Friday, 18 May 2018



Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life. 

Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn't care anymore

Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished. 

— Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.

Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.

— Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.

A decent collection of a few short stories and a much longer piece - Her Name is Mercie - from new-to-me author Chris Roy.

Her Name is Mercie ... the star of the show - 90-odd pages with Mercie and a juvenile sidekick kicking back against authority. Parents dead, house and inheritance gone and nothing much more to lose.

Tense, tight and a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I was sucked in hoping that a measure of recompense could be extracted by Mercie and her wing man Kermit. We get a brief and sobering glimpse of the reality of life behind bars, as the course of true retribution never runs smoothly.

I had a couple of niggles with some of the elements of the story, but they were over-looked easily enough and didn't take away from an enthralling tale.

Re-Pete... borderline horror and a close contender for top story. Mother has a new boyfriend, her son Pete has issues - understandably - and you know things might just get messy...

Hunger.... a man, his daughter, her dog, her brother, a boat, a bereavement - all is not what it seems. There's some puzzling elements to how this unfolds - hallucinatory imagery, that I'm not sure I totally understood. Maybe if I re-read it a couple more times, I'd get my head around it. Maybe not.

Libby's Hands... always respect your Grandmother's wishes - you may come to regret things if you don't - another horror-ish tale with Halloween as the backdrop. Minor confusion again, but still worth the time.

Marsh Madness... short, sharp and another stand-out story - a boy, his dog, an alligator, a low wooden pier, his mother, a watchful hunter maybe stalker and a rifle

Overall, I really liked this collection. I'm more of a fan of the straight forward in your face stories where it doesn't require too much cerebral firepower to try and guess the author's intent. Three and three quarters of them worked very well for me, with only one leaving a slightly annoying sense of puzzlement. (Maybe I'm just thick.)

4 from 5

Chris Roy has few other books under his belt.
Shocking Circumstances : Book 1 Last Shine
Shocking Circumstances : Book 2 Resurrection

Sharp As A Razor : Book 1 A Dying Wish

Facebook - Author Chris Roy
Twitter - @AuthorChrisRoy

Read in May, 2018
Published - 2018 (26th May in fact - AM UK    AM US     AM CANADA)
Page count - 164
Source - review copy from Rachel's Random Resources, publisher - Near to the Knuckle
Format - PDF


A bit of crime from the 30s and 50s and some more contemporary stuff....

Wolfson, Wilson, Robinson, Thompson, Johnson and Lawson

D.W. Wilson - Once You Break a Knuckle (2011) 

An untried as yet collection of short stories.

In the remote Kootenay Valley in western Canada, good people sometimes do bad things. Two bullied adolescents sabotage a rope swing, resulting in another boy's death. A heartbroken young man chooses not to warn his best friend about an approaching car. Sons challenge fathers and break taboos.

Crackling with tension and propelled by jagged, cutting dialogue, D.W. Wilson's stories reveal to us how our best intentions can be doomed to fail or injure, how our loves can fall short or mislead us, how even friendship-especially friendship-can be something dangerously temporary. An intoxicating cocktail of adrenaline and vulnerability, doggedness and dignity, Once You Break a Knuckle explores the courage it takes just to make it through another day.

P.J. Wolfson - Bodies are Dust (1931)
A bit of 85 year old noir.

I can't find a blurb for Bodies are Dust but there's a Wiki page with a few details on Wolfson and a couple of reviews of this one on Goodreads

Denis Johnson - Nobody Move (2009)
I read his Resuscitation of a Hanged Man a few years ago and liked it enough to try more from him. Sadly Johnson died in 2017

From the National Book Award-winning, bestselling author of Tree of Smoke comes a provocative thriller set in the American West. Nobody Move, which first appeared in the pages of Playboy, is the story of an assortment of lowlifes in Bakersfield, California, and their cat-and-mouse game over $2.3 million. Touched by echoes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Nobody Move is at once an homage to and a variation on literary form. It salutes one of our most enduring and popular genres - the American crime novel - but does so with a grisly humor and outrageousness that are Denis Johnson's own. Sexy, suspenseful, and above all entertaining, Nobody Move shows one of our greatest novelists at his versatile best.

Jim Thompson - The Kill-Off  (1957)

When I first developed an affinity for American crime fiction, Thompson was just coming back into vogue, some years after his death in 1977 - penniless and unremembered.

