Friday 28 January 2022


 A couple this week from another new-to-me author, Craig Holden.

Craig Holden had six books published between 1994 and 2007, but nothing since. I wonder why.

The Last Sanctuary (1996)


From the author of The River Sorrow, hailed by the New York Times as 'a haunting, highly original thriller' comes a harrowing portrayal of an innocent man accused of murder, plunged into America's dark underworld of armed militias and terrorist cults, running from cops, federal agents - and his own tortured soul.

Joe Curtis is twenty-five, a Gulf War veteran with a survival instinct honed to a razor's edge. On the road to rescue his trouble brother, Joe is burned-out and nearly broke when a chance encounter changes his life - for the worse. And forever. Agent Leanne Red Feather, a Native American in a department full of tough white men believes that Curtis will lead her to a cache of stolen arms, and to charismatic cult leader Father Amon. A man preparing his acolytes for Armageddon.

So begins a chase across America that ends in The Last Sanctuary - a place as universal as our own worst nightmares. 

Four Corners of Night (1998)

It's 9.00 on a Sunday morning in a city deep in America's midwest. Bank Arbaugh and Mack Steiner have just come off the night shift. Sitting in a cafe waiting for breakfast, they get a call over the radio: a teenage girl is missing. With a glance, the two cops - friends since childhood and close as brothers - know that their lives have shifted off balance. Seven years before, Bank's own daughter disappeared and has never been found.

'A book that adds a human dimension to crime writing and is all the more harrowing for it.' The Guardian

'Craig Holden's Four Corners of  Night brings new life to familiar grooves and has the hallmarks of a modern classic.' Time Out

Thursday 27 January 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

The action starts 10 minutes after the conclusion to A Crimson Sky for Dying, when young private detective Archie Archibald gets his second case.

Beautiful Lauren McAllister, from the famous McAllister spice dynasty, has suspicions her husband is fooling around...again. She hires Archie to corroborate her assumptions.

A sudden, untimely death plunges Archie into the dark underbelly of the wealthy McAllister family, where things are not what they appear to be. 

The story heats up when the shady Mrs. Culpepper rents a storefront several doors down from Archie’s office, and her hot-tempered son, Slim, starts paying unwanted attention to Archie’s new office manager. What exactly are the Culpeppers up to? 

Throw in fast cigarette boats, dangerous artifacts from the Amazon, and a steroid-crazed bodybuilder, and Archie and his friend Luther find themselves once again in the middle of another perilous mystery.

Another one from late last year and another okay listen. Didn't love it, didn't hate it.

A rich, dysfunctional family, a PI, some friends, a girl, another dysfunctional family - not rich, but criminal tendencies dealing in stolen goods and rather hot-headed. Marital discontent and evidence seeking leads to another case, this time involving death of the suspected adulterer. All the above collide in a mystery which I was bored by, but wasn't especially thrilled neither.

An okay book which filled time, added one to the tally and tied me over until my next great read.

And that's about it.  

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) December, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 198 (5 hrs 47 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Wednesday 26 January 2022


Synopsis/blurb ....

Sandy Banks is the last of The Four Horsemen, a vigilante group of ex-cops determined to right the injustices of a broken court system. But now the project is disintegrating, putting him in the middle of chaos. Betrayed by his final partner, blackmailed by the project head, and pursued by federal agents bent on busting the case wide open, Sandy scrambles to escape this mayhem with his soul intact.

Another enjoyable read/listen from Frank Zafiro late last year.

I really liked this one from the get go, though in truth if the events depicted in the book were re-enacted in real life, I'd be appalled and outraged. In fiction, I find it fun to see bad guys taken down by fair means or foul. Sandy Banks gets way more latitude from me than any over zealous plod would.

A group of ex-cops have for some years been dispensing their own brand of terminal justice to criminals who have beaten the judicial system and are deemed beyond the pale. The cabal is now splintering. A couple of members have left previously, their old quartermaster died, one more wants out and Sandy Banks is the last man standing. The Feds are closing in on the operation and Sandy is wondering whether its time to head for the hills, after maybe one more job. His current hit provider is ahead of him on that score, but needs to subvert Banks to sort out some of his own personal issues. 
Sandy gets played and he isn't too happy about things. It ain't quite over.

Exciting, tense, extremely interesting premise and main character as well as a fast-moving tale. Zafiro portrays the frustrations and disappointments of dedicated police officers when cases go south, through either sloppy police work or legal loopholes. You can tell he knows of what he writes. Hopefully the vigilante stuff is purely his imagination in overdrive.

I've seen this one badged as a first in series, though it seems to have remained that way for 10 years or more. I'd definitely fancy another rodeo with Banks either as a prequel or sequel.

Decent narration as well from Daniel Dorse.

4.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) November, 2021
Published - 2011
Page count - 206 (6 hrs 10 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Tuesday 25 January 2022

D. P. LYLE - A-LIST (2017)

Synopsis/blurb ...

Nothing is easy in The Big Easy

PI Jake Longly and Nicole Jamison head to New Orleans at the behest of Nicole's uncle, movie producer Charles Balfour, when his megastar, A-list actor Kirk Ford, awakens in his hotel bed with the body of Kristi Guidry, a local college coed. Ford, in the Big Easy for a location shoot, remembers little of the evening and nothing of the murder. And, to make matters worse, Kristi is the niece of a local mafioso-type who will do whatever is necessary to avenge her death. Balfour is losing money every day the filming is stalled—he needs his actor cleared, and quickly.

Surrounded by glitzy Hollywood stars and intimidated by seedy underworld characters, Jake and Nicole encounter nothing but obstacles. Something isn't right. The facts don't fit. Who would want Kristi dead? Why frame Kirk for the murder? Everyone has an opinion, including Kristi's friends and ex-boyfriend, the local homicide detectives, and a fortune-teller. The clock is ticking as Jake and Nicole struggle to decipher who's lying, who's telling the truth, and exactly who schemed to murder Kristi Guidry. Nothing is easy in The Big Easy.

A-List is the second in the Jake Longly series after opener, Deep Six. I enjoyed it, but maybe a tad less than the first. 

The main characters are the same as the previous book. Jake is our narrator, but its more of a PI collective with girlfriend, Nicole; BFF Pancake aka Tommy and his dad, Ray who runs Longly investigations making up the team. 

Nicole's uncle is a hot-shot Hollywood type and he needs some help. His star man, Kirk Ford is on location filming in New Orleans and there's a dead girl in his bed. The girl is the niece of a New Orleans gangster type and he's not happy. Kirk's in the frame for murder and he's going to pay one way or another. 

The Longly team de-camp to New Orleans and do some investigating. Not everything is as it seems. 
I like the dynamics of the book and the interactions of the main characters, in particular Jake and Nicole. There's a subtle wit to their exchanges and it makes for one of those easy reader-character relationships that would be diminshed if one of the pair was missing. 

New Orleans as a setting, I can take or leave to be honest. I've read a few books set there (James Lee Burke - maybe peripherally from memory), and in truth it doesn't excite me as much as say Chicago or Detroit, plucking a couple of US cities from the air.

The story unfolds with the Longly's investigating and I think at the three-quarter mark I guessed who did it, if not necessarily the exact why they did it. I don't think my realisation spoiled the last quarter, in some ways it's kind of nice to be ahead of the curve.

Humour, characters, story and pacing were good. There's some action and conflict. Pancake dishes out some bruises to get information and there's a good guys - bad guys vibe with some dumb guys hanging in the middle. Lyle has an easy style of writing which keeps you engaged. Setting was so-so. Overall more to like than dislike. 

4 from 5  

Read - January, 2022
Published - 2017
Page count - 331
Source - review copy from Net Galley. Apparently I bought a copy as well.
Format - Kindle

Monday 24 January 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

Sunny Florida, beautiful beaches, no traffic on A1A...

Zombies roaming the dunes in search of the living.... Darlene Bobich is in a fight to survive, find food, safety, and ammo for her Desert Eagle before its too late. Dying Days are upon us. The Undead roam the Earth...searching for the rip apart...Extreme violence... Extreme sexual situations...Extreme Undead...

Continuing the Darlene Bobich story begun in Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer...and soon to be an independent film!

I fancied a bit of a change from my usual reading and decided to mix things up with a shortish Audible listen and a Zombie Apolocalypse offering from Armand Rosamilia. I've read and enjoyed Rosamilia before and he didn't let me down this time.

We have some fast-fiction, akin to a fast-food meal. Not especially memorable but able to satisfy a particular craving at the time. 

Zombies; a non-zombie, female main character who has endured loss and sexual assault and who is surviving the new world reality the best she can. To say, Darlene Bobich's life is a bit of a struggle is an understatement ..... hunger, wanderlust, a permanent search for sustenance and shelter, temporary alliances with other non-infected survivors, some temporary comfort, repeated attacks from both Zombies and non-Zombies, death, violence, blood, and several helpings of sex.      

I didn't realise at the time that this is the second tale in Darlene's ongoing struggle, after Darlene Bobich Zombie Killer (a title I have subsequently listened to and enjoyed), but I don't think it makes a big difference in the scheme of things. The world continued to spin on its axis despite me reading the first couple of these episodes out of sequence. There's nine or ten in all, but despite my enjoyment I doubt I'll have the stomach to last the distance. I think events and happenings are going to become a bit repetitive after a while.

Rosamilia did make me chuckle though. Who knew that some Zombies could have sexual appetites and hard-ons?

Fast, exciting, gory and bloody in a lot of places. Probably one to be avoided if you are of a sensitive disposition, or if you don't vibe thrills with horror that demand a suspension of disbelief. 

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) November, 2021
Published - 2012
Page count - 82 (2 hrs 27 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Saturday 22 January 2022


Another half dozen into the library, three favourites and three new-to-me authors ....

Ian Loome - Quinn Checks In (2014) - purchased copy

A bit of a punt. This one popped up in my feed when browsing on Amazon. It has some good reviews and the premise of an ex-con PI always sucks me in. First in a series of 14 so far.

Liam Quinn’s out of jail and out of luck.

His short-lived forgery career behind him, Quinn turns his sharp mind and sharper wit to better use, as a private investigator.

But being an ex-con PI isn’t easy, especially when the bad guys want you on their side. And when an art heist leads to murder, he’s back on the run, from the mob, from the cops, from everyone. The only chance he has is recovering a stolen Dutch master.

So that should be easy.

Tired of taking wrong turns, Quinn’s determined to make amends. Even if it kills him.

Wit, murder and a good man who’s made bad choices; the Liam Quinn mysteries from Amazon bestseller Ian Loome.

Stephen Mack Jones - Dead of Winter (2021) - purchased copy

I think this was on offer for about a quid, maybe two. I've heard great things about Jones and his August Snow series, of which this is the third. I do like Detroit as a setting for crime fiction.

A shadowy Detroit real estate billionaire. A ruthless fixer. A successful Mexicantown family business in their crosshairs. Gentrification has never been bloodier.

Authentico Foods Inc. has been a part of Detroit’s Mexicantown for over thirty years, grown from a home kitchen business to a city-blocklong facility that supplies Mexican tortillas to restaurants throughout the Midwest.

Detroit ex-cop and Mexicantown native August Snow has been invited for a business meeting at Authentico Foods. Its owner, Ronaldo Ochoa, is dying, and is being blackmailed into selling the company to an anonymous entity. Worried about his employees, Ochoa wants August to buy it. August has no interest in running a tortilla empire, but he does want to know who’s threatening his neighborhood. Quickly, his investigation takes a devastating turn and he and his loved ones find themselves ensnared in a dangerous net of ruthless billionaire developers. August Snow must fight not only for his life, but for the soul of Mexicantown itself.

Paul Heatley - Snow Burn (2021) - purchased copy

An old favourite. Snow Burn is the 4th in the Tom Rollins series. I really enjoyed Blood Line, the first in the series. I've some catching up to do.

He wasn’t looking for trouble. But it was looking for him.

Former black ops specialist Tom Rollins has spent the last six months living in the wilds of Alaska. He’s enjoying the isolation, but his peaceful life comes to an end when he rescues a stranger, Roger Noakes, from two hitmen.

Turns out Roger is a crooked accountant who works for the Russian mafia. Some of their money has gone missing and Roger is the number one suspect.

And now that Tom has rescued Roger, mafia boss Yuri lets it be known that he is on their hit list too. Tom isn’t worried about himself, but he is afraid the mob might try to get to him through people he cares about.

And so he is dragged into a fight he never wanted against a formidable organization which is plotting to blow up the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, causing an ecological disaster in the wilderness he has come to love.

With the threat of large-scale devastation looming, and Yuri’s half-mad henchman Fedorov in hot pursuit, keeping his friends safe and alive will require every one of Tom’s lethal skills.

Snow Burn – book 4 of the superb Tom Rollins action thriller series. Perfect for fans of Lee Child, Jason Kasper & David Archer

Stella Rimington - The Devil's Bargain (2022) - Net Galley reviewer site

An author I've been meaning to try for years. This is the first in a new series hopefully. I do like a bit of espionage in my reading.

One lie put the nation at risk. Another might save it.

The new spy thriller from Stella Rimington, former head of MI5

Harry Bristow: policeman, father, chauffeur, fraud.

In 1988 Harry made one mistake: he took a bribe, letting a man he knew as Igor into Britain – and he's regretted it ever since. So when he recognises Igor many years later as his newly-elected MP, he knows he has to come clean. But the MP recognises him too – and Harry fears what he might do next.

Peter Robinson, MP: salesman, politician, bachelor, spy.

It was easy to get into Britain in 1988 as an illegal, working deep undercover, but the break-up of the Soviet Union cut Robinson off from his homeland. He's inching closer to Britain's levers of power – but now the one man who knows his secret has reappeared. With no way to contact Moscow, he must act fast to preserve his position and reap its rewards – at any cost.

Manon Tyler, CIA analyst, has just boarded a plane to London – with a report on Russian illegals to read.

Colin Conway - Cutler's Chase (2021) - review copy from author

I really need to keep up with Conway. He writes fast. Second in series and I've got to read the first yet!

What would you do for a murdered friend?

When a friend is murdered, John Cutler is determined to find those responsible. This means running afoul of the local police department, a drug-running crew, and a wanted man who’s eluded capture for more than a decade.

Now, danger lurks around every corner and in the shadows, but Cutler isn’t easily intimidated. Instead, he’s the type who will doggedly pursue justice at risk to his own life.

Soon, bodies appear wherever Cutler’s been—a trail of destruction left by a desperate man to cover his tracks.

As John Cutler closes in on the truth, can he catch a killer before he escapes the law once again?

Cutler’s Chase is the second book in an exciting new series from Colin Conway, the author of the 509 Crime Stories and the Flip-Flop Detective. If you want gritty crime fiction at a whiplash pace, then this book is for you.

Deon Meyer - The Dark Flood (2022) - Net Galley reviewer site

Another author and series that I love. Meyer has been read a few times before....

Cobra (2012) (twice) and Trackers (2011) (before the blog began)

Disappearances ensnare two South African detectives in a web of corruption in this stunning thriller by the Barry Award–winning author of The Last Hunt.

Assigned to investigate the disappearance of a young university student and brilliant computer programmer detectives Benny Griessel and Vaughn Cupido hit dead ends. But the trail—including the death of a fellow police officer—leads to a series of gun heists and the alarming absence of certain weapons from the police registry, the ramifications of which could be devastating.

As Griessel and Cupido intensify their search, real estate agent Sandra Steenberg confronts her own crisis: state corruption has caused the real estate market to crash, exacerbating the dire financial straits facing her family. She puts aside her misgivings to work for a notorious billionaire and playboy, only to have him disappear on her. Now Griessel is forced to juggle between the man’s bitter wife, protective lawyer, and Steenberg, the last person to see him alive.

With propulsive and intricate plotting, sharp prose, and an ending that takes one’s breath away just when the dust seems to have settled, The Dark Flood spotlights the state capture and corruption that has overtaken the country, lending political weight to a powerful story.

Praise for the Benny Griessel series

“[An] outstanding series.” —The Wall Street Journal


Another half dozen into the collection ....

Colin Conway (ed.) - A Bag of Dicks (2021) - review copy from author

A collection of shorts related to Colin Conway's 509 series and featuring some authors who's work I've enjoyed in the past.

With scorching tales from Jonathan Brown, Sarah M. Chen, Bill Fitzhugh, Scott Kikkawa, Nick Kolakowski, Debbi Mack, Kat Richardson, Brian Thornton, Sam Wiebe, Jim Winter, and Frank Zafiro.

Detective Jim Morgan just gave Roy Utt the opportunity of a lifetime. What happens next is the stuff of legend.

In an instant, Roy Utt’s life changed, and it happened at Dick’s Hamburgers.

A guy ran from the parking lot with a bag of burgers clutched to his chest. To Roy, it was life on the street—weird things happen, and wondering why is wasted time.

But today is no ordinary day because Detective James Morgan was also there. Unlike Roy, Morgan isn’t in the habit of dismissing bizarre events. Instead, he wants to know what was in the bag, and he’s giving Roy the incentive to find it—a Get Out of Jail Free card.

If Roy knows one thing, it’s that Morgan’s word is better than the dry sandwiches and mushy apples in lock-up.

With the clock ticking on the deal, Roy is already sharing too much information. The allure of a Get Out of Jail Free card attracts the smart, the cunning, and the stupid. An all-out scavenger hunt is underway in the criminal underworld.

Will Roy earn his Get Out of Jail Free card, or will he become a footnote in the legacy of the streets?

A Bag of Dick’s is a collection of twelve short stories from crime fiction’s liveliest voices.  Get your copy today and experience the 509 in a way you never expected.

Mark Brandi - The Rip (2020) - purchased copy

Aussie crime and a further chance to enjoy Mark Brandi's work again. Into the River was a cracking read back in 2019.

A young woman living on the street has to keep her wits about her. Or her friends... but when the drugs kick in that can be hard.

Anton has been looking out for her. She was safe with him. But then Steve came along.

He had something over Anton. Must have. But he had a flat they could crash in. And gear in his pocket. And she can't stop thinking about it. A good hit makes everything all right.

But the flat smells weird.
There's a lock on Steve's bedroom door.
And the guy is intense.

The problem is, sometimes you just don't know you are in too deep, until you are drowning.

Georges Simenon - The People Opposite (1933) - Net Galley reviewer site

A prolific author who  I should have read more of. Only the one so far - Maigret's Dead Man.

'You'll get used to things, you'll see. But you have to watch very carefully what you say and what you do.'

Adil Bey is an outsider. Newly arrived as Turkish consul at a run-down Soviet port on the Black Sea, he receives only suspicion and hostility from the locals. His one intimacy is a growing, wary relationship with his Russian secretary Sonia, who he watches silently in her room opposite his apartment. But this is Stalin's world before the war, and nothing is as it seems. Georges Simenon's most starkly political work, The People Opposite is a tour de force of slow-burn tension.

'Irresistible... read him at your peril, avoid him at your loss' Sunday Times

Carl Nixon - The Tally Stick (2020) - Net Galley reviewer site

A bit of New Zealand crime from a new-to-me author.

Lost in the wilderness: subjugation, survival, and the meaning of family

Up on the highway, the only evidence that the Chamberlains had ever been there was two smeared tire tracks in the mud leading into an almost undamaged screen of bushes and trees. No other cars passed that way until after dawn. By that time the tracks had been washed away by the heavy rain. After being in New Zealand for only five days, the English Chamberlain family had vanished into thin air. The date was 4 April 1978. In 2010 the remains of the eldest child are discovered in a remote part of the West Coast, showing he lived for four years after the family disappeared. Found alongside him are his father’s watch and what turns out to be a tally stick, a piece of scored wood marking items of debt. How had he survived and then died in such a way? Where is the rest of the family? And what is the meaning of the tally stick?

Frank Zafiro - Dirty Little Town (2021) - review copy from author

Latest offering in Frank Zafiro's River City series.

Times are tough for the River City Police Department. The city budget is collapsing, forcing an already understaffed department to contemplate laying off cops. The community is upset over the handling of recent events, and their anger is impacting the agency from the ground up. Negotiations with the police union are somehow both heated and stagnant at the same time. To "fix" the problem, the mayor appoints a new chief, but the cure may be worse than the disease.

Worse yet, a killer is stalking the streets of River City, targeting vulnerable women. Rookie detective Katie MacLeod is assigned to assist in the effort to stop him but the case is stymied.

Somehow, the men and women of RCPD have to put aside all of the distractions and focus on their jobs – to serve and to protect.

Takes place in 2003.

Rod Reynolds - Black Reed Bay (2021) - purchased copy

Another author who's books I seem to collect but have never read, despite loads of great reviews. What's the matter with me?

‘Urgent, thrilling and richly imagined. Without doubt his best yet' Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at the End

‘Reynolds captures the claustrophobic feel of a small town  … a tense slice of American noir’ Vaseem Khan, author of Midnight at Malabar House

'If you were hooked on Mare of Easttown, this will be right up your street … I read this obsessively' Nina Pottell, Prima

‘Rod Reynolds makes the most of this desolate, windswept location … a thrillingly complex narrative develops at speed … his superior cop saga is just the first instalment of a projected series’ The Times


Don’t trust ANYONE…

When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.

Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it’s going to have only one ending…

And then the first body appears…

Friday 21 January 2022


A couple of novels from way, way back from an author I had never heard of until Pushkin Vertigo re-issued some of his work..... Leo Perutz

I don't read enough older, historical, GA type fiction. And I don't read enough European fiction. Two ticks in the box for one here. 

From Pushkin's website....

Leo Perutz is the author of eleven novels that attracted the admiration of such writers as Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, Italo Calvino, and Jorge Luis Borges. He was born in Prague in 1882 and lived in Vienna until the Nazi Anschluss, when he fled to Palestine. He returned to Austria in the fifties and died in 1957.

Little Apple (1928)

Vittorin, a young Austrian officer released from a Russian prisoner-of-war camp returns home to Vienna where his family, his girlfriend and his old job await him. But he cannot even think of settling into a new life until he has tracked down the camp commandant who bullied his prisoners.

Saint Peter's Snow (1933)

It could have been a common street accident that put Dr. Georg Amberg in the hospital, but for the five weeks his doctors say he has been in a coma, recovering from a brain hemorrhage after being run down by a car, he has memories of a more disturbing nature. What of the violent events in the rural village of Morwede? The old woman threatening the priest with a breadknife, angry peasants with flails and cudgels, Baron von Malchin with a pistol defending his dreams for the Holy Roman Empire - how could Dr. Amberg ignore these? And what of the secret experiment to make a mind-altering drug from a white mildew occurring on wheat - a mildew called Saint 
Peter's Snow.

In this feverish tale of a man caught in the balance between two realities, Leo Pertuz offers a mystery of identity and a fable of faith and political fervor, banned by the Nazis when it was first published in 1933. Saint Peter's Snow is typical of Perutz's storytelling mastery: extraordinarily rich and elegant fiction that is taut with suspense, full of Old World irony and humor.

Thursday 20 January 2022


Plenty of new books to get excited about this year ...... Alan J. Parks, Mick Herron, Peter Farris, Dietrich Kalteis, Scott Blackburn and Gary Phillips for starters.

Mick Herron - Bad Actors (2022)

Bad Actors will be the 7th or 8th Slough House novel. I've fallen behind with the series and really ought to catch-up. I've been putting off reading them in a kind of tantric sex-delayed gratification thing. Which actually makes no sense. Good books are written to be read, no?

Slow Horses, Dead Lions and the related novellas, The Catch, The Marylebone Drop and The List have been read and loved thus far.

Mick Herron, “the le Carré of the future” (BBC), expands his world of bad spies with an even shadier cast of characters: the politicians, lobbyists, and misinformation agents pulling the levers of government policy.

 “Confirms Mick Herron as the best spy novelist now working.”

—NPR's Fresh Air

Soon to be an Apple TV+ series starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas.

In London's MI5 headquarters a scandal is brewing that could disgrace the entire intelligence community. The Downing Street superforecaster—a specialist who advises the Prime Minister's office on how policy is likely to be received by the electorate—has disappeared without a trace. Claude Whelan, who was once head of MI5, has been tasked with tracking her down. 

But the trail leads him straight back to Regent's Park itself, with First Desk Diana Taverner as chief suspect. Has Taverner overplayed her hand at last? Meanwhile, her Russian counterpart, Moscow intelligence's First Desk, has cheekily showed up in London and shaken off his escort. Are the two unfortunate events connected?

Over at Slough House, where Jackson Lamb presides over some of MI5's most embittered demoted agents, the slow horses are doing what they do best, and adding a little bit of chaos to an already unstable situation . . . 

There are bad actors everywhere, and they usually get their comeuppance before the credits roll. But politics is a dirty business, and in a world where lying, cheating and backstabbing are the norm, sometimes the good guys can find themselves outgunned.

Mick Herron - Bad Actors (2022) - US cover I think

Dietrich Kalteis - Nobody From Somewhere (2022)

One of my absolute favourite authors working today. This one will be his 10th novel. I've enjoyed seven of his previous nine so far and hope to get caught up on the two others I haven't yet read. He's highly recommended. Pick any or pick all - thank me later!

In this action-packed caper novel, a long-retired cop gets wrapped up with a girl on the run

Long-retired cop Fitch Henry Haut is terminally ill and living out his final years alone. As he sits in his favorite diner enjoying the meatloaf special, he watches as a young girl steps in and spots two rough-looking men at the counter. When they see her, she runs off and they give chase.

His cop instincts kick in and Fitch follows, catching up with them in the parking lot. As the two men try to force her into their vehicle, Fitch manages to get the upper hand, and he and the girl take off in his broken-down Winnebago.

The girl is Wren Jones, a runaway from an abusive foster home. Earlier that day she overheard the two men going on about a casino robbery they just committed, and this was the second time she got away from them that day. Fitch realizes the men will come hunting for them again, and that the ailing rig he’s driving won’t be hard to spot. A bond forms as Fitch and Wren struggle to escape out of town, both aware that time is not on their side.

Gary Phillips - One-Shot Harry (2022)

LA, 60s setting, Gary Phillips - 3 ticks in the box! 

Race and civil rights in 1963 Los Angeles provide a powerful backdrop in Gary Phillips’s riveting historical crime novel about an African American forensic photographer seeking justice for a friend—perfect for fans of Walter Mosley, James Ellroy, and George Pelecanos.

LOS ANGELES, 1963: African American Korean War veteran Harry Ingram earns a living as a news photographer and occasional process server: chasing police radio calls and dodging baseball bats. With racial tensions running high on the eve of Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rally, Ingram risks becoming a victim at every crime scene he photographs.

When Ingram hears about a deadly automobile accident on his police scanner, he recognizes the vehicle described as belonging to his good friend and old army buddy, a white jazz trumpeter. The LAPD declares the car crash an accident, but when Ingram develops his photos, he sees signs of foul play. Ingram feels compelled to play detective, even if it means putting his own life on the line. Armed with his wits, his camera, and occasionally his Colt .45, “One-Shot” Harry plunges headfirst into the seamy underbelly of LA society, tangling with racists, leftists, gangsters, zealots, and lovers, all in the hope of finding something resembling justice for a friend.

Master storyteller and crime fiction legend Gary Phillips has filled the pages of One-Shot Harry with fascinating historical cameos, wise-cracks, tenderness, and an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride of a plot with consequences far beyond one dead body.

Peter Farris - The Devil Himself (2022)

Last Call For the Living, Farris's previous book still sits on the TBR pile. Hopefully I'll read it before this one drops. This one seems to give off a slightly similar vibe to Scott Blackburn's book below, with comparisons to Brian Panowich

For Fans of Brian Panowich and Ron Rash.

Southern Noir at its finest, The Devil Himself, sizzles with page-burning suspense and bewitching characters. Deep in the forest of South Georgia, barely eighteen-year-old Maya narrowly escapes a savage end. The victim of a vast human trafficking operation managed out of Mexico, Maya had the misfortune to discover the dark plans of a high-ranking client. Her fate seemed sealed, until Leonard Moye, a lonely eccentric who tolerates no one on his land, takes the young woman under his protection. Both having lived lives that have left deep scars, each consumed by anger, they soon develop a bond that makes them, as a pair, a formidable foe, even for hardened criminals and professional scumbags. Maya knows too much and the old man lives on land in the crosshairs of narco machinations. As the heavies seek to finish the job, they find they may be no match for the resourcefulness of a disturbed old man and a cunning young woman.

Written with a skilled combination of breakneck pace and mind-searing detail, Farris has created a wicked and compassionate novel of redemption.

First published in France with enormous critical acclaim and winning multiple literary awards, The Devil Himself will mark Peter Farris as a major crime writer in America as well. 

Scott Blackburn - It Dies With You (2022)

A debut novel that dropped on my radar via Twitter. Looks like my cup of tea. Roll on June!

Scott Blackburn’s searing literary debut explores the dangerous world of secrets threatening to upend a rural Southern town, perfect for fans of David Joy and Brian Panowich.

For nearly a decade, twenty-nine-year-old Hudson Miller has made his living in the boxing ring, but a post-fight brawl threatens to derail his career. Desperate for money, Hudson takes a gig as a bouncer at a dive bar. That’s when life delivers him another hook to the jaw: his estranged father, Leland, has been murdered in what appears to be a robbery-gone-bad at his salvage yard, Miller’s Pull-a-Part.

Soon after his father’s funeral, Hudson learns he’s inherited the salvage yard, and he returns to his Bible-belt hometown of Flint Creek, North Carolina, to run the business. But the business is far more than junk cars and scrap metal. It was the site of an illegal gun-running ring. And the secrets don’t end there; a grisly discovery is made at the yard that thrusts Hudson into the fight of his life.

Reeling for answers, Hudson joins forces with his father’s former employee, 71-year-old, beer-guzzling Vietnam vet Charlie Shoaf, and a feisty teenage girl, Lucy Reyes, who’s fiercely seeking justice for her own family tragedy. With a murderer on the loose and no answers from the local cops, the trio of outcasts launch an investigation. The shocking truth they uncover will shake Flint Creek to its very core.

Alan Parks - May God Forgive (2022)

One of the best series currently running. Glasgow, 70s, cops and crims ... what's not to like?
Roll on May, June, July etc
The previous entries... 
The April Dead

Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a hairdresser's has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high.

When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, the van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspaper: one down, two to go.

Detective Harry McCoy has twenty-four hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow's most powerful people to do it . . .

Wednesday 19 January 2022

D. P. LYLE - DEEP SIX (2016)

Synopsis/blurb ....

Ex-professional baseball player Jake Longly adamantly refuses to work for his father, wanting no part of Ray’s PI world. He prefers to hang out at his beachfront bar and chase bikinis along the sugary beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. But Ray could be persuasive, so Jake finds himself staking out the home of wealthy Barbara Plummer, a suspected adulteress. The mission seems simple enough—hang around, take a few pictures, sip a little bourbon. Except Barbara gets herself murdered right under Jake’s nose.

When Jake launches into an investigation of his target’s homicide, he quickly runs afoul of Ukrainian mobster Victor Borkov. Aided by his new girlfriend Nicole Jemison and  Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, his behemoth employee with crazy computer skills, Jake tries to peel away the layers of the crime. The deeper the intrepid trio delves, the more murders start to pile up, leading them to Borkov’s massive yacht—where they just might be deep-sixed. 

My first time with author,  D. P. Lyle and his series character Jake Longly. And not my last by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I've already enjoyed the next two in the five book long series and the fourth is about to be started.

A PI tale, a stakeout, infidelity, strife from an ex-wife, a damsel to the rescue, a new romance, murder, suspicious cops, a dual investigation - police and our PIs, a Ukrainian mobster and his henchmen, some house cleaning, more death, more murder, a bit of sneaky undercover work and a one way boat trip. 

I really liked this one. It's fast-paced and fun. There are some great dynamics and interactions between Jake and Tammy, the troublesome ex-wife; Jake and his dad, Ray; Jake and new girl Nicole; and Jake's best friend and PI employee, Pancake and just about everyone he meets. I think it also might be a first for me in visiting Alabama in my reading. The coastal setting was another plus.

It's an interesting case. A murder goes down just after Jake finished his surveillance on a suspected cheater and his ex-wife's new husband might be in the frame. The job changes. Clear the man and help find the murderer. 

I enjoyed the twists the author conjured with the story and I like his style of writing. There's a lighter touch with lots of humour prevalent, without ever being laugh out loud funny. It takes real skill to bring characters to life and make them likable and good company, without making them too unrealistic. Lyle achieves it in spades.

Great story, interesting characters, decent resolution, a bit of action, especially towards the climax of the book. Really entertaining. My kind of fiction. 

4 from 5

Read - January, 2022

Published - 2016

Page count - 360

Source - purchased copy, though I previously had a review copy courtesy of Edelweiss - Above the Treeline which I had forgotten about

Format - Kindle 

Tuesday 18 January 2022



Synopsis/blurb ....

Jeff Danziger, one of the leading political cartoonists of his generation, captures the fear, sorrow, absurdity, and unintended but inevitable consequences of war with dark humor and penetrating moral clarity.

If there is any discipline at the start of wars it dissipates as the soldiers themselves become aware of the pointlessness of what they are being told to do.
A conversation with a group of today’s military age men and women about America’s involvement in Vietnam inspired Jeff Danziger to write about his own wartime experiences: “War is interesting,” he reveals, “if you can avoid getting killed, and don’t mind loud noises.”
Fans of his cartooning will recognize his mordant humor applied to his own wartime training and combat experiences: “I learned, and I think most veterans learn, that making people or nations do something by bombing or sending in armed troops usually fails.”
Near the end of his telling, Danziger invites his audience—in particular the young friends who inspired him to write this informative and rollicking memoir—to ponder: “What would you do? . . . Could you summon the bravery—or the internal resistance—to simply refuse to be part of the whole idiotic theater of the war? . . . Or would you be like me?”

"Funny, biting, thoughtful and wholly original." —Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

Many years ago - 30 plus probably - most of my adult reading time was consumed by memoirs and fiction relating to The Vietnam War. I had a morbid fascination for it. I still have a lot of books relating to the subject, but my tastes have moved on since then. Seeing this one though, I thought I would have a re-visit.

Overall, I liked it without being stunned or amazed. A lot of the memories and events that are relayed concern Danziger's training stateside, which if I'm honest interests me less than the sights and sounds and smells of boots on the ground in a war zone.

I think what is apparent (and I didn't need this author to tell me so) is how ill-advised the war was and how the chaotic the military thinking was. Danziger was given specific language training for Vietnam, but his actual posting did not take advantage of the skills he had been taught. I guess that was the case for a lot of young men who were drafted or volunteered. Big corporations and entities seem to suffer from a lot of waste and inefficiency, maybe more so in the 60s and 70s before the age of consultants and out-sourcing. They didn't come much bigger than the US Army back then. 

I didn't mind retracing Danziger's footsteps as a twenty year old. I was never bored with the book, but in truth just maybe a tad disappointed. I've been moved and invested more emotionally in some other writers' Vietnam related works - Larry Heinemann and Tim O'Brien to mention two.  

Waste, muddle, chaos, death, injury, carnage, suffering, politics, protests, youth. draft, choice, division and strife.

War is never pretty.

3.5 from 5

Read - November, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 208
Source - review copy from Edelweiss - Above the Treeline
Format - Kindle

Monday 17 January 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

She was a mega-celebrity—he was a billionaire businessman—now he's dead—she's in jail

Laurie Bateman was living the American dream. Since her arrival as an infant in the U.S. after the fall of Saigon, the pretty Vietnamese girl had gone on to become a supermodel, a successful actress, and, finally, the wife of one of the country's top corporate dealmakers. That dream has now turned into a nightmare when she is arrested for the murder of her wealthy husband.

New York City TV journalist Clare Carlson does an emotional jailhouse interview in which Bateman proclaims her innocence—and becomes a cause celebre for women's rights groups around the country.

At first sympathetic, then increasingly suspicious of Laurie Bateman and her story, Clare delves into a baffling mystery which has roots extending back nearly fifty years to the height of the Vietnam War.

Soon, there are more murders, more victims, and more questions as Clare struggles against dire evil forces to break the biggest story of her life.

Beyond the Headlines is perfect for fans of Robert Crais and Harlan Coben

While all of the novels in the Clare Carlson Mystery Series stand on their own and can be read in any order.

Beyond the Headlines was an enjoyable, fast-paced page turner from R. G. Belsky. It's the fourth in his series featuring, Clare Carlson, a TV investigative journalist/presenter/executive. I'm usually more comfortable reading series in the order they were written, but the blurb said it didn't matter and I guess they were right.

I enjoyed it. I like to read mysteries where the focus isn't always on cops or PIs running an investigation. Here we do have a police investigation into the murder of a successful businessman, but the main focus is on Carlson, the TV journo digging into the past. In particular that of chief suspect, the victim's wife, celebrity Laurie Bateman.

Murder, domestic abuse, trial by press, media manipulation, history, back story, Vietnam, 70s, missing people, other deaths, business deals, property theft, new identities, forgotten families, separation and a lot more besides.

I dug the story more than I liked the main character. There are plenty of twists and turns in the narrative, which kind of had me flip-flopping between she's guilty, she's not, she's guilty, she's not and so on.

The main character has her own personal history with three ex-husbands (I think) and a few more not so serious partners/boyfriends/hook ups. I suppose sexual equality means women have the right to be a little bit promiscuous without getting judged. Maybe I'm judging her unconsciously. I didn't love her, didn't hate her. She was just the main fulcrum of the book. She drives the narrative with her determination to get to the truth. Carlson likes the attention and is competitive getting her story out first and ahead of her station's rivals. She is quite career focused, something which is to the detriment of her relationships with the opposite sex. 

I found the trial by media angle interesting. It's a topical subject. Not just here, but in general. The slant that TV and newspapers put on a story has a real influence on the public's opinions. Objectivity and truth isn't always the main play.  

Lots to like and I'm definitely up for reading more from Belsky with Clare Carlson. 

4 from 5

Read - January, 2022
Published - 2021
Page count - 369
Source - review copy from Edelweiss - Above the Treeline
Format - Kindle