is now a murder case.

It is good police work that will unravel the truth behind the crime, but not without ruffling a few feathers first.

Will the killer escape the sharp-witted detectives’ grasp?

If you enjoy a whodunnit with a twist, this atmospheric novel is for you

Set in the coastal town of Inverkip in the north-west of Scotland, AVARICE is a straightforward murder mystery with more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

No blood, no gore, no serial killers! But it's a cracker.

AVARICE is the second book by Pete Brassett to feature DI Munro and DS West, the detectives that first appeared in SHE. It's not a sequel and can be read as a standalone. However, those who have read SHE will have a head start on the characters' profiles.

Charles Harris - Room 15 (2020) - review copy from author 

I've previously enjoyed The Breaking of Liam Glass by Charles Harris, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Ross Blackleigh is on trial for four crimes which he insists he didn’t commit. A detective inspector and a thoughtful self-reflective man, he goes against his counsel’s advice and takes the stand in court. 
This is his story. 
Ross found himself wandering the streets one night, bleeding from the head and unable to remember the past year and a half. But before he could make sense of it, he was summoned to a crime scene where a nurse had been brutally murdered.
His amnesia unnerved him and, fearing the worst, Ross allowed himself to be taken to hospital, only to be viciously attacked by a stranger with a knife. 
Suspecting that the attack was connected with the nurse's murder and that his own police colleagues were behind it, Ross set out on two parallel investigations: one into the killing and the other into his own mind. 
But when he digs into his own psyche, he is scared by what he finds…
Is Ross being set up or is something far more disturbing behind the killings? 

Monday 10 August 2020



'Six minutes is not long ... but it's plenty long enough to kill'

Sonia Deerfield is a talented performer just hitting it big in the music biz, a recent million dollar lottery winner and a beautiful woman. Lucky Sonia. Or is she? For someone among her nearest and dearest is out to get her. Someone is conduction a harassment campaign of threatening phone call, vandalism, minor accidents ... Helen Keremos, susceptible as ever, falls under the spell of the red-haired millionaire, and is persuaded to take on the case. Within days simple harassment explodes into murder. And Helen needs all her street sus to untangle the chains of intrigue which are binding Sonia.

A bit of a punt taken on this one in order to cover a hole in a Goodreads reading challenge, and probably not one of my more rewarding shots in the dark.

It sounds better than it was, and it doesn't sound that great to begin with.

A lesbian PI-cum-bodyguard, not someone I felt we got to really know during the course of the book, investigates threats to a singer, that I didn't feel any attachment to, by a load of friends, corporate types and general hangers-on, who just weren't particularly interesting.

Apart from that it was amazing!

Threats, lawyers, a recording studio trip, a bomb, the police, an ex-husband, a boyfriend, an unkindly uncle, murder, and possibly a fledgling romance on the cards.

I was kind of deluded into thinking because it was a relatively short read - 170-odd pages I'd cane it in a couple of days, when actually because I wasn't invested in the story it kind of bumped me right out of my reading and I kind of meandered through it, 10 or 20 pages a day, with little enthusiasm to switch onto another book.

The style of writing was ok, the Toronto setting was alright and there were a few genuine moments of excitement among a book I found to be relentlessly tedious.

2 from 5

Work For a Million is the second in the author's series of books featuring Helen Keremos. I believe there are six in total.

Read - August, 2020
Published - 1986
Page count - 176
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Thursday 6 August 2020



It's a jungle out there.

Literally. At least for Evan Tanner, an eternally sleepless, sometime super spy, who finds himself in Africa on the trail of the AWOL ruler of tiny Modonoland. It seems the petty despot's gone missing, and he's taken the state treasury along with him.

No stranger to impossible missions and international peril, Tanner's been in over his head before. This time, however, he's in imminent danger of being buried alive. And it all has to do with the CIA, white supremacists, moderate revolutionaries...and a blond jungle bombshell named (no joke!) Sheena. 

Tanner's always been a sucker for a pretty face and a curvaceous body, especially one that's wrapped in leopard skin. But this red-hot renegade daughter of a local missionary is a man-eater.

Which means this time Tanner's goose is well and truly cooked.

One I was enjoying, particularly after the fun opening with Evan Tanner buried alive and then somewhat implausibly digging himself to safety, but which then nose-dived in my estimation after Tanner does something totally abhorrent and unforgivable in my eyes.

I finished the book a month ago and I'm still shaking my head in disappointment. I don't even know why I'm bothered so much..... it's a bloody book written fifty years ago and it's all made up and it never happened. There's a cultural context to the act, especially from his willing partner's viewpoint but I still can't get past it. If there's a minor consolation, Tanner himself is appalled when realisation dawns. We're all flawed, we all make mistakes, we transgress, we learn, we forgive - ourselves and others, we grow, we move on.....but I ferkin hate it when a hero lets himself and me down.

I kind of wonder if Block every so often just pulls the pin on a hand grenade and throws it at his readers to blast them out of their comfort zone and make them pay attention.

The rest of the book - a trip into the wilds of a fictional country in Africa to rescue a leader and an American agent barely registered.

2 from 5

Me Tanner, You Jane is the 7th in the series. I will be reading the last - Tanner on Ice at some point. It was written nearly 30 years after this one, giving Tanner over a quarter of a century to think about his behaviour and repent. 

The earlier books are......    
The Thief Who Couldn't SleepThe Canceled CzechTanner's Twelve SwingersThe Scoreless ThaiTanner's Tiger and Tanner's Virgin

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 1968
Page count - 224 (4 hrs 43 mins)
Source - Audible download code from author's assistant
Format - Audible

Wednesday 5 August 2020



"Earl Emerson is one of the best of the new private eye writers."
-Chicago Sun-Times

Something made Melissa Nadisky flee her husband and their daughter. The note she left behind paints a picture of a woman haunted by a private hell. Now Thomas Black's friend, Kathy Birchfield, wants him to find Melissa-before she's consumed by her secret, terrifying demons.

Yet the straightforward missing persons case turns deadly when a killer starts silencing key witnesses in Black's investigation. But there's no turning back-especially after the sometimes-psychic Kathy tells him about her terrifying vision: a weeping little girl and a pit full of human bones. . . .

"Emerson is right up there with the best in the genre when it comes to bringing the elements of mystery to a rolling boil." - Mostly Murder

An author I thought I had never heard of, before a recent conversation over on Twitter had me looking him and his books up, only to find I had bought this one back in 2014.

It's the first in a PI series featuring Thomas Black and it was nominated for a Shamus Award back in the day. There's upwards of a dozen Black novels in total.

Kind of a typical PI case...... the search for a missing women with a dysfunctional family, featuring a docile husband with the spine of a jellyfish and an all-powerful, controlling father.

We witness ..... mental fragility, abuse, control, domination, a lack of self-worth, drug use as a means of coping and as a means to be kept in line, family secrets, spousal complicity, custody issues, infidelity, murder - past and present, repressed memories and a lot more.

Black has a strong friendship with his flatmate, Kathy which you kind of wonder if it might develop into anything more in future books. There's a bit of comedy gold to be had when she insists on bursting in on him when he's bathing. For now they have each other's backs. During the course of the book, Kathy is useful to Black, assisting him in his investigation. Only fair really as it's her friend he's looking for.

We do also get a bit of PI on PI violence, as Thomas receives threats and suffers intimidation because of his efforts to locate the missing woman. Another man in the same game is sicced on him, keeping tabs on who Black is speaking to and what he is uncovering. I quite liked the rise in tension as Black tries to deal with being targeted. 

Overall there's quite a grim and gritty investigation, one I enjoyed without feeling I was reading anything earth-shakingly new. I like 80s books - a time I can recall living through, with a pre-tech world..... no mobile phones, no internet, no instant Google answers and a bit of old school detective work.

I look forward to reading more from the author and this series without feeling compelled to do so immediately.

4 from 5

Read - July, 2020
Published - 1985
Page count  - 288
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Tuesday 4 August 2020



In Atherton Town, ten miles northwest of Manchester, Jacob Gibfield has been sacked in disgrace. With no chance of legitimate employment, he cashes in on his reputation for doing favours by going legit and opens up the town’s first Private Investigations firm in an attempt to claw back a bit of respect.

It’s not long before his new choice of career, alongside folks out for revenge for a previous escapade, bring bigger problems than being laughed at in Market Street by the local priest.

Things start to spiral and he needs all the help he can get from his old mates, including the likes of the Lieutenant and boxer on the skids The Hag Fold Hurricane, if he’s going to keep the town from dragging him under.

Another one/two sitting read which I raced through and enjoyed, but which a month on hasn't lived too long in the memory bank. I read a lot and more fool me I don't actually make notes or bullet points for myself on what I've read and what I liked, disliked etc. In actual fact the books I don't enjoy live longer in the memory, probably because they annoy me and I'm resentful and vindictive (but only on a good day).

Ergo, I liked this one.

Brit grit crime, northern setting, a PI tale, drugs, boxing, conflict and other stuff besides.  Some books are a bit like pizza. I know I enjoy pizza - look at my waistline - a lot, but I can't remember every mouthful of every single one I've eaten in the past few months.

Apologies to the author if I seem disrespectful or flippant of something he has obviously invested a lot of time and energy into creating, that's not my intention. I'm saving my copy for a re-read sometime in the future and hopefully some more coherent thoughts on this offering.

I liked it, I know I did.

4 from 5

Lee Sykes - The Hard Cold Shoulder - has been enjoyed previously.

Read - June, 2020
Published - 2020
Page count - 142
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Monday 3 August 2020



A case of stolen shoes leads maverick Chicago PI Sam Kelson into something far darker and deeper in the second of this hardhitting crime noir series.

"My boyfriend's been stealing my Jimmy Choos." Genevieve Bower has hired private investigator Sam Kelson to recover her stolen shoes from her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. The problem is that no one's seen Genevieve's boyfriend for the past two weeks.

Events take a disturbing twist when, in his search for the shoes, Kelson comes across a body, shot in the head. A clear-cut case of suicide - or is it? Has Kelson's client been wholly honest with him? What is this case really about?

At the same time, an explosion rips through one of the city's public libraries, leaving a friend's nephew critically injured. Could there be a connection? If there is, Kelson's determined to find it. But Kelson's not like other investigators. Taking a bullet in the brain during his former career as a Chicago cop, he suffers from disinhibition: he cannot keep silent or tell lies when questioned - and his involuntary outspokenness is about to lead him into dangerous waters . . .

The second in author Michael Wiley's Sam Kelson series, following on from Trouble in Mind which I enjoyed recently, and I liked this one about the same.

An oddball PI with an unhelpful affliction gets sucked into a case involving missing shoes which rapidly escalates...... a dead body which disappears, after which a bomb kills his friend's nephew, then morphs into a battle with a rich, powerful, dysfunctional and deeply perverted family of investors-cum-shysters-cum-money launderers. Kelson's investigation obviously has a crossover, with the police looking into things as well.

Busy, plenty going on, danger, death, sex, an investigation and more, but one which was a bit tiresome after a while. I kind of get frustrated with the PI investigation where the client is evasive or lies or only telling half truths, not so much as a means of the author keeping the reader on his toes and guessing, but from the reluctance of the PI to tell the client to fuck off and do one, as opposed to sucking it up, getting played for a fool and continuing with the investigation. Maybe my idiot tolerance threshold is lower than the average dick?

I liked the Chicago setting, I liked the reappearance of characters which featured in the first book - namely Kelson (obvs), his daughter and ex-wife, his friends - (names escapes me) and the police detectives. Kelson's disinhibition continues to provide scope for some lighter comedic moments.

Overall, more to like than take issue with. I think I'd have to give serious thought to whether I would be bothered reading a new book with Kelson, but I do want to continue reading Michael Wiley, but his earlier books for now.

3.5 from 5

Read - July, 2020
Published - 2020
Page count - 259
Source - Net Galley courtesy of Severn House
Format - ePUB read on laptop