Tuesday, 17 October 2017

2 BY MIKE MINER



A couple more from the digital stacks on the Kindle this week with 2 from Mike Miner.

I bought one in 2014 and the other one of these in 2015 and kind of forgot about them afterwards. (Note to self, trying reading some of the previously stock-piled books instead of focussing on new stuff all the time!) 

I can’t find an author website but he does have a Twitter profile, which is used infrequently - @skyeminer

Both Prodigal Sons and The Immortal Game came out in 2014 in addition to Everything She Knows. His latest, Hurt Hawks dropped in 2015.

In addition, some of his short stories have appeared in a few anthologies – ThugLit, Protectors and Pulp Ink.

Anyone compared to Elmore Leonard or Charles Willeford need checking out in my opinion!

Prodigal Sons (2014)

Matthew Flanagan is living the American dream. A plum job at an ad agency. A hot wife. A beautiful home in Southern California. But something is eating him up inside and a nasty drinking habit is about to cost him everything. After his life finally collapses around him, Matthew disappears to Vegas with a girl he barely knows. When word reaches the Flanagan clan back in Connecticut, Matthew's brothers Mark and Luke are sent on a mission to find their brother and bring him home. It's a longer and darker journey than either of them planned on. At turns funny and moving, Prodigal Sons is a hard-boiled American odyssey. A family saga with the heart of a crime novel.

"The work of an extravagantly talented writer, Prodigal Sons is one of the best debut novels I have ever read.” --Sterling Watson, author of Suitcase City, Fighting in the Shade, and Sweet Dream Baby.

"Miner’s wicked electric chair humor calls to mind the best of Elmore Leonard and Charles Willeford." -- Patrick Michael Finn, author of From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet and A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich.

The Immortal Game (2014)


When mobster Richard "Red" Scarlotti's son goes missing, Dylan Thomas Lonagan, a private detective with truckloads of baggage, is hired to find him, and lands himself in the middle of a mob war. As two crime families try to settle old scores, Lonagan is forced to ally himself with Red's hitman brother, Whitey, a hard nut with a soft side and a secret of his own. Together, Lonagan and Whitey make a dangerous, desperate team. Searching to find the missing boy, they dodge bullets from cold-blooded assassins and daggers from the women they love, only to discover that, sometimes, the two are one in the same.

In the end, these dirty saints will learn that the road to Heaven is paved with bloody hands and bad intentions.


DAVID DELEE - WHOSE GREATER GOOD (2012)


Synopsis/blurb....

Dawson has seen miscarriages of justice before—firsthand, and it cost him his family—so when Kristine Seleski tells him about the man who brutally beat and raped her daughter, Amy, and how the district attorney’s office suddenly refused to prosecute the case, Dawson doesn’t hesitate to help. 

But, while trying to track down Amy’s assailant, what Dawson discovers makes his blood run cold. Refusing to accept the compromises the legal system is willing to settle for, Dawson sets in motion his own plan for justice, one that will be bloody and violent…and absolute.

Another short read from David DeLee after enjoying his Cop Shot a few years ago.

40 pages long and also including the opening chapter to his full length novel Fatal Destiny, which features his bounty hunter Grace deHaviland.

Whose Greater Good is a tale of a vigilantism. A girl was attacked and viciously raped. The cops secured the evidence and the case was a slam-dunk shoe-in, at which point the powers that be had it dropped. The girl’s mother is livid and wants justice, in whatever form she can get it.

Cue hiring Dawson. We don’t get to know too much about him, other than the word “enigma.” He gets the case file from the Assistant DA and the cop whose case it was.  Our rapist is wanted as a witness to drop the dime on a bigger fish that the Feds want to fry and is in witness protection.

Dawson goes on the hunt.

Best story enjoy? No.

Amazing dialogue and jaw-dropping prose? No, but enough to entertain and satisfy for an hour’s reading. I was keen to see how it all worked out and I wasn’t at any point wanting to be reading anything else.

Short and sharp – job done. And enough to have me contemplating reading something longer by the author at some point. The intro to Fatal Destiny wasn't bad, so I'll maybe make the leap with that one.

3.5 from 5

Thought on Cop Shot, read back in 2014 are here.

David DeLee has his website here.
He's on Twitter@Daviddelee

Read in October, 2017
Published – 2012
Page count – 40
Source – FREE via InstaFreebie
Format - Kindle


Sunday, 15 October 2017

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH MARTIN HOLMEN (2017)

Martin Holmen, Swedish author of the Harry Kvist trilogy - Clinch, Down For the Count and the yet-to-be published Slugger answers a few questions for me.


Down For the Count featured on the blog yesterday - link here.

Clinch was enjoyed a year ago - thoughts here.


This is the second time Martin has graced the blog with his presence having previously submitted to a bit of gentle questioning, last September.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH MARTIN HOLMEN (September, 2016)

Martin's books are published by Pushkin Vertigo, thanks are in order to Tabitha Pelly for setting this up for me.





I've just read the second Harry Kvist book and I'm assuming the third
in the trilogy, SLUGGER is done and dusted. Without any spoilers, is
Harry's tale at an end or can we but hope for a fourth?

This is the wild finish and me and Harry are going out guns blazing.

I was quite saddened by the ending of DOWN FOR THE COUNT, were you
ever tempted to offer a different outcome? (I'm trying to skirt around
giving too much away.)

There are basically two true noir endings and I think this is the happy one.


Did you have to do a lot more research for the second and third books,
or had your efforts with CLINCH, given you sufficient background and
detail to provide a realistic portrait of Sweden in the early 30s?

Not as much no, but you still have to put in a lot of hours.

Do you have a favourite out of the Kvist books? Which and why? Is
there one you would try and press upon a new reader more than the
others?

I really do like the first one, since it was my debut but people seems to like the second one better, and from what I can tell, the third one even more. But that's me, always doing it the other way around.

What's the next writing project on the horizon? How is it going?

Doing something contemporary now. Sort of an Thelma & Louise road trip novel. It is going to something completely different, for me, and the readers.

The last five books you've read?

My new year’s promise was to read nothing but female writers so that is what I'm doing. Mostly Swedish ones.

Last film you watched that rocked you?

Manchester by the Sea. Great script, excellent acting.

Any must watch TV in the Holmen household?

Don't have a TV but I tend to watch stuff with some sort of a historical angle, anything from Taboo to Peaky Blinders. Gonna watch The Deuce tonight.

If I check back in a couple of year's time what are your hopes for the writing?

I want to write a bestseller so I can pursue some of my other childhood dreams, like being a truck driver, run away with a circus or becoming a stuntman. I'm far from done.

------------
My thanks to Martin Holmen for his time.

MARTIN HOLMEN - DOWN FOR THE COUNT (2017)


Synopsis/blurb......

The second hard-hitting Harry Kvist thriller - fresh out of prison, Harry is determined to avenge a friend's murder, and expose a police cover-up protecting people in high places...

Harry Kvist walks out the gates of Langholmen jail into the biting Stockholm winter of 1935. He has nothing to his name but a fiercely burning hope: that he can leave behind his old existance of gutter brawls, bruised fists and broke bones.

But the city has other ideas. Nazis are spreading their poison on the freezing streets, and one of Kvist's oldest friends has been murdered. Before he can leave Stockholm's underworld for good, he must track down the killer. As Kvist uncovers a trail of blood leading to the highest echelons of Swedish society, the former boxer finds himself in a fight to the death with his most dangerous opponent yet.

Born in 1974, Martin Holmén studied history, and now teaches at a Stockholm secondary school. Down for the Count is the second thriller in The Stockholm Trilogy, following on from Clinch. The trilogy will be completed with Slugger published by Pushkin Vertigo in 2018.

Martin Holmen's debut Clinch was an enjoyable read a year or so ago and while I wouldn't necessarily claim early 30s Sweden as a preferred setting for my reading, there is something about Holmen's writing that draws you in – his depiction of the streets, the cold, the people - make you feel like you’re present. I’m sure I had to put an extra layer of clothes on, when I read this one.

Harry Kvist, our main man gets released from prison and has grand plans for the future. His lover's release date is a week after his and he has things to arrange, a suit and a job for the lad and he needs to make his flat a bit more presentable. Lundin, his landlord and friend will help as usual, financing Harry, while meticulously jotting down the figures and the scale of Harry's debt in his notebook. Harry can help out with his undertaking business and work the debt off. A business opportunity has arisen and it merits some consideration. A cigar shop is up for sale and Harry has first refusal. Kvist the businessman?

In the meantime, a promise needs to be kept. His oldest friend Beda was dying of cancer and wrote to Harry asking him to look out for her deaf mute son, Petrus. Beda looked out for Harry and never judged him for his sexuality or his mistakes.

In a senseless crime, Petrus has murdered his mother and has been carted off to prison. Case closed, no-one really cares. Except Harry. Why would he do that?

I really like Harry as a character. His heart and the sense of regret and loss he still feels over his family. His wife and daughter, a long-time gone to the States and Harry, still feeling some guilt over his failure to join them. His refusal to deny his sexuality at a time when homosexuality is a crime. I admire his loyalty, his doggedness and street-smarts as opposed to intelligence, his physicality and usefulness with his fists, which present him as an intimidating figure at times. He follows where his
nose goes and warnings and threats, while acknowledged don't deter him from his task.

Down for the Count is a slow-burner of a book. Progress in the investigation is ponderous at times and other events in Harry’s life figure prominently. Harry enlists, Beda’s estranged daughter in the investigation. Presenting as a married couple they track down Petrus’s current whereabouts. In the background, he’s still making plans for his future, while attempting to make some level of amends for the abandonment of his family.

With Harry and Elin asking questions, alarm bells start ringing and a continuing conspiracy to protect a secret in the highest ranks of Swedish society needs some affirmative action. The hunters have become the hunted. Holmen builds the tension slowly, so that when events do escalate, it’s a race to the finish.

A helluva lot to like - setting, mystery, main character, resolution and Harry’s aftermath. I look forward to Harry’s return in the climax to the trilogy – Slugger.


Thoughts on the first in the series, Clinch are here.

4.5 from 5

Read in September, 2017
Published – 2017
Page count – 304
Source – review copy from publisher – Pushkin Vertigo (thanks Tabitha)
Format - paperback





Friday, 13 October 2017

SEPTEMBER 2017 - FILMS AND TV

A cracking month's viewing, with some decent TV films and not one, not two, but three trips to the cinema in the month....

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams (2017)
More my son's thing than mine, so I only stuck with this for one episode and stuck my head in my book when the rest of the family watched a few of these. I never was a massive fan of Sci-Fi either in book or film to be honest.

From Wikipedia....

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, or simply Electric Dreams, is a British-American science fiction television anthology series based on the works of Philip K. Dick. The series premiered on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on 17 September 2017. It consists of ten standalone episodes based on Dick's work, written by British and American writers. In the United States, the series will be broadcast on Amazon Video. In Canada, it will be broadcast on Bravo.


Criminal Activities (2015)
Enjoyable small screen viewing of a recent crime film. John Travolta is a Mafia don and four hapless school friends have made the mistake of borrowing some money from him. Or have they? When they can't pay him back, they are forced into a kidnapping plot to clear the debt. A few twists and turns, tense, violent, a few scenes of torture and my kind of film.

From IMDB....

Four young men make a risky investment together that puts them in trouble with the mob.


Good People (2014)
Kate Hudson and James Franco cone into some ill-gotten gains when their lodger dies and they discover a stash of cash amongst his possessions. Deciding to keep it may cost them dear in the end. Another enjoyable film, pacey and with a fair bit of action-cum-violence. I quite like Franco as an actor. This was the grittiest role I've seen Hudson in and she was pretty good as well. Tom Wilkinson is always good to watch. I may have the Marcus Sakey book from which this was drawn somewhere in the book stash.

From Wikipedia....

Good People (released in some countries as Getaway 2) is a 2013 American thriller action film directed by Henrik Ruben Genz and written by Kelly Masterson, based on Marcus Sakey's 2008 novel of same name. The film stars James Franco, Kate Hudson, Omar Sy, Tom Wilkinson, and Sam Spruell and tells the story of an American couple, Tom and Anna Wright, living in London who fall into severe debt while renovating their family’s home. The film was released in select theaters and on demand on 26 September 2014.


The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)
Based on one of John LeCarre's early Smiley novels and starring Richard Burton, this showed up on my TCM channel a month or two ago. My wife found it very slow, but I quite liked it. I'm minded to dig out some of my LeCarre books for a read. Richard Burton was a good looking bugger.

From IMDB....

British agent Alec Leamas refuses to come in from the Cold War during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.


Pride (2014)
Recommended to me by a couple of people - Alis Hawkins and Paul D. Brazill - thank you both. It aired on TV recently. I watched with my better half and we both found it amazing...funny, sad, memorable, touching and ultimately uplifting. Based on fact and actual events surrounding the 80s Miner's Strike and a group of unlikely supporters from the LGBT community in London. Quality cast and some tremendous acting.

From Wikipedia....

Pride is a 2014 British LGBT-related historical comedy-drama film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus. It was screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Queer Palm award. Writer Stephen Beresford said a stage musical adaptation involving director Matthew Warchus is being planned.

The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and for the BAFTA for Best British Film, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Imelda Staunton and for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.


It (2017)
Cinema trip number one with the wife and two daughter's and one of the boyfriends. I really liked it. More about growing up and loyalty and friendship than a scary movie in my opinion. Reminded me a bit of Stand By Me - another film with Stephen King's prose as the source material. Not tempted to re-read the book, though I did think it was well worth the admission fee. The clown was pretty disgusting, but no nightmares ensued!

From Google....

Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare -- an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town's children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Cinema trip number two, just me and the wife and some popcorn on a Saturday morning. I missed the first Kingsman film and while I enjoyed this, it didn't have me rushing to correct that state of affairs. There's a lot of comedy on display amidst the spy games and antics. Some bits funny, some a bit cringey, but it beat doing anything else on a Saturday am (shopping, chores, cutting the grass). Channing Tatum, Colin Firth and one of the Bridges brothers feature, but I thought Julianne Moore was the pick of the bunch.

From Wikipedia....

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 action spy comedy film produced and directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman. It is a sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), which is based on the comic book series Kingsman, created by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar. The film features Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Edward Holcroft, Sophie Cookson, and Hanna Alström reprising their roles from the first film, with Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges joining the cast. The plot follows the members of Kingsman needing to team up with their American counterpart, Statesman, after the world is held hostage by a new threat.

The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)

Now I've heard of Ryan Reynolds but couldn't put a face to the name until this one opened. Samuel L. Jackson is instantly recognisable. Another comedy-action thriller about a hitman......wait for it..........who needs a bodyguard. I did like this one and wasn't asking for my money back, though Jackson's OTT laugh can grate after a while. 

From Google...........

The world's top protection agent is called upon to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world's most notorious hit men. The relentless bodyguard and manipulative assassin have been on the opposite end of the bullet for years and are thrown together for a wildly outrageous 24 hours. During their journey from England to the Hague, they encounter high-speed car chases, outlandish boat escapades and a merciless Eastern European dictator who is out for blood.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH HELEYNE HAMMERSLEY


Heleyne Hammersley is the latest author to submit to a gentle interrogation of their reading and writing habits.





Heleyne's latest book hit the stands earlier this week. It's a very enjoyable police procedural with a back-drop setting of the miner's strike in the 80s.

Closer to Home was on the blog yesterday - here.














Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job? 

I'm an English teacher but I'm doing supply teaching at the moment.  It's quite varied and it helps to pay the bills. 

What’s your typical writing schedule? 

If I'm not at school, I tend to settle down to writing at around 10am after walking my dog for an hour or so.  I find that a morning walks helps to get me in the right frame of mind.  I'll review the last chapter that I wrote and then get down to work until lunch.  Afternoons and evenings vary.  Sometimes I write, sometimes I read, sometimes I give in to the lure of the television. 

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters? 

Sometimes. I use physical characteristics of people I know when creating characters.  I steal names as well. 

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along? 

I do a bit of both. I usually have a loose plan with a clear idea of where the story will end up.  My characters don't always behave as I expect though so there is always an element of making it up as I go along. 

Are there any subjects off limits? 


I don't think I could write anything involving cruelty to animals. 

Can you tell us a bit about your published books so far? Is there one you are more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?  Which would you press into a reader’s hand ahead of the others? 

My first novel 'Forgotten' is set in China and south-east Asia. The central character is a British woman, suffering from amnesia, who is trying to work out who she is and how she ended up in a Thai hospital. It's a suspense novel. 

My second book 'Fracture' again features travel. It's set in Australia and is about a young woman's struggle for identity as she comes to realise that she's in danger from somebody who she thought was a friend. 'Closer to Home' is a more traditional thriller set in South Yorkshire. It's set in the present day but also has sections which deal with the effects of the miners' strike in the eighties.  

I really don't have a favourite - I'm proud of them all. 

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far? 

Signing a three book contract with my publisher, Bloodhound Books. 

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer? 

Unpublished..yes.  
Gems ........not really. 

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?  

I'm writing a follow-up to 'Closer to Home'. It involves the same main characters and the same setting. I might end up writing a series but I'm not sure yet - I'll have to see what other stories the characters have to tell..  It's going quite well but, like most writers, I have days when I think it's a steaming pile of.... 

What’s the best thing about writing? 

The flexibility. I can write anywhere. 

The worst? 

The self-doubt that seems to come about half way through every book. 

What are the last five books you’ve read? 

Insidious Intent - Val McDermid  
Untainted Blood - Liz Mistry 
Cold Blood - Robert Bryndza 
Nina is Not Ok - Shappi Khorsandi 
The Power - Naomi Alderman 

Who do you read and enjoy? 

Val McDermid 
Margaret Atwood 
Patricia Cornwell 
Ian Banks 
Ian McEwan 
This list could go on and on...... 

Is there any one book you wish you had written? 

Atonement by Ian McEwan. It's so clever and beautifully written. 

Favourite activity when not working or writing? 

Hill walking. I live in Cumbria and spend a lot of time in the Lake District.  I find walking is great for allowing myself time to think and plot. 

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you? 

Detroit. The brutality and injustice was deeply shocking. 












TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Hammersley household?

My TV guilty pleasure is Grey's Anatomy. I've seen every episode and have every series on DVD. I also love a good crime series or a well written drama. 

In a couple of years’ time… 

I'd like writing to be my full time job.  








-------------------------------------------
Thanks to Heleyne for her time.

You can catch at her these various haunts.

Websitehttps://www.heleynehammersley.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/heleynehammersley66/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/hhammersley66

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

HELEYNE HAMMERSLEY - CLOSER TO HOME (2017)


Synopsis/blurb….

If you love psychological thrillers, discover a new novel today which will have you gripped from start to finish!

Family. Secrets. Murder.

Newly promoted DI Kate Fletcher has reluctantly returned to her home town after a twenty-year absence and a recent divorce.  The discovery of a child’s body near the estate where Kate grew up has her rushing back to Thorpe – a place of bad memories and closed mouths.

As her team investigate the murder, they keep hitting dead ends. The community is reluctant to reopen old wounds and retell old stories.  But Kate’s history refuses to stay buried.

Then another child disappears…

Can Kate solve the case and right the wrongs from her past?

A gripping suspenseful thriller full of twists and turns. Heleyne Hammersley is the author of Forgotten and Fracture.

A police procedural for me to get my teeth into here with Heleyne Hammersley’s Closer to Home.

Verdict? I really enjoyed it.

Our setting is a town called Thorpe in South Yorkshire, which back in the 80s was a die-hard mining community. We have a seven year-old girl who had gone missing and whose body has just been found at an abandoned quarry and the police are now involved. Our main focus is DI Kate Fletcher. Fletcher has old ties to the town, having grown up there at the height of the strike. She’s a reluctant returnee, with less than fond recollections of the place.

Hammersley flip-flops the narrative, with a few chapters set in the 80s at the time of the miner’s strike and we learn why Fletcher was happy to leave. Her father was in a different job and different union to the majority of the men-folk in the town and as a consequence was still working, when most other families were suffering extreme hardship. Kate and her sister became targets at school for the bullies and her father relocated elsewhere to remove the girl’s from a poisonous environment. Thirty years on, there’s folk with long memories who still find it difficult to give her the time of day despite a child’s life being on the line.

I might have enjoyed a few more flashbacks in the narrative as the discontent and rancour of a time of great social and political strife – Thatcher vs Scargill – offers great material for an author.

Anyway, back to 2015 – there’s a murderer to find. Fast forward a bit and a second child has disappeared. Also found murdered. Fletcher and her team have to pull their fingers out and find the killer before the situation gets any worse.

I liked the presentation of the investigation, with the difficult family interviews and the detection of the lies and partial truths from one of the witnesses and the use of a computer expert, digging into the pasts of those involved and the local history which came to light. I enjoyed Kate Fletcher’s tenacity and doggedness and her willingness to pursue a lead when she was being told her focus was mis-directed.

Overall, lots to like – pace, setting, plot, a bit of a dual narrative, a bit of a history lesson, a decent main character and support cast, a logical investigation and a believable outcome.

4.5 from 5


Heleyne Hammersley has two previous books to her name – Forgotten and Fracture.


Her website is here. Facebook page here. She’s on Twitter - @hhammersley66

Read in October, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 262
Source - review copy from publisher Bloodhound Books (cheers Sarah)
Format - Kindle