Wednesday, 29 March 2017

BRYAN SMITH - 68 KILL (2013)


Synopsis/blurb……

Now a motion picture directed by Trent Haaga and starring Matthew Gray Gubler from CRIMINAL MINDS.

"In his gripping crime thriller 68 KILL, Bryan Smith grabs your face like a bowling ball and pulls you through a nightmarish road trip that just keeps getting worse, even when you think it can't. Bryan is at the top of his game here in a book that crackles with suspense and dread."--Ray Garton, author of Live Girls and Crucifax Autumn

"68 Kill may very well be the perfect New Pulp novel."--Brian Keene

68 Kill is a new novel from the author of Depraved, The Freakshow, and The Killing Kind.
It started with a couple of dead bodies and $68,000 in stolen cash. Chip Taylor’s girlfriend Liza had the perfect plan to rip off her rich sugar daddy. It should have been an easy in and out kind of deal. Nobody would get hurt and they would come out of it with enough loot to solve their problems. But things started going wrong as soon as they were inside the rich man’s house, and for Chip it was only the beginning of the longest, most terrifying ride of his life.

"I look forward to spending a weekend with a new Bryan Smith book the way I used to look forward to spending a weekend with a new Richard Laymon novel. In my view, there isn't higher praise than that."--Brian Keene, author of The Rising

A real blast of a read – a crime novel with elements of horror and comedy. It was my first time reading Bryan Smith and from having a look at the rest of his work, he does seem to have more of a foot in the horror genre.

Chip is our main man and at the outset is the less dominant partner in the relationship with his girlfriend Liza. Liza has the trousers, the plan and all the answers. They are going to rip-off her employer – an old guy who has been paying to diddle her on the side – an arrangement, Chip was none too happy about, though it did help pay the bills. Now Mr McKenzie, showing off as per usual is buying an upmarket car for $68k cash and Liza wants to relieve him of it. No one gets hurt apparently. Or at least no one does until Liza goes crazy in the house and slits the throats of both McKenzie and his wife. Things get complicated when another of McKenzie’s girls on the side stumbles upon the pair and the carnage. Violet gets subdued and Liza has another brainwave. Let’s sell her to her freaky brother Dwayne.

Chip is in way over his head and out of his depth.

Plenty more blood and mayhem ensues as Chip leaving Liza behind – not an easy task, hits the road with the cash. There’s more trouble ahead as at various points he gets relieved of the money and wakes up in a motel with a dead women beside him and no clothes. Endeavouring to overcome this obstacle and recover his ill-gotten gains challenges Chip to become a little more assertive and a bit more like Liza than he wants to be.

Great fun, watching Chip evolve. A great tale with plenty of humour, although the humour gets somewhat over-shadowed by some dark deeds. A torture scene, had me wincing a bit and on reflection seems a bit over-the-top. That said I really liked this one. Chip had my sympathies and hopes from the very start and I was rooting for him throughout. Do we get a happy ending? My lips are sealed.

4.5 from 5

Bryan Smith has his website/blog here
Having looked at his other books, I’m probably not minded to try them, though that is more to do with the genre and the stories as opposed to his writing which I really liked. He kept me reading with this one. I used to read a bit of Richard Laymon before discovering crime and mystery fiction and the comparison with his work seems appropriate.

Read in January, 2017
Published – 2013
Page count – 258
Source – purchased copy back in 2015
Format - Kindle


When pulling this post together I discovered that a film of this has just been released, starring Matthew J. Gubler - my favourite from Criminal Minds. I'll have to add the film to my watch list. (7.6 rating on IMDB)


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

DECEMBER 2016 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

I'm still playing catch up with a post that in the normal scheme of things would have appeared months ago. Still it keeps me out of mischief and it does entertain me.

Which of these 6 floats your boat?


A welcome Christmas present!
Winner of the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger Award 2016

Winner of the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2016

‘One of the best literary crime novels you will read in your lifetime’ - Donald Ray Pollock

When East, a low-level lookout for a Los Angeles drug organisation, loses his watch house in a police raid, his boss recruits him for a very different job: a road trip - straight down the middle of white, rural America - to assassinate a judge in Wisconsin.

Having no choice, East and a crew of untested boys - including his trigger-happy younger brother, Ty - leave the only home they’ve ever known in a nondescript blue van, with a roll of cash, a map and a gun they shouldn’t have.

Along the way, the country surprises East. The blood on his hands isn’t the blood he expects. And he reaches places where only he can decide which way to go - or which person to become.

By way of The Wire and in the spirit of Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan and Richard Price’s Clockers, Dodgers is itself something entirely original: a gripping literary crime novel with a compact cast whose intimate story opens up to become a reflection on the nature of belonging and reinvention.

‘Dark, edgy and riveting and, for all that, deeply, humanly serious, Dodgers is white knuckles for the mind’ - Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

‘Imagine the young corner boys from The Wire on a road trip across USA’ - James Brown, Sabotage Times

‘Akin to William Gibson in its staccato blizzard of sentences, each as taut and tight as a drumhead, and reminiscent of James Ellroy in its sense of social injustice and of a life and upbringing etched caustically across the pages. A compelling debut’ - Luke McCallin, author of The Man from Berlin and The Pale House
A Christmas present to myself!
 "A born storyteller." —ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH

Jimbo Slade is a suspect in a number of rape and murders in Seattle. He's outwitted the police and justice system before. But when the brutal killer targets Kathy Baird, her father takes matters into his own hands. Turning the tables, Jack Baird slowly wins Slade's trust, and soon he finds himself sharing Slade's lifestyle—cruising the city's sewers, lying to his family and the cops. He knows he can trust no one—not with the ruthless justice he has planned.

A heist novel from the author of To Die in California - one of the best books I've ever read.
 A post at Andrew Nette's Pulp Curry - here tipped me off to the book. I do like the sub-genre of robbery and I've enjoyed the author previously and it was reasonably priced - so hey hoh! No blurb for the book on the internet and I've not got my copy to hand.

An Amazon purchase when it was on offer!
More dark deeds, Down Under.....

It’s the early 1980s: the heady days of excess, dirty secrets and personal favours. Former detective Frank Swann is still in disgrace, working as a low-rent PI. But when he’s offered a security job by the premier’s fixer, it soon becomes clear that someone is bugging the premier’s phone – and it may cost Swann more than his job to find out why.

An Amazon FREEBIE purchase!
Mafia lowlife Tommy Abrocci wants two things: to disappear into the FBI's witness protection program, and to do so with as much of Detroit mob boss Vincenzo Romano's money as he can steal.

Unfortunately for Abrocci, Romano has no intention of letting a traitor get away with his money...or his life.

But when Abrocci decides to celebrate his heist by hooking up with a high-priced call girl who is pulling one last trick in order to save her son from a notorious drug dealer, a botched murder attempt gets the attention of the FBI who is desperate to find their wayward snitch.

One thing rapidly becomes clear: bullets fly, blood flows and no one is safe when you are...Killing The Rat.
Another present to myself - a speculative punt on a new-to-me author!
A page-turning psychological puzzle for fans of Shutter Island and True Detective
'The detail is unerring ... and this magisterial grasp of time and place lends the story vivid veracity. The characters leap off the page and the plotting is faultless.' JOHN BOORMAN (Director of Point Blank and Deliverance)
'I loved this book: it has such a subtle sense of place, the clear writing pulls you in right from the start, and its ingenious plot line is both shocking and inevitable.' ANN CLEEVES
In the late 1960s, with America at war in Vietnam, John Q is an old school Texas Ranger - a gun on each hip and quick on the draw. Called to the apparent suicide of a fellow war veteran, John Q suspects all is not as it seems, and very soon faces a desperate race across state as he starts to uncover just how dark some secrets can be.

Monday, 27 March 2017

NOVEMBER 2016 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY

More for my own amusement (and to satisfy my inner OCD) rather than the slightest possibility that this post might be of any interest to anyone else - I like to spotlight incoming books to my library each month.

Having taken a few months off from blogging at the back end of last year, I'm playing catch up.

November 2016 was depending on your view point a good month, or a bad month - I only added two books to my collection - one from the publisher, one from the author. Two more than I need seeing as I have more unread books than I could reasonably hope to read in the rest of my lifespan.

They were.......

Roy’s eking out an existence working a minimum wage job at a big box store when his girlfriend kicks him out for being a drunk piece of garbage. Then a night out at the club with his friend Banksy goes south, leaving Roy in the middle of a murder investigation. All he wants is enough cash to drink, smoke, and sleep under a roof. Roy has two options: Watch his shitty life circle the drain or do something about it. 


“Bruno Johnson believes so passionately in justice that he’ll lie, cheat, and steal to achieve it—and he’ll pulverize anybody who gets in his way."—Booklist
Former cop and ex-con Bruno Johnson and his wife Marie, living in their safe haven in Costa Rica with the children they illegally rescued from certain death, find a message from their outlaw motorcycle gang enemies—written on the back of one of their beloved children. The motorcycle gang, Sons of Satan, out for revenge, will stop at nothing to lure the now furious Bruno back into their web. Bruno and Marie, forced to return to Southern California, battle additional demons in the form of an ex-spouse's entanglements.
The FBI, watching the Sons of Satan, recognizes Bruno's unique skills and ties. They recruit him to recover a stolen military drone armed with Hellfire missiles, while Bruno struggles to keep pregnant Marie out of the crossfire. Ultimately, Bruno's inability to ignore a woman in peril yields unspeakable consequences.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH SIMON MALTMAN

Northern Irish author, Simon Maltman answers a few questions for me about his reading and writing habits....


Is the writing full-time? What’s the day job or what were you in your pre-writing life?

I'm certainly doing it a lot more, but I am officially a stay at home dad for a year or 2. It gives me a chance to do a lot of writing on the side. Previously I was a manager in social care. Hopefully the writing will continue to keep me busy and I'll keep on building up an audience. 

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

I suppose it has to be the publishing of my first full length novel last year- A Chaser on the Rocks.  Seeing it in a few shop windows too was quite a buzz!

What’s your typical (book/story) writing schedule?

When I'm working on something in particular, I try and do an hour or 2 every night. In between there's always social networking and promo type stuff to be doing as well. Altogether, I always spend a few hours each day on writing related stuff.

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

Yeah I do a bit! I've also taken a couple of opportunities for revenge haha- won't say where!  Generally though, my characters aren't really based on one person, I'd certainly steal aspects of real people.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

Mostly as I go along- and that really is the fun part. Whenever I do work out various plot points, it's usually not when I'm actually typing and that can be exciting and I scramble to get a pen so I don't forget it.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Not really, but I don't choose to write anything that's extremely violent or horrifying. It's been bad enough giving my book out to my highly religious older relatives -peppered with f-bombs on most lines. It's not me it was the character! - that's what I say anyway.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

The crime collection out on 23rd March (More Faces) has 12 of my short stories and it's nice having them together in one place. That's most of what I've been working on the last few years. I've just finished the first draft of my second novel too, so that'll be the next big thing for me.

Can you tell us a bit about your previous books?

A Chaser on the Rocks is 'a story in a story' and follows a modern PI with mental health problems. The second strand is actually the stories he has written about a 1940's PI working during the Belfast Blitz.  It's set throughout Northern Ireland and I'd say it's a psychological thriller.

Is there one of your books you’re more proud of that any of the others? Which and why?

I suppose it's again the full length novel. It’ll always be special as it's the first time I tried to write a novel and took a lot of work. I'm also really pleased with the response that it got. 

What are the last five books you have read?

Dark Minds Crime Anthology - various -including me ;)
Exit Music - Ian Rankin
Sour Lemon Score - Richard Stark 
Short Stories - Graham Greene
The Little Sister - Raymond Chandler

Who do you read and enjoy?

I'm a bit of a dinosaur maybe (though I'm only 35) and am terrible at keeping up with all the most current writers. My favourites are Raymond Chandler, Ian Banks and Richard Stark. 

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

That's tricky- I'd loved to have written anything by Raymond Chandler with his abundance of colourful similes and turn of phrase.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I love playing and recording music. It's nice to switch to that sometimes for a change of scene. I used to play and gig a lot before fatherhood! 

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

It's the drafting of my second novel. It's been going grand - though I'm at the stage where I'm getting a bit tired of re-reading it!

What’s the best thing about writing?

The stories appearing from nowhere! 

The worst?

Breaking through the pain barrier when you're stuck a bit, like around halfway through a novel. Also going through track changes after a round of edits gets soul destroying after a while!

In a couple of year’s time…

New York Times Bestseller! Haha I don't know- hopefully I'll still have publishers interested and people will keep buying my stuff.


Thanks again for having me!  
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Thanks to Simon for his time. His short story collection More Faces was on the blog yesterday - here.


You can catch up with him on Facebook here and on Twitter@simonmaltman



Saturday, 25 March 2017

SIMON MALTMAN - MORE FACES (2017)


Synopsis/blurb….

More Faces is a crime short story collection from A Chaser on the Rocks author Simon Maltman. The twelve mystery noirs included feature published and previously unpublished stories and all series shorts currently available. Take a journey across Northern Ireland, through the beauty and darkness, with the fresh new voice in Irish Crime Fiction.

"I’m amazed how a writer can cram so much into such a short space of narrative. You hit the ground running and it’s a sprint finish."
Crime Book Junkie

“A punchy tale, told plainly, with plenty of pace… of old fashioned thuggery and backstreet skullduggery.”
Murder, Mayhem and More

“a snappy read that gives a fresh glimpse into a life of crime and where it can lead you.”
Writing.ie

Another new-to-me author and a collection of short stories – I’ve been reading a few of them lately.

Northern Ireland based and with a few repeat characters in the collection. We have a PI, Billy Chapman from the 1940s in a few stories. I did enjoy the football based one with a mention of the long defunct club Belfast Celtic. I used to know an old guy in Luton who played for them back in the day.

The more contemporary set ones were more my cup of tea, especially the set with professional heister Blake – Night at the Opera has a great pay-off. The favourite was Riot Score though. Post Good Friday agreement there’s still trust issues when law breakers from divided communities come together to achieve a score. Set against the back-drop of a street riot – very tense, very satisfying.

A couple of interesting standalone stories as well, mixing politics, coffee and killings.

Overall an enjoyable and satisfying collection. Caned them in an afternoon and evening’s reading.

4 from 5

Simon Maitland has a Facebook presence here and is on Twitter - @simonmaltman

Read in March, 2017
Published 2017
Page count – 158
Source – ARC from the author.
Format – PDF file read on the laptop.


Friday, 24 March 2017

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH VERGE LE NOIR

Verge Le Noir, author of  Desperados and other things was kind enough to take a turn in the stocks while I fired off a few questions at him.......






















I’ll assume the writing isn’t full time, so what’s the day job?

You assume correctly. I moonlight as a condom tester. Kidding, I work for a company that does horseracing data. Not as exciting as a rubber tester, but it pays the bills.

Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the uber-cool Verge Le Noir moniker isn’t something your parents came up with – is your real identity a well-guarded secret? Why not publish your books under your real name?

No my parents are not that cool—at all. I’m just a cat who’s scared of his own writing so he hides under a too-cool-for-school nom de guerre in order to appease the God’s of writerly things. My name is not a well-guarded secret, I’m not in the witness protection program or anything as exciting as that, matter of fact, my writer bio has just been updated on Amazon where I use my real name, (and new mug shot) I will however, still use my pen name because is way cooler than my real name which is Virgilio Feldman. Try fitting that on a small book cover.

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

Honest to the Gods of Beer? Doing this Q & A. And having people read the stuff I write.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have one; I slip the writing in whenever I can. I’m lucky I get to write at all. I typically try to cram as much writing as possible on my days off. Sorry ladies…


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

I’ve only done it in my short novel Desperados sparingly—and it’s mostly overly exaggerated anecdotes from an acquaintance here and there, or family members, but for the most part I don’t do it.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I like to let the characters take me wherever they want to go, so I make it up as I go along. Most smart writers swear by plotting, I see it as painting yourself into a corner and that doesn’t jive with moi. Maybe I will try it someday.


Are there any subjects off limits?

Nothing’s off limits I hate censorship.

Desperados features the journey of a young immigrant coming to America from the south, any parallels with your own life or are you a home-grown American citizen? 

Good question. I was lucky enough to migrate legally to the U. S. from Honduras about thirty years ago. I did mine a few things about my life for Desperados, let's see: I’m from the same Islands that the character Lester talks about, I was once duped by a cousin into becoming a bracero in the State of Georgia for about two months in hell, we lived in trailers in the middle of nowhere making shit money, on the weekends we would shop at a Piggy Wiggly. A manager of a restaurant I used to work at did the orange juice bit to a waitress once. The character of Leonide or Leo is based on a good friend of mine who hails from the Ivory Coast by way of France but that’s where the similarities end. These are the few things I can think of from the top of my head; the rest is pure imagination and research.

I believe you’ve self-published all your work to date, is that a conscious move? Have you tried the “traditional” route via an existing publisher?

A conscious move indeed, I don’t know anyone in the publishing business, and I wouldn’t know how to approach anyone on that side of things, besides they only seem to be interested in bestselling authors and celebrities. They want an established brand.

So yeah I’m self- published all the way. For every one of my books though, I hire a professional editor, a book formatter and make my own book covers. I just don’t see what a traditional publisher can do for a guy like me. I honestly don’t see it. For prestige? Piss-off. The world doesn’t need another ‘tastemaker’ or ‘bouncer’ at the exclusive writers club. My humble opinion and it can change, but for now I’m happy as a clam in salt water doing things this way.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

In a scale of one to ten, I would have to say One Hundred. A Hunter Thompson quote comes to mind, he said: “It’s like trying to wrestle a T-bone steak from a hammerhead shark.” Similar to that or thereabouts.  Although a lot of it is my fault, I’m a lousy salesman, I don’t know much about promotion, pushing product etcetera, etcetera. I’m still learning, for the most part I just concentrate on writing an entertaining story.

Your works so far are Desperados – a novel, Killing Crows – a long short story, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets – two short story collections. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?

Tricky question, like: who is your favorite child? The red-headed bastard is my favorite! In this case they’re all my favorite red-headed bastards. In all honesty; the last one I wrote—Desperados—is my favorite because is the closest I’ve come to cannibalizing parts of my life in order to write a good story. It’s a bit personal I suppose. I must say though; Shell Casings seems to be people’s favorite, even my editor liked it a lot.

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

I’m juggling a couple of projects, but the one that seems to be ahead it's called Two Iguanas Lounge and it features a couple of the characters from the short story: Lizards Lounge (a short story you can find in the book: Black Pills & Red Bullets)

In Two Iguanas Lounge, I’ll introduce a private detective by the name of Troy Declan Molloy and a Lieutenant by the name of Samira Andrade, these two team up in order to take down a serial killer who’s terrorizing a small Arizona town. It’s going a bit slow. We’ll see how it turns up, in the meantime; I’ll be uploading to my website, some short- stories, and my ramblings as usual.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Bedding all the women who find the broke-ass writer irresistible. Kidding, the best thing about writing is coming up with bat-shit crazy scenarios in which your characters can play and then having people read it. It’s magical. Writing is a lot of fun, you can’t beat that.

The worst?

Meeting women who don’t fall for the broke-ass writer. Kidding, (somewhat). The worse is trying to get the story to the right audience. That’s brutal.

What are the last five books you have read?



Lee Child’s Night School
Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
Re-read Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch—brilliant book.
You by Caroline Kepnes—well plotted, well written.
The Sellout by Paul Beatty—quite possibly one of my favorite books from 2016




Who do you read and enjoy?

Love Elmore Leonard, Christa Faust is phenomenal, Charles Bukowski always kills it, Junot Diaz inspires, Stephen Hunter knows his shit, Dennis Lehane thrills and so does Michael Connelly.

I really wish Diablo Cody would write another book, because whenever I need a chuckle I grab my copy of her book Candy Girl, and I swear; whatever pages you land on in that book, you’ll sure to find a giggle or two.














Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias— mind-blowingly good.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Falling in love from a plane without a parachute. A. k. a.  Reading, hanging out in dive bars or watching Netflix.

In a couple of years’ time…

Hopefully I’ll have a few more books; therefore I’ll—hopefully—have a few more readers.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks to Mr Le Noir for his time - visit him at his website here.
He's on Twitter@vergelenoir

His books and stories have featured on the blog previously.

Desperados
Killing Crows
Shell Casings
Black Pills and Red Bullets

Thursday, 23 March 2017

VERGE LE NOIR - DESPERADOS (2016)


Synopsis/blurb….

By crossing the U. S. border, Julio Roman embarks on a roller coaster ride.

With hellhounds on his trail, he navigates an America he did not imagine. The land of the free ain't paved with gold; rather it is a place where desperate men and women do what needs to be done in order to survive. Get rich or die trying is the name of the game. Question is: Will Julio play? And if so, will he live to tell the tale? The cards have been laid on the table of life. And the stakes are high indeed. Welcome to the land of milk and honey.

Includes a link to the original song "Two Summers Ago."

An enjoyable tale of one man’s odyssey to America.  Best book ever? No, but it didn’t need to be. I was invested in the story of our young Honduran trying to get on in life and secure a future for himself and his family. He’s a bit more likable than Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem in Coming to America – more humility, less irritating but both with a moral compass.

Julio encounters abuse at the hands of his coyote handlers and temporary incarceration as a result of an operation to bring the traffickers down. His subsequent adventures have him enduring life at a motel in the company of a secretive old man and a gang of wild young women – a surprising cash bonus comes his way when they depart.

Hooking up with his stateside cousin, a career as a field hand picking vegetables beckons. Crap work for crap pay and before long Julio is on his travels again. Life in New York isn’t any easier – restaurant work as a dishwasher and a temporary venture into crime, stealing expensive truffles from his employer to supplement his income. Discovered after a while, a severe beating at the hands of his boss and shady associates ensue, before employment as a driver for a rich lawyer, Lester – someone he encountered earlier in our tale.

Life at the bottom end of the food chain inevitably sees Julio crossing paths with shady grifters and ne’er do wells and our man comes across well in these encounters. Always willing to do the moral thing, though not above profiting from a bit of law-breaking himself. Violence is never too far away, though isn’t something Julio craves – a quiet life would be more to his liking.

An enjoyable saga, maybe a bit too reliant on coincidences in our plot which fortuitously allows us to come full circle – the coyotes we met at the start of the book having unfinished business with Julio towards the end. But that aside I was entertained and eager to see where Julio’s journey ended.

4 from 5

Verge Le Noir has been enjoyed previously, featuring on the blog with Killing Crows, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets.

His website is here.

Read In March, 2017
Published – 2016
Page count – 184
Source – copy received from author

Format - Kindle 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

THOMAS PLUCK - GET PLUCKED: 13 TWISTED TALES (2015)


Synopsis/blurb….

In a tribute to Elmore Leonard, a computer nerd and an Island barmaid race against the mob; a shifty construction foreman encounters zombies and sex dungeons in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; visitors review the Overlook hotel from THE SHINING; a psychotic virus hunter plans to unleash apocalypse during the panic of 2012; a kid who hides in the woods to scare urban legend hunters gets a surprise of his own, and eight more twisted, dark and funny tales that only Thomas Pluck could write. The latest collection from the author of BLADE OF DISHONOR and "Punk Dad Manifesto."

"he combines jabs of clever humor with full-impact gut shots." - Johnny Shaw, author of PLASTER CITY

"hardcore-clean writing delivered at warp speed." -Andrew Vachss

13 short stories from a new-to-me author (though I have since read Thomas Pluck’s new novel Bad Boy Boogie).

Humour, violence, sex, guns, the end of the world, white supremacists battling a black martial arts dude, mythical goat-men, a sneaky old couple pulling a fast one on a streetwise hustler and pacts with the devil.

If I’m honest not all of them rocked me, but there were a few in the collection that did.

From Acapulcolypse – humour on an end of the world cruise.

He squirmed aside as a flabby couple stumbled past in grass loinloths……. the man laughed, and conga-ed away with his wife gripping his generous love handles. Terence winced as their grass loincloths bared secrets to which he’d rather have remained unprivy.
Terence had also read that alcohol enemas were popular among the high school set, and would have preferred his cruise mates to partake of their liquor in that fashion as well, in the solitude of their cabins.

Gunplay – sex and guns – be careful of a hair trigger when the climax approaches – funny as fuck.

Other highpoints – Mannish Water – a couple of newly-weds on the run from a mobster.

Overall an enjoyable collection 3 from 5


Thomas Pluck has his website here. He's on Facebook here
Twitter@thomaspluck

Read in February, 2017
Published – 2015
Page count – 100
Source – FREE book after signing up on the author’s website

Format - Kindle

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

MICK HERRON - DEAD LIONS (2013)



Synopsis/blurb…..

Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award

A BBC Front Row best crime novel of the year

A Times crime and thriller book of the year

'The finest new crime series this Millennium' Mail on Sunday

London's Slough House is where washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what's left of their failed careers. But now the 'slow horses' have a chance at redemption.

An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade's circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient secrets that seems to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, and a decades-old conspiracy with a brand-new target: London's newest, tallest skyscraper . . .

Second book in the Slough House spooks series and another riveting read.

If I’m honest I found it a fraction less enjoyable than the first one – Slow Horses. The plot was a bit of a stretch for me, though the start point to it and the set-up itself were really enjoyable. I just wasn’t totally convinced by the whole shebang.

Lies, duplicity, a retired Russian agent, an old lag from the Berlin days, a Regents Park go-getter, the Slough House misfits, a new Russian billionaire in town and a sleepy town in the Shires.

Great characters, though in truth we have one amazing stand-out and a bunch of able supports. Jackson Lamb is truly disgusting. He farts, he burps, he’s rude and he’s cruel – particularly when offering his assistant, Catherine – a recovering alcoholic a drink, knowing damn well the consequences if she accepts. I’m not too sure whether he doesn’t care or if he cares and everything’s a test.

Lamb stood, gazed at the nearest tree as if in sudden awe of nature, lifted a heel from the ground and farted. “Sign of a good curry,“ he said. “Sometimes they just bubble about inside you for ages.”

“I keep meaning to ask why you’ve never married,“ River said.

One thing for sure, he is very, very funny and when he’s off page, I miss him. Towards the end of the book he’s off page a lot.

Lots to like. I’m looking forward to the last couple of books in this series, though I’m not going to rush to get to them. I’ll savour the anticipation of reading them just a bit longer.

4 from 5

Mick Herron has his website here.

My Slow Horses – review is here.
Blog friend Tracy from Bitter Tea and Mystery has reviewed Dead Lions here.

     
Read in January 2017
Published - 2013
Page count - 350
Source - owned copy bought secondhand a year or two ago
Format - hardback

Monday, 20 March 2017

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH LARRY D. SWEAZY



Author Larry D. Sweazy has had 13 books published to date, I've enjoyed three of them so far.

A Thousand Falling Crows still sits on the TBR pile.


Sonny Burton was forced to retire from the Texas Rangers after taking a bullet from Bonnie Parker in a shoot-out. The bullet so damaged Sonny's right arm that he had to have it amputated. 

While Sonny struggles with recuperating and tries to get used to the idea of living a life with only one arm, Aldo Hernandez, the hospital's janitor, asks Sonny to help find his daughter and bring her back home. She has got herself mixed up with a couple of brothers involved in a string of robberies. Sonny agrees to help, but is more concerned about a wholly different criminal in town who has taken to killing young women and leaving them in local fields for crows to feast on.


Just as Sonny is able to track down Aldo's daughter, he comes to an uncomfortable realization about who might be responsible for the string of murders and races to nab the killer before another girl is left to the crows.



Where I Can See You was enjoyed last month and was on the blog last week - here.



His first two Marjorie Trumaine books - See Also Murder and See Also Deception have featured before here and here.

Mr Sweazy was kind enough to spare some time and answer a few questions for me.......
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I see from your author biography that you are a freelance indexer.  How long have you worked in that field?

It’ll be 19 years in July.

It sounds very intense, can you explain a little bit about the process to the uninformed?

Some authors write their own index, which makes sense, and that is what most people assume happens in the publishing process.  But writing and indexing are separate skills.  Some authors think every topic in the book is equally important and want everything represented in the index. That’s just not possible, or functional.  Which is where I come in.  My focus is just on the index.  I get page proofs of a book and decide what five to ten terms (or concepts) per page are the most important, and that a reader might look up.  So, I immediately become an advocate for the reader.  I use a word processing program specifically designed for indexing, and I start with a blank page.  I write the index by reading every page of the book and entering terms one word at a time, just like I do when I write a novel.  I don’t use search bots or any automated way of indexing.  It is a tedious job, and some books are more interesting than others, but the really intense part is the time that I have to prepare an index.  My deadline is usually two weeks for a three hundred page book.  Indexing comes at the end of the production process and the page numbers have be finalized before I start.  Once I send in the index, it’s proofread, then for all intents and purposes, the book is sent off to the printer.

Is it easier to index or to write? Which one came first?

Both are separate skills, and equally challenging and equally enjoyable to me.  Writing came first.  I started writing in junior high school (grades 7 and 8 here in the States).  It was my interest in reading and writing that led me to indexing.

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

I think it’s the fact that I get to sit down every day and write stories that mean something to me, and knowing they will make their way out into the world to (hopefully) entertain readers. 

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I write every day.  I write a minimum of five hundred words, but it’s usually more than that.  I start writing in the morning, wrap up around noon, then start my indexing projects after lunch. I work until I’m finished.

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


I’m sure some of their characteristics and personalities work their way into my stories, but I don’t include them with intention.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I used to say that I was a pantser (fly by the seat of my pants), but I’m really a hybrid.  I plot out a few chapters ahead of where I am, and I have a vague idea of the end.  I remain flexible and available to any ideas that might come my way, so I’m not really a strict plotter.  E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  I think that about covers it…

Are there any subjects off limits?

Sure, cruelty to animals or children… The odd thing about writing mysteries is that writers can kill the grandmother in terrible ways, but the cat better survive.  I don’t write gratuitous violence, but we live in a violent world, so that’s what I write about—that and justice.  The story is always about justice.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer? 

The first novel I published was the seventh novel that I wrote. One of the other six has gone on to be published (a mystery, The Devil’s Bones), but the rest remain hidden away.  They are practice novels, and I have no desire to return to them.  I’m a different writer and a different human being now, and I really doubt that I could access those old books in the way they need to be rewritten (and trust me, they need a lot of work).

Your first eight or nine books, appear to all be Westerns whereas the last few are more mystery/crime orientated, have you left the Western genre behind for now? (I kind of think Westerns are just crime novels with horses and hats anyway.)





I agree with you that Westerns are crime novels.  Most of my Westerns have been mysteries, too.  No, I haven’t left the genre.  I just wrote a couple of short stories over the winter that fit into Western genre.  I just haven’t had time to write a Western novel in the last few years, but I’m pretty sure I’ll write another Western one of these days.  The genre is rich with possibilities, and I love it too much to leave it behind.


Is there one of your books you’re more proud of that any of the others? Which and why?

I’ve learned something valuable from each novel that I’ve written, so it’s really impossible to pick. 

I’ve enjoyed the first two Marjorie Trumaine books – See Also Murder and See Also Deception and I understand there is a third planned for 2018. Is that Marjorie done, or does she have legs for a few more books yet?

I hope there will be more Marjorie books.  I have ideas for the series that go well beyond the third book.

What are the last five books you have read? 

What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren, Westport by Dean Hulse, Stranded by Matthew P. Mayo, The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey, and The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst.





















Who do you read and enjoy? 

My reading tastes vary. I read a lot of mysteries, of course. James Lee Burke, Joe R. Lansdale, Tony Hillerman, Sara Paretsky, to name a few.  And I read outside the genre a lot, too. I like E. L. Doctorow, Pat Conroy, Junot Diaz, George Saunders, Louise Erdich, Barbara Kingsolver… the list goes on and on.

Is there any one book you wish you had written? 

Breakheart Hill by Thomas H. Cook.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Walking the dogs (I have two Rhodesian ridgebacks who demand to be exercised every day).

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

I’m writing See Also Deadline, the third book in the Marjorie Trumaine series.  It’s coming along…

What’s the best thing about writing? 

Being able to sit down every day and do it.  Those days when everything comes together: ideas, words, images, and plot are the best.

The worst?  

I can’t think of anything.  Publishing is a tough business, but not as tough as digging ditches.  I love writing, and being a writer.  I’m not going to complain about the every day stuff, or things that are out of my control.

In a couple of years’ time…

I hope I’m doing the same thing I am today: working on a new story, pushing myself to become a better writer, still searching for the best sentence I ever wrote. 
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Many thanks to Larry for his time and to his publisher Seventh Street Books for introducing me to his work.

You can visit the author's website here.
He's on Facebook - here and catch him on Twitter@larrydsweazy

Seventh Street Books are here.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

MARK J. NEWMAN - VIOLENCE IN THE BLOOD (2016)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Malkie Thompson's got ambition. He'll do whatever it takes to get to the top and nothing's gonna stand in his way. Follow Thompson's rise to power from the backstreets of Glasgow to the industrial heartland of the Midlands. Join the rampage as Malkie and his crew blaze a trail of mayhem and destruction north and south of the border.

There will be blood, murder and mayhem. You’ve been warned.

A fast-paced 50-odd page tale of gangsters and criminality. Taut prose, with barely a word wasted. Newman gives us the rise of Malkie Thompson in 1988, moving in on Vinnie Edwards and his turf, much to our soon-to-be-deposed king-pin's chagrin and that of the local police with whom he has a tacit understanding.

Thomson pulls a job under Edwards' nose and causes some grief between Edwards and his pet poodle copper, DI Morrison. A stand-off between the two with guns isn't going to be good for business. One bent copper with embarrassing photographs and pressure from the hierarchy for a result and a return to a more peaceful climate. One annoyed gangster, suspecting that his paid-for-copper has crossed him and has something to do with the 60k job pulled on his patch.

Malkie Thomson's only just getting started. Newman takes us back to Glasgow and Malkie's rise in the Glaswegian underworld, before more grief down south as his business with Vinnie Edwards comes to a climax.

Not many likable characters on display but an enjoyable tale of gangsters, violence, cunning and ambition. Lots to enjoy. Right up my reading alley.

4 from 5

Mark J. Newman has written a few more tales in his Crime Syndicate series, which I hope to read later this year. He has his website here. He's also on Facebook here and catch him on Twitter@marknewmanwrit1

Read in January, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 51
Source - Amazon FREEBIE purchase
Format - Kindle

Saturday, 18 March 2017

JOE R. LANSDALE - THE STEEL VALENTINE (1991)


Synopsis/blurb….

“Even before Morley told him, Dennis knew things were about to get ugly. A man did not club you unconscious, bring you to his estate and tie you to a chair in an empty storage shed out back of the place if he merely intended to give you a valentine. Morley had found out about him and Julie.”

A short story in the tradition of Fleming or Dahl, “The Steel Valentine” is a gem, exemplifying the suspense writing of Joe Lansdale.

Another short February read and a chance to keep the scoreboard ticking over on my reading stats.
Joe Lansdale serves up a gritty and graphic tale of a cuckolded husband exacting a little bit of retribution.

“Spare me the innocent act, lover boy. You’ve been laying the pipe to Julie, and I don’t like it.”

Morley, the husband and Dennis, the boyfriend discuss their differences in a storage shed, only instead of port and a couple of cigars, one’s been beaten unconscious and tied up with ropes. Seven hungry Dobermans await the conclusion of the talks.
Graphic violence, humour in our verbal exchanges and a satisfying outcome. I do like the author’s work.

Bonus material includes an introduction to his book Waltz of Shadows

4 from 5

Joe R. Lansdale has his website here. You can grab a free short story from him every Thursday I believe.


Read in February, 2017
Published 1991 (my e-version was released 2011)
Page count – 29
Source – Amazon purchase, probably free

Format - Kindle

Friday, 17 March 2017

TODD LUCHIK - THE CHILDREN OF THE TRANSMISSION (2015)


Synopsis/blurb........

Joan is a troubled woman haunted by loss and tormented by sinister voices and terrifying hallucinations. It's Christmas Eve and she walks the city streets alone looking for a missing friend, but her search leads to a shocking discovery, one that will force her to confront a painful secret from her past and set her on a collision course with danger.

A short February read from my kindle and if I'm being brutally honest not something I especially enjoyed.

Hallucinations and delusions, a controlling cult called the Microbes - real or imagined (?), a women obsessed with another woman, a dead baby in a dumpster, a showdown in a church and a bit of a twist in the tale.

I  just couldn't really feel any empathy or involvement in the characters, which is sometimes the case with short pieces. If you don't feel the story a pithy one-liner or joke is often reward enough for reading. Humour wasn't the author's intention here so that wasn't going to happen. I just didn't get it.

2 from 5

I have enjoyed Todd Luchik's work previously and I'll happily read him again in the future.

Forgotten Boy was reviewed here. Friday Night, Saturday Morning was reviewed here.




Todd Luchik has his website here.

Catch him on Facebook here.
Twitter@ToddLuchik

You can get a copy of this one and one of his novels by signing up to his mailing list.

Read in February, 2017
Published - 2015
Page count - 16
Source - FREE from the author's website
Format - Kindle