Luane Devore is about to be murdered. Among the suspects are various people whose reputations have been blighted by Luane's malicious gossip, including her young, servile husband and a doctor with an ugly secret in his past.

John Edward Lawson - Last Burn in Hell (Director's Cut) (2005)
Speculative punt, not an author I have previously heard of, but I liked the sound of this. Bought it and subsequently buried it in the pile and forgot about it!

The bizarro prison sex horror road trip exploding with alien invasion action!

Kenrick Brimley, the state prison's official gigolo, hangs over a lava pit on trial for his life in a strange land. He will reveal the course of his life one misguided step at a time for his captors. From his romance with serial arsonist Leena Manasseh to his lurid angst-affair with a lesbian music diva, from his ascendance as unlikely pop icon to otherworldly encounters, the one constant truth is that he's got no clue what he's doing. As unrelenting as it is original, Last Burn in Hell is John Edward Lawson at his most scorching intensity, serving up sexy satire and postmodern pulp with his trademark day-glow prose.
The Director's Cut edition includes:

Deleted scenes

Alternate ending

Photo stills

Remastering for more enjoyable viewing

And more!

Todd Robinson - The Hard Bounce (2012)
Years ago, I used to frequently tune-in to the online fiction site, Thug-Lit - run by Big Daddy Thug - Todd Robinson. I bought his debut novel and again forgot about it - WTF! 

Boo Malone lost everything when he was sent to St. Gabriel's Home for Boys. There, he picked up a few key survival skills; a wee bit of an anger management problem; and his best friend for life, Junior. Now adults, Boo and Junior have a combined weight of 470 pounds (mostly Boo's), about ten grand in tattoos (mostly Junior's), and a talent for wisecracking banter. Together, they provide security for The Cellar, a Boston nightclub where the bartender Audrey doles out hugs and scoldings for her favorite misfits, and the night porter, Luke, expects them to watch their language. At last Boo has found a family.

But when Boo and Junior are hired to find Cassandra, a well-to-do runaway slumming among the authority-shy street kids, Boo sees in the girl his own long-lost younger sister. And as the case deepens with evidence that Cassie is being sexually exploited, Boo's blind desire for justice begins to push his surrogate family's loyalty to the breaking point. Cassie's life depends on Boo's determination to see the case through, but that same determination just might finally drive him and Junior apart. What's looking like an easy payday is turning into a hard bounce--for everyone.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018



A double murder. A mysterious inheritance. One PI is about to follow the money all the way into a den of thieves…

After surviving a bullet, Angelina Bonaparte was certain she could handle any case that came her way. But when her next client walks through the door with an unexplainable seven-figure inheritance after the death of her parents, the private investigator wonders if she's in over her head. After all, when she visits her client's family attorney, Angelina discovers yet another bloody crime scene.

With the help of her new flame, Angelina follows the clues into an underworld of war-plundered artifacts, stolen treasures, and deadly consequences. As their last lead grows colder, the PI must catch the killer before an endless cycle of murderous greed gets her client killed.

Cash Kills is the second book in the suspenseful Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries series. If you like hard-as-painted-nails female detectives, historical mysteries, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Nanci Rathbun’s loaded crime thriller.

A new-to-me author with Nanci Rathbun and only my second time with a female PI after enjoying Susan Grafton's Kinsey Millhone in A for Alibi a few years ago.

Unfortunately I found it a difficult book to read, probably as much due to personal circumstances as to any failure of the author to captivate and engage me. Reading it straddled a difficult time period of leaving an old home after 25 years and moving to a new one. Physical and mental fatigue as well as demands on my time left little in the tank to enjoy my usual leisurely pursuits of reading and to a lesser extent blogging. Whatever book I happened to be reading would undoubtedly have been a distraction and irritation.

Plus points - I enjoyed the set-up and the premise of the case. A bereft daughter is struggling to come to terms with the death of her parents and also the fact that having lived their lives so frugally they manage to leave her a million dollar inheritance. Angelina Bonaparte, our PI and lead character has to discover the provenance of the cash, before her client, Adriana can decide whether to accept it or not.

As a character, I enjoyed Bonaparte's instincts and abilities and her interactions with her friends, family and cop boyfriend. Said boyfriend also has an interest in the case, as Adriana's parents were murdered - execution-style. A second murder, soon after Angelina takes the case raises the stakes.

The unfolding of the mystery, the uncovering of facts and establishing the motive for the crime and the introduction of secondary characters to also shed light and become part of the hunt for the murderer and provide security for Angelina and her client, as they became endangered, the closer to the truth they got was logical and well reasoned. The events which set the whole scenario in motion were of interest and provided pause for thought. Without giving too much away; a horrific event in recent European history, the conflict in the Balkans is the backdrop to our book.

Irritating elements - the author's insistence on talking us through our 50-something PI's daily outfits including her choice of lingerie, pretty much each and every time the sun rose. I get that the character has spunk and a certain feistiness and has got over the divorce from the cheating husband and is proud of her status as an independent woman with a career, grown-up kids and grandchildren, and new found beau. I don't really need to picture her wearing a thong because it's date night.

Secondly, the secondment of gay best friend Bobby into the investigation and a willingness to have him as a PI trainee, I wasn't especially convinced by. A minor annoyance in the scheme of things, I suppose. I quite liked Bobby as a minor character, and his support with Angelica's client, Adriana was crucial, but I wasn't sold on his sudden career ambitions.

Pace - I'm undecided on really - mainly due to my own reading issues. At times it felt like I was swimming through treacle, but again, more me than the book I think. I'd willingly try a second book by Rathbun before determining whether I would continue reading her in the future.

Overall 3 from 5

Nanci Rathbun has two other Bonaparte books to her name. Truth Kills is the first in the series and Honor Kills which was published at the beginning of May is the third.

Her Facebook page is here. She's on Twitter - @NanciRathbun 

Read in April/May 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 261
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


A couple from Daniel Woodrell this week and a pair from his Rene Shade trilogy. The Ones You Do concludes the series.

Woodrell has written ten books in total with The Maid's Version his last published novel in 2013. It's about time he had something new out, I reckon.

There's no author website, but here's a link to an interview with The Independent he gave in 2006.

I've read a few from him, probably these two included, though so long ago they probably don't count. The last time I kind of crossed paths with his work was watching the film Winter's Bone starring Jennifer Lawrence which was based on his 2006 novel.

Under The bright Lights (1986)

Jewel Cobb had come to St.Bruno to climb on the big city gravy train. His cousin Duncan set little Jewel up to do the killing. The boy was hillbilly raw but country rough, and pleasingly expendable.

It seemed a simple enough case for the authorities. Too bad the dead man was a prominent black city council man. But for the police detective Rene Shade it all looked too neat. Shade takes on city hall as he follows a twisting trail through the sleazy streets of the Cajun quarter into the murky swamps and bayous that ring the city. It is a trail that leads to corruption and yet more murder.

Muscle For The Wing (1988)

The first thing Emil Jaddick shoved through the country-club door was double barreled and loaded. The First thing he said to the poker players inside was - "Do I have your attention? We're robbin' you assholes ... any objections?" That's how Jadick came to St.Bruno. He had a killing crew of fellow ex-con wingmen and a sweet and red-hot sex machine named Wanda to help him do his down and dirty work. He had big plans and no pity. Only one thing could stop him - a cop who played by the same rules as Jadick ... None!

Thursday, 10 May 2018


Nothing brightens the day up quite as much as hearing there's a new PDB book on the horizon!

Last Year’s Man by Paul D. Brazill will by published by All Due Respect on 22 June 2018.

A troubled, ageing hit man leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him. Last Year’s Man is a violent and blackly comic slice of Brit Grit noir.

“Brazill offers a series of amusing episodes filled with breezy banter in this offbeat slice of British noir.”- Publishers Weekly.

"Brazill is brilliant, a unique voice which stands out from the crowd" - Keith Nixon, author of the Solomon Gray books.

“It’s all here, everything you’ve come to expect from a Paul D. Brazill caper—the fast pace, the witty banter, the grim humour and the classic tunes—except this time he’s REALLY outdone himself. Unlike the lament in the song the title takes its name from, Paul’s best years are surely still ahead of him.” — Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy.

“Paul D. Brazill is the Crown Prince of Noir. That’s my opinion, granted, but I stand by it. For those who require proof, just pick up his latest novel, Last Year’s Man, and it will be clear why I make that statement. All hail the crown prince!” — Les Edgerton, author of The Rapist, The Bitch, Just Like That and others.

Paul D. Brazill’s books include A Case of Noir, Guns of Brixton, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Catch him here.....


Previously on the blog.....



AUGUST 2017 - 31 DAYS, 31 SHORTS!




AUGUST 2016 - 31 DAYS, 31 SHORTS




Tuesday, 8 May 2018


A couple from Les Edgerton this week.

I featured a couple of his books a few years ago and in the intervening years never got around to reading them - more fool me, I reckon - 2 BY LES EDGERTON

From his blog, Edgerton says about himself.....

To introduce myself, I'm a full-time writer with eighteen books in print and I teach creative writing on the university level, through private coaching of writers, and on various on-line venues. I write in a variety of forms: novels, short stories, nonfiction books, screenplays and the subjects I choose to write about are just as varied, including sports, literary fiction, thrillers, black comedy and the craft of writing. I'm married to Mary and we have a son, Mike. I have two daughters--Britney and Sienna--from a previous marriage. I immigrated to Ft. Wayne, IN from the U.S.A. and it's where I still live today. Doing my best to learn the language and adjust to the culture. I have a checkered past, having spent two-plus years incarcerated at Pendleton Reformatory back in the sixties for burglary. I'm all cleaned up now and you can invite me into your home and don't have to count the silverware when I leave. Graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in General Studies (Honors of Distinction); obtained an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. 

Les Edgerton's The Bitch was read and enjoyed a few years ago - review here

Other LE titles that sit on the stacks are The Rapist, Just Like That, The Death of Tarpons, Monday's Meal, The Genuine Imitation Plastic Kidnapping, The Perfect Crime, Gumbo Ya Ya

Les Edgerton has his blog here.

Bomb (2016)

When criminal genius Charles "Reader" Kincaid accidentally alerts a retired cop to the impending commission of the perfect crime, the crime becomes a lot less perfect.

The plan is to wire a prominent banker with a remote control bomb and thereby capture untold millions from a dangerous drug czar. Or is the plan something else? The plot thickens as hidden family connections come to light and who is betraying who - and why - becomes a matter of life and death for perpetrators and victims alike.

With wry wit and first-hand knowledge of the underworld, author Les Edgerton unleashes a cast of quirky characters and dark ambitions that collide in a tale nothing short of explosive.

Raves about Les Edgerton and BOMB:

"Les Edgerton has swiftly become my favorite crime writer. Original voice, uncompromising attitude and a pure hardboiled style leap him to the front ranks of my reading list. He will become legendary."

- Joe R. Lansdale, Paradise Sky, The Bottoms, Edge of Dark Water, The Thicket, the Hap and Leonard series, the books behind the TV series of the same name, and many others

"Les Edgerton is the new High King of Noir."

- Ken Bruen, The Emerald Lie, The Guards, Pimp and many others

"Edgerton commits the perfect crime story."

- Dietrich Kalteis, Triggerfish, The Deadbeat Club and Ride the Lightning

* Bomb I've since realised is a sexy re-issue of an earlier book The Perfect Crime. Oh well...

Lagniappe (2017)

Twenty years after the publication of his first short story collection, Monday’s Meal, Les Edgerton delivers the goods once again in this collection of harrowing tales of outlaws, ex-cons, frightened men and women, rap-partners throwing back tall boys and taller tales, children forced to become killers, stabbings and shootings, bad asses and sad asses…a wide-ranging collection of distinct and memorable characters who will exhibit a kind of wisdom not obtainable from the halls of academia. This is not a gathering of people contemplating their navels but real people facing the consequences of their actions…and it ain’t often pretty.

“Reading Les Edgerton’s stories is like listening to those old World War II broadcasts from the London blitz, with the reporter crouching under a restaurant table, microphone in hand, while the bombs drop on the city and the ceiling caves in. Edgerton reports on the world and the news is not good. There’s a kind of wacky wisdom in these bulletins from the underside of life; the stories are full of people you hope never move in next door, for whom ordinary life is an impossible dream. This is good fiction; Edgerton writes lean and nasty prose.” —Dr. Francois Camoin, Director, Graduate School of English, University of Utah and author of Benbow and Paradise, Like Love, But Not Exactly, Deadly Virtues, The End of the World Is Los Angeles and Why Men Are Afraid of Women

Monday, 7 May 2018


Numbers-wise  - only 6 reads completed (two of them were short, one of the two uber-short ) - April was a fairly disappointing reading month, but there was a lot going on with a house move undertaken after 25 years in our last gaff. I expect the repercussions of the move will still be felt during May as we get settled and the unpacking, dump runs, furniture assembly slowly winds down. Probably to be replaced by gardening and decorating!

One stand out book and pick of the month- Cormac O'Keeffe's Black Water - a FIVE STAR Dublin debut!

The full list was.....

Glenn McGoldrick - Red Marks (2017) (4.5)

McDroll - Feeling It (2013) (4)

Robert Parker - Crook's Hollow (2018) (4.5)

Various - Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime (2018) (4)

Patricia Skalka - Death Rides the Ferry (2018) (4.5)

Cormac O'Keeffe - Black Water (2018) (5)

More trivia for my own amusement though feel free to scroll through and cure your insomnia!

3 x 4.5 STAR READS...... Glenn McGoldrick, Patricia Skalka and Robert Parker. Parker has been enjoyed before. Prior to April I was a Skalka and McGoldrick virgin. More from Glenn McGoldrick awaits me.

2 x 4 STAR READS.....  both short stories collections. One self published by Scottish writer McDroll and the other an anthology by AN INSECURE WRITER'S WRITER SUPPORT GROUP published by Freedom Fox Press

5 reads from 5 different authors,

4 of the 5 were new-to-me authors, plus none of the writers featured in the anthology had been read before

Gender analysis -  2 male authors, 3 females - the anthology comprised of 10 female authors and one male - progress of sorts for me.

I believe of the 5 authors I read, 2 are English, 1 hail from the US, 1 is Scottish and 1 is Irish

All 6 of the reads were fiction - 3 novels and the rest short stories - a collection, an anthology and a stand-alone.

All of the books were published in this decade ....4 from 2018, 1 from 2017, 1 from 2013 -  a familiar cry - whatever happened to me reading older books?

Two of the reads were pre-owned. The other four came from Edelweiss (1), publishers (2), and 1 from a publicist.

Favourite cover? Patricia Skalka - Death Rides the Ferry

Second favourite – Glenn McGoldrick and Red Marks

My reads were this long 14 - 68 - 210 - 202 - 208 - 320

Total page count = 1022 (2909 in March)....... a near 1900 page decrease

4 were Kindle reads, and 2 were paperbacks.

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

Cormac O'Keeffe with Black Water was the longest read at 3 pages.

Glenn McGoldrick's Red Marks was the shortest at 14 pages long

Saturday, 5 May 2018



It’s a sparkling August day on Washington Island and the resonant notes of early classical music float on the breeze toward the sailboats and ferries that ply the waters of Death’s Door strait. After a forty-year absence, the Viola da Gamba Music 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 an unidentified passenger is found dead on a ferry. Longtime 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.

Not an author or series I was familiar with before spotting this one on Edelweiss review site and taking a punt on it. And without it ever threatening to become a contender for best book ever it was an enjoyable few hours spent in the company of Patricia Skalka's writing and lead character Dave Cubiak.

A two-fold, twin-timeline mystery with the death of an initially unidentified woman on a Washington Island ferry connected to the disappearance of a priceless musical instrument forty years previously. I enjoyed the investigation and the slow uncovering of events and facts and possibilities which eventually drew Cubiak closer to the culprit, though not before another fatality.

History, secrets, music, a small town setting, a festival, an island, water, a ferry - lots to like and appreciate and in truth a bit of a change of pace and style of narrative from a lot of my regular reading.

There's a fantastic and impassioned speech by one of the characters in regards to his love of music which resonated with me, given my son's passion for music and his striving to make a career for himself in this field......

"Music is important in more ways than I can explain. It lifts us up from the mundane. It sustains us in time of sorrow. People can appreciate a good painting or a beautiful statue but they can't re-create it. Not like they can music. They might not be able to play an instrument well or at all, but everyone can hum a tune. Music is the only art form you can take with you wherever you go, no matter who you are."

Towards the end, as the raison d'etre and the murderer becomes apparent there's a ramping up of tension, with Cubiak and his partner (romantic) in danger, before a satisfying finale.

Dave Cubiak is interesting as a character. He's a widower with a past and in some respects reminded me of Terry Shames lead man Samuel Craddock. One slight difference is Cubiak's capacity for new love and all the complications that might bring, whereas Craddock's remains faithful to his late wife's memory, with a new woman unthinkable. The personal detail adds depth to the character and flesh to the mystery and in many respects is essential in presenting a three dimensional book as opposed to 2D cardboard cut-outs. That this is achieved in a tad over two hundred pages is admirable.

Other plusses - setting - Door County, Wiconsin. Pace - less than pedal to metal, much more than pedestrian. Ticks in every box.

Death Rides the Ferry is Skalka's fourth Dave Cubiak mystery. Death Stalks Door County opens the series, which continues with Death at Gills Rock and Death In Cold Water. If time and money was infinite, I'd happily revisit the earlier books in the series.

Patricia Skalka has her website here.
She's on Twitter@PatriciaSkalka

Overall 4.5 from 5

Read in April, 2018
Published in 2018 (May 8th - AM UK AM US AM CANADA)
Page count - 208
Source - Edelweiss review site, courtesy of publisher - University of Wisconsin Press 
Format - Kindle

Friday, 4 May 2018



The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

A collection of short stories which I worked my way through at a pace of one a day. None of the authors were familiar to me.

A Stitch in Crime by Gwen Gardner ....... enjoyable enough, cross stitching and hauntings, a sweet shop with a disturbed spirit and a connection to an orphanage and a kindly old nun.

Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed by C.D. Gallant-King ..... an ex-boxer PI and a dame with a family grudge

The Tide Waits by Rebecca M. Douglass ...... a barkeeper crosses proverbial swords with the Lord of the Manor, time and tide wait for no man

The Little Girl in the Bayou by J. R. Ferguson Cypress .... a child in jeopardy, an indifferent police force and a man whose conscience won't let it go. Harsh, unforgiving, brutal but a story with a heart.

Like the Tree by Yolanda Renée .... a messy end to an unhappy marriage, the merry widow gets her happy ever after - cleverly plotted - possibly my favourite in the collection

Reset by Tara Tyler ..... a bit of time travel to right a wrong.

Three O’Clock Execution by Samantha Betler (S. R. Betler) ..... death row answers - but no stay of execution

Center Lane by Christine Clemetson ..... corporate fraud, a patsy, a dirty cop, payback - all slightly confusing if I'm honest

One More Minute by Mary Aalgaard ...... domestic strife and an unforeseen end to a couple of relationships, taut and tense storytelling

Heartless by C. Lee McKenzie.... a mad abductor and murderer and a rescue during the great Chicago Fire of 1871

Until Release by Jemi Fraser ...... a count down to a killer's release and the welcoming party waiting to greet him. Thoughtful and tense, a great finish to the collection.

Like any collection there were a few stories with outcomes that give pause for thought and a couple that kind of passed me by. All of them have a time theme in the backdrop, some so subtly presented you almost wouldn't know it was there. In others the ticking of the clock was more imperative.

Enjoyable overall.

4 from 5

Read in April, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 202
Source - review copy from Dancing Lemur Press
Format - Kindle

Thursday, 3 May 2018


A bit of cross-Channel love today for some French crime fiction in the collection.

Gilles Petel, Pascal Garnier, Antonin Varenne, Jean-Claude Izzo, Jean-Patrick Manchette and Tonino Benacquista - with apologies to Fred Vargas, Pierre Lemaitre and Henri Charriere.

Pascal Garnier - The A26 (2013)
I've enjoyed a bit of Garnier in the past - The Front Seat Passenger, Boxes, The Islanders, The Eskimo Solution,

The future is on its way to Picardy with the construction of a huge motorway. But nearby is a house where nothing has changed since 1945.

Traumatised by events in 1945, Yolande hasn’t left her home since.

And life has not been kinder to Bernard, her brother, who is now in the final months of a terminal illness.

Realizing that he has so little time left, Bernard’s gloom suddenly lifts. With no longer anything to lose, he becomes reckless – and murderous …

Antonin Varenne - Bed of Nails (2012)

I did enjoy his book - Loser's Corner

Guerin is not your typical policeman. Sitting in a dingy office at the back of a vast Parisian police station, he reviews the files of suicides to check that their deaths really were self-inflicted. He lives and works under a cloud of suspicion: the suicide of a former colleague is blamed by everyone in the force on his maverick methods of investigation. Guerin's two most recent suicide cases share striking similarities. Both concern young men who died naked in very public places. He is convinced the two deaths are linked, but his intuition is ridiculed by all but his loyal assistant, Lambert. Increasingly obsessed by this morbid coincidence, Guerin encounters John Nichols, an American former psychiatrist who has been called to Paris to identify the body of a friend, yet another suicide. As the bizarre death cult tightens its vice-like grip on the city, Guerin and Nichol's parallel investigations uncover evidence of shocking abuse, both in the upper echelons of the police force and at the US embassy. Antonin Varenne is a new and powerful voice in crime fiction; Bed of Nails engages with the violence at the heart of society, and the darkest elements of human nature.

Tonino Benacquista - Someone Else (2005)

Not read Benacquista yet, but I did enjoy the adaptation of his book Badfellas into the film - The Family with Robert De Niro

"Breathless pace. Touches effortlessly on identity, love, alcohol, and the cynicism of the business world."-Les Echos 

Who hasn't wanted to become "someone else"? Over a drink in Paris, two men give each other three years to see which one can more radically alter his life. Blin becomes a private detective. He takes on a new identity, even a surgically altered face. Gredzinski, a self-effacing corporate executive, discovers liquor that evening and rapidly yields to the sensuality and self-confidence induced by alcoholism. Things get complicated when Blin is hired by an ex-lover to find himself and when Gredzinski secretly follows his girlfriend to her home. A helter-skelter tale of humor and suspense. 

Winner of the literary prize RTL-Lire.

Jean-Claude Izzo - Total Chaos (2005)

Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy sits on the pile, Total Chaos followed by Chourmo and Solea

"Jean-Claude Izzo's . . . growing literary renown and huge sales are leading to a recognizable new trend in continental fiction: the rise of the sophisticated Mediterranean thriller. . . . Caught between pride and crime, racism and fraternity, tragedy and light, messy urbanization and generous beauty, the city for [detective Fabio Montale] is a Utopia, an ultimate port of call for exiles. There, he is torn between fatalism and revolt, despair and sensualism."-The Economist 

This first installment in the legendary Marseilles Trilogy sees Fabio Montale turning his back on a police force marred by corruption and racism and taking the fight against the mafia into his own hands.

Jean-Patrick Manchette - The Prone Gunman (2002)

Not tried this author yet. His Three to Kill also sits on the pile.

Martin Terrier is a hired killer who wants out of the game-so he can settle down and marry his childhood sweetheart. That's why he took up this profession! Martin returns to his hometown to claim her, but the Organization won't let him go. Once again, the gunman must assume the prone shooting position. In a violent tale that shatters as many illusions as bodies, Manchette subjects Martin and the reader alike to a fierce exercise in style.

Gilles Petel - Under the Channel (2014)

Another untried author. Published by Gallic Books, the same publisher that puts out Pascal Garnier's work.

When the body of a Scotsman turns up on board a Channel Tunnel train at the Gare du Nord, Parisian detective Roland Desfeuillères finds himself in charge of a murder investigation. Roland decides to travel to London -and not just in order to progress the inquiry. It's also a chance to escape his troubled marriage. Arriving in a city gripped by the financial crisis, Roland immerses himself in the victim's hedonistic lifestyle, as he searches for the motive behind the crime. But the longer he walks in the dead man's shoes, the more Roland discovers about himself . . .

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Six more featured from last month's expansion of the collection.......

Larry D. Sweazy - See Also Proof (2018) - from publisher Seventh Street Books

Third in the series with Marjorie Trumaine, I've enjoyed all of the Sweazy books I've read thus far....

Marjorie Trumaine, a freelance indexer from rural North Dakota in the 1960s, risks her life to help local law enforcement track down a missing, disabled girl.

Dickinson, North Dakota, 1965. It's a harsh winter, and freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine struggles to complete a lengthy index while mourning the recent loss of her husband, Hank. The bleakness of the weather seems to compound her grief, and then she gets more bad news: a neighbor's fourteen-year-old disabled daughter, Tina Rinkerman, has disappeared. Marjorie joins Sheriff Guy Reinhardt in the search for the missing girl, and their investigation quickly leads to the shocking discovery of a murdered man near the Rinkermans' house. What had he been doing there? Who would have wanted him dead? And, above all, is his murder connected to Tina's disappearance?

Their pursuit of answers will take Marjorie all the way to the Grafton State School, some six hours away, where Tina lived until recently. And the information she uncovers there raises still more questions. Will the murderer come after Marjorie now that she knows a long-hidden secret?

Tom Leins - Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (2018) - PDF file from Henry Roi at publishers Near to the Knuckle

I've enjoyed Leins before - Skull Meat was a down and dirty offering. This looks to be of a similar ilk and up my same dark alley. Only problem, do I read it before or after - Snuff Racket?

Still licking his wounds after the brutal events of SKULL MEAT, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey is reluctant to take on another case that could have violent repercussions. However, a lucrative pay-day from a soon-to-retire cop tests his resolve, and Rey quickly finds himself on the trail of a deranged plastic surgeon with a queasy line in body modification procedures. Over the course of a long, bloody summer, Rey tangles with rogue ex-cops, suburban hitmen, neo-Nazi scumbags and even Paignton’s richest man – a notorious hoarder of unknown horrors. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…

Praise for Meat Bubbles-

Benedict J. Jones, author of Pennies For Charon and The Devil’s Brew (Crime Wave Press):

“Welcome to the nightmare factory – there’s dark and then there’s Tom Leins’ Paignton… By parts a mix of the brutality of Hubert Selby Jr and the pure noir-ish banter of Ray Banks with more than a dash of the good old ultra-violence. Thirteen brutal shorts and then the extended nightmare of Snuff Racket. You’d have to go a long way to beat the sheer violence, brutality, humour and brilliance of Meat Bubbles.”

Larry Enmon - Wormwood (2017) - from publisher Bloodhound Books
New-to-me author and one I like the look of......

A twisty & darkly compelling read you won't be able to put down

In Dallas, Texas, Katrina Wallace goes missing. As the mayor's daughter, her kidnapping triggers mounting political pressure and forces the Chief of Police to put two senior detectives on the case. Rob Soliz and Frank Pierce have done the impossible in the past, but their methods are unconventional.

The only evidence at the scene is a Bible found in the girl's car and soon Frank and Rob find themselves involved in a disturbing investigation shrouded by Bible prophecy, doomsday cults, and murder.

Is Katrina still alive? And what exactly is Wormwood?

As the trail leads them into the woods of rural East Texas, Frank must deal with his lingering religious doubts and solve the case. His worst fears will be realised when he must discover the ugly truth about Wormwood. But he and Rob will have to get out alive to tell the story…

What readers are saying:
"The pace of the story is maintained throughout, and builds up to a tension-filled ending which had me wondering how the hell is anyone going to survive?" Mark Tilbury - Author

Edwin Torres Q &A (1977) - Amazon purchase
Bought after a shout-out at David Nemeth's Unlawful Acts site. Torres also wrote Carlito's Way, something else which languishes on the TBR pile.....

The basis for the hit film "Q & A" directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Nick Nolte. Written by Edwin Torres, the author of After Hours which was the basis for the hit film "Carlito's Way" starring Al Pacino and Sean Penn. 

The minute he steps down the alleyway, Tony Roman knows it's a setup. The first bullet tears through his cheekbone; the second pierces his brain. The big man is dead before he hits the ground. When the crowd pours out of the nightclub to see what happened, the killer flashes a badge. He's the NYPD's Lt. Brennan, and he plans to get away with murder.

Assistant District Attorney Al Reilly is called in to investigate the shooting. Everyone in the department expects Reilly, an ex-cop whose father was killed in the line of duty, to support Brennan's claim of self-defense. But the evidence doesn't add up. As Reilly digs deeper into the events of that snowy night in the darkened alley, he finds that in the NYPD, there is no crime worse than investigating a crooked cop.

Chris Roy - Her Name is Mercie (2018) - copy received from Rachel Gilbey at Rachel's Random Resources
Not an author I've tried yet, though his other books look interesting - Sharp as a Razor, Shocking Circumstances.....

Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished. 

— Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.

Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.

— Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.

Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life. 

Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn't care anymore

Kenneth Cook - Wanted Dead (1963) - Amazon purchase
An Australian author I've read previously - Fear is the Rider

Special Constable Riley is pitted against desperate men in his battle to make the peace in the wild rugged bush of colonial New South Wales.

In this exciting thriller by Kenneth Cook, author of Wake in Fright, the black and desperate deeds of our brutal past are recorded for the enjoyment of the modern reader.