Friday 26 November 2021


One of my favourite authors, Dietrich Kalteis kindly dropped by to answer a few questions on his latest book, Under an Outlaw Moon.

Your latest offering, Under an Outlaw Moon has just dropped from ECW. Can you sell it to new or old readers in 50 words or under?

Under an Outlaw Moon is the true story of Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson. He’s out for kicks and she longs to feel wanted. When they pull a bank robbery to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, the ensuing fireworks are more than they ever bargained for.

It's another dip into the past. Was there one spark or germ of imagination that got you up and running with this one?

In 1938, Bennie and Stella Dickson robbed two banks shortly after her sixteenth birthday. They did it without a shot being fired, yet soon found themselves the focus of a nationwide FBI manhunt, wanted dead or alive. The punishment didn’t fit the crime, and that was the spark.

I've probably asked before, is it a different kind of process writing 'historical' as opposed to contemporary crime?

There was more research and fact-checking involved in following actual events as opposed to writing contemporary fiction. Since Under an Outlaw Moon was based on a true story, I kept to the actual timeline of events. Once I got to know the couple through the research, I fleshed out the characters, and I just started writing.

Was it a book conceived in lockdown, or did it's creation pre-date the madness of the COVID/post-COVID world?

I came upon an old news story of Bennie and Stella while doing research for Call Down the Thunder, which was set in the same era. This was in 2018, and I set the idea aside until I finished my work in progress. By the time I started working on it, we were in the early stages of lockdown.  

How has the pandemic impacted on you and yours? Hopefully you have all been safe?

My family and I have stayed safe. And I’ve been able to stay focused and able to disappear into my stories. That said, I sure miss gathering with friends and family, and I sure miss taking part in public reading events too.

Did lockdown have any discernible effect on your creativity?

The trick has been to stay positive so I can focus on my writing. So far, so good.

Regarding Under an Outlaw Moon, how long did it take from the first word to last to complete?

From the time I started gathering research to the time I laid out the timeline and wrote my way through several drafts, it took about nine months. Then there was another month or so spent on story and copy editing.  

Is it the same book you anticipated when setting out, or is it markedly different?

Since the story followed actual events, it turned out as I expected. I was pleased with how the scenes I made up flowed in, and how the characters came to life through their interactions and dialogue.

I believe it's your ninth book. Is it your best work?

I’m too close to it to say it’s my best work. I do think it’s consistent with everything I’ve written to date. And I can say I’m more sure of my writing now; I don’t second guess myself as much as when I started, and I’m better at knowing when a novel is done, and when it’s time to send it to my publisher.

Do you have a favourite of the nine? Which would you press into a new reader's hands first?

I don’t have a favourite. When anyone asks about my books, I try to find out what they’re into, and hopefully I’ve written something that might appeal to them.  

What's next?

Nobody from Somewhere is set to be released by ECW Press next June. It’s a crime story set in present-time Vancouver. Here’s the pitch: 

When long retired cop, Fitch Henry Haut, sees two men forcing a runaway girl into their vehicle, he steps in and gets the upper hand. He and the girl escape in his broken-down Winnebago, and as Fitch listens to her story, he realizes the men will come after them. A bond forms as he and the girl struggle to escape out of town. Anyone interested can find out more on ECW’s website here.

Thank you for inviting me over, Col.

Many thanks to Dietrich for his time.
Check out the his latest and thank me later!


Under an Outlaw Moon

Meet Depression-era newlyweds Bennie and Stella. He’s reckless, she’s naive. Longing for freedom from tough times, they rob a bank, setting off a series of events that quickly spin out of their control

Under an Outlaw Moon is based on the true story of Depression-era bank robbers Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson. She’s a teenage outsider longing to fit in. He’s a few years older and he’s trouble. They meet at a local skating rink and the sparks fly.

They marry and Stella dreams of a nice house with a swing out back, while Bennie figures out how to get enough money to make it happen. Setting his sights on the good life, he decides to rob a bank. Talking Stella into it, he lays out his plan and teaches her to shoot. The newlyweds celebrate her 16th birthday by robbing a local bank.

They pull it off, but the score is small, and Bennie realizes the money won’t last long, so he plans a bigger robbery. What lays ahead is more than either of them bargained for. After J. Edgar Hoover finds out they crossed state lines, he declares them public enemies number one and two — wanted dead or alive. So much for the good life. The manhunt is on, and there’s little room for them to run.

You can catch up with Dietrich at the following haunts.

Thursday 25 November 2021


 A couple from US author, Brian M. Wiprud

I read Wiprud's debut Sleep with the Fishes sometime between 2000 and 2009  and enjoyed it, without being blown away. I think when I bought that and these I was seeking something similar to a Carl Hiaasen vibe. I'm not sure that Fishes quite got there.

Twelve years is a long time, so I ought to give these a work out.

Pipsqueak (2002)

Tuning forks, thugs in plaid cummerbunds, digital TV, a dead biker, a stuffed loon and an old cartoon show? What's all this got to do with a ratty old squirrel puppet? That's the Pipsqueak story, featuring Garth Carson, a New York City taxidermy collector, and his gal Angie. After a murderous melee in an obscure antique store, the puppet goes missing and they find themselves entangled in a deadly swing band conspiracy and Soviet-era secrets.

"...the wildest mystery to come down the pike in a stuffed squirrel's age." --Publishers Weekly

Crooked (2006) 

Nicholas Palihnic is a natty, tweed-suited hustler who knows every nook and cranny of New York - and a thousand ways to break a girl's heart. Beatrice Belarus is a Manhattan art dealer with an insatiable appetite for money - and for anyone who gets in her way. And a painting titled Trampoline Nude, 1972 has neither nudity nor a trampoline. But when Nicholas is hired by an insurance company to find the recently stolen painting, a murdered art thief points him to a trove of gold buried beneath Manhattan - and suddenly all roads are leading back to Beatrice. As fortune hunters, lovers, and other strangers gather around him, there's one thing Nicholas must remember above all else: in this business, it's better to be crooked than dead....

Friday 19 November 2021


 A couple from the legendary Edward Bunker ...

Eddie Bunker wrote six novels, one of which was published posthumously in 2007. Bunker had passed in 2005. From his biography page at Fantastic Fiction it's clear he led an interesting life ...

Edward Heward Bunker was an American author of crime fiction, a screenwriter, and an actor.

He wrote numerous books, some of which have been adapted into films.

Bunker was a bright but troublesome child, who spent much of his childhood in different foster homes and institutions.

He started on a criminal career at a very early age, and continued on this path throughout the years, returning to prison again and again.

He was convicted of bank robbery, drug dealing, extortion, armed robbery, and forgery.

A repeating pattern of convictions, paroles, releases and escapes, further crimes and new convictions continued until he was released yet again from prison in 1975, at which point he finally left his criminal days permanently behind and became a writer.

Bunker stayed out of jail thereafter, and instead focused on his career as a writer and actor.

I enjoyed seeing him in Reservoir Dogs, many years ago. Pretty sure I've read and enjoyed most of his books - including these two, but not that I can recall them too much. My last outing was back in 2010 with his short story collection - Death Row Breakout & Other Stories. The novels have all been saved for a re-read sometime.

The Animal Factory (1977)

Drawing on a lifetime's experience of the sordid, horrifically violent world of America's prisons, Edward Bunker's novel The Animal Factory tells a tale of two convicts. 

Ronald Decker, guilty of a minor drug dealing charge, is put away in San Quentin. 

Earl Copen takes it upon himself to instruct the younger man in the brutal protocol of San Quentin and the strategies essential for survival. 

Their growing friendship is tested when Ron's rejection of a homosexual advance by another con leads to an act of fatal violence, and they seize upon a remote chance of escape. 

The Animal Factory is the ultimate prison novel.

Dog Eat Dog (1996)

three men ... two convictions ... one last score ... no more chances!

Troy, an aloof mastermind, seeks an uncomplicated, clean life but cannot get away from his hatred for the system. 

Diesel is on the mob's payroll and interest in his suburban home and nagging wife is waning. 

Mad Dog is possessed by true demons within, that lead him from one explosive situation to the next.  

One more hit, one more jackpot, and they'll all be satisfied ...

'A relentless freight train of a novel, obsessively readable, driven and dark' - Los Angeles Times

Thursday 18 November 2021

G. L. RIX - BROWN (2019)

Synopsis/blurb ....

Name: Brown (just Brown, ma’am)  

Physical Appearance/Demeanor: Bear (That’s grizzly - consider yourself warned.) 

Occupation: Private Dick 


San Antonio’s Finest 
Area’s most notorious gang boss 
World renowned artists 
Olmos Elementary School entire third grade class

Find some body and return them to their forever home.
Find wife-beating boyfriend before contracted hitman does.
Perform background checks on the bad guys.
Find lost animals.
Most admired: Columbo 

Brown: Private Eye - At Your Service

Some you win, some you lose. One plus was I got to spend some time in the company of entertaining narrator Theo Holland, even if the words that spewed from his lips left me indifferent.

We started off ok. Our main character is a PI named Brown and he is in a car park with the corpse of a grafitti artist. And then it all went downhill.

One case, kind of slid into another, then another, followed by a different one. There was no real drama, tension, mystery, humour or intrigue. It was all pretty pointless. A total mess that led nowhere, unfortunately. 

The writing was ok. The main character and some of the underlings were interesting enough as individuals, or might have proved to be if there was any real purpose to their movements. There wasn't. There was some scope for drama between Brown and Mrs Casey. There was a real spark of sexual chemistry that offered some possible respite from the rest of the nonsense the book was, but that went unconsumated and the opportunity was lost.

Oh well. I won't die wondering. I liked the cover. I didn't hate the book, I just kind of wondered the whole point of it was. Writing for writing's sake. 

Rix has written a second book, Browner which I won't be touching. I think a better title for this one would have been Brown Stuff.  

2 from 5 

Read - (listened to) November, 2021
Published - 2019
Page count - 168 (5 hrs 25 mins)
Source - Audible
Format - Audible

Wednesday 17 November 2021



Synopsis/blurb ...

A gripping novella from the New York Times best-selling author of the Inspector Banks Mysteries and a "master of the art" (Boston Globe)

Retired Cambridge professor Donald Aitcheson loves scouring antiquarian bookshops for secondhand treasures - as much as he loathes the scribbled marginalia from their previous owners. But when he comes upon an inscription in a volume of Robert Browning's poetry, he's less irritated than disturbed. This wasn't a gift to an unwitting woman. It was a threat - insidious, suggestively sick, and terribly intriguing.

Now Aitcheson's imagination is running wild. Was it a sordid teacher-pupil affair that ended in betrayal? A scorned lover's first salvo in a campaign of terror? The taunt of an obsessive psychopath? Then again, it could be nothing more than a tasteless joke between friends.

As his curiosity gets the better of him, Aitcheson can't resist playing detective. But when his investigation leads to a remote girls' boarding school in the Lincolnshire flatlands, and into the confidence of its headmistress, he soon discovers the consequences of reading between the lines.

Peter Robinson is one of a long list of authors whose work I want to give some proper attention to, but never actually consider when choosing what to read next, or even next week/month. I'm pretty sure I read either his first Inspector Banks book, or an early standalone years ago, but then moved on. My memory fails me and the recording of my reading was only instigated in 2010. I guess I'll never know unless I happen to re-read it and I recognise elements.

An opportunity to get stuck into something from him not overly long and on Audible (with the flexibility that format affords me) was worth a punt. The fact that it was a mystery from the Bibliomystery oeuvre and centred around books was a bonus.

We have a somewhat crusty retired academic, doing some sleuthing after reading a sinister dedication in a recently acquired book. Professor Aitcheson, nosey old git that he is might wish he hadn't bothered by the end of it. Conversely he may be glad he did. 

It was an enjoyable couple of hours nearly, with some book shop browsing, some white lies told, some amateur sleuthing, the odd pub lunch, a girl's boarding school, an unlikely alliance with the possibility of something more in the future, a quarry located, an interview, a confession, and several unexpected consequences.      
I quite liked the story, though it was maybe a bit of a stretch initially buying into the creepy inscription  triggering everything that followed. I've read names, dates, dedications in books before and they never induce more than a fleeting thought. I think my favourite find at the start of a book is a library stamp and its borrowing history - that gets me thinking. But hey that's just me.

The pace was fairly pedestrian, but I was happy getting where we were going in the author's own sweet time. I liked the style of writing, even if the main character was a bit of an odd-ball. That element probably added to the sense of enjoyment as opposed to detracting from it.  

Overall 3.5 from 5

I'll have to keep Robinson in the forefront of my mind when figuring out 2022's reading plans.  

Read - (listened to) November, 2021
Published - 2018
Page count -  50 at a guess (1 hr 46 mins)
Source - Audible 
Fomrat - Audible

Tuesday 16 November 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

This year, the fireworks will be red hot…

Skates Farrington is a changed man. Gone are the smart suits, the dull meetings and the extra pounds. Nowadays, he gets his thrills at the skate park and from whatever substances his dealers send his way. The only thing missing from his life is his ex-wife. She’s shacked up with a respectable partner in an isolated farm and striving to create the perfect life. Skates is convinced that she will come back to him when she sees his new self, but when attempts to win her heart all over again are thrown back in his face, he decides a little gentle persuasion is in order. Now he can include murder and abduction among his new-found skills.

DI Oliver Wilson, leading the investigation, has more than a few things on his mind. The case and imminent arrival of his third child should be at the forefront of his thoughts, but the arrival of a sequence of unusual gifts is making him nervous. The packages are sending him a message, he just can’t work out what they’re trying to say.

Ain’t That A Kick In The Head is the explosive follow up to Let It Snow and My Funny Valentine.


“Nigel Bird knows his characters inside and out—what they want, how they think, how they grow and how they fail. Ain’t that a Kick in the Head might be his best work yet. A convincing, engrossing portrayal of what life is like for cops and criminals alike.” —Chris Rhatigan, All Due Respect Books publisher

Ain't That a Kick in the Head is the third in Nigel Bird's Rat Pack series. Just putting it out there - it's one of my favourite contemporary crime fiction series. (For a sense of completism; Let it Snow and My Funny Valentine are the two earlier entries.)

Here the focus is on solving a murder and the search for a missing woman - Justine, the girlfriend of the murdered man. From the police's perspective she's possibly a suspect, possibly a kidnap victim. We have the same team of cops investigating as those encountered in the previous books, though it's a slightly pared down team with less characters than before. DI Oliver Wilson. DI Mike Marsalis and DS Sue Nolan are our main cop characters. Our local king-pin villain, Johnny Yen, a constant and sometime confidant of one of our cops also makes a welcome appearance.

Marital disharmony, jealousy, regret, obsession, delusions, and some extreme measures taken to woo back a partner who has grown up, moved on and left you behind. If a six stone weight loss, a new lifestyle and some gentle persuasion won't win Justine back from new love Colin, perhaps Skates Farrington might need to go a bit nuclear. Ergo murder, kidnapping, drugging and incarceration in his basement until the apple of his eye comes around to his way of thinking.

As a reader we know who's done what and to whom plus the why, but it's fun seeing the cops trying to catch up. Particularly when they are a little bit distracted by impending fatherhood and some odd happenings (DI Wilson I'm thinking of you) and in the case of Marsalis and Nolan, an ever increasingly confusing friendship set ablaze by sexual tension and scorching testosterone levels with restraint competing against reckless impulse. It's a wonder any investigating got done!

Quite fast-moving. Plenty of dark humour in the dynamics of the police relationships and in the time spent inside Skates Farrington's head. We get a satisfying conclusion to the drama, realistic as opposed to happy. There's also an answer to Wilson's bizarre deliveries, which is some fallout from one of the earlier books.

Ain't That a Kick in the Head works well as a separate entity, but I think it would be slightly more satisfying if it were read after the two earlier books. It's a short series. My advice, get on board now. 

4.5 from 5

Read - October, 2021

Published - 2021

Page count - 196

Source - review copy from a generous author

Format - PDF read on laptop

Monday 15 November 2021


Synopsis/blurb ....

A missing salami leads Mrs. Pollifax to a shocking discovery: a woman is hiding in her house. Even more unsettling is the revelation that ever since the young woman had a chance encounter with the heir to the throne of Ubangiba, she has been followed by deadly hitmen. What do these men want?

The last thing Mrs Pollifax expects to find in her closet is a young woman hiding.

Kadi Hopkirk insists that she is being followed by two men in a dirty white van. Under the cover of darkness, Mrs Pollifax tries to drive Kadi back home, only to have a dark green sedan give them a run for their money and, she begins to suspect, their lives.

Ever resourceful, Mrs P. puts in a call for help to her CIA colleague, Carstairs, who installs them in a safe house. Before she knows it, a dash to safety expands into an assignment that leads to hair-trigger violence in exotic places ...

Armed with only an open mind and a little karate, Mrs Pollifax is the most unlikely and lovable of international spies.

Mrs Pollifax's eleventh outing as Dorothy Gilman's unlikely CIA operative was my second time with the series and author. The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, the series opener was enjoyed a month or two ago. 

Here Emily Pollifax is drawn into a mystery concerning a high profile kidnapping and a pursued girl, both connected to the unstable African country of Ubangiba.

Car chases, salami, a travelling circus, millions of dollars and a thirst for power all feature in another fun adventure featuring our aged agent. We have a bit of hide and seek in the US, before our drama plays out at the Presidential Palace in Ubangiba with Emily's CIA boss, Carstairs taking a rare trip into the field to pull the strings.

Best book ever? No, but enough to keep me amused and entertained throughout. I enjoyed the narration by Barbara Rosenblat, who brings Emily to life for me. In the first book, Mrs Pollifax was widowed. Here she has acquired herself a new husband, presumably a consequence of one of her earlier adventures. Calm, unflappable and capable of adapting to whatever strange circumstance she finds herself in, Mrs Pollifax is a recent discovery for me and a welcome one. 

3.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) November, 2021
Published - 1994
Page count - 242 (5 hrs 58 mins)
Source - Audiobooks
Format - Audible

Saturday 13 November 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

In the first of six witty short stories, 60s-something English barrister, Horace Rumpole, takes on the younger generation both at home and in the hallowed courtroom-while offending his esteemed colleagues and his draconian wife, Hilda.

A collection of stories featuring Rumpole of the Bailey, including "Rumpole and the Younger Generation", "Rumpole and the Alternative Society", "Rumpole and the Honourable Member", "Rumpole and the Married Lady, "Rumpole and the Learned Friends" and "Rumpole and the Heavy Brigade".

A bit of a trip down memory lane insofar as I can dimly recall the TV series featuring Leo McKern as Rumpole. The show aired in the late 70s and ran on and off until 1992.

Six stories and six different cases which Rumpole defends with varying degrees of success. His motto is to never plead a client guilty. A lot of the stories comprise Rumpole philosophising on life in chambers, his home life, with his marriage to Hilda and his son, Nick; as well as on the state of the nation. There's a drinking culture surrounding the legal profession and Rumpole is usually partial to a taste post-chambers as well as a drop or two at home.

I quite like the observational nature of the tales which are now quite dated. We encounter the hippie culture in one of the stories and the outrage that induces in the middle classes. Almost a hang them for having long hair mentality. There's a subtle humour to all of the stories. Mortimer pokes fun at class and authority. This was a time when the word of the police would be accepted unquestionably.

Rumpole frequently defends the same criminal family and is the go-to-barrister for some south London villains. He negotiates the politics at work, has limited career expectations and always seems to be a disappointment to Hilda, his more ambitious wife. 

Other memorable stories feature an MP accused of rape and a divorce case where the opposing parties are being manipulated by their mercenary, avaricious son.

I enjoyed the nostalgia the book resurrected for me. My dad enjoyed the TV series, so it was nice to be reminded of him. Narration was by Patrick Tull, which was enjoyable with just the right amount of gravitas. 

There are plenty more Rumpole books to enjoy if I want to go down that route and while I wouldn't rule it out in the future, I think I'm satisfied for now.

3.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) October, 2021
Published - 1978
Page count - 208 (8 hrs 28 mins)
Source - Audiobooks
Format - Audible


Where to start? 3 new-to-me authors who I ought to have tried a while back. 3 who've been enjoyed before.

Antti Tuomainen - The Rabbit Factor (2021) - Audible purchase

I think I have four or five of Tuomainen's earlier books on the pile and I still haven't got to him. Go figure. This is his latest and might be a good place to start.b

Just one spreadsheet away from chaos…

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri's relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.

Hansjorg Schneider - Silver Pebbles (2022) - Edelweiss - Above the Treeline review site

Another new author and the second in his Hunkeler series. Time for a visit to Switzerland!

A hunt for drug gang diamonds is keeping Basel Inspector Hunkeler on tenterhooks.

Basel, nestled at the border of Switzerland with Germany and France, has been hammered by a huge snowstorm, cars and trams can barely move, trees are groaning under the weight of the recent snowfall, the cathedral and city roofs are smothered. An elegant young Lebanese man carrying diamonds in his bag is on the train from Frankfurt to Basel, a drug mule on the return journey. At the Basel train station, Inspector Hunkeler is waiting for him after a tipoff from the German police. The courier manages to get to the station toilet and flushes the stones away. Erdogan, a young Turkish sewage maintenance worker, finds the diamonds in the pipes under the station. To him they mean wealth and the small hotel he always wanted to buy near his family village. To his older Swiss girl-friend Erika, employed at a supermarket checkout counter, the stones signify the end of their life together. She knows that Erdogan has a wife and children in Turkey. For the courier, finding the stones is a matter of life and death. His employers are on their way to “tidy things up”. For Hunkeler the stones are the only way to get to the people behind the drug trade. They turn out to include not only the bottom-feeding drug gangs but bankers and politicians very high up the Basel food chain.

Tom Vater - Kolkata Noir (2021) - review copy from author

Tom Vater had been enjoyed before - The Monsoon Ghost Image. This is his latest.

Becker is a British traveler in trouble. Madhurima is a rising star police officer. In these three explosive tales, the two join forces to investigate the city’s crooked high society.

On the way, they take on deluded would-be messiahs in search of Mother Teresa’s stolen millions, encounter fanatics, circus freaks and cannibals, fall in and out of love and pay homage to one of the world’s most beautiful and toughest cities.

Amidst passion, murder and mayhem, is there room for two lovers driven by justice and compassion?

Tom Vater's 'Kolkata Noir' is a riveting crime fiction cycle of three novellas set in the past, the present and the future.

Sean O'Leary - Going All the Way (2021) - review copy from author

Australian crime. O'Leary's short story collection - Wonderland - was reading time well spent.

Travis is the night manager at the Cross Motel in Sydney’s notorious late-night district, Kings Cross. His life takes a drastic turn after a sex worker is brutally murdered on his shift.

Having broken up with his girlfriend and lost his dream of becoming a professional AFL player, Travis's life is in shambles. With the police breathing down his neck and his ex-girlfriend asking him to find her missing partner, Travis has got his plate full, and more.

His search takes him to Melbourne, where he also has to find two missing girls. Travis realizes there's only one way out: find the people responsible and bring them to justice. But can he make it out alive?

Peter Ritchie - Where Angels Rest (2021) - review copy from author

One of my favourite Scottish authors. Previously enjoyed - Our Little SecretsWhere No Shadows Fall and Maxine's Story

Grace Macallan is back in major crime investigation.

The arrest of a Finnish contract killer and the subsequent murder of an Edinburgh reporter seem unconnected – until a ghost from the past appears in the investigation.

The horrors of past misdeeds in Northern Ireland, contract killers, military secrets and organised-crime feuds collide on the streets of Edinburgh and the Irish Republic, drawing Macallan into brutal score-settling on Dublin’s streets and a life-or-death race against time.

CB McKenzie - Burn What Will Burn (2016) - purchased copy

A second novel from McKenzie. His debut - Bad Country also sits on the stack.

A noirish crime novel set in rural Arkansas from award-winning author C. B. McKenzie.

Bob Reynolds doesn't recognize the body in the creek, but he does recognize the danger of it. He's a newcomer to town, not entirely welcome and not entirely on good footing with the sheriff. So far he's kept his head down, mostly over the bar at the Crow's Nest. But he has interests other than drinking and spending his inheritance, including one that goes by the name Tammy Fay Smith and who may have caught the sheriff's eye as well.

Bob Reynolds would rather pretend he never saw the body, but when it disappears he begins to doubt what little he knew about this secretive town, one that seems to become more unwelcoming by the day. But he can't just forget the body, despite the advice he's given to do so and despite the evidence to suggest that he might be disappearing along with it.

Following his acclaimed, Edgar-nominated debut, C. B. McKenzie's Burn What Will Burn will appeal to fans of such literary crime authors as Daniel Woodrell, Tom Franklin, Joe R. Lansdale, and Nic Pizzolatto.

Friday 12 November 2021


 A couple from Indigenous Canadian author, Wayne Arthurson.

Arthurson was someone who had eluded my radar until a recent mention by Sam Wiebe had me seeking his work out. I've not tried him yet, but am looking forward to these two.

He has other works to his name. There's a three book series featuring an amateur detective, journalist and compulsive gambler - Leo Desroches. And there's a couple of other standalones. Surprisingly for me I'll stick with these two for now.

The Traitors of Camp 133 (2016)

Captain Mueller is dead. Hanged, apparently, by his own hand. But ex-police officer and war hero Sergeant August Neumann doesn't think it's quite so simple. How could it be with blackshirts, legionnaires, and communist sympathisers vying for control of the camp?

Now Sergeant Neumann must navigate these treacherous cliques to find the truth while under the watchful eyes of his Canadian captors.

The Red Chesterfield (2019)

M is a bylaw officer, living with two brothers, in their parents' old house. While investigating a 
suspicious yard sale, M discovers a red chesterfield sitting in a ditch. Looking closer, M finds a running shoe-and a severed foot.

Now M is involved in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, older brother K's work for a new political party begins to seem suspicious, while younger brother J navigates the complicated world of young-adulthood, and boss Rhonda demands more and more attention, M must navigate a world of Russian gangsters and neglected wives, biker gangs and suspicious coincidences. On top of everything else, M is determined to track down the owner of that red chesterfield and make sure they get a ticket.

The Red Chesterfield is a delightful, unusual novel that upends the tropes and traditions of crime fiction while asking how far one person is willing to go to solve a crime, be it murder or the abandonment of a piece of furniture.

Thursday 11 November 2021


Five cinema trips and a theatre outing for my birthday, courtesy of an incredibly generous daughter (she takes after her mum). She also treated me to dinner along with my better half and her worser half!

Dial M for Murder - Milton Keynes Theatre 


Can you ever get away with the perfect crime?

A brand-new production of the blueprint for the modern thriller, Dial M for Murder is back.

TV and stage favourite, Tom Chambers, (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing) stars as the charismatic and manipulative Tony Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro who has given it all up for his wife Margot, played by Diana Vickers, West End star (Little Voice), no.1 chart-topping recording artist and The X Factor finalist. When he discovers she has been unfaithful his mind turns to revenge and the pursuit of the ‘perfect crime’.

Made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s world-renowned film of 1950, the iconic Dial M for Murder will leave you spellbound as Tony becomes more tangled in the web of his own making. Also starring Christopher Harper (Coronation Street) this ultimate masterclass in suspense is guaranteed to entwine you with its spine-chilling twists and turns.

Dial M for Murder is the definitive seat-gripping drama that is not to be missed!
Left to right - Beast and the Beauties!

A stage adaptation of the famous Hitchcock film which I possibly saw as a teenager back in the late 70s. It's the sort of thing I would have watched with my parents back in the day. Suffice to say I couldn't remember anything about it.

There's a small cast of five..... a man, his wife, a writer/boyfriend, an old school friend-cum-victim and a policeman. Tom Chambers (recognised from Father Brown) and Diana Vickers (previously seen on X-Factor) star, as well as Christopher Harper (in dual roles) and Michael Salami.   

Really really good. Entertaining and fun and a fantastic outing in brilliant company!

No Time To Die (2021)

Well it's been a long time coming and when it evenually arrived I have to say I enjoyed it. Hand on heart, I'm not the world's biggest James Bond fan. A decent evening's entertainment and when it rocks up on TV at some point, I'll probably tune in again. I do like Rami Malek. Loved him in The Little Things, Papillon and Bohemian Rhapsody.

From Google...

James Bond is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter, shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain who's armed with a dangerous new technology.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

I think I was lucky insofar as I haven't yet seen anything of The Sopranos. I did get the boxset for my birthday, so hopefully I will correct that oversight one of these years.

I enjoyed this one - a bit of crime, action, violence, late 60s setting, Newark Race Riots. But it didn't really go anywhere. 

PS I do like seeing Ray Liotta on screen.

From Google ...

Young Anthony Soprano is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark, N.J., history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters start to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family. Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, whose influence over his nephew will help shape the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss, Tony Soprano.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

Not as much fun as the original. But not one I felt the need to flee the cinema from either. OK. I do like Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson.

From Google ...

Eddie Brock is still struggling to coexist with the shape-shifting extraterrestrial Venom. When deranged serial killer Cletus Kasady also becomes host to an alien symbiote, Brock and Venom must put aside their differences to stop his reign of terror.

Halloween Kills (2021)

I've probably seen a few of the earlier ones in the series. I think I was misled by the trailer which prominently feaures Jamie Lee Curtis. I think they must have crammed all her scenes into that, as she wasn't around much here. Seen better, seen worse.

From Google ...

The nightmare isn't over as unstoppable killer Michael Myers escapes from Laurie Strode's trap to continue his ritual bloodbath. Injured and taken to the hospital, Laurie fights through the pain as she inspires residents of Haddonfield, Ill., to rise up against Myers. Taking matters into their own hands, the Strode women and other survivors form a vigilante mob to hunt down Michael and end his reign of terror once and for all.

Dune (2021)

Enjoyable enough. I found it more entertaining than the original insofar as I didn't fall asleep during it. No real ending as such, I'm surmising it's a kind of part one? 

From Google ....

Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet's exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence, only those who can conquer their own fear will survive.

1. No Time To Die
2. The Many Saints of Newark
3. Dune
4. Halloween Kills
5. Venom: Let There Be  Carnage

Wednesday 10 November 2021


A busy month on the home front with plenty of TV drama consumed and not so much in the way of film. 8 vs 3

Annika (2021) - Alibi - TV Drama Series

Last episode (of six I think) watched and I really liked it. I do like the main actress - Nicola Walker. I liked her in Unforgotten (a series that I need to re-visit for the earlier episodes). I liked the Scottish setting to this drama. Remind me a bit of Shetland, even though it's set in Glasgow. A bit of a kicker in the final scene. I'm hoping there might be another series. 

From Wikipedia ...

Annika is a British crime drama television series, based on the BBC Radio 4 drama Annika Stranded. Produced by Black Camel Pictures for Alibi and All3Media, the first episode aired on 17 August 2021.

The series follows DI Annika Strandhed as she takes over a new Marine Homicide Unit in Scotland.

The radio series Annika Stranded was also written by Nick Walker and featured Nicola Walker as Annika Strandhed but was set in Oslo.

Venom (2018) - TV Film

This one rocked up on TV just as the second one was appearing in the cinema. I'm not a massive fan of the superhero film, but I quite liked this one. Plenty of humour in it and I do like Tom Hardy. It was much better than I expected.

From Wikipedia ...

Venom is a 2018 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character of the same name, produced by Columbia Pictures in association with Marvel and Tencent Pictures. It is the first film in Sony's Spider-Man Universe, and was directed by Ruben Fleischer from a screenplay by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel. The film stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and Venom, alongside Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott. In the film, journalist Brock gains superpowers after becoming the host of an alien symbiote whose species plans to invade Earth.

Fear of Rain (2021) - Netflix Film

A bit of a psychological mind-fuck as you watch this, not really knowing what is real and what is hallucinatory for the main character. Had us on the edge of our seats and a decent hour and a half's viewing.

From Google ....

Rain has early-onset schizophrenia, a condition that not only causes her to see vivid hallucinations, but also puts a strain on her parents. When she meets Caleb, a charmingly awkward new student at school, she finally feels she has a lifeline to normalcy. But as Rain starts to suspect that her neighbor kidnapped a child, she must soon figure out who and what is real while also battling the overwhelming forces that haunt her daily life.

Squid Game Season 1 (2021) - Netflix TV Drama

Binge-watched this over a couple of days after my two girls had watched it separately. It's pretty compelling viewing. There's plenty of tension in the games themselves and characters you love and root for and ones you despise. The main character started off being a dick, sorted himself out, then IMO went back to being a dick at the end of the series. I felt a bit flat after it.

I guess we can't actually having ending endings anymore for TV dramas. They just have to set a hook for a second season.

From Google ...

Hundreds of cash-strapped contestants accept an invitation to compete in children's games for a tempting prize, but the stakes are deadly.

Wrong Turn (2021) - Netflix Film

Horror set in the Appalachian Mountains as a group of young-uns going off hiking. Inevitably they get attacked in the woods. We kind of flip-flop a bit forwards and backwards in time as one parent goes looking for his daughter. Plenty of action and violence with unhelpful locals and a weird cult in the wilderness. I quite enjoyed it to be honest.

From Google ...

Wrong Turn is a 2021 horror film directed by Mike P. Nelson and written by Alan McElroy. The film is a reboot of the Wrong Turn film series, and stars Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Daisy Head, Bill Sage, and Matthew Modine.

The Handmaid's Tale (2021) Season 4 - TV Drama

Six episodes of ten watched and as per previous series it's very tense on a personal level as far as June, her estranged daughter's situation and the other Handmaids are concerned. There seems a bit less bigger picture this time around as far as Gilead is concerned, especially with the Waterfords imprisoned separately. 

I do wonder what the last four episodes will throw up, but I'm hoping it's all done and dusted after this series. I don't possess the energy or enthusiasm for a fifth. I do hope Aunt Lydia gets her just desserts before we are finished. Elizabeth Moss is her usual brilliant self. 

From Rotten Tomatoes ....

1. Pigs
An injured June and the fugitive Handmaids find refuge at a farm; an imprisoned Lawrence tries to avoid a death sentence; Aunt Lydia reels from the loss of 86 children on Angels' Flight; the combative Waterfords learn of June's feat.

2. Nightshade
June plots revenge at the local Jezebels, before she and the Handmaids plan to leave the farm for the next safe house; Moira deals with the fallout of June's choices; Serena and Fred are bound together by a miracle.

3. The Crossing
Captured by Gilead, June faces a vengeful Aunt Lydia and endures a tortuous interrogation; Nick and Lawrence collaborate to protect June; in Toronto, Luke struggles with how to help June and Hannah.

4. Milk
June takes a harrowing journey; Janine remembers a stressful experience in her past; Serena tries to manipulate Rita.

5. Chicago
June goes on the hunt for more active rebels within the Chicago war zone; Janine attempts to help her fit in with the new group of survivors; Moira embarks on her first field aid mission.

6. Vows
June contemplates the possibility of freedom.

Angela Black (2021) - ITV Drama Series

Not sure how many episodes in this series. I think we are three in so far and maybe a couple behind as it's airing on a weekly basis. Uncomfortable watching - domestic abuse and violence. Not sure I'm actually vibing it to be honest. Some of what has happened seems a bit bizarre and unlikely, though we may be on the cusp of an explanation. The jury is out.

From Google ...

Angela Black seems to be living her best life. She is married to a hard-working family man, has two sons and lives in lovely suburban London. However, Angela's picture-perfect life is hiding a terrible truth: she is suffering daily abuse from her controlling husband Olivier, and cannot escape him. Angela is then approached by a private investigator, Ed, who reveals all of Olivier's sinister secrets to her. She must decide to either endure her husband's abuse or trust Ed, and fight for her freedom.

Hollington Drive (2021) - ITV Drama Series

Four episodes long .... a dead child with two families caught up in the initial disappearance of the boy. We have lies, secrets, an affair, marital disharmony, bullying, a hampered police investigation and a lot more besides. It was semi-interesting, but as none of the main characters were especially warm or likable it was nothing to get excited about.  

From Google ....

The ordered lives of adult siblings Theresa and Helen are irreversibly altered when something terrible happens during a sunny family afternoon. When cousins Ben and Ava ask to go and play in the park, a chain of unforeseeable events is set in motion.

Manhunt Series 2 (2021) - ITV Drama Series

Hats off to Martin Clunes for his depiction of Colin Sutton in both this and the first series of Manhunt. He's added a lot of gravitas to his on screen presence, as I remember his Men Behaving Badly days. 

Interesting to see the portrayal of police politics with fresh eyes added to an old, flawed, existing investigation .... dick measuring, resentment, hostility, 

What a rotten bastard Delroy Grant was.

From Radio Times ...

Martin Clunes is set to return as former Met detective Colin Sutton in this ITV drama's second series. 
Series two, Manhunt II: The Night Stalker, sees Colin Sutton investigate the real life story of a notorious serial rapist who terrorised south east London, with writer Ed Whitmore adapting the series from Colin Sutton’s diaries.

Mrs Doubtfire (1993) - TV Film

One of my daughter's favourite films ever - she adored Robin Williams. I quite like it, but it's uncomfortable in places .... lying, deceit, trickery all employed in the name of love apparently.

From Google ....

Daniel, a divorced actor, disguises himself as Mrs Doubtfire, an ageing female Scottish housekeeper, in order to work in his ex-wife's house and spend more time with his children.

Vigil (2021) - BBC Drama Series

Last few episodes watched and overall I really enjoyed it. The setting of a nuclear submarine makes for tense, claustrophobic viewing. Great acting. I liked how my feeling towards certain characters flip-flopped throughout the series.

From Wikipedia ....

Vigil is a British police procedural television miniseries created by Tom Edge and produced by World Productions. The six-part series commenced on BBC One in August 2021. It stars Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans, Paterson Joseph and Martin Compston. The series is set in Scotland and much of the action takes place on a nuclear-powered Vanguard class submarine.

Detective Chief Inspector Amy Silva of the Scottish Police Service (the fictionalised Police Scotland) is sent to HMS Vigil, a Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, to investigate a death on board, which takes place shortly after the mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler. Her investigations, and those of her colleagues ashore, bring the police into conflict with the Royal Navy and MI5, the British Security Service.