Saturday 31 December 2022



When a number of scientists mysteriously disappear in Berlin, what seems to be a straightforward case rapidly becomes a journey to the heart of a dark and deadly conspiracy. It is a conspiracy that takes Len Deighton's working-class hero on a journey that will test him to the limits of his ingenuity and resolve, and call on him to prove himself as a spy at the very top of his game.


A book I mostly enjoyed but not as much as I had hoped to. The plot was a bit of a mess IMO, and what started out as an interesting premise, kind of fell by the wayside and morphed into something else.

I liked the unnamed protagonist and hero at the centre of the story. I enjoyed his interactions with his fellow British agents and support team. There's a wry humour in some of the exchanges with Alice and Jean. The salary of a British intelligence agent obviously isn't that great and our man is constantly trying to secure backpay and outstanding expenses from his boss.

There is plenty of action along the way here, at home and abroad with lots of danger for our man and like most espionage tales there's a question mark over people's true motives and trustworthiness which kept me (and our man) guessing.

Everything ties up at the end and makes sense, but I guess I must have missed something that The Guardian spotted. Enjoyable, but not up with the very best of Cold War fiction. Not that it has put me off hopefully reading more from this series in 2023.

At some point I also hope to watch the film version with Michael Caine and the recent TV adaptation. Maybe they will prove a tad more satisfying. 

3 stars from 5

Declarations Of War is my only previous encounter with Deighton's work, back in 2012. My only memory relating to that was it was a bit of a drag.

Read - December, 2022

Published - 1962

Page count - 368

Source - owned copy

Format - Paperback

Tuesday 27 December 2022


Synopsis/blurb ....

When Professor Dominic Hallkyn receives an anonymous phone call late one night from a voice claiming to possess a priceless Chaucerian manuscript presumed lost forever, he doesn't know how to react. Such a find could irrevocably alter the history of literature, as well as his career, and yet, he can't know if the caller is legitimate or merely a student playing a prank.

Hallkyn soon finds himself on a mad dash through the twisting streets of Boston, scrambling to meet the caller's demands. In a struggle for this unique historic artifact, Hallkyn must risk his life to save a work that may be doomed to disappear from history... this time for good.

An enjoyable one-sitting read from Thomas Perry, an author I would like to read more from. But then there's probably a couple of hundred or more that I could say the same thing about.

We have a long short story set in the world of books. This one is part of a long series of book related stories by talented authors mostly commissioned by Otto Penzler (I think). 

The story is about half of the 96 pages, the rest is a preview chapter for Perry's The Boyfriend - a book I've read and enjoyed before - and a reminder of other books in the 30 plus long Death Sentences series.

Medieval literature, Chaucer, a lost work, the world of academia, a sense of responsibility, culture, friendship, money, a wanting and a needing, vulnerability, an understanding of human psychology, a tease, a ransom, and a Boston recovery mission. An outcome - successful or not? Read it yourself and find out.

Enjoyable, satisfying and entertaining. Decent character development for a shortish piece and I'm a fan of book themed stories. A decent reminder of an author I like, but who I kind of neglect to read.

4 from 5  

Perry's The Butcher's Boy, Metzger's Dog, The Boyfriend and The Burglar have been read and mostly enjoyed previously. 

Read - December, 2022

Published - 2015

Page coumt - 96

Source  - Kindle Unlimited

Format - Kindle

Tuesday 6 December 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Ever since 1971, when he arrived in Glasgow as an eleven-year-old fresh off the plane from India, Rabinder (call me Rab) Singh has struggled to fit in.

When we join him in 1993, Rab is a plain-clothes Detective Sergeant in Glasgow. And he still doesn’t fit in, not least since his estranged Scottish wife is an Inspector in the same station. After he throws a punch at superior officer Ken Malloy, Rab barely avoids being sacked. Instead, he is posted to the small coastal town of Dunoon.

He leaves behind a workplace shamed by its failure to solve the disappearance of fourteen-year-old Ashna Gupta. Ashna’s and Rab’s parents were friends. Four years after she went missing, and on the day Rab is exiled to Dunoon, the case features on BBC’s Crimewatch.

Calls come in that implicate Rab’s father Baldeep, who died of a heart attack shortly after Ashna went missing. Rab’s mother Ruby, who guards Baldeep’s memory ferociously, interferes with the investigation, and Rab is warned that if he gets involved, he will lose his job.

Meanwhile, in Dunoon Rab faces the disappearance of teenager Zoe McCusker in a case that quickly has the media drawing parallels with the Ashna disappearance. Soon, Rab becomes a suspect in both investigations.

Zoe remains missing, the Dunoon station is barely functional, and the Ashna investigation continues to be led by Detective Inspector Ken Malloy, who is desperate to settle scores with Rab, who is barred from both investigations.

