Wild card Sam Batford is an undercover cop who has infiltrated crime kingpin Vincent Guardino’s organisation. DCI Klara Winter is also hell-bent on bringing down Guardino but in a much more by-the-book way. The two investigations inevitably collide and clash in Ian Patrick‘s marvellously gripping debut novel Rubicon. Cracking stuff!
In 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.
In M W Craven’s The Puppet Show, disgraced cop Washington Poe is dragged into the investigation of a serial killer known as The Immolation Man when his name is discovered carved into a victim’s chest. Poe is soon digging below the glittery veneer of local high society to reveal its dark secrets.
The Puppet Show is just great. A gripping, breathless, twisting and turning crime thriller that is gritty but never grim, despite its dark subject matter. The Puppet Show‘s characters are all really well-drawn and the interactions between them are marvellous. There is a lot of warmth and humour in The Puppet Show, too and I look forward to the next book in the series. Highly recommended.
It’s 1917 and British secret agent Donovan heads off to a remote island off the Devon coast to attend a séance on Blackwater Abbey. He is accompanied by Kate Cartwright, who also works for British Intelligence and who happens to be a psychic. All is not as it seems, of course.
Cartwright and Donovan are a great team and W. C. Ryan‘s A House Of Ghosts is a cracking yarn. Like a cross between The 39 Steps and The Thin Man, A House Of Ghosts is a tightly-written, fast-moving adventure story with a touch of the supernatural.
Nick Quantrill’s Broken Dreams is a cracking book. It’s the story of a Private Investigator following a muddy and bloodstained trail through a battle scarred Northern city. PI Joe Geraghty- like his hometown Hull- has both taken many a good kicking and is trying to get back on his feet. Broken Dreams is realistic and romantic – in a Joe Strummer way. It takes you by the lapels and drags you along on a gritty, griping journey. Recentley rebooted by Fahrenheit Press, Nick Quantrill‘s debut novel is highly recommended.
Violent By Design takes place in the aftermath of the events in Paul Heatley’s brilliant Eye For An Eye. Gangster Neil Doyle is hoping to go legit with his new nightclub and is unaware that one of hs drug houses has been ripped off. Things invariablt spiral violently out of control when his right-hand-man Jimmy Finlay decides to keep things under wrap and sort things out himself. Paul Heatley’s Violent By Design is a brtual and brilliant Brit Grit gangland thriller. With heart.
‘The sky above the Dirty Lemon is the colour of diseased lungs. Fat clouds swirl above the pub, and the bronchial sky erupts as I push through the double-doors – bullets of rain thudding into the wheelchair ramp behind me.’
The first paragraph of Slug Bait – Tom Leins’ latest Paignton Noir Mystery – is a belter. It’s vivid, lurid, lewd, crude, and it sets the scene for the rest of the book perfectly. In Slug Bait, Poundshop PI Joe Rey is entangled with amusement arcade entrepreneur Ray Coody and he’s soon dragged even deeper in the mire, as usual.
As always, Tom Leins pushes the Brit Grit volume up to 11 and, as always, he does it with great aplomb.
Jackson Stobbart is given the unenviable task of taking care of Newcastle gangster Danny Hoy’s cash-stash. When Jackson’s girlfriend does a runner with the money, he sets off to track her down and get it back – before the psychopathic Hoy finds out he’s been ripped off. The Runner is another short, sharp knockout from the talented Paul Heatley. Also includes the cracking short story The Straightener.
When loan shark Alan Piper offers Eric Stanton a job, he reluctantly agrees. Against his better judgment, Eric enlist the aid of his psychotic brother, Derek. The pair are soon embroiled in dog fighting, mad junkies, Polish gangsters, and a hell of a lot of violence.
Martin Stanley’s Fighting Talk is Brit Grit at its best. Choc full of great characters and dialogue, its as funny as it is brutal, and has a great sense of place. Five Gritty Stars!
Nick Kolakowski – Boise Longpig Hunting Club
There’s a bounty hunter and his missing guns. There’s Aryan assassins and there’s Zombie Bill. And there’s more! Nick Kolakowski’s Boise Longpig Hunting Club is a terrific read. A great blend of hard-boiled pulp fiction and high-octane action thriller. Pow!
Jason Beech- City Of Forts.
A group of kids find a body in the basement of an abandoned house and a criminal known as Tarantula Man is soon on their trail. Jason Beech’s City Of Forts masterfully blends urban noir with coming of age drama. Tense, atmospheric, and haunting.
Matt Phillips – Know Me From Smoke
A singer with a bullet lodged in her hip. An unsolved murder. A killer just out of prison. Matt Phillips’ Know Me From Smoke is a beautifully written, brutal & brilliant slice of hard-boiled crime fiction. A Knockout
Dickens obsessive Mr. Madden is a spy whose mission is to infiltrate the right wing group England Awake!
He is also a serial killer known as The Chavkiller who is out to revenge his dead wife.
Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing by Mark Ramsden is violent, gripping, clever, touching and very, very funny.
The wordplay is witty and the structure is remarkably inventive.
Cultural references abound – high-brow, low-brow -and any book that mentions both Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd is fine by me.
Ex-police detective Bunny McGarry is missing and his friend – would-be private detective Paul Mulchrone – sets off to track him down. Meanwhile, a terrorist group appears to be killing Dublin’s fat cat property developers. These and other story strands are soon entagled in Caimh McDonnell’s The Day That Never Comes – the second part of his four part ‘Dublin Trilogy.’ And like McDonnell’s debut novel – A Man With One Of Those Faces – it is a cracking blend of quick humour and fast-paced crime thriller. The Day That Never Comes is choc-full of great characters and sharp satire, and is marvelous fun.
Lawrence 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.
‘History’s never written by the dead.’
Math Bird’s Histories Of The Dead is a brutal and brilliant short story collection that is bookended by two truly powerful short stories- ‘Histories Of The Dead’ and ‘Billy Star.’
The rest of the stories in the collection are just as well-written, moving and compelling. These are evocative stories of hard men and women living hard lives and Bird proves himself to be a master storyteller throughout.