Recommended Reads. June 2013

1 lost summerRichard Godwin – One Lost Summer

Richard Godwin’s masterful One Lost Summer is a sweltering, intense noir set amongst London’s rich and powerful.  A claustrophobic, psychological study of obsession and loss, voyeurism and sex, with echoes of Simenon, Highsmith and Hitchcock.

Col Bury – The Cops Of Manchester

Another hard-hitting and realistic collection of flash fiction and short, sharp stories from Col Bury. The standouts are the grittiest – ‘A Public Service’ and the fantastic vigilante tale ‘Mopping Up.’ More from The Hoodie Hunter please?

Noir Nation: International Journal Of Crime Fiction 2

I was lucky to have a story – Who killed Skippy? – in the first issue of Eddie Vega’s Noir Nation. The second issue is another classy mix of great visuals, non-fiction and short stories. Cort McMeel‘s interview with Madison Smart Bell is fascinating and the short stories from Ray Banks, Court Merrigan and Andrew Nette are particularly splendid. All in all, a gem of a magazine.

Tony Black – Killing Time In Vegas

Tony Black’s Killing Time In Vegas is a typically tightly-written, hard-hitting, short story collection which sees the master of Tartan Noir turn a bleary eye on America’s underbelly. Every story is a great example of hardboiled crime fiction, though the title story was my favourite.

Darren Sant – The Bank Manager & The Bum

Darren Sant is best known for his fantastic and gritty Tales From The Longcroft books. But there was always a big heart inside all that grit and with The Bank Manager & The Bum he has given us a heart-warming slice of hard hitting urban fantasy. Great stuff it is, too. His best yet.

Edward A. Grainger – The Adventures Of Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Volumes 1 & 2.

If you like westerns, you’ll love The Adventures Of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles. If you like crime fiction, you’ll also be well served. And if you like both genres, then these are the books for you.  The stories in these collections are perfectly formed tales of the old west with a more modern slant. Cash and Gideon are Marshals, one white, one black. Men of honor dealing with the problems of violent and dangerous times. Every story is a gem but favourites are the hard-boiled noir of ‘The Outlaw Marshall’ and the intense tale of child abuse, ‘Melanie.’  In volume 2, Edward A. Grainger gives us another great collection of stories about good men in tough times. The first story – written with Chuck Tyrell – is probably the best of the bunch as it gives us Cash’s back story, telling us about how he was raised by Native Americans. The final story is a shot of the dark stuff.  Reflections In A Glass Of Maryland Rye, is pure western noir showing Cash Laramie’s darker side. The stories in between are gems also. Highly recommended.

laidlawTimothy Hallinan – Crashed.

Timothy Hallinan’s splendid Crashed introduces us to Junior Bender, a well-read burglar who is hired to steal a Paul Klee painting and ends up caught in a game of double-cross, triple- cross and more. Crashed is a very well written and immensely enjoyable crime caper full of rounded, realistic and interesting characters and peppered with sharp satirical swipes. A corker, for sure.

 John Llewellyn Probert – The Nine Deaths Of Dr Valentine

A serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. But not just any serial killer. No, this one is clearly obsessed with the films of the late great Vincent Price and is putting his obsession to good use by murdering doctors in various ingenious ways. The Nine Deaths Of Dr Valentine is smoothly written and  bloody marvellous fun, capturing the spirit of Dr Phibes and then giving it an extra twist. Highly recommended.

Nick Quantrill – I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

P I Joe Geraghty is hired to solve a disputed murder case in this short and sharp slice of crime fiction from Nick Quantrill which is a great introduction to his writing and his immensely likable PI.

William McIlvanney – Laidlaw.

A young girl’s body is found in a Glasgow park on a bright sunny day. The killer hides out in a derelict house; the only person that he can trust is Harry Rayburn, a former lover. Rayburn is a nightclub owner and low level criminal. Bud Lawson, the victim’s father, is full of violent rage and out for revenge, no matter the consequences. John Rhodes, Glasgow’s biggest gangster, has been asked to help him. D C Harkness is assigned to the case alongside Jack Laidlaw, a brooding hard-bitten cop with the soul of a poet.

Laidlaw is an artful, gritty, social-realist novel that was written in the mid `70s and has only recently been republished. It is a hard-hitting, multi-POV collection of rich character studies, the most potent character being the city of Glasgow, as conflicted and conflicting as Detective Laidlaw himself.

Laidlaw is the impressive start to a short series of novels featuring Detective Laidlaw, a series that I look forward to following. Marvelous stuff.

Short, Sharp Interview: Darren Sant of Near To The Knuckle

Gloves Off FINAL4.0

PDB: What the hell is Gloves Off?

Gloves Off is the first anthology of the Near To The Knuckle website.

As you can see by the URL we like to confuse and challenge our readers…

For those that don’t know the site it is the darker of crime fiction with occasionally others genres thrown in. We keep the theme fairly open so long as it is Near To The Knuckle.  The story we accept often have challenging, dark subject matter but they always keep you reading until the end.  The anthology contains those kinds of stories. However, don’t we do have a sense of humour too, you’ll see a couple stories in there that’ll have you chuckling.

PDB: Which writers are involved in the project?

Well by the use of charm, threats, Chinese burns and being really… quite nice.  We managed to secure the fantastic talents of:

Gareth Spark, Richard Godwin,

Paul D. Brazill, Aidan Thorn,

Pete Sortwell, B.R. Stateham

Brian Panowich, Ryan Sayles,

Chris Leek, David Barber,

Vic Errington, Graham Smith,

Walter Conley, Tom Pitts,

Allen Miles, Jim Spry,

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Mike Monson,

Alan Griffiths.

PDB: How did you come up with the title?

After hours of swearing at each other and issuing death threats Craig and myself decided to hold a competition.  The winning entry came from the dark and talented mind of the gentleman known as Richard Godwin.

PDB: Who did the striking- see what I did then?- cover?

Like in there the Highlander movies there could be only one….

Steven Miscandlon.

PDB: Will there be a second volume?

We plan to do one a year. However, we both have our own writing commitments. That said if people nag me enough I usually cave in to pressure.

PDB: What else have you both got on the go?

Well I’ve just released Tales From The Longcroft volume 2.  Available from Amazon.  I’m working on a supernatural and mysterious story featuring a bank manager and a hobo, bum, tramp. Call him what you will. I also have two Longcroft stories on the go. One is a modern Longcroft style take on Romeo and Juliet.  The other is the conclusion to the Andy Rowan trilogy of stories.

Craig is very much tied up with his kindle formatting and editing business at the moment. So if you need the magic touch for your manuscript he is the go to guy.  (Did I really say that?  At least I didn’t say “Let’s touch base or pimms?”).

Out Now ! ! ! Gloves Off ! ! !

Gloves Off FINAL4.0Near To The Knuckle presents “Gloves Off”.

“Gloves Off” is a collection of dark stories from the cream of the literary crop. These stories have one thing in common: they will come at you, all guns blazing. There’s a story lurking down every dark alley. Just when your back is turned a plot-twist is ready to attack.

The stories in this anthology are mainly crime, but there is also grim humour and the supernatural; dark tales for an adult audience featuring hit men, mobsters, bikers and stalkers. Are you prepared for the bloody scenes within?

This anthology was spawned from the dark, talented minds of:

Gareth Spark, Richard Godwin, Aidan Thorn, Pete Sortwell, B.R. Stateham  Brian Panowich, Ryan Sayles, Chris Leek, David Barber, Vic Errington, Graham Smith, Walter Conley, Tom Pitts, Allen Miles, Jim Spry,Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Mike Monson, Alan Griffiths and my story THE HIT MAN AND HER.

Coming Soon: GLOVES OFF!

So, this is Steven Miscandlon‘s well tasty cover for GLOVES OFF, the forthcoming anthology from Darren Sant and Craig Douglas, the people behind the NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE ezine

Gloves Off .

There’s more information about the anthology over at my latest Brit Grit Alley column at Out Of The Gutter online, where you’ll also find a guest post from Royston Blake, star of Charlie Williams‘ Mangel books.


Brit Grit Alley Guest Columnists

Over the next few weeks I’ll be hosting a handful of  carefully selected guest columnists over at Out Of The Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley.

Last week, Nigel Bird had a gander at the BBC’s new series, Ripper Streer.

This week,  Richard Godwin is down Brit Grit Alley talking about Finance and Criminal Profit.

And coming up are guest columns from Tony Black, Charlie Williams, Darren Sant and more …

So, go on,  have a wander down BRIT GRIT ALLEY.

What The Hell Is Brit Grit ?


America may well be the  official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long  perceived as the land of True Brit Grit Guest Blog: It’s a Case of Having Good Genes! By Graham Smithtame Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives, also has a grubby underbelly which has produced plenty of gritty crime writing. And there is a new wave of Brit Grit writers leaving their bloodstained footprints across this septic isle, too.
The godfathers of the new  Brit Grit could well be Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and Mark Timlin with Jake Arnott, J J Connolly, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid as part of the next wave.
But in the last few years, more and more BRIT GRIT writers have been creeping out of the woodwork, through the cracks in the pavement, out of the dark and dingy alleyways.
Scottish crime writer Tony Black, for example, is the author of four novels featuring punch drunk, booze addled  Gus Dury, an ex  journalist turned reluctant Private Investigator whose shoulder has more chips than Harry Ramsden. The books  see Gus sniff around the back streets of Edinburgh and follow the rancid trail of crime and corruption right to to the top. They’re gruelling, intense and exciting journeys – not without moments of humour and tenderness. You may feel as if you’d like to give Gus a smack every few pages but the pit bull proves himself again and again.

Gus Dury may be in the gutter but he’s still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky. And it’s down to Black’s great writing that when you you finish one of his novels you feel battered and bruised  but can’t wait for the next round.

Pulp mastermind Otto Penzler  famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Penzler has probably never read any Tony Black – or fellow Scot Ray Banks, then. Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal. Inness is true loser. He’s a screw up. A lush. A mess. A man so far in denial he’s in the Suez. In each  brilliant tale he bangs his head against as many brick walls as he can. And he feels the pain. And so do we. The quartet is as bitter and dark as an Irish coffee and leads to a shocking yet inevitable conclusion.

And there’s more: There’s Alan Guthrie who gave us the best novel of 2009 with SLAMMER; Nick Quantrill ‘Broken Dreams’ which looks at a Northern English town that has had it’s fair shair of kickings but still isn’t out for the count; Bad Penny Blues is Cathi Unsworth’s  ambitious look at  the many facets of London in the late fifties and early sixies; Comic genius Charlie William’s and his nightclub bouncer hero Royston Blake help you see life in a way that Paulo Coelho never will!
There are BRIT GRIT publishers too:  Newcastle’s Byker Books publish Industrial Strength Fiction such as the Radgepacket – Tales from the Inner Cities anthologies; Brighton based Pulp Press publish short, punchy novellas with the slogan ‘Turn Off Your T.V. and discover fiction like it used to be.’

And there’s even more …
There’s Howard Linskey, Martin Stanley, Jack Strange, Paul Heatley, Mrtina Cole,  Ben Cheetham, Christopher Black, Martyn Waites,Allen Miles, Danny Hogan, Chris Leek, Gary Dobbs,  Gareth Spark, Sheila Quigley, Ian Ayris, UV Ray, Danny King,  Col Bury, Mark Billingham,  Andrew Bell, Alan Griffiths (whose blog is aptly called BRIT GRIT), Julie Lewthwaite, Steve Mosby, Darren Sant, McDroll, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, Neil White, Andy Rivers . . . and more! There’s even comic BRIT GRIT from Donna Moore and Christopher Brookmyre, BRIT GRIT thrillers from Matt Hilton and surrealist BRIT GRIT from Jason Michel!

And now, of course, we have True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology edited by Luca Veste and me, with an introduction from Brit Grit mastermind Maxim Jakubowski. True Brit Grit is a hard-hitting, gritty, crime anthology  from 45 British writers. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities.

Oh, and I even have a weekly column- Brit Grit Alley over at Out Of The Gutter Online!

“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots.
Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp,
blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel
and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter–this is BRIT GRIT!”

(This is adapted from a piece that first appeared in the program for the 2010 Noircon and was later republished at Pulp Metal Magazine)



PDB: Can you pitch your latest publication/ project in 25 words or less?
Tales From The Longcroft Estate published by Byker Books is filled with wit, grit and characters who take no sh*t!

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently? 
I’ve always been a closet sci-fi fan so the anime films and series of Ghost In The Shell have recently taken up too much of my attention. I continue to enjoy the weekly repeats of the sublime Sopranos. I never watched it first time round.
Book wise I’m enjoying Killing Moon by Rod Glenn. I’m a good way through, and loving, Nick Quantrill’s The Late Greats. A recent read that I really rate is Stuart Ayris’s Tollesbury Time Forever. A literary novel with a message that isn’t preachy. Highly recommended.
PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?
If like me you are the kind of reader that can get totally immersed in a novel then it is possible to be objective. When the novel lacks pace or doesn’t sufficiently engage me that is when my critical eye starts to look for faults.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?
I’m told my Longcroft series is the kind of thing that might translate well to TV. I’ve never written a script but since I enjoy writing dialogue I’d probably have a great deal of fun doing it. Who knows what the future holds.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?
Very little with the Longcroft as it’s drawn primarily from past experiences, places and characters from my childhood. When I’m writing about places and subjects I know little about that is when I tend to do research. As all of my fiction to date has been short fiction the research I’ve done has been minimal.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?
Sometimes I find them useful. Being a writer feels less isolated because of it. However, the need to “catch up” with social media does tend to be a drain on time.
PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012? 
I’m focusing on the Longcroft tales at the moment. However, I will be self-publishing a collection of flash fiction in the near future. I’ll also be writing a novella that I’ll be pitching to a publisher once it’s complete. 


