Friday 30 July 2021


 A couple of New York cop novels from the 90s and author Ed Dee.

Ed Dee went on to write a couple more novels in his Ryan and Gregory series - Little Boy Blue and Nightbird, as well as a standalone, The Con Man's Daughter. This last book was published in 2003. He's been quiet since. 

14 Peck Slip (1994)

'It happened to cops all the time; guys work all night, sleep all day. They lose track of wives, kids, days, months, lies they've told, bars they can't get back into, women they've screwed, stories about them that aren't true...'

Once in a generation a novel delves into the world of lies and truths that only cops and criminal know. This remarkable novel, about two NYPD partners' search for the killers of a fellow policeman ten years before, can be compared to the best of Joseph Wambaugh, Robert Daley and William Caunitz. From raising a body out of the swirling, dark East River to questioning a barmaid in the Bronx, from stake-outs to shoot-outs, former NYC detective Ed Dee has written an extraordinary mystery, a haunting evocation of a cop's life, and an explosive tale of men and violence that will not soon be forgotten.

Bronx Angel (1995)

While New York City digs out from a freak April snowstorm a young officer is found dead in the Bronx, his throat slashed. Nearby a crowd has gathered. Not to witness the murder scene, but to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary on an icy wall.

Anthony Ryan and his partner, the glad-handing flawed, and brilliant Joe Gregory, are working out of police headquarters. In the frigid, miraculous Bronx the death of a policeman will bring heavy heat from the brass, who want the case closed quickly and quietly, and from street level cops, who want revenge. But Ryan and Gregory have both survived too much alcohol, too much violence, and too much departmental politics to lose their cool.

Retracing the last hours of the dead cop's life, Ryan and Gregory move through a world of streetwalkers on their "strolls" and transvestites who gather at steamy after-hours clubs. Yet every turn they take brings the two men back to the NYPD: to a tough-talking cop and his hard, blonde girlfriend.

Doing a job that gets in the way of a life, Ryan decides to shake loose a nest of crooks with badges, even as his wife packs his suitcase for a trip to Delaware, where their daughter is getting married for the third time. Back in New York, he and Gregory will have to face the men they've nailed, the pain they've caused, and the one piece of the puzzle that still hasn't been found.

BRONX ANGEL is a riveting murder story and a gritty, authentic portrait of a "cop's knowledge" - the knowledge that tells you how to decipher a murder scene, how to beat a traffic jam, and what lies to tell your commanding officer or wife.

From the late night talk in cop bars to the haunting sounds from the spectacle of a battered homeless man who lives to fight policemen to the fresh-faced young recruits in sweatshirts and jeans, BRONX ANGEL, weaves together an unforgettable portrait of men and women on the job - and the dangerous games that sometimes make them heroes, sometimes make them dirty, and sometimes get them killed.

Thursday 29 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

The Most Elusive Assassin in the World Versus D.C. Homicide Detective Marko Zorn

Washington, D.C. homicide detective Marko Zorn is investigating the murder of an actress—an old love—when he is assigned to protect the visiting prime minister of Montenegro, the beautiful Nina Voychek.

Political enemies are planning her assassination—this, he knows—but now it's apparent that he, too, is a target. As he foils the initial attempts on his life, he pulls out all stops—deploying his sometimes nefarious resources—to hunt whoever is targeting him and prevent an international tragedy on American soil.

Decoded messages, Supermax prisoner interviews, mafia lawyers, and an ancient Black Mountain curse swirl among the icons of D.C. Marko and his young partner, Lucy, face down what may be multiple assassins with diverging agendas. Or are they facing one assassin—the deadliest and most elusive on the international stage?

Another new-to-me author in Otho Eskin and his second Marko Zorn thriller, Head Shot. The first, The Reflecting Pool was published last year.

I like reading books with a political context and here we have the internal politics of Montenegro playing out in Washington with a proposed assassination of the visiting prime minister. A successful hit, and power will return to the brother of the previous regime's leader. Marko Zorn bears some responsibility for said leader's death having set up him for some discontented Montengran exiles to deal with. If the assassin can get even with Zorn as well as take down the PM, all the better. Zorn has been seconded from his normal duties to assist with the PM's protection team.  

In addition, Zorn is involved in the death of a celebrity actress and one of his former lovers in a kind of locked room mystery.

D.C. setting which I liked. Two for one in the investigation stakes with two cases to figure out - one to solve, one to avert. Interesting back drop with some Eastern European shenanigans and the shadow of big brother Russia interfering. 

I enjoyed it overall. The main character in addition to his police work does some off the records, cloak and dagger stuff to fund his lifestyle. I didn't quite understand all the ins and outs of his shadowy sideline. Possibly reading the first in the series might have set me up better to enjoy this one. I'll come at it ass backwards and get to it one day.

Both dramas are resolved satisfactorily. We get the murderer of the former lover and the Montenegran PM lives to fight another day. As does Marko.

Nothing especially amazing or memorable here and neither was there anything annoying or objectionable. It was an okay book, one which passed some time and entertained me before my next book. Nothing wrong with it at all. No nails were shredded in the excitement, neither did I fall off the edge of my seat. I wasn't sent to sleep either.

3 from 5  

Read - July, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 352
Source - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline review site
Format - Kindle

Wednesday 28 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

Del's a small time crook with a moral conscience-robbing convenience stores only for tuition and academic expenses. Brash and sassy Louise goes from being a holdup victim to Del's lover and accomplice. All they want is a fresh start, an honest life, and a chance to build a family together, but fate conspires to put ever-steeper challenges in their path-and escalating temptations, too. A real estate scam in recession-blighted Southern California. A wine heist in Napa Valley. A Vegas wedding chapel holdup. A kidnapping in an oil-rich North Dakota boomtown. Can Del and Louise stay on the right side of the law? On one another's good side? And when they head back to Louise's hometown in North Carolina, what new trouble will prove the biggest: Louise's nagging mama or a hidden adversary seemingly intent on tearing the couple apart? Or could those be one and the same?

From screwball comedy to domestic drama, and from caper tale to traditional whodunit, these six stories offer suspense with a side of romance-and a little something for all tastes. Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, mystery novellas, mystery novella series, short story collections, whodunnit short stories, novel in stories, book club recommendations, Southern living, Southern humor, murder mystery books.

A novel that I fancied on Net Galley about six years ago and only just got around to reading. Worth the wait? I think so. The novel comprises of six stories and they do link well together and form a cohesive narrative for Del & Louise's evolving relationship from stick up artist and victim to loving couple tying the knot and solving the mystery of which so and so is trying to ruin their big day by stealing their presents and souring the occasion. 

Along the way there are family issues to resolve. Del's sister gets them involved in a real estate scam with Del as the intended patsy. You can't beat a bit of fraternal love. At the other end of their journey, Louise's mother tries just about everything to throw a spanner into the works and separate the couple. There is a lot of humour present in her machinations and some of the exchanges between her and Del are pretty funny. Mum always knows best, unless of course she doesn't.

The couple's relationship endures trust issues and arguments. Pretty much the same for all couples on a journey I suppose. Maybe the ones I know weren't also caught up in Vegas hold-ups, small appliance fencing deals and wine festival robberies. 

Fun was had.

4 from 5

Read - July, 2021
Published - 2015
Page count - 286
Source - review copy Net Galley
Format - Kindle

Tuesday 27 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Hoboken: an amorphous, violent city, transformed into a chic high-rent neighbourhood full of disposable incomes and high aspiration. Police detective Brian Vincenti is charged with investigating the case of a young woman's self-destruction - or murder - after she falls from an eleventh floor window in one of the town's up-and-coming districts. Vincenti's journey takes us beyond the damp, stained streets of Hoboken's nightlife and into his own chaotic world: that of transsexual former colleague Ellen Smith, his turbulent family life, and unshakeable demons.

Disturbing, haunting and melancholic. A detective struggling to reconcile his actions in the past, investigates a suicide (or murder or accident) and the historic, shameful act which ruined his marriage and emotional well-being comes back to haunt him. Not that it has ever really left him anyway. He's reminded of it on a daily basis.... the strained interactions with his disgusted wife, the disapproval of the child minder, the fantasies of taking his son away from the turmoil, the guilt.

A death and an investigation, fractured families - more than one, ruined careers, a previously solid friendship and work partnership, on life-support and buckling under the shared, horrific secret.

I liked Vincenti's persistence throughout the book. The slow reveal of information, the drip-drip-drip of facts, the re-interviewing of witnesses, the connections uncovered, the lost family found and the dawning realisation at the answers he gets. I bet Vincenti is an expert onion peeler.

There's a real symmetry to the book. The outcome when it comes closes the circle. Vincenti's has answers and more guilt for his conscience to contend with. Despite his one mistake, two if you count an inability to keep his mouth shut my sympathies were with Brian Vincenti throughout. 

Thoughtful and impressive. Not a book I will forget in a hurry.

4.5 from 5

Mark SaFranko has been enjoyed a couple of times before - The Favor and No Strings
Rest assured I'll be reading him again in the future.

Read - June, 2021
Published - 2014
Page count - 288
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback

Monday 26 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

OUT OF THE BRONX, a stunning collection of stories by Jerome Kass, follows Joel Sachs, from his childhood in the Bronx to his adult life in Manhattan. Along the way we encounter his friends and family: his father, Lou, an inveterate gambler; his mother, Rose, whose anger toward Lou is often tempered by her need to take care of him; Joel's older sister, Fanny, whose sense of being unloved makes her want to tear the family apart; and his beautiful younger sister, Gloria, who will end up uncovering the family's deepest secrets. And of course, there is Joel, who as a boy tries to hold the family together and make the abnormal seem normal-and as a man seeks to break free from the people and places that still have him in their grip.

An interesting collection of linked short stories which illustrate the growing pains of Joel Sachs from childhood to old age. Joel Sachs is a Jewish boy, born in 1939 and living in the Bronx. Out of the Bronx is his life story.

The contents consist of...
The Accident
The Bank
Joel Fresser, The Chocolate Virgin
Rhonda Spiegel
A Squirrel and a Couple of Nuts
Lou's Death
Let's Make a Baby
Best Friends

The stories concern ...
Parents, siblings, friends, spouses, romance, marriage, death, loss, disappointment, addiction and the consequences thereof, childhood, puberty, poverty, infidelity, rivalries, love, loyalty, favourtism, resentment, estrangement, a desire to reproduce, questions of identity and a bit more besides.

The narrative probably doesn't differ too much from that of a lot of families. All families have secrets, and to a greater or lesser degree ....... measures of love, trust, dependency, memories and shared experiences - both good and bad, injuries, sleights - real and imagined, the harbouring of resentments and grudges, annoyances, a willingness to forgive and move on, or not depending on the hurt involved and the disposition of the injured party.

The stories are probably a bit more mainstream than my usual reading. There is no real action or thrills present. The only crimes committed are those of the heart and the hurts we inflict on those nearest to us - theft, selfishness, jealousy, deceit and adultery.

I enjoyed all of these vignettes equally, without ever being in awe of the writing. 

An entertaining enough collection. 

3.5 from 5

Read - July, 2021
Published - 2014
Page count - 246
Source - Net Galley review copy
Format - Kindle

Sunday 25 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

Eddie Vegas made a terrible mistake. Now he has to pay the price. After a botched debt collection turned double murder, Eddie splits, desperate to avoid his employer, notorious L.A. crime boss Saul Benedict, and his men (and Eddie's ex-partners), Floyd and Sawyer, as well as the police. Soon he becomes entangled with the clever and beautiful Dakota, a Native American woman fresh in the City of Angels to find her missing friend--someone Eddie might know something about. Meanwhile in Texas, ex-assassin Rufus, seeking vengeance for his murdered brother, takes up his beloved daggers one final time and begins the long drive to L.A. When the bodies begin to mount, Detective Alison Lockley's hunt for the killers becomes increasingly urgent. As paths cross, confusion ensues, and no one's entirely sure who's after who. But one thing is clear: They're not all getting out of this alive. As much a love letter to neo-noir cinema and L.A. as it is satire, the first book in the Angel City novels is a lightning-speed crime thriller equal parts Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino.

