Sunday, 19 October 2014


Week three and my enthusiasm as yet remains undimmed.

Another tub and another fifty.......
A bit of Canadian crime, (more tomorrow), some Thompson's which featured last week and a Petievich.

Spencer (UK author, now deceased), Higgins (US great), Pawson (UK)

Stone (US), Pawson again and an old favourite Charles Williams

Rathbone and Deighton - a touch of espionage. Diehl's book was a film with Burt Reynolds, Simon's is a US PI book, Warner's from Australia.

Hillerman (US),  Brookmyre (Scotland), Corris (Aus) and Peyton Place!  

Vietnam tale, Yardie's in London, Lawrence Sanders and Jim Thompson novelisation of Ironside - remember that TV series? Another Petievich.

Galbraith aka Rowling, Stone, Dorsey, Douglas-Home and some noir from Dominic Stansberry

Two from Woodrell, Lindsay from Scotland, another Valin - Stoner book and Bateman from Ireland.

Italian time - Camilleri and Carofiglio, Dermot Healy, Irish author passed earlier this year, David Henry Sterry - non-fiction account of his life and time as a male prostitute in LA

Scottish and Irish fiction, plus comedian Mark Thomas takes a poke at the arms trade.

Larry Brown, one of my favourites, Kim Wozencraft

Dan Simmons - homage to Richard Stark's Parker books, read it once and I'll read it again. Stark was Donald Westlake writing on a grumpy day.

Highlights or forgotten treasures.......not too many, but also nothing I'd turn my nose up at now either......Dan Simmons, Gerald Petievich, Charles Williams.

Assuming time allows - another 50 next week

Saturday, 18 October 2014



This never-before-published story is a chilling forebear to the tales that made the late, great Elmore Leonard the “King Daddy” of crime with a twist. Told from the perspective of a young wife who’s become increasingly frustrated with her mild-mannered husband, “The Trespassers” begins as a quiet domestic drama and quickly escalates into a nightmare. When Evan refuses to confront men who are illegally hunting on the couple’s remote homestead, Chris takes matters into her own hands, with terrifying results.

Written in 1958, when Leonard was working at a Detroit advertising agency and writing short stories on the side, “The Trespassers” shows the emerging talent of a man whose spare style and dark wit would redefine a literary genre. Filled with as much sexual menace as Sam Peckinpah’s classic thriller “Straw Dogs,” this timelessly relevant story delivers a sly surprise that could only come from the mind of Elmore Leonard.

Elmore Leonard who sadly passed last year is one of the guys responsible for the direction my reading has taken in the past 25 years or so. I haven’t yet read all his books, though I think I own them, or did until starting to dispose of recent reads in order to retain space for new. The Trespassers and Confession were two previously unpublished stories that came to light after his death.

Interesting story, though I was kind of surprised to read the date-line on when it was written, as it still has a contemporary feel for me. Leonard applies layers to our characters within the period of the narrative.

A bit of a family drama at play. A quality or character trait that the husband possesses and which initially endeared his wife to him, is perceived by her as a weakness, but is actually shown to be a strength.

Enjoyable outcome, which he keeps in doubt until the end.

4 from 5

Bought late last year on Amazon.

Friday, 17 October 2014



What this is and why I did it

I've long been a fan of noir literature in all its forms and most recently of rural noir. Known by many names (e.g. redneck noir, country noir, hillbilly noir), the genre is exciting and intriguing. This brief personal essay – about 26 pages, or 6900 words – describes my journey as I tried to get acquainted with some contemporary rural fiction writers who've been given the noir label.

My essay is not comprehensive of the field. I certainly haven't met up yet with all the writers working in this area. Please send me suggestions. However, it does offer a quick and easy entry to some of the literature and many of the issues surrounding the use and misuse of that label "redneck noir."

This version is an updated, revision. It includes consideration of another six writers I hadn't read yet when I published the 1st edition.

If you're new to the subject it will offer you an entry point. If you're already well read, you're probably aware of the writers I mention. But I think this essay might help debunk the current marketing stupidity that says "If you're country, you're noir."

The essay begins at its origins: my friendship with the late John O'Brien, of West Virginia, author of At Home in the Heart of Appalachia (2001).

Another quick but enjoyable read. If I’m not reading myself, I’m probably either looking for a book, thinking about a book, or just as likely on the internet seeing what other people are reading that I then might like myself. In that sense an essay about books and authors that have been tagged redneck, hillbilly or country noir is just up my street.

