Sunday, 31 December 2017



In addition to the four novels (No Score, Chip Harrison Scores Again, Make Out With Murder, and The Topless Tulip Caper), Lawrence Block wrote two short stories about young Chip Harrison. Both take place after the four novels, and feature Chip (The Lecher in the Wry) as he is in the third and fourth books—i.e., the assistant of Leo Haig, a sort of road company Nero Wolfe. The first story, “Death of the Mallory Queen,” appeared in 1984; 13 years later, “As Dark as Christmas Gets," was written for a pamphlet that served as Otto Penzler’s Christmas gift. Every year Otto commissions a story from a writer of his acquaintance, with the sole requirement that the story be set in his establishment, The Mysterious Bookshop, and that it involve the crime or the threat of a crime. The story was subsequently published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

The story, deeply imbued with the mystique of the mystery community, involves a missing manuscript, and a cast of characters who may ring a bell or two, seasonal or otherwise. And, along with Harrison and Haig, the bookstore proprietor plays a vital role...

A big intro for what is just a short story.

I've read Death of the Mallory Queen previously, but haven't yet tried any of the longer form Chip Harrison novels. From my limited experience of Chip, he's my least favourite of the recurring Block characters I've encountered. Far rather a dose of Scudder, Keller or Bernie. The jury is still out on Tanner as I haven't read him yet either.

The events take place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A party on the eve sees an unpublished Cornell Woolrich manuscript disappear. A Christmas Day reunion with the seven possible culprits, our party host and our puzzle solver, Leo Haig along with assistant Chip, sees the mystery solved.

I did like the reveal of the manuscript's journey during the course of the party. Each guest has a possible motivation for acquiring the manuscript either for personal or professional reasons. With regards to the setting and the resolution, see the first intro. paragraph above - no reputations were damaged during the resolution of our mystery.

An ok story, which didn't especially feel festive to me but it's another notch on the scoreboard. 

3 from 5

Death of a Mallory Queen - thoughts here

Read in December, 2017
Published - 1997 or 2011 (copyright notes 1997, Kindle details 2011)
Page count  - 36
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Saturday, 30 December 2017



Danny Small loves life just the way it is...

It's a cheeky Nando's. It's a big sesh down the gym. It's double shots of Sambuca. It's a scrap at closing time. It's a few Stellas before kick off. It's larging it in Marbella. It's not being tied down. It's working hard and playing harder. It's a relentless cycle of booze, birds and banter. It's the lad's life.

...but when everyone else is growing up and moving on, life in the fast lane gets pretty lonely.

Danny's mates are settling down. Girls are demanding commitment. His boss is onto his schemes. Even his mum's on his case. Does the banter finally have to stop, or does a real lad just crank it up a notch?

"A brilliant and brutal look at UK lad culture...It's witty, shocking, thought-provoking and sad - Five Stars" - Tracy Fenton, Founder of The Book Club on Facebook

"A witty and stinging satire of lad culture" - TV Life magazine, Daily Star on Sunday

An enjoyable encounter with Andrew Webber and his hero or villain (dependent on your perspective) Danny Small.

Danny is a LAD! Birds, booze, football, fights and more birds. Good looking, gift of the gab, nice clothes, six-pack and a beast in the sack. A wide-boy at work, some dodgy side deals going on, to fund the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed, which is basically booze, birds, football, a flash motor and the odd-lad's holiday where we can get away from it all with more booze and birds.

Spending a lot of time inside Danny's head, as time progresses and the regular f-buddies disappear from his calendar and a couple of his mates grow up and settle down, we learn of his insecurities and discover a romantic bruising in the past, which may explain his attitude and outlook on life.

Danny now needs a fresh start and to settle down with Sarah. Can this leopard really change his spots?

I really enjoyed this one, and was thoroughly entertained throughout. Danny - while I wouldn't let him anywhere near my daughters - was good company and I was both thrilled and appalled at his bravado and lifestyle. Why wasn't I just a bit more like Danny when I was younger?

Funny, eye-opening and more than a little bit sad. Entertained throughout. From my long ago youthful experiences (observer more than participant), Webber nails the lad-culture.

4.5 from 5

Andrew Webber has another book to his name - Today, which I would definitely be interested in checking out after reading this one.

He's on Twitter@mrandrewwebber

Read in December, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 218
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle

Thursday, 28 December 2017


Half a dozen or so from Canada and sitting on the TBR pile.

Brad Smith - One -Eyed Jacks (2000)

Tommy was standing there without a drink along that last bit of bar. End of the line, Lee thought, where else would she find him? She stopped in front of him, almost as tall as him in her pumps, knowing full well that everybody in the joint was watching her and not giving one thin damn.

She could only stand there a moment though, and then she had to touch him; she put her arms around his neck and her cheek next to his, just to feel him after all this time, to smell him after all these years. And then he put those hams of his around her and they stayed like that, not saying anything, for maybe a minute.

Finally she put her lips against his neck and then on his mouth and she stepped back to look at him again.

"Oh, you goddamn mick," she said. "Where you been?"

At 35, Tommy Cochrane is a washed-up boxer who missed out on a shot at the heavyweight title and has to hang up his gloves for good when he's diagnosed with an aneurysm. His best friend and former sparring partner, T-Bone Pike, isn't in great shape either as the two of them head to Toronto on a quest for the $5,000 Tommy desperately needs to buy back his grandfather's farm.

In the big city, Tommy and T-Bone encounter an intriguing cast of characters operating on the questionable side of the tracks. Fat Ollie runs the weekly poker game on Queen Street; Buzz Murdoch gives Tommy a job as a doorman at the Bamboo club; Herm Bell is a sharp kid on a run of luck; and Tony Broad is a small-time hood with big-time ambitions and a seedy sidekick named Billy Callahan. There's also Lee Charles, a sharp, cynical, smart-mouthed torch singer, who happens to be Tommy's ex-girlfriend.

In the tradition of James Ellroy, Brad Smith has readers instantly embroiled in a quick-paced plot that involves guns and money, good guys and bad guys, double and triple crosses, and an exciting, suspenseful payoff. An unerring tradition of '50s Ontario, rich in local colour and with the kind of crackling dialogue that drives an Elmore Leonard novel,One-Eyed Jacks is a great read that opens up the underbelly of Toronto the Good.

Howard Shrier - Buffalo Jump (2008)

Toronto investigator Jonah Geller is at a low point in his life. A careless mistake on his last case left him with a bullet in his arm, a busted relationship and a spot in his boss's doghouse. Then he comes home to find notorious contract killer Dante Ryan in his apartment — not to kill him for butting into mob business, as Jonah fears, but to plead for Jonah's help.

Ryan has been ordered to wipe out an entire Toronto family, including a five-year-old boy. With a son of his own that age, Ryan can't bring himself to do it. He challenges Jonah to find out who ordered the hit. With help from his friend Jenn, Jonah investigates the boy's father — a pharmacist who seems to lead a good life — and soon finds himself ducking bullets and dodging blades from all directions. When the case takes Jonah and Ryan over the river to Buffalo, where good clean Canadian pills are worth their weight in gold, their unseen enemies move in for the kill.

E. R. Brown - Almost Criminal (2013)

2014 Edgar Award - Mystery Writers of America — Shortlisted, Best Paperback Original

Medicinal marijuana can be murder.

Charming, wealthy Randle Kennedy has a secret: he’s British Columbia’s most prolific producer of boutique marijuana. He’s developed strains of B.C. Bud to please the most sophisticated palates and produce any desired effect, from a light contemplative buzz to the most mind-warping stone. His medical varieties offer relief for conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Come legalization, he’ll be the first on the market with marijuana’s answer to single-malt Scotch. Until that day, he runs a tight operation with terrorist-cell security.

Tate MacLane is brilliant, miserable, and broke. Since graduating from high school at age 14, he’s failed at university, failed to support his family, failed at everything except making a superb caffe latte.

Randle wants a fresh face to front his transactions. Tate desperately needs a mentor and yearns for respect. And money …

Then there are the bikers, the muscle with the cross-border connections that Randle needs to bring his product to the American market. Soon Tate finds out that it’s harder to get out of the business than to get in.

Michael Van Rooy - An Ordinary Decent Criminal (2005)
Not since Jack Reacher has there been such a quickthinking, hard-edged antihero who readers will root for against all odds

All recovering drug addict and reformed thief Montgomery Haaviko wants to do is settle down with his wife and baby in their new home and work on building a straight life, one free of the day-to-day hustle and danger of being a career criminal. But for a man who's never held down a legitimate job it isn't going to be easy. When Monty foils a robbery in his new home, killing the intruders, he soon finds he has both a small-time crime boss and a star police sergeant looking for ways to ruin him, run him out of town, or kill him. It's going to take all of the tricks this streetwise ex-con has up his sleeves to prove his innocence, protect his family, and avoid the temptation of the life he left behind.

Montgomery Haaviko's Tricks of the Trade: 

Be nice. Nice is good. Nice sets a standard. Then, when you get mean, the shock is strongest. 

Armored cars are owned by people with guns. 

When burglarizing a house move slowly. Then slow down. Now cut it by half. And you've got it. 

A couple of drops of crazy glue on the tips of your fingers will eliminate fingerprints.

Mike Knowles - Darwin's Nightmare (2008), Grinder (2009), In Plain Sight (2010)
Featuring the escapades of the enigmatic mafia gunman Wilson, this volume combines his first three adventures-Darwin's Nightmare, Grinder, and In Plain Sight-of the critically acclaimed series. The first installment introduces the protagonist-a secretive figure who has spent his entire life under the radar. One day Wilson crosses the line, earning the hatred of a vengeful mob boss. Surviving only by delving even deeper into the underworld of Hamilton, Ontario, Wilson accepts the deceptively simple job of transporting a seemingly harmless bag. Soon, however, he discovers who its real owners are-and just how badly they want it back. The second book picks up two years later with Wilson trying for a fresh start by staying off the grid. Thousands of miles from the city he once escaped, a man comes calling on him with gun in hand and a woman in his trunk. Wilson is pulled back into his old life as a "grinder," working under the radar to quietly find out who is responsible for a dangerous mobster's missing nephews. In the third installment dirty cops use Wilson as bait in an attempt to catch even bigger criminals. Knowing that justice isn't blind in the city, Wilson picks a fight with the Russian mob to lure both the corrupt cops and brutal robbers into a trap, scavenging once again for his freedom. Full of gory conflict, these three whodunits offer nonstop action, savage violence, and an unforgettable cast of characters.

Giles Blunt - Forty Words For Sorrow (2000)
"One of the best novels of [the year]. . . Giles Blunt has a tremendous talent." - Tony Hillerman

"Forceful . . . surprising . . . [Blunt's] insights into suffering and madness give his characters their true voice." - The New York Times

In the quiet Canadian town of Algonquin Bay, a frozen body has been found in an abandoned mine shaft. She is quickly identified as Katie Pine, a teenager who had disappeared months ago. At the time, Detective John Cardinal insisted that Katie was no ordinary runaway. His relentless pursuit and refusal to give up on the case got him demoted from Homicide. But now the Canadian police force wants Cardinal back on the case - with a new associate by his side. And as these two untrusting partners gather evidence of a serial murder spree, a pair of sociopaths is closing in on the next victim.

Winner of The Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction

Nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel

I'm not great at reading challenges, but maybe I ought to do a dozen from Canadian authors in 2018. There's more on the pile.....John McFetridge, Howard Engel, Dietrich Kalteis, Robin Spano, L.R. Wright, Linwood Barclay........oops and Sam Wiebe!


Another 6 acquired during the month......

Amazon freebie purchase
Martin Rhodes could not believe he was living the life of a vagabond. He had no money and no home. He was once a respected homicide detective for the Newport Police Department, but one single action had turned his life upside down. He had gone from catching criminals to becoming one. He had spent ten years in prison for murder.


Martin Rhodes is a former police detective who spent years in prison for murder. He is flawed but honorable. He always gets his man...

Gritty, fast-paced, and utterly suspenseful. You will stay up all night to finish it!

A serial killer is leaving dismembered bodies on trains for passengers to find and he will stop at nothing to get his message across.

Former Detective Martin Rhodes spent ten years in prison for murder. After traveling from town to town in search of employment,he arrives in the City of Bridgeton. Rhodes hopes to re-start his life and to leave his past behind him. Special Agent Jo Pullinger is searching for a man who killed her father over twenty years ago. Jo is suffering from a heart condition which she hides from the world. A series of dead bodies on the trains lead Rhodes and Jo to end up searching for the same person.

A Christmas present from my wife!

'Plotting that takes the breath away' Ian Rankin

'A fantastic thriller writer' Mark Billingham

* * * * *


Leonard Howell's worst nightmare has come true: his daughter Caroline has been kidnapped. He can't rely on the cops, so Howell calls the only man he trusts to get her back.


Eddie Flynn knows what it's like to lose a daughter and vows to bring Caroline home safe. Once a con artist, now a hotshot criminal attorney, Flynn is no stranger to the shady New York underworld.


However, as he steps back into his old life, Flynn realizes that the rules of the game have changed - and that he is being played. But who is pulling the strings? And is anyone in this twisted case telling the truth...?

* * * * *

An ingenious plot, gripping action and characters who leap off the page: discover why readers love Steve Cavanagh:

Another Amazon purchase, when the publisher Near to the Knuckle was doing the 12 days of Christmas promotion!
“A surprisingly dark, thoughtful, action filled, hardboiled thriller with a heart as black as pitch. If you like dark fiction, this is it.” --Christopher Black.

“The Hard Cold Shoulder is clever, ruthless and hardboiled enough to give the meanest tough guy the shivers.” -- Frank Larnerd.

“Every step leaves ex DI Ben Pitkin wrestling with his own sanity, takes him deeper into seedy shadows thick with money and greed, deeper into the sickness of a country tearing itself apart under the pressures of austerity. Northern Noir at its most fierce, Sykes’ novella takes a hard, cold look at the desperate actions of desperate people caught in the effects of psychological trauma.” --E.S. Wynn

Amazon again 
Josh Nieto celebrates his 18th birthday by walking out of Juvenile Detention and into a sweet job as the driver for an elderly loan shark named Malcolm Hunt. But when Hunt's Dixie Mafia past catches up to him, Josh finds himself in the middle of a blood feud.

"Steve Brewer’s latest is a bare-bones tale of murder, deceit, and betrayal. A prison-hardened member of the Dixie Mafia has tracked down the man he blames for his incarceration, and he intends to get his pound of flesh. The only person who can save the man’s life is a kid just released from juvenile detention, but he’ll have to risk his freedom to do it." -- Bill Fitzhugh, award-winning author of HUMAN RESOURCES

"Fast-paced, fun, and funny, this caper is another must-read from the master." -- Edgar Award-winning author Charlie Price

Review copy via Edelweiss from publisher Oceanview
PI Jake Longly and Nicole Jamison head to New Orleans at the behest of Nicole's uncle, movie producer Charles Balfour, when his megastar, A-list actor Kirk Ford, awakens in his hotel bed with the body of Kristi Guidry, a local college coed. Ford, in the Big Easy for a location shoot, remembers little of the evening and nothing of the murder. And, to make matters worse, Kristi is the niece of a local mafioso-type who will do whatever is necessary to avenge her death. Balfour is losing money every day the filming is stalled--he needs his actor cleared, and quickly.

Surrounded by glitzy Hollywood stars and intimidated by seedy underworld characters, Jake and Nicole encounter nothing but obstacles. Something isn't right. The facts don't fit. Who would want Kristi dead? Why frame Kirk for the murder? Everyone has an opinion, including Kristi's friends and ex-boyfriend, the local homicide detectives, and a fortune-teller. The clock is ticking as Jake and Nicole struggle to decipher who's lying, who's telling the truth, and exactly who schemed to murder Kristi Guidry. Nothing is easy in The Big Easy.

Copy gratefully received from the author, all the way from Tasmania. I do like the back cover, I wonder why?

SAY IT'S NOT SO, but detective squads still put their faith in the whiteboard and texta, brainstorming difficult cases. Like this:
1. Hildvi dies. Accident, suicide, murder?
2. Wayne, distraught.
3. Josh, Ange, impeccable alibis.
4. Mrs Ellicott swears she heard a scream.
5. Kurt Cowboy - mysterious, dangerous, no known ID.
6. Operation Centipede - Brisbane, "colourful identity" Marko Kaljurand.
7. Fishscale, Charlie, Blow, Wogan = best quality cocaine.
8. Uluru ... Sorry, wrong whiteboard? No. Correct whiteboard. Add Alice Springs.

Seeking answers to myriad tricky questions, Detective Inspector Franz Heineken, aka Pufferfish, aka long-time Aussie blow-in, knows where he must go - to the two Australian places he never wanted to investigate, let alone re-visit: the fabled Red Centre, and his ethically questionable past.

"The writing is funny and sharp, and loaded with attitude and local colour ... For those lucky crime fans who will discover him for the first time, the good news is his new publisher has indicated his back catalogue will be re-released." - Herald Sun Weekend Magazine Melbourne.

"The narrative style is instantly recognisable ... well it is if you've enjoyed him before." - Col's Criminal Library Leighton Buzzard.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017


John Ridley might be better known as the screen writer responsible for 12 Years a Slave as opposed to the half dozen or so novels he has written.

I read his book Everybody Smokes in Hell a few years ago and enjoyed it ( I think) and have these two bad boys buried in the tubs as well as his book U-Turn.

Everybody Smokes was read before the blogging days.... John Ridley’s Everybody Smokes In Hell was purchased after an Anthony Neil Smith blog-posting, either praising this book or one of his others. I definitely read this, and I can’t remember Jack-s*it about it. ......... while a few dim bulbs have lit up in my head; I still can’t recall the ending or my reaction to it generally......oh well,

Love Is a Racket (1998)

In his first novel since Stray Dogs, John Ridley offers up a brilliant noir farce about a small-time con man who finally gets it right just before it all goes wrong.
Everything's a racket for Jeffty Kittridge, a thirty- seven-year-old ex-wannabe scriptwriter living on the skids in Hollywood--the two-bit cons he pulls for spending money; the way he convinces himself that he's not a drunk between every shot of booze he kicks back; the way he tries to assure Dumas, the local shark, that he's just about to pay off his 15K debt . . . Except he's not good at any of that. He's been in jail twice (and the state's got a bad attitude about seeing someone the third time); that bug he just felt crawling up his neck is most likely the first installment of the DTs; and Dumas recently delivered a fairly emphatic payment-due reminder: a couple of his goons busted two of Jeffty's fingers. The fact is, Jeffty's a loser, big as they come, and things aren't about to change up for him anytime soon: "I would've felt . . . near terminally depressed," he tells us as his story begins to unfold, "but I was so used to my life all I felt was content."

Then he stumbles on salvation: a dirt-caked, street-hardened, exquisitely beautiful young homeless woman named Mona--Jeffty prefers to think of her as Angel--who inspires both his love and the idea for the perfect con. It's Jeffty's chance to hit it big, and to be set for good in his new life with his new love. "The thing about love," Jeffty declares, "is no matter how twisted, or wrong, or evil, it never dies." But as the momentum of the con carries him closer and closer to what he imagineswill be a moment of blissed-out consummation with his angel Mona, Jeffty discovers there are some severe exceptions to his rule.

Smart, edgy, caustically funny, Love Is a Racket puts John Ridley in a darkly comic league of his own.

The Drift (2002)

He was Charles Harmon, a black man "living white" and living well-beautiful wife, German car, big house-in an upper-upper-middle-class suburb of Los Angeles.

He is Brain Nigger Charlie, a train tramp eking out a ragged existence on the railroads, leaning on drugs to keep him from thinking about everything he had, everything his creeping dementia has forced him to run from.

Charlie's been asked a desperate favor: find the seventeen-year-old niece of the man who taught him how to survive the rails-a girl lost somewhere on the High Line, the "corridors of racist hate" along the tracks of the Pacific Northwest. Charlie has little hope of finding her alive, but the request is an obligation he can't refuse. The search is a twisted trail that leads from Iowa to Washington State, mixing lies and deceit, hate and hopelessness, and brutal, stubbornly unsolved murders. All of which Charlie is prepared to meet in kind. What he isn't prepared for is a path that will eventually lead him back to what he thought no longer existed-his own humanity-though the toll may turn out to be his life.

At once stunningly visceral and psychologically complex, furiously paced and deeply empathic, The Drift is John Ridley's most ambitious, most galvanizing novel yet.


My top reads of 2017....... 11 books, all male authors, 6 titles from this year, only the one from the last century........ a drifter, a missing girl, a juvenile delinquent, a hit man or two, a call centre worker, drugs in Canada, a Californian PI, and plenty more besides...

Lawrence Block Hit Man (1998) (5)

Gerard Brennan - Wee Danny (2013) (5) 

Steve Finbow - Down Among the Dead (2014) (5)

Ryan Bracha - After Call Work: Gross Misconduct (2017) (5)

Paul Heatley - FatBoy (2017)  (5)

Dana King Worst Enemies (2012) (5)

Dietrich Kalteis Zero Avenue (2017) (5)

Robin Yocum - A Welcome Murder (2017) (5)

Chris Whitaker - All the Wicked Girls (2017) (5)

Matt Coyle - Blood Truth (2017) (5)

Lawrence Block - Resume Speed (2016) (5)

Shame Blogger refuses to let me lay them up properly.....

Saturday, 23 December 2017



Cam Reynolds has a problem. When Cam’s longtime boss Tom Colcetti dies and leaves control of his criminal organization to his predatory son Tommy, Cam may finally get the chance to run a crew of his own. But Tommy has his eyes on new business horizons, and Cam just made a mistake that could destroy Tommy’s heavy-hitting new partnership. Now Cam must struggle against violent forces of betrayal, lust, and greed as he attempts to either salvage his career, or get out of the game with his life still intact.

My kind of reading. Cam, a debt collector for a criminal gang is forced to run after a collection goes wrong and scuppers his boss's chances of a hook-up with a Mexican drug cartel. The message to lay off Francisco Gomez came after Gomez was already wrapped in tarp and dumped at the bottom of a well. Serves him right for pulling a blade on our man.

The boss, Tommy Colcetti doesn't do performance appraisals or demotions though. He sells you out to his new partners instead and the same fate only slower and a lot more painfully - think chair, car battery, leads and a bucket of water - awaits Cam.

Another one dead and Cam - no family, only one friend-cum-mentor, Rocco in the organisation and he's unsure how far he can be trusted, flees town with his latest one night stand Lorraine.

A bit of distance, a bit of perspective and maybe Rocco can talk Tommy around. Lorraine may have other plans. Cam might provide some light relief in the sack, but there's some scratch to be made if she plays things right.

Characters, action, pacing, story, dialogue and outcome - all ticks in the box. I could read this type of fiction until the cows come home.

4.5 from 5

I've read Michael Pool before - Midnight at the San Franciscan - thoughts here. New Alleys For Nothing Men sits on the pile.

He has his website here and is on Facebook here.

Read in December, 2017
Published - 2015
Page count - 117
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle 

Thursday, 21 December 2017


Shirley Jackson, Jon A. Jackson, David Jackson, Lisa Jackson and Dave White - a couple of them read and enjoyed, a couple of them still to be tried.


One of Shirley Jackson's most famous stories - The Lottery. Read it for free here.

It's the only thing of hers I've ever read having got rid of a few of her books years ago in a moment of madness - The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Doh!


Liverpool crime enjoyed earlier this year - here. Preceded by A Tapping at My Door.


A gripping serial killer thriller, perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and M. J. Arlidge.

There was a hate in this killer. A thirst for obliteration rather than a mere desire to end a life . . . 

A brutal murder takes place in the grounds of a Liverpool cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage. The victim: the last person you'd expect to be subjected to such terrible violence. Can DS Nathan Cody crack the case before another innocent is chosen?


Bought for my wife a few years ago, she hasn't read it yet, neither have I. It's the third in a New Orleans set series. I'm not rushing towards it to be honest.

Detective Reuben 'Diego' Montoya is back in New Orleans. Thanks to years of working with the dark side of society, his youthful swagger is gone, replaced by straightforward determination. He'll need it, because a serial killer is turning The Big Easy into his personal playground. The victims are killed in pairs - no connection, no apparent motive, no real clues. Somebody's playing a sick game, and Montoya intends to beat him at it.

His only lead is the ex-wife of one of the victims. Abby Chastain is a woman haunted by painful secrets. Twenty years ago she watched in horror as her mother, a patient at the Our Lady of Virtues Mental Hospital, plunged through a window to her death. Abby has always dreaded that she too would one day go insane.especially now, back in this town, where she's begun to feel watched, as if the devil himself is scraping a fingernail along her spine. Something about Abby - her spirit and her honest fear - gets to Montoya. His gut tells him his prime suspect is innocent, just like it's telling him there's something significant about the once-grand hospital now decaying in a gloomy thicket of ancient live oaks. Abby Chastain can help unlock the mystery - if only Montoya can get her to trust him enough to face the ghosts of her past.

As more bodies are found in gruesome, staged scenarios and the FBI moves in, Montoya's in a desperate race to find a killer whose crimes are getting more terrifying, and closer all the time. Plunging deep into a nightmare investigation will uncover a shocking revelation - a deadly connection between Abby and Montoya and an asylum where unspeakable crimes were committed, evil once roamed free, and a human predator may still wait. For the past is never completely gone. Its sins must be avenged, its wrongs righted. And this time Detective Reuben Montoya may pay the price.

Jon A. ....

Much more my cup of tea - the first in a ten book series featuring Detective Sergeant Mulheisen. Published in 1977, the series runs through to the 10th published in 2004 - No Man's Dog.

Mulheisen investigates when a beautiful young heiress turns up dead in Indian Village, an exclusive enclave in Detroit, and discovers that her husband is the only executive of Fidelity Trust Insurance to escape blame for a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme.

And Dave White....

I used to enjoy Dave White's Jackson Donne short stories in the early 2000s and have a bunch of them stuffed somewhere in a load of book-ish papers. 

He gravitated to the long form with When One Man Dies in 2007, a book I read and enjoyed in the pre-blog days. I bought this one new when it was published in 2008, but haven't read it yet. 

He's since published a further three Jackson Donne novels, plus a collaborative effort with Alex Segura, plus other stuff.

Even generations later, you can't escape. . .the evil that men do.

Stripped of his private investigator's license and slumming it as a night security guard at a Jersey storage facility, Jackson Donne thinks he's finally hit rock bottom. Then the bottom really falls out: The sister he hasn't seen in years shows up, needing help. 

Turns out Donne's Alzheimer's-stricken mother has begun hinting at long-buried family secrets from her hospital bed, suggesting a sinister-even murderous-past. Meanwhile, Donne's relatives are suddenly being greeted by blackmail, car bombs, and bullets to the back of the skull. 

All Donne wants is to disappear-preferably into a nice frosty pint glass-but he soon realizes that his only chance at saving his family, and himself, is by solving a mystery more than sixty years old. Now he needs to figure out how a hit man, crooked cops, corrupt politics, a kidnapping, and the city of Bayonne all fit together. He'll discover that old family secrets still have the power to kill in this razor-sharp PI story that makes classic noir new again.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017



Bad Billy has spent his entire life in Mama's basement. When the chains break free and he escapes into the world, he must learn the difference between being a monster and a human being.

It's going to be a bloody education.

"Bad Billy, it's 'Of Mice and Men' meets the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre.'"
--R. Scott McCoy, Publisher of "Necrotic Tissue Magazine," author of "Feast" and the "White Face Bear"

I loved the cover and it was free and only 70 pages long, so took a bit of a punt on this one. Some you win and some you lose.

I quite liked the set-up. Bad Billy the product of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her brother has spent his whole life chained up in the basement, fed on small animals thrown down the stairs to him. His mum dies and he breaks out.

Carnage follows. Death and destruction, a taste for human flesh, a manhunt, a carnival, a small girl, an innocent friendship and some full on weirdness with werewolves and vampires.

Not many of them lived happily ever after, though we do discover our monster has some vestige of humanity deep inside.

Quite bizarre overall. I can't say I liked it especially, I can't say I hated it. The author can write, I'm just not too sure I want to understand what's in his head-space. I'd give him another go at least.

3 from 5

Jimmy Pudge has his website/blog here.
He's on Twitter - @JimmyPudge

Read in December, 2017
Published - 2010
Page count - 70
Source - Amazon purchase
Format - Kindle

Tuesday, 19 December 2017


A couple from Matt Phillips this week. His Accidental Outlaws only just dropped last week and the other is a collection of short stories - Tough Guys which have been on the device a while.

I've previously enjoyed Redbone from him - a few thoughts on that one here and still have Three Kinds of Fool and Bad Luck City to get to. Maybe I should read them instead of just blogging about them.

I'm not sure which of his work this Grant Nicol (author of The Mistake, On a Small Island, and Out on the Ice) quote applies to, maybe all of them.....

"Just sh*t loads of good fun...trailer trash noir at its very best."

Matt Phillips has his website here.

He's on Facebook here and catch him at Twitter@MRPhill25

Tough Guys (2014)

Bullets. Booze. Bad luck. It's all here.

These tales––written in terse and urgent prose––delve into the dark underworld of drifters, gangsters, wannabe hoods and small town folks in slippery situations.

Here's a taste of what you'll find in Tough Guys, an entertaining collection of stories:

Apprentice: Ronnie might be a truck driver, but he's something else too... A hitman.

Room Number Six: Frank just got out of prison and he's not too happy to find his wife in bed with a prison guard. What's he gonna do?

No Sé: Hector has been a gangster his whole life. He's rock hard. But this hard-hearted gangster just met his match––a six-year-old girl named Charlotte.

Last Shift: Everybody has a breaking point. For Sandy, a waitress at an all-night diner, her breaking point might be tonight. A slick crook picks her up from work, but Sandy's luck means this guy is up to no good. Will Sandy, the thin little blonde with three-inch heels, finally snap?

You Ever Hear About War Dogs, Sam?: Hayes is a small-town kid who works at a discount store.

What's his future? The U.S. Marine Corps. But when Hayes gets back, he's a little bit different.

Accidental Outlaws (2017)

Three linked crime novellas that follow working class antiheroes as they indulge in theft, murder, and lawless shenanigans. Ain't no cops running things out this way.

In "Mesa Boys," Ronnie plots a haphazard heist with a twisted con man. In "The Feud," tough-as-nails Rex lets his resentment for a local pot dealer cloud his judgement. And, in "Bar Burning," a mysterious drifter goes toe-to-toe with his new lady's psychotic ex-husband.

Accidental Outlaws is a hellfire ride through working class America's angsty underbelly.