Friday, 21 November 2014

LEE GOLDBERG/JANET EVANOVICH - THE SHELL GAME

Synopsis/blurb…….

When rookie FBI agent Kate O'Hare meets career conman Nick Fox there's bound to be a sting in the tale.

Fresh out of Quantico and looking forward to her first FBI assignment, Kate O'Hare is teamed up with high-end security expert, Nick Fox, to help protect a shipment of valuable Peruvian relics. Problem is, nothing is what it seems. Nick Fox is actually a con artist and he's about to play the shell game with special agent O'Hare in a high-speed chase with armoured cars, a few smoke bombs and a little light flirting. It doesn't take long for Nick to discover Kate O'Hare is smart, tenacious, and when she's conned, she holds a grudge.

Hot on the heels of Pros and Cons another short interlude with the Goldberg-Evanovich combo of Fox and O’Hare. Equally as brief – 30-odd pages but with enough substance or meat on the bones, to convince me that these two authors and their two protagonists have some legs in them yet and to get me immersed in their longer books.

I do enjoy books with a lighter touch and they don’t necessarily need to be filled with death and copious amounts of gun-play and mayhem. Not always granted – but on occasions I do like to read about characters who would be engaging enough to have a drink with in a bar, rather than be crossing over to the other side of the street to avoid them. I must be getting soft in my old age!

There’s an interesting dynamic developing between both main combatants that is fun to observe. O’Hare and Fox are both competitive and intent on having the final say, add in a spark of attraction and the chemistry becomes more volatile.

Here we have the odd-couple purportedly working on the same team as Fox brazenly works with O’Hare while all the time plotting to steal some priceless artefacts. Thirty pages on…. one of them definitely has the upper hand for now. Roll on The Heist!

So another amusing diversion for an hour or so, but just as importantly it keeps the scoreboard ticking over, towards the year-end target of 120!   

4 from 5


Acquired recently on Amazon Kindle.  

NORBERT DAVIS - OH MURDERER MINE (1946)


Synopsis/blurb…….

Doan, the 'hero' of this story is a small-time detective with a dry, sardonic wit, and a huge Great Dane (Carstairs--don't call him a "pet") in these absolutely delightful series of humor-tinged mysteries. Great fun that shouldn't be missed!

In this short adventure, the duo investigate another strange murder. The story is more humor than mystery as they get into trouble with thugs and create general chaos all around them. A fine, funny way to while away a quiet weekend.

This is the original and unabridged version of this classic. A must-have for fans of classic mysteries!

Norbert Davis was an American author from Morrison, Illinois. Born 1909, he died 1949 – an apparent suicide.

I have had him on my radar for a while, but more for his Max Latin stories which appeared regularly in the magazines of the day…….Black Mask, Dime Detective, Double Detective and Argosy.

He wrote four Doan and Carstairs books of which, Oh Murderer Mine is the third. Published in 1946 it’s my read for Rich of Past Offences’ monthly meme. Click the link on the year to see who has been reading what for 1946.

Doan is a private investigator, Carstairs is his Great Dane. The duo have been engaged by the famous and much older, Heloise of Hollywood to babysit her younger and attractive husband, Eric Trent. Trent has just secured a position in the meteorology department at Breckenbridge University.

We meet Melissa Gregory, an anthropology lecturer. She’s on her way back to her offices, which she has unknowingly been evicted from in favour of Eric. This immediately brings the two into conflict. Later Melissa gets knocked out and Doan gets shot at when pursuing the culprit. After he disappears, the body of Frank Ames is discovered. Melissa was Ames’ “girlfriend”, though in truth he was more besotted by her than the reverse.

The assault on Melissa brings Humphrey, a policeman into the mix. Humphrey and Doan have previous history together, when Carstairs inflicted a public humiliation on our detective. What follows is an investigation into the murder; with Humphrey trying to arrest the first person in sight at every opportunity. We have further deaths, the involvement of a Mexican investigator who is pursuing the recovery of some stolen historical artefacts, more involvement with Trent’s wife and a look at her history and first husband.

Oh Murderer Mine was an enjoyable read, more for its humour and the clashes between the incompetent Humphrey and Doan, and the almost jaded manner in which Doan could predict his actions in advance. There was a mystery to be solved and it was, and in a fairly cohesive fashion, though it almost seemed secondary to the knockabout tone of the book. Davis also fashions an almost romance between Trent and Melissa. Almost - because for most of the book, Trent is married, albeit not happily. The author had some fun with the interaction between these two characters as well; with animosity used to conceal a spark of attraction.

I liked it, but I doubt I will be troubled enough to find more from this author in the future.

4 from 5


Acquired cheaply on Amazon kindle, where you can pick up this and the other Doan and Carstairs mysteries for less than a pound.     

Thursday, 20 November 2014

LEE GOLDBERG/JANET EVANOVICH - PROS AND CONS


Synopsis/blurb…..

A short story introducing FBI special agent Kate O'Hare and international con artist Nicolas Fox: soon to appear again in THE CHASE.

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg have teamed up for a dynamic new series featuring an FBI agent who's on the hunt - and a master con artist who's enjoying the chase. The con is on in this eBook original short story that's a triumphant prequel to The Heist.

FBI special agent Kate O'Hare has made it her mission to nail international con artist Nicolas Fox. When she discovers his plot to plunder a venture capitalist's twentieth-story Chicago penthouse of all its cash and treasures while the self-proclaimed 'King of Hostile Takeovers' is getting married, Kate is 85 per cent - okay maybe 92 per cent - sure that she's finally going to bag Nick Fox.

Problem is, first Kate has to convince her boss, building security, and maybe even herself, that wedding planner Merrill Stubing is actually Nicolas Fox. Second, she has to figure out how to corner and capture him without disrupting the event of the year. And third, what's going to happen once O'Hare finally gets her hands on Fox? It's going take a pro to catch a con before the fireworks over Lake Michigan go off.

Includes a sneak peek of The Heist, the first novel in the bestselling new series from Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg!

A couple of new authors for me here, operating in tandem. I’m well aware of both but thus far in my reading experiences have yet to sample either.

Janet Evanovich, one half of the double act has written over 20 books with her protagonist Stephanie Plum starring…..as well as about a zillion other novels.



Lee Goldberg, the other half has a similar output with his most familiar character – Mr Monk of TV series fame – having 15 books and also some Diagnosis Murder titles in addition to standalone novels and other series. Goldberg works in TV as a writer and producer. His recent project - Brash Books has seen him adding the title of publisher to his CV – bringing back an old favourite of mine, Tom Kakonis and other neglected, forgotten authors.




Our short story concern a serial con-artist, Nicolas Fox and the fledgling FBI agent, Kate O’Hare who is tasked with thwarting his scheme. As an introduction to the two characters, I really enjoyed this. There’s an appeal to both characters and a light humour which I really enjoy. We are introduced to a couple of O’Hare’s colleagues; Carl Jessup - her boss and an irritating fellow agent, Cosmo. Cosmo, diminutive in stature keeps standing on a box and popping his head over the office partition, usually commenting on something O’Hare happens to be eating. O’Hare does seem to eat a lot of the time.

Fox, our conman oozes charm and personality. He’s handsome and confident and has a sense of humour as evidenced by his actions after O’Hare manages to thwart his scam. There’s a chemistry and an attraction between the pair currently operating on opposite sides of the law.     

Probably lighter fare than I’m used to reading, but I’m going to try the series out as I reckon I will enjoy some light entertaining reads. Not too grim, not too violent, not too deep, not too edgy…… decent reads with a spike of humour and some action and probably a bit of far-fetched plotting if this story is anything to go by. I get the feeling that both authors had a lot of fun writing these.

4 from 5

As far as the authors and Fox and O’Hare go; there’s another short story called The Shell Game available (already read and enjoyed) with three full length novels so far; The Heist, The Chase and the recently published The Job.


I got this one on Amazon recently for kindle.  

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

KEITH NIXON - PLASTIC FANTASTIC


Synopsis/blurb………

From the author of best-selling THE FIX, comes another chapter in Konstantin Boryakov’s life, the enigmatic tramp who claims to be ex-KGB and in hiding. A man with a dark past and a darker future.

Fidelity Brown has a problem. She owes a local up and coming hard man cash, lots of it. Cash she doesn’t have because her night job – a dildo wielding, rubber clad dominatrix going by the name of Plastic Fantastic – isn’t paying enough yet.

But Fidelity thinks she knows someone who can help her…

All Konstantin Boryakov wants is to be left alone. Cast out by the organisation that had nurtured and trained him Konstantin is a man without purpose, that is until Fidelity comes knocking on his door.

Cue double dealing, kidnap and revenge as Konstantin rises again.

Praise for Keith Nixon’s Work:

'With a brilliant cast of madcap characters strapped tightly in, THE FIX hurtles along at a cracking pace. A hugely enjoyable debut novel from Keith Nixon.'
Ian Ayris, author of Abide With Me

'Moves faster than a speeding bullet. Can't wait for more from Keith Nixon.'
Tony Black, author of Murder Mile

Boom, crash, bang, wallop! Loved it!

An enigmatic ex-KGB Russian called Konstantin is trying to fashion a life of sorts for himself in run-down Margate. Felicity, a working girl with a bag full of sex aids and the moniker of Plastic Fantastic tries to enlist Konstantin as she endeavours to dig her way out of a hole – she owes cash to a local criminal.

Short, sharp, action-packed, funny and with one of the most interesting leads I’ve encountered in my reading this year. A grimy run down south coast seaside town is the setting for our Russian encounter with low level criminals, dodgy politicians, seedy nightlife and our damaged dominatrix.

Gritty, grimy, slimy, dirty, edgy, but with a heart!

Plastic Fantastic is the second Konstantin novella after Dream Land. Dream Land was read and enjoyed earlier this year. Fat Gary – which I will be reading soon is the third. (Already have at time of posting this!)

Nixon has released all seven Konstantin episodes in Russian Roulette - something which is already close to the top of the November must-read pile.  

Mr Nixon is fast becoming one of my favourite UK crime fiction authors. His website is here.

5 from 5


Bought earlier this year on Amazon for kindle.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

2 BY CHARLES WILLIAMS

Charles Williams was an American hard-boiled author who was published from the 50's through to the early 70's. Author of over 20 books, a lot with a nautical theme, he died in 1975.

A fair few of his made it onto the big screen, most notably Dead Calm - the film of which got me interested in his books.

I think there is at least one of his books available free over on Munseys, if anyone fancies checking him out.

These two were originally published in the 50's.


Stain of Suspicion (aka The Talk of the Town)

Stranded in a small town, a stranger falls for a suspected murderess

Bored, divorced, and unemployed, Chatham is on his way to the Gulf of Mexico when he passes through a small town by the river. It's a miserable little burg - four stoplights and not much else - and he's almost escaped it when a drunk's car darts out in front of him, causing a nasty fender-bender. The thought of three days waiting for his clunker to get fixed is a grim one, but though he doesn't know it, there won't be a dull minute.

Chatham finds hospitality in the lovely form of Mrs. Langton, motel owner and local pariah. Seven months ago her husband was murdered, and though the police could find no evidence to support the theory, everyone in town is convinced she killed him. Now a string of anonymous threats have left her close to a nervous breakdown, and the violence is about to become real. In a town this small there's no room for secrets, but plenty of places to bury a corpse.

A Touch of Death (aka Mix Yourself a Redhead)

It Began As a Burglary - And Ended As a Nightmare

When Lee Scarborough came upon the brunette sunbathing topless in her back yard, getting involved in a heist was the last thing on his mind. But somehow that's where he found himself - sneaking through a stranger's house, on the hunt for $120,000 in embezzled bank funds.


It looked like an easy score. But one thing stood between him and the money: the beautiful and deadly Madelon Butler.

Monday, 17 November 2014

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART SEVEN

 Week 7 - another 50 - still on track, but it's early days!

Tub 7
Kevin Sampson - UK author from around Liverpool, Bill James  on the blog last week!

Bill James, Leonard Chang, Nick Oldham, a couple of autobiographies from some Irish footballers

Two from Danny King, two from Harry Crews, Leonard Chang - Us author or Korean extraction

Two from Chester Himes, Mark Timlin, Dan J Marlowe, Winston Groom Vietnam book (he wrote Forrest Gump) 

Got to love a cover like this!

A book on the My Lai massacre, Harlan Coben, Sheila Quigley (my wife's), James W Hall, another Bill James


Two by John Harvey (UK), John Connor (UK), Paul Levine, Herbert Lieberman

Rat-Pack gossip, Vietnam, another Lieberman, two from David Armstrong

Charles Williams, Gerald Petievich, Ross Thomas, Val McDermid and a book involving sheep (really?)

First or second Tony Hillerman book uncovered since the project began

Charles Williams - an old favourite of mine! 

Eugene Izzi - Chicago crime, John Sandford series book, Ian Rankin, Bat-21 - also a film with Gene Hackman and Danny Glover,

Deadmeat by Q - enigmatic or what?


Highlights....uncovering a couple of Danny King's, a couple of Harry Crews that I haven't yet read, a couple of 60's or early 70's Charles Williams books. Looking forward to re-acquainting myself with Herbert Lieberman also

Lowlights......well I'm scratching my head on the Blah Blah book and the Val McDermid looks intimidating - but is probably very good.

50 more next week, hopefully!

Full list.....
AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES FICT/NON
ANDERSON WILLIAM C BAT-21 1980 N
ARMSTRONG DAVID UNTIL DAWN TOMORROW 1995 FK1 F
ARMSTRONG DAVID THOUGHT FOR THE DAY 1997 FK2 F
BILTON/SIM MICHAEL/KEVIN FOUR HOURS IN MY LAI 1992 N
CHANG LEONARD DISPATCHES FROM THE COLD 1998 F
CHANG LEONARD FADE TO CLEAR 2004 AC3 F
COBEN HARLAN DARKEST FEAR 2000 MB7 F
CONNOR JOHN A CHILD'S GAME 2006 KS3 F
CREWS HARRY ALL WE NEED OF HELL 1987 F
CREWS HARRY CELEBRATION 1998 F
FERRANDINO JOSEPH FIREFIGHT 1987 F
GIBSON MAGGIE BLAH BLAH BLACK SHEEP 2001 F
GROOM WINSTON BETTER TIMES THAN THESE 1978 F
HALL JAMES W HOT DAMN 2002 N
HARVEY JOHN LONELY HEARTS 1989 R1 F
HARVEY JOHN FLESH AND BLOOD 2004 FE1 F
HILLERMAN TONY COYOTE WAITS 1990 JL+JC4 F
HIMES CHESTER THE END OF A PRIMITIVE 1955 F
HIMES CHESTER THE CRAZY KILL 1959 CEJ3 F
IZZI EUGENE BAD GUYS 1988 F
JAMES BILL YOU'D BETTER BELIEVE IT 1985 H+I1 F
JAMES BILL HALO PARADE 1987 H+I3 F
JAMES BILL LOVELY MOVER 1998 H+I15 F
JAMES BILL MIDDLEMAN 2002 F
KING DANNY MILO'S RUN 2006 DM2 F
KING DANNY SCHOOL FOR SCUMBAGS 2007 F
LEVINE PAUL 9 SCORPIONS 1998 F
LEVY SHAWN RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL 1998 N
LIEBERMAN HERBERT CRAWLSPACE 1972 F
LIEBERMAN HERBERT THE EIGHTH SQUARE 1973 F
LIEBERMAN HERBERT THE CLIMATE OF HELL 1978 F
MARLOWE DAN J OPERATION FIREBALL 1969 DS3 F
MARLOWE DAN J OPERATION BREAKTHROUGH 1973 DS5 F
McDERMID VAL THE LAST TEMPTATION 2002 TH+CJ4 F
McGRATH PAUL OOH AAH 1994 N
OLDHAM NICK A TIME FOR JUSTICE 1996 HC1 F
PETIEVICH GERALD PARAMOUR 1991 F
Q DEADMEAT 1997 F
QUIGLEY SHEILA LIVING ON A PRAYER 2006 S3 F
QUINN NIALL THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 2002 N
RANKIN IAN TOOTH AND NAIL 1992 IR3 F
SAMPSON KEVIN POWDER 1999 F
SAMPSON KEVIN LEISURE 2000 F
SAMPSON KEVIN OUTLAWS 2001 F
SAMPSON KEVIN CLUBLAND 2002 F
SANDFORD JOHN SECRET PREY 1998 LD9 F
THOMAS ROSS TWILIGHT AT MAC'S PLACE 1990 MMC4 F
TIMLIN MARK ASHES BY NOW 1993 NS9 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES THE HOT SPOT 1953 F
WILLIAMS CHARLES DON'T JUST STAND THERE 1966 F


Sunday, 16 November 2014

ROB KITCHIN - STUMPED


Synopsis/blurb……

“...a unique combination of comedy, both gentle and black, and Grand Guignol murder and mayhem. The story is full of clever and convincing twists at every turn and is packed with characters, especially villains, drawn with an almost Dickensian colour and intensity. Funny, engaging, fast-paced and hugely enjoyable. And the style is all Rob Kitchin’s. Thoroughly recommended.”
---Michael Russell, author of THE CITY OF STRANGERS

It is election time in Ireland and a lot more is about to change for Grant, a new arrival from England, and his wheelchair-bound friend Mary, than their political representatives.
Their friend, Sinead, has been kidnapped, and her brother, Pat, has disappeared. Charged with tracking them down, Grant and Mary are soon caught between a vicious Dublin gangster seeking the return of a valuable package and an ambitious politician determined to protect a secret that might harm his re-election prospects. To make matters worse, when someone they confront is found floating face down in the River Liffey, Inspector McGerrity Black, Dublin’s finest rockabilly cop, is soon hot on their trail.

With election day looming and Sinead’s fingers turning up on a regular basis they race through County Kildare suburbia, Dublin’s saunas, Manchester’s gay village and rural Mayo, crossing paths with drag queen farmers, corrupt property developers, and sadistic criminal gang members, as they desperately seek a way to save themselves and their friends while all the time staying ahead of the law.

There must be something in a name, as the last book I read by a Rob was equally as absurd and comedic; on that occasion Stinking Rich by Rob Brunet. Absurd in a praiseworthy way.

So how was my second outing with Rob Kitchin, after Stiffed - read in the middle of last year?

Enjoyable and amusing without ever being in danger of falling off my chair from laughter.

Friendship, disability, family, romance, loyalty, homosexuality, politics, elections, gangsters, police, kidnapping, amputated digits, investigative journalism, Dublin, Manchester, secrets, blackmail, murder, River Liffey, airports, saunas, dodgy builders, corruption and cross-dressing gay farmers – all feature to a greater or lesser extent in this novel with distinctly humorous undertones.

Some of Kitchin’s characters were likeable and decent and dependable. Others less so, but all were interesting. I wouldn’t mind seeing his Inspector McGerrity back in a future investigation for starters.

Kitchin touches on a couple of uncomfortable issues…….sex and the disabled and sterotyping in respect of gays…… how people badge individuals as having certain qualities and failings based on their sexuality. Whilst in this case, he disassembles the prejudices by imbuing his gay characters in the main with admirable traits such as loyalty, bravery and selflessness; in regards to the politician portrayed he reinforces the perception…….corrupt, sleazy and motivated by self-interest.

Decent plot, great characters, fast paced with a satisfying ending.

4 from 5…….but if I’m being totally honest, a fraction less enjoyable for me than the previous offering – Stiffed. Personal preference.

Rob Kitchin has a few other books available and his blog-website is over here – The View From The Blue House.

Thanks to Kjetil at 280 Steps for my copy of this.