OUT NOW! The Thirteen Lives of Frank Peppercorn

frank peppercornThirteen ways to remember the dead. Thirteen histories of a loving husband.

Betty Peppercorn is burning her husband Frank today. Well, she’s burning her property. The corpse she was left with as a reward for loving somebody for better or worse. Frank exists only in her thoughts, anymore.

To her knowledge, Frank had no friends. Betty’s not even sure he existed before they met. It comes as a major surprise, then, when several strange faces appear at the funeral, each of them bringing their own stories of what Frank meant to them.

As the day goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent that Frank was not the man she thought he was.

Thirteen new and established writers collide in this brand new novel-of-stories project from Ryan Bracha, the brains behind Twelve Mad Men, The Switched, and The Dead Man Trilogy. All proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer’s charities.

Featuring contributions from:

Dominic Adler – The Ninth Circle
Jason Beech – Moorlands
Kevin Berg – Indifference
Paul D. Brazill – A Case of Noir, Guns of Brixton, Kill Me Quick
Robert Cowan – The Search For Ethan, For All is Vanity
Craig Furchtenicht – Dimebag Bandits, Behind the 8 Ball
Shervin Jamali – The Devil’s Lieutenant
Jason Michel – The Death of Three Colours, The Black-Hearted Beat
Allen Miles – This is How You Disappear
Alex Shaw – The Aidan Snow series
Martin Stanley – The Gamblers, Glasgow Grin, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Billingham Forum
Mark Wilson – The dEaDINBURGH series, On The Seventh Day, Ice Cold Alice

Grab it from Amazon,com, Amazon.co.uk and loads of other places called Amazon.

The Best Of Brit Grit 2016

marwick's reckoningWell, 10 of the best, anyway. There were a few other Brit Grit gems I also read in 2016 that I really enjoyed. If I had to pick one book to personify The Best Of Brit Grit this year, it would probably be Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark. However, in no particular order, here are 10 of the best …

Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark

Marwick is a broken man. Broken but not shattered. Marwick is a violent London gangster, an enforcer who has moved to Spain for a quieter life and who is eventually embroiled in drug smuggling, murder and more.

Published by Near To The Knuckle, Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark is fantastic. Like a Brit Grit Graham Greene it’s full of doomed romanticism, longing and shocking violence.

Beautifully, vividly  and powerfully written Marwick’s Reckoning is very highly recommended indeed.

thin iceThin Ice by Quentin Bates

A small-time criminal and his sidekick decide to rob a big-shot drug dealer. But things quickly go pear-shaped when their getaway driver doesn’t turn up. After kidnapping a mother and daughter, things spiral even further out of control.

Quentin Bates’ Thin Ice brilliantly blends a fast-moving crime caper worthy of Elmore Leonard with a perfectly paced police procedural. Great characters and tight plotting abound.

Thin Ice really is marvelous, and is very highly recommended.

after you dieAfter You Die by Eva Dolan

DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are back for a third outing in Eva Dolan‘s marvelous After You Die.

The mother of a disabled child is stabbed to death and the child is left to starve.  Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit are called in to investigate the murder and in the process DI Zigic and DS Ferreira uncover a lot of dirty secrets in a seemingly close-knit community.

Once again, Dolan paints a realistic and uncomfortable picture of the darker sides of British life but with After You Die the pacing is even tighter than in her previous books and she has produced a gripping, contemporary murder mystery that is highly recommended.

APRIL SKIES coverApril Skies by Ian Ayris

In ’90s London, John Sissons – the protagonist of Ian Ayris‘ brilliant debut Abide With Me– is out of the slammer and trying to get by, working at a market stall. When he loses his job, he gets a job at a door factory and his luck starts to change. But is it for the better?

Ian Ayris’ April Skies is marvelous. Full of realistic, well-drawn characters, great dialogue, sharp twists and turns,  and with a strong sense of place and time. Nerve-wracking and heart-breaking, tense and touching – April Skies is a Brit Grit classic.

the death of 3 coloursThe Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel

Jonah H. Williams is cyber- crook, a wheeler and dealer on the dark web. He awakes from a typically heavy boozing session to find that his precious crucifix has been stolen by the previous night’s pick-up. And things spiral on down from then on as we encounter  Bill – a bent ex-copper, drug smugglers, AK-47s, Ukrainian bikers, suicide, paranoia, betrayal, lust, love, loyalty, friendship, romance, nihilism, more paranoia, The Second Law Of Thermodynamics, Santa Muerte – Our Lady Of Last Resorts, an owl, and a cat called Vlad The Bastard. And then there’s Milton …

Jason Michel’s The Death of Three Colours is just great. It’s a richly written, gripping, noir-tinged crime thriller that is full of lyricism, flights of dark fancy and cruel humour. His best book yet.

the shallowsThe Shallows by Nigel Bird

When naval  Lieutenant Bradley Heap goes AWOL with his wife and son, he stumbles into drug dealing, people smuggling and murder.

Nigel Bird’s The Shallows is a tightly written and well-paced crime thriller that is full of well-drawn, realistic characters.

Tense and involving, The Shallows is great stuff!

for-all-is-vanityFor All Is Vanity by Robert Cowan

Jack is a nice, normal guy with a nice, normal family who records the events of  his day to day life in a diary. Then tragedy strikes and Jack’s life spirals violently out of control.

Robert Cowan’s For All Is Vanity is a gem. Heartbreaking, funny and violent, For All Is Vanity is a gripping look at what happens when a good man who loses it all.

Highly recommended.

dark-heart-heavy-soulDark Heart, Heavy Soul by Keith Nixon

Konstantin Boryakov is back!

In Dark Heart, Heavy Soul, the former KGB anti-hero is reluctantly dragged into taking part in a heist which soon spirals out of his control.

Keith Nixon’s Dark Heart, Heavy Soul is the best Konstantin Boryakov novel yet. Nixon smoothly blends high-octane thrills with gritty crime fiction. Dark Heart, Heavy Soul is packed full of tension, action, humour, great characters, sharp dialogue and a hell of a lot of warmth too.

An absolute belter!

summoning-the-deadSummoning The Dead by Tony Black

The mummified corpse of a young child is found in barrel that had been buried in a field years before. DI Bob Valentine digs deep to unearth’ corruption, cover-ups and murder.

Tony Black’s Summoning The Dead is an atmospheric, engrossing, lyrical and  sometimes harrowing police procedural that packs a powerful emotional punch.

The characters are well drawn and believable, the plot is involving,  the pace is whip-crack and the result is eminently satisfying.

Fantastic stuff.

the dead can't talkThe Dead Can’t Talk by Nick Quantrill

Power, corruption and lies would be a suitable sub-heading for Nick Quantrill’s hard-hitting crime novels. In The Dead Can’t Talk, as in his cracking Joe Geraghty trilogy, Quantrill tells the story of a criminal investigation which digs below the city of Hull’s surface to reveal a dirty underbelly.

The Dead Can’t Talk introduces us to two new protagonists – cop Anna Stone and ex- soldier Luke Carver. They are brought together to look into a murder, and an apparent suicide but all is not as it seems, of course.

Quantrill again gives us a perfectly paced criminal investigation but the tension is greater and the twist and turns are tighter this time. The characters are all typically well drawn, most notably the city of Hull itself. This is a novel of deceptive breadth and scope.

The Dead Can’t Talk is the start of what is sure to be another great social-realist crime fiction series from Nick Quantrill. Highly recommended.

Recommended Read: For All Is Vanity by Robert Cowan.

for-all-is-vanityJack is a nice, normal guy with a nice, normal family who records the events of  his day to day life in a diary. Then tragedy strikes and Jack’s life spirals violently out of control.

Robert Cowan’s For All Is Vanity is a gem. Heartbreaking, funny and violent, For All Is Vanity is a gripping look at what happens when a good man who loses it all.

Highly recommended.

Guest Blog: Why Do We Do It? by Robert Cowan.

daydreams-and-devils-coverFirstly, thanks to Paul for inviting me onto his blog to say a few words about my books. If he sees something in them I must be doing something right.

I’d like to start off with a question. Actually not just any question, but the question, (No, not the 42 one). Why do we writers do it? Why sit in front of a blank screen, which stares back at my own invariably blank face, as I never plan anything (including this blog), wondering if I can fill it with something that can entertain, or even move complete strangers. Time and time again, hour after hour, setting yourself up for judgement, failure, ridicule or worse…apathy. Why not just sit and watch Eastenders, or if you’re feeling a bit frisky nip upstairs with your significant other…even Pokémon go.

robert cowanI guess for most of us it stems from a need to be creative, maybe some sort of validation or legacy. But why writing? There are no doubt as many answers as there are writers and the answer might change with time. For me the original answer was I had characters I wanted to share and characters are always the main ingredient in my books, driving and creating the story with me sitting, typing it up. In my first novel , The Search for Ethan’, there was a real mix, with the self destructive Stevie, decent Tommy, depraved Margo, spiritual Katie, drunken, hapless Hughie…but what became interesting for me was what they had in common rather than the differences. I did wonder at times whether subconsciously they were aspects of my own personality, (always a fan of the Who’s Quadrophenia), no doubt I could find many a shrink happy to take my cash to chase that one down…or I could just write.

My second book,Daydreams and Devils’, was again filled with ‘colourful characters’, psychopathic crime boss Vincent a particular favourite. I found a swingball game in the hut the other day, which got me wondering. (that’ll make sense if you read it). As with the previous book, there’s plenty of dark humour and dialogue, but with crime thrown into the mix it’s my most Brazilesque novel and probably the best place to start for anyone reading this. Like Paul, I’m a huge music fan, and all my books are full of music references and lyrics, which my editor highlights in red alongside horrendous cash numbers for breach of copyright…and I promptly ignore and turn them black again. What could go wrong? Daydreams and Devils tells the story of a bunch of particularly evil gangsters and a young band taking their first steps on their musical journey. The stretch for this one was running the two very different and separate stories side by side, before bringing them together. It was also a lot of fun to write.

robert cowan bookStretching yourself as a writer and person, having fun…As I mentioned previously, the answer to that question may change with time. With my third book, For all is Vanity, throw in plain old curiosity. The desire to just see what happens, see far can you take it…and can you take readers with you? It is by far my darkest book yet…and they’re all pretty dark. What happens if you lose everything? When I started writing it I thought it would be lots of vigilante mayhem, streets running with the blood of bankers, politicians, rapists and assorted, well…cunts to be blunt. However it became something very different, more psychological, sometimes anguished, occasionally funny and more experimental. Part novel, part diary with subconscious characters who reveal themselves in dreams, alcohol induced psychosis…I must admit I wondered if anyone would ’get it’. So far so good.

A pretty eclectic bunch with no discernible genre and 10k into book four that seems set to continue. Hopefully something for everyone. I shall sign off now before I over stay my welcome, so it’s goodnight from me and good night from him…and her…and him…but not him, he’s a moody bastard.

Find out more about Robert Cowan here.

Recommended Read: Daydreams and Devils by Robert Cowan

daydreams-and-devils-coverVincent is a smart but sadistic gangster and James is a Morrissey obsessed youth. Their paths cross when James forms a band.

Robert Cowan’s Daydreams and  Devils is  a fantastic combination of gangster fiction and coming – of – age story. Fast paced, brutal, touching and very funny. I loved it.

Short, Sharp Interview: Robert Cowan

robert cowan bookPDB: What’s going on now?

My first novel The Search for Ethan is out and getting encouraging reviews, especially in the UK. What’s it about? I thought you’d never ask.

The Search for Ethan tells the story of Tommy Slater and Stevie McDaid. Though very different personalities, they find in each other something of what is missing in themselves. But everything changes after a night of hallucinogenic experimentation, when the subsequent bad trip spills into their real lives with tragic consequences. A desperate but comically bizarre search for redemption begins, with help from an unlikely source.

On top of that I’m finding my feet in the “wrote a book now what?” part of the journey. I’ve heard it said so often that writing is the easy part…No shit.

PDB: How did you research this book?

The Search for Ethan is mainly about the characters. For that I just crawled into the dark places of my warped excuse for a mind, but found some twisted joy too. Also people watching does provide “inspiration”.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

This is my first, and I am proud it. Hopefully the next even more so.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

The Searchers/Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas/Gimme Shelter/Sopranos

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

No. I deliberately used imaginary place names. I like the idea that these people could exist the world over. That said I’m sure it has a Scottish flavour.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Initially with a first novel insanity inducing frequency. Now I rarely do. Not enough medication.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m off to China soon for a few weeks which should be intriguing. I’m also writing the follow up to The Search for Ethan. Untitled at present. A mix of gangsters, rock n roll, violence, friendship and humour.

robert cowanBio: I live in Lesmahagow, a small town in glorious Scotland, with my equally glorious wife, two kids and cats.

After years of making music and song writing, The Search for Ethan is my first novel.

For more info:

Twitter: @robcow63

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.cowan.712

Coming soon: http://www.robertcowanbooks.com