Thirty years ago, not many Scots were ready for a man in a turban turning their lives inside out, but Rab won’t let that stop him being a good detective. His career and the family name depend upon it.

In that order. Never mind what his mother says.

Lots to like with this one. A 90s setting, Glasgow, and an intriguing clash of cultures with a likable Scots-Indian detective in temporary exile from work and his marriage, looking into the case of a missing teenager on his new patch - Dunoon, while developments break in a high profile, four year unsolved other missing person case back in Glasgow - with the added twist of the missing girl, being the daughter of Rab Singh's parent's friends. 

I enjoyed this one. I really liked the main character. We get to see Singh, both as a detective and a father and errant husband. A one night stand has see difficulties arise in Singh's marriage. His wife is also a ranking police officer and despite the hurt Rab has caused her, they still care for each other. She runs the risk of harming both their careers by sharing developments in the Glaswegian missing teenager case, as a new lead casts suspicion on Rab's dead father. Rab is warned to leave well alone, but obviously can't.

I enjoyed how the two cases unfolded, with the author skillfully blending both story elements into the narrative. It's quite a busy book .... football, family, mistakes and regrets, teenage rebellion, father-daughter tensions, an absent mother, Indian culture, expectations and suffocation, the importance of community and appearances, the role of the matriarch, racism, work tensions, small town gossips, police investigations, the pressure of the press, competition, point scoring, conflict and loyalty.

There's a decent pace to the book. Nothing is rushed but we don't hang about getting to where we are headed. There's lots of humour in the conversations and situations, which adds to the enjoyment of the tale. Interesting characters and relationship dynamics - personal and professional and sometimes both at the same time.

The ending tied up nicely and there's a resolution to both cases, which mostly satisfied. If I had a criticism of the book, maybe the outcome was just a little bit too neat and gift-wrapped.

Overall - really really good. This could be the start of a cracking series. 

4 stars from 5

Author Ron McMilan's work has been enjoyed before - Bangkok Belle - back in 2017.

Read - December, 2022

Published - 2022

Page count - 184

Source - review copy from author

Format - ePUB read on laptop

Tuesday 29 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

An honourable man in a dishonourable profession.

When Aidan Asher – right hand man to Liverpool gang boss Irvine King – counsels against a deal with drug lord Emir Ercan, he is pushed to the periphery of the organisation and detailed, along with his brother Neal, to babysit Valentyna, King’s latest girl.

When the deal goes south and King’s money disappears, Asher is brought back into the fold and ordered to retrieve the cash and exact retribution on the perpetrator.

Double crossed, pursued by Ercan’s men and discovering Neal plans to abscond to the continent with Valentyna, Aidan must decide where his loyalties lie – with King and with honour – or will blood prove thicker than water?

Mayhem on Merseyside and The Med! An ex-Military man serves as a loyal lieutenant to a big wheel gangster, until his brother throws a spanner in the works.

This one's a really enjoyable outing with multiple settings, criminal gangs at home and abroad, two brothers, a kept woman and a ganglord with ambition and a devious untrustworthy underling. Chuck in some serious Turkish drug dealers, feared and respected throughout Europe and it's a heady combustible mix.

Betrayal, lust, infidelity, schemes and plans, family, tested loyalties, money, power grabs, flight, conflict, resettlement, new opportunities, new enemies and eventually former friends reconnecting back in Liverpool.

I really liked the dynamics between Aidan and brother Neal. Aidan isn't too sure about Neal's love choice, Valentyna but blood is thicker than water. Money is taken, pride is wounded and Liverpool is soon too hot for the trio. A decamp to Spain seems to offer a chance for prolonging their life expectancy.  

Like flies attracted to shit, our trio soon find more bother abroad. I like the peripheral characters we cross paths with in Spain. We get a view of a not-so-idyllic lifestyle abroad amongst an ex-pat community, where muscle and power, influence and fear are the currency of the day. 

There's a sense of marking time in Spain, that the events they've fled will catch up with them one day. The present is temporary, the past will come calling and the future will be unpredictable.

I liked Aidan's tenacity, his strength of purpose, his background, with his time in the military equipping him with confidence and a sense of calm in the face of danger. I liked his loyalty to his brother and his sister living back home and not part of the 'life.' I enjoyed the situations and the serious scrapes he found himself in with his cohorts. I liked his intellect, his problem solving, his risk assessments and his abilities.

I enjoyed Valentyna's role in the drama. She's always seems to keep something back. There's a cunning and a secret side to her and a sense that she isn't totally trustworthy. She seems to possess an uncanny knack for falling into the brown stuff and coming up smelling of roses. She's one of life's survivors.  

I enjoyed the storyline with the twists David Siddall served up. Tension builds up to an inevitable reunion where you know things will explode and lives will be altered and ended. The only question being who survives?   

Very, very good.

4.5 stars from 5

David Siddall's work has been enjoyed before - A Man Alone - back in 2020. 

Read - September, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 347
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF read on laptop

Wednesday 16 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

Loren D. Estleman has been writing and publishing books and novels since 1976. His fiction includes westerns, mysteries, thrillers, and historical thrillers. Along the way, he's written a number of crime stories. Stories about the darker side of life, broken hearts, swindles, double-dealing and just plain evil men and women who define the title of this collection. No matter how many times you put it down...Evil Grows.

In this collection of twelve tales, you'll find killers, cheats, liars, detectives, and more twists and turns than a country road. Contents include:


Evil Grows


How's My Driving?

Saturday Night at the Mikado Massage

The Pioneer Strain

The Used

The Tree on Executioner Hill

Lock, Stock, and Casket

Bad Blood

State of Grace

Diminished Capacity


Another Audible enjoyed (with a decent narration by Paul Heitsch) collection of short stories from an author who I've been meaning to read for a long time, just never got around to. I've a few Estleman novels on the pile - the Peter Macklin hitman series, Gas City and the odd Amos Walker PI novel. I may actually have read an early Amos Walker novel, though if I did it kind of feels like it was in a previous life, as zero memory remains of the book title or contents; only the lingering suspicion that it wasn't amazing, as I never picked up another by him soon after.

Two months on, I can't remember much about the stories, only that I wasn't bored. Ergo - I enjoyed the collection and the narration didn't annoy me. If it had, I would have remembered that at least.

The Mikado Massage story stands out when flicking through the table of contents, so I guess that one was the most memorable. A close second would be The Tree of Executioner Hill, which had a twist at the end, which I saw coming. I didn't enjoy the story any the less for that. The others - good, bad, indifferent? Probably good, maybe indifferent and perhaps the odd one which I didn't vibe.

Time to try one of his novels.

3 from 5  

Read - (listened to) September, 2022

Published - 2012

Page count - 124 (4 hrs 39 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible

Tuesday 15 November 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Kane was a top CIA assassin until he suffered traumatic physical and psychological injuries in a mission that went horribly wrong. The Agency wiped his memory, gave him a new identity, and retired him to a life of mundane, anonymous domesticity. But his training, and his talent for killing, came back with a vengeance. He created a new life for himself as a killer-for-hire, righting wrongs for people who can't find peace or justice any other way. He doesn't know that his memories are fiction, or that he is always being watched, or that he's been targeted for death by a rogue faction within the Agency.


In this brutal, fast-moving thriller from Ralph Dennis, the author of the legendary Hardman series of crime novels, Kane finds himself caught between the mob, Cuban revolutionaries, and his own government as he seeks retribution for a man murdered for uncovering small-town corruption...and justice for another man on death row, falsely convicted of raping and murdering a child.

Praise for Ralph Dennis

"There are times when Dennis' writing touches on the inspired. He knew how to ride the zeitgeist....if not get ahead of the game. A TALENT FOR KILLING is a really exhilarating action thriller that springs a couple of surprises." NB Magazine UK

"Like Chandler and Hammett before him, Dennis was trying to do something different with what was thought of as throwaway literature." Joe R. Lansdale

"Ralph Dennis has mastered the genre and supplied top entertainment." New York Times

"Exceptional characterization, strong and vigorous prose." Mystery Scene Magazine

A portion of this book was previously published in 1976 under the title Deadman's Game

A busy book much of which can be explained by Lee Goldberg's input in combining a lost unpublished  manuscript with an earlier release featuring main character Kane. There's plenty of story to get your teeth into here.

Spies, CIA types - rogue and straight, a hitman with a wiped memory and some conflict. Kane works his contracts with his handler, unaware that his previous employers are taking a keen interest in his new career. Some elements want him removed from the board permanently. This arc mainly picks up in the second half of the book. The first half sees Kane cleaning up a dirty town.

Interesting, exciting, entertaining. The storyline is a bit dated and a bit of a stretch, but I had a good time reading it, even though on balance there might be a wee bit too much going on for the one book. I would have probably enjoyed it a bit more as two separate stories. 

I enjoyed seeing the story from two angles - Kane's perspective and those in the agency.

4 stars from 5 

Ralph Dennis has been enjoyed before and will be again. 

Atlanta Deathwatch and The Charleston Knife is back in Town - the first two in his Hardman series were enjoyed back in 2019. Time to get back on that horse.

