WARSAW MOON BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

Warsaw Moon: Part One

The night had crept up almost imperceptibly and smothered the granite coloured day with darkness. The winter moon hung fat and gibbous as Tomasz blasted Ricardo’s brains across the ground and produced a more than passable Rorschach test; the splashes of blood black in the stark moonlight. A murder of crows scattered and sliced through the whiteness, as the purr of an approaching motorcycle grew to a roar.

Snow began to fall like confetti and Tomasz took Ricardo by the ankles and hauled his massive corpse towards the dilapidated cottage, leaving a snaking trail of blood behind him. He paused and wiped his brow with his blood and sweat stained sleeve.

Tomasz gazed over at the Christmas tree in the distance which was lit up with shimmering, dancing multi-coloured lights. A wind chime that hung above the door tinkled.

The heavy wooden door creaked as Tomasz pushed it open. Ricardo’s head bounced off every concrete step as Tomasz dragged the body downstairs into the dark and dingy basement and onto a sheet of dirty green tarpaulin.

He switched on a lone light bulb, which buzzed and flickered, revealing a room cluttered with wooden barrels and crates exept for a bright orange formica table, a candy striped deckchair and a dirty, spiderweb cracked morror that hung above a rusted metal sink.

Tomasz knelt down and unstrapped a large hunting knife from his left leg. Slowy and carefully he began to cut the row of tiny red crescent tattoos from Ricardo’s right bicep.

‘Tried to escape again?’ said Dragan, as he came down the stairs.

He took off his black crash helmet and ran a hand through his short cropped hair.

Tomasz had been so engrossed in his work that he hadn’t noticed Dragan arrive; he paused for a moment, looked up at Dragan and nodded. Rising slowly, he dropped the pieces of skin into a jar of formaldehyde, fastened the top and put it in a red Adidas holdall.

Tomasz knelt back down and unfastened the bloodied handcuffs that hung loose from Ricardo’s right wrist.

‘Nothing to lose, I suppose,’ said Dragan, to himself, ‘apart from his balls.’ He sighed and lit up a large Havana cigar.

‘Did anyone see you?’ said Dragan, blowing a trio of smoke rings.

‘No,’ said Tomasz. ‘No spies. No mercenary eyes.’

‘Did he say anything?’ said Dragan, looking at the fat heap on the ground, his scraggly beard and unkempt hair matted with blood, he was overcome with disgust, remembering a younger Ricardo.

‘Yes,’ said Tomasz, his black, bullet hole eyes showing no amusement. ‘He cried for his mother.’

Dragan peeled off his boots and black leather jacket and sat cross legged on the dirty floor. He was wearing a black sleeveless T-shirt depicting Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ and a pair of expensive denim jeans.

His muscular body was covered with tattoos and latticed with scars but his face–almost angelic and much younger looking than his forty years–was without a blemish except for a tiny bright red birth mark on his left cheek which was shaped like a crescent moon. He plucked a bottle of vodka from one of the wooden barrels that cluttered the room, his wedding ring glinting as it caught the light, and downed a third of the bottle in one.

‘Did he say anything about the others?’ he said, switching from Russian to English. Tomasz nodded using his whole upper torso. His wide, sandblasted face showed no expression. Dragan poured large measures of vodka into two pink glass tumblers and scooped a little snow into each glass. He was used to being patient with Tomasz but sometimes his patience was tested. He took a deep breath.

‘Well?’ said Dragan.

‘He said no,’ said Tomasz picking up a glass. ‘No others.’

Dragan was lost in thought for a moment. Tomasz stood motionless and not for the first time Dragan was reminded of the robot in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still, waiting for a sign from his master. The only noise was the buzz of the light and the sound of Dragan’s breathing.

Eventually, Dragan broke into a smile.

‘Well, we’ll see,’ he said.

He walked over to Ricardo’s corpse and shook his head.

‘Misguided loyalty, my friend,’ sighed Dragan.

He passed a tumbler of vodka to Tomasz .

‘Na zdrowie,’ said Tomasz, toasting Ricardo.

‘Okay, back to work my Polish brother,’ said Dragan, slamming down his glass on the table.

Tomasz nodded and dug in a darkened corner of the room and pulled out something heavy and metallic.

‘I think it’s time to sever Mr. Ricardo’s contract’ smirked Dragan as Tomasz started up the chainsaw.

_______________________________________________________________

Warsaw Moon: Part Two

The tall men in the black hats and long black overcoats looked like shadows as they cut through the snow smothered square.

A ghostly spiral of smoke drifted up from the husk of the burnt out car as Darko fell to his knees, the low hum that hovered in the distance growing louder.

He looked up, gasping, as the plane roared overhead. His fingers buzzed and tingled and the sensation spread through his hands and up his arms. The weight of an elephant was on his chest and then he felt the cold hard metal against his forehead.

Then the day dissolved to black.

* * *

First there were trickles and then there was a flood until what seemed to be hundreds of people spilled out over the square, like jackals searching for carrion. The men in the black overcoats slipped through the crowd as the approaching sirens screamed nearer.

Shuffling into the corner a nearby alleyway, Brendan pushed back the brim of his black fedora and plucked a battered packet of Galois from his raincoat pocket. He handed one to Arek, sweat peeling from his acne scarred face.

‘Another one bites the dust,’ growled Arek, his accent as thick as treacle.

‘Aye,’ said Brendan, the traces of a grin appearing at the corner of his mouth. ‘Just not the one we were after.’

He coughed and spat on the ground. He wiped his mouth, revealing the red tatto on his wrist.

‘Are you gonna call or am I?’ he said.

Arek inhaled deeply and looked up to heavens, at the stars and the moon, as if hoping for help from above.

* * *

The aquarium bubbled and gurgled, bathing the office in a sickly green light. The air in the room was warm and soupy and Dragan steadily sipped a glass of gin.

At a large desk, a raven haired woman was using a gold credit card to chop up a little heap of cocaine. She leaned forward and snorted through a Harrods pen.

‘Ay Caramba, mother fucker,’ she said, her Latino accent as thick and dark as an Irish coffee.

Dragan poured himself another large gin.

‘Gin makes you sin,’ said the woman, with a chuckle. Dragan glared a her.

She turned away, retouched her make up and stood up. Guilt rumbled inside Dragan like a thundercloud. He’d sworn that the previous time would be the last time but once again he’d broken his promise to himself.

The woman walked over to him. She was tall and in her early twenties with wan looking skin, red lipstick slashed across her full lips and her black hair cut into a Louise Brooks bob. She was wearing a red PVC raincoat and shiny black stiletto heels. Dragan took a wad of cash from his wallet and wearily handed it to her.

The James Bond theme began to play and Dragan took out his mobile phone.

‘Tak,’ he said and listened for a few moments before answering.

He slumped over the large oak desk .

‘And exactly how much of a bollocks is “a bit of a bollocks?”’ he said, his expression volcanic.

‘Maybe I’ll go?’ said the woman.

Dragan waved indifferently toward her and she walked out of the office door, her head held down but still watching.

And still listening.

_______________________________________________________________

Warsaw Moon: Part Three

Slumped in his blood red leather armchair, in a darkened corner of the office—like a spectre of the man he once was—Dragan disinterestedly watched the slow drips of wine trickle down from the bottle that dangled from his hand onto the wooden floorboards. His thoughts flashed back to September.

* * *

Dragan had snaked the black Jaguar XJ5 through the honey coloured Autumn morning and along the Old Town’s cobbled streets, listening to Bessie Smith. As he glided the car along the almost deserted Nowy Swiat, with its expensive shops, cafes and bars, he lit a cigar and felt like a king.

The High Priest Of Warszawa, a smirking, hyperactive American frat boy had called him, once upon a time. The rich American was being ironic, of course. At the time Dragan was just a speed freak. A jumped up Serbian car thief and drug dealer with ambitions. But now, well, the frat boy wouldn’t be smirking so much, if he were still alive.

Dragan turned right at the Palm tree sculpture and headed down Aleje Jarozolimskie, looking up at the blue sky.The Palace of Culture and Science loomed over the city like a giant gargoyle keeping danger at bay.

* * *

As he turned the corner toward the Euro Continental Hotel a big black SUV suddenly screeched in front of him and blocked his way. Dragan braked but his reactions were slow. Perhaps he’d been getting soft. One upon a time he would have jumped out of the car and beaten the driver to sludge, but he simply sighed and reversed . And then another turned the corner and slammed into him, stopping his exit.

Within seconds, a swarm of men in black balaclavas rushed out of the SUVs and started attacking the car with hammers, baseball bats, rocks. And then one pulled out a shotgun and blasted the windscreen which cracked like a spiderweb.

The car was bullet proof, of course, so they didn’t get very far, but as Dragan slammed his hand into his pocket for his Desert Eagle XIX, he froze as recognised the red crescent tattoo on one of the men’s wrists.

Within seconds the men were all back in their SUV’s and had driven off but Dragan just sat there stunned, the dropped cigar burning a hole into his leg. He looked down and brushed it away as if it were a mosquito.

Who would dare? Who, from his people, would dare?

And so the purge had begun.

* * *

Dragan smashed the bottle on the floor. The red stain crawled into the wood’s cracks and crevices. He stood up, lit a cigar and gazed out of the window.

The Old Town square was almost empty. Just the occasional little ant scuttling across the snow. He could hear the sound of the music from Klub Zodiak below him. He could feel the throb of the bass, thumping its message to him.

He pulled a bag of cocaine form his desk draw and trailed a line of powder along the window pane so he could watch out for the mercenary eyes.

* * *

Krystyna decided to swim one more length of the pool. It was just past midnight but she knew that Tomasz would stand guard over her all night if he had to. She loved the Euro Continental Hotel’s glass swimming pool and the floor to ceiling window that gave such a great view of the Warsaw skyline.

She would miss this, she thought, as she floated on her back and looked out at the constellation of lights that trailed away from the hotel toward the Palace Of Culture and Science, old Joe Stalin’s unwanted gift to the people of Warsaw.

As she got out of the pool Tomasz rose from his seat like the Golum and handed Krystyna the towel. She said nothing as she dried her iron muscled body and went into the changing room.

Krystyna dressed and switched on her Nokia. There were two missed calls from Dragan and three SMS written in a garbled mixture of Russian, English and Polish. She was reminded of the last words of Dutch Schulz and almost laughed but instead she shivered as she played with her loosening wedding ring.

_______________________________________________________________

Warsaw Moon: Part Four

Dark dreams and worse memories lapped at the shore of Krystyna’s sleep until she awoke drowning in sweat and stained by sour memories. It took her a moment to adjust to the surroundings; her bedroom looked unfamiliar in the wan light.

Krystyna lay for a moment, each heartbeat like the tick of a clock, and edged off the bed; her joints ached after the day spent working out in the gym. Moving like Robocop, she went to the window and peeled back the blinds.

A constellation of streetlights and a galaxy of Christmas decorations faded into the distance towards the Old Town. The street was almost deserted. She strained to listen. Someone, somewhere nearby was whistling. Was it Rhapsody In Blue? Or maybe she was imagining it.

She was exhausted and her mind was starting to play tricks on her again. Winter had crept up and smothered the days with darkness; flushing her memories to the forefront of her mind. Night after sleepless night her anxiety brewed and bubbled to boiling point.

Her sleep was becoming increasingly fitful, her days spectral. Guilty conscience, her mother back in Komorow used to say when her father couldn’t sleep. It was always easy for her mother to sleep, but for Krystyna it was like wading through molasses. Especially these days.

She looked at Dragan, half dressed and slumped across the bed. He was holding a bottle of vodka like a baby holds a teddy bear. She had a flashback to their first meeting.

Before she’d come to Warsaw, from her small town out in the sticks, she’d heard stories about ‘The Night Drivers’; amphetamine pumped young men who, each midnight, tied fishing wire around their necks, and the cars’ brakes, and then raced from one end of the city to the next.

When she’d seen the cut marks on the taxi driver’s neck and his red, red eyes she’d ben a little wary but excited. The Serbian was handsome and charming with his hybrid of languages.

But that was then and this is now, she thought. Just like the song that Dragan used to play in his first BMW.

Krystyna shook her head, took a deep breath and counted to ten. She walked into the migraine bright bathroom and looked in the mirror. She ran her fingers across the coin shaped scar on her right shoulder and grimaced at the memory it brought back.

Krystyna tied back her long black hair and checked the ten inch barrel Desert Eagle XIX that she kept hidden in the washing basket. It was just a matter of time, she thought.

She ran the shower as hot as bearable before she got in. Maybe it would wash away the past.

Maybe.

_______________________________________________________________

(c) Paul D. Brazill

Paul D. Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and is now on the lam in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

A Story For Sunday: The Neon Boneyard

Photo by Vincent Peters on Pexels.com

The Werewolf Detective.

The Neon Boneyard

Detective Ivan Walker was dead on his feet and no amount of coffee could help, even the strong, death-black stuff that he usually drank.  He switched off the espresso machine and took his cup over to the only table in the station canteen that was being used.  Roman Dalton PI sat with his head in his hands, and he didn’t look much better than Walker. He looked up as his friend sat.

“You look like death cooled down,” said Dalton.

Walker grunted.

“So, how did it go,” rasped Walker. “How was your meeting with the legendary Sherlock Holmes and his … companion?”

“Well, for a start, he was looking pretty damned sprightly for a man who was supposed to have died over a quarter of a century ago. Dr Watson, too. They both looked a lot better than you do, anyway. Hot time in The City?” said Dalton.

“I tell you, this place is a mad house these days. It ,akes me nostalgic for the days when we only had Dragan and his mob to deal with. The days without zombies, witches and werewolves. No offence,” said Walker.

“None taken. I hear you. Dragan and the boys were bad guys for sure but at least they mostly kept their shenanigans all amongst themselves.”

“Well, these news boys aren’t showing such discretion,” said Walker. “Especially that Haitian’s crew.”

He leaned close to his former partner.

“So what exactly did Sherlock Holmes have to say about Ton Ton Philippe?” said Walker.

“Not much more than he told me on the phone. He said that he first encountered Philippe in London around fifty years ago and at the time the Haitian was running a gambling den and a bordello in Soho.”

“So, how old does that make Ton Ton? I mean, I’ve only ever caught an occasional glimpse of him going in and out of The Pink Pussy Club but he certainly looked much more likely to be in his thirties than his seventies,” said Walker.

“He certainly looked young enough when he had me strapped to a chair in his office that time,” said Dalton. “But Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson should both be about 150 by my reckoning but like I say they’re both in fine fettle.”

Walker drained his coffee.

“There certainly is some weird shit going down these days,” he said.

“Agreed. The City is turning into Disneyland on acid. More freaks than you can shake a stick at.”

“Says the werewolf private eye. So why is Holmes here, anyway? Is he following Philippe?”

“Something like that. Apparently, Philippe stole something valuable from him a while back. Holmes wouldn’t say what it is, but it seems like he’s been hunting the Haitian ever since.”

Walker got up and stretched. He walked around the room.

“So what’s next? I admit that I feel more and more out of my depth here these days,” he said.

“Well, Holmes wants me to go with him to The Pink Pussy Club. To act as security against Philippe’s zombie henchmen,” said Dalton.

Walker snorted.

“He actually said that? He said zombies?” said Walker.

“Oh yes. And he was deadly serious,” said Dalton, shuffling in his pocket for his hip flask.

“And what’s the story with Count Otto Rhino these days? A few years ago he was buying up the odd run-down places now it looks like he owns half The City.”

“You’ve got to speculate to accumulate,” said Dalton.

“You know, I don’t trust him or that sister of his. The witch.”

Dalton drained his coffee.

“Daria? She could turn me into a frog any day. And I think you’ll find she’s more of a Siren than a witch.”

Walker sat back down.

“And that’s another thing,” said Walker. “What the hell are those Frog Boys that Otto Rhino keeps recruiting? They’re like speed-pumped mutants.”

“Yep, they’re a strange bunch for sure but I think we’ll be seeing stranger types than them in the future, the way things are going.”

Dalton closed his eyes and whistled a Jim Morrison song. When he opened them, Walker was gone.

*

Sherlock Holmes gazed at his reflection in the hotel bedroom’s mirror, still pleasantly surprised by how well he looked, considering he was 152 years old. He had first taken Bimini when he was in Hong Kong in the 1920s. He’d bought a bottle of it from a cohort of Dr Fu Manchu, the retired crime kingpin that had once ruled most of East London’s Limehouse district. Holmes had then taken to regularly imbibing the elixir, which was said to have originally come from the legendary fountain of youth. He had even built up a good supply which he had kept locked away in Howard Hughes’ Las Vegas penthouse apartment, taking only occasional sips for fear of draining his source of eternal life. He took out his hip flask and took a nip of the potion.

“Best get a move on,” he said, still checking his reflection.

“Okay,” said Dr Watson, yawning.

Watson got out of the bed and walked into the bathroom.

“Two ticks,” he shouted, before switching on the shower.

Holmes placed one Derringer in its wrist strap and checked the other one in his ankle holster. He picked up a walking cane with a death’s head handle. He clicked it to make sure the silver sword was still functioning. He knew that he would need all of his resources if he was to survive a battle with Ton Ton Philippe and his zombie horde.

Satisfied, he sat down in the red leather armchair and lit up a Gitanes. A foul habit, he knew, and one that he had kicked many times before, but the thought of being so close to retrieving the Rara Avis was consuming him and he needed to calm his nerves. This could be his final curtain call, he knew.

“That fag smells foul,” said Dr Watson as he stepped naked out of the bathroom.

“Yes, it does, rather,” said Holmes, examining the cigarette, curiously. He sniffed it but it smelt normal. The aroma was being emitted by something else.

He locked eyes with Watson.

“Brimstone,” said the doctor. His eyes scoured the room.

Holmes nodded.

There was loud bang and an explosion filled the room with smoke. When it cleared, Ton Ton Philippe stood there grinning. He was a handsome man with a red Mohican hairstyle and eye patch. He was bare-chested, wearing a red leather suit. Tattoos and scars latticed his body. Snakes writhed around his arms. Two massive, black-clad zombies stood beside him.

“The great detective,” hissed Philippe. “As I expected.”

“Long time no see, old chum,” said Holmes.

Dr Watson yawned and started to dress.

“Fancy a drink, Philippe?” he said.

Philippe walked over to the globe shaped drinks cabinet and opened it.

“I don’t think I see any Bimini here,” he said.

“No, just the domestic stuff. Dark Valentine,” said Holmes. He tapped his hip flask. “But I do have a shot or two of Bimini in here.”

Ton Ton Philippe’s eyes sparkled.

“Have you been using your supply sparingly?”  he said. “Resisting temptation?”

“Of course! Moderation in all things,” said Holmes. “Looking at you however, I’d say you’ve been guzzling the stuff. Not much left? Down to the dregs?”

Philippe frowned.

“I assume you didn’t come all the way to The City just to gloat at me?” said Philippe. “To flaunt your fountains of youth.” He leaned against a bookcase, took out a snuff box from his back pocket and inhaled.

“Of course not. This is strictly a business matter. A barter. Just a straight exchange, Philippe. The elixir for the Raven,” said Dr Watson, now fully dressed in black jeans and a roll neck sweater.

“The Andalusian Raven is no use to you anyway. Its gifts you already possess,” said Holmes. He tapped his left eye. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have known we were here.”

“For sure,” said Philippe. “Although you were quite difficult to spot. But I’ve been saving the Raven just in case I ever needed to use it as a bargaining tool.”

“Well, it appears that now that time has finally come,” said Holmes.

“Maybe,” said Philippe. “I’ll have to think about it. How much of the Bimini would you be willing to set free from your clutches? Considering I’m an old … chum?”

“Mm. How about ten bottles?” said Dr Watson.

“Make it fifty and we may have a deal,” said Philippe. “Ten won’t last me long.”

Holmes slumped forward in his seat. He put out his cigarette and lit another.

“Oh, I do so loath haggling.” He sighed. “Is forty acceptable?”

Philippe smirked. “It’s a deal.”

Holmes held out his hand. Philippe took it and grinned. He winked and muttered a voodoo spell.

 And then Holmes burst into flames. He was dust within seconds.

“Well, that turned out alright,” said Dr Watson. He coughed.

Philippe tittered. “Yes, it was easier than expected.”

“So?”

Philippe clicked a finger and one of his zombie henchmen walked over and put a small elaborately decorated egg- shaped box on the bed. Watson tapped it on the top and it opened in segments. Inside was a jewel encrusted raven with only one eye in the middle of its head.

“Does that suit you?” said Philippe.

“Oh yes,” said Dr Watson.

He bent down and pulled a silver briefcase from under the bed. He handed it to Ton Ton Philippe.

“Take small doses from time to time and that should keep you going for a while. At least until one of us can find a new supplier,” said Dr Watson.

“Where are you off to next?” said Philippe.

“Anywhere. Just out of this dump. I’m just relieved to be rid of that tiresome, pompous old fool,” said Watson, pointing to a pile of dust on the floor that used to be the world’s greatest detective.

*

The long black train silently snaked its way into The City’s Central Railway Station and Count Otto Rhino was reminded of the story of the funeral train that used to take The City’s plague victims out of the town. Apparently, there was even a special station just for this particular train. It had been called Necropolis Central Station, if he remembered correctly.

Otto was a massive, overweight man in his mid-fifties with a bald head and a permanently furrowed brow. He was wearing an expensive black suit and overcoat. A large pair of black-framed sunglasses were a permanent fixture, worn inside as well as outside, whether it was sunny or not.

The lone passenger stepped off the train. He was wearing a dark overcoat and a Cossack hat. A black scarf was wrapped around his saggy face.

Igor, a wiry leather-clad man with a bushy white beard, excitedly rushed past Otto like a bitch on heat.

“Herr Doctor, Herr Doctor, it is so good to see you again,” said Igor, holding out a leather-gloved hand.

Doctor Victor Frankenstein ignored the hand and said nothing. He ignored Igor and walked toward Otto. He pulled down his scarf.

“Otto Rhino,” he said, in an accent sharp enough to cut diamonds.  “An honour.” He clicked his heels.

“A pleasure Doctor,” said Otto. “I trust you and your … Monster had a comfortable journey from Geneva?”

“It was quite adequate, Count Otto. Which is the best that one can ask for these days, andat my time of life,” said Frankenstein.

A long black box was pulled from the train by two of Otto’s Frog Boy’s, Igor excitedly barking orders. Otto and Frankenstein walked to the waiting limousine and got in the back.  The car was warm, John Coltrane playing through the speakers.

“Ready to go boss?” said Igor, as he squeezed into the driver’s seat. “Or are we waiting for someone else?”

“Let’s getting moving,” said Otto. “There’s a storm brewing.”

***

***

The roar was like that of a hundred lions. The sound of a hurricane. Of the world being ripped apart. Frankenstein’s Monster was strapped to the operating table, connected to some strange machinery. It struggled to escape its bonds, veins bulging on its shaven head.  

Igor rushed though the laboratory with what looked like an adapted cattle prod and slammed it against The Monsters head. There was a flash of light, a fizzing sound and The Monster closed its eyes.       

“It truly is a fearsome sight,” said Otto Rhino.

The laboratory had a green glow that only accentuated The Monsters scaly green skin.

“Indeed,” said Doctor Frankenstein. “But the creation of a superman is not a simple process and not without its teething troubles. The more aesthetic aspects of The Monster can be modified at a later date. I’ve already tinkered a little.”

“He looks a little familiar, actually,” said Otto.

“Yes, I based his appearance on that of the actor Dolph Lundgren.”

“And the swastika on the forehead?”

“Oh, that was already there. I left it. I felt it gave him an extra … oomph!”

“It’s striking,” said Otto.

 “Speaking of which,” said Frankenstein.

He looked up at the stormy night sky through the skylight.

“Shall I open the skylight?” said Igor.

“Of course,” said Doctor Frankenstein.

Igor pulled a chain and the skylight slowly opened, filling the room with wind and rain. Lightning flashed. Thunder cracked.

“Are you sure this is necessary?” yelled Otto, lifting a black umbrella.

“I am always sure,” said Frankenstein. He flicked a switch as lightning flashed and struck The Monster. Otto was aghast, his mouth wide open and his umbrella was ripped from his hands by the wind.

The Monster opened its eyes. Smiled.

“Close the skylight,” said Frankenstein and Igor did as he was told.

Silence filled the room. Otto felt as if his heart had been ripped from his chest.

The Doctor walked over to The Monster and examined him with some strange sort of stethoscope.

“You are remarkably quiet,” said Frankenstein.

“I am … rebooting,” said The Monster. “It was a long sleep this time, I think.”

“Three months,” said The Doctor.

He put down his stethoscope.

“Thirsty? Hungry?”

He and Igor unstrapped The Monster.

“Of course,” he looked at Otto.

“Our host?”

“Yes, Count Otto Rhino. May I introduce you to … actually, what are we going to call you now?”  said Frankenstein.

The Monster slowly sat. Eased himself off the operating table. Yawned.

“How about …Adam,” said Otto. “You know, the first man and all that.”

“Well?” said Frankenstein.

“Not bad,” said The Monster. Igor handed him a black suit and white shirt. He dressed stiffly. “But I think I’d prefer something more dramatic.”

“Such as?” said Frankenstein.

“Such as … Victor Frankenstein,” said The Monster. “That has a nice ring to it.”

At which point, he ripped Doctor Victor Frankenstein’s head clean off.

“Oh dear,” said Count Otto Rhino. “That is most unfortunate.” He was holding a glass of brandy, swaying a little.

“Do you have a problem, Otto?” said The Monster.

He stood on an oak table in the shadowy living room, illuminated by a swinging chandelier. He held The Doctor’s head aloft, having just ripped it from his shoulders. 

Igor cowered under the table.

“Er, well, no,” said Otto.  “Not really. To be frank, Doctor Frankenstein was a little surplus to my requirements anyway since, it seems, his work on you is complete. But that was a tad shocking.”

“The time for freedom was upon me,” said The Monster.   “For years I have danced to his tune. That, I think was the perfect moment to snap the puppet master’s strings.”

He hurled Frankenstein’s head out of an open window. “I have been waiting for far too long a time to do … that.”

He jumped off the table. Igor whimpered.

“Perhaps you would like to share with me some of the details of this great battle that you are preparing for?” said The Monster.

“Of course,” said Otto. “Let’s go to my office.”

The Monster looked around the room.

Otto sighed.

“It’s time to get down to business,” he said.

*

It was a bitter, cold dawn and seagulls screeched and flapped around maniacally as a fishing trawler adorned with fairy lights cut across the stormy, metallic sea. A sharp autumn wind sliced through Daria as she waited dockside with Count Otto Rhino.  She wrapped the black leather coat tight around her muscular frame. Tied back her long black hair and put on a black Fedora. Her emerald, green eyes twinkled as she gazed up at the black clouds that looked like bullet holes in the granite sky. She frowned and turned to Otto.

“Couldn’t we have chosen another location, more civilised?” she said. “Maybe a nice warm bar or nightclub.”

“Still yearning for your nights singing at Klub Zodiak, are you dear? Are you missing Dragan, the mad, bad Serb?” said Otto Rhino, not looking at her, still gazing out to sea. “Maybe the Haitian can find an opening for you at The Pink Pussycat Club.”

Daria stuck out her tongue at him.

“Don’t you feel the cold at all?” she said. “It’s colder than your mother’s heart.”

Otto grimaced.

“She was your mother, too,” said Otto Rhino. “For better or for worse.”

He lit a cigarette with a scratched, silver Zippo lighter. Sucked it. Coughed. Offered the packet to Daria.

“I prefer my own, Otto,” she said. “You know that.”

She took out a long black cigarette from a silver cigarette case.  Rhino lit it for her. The smoke trailed away like a spectre.

A black Zephyr Zodiac pulled up close to where they stood. Igor got out. He was wearing a black leather jacket and gloves, and carrying a silver briefcase. He walked over to them, scowling as a gust of wind battered him. He shook hands with Otto and handed the briefcase to Daria.

“Any problems?” said Otto.

“Nothing I couldn’t handle,” said Igor.

He grinned and picked flecks of blood from his beard. “Is Dr Jekyll arriving in that?”

The trawler was getting closer.

“Indeed,” said Otto. “Hardly the standard he’s used to, I’m sure. But needs must. Discretion is all.”

“Do you have anything to restrain him in case he loses control? In case he’s been drinking his own potions?”  said Igor. He patted the Glock in his shoulder holster. “If he has transformed this may not be enough. Mr Hyde’ reputation …”

“I have all the ammunition that I need,” said Otto, nodding toward Daria. “More than enough. Even for Mr Hyde.”

Igor smirked. “Music soothes the savage beast, eh?”

Daria turned and glared at him. “Breast, Igor. The savage breast.”

“Ah, I’ve never been very good with Shakespeare,” he said.

Otto chuckled. Patted Igor on the arm.

“William Congreve, Igor,” said Otto. “A common misconception. But on to more pressing matters …”

He pointed toward the trawler which was docking with a clang.

After a few minutes, a frail, elderly man got off the boat and shuffled toward them carrying a battered old suitcase.  A Russian sailor walked behind him carrying a rifle.

“Count Otto Rhino, I presume,” said the old man in a soft Scottish accent. He held out a hand. Otto shook it.

“Dr Henry Jekyll, it is an honour to meet you,” said Otto. “I hope your passage wasn’t too uncomfortable.”

“Far from it,” said Jekyll. “Vodka is a great comforter.”

“I hope you’ll be able to get to work at once, Doctor,” said Otto. “My Frog Boys are invaluable but they do have their limitations.”

“Not a problem,” said Jekyll. He tapped his suitcase.  “I have more than enough …”

The Russian moved forward and pointed his gun at Otto. Stepped in front of Jekyll.

“No talk. Money,” he said. “Now.”

“Charmed I’m sure,” said Otto. He nodded to Daria who handed over the briefcase.

The Russian crouched down and put it on the floor. Clicked it open. Its contents glowed. The Russian smirked. “It is good,” he said.

“Better than grubby old cash, eh?” said Daria.

The Russian was already walking back to the boat with the briefcase, the gun over his shoulder, whistling Swan Lake.

“Now?” said Igor, as the Russian got back on the boat.

“Let’s get a little further away,” said Otto. “Better safe than sorry.”

They all got into the Zephyr Zodiac, with Igor driving.

As the car pulled away from the docks, Otto took his Zippo from his pocket, clicked it open and the fishing trawler exploded, filling the sky with flames.

“I do like a bit of spring cleaning,” said Otto.

“It’s winter,” said Daria.

“A mere technicality, dear,” said Otto, as he watched the sky turn red.

*

Count Otto Rhino reclined on a black-leather chaise lounge wearing only a paisley silk dressing gown and his sunglasses. The sound of Gershwin’s An American In Paris filled the dimly lit library. He smoked a massive Cuban cigar, its smoke rings trailing toward a creaking ceiling fan like wraiths.

“You are being uncharacteristically anxious, my dear,” he said, stifling a yawn.

Daria sat in a wicker armchair, nursing a glass of Rosso Esperanto. She wore a long black evening gown. A Yin and Yang amulet hung loosely around her neck. Her lips and fingernails were blood red.

“Otto, you know as well as I do that it’s not normal for Carmilla to stay out for two nights in a row. Not without contacting one of us anyway,” she said.

“She can take care of herself,” said Otto. “You know that. If she encounters any pests she can just sink her fangs into them. Or rip their heads off. She’s done it plenty of times before, after all.”

Daria rubbed the amulet.

“It’s just that I can’t sense her anywhere,” she said. “And that’s certainly never happened before.”

“Don’t you have any idea where she went?”

“Yes, I do and that’s part of the problem. She said she was going to go back to The Pink Pussy Club and take revenge on that damned Haitian but I thought she was joking. Now, I’m not so sure …”

“Well, there’s only way to find out. I can send a few of The Frog Boys down there for a bit of a blitzkrieg.”

Daria stood, poured herself a glass of brandy. Filled Otto’s glass.

“Mmm. A nice idea but that would probably spark an all-out war with Ton Ton Phillippe and we’re not full prepared yet. Are we?”

“No, no. Dr Jekyll will need a little more time, I’m sure. And The Monster or Frankenstein, or whatever he want us to call him, is still not ready – he needs to rest. Do you have a solution?”

“Maybe. We can call the police?”

“Ha! A last resort. Let’s leave it a day or two and see if she turns up. Carmilla is as tough as nails, you know that,” said Otto.

“Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t fret. But you know that the Haitian has his … ways.”

“If the rumours are to be believed …”

“Of course you believe them, or you wouldn’t be calling in such … exceptional reinforcements,” said Daria.

Otto walked over to the window.

“Well, why not send in a neutral party to check things out?” he said.

“And who do you have in mind?”

Otto pointed at the ivory moon that filled the sky and howled.

*

Dr Henry Jekyll had felt the lure of the night for far too long. The penthouse apartment, luxurious though it may have been, seemed antiseptic: clean but claustrophobic. He needed to taste The City. Taste its sin. Its decadence. He showered, dressed in a brand new suit that was three sizes too big for him and stood by the window, looking out at The City’s twinkling neon. He poured a toxic green liquid into a tall glass and downed it in one. It burned as it shuddered through him. His skin began to tingle. Sweat poured from him. He could barely breathe as he headed out of his apartment and took a shining gold lift down to Rhino Towers’ luxurious lobby. He nodded to the prune- faced night-watchman and burst through the front doors, the full moon hanging over him.

He stopped in the neon soaked street to breath in the sultry air. He could smell the lust, sin, the decay.  An old drunk collapsed at his feet, shattering a bottle of Dark Valentine. Jekyll stepped over him as he lay sobbing.  A young blonde woman was bent over a dumpster, her red dress pulled up to her waist.  Her screams of passion obviously fake as a hairy biker, his leather trousers around his ankles, silently rammed into her. A group of Hoodies waving broken bottles and baseball bats chased a fat, wheezing business man into a darkened alleyway.

Jekyll smiled, flexed his muscles. He could feel Mr Hyde crawling to the surface.

A battered Ferrari screeched to a halt in front of a 24-hour liquor store. Two skinheads rushed out. One went into the shop, the other into the alleyway, unzipping his fly.

Jekyll grinned, feeling stronger by the second. He whistled a Johnny Mercer tune as he walked into the alleyway.

At first, the smell almost overpowered him but then it invigorated Hyde and speeded the transformation.  The alleyway was illuminated by the light from a stained glass window and he could see that the skinhead was bleeding on the ground, four or five Hoodies beating him with a variety of weapons even though he was clearly already dead to the world, if not actually dead.  The other Hoodies were ripping the fat businessman limb from limb and feasting on his flesh. Jekyll licked his lips. He could almost taste the corpse. He muscles stretched, ballooned. His bones twisted and snapped. His skin ripped. It was an exquisite agony.

As one, the Hoodies glared at Mr Hyde. Their eyes were glowing red pinpricks.  They stood and stalked toward him. Hyde guffawed. Fully transformed, he was massive, handsome with a cruel look in his eyes.

“Come to daddy,” he said, with a smirk.

The Hoodies attacked. Hyde ripped apart the first one with ease and worked his way through the rest within minutes.

“Thank … you,” gasped the flabby businessman who struggled across the floor, a trail of blood behind him, barely clinging onto life.

Hyde stepped toward him and grinned.

“No, thank you,” he said and he ripped the man’s heart from his chest and devoured it with one swallow.

*

The City was ablaze. Crimson and gold ripped through the night sky, sliced and skewered by black smoke.

“This reminds me of the last days of the war,” said Walker. He was on the roof of the Basilica, his gun in his hand, surveying the scene. The carnage. His long raincoat flapped in the breeze.

“The good old days, eh?” said Duffy.

“I try to forget them. Try being the operative word,” said Walker.

Duffy stood beside him armed with his AK47.  A loud thump and they turned to see Roman Dalton, completely transformed into a werewolf. Dalton howled.

“Fancy meeting you here,” said Duffy. He took out a hip flask filled with Dark Valentine. Took a swig and handed it to Walker who took a nip. Then he handed it to Dalton, who growled.

“Prefer something with more bite, eh?” said Duffy.

Dalton howled and beat his chest, his eyes glowing red.

“Are we ready to kick ass?”  said Duffy.

“Why not,” said Walker. Dalton roared as he jumped down into The Pink Pussy Club’s car park. Walker and Duffy headed down the rattling fire escape.

*

Count Otto Rhino gazed out of the window of his penthouse apartment at Rhino Towers.

“The war has begun,” he said.

He turned to face Mr Hyde, The Monster, Carmilla, Daria and Igor.

“Ready?” he said.

“Let’s get this over with,” said Daria.

They all headed out of the apartment and into an elevator which took them to the building’s underground car park. A mob of Frog Boys waited for them.

*

A storm ripped the sky open and rain poured down in sheets. The Pink Pussy Club’s neon sign flashed and buzzed erratically. The sound of thrash metal emanated from inside the club.

A mob of zombies surrounded the entrance. Dalton, Duffy and Walker walked toward the club as a car exploded behind them.

As lightning flashed, they rushed toward the zombies.

Dalton jumped on two and ripped their heads off with his paws and bit the head off another. Walker shot one in the head, spun as another grasped his arm and blew its brains out. Duffy fired, spraying wildly and taking out a few of them. He reloaded and started shooting again.

More zombies rushed them as group of Frog Boys appeared and took on the zombies with baseball bats and samurai swords.

Mr Hyde and Frankenstein’s Monster appeared from black smoke and took on more, both laughing gleefully as they tore the zombies apart with ease.

Carmilla slipped through the front door of The Pink Pussy Club as Igor drove a burning police car at another group of zombies.

Inside, the club was dimly lit, lights flickering. Tom Waits’ ‘The Heart Of Saturday’ night leaked from the speakers. Ton Ton Philippe sat on his throne smoking a cigar, looking weary.

“You have returned my pet,” he said, as he saw Carmilla. He sounded tired.

Carmilla grinned, ran onto the bar, somersaulted and kicked him in the head.

Outside, the sound of Daria’s singing grew louder and then there was silence. Philippe was frozen where he lay.

Otto Rhino strolled into the room. He bent over and picked up the cigar that Philippe had dropped. He soaked a red velvet curtain with a bottle of Dark Valentine and then used the cigar to set it alight.

There was an explosion that shook the room and then Roman Dalton crashed through a skylight onto Philippe, tearing him to shreds. Carmilla leapt and sank her fangs into the Haitian. He crumbled to the ground.

Daria walked into the room and all was silent. Her green eyes glowed as she sang. Then Walker and Duffy followed her. The room was ablaze but Duffy walked behind the bar and picked up a bottle of Dark Valentine. He gulped down about a third of the stuff and handed the bottle to Walker who took a good swig.

Dalton had ripped Ton Ton Philippe to pieces and was howling as he waved the Haitian’s limbs about. The Monster and Mr Hyde leaned against the bar laughing maniacally.

“Why don’t we all head back to my joint for a bloody good booze up?” said Duffy.

“I think I shall take you up on that offer,” said Otto Rhino.

He turned to Daria.

“Is it safe for us to leave from the front entrance?” he said.

Daria nodded, took Dalton by the paw and began to sing ‘I Put A Spell On You’ as she led him out of the burning building, the others trailing behind them.

FIN

© Paul D. Brazill

ABOUT THE WEREWOLF DETECTIVE

When a full moon fills the night sky, Private Investigator Roman Dalton becomes a werewolf and prowls The City’s neon and blood soaked streets. Vivid and violent noir horror stories based on characters created by Paul D. Brazill

‘Netflix ought to swoop in and bag those stories for a new series.’

‘It’s noir. It’s supernatural. It’s sleazy as hell.’

“A crackling fun read that puts werewolves in a Sin City/hardboiled world.”

5.0 out of 5 stars.  Brilliant and Dark

5.0 out of 5 stars.  Noir Fun with a Werewolf Detective

5.0 out of 5 stars.  A Howling Good Read!

5.0 out of 5 stars.  Both gruesome and awesome

Back in 2012 I wrote a story for the late lamented Dark Valentine Magazine. It was a noir/ horror crossover called Drunk On The Moon and featured a werewolf private eye called Roman Dalton. The story proved to be quite popular and I wrote a few more Roman Dalton yarns. There were even a couple of anthologies where a wide range of authors wrote Roman Dalton yarns. Oh, and he’s been translated into Slovenian and Polish.

So sink your teeth in, if you fancy!

Recommended Read: Hard Times by Les Edgerton

Les Edgerton’s Hard Times is a fantastic read. It takes place in Texas in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. It is primarily the story of Amelia Laxault, a bright farmgirl who, at the age of fourteen, is forced to marry Arnold Critchin, a violent drunk. Hard Times also tells the tale of Lucious Tremaine, an escaped convict just trying to survive. Both stories are gripping and involving tales of endurance with a strong sense of time, place, and authenticity. Hard Times is a powerful, moving and unflinching look at the lives of ordinary people pushed to the edge of a precipice, and is very highly recommended.

Recommended Read: Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver

(THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED OVER AT CRIME FICTION LOVER)

Emotionally battered and bruised by his most recent case, Detective Sergeant Pace leaves London behind, including his loving girlfriend and confidant Maeve, and returns to his rural hometown of Hinton Hollow – population 5,120 – in the hope of some sort of respite. But Evil follows him home…

Will Carver’ Hinton Hollow Death Trap has echoes of other dark small town tales such as Jim Thompson’s The Kill-Off, Stephen King’s Needful Things, Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, and, of course, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, in that the seemingly idyllic small town has a dark and seedy underbelly. Indeed, Hinton Hollow seems to be full of secrets and ‘the woods are not what they seem’. Disappointment, jealousy, bitterness, resentment and violence all bubble just below Hinton Hollow’s homely surface and, in the course of the novel, all of this and more is uncovered. DC Pace’s Home Counties haven soon turns into a Hell on Earth.

Pretty much as soon as he arrives back in Hinton Hollow, things go off kilter. There is a horrifying murder, a worried mother sends her youngest child on the train out of town, far away from the encroaching darkness that is soon to envelope the place, and as for Darren from the slaughterhouse, well let’s just say that his story in the early part of the book is not for those of a nervous disposition. 

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is a tale full of twists and turns sharp enough to give you whiplash and it works well as a gripping police procedural, a whodunnit with a dash of the supernatural about it, but it is also a thoughtful exploration of human frailty and our capacity for self-deception. 

There is a rich and varied cast of characters too. Some of them are horrible, some are annoying, some are ridiculous, some are downright scary, and others – such as the owners of the local diner – are really, really nice. But they are all very believable and realistic, even the pompous policeman with the preposterous moustache. 

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is original, engrossing, touching, sad, violent, funny and, yes, occasionally annoying. Because the real twist in this collection of little tales of misanthropy is that the story is narrated by Evil itself, who has seemingly arrived in Hinton Hollow with the sole purpose of making Detective Sergeant Pace suffer for his past transgressions.

As the story is told, Evil playfully and capriciously interjects the narrative with comments, hints, secrets, reflections and even homilies that wouldn’t look at all out of place in a cheesy self-help book. In fact, in many ways Evil seems to be a tad naïve and a bit of a prig too!

But rather than disrupt the storyline, Evil’s black pearls of wisdom help paint a bigger picture of the denizens of Hinton Hollow and their interlocked lives. For sure, in just five days, in such a small town, a hell of a lot happens. Little things and big things. Ordinary things and bizarre things. Good things and bad things. And very, very bad things indeed.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is a clever and inventive novel that tests the reader’s patience and endurance for sure. At times it comes across like a more grown-up, less of a smartass, version of a Chuck Palahniuk novel or a darker shade of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. And I’ll admit, about a third of the way through the book, I faltered a little, but thankfully I stuck with it and found reading the novel a rewarding and satisfying experience.

I should also mention that this is the first Will Carver novel that I’ve read and although it refers to events in the two previous books to feature Detective Sergeant Pace – Good Samaritans and Nothing Important Happened Here Today – it didn’t hinder my appreciation of Hinton Hollow Death Trip in any way.

A damn fine five-star read.

Recommended Read: Rival Sons by Aidan Thorn

rival sonsIn Rival Sons, Kyle Gordon returns to his home town to take care of his dying mother only to find the place in an even worse state than when he’d left it.

And it’s all down to his younger brother Graham, a lone shark and drug dealer. 

Aidan Thorn’s Rival Sons is a brutal and brilliant blend of kitchen sink drama and gangster story. Like an urban western, Rival Sons is powerful stuff.

Short, sharp and highly recommended. 

Supernatural Noir A Go Go!

Supernatural NoirWell, Supernatural Noir was published a couple of days ago on Halloween and it’s all happening!

Graham Wynd kicks off #Noirvember with a look at Supernatural Noir and says:

‘I didn’t even know how much I missed Roman Dalton, his werewolf detective, until I started reading through the stories again. Netflix ought to swoop in and bag those stories for a new series.’

Meanwhile, over at Unlawful Acts, David Nemeth says:

‘If you like reading Brazill–and who doesn’t–, you should give this short story collection a twirl because it’s Brazill and there are zombies. Oh yeah, get it because it’s going for a little over a buck.’

Dee Arr at Amazon.com says:

‘This is crime noir with a bite (my apologies to all vampire and werewolf fans), and the combination of Mr. Brazill’s talents hooked me. Riveted, I finished the rest of the book in one sitting, never noticing the day arrive while my coffee grew colder.’

And I’m over at Toe Six Press sharing the Supernatural Noir playlist:

Supernatural Noir is collection of my short stories that I consider to be both supernatural and, er, noir. And of course, there’s music all over the place!

Drunk On The Moon by Tom Waits

It started with a song. Tom Waits’ Drunk On The Moon, to be precise. A neon soaked torch song with more than a twist of noir. A song of the city at night, sung by a man who sounded like a wolf- and not just Howlin’ Wolf. And once upon a time, there was a magazine named Dark Valentine who were looking for cross genre short stories. So, I wrote a yarn about a werewolf private eye. And I called it Drunk On The Moon.’

Read the rest here.

 

Guest Blog: Not Guilty! Alibi 2018, September 28th – 30th by Renato Bratkovič

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Nothing surprises us anymore. Populism and fake news “prove” the world we knew will collapse any time. Migrants are not trying to escape heartless business models conceived by greedy arms dealers, they’re here to steal our jobs, rape our women and cut our heads off. Gay people lurk around every corner and threaten to infect our children who’ll also become homosexual. Right now, lizards are taking over the planet. And, yeah, the Earth is flat…

That’s what you can find out in the most reliable sources of social media. But here and there you can still find people who search for answers in literature. Answers about real life. Answers about people you’d never want to meet, but you empathize with anyway. About people who jeopardize everything to reach their goals, although you can tell from the start they’re not going to reach them. About people like … you and me.

So, another Alibi is over, another bunch of awesome people, not to talk about food and drink and what stories came out at the end.

This year we were kind of Balkan-themed: Johnny Shaw was in Croatia when we first talked about Alibi in January, Anamaria Ionescu is from Romania, and Marko Popovič & Robert Perišić, well we share the country that doesn’t exist anymore. And we represent Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia in the BalkaNoir anthology published by Greek publisher Kastaniotis Editions.

For me, Alibi means having an alibi for three days of shameless eating and drinking … And writing, of course, the third day means reading what you wrote in front of an audience. Check it out.

Again a group of fine people got together ― I’m not sure whether I have such luck in picking just the right people or is just every crime and noir writer a wonderful person?

Again some fine stories came out of the mix of hard work, earthly pleasures and mutual inspiration. Find them here.

In two years, a very special thing is going to happen: all the writers will get together again and celebrate the Alibi Anthology, where all the stories from 2015 to 2019 are published together.

PS: If you’re at Frankfurt Book Fair, visit the panel on Balkan Noir where I’m one of the speakers.

No One Is Innocent at Retreats From Oblivion.

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Noir Con‘s online journal –Retreats From Oblivion– have published a slice of my Brit Grit called No One Is Innocent.

‘Marjorie shuffled through the door to the snug and switched on the lights. She pressed a button and the dusty Wurlitzer jukebox burst to life. Jane Morgan belted out ‘The Day The Rains Came.’ In French.

Check out the rest here, if you fancy

Recommended Read: Confessions Of An English Psychopath by Jack D McLean

confessionsLawrence Odd is a psychopath with a long history of committing violent crimes and he is more than happy to be recruited as an assassin by the Cleansing Department – a particularly shady branch of the British Secret Service. All goes swimmingly until Lawrence discovers the Cleansing Department’s darkest secret.

Jack D. McLean‘s  witty, quirky thriller Confessions Of An English Psychopath is fast moving, funny, violent and a hell of a lot of fun.

Imagine a lethal cocktail of The Ipcress File, The Prisoner, Monty Python, and A  Confederacy Of Dunces, and you’re halfway there.

A belter!

Last Year’s Man is OUT NOW!

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Buy the trade paperback from the Down & Out Bookstore and receive a FREE digital download of the book!

Also available from the following retailers …
Print: Amazon — Barnes & Noble — IndieBound
eBook: Kindle — Nook — iTunes — Kobo — Play

Synopsis … A troubled, ageing hit man leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him.

Last Year’s Man is a violent and blackly comic slice of Brit Grit noir.

Praise for LAST YEAR’S MAN:

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

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

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

Graham Wynd Reviews Last Year’s Man

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And says:

‘From blood-soaked shenanigans to effortlessly clever banter, there’s everything you’d expect and more. The motif of the hitman haunted by his past gets a fresh angle as disgraced Tommy Bennett returns to Seatown, the northern coastal city where his past awaits him. A wild mix of musical and pop culture references come at you thick and fast. I was chortling by the end of the first page.’

Read the rest of the review here.