One of the best books I've read this year and definitely one to keep for a future re-read. Nobody Move has ticks in all the right boxes.... story, character, setting, pace, length, action, excitement, humour and a satisfying outcome.

Misfortune, poor choices, consequences, coincidence, regrets, romance, sex, revenge, a search for justice .... all the fall out from Eddie Vegas's one mistake.

I do like books where the emphasis is on criminals, low-lives, outsiders. People who operate outside the boundaries of normal society, where the regular rules and mores are for others to abide by. Nobody Move with it's money lenders, debt collectors, enforcers, strippers and hitman occupies such territory. Interesting, entertaining, funny, violent, dark - my kind of book.

My sympathies throughout were with Eddie, as he tried to extricate himself from an impossible situation. Actions very often come with inescapable consequences. Debts must be paid.

5 from 5

I'm really looking forward to Elliott's second novel - Porno Valley - which drops next month. If it's half as memorable as this one it will be fantastic. 

Read - June, 2021
Published - 2019
Page count - 336
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback

Saturday 24 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

October 1992...  

Another Friday night in the small fishing village along the New Jersey coast. With another pending snowstorm aiming at the town, everyone has to make a choice: stay in and write the night off or go out and see what trouble they can get into.  

Guess which choice most of them will make?  

Check back in with Willie, April, Tommy, George, Frankie, Gary, Billy, Jimmy, Suzanna, and Garrett five years after the events of the original Belford Stories!  

A really enjoyable slice of small town life and a welcome catch-up with some familiar characters. Armand Rosamilia's original Belford Stories was read and enjoyed last December. Belford Stories 2 picks up five years on from the first installment.

1992, a cop, an ex-criminal, a jobless cousin, families feuding and misunderstandings, a bar fight, drunkenness, an olive branch, a return home, homelessness, a new job, a snowstorm coming, a life without purpose of direction, an almost girlfriend, an abusive relationship, domestic strife, a pregnancy, a college jock, a demanding parent, a fractured marriage, mistakes, regrets, the breadline, poor choices, growing up, maturity, new starts and a lot more besides.

I liked how the book unfolded. Small scenes or vignettes with a few of the characters, before the focus changes and switches to someone else. Everyone is wrapped up in their own little dramas, which advance throughout the course of the book. Some of the issues for the characters seem to take a positive turn and the future seems if not brighter, a little bit clearer. Some characters may have just taken a wrong turn from which it will be difficult to extricate themselves from.

I really like Rosamilia's work when it focuses on ordinary people, in everyday situations. You care about most of the characters and even the ones that are less sympathetic, there's still a fascination for seeing what life is going to throw at them.

Very, very entertaining with a marvellous narration from John Carter Aimone. 

Roll on Belford Stories 3.

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2021
Published - 2017
Page count - 210 (5 hrs 48 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Friday 23 July 2021


 A bit of Aussie crime fiction to brighten up anyone's day....

I think the only chance I'm ever going to visit Australia is in my reading.

Andy Muir has written these two interesting looking crime fiction novels. 

From his bio on Goodreads, he has also written for Neighbours and Home and Away. Can't get much more hard-boiled than that!

Andy Muir is a television screenwriter with credits ranging from Neighbours and Home and Away to comedy series Thank God You’re Here.

As a member of the writing team for the hit franchise Underbelly, crime stole his heart. Nominated for an Australian Writers Guild Award for Underbelly Squizzy, he also adapted that TV series for the novelisation Underbelly Squizzy: The Story of Australia’s First Celebrity Gangster.

Originally from Melbourne, he lives in Sydney. Something for Nothing is his first novel.

Something for Nothing (2017)

It’s not every day a bloke stumbles on a dismembered torso on Nobby’s Beach.

Lachie Munro is starting to feel like he’s is a magnet for trouble. The day before he fished a giant haul of heroin out of his favourite abalone poaching spot near Newcastle.

There’s a better than even chance that the two are connected and he should leave well enough alone.

But the opportunity to clear his gambling debt and get ahead of the game is too good to pass up.

But how do you sell several kilos of heroin? It’s not like drug dealers are listed in the Yellow Pages. And what happens when the owners come looking for their missing package? Is the torso a warning to anyone thinking of crossing them?

Now a person of interest to the police, Lachie needs to stay one step ahead of them, a local bikie he’s managed to insult, play off a big time dealer from Sydney, placate the neighbour’s labrador, Horace, and win the heart of the gorgeous new Fisheries Officer he’s fallen for. Or will he discover that getting into the gun sights of the crooked, the dodgy and the downright shady characters of Newcastle and beyond is more than a man can handle.

But, if Lachie can pull it all off, he might just get Something for Nothing.


Hiding to Nothing (2019)

Lay low, stay out of trouble and don’t get pulled over. It was probably the best advice I’d ever had.

How long until I ignored it?

All Lachie Munro wants is a quiet life in sunny Newcastle. But Lachie and quiet don’t seem to get along.

When Lachie’s estranged dad, Terry, turns up fresh out of prison, he’s packing more than the usual family baggage. Suddenly there are two murderous goons on Lachie’s doorstep and the police are paying him special attention. But Terry’s on the hunt for a long-lost fortune, and he won’t be leaving Newcastle – or Lachie – without it.

Hiding to Nothing is the next caper from the master of beachside noir, Andy Muir, a wild ride driven by brilliant characters and fast-paced dialogue.

The underworld has never been so much fun.

Thursday 22 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Andy and Bridget like to travel. Their windowless van is their home. Speeding across the Texas countryside they pick up hitchhikers and weary travelers who see the pair as a nice couple showing southern hospitality. However, Andy and Bridget are not what they seem. In their plain-looking van, there is no telling which town they will pass through or who will they pick up next.

Hmm, I debated briefly whether to post on this book or not, but I kind of thought.... well, I've read it so why wouldn't I? I suppose my concern was - does reading a book with a horrible title and some extreme graphic content, by definition make me a horrible person? Did the explicit content in the form of sexual violence and graphic torture excite, titillate or arouse me. No, it didn't. Did it disgust me? Not especially. 

There is a part of me that thinks some of the content was unnecessary and could have been left to the reader's (or listener's) imagination, but the author should be free to write what he wants and if this is what Tim Miller wants to write and there is a fanbase for it, crack on then. No one has to read it if they don't want to.

I found the story or plot interesting. A couple of serial killers travel around taking advantage of people and doing horrible things to them, before crossing paths with some bigger and badder predators. I'm not usually a fan of serial killer books as they don't especially interest me. I'd rather read about a robbery or a con than a murder spree.

The writing was smooth enough. The plot moved fast. The characters were divided into predators and prey, no half measures. I was entertained, but not especially thrilled. I was invested enough in the outcome to want to finish the book and the author delivered a few twists and turns along the way. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not in a hurry to delve deeper into the author's back catalogue. It probably ought to come with some kind of warning attached to it and maybe some sort of age limitation on who could read it. 

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2021
Published - 2016
Page count - 227 (2 hrs 37 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

* I have heard from a couple of book friends that this author is a 'piece of human garbage' who seemed to think it appropriate forwarding unsolicited videos of himself engaged in private activities. 
Please don't support him or his work.

Wednesday 21 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

In this sequel to the “gritty, brash, and totally gripping” (The Real Book Spy) thriller Bad Axe County, Sheriff Heidi Kick is investigating an illicit cage fighting ring with ties to white nationalism when her husband suddenly goes missing.

It’s a time for celebration in Bad Axe County as the town gathers for the annual Syttende Mai—Norwegian Independence Day—festival. During this rollicking family-oriented event filled with dancing and food, Sheriff Heidi Kick discovers a dark and shocking event—a migrant worker has been savagely beaten but refuses to explain what happened. Then, a sudden murder of a band member shatters the festival. Something is deeply wrong in Bad Axe County.

As she looks for answers, Heidi plunges into a secret underworld where high-stakes cage fights double as combat training for the White Nationalist movement. Then all hell breaks loose for Heidi when her husband disappears and a secret he’s been keeping from Heidi is revealed.

An enjoyable second book in John Galligan's Bad Axe County series. Bad Axe County was enjoyed earlier this year and the next in the series, Bad Moon Rising is already lined up. 

It's another busy book featuring ....... white supremacists with small town minds, fixed illegal fights, a Norwegian festival, a beaten Hispanic kid, a female sheriff in a male world, encumbered with an idiot brother-in-law, a secretive husband, and a 'difficult child.' We also have .... a dead author musician, a dodgy, untrustworthy colleague, a mixed race kid caught like a rabbit in the headlights far from home, an acid attack and to cap it off a kidnapped husband to save and an impending domestic terrorism attack to avert. All in a day's work (okay maybe a couple) for Heidi Kick. 

I enjoyed the book. I do like the main character, Heidi Kick though she does seem to have trust issues regarding her husband. The author never seems to cut her a break. Maybe he is just illustrating the problems some women have balancing a career with a young family. Plenty of guilt for Heidi.

I do like books where white racist mofos get a decent comeuppance at the end. I suppose the sad thing is how easily the disenfranchised and down on their luck, buy into their lies and scapegoating. Let's blame the minorities and those different from us for all our problems. That works.

Best book ever. No, but solid entertainment with more than a few thrills and plenty of excitement along the way. Roll on book 3. 

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) June, 2021
Published - 2020
Page count - 301 (8 hrs 48 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Monday 19 July 2021


 Another half dozen into the collection....

A.W. Hart - The Ranger (2021) - purchased copy

A new-to-me author. It's the first in a series. I'll see how I go before committing to more in the series. Or I could just read some of the books I already have .....

Concho Ten-Wolves is a Texas Ranger working the Rio Grande border between Mexico and the U.S.. His father was black, his mother a full-blood member of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. He remembers neither of them. Both disappeared soon after Concho’s birth and his Kickapoo grandmother raised him on the tribal reservation just outside Eagle Pass, Texas.

Often bullied as a youth for his differences, Concho soon grew into the promise of his big hands and wide shoulders. Hatred of him remained in some; fear joined that emotion in others. Concho learned to walk a solitary path, which first took him away to college and then to Afghanistan as an Army Ranger.

Now, a group of Neo-Nazi terrorists have taken over a mall in Eagle Pass. One hostage is the woman Concho loves. The only path Concho can see is straight ahead and through.

Thomas Perry - The Left-Handed Twin (2021) - review ARC from publisher Mysterious Press

I've loved some of Thomas Perry's work in the past (The Butcher's Boy in particular), along with a few others that haven't quite rocked me. This is the ninth entry in his Jane Whitefield series. Not a series I've tried yet, but I've heard good things about it.

Rescue artist Jane Whitefield leads a deadly crime syndicate on a wild chase through the Northeast

Jane Whitefield helps people disappear. Fearing for their lives, fleeing dangerous situations, her clients come to her when they need to vanish completely—to assume a new identity and establish a new life somewhere they won’t be found. And when people are desperate enough to need her services, they come to the old house in rural western New York where Jane was raised to begin their escape.

It’s there that, one spring night, Jane finds a young woman fresh from LA with a whole lot of trouble behind her. After she cheated on her boyfriend, he dragged her to the home of the offending man and made her watch as he killed him. She testified against the boyfriend, but a bribed jury acquitted him, and now he’s free and trying to find and kill her.

Jane agrees to help, and it soon becomes clear that outsmarting the murderous boyfriend is not beyond Jane’s skills. But the boyfriend has some new friends: members of a Russian organized crime brotherhood. When they learn that Sara is traveling with a tall, dark-haired woman who disappears people, the Russians become increasingly interested in helping the boyfriend find the duo. They’ve heard rumors that such a woman existed—and believe that, if forcibly extracted, the knowledge she has of past clients could be worth millions.  

Thus begins a bloodthirsty chase that winds through the cities of the northeast before finally plunging into Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. But in a pursuit where nothing can be trusted, one thing is certain: only one party—Jane or her pursuers—will emerge alive. 

Tony Knighton - A Few Days Away (2021) - review ARC from publisher Brash Books

Another author I've been meaning to try for a few years. His previous books, Happy Hour and Three Hours Past Midnight already sit on the TBR pile.

A stunning, hard-charging new crime novel that evokes the best of Richard Stark, Lawrence Block and Thomas Perry.

On Valentine’s Day, a professional thief and his partner robbed a bank in a Central Pennsylvania town. It all went well... until the getaway. His partner was killed, the money was lost, and the injured thief barely escaped with his life. Now, four months later, he’s going back for his money. But he’s not the only one after it. Corrupt cops, warring street gangs, white nationalists and crooked politicians all agree on one thing – they want him gone. Permanently.

"He's very good, and he's a genuine Pennsylvanian. Knighton's A Few Days Away is hard-edged and suspenseful, with action that feels real and an anti-hero who can keep all the moving parts in his mind at once." Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author

"A must-read for aspiring criminals, who will learn that going straight offers a much simpler life. I was with Knighton’s anti-hero thief all the way, figuring whatever he netted from this caper, he earned it. Taut writing, crisp dialogue, non-stop action. What more could you want?" Linwood Barclay, New York Times bestselling author

George Hesselberg - Dead Lines (2021) - Edelweiss reviewer ARC

A book which caught my eye and one which is very different to my usual reading. Go wild and expand your horizons-time!

In a lively collection of feature obituaries and related news stories, longtime newspaper reporter George Hesselberg celebrates life, sharing the most fascinating stories that came from decades of covering the obit and public safety beats. 

In more than forty years at the Wisconsin State Journal, Hesselberg frequently found himself writing about fatal accidents, crime investigations, and the deaths of the wealthy, famous, or notorious. But he was most drawn to the curious, the unknown, and the unsung—the deaths that normally wouldn’t make much of a splash, if any mention at all, in the news columns of a daily paper. 

Digging deeper, he uncovered the extraordinary among the ordinary, memorializing the lives of a sword designer, a radio villain, a pioneering female detective, a homeless woman who spoke fluent French, a beloved classroom tarantula, and many more. Their stories are alternately amusing, sad, surprising, and profound. Together they speak to a shared human experience and inspire us to see the people around us with new eyes, valuing the lives while they are still being lived. 

Ed Church - Probably Dead (2020) - purchased copy

Another author I've heard good things about, but haven't yet given a go. This is the second in a three book (so far) series.

Ex-London copper Mick Morley has spent nearly three decades searching for his missing daughter. Now the South African bar that was his ‘fresh start’ is being robbed at gunpoint… How’s your luck, Mick?

But what if someone else is in the bar that night? A Met detective on a career break – name of Brook Deelman. Well, then maybe that changes the odds.

Maybe that could change everything.

Ahead of Brook, a missing person case from the last days of ‘old school’ policing – an age of bloody riots, swinging batons and undercover sources. Those wishing the truth to stay buried will use the full force of the law to keep it that way… Or even just plain force.

Carl Hiaasen - Skink No Surrender (2014) - Audible purchase

One of the funniest authors alive. Skink goes YA. Who cares?

Richard's cousin is missing, and his best hope of finding her rests with the wily, one-eyed, ex-governor of Florida. Carl Hiaasen introduces his iconic character Skink to a younger audience in this nail-biting adventure!

 A National Book Award Longlist Selection

 Classic Malley: her parents are about to ship her off to boarding school, so she takes off with some guy she met online... Poor Richard: he's less of a rebel than Malley, and a lot less trusting. He knows his cousin is in trouble before she does. Wild Skink: he's a ragged, one-eyed, ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, this unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.    

In Carl Hiaasen's outrageous, hilarious, and wildly dangerous state of Florida, there are a million places an outlaw might stash a teenage girl. A million unpleasant ways to die. And two who will risk everything to rescue a friend . . . and to, hopefully, exact a bit of swamp justice.

Friday 16 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Moriarty, New Mexico, is about as far as Logan Pierce got before the money and the El Camino gave out. He‘d hoped for a clean start in life as a field mechanic working for any company willing to pay top dollar for his skills in the oil fields of West Texas. Low on funds and out of options, he begins a change of course in his mechanic career and takes a local job as a technician at Duggan's Truck Stop. 

The truck stop is a miniature city within a city that has all the luxuries for a home away from home feel for the over-the-road truck driver. Under it all, Logan discovers there is also a dark side, which people claim is operated by the Dixie Mafia. Then there is the persistent rumor that affiliates of the Mafia are looking for a quarter-million in missing cash skimmed from over a five-year time frame. The job was meant to be a temporary solution but that was before Amy Hauser entered the picture and presented him with additional problems. 

They want nothing more than to leave New Mexico for a new life, but then again…there’s that rumor of a quarter-million in missing mob cash. And Logan just may well have discovered where it’s hidden, but soon finds that some people want it more.

Two word review - not great, sad to say. Others have enjoyed this one more than me and at the end of the day this is just one man's opinion. On Goodreads - 5 people rated it a 5 and 5 people rated it a 4. 

From the premise, with a truck stop, the Dixie Mafia, and some missing money this seemed like the kind of book which would be right up my dark alley. Unfortunately, I just didn't vibe it at all. I think it was written in the present tense and it just jarred with me listening to it. I didn't dislike the narrator. His voice, accent, inflections didn't grate. It was just the words coming out of his mouth..... I did this, I did that, then I did something else. Too much detail. Too much information. Too many boring incidents or reflections which didn't advance the story any.

Secondary issues - I didn't really feel anything for the main character. Beat him, shag him, shoot him, kill him, even crucify him. Tumbleweed and indifference. The story itself had some promise, but it was just so slow. I think the book would have benefited by a savage edit, cutting it by about a quarter - at least.

Some exciting moments, but not enough to sustain my interest. There was a romantic angle to the story with Logan Pierce falling for a woman married to a prominent member of the mob. Again it wasn't a thread that especially excited me.

Overall a bit disappointing. I was never minded to not finish the book and in fact I'd be happy enough giving the author another go in the future. I have another book, Monkey Wrench lined up on Audible for another day. 

2.5 from 5 

Read - (listened to) July, 2021
Published - 2018
Page count - 317 (9 hrs 30 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Thursday 15 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

He’s quiet, ordinary looking. But if you cross him – welcome to your worst nightmare.

Tom Rollins has gone AWOL from his CIA black-ops unit and is living off-grid when he hears that the woman he loves, Alejandra, has been murdered by a person or persons unknown.

Rollins is determined to punish her killers and sets out on his own personal search and destroy mission. Applying pressure as only he knows how, he quickly discovers who was behind the killing – a vicious gang of hardened criminals.

Using his dizzying array of lethal skills, Rollins begins to take out the leaders of the gang, one by one. But then he discovers that Alejandra’s murder was part of a larger conspiracy, one that threatens death and destruction on a horrifying scale.

The conspirators are clever and ruthless. They’ve thought of everything, covered every angle. Except one - Tom Rollins.

I'm probably not going to offer anything new in terms of insight or analysis to a book that has already been reviewed overwhelmingly positively nearly 700 times on Amazon UK. I liked it. I've enjoyed the author's work many times before and this one was no different in that respect.

One man, albeit with a little bit of family support, fights back against a group of white supremacists and other more powerful establishment figures who are operating in the shadows. For Tom Rollins, sick of some of the operations he was forced to participate in the service of his country, it's personal initially. His brother's wife, the woman he loved was murdered. His brother almost. Retribution is necessary.

At some point in the tale it turns into a matter of duty and patriotism, or for Rollins having dispensed with such frivolities, just a matter of doing the right thing.

I do like a one man against a machine type book. I liked our main character's personal code and abilities. I enjoyed the complex difficult relationship he had with his brother and less so his father. There's plenty of action, excitement and conflict during the course of the book, but it's supported by a decent storyline. Any book which sees a bunch of racist knuckleheads getting their asses handed to them gets my vote anyway.

Lots to like and I'm looking forward to the second Tom Rollins outing soon - Wrong Turn. Blood Line is Round One. Roll on Round Two..... ding ding.

4.5 from 5

Read - June, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 305
Source - review copy courtesy of Net Galley and publisher, Inkubator Books
Format - Kindle

Sunday 11 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb .....

Broadway Can Be Murder started out to be a novel based on Johnny Midnight, a TV series which everyone has long since forgotten. Except, of course, that nothing manages to be forgotten in the Internet Age. I, whose job it was to knock out 50,000 words of Johnny Midnightish prose and dialogue, had forgotten when it ran and who was in it, but Google took no time at all to remind me that the title role was played by Edmund O’Brien, and that the series ran during the first nine months of 1960. I was in New York, newly married, living at 110 West 69th Street. I was writing short stories for crime fiction magazines, erotic novels for Midwood and Nightstand, and fielding assignments that my agent steered in my direction. One of these was from Beacon Books, who had acquired the book rights to a TV drama and wanted to hire someone to write a book. Beacon Books, with “Johnny Midnight” as both the book’s inspiration and its title. I wrote it, but by the time Beacon was preparing it for publication, the series had been canceled. The publisher saw no reason to pay a licensing fee for a moribund show, and accordingly changed names: Johnny Midnight became Johnny Lane, and his trusty servant morphed from Uki to Ito. And Lawrence Block became Ben Christopher for the occasion. Someone at Beacon picked the title, Strange Embrace. Well, there’s a lesbian element in the book, and I guess they wanted to play it up, and “strange” was a useful code word toward that end. Now, in 2021, Theo Holland is voicing an audio edition of the book - and I think it's high time it have an appropriate title, one that sounds like the hard-edged crime novel it is instead of the bit of erotica Beacon wanted to make it resemble. It's a murder mystery with a Broadway theater setting, so why not call it Broadway Can Be Murder?

Another early Lawrence Block book and one which was originally pseudonymously published under another title. I do like listening to Lawrence Block's work, particularly when narrated by Theo Holland.

This one has a murder mystery at its heart, with a few leanings towards titillation/erotica. I don't think you could class it as racy though. There's no more sex involved than many other straight out and out crime fiction books I've read recently.

Johnny Lane, our main character is a theatre director and is putting together a show. His unknown, young, talented lead is murdered and subsequently he and other members of the cast receive threats that the play must be cancelled or they will end up like the dead actress.

Lane, who just happens to be friends with the cop who catches the case, does some sleuthing of his own. Another member of the cast is killed in a similar fashion to the first - cut throat razor and discovered naked - and Lane gets busy. 

Best book ever? No, but I really liked it. It was an entertaining outing. Lane gets a beating to go with his warning. He does some amateur investigating, running up a few wrong alleys, has a tryst or two with one of the other actresses in the show, befriends a beatnik, discovers some secrets his young starlet had, annoys his cop pal, and a few of the show's team and eventually cracks the case, just as you always knew he would.

New York setting, theatre/acting/thespian backdrop, interesting enough plot - not overly complex or convoluted. I don't think I guessed the culprit before the main character did, but I don't think I was especially trying to. I was happy enough to go where Block was taking me, in whatever time it took to get there.

Not his best work, but it kept me entertained for a few hours. 

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) June, 2021
Published - 1962
Page count - 212 (4 hrs 29 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Saturday 10 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

Desperate Journeys by Russ Towne takes readers on a thrill ride with five gripping stories of suspense where ordinary people face impossibly long odds, conquer fear, and find the strength to survive horrifying circumstances.

Desperate Journey
It’s everyone’s worst highway nightmare. A breakdown on the road to the “happiest place on Earth” leads to a night of terror for one teenage boy.

No Choice at All
A road trip for an interview with the boss turns into a night of lethal danger and desperate courage when a man stops to give roadside assistance.

The Blood Oath
A mother’s secret, a lost identity, and a father’s decision bring peril to a man who learns who he is and what he’s made of in trying to save a young woman.

The Misunderstanding
A luggage mix-up focuses a violent criminal’s attention upon a mild-mannered man and his family.

The Patsy
A swindler with violent tendencies discovers elderly widows can be dangerous, too.

An enjoyable audible listen with 5 different stories, each one involving people in jeopardy. Looking back a few weeks on only four of them stick in my mind, but that's not a bad overall percentage and is a decent testimony to the author's storytelling skills.

I liked them all (or at least four of them for sure). 

Desperate Journey features a family on a road trip when inevitably they breakdown. Two adult females, some young kids and a teenage boy. An artic and two men stop offering assistance - ie a ride up the road to the next town. The teenage boy reluctantly goes with them. Bad move, but it's a kind of Hobson's Choice situation. A boy can do a lot of growing up in one night.

No Choice at All is similar to the opening tale, insofar as it starts on a lonely isolated road. A man in a hurry turns around when disturbed by an incident he has seen at the side or the road. Two men, two women, an altercation. An interesting way to meet your future wife.

The Blood Oath .... memory fails me.

The Misunderstanding features a luggage mix-up where a family man rubs up against a violent threatening criminal after collecting the wrong bag. It helps to have a decent support network of friends.

The Patsy features a con-man trying to hustle the wrong woman. Justice is served.

Interesting tales, well-written and each one was long enough to feel an investment in the characters and the outcome. If I was being picky, I would have liked one, possibly two to have had different outcomes. Not everything in life has a happy ever after ending. But maybe that's why it's important that fiction, with the escape into other people's worlds and away from our own problems does. I dunno.

Three and a bit hours well spent.

4 from 5 

Read - (listened to) June, 2021
Published - 2018
Page count - 94 ( 3 hrs 14 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Thursday 8 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

After 25 years on the job, Detective Roscoe Conklin trades his badge for a pair of shorts and sandals and moves to Bonaire, a small island nestled in the southern Caribbean. But the warm water, palm trees, and sunsets are derailed when his long-time police-buddy and friend back home is murdered. Conklin dusts off a few markers and calls his old department, trolling for information. It's slow going, but no surprise there; after all, it's an active investigation, and his compadres back home aren't saying a damn thing. He's 2,000 miles away, living in paradise. Does he really think he can help? They suggest he go to the beach and catch some rays. For Conklin, it's not that simple.When a suspicious mishap lands his significant other, Arabella, in the hospital, the island police conduct, at best, a sluggish investigation, stonewalling progress. Conklin questions the evidence and challenges the department's methods. Something isn't right...Arabella wasn't the intended target. He was.

A mostly enjoyable mystery set in the exotic location of Bonaire. I think it was a first for me reading a book set in the Caribbean.

We have a retired detective - Roscoe Conklin, upset about the murder of his former partner and his wife. Despite the distance and his current status ie thousands of miles away and no longer a serving officer, he tries to get information on the case. One of his former colleagues does some sharing upto a point. 

Moving on, trouble eventually rocks up on the island and Conklin and those close to him are in danger. It's a situation where the case and the murderer come to Conklin as opposed to the other way around. I think it's one of those books where it seems as if the reader has more of a scooby what is going on than the main character, and not necessarily because we've been shown more by the author.

Conklin, likable bloke that he is seems a little bit slow on the uptake regarding a few things that seemed obvious to me. Retirement has dulled his detective's instincts maybe. Someone on the island is targeting him and those he cares about and it is so obviously related to his former partner's death, that I kind of got frustrated by the main character's savvy or lack of.

There's some pretty odious characters involved here. The murder of the partner is horrible to witness, as is the elimination of an innocent women later in the book. I don't mean that in the sense that I had to turn away from the page because of any graphic detail. It's more of a testament to the power of the author's writing, that he created such a horrible villain.

Events as they unfold are all connected to a historic case that was previously worked by Conklin and his colleague. They say revenge is a dish best served cold.

I liked the setting. The case and raison d'etre was interesting, but not particulalrly original. I enjoyed the setting. The characters were well drawn and held my interest, even though I could have happily slapped the main guy a few times. WAKE UP, MAN! 
Overall - 3.5/5

Enough present to want to read the next one in the series - Paradise Cove. 

Read - June, 2021
Published - 2020
Page count - 306
Source - purchased copy, as well as a review copy via Net Galley
Format - Kindle

Wednesday 7 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

A tale of skullduggery that plays out on the mean streets of Glasgow…

One-legged barmaid Kirsty is in a shit-load of trouble after she kills one of gangster Jimmy McPhee’s enforcers with a stiletto heel to the head after he gets a bit too handsie.

Now she’s on the run from the gang boss who loves to torture his victims before he kills them, with a safe-load of cash she stole from him and a hot gun. And she has company—a choirboy barman Jamie who just happens to be the only witness.

She needs to survive long enough to spend the cash.

How difficult can it be to catch a “daft wee lassie with one leg?” Glasgow hardman Jimmy McPhee is about to find out. Kirsty’s made a laughing stock out of him and he doesn’t like that one wee bit.

Bring together a one-legged barmaid who’s legged it with a safe load of dirty cash, a spurned gangster’s wife who wants a walking womb for her mail order sperm, a giant birthday cake and a mad chase to the end, and you’ve got How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks: one freaking minute at a time.

A short-ish book, exciting, fast-paced and full of action, adrenaline and conflict. A month on, a lot of the details have faded. No doubt, in a few month's time even more will have vanished, but that's perfectly fine. It was entertaining and enjoyable while it lasted. Did what it was supposed to do. Job done.

We have a one-legged damsel in distress. She's got herself into a fix and ultimately it's going to be down to her to get herself out of it. 

Death by stiletto, a cash prize and a life on the run, fight or flight - flight until you don't have a choice, dodgy criminals, messed up families, psychos, heavies and assorted bad eggs, a torture cellar, a forced surrogacy - possibly, a dog, a kindly neighbour, and mucho mayhem. 

Good fun, slightly implausible/improbable/unlikely but who cares? A decent main character who I was rooting for. Glagow setting - another plus. Lots to like.

4 from 5

Another author that I might be inclined to read again in the future, time and wallet allowing. 

Read - June, 2021

Published - 2019

Page count - 156

Source - purchased copy

Format - paperback

Tuesday 6 July 2021



Synopsis/blurb .....

After he failed to find his missing sister, whose remains finally turned up in a bag in an overgrown field, Texas PI Truman Smith retired to become a housepainter on Galveston Island. But when an alligator is killed and its carcass left on display on a family friend's property, Tru is persuaded to search for the culprit. Soon the brooding gumshoe is stumbling over the bodies of dead humans, is shot at and run down by a souped-up four-by-four as he's embroiled in a plot complete with crooked police, a possible land-grabbing scheme and assorted "bad guys".

Gator Kill is the second in Bill Crider's five book long Truman Smith series. The first, Dead on the Island was enjoyed a few months ago.

I was surprised by the opening if I'm honest. In the first book, Truman's sister was and had been missing, presumed dead with no closure. I had presumed that this situation would be an over-riding arc which ran through the series and haunted Truman. Crider soon quashed that notion with the disclosure that his sister's remains had been found.

The main plot here concerns a friend who has discovered a dead alligator on his land. Truman is engaged to discover who killed it. Unsurprisingly this isn't all that has been going on. 

Poaching (?), threats, warning shots, before long a murder, an illicit affair, gossip, some law enforcement types that don't take too kindly to an outsider PI sticking his nose in, land deal rumours, local animosities and enemies, and a few other incidents and issues before inevitably answers and a resolution.

I quite enjoyed this one. The motivations for what is at play are eventually revealed and make sense, but until we get to that point it's an interesting puzzle as to what is going on and why. More than once, Truman considers quitting and going home, but obviously doesn't. 

I enjoyed the story. There's some hostility between Smith and one of the local cops on the scene. This animosity adds a level of tension to the story. If you're mistrustful of the police in a small community what options do you have for help?  

Interesting characters, some action, a reasonable pace, nothing breakneck but not meandering either. We got where the author was going in good time and it was enjoyable all the way, if not the most exciting outing ever. Solid and entertaining. 

4 from 5

Read – (listened to) June, 2021
Published – 1992
Page count – 186 (4 hrs 42 mins)
Source – Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Monday 5 July 2021


 A few cinema outings in the month ...... horror, action, a feel good story and heartbreak.

A Quiet Place II (2020)

I watched the first film at home and couldn't actually remember it until my daughter reminded me of a few scenes. This one was tense and exciting, but my main thought throughout was how much I disliked the boy in this one. I guess that was the point of it I suppose, insofar as without spoiling things he redeeems himself at the end. I still didn't like him, so maybe the film skewed too far against him in the beginning to allow me to change my mind about him at the end. I think I could have walked off whistling a happy tune, if he had been killed. What sort of a horrible person am I? 

I enjoyed seeing Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy on screen.

From Google ....

Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

Dream Horse (2020)

Based on a true story, Dream Horse tells the tale of a small, down-trodden community, led by one woman (Toni Collette) who form a syndicate to buy a racehorse to breed. Somewhat improbably the offspring is brilliant. They partner up with a top trainer and despite some setbacks the horse wins the Welsh National. Joy, excitement, fun, discord, hope, purpose, community, second chances and a reason for living. A real feel good story. I do like Toni Collette in pretty much everything I ever see her in. Damian Lewis (Homeland) also stars. The rest of the cast including, Owen Teale (Collette's on-screen hubby - the possible baddie from the latest  Line of Duty series) are very good.

From Google.....

The true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely racehorse bred by small-town bartender Jan Vokes. With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites. Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope for their struggling community.

Nobody (2021)

Action, mayhem, thrills all the way. I think once I heard it was from .....'the makers of John Wick' I knew what was coming. Improbable, implausibl, unrealistice fights and shoot-outs, but I have to say I enjoyed it. I liked the main lead - Bob Odenkirk especially. It was also nice seeing Christopher Lloyd on screen again. One I would happily watch again in a couple of year's time.

From Google ....

Hutch Mansell fails to defend himself or his family when two thieves break into his suburban home one night. The aftermath of the incident soon strikes a match to his long-simmering rage. In a barrage of fists, gunfire and squealing tires, Hutch must now save his wife and son from a dangerous adversary -- and ensure that he will never be underestimated again.

The Father (2020)

Hard to watch, uncomfortable, unsettling, sad, heart-breaking, thoughtful. One that puts you through the wringer. Maybe more so if you have elderly parents that aren't quite the people they were a few years ago. And also a glimpse into a possible future for your own self somewhere down the line, as the years creep up and tick by.

Dementia and Alzheimer's - to mention two diseases/illnesses/ailments (there are many more equally cruel) are incredibly hard to deal with. Bewildering, for the sufferer. Torment, for close family. 

Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman are amazing.

From IMDB ....

A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.


1. The Father

2. Dream Horse

3. Nobody

4. A Quiet Place II