Monday 7 December 2020


Another author with a few books in the collection and who is as yet an untried quantity - Tod Goldberg.

Anything be it a book or film with GANGSTER in the title is pretty much guaranteed to grab my attention.

Tod Goldberg has had another half dozen or so novels and a few short story collections published. His book, Fake Liar Cheat sits on the pile also. 

I'll probably start with these two though.

Gangsterland (2014)

Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, able to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake forces Sal to botch an assassination, killing three undercover FBI agents in the process. This puts too much heat on Sal, and he knows this botched job will be his death sentence to the Mafia. So he agrees to their radical idea to save his own skin: hide out as a Rabbi in Las Vegas.

Gangster Nation (2017)

"One can't help but think of such greats as Mario Puzo, Jimmy Breslin, Elmore Leonard, and Donald E. Westlake while reading this witty, brutal, vital book. Goldberg is a master." -- Mystery Scene Magazine

 "Gangster Nation is a razor. It will slice you open and reveal your insides. And like the best of Tod Goldberg's work, it'll show you everything you are at your core." --Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author of The President's Shadow

It's been two years since the events of Gangsterland, when legendary Chicago hitman Sal Cupertine disappeared into the guise of Vegas Rabbi David Cohen. It's September of 2001 and for David, everything is coming up gold: Temple membership is on the rise, the new private school is raking it in, and the mortuary and cemetery--where Cohen has been laundering bodies for the mob--is minting cash. But Sal wants out. He's got money stashed in safe-deposit boxes all over the city. He's looking at places to escape to, Mexico or maybe Argentina. He only needs to make it through the High Holidays, and he'll have enough money to slip away, grab his wife and kid, and start fresh.

Across the country, former FBI agent Matthew Drew is now running security for an Indian Casino outside of Milwaukee, spending his off-time stalking members of The Family, looking for vengeance for the murder of his former partner. So when Sal's cousin stumbles into the casino one night, Matthew takes the law into his own hands--again--touching off a series of events that will have Rabbi Cohen running for his life, trapped in Las Vegas, with the law, society, and the post-9/11 world closing in around him.

Gangster Nation is a thrilling follow-up to Gangsterland, an unexpected, page-turning examination of the seedy foundations of American life. With the wit and gritty glamor that defines his writing, Goldberg traces how the things we most value in our lives--home, health, even our spiritual lives--have been built on the enterprises of criminals.

Friday 4 December 2020


My quarterly story a day adventure continued in November.

It's a great way to meet new authors, catch up with old ones and it makes a change from reading full length novels all the time.

1st - Neille Williams - A Mashed Potato Murder (Close To The Bone)

2nd - Sebnem E. Sanders - Hunter's Moon (Punk Noir Magazine)

3rd - Mark McConville - Herd of Angels (Punk Noir Magazine)

4th - Stephen J. GoldsThe Hard Time (Shotgun Honey)

5th - Nik KorponMontevideo (Shotgun Honey)

6th - Daniel Eveloff - Prevenge (Close To The Bone)

7th - Nick Kolakowski - Contact Tracing (Shotgun Honey)

8th - Georgia MacShaneThe Flooding of Alice Springs (Brain Drip)

9th - Nigel Bird - Stones In Me Pockets (Shotgun Honey)

10th - Angel Luis Colón - Trimmigrant Song (Shotgun Honey)

11th - JB Polk - Regenerator (Close To The Bone)

12th - Margot Kinberg - And the Music Played (Crime and Mystery Writer Margot Kinberg)

13th - Bruce Maddle - Winterkill  (Close To The Bone)

14th - John Rector - Eddie Loves Animals (Tough)

15th - Ben Boulden - Reprobate  (Gravetapping - blog of Ben Boulden)

16th - Brian Beatty - Serious Business (Mystery Tribune)

17th - Paul D. Brazill - Who Killed Skippy? (Paul D. Brazill)

18th - K A Laity - The Chimp (Punk Noir Magazine)

19th - Billy Kring - The Little Angel (Mystery People)

20th - Steve Ellis - He Knows (Close To The Bone)

21st - Charlotte Perkins Stetson The Yellow Wallpaper (National Library of Medicine)

22nd - Josh Stallings - When the Hammer Comes Down (Mystery People)

23rd - Fred AndersenWriters’ Chat Room: Chat Log April 13 (Close To The Bone)

24th - Paul D. Brazill - Stamp of a Vamp  (Paul D. Brazill)

                                            PAUL D. BRAZILL

A Hard Man To Ignore But Well Worth The Effort.

25th - Robert Ragan - PO Box (Punk Noir Magazine)

26th - Fredric Brown - Don't Look Behind You (

27th - Christopher Witty - Bones (Northodox Press)

28th - David Tromblay - Short Timer (Shotgun Honey)

29th - Paul D. Brazill - The Luck of the Devil (Paul D. Brazill)

30th - Amy-Jean Muller Your Hair Woman (Close To The Bone)

AUGUST 2020 - 31 DAYS 31 SHORTS!

Tuesday 1 December 2020




This novel won the Mystery Writers of American Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Circling high over Rockefeller Center is a peregrine falcon, the most awesome of the flying predators. She awaits a signal from her falconer. It is given: The bird attacks, plummeting from the sky at nearly 200 miles an hour, striking a young woman and killing her instantly.

By chance, newscaster Pamela Barrett witnesses the slaying. Her impassioned account of it on television that evening thrills the falconer - a brilliant madman who identifies with his deadly bird and, through her, seeks catharsis. He becomes fascinated with Pam and enmeshes her in a bizarre and deadly scheme, even as she finds herself drawn to him by an erotic need she does not understand.

As killing follows killing, the terrified city becomes the backdrop of an extraordinary drama. Police and the media engage in cutthroat competition to find the murderer. Two predator birds are pitted in a fight to the death above Central Park. Call girls, rich eccentrics, striving careerists, dealers in the black market for rare birds - all play their roles in this study of secret passion, desire, fulfillment, and ecstasy. The ancient sport of falconry, in which birds are trained to hunt and kill on command, is the key to the spectacular operatic finale.

For all its excitement and intricate detail, Peregrine is more than a thriller: It is a study of secret passion - desire, fulfillment, ecstasy. In the falconer, in Pam his prey, and in the burnt-out detective who finds in this case a means to his salvation, author William Bayer has created vibrant characters each of whom is both hunter and hunted, each of whom fulfills the others in extraordinary ways.

An early 80s Edgar winner from William Bayer and a book with an unusual murder weapon - a peregrine falcon. Enjoyable and exciting upto a point, I think I struggled with a lack of understanding as to why the murderer was killing, despite a decent amount of time spent in his head. When his bird attacks he feels electric and alive. As he increases his attacks and the New York public become panicked and scared, in a great part fuelled by the publicity that he helps engineer through his notes to the TV lady who witnesses and reported on the first attack; he feels sated and omnipotent and in control. Further attacks fuel his fantasies which ever increasingly feature Pam the TV presenter. I understood the perverse sense of satisfaction he felt as his bird did his bidding, but frustratingly I didn't get any clue as to why he felt compelled to go down the particular road he was travelling on.

During the book we spend time in the company of three different characters; the killer himself; Pamela, the struggling TV presenter with a career in the doldrums, that is until she witnesses the first murder and it explodes on an upward trajectory and, after only appearing on the periphery for the early part of the book, Detective Janek. 

Inevitably the three protagonists are drawn closer and closer together as the book progresses. Pamela conducts her own enquiries, albeit on behalf of her network and always to fuel the story, into the different aspects of falconry - training, breeding, the sport and its fans and detractors as well as the black market and the leading characters in the pursuit. The killer; by positioning himself closer and closer to Pamela, as an unofficial adviser of sorts to her and her network, given his expertise regarding the peregrine. And lastly Janek, who intersects with Pamela, while trying to control the information her and the TV network release from the killer, while trying to get a handle on him to advance his investigation.

It's a tense and exciting book and it read quite quickly. I liked the setting - New York - who doesn't?  The conclusion when we get to it, is a bit strange and weird, but it put to bed most of my concerns.  Probably the star of the show though was the bird. His initial attack is breathtaking and he reportedly dives at 150mph, which had me shaking my head - no way. A bit of googling later, 150mph sounds slow as they can get to 220 apparently. WTF!

I reckon I've enjoyed other books from 1981 more than this one though. That said I'll look forward to more from William Bayer in the future, including his other Janek books. I hope he features more prominently in them than he does in this, as he is a little bit absent from a lot of the proceedings.

Overall 3.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) November, 2020

Published - 1981

Page count - 305 (10 hrs 27 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible