Friday 14 June 2024


Synopsis/blurb ...

Fifteen years only stand between Peter Cheyney's appearance as a novelist and his death, but the output of those fifteen short years resulted in sales which run into millions of copies. Cheyney, in his thirty books of detectives, gamesters, thieves and hard-living beauties, makes a glorious pattern of excitement, humour, suspense, surprise, crossing and double-crossing.

First and last time for me with this author. 

An okay read, nothing more nothing less. It passed some of the time while I was travelling from Bedfordshire to Yorkshire as a driver's mate.

One novella and three short stories comprise the book.

G-Man at the Yard (5 - 96)

Cocktail Party (97 - 119)

The Arrest (120 - 130)

Cocktail for Cupid (131 - 154)

I think the title story which was by far the longest and most detailed was the best. An FBI man is in England, following up on a thwarted kidnap case. The plot to kidnap a rich man's daughter is still in progress, as evidenced by the known criminal he spots on his train journey from the coast to the capital. Interesting tale, decent set up, decent resolution with a little bit of a twist which exposes our main character's moral compass.

The other four stories were enjoyed without being amazing. In addition to the suspense and surprise, Cheney also throws in a splash of romance to his plots.. 

3 from 5 

I picked up this book earlier this year having heard of the author, but without knowing anything about him. I really liked the cover of the book which probably tipped my hand into buying it. 

Read - June, 2024

Published - 1962

Format - paperback (A FOUR SQUARE BOOK published by THE NEW ENGLISH LIBRARY LTD)

Source - purchased copy - 2.99 charity shop

Page count - 160 

Friday 24 May 2024




“Evocative, nostalgic, haunting, twisty, and true, Weizmann’s fast paced and smartly written CINNAMON GIRL is everything there is to love about a classic PI novel and more … much more." — Reed Farrel Coleman, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of SLEEPLESS CITY

From the author of the acclaimed The Last Songbird, Lyft driver-turned-sleuth Adam Zantz returns in a neo-noir dive into the dark side of LA’s rock scene . . .

Adam Zantz is still driving for Lyft, struggling to make ends meet, when his beloved former piano teacher makes a deathbed request: He wants Zantz to prove his son’s innocence in a decades-earlier murder case.  

There doesn’t seem to be much hope of solving such a cold case—until Zantz stumbles onto a test pressing of a never-released vinyl LP. The recording is of a high school garage band lost to the tides of the Paisley Underground, the acid-fueled early ’80s music scene that spawned the Bangles and the Three O'Clock. 

Down the psychedelic rabbit hole Adam falls, tracing the band's journey from the middle class garage to the precipice of fame - a twisted tale marked by crooked DJs, elder-scammers, wellness hucksters, a teen cult, and the woman who held the key to the band’s triumph and ruin.

One part Raymond Chandler, one part Ziggy Stardust, Cinnamon Girl is both an indelible, moving portrait of Los .Angeles, and a suspenseful tale of greed, lust, betrayal, and the hidden price of teenage yearning.

EXTRA! A QR code will be added for the liner notes of the album by The Daily Telegraph. These feature importantly in the novel.

Cinnamon Girl is another really enjoyable read from author Daniel Weizmann and a strong second in series featuring our failed musician, failed nephew, failed cousin, the Lyft driving, wannabe PI Adam Zantz. Cinnamon Girl follows on from his impressive debut - The Last Songbird from 2023.

I do enjoy an unsolved cold case murder investigation with the backdrop of the 80s LA music scene providing another positive box tick for elements of setting. 

Zantz answers a deathbed call from a friend of his late uncle and reluctantly agrees to look into the murder of a young hispanic male which his son was accused of. Emil, the son and a hero like figure to the younger Adam was killed while incarcerated as a suspect. 

Zantz disappears into a world of secrets, lies, fame, celebrity, crushed dreams, ambition, power, sex, dysfunctional families, loss, disappearance, regret, money and danger.

Before too long, more violent death is visited upon those with a connection to The Daily Telegraph and Zantz himself is looking over his shoulder while still conducting his investigation; all before the clock runs down on his uncle's friend.

To be honest, I'm struggling to do the book justice.

I loved the story; how it unfolded with a nugget of information revealed at a time, each one advancing the story incrementally; the pacing of it; the unexpected twists the author threw in (though without claiming to be a clever clogs, one of the twists I half expected); the characters - the blend of story in respect of the investigation, allied with the personal relationships and the day to day work of a driver; the music scene - the passion, the excitement, the thrill, the buzz, the sense of youth and discovery and the being on the cusp of something powerful and explosive and the almost inevitable crash when it all began to fall apart.

Overall - dramatic, exciting, fast-moving and with an ending that lived up to what had come before - a totally satisfying read. 

I look forward to hopefully a 3rd Adam Zantz outing from Daniel Weizmann in 2025!

4.5 stars from 5

Read - May, 2024,

Published - 2024 (next week)

Source - reviewer ARC from publisher Melville House

Format - paperback

Page count - 354

Wednesday 20 March 2024



When Charley Varrick and his gang hit the Tres Cruces bank, they make two serious mistakes.

They got trigger-happy and they didn't realise whose money they were taking.

And when Damon Murray of the FBI arrived to take charge of the investigation, he began to wonder why a smalltown bank should be carrying so much money.

Then the Mafia stepped in  - to cover up their insidious connections with the bank. And to get their money back.

Loved it. I really enjoy reading late 60s/early 70s crime fiction paperbacks. Love the (often politically incorrect) covers, the smell and the feel of the pages, the wonder at whether many other copies of the book survive 50 plus years on (this one nearly didn't!) and also speculating on how many times this one has been thumbed and had its pages turned. 

Here we have a multiple POV look at the execution of a bank robbery and its aftermath. ie - the escape and subsequent investigation by various law enforcement agencies and the rightful owners - the mob - of the stolen cash. 

Really enjoyable. 

I liked the writing, and the characters - from the rookie cop with his insecurities and mother issues, to the FBI man who wasn't depicted as an a-hole and actually worked well with the local lawmen, to the main villain himself - Charley Varrick, and the mob lawyer trying to keep a lid on the situation for his bosses. 

Conflict, tension, action, intelligence and cunning, secrets, mistrust, ambition, control, romance - all figure. A bit like the everyday dramas normal people face at home and at work. Just this time with guns and criminals colliding with authority. 

Cracking story, decent pace, perfect length, satisfying ending.

John Reese is an author I know little about. I think I discovered this book after reading Brian Garfield's Hopscotch and subsequently watching the film with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson. That Matthau film led me to another of his called Charley Varrick, which The Looters was filmed as. Obsessed as I am, I tracked down a copy of the film to watch sometime, plus another book by John Reese - Pity Us All. I'm looking forward to both. Reese wrote about 50 books in total, mainly Westerns. 

4 stars from 5

Published - 1968

Read - February, 2024

Page count - 208

Source - purchased copy

Format - paperback

Saturday 17 February 2024




Fukushima: when a series of disasters devastate Japan, three criminals are presented with the perfect opportunity for a jailbreak.

Last year I released a novel called Mika Ito and it told the story of love and dark secrets in the midst of a series of epic disasters. However, I really thought Mika’s father, Shinsuke Takahashi, deserved to have his side of the story told.

Giving Shinsuke the limelight in the original Mika Ito would have been wrong: it was Mika and Dylan’s story. But I kept returning to the idea, extending it to all the villains in the Mika Ito universe, and I made a promise that one day I would tell their story.

That day is today.

Red Shift is a novella that begins on the day of the Fukushima disaster and follows the Mika Ito timeline, but it tells the story exclusively from the villain’s point of view. It's both an exciting stand-alone novella and a companion to Mika Ito.

An okay story of villain's escaping from custody during an earthquake and an attempt by the leader of them to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

I think my main issue with the story was a lack of empathy for any of the characters and as such nothing that happened to any of them affected me as I read it. My overwhelming feeling was indifference.

If I had read the longer, connected novel - Mika Ito, perhaps I would have gotten more from the story, but maybe not. There were a few plot points in this tale which required a slight stretch of credibility to believe in, but as it was only a relatively short piece of writing as opposed to something that required more of a time investment I could overlook them without too much irritation.

Overall okay, but not great.   

2.5 stars from 5

Read - February, 2024

Published - 2022

Page count - 79

Source - copy from author courtesy of email sign-up to his page

Format - Kindle

Wednesday 14 February 2024



"A fresh and fierce new voice to crime fiction...a stunning book that takes the reader on an intense and harrowing journey that is truly unforgettable. Consider me a big fan."— Don Winslow, New York Times bestselling author of The Cartel, The Force and City on Fire

In the vein of GET OUT and RAZORBLADE TEARS, a powerful and propulsive noir thriller - with an unforgettable cast of characters - asks us to consider what would happen if reparations for African Americans were finally charged and exacted..... by force?

Nate Evers, a young black political activist, struggles with rage as his people are still being killed in the streets 62 years after Emmett Till. When his little cousin is murdered, Nate shuns the graffiti murals, candlelight vigils, and Twitter hashtags that are commonplace after these senseless deaths. Instead, he leads 3 grief-stricken friends on a mission of retribution, kidnapping the descendants of long-ago perpetrators of hate crimes, confronting the targets with their racist lineages, and forcing them to pay reparations to a community fund. For 3 of the group members, the results mean justice; for Nate – pure revenge.

Not all targets go quietly into the night, though, and Nate and his friends' world spirals out of control when they confront the wrong man. Now the leader of a white supremacist group is hot on their tail as is a jaded lawman with some disturbingly racist views of his own.

As the 4 vigilantes fight to thwart their ruthless pursuers, they’re forced to accept an age-old truth: "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

Early days in 2024 and I've probably just read one of the best books I'll encounter all year.

Powerful, topical, exciting, thought provoking, angry, and - as we track the last hours of young, love struck Darius - upsetting.

Smoke Kings was an addictive read. I didn't want to put it down. From the get go I was drawn in to the tale and got slightly irritated when life interfered with me discovering what was going to happen next.

This tale had a bit of everything.... love, loyalty, secrets, trust, tension, ignorance, anger, history, violence and at its core; ugly, brutal, incomprehensible racism.

Great characters, fantastic writing, a compelling story, decent pace, and a fantastic outcome. It's a book that I want to press into the hands of other keen readers. Highly recommended.

Kind of hard to believe this is a debut novel from author, Jahmal Mayfield. I'll definitely be looking out for his next book. 

5 stars from 5! 

Read - February, 2024

Published - 2024

Page count - 402

Source - review copy from publisher, Melville House

Format - Paperback ARC

Sunday 11 February 2024


Synopsis/blurb ....

Car thieves and the chop shop that buys from them combine to create high-octane stories of hot cars, hot crimes, and hot times in Dallas, Texas.

In “The Cadillac Job,” loyalty beyond the battlefield sends Carly and Knuckles on one last mission to save a dying teammate.

When Carly isn’t slinging drinks at the local VFW, she boosts cars—a job much like the one she had on a vehicle recovery team in Afghanistan.

Except her team isn’t the same.

Sweets is dying. And the last time Knuckles scouted for a Mustang, he ended up at a dude ranch off highway 175.

Her commanding officer is different, too.

She no longer answers to Captain Shrader. She answers to Huey, and the consequences for disobeying orders are deadly.

Determined to save Sweets, Carly steals cars to pay for a lifesaving surgery. But progress is slow, and Sweets is running out of time—until the Cadillac Job. The payout is big. So are the risks. If Carly succeeds, Sweets lives.

My kind of story here. Our main characters; a tight group of ex-military who served together, stealing cars to order to raise funds for a life-saving transplant operation for one of their own. Added pressures of time, with the clock running down on Sweets, leading to some ill-judged choices. I'm a sucker for a story where the main POV or sympathies are with the outlaw or villain; where necessity leads a decent person down the crooked road.. 

Great writing, tight, lean prose. Hardly a wasted word with no extra padding or fluff. I was engaged throughout and the finale didn't let me down.

An enjoyable 90 minutes or so's reading!

4 from 5

Note to self. 

Try and cross paths with more from Stacy Woodson and get stuck into the second in the Michael Bracken/Down and Out Books' Chop Shop series - Joseph S. Walker and Run and Gun.


Read - February, 2024

Published - 2024

Page count - 69

Source - Kindle Unlimited

Format - Kindle