Tuesday 29 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

An honourable man in a dishonourable profession.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very, very good.

4.5 stars from 5

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

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

Wednesday 16 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

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

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


Evil Grows


How's My Driving?

Saturday Night at the Mikado Massage

The Pioneer Strain

The Used

The Tree on Executioner Hill

Lock, Stock, and Casket

Bad Blood

State of Grace

Diminished Capacity


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

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

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

Time to try one of his novels.

3 from 5  

Read - (listened to) September, 2022

Published - 2012

Page count - 124 (4 hrs 39 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible

Tuesday 15 November 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

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


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

Praise for Ralph Dennis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 stars from 5 

Ralph Dennis has been enjoyed before and will be again. 

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

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

Tuesday 8 November 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.5 from 5    

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

Read - November, 2022

Published - 2013

Page count - 22

Source - purchased copy (probably for ZERO pence)

Format - Kindle

Thursday 3 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

A Shot To Kill

A Vengeful Assassin
A Treacherous Asset
A Paranoid Target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 from 5 

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

Tuesday 1 November 2022


Synopsis/blurb ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 from 5

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