Wednesday, 28 February 2018



Jackie Nolan knows how to drive big trucks and she's facing a mountain of debt. Put the two together, and Jackie soon finds herself hijacking semis from truck stops around Albuquerque, NM. But when one of the trucks turns out to be full of stolen Army munitions, Jackie finds herself in deep trouble. A lot of bad people are after those guns, and they're willing to kill to get them.

"Enough criminal mayhem ... to fill three crime novels." -- Albuquerque Journal

"SHOTGUN BOOGIE is my kind of crime novel. Brewer creates a cast of genuine characters and thrusts them into a zip-line plot involving drug cartel killers, the U.S. military, the DEA, and a pair of deplorables in search of weapons to further their misguided cause. The storytelling is effortless and compelling. Steve Brewer delivers another winner!" -- Bill Fitzhugh, award-winning author of PEST CONTROL

Steve Brewer writes the kind of books I like to read. The only problem I have is, I didn’t discover him early enough to be able to read as many of his books as I would like to. With over 30 to his name and the pace at which he produces them, I’m doomed to be forever playing catch up.

Shotgun Boogies introduces us to Jackie Nolan. Jackie was taught to drive big trucks by her dead father. With her mother suffering from Alzheimer’s and a stack of medical bills, she’s reduced to boosting trucks in order to juggle finances and try and keep her head above water.

Jackie’s a decent person faced with an impossible dilemma. She loves her mother and the criminality is not a feckless choice, it’s an economic necessity. One truck she boosts sparks her spider sense and getting a bit too nosy for her own good, she cracks the load and takes a peek………guns, guns, and more guns. Her morality belatedly kicks in and she isn’t going to hand it back, despite the threat from her boss. Multiple deaths in a Mexican drug war won’t sit easily on her conscience.

Cue mayhem – Mexican hitmen, an ex-Army hardcase trying to secure his pension, some peckerwood white supremacists, a frazzled boss and an agent for the Bureau of ATF – all want their hands on the weapons and a piece of Jackie Nolan is the best way to go about it. If she can keep her head down long enough some of the competing outfits may cancel each other out.

I really liked this one. A likeable character in an impossible situation with only her wits to help her survive and the added baggage of an ailing parent who is only fleetingly in possession of her mental faculties. Great action and pace and a strident rhythm to the piece that keeps you turning the pages. 

Plot, setting, character, humour, a hint of romance and a decent pay-off at the end. What’s not to like?
Even better is the fact that Jackie returns in a sequel, Homesick Blues.

4.5 from 5

Steve Brewer has his website here.

Read in February, 2018
Published – 2016
Page count – 327
Source – Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle  

Brewer has been enjoyed before - Bank Job and as Max Austin - Duke City Split and Duke City Hit.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


A couple from Adam Howe this week.

I read Adam Howe's Gator Bait a year or two ago and enjoyed it. He has subsequently published three more works, including a collection which includes the aforementioned Gator Bait - sad to say they have thus far gathered metaphorical dust on the Kindle shelf.

In addition to the two featured here, Tijuana Donkey Showdown and his recent editorial compilation Wrestle Maniacs sit on the pile.

No website but catch Adam Howe on Twitter here.

He's probably an acquired taste with a bizarro blend of pulp, crime and horror.

Thoughts on Gator Bait here.

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet (2015)

From Adam Howe, winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, come three original novellas of hardboiled crime, graphic horror and pitch-black gallows humor.


Washed-up prizefighter Reggie Levine is eking a living as a strip club bouncer when he’s offered an unlikely shot at redemption. The Bigelow Skunk Ape – a mythical creature said to haunt the local woods – has kidnapped the high school football mascot, Boogaloo Baboon. Now it’s up to Reggie to lead a misfit posse including a plucky stripper, the town drunk, and legend-in-his-own-mind skunk ape hunter Jameson T. Salisbury. Their mission: Slay the beast and rescue their friend. But not everything is as it seems, and as our heroes venture deeper into the heart of darkness, they will discover worse things waiting in the woods than just the Bigelow Skunk Ape. The story the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape tried to ban; Damn Dirty Apes mixes Roadhouse with Jaws with Sons of Anarchy, to create a rollicking romp of 80s-style action/adventure, creature horror and pitch-black comedy.


Escaped mental patient Terrence Hingle, the butcher of five sorority sisters at the Kappa Pi Massacre, kidnaps timid diner waitress Tilly Mulvehill and bolts for the border. Forcing his hostage to drive him out of town, it’s just a question of time before Tilly becomes the next victim in Hingle’s latest killing spree. But when they stop for gas at a rural filling station operated by deranged twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Ritter, the tables are turned on Hingle, and for Tilly the night becomes a hellish cat-and-mouse ordeal of terror and depravity. The meat in a maniac sandwich, Tilly is forced against her nature to make a stand and fight for survival. Because sometimes the only choice you have is to do or die…to Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet. Reading like a retro slasher flick, this pulpy Southern Gothic kidnap-thriller takes no prisoners as it roars towards a shattering conclusion.


Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man’s wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin’ Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense.


"Whether you call it Splatterpulp or Punk-Noir, Die Dog is an out-of-control '46 Mercury coupe heading hell-bent for Dead Man's Curve without brakes; a velvet-swathed lead slapjack to the base of the skull; a hard kick in the balls from a twisted, homicidal clown with giant shoes wrapped in razor-wire. It's an explicit, hard-hitting, twisted funhouse ride into pulpish horror wrapped loosely in a tattered skein of irreverent, jet black humor. In short, it's a freakin' blast." --Walt Hicks, author of Dirge of the Forgotten

"Adam Howe's skill with hilarious dialogue makes reading Damn Dirty Apes a laugh-out-loud experience, keeping you turning pages until the end and eliciting snickers from memory long after the story's over. Filled with brutality, atmosphere, and surprising depth, it's an absurd tale that explores not just the American south's backwoods in all its sticky, smelly grandeur, but also the all-too human yearning for stardom, even greatness." --David Dubrow, author of The Blessed Man and the Witch

"Neo-noir at its very best. The first thing you'll do when you finish Gator Bait, is read it again." —Zombie Rob at The Slaughtered Bird

Black Cat Mojo (2015)
In these three novellas of blackly comic crime and creature horror, you’ll go slumming with well-endowed dwarf porn stars, killer badgers, redneck mama’s boys, morbidly obese nymphomaniacs, dumbass dog-nappers, trailer trash Jesus freaks, diarrheic Jack Russell Terriers, not-so-wiseguys, mob-movie memorabilia collectors, junkie blackmailers, and giant man-eating Burmese pythons.


To pay back a gambling debt and avoid being castrated, washed-up dwarf porn star Rummy Rumsfeld (of Snow White spoof Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Up Your Ass We Go) must overcome a geriatric pederast, redneck pornographers, a morbidly obese nymphomaniac with serious personal hygiene issues, the ghost of his religious zealot mother, a dwarf-eating badger, and George Lucas.


Dumbass desperadoes Hootie and Poke incur the wrath of a trailer trash church group, not to mention God, when they kidnap a Jack Russell Terrier with the figure of Jesus Christ in its butt.


After testifying against notorious mob boss “Snake” Cobretti, embittered ex-wiseguy Frankie “The Tin Man” Piscopo emerges from Witness Protection to embark on a disastrous drug deal that leaves him fighting for his life against a giant Burmese python with a taste for Italian-American.



Washed up carny buys Ed Gein's car hoping to reverse his bad luck. . .But the real horror was just getting revved up . . .

"It’s almost as if someone smashed Dashiell Hammett’s seamless noir patter, Elmore Leonard’s pitch-perfect ear for hapless characters, Quentin Tarantino’s sardonic sense of irony and Clive Barker’s unflinching portrayal of sexual pain/pleasure into a blender, mixing in a heaping helping of Stephen King’s pop culture mise–en–scène framing. Howe bobs and weaves, pulling it all together in a denouement that is as satisfying as it is completely unexpected." Walt Hicks for HELLNOTES

Monday, 26 February 2018


Blair Denholm author of Sold answers a few questions on the blog

Sold was up in the blog yesterday, a few thoughts here.

Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job? (Maybe a brief bio?)

I'm not writing full time at the moment. Of course, I'd love to become successful enough to abandon my job and make writing my one and only pursuit. I'm working my arse off to achieve that and, with a bit of good fortune, the dream just might come true. But I’m under no illusions about how hard that is.

In the meantime, I work as a translator for an international conservation organisation with a long and cumbersome name: Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The Commission operates in four official languages, one of them being Russian, a language I've learned to a degree of fluency that allows me to translate and interpret at the highest levels. I also do private translation work, mainly in the areas of business and immigration.

I believe Sold is your debut book, how long from conception to completion and publication did Sold take?

SOLD is my debut novel through a traditional publisher, although I did self-publish a kids' book in the middle of last year. The idea for SOLD came from my partner, a real estate agent here in Australia. We were driving somewhere one day, to the hardware store I think, when out of the blue she said, 'You've always wanted to write a novel. Why don't you write one about a real estate agent?' She'd told me plenty of fantastic tales about her life in the industry, so I thought, yeah, why not? That was at the beginning of 2015. From that point it took until mid-2016 to finish the first draft. The book was published in November 2017. Not a rapid process, but the sequel is coming along much faster, thankfully.

Did the end result resemble the book you envisaged when you set out? Were there many bumps in the road along the way?

Good question. I have to admit my vision for the book changed considerably as I wrote. New characters emerged that weren’t in my plan, others discarded. Others still were given more prominent roles beyond the cameos I had in mind for them. The published version of the book is about 27,000 words lighter than my first draft, so you could say most of the bumps on that particular road were plowed over and obliterated.

How difficult is it blending comedic elements into a mystery? There was one scene in Sold, where Gary meets the vendor of a property he’s trying to sell which had me laughing like a drain.

Comedy is such a personal thing, and it can be hit and miss with your audience. Often I’ll be watching a movie or TV show and be chuckling away and my partner, Sandra, will look at me askance and ask me what the hell’s so funny. With SOLD, there are comedic elements I thought would only be appreciated by men, but to my surprise many female reviewers have said they get it. Even in the USA, where the style of humour is so different to what we relate to in Australia and the UK. I’ve always appreciated ridiculous writing, Spike Milligan for example. I enjoy writing funny stuff, but it’s hard to sustain the laughs over an entire novel.

Are you a plotter, or is it all making up shit as you go along?

Plotter? What’s that? I tend to start off with a vague idea, a theme, a nebulous plot, and then my strategy becomes even looser. For the follow-up to SOLD, I wrote an outline with a list of characters and their bios. But once I got to writing, the whole storyline changed by the second chapter. It doesn’t worry me in the slightest, though. I’m happy for the characters to take over and tell the tale for me. I feel a bit like a medium, channeling their thoughts.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have a schedule as such. I need to be better at this sort of thing but self-discipline isn’t one of my strongpoints. I try to get in at least an hour a day, five days a week, and extra on weekends where possible. However if a big chuck of free time opens up, I’ll do my best to devote it to writing.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

There are no completed, unsubmitted work lying in that proverbial drawer. It’s all out there – both of them.

Is there a current work in progress? How’s it going? Any hints as to what it’s all about? (I’m only halfway through Sold so far, so I’m unsure if Gary survives his trials and tribulations – a second with him would be one to look forward to.)

I’m working on the second installment of what I pompously call the “Gary Braswell Franchise”. It’s called Sold to the Devil. Gary’s been living with me for the last couple of years so I’ve got a good handle on exactly who the prick is. And that makes the writing easier and more fun. I can tell you this much: the action has shifted to the island state of Tasmania, away from the hot sun to a much colder environment. There are more crazy characters, including a dysfunctional cop who’ll do anything to keep out of trouble, a steroid-fueled body-building businessman with a penchant for kink and a tenacious journalist trying to uncover the truth behind a horrific murder. Plus some surrealistic goings on with abnormal weather and wildlife.

I’ve also written the first chapter of a thriller set in Moscow in the late 1980s. The novel, Revolution Day, is based on a real event, a racially motivated hate crime (a murder) that shook the community of foreign students living there at the time. I was one of them. This is the novel I’ve always wanted to write.

What’s the best thing about writing?

For me it’s when motivation is high, the muse has come to visit and the words just flow. I love the freedom of being able to say what I like, no restrictions. As a new writer, I get an amazing feeling when I read positive reviews from people I’ve never met. One said bluntly “Denholm is a master storyteller”. I could barely fit my head through the door the day I read that.

The worst?

I’d have to say rewriting and editing. It can be difficult ditching large chunks of text you agonized over, but if it ain’t moving the story ahead or it’s just plain confusing for the reader, it’s gotta go.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux
Calamity: Being an Account of Calamity Jane and Her Gunslinging Green Man by JD Jordan
Intoxic by Angie Gallion
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr
Who do you read and enjoy?

I like Scandinavian noir in general, Camilla Lackberg in particular. She sets a nice brooding atmosphere. I’ve also become a big fan of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels. I have to say, though, my tastes are eclectic. As long as a story engages me, I’ll give it a go. From the classics of Dostoyevsky and Dickens to James Patterson, as well as unheralded indie writers.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. I read it late last year and was completely captivated by the outlandish story and the bizarre characters.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

I’ve always enjoyed running and have recently stepped that up to high-intensity training. And reading anything and everything, especially at a leisurely pace when on holidays.

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

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. A stunning dark comedy in the tradition of many Coen Brothers’ classics.

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

I watch more television than I should, although I’m cutting down on the hours. I’m a massive fan of Father Ted, Black Books and other comedy series in that vein. The whole world’s gone crazy for Netflix and the like, but I’m wary of getting on that bandwagon and wasting more of my life watching TV. For me there’s nothing better than watching a good game of rugby or Australian football. There’s as much drama packed into an hour or two of football as there is in an entire series of Homeland.

In a couple of years’ time…

I’ll be sitting in a cinema watching the premier screening of SOLD, the movie.


Many thanks to Blair for his time and Lindy Cameron of Clan Destine Press for connecting us.

Blair Denholm has his website here

Clan Destine Press website -



The Gold Coast swelters in record temperatures, and car salesman Gary Braswell's hot under the collar. With sales at rock-bottom, and up to his neck in debt to loan shark Jocko Mackenzie, Gary's sweating on a fat commission from a mysterious Russian couple.

If the loan is not repaid, there's more than Gary's kneecaps at stake - his long-suffering wife's also in peril. But Jocko demands more than repayment and has sinister plans for the hapless salesman.

Gary turns his skills to real estate and is soon embroiled in the murky world of money laundering. With the federal police sniffing around and Jocko on his tail, Gary concocts an audacious scam.

Success means money - lots of it.
Failure means death.
But can hard-drinking, cocaine-snorting Gary pull it off?

Hilarious and dark, Sold is noir at its best - a whirlpool of sex, drugs, and real estate.

Another new author to me and a debut mystery set in Australia's Gold Coast.

I really enjoyed this one. Gary Braswell is not a pleasant man. His addictions have control of him and despite his best intentions to be a decent husband to his wife, it just isn't happening. Not when the allure of another drink or another bet are so easily surrendered to.

Braswell owes money and his problems are mounting. His loan shark, bookie has him by the short and curlies and a trip to Thailand smuggling drugs for Jocko Mackenzie is on the cards. Refusal is not an option with Jocko's sidekick waiting in the wings to inflict physical damage on Gary and more frighteningly extreme sexual assault on his innocent wife.

Braswell may have an out. His salvation may lay with some dubious Russian clients he has gotten involved with. Or conversely his friend’s suggestion to involve the federal police may bear fruit. Always assuming he can keep his head long enough to execute a plan.

Money laundering, bent cops, a dodgy bookie, a long suffering wife, Russian gangsters, infidelity, marital strife, a career change, a gambling addiction, a worse addiction to the booze, a sex tape and more.

For a big part of the novel it was a kind of light-hearted read. Yes our main character is in trouble and he’s out of his depth, but there were some fantastic comedy scenes which kind of suckered me into thinking things would be resolved without too much pain or injury to our main characters. Denholm then pulled the rug from under me, when a long threatened event occurs (albeit from an unexpected source); an event - which gives the novel a seriously dark turn.

As well as the comedy elements, I did feel a kind of sadness as Gary stumbles from one crisis to the next, on an ever-increasing downward spiral. I didn’t like the man, but there was enough about him that had me hoping he could turn his life around – get a grip on his addictions and move forward with his wife and his life. His turmoil isn’t pretty to observe, though I have to say it’s never boring. Denholm achieves a delicate balance, by having me rooting for a character – one with more faults than virtues.

Blair Denholm and Gary Braswell are definitely an author and main character that I’d like to read more of in the future.

5 from 5

Blair Denholm has his website here.

Margot Kinberg spotlighted Sold recently over at her blog – here.

Read in February, 2018
Published – 2017
Page count – 328
Source – copy received from publisher, Clan Destine Press (thanks Lindy)
Format – trade paperback

Saturday, 24 February 2018


Here's another dirty half dozen added to the collection last month - there were more than that, but I'm only shouting about these ones.....

Dan Ames - Sugar (2018) - Amazon purchase
Wade Carver is a dangerous man. So when a shady lawyer needs to find a boat filled with extremely valuable - and highly illegal - cargo, she hires Carver. Unfortunately, he's not the only who's been hired to do a risky job. A powerful drug dealer has targeted Carver for elimination, and offered a steep contract to any killer who can execute...the job. When Carver investigates the missing boat, the case takes him on a collision course with his search for his missing sister. The action is hot and heavy, just like the Florida sun.

"Ames is a sensation among Kindle readers who love fast-paced thrillers." -MysteryTribune

Chris Orlet - In the Pines (2016)

"Ames is a sensation among Kindle readers who love fast-paced thrillers." -MysteryTribune
"Chris Orlet's debut novel (In the Pines/New Pulp Press) is what I've been waiting for for years. Finally a worthy successor to James Crumley and Newton Thornburg and Kem Nunn, the 1970s godfathers of true noir's long-needed revival. His characters are, by and large, unscrupulous in the way they live. They're broken and their morals have been watered down by bad choices and unalterable circumstance, but the reader can't help but feel he's only a few bad days from taking permanent residence in the hopeless world they populate."

Jonathan Ashley, author of South of Cincinnati, Out of Mercy and The Cost of Doing Business

Emily Ahrens is dead. Just how she died, no one is quite sure.

Authorities eventually confirm that the young woman died of arsenic poisoning. But a coroner's inquest, called to decide whether the death was suicide, accident, homicide, natural or undetermined concludes that the death is undetermined.

With no evidence of foul play, local authorities are reluctant to investigate. The girl's father, however, refuses to let the matter die and begins obsessively seeking answers, even as the town seeks to put the tragedy behind them.

Stonewalled, the father hires a shady private investigator from a nearby city to look into the circumstances of his daughter's death. When he, too, fails to turn up any answers, the desperate father turns up the screws on one rather unsavory suspect, a fatal accident ensues, and circumstances begin to spiral out of control.

In the great tradition of Noir fiction, In the Pines is a tale like nothing you've read before.

Ronald Colby - Night Driver (2018) - copy from publisher

So this was it, he thought. He had his first fare and was now officially a cab driver. He shook his head as he exhaled the smoke into the morning cold. Well, he’d use the taxi time just as he had promised himself. He would figure things out, get a hold on himself, keep a little money coming in, and find the men who had murdered his wife.

Nick Cullen's wife was brutally murdered in a burglary gone horribly wrong, and he's not the type to move on with his life, especially when he has seen the faces of the murderers in person. His plan: learn how to drive a cab so he can find his wife's murderers on the streets of Los Angeles.

Nick's nighttime rides lead him down dead end after dead end, until one day he manages to get a hold of the ID of one of the men who destroyed his life. Nick's chase heats up and he's forced to face the truth of how far a man will go who has nothing left to lose.

Night Driver takes the reader on a white-knuckled thrill ride through the dimly lit streets of after-hours Los Angeles and into the dark heart of a man pushed to the brink. An unforgettable journey of obsession, sadness, and revenge.

Patricia Skalka - Death Rides the Ferry (2018) - review copy from Edelweiss site

It's a sparkling August day on Washington Island and the resonant notes of stringed instruments float on the breeze toward sailboats and the approaching ferry. After a forty-year absence, the Viola da Gamba Festival has returned to the picturesque isle on the tip of Wisconsin's Door County peninsula. Sheriff Dave Cubiak enjoys a rare day off as tourists and a documentary film crew hover around the musicians.The jubilant mood sours when the ferry arrives and an unidentified passenger is found dead. Long-time residents recall with dismay the disastrous festival decades earlier, when another woman died and a valuable sixteenth-century instrument-the fabled yellow viol-vanished, never to be found.Cubiak follows a trail of murder, kidnapping, and false identity that leads back to the calamitous night of the twin tragedies. With the lives of those he holds most dear in peril, the sheriff pursues a ruthless killer into the stormy northern reaches of Lake Michigan.

Ed Lynskey - Wrong Orbits (2015) - Amazon purchase

 Loomis McTeague has good reasons to fear his safe, little world in suburbia is skidding into a wrong orbit. His best friend Stu O'Fryer is involved in a disgusting criminal enterprise. Loomis suspects his wife Enola Jo is cheating on him. His new co-worker Zoey, actually a con artist, is blackmailing him with the compromising photos taken during their tryst. Loomis does his best to hold things together. But nothing he tries seems to work out. He finds a resolution of a sort, but at what cost? Wrong Orbits is a modern crime noir written much like Ed Lynskey's other well-received suburban crime noirs Ask the Dice and Blood Diamonds. JT Lindroos, who designed the front cover for The Blue Cheer (Pointblank, 2007) , also did this spiffy front cover.

T.M. Logan - 29 Seconds (2018) - copy from publisher

The sensational new page-turning thriller from the number 1 bestselling author of LIES. Perfect for fans of FRIEND REQUEST by Laura Marshall and I AM WATCHING YOU by Tessa Driscoll.

Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid - in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.


Praise for T. M. Logan, the master of the everyman thriller

'Assured, compelling, and hypnotically readable - with a twist at the end I guarantee you won't see coming' Lee Child

Friday, 23 February 2018


A few films enjoyed in January, though I had hoped to have watched a bit more - I've still got another half dozen backed up on the black box recorder in the front room - maybe February then?

Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

An okay watch, more than a few twists and turns as you'd expect. Tom Cruise does what he does. I enjoyed Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames. Rebecca Ferguson offers a bit of love interest (maybe) and Sean Harris is the bad guy. There's worse ways of spending an hour or two.

From IMDB....

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate - an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Focus (2015)

I do like movies with a con man and this was no exception. I was taken in a few times, especially at the football game, though with hindsight I should I have been a bit more savvy to what was going on. That was probably the highlight for me and the subsequent Buenos Aires twist felt a bit anti-climatic in my opinion. I do like a bit of Will Smith. My daughter raves about Margot Robbie, but I can't recall seeing her in anything before.  As far as confidence movies go - Matchstick Men is still my favourite by a country mile.

From Google....

Nicky (Will Smith), a veteran con artist, takes a novice named Jess (Margot Robbie) under his wing. While Nicky teaches Jess the tricks of the trade, the pair become romantically involved; but, when Jess gets uncomfortably close, Nicky ends their relationship. Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires working a very dangerous scheme when Jess -- now an accomplished femme fatale -- unexpectedly shows up. Her appearance throws Nicky for a loop at a time when he cannot afford to be off his game.

Brick Mansions (2014)

Not the best thing I've ever recorded and watched - Shit Mansions might have been a better title. An okay story, but it kind of seemed like the director wanted to show of David Belle's acrobatic prowess. He's very jumpy and leapy in this thing, which kind of took me out of the story. Paul Walker was okay.

From Google...

In a dystopian Detroit, grand houses that once housed the wealthy are now homes of the city's most-dangerous criminals. Surrounding the area is a giant wall to keep the rest of Detroit safe. For undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker), every day is a battle against corruption as he struggles to bring his father's killer, Tremaine (RZA), to justice. Meanwhile, Damien and an ex-con named Lino (David Belle) work together to save the city from a plot to destroy it.

Takers (2010)
Much more my sort of thing - a gang of crooks and a dogged cop who won't give up. A decent story line and an entertaining cast - I like Matt Dillon and Idris Elba - though he might have got a bit too big for his boots lately. The rest of the cast were very good also.

From Google...

Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba) and his friends enjoy a luxurious lifestyle funded by bank robberies, and they avoid capture by sticking to a strict set of rules. As they celebrate the latest job, a former associate arrives with a daring plan to rob an armored car. The lure of so much cash is too tempting to resist but, unbeknown to Gordon's men, this heist puts them on a collision course with Russian mobsters and a detective (Matt Dillon) who will do anything to capture them.

Now You See Me (2013)
Second time around for this one and still just as enjoyable. Apart from Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher and Morgan Freeman, I couldn't tell you who any of the other illusionists were. Michael Caine also features. I do like Ruffalo, though I've not seen him in too much - Spotlight and Shutter Island.

From IMDB....

An F.B.I. Agent, and an Interpol Detective, track a team of illusionists, who pull off bank heists during their performances, and reward their audiences with the money.

Now You See Me 2 (2016)
More of the same, but still a decent couple of hours viewing.

From IMDB....

The Four Horsemen resurface, and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.

Thursday, 22 February 2018


Six more from the estranged library in a warehouse, 5 fiction, 1 non-fiction

Millar's - Peter, Margaret and Sam

Miller's - Wade, James and Geoffrey

Peter Millar - 1989 The Berlin Wall (2009 I think)

It was an event that changed history, bringing the Cold War to a sudden, unexpected end and seeing the collapse not just of Communism but of the Soviet Union itself. Stereotypes disappeared overnight, and the maps of a continent had to be redrawn. Peter Millar was in the middle of it, literally - caught in Checkpoint Charlie between bemused East German border guards and drunk Western revellers prematurely celebrating the end of an era. For over a decade Millar had been living in East Berlin, as well as Warsaw and Moscow, and in this engaging, garrulous, bibulous memoir we follow him on a journey in the heart of Cold War Europe, from the carousing bars of 1970s Fleet Street to the East Berlin corner pub with its eclectic cast of characters who embodied the reality of living on the wrong side of the Wall. We relive the night that it all disintegrated, and its curious domino-like effect on Eastern Europe. We find out how Peter Millar felt when he opened his Stasi file and discovered which of his friends had - or hadn't - been spying on him. A compelling, amazingly insightful and entertaining read, this book swiftly dispatches the mythology of the Fall and brings Peter Millar's characteristic wit and insight to one of the most significant moments in history.

Sam Millar - Bloodstorm (2008)

Gritty and gripping, Bloodstorm is the beginning of a chilling series.Karl Kane is a private investigator with a dark past. As a child, he witnessed the brutal rape and murder of his mother. The same man sexually molested Karl, leaving him for dead with horrific knife wounds covering his body. Years later, Karl has a chance to avenge his mother's murder by killing the man responsible. The opportunity arises on one unforgettable Good Friday night. For reasons he later regards as cowardice, Karl allows the opportunity to slip through his hands, only to be shattered when, two days later, two young girls are sexually molested and then brutally murdered by the killer on Easter Sunday morning. Karl now holds himself responsible for their deaths.

Margaret Millar - Beast in View (1955)

At thirty, Helen Clarvoe is only: her only visitors are the staff at the hotel where she lives, and her only phone calls come from a stranger. A stranger whose quiet, compelling voice lures the aloof and financially secure Miss Clarvoe into a world of extortion, pornography, vengeance, madness and murder...

Wade Miller - Branded Woman (1952)

International jewelry smuggling may be a man's business, but beautiful Cay Morgan can hold her own with the best. Until a rival known only as The Trader has her scarred for life as a warning to stay out of his way. Now Cay's on her way to Mazatlan, where one of The Trader's men has been spotted. There's a big deal going down but she's not there to make a score. Just to settle one.

James Miller - Sunshine State (2011)

Mark Burrows is an 'invisible man', a British secret agent adept at moving undetected through the most hostile environments. Summoned for one last mission, he must make contact with Charlie Ashe, his fearsome former colleague and brother-in-law. Ashe has reappeared with a new name and a terrifying new agenda in the Storm Zone, a mysterious region racked by devastating hurricanes and inhabited by cults, criminal gangs and insurgent armies.

The mission will force Burrows to question his loyalties and to understand that the greatest danger lies not with his target, but with the forces that seek to control the world around him.

Geoffrey Miller - The Black Glove (1981)

Terry Traven is an L. A. private eye who modeled himself after Philip Marlowe and thrived in the 1960s, becoming a minor celebrity for his hardboiled style and his skill at tracking down runaways. But now it’s the 1980s, his minor fame has completely faded, and he’s barely making a living. So he jumps at the opportunity to find a wealthy, born-again industrialist’s missing son who has been dabbling in drugs and punk rock. It’s not just a chance to save the kid… but himself. Traven’s search leads him into a bizarre, cocaine-drizzled world populated by kidnappers, drug dealers, talent agents, greedy entrepreneurs, religious zealots and desperate killers.

“Miller pretty much equals the masters — Hammett and Chandler — of the hardboiled detective story,” Houston Post

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


A cracking start to a new year of reading - 19 books read in the month, though only half of them would weigh in at over 100 pages long.

Nothing sucked  only 1 - 3 STAR read, conversely a lot of them were very good but only 1 - 5 STAR read.

Pick of the month - Lawrence Block's Keller in Des Moines - another episode in my favourite hitman's life and a story with no resolution as such - just an urgent invite to read the longer novel where our tale concludes.

The month could in some ways be regarded as a Lawrence Block tribute month - I read one old lost and recently found book from him - Sinner Man - and seven of his Kindle singles with Keller, a few of which had been enjoyed before as they also form part of the longer work Hitman.

The full list with links...

Paul Heatley - The Boy (2015) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Keller in Dallas (2009) (4.5)

Christopher Davis - Walking to Babylon (2017) (4)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Adjustment (2005) (4)

William E. WallaceHangman's Dozen (2016) (4.5)

G. B. Williams - Locked Up (2017) (3)

Lawrence Block - Keller on the Spot (1998) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Horoscope (2001) (4)

David Putnam - The Innocents (2018) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Sinner Man (1968/2016) (4.5)

Kevin Berg - Indifference (2016) (4.5)

Joe R. Lansdale - Briar Patch Boogie (2016) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Keller's Therapy (2013) (4)

Nick Kolakowski - A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps (2017) (4.5)

Lesley Welsh - In the Blood (2018) (4.5)

Jeffrey Archer - The Man Who Robbed His Own Post Office (2007) (4)

Graham Smith - Past Echoes (2018) (4)

Lawrence Block - Keller in Des Moines (2016) (5)

Lawrence Block - Keller the Dogkiller (2016) (4.5)

Dissecting the month to the nth degree.....

11 x 4.5 STAR READS...... Lawrence Block x 4, Paul Heatley, Nick Kolakowski, Lesley Welsh, Kevin Berg, Joe R. Lansdale, William E. Wallace, David Putnam

6 x 4 STAR READS.....Lawrence Block x 3, Christopher Davis, Graham Smith and Jeffrey Archer.

1 x 3 STAR READ ..... enjoyable, but not without a few niggles - G.B. Williams and Locked Up

19 reads from 12 different authors, 8 from Lawrence Block

7 of the 12 were new-to-me authors....... Kevin Berg, William E. Wallace, Christopher Davis, Lesley Welsh, Nick Kolakowski, G.B. Williams and Jeffrey Archer - though I may have read Archer about 30 years ago.

I have more on the pile from William E. WallaceChristopher Davis and Nick Kolakowski (well I did, but I've since read his second book - Slaughterhouse Blues.)

5 authors have been read and enjoyed before - Lawrence Block and Joe R. Lansdale - numerous times, David Putnam (4), Graham Smith (2), Paul Heatley (3) and

I have more on the TBR pile from all of them.

Gender analysis -  mostly male authors, 2 females - Lesley Welsh and G.B. Williams....... despite assertions that I'm going to correct the imbalance in my reading, I never do.

I believe of the 12 authors I read, 5 are English, and 7 hail from the US.

All 19 of the reads were fiction - 8 novels and 1 collection of short stories, 10 reads were less than 100 pages long

One of the books - Sinner Man - the re-discovered Lawrence Block originated from the 60s, a couple of the reads were penned in the 90s - Block - Keller episodes.

4 reads were from the 2000s, the other 11 from this decade - including three 2018 books and three from 2017.

10 of the 19 books were accessed via a Kindle Unlimited trial, 2 were review copies made available from the publisher - Bloodhound Books, 2 came from the authors, 4 were pre-owned with the last accessed free through iBooks and finished off via Amazon Freebie purchase.

Favourite cover? Sinner Man - Lawrence Block

Second favourite – Nick Kolakowski's A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps

My reads were this long 85 - 43- 186 - 72 - 155 - 288 - 30 - 47 - 324 - 240 - 308 - 56 - 38 - 134 - 300 - 42 - 348 - 30 -35

Total page count = 2761  (2323 in December)....... a 400 page increase

16 and a half Kindle reads, 1/2 a read on my phone, 1 PDF and 1 trade paperback ARC.

1 < 50,
6 between 51 < 100,
5 between 101 < 200,
2 between 201 < 300,
2 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Graham Smith's Past Echoes was the longest read at 348 pages.

A couple of Lawrence Block - Keller's the shortest at 30 pages each - Keller on the Spot and Keller in Des Moines