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 novel...one 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

Monday 10 October 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Ann Cleeves returns with a delicious short story featuring DCI Vera Stanhope.

Set before The Rising Tide, Vera goes on a day trip to Holy Island, eager to escape the pressures of work. When there she is reminded of the day decades earlier when she, as a teenager, went with her father Hector on another day trip, and the mystery woman he met there . . .

Vera already knew then that Hector kept secrets, but this time the fledgling investigator was determined to find the truth, never realizing it would mean taking her first step onto a path to becoming a detective.

A short read to kickstart the month of October. I'm in a bit of a reading slump. I've had a few books on the go, but haven't really been able to get into them so far. A short story from a new-to-me author, one whose characters I've enjoyed seeing come to life on the TV, will hopefuly give me a bit of impetus.

Half the 24 page Kindle freebie is devoted to the story itself. The other half is a preview/first two chapters introduction to The Rising Tide. 

The story is set on Holy Island and could almost be classed as Vera's first case with a bit of snooping on her dad. She follows him when he meets a woman on the beach. I'm guessing Vera has a difficult relationship with Hector, her father. Prudence dictates, she doesn't ask him what he's been upto. Years later, she meets the woman again and gets the answers to some questions that have obviously stayed with her through time.  

I enjoyed the writing and the description of the island. I liked the little bit of ambiguity at the end of the tale. Vera's tenacity, intelligence and inquisitive nature and already well established as a teenager.

4 stars from 5

I'm minded to read at least one of the Vera Stanhope (and Jimmy Perez - Shetland) novels one day, though I'm not in a rush to pick one up immediately. Hopefully Ann Cleeves has given me back my reading mojo! Time will tell.      

Read - October, 2022

Published - 2022

Page count - 24

Source - purchased copy, albeit an Amazon FREEBIE

Format - Kindle

Friday 7 October 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

None as yet. 

I got a sneak peek at an unpublished manuscript which depending on the author's thoughts/muse/inspiration may get a tweak or two and eventually get published. Or may not depending on how he prioritises his current WIPs. 

Thoughts then mainly for my own amusement and to satisfy my own OCD tendencies.

I read it through and really liked it.

We have a main character, who works at illegal body disposal for criminals usually, though anyone if they have the money and the discretion to accompany it. He's in the criminal life, though prefers to operate on the fringes, kind of semi-independently. His links to organised crime go back to his youth.

He likes the girl at the grocery store, but is too shy to do anything about, preferring to imagine the 'what could be scenario' in his head. She takes up with a guy, who he thinks is bad news. 

The plot thickens with the murder of his best friend and a threat to 'supermarket girl', by some big hitters running some child trafficking ring for nefarious purposes. Our guy (name escapes me) hooks up with another dude to get to the bottom of things. Things go a bit pear-shaped before our man ends up in total conflict with his former childhood friends.

Oh and just to add some more intrigue to the shenanigans, his aged Granny, God Bless Her, was a Russian sniper in the war and a dab hand at taking out Nazis. Time has not diminished her feistiness and attitude.

To be fair, the script needs a bit of a polish, (probably not as much as these garbled, twisted thoughts of a review). I enjoyed the story, there's a certain quirkiness to the tale. I can't recall reading about a main character with our man's speciality. The characters and relationship dynamics are interesting, particularly in regards to the object of his affections. Eventually he does make a move in the direction of romantic fulfillment, which was a result. Shit or get off the pot as my mum used to say. (She didn't actually.)   

4 from 5

Liam Sweeny has been read and enjoyed before - Street Whispers, last year. I'll be reading him again in the future.

Read - September, 2022
Published - not yet, maybe never
Page count - 284
Source - uncorrected manuscript from author
Format - PDF read on laptop

Thursday 6 October 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

When Shelby's daughter, Leslie, fails to show up at his cabin for her long-planned visit to northern Michigan, he's concerned, but makes excuses.

When her car is found abandoned by the side of a tree-lined highway, he fears the worst.

When her cellphone appears on his front porch, he knows something terrible has happened, and that he is to blame.

Enlisting the help of the new county sheriff, Shelby launches a search for Leslie, all the while dealing with a prostitute in fear for her life, a sexy writer interested in writing his life story, and the long-banished ghosts of his own past.

Familiar enemies resurface in this blazing new thriller that finds Shelby racing against time to save the most important person in his life: his own child.

Serenity Engulfed is the fifth installment in Craig A. Hart's series of eight books featuring ex-boxer Shelby Alexander. I've enjoyed the previous four and this one was no exception. It never scaled the heights of amazing, but it was entertaining enough.

Decent main character, whose company I enjoy. Interesting dynamics between Shelby and best friend Mac, who always seems to pop up in Shelby's life when the brown stuff hits the fan. There's also a new sheriff in town, hopefully an honest one! She's a feisty Irishwoman, who seems to have a gift of second sight, anticipating Shelby's moves and actions, as he attempts to resolve his daughter's disappearance/kidnapping in his own inimitable way - decisive action and let's not worry too much about legalities.  

There's other things happening as well. A prostitute gets a severe beating and an ex-girlfriend tries to get Shelby to step in and help. We get a bit more detail on Shelby's upbringing and past and some of it comes to the fore with a few ghosts and demons to overcome. There's even time for a bit of flirting with one of the locals, an ex-school friend of Shelby's who assists with some groundwork in Shelby's hunt for his girl.

Fast moving, enjoyable, and entertaining enough. Maybe the odd story strand  - a writer interested in writing a book on Alexander - was a bit unnecessary, as I don't think it really added anything to the tale, other than padding it out for a bit.

Overall, not bad - 3.5 stars from 5

Read - (listened to) September, 2022
Published - 2018
Page count - 160 (3 hrs 50 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Wednesday 5 October 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

From the author of "A Firefighter Christmas Carol" comes a different kind of serial killer tale.

There is a wicked line that vigilantes must never cross.

The year is 1994, and Jackson Foster’s life is about to change forever.

After an encounter with a drunk driver leaves him scarred and depressed, Jackson is desperate to find a way out of his personal hell. When he discovers the thrill of punishing criminals the law can’t or won’t deal with, he thinks he’s found a way. But what if he gets a little too much enjoyment from meting out justice? And what if his “justice” is anything but?

There is a wicked line that vigilantes must never cross. Jackson is heading straight for it.

"This book is brilliantly conceived and equally well-narrated. You’ll find in it a uniquely crafted blend of fast-paced action, humor, the dark thoughts that dwell in us, mercurial twists, etc. cast against a creepy background that’s unquestionably enjoyable!" ~Reedsy review

I didn't mind the writing style, and didn't mind the narration. Some of the interchanges between the main character Jackson Foster and his best friend were enjoyable, as were some of the 90s cultural references. That was it for plusses.

The rest I didn't like. I didn't buy the plot of the main character's motivation - to become a crusader for justice vigilante style. (And I'm usually a sucker for a revenge tale and some street justice!) I just found it contrived, and lame and ridiculous. The rest of the book was a hard slog, akin to swimming through treacle I'm afraid.

I couldn't empathise with the main character, who struggled after a life changing accident. I just felt annoyed at his self-pity and wallowing, while his wife tried to keep the family afloat as chief breadwinner and main carer for their young boy. Jackson larded it around doing sweet FA, before reinventing himself as a vigilante. That was the cue for much eye-rolling which pretty much didn't stop until we were done.

One to quickly forget and move on from. Next! 

In the interests of balance - the guy from Reedsy who read it loved it and there are a couple of 5 star reviews on Amazon for it. Some people obviously liked it. At the end of the day it's only my opinion and as they say - opinions are like a-holes. Everyone's got one.

2 stars from 5

Read - (listened to) September, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 344 (7 hrs 30 mins)
Source - Audible 
Format - Audible

Monday 3 October 2022


 Six more good looking books ...

Colin Conway - Cutler's Bargain (2022) - review copy from author

Cutler's Bargain is the fifth in the author's Cutler series. I've enjoyed the previous entries in the series, even though, Cutler isn't my favourite of Colin Conway's characters.

Cutler's Cases

What will it take to stop a drug war? John Cutler is about to find out.

Private investigator John Cutler only wants a peaceful day of drinking at his favorite bar. When a woman interrupts his afternoon with the promise of a lucrative payday, things heat up in his world.

Soon, Cutler is embroiled in a world of drugs, gangs, and double-crosses—all things he would like to avoid. For a man trying to live a better life, he’s hanging around the worst of society.

To avoid more spilled blood, Cutler must use something other than his fists—he’s going to have to use his wits.

Cutler’s Bargain is the fifth book in this gripping series from Colin Conway, the author of the 509 Crime Stories and the Flip-Flop Detective. If you like hard-hitting crime fiction, then you’ll love this book.

Grab Cutler’s Bargain today and join the action!

Frank Zafiro - Live and Die This Way (2022) - review copy from author

Fourth entry in Frank Zafiro's SpoCompton series, I've loved the first three!

All the Pieces Fall

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)

Matt Orlando - Truncated: Apocalyptic and Loving It! (2017) - Amazon purchase

Not quite sure how I 'discovered' this book, but it looks like fun.

A darkly hilarious look into the apocalypse… and us.

Bill is a small fish in the big ocean that is Orange County California. He just can’t reach the top, and he just can’t let that fact go. He’s miserable and miserably bored. But when a series of natural and man-induced calamities brings the apocalypse into high gear, Bill’s life finally gets interesting. He’s a lone wolf in a crazy new world and he’s loving it. That is, until he becomes the reluctant leader of a band of misfit survivors who are putting a damper on his newfound coolness. With any luck, they’ll make it to his mom’s in NorCal without getting shot.

Anthony Neil Smith - Trooper Down (2023) - review copy from Net Galley

Not out until next year and not much of a blurb, but I'm a fan of Anthony Neil Smith's work. A no-brainer that I would want to read this.

Psychological thriller in the Hitchcock tradition told in first person by a South Dakota State Trooper who is shot in the head and tries to redeem himself.

John H. Arbor - Joe Broderick's Woman (1978) - purchased copy

Trucker crime! Recently featured and reviewed by Paperback Warrior, I thought I'll have some of that.



Scott Turow - Suspect (2022) - review copy from Isis Audio

Scott Turow is an author I've been meaning to read for years. Now's my chance.

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.



Synopsis/blurb …

To Enoch and Doc, two down and out men working as railway brakemen in an impoverished Texas town, it seemed like a simple enough heist: steal the copper wire off a train in the middle of the night.

But the boxcar contains more than metal. Soon lives are at stake and an unfathomable evil has to be dealt with. And there is no one in Blackwood, Texas for the job but a no-account ex-con.

"In less sure hands, Freight would be an unending train of grief, but Ed Kurtz has this amazing ability to present the darkest corners of society, and then reveal the good and decent human heart that beats underneath." -Rob Hart, author of The Woman from Prague

A tough, hard-hitting novella about some of the worst of mankind, contrasted by humanity, decency and kindness. Flip sides of a coin.

Enoch Ford is an ex-con working casually on the railways. He's kind of drifting around, enjoying a few drinks and some cards with the boys after shift and dossing down in a cheap motel or flophouse. He partners up with Doc to steal some copper wire from a freight car in the middle of the night. Instead of wire, they encounter crates of plastic dolls and something a lot more precious - three small, young, frightened children who speak nary a word of English. They have been trafficked and abused and put to work. 

Against Doc's wishes and advice Enoch takes the kids. And someone now wants his property back.

Good, bad, evil, humanity, decency, indifference, conscience - all prominent in this short, compelling narrative. 

I enjoyed this one. I liked the main character, owning his previous mistakes and trying to get on with his life. Albeit still up for a bit of theft to keep the wolf from the door and fatten the old wallet. When presented with a difficult dilemma his choices are an inconvenience to him and put him in danger. Doc equally had more good than bad in him, but was less compelled to intervene and cautioned against Enoch's actions. There's a contrast between being a bystander or witness to evil and having the fortitude to take action. 

Before the end there's bloody conflict, violence and death and in conclusion some reflection. 

4.5 from 5

Ed Kurt's work has been enjoyed before - A Wind of Knives back in 2017.

Read – September, 2022
Published – 2018
Page count – 56
Source – Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle