Friday 30 September 2022


Six films seen in the month which was good going. 

All of them were enjoyed, some more than others, some more than I expected to and nothing I really disliked which was a bit of a result.

Ticket to Paradise (2022)

This was one of the ones I wasn't really expecting to enjoy, but I did. Rom-Coms aren't usually my vibe. Great cast, though with Clooney and Roberts and Kaitlyn Dever. She broke my heart in Unbelievable.

From Odeon website ...

Ol Parker

Lucas Bravo, Kaitlyn Dever, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Billie Lourd

Academy Award® winners George Clooney and Julia Roberts reunite on the big screen as exes who find themselves on a shared mission to stop their lovestruck daughter from making the same mistake they once made.

The Forgiven (2022)

Tense and gripping, outrageous and sad. The decadent West meets the East. Really, really good. 

From Odeon website ....

John Michael McDonagh

Jessica Chastain, Saïd Taghmaoui, Abbey Lee, Christopher Abbott, Caleb Landry Jones, Ismael Kanater, Alex Jennings, Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith

Speeding through the Moroccan desert to attend an old friend’s lavish weekend party, wealthy Londoners David and Jo Henninger (Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain) are involved in a tragic accident with a local teenage boy. Arriving late at the grand villa with the debauched party raging, the couple attempts to cover up the incident with the collusion of the local police. But when the boy’s father arrives seeking justice, the stage is set for a tension-filled culture clash in which David and Jo must come to terms with their fateful act and its shattering consequences.

Beast (2022)

This was one I thought I'd skip, but I had my arm twisted. I'm not a massive Idris Elba fan anymore, I just have to look at him now to feel annoyed. (I never said I was rational.) I have trouble buying into him as a loving family man. Sometimes it's hard the separate the character in the film from the actor playing the role. 

Exciting, a few scares and moments when I jumped. Better than I thought, though it was another stretch when he wrestled with the lion.

From Odeon website ...

Baltasar Kormákur

Iyana Halley, Leah Jeffries, Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley

Sometimes the rustle in the bushes actually is a monster. Idris Elba (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, The Suicide Squad) stars in a pulse-pounding new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator. Elba plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with their daughters to a game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley, Russian Doll series, Maleficent), an old family friend and wildlife biologist. But what begins as a journey of healing jolts into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all humans as the enemy, begins stalking them. Iyana Halley (The Hate U Give, This is Us series) plays Daniels’ 18-year-old daughter, Meredith, and Leah Sava Jeffries (Rel series, Empire series) plays his 13-year-old, Norah. From visceral, experiential filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, the director of Everest and Universal Pictures’ 2 Guns and Contraband, Beast is produced by Will Packer, the blockbuster producer of Girls Trip, the Ride Along franchise, and ten movies that have opened No. 1 at the U.S. box office, including Night School, No Good Deed and Think Like a Man, by James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions, and by Baltasar Kormákur. The film is written by Ryan Engle (Rampage, Non-Stop) from an original story by Jaime Primak Sullivan and is executive produced by Jaime Primak Sullivan and Bernard Bellew.

Fall (2022)

Tense, exciting, uncomfortable, scary. I was on edge throughout this. I'm not great with heights.
I need a medal just for watching it. Really good.

From Odeon website ...

Scott Mann

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mason Gooding, Grace Fulton, Virginia Gardner, Julia Pace Mitchell, Jasper Cole, Grace Caroline Currey

A fast drop and a sudden stop awaits Becky (Grace Fulton, Shazam!) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner, Halloween) as they find themselves trapped 2,000 feet up an abandoned radio tower in the desert. Highly trained and resourceful, these climbers were still not ready for every eventuality. A series of unfortunate events see their gear and supplies taken from them and as temperatures rise and vultures begin to circle, the chance of survival begins to fall rapidly.

See How They Run (2022)

Reminded me a bit of Knives Out. Real comedy vibes, set around the stage production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. I like Sam Rockwell on screen. Saoirse Ronan was really good as well. Good clean fun was had.

From Odeon website ...

Tom George

Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Sian Clifford, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Charlie Cooper, Pippa Bennet-Warner, Pearl Chanda, Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, Reece Shearsmith

In the West End of 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered. When world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and eager rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) takes on the case, the two find themselves thrown into a puzzling whodunit within the glamorously sordid theater underground, investigating the mysterious homicide at their own peril.

Don't Worry Darling (2022)

Definite Stepford Wives vibe here and at the end a touch of something else, which if I mention will possibly spoil things for both my readers. Florence Pugh is amazing. Despite the mxed reviews, I enjoyed this one.

From Odeon website ...

Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Kiki Layne, Gemma Chan

Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia. While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise?


1. Fall
2. The Forgiven
3. Don't Worry Darling
4. Ticket to Paradise
5. See How They Run
6. Beast

Thursday 29 September 2022


A decent month's viewing with a couple of ongoing (maybe never-ending) series continued, a few more started - with one finished, HOORAY! - and a few films which were enjoyed.

Taggart (1983-2010) - ITV Crime Drama - 27 series

Halfway through or just over, a marathon not a sprint. Still enjoying it!

From Wikipedia...

Taggart is a Scottish detective fiction television programme created by Glenn Chandler, who wrote many of the episodes, and made by STV Studios for the ITV network. It originally ran as the miniseries "Killer" from 6 until 20 September 1983, before a full series was commissioned that ran from 2 July 1985 until 7 November 2010. The series revolved around a group of detectives initially in the Maryhill CID of Strathclyde Police, though various storylines were set in other parts of Greater Glasgow and in other areas of Scotland. The team operated out of the fictional John Street police station. Mark McManus, who played the title character Jim Taggart, died in 1994. However, the series continued under the same name.

The Missing Series 2 (2016) - BBC Drama Series

Ditto above, even though it's only about 8 episodes long maximum. Our viewing has to be fitted around our youngest daughter's shift patterns and the stars don't always align. I think I'm going to have to tie her down for a day and binge-watch until completion.

From Wikipedia...

Series two

The second series was confirmed in December 2014 and production began in February 2016. Again written by Harry and Jack Williams, this series was directed by Ben Chanan. The filming locations were Morocco, Belgium (Malmedy, Brussels & Ghent) and Germany. Episode four shows a Hanover hospital (which was filmed in Az Sint-Lucas Ghent) and episode five shows soldiers marching over the Vesdre dam in eastern Belgium, and the fictional Vaaren in Switzerland is Monschau, in Germany.[citation needed]

The story is paralleled by flashbacks to 2014 and is set near a British army garrison in Eckhausen, Germany. In 2014 police tell Sam and Gemma Webster, whose daughter Alice went missing in 2003, that Alice has reappeared and claims she had been held captive with Sophie Giroux, a French girl who disappeared about the same time. Retired French detective Julien Baptiste, who was in charge of the Giroux investigation, cannot resist becoming involved again and travels to Germany and Iraq to find answers.

The Rings of Power (2022) - Amazon Prime Series 

Another one started at the behest of our son. Two episodes in and the jury's out. Not the worst thing I've ever seen, but I'm not hooked yet and there's a strong possibility that I may not ever be.

From Google ...

This series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth's history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," and takes viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien's pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared reemergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

Keep Sweet Pray and Obey (2022) - Netflix Mini-series Documentary

Two and three-quarter episodes consumed out of a total of four, so I'm not sure of the final outcome. 

Why do the men at the head of these churches/cults/organisations always get to have sex with most of the women? Power, control, subjugation. Sad and disgusting, and a perversion of faith and people's trust.   

From Wikipedia ...

Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is an American documentary miniseries on Netflix, surrounding the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, and its current leader Warren S. Jeffs. The series was released on June 8, 2022, on Netflix. It is directed by Rachel Dretzin, who began interviewing survivors after visiting Short Creek, Utah, the headquarters of the FLDS Church.

Between June 5, 2022, and June 19, 2022, the docuseries was watched for 58.78 million hours on Netflix globally.

The title of the series is derived from the motto "Keep Sweet, Pray, and Obey," coined by the preceding president Rulon Jeffs, and used to convey how women should behave in relation to their husband. According to a woman going by the name "Charlene", who was interviewed in the series, the mantra was frequently sung aloud, and meant "to be in control of your emotions and you didn't display things like anger or resentment or frustration." The latter part of the motto, "Pray and Obey" is shown to adorn the chimney of a house belonging to Warren Jeffs.

Several former FLDS members, or survivors, are interviewed by Dretzin on both their experiences inside the church, as well providing testimony to Jeffs' systematic coercion and exercises of power toward the members of the congregation. Rebecca Musser, a former wife of Rulon, appears in each of the episodes, as does her sister Elissa Wall. People outside of the church, either related to the events transpiring following the church's move from Salt Lake City to Short Creek, the move of headquarters from Short Creek to the Yearning for Zion Ranch, or for their previous work covering the FLDS, were also interviewed. These people include both the investigative journalist Mike Watkiss, who had previously done several reports on the church, private investigator Sam Brower, who has investigated the church for several years, and attorney Roger Hoole.

Shetland Series 7 (2022) - BBC TV Drama

Based on the Jimmy Perez series of books (or character) from Ann Cleeves. I'm not actually sure if the stories follow books in the series or not, mainly because I haven't read any of them. I do like the characters, as depicted here, though Perez can be slightly annoying at times. Note to self - read at least one of these. (And one of the Vera books as well.)

This case features .... a missing person initially and also a corpse in a suitcase.

From IMDB ...

S7, Ep1
DI Perez investigates the disappearance of a vulnerable young man, whose family are new to Shetland.
S7, Ep2
After the discovery of an unknown body, the search for Connor grows increasingly desperate. Perez follows Danny on a perilous journey into his murky past.
S7, Ep3
Mounting evidence pushes Perez and the team to revise their view of Connor Cairns. Is he a vulnerable missing person or a killer on the run?
S7, Ep4
Perez issues a warrant for Connor's arrest and looks for the motive behind his bomb-making. Sandy tries to find out what business William Rodgers had in Shetland.
S7, Ep5
Perez tries to get the measure of Lloyd. Evidence emerges of another bombmaker. The net closes in around Martin. Sandy uncovers Connor's interest in a piece of local history.
S7, Ep6
The team races to identify the killer and prevent disaster striking Lerwick. As the investigation draws to a close, Perez faces a life-changing decision.

The Dead Pool (1988) - TV Film

Started not quite finished - about half an hour to go. I'm enjoying it. I like a bit of Clint Eastwood and I've enjoyed the odd Dirty Harry film in the past. I would have liked to watch the series in order, but hey hoh.

Fun seeing a young Liam Neeson and Jim Carrey on screen. Neeson with a ponytail is a look that will probably haunt my dreams for a long time. Not great, is it?

From Google ....

Inspector Harry Callahan and Al, his new partner, investigate the mysterious death of a rockstar while he was shooting. However, Harry soon realises that he is on the list of potential targets.

The Yakuza (1974) - DVD Film

I found this film when looking for another Robert Mitchum title - The Friends of Eddie Coyle. I like a 70s crime read and I enjoy a 70s crime flick.

It's a bit slow to start, but I enjoyed it overall. Not sure I'd be interested in watching it twice. Good, but not great. I like the clash of cultures.

From Google ...

Harry Kilmer returns to Japan after several years in order to rescue his friend George's kidnapped daughter- and ends up on the wrong side of the Yakuza, the notorious Japanese mafia.

Secret Window (2004) - TV Film

Interesting, tense, gripping. Maybe a little bit predictable. I don't think I've read the Stephen King novella that it is based on. Johnny Depp is good. I missed the usual Stephen King cameo appearance. Enjoyable overall. I wasn't wanting my hour and a half of life back at the end.

From Wikipedia ...

Secret Window is a 2004 American psychological thriller film starring Johnny Depp and John Turturro. It was written and directed by David Koepp, based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King, featuring a musical score by Philip Glass and Geoff Zanelli. The story appeared in King's 1990 collection Four Past Midnight. The film was released on March 12, 2004, by Columbia Pictures; it was a moderate box office success and received mixed reviews from critics.

Plot (* spoiler alert)

After catching his wife Amy having an affair with their friend Ted, mystery writer Mort Rainey retreats to his cabin at Tashmore Lake in upstate New York, while Amy stays in their marital home. Six months later, Mort, depressed and suffering from writer's block, has delayed finalizing the divorce.

One day, a man named John Shooter arrives at the cabin and accuses Mort of plagiarizing his short story, "Sowing Season". Upon reading Shooter's manuscript, Mort discovers it is virtually identical to his own story, "Secret Window", except for the ending. The following day, Mort, who once plagiarized another author's story, tells Shooter that his story was published in a mystery magazine two years before Shooter's, invalidating his plagiarism claim. Shooter demands proof and warns Mort against contacting the police. That night, Mort's dog, Chico, is found dead outside the cabin, along with a note from Shooter giving Mort three days to provide proof.

Mort reports the incident to Sheriff Newsome. Mort drives to his and Amy's house intending to retrieve a copy of the magazine but leaves because Ted and Amy are there. Mort instead hires private investigator Ken Karsch, who stakes out the cabin and speaks to Tom Greenleaf, a local resident who may have seen Shooter and Mort talking together. At the cabin, Shooter appears and demands that Mort revise his story's ending to Shooter's version, where the protagonist kills his wife. When an arson fire destroys Amy and Mort's house, and presumably the magazine, Mort reveals to the police that he has an enemy.

Karsch tells Mort that he suspects Shooter has threatened Greenleaf after Greenleaf claimed he never saw Mort and Shooter talking together. Mort and Karsch agree to confront Shooter but first choose to meet up with Greenleaf at the local diner the next morning. Arriving late, Mort discovers that neither Karsch nor Greenleaf showed up at the diner. On his way back, Mort encounters Ted at a gas station where Ted demands Mort sign the divorce papers. Believing Shooter is in Ted's employ, Mort refuses, taunts Ted, and leaves.

Later, Shooter summons Mort to a meeting place; when he arrives, Mort finds Karsch and Greenleaf dead inside Greenleaf's truck and passes out at the sight. When he recovers Shooter tells Mort he killed the two men because they had "interfered" in his business, and warns Mort he has deliberately implicated him in the two men's murders (having used Mort's axe and screwdriver as the murder weapons) and implies Mort should dispose of the bodies. Mort agrees to meet Shooter at his cabin to show him the magazine containing his story, which is supposed to arrive that day, having been sent overnight by his literary agent. Mort later retrieves his tools and then pushes Greenleaf's truck with both bodies still in it off a steep cliff into a water-filled quarry where it sinks.

Mort retrieves the package containing the magazine from the post office but finds that it has already been opened with the pages containing his story ripped out. At Mort's cabin, Mort sees Shooter's hat and puts it on and begins speaking to himself, trying to make sense of the events. Frustrated and in denial, Mort throws an object at the wall and is surprised to see a growing crack fracture the cabin in half. Looking in the mirror, he's startled to see the back of his head reflected instead. Mort realizes that Shooter is a figment of his imagination, a created character brought to life through Mort's undetected dissociative identity disorder, unwittingly created to cope and carry out malevolent tasks that Mort cannot - like killing Chico, Greenleaf and Karsch, as well as arson. That persona now takes full control of Mort.

Amy arrives at the cabin, finding it ransacked and sees the word "SHOOTER" carved repeatedly on the walls and furniture. Mort appears, speaking and acting as Shooter, wearing his hat. Amy realizes the name "Shooter" represents Mort's desire to "SHOOT HER". He chases Amy and stabs her in the ankle. Ted, looking for Amy, arrives and is ambushed by Mort, who smashes his face with a shovel. Amy watches helplessly as Mort bludgeons Ted with the shovel, while reciting the ending of "Sowing Season". He then murders Amy offscreen.

Months later, Mort has recovered from his writer's block and his overall mood has improved. He is feared and shunned in town because of the rumors about the missing people associated with him. Sheriff Newsome arrives and tells Mort that he is the prime suspect in the supposed murders. He warns him that the bodies will eventually be found and he will be caught, then says he is no longer welcome in town. Mort passively dismisses the threat, and tells Newsome that the ending to his new story is "perfect". It is implied that Amy and Ted's bodies are buried under the corn growing in Mort's garden, allowing Mort to slowly destroy any evidence of their murders. (In an alternative ending cut for home media their bodies are shown under the earth.)

I Came By (2022) - Netflix Film

Watched immediately after the one above and it was another really enjoyable film. I liked the story. Plenty of tension and 'no - don't do it' moments. As always the characters don't listen and go full steam ahead.

From Google ...

A rebellious young graffiti artist targets the homes of the wealthy elite but discovers a shocking secret that leads him on a journey endangering himself and those closest to him.



Synopsis/blurb ...

Bernie Rhodenbarr is trying to make an honest living, but when his new landlord raises the rent to an astronomical sum, there's only one thing left for a reformed burglar to do.

On his first night back on the job, Bernie finds not only a stash of cash but a very dead body. Yet the next day the police are blaming him for a different burglary, and what's missing is a valuable baseball card collection.

To prove himself "innocent," Bernie's got to pull out all his master skills: picking locks and picking brains, to uncover a scheme he should have been smart enough to avoid, or at least get a piece of ...

Ted Williams is the sixth in Lawrence Block's Bernie (Burglar) Rhodenbarr series and it's another one I enjoyed. Despite knowing next to zero about (mainly the nuances of) baseball, I could relate to the big prize at the centre of the tale. 

As a young boy, I used to get dragged to coin, stamp and cigarette fairs with my parents. My dad collected a bit of all three and when I was a bit older so did I. I think I liked cigarette cards the best, as they were always attractive to look at and the variety of subjects and sets of cards to collect was vast. On that level I could relate to baseball cards and their collectability and desirability and value.

We have the same high jinks, the same kind of plot - ergo, Bernie in a jam, the same New York, Carolyn - the constant friend, and a landlord that needs to be brought down a peg or two.

Funny, entertaining, interesting and a bit nostalgic, mainly because of the memories it awakened in me of time spent with my late Dad, ssharing something we both enjoyed.

4.5 from 5

Previously enjoyed...                                       

I think if I picked up any of these six again in the future, I'd enjoy them just as much second time around. I find a Lawrence Block book a bit of a comfort blanket.

Read - August, 2022
Published - 1994
Page count - 386
Source - owned copy
Format - Paperback

Wednesday 28 September 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Beautiful young grifter Maggie Rohrer picks up rich businessmen in dark hotel bars, drugs their drinks, then lures them back to their rooms and robs them once they’ve passed out. It’s a lucrative con, until one night in New Orleans when a mark tricks her, forcing her into a dangerous swindle in Jamaica that could either bankroll a new life outside of the game…or get her killed.

An Edgar Award Finalist for Best First Mystery
Adapted into the movie Scam starring Christopher Walken & Lorraine Bracco.

Another cracking re-release from publisher Brash Books. As I'm a real sucker for a grifter and the tale of a con, Ladystinger was right up my street. Here we have them in the plural. It was also all the more interesting having the main character as a beautiful, young woman, with plenty of scope for extra tension and danger.

Hotel bars and bedrooms, marks and mickey finns, pluck equalling profits, a dead beat for a partner and when the player gets played - the tables turned. Maggie Rohrer goes into a hotel room with Jack Shanks. Barry Lander, her partner is waiting outside in a car. When the pair exit, the game has changed.

Mafia money, a laundry operation, a Caribbean bolthole, an accountant making plans, an ex-FBI agent with a scheme of his own and an unwilling accomplice. Cue high jinks in Jamaica.

Twisty, turny, funny, violent when necessary, clever, interesting and really satisfying. I love these kinds of tales, when you never quite know how events are going to turn out, when the players have their own secret plans and ruses, when you don't know who if anyone is going to be the last person standing. 

Ladystinger scratched every itch and a few more I never knew I had - pace, story, setting, characters, conflict, and outcome. Ticks in all the boxes. I wonder if the author has written anything else.

5 from 5    

Read - August, 2022
Published - 1992
Page count - 272
Source - review copy from publisher, Brash Books
Format - Paperback

Tuesday 27 September 2022




New York, 1987. Rory is a likable career thief originally from war-torn Belfast, planning out his next big score. A serial killer is murdering women in the city. But no bodies are ever found; just missing girls and cryptic plaques left on benches in Central Park. When the killer strikes too close to home, Rory becomes unhealthily obsessed with tracking him down. The cops begin to suspect Rory due to his lengthy criminal history, the press just want a sensational story, Rory’s partners in crime don’t want any heat, and the killers flourish in the chaos. “Sometimes it takes a thief to catch a killer”

I'm a fan of author Simon Maltman's work, having read and enjoyed a few of his books previously. I'm not such a fan of the serial killer trope in my reading. There are a couple of exceptions. I enjoyed Thomas Harris's early books and I've enjoyed the odd John Sandford - Lucas Davenport Prey book over the years. Most of the time though, they just bore me. Murder as a consequence of a burglary, or a bank robbery gone wrong or as a political act, or for family reasons I can vibe. The twisted killer who kills and kills and kills because of some nefarious plan or mental health issue. No thanks.  

Here we have a merging of two types of crime fiction - the heist novel and the serial killer book. Main character Rory, an Irishman in New York, pulls jobs with a small crew of guys. For his next caper, he brings in sometimes associate, Alice. In the planning stage, they get a bit closer personally, until out of character she stands him up. In a separate storyline, our killer has been capturing and killing young women and leaving poetic placques on the benches in Central Park. Not quite sure why to be honest.

The police don't appear to have an active investigation going, despite some publicity in the media over the placques because they don't have any bodies. Rory concerned over Alice's disappearance and the latest bench sonnet, goes to both the cops and the press and as a consequence gets some heat from his criminal associates, leading to a falling out among our thieves.

We have an ongoing amateur investigation, of sorts, though we have the ear now of a sympathetic cop and a journo and we have our up and coming criminal caper and we have a close brush with the killer. In conclusion, all the stars align, all the components collide and we have an explosive finale.

Overall I liked it, I was never bored, but again the serial killer thing just isn't my vibe. I have to give Maltman some credit for trying something a little bit different though.

3 stars from 5 

Simon Maltman has been read and enjoyed before - Witness, The Sidewinder, Bongo Fury and More Faces.  

Read - August, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 259
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF read on laptop

Monday 26 September 2022




The second novel in the hard-charging 1980s vigilante series Doctor Death. First the mob took Kyle Youngblood’s freedom. Then they took his family. Now he’s getting retribution… using the lethal skills he honed as a Green Beret in Vietnam.

The mob hitmen thought that killing Kyle Youngblood would be easy, that he was just another hick rancher. They were wrong. They arrived in designer suits… and they left in body bags. But their killings, done in self-defence were used against Youngblood in a crooked trial that sent him to prison. For years, he rotted in a cage, unable to save his wife and children from the mob executioners. Now he’s free…and on a relentless quest for vengeance that takes him Nevada to Cuba, from the beaches of South Florida to the heart of darkness within his own soul. Nothing will stop him until he tastes the blood of final retribution.

Retribution is the second in Herb Fisher’s Doctor Death series. Sad to say, I didn’t enjoy it as much as that first outing with Kyle Youngblood.

The aftermath from Doctor Death sees Kyle in prison, his family unprotected and Marty Fallon, the mob boss who continued the violence after the death of his son, taking vengeance on Kyle’s family before fleeing to a fortress down Mexico way. Kyle gets paroled and as the title of the book suggests wants some retribution.

So far, so good then. I enjoyed the set up and the prison scenes and I enjoyed the initial sortie on the mobster’s home. After that, the plot went in a direction I didn’t particularly vibe, with a tale of missing mob millions buried in Cuba and a plan to reassemble a unit of former Nam buddies, including an untrustworthy sort to plan a small scale invasion and recovery mission to extract the $30m and thus have the finances available to continue with the primary goal of retribution on Fallon.

Plenty of action and adventure follows with in no particular order … several reunions, the recruitment of an anti-Castro patriot, a boat trip to Cuba, an encounter with a stripper-cum-mob daughter, plus some dodgy Federal agents, a few Russians and several boat loads of Cubans and Kyle’s former Captain from Vietnam. Death by gun, death by explosion, death from hand-to-hand fighting, death on foreign soil, death at sea, death at home. Lots of death overall.

I did like the main character, Kyle Youngblood. I get his motivation and I’m rooting for him to succeed, not that it will bring his family back. He’s loyal and capable, as well as cunning and intelligent. I think the writing just fell a bit short in respect of feeling his sense of grief and loss. It didn’t really move me emotionally. 

I enjoyed the easy camaraderie Kyle had with his former unit members. There’s a tight bond of brotherhood between them. They’re anxious to support Kyle, but equally there’s some personal profit to be scored if the mission is successful and they come home in one piece.

I was never bored reading it. I didn’t dislike it and there were more positives than negatives. I just found the Cuban diversion a bit of a stretch for believability. Maybe it was a case of right time for reading, but the wrong book. On another day, maybe I’d have loved it. Sometimes my mood affects my enjoyment of a book. 

Still, I’m looking forward to the third in the series sometime soon. Roll on Slaughter Island.

3 stars from 5    

Read – August, 2022
Published – 1988
Page count – 313
Source – Kindle Unlimited
Format – Kindle

Sunday 25 September 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

The tendency toward mayhem that follows Jack McMorrow like a shadow finally sends his girlfriend Roxanne fleeing to the relatively stable urban center of Portland, leaving Jack to nurse a sore heart and mull an ultimatum alone in the wilds of Maine. In an effort to clean up his act, Jack takes a job as a courthouse reporter for the Kennebec Observer. What seems like a safe choice becomes dangerous when Jack is drawn into a domestic abuse case that leaves a woman dead and McMorrow tangled in a messy web of innuendo, conflicted emotions, and mortal danger. It’s time for Jack to grow up, but can he do it? Is it his destiny to follow his subjects into a life of rancor and violence, or will he be able to escape the call of his darker side and find some measure of peace?

Lifeline is the 3rd book in author Gerry Boyle's Jack McMorrow series. McMorrow is a former New York Times reporter, who is now living in Maine, with his days of burning ambition and career building behind him. He still has a nose for a story though.

McMorrow takes a part-time gig as a court reporter for a local paper. His first report concerns a domestic abuse victim who is seeking the court's protection from a drunken boyfriend. Boyle's report on Donna Marchant, ruffles a few feathers at the newspaper, with the powerful local prosecutor who seems to run the court as her local fiefdom and with the boyfriend himself.

Threats of violence follow and after an escalation involving further menace - physical and verbal - to Donna and McMorrow,  Donna winds up dead. McMorrow feeling compelled by guilt and a sense of responsibility continues the search for answers, not believing the police narrative of the boyfriend's obvious guilt.

I found this book a lot more absorbing and interesting than the first couple in the series. This time around we either get where we're going a bit quicker, or maybe I've gotten used to Boyle's storytelling and was invested enough in the tale to enjoy the journey.

I like McMorrow as a character. There's a tenacity and resilience about him. He's experienced and very capable as a reporter, which isn't necessarily the kind of journalist which the Kennebec Observer is looking for. The editor just wants to do non-reporting and to ruffle no feathers. Jack's style isn't a good fit and serves to enliven the local newsroom. He's loyal to his girlfriend, who incidentally has just moved further away from him for work purposes. He's feeling a bit abandoned here and is jealous of the new friendships his girlfriend is making in Portland. He does also have a fondness, if not exactly a reliance on a beer or two at the end of a day.

McMorrow tackles the boyfriend, the victim's sister, and the ex-husband in a bid to get to the truth. He does the hard yards tracking down witnesses and accounts which the police don't seem to have covered. He stands up to bullies and intimidation and eventually uncovers the truth behind Donna's death.

I liked the twists in the story. I had a feeling the outcome was heading in a certain direction, but Boyle wrong-footed me while keeping the outcome plausible. I enjoyed the narration from Michael A. Smith.

4 from 5 

Bloodline and Deadline have been previously enjoyed. 

Read - (listened to) August, 2022
Published - 1996
Page count - 360 (11 hrs 18 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Friday 23 September 2022




A groundbreaking, exclusive inside look at the North American Mafia and the Rizzuto family

For the first time in Canadian history, a high-ranking mafioso agreed to break the code of omertà by talking to journalists. From October 2014 to October 2019, Félix Séguin and Eric Thibault held multiple secret meetings with Andrew Scoppa, getting an exclusive inside look at the inner workings of the North American Mafia. This book is the culmination of their perilous investigation. It sheds light on the life — and death — of one of the most influential organized crime figures in recent years.

At exactly 2 p.m., there was a knock at the door. It was him: the source every journalist dreamed of having. The short man was armed and placed his gun on a table.

“Are you impressed?” he asked with a broad grin.

“Yes. Very much.”

Before me was Andrew Scoppa, close confidant of the late mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, international heroin trafficker and cold-blooded killer.

An okay splash of true crime which I enjoyed, but perhaps not as much as I had hoped to. Two journalists meet with a key Montreal Mafia man over a period of about five years until he was gunned down. Andrew Scoppa and his brother were leading players in Montreal’s criminal underworld. Both died violently.

Scoppa unburdens himself to the journos, documenting feuds, vendettas, and schisms in the organisation. Most of the book concerns the death of A, B, C etc arranged by X, Y and Z on this date, that date, at such and such a place. After a while the names become a blur and are indistinguishable from each other. Scoppa never actually confesses to playing a role in any of the killings. It’s more a kind of oral history of who did what to whom and when.

One thought struck me. Law enforcement could have diverted resources away from Organised Crime surveillance and monitoring and just left them alone to kill each other, until it was a case of last man standing. The organisation was riven by rifts, and jealousy, and disputes and a constant jostling for power. It seemed like they spent more time battling each other than they did making any money.

There’s talk of the importance of control of ‘the book’ which was the major revenue source – illegal sports betting. The profit margin and risk was a lot better and lesser than the danger and profit margins inherent in dealing drugs. Some of the margins Scoppa reported on for kilos of cocaine seemed really tight, even for a wholesaler. (Not that I've ever wholesaled drugs.)

I expected there to be some time spent discussing protection schemes and prostitution, but these topics never came up. Scoppa tried to use his journalistic contacts to try and glean police information and similarly the police tried to see if the journalists were feeding back to Scoppa, by planting false information to see if they were playing one off against the other. The journalists kept a straight bat.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the evolving relationships between various players in the underworld – the Hells Angels, the Rock Machine Motorcycle Club and the Italian families. There was an out and out war between the biker gangs for several years from the mid-90s to the early 00s which resulted in about 160 deaths. Incredible really. At various times the Hells Angels were in alliance with the families and worked for them, other times it seems as if the Angels were the ones on top.

Scoppa often seemed discontented with his life of crime, but never actually made the effort to give it up to try lead a normal life with his family, probably far away from Canada. Eventually he becomes another victim of the violence.

3 stars from 5

Read – (listened to) August, 2022

Published – 2022

Page count – 230 (7 hrs 39 mins)

Source – review copy from Net Galley

Format – Audible



To break the mafia, Bolt must face his murderous ex-partner.

Narcotics agents aren't supposed to ride horses. But today John Bolt is tailing a drug courier in Central Park, and in two feet of snow, horseback is the only way to ride. When he hears the pop-pop-pop of a .32 pistol, he knows his man is dead. Bolt charges to the scene, and the gunmen open fire. They kill his horse, and Bolt avenges the animal. As one of the killers bleeds into unconsciousness, he says they were sent by Apache.

Apache. Codename for Paris Whitman, a former top man in Bolt's department who flipped to the other side. Now a mafia enforcer, Apache is working his way up the mob ladder by targeting his old colleagues. Once, he and Bolt were partners. Now they fight each other in a duel to the death that will determine whether the trickle of drugs into this country stops, or becomes a flood.

Death of a Courier is the second of nine books featuring John Bolt, a narcotics agent. I enjoyed the first, Narc a few months ago.

New York and a 70s setting and vibe (unsurprisingly as it was written and published then), drugs, violence, conflict between rival gangs for control of the market, and a former agent turned rogue, after an undercover operation went horrifically wrong. Paris Whitman aka Apache felt abandoned by his colleagues and has gone over to the other side, vowing vengeance on those he felt failed him. `   

Best book ever? No, but enough in the storyline that kept me invested and entertained. The events that caused Paris to turn against his employers are quite brutal and disturbing. Olden writes some muscular prose at times. 

I like John Bolt as a main character. He's quite happy to meet fire with fire when confronted by danger and imminent violence. Not especially a shoot first, ask questions later policy, but if it's a case of them or him, it's definitely going to be them.

I'll be back for the third in the series when time allows, which is one benchmark of whether I've enjoyed a book or not? Do I want to read more from the author and this series? In this case - yes.

3.5 from 5

Read – August, 2022 

Published – 1974

Page count – 169

Source - Kindle Unlimited

Format - Kindle