Darren’s Book Review blog:
Twitter @groovydaz39 & @longcroft_tales

Guest Blog: Bloggers Anonymous and The Origins of Old Seth by Darren Sant

Gloves Off FINAL4.0
I stood before the Doc. Nervously I shuffled from foot to foot. He eyes me with worryingly hungry eyes. It was only after I had stripped and he had inserted the rectal thermometer that I realised he hadn’t yet asked me what the problem was. So I explained all about my blogging addiction to Doctor Paul…
It was just March this year when I first started blogging. I met the chap known as Lewt at a book signing for Byker Books excellent Radgepacket volume 5. My story Back Street Redemption appeared in it. When Lewt realised my story was about football he explained that Craig Douglas and himself were looking for someone to write about Football for the blog he was involved in. The blog was at the time called The Whirled According to Doug & Lewt. I gave it a little thought, never having done any blogging before and thought that it would be fun. However, football being the emotive subject that it is I preferred to write under a pseudonym as I didn’t fancy death threats or turds on my doorstep. Paranoid you might think but then have you ever googled yourself? You might get a shock as to how much there is about you out there. Anyway I wanted to be flippant and have fun with it.
I started writing a weekly blog post by a fictional character called Old Seth. Now I’ve never made a secret of it to anyone that has asked me but Seth wasn’t an entirely original idea. A good friend of mine, Mark Kelly, was one of a few people behind the legendary Port Vale fanzine, which was loved by the late, great John Peel, known as The Memoirs of Seth Bottomley. I asked Mark’s permission and he let me ramble on as Old Seth. I’d like to thank him on the record for that. There is a link to a Facebook tribute page for TMOSB at the bottom of this blog post.
With football being such an emotive subject I wanted to have a bit of a mess about and wind fans up. I’m a bit of a casual football fan to be honest and soon started to go off on a tangent with things, intentionally, as soon as I could. I wrote articles about Al Fayed and his ridiculous Michael Jackson statue.  I wrote about songs related to football and I wrote about Tunstall Town FC and it’s aged players.  I even wrote about pies in football. Old Seth retired from football with the end of the last football season and diversified.  I have kept Old Seth as a character with his flat cap, his whippets and roll ups. I’m fond of the cantankerous old git. However, he now writes whatever he pleases including fiction, rants and author interviews. He is particularly enjoying the interviews at the moment.  I’m glad I am part of the blog and the three of us have created something I regard as special. We all get on well too which is a bonus.  We have fiddled with the format and the name. We have settled on Close To The Bone. I run the CTTB’s Twitter account and you can follow us as @close2thebone. The blog is constantly growing and we encourage as much diversity as possible. If anyone of your readers or you Paul would like to do a guest post if it’s suitable we are open to it.  Just contact me on Facebook or via Twitter.  We are lucky to have had some excellent guest writers so far in Nick Boldock, Victoria Watson and Trevor Edge.
As anyone reading this that is on my Facebook will probably know from the constant and probably annoying Good Reads updates on my timeline I am an avid reader. Aren’t most writers? I wanted to learn more about blogging so I decided to start my own blog.  I nickname it my “little book blog”. I basically review anything I read there. Writers go to a lot of time and effort creating their work and as a reader I feel it is only fair to give them at the very least my opinion. I’d also point out that I’m old fashioned and don’t want to write fucking nasty critical things. I am not a paid critic I am a reader. I make no apologies for trying to be nice. I do however try to be honest about what it was I liked about the book or short story.  Sometimes, as Paul may have noticed, I like to be playful and put in themes to my to my reviews such as a few cooking or boxing metaphors. You can find a link to my book blog also at the bottom of this article.
In addition to the blogging I enjoy writing short stories. They are usually urban, gritty and occasionally witty. Mine all set in the fictional Longcroft Estate.  I’ve rambled on enough so I’ll leave you with another link to look at for the first of my blog. Thanks Paul for having me over at your place.
Darren Sant’s Book Blog: