Thursday, 15 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Sometimes the only way to understand evil is to plunge into it headlong - and just pray you don't drown.

People come to California's Huntingdon Beach in search of the endless party, the ultimate high and the perfect wave. Ike Tucker came looking for his vanished sister - and for the three men who might have murdered her.

In that place of gilded surfers and sun-bleached blondes, Ike looked into the shadows. He found parties that drifted towards pointless violence and joyless violations, highs that he might never come down from - and a sea of old hatreds that was wilder, deeper - and deadlier - than the ocean.

'Unique, colourful, suspenseful and mysterious. A very fine writing debut.'     Joseph Wambaugh

I first read this book maybe thirty years ago and decided it was a keeper. While details of the book have vanished from my memory over the years, and indeed probably in the motnh or so since I read it for a second time, there's an affection, connection and power that keeps me attached to the book.

Innocent boy, plunges headlong into darkness in search of some answers to his sister's disappearance, gets temporarily corrupted and just about escapes intact, scarred and probably a lot older than his years. I'm instantly reminded of Newton Thornburg's fantastic book, To Die in California, where hick farmer David Hook ventures into the belly of the beast for answers to his son's alleged suicide.

Nunn writes fantastically about the ocean, its power and moods, the attraction of its dangerous swells, the mastery of the surfers trying to temporarily conquer it. I'm incapable of articulating just how beautiful and powerful his writing is. You feel as if you are present and part of the scene. Haunting and totally mesmerising.

In addition to the depiction of the sea and the whole surfing culture, there's also the town of Huntingdon Beach itself ... a magnet for waifs and strays, not sure what they are looking for but finding something - drugs, joyless sex, victimhood, exploitation and in the case of Ike Tucker's sister something more permanent. The town attracts newcomers like a bright, shiny jewel, but behind the facade lies sleaze and decay and bitterness and loss and violence and pain.

There's a counter-culture to the surfers with an opposing biker set, and a rivalry founded in another death. Preston, a biker. Hound, a surfer. Both affected by the death of Hound's sister years ago. Former brothers, now enemies. With Ike, they are the three focal points of the novel. At different times Ike gets close to both, still seeking his answers, still ignoring the warnings and the danger.

I was really swept up in the story. I feared for Ike, as he uncovered the history between Preston and Hound, I almost felt bereft and definitely incredibly sad at how things soured between the pair. At one time almost kings of the world they lived in. 

Kings fight, the sun sets and rises, the world moves on, sometimes the players do, sometimes not.

I've seen this one described as a cult classic. I do know it's an absolute belter of a book. Hard to do it justice in a review.

5 from 5

I have more from Nunn on the pile and I'm pretty sure I've tried more of his books in the years after this one. I'm almost tempted to say this debut reached heights that his subsequent work never quite did, but until I've read or re-read Unassigned Territory, Pomona Queen, The Dogs of Winter and Tijuana Straits that would be harsh.

Read - March, 2021
Published - 1985
Page count - 320
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Tuesday, 13 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Did Moonlight murder his own lover? Or has he been set up to take a fall of biblical proportions? 

Some years ago, Moonlight Falls, the first novel in what would become the 2015 Thriller Award- and Shamus Award-winning best-selling hard-boiled detective series was first introduced to the world. Since then, seven Dick Moonlight noir private detective novels have been released to great acclaim. But now, for the first time ever, a longer, grittier, sexier, more dangerous, more romantic version of the original pilot episode is available. It represents the author's original dark vision and the desperate, if not paranoid state of mind he was in when writing it. 

In Moonlight Falls, best-selling author Vincent Zandri asks the question, "If you knew your life could end at any moment, how far would you go to prove you murdered your lover? " Albany, New York, is the dark setting of this paranoid thriller about Richard "Dick" Moonlight, former APD detective turned private investigator, who believes he killed Scarlet Montana - his illicit lover and wife of his ex-boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. Problem is, despite the blood on his hands, Moonlight doesn't remember what happened! 

For fans of best-selling noir, hard-boiled mystery, and romantic suspense writers like Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly, Lawrence Block, Don Winslow, and Charlie Huston.

My second outing with Zandri's Dick Moonlight and while I liked it well enough. It did just seem to go on and on and on, subjecting us to every thought and deed the main character had. This version, as it says in the synopsis above is the author's original vision for the book. Despite not having read the original publication (I have it somewhere) I would definitely prefer the pared down offering.

Decent set-up to the story. We get to hear about Moonlight's past and his brain problem - self-inflicted and soon we're are off and running (alright maybe a leisurely stroll) as Dick's secret lover is killed (or suicide?) and Moonlight is asked to investigate (but not really) and sign off on the death for the Albany cops. Cops who might have some other issues to hide - connections with the Russian mob and who might see Moonlight as a patsy for murder, should it be necessary.  

Interesting main character. He's funny and likable. He has some good friends prepared to break the law/bend the rules to help him out. We have conflict with the police and some mobsters. We have tension with the ex-wife and her cop husband. Lots of action, interspersed with a bit too much naval gazing.

More to like than dislike. I enjoyed the narration and I liked the humour in the book. The story itself just had a bit too much padding.

3 from 5

Zandri's work has been enjoyed before - Tunnel Rats and Moonlight Weeps - a later book in the series.

Read - (listened to) March, 2021
Published - 2009 (director's cut 2016)
Page count - 452 (10 hrs 23 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible




Everything was going smoothly until my past caught up with me. Now, I'm being taunted by a madman who knows more about me than I do. He's kidnapped the closest person in my life, and he is using it to get my attention. Trust me...he has it. Now, I just need to figure out where he is and when he'll strike again. Things were easier when I was only kidnapping children.

The second Dirty Deeds book, I think there are nine in all and I'm a bit meh.... about it.

I've really enjoyed some of this author's work in the past - Belford Stories and one of his Flagler Beach collections which mainly concern.... people, relationships, everyday life, hopes, disappointments and dreams. The Dirty Deeds books are more crime oriented and feature James Gaffney posing as a child kidnapper, but actual saviour, crossing paths with the FBI, the mob and various other deviants who want their children gone and the opportunity for a different life unencumbered by responsibility.

I quite like James as a character. I enjoy his interactions with Reggie Keene (possible mispelling, because I've only enjoyed these as Audible books), the FBI agent trying to nail him. I like his banter with assistant, Marissa (?), the woman who sets up his jobs and organises his life for him. There's humor in their dialogue, sometimes funny, sometimes causing my eyeballs to roll into the back of my head. Overall a plus in the books.

There's a couple of things that are less enjoyable really. Secondly, book one,  kind of climaxed at last chapter minus one. The last chapter set up Marissa's kidnapping as the hook for Dirty Deeds 2. The end of this one has a similar set-up. Actual story ends again at last chapter less one and the hook for #3 in the series (one I'm listening to now) is the final chapter. I think this is one of my pet hates as a reader. Rosamilia is not alone in doing this, but it does irritate me.

Biggest bugbear is probably a weak plot. There's a fair bit of fannying around where the villain, the kidnapper plays games with James. He has an issue with him, just cut to the chase confront him - kill or be killed and save me the mindless guff in between. With the support cast of a couple of mob cronies - one a hacker, one a mob enforcer and with instructions to also do away with James and his hacker best friend we have a goose chase around Florida before a return to Atlanta for a climax. The Florida scenes which form a lot of the book, mainly involve Chaz the enforcer eating, wanting to eat, ruminating about his next meal or talking about meals he has enjoyed in the past. I think I must have put on a couple of pounds every time Chaz featured in a scene. It kind of got old very quickly.

Narration was good. Settings - Florida and Atlanta were enjoyed. Characters were more hits than misses. Story/plot/set-up - not great. Pace was ok. A lot of padding maybe to support a story which in my opinion was a bit too much of a stretch. Execution - a bit disappointing.

Overall - probably just a 3. I didn't actually hate it despite my reservations, but it didn't blow my socks off either. I'm obviously in a minority - 19 reviews showing on Amazon UK - 18 x 5 stars, 1 x 4 star.

Belford Stories and JandJ Fitness, as well as Dirty Deeds have been enjoyed before.

Read - (listened to) March, 2021
Published - 2016
Page count - 206 (4 hrs 53 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible


Monday, 12 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb .....

Nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel.

PI Truman Smith has become a loner after failing to find his sister Jan during a recent search of Galveston Island. He jogs on the Seawall, plays with his cat, and reads lots of Faulkner books. He is pulled from his self-imposed retirement when his old high-school football buddy Dino asks him to find a young girl named Sharon. As Tru begins his investigation, dead bodies begin to appear and Tru himself is attacked. His search for Sharon takes him to all sorts of interesting places on and near the Island.

Bill Crider spins a good mystery tale in a wonderful setting with interesting characters and enough plot twists to keep listeners guessing until the last few chapters.

Dead on the Island is the first in the late Bill Crider's Truman Smith PI series and if the other four books in the series are half as good as this one, I'll be in for a treat.

A missing girl, a reluctant investigation, old friendships, history, regrets, a personal loss with unanswered questions, a beating, death, a new woman, possible romance, uncovered secrets, a ransom, manipulation, resentment, a stakeout, danger, more death, finally some answers and a resolution, but not to the question that troubles Truman Smith the most. 

I really liked this one. The plot itself isn't amazing, a bit straightforward and the culprit isn't too difficult to guess after a certain point in the story is reached and you can fully understand his motivations. 

I liked the setting of Galveston, Texas with the changes to the island over Smith's lifetime explained along with some of its history. It was more prominent in its past, before being usurped by Houston.

I liked the main character. He's quite solitary initially, happy enough with his books and his cat. He feels he has failed his sister, who went missing when his attention was elsewhere. A long search for answers has revealed little about her disappearance, though there are a few teasers here. Some mysteries you don't ever get answers to, in real life and in fiction. I'll be interested to see if this theme forms part of an over riding arc to the series.

Overall - very enjoyable.

4.5 from 5

Bill Crider has been enjoyed before - A Time for HangingOutrage at Blanco, Piano Man and a horror novel as Jack MacLane - Blood Dreams 

Read - (listened to) March, 2021
Published - 1991
Page count - 227 (5 hrs 33 mins)
Source  - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Sunday, 11 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.  

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the "Man" who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.   

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.                  

A little bit out of my comfort zone as I'm a rare reader of novels with dystopian/sci-fiction elements, but Orange City managed to entertain me while also convincing me that it's a genre I might enjoy dipping into a little bit more frequently in future.

A controlled society, power, constant surveillance, a strict hierarchy, the haves and the have nots.... hey hang on a minute, it's not so different from the world we live in now.

Graham Weatherend is the main focus of our attention. The powers have already ruined his life and not quite his mind, but enough for him to question his self-worth. He has a lot of guilt over the death of his parents. Here he gets to work for the MAN testing a new product, designed to further control the masses - a fizzy drink called POW! 

Addiction follows and with it the start of a one-man rebellion. Well maybe more than one. 

I'm always a little bit uncomfortable when reading about addicts, it can sometimes strike a bit too close to home. Craving and desire over-coming reason and logic. Poor choices exacerbated here, by the enablers - the man and his machine. I liked that Graham retained his humanity and his wanting to help Marlena, also a victim of the powers that be. Humanity trumping control, though not without a few bumps in the road, here and I'm guessing in the days ahead.

I liked the world the author created. Part of my fear of science-fiction is a dread of too much technical detail in the writing, akin to reading a foreign language book while possessing no bilingual skills. Goldberg didn't bamboozle me with science and jargon and incomprehensible faff, but instead concentrated on the people in the story and their trials, while still exciting me with the power of his imagination. 

I'm definitely interested in reading the second in this series - Lemonworld when it drops. 

4 from 5

Lee Matthew Goldberg has been enjoyed before - The Ancestor, The Desire Card and a shorter offering - De/tached 

Read - March, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 312
Source - review copy from author
Format - paperback

Saturday, 10 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

With enough suspects to fill a stadium, Detective Jack Lisbon must race against time to find a cold and calculated killer.

A popular sports coach lies shattered on the road. The calculated hit-and-run murder sends shock waves through Yorkville.

After years of waiting, the struggling Scorpions basketball franchise is finally knocking on the door of its first ever championship title. The community of Yorkville is united behind the home team, spirits are high.

But with the playoffs in sight, their coach Dale Collins is mowed down in broad daylight. The killers leave no trace – no DNA, no prints, no clues, nothing. 

Ex-boxer DS Jack Lisbon and his partner DC Claudia Taylor must unravel dark secrets and long-standing grudges to peel back the layers of this baffling mystery. If those obstacles aren't enough, Jack has to battle his own personal demons that threaten to cripple him at every turn.

With the long list of suspects all harboring a motive, Detectives Lisbon and Taylor pull no punches to find the killers.

Justice served with a side order of vengeance.

The perfect pulsating novel for fans of Jo Nesbo and Ian Rankin.

Another enjoyable dose of Australian crime from Blair Denholm with a hit and run death - the victim a basketball coach - needing investigating by DS Jack Lisbon and underling Claudia Taylor.

I liked the back drop of basketball in the story, with all the possibilities that threw up for suspects .... disgruntled players, ex-players, failed trialists, his wife, his support team and the hierarchy at the club. Possible motives including thwarted career ambitions, professional jealousy, or a crime of passion.

I liked catching up with Lisbon and Taylor. I enjoy the dynamics of their relationship and that with their boss. Lisbon is attracted to Taylor and always seems a whisper away from doing something reckless and endangering to their relationship (and possibly his health). It's quite amusing to watch, especiallly as he has issues with anger control and impulsiveness. These sometimes comes to the fore when over-stepping boundaries during suspect interviews and arrests. He has a difficult relationship with alcohol as well. Foregoing it for weeks at a time, before succumbing big time to its allure.  

The setting revolves around the Scorpions, the local basketball team who are enjoying some rare success. Denholm builds the buzz around the team nicely into the story. There is the excitement of the games themselves, as well as the heightened interest in the team and the lift it gives the local community. I could relate, especially as I'm a fan of sport and follow a team. It's easy for emotions to be intrinsically linked into how well or badly your team is faring. 

Setting, characters, story, pace and outcome - all worked well for me here. I enjoy Denholm's writing with the insertion of some humor at times into the situations Lisbon finds himself in. I think these characters have legs. Hopefully he has plenty more Lisbon tales to tell in the future.

4 from 5

Read - April, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 264
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle

Friday, 9 April 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Old Dogs, Old Tricks introduces us to husband-and-wife private investigators Peddyr and Connie Quirk. They're sent undercover to probe the death of the resident of an exclusive retirement village.

Old Dogs, Old Tricks is by turns a classic whodunnit, laugh-out-loud funny, and rich in colourful characters.

Enjoyable introductory novella to author A B Morgan's husband and wife sleuthing team, Peddyr and Connie Quirk.

I found the setting of a retirement village interesting, not least because my wife is a House Manager at a similar establishment in Leighton Buzzard. Personal experience and anecdotary evidence from her, convinces me of the eccentricities of the older generation. both there and the ones found in this book.

Death, secrets, history, golf, cards, drinking, massage, community, friendships, alliances, bitchiness, hanky panky, an impatient client and after some loose lips and joined up thinking and research - answers.

Best book ever? No, but enough there to have me looking forward to more outings in the company of our double act. Hopefully I'll get around to the first full length novel featuring the pair - Over Her Dead Body - sooner rather than later.

Probably of a genter pace with a lot less action and violence encountered than in my usual reading. I can live with that.

3.5 from 5    

Read - April, 2021
Published - 2020
Page count - 106
Source - copy from publisher Hobeck Books
Format - Kindle

Thursday, 8 April 2021




Bruno Johnson, shaken to his core, is still a formidable force - he has an unrelenting focus on doing the right thing - and is unwilling to let anyone or anything stand in his way.

Pushed to his emotional limit, Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Bruno Johnson struggles to hold his family together while immersed in his unrelenting career. His daughter, Olivia, is a teen mom to twin toddlers; her common-law husband, Derek Sams, is a thug; and one of their little boys has disappeared under his care.

The overwhelming intensity demanded of Bruno on this personal level is compounded by the brutal shotgun murder of a superior court judge and his wife, both friends of his. Bruno cannot ignore these violent crimes even though he's supposedly off the law enforcement grid - undercover - working an illegal gun sting.

Tragedy strikes Bruno's life on all fronts: family, friends, and professional - however, none of these colossal forces can match the unthinkable catastrophe that will forever dominate Bruno's life.

Perfect for fans of Robert Crais and Michael Connelly.

I do like a catch up with an old friend, particularly if he is a cop who doesn't mind too much pushing the boundaries in pursuit of justice - in whatever form it might take. Bruno Johnson is great company. He possesses - street smarts, loyalty, bravery, hard-headedness, stupidity, intelligence, a nose for bullshit, a nose that is equally attuned to finding trouble and he has some pretty decent investigative skills.  

Author Dave Putnam must really hate him. Here he has a heavy load to deal with..... family issues - bereavement, loss; friendship issues - bereavement, loss; career issues - stagnant and after this one - heading south. 

Fast-paced, and exciting. Putnam serves up a busy book. Bruno is working as part of an undercover sting to snare criminals. In addition to trying to regain custody of his absent grandson, punish his dead daughter's boyfirend for his part in his other grandson's disappearance, and find out who killed his friends - a court judge and his wife. 

Lots of different strands and story elements. Lots of deception and lies as Bruno through necessity keeps secrets from his father and his partner Robby Wicks. Plenty of back story, as Bruno gets his father to open up about his mother, someone he has no real memories of.

Decent storyline, satifying resolution, enough action to keep me happy, but not mindless or over the top, all relevant and in the context of the story. Characters, I enjoy reading about. LA setting. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

4.5 from 5 

The seven previous Bruno Johnson books have all been enjoyed. 

I'm looking forward to the ninth!

Read - March, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 340
Source - review copy from author
Format - trade paperback ARC

Tuesday, 6 April 2021


More for my own amusement than anything else and a bit behind the times - 2021 Reading Plans

(note to self - find 2019 or 2020 post of same, copy and paste, change dates and images, job done)

Ambitious or more likely ridiculous setting reading plans for a whole year, when I can't stay on track for more than a book, maybe two before getting my head turned by something else. Oh well..

1. Finish an intended TBR Mountain reading challenge that's been on the sidebar since 2014. I have actually made progress on this with only one book to go.

2. Ditto a USA State reading challenge. I've probably read more than half the states in the country but am too idle to keep things up to date. I would like to finish it in 2019 - err, 2020, or even this year. More likely 2022


3. Catch up with my wife and son - I'm a list of books behind on the sidebar. So far behind I've not listed what they've read in the past couple of years that I haven't looked at.

4. Ditto - an author catch up list.... Charlie Stella, Anthony Neil Smith, Michael Connelly to mention a few...... probably 30 books to catch up on this sidebar irritation.

5. Try and complete several book series I started running through some years ago, at a pace of one a month before getting distracted - Matt Scudder by Lawrence Block, Travis McGee by John D. MacDonald, Elvis Cole by Robert Crais, Quarry by Max Allan Collins and Nameless by Bill Pronzini.

I might start these in the second half of the year and can at least dent them by 6 books in each.

6. Complete the 2019 European Reading Challenge run by Rose City Reader, aiming for at least 12 countries in the year. If I count the UK as four separate countries, I could feasibly get to 24 different European venues. Possibly rolling over to 2022 then.

7. More blog related than reading - finish cataloguing my books - the physical ones at least. I've been a bit slack regarding this! When I get caught up on my blog posts - I'm about a month behind I'll have to get back on the horse. 

I think I'm upto 86 tubs recorded with about 20 still to do - another 1000 books!

I might try and log the books on the kindle as well for a sense of completism. Plus I have another computer app that stores books on the laptop.

8. Try and keep on top of any freebies/review copies that might come my way. Probably not so many these days.

9. Stop browsing Net Galley and Edelweiss early reviewer sites. The world won't end if I don't get my hands on every new crime fiction book published! Try and get my percentage up on Net Galley from 39% to at least 50. Preferred feedback level is 80%.

10. Stop buying books or buy less books maybe.

11. Try and catch up on the TV and Film backlog listed.

12. I do have a somewhat ambitious goal of trying to read a complete Indie publishers output - All Due Respect. I bloody love them. I think since 2012/2013 they've published nearly 70 books. I've maybe read 20 of them give or take. I probably have 40 in the TBR pile. I just like what they do. So why not aim high?

I've created a page for All Due Respect so at least I have made a start.

13. 120 yearly reading target as per usual. I read about 190 last year, so maybe I ought to set my sights a biit higher

14. Read more female authors than in 2019/20 - I might need to actually find out how many that was first. 

15. Enjoy the books 



Expect 2022's Reading Plan post sometime May 2022.

Monday, 5 April 2021


 15 different films or shows, it's a wonder I managed to read anything in the month...

                                                           Big Fish (2003) - Film

Another family favourite re-visited during lockdown. Absolutely fantastic. I love Albert Finney in this and always enjoy watching Steve Buscemi.

From Google....

Will Bloom returns home to care for his dying father, who had a penchant for telling unbelievable stories. After he passes away, Will tries to find out if his tales were really true.

                                         Finding Alice (2021) - ITV Drama/comedy Series

Last couple of episodes watched and things kind of end with a few questions still unanswered. Not totally satisfying, not totally frustrating. I guess we're heading towards a second series.

From Google ....

For Alice, Harry and their daughter, Charlotte, moving into their new home should have been a dream come true, but it quickly turns into a nightmare when Alice discovers Harry dead at the bottom of the stairs. Harry designed the smart house, so it's weird and wonderful, and one more disorientation for Alice on top of her sense of loss and abandonment. Alice's beloved partner is no more, and now she can't find the fridge.

                                               You (2018) - TV Drama Series (Netflix)

One I started watching with my wife and daughter. Really enjoyed the first episode, but my interest has waned over the the next two or three episodes watched. Just a bit too slow for my liking. Undecided on whether to keep going or not. I must admit I had hoped it was set around the book by Zoran Drvenkar, but I got that wrong.

You is an American psychological thriller television series developed by Greg Berlanti and Sera Gamble. Produced by Warner Horizon Television, in association with Alloy Entertainment and A&E Studios, the first season is based on the 2014 novel by Caroline Kepnes and follows Joe Goldberg, a New York bookstore manager and serial killer who falls in love with a customer named Guinevere Beck and quickly develops an extreme, toxic, and delusional obsession. The second season follows Joe as he moves to Los Angeles and falls in love with local heiress Love Quinn. The first season, which was released in 2018, stars Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Luca Padovan, Zach Cherry, and Shay Mitchell. For the second season, Ambyr Childers was upgraded to a series regular, joining newly cast Victoria Pedretti, James Scully, Jenna Ortega, and Carmela Zumbado.

The series premiered on Lifetime on September 9, 2018, in the United States and streaming on Netflix internationally on December 26, 2018. The series attracted a limited audience on Lifetime before becoming more popular and a critical success for Netflix, with over 43 million viewers having streamed the first season after its debut on the streaming service. Lifetime announced that You had been renewed for a second season based on Kepnes' follow-up novel Hidden Bodies, on July 26, 2018, ahead of the series premiere. In December 2018, it was announced that the series would move to Netflix as a Netflix Original title. The second season was released exclusively on Netflix on December 26, 2019. In January 2020, the series was renewed for a third season by Netflix, which is set to be released in 2021, with Badgley and Pedretti both reprising their roles.

                                                  Escape From Pretoria (2020) - Film

I do like a prison break film. Even better if it based on a true story. Daniel Radcliffe is very good as one of the main leads. So is the rest of the cast, though I'm not quite so familiar with them.

From Google ....

Two white South Africans, imprisoned for working on behalf of the African National Congress, are determined to escape from the notorious Pretoria Prison.

                                     Unbelievable (2019) - TV Drama Miniseries (Netflix)

Probably one of the most powerful, affecting dramas I've seen in a good while. Some fantastic police work links a series of previously unconnected rapes to one likely predator. We follow the detectives and some of the victim's stories. One of the victim's lives prior to her rape was pretty crap anyway. A life in care, bounced from one foster family to another, with limited support. She is targeted and raped and incredibly, the police refuse to believe her and she is prosecuted for making up false allegations. A charge she has to plead guilty to because of the jeopardy she might find herself in should she choose to fight it. Absolutely heart-breaking what she went through. The other victim's stories are tough to follow as well. I was amazed at their strength and resilience to see things through to their day in court.

Fantastic performances throughout. In particular the cops - Toni Collette and Merritt Wever and two of the victims portrayed by Kaitlyn Dever and Danielle Macdonald

From Wikipedia ...

Unbelievable is an American true crime television miniseries starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever. It is about a series of rapes in Washington State and Colorado. The show was co-created by Susannah Grant, Ayelet Waldman, and Michael Chabon. All three co-creators and Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, and Katie Couric were executive producers. It was released on September 13, 2019, on Netflix.

The miniseries is based on the 2015 news article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape", written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and their 2018 book A False Report based on the same research. The series received critical acclaim.

                                                              Hope Gap (2019) - Film

Strife in an older couple's marriage as he falls out of love, tired of being taken for granted and treated pretty abysmally by his wife. She might want to repent, but the horse has bolted. Bill Nighy and Annette Bening. I quite enjoyed it. The two leads were very good, as was the son, previously seen in The Durrells - Josh O'Connor.

From Google ....

Grace lives an idyllic life in a British seaside town, but her world soon comes crashing down when her husband of 29 years tells her he's leaving her for another woman. Through stages of shock, disbelief and anger -- and with support from her son -- Grace ultimately regains her footing while learning it's never too late to be happy.

                                         Unforgotten Season 4 (2021) - ITV Drama Series

Bloody hell. Four episodes in out of six total. Cops investigating cops. When this one is done I'll be trying to track down the first three series.

From Wikipedia....

Unforgotten is a British crime drama television series, which initially aired on ITV on 8 October 2015. It is written by creator Chris Lang and directed by Andy Wilson. The programme follows two London detectives, DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar), as they solve cold cases of disappearance and murder.

Each series consists of six episodes. Series 1 to 4 were broadcast in the UK in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2021 respectively. On 30 March 2021, ITV announced that there will be a fifth series and that actor Sanjeev Bhaskar has already been reconfirmed to appear.

Each series deals with a new case, introducing seemingly unconnected characters who are gradually revealed to have some relationship with the victim. As the murder mystery unfolds, the emotional ramifications of the crime are also explored in the lives of those affected.

Unforgotten has received critical acclaim, with Tom Courtenay winning the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actor for the first series and Mark Bonnar winning the 2017 BAFTA Scotland for Best Actor in Television for the second series

                                                               Us (2019) - Film

An ok horror film, as the shadows rise up from the darkness under the earth and battle their normal above ground doppelgangers. All the fall out from an incident at a funfair-cum-carnival years ago.

From Google...

Adelaide Wilson and her family are attacked by mysterious figures dressed in red. Upon closer inspection, the Wilsons realise that the intruders are exact lookalikes of them.

                                                        Saving Zoe (2019) - Film

Enjoyable thriller about a girl trying to come to terms with her sister's suspicious death.

From Google ....

One year after the murder of her sister, a freshman in high school uncovers the truth about her secret life by reading her diary.

                                                       Deadly Illusions (2021) - Film

And another enjoyable thriller which truth be told was slightly confusing. I had a hard time deciding what was real and what was a delusion. I do like Kristin Davis though.

From Google....

Deadly Illusions is a 2021 American thriller drama film written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James and starring Kristin Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Greer Grammer, and Shanola Hampton.

                                                      Hearts in Atlantis (2001) - Film

Cracking film, and one that must have passed me by 20 years ago. Anthony Hopkins is excellent as are the young cast. Off to track down the Stephen King book.

From Wikipedia ....

Hearts in Atlantis is a 2001 mystery drama film directed by Scott Hicks and starring Anthony Hopkins and Anton Yelchin. It is loosely adapted from Stephen King's Dark Tower tie-in Low Men in Yellow Coats, a novella in the 1999 collection Hearts in Atlantis after which the film was named.

The film is dedicated to cinematographer Piotr Sobociński, who died of a heart attack a few months before the release.

*Spoiler alert 


Middle-aged photographer and businessman Robert "Bobby" Garfield returns to his old hometown upon learning that his best friend, decorated soldier John "Sully" Sullivan has died in a traffic accident and begins recollecting his past when he visits an abandoned house where he used to live. During a summer in the 1960s, an eleven-year old Bobby lives with his widowed mother, self-centered Liz Garfield, and has two friends, Carol Gerber and Sully. They experienced many things together, the most mysterious of which was meeting an older gentleman named Ted Brautigan, whom Liz takes in as a boarder.

Ted takes the lonely Bobby under his wing, while his mother is busy with her job . The two form a paternal father-son bond, and it slowly becomes evident that Ted has some psychic and telekinetic powers. These same powers are the reason that Brautigan has come to this sleepy town. In due course Ted entrusts Bobby with the knowledge that he has escaped the grasp of the "Low Men", strange people who would stop at nothing to get him back in their control.

After reading Bobby's mind and realizing that the boy dreams of owning a bicycle; Ted kindly offers Bobby $1 a week in exchange for his reading a newspaper out loud. Bobby quickly figures out that Ted has some other purpose in mind. Mysteriously, Ted asks Bobby to keep an eye on the neighborhood looking for any signs of the "low men", like announcements about missing pets. Bobby sees one, but does not tell Ted, afraid to lose his new friend.

Bobby, Carol and John have frequent conflicts with the local town bully, Harry Doolin, whom Ted is able to scare away by looking into his mind and finding out that his violence is used to cover up the fact that he is secretly a cross-dresser. However, at one point, Harry harasses and injures Carol, and when Ted manipulates her dislocated shoulder into place, Liz arrives, after being raped by her boss, and mistakenly believes that Ted is a child molester. She is confronted by Ted's ability to tell her the truth about what she has been through, and how her behavior is affecting her relationship with her son, providing another reason that Ted must leave. That and the "low men" are closing in on him.

Ted is eventually captured with the help of a tip from Liz. As some form of closure, Ted yells to Bobby as he is being driven away that he wouldn't have missed a moment "not for all the world", and later Bobby mirrors the same feelings. Bobby is later confronted by Harry but Bobby grabs the latter's baseball bat and beats him with it. Liz later finds a new job in Boston and moves the family there. Before he leaves, Bobby and Carol say their goodbyes and share a final kiss.

Returning to the present, Bobby turns to leave his old home wherein he meets a young girl named Molly. The two strike up a conversation wherein Molly reveals that she is Carol's daughter and that Carol died in recent years. Bobby gives Molly a photograph of a young Carol and the two become friends.

                                                 Conspiracy Theory (1997) - DVD Film

One I watched years ago and enjoyed. I could only vaguely remember bits as they were happening, second time around. Tense, exciting, good fun. It was enjoyable watching Mel Gibson, back in the days before he felt he had to irritate everyone. Julia Roberts is pretty damn good - quelle surprise!

From Rotten Tomatoes ...

New York City cabbie Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) is an expert on paranoid conspiracy theories. He is also infatuated with government lawyer Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), who permits his attention because he once rescued her from a mugging. However, when Jerry is captured and put through psychotic tests by Dr. Jonas (Patrick Stewart), he realizes there is an actual conspiracy. After escaping, Jerry enlists Alice's help, but she wonders whether he has uncovered a real threat or is just insane.

                                                           Grace (2021) - ITV Drama

Really enjoyable, one-off episode. Apparently there is a second coming at some point. I think I read the first in Peter James' Grace series years ago - so long ago it probably doesn't count. I ought to re-visit it. I do like John Simm ...... The Lakes, Life on Mars, Mad Dogs

From Google ...

Written by the critically-acclaimed screenwriter, Russell Lewis, this adaptation of the bestseller by Peter James stars John Simm. Following the Brighton-based Detective Roy Grace who has hit rock-bottom in his life. His wife Sandy disappeared 6 years ago and he spends all his time investigating cold cases. Meanwhile, his different ways of working are being questioned by his bosses, risking his job. Things change when his colleague Detective Glenn Branson asks for his help on a difficult case.

                                        Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - DVD Film

A first time for me, third I think for my wife. Never watched any of the previous adaptations before, nor read the book so it was a surprise. I quite enjoyed it. A stellar cast. I'm looking forward to Death on the Nile whenever it's released and assuming we get back to a post-Covid kind of normal.

From Wikipedia ....

Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 American mystery thriller film directed by Kenneth Branagh with a screenplay by Michael Green, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. The film stars Branagh as Hercule Poirot, with Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley in supporting roles. The film is the fourth screen adaptation of Christie's novel, following the 1974 film, a 2001 TV film version, and a 2010 episode of the television series Agatha Christie's Poirot. The plot follows Poirot, a world-renowned detective, as he investigates a murder on the luxury Orient Express train service in the 1930s.

                                             Briarpatch (2019) - TV Drama Series

Halfway through this 10 episode series and I'm a bit puzzled as to where it's going. At least I can read the book of the same name if I get to the end and I'm still confused. Hopefully it all becomes clearer in the second half of the series. It probably has inspired me to tap into a Ross Thomas book soon.

From Wikipedia ...

Briarpatch is an American television series starring Rosario Dawson based on the 1984 Ross Thomas novel of the same name. The series was picked up in late January 2019 by USA Network, after being ordered to pilot in April 2018.

In advance of its broadcast premiere, several episodes of the series received a preview screening in the Primetime program of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

The series premiered on February 6, 2020. On July 17, 2020, the series was canceled after one season.


When Detective Felicity Dill is killed in a car bombing, her sister Allegra Dill, an investigator working for a senator, returns home to San Bonifacio to find her killer. In the process of her investigation, she uncovers a web of corruption in the small Texas town.

Sunday, 4 April 2021


 A bit of film, a bit more TV.....

                                       Manifest - Season 2 (2020) - TV Drama series

One I think the family enjoyed a lot more than me. I quite liked the first season, but my interest was waning from about halfway through the second series, which is 13 episodes long. I think the main characters irritate me, with the repetitive conferences every episode about their visions or callings. Whether they are a power for good, or evil or in my case total indifference. Zzzzz..... deal me out if there's a 3rd.

From Wikipedia....

Manifest is an American supernatural drama television series, created by Jeff Rake, that premiered on September 24, 2018, on NBC. The series centers on the passengers and crew of a commercial airliner who suddenly reappear after being presumed dead for more than five years. It stars Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J. R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, Parveen Kaur, and Matt Long. In October 2018, NBC ordered an additional three episodes of the series, bringing the first season total up to 16 episodes.

                                                       American Animals (2018) - Film

Comedy, crime, docu-drama based on a real story and inter-cut with interviews from the actual participants. Evan Peters (American Horror) stars. I really enjoyed it.

From Google....

In an attempt to perform a brave robbery, four young men, Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen, decide to steal valuable books from the school's library.

                                                       My Sister's Keeper (2009) - Film

A second viewing of a powerful film watched many years ago. It's a tough watch in a lot of places. Not too many things worse than watching your child destroyed by cancer, I reckon. Cameron Diaz is very good.

From Google ....

Anna, a young girl, seeks a lawyer's help to earn medical emancipation from her parents when they force her to donate organs, blood and tissue to her leukaemia-stricken elder sister and help her live.

                                                       Lupin (2021) - TV Drama Series (Netflix)

A five part series on Netflix. The last episode watched and enjoyed. I really enjoyed it, though I haven't been tempted to chase down any books. Thanks to Nigel Bird for the tip-off. Sign me up if there is a second series.

From Google ...

A retelling of the classic French story about Arsène Lupin, the world-famous gentleman thief and master of disguise.

                                                     North by Northwest (1959) - Film

Recorded when it aired over the Christmas period and watched a while afterwards. How cool is Cary Grant? Good-looking, stylish, elegant..... all the things I'm not. I enjoyed the film, the stand-out moment was Grant's behaviour at the auction. Comedy gold.

From Wikipedia ....

North by Northwest is a 1959 American spy thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason. The screenplay was by Ernest Lehman, who wanted to write "the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures".

North by Northwest is a tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle out microfilm which contains government secrets. This is one of several Hitchcock films which feature a music score by Bernard Herrmann and an opening title sequence by graphic designer Saul Bass, and it is generally cited as the first to feature extended use of kinetic typography in its opening credits.

North by Northwest is listed among the canonical Hitchcock films of the 1950s and is often listed among the greatest films of all time. It was selected in 1995 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

                                                                  Holes (2003) - Film

My absolute favourite film from when my kids were growing up. I can't remember how many times we watched it. I think I liked it more than them to be honest. A perfect remedy for some Lockdown - not going out blues.

It's got Henry Winkler, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette (loved her in Medium) and Jon Voight. Voight is hilarious in this. I don't find him quite so funny in real life, I'm afraid. 

From Wikipedia ....

Holes is a 2003 American adventure comedy film directed by Andrew Davis and written by Louis Sachar, based on his novel of the same name, which was originally published in August 1998. The film stars Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LaBeouf.

The film was co produced by Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures, and distributed in many markets by the distribution company by Disney, Buena Vista.

Holes was released in the United States on April 18, 2003, and earned $71.4 million worldwide. It was later released on DVD and VHS on September 23, 2003, by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Walt Disney Home Entertainment. The film is dedicated to Scott Plank, who played Trout Walker, who died in a car accident six months before the film's release, in October 2002.

                                         Finding Alice (2021) - ITV Drama/comedy Series

A six part drama which we kind of kept pace with as aired, once a week. Probably 3 or 4 episodes were watched in the month. Funny, sad, ridiculous, and a little bit disturbing. 

Sudden bereavement is a tough watch at any time, regardless of the black humor which can be wrung from it. You feel Alice's bewilderment and pain, exacerbated by some of the secrets her husband had been keeping from her. Keeley Hawes as Alice is fantastic. Nigel Havers is her dad. He's still an incredibly good looking man and doesn't appear to have aged at all in the past thrity years. Joanna Lumley is an absolute bitch as his wife and Alice's mum.

From Google ....

For Alice, Harry and their daughter, Charlotte, moving into their new home should have been a dream come true, but it quickly turns into a nightmare when Alice discovers Harry dead at the bottom of the stairs. Harry designed the smart house, so it's weird and wonderful, and one more disorientation for Alice on top of her sense of loss and abandonment. Alice's beloved partner is no more, and now she can't find the fridge.

                                                  Bloodlands (2021) - BBC Drama Series

One episode of three watched. I made an innocent remark about how a Twitter friend thought there were more than a few plot holes in the set-up, which I mentioned to the gang. They took that as a green light to watch the rest of the series without me. I guess I'll have to try and catch up on my own. BTW I agreed with the observation. I do like the backdrop and setting to the story .... Northern Ireland, Paramilitaries, the peace process, dark doings.

From Google ....

When a former IRA man is abducted, DCI Tom Brannick is forced to confront an assassin who haunts his past, in order to crackthe investigation in the present.

Saturday, 3 April 2021


 No cinema but a few cracking films in the month....

                                               Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) - Film

Love a bit of Clint. Not a massive fan of Shirley. She was alright in this though. I might have seen this one way way back. Still I enjoyed it.

From Google...

When gunslinger Hogan (Clint Eastwood) discovers a group of men attempting to rape a young nun, Sara (Shirley MacLaine), he shoots them dead and rescues the woman. The two escape to a nearby camp of Mexican revolutionaries, who have hired Hogan to help fight the invading French army. En route, Sara turns out to be surprisingly crude for a nun, drinking, smoking and using curse words. When she also proves to be handy with a gun, Hogan begins wondering if she is telling him the whole truth.

                                                     Game Night (2018) - Film


From Google....

When Max and Annie play a harmless murder mystery game with Max's brother Brooks and some friends, things begin to take surprising twists and turns as not all is what it seems to be.

                                                  Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015) - Film

Not as funny as the original. Not many comedy sequels are. An okay watch. A bit lame.

From IMDB....

After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Las Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

                                                   Hidden Figures (2016) - Film

Interesting, educational, entertaining. Very, very good.

From Google....

Three female African-American mathematicians play a pivotal role in astronaut John Glenn's launch into orbit. Meanwhile, they also have to deal with racial and gender discrimination at work.

                                                 Lupin (2021) - TV Drama Series (Netflix)

A five part series on Netflix. The first four watched and enjoyed. I liked it, though I haven't been tempted to chase down any books. Thanks to Nigel Bird for the tip-off.

From Google ...

A retelling of the classic French story about Arsène Lupin, the world-famous gentleman thief and master of disguise.

                                                             Le Mans (1971) - Film

Quite enjoyed it. Has the feel of a documentary in places. Very tense scene concerning the countdown to the start of the race.

From Wikipedia...

Le Mans is a 1971 film depicting a fictional 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race starring Steve McQueen and directed by Lee H. Katzin. It features actual footage captured during the 1970 race held the previous June.

*Spoiler alert

Top flight Le Mans racing driver Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen) spots former rival Piero Belgetti's widow Lisa (Elga Andersen) buying flowers in the days before the race; he then drives to the scene of the accident which killed her husband the previous year. He has a flashback of Belgetti losing control of his Ferrari, forcing him to crash as well.

Like many others, Lisa appears to feel Delaney was responsible, at least in part, for the accident. At the race she is understandably downcast while working through her emotions. In an awkward scene, Delaney looks for a place to sit in a nearly full track commissary, only to ask Lisa if he may join her. There is obvious tension between them, but also respect and a hint of mutual attraction.

After 13 hours of racing, Erich Stahler (Siegfried Rauch) spins his Ferrari 512 at Indianapolis Corner, causing teammate Claude Aurac (Luc Merenda) to veer off the track in a major accident. Momentarily distracted by the flames of Aurac's car, Delaney reacts too late to safely avoid a slower car, striking the guardrail and then bouncing several times across the road, striking the guardrails on each side of the road multiple times, totaling his Porsche 917. Both survive, but Aurac's injuries are extensive and he is medevaced to a hospital by helicopter. Lisa appears at the track clinic where Delaney is briefly treated. She is distraught at his crash, which stirs up emotions from Piero's passing she had been seeking to put in the past. Delaney consoles her and rescues her from a horde of reporters. After he puts her in a waiting car, a journalist asks Delaney whether his and Aurac's accident can be compared to the one with Belgetti in the previous year's race. Delaney merely stares him down.

Porsche driver Johann Ritter senses that his wife, Anna, would like for him to quit racing. He suggests it, thinking she will be overjoyed. She demurs and says she would like it only if he likes it. He chides her a bit about not being entirely honest. Later the decision is taken out of his hands when team manager David Townsend (Ronald Leigh-Hunt) replaces him for not being quick enough on the track. Anna tries to comfort him, reminding him that he was planning to quit anyway.

Lisa goes to Delaney's trailer to talk with him. After his brush with death she is even more drawn to him and despairs that he may meet the same fate as her husband, but Delaney finds the thrill too addictive to quit. Townsend enters and asks him to take over driving Ritter's car. After a moment's unspoken communion with Lisa, he follows Townsend who tells him "Michael, I want you to drive flat out. I want Porsche to win Le Mans."

In the closing minutes of the race the two Porsches and their rival Ferraris vie for the win, with Delaney in the #21 car and teammate Larry Wilson in #22. The Ferrari leading the race retires due to a flat tire, leaving Wilson in the lead and only Delaney's archrival, Stahler, to contend with. The faster pair quickly catches Wilson. Delaney passes Stahler for second place.

Slower traffic in his lane forces Delaney to brake, allowing Stahler to overtake on the left. Delaney drafts the German, then both move alongside Wilson. Delaney then takes actions that seem intended to guarantee a 1–2 Porsche win rather than going for first himself. Rather than try to pass Wilson, then possibly Stahler, Delaney switches to the right lane and drafts Wilson allowing both to pull up with Stahler. Then for good measure he bumps Stahler twice. When Stahler tries to pass again Delaney steers toward him, looking likely to bump Stahler again and send him into the guard rail, forcing him to throttle back and brake to avoid that outcome thus ensuring the desired 1–2 win for Porsche.

                                         Bridgerton (2020) - TV Drama Series (Netflix)

Not usually a massive fan of the historic, costume drama of  the 'who stole my tankard' ilk and I probably only had three quarters of an eye on this one. I suppose what I found odd was the lack of racism on screen. Would the black characters not have been subjected to it? We supposedly live in more enlightened times and it's still prevalent today unfortunately. Maybe it was there and I missed it.

From Google....

During the Regency era in England, eight close-knit siblings of the powerful Bridgerton family attempt to find love.

                                                A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - Film

Another hit of Clint

From Wikipedia ....

A Fistful of Dollars (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari, lit. 'For a Fistful of Dollars' titled on-screen as Fistful of Dollars) is a 1964 Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood in his first leading role, alongside John Wells, Marianne Koch, W. Lukschy, S. Rupp, Jose Calvo, Antonio Prieto, and Joe Edger. The film, an international co-production between Italy, West Germany, and Spain, was filmed on a low budget (reported to be $200,000), and Eastwood was paid $15,000 for his role.

Released in Italy in 1964 and then in the United States in 1967, it initiated the popularity of the Spaghetti Western genre. It was followed by For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, also starring Eastwood. Collectively, the films are known as the "Dollars Trilogy", or the "Man with No Name Trilogy" after the United Artists publicity campaign referred to Eastwood's character in all three films as the "Man with No Name". All three films were later released in sequence in the United States in 1967, catapulting Eastwood into stardom. The film has been identified as an unofficial remake of the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (1961), which resulted in a successful lawsuit by Toho, Yojimbo's production company.

As few Spaghetti Westerns had yet been released in the United States, many of the European cast and crew took on American-sounding stage names. These included Leone himself ("Bob Robertson"), Gian Maria Volonté ("Johnny Wels"), and composer Ennio Morricone ("Dan Savio"). A Fistful of Dollars was shot in Spain, mostly near Hoyo de Manzanares close to Madrid, but also (like its two sequels) in the Tabernas Desert and in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, both in the province of Almería.

                                                          Road House (1989) - Film

An enjoyable re-watch with my daughters 30 years after seeing it first time. Plenty of action, a few laughs. What's not to like?

From Google....

A legendary bouncer comes to restore order at a notorious bar but runs afoul of a ruthless crime boss who controls the town. The stage is set for an action-packed showdown.