Wednesday, 31 May 2017



Keller is an assassin – he is paid by the job and works for a mysterious man who nominates hits and passes on commissions from elsewhere. Keller goes in, does the job, gets out: usually at a few hours’ notice . . . Often Keller’s work takes him out of New York to other cities, to pretty provincial towns that almost tempt him into moving to the woods and the lakeshores. Almost but not quite.

Then one job goes wrong in a way Keller has never imagined and it leaves him with a big problem. Finding himself with an orphan on his hands and his conscience, Keller is looking at a whole lot of changes he's not sure he wants...He may even end up sharing his bed.

If someone held a gun to my head - Keller possibly - and told me Groundhog Day was here and I was compelled to re-read one book over and over again for the rest of my life, I think Block's Hit Man would be a candidate. I read this one years ago and re-read it in January and possibly enjoyed it more second time around.

Keller kills people and you probably shouldn't warm to him, but you do. I don't think Hit Man was originally conceived as a novel, but was several shorter stories which Block eventually spun together. I think I read that was the case somewhere, but surprisingly this just flows. Block has such a gift for story telling that I'm pretty much rapt every time I get stuck into one of his books.

Keller gets his assignments from a man in White Plains, via Dot. Keller and the old man don't really have much of a relationship, but there's a real rapport with Dot - pretty much every conversation includes some gentle teasing, usually about Keller settling down in one of the towns he passes through for an assignment. I kind of think they would make a decent couple, but hey maybe better not mixing business with pleasure.

In our novel/short story set......

We have a phase where Keller toys with domesticity as his dog-sitter, Andria moves in for a while and they play happy families. Inevitably it doesn't last. 

Work-wise - we have an error and the wrong man gets killed - not an error of Keller's. This is followed by a lull and things go quiet on the "murder for hire" front. Things need shaking up at HQ.

Another assignment sees Keller become a minor local celebrity when he saves a boy from drowning at a poolside party. Probably not the best effort at anonymity when you're in the killing game.

We have a disagreement with our therapist, which may not be the best long term career move our shrink has ever made.

A spell working for Uncle Sam (yeah right) sees Keller get less than minimum wage for his skill set. Eventually the penny drops and Keller's not playing a patsy any more.    

Lastly we toy with retirement, but instead take up stamp collecting, and what better way of funding your expensive hobby than killing people!

I could write and rewrite and tinker with this for hours and still not do this book justice. I loved pretty much every word, every sentence, every page, every set-up, every conversation and every death.

Top marks - 5 from 5

Luckily for me there are another 4 full length novels in the series that I haven't yet read - Hit List, Hit Parade, Hit and Run and Hit Me. Good reading ahead! 

Re-read in January, 2017
Published - 1998
Page count - 310
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Tuesday, 30 May 2017



"Larry Fondation's second book reads like a collaboration between Elmore Leonard, Dennis Cooper and Eminem." - Metro Times (Detroit)

Larry Fondation writes about what he knows best, the inner city with a twist. Raised in Dorchester, MA, where street fights and criminal acts were common occurrences, Fondation studied at Harvard University where the disparity between his history and his present stood out in sharp relief. He went on to become a community organizer in South Central Los Angeles and Compton, CA. The requirement for this job was not the degree in his hand but the fire in his belly. That fire burns in Common Criminals.

A short story collection read back in February and if I'm brutally honest, not an especially memorable read. 26 in total with one that was worth the price of the ticket on it's own.

Contents were...

Cuckold, Stalemate, By Force, Hilfiger, Cuckold II: A Bar Story, Driving Cars, Undesired, Civil Unrest, Generic Story, Bar Story III, Dark; Dirty, Lone Enemy, Animal Rights, Accidents, Little Things, Make-Up, Deportation at Breakfast, 55-Word Story, Weeds, Stolen Goods, Convenience, Gin and Juice, Indignity, Josie at the Blue Light, Trying to Get AIDS

I think the problem was I just didn't get a few of the stories, what the meaning was, what the author's intention was - so in that respect I was disappointed.

Two flash pieces were excellent - Make-Up and 55-Word Story and flicking back through a few more were ok - Animal Rights and Stalemate. Our subjects include drinking, burglary, murder and sex.

The jewel in the crown was Indignity. Hard-hitting, brutal and haunting. A boy's night in with some beers gets way out of hand when the apartment's owners stripper mum comes home after her shift.

I have more from Larry Fondation on the pile, Angry Nights, Martyrs and Holymen, Unintended Consequences, but I'm not rushing to get to them just yet.

Larry Fondation has his website here.

3 from 5

Read in February, 2017
Published - 2003
Page count - 145
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Monday, 29 May 2017



Dustin loves to rob banks. Dustin loves to drink. Dustin loves his women. Dustin loves loyalty. He might even love his adopted nephew Jeremy. And, he sometimes gets a little too enthusiastic in his job doing collections for local bookies--so, sometimes, he loves to hurt people. Told in the first person, Uncle Dust is a fascinating noir look inside the mind of a hard, yet very complicated criminal.

Rob Pierce has been nominated for a Derringer Award for short crime fiction, and has had his stories published in Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Modern, Plots With Guns, Revolt Daily, Near To The Knuckle, and Shotgun Honey. The editor of Swill Magazine, he lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two children. He is equally comfortable taking romantic walks on the beach or dumping the body elsewhere. 

"I was imprisoned for bank robbery, where I read plenty of novels with a bank robber as the protagonist. Only a few writers entertained me with killer dialogue. I even contacted Elmore Leonard when I was paroled, told him crime writer to crime writer that he understood criminal dialogue real swell. Here's the thing: Had I read "Uncle Dust" while I was incarcerated I would've got out and contacted Rob Pierce before Elmore. The story and dialogue in "Uncle Dust" captured so much of that world and circumstance in all its squalid glory. Made me wish I'd done time with tough guy Dustin. I thoroughly enjoyed our criminal hero's mind as he observed the world, and himself, through a cynical thief's lens. And I think you will too."
– Joe Loya, author of the critically-acclaimed memoir, The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of A Bank Robber.

I do like my criminal outlaw books and this 300+ plus page tale of bank robber Dustin from Rob Pierce is another winner.

Dustin is our main man and he's great company for our journey. Not especially likeable, but not abhorrent either. A bit of a loner - one friend, Rico - but he's not one you could especially trust, more an associate. He likes a drink, in fact most of the time he has a beer on the go, or something stronger. He scopes and pulls his bank jobs single handedly and in the main he's reliant on himself and answerable to nobody.

He likes the ladies, as long as they know their place. He's with Theresa and she has a boy Jeremy. He's jealous of Theresa's ex-boyfriend, Davis and is suspicious of his motives towards Jeremy. I don't know that Dustin has the capacity to love, but because of the neglect and abuse he suffered as a boy, something within him wants to protect Jeremy and at the same time, equip him with some tools so that he can protect himself from the playground bullies. He obviously feels something.

He cheats on Theresa, and he treats his new girlfriend, Olive with the same disdain he shares for Theresa. He takes what he wants and gives little of himself back. I still kind of liked him though.
Dustin gets a little obsessed with Davis - Theresa's ex and a little suspicious of what Jeremy gets up to after school. Poacher turns gamekeeper for a while. That's not going to turn out well.

One of Dustin's jobs goes wrong and to tide himself over he starts doing a bit of debt collecting for an associate of Rico's. For a while, Dustin has a routine as regular visits and collections need to be made. He's good at this job, violent when required to be although the implied threat is usually enough to get the job done. Sometimes this frustrates Dustin, but not as much as being beholden to someone else for his dollar is.

Things change as Dustin makes a unilateral career choice. A rash decision? Possibly. There will be consequences, but that's a matter for another day.

Superb writing - an interesting character piece. Dustin is flawed, but not beyond redemption. He treats women callously, possibly borderline abusive, but is conflicted and obviously cares for Jeremy. Wanting to protect him, as he himself wasn't when he was Jeremy's age.

Great scenes packed with tension, especially when Dustin is on a job and some interesting domestic conflicts within the book.

4 from 5

Rob Pierce has written a follow on to this - With the Right Enemies, something I'm hoping to read in the next month or so.

He's on Facebook here.

Read - April 2017
Published - 2015
Page count - 316
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Sunday, 28 May 2017


I'm on the blog tour for Johana Gustawsson's Block 46 from Orenda Books. Not a title I have yet read, but one I'm hoping to get to in the next week or so.

The blurb reads......

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea's. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea's friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir. 

Johana has kindly written a piece for the blog.....

The girl in green

It happened in January 2016; I just started my promotion tour for Block 46 in France. My first stop was Montpellier, in Provence. As I always say jokingly, I could have a conversation with a wall, so I was not really worried about meeting readers and discussing my novel, but I was not prepared for what occurred that day.

The very optimistic booksellers from the Sauramps bookshop installed a table with an intimidating pile of Block 46. I sat on the confortable chair, almost hidden by the stack of books, and curious readers began to came by, asking me why I left Marseille - where I was born – or wondering why I was not blond – no, despite my name, I am not Swedish! – and, asking me, at times, to sign them a copy of Block 46, to my greatest pleasure.

I was seated for approximately an hour, when a group of teenagers entered the bookshop: four girls led by one with a lime green coat. They passed in front of my table chatting. The girl in green quickly eyed up the pile of books, whilst walking, before suddenly stopping and coming back to the table, followed by her girlfriends.

- Did you write that? She asked, staring at me.

I nodded, giving her a commercial smile.

- Is that chick lit’?

I smiled again, this time amused.

- Not at all. Why would you think it is chick lit’?

- You look like someone who would write chick lit’, that’s all. So what is it about?

Her tone was slightly arrogant, as if she was forced to ask the question and was not really interested in hearing my answer.

- It’s about me, you, your girlfriends, and the past we have in common.

She frowned and smiled at the same time, then took one copy and read the summary on the back cover.

- Sounds like Criminal Minds, she continued, still reading. Oh I see… You say it’s about us because it talks about History, Hitler and the camps… Well, too geek for me!

I opened my mouth. Then closed it to prevent myself from saying anything inappropriate.

- How old are you? I just asked.

- 17 in a month. Anyway, I was looking for chick lit. Good luck!

She put the book back and left with her crowd.

I felt ill at ease. As if someone would have brutally erased this dirty page of our history. Deleting it instead of reading it again and again to the new generations.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with a bitter taste in my mouth, thinking of the inscription in Dachau concentration camp: “Never again”.

A few weeks later, my French editor forwarded me an email. The sender was a high school student who had just finished reading Block 46. She was explaining how, as a fan of the Stieg Larsson’s trilogy and profiling (Criminal Minds, was she specifying), she bought my novel, despite not really being “into WW2, the holocaust and all” as she put it. But, as soon as she turned the last page, she felt “ashamed”, she admitted; ashamed not to have known more about what really happened in Nazi concentrations camps: the torture, the inhumane life conditions, the atrocious diseases, the hunger, the despair, the constant waltz with Death.

As I was reading her message, the girl I met in Montpellier appeared in my mind; the girl in green. I decided to pretend it was her who wrote those lines, her who was ashamed for talking about the ordeal millions people went through as something which was “too geek” for her.

Saturday, 27 May 2017



Dead Aim marks the always welcome return of Joe R. Lansdale’s most enduring fictional creations: Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. The result is a spare, beautifully crafted novella in which Lansdale’s unique voice and inimitable narrative gifts are on full—and generous—display.

The story begins simply enough when the two agree to provide protection for a woman harassed by her violent, soon-to-be-ex husband. But, as readers of this series will already know, events in the lives of Hap and Leonard rarely stay simple for long. When a protracted stakeout ends in a lethal shooting and a pair of moldering corpses turn up in an otherwise deserted trailer, the nature of this “routine” assignment changes dramatically. The ensuing investigation unearths a complex web of lies, duplicity, and hidden agendas that leads from an upscale Texas law firm to the world of organized crime, culminating in the kind of explosive, anything-can-happen confrontation that only Joe Lansdale could create. Violent, profane, and often raucously funny, Dead Aim is a tautly written, hugely entertaining thriller and a triumph of the storyteller’s art.

Another shortish read in January and a bit of a surprise insofar as my inner OCD was temporarily suppressed and I read this one out of series order. I wanted something short and sharp and pretty much guaranteed to entertain and Lansdale can generally be relied upon for that.

Dead Aim has our intrepid duo of Hap and Leonard - one black, one white, one gay and one straight - hired to protect Sharon Devon - her 10ft tall ex-bear of an angry husband, Henry has been threatening her. Needless to say all is not as its seems and before long Henry is dead and one of our boys is fancied for the crime.

Lawyers, gambling, life insurance, debts, marital breakdown, a wild step-child, Dixie Mafia, stakeouts, a dead ex-husband, a deader ex-boyfriend, unrequited love (maybe), a lot of smoke-blowing deceit with half-truths and untruths and a fat pile of money at stake.

Great banter between our two friends - three if you count in Hap's live-in girlfriend Brett. A dash of social commentary - countering the gay effeminate stereotype, plenty of laughs, plenty of action and a mean finale.  

4 from 5 and a kick up my own ass to get back to some of the novels in the series. I don't think I've read one since I started the blog in 2012! Tooooo long.

Joe R. Lansdale has his website here.

Read in January, 2017
Published - 2013
Page count - 104
Source - owned copy
Format - Kindle

Friday, 26 May 2017



"Bruno Johnson believes so passionately in justice that he'll lie, cheat, and steal to achieve it - and he'll pulverize anybody who gets in his way." - Booklist

Former cop and ex-con Bruno Johnson and his wife Marie, living in their safe haven in Costa Rica with the children they illegally rescued from certain death, find a message from their outlaw motorcycle gang enemies written on the back of one of their beloved children. The motorcycle gang, Sons of Satan, out for revenge, will stop at nothing to lure the now furious Bruno back into their web. Bruno and Marie, forced to return to Southern California, battle additional demons in the form of an ex-spouse's entanglements.

The FBI, watching the Sons of Satan, recognizes Bruno's unique skills and ties. They recruit him to recover a stolen military drone armed with Hellfire missiles, while Bruno struggles to keep pregnant Marie out of the crossfire. Ultimately, Bruno's inability to ignore a woman in peril yields unspeakable consequences.

A fourth reading outing for me with Dave Putnam and Bruno Johnson and if I’m being totally honest, probably my least favourite of the bunch. Still an enjoyable read with lots of positives, but I think my reading association with the main character might be drawing to an end.

Bruno, Marie and their extended family – the kids they rescued a few years ago - are making a life for themselves down in Costa Rica – still personas non grata and outlaws as far as the US authorities are concerned. Bruno and Marie get sucked back yet again to the States, imperilling their freedom in order to resolve some differences with biker gang – The Sons of Satan – a nemesis from previous books and an ongoing thorn in their collective sides.

Back in the US, Bruno has an unwelcome reconnection with an old flame, Sonja from his days on the force many years ago. His former colleague and lover gets in touch out of the blue and causes a slight blip in spousal relationships between Marie and Bruno. Marie’s a bit of a jealous type.

Sonja is now involved with another biker gang – The Visigoths and needs some help from Bruno. One thing leads to another, then another and before too long Bruno is caught up in problems far removed from those he thought he was returning to the States to resolve.

Bikers, law enforcement, family, pregnancy, old flames, children, criminality, violence, a highway altercation with deadly consequences, TV footage, more bikers, a fatality, stolen weapons and a lot more besides.

I like Bruno as a character, I like his decency, his ability to look after himself, the care he has for his children and Sonia and his father, his striving to do the right thing and not run from a confrontation or a difficult choice. He does seem to be a shit-magnet though, which I suppose makes him such an interesting character to read about.

I felt a sense of deja-vous here, with Bruno returning to fight his battles back in the US – the third book in a row that this has happened after his involuntary exile to Costa Rica. It was one trip too many in my eyes and I kind of wished he could have something to sort out on his own patch now.

The plot if I’m being uber-critical did seem to rely on a bit of suspension of disbelief and made use of a couple of unlikely coincidences to move things along (in my opinion anyway).

I did like large portions of the book, especially the early narrative where Bruno and Sonja work together and their shared experiences and developing relationship, before it all fractured. I enjoy reading about Bruno when he spends time with his kids and with Marie. I like the banter and the conversations and their obvious affection for each other. Similarly, there are some well-written confrontations and action scenes – something Putnam excels at.

A fast read and a bit of a page-turner and while reading I was fully involved in finding out how the latest scrape would resolve itself, but a few niggles.

Overall score 3 from 5 (originally a 4 - something which in hindsight seems a tad high)     

David Putnam has his website here. His earlier books – all enjoyed are  The DisposablesThe Replacements,  and The Squandered

Read in April, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 314
Source - copy received from author
Format - trade paperback

Thursday, 25 May 2017



South of No North contains some of Bukowski's best work. Among the short stories collected in the book are Love for $17.50, about a man named Robert whose infatuation with a mannequin in a junk shop leads him first to buy it, then make love to it, and then eventually fall in love with "her," much to the consternation of his real-life girlfriend; Maja Thurup, about a South American tribesman with an enormous penis who is brought to Los Angeles by the woman anthropologist who has "discovered" him and become his lover; and The Devil is Hot, about an encounter with Old Nick at an amusement pier in Santa Monica, where Scratch himself is caged and on display, fed only peanut butter and dogfood, exploited by a cynical carnie.

The collection also features two of Bukowski's finest and most famous short stories: All the Assholes in the World Plus Mine, an autobiographical rumination on the treatment of his hemorrhoids, and Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live With Beasts. (The latter story originally was published as a chapbook of 500 copies by Bensenville Mimeo Press in 1965.)

The short stories collected in the volume are evocative of Bukowski at his best, when he was one of the premier short story writers still at the top of his talent.

A collection of Bukowski short stories enjoyed back in January, though scratching my head now, I can only recall one of them. There's 27 in total!

Flicking back through, we're in usual Bukowski territory.......drink, loneliness, women, sex, more drink, horses, gambling, card games, drinking, sex, Vietnam, bodily functions, overdue rent, Henry Chinaski, boxing, Hemingway and more.

Not what I want to read all the time, but every now and again, its good to reacquaint myself with his work - to read of the ordinary, the mundane, the down-but-not-quite-out types, the unambitious where the primary concern is for the next drink or sexual encounter.

From Guts...

Like anybody can tell you, I am not a very nice man. I don't know the word. I have always admired the villain, the outlaw, the son of a bitch. I don't like the clean-shaven boy with the necktie and the good job. I like desperate men, men with broken teeth and broken minds and broken ways. They interest me. They are full of surprises and explosions. I also like vile women, drunk cursing bitches with loose stockings and sloppy mascara faces. I'm more interested in perverts than saints. I can relax with bums because I am a bum. I don't like laws, morals, religions, rules. I don't like to be shaped by society. 

Not my most enjoyable encounter with his work, that would still be Post Office, though it was years ago that I read it, but I'm still glad I read this collection.

Bukowski passed in 1994.

3 from 5

Read in January, 2017
Published - 1975
Page count - 192
Source - purchased copy
Format - trade paperback

Wednesday, 24 May 2017



From the internationally acclaimed author of the Harry Hole novels - a fast, tight, darkly lyrical stand-alone novel that has at its center the perfectly sympathetic antihero: an Oslo contract killer who draws us into an unexpected meditation on death and love. 

This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented "fixer" for one of Oslo's most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer. He has a capacity for love that is as far-reaching as is his gift for murder. He is our straightforward, calm-in-the-face-of-crisis narrator with a storyteller's hypnotic knack for fantasy. He has an "innate talent for subordination" but running through his veins is a "virus" born of the power over life and death. And while his latest job puts him at the pinnacle of his trade, it may be mutating into his greatest mistake. . . .

A few thoughts on a book I read back in January.........

Our main character is a hit man and I do like my hit man novels - tick one

Nesbo keeps it short and sweet - 188 pages including the first chapter of the sequel Midnight Sun - tick two

Setting - Oslo in the Winter...
The snow was dancing like cotton wool in the light of the street lamps. - tick three

Fine descriptive writing - see above - tick four

Fine descriptive writing that doesn't interfere with the pace of the story - tick five

An intriguing plot - our hit man has some decision-making to do - defy the boss and there's no turning back - tick five

As Blackadder once said - "more twists and turns than a twisty-turny thing" - well maybe not that many, but enough to keep this reader on his toes - tick six

Finale - a bit of a dream-like sequence and perhaps a touch of ambiguity over the outcome, or maybe I'm over-thinking things - I prefer a bit of finality if I'm honest. Perhaps an outing with Midnight Sun would set me straight. - cross one

Overall enjoyable and the best Nesbo I've read yet.

4 from 5

Headhunters and The Bat have been read before. Most of the Harry Hole series waits on the pile for me.

Mr Nesbo probably doesn't need any more new readers, but if you're interested his website is here.

Read in January, 2017
Published  - 2015
Page count - 188
Source - owned purchased copy
Format - second hand paperback

Tuesday, 23 May 2017



A target is being stalked through rain-soaked city streets. Someone is seeking JJ Stoner, independent operative, covert investigator and occasional contract killer. Caution is advised: with Stoner you often get more than you bargain for and this is Ireland, not so very long after the Good Friday agreement. The cease-fires are holding firm, so far, but someone wants to put a cat among the peace process pigeons…

THIRD PERSON, a short story, features characters from the JJ Stoner / Killing Sisters series. 
The first full-length book in that series, ‘A Last Act of Charity’, is available in paperback and ebook formats. 
As well as a complete, stand-alone story, THIRD PERSON includes an excerpt from ‘A Last Act of Charity’ and behind-the-scenes bonus material, ‘It Begins In The Middle.’

Please note that THIRD PERSON is intended for an adult audience and contains explicit scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature. 

Ha, my third time with one of Mr Westworth's Stoner short stories and another 40 pages of fun and philosophy along with copious helpings of kiss-ass violence.

A story concerning the North of Ireland and an effort to involve Stoner in a high profile assassination. He kills without breaking too much of a sweat, but does he want the job?

Pithy observations, a bit of banter between Stoner and his companion - Bernadette, a street fight, a bit of a drinking session and a meeting at an isolated locale in the north. A messy outcome.

Lots to like as usual.

4 from 5

Unlike me, but I've jumped around with these short offerings reading out of order. Oh well - it's not like the world stopped spinning on it's axis because of it.

First Contract and Fifth Columnist have been enjoyed. Two Wrongs and Four Cornered await, oh and the longer stuff.

Frank Westworth has his website here. Catch him on Facebook - here.

Read in February, 2017
Published - 2014
Page count - 40
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Monday, 22 May 2017



Meet Buck Aldred, a former big-city homicide detective who has opted for a quieter and simpler life in the Virginia Blue Ridge. That was the plan anyway. When Buck noses around in an old missing persons case by way of returning a favor to a neighbor, he unearths more corruption and criminal mischief than he ever suspected the rugged uplands could hide. A departure for T.R. Pearson, East Jesus South is not a comedy. It’s a creepy, unsettling look at the rot beneath the honeyed, 'Aw Shucks' veneer of the American South.

Hard to do this book justice in a few sentences, but I'll try.

Setting - backwoods Virginia and a tale told in three alternating viewpoints. Buck - a retired detective earning his corn now mainly chasing car repossessions or following up on matrimonial discord; P. J. - a young reporter trying to carve out a career for herself and Buddy - the creep and villain of our tale.

Buck after a seemingly chance encounter with Mickey Dunbar, gets persuaded to look into the disappearance of Mickey's daughter Kiki, many years previously.  The case is cold. After reviewing the original investigation, re-interviewing witnesses and the cop who conducted the initial investigation, it’s apparent it never rated any higher than tepid at best, even in the days immediately after Kiki vanished. Buck tells Mickey he’s wasting his time and money, but Mickey won’t let it drop.

P. J. our reporter, gets wind of Buck’s enquiries and has a few revelations for him – namely that other young women have gone missing and she feels there’s a possible link. True - false? We'll find out eventually.

Our third voice, places us inside Buddy’s head – and it’s not a pleasant place to be.     

Pearson skilfully weaves the three narratives together creating a fantastic story - a superb mystery, populated with credible, memorable characters, not just the leads – Del, the short-order cook at the diner and Calvin the tire guy, just two for example – have a depth to them even though they are only encountered fleetingly.      

Impressive, dark and believable, a great sense of place, with some lovely writing and not short of a touch of humour in places ….

“What do you do, Buck?” Mickey wanted to know.
I said like always, “This and that.”
“Which one did Del get -- this or that?”
“Repo job.”  Toot brought our coffee.  “I helped the tow guy find him.”
“You a cop or something?”
“Used to be.”
“Retired. Got shot.” 
“Sounds exciting.”
It did sound exciting.  It hadn’t been though. Me and my partner had stopped in at Grey’s Papaya for a couple of hotdogs.  The one in the Village that attracts chiefly hipsters, cabbies, and nasty vagrants.  A homeless guy had come in to plague us while we were trying to eat.
We’d been newly assigned together and were only in our second week.  My partner’s name was Rinzo, and he was fat and lazy and stayed down in his back.  When the homeless guy asked him for a dollar, Rinzo tried to shove him but missed. He lost his balance and lurched and stumbled, bounced his Sig out of his holster. It discharged when it hit the floor and put a round straight in my ass.

Not least a little sad and thoughtful either, as the impossible happens and Buck and P. J. give us answers to Kiki’s fate.

My first time with T. R. Pearson but definitely not my last.

4.5 from 5

T. R. Pearson has published about 15 or 16 novels, as well as a few under the pseudonym Rick Gavin.

He has a Goodreads page with blog here.

Read in April, 2017
Published - 2014
Page count - 300
Source - owned copy
Format - Kindle

Sunday, 21 May 2017



Amazon #1 Bestseller

Rob Stone is taking time out to climb in the mountains of Oregon. Taking a break, drinking coffee in a diner in a small mountain town he watches a helpless man humiliated. Stepping in to help, he sparks a confrontation. Within an hour somebody tries to kill him. 

A message has been sent, but Stone will not be pushed. As he starts to investigate what some people in the town do not want uncovered, the truth becomes unthinkable. Cruelty on a scale unimaginable, Stone is determined to shut it down and reclaim the town for its people.

Outnumbered, hunted through the dense forest and mountain terrain, his enemy are unaware that they haven’t gained the advantage. They have merely released him into his element.

Murder, abduction, betrayal… 

Sometimes you can’t see the woods for the trees

Another author that prior to taking a punt on this book I knew nothing about. I liked the premise of the book and not being risk averse in my reading I thought I would give it a go.

Without being the best book ever and exercising a slight suspension of disbelief at the final conclusion and in truth with a bit of a credibility stretch regarding the seeming indestructibility of our main man, Rob Stone - I really enjoyed it.

A lot of the Amazon reviews for this compare Stone to Lee Child's Jack Reacher and the thought did occur to me as well during my reading so there must be some nugget of truth there. I was also reminded of David Morrell's John Rambo - Stone is a don't push me, I'll push you back twice as hard type of guy and at the moment of reading this was the perfect book for me.

Plenty of action, with Stone a lone wolf type, trying to uncover the dark secrets that this isolated town in Oregon is harbouring. I liked Stone - he kicks ass, he's resilient, he's capable, he's on the side of the little people and he kicks more ass.

Fairly decent plot, again a bit of a leap for me when the reveal came as to who was doing what and why. Fast-paced with a decent setting and some interesting secondary characters within our town's populace. In particular the waitress in the diner-cum-bar and the lady running the hotel - names escapes me.

There's plenty of confrontational scenes with dialogue - talk before we fight - that add a touch of dark humour to our tale. A few opportunities for a bit of romance occur, but Stone only has his eyes on one prize - reclaiming the town from the bullies.

I've read better, I've read a helluva lot worse - right book right time.

4 from 5

A. P Bateman has six published (self?) novels so far in two series. There are three in his Rob Stone series of which The Town is the second and he has three in his Alex King series about an M16 agent. I would definitely like to read more in the future from this author.

His website is here. He's on Facebook here. Twitter@BatemanAP123

Read in May, 2017
Published  - 2016
Page count - 297
Source - review copy from author
Format - PDF file

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Northern Irish author Gerard Brennan, a man who's work I've enjoyed reading more than once was kind enough to suffer a few questions regarding his reading and writing habits......

Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job?

Unfortunately, I have a day-job. From 2013-2016, I took a career break and became a creative writing student, which was essentially like being a full-time writer, and I loved it. But I can’t complain too much now either. I work three days a week at a public sector office job. Not one thing about it is interesting, but it doesn’t take up too much of my week, or my thoughts. And it pays some of my bills. I’m ready to jack it in at the whiff of a decent publishing deal, though.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I try to do a little bit in the evenings on Monday to Wednesday to keep the brain ticking over, then on Thursday and Friday (my days off from the day-job) I do the bulk of my writing for the week. I’ve tried the early morning routine a few times, but I write better in the PM. I can read and edit pretty effectively in the  mornings, though. So long as there’s coffee. I generally keep my weekends free, but I’ll use them to play catch-up if I’ve had a bad week. I prefer to spend that time with my family or at the gym when I'm ahead of myself.

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

I’m more likely to insert bits of myself into characters, but I have taken inspiration from family and friends. I don’t tell them, usually, but if they read my work and they figure it out, I’ll admit it when they ask me. Usually they’re quite touched. Oh, and I gave my little brother a short cameo in Undercover, but I don’t think he’s read it yet!

You’ve written plays, short stories, novels and novellas, when you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I’ve tried it both ways. Some books need to be figured out as they go along. But I have plotted out the last few novels. I think police procedurals and thrillers benefit from that kind of planned approach, but a few of my novels don’t fall into that category. One of them, Fireproof, is just plain weird, mostly because I kept making up madder and madder situations as I went along. The result was a horror/comedy-type thing.

I like to change up how I do things. It keeps it all fresh.

Are there any subjects off limits?

I haven’t tackled rape or child abuse in my work. It’s not that I’m dead set against writing about these topics, but I don’t think I’m the right writer for it yet. You spend a lot of time with your novel. I think I’d be an emotional wreck if I went in that direction.

Can you tell us a bit about your published books so far? Is there one you are more proud of than any of the others? Which and why? Which would you press into a reader’s hand ahead of the others?

I’ve mostly written gritty crime books set in Northern Ireland (except for that weird one I mentioned earlier), but I’ve explored the different subgenres within crime. Wee Rockets is a street crime book, Undercover is a thriller. The Point and its sequel are kind of an homage to the Guy Ritchie-style gangster flicks that were popular in the 90s and early 00s. And I’ve written one and a half police procedurals. I’m probably proudest of Wee Rockets if we’re talking about my published titles. I think it says exactly what I wanted it to say to the reader, and it was well-received by most of the people who’ve reported back to me. I just like how the whole thing fell together, so I usually recommend that to new readers. BUT, it might be knocked off its throne if I ever get a publishing deal for the book I wrote during my PhD. Disorder. I don’t love everything I write, but I’ve come pretty close to loving this one. Fingers crossed it sees the light of day.

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

Earning a studentship at Queen’s University Belfast and completing a PhD in English. I’d do it all again if I could. Fantastic experience and a ridiculous privilege.

A lot of your work was released through Blasted Heath and they’ve now shut their doors. Are there plans afoot to get the books back out there? Another publisher or the self-publishing route?

I published three novels and three novellas through Blasted Heath, and I’m grateful for the readers they put me in front of. When the rights for the books reverted back to me, I took some time to think about what to do next. In the end, I decided to ask my agent to attempt to place two of the novels, and I’m in the process of self-publishing one novel and the three novellas. It’s kind of an experiment to see which works best for me.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

I mentioned Disorder earlier – a book that examines the recreational rioting culture in Belfast – and my agent is also shopping around Shot, a police procedural featuring DS Shannon McNulty of the PSNI. It’s set between Belfast and Warrenpoint, the town I grew up in and wrote about in The Point. I like the small town and city contrast that this created. And to refer back to an earlier question, she’s also a character I based on a personality mix of my wife and my two sisters, all fiercely strong Irish women with a terrific sense of humour. I hope I’ve done them justice.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going? I might be mistaken but you seem to have been a bit quiet of late.

It’s the sequel to Shot, titled​ Drag. It’s going well, but I’m at the stage where I wish the first draft was finished so I can start fixing it. I have at least 25,000 words left to write before I get there, but I know where the story is going and I’m pretty sure this will be the downhill part of the journey. And yeah, I’ve been very quiet lately. Between working on the PhD, returning to the day-job, and putting my faith in my new agent (Hi, Svetlana!) to find homes for all my rough-sleeping manuscripts, my writing career has hit a natural hiatus. A mate of mine described it as taking a small step back for a breather before leaping forward with the next killer combination. We train at a kickboxing gym together, so he’s all about fight analogies.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Checking the word count and finding that you’ve managed to write 2,000 words or more in one session.

The worst?

Checking the word count and finding that you’ve managed to write 200 words or less in one session.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

Frig. Memory quiz… Okay, in backward chronological order:
The 50/50 Killer by Steve Mosby 
The White Trilogy by Ken Bruen
Dead Harvest by Chris Holm
Ravenheart by David Gemmell
Distress Signal by Catherine Ryan Howard

I think that’s right… Close enough anyway. I’ve definitely read all of the above in the last month or so.

Who do you read and enjoy?

Oh, loads of people. My taste is varied because I’m greedy. The list would be too long and boring. But I’ll give my fellow Norn Irish writers a proper hat-tip, since I’m always entertained by their work. That’d be, Adrian McKinty, Stuart Neville, Steve Cavanagh, Brian McGilloway, Claire McGowan, Anthony Quinn, Kelly Creighton, Jason Johnson… Actually, even that’s a long list. Better leave it at that. Sorry if I’ve missed any of the gang.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Not really. I’m happy to write the books that I’ve thought of myself.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Spending time with my wife and kids and training in Muay Thai (kickboxing) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (grappling) at a local mixed martial arts gym. I’m one of the oldest guys on the mats, and I’ll probably have to hang up the gloves sooner than I’d like to, but I frigging love it, so I’ll put that day off for as long as I can.

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

Split. Saw it at the cinema with Mrs B. We love a good horror/thriller.

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

Total addict. When I’m done training there’s nothing I like better than vegging out with a Netflix series. I’m re-watching Spartacus at the minute. Just finished a science fiction show called The Expanse, and I’m looking forward to watching the new episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. My viewing tastes are as varied as my reading tastes. I recommend Vikings, Breaking Bad, True Detective series 1, Top Boy and Archer, off the top of my head.

In a couple of years’ time…

I’ll be writing full-time again.
Many thanks to Gerard for his can catch up with him at his website-cum-blog - Crime Scene NI.

Links to my Brennan reading below...