Top Tips: Recommended Reads.

I’ve read some cracking books over the last week or so, and here are a few of  my recommendations:

The Killing Of Emma Gross by Damien Seaman. Blasted Heath are simply one of the best publishers around. And this is one of the best books that they’ve put out. Maybe the best.

In Germany, before the war, a serial killer is on the loose – nicknamed The Ripper or The Vampire Of Düsseldorf. Detective Thomas Klein manages to get the main suspect-Peter Kurten- to give himself up in a Catholic church. But Klein himself is arrested  when his rival, Inspector Ritter, turns up with a squad of armed cops.

The Killing Of Emma Gross is Seaman‘s brilliantly twisty debut novel. A gripping, powerful story that is  full of clammy atmosphere and uses the historical setting to tell an involving tale of dark, complicated people doing very dark things. The cast of quirky characters, especially Klein are wonderfully drawn and , definitely deserve a second outing. Highly recommended.

Ask the Dice by Ed Lynskey. Tommy Zane is a poetry writing, jazz loving hit man who is starting to feel as if he’s had enough of the killing game. He is even becoming allergic to his gun.However, when he’s  framed for the murder of his gangster employer’s niece, his main aim is to survive.

Ask The Dice is smashing, smoothly written slice of hard-boiled. The fast-moving story is interspersed with Zane’s beat poetry and ruminations, so that it works well as a character study as well as a gritty crime story.

Monkey Justice by Patti Abbott. The e-book explosion has seen a deluge of short story and flash fiction collections, some decidedly  better than others. But Patti Abbott’s Monkey Justice stands head and shoulders above almost all short story collections out there, e-book or not. This is a mature and assured collection of brilliant stories that show us a great deal about the lives of  the wide range of characters. Personal favourites include ‘The Instrument Of Her Desire’, ‘Georgie’ and ‘The Squatter’ but there really isn’t a duff story in this fantastic, brilliantly written collection which spans noir, crime, slice-of-life, gothic and just- ace – writing.

Monkey Justice is published by the splendid  Snubnose Press, as is Les Edgerton’s Gumbo Ya Ya. Les Edgerton is one of my favourite writers – his novel The Bitch is a masterclass in character driven fiction, let alone crime fiction – so it’s no surprise that Gumbo Ya Ya is a knockout. The stories in the collection have a very autobiographical, authentic feel and focus on the harsh sides of life : broken relationships, the death of a loved one, life in prison. The standout story is the lyrical and moving ‘The Death Of Tarpons’ but ‘Pit Stop’ and ‘The World’s Fair’ are also faves. Gumbo Ya Ya also includes a couple of essays, including a cracking one about the dangers of censorship which was written more than ten years ago but is very pertinent today.

So, there you are. Every one a gem! Get stuck in there!

(pic by Walter Conley)