Wednesday 28 April 2021


 Another dirty half dozen into the collection....

David Downing - Wedding Station (2021) - review copy from publisher, Old Street Publishing

A series I have been meaning to try for a while.


Berlin, February 1933. John Russell watches the Reichstag burn, but it's no scoop, even for a crime reporter. Four weeks after Hitler's accession, brownshirt mobs stalk the streets and the press prints what the Party tells it. Russell, a former communist with a British passport, should be packing his bags, but while family ties bind him. Meanwhile, his assignments draw him closer to the savage heart of the new regime -- and the story that only ends one way.

                                                 Chris Miller - Dust (2020) - purchased copy

One of a series of nine Splatter-Westerns, whatever they are. I expect I'll find out soon.

1879: An unknown and timeless evil descends on East Texas. James Dee, bestowed with knowledge from beyond, moves through time and space, pursuing age-old horrors and ending their reign. As he seeks the hidden town of Dust to continue his lifework, another is hot on his heels, and will stop at nothing to rip the divine knowledge from Dee.As these opposing forces collide, Dee becomes both hero and villian in his quest against the Elders.He doesn't have time to be sorry--THERE ARE GODS TO KILL

(All Splatter Western books are stand-alone stories. Read them in whatever order you please!)

                Jay Bonansinga - Saint Oswald (2021) - review copy via Net Galley 

Hit-man novel, what's not to like?

Oswald Means has had a tough life. Being a low level hit-man for the Chicago mob was not his first choice of career, and yes, the occasional phantoms of his victims do bother him. But being married to Matilda, the love of his life, has kept him going. Now her cancer has caught up to her and their time together is up.

Oswald had always kept his job a secret from his wife: she’s a free spirit with a spiritual side, and would be horrified if she knew. But to his shock, as she lies dying she tells him that she knows what he does. And that her dying vision is that they can only be together in the afterlife if Oswald saves as many lives as he has taken. Oswald is devastated at the thought of losing her for eternity. And he doesn’t even know how many targets he’s hit.

So, Oswald makes a plan to save people. He has a few false starts: - dealing with people who may or may not want to be saved - that lead to darkly comic confrontations on bridges and rooftops. But then he gets a great idea, an idea that might solve all his hit-man problems . . . .

            Lawrence Block - After Thoughts: Version 2.0 (2021) - purchased copy

I'd read his shopping list and have a great time..... 

Lawrence Block on AFTERTHOUGHTS 2.0:

AFTERTHOUGHTS began in 2011, when I first began self-publishing titles from my voluminous backlist. I packed it with forewords and afterwords and essays and articles about the work, and arranged for its distribution as an ebook. Here's what the publisher had to day about it at the time:

"In a career spanning more than fifty years, Lawrence Block has produced more than one hundred books, ranging in genre from hard-boiled detective stories to pseudonymous erotica. Collected here for the first time are more than forty-five afterwords from the works that made him a master of modern fiction. Each afterword is an insightful reflection on the experiences that have brought Block’s fiction to life, from the lessons he learned as a reader at a literary agency to the unlikely—and semi-autobiographical—origins of the acclaimed Matthew Scudder series. Witty and inspiring, Afterthoughts is a must-read for Block fans and mystery lovers alike."

The book was well-received. Then, five years later, my relationship with an online publisher had run its course, and the useful little book went out of print. I kept thinking I ought to do something about it, but I kept finding other things to do.

Now I've finally put in the hours to update and expand it, and I've called the result AFTERTHOUGHTS: VERSION 2.0. I think you'll find it at least intermittently informative and entertaining, and hope it may lead you to make the acquaintance of some of my less familiar work.

  Craig S. Zahler - The Slanted Gutter (2021) - review copy from Net Galley

Looks like my cup of tea.

Take a roller coaster ride through the gutter in this gripping pull-no-punches thriller from S. Craig Zahler

He knows what you'll do - including what you'll sacrifice for protection.

Darren Tasking is an entrepreneur whose business is people, and when it comes to people he specializes in risk, pleasure, and fear.

He knows what will break you - before you even feel a second of pain.

Tasking has everything and everyone, in his orbit, under control. If there's something he wants he will alter your life, elaborately and maliciously, until you yield to his wishes.

He knows what makes the Machos tick - and how to keep them in the dark.

The police tried to keep Tasking down with their macho modus operandi, sent him away long ago, but they couldn't keep him incarcerated forever. Now he's older, uncommonly careful, and keeps the machos oblivious to his enterprises. But when he meets a dancer named Erin Green at the Cherry Red strip club everything changes.

He knows the streets of Great Crown, Florida can only be dominated by the remorseless insights of a relentless slick like him.

The brothels and gambling parlors secreted behind iron doors keep the slick autonomous and successful, but Erin proves to be the variable that could put him on a collision course with unrepentant sadists, machos, and a trap created by the slick's own extortionist machinations.

The Slanted Gutter is a devastating character study painted with the darkest shades of noir, penned by a hand as unflinching as Tasking's steely-eyed pursuit of his large dollar goal, as unforgiving on the reader as those who seek retribution against the slick for his nocturnal misdeeds.

Step into this gutter at your own risk.

Chip Jacobs - The Darkest Glare (2021) - review copy via Edelweiss - Above the Treeline

A bit of true crime for a change.

Late-seventies Los Angeles was rampant with killers and shady characters, but all the go-getters at Space Matters saw was possibility. Richard Kasparov was handsome and charismatic; his younger associate, Jerry Schneiderman, brilliant and nerdy. When the pair hired a veteran contractor to oversee construction, the space planning firm they operated out of a hip mansion in LA’s Miracle Mile district appeared poised to transform the boundless skyline into their jackpot.

After the promising team imploded, however, the orderly lines on their blueprints succumbed to treachery and secrets. To get even, one of the ex-partners launched a murder-for-profit corporation using, among other peculiar sorts, a bantam-sized epileptic with a deadeye shot and a cross-dressing sidekick. The hapless criminals required a comical number of attempts to execute their first target. Once they did, on a rainy night in the San Fernando Valley, the surviving founder of Space Matters was thrown into a pressure cooker existence out of a Coen Brothers movie. Threatened for money he didn’t have, he donned a disguise, survived a heart-pounding encounter at the La Brea Tar Pits, and relied on an ex-Israeli mercenary for protection. In the end, he had to outfox a glowering murderer, while asking if you can ever really know anyone in a town where dirty deals send men to their graves.

In The Darkest Glare, Chip Jacobs recounts a spectacular, noir-ish, true-crime saga from one of the deadliest eras in American history. You’ll never gaze out windows into the dark again.


  1. Some nice additions there, Col. Like you, I'd read just about anything Lawrence Block wrote, so that one got my attention right away. And although I'm not always one to reach for a hit-man novel, Saint Oswald interests me, too. It sounds like an interesting take on the theme.

    1. Good reading times ahead, Margot I think.

  2. I read the first book by Downing in that series. And have the second. I don't usually care for prequels, but it might work well as an introduction.

    Afterthoughts version 2 by Block sounds interesting.

    1. I have some of the Downing series too, but hadn't tried them. I've since read Wedding Station and really enjoyed it.

      I think I'll enjoy Afterthoughts 2 as well.