Recommended Reads

All Due Respect, David Siddall, Jonathan Woods, K A Laity, Les Edgerton, recommended reads, top tips

Phone Call Final Cover high res (2)Galviston by Nic Pizzolatto

Haunting and hard-hitting, Nic Pizzolatto’s Galveston is a fantastic spin on the man-on-the run sub-genre of harboiled crime fiction. Prose as tight as a snare drum. Dashes of lyricism that never overpower the storytelling. Great, realistic characters and situations. Marvellous stuff.

Just Like That by Les Edgerton

Just Like That has it all. Great dialogue, whipcrack scenes and meaty characters haul you along on a hardboiled crime road-trip worthy of the Elmore Leonard and Joe R Lansdale. This then transforms into a terrific look at life behind bars. Most of all, this is a brilliant charter study full of a love of life and you can see why Edgerton has been described as a mixture of Charles Bukowski and Eddie Bunker. A shot to the heart as well as the head, Just Like That is highly recommended.

Phone Call From Hell and Other Tales Of The Damned by Jonathan Woods.

Jonathan Woods’ latest collection is a belter. The quirky and inventive collection starts off with quotes from Anthony Burgess and the Coen Brothers and leads with a story called ‘The Handgun’s Tale’ which is just that – the world from the perspective of a gun.

Other gems include the title story in which an eternal loser gets a phone call from Charles Manson, ‘The Old Man’ is classic and classy, ‘The Other Suitcase’, the story of Kafka’s missing smut and ‘Hearing Voices,’ which has a smart and funny twist on the femme fatale trope. ‘Crash & Burn,’ the final story, is a cinematic, high octane thriller. Rich writing full of strong images. Twisted and funny and brilliant.

White Rabbit by K A Laity

K A Laity’s White Rabbit is a marvelous and potent cocktail of crime fiction, screwball comedy and the supernatural. A cracking yarn choc full of brilliant lines that reminds you of Wodehouse, Preston Sturges and the Coen Brothers and yet is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Fantastic stuff. More please!

Hard-Boiled Witch: Hocus Pocus, You’re Dead by K A Laity

With her new short story series, Hard-Boiled Witch, K A Laity once again mixes crime fiction, the supernatural and smart writing to come up with a lethal cocktail. Marvellous.

The Killer Among Us by George Beck george beck

The Killer Among Us is classy stuff. A gripping and engrossing study of American small town life with echoes of Jim Thompson and John Steinbeck.

A Man Alone by David Siddall

David Siddall’s brilliantly hard-boiled debut novella A Man Alone is a gripping urban western worthy of a Walter Hill film

All Due Respect Magazine 2

The second issue of All Due Respect magazine is a 100% gem. Owen Laukkanen is the star of this issue with N.F.G, a brilliant take on the fisherman’s yarn, as well as an excellent interview with Chris F. Holm and an insight into the story. This is followed by a sharp slice of Gothic grunge from C S DeWildt. Other cracking stories, including the remarkable The Gulf by Scott Alderberg and Ice Cold Alibi a great piece of old school noir from the ever brilliant Eric Beetner. But every story is a gem and the reviews which finish off this issue are also well worth a read.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

recommended reads, top tips

chas flame 3A Cut-Throat Business – K. A. Laity

K. A. Laity’s latest Chastity Flame adventure is the most hard-hitting yet. Kicking off with a gruesome murder scene we quickly see Chas on the trail of an aristocratic serial killer- the brilliant named Vivian Darkbloom. Meanwhile, the dour Dane who murdered her parents is stalking her and her boyfriend, Damian. Fast-paced, funny, smart, international action ensues. Great stuff.

eva bookLong Way Home – Eva Dolan

Eve Dolan’s deftly written debut novel is a meaty murder mystery that uses a police investigation to cast a sharp eye below the surface of modern Britain and the barely visible world of its immigrant workers – legal and illegal. Long Way Home is gritty but never grim, realistic but paced as breathlessly as a tightly written thriller. Gripping, involving, sad and quite terrific.

Salazar – Seth Lynch

Salazar is Seth Lynch’s debut novel but it feels like the salazar-cover11work of a much more experienced writer. Part historical detective story and part character study reminiscent of Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, Salazar is richly cinematic and completely enthralling with a great sense of time and place, as well as a great deal of wry humour. One of the best novels I’ve read all year.

One More Body- Josh Stallings

One More Body is hardboiled, intense, action-packed and with its heart on its ragged and bloodstained sleeve . Moses is back in another breathlessly brilliant, pulse-pounding novel full of great, gaudy characters.

Subtraction- Andrew Peters

Mark Paris AKA The Professor is a man with a past- and a gaudy past it is too. He’s the widow of a famous singer, an ex-pianist, ex- army, ex-boxer and ex-mathematician with murky family secrets.

Paris operates as a ‘fixer’ in 1960s Las Vegas and when he receives a panicked phone call one morning from Stan Maxwell , a drinking acquaintance who has woken up with a dead blonde in his bed, Paris is soon embroiled in a hardboiled murder mystery that involves blackmail, a high class bordello, cops, the mob and very nasty psycho killer.subtraction

Peters cleverly and deftly adds social commentary, pop culture references, smart dialogue and witty asides to an already potent cocktail.

Subtraction is one of the most enjoyable and original crime novels I’ve read all year. Fantastic stuff.

Mountains Of Smoke- Frank Duffy

Mountains Of Smoke, the debut novella from horror writer Frank Duffy, is the splendidly told story of a writer who has it all. Success, both financial and critical, a wonderful wife – herself a writer – and a young son.

The family move into to Rock Hill, an old dark house that looks like a castle and overlooks a river. And their happiness continues to blossom and bloom.But every dream home has its heartache, of course, and one day, as a bitter winter wanes, tragedy strikes and a creature surfaces from the depths of the long, black river.

Mountains Of Smoke is wonderfully written. It is strong on atmosphere and imagery and aches with the sadness and emptiness of loss. And the evil that fills that void

Hetman: Hard Kill – Alex Shaw

Alex Shaw packs a lot into this very well-written thriller short story. Strong on tension, atmosphere and characterization, and sprinkled with well-placed humour, Hard Kill is an impressive introduction to Shaw’s Aidan Snow series.

Last Stop, Dullsville – Walter Conley

Walter Conley’s terrific noir short story is strong on atmosphere and full of mystery. Dreamlike and reminiscent of David Lynch.

The Tie – Renato Bratkovic

The Tie is chilling noir short story with a Gothic horror feel. Full of atmosphere and a sense of dread.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

Craig Douglas, Pete Sortwell, recommended reads, T Fox Durnham, top tips, Zoe Sharp

THE STREET MARTYR COVER webThe Street Martyr by T. Fox Durnham

Over the years, America has given us an abundance of great urban poets, such as Johnny Thunders, Chester Himes, Tom Waits, George V. Higgins, Bruce Springsteen, Nelson Algren, Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes. Poets that simultaneously eulogise, celebrate and chastise the neon soaked and blood stained streets of America’s cities. Poets that embrace the highways and the alleyways. The bodies and the bullets. The sirens and the screams. The saints and the sinners. The lost and the lonely. The dispossessed. People like The Street Martyr’s Vincent – a battered and bruised small time criminal with a tarnished heart of gold.

With The Street Martyr, T. Fox Durnham has created visceral, vivid, lyrical, and heart wrenching tale of lost souls living life on a razor’s edge. A powerful and gripping tale which will haunt your dreams.

The Blood Whisperer by Zoe Sharp.

I’m a big fan of the ‘man on the run’ thriller – The 39 Steps, Rogue Male, North By Northwest even The Da Vinci Code. Zoe Sharp now gives the sub-genre a couple of well-aimed kicks in the cobblers with this fantastic, breathless and gritty thriller

The Blood Whisperer tells the story of Kelly Jacks, a former CSI and ex-con who is now working as a crime-scene cleaner. When she investigates an apparent suicide, Kelly is quickly forced to go on the run from the police, local gangsters and Russian killers. Non-stop action, great characters and twists-and-turns abound.Loved it.

Fire Mission by Craig Douglas

Authentic, well-written and full of great characters, Fire Mission by Craig Douglas is a hard-hitting, unflinching and uncensored soldier’s diary full of humour, anger and heart-in-mouth moments of tension. A gripping, gritty read.

Diary Of An Expectant Father by Pete Sortwell

Pete Sortwell’s Diary Of An Expectant Father is the story of Graham – a hapless and hopeless man at odds with his own life – as he attempts to come to terms with the reality of his girlfriend’s pregnancy. Down-to earth, touching, realistic, insightful and very, very funny.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

A D Garrett, Gerard Brennan, Nick Quantrill, Paul O Brien, recommended reads, Tony Black, top tips

the crooked beat 2Tony Black – The Lost Generation

Four sharp slices of life that underline Tony Black’s strong storytelling skills. The Lost Generation is the dreamlike tale of an ex-pat in Paris; Take It Outside is the raw story of an ex-con coping with life outside prison; First Day In The Job is an ‘angry young man’ story of kicking against the pricks and To Cool For School is a lowlife tragi-comedy. A handful of gems.

Gerard Brennan – Wee Danny

Gerard Brennan has followed up the splendid Brit grit novel Wee Rockets with a tough and tender coming-of-age novella that focuses on one of the aforementioned book’s most likeable characters. Wee Danny is a touching, very funny and realistic study of loyalty and friendship and I can’t wait for the next chapter in Danny’s life.

A D Garrett – Everyone Lies.

A.D. Garrett is the pseudonym for crime writer Margaret Murphy and forensics expert Professor David Barclay’s writing collaboration. This is their first novel and good stuff it is, too.

DCI Kate Simms and Professor Nick Fennimore have a history. They were both involved in a controversial failed investigation into the disappearance of Fennimore’s wife and daughter. Simms was subsequently pushed back down to the bottom of the career ladder and Fennimore retreated to the womb of work.

But Simms, on her way back up the ladder at last, needs Fennimore’s help with the case that involves a string everyone-lies-200pxof dead drug addicts. They are soon embroiled in gritty and hard hitting investigation of crime and corruption, vice and murder, which cuts through all strata of society.

Everyone Lies is a tense and engrossing mixture of social realism and fast-paced thriller which is sure to be the start of an interesting and very enjoyable series.

Nick Quantrill – The Crooked Beat

P I Joe Geraghty steps up to help out his brother who is in dire financial straits. However, Joe is soon under the radar of Hull’s underworld and subsequently digs up some of the city’s dark secrets. This is the third of Nick Quantrill’s Joe Geraghty novels and the best yet with perfect pacing and a great sense of place and history. Not a bum note in the whole book.

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green – Paul O’Brien.

Epic and intimate. Intense and involving. Paul O’Brien’s follow up to Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is even more streamlined and even faster moving than its cracking predecessor. Loose ends from the first book are tied up and new ones opened up. This is a major piece of crime fiction storytelling that breathlessly moves from character to character and backwards and forwards in time. It really would make a great TV series along the lines of Boardwalk Empire or The Sopranos and I can’t wait for part three.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads.

BRIT GRIT, Julie Morrigan, martin Stanley, recommended reads, top tips

tfcThe Final Countdown  – Sheila Quigley.

The final part of Sheila Quigley’s page turning Holy Island Trilogy is a knockout. This high-octane thriller is the third to feature DI Mike Yorke, a decent but bull-headed copper who, along with a psychic street-waif known as Smiler, is embroiled in a bizarre murder case that involves kidnapped kids, a drugs factory, and ‘the families’ – a sinister group that control the world. The story twists and turns like a corkscrew and races along at a breathless pace towards a dramatic conclusion but is also chock full of  the sort of down-to-earth characters, gritty realism and  humour that we’ve come to expect from Sheila Quigley – the Queen of Brit Grit.

Cutter’s Deal – Julie Morrigan.

Fifteen-year-old Jack and sixteen-year-old Livvy are good kids from a good family. Their dad has been made redundant and their mother has an accident which means that Livvy has to help her out with her cleaning job. One of the clients is Gordon Cutter, as nasty piece of work with ambitions of expanding his criminal empire. Unfortunately, Cutter takes a shine to Livvy which leads her and her family into very, very dark places. Morrigan cleverly switches POV from Cutter to Jack and then to Livvy contrasting the naivety of the teenagers with Cutter’s manipulative malevolence. Cutter’s Deal is simply a brilliant, heart-in-mouth slice of social-realist crime fiction. The real deal.

Bone Breakers – Martin Stanley.

Arrogant Teeside drug dealer Terry thinks he’s a big shot but he doesn’t realise that Mark Kandinsky and the Stanton brothers are out to rob him blind. Although, things don’t exactly  go to plan, of course. Bone Breakers is another fantastic slice of funny, fast-moving and hard-hitting crime fiction from Martin Stanley who cleverly uses multiple POVs in a way that is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and mixes humour with grit just as smartly.

Recommended Reads. June 2013

Chuck Tyrell, Col Bury, Darren Sant, David Cranmer, Eddie Vega, Edward A Grainger, John Llewellyn Probert, Nick Quantrill, noir nation, recommended reads, Richard Godwin, The Hardboiled Collective, Timothy Hallinan, Tony Black, top tips, WILLIAM MCILVANNEY

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.

Recommended Reads

Josh Stallings, recommended reads, top tips

all the wild childrenAll The Wild Children – Josh Stallings

The idea of `a noir memoir’ sounds like it could be a pretty grim affair but Josh Stallings‘ riveting All The Wild Children is far from that. Stallings is the author of two brilliantly paced hardboiled crime novels – Beautiful, Naked & Dead and Out There Bad – and he uses the same snare – drum tight storytelling approach as he documents the highs and lows of his truly fantastic life. Marvellous.

The Fix – Keith Nixon

Keith Nixon’s The Fix is the story of a painfully average man whose life spirals dangerously out of control when he is caught up in a cat-and-mouse game of double and treble cross. A cracking, fast-moving and very funny black comedy of errors.

Lotus Blue – AJ Savage.

A. J. Savage’s Lotus Blue is a hot and sweaty noir short story. Set in Thailand- ‘the losers’ paradise’ – Lotus Blue is a  heady, drug and booze fuelled delirium, laced with sex and violence. Intense.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

Craig Douglas, Jedidah Ayres, Les Edgerton, recommended reads, top tips

 The Rapist – Les Edgerton

The Rapist cleverly blends Camus and Jim Thompson in an existential crime novel that is as dark and intoxicating as strong Irish coffee.

Les Edgerton smartly pulls us into the corkscrew mind of Truman Ferris Pinter, a twisted man with skewed perception of the world, as his life spirals toward oblivion, like dirty dishwater down a plughole.

It reminded me of Jim Thompson’s classic Savage Night in its delirium, which can’t be bad.

A Scattering Of Ashes – Craig Douglas.

In A Scattering Of Ashes, Craig Douglas’ intense, debut  short-story collection,  we find sixteen hard-hitting tales of  well-drawn, realistic and  conflicted characters dealing with – or attempting to deal with – the stuff of life.

Life is loss, of course. Loss of hope. Innocence. Home. Family. Trust. Youth. Faith. And eventually life itself goes down the Swanee, which Douglas is clearly all too aware of.

Some of the collection’s most powerful stories:

Thunder On the Horizon– the tense tale of dystopian Britain on the verge of implosion.

Flesh and Blood – ‘Some of them would be dead by morning’ is the opening line of this hard-hitting story of soldiers in the heart of a war zone

Scargill’s Man– the aftermath of  living though civil war in Thatcher’s Britain.

The Incident At Wetzendorf Woods – an old man reflects on a harrowing wartime incident that continues to haunt him.

Homecoming – a traumatised soldier’s desperate attempts return to the dull thud of normality.

Douglas’ unflinchingly honest portraits and snapshots may not be for the delicate but this is a cracking collection.

Fierce Bitches – Jedidiah Ayres

Jedidiah Ayres Fierce Bitches is a fantastic, tense and remarkably well-written short, sharp shock of small town noir.

Small towns are dark and sinister places, of course. Claustrophobic and repressive, they are much more suited to noir than the bright lights of the big city with its limitless possibilities. Noir is for losers, after all.

So, welcome to Politoburg, a sweltering hell-hole – somewhere south of hell- where Ramon runs a dive of a cantina and a host of prostitutes, all called Maria, who service the criminal gringos that are dumped there by a big city gangster.

With echoes of Jim Thompson’s brilliant The Getaway, Fierce Bitches is just as smothering with its multiple POVs and desperate characters trying to escape the past. Or just escape.

A whip-crack of a read.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

Andrew Peters, BRIT GRIT, Christa Faust, Gary Dobbs, Lawrence Block, martin Stanley, Ray Banks, recommended reads, top tips, True Brit Grit

So, what have I been reading of late? Well, I’ll tell you…

wolf-ticketsWolf Tickets by Ray Banks

Things aren’t exactly tickety-boo for the aging hard man Cobb. He’s feeling his age, living in a dump of a flat, reduced to drinking gut-rot whiskey and shoplifting from charity shops.

Then he gets a phone call from an old army mate, Farrell, who has just been ripped off  – money and drugs-  by his girlfriend, Nora. He asks Cobb for help tracking Nora down and things soon spiral violently out of control.

Ray Bank’s gritty and funny slice of British lowlife is a smart study of the limits of friendship, full of twists and turns and brilliantly realistic and absurd dialogue.

The Gamblers by Martin Stanley

Kandisky is a loser. A deadbeat student who is addicted to porn and gambling. He also owes Priest, a gangster, a wad of money and is given a few days to get it together – or else.

Liam is a drug dealer who finds out his long-time friend Omar has been ripping him off, not realising that Omar has been working on getting an even bigger piece of Liam’s pie.

The Gamblers is a hard-core crime story, set in Bristol of all places, which captures the spirit of Ted Lewis and brings us BANG up to date with a  cleverly woven, hard-hitting,  multi – character story  of betrayal.

A Moment Of Wrong Thinking by Lawrence Block

A sharp, short story from Lawrence Block that has Matt Scudder going to dinner and hearing about a man who has shot himself in front of his family. This causes him to reflect on a similar case from his days as a policeman.  Perfectly pitched plot, dialogue and characterisation.

The Blues Detective by Andrew Peters

Otis King is a Welsh blues guitarist living in Memphis and working as a private detective. Otis regularly encounters a veritable cornucopia of colourful and lurid characters such as Louie the Falcon, Uncle Gryff, Suki Goodlay, Koko Brown, and meets gangsters, musicians, doughnut munching cops and a politician’s widow who moonlights as a topless wrestler known as The Masked Mistress.  He tracks down missing husbands, missing guitars, missing harmonicas, missing cats. And more.

These Runyonesque yarns and shaggy dog stories are all cracking fun, frequently hilarious and choc-full of laugh-out-loud lines.

Rhondda  Noir  and  Other Perversions  by Gary M. Dobbs

Gary Dobbs is a bloody talented and versatile writer of westerns, horror, police procedurals and even cozies. With this hard-hitting Welsh Grit short story collection he shows how adept he is at full-on, hard-boiled crime fiction.

Rhondda  Lovebite  – what happens after a  successful  post office robbery.

Loose Ends – a man in the wrong place at the wrong time during an afternoon drinking session.

The Man With The Sun in His Eyes – a hit-man flees a murder only to be followed by a mysterious black car.

Rhondda Noir- a security van robbery goes wrong when one of the gang needs to go for a slash.

The Death Match (Dead Man 13) by Christa Faust, Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin.

The latest adventure in Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin’s exciting  cliff-hanger horror /thriller serial, The Dead Man,  is another beaut.

The hero of the series is Matthew Cahill, an ordinary man who was buried alive after an avalanche and is miraculously brought back to life with a terrifying supernatural gift. He travels across America trying to find an answer to his miraculous rebirth and confronting the evil created by the mysterious Mr Dark.

As well as the creators, The Dead Man series has had some great stories from the likes of Harry Shannon and James Reasoner.

The inimitable Christa Faust takes the reins with The Death Match, as Cahill investigates the strange death of a dock worker and ends up involved in the murky world of underground female cage fighting.

Smashing two-fisted, hard-hitting, pulp action.

Cracking stuff !!!  Get stuck in there!

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

Michael Haskins, recommended reads, The Hardboiled Collective, Tony Black, top tips

Car Wash Blues by Michael Haskins.car wash blues

Journalist Mick Murphy takes his girlfriend’s car to a car wash and gets caught up in a bloody shoot-out. And then things really get out of hand as a couple of Mexican drug cartels descend on Murphy’s sedate Key West home intent on killing Murphy and his friends. Car Wash Blues is a breathlessly fast-paced crime story full of well-drawn characters and with  a strong sense of place.

Long Way Down by Tony Black

Gus Dury is back! In this short, sharp novelette the foul mouthed, booze sodden protagonist of four of Tony Black’s novels is hired by a mobster’s henchman to track down a blast from Gus’ past that has just been released from the slammer. Ex- IRA gangsters, lowlifes, dodgy pubs and familiar faces are all thrown into the mix in a hard hitting and very welcome return.

The Blues Detective Saves Christmas by Andrew Peters.

Otis King is a Welsh Blues Musician working as a private eye in Memphis. King is settling himself down for some Christmas inebriation when a femme fatale walks into his office and asks him to perform the unthinkable. The spirit of the Damon Runyon looms over this hilarious and curmudgeonly short story. LOL. PMSL, ROTFL as Mr Peters would no doubt say.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads at Brit Grit Alley

BRIT GRIT, brit grit alley, Out Of The Gutter, recommended reads, top tips

bRIT gRIT aLLEY‘Oi! Well, it’s coming up to that time of the year when people start wishing each other a Merry X- Men and Happy New Beer, or something or other. In Britain, at least, a time of binge drinking, domestic violence, increased heart disease, suicide, crap songs and crap telly. And, of course, lots of you will be wanting to part with your hard-earned dosh, and plunge deeper into debt, in some spurious and unappreciated gesture of affection, I’m sure.

So, in for a penny, in for a pound, why not make it a Brit Grit Christmas?

Here are some Brit Grit Top Tips: Recommended Reads to take the load off your wallet.’

Read the rest over at my latest  Brit Grit Alley column which is, as always, at Out Of The Gutter Online.

Recommended Reads

J J Toner, Jan Kozlowski, Mark West, Paul O Brien, Pearce Hansen, recommended reads, top tips

Die, You Bastard Die! – Jan Kozlowski

Claire is a tough, no-nonsense paramedic who is called back to her home town to take care of her injured father. The sordid skeletons come rattling out of the closet as Claire is forced to confront her abusive childhood. Can any book live up to a title as good as Die, You Bastard, Die!? Jan Kozlowski’s blisteringly violent  rush of grindhouse Gothic actually does. A corker!

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green by Paul O’ Brien

Lenny is a ‘mark’ A long time wrestling fan who wants ‘in’. Paul O’ Brian’s fantastic debut crime  novel opens with Lenny in a more than somewhat dazed and confused state after  being involved in a car accident.  The smartly woven story then moves backwards and forwards across the US and from the early ‘70s to the late ‘60s, and then back again, until it reaches a magnificent adrenaline pumping finale. Blood Turns Dollar Green has a rich cast of characters including a supposedly mute and South African giant, and a colourful cornucopia of gangsters and low – lifes. Brilliant.

What Gets Left Behind by Mark West

Mike returns to his home town  – the scene of a childhood tragedy – and picks at the sores of the past in Mark West’s marvellously written horror  novella. West moves the story  back to the ‘80s –when the town was being stalked by a serial killer –  and then hurls it forward as Mike attempts to confront his inner demons. Full of atmosphere and aching with a sense of nostalgia and missed opportunities, What Gets Left Behind is chilling and moving story of regret.

The Storm Giants by Pearce Hansen

Everett is a man with a dark and destructive history who is living a life that approaches normality – an artist wife, a young son, a house in the country. But then The Widow steps out of the past and forces Everett to return to his old, violent ways. Pearce Hansen is a splendid writer who has created a powerful,  strange and affective kind of urban fairy tale with oodles of hardboiled action and social commentary to boot.

Find Emily by J J Toner

D I Ben Jordan returns for a second hard-hitting outing in J J Toner’s cracking Find Emily. Jordan has handed in his notice but is called in to find a missing child, the daughter of a big shot Irish businesswoman and a former American football star . Jordan know that he has  maybe 24 hours to find the missing child and Toner breathlessly drags us along with him on his frantic search that includes encounters with the IRA, a sex traffic ring, corruption and much more. Find Emily is the sort of gritty, realistic crime thriller that would be topping the best seller lists, if there were any justice in the world.

Top Tips: Recommended Reads

Atlantis, Heath Lowrance, K A Laity, Kevin Lynn Helmick, London, Mark West, recommended reads, Richard Godwin, top tips

I’ve read a fair bit of  new stuff recently- and done quite a bit of re-reading too- so here are a handful of  some of the books that have tickled my fancy of late.

Bang Bang, You’re Dead by Nick Quantrill.

Nick Quantrill is best known for his slow burning, evenly paced P I novels – Broken Dreams and The Late Greats. BBYD however, is an in-your-face, Brit Grit novella that tells the story the story of Sam, who is fresh out of the slammer and trying to get his life back on an even keel. But those ties from the past still bind him. Hard hitting and involving, this shows a more visceral side to Quantrill’s writing which he carries off with aplomb.

The Spider Tribe by Heath Lowrance.

Hawthorn is back !  In The Spider Tribe, Heath Lowrance’s pulptastic creation confronts the Iktomi, an ancient, supernatural race that grow powerful when people are consumed by hate and fear. Since the white man is currently ripping up the Black Hills, they are in full force and only Hawthorn can stop them. The Spider Tribe is another vivid and fast paced horror/western novelette from the massively talented  Heath Lowrance.

The Mill by Mark West

Michael is a young widower who  communicates with the memory of his late wife in his recurring dreams. However, after attending a Bereaved Partners’ Group meeting, he discovers that there may be more to his dreams than he realizes. The Mill is a wonderfully written novelette that proves to be both chilling and moving, and stayed in my thoughts for a long time after reading it.

Driving Alone by Kevin Lynn Helmick

When roughneck Billy Keyoe jumps in his Cadillac to flee his small town blues, he encounters a girl named Feather at the crossroads and embarks on a journey into darkness and painful self-discovery in Kevin Lynn Helmick’s brilliantly lyrical and richly painted hybrid of cinematic noir and magic realism. Superb.

Chastity Flame by KA Laity.

K A Laity confidently grabs hold of  the Modesty Blaise template and ratchets its components  up to 11 with Chastity Flame. And what she gives us is  a highly addictive,  fast-moving, clever, sexy and funny globe-trotting,  spy romp. The first in what is sure to prove to be a massively enjoyable new series.

The Claddagh Icon by K A Laity.

K A Laity’s The Claddagh Icon is a classic hardboiled story of a chancer who gets in over his head when he meets a Galway femme fatale. A tightly written story that drags you along by your tie, belt and whatever else it can get its hands on. Also available in Italian.

The Secret Hour by Richard Godwin.

Richard Godwin’s The Secret Hour is a lyrical hybrid of noir,crime fiction and psychological drama worthy of Hitchcock. Godwin once again masterfully digs beneath the surface of London, and its inhabitants, to reveal the darkness that the dazzle of glamour hides. Also available in Italian.

So, get stuck into that little lot, eh?

Top Tips: Recommended Reads.

Blasted Heath, Damon Seaman, Ed Lynskey, Les Edgerton, NEW PULP PRESS, noir, noir nation, Patti Abbott, recommended reads, Snubnose Press, top tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(pic by Walter Conley)