There’s an interesting chapter on him re-establishing a friendship with a now sadly deceased author, John O’Brien. After which he gets down to throwing around a few names, most of which I have on my shelves already – more unread than read……….Daniel Woodrell, Larry Brown, William Gay, Frank Bill, Donald Ray Pollock, Pinckney Benedict, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Alan Heathcock.

I have acquired a few more names to check out, more through courtesy of a list Gilmore prints forwarded to him by a librarian friend. Gilmore, himself seems a bit dismissive of the list – to me he’s a wee bit obsessive over labelling and pigeon-holing. Me, I’m a fan of the “if you like A, maybe you’ll like B” recommendation thing. I’d rather have a list of 20 books that I might like 3 from, than no list.

We all seek different things in our reading and perhaps Gilmore’s reading tastes are a little bit more refined than my own. Worth the price of the admission anyway.

Gilmore himself is a bookseller and author and has published a couple of things including a novel Malcolm’s Wine which has a few decent reviews of Amazon. Maybe I’ll try it one day.

Other names picked up – Breece D’J Pancake, Rick Gavin, Dayne Sherman and Scott Sparling…. I’m away now to check them out.

4 from 5

Bought earlier this week from Amazon (Cheers – MSJ!)

Thursday, 16 October 2014



Johno Beltran is a former homicide detective who fell from grace when a stupid mistake allowed a rich, sadistic sex killer to go free. When the notorious murderer drives into the restaurant parking lot where Johno now works as a valet, their reunion leads Johno down a dark, twisty road toward a deadly collision between paranoia and reality. A short story.

Another new author and although this is only a story story I think I'm going to enjoy reading Mr Buck in the future. 

I arrived here by way of a hop, skip and a jump, or six degrees of separation for books. 

I'm a big fan of author, Tom Kakonis and his books - Treasure Coast, Michigan Roll, Criss Cross to mention a few. 

Kakonis has been brought back into the sunlight after years hidden away by the chaps - Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman at new kid on the block publisher - Brash Books

Brash Books recently announced that next year they will be publishing Craig Faustus Buck's first full length novel - Go Down Hard. 

Liking the sound of this one, I thought I would see whether Buck had written anything else. 

Well he has - there's a novella intriguingly titled Psycho Logic which I have now ordered.

Psycho Logic is preceded by Dead End.

Dead End is the Anthony Award nominated short story (winner announced in November), that introduces us to John Beltran - the main man in Psycho Logic.

Simples really.

Back to Dead End then - 16 pages bang, I'm hooked. Within this short time frame of narrative, Buck sucked me in, ratcheting the tension up, before unleashing a finale which, whilst bringing closure of sorts to one of our participants has just ensured that John Beltran's already crap life has just taken a helluva turn for the worse.
Craig Faustus Buck

Have you ever watched the scary movie where the kids are exploring the village weirdo's empty house, when the occupant comes home and one of them remains trapped inside and the psycho smells something is amiss - the one's where you watch from behind the sofa, peering through your fingers - Buck did that to me.

5 from 5 

Craig Faustus Buck's website is here.

Acquired on Amazon UK for kindle earlier this month.



From the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2012 for Best Thriller of the Year comes a gripping and suspenseful new spy novel. Perfect for fans of John le Carré, Charles Cumming is 'the master of the modern spy thriller' (Mail on Sunday)

MI6's Head of Station in Turkey is killed in a mysterious plane crash. Amelia Levene, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, wants the incident investigated - quickly and quietly.
The only man she can trust is Thomas Kell, a disgraced spy searching for redemption.
Arriving in Istanbul, Kell discovers that MI6 operations in the region have been fatally compromised: a traitor inside Western Intelligence threatens not just the Special Relationship, but the security of the entire Middle East.

Kell's search for the mole takes him from London, to Greece, and into Eastern Europe. But when Kell is betrayed by those closest to him, the stakes become personal. He will do anything to see this operation through - including putting himself, and others, in the line of fire...

My second outing with this Scottish author, who was according to his biography, briefly employed by British intelligence service MI6 in the 90’s. My first taste was his stand-alone novel Typhoon which I read back at the end of 2011 in my pre-blogging days. I have it rated it on Goodreads among my read books as a 4.

Typhoon, from the author’s website…. published in the UK in 2008, is a political thriller about a CIA plot to destabilise China on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. The story spans the decade from the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997 to present-day Shanghai. Typhoon was listed by The New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2009.

A Colder War is Cumming’s seventh book to date and is the second to feature Thomas Kell and Amelia Levene – the first being A Foreign Country.

Kell is tasked by Levene, his boss with investigating the suspicious death of another British agent based in Turkey. Kell seizes the opportunity to hopefully get his career back on track – he’s been in limbo after getting burned on a previous assignment – courtesy of a CIA agent, Jim Chater and his involvement in an extraordinary rendition.

An exciting book with Kell digging deeper into Paul Wallinger’s death…..spies, moles, traitors, double agents or perhaps triple! We have a bit of a jaunt around Europe – Turkey and London, with some time spent in the Ukraine also. Planes, trains and automobiles as well as the odd ferry. Throw in a funeral, some drinks parties, a bit of nightclubbing, some romance with some frantic sex, a few CIA agents, the Russians with their SVR ………and overall you have a decent tale well told.

Kell is sympathetic and appealing, though some of his actions, which the book turn on, perhaps seem a bit implausible to this reader. We have his back stories, both personal – divorce and loneliness - and professional – that dirty Yank Chater, had me liking him.

As the narrative unfolded and we concentrated our efforts on our suspect, I particularly liked the scenes where surveillance techniques were employed against an agent who was wise to the possibility and he was using counter-surveillance measures to shake his trackers – enjoyable and intriguing. I do like that aspect of the spy story.

Also the investigative element; where Kell only has a piece or two of the jigsaw and his boss has more pictures of the puzzle which she is holding onto. Elements of who knows what and when, and who we believe and whether we trust them add to the tension. The sometimes volatile relationship between Kell and Levene – boss and employee or friend and confidant – added another layer to my enjoyment.

A minor niggle or two but overall I enjoyed this more than the last one, though would stick with 4 from 5 as an overall score. I’ll definitely want to read more from Cumming in the future, which is just as well as I have most of his other books in the stash. I always find my answer to that “want to read more by” question helps determine my overall enjoyment quotient.

Charles Cumming's website is here.

Again then 4 from 5

Bought earlier this year on Amazon for kindle.  

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise collates a blogger's meme regarding new authors discovered every quarter. I've been a bit slack - ok rubbish actually in keeping up with various challenges and meme's lately, but thought it was time to catch up. 

Having discovered 25 of the 30 books read July to September were by new authors, I thought I would go back and see what the stats were prior to that.

Second quarter saw 6 books read April, 7 in May and only 3 in June. Of the 16 books read, 13 were by previously untried authors, I do like trying new stuff apparently!

Legal thriller
April's 3 new authors below in detail.

David Delee - Cop Shot (4)

Araminta Hall - Dot (3)

A.J. Riccio -  Only the Strong Survive (2)

The full list of May reads with links is as follows - all new!
Pascal Garnier - The Front Seat Passenger (5)

Alexander Baron - The Human Kind (5)

Daniel Tremblay - The Harbour Master (4)

Claire Duffy - Identity Part 1 (4)

A.E.Greystone - A Prospect of Death (5)

R.C. O'Leary - Hallways in the Night (5)

Terry Irving - Courier (4)

June's reads were as follows - all new!
Nic Pizzolatto - Galveston (5)

Phil Hogan - A Pleasure and a Calling (4)

Mark Kotting - Teach Her (4)

5 x 5 STAR READS, 6 x 4 FOUR STAR READS FROM 13 - maybe I should only read new stuff, that would reduce the pile a bit!

Monday, 13 October 2014


Jim Thompson has a healthy presence on the shelves (or tubs) of the library. I think he wrote nearly 30 novels in his lifetime, most of which have been re-issued after his death in 1977, having all been out of print shortly before he died.

I would hazard that I will have maybe 20 from him in the library. I've read a few, pre-blogging days and can't remember which ones and when, so assuming I live to be 150 and stop buying more books, I will get to them eventually.

My last experience of him, when I read The Rip-Off last year wasn't great, but we can overlook that.

Review of The Rip-Off - October, 2013.


When convicted bank robber Pat Cosgrove is paroled from prison through the efforts of a man he barely knows and provided with a home, a job, and other favors, he begins to suspect he is being set up to be used for sinister purposes.

Not much of a blurb to sell this 1953 novel to anyone !

Wild Town

Convinced his wife is planning to murder him, Mike Hanlon, a paraplegic wildcatter, tries to convince chief Lou Ford to take action.

Even less about this 1957 one!

There's a shortish article on Thompson over at Detnovel.