Read - (listened to) September, 2022
Published - 2019
Page count - 299 (9 hrs 29 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Tuesday 8 November 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Jimmy Rabbitte hates jazz, always has. But his wife Aiofe loves it, and Jimmy loves Aiofe. So when, in attempt to convert him, she buys him two tickets for a Keith Jarrett concert he decides to take Outspan, former member of Jimmy's band The Commitments, who has come back into his life after a chance meeting in the cancer clinic. Jarrett is famous for being intolerant of any noise at all - a cough, a sneeze, a wheeze - from the audience, stopping playing and shaming the perpetrator. And Outspan's diagnosis is lung cancer, it's pretty bad, and he needs an oxygen cylinder to breathe properly.

Will Outspan create havoc? Will Jimmy learn to love jazz at last?

Late 80s, early 90s Roddy Doyle was on a growing list of authors whose latest books I just had to have. I had more than a few laughs reading The Van, The Commitments, The Snapper. Like a lot of authors I fell away from his work, choosing to follow newer kids on the block and having my head turned this way and that. Enough affection for the author and his books remained that they survived several culls of the collection over the past thirty years, in the optimistic hope that I'd re-read them one day.

Moving on, the next best thing I suppose is that I read a short offering that I picked up about 9 years ago for my kindle.

Family, friendship, ill health, sacrifice, jazz, the things you endure for love and a few smirks and chuckles - always to be welcomed on a rainy autumn morning before heading off to work.

Really enjoyable, a real mood lifter and a timely reminder of how much his work resonates with me. I love the Dublin vibe, the people, the setting, the chat, the cussing, the banter and the attitude. 

4.5 from 5    

I'll be trawling the collection soon, looking for something else by Doyle.

Read - November, 2022

Published - 2013

Page count - 22

Source - purchased copy (probably for ZERO pence)

Format - Kindle

Thursday 3 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

A Shot To Kill

A Vengeful Assassin
A Treacherous Asset
A Paranoid Target

Slade Heller, a young assassin, works for a private intelligence company called the Elysium Group. He’s sent to Florida to eliminate a drug cartel’s violent enforcer with just one shot. The operation is burnt from the beginning. A traitor at Elysium has sold Slade out to the target. The hunter is now the hunted.

Fueled by his rage and determination, Slade dives deeper into a fiasco where deadly criminals are after his head. Risking his own life to kill the traitor at Elysium Group, a criminal who didn’t take his redemptive second chance at life, Slade’s also hunting his target before innocent lives are lost. Captured, then on the run without any backup, Slade Heller has to use all his wits, cunning, and brutality to survive and get the job done by any means necessary.

Fans of action-packed dark comedies, antiheroic assassins, Dexter Morgan, Sterling Archer, Victor the Assassin, Deadpool, John Wick, and twisted spy thrillers will enjoy this first in a series of fast-paced, short, standalone thrillers. Scroll up and buy it now!

An okay read, enjoyable upto a point but not especially stand-out or memorable.

Some of the writing and sentence arrangements seemed a bit clunky to my eye and I found myself re-reading at a bit of a slower pace, as it wasn't particularly smooth and rolling. This kind of eradicated any momentum that may have been building up.

The story itself was alright. A man on a mission, where true to form things don't go to plan.
Action, conflict, imprisonment, escape, violence.

A Shot to Kill is the first in a series of five Slade Heller novellas. There are some short stories as well featuring the same character. I have one other on my Kindle, which I'll get to at some point. No busting rush. Hopefully the second encounter will be the charm, which encourages me to dig deeper into the author's canon of work.

I like the premise, I'm a sucker for discovering new authors and giving them a go. I am partial to a hitman/assassin story.

3 from 5 

Read - October, 2022
Published - 2021
Page count - 49
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Tuesday 1 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

Why should people hate vultures? After all, a vulture never kills anyone...

He led the way into his quarters, motioned Ebor to a perch, and rang for his orderly. "It was just a little remote-controlled apparatus, of course," he said. "The fledgling attempt, you know. But it circled this Moon here, busily taking pictures, and went right back to the planet again, giving us all a terrible fright. There hadn't been the slightest indication they were planning anything that spectacular." "None?" asked Ebor. "Not a hint?"

A Westlake short story which was originally published in Analog Science Fact & Fiction September 1961. It's one of four pieces by him available via Project Gutenberg.

It's not a story that will live long in the memory to be honest. 

Outer space, a space colony, concern over a threat from an alien species who seem to be developing technologically faster than anticipated.

I much prefer Westlake's crime and mystery fiction, but with the age of the piece, I'm guessing he was trying different things at this early stage in his career. 

3 from 5

Read - October, 2022
Published - 1961/2011
Page count - 10
Source - Project Gutenberg
Format - PDF read on laptop

Tuesday 25 October 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

Sheriff Jax Turner is staring down the barrel of his broken past. On the brink of ending it all, he feels like a failure following his daughter’s tragic passing and his subsequent divorce. But when a schoolgirl vanishes and her backpack is found in a sex offender’s backseat, the weary lawman drags himself into action and vows to nail one last sociopath.

Shocked to discover the teen’s aunt had lost her life in an abduction years prior, the devastating outcome that he’s taken personally, Jax believes the killer has returned with a vengeance. But as the desperate cop frantically hunts down a mysterious relative in search of a suspect, the girl’s time keeps ticking away…

Can the jaded sheriff take down the culprit in time to bring the young girl home alive?

An enjoyable enough read which got better as it went along. I had a bit of trouble gettting into the book, which might have been me and the mood I was in, or it could have been that the book was slow to get going and didn't immediately grab my attention. Probably a bit of both.

The main character, Sheriff Jax Turner has his issues and in fact is just about to kill himself when he gets a call about a missing girl. I suppose it made a change from the usual narrative of the hard-drinking, troubled protagonist, but it was still a bit of a cliche. As the book goes along we get his backstory of grief and loss with child bereavement and divorce.

A teenage girl has disappeared on her way to school. The clock is ticking. An urgent investigation kicks off involving family, friends, and community. Everyone seems to have secrets, including the missing girl and everyone including the girl's mother is less than straight with Turner. Information is not readily forthcoming. Turner also has to contend with the small town big man, the guy with money, power and influence who isn't happy with Turner questioning his son, a boy who has a connection to the missing girl. Threats are issued over Turner's badge, all of which is a distraction from the man doing his job.

There's some history involved as well, with a connection to an unsolved murder years ago when Turner was a homicide detective with a different police force. Obviously it's the case that haunts Turner, the one that was never resolved where another girl was failed. Or so he feels. The previous case impacts on the present and Turner believes it's a solve one, solve both situation, only this time the imperative is that the girl is saved.

I liked the book better the more I read. There were several twists and turns to the narrative with different suspects coming to prominence, then fading as the book went on. One of the twists completely blindsided me - hats off to Keliikoa; the other I saw.   

The main character grew on me as the book progressed, I sympathised with him a bit more, maybe because his head came out of his ass and he was focussing on other things as opposed to wallowing in self pity. He actually manages to let go of the past a bit. 

Overall it was a decent read, one which I enjoyed and came away from thinking... yeah that was a bit different, a bit better than I initially thought. 

3.5 stars from 5

Read - October, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 300
Source - review copy from Net Galley
Format - Kindle

Monday 24 October 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

All Laramie Davis wanted was a hot meal. What he got was a plate full of trouble. It started with the killing of a Deputy Sheriff in Rock Springs and went downhill from there. Laramie tangled with outlaws, blood hungry Indians, and a murderous posse led by a family of killers. Before it was over, many men would die and Laramie would be lucky if one of them wasn't him!

Another day and another Audible listen in the company of favourite narrator, Theo Holland. To be fair, he's only as good as the material he's reading and here it's a Western from author, B. S. Dunn. And it's pretty good.

One man, Laramie Davis, a gunfighter comes up against a corrupt but powerful family, after one of them, a deputy sheriff idiotically tries to steal his horse.

Davis after shooting him dead, has to flee town. The family - the sheriff, the town judge and another deputy - pursue him. Needless to say there are further complications in the book, as we cross paths with more villains, a kidnapped woman and a tribe of Native American braves. 

Lots of action, decent storyline - its busy, with an interesting main character - he's part of a series from Dunn, and I can see how you could get a good bit of mileage out of the character. 

Entertaining and satisfying. If I get the chance to read more in the series, I will.

4 stars from 5

Read - (listened to) September, 2022

Published - 2016

Page count - 323 (4 hrs 7 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible

Friday 21 October 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Every writer finds the question "Where do you get your ideas?"annoying, even insulting in its presupposition that the idea's all there is to it. Shakespeare got most of HIS ideas from other writers; do you think it was the idea of it that enabled him to write, say, "Romeo and Juliet?" Or that the same idea, a couple of centuries later, guaranteed success on Broadway for "West Side Story?"


Besides, we never know where ideas come from, or how they reach us. Something blooms in the garden patch where dwelleth the unconscious mind, and it doth or doth not engage on, and when everything works it takes root and groweth into thomething. (Sorry, I meant something.)

Of course, there are exceptions. In the summer of 1976 I was driving east across the Arizona desert with my three young daughters, who'd flown out to spend the summer with me. I had a '68 Chevy, old enough to give trouble, although thus far it hadn't. I stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere, and the helpful station owner kept spotting potential problems, one right after another, and...

Couple of hours later I was back behind the wheel, fuming more than the engine ever could. I fell silent, and after a few minutes I straightened up and said, "Okay."

One of the girls asked what exactly was okay.

"That just cost us $200 I can't afford," I said, "and I don't know whether the son of a bitch saved us or screwed us. But if I write the story and run it to 4000 words, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazines takes it and pays their princely nickel a word, at least we come out even."

Which happened. I wrote it a few days later, AHMM snapped it up, and published it the following March. And then, a couple of years later, it got dramatized on TV for Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. I figure Dahl had about as much to do with the program as Hitch did with the magazine, but who cares? That highway stop had paid off nicely.

And I still don't know for sure if we got saved or screwed...

Another wee bump to the reading stats and a bit of a pick me up as I do like a bit of Block and I've been struggling with my reading of late.

A short story and funny enough a first chapter intro to a Bernie the Burglar book - Spoons - which I'm just about to start soon anyway.

Two brothers stop at an isolated gas station for fuel and a coffee. The two are on their way elsewhere to meet a guy and pull a job and their funds are low.

The gas owner and his wife who runs runs the cafe/diner opposite his joint use the isolated location to charge an optimum price for their wares. The gas fill up leads to a repair job, then another fix, and another ... a $10 fill up runs to nearly $300.

Who's robbing who?

Enjoyable, if a little predictable. I liked where it went and how we got there. The ending is under-stated which is pretty much bang on.

Short, long, fact, fiction, dark or light - Block can do it all well. 

4 stars from 5

Read - October, 2022

Published - 2013

Page count - 22

Source - Kindle Unlimited

Format - Kindle

Note to self. See if I can find the TV show which was drawn from it. You Tube here I come.

Monday 17 October 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

The scandalous new novel from the godfather of the legal thriller.

Lucia Gomez is a female police chief in a man’s world and she’s walked a fine line to succeed at the top. Now a trio of police officers in Kindle County have accused her of soliciting sex for promotions and she’s in deep.

Rik Dudek is an attorney and old friend of Lucia’s. He’s the only one she can trust, but he’s never had a headline criminal case. This ugly smear campaign is already breaking the internet and will be his biggest challenge yet.

Clarice ‘Pinky’ Granum is a fearless PI who plays by her own rules. Her 4-D imagination is her biggest asset when it comes to digging up dirt for Rik but not all locks are best picked.

It’s cops against cops in this hive of lies. And it will take more than honeyed words from the defence to change the punchline and save the Chief from her own cell.

I do like a legal thriller and author Scott Turow is well known for crafting them. Win/win when the opportunity to enjoy his latest offering, Suspect came a calling.

Great story with plenty of twists, turns, tangents and off-shoots. A cracking cast of characters, not least the lawyer's PI, Pinky who is at the centre of the narrative. She's capable, quirky, irrational and definitely one of a kind. Her personal life kind of spills over into the case, albeit at one step removed, as she doesn't know how her interactions with her neighbour have a connection with the guy, who Gomez fears has set up the sting operation against her - former police officer, now billionaire tycoon, Moritz Vojczek.

I loved the way the tale unfolded. I do like a bit of confrontation in a courtroom and we get this when the first witnesses are cross examined by Chief Gomez's defence. I think actually it's a kind of pre-trial hearing/inquiry, as opposed to a full-on trial, buit the to-ing and fro-ing and dissembling of testimony is really enjoyable.   

As the book progresses, more factors comes into play, with murder and the involvement of the FBI. Gomez ends up fighting for more than just her job and reputation. Surveillance techniques, recording devices, gadgets, gizmos and new-wave tech also feature prominenntly.

Really satisfying, really interesting, very clever.

There's also a cracking narration from Robert G. Slade. 

4.5 stars from 5


Read - (listened to) October, 2022

Published - 2022

Page count - 449 (14 hrs 20 mins)

Source - review files from Isis Audio

Fornmat - Audible

Friday 14 October 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

Darwyn Cooke, Eisner-Award-winning writer/artist, sets his artistic sights on bringing to life one of the true classics of crime fiction: Richard Stark’s Parker. Stark was a pseudonym used by the revered and multi-award-winning author, Donald Westlake. 

The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind - to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him! 

The Hunter is the first of four graphic novels from Richard Stark's Parker series. I read the original book by Stark (aka Donald Westlake) years ago, so it was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me.

Great tale, great artwork. Like previous encounters with graphic work, I struggled on occasions to decipher the block text accompanying the art. More a me problem than anything with the book. I did end up reading it on my work breaks, where I could have it on a larger screen. A slight inconvenience, but nothing to bump me out of the story.

I really enjoyed this series a long time ago and have re-acquired copies of all the books. I'm hoping to go first to last next year, having previously stopped at #16, which was the last of the original series, before Westlake brought Parker back after a twenty year hiatus.

My kind of reading. A tough guy outlaw, determined, violent if he has to be, but taking no pleasure in the act, ruthless, economical, logical, a good investigator, able to follow a chain from A to B to C, capable and committed. He has his rules and ethos and he's not someone to suffer fools gladly. Here it's a tale of revenge for being double crossed and left for dead after a job. 

Do I like him? Tough one. I admire him and I probably wish I had a bit more of his steel and conviction in my own make-up. I find him interesting to read about.

4.5 from 5

Darwyn Cooke adapted four of the Parker series. Hopefully I'll read the other three.

Read - September, 2022

Published - 2012

Page count - 141

Source - Kindle Unlimited

Format - Kindle



Synopsis/blurb ...

Dante O’Donnell is white, gay and getting older every day. He has wasted his better years on starstruck dreams and the wrong men, so now he's working as a concierge for a vacation-rental outfit in Palm Springs, where the guests have far more baggage than what's packed in their suitcases. But when he finds a dead body floating in the swimming pool at one of his rentals, his own troubled past comes back to haunt him. So he turns for help to Jazz Friendly, a Black woman who, when she was a Palm Springs cop, nearly arrested him for murdering his husband, which he didn't do...not that he knows who did. Now Jazz is a struggling PI, her career derailed by racism. And with her marriage broken by booze, she's desperate to get custody of her kid. Dante and Jazz need each other to solve this murder...and to save themselves from personal and professional disaster.

"Michael Craft is bound to nab accolades for his new that weds the shadowy mystique of noir and the sunny beauty of the desert to winning ends." The Desert Sun

"Craft, as always, mixes plot and dialogue deftly, stirring humor, humanity, and mayhem to create believable characters that go about the business of solving crime with a twist of wry. You’ll beg to see more of these two." Lavender Magazine

Desert Getaway was a quirky, enjoyable murder mystery featuring an unlikely couple of investigators. 

Dante O'Donnell discovers a dead body in the swimming pool of a rental property. Elements of the story have dimmed in my memory in the six weeks or so since I read it, so how he ends up as an unofficial assistant to a PI looking into the crime eludes me now. I'm sure it was plausible and made sense at the time. There's a certain irony to the situation, insofar as he is working closely with Jazz Friendly, a down-on-her-luck PI. Their paths crossed previously when she arrested him for the murder of his husband, something he was totally innocent of.

It's quite a light mystery with lots of humour in the narrative and the situations. Dante is gay, footloose and fancy free and has more than a few liaisons during the course of the book. A near neighbour is a regular hook-up as is one of the suspects in the murder case. Jazz Friendly is slightly more serious minded. The pair bond and Dante helps and encourages her in her sobriety, as well as supporting her efforts to remain close to her child, which her ex-husband has custody of. He also helps furnish her dull office. Is it a given that gay men know how to decorate?

I enjoyed the relationship dynamics, probably a bit more than the murder investigation. I can't really remember too much about the victim. I cared insofar as how it impacted on O'Donnell. 

Answers are arrived at after some amateur sleuthing and snooping, and the outcome stacked up and made sense. There are more than a few suspects or persons of interest. The motive for the crime needs establishing before too much progress can be made. An event from the past also gets settled. The setting of Palm Springs was also a plus.

This one has been badged as the first in Craft's Dante and Jazz series. If there's a second at some point I'll be interested in reading it, assuming time allows. That's one yardstick for measuring my enjoyment of a book - would I want to read more from the author and about the same main characters in the future? In this case, yes.    

3.5 from 5

Read - September, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 282
Source - review copy from publisher Brash Books
Format - Paperback

Thursday 13 October 2022

MARK ROGERS - TJ99 (2022)

Synopsis/blurb ...

Back a man into a corner. Take away his ability to earn a living. Imperil his family. Do these things and a man will either stand down or stand up.

It’s happening all over America. First, a guy loses a job. Then his unemployment dries up and he becomes a 99er. Rafe is one of these unfortunates. He coasted through life until the bottom fell out. Instead of slowly circling the drain, Rafe and his Mexican-born wife Paloma decide to leave Southern California behind and make a new life in Tijuana, Mexico.

Life is humming along south of the border until one bad move finds Rafe sucked into the Tijuana underworld of drug cartels. Years of laidback living have ill-prepared Rafe for life or death stakes.
Rafe has to up his game in a big way—and fast.

TJ99 is the first in Mark Rogers series of Tijuana Noir novels. He's published five to date.

Like my previous encounters with Rogers' work, I enjoyed it.

America has eaten up and spat out another victim. The job has gone and the bank is taking back the home. Estrangement from grown family, makes a move south a slightly more attractive option for Rafe and his wife, especially as they can crash with her family until Rafe finds work and things improve.

So far so good, until a detestable and feckless family member gets Rafe involved in drug cartel business. Danger, escalation, kidnapping, cross border smuggling - people and drugs and an unlikely fightback. 

I enjoyed the story. It's a tough read in places, especially one man's desperation as the economy and circumstances and life have ground him down. Its an increasingly common tale, as not just in the US and even the UK, the rich and powerful seem to want a bigger slice of the cake to the detriment of those at the lower end of the food chain. Don't you hate bankers and big business and enabler politicians that rig the game in favour of those who always have more than they could ever need?

I liked how Rafe wasn't quite broken and had enough spirit to fight for the women he loved. There is also an uplift, in a form of reconciliation with his son.

Hope and optimism, sometimes in short supply is never quite extinguished. 

4 from 5

Gray Hunter, The Death Dealer (with Adam Rocke) and Red Thread have been enjoyed before.

Read - September, 2022 
Published - 2022
Page count - 240
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Wednesday 12 October 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Jack thought he had stumbled into an easy free-lance news story for The Boston Globe. Bobby Mullaney and his wife, Melanie, are strange but amiable hippies running a marijuana legalization movement in rural Maine. Bobby's friend and sidekick Coyote is a disturbing tough-guy and, Jack suspects, a liar, yet the three of them have an interesting argument to make, so Jack begins unfolding their tale. But the story takes an ugly turn when Bobby and Coyote disappear and Melanie, unable to go to the police, turns to Jack for help. He follows a lead that takes him to Bobby's hometown, known for its murderous traffickers in the hard-core drug trade. No one has seen Bobby, but Coyote has, apparently, been asking questions. When Bobby's charred car turns up with a body burned beyond recognition inside, Jack must find out what happened between the two men, and exactly what kind of murder has taken place.

Another enjoyable encounter with Gerry Boyle and his series character, Jack McMorrow.

Here I spent 10 hours, traipsing around rural Maine in the company of McMorrow. Here, he's initially chasing a story about a local legalize marijuana campaign. As is wont to happen when Jack is around, it soon morphs into a missing persons investigation and twists again into murder and something else besides.

There's a great setting with an interesting exploration of the area, mainly in the sticks, but some urban outings. Boyle throws up a lively debate regarding pot and the pros and cons regarding legalisation. Hard to have an opinion on it when I don't use. Some of the penalties imposed on people using it for purely medicinal purposes seem unduly harsh, and yeah I know its fiction and in the quarter of a century since the book was published things have very probably changed regarding the legal situation. I'm sure law enforcement could probably be doing more worthy tasks than chasing people smoking a bit of weed.

Again, like in the first three books, Jack goes all in and is soon in danger. Fortunately, trusted friend Clare has his back.

I like Boyle's writing and the way he spins his tale. It takes a while to get where we are eventually headed, but it's a decent ride getting there. There's another seven or eight books in the series and I have a few more of them in the Audible library which I'll be looking forward to.

4 stars from 5

Lifeline (1996), Bloodline (1995)  and Deadline (1993)  have been enjoyed previously. 

Read - (listened to) September, 2022
Published - 1997
Page count - 360 (10 hrs 7 mins)
Source - Audible purhcase
Format - Audible

Tuesday 11 October 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

Billie Jo Higgins may be small, but she is a skilled burglar, using her craft to keep her and Toby, her addict twin brother, afloat in a hard world. It is a difficult life, but the two are surviving. They take care of each other.

Then B.J. stumbles into the wrong house at the wrong time and sees something she shouldn't. The explosive secret she now holds is dangerous, and the person it threatens immediately pursues B.J. with the solitary intent of silencing her forever.

Suddenly, "survival" takes on a whole new meaning...

(*NOTE: Jack McCrae mysteries, Sandy Banks thrillers, and Stanley Melvin PI Stories also take place in the shared universe of the SpoCompton series)

Tough, tense, harrowing, scary, exciting and sad. Another top read from Zafiro in one of my favourite series and settings - his SpoCompton universe.

I was experiencing a bit of a reading slump this month. Not anymore as this one had me gripped.

Twins, Billy Jo and Toby. One a burglar and barely keeping herself and the other, her heroin addicted brother barely afloat. 

Scout, scope, act, flee, fence, feed, score and sleep. Repeat ad finitum. It's a grim lifestyle, but other options don't exist. 

Dangers - cops, especially a female detective with a hard-on for BJ; the parole officer - even if he ain't such a hardass; bangers; citizens - outraged by home invasion and violation; the two desk clowns at the fence's lock-up; the comedian at the grocery store always with a cruel word and a sneer; the creepy landlord with his alternate payments option instead of the rent; and maybe Toby's appetites themselves.

One of the above catches Billy Jo in its headlights, and survival just got tougher.

Haunting, satisfying, and my kind of story, with a couple of outsiders trying to get by when the rest of the world doesn't give a damn.

5 from 5

Roll on the next in this top, top series.

All the Pieces FallAt Their Own Game and In The Cut are the first three bangers in this cracker of a series. 

Read - October, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 191
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle