Sunday, 22 October 2017



How far would you go if someone took your wife? Especially, if you buried her a week ago. When Jason Wells is faced with this scenario, he is confronted with the prospect of committing a crime that will have far-reaching consequences. Can young DC Sally Poynter get through to him before he crosses that line, or does a desperate husband prove to be the case she won’t ever forget? A prequel novella, set before Shallow Waters, the first in the DI Hannah Robbins series. For fans of James Patterson's Book Shots

A first time for me with Rebecca Bradley and yet another free offering via insta-freebie and a sign up to the author’s news feed.

We have Jason Wells, freshly widowed and blackmailed into a crime against his employers in order to have the remains of his wife returned to her graveside. 10/10 for imagination, I’ve not encountered grave robbing since I read about Burke and Hare at school.  Wells works for a company that has developed some fancy, all singing and all dancing software that will help the banking industry. The thieves want a copy and therefore a passport to untold riches.

Wells has been arrested exiting his workplace after stealing the software. The police are dealing with him sympathetically, aware of his recent loss and the horror of having his wife’s grave defiled and her body stolen. A team is being assembled to work with Jason to snare the blackmailers and secure the return of his wife, while importantly retaining the integrity of the banking software.

DC Sally Poynter, new to the team is our main focus from a police perspective. Sally is capable and with her easy people skills, forms a connection with Jason during his interview. The lead detective, Hannah Robbins assigns Sally the role of liaison with Jason. So far so good.

Despite her qualities and attributes, Poynter still has a vulnerability about her. She’s the new kid on the block and is aware of that. She needs to find her feet in a new working environment where everyone seems to know their roles. This situation is exacerbated by the presence of police dinosaur, DC Gordon Slater. Slater’s a bully and misogynist and does his very best to undermine Sally at every opportunity – sly digs and snarky comments usually out of earshot of the boss. Slater’s a nasty individual. Supportive colleagues bolster her shaky confidence but the situation with Slater is a boil which needs lancing.

I really liked this one. Bradley has crafted a decent tale. There’s an interesting crime to be solved and there’s a lot of workplace tension which adds to the drama. We see the human side of police work and a bit of Sally Poynter’s home life as well.

I was a bit unconvinced on the final denouement. I wasn’t quite sold on the culprit revealing himself when he did and how he expected to get away with his final crime, but other than that minor niggle it was a decent outing.

4 from 5

Rebecca Bradley has her website here. Facebook page here. She's on Twitter - @RebeccaJBradley
Before the writer’s life she was a serving police detective with over 20 years’ experience in the job.

Three Weeks Dead is an introduction to her series lead DI Hannah Robbins who features in the subsequent novels – Shallow Waters and Made to be Broken.

Read in October, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 144
Source - author (via insta-freebie)
Format - Kindle

Friday, 20 October 2017



The trick is to save one without becoming one

Young lawyer Sam Williams is riding high. He's got a job he loves, a girl he wants, and the brain to win out every time.

But Sam's about to find out that he's got enemies, too. And figuring out which one wants to hurt him most isn't as easy as it seems.

Victims introduces Sam Williams, hero of international bestseller The Art of Staying Dead and the upcoming thriller Dead North, ten years younger than we last saw him, and a lot less wise.

Please note that Victims is a novella, not a full length novel. Also included are the first two chapters of The Art of Staying Dead.

Praise for The Art of Staying Dead, the first full-length Sam Williams novel

"A great thriller with a strong plot, original and intelligent, with great characters, flawed, likeable, detestable, human, with some nice chewy thematic elements...taut, lean and witty prose... The Art of Staying Dead is a 5 star treat." - John Bowen, International Bestselling Author of "Where the Dead Walk", "Vessel" and "Death Stalks Kettle Street"

"Fans of fast-paced thrillers will love this book. There is certainly one twist towards the end which literally made my jaw drop open" - Sarah Hardy, By The Letter Book Reviews

Another new-to-me author, another Freebie, another enjoyable short read, and another click on the scoreboard.

Victims introduces us to Sam Williams a young lawyer. Williams is out for a few drinks with works colleagues, waiting on his new girlfriend to arrive. Before he knows it a hush descends on the pub, some lads have arrived, and one of whom puts a blade to Sam’s throat and issues him a clear warning – “Sam Williams. You don’t want to get involved.”

We spend most of the rest of the book, assuming we know what the warning is about. His girlfriend, Mel’s abusive ex-partner doesn’t want to let go and isn’t afraid to use a bit of threatening behaviour to ram home the message. That may not be the truth of the matter.

I really liked the narrative style of the piece. Williams is an engaging character. We spend a bit of time with him in his working environment and witness the jostling for position and the rivalries that exist among the junior lawyers. Each keen to catch the eye of the boss and scale another rung on the career ladder.  We see Sam’s decency and shaky bravery as he gets pro-active in helping Mel finally free herself from the vindictive ex. Sam’s more a cerebral guy than a physical presence.

Interesting, enjoyable, pacey with a decent pay-off.

The download includes a couple of chapters from the full length Williams novel – The Art of Staying Dead. Enjoyable as well, and another one on to the wish list. I need more books like a hole in the head, but hey.
4 from 5

Joel Hames has a few novels to his name – The Art of Staying Dead, Bankers Town and another shortish one Brexecution.

The author’s website is here. His Facebook page is here. He's on Twitter@joel_hames

Read in October, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 77
Source - author - a freebie copy after signing up to author's news feed
Format - Kindle

Thursday, 19 October 2017


A pretty good month's reading with 12 titles of varying lengths devoured in the month.

One stand-out 5 STAR read and my Pick of the Month was ZERO AVENUE from Dietrich Kalteis.

All 12 were enjoyed, and the full list is.....

Graham Smith - Watching the Bodies (2017) (4)

Graham Smith - The Kindred Killers (2017) (4.5)

Mark Dawson - 1000 Yards (2013) (4)

J. R. Lindermuth - Shares the Darkness (2016) (4)

Michael Pool (ed.) - Fast Women and Neon Lights (2016) (4.5)

Emma Viskic - Resurrection Bay (2015) (4.5)

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice (2017) (4)

Eddy Cook - Faces, Places and Pain (2016) (4.5)

Martin Holmen - Down for the Count (2017) (4.5)

Paul D. Brazill - Big City Blues (2017) (3)

Paul D. Brazill - A Case of Noir (2014) (4.5)

Dietrich Kalteis - Zero Avenue (2017) (5)

With the one 5 STAR read from Kalteis, there were half a dozen that were enjoyed fractionally less - with 4.5 STARS awarded....

Graham Smith's second Jake Boulder novel, The Kindred Killers, Paul D. Brazill's classy collection A Case of Noir, Emma Viskic's multi-award winning Resurrection Bay, the Michael Pool edited 80s themed short story collection - Fast Women and Neon Lights, Martin Holmen's second Harry Kvist novel - Down For the Count and Eddy Cook's Faces, Places and Pain - a short collection of autobiographical essays.

There were 4 x 4 STAR reads - Phil Stanford's tales of a corrupt Portland in the 60s and 70s - Rose City Vice, Graham Smith again with the first Boulder book - Watching the Bodies, one from J. R. Lindermuth's Sticks Hetrick series - Shares the Darkness, and a Mark Dawson John Milton novella - 1000 Yards

And 1 - 3 STAR read, a slight disappointment, but still plenty to like - Big City Blues from Hartlepool's premier wordsmith Paul D. Brazill

More awaits me on the TBR pile from Eddy Cook, Paul D. Brazill, Emma Viskic, Dietrich Kalteis, Michael Pool, Graham Smith and Mark Dawson.

More useless trivia......

12 reads - 9 different authors, plus an anthology of short stories

6 of the 9 were new-to-me authors....... Graham Smith, Emma Viskic, J. R. Lindermuth, Eddy Cook, Mark Dawson and Phil Stanford

Dietrich Kalteis, Paul D. Brazill and Martin Holmen have been read and enjoyed before.

From the short story collection there were contributions from some familiar faces for me....Kalteis, Eryk Pruitt, Preston Lang, Sarah M. Chen and others, as well as an introduction to some newbies including the editor Michael Pool himself

Gender analysis - 8 male authors, 1 female....... a continuing pattern of unhealthy gender bias in my reading. The anthology of shorts was probably a 12 vs 6 split between genders, male dominated.

I believe of the 9 authors I read, 1 is Canadian, 1 is Australian, 1 is Swedish, 1 hails from Scotland, 2 are English, and 3 hail from the US.

10 of the 12 were fiction reads - 7 novels and 1 novellas, 1 collection of linked short stories and an anthology of the same.

2 were non-fiction - Phil Stanford's Rose City Vice and Eddy Cook's Faces, Places and Pain.

No old stuff enjoyed - all 12 were published this decade -  6 from this year, 3 from 2016 and 1 from each of 2013, 2014 and 2015.

3 of the 12 books were pre-owned/purchased, though in a couple of cases I think I received another copy of one from the publisher and one from the author.
4 of the 12 came via the publisher, 1 of which I had also accessed via Net Galley.
I received 3 of them courtesy of the author, 1 of which was a giveaway when signing up to his website newsletter.
1 book came via Edelweiss - Above the Treeline early reviewers site and the short story copy anthology was kindly provided by the editor.

Favourite cover? Martin Holmen's Down For the Count

Second favourite - Phil Stanford's Rose City Vice

My reads were this long - 322 - 318 - 118 - 226 - 222 - 272 - 104 - 30 - 304 - 97 - 134 - 232

Total page count =  2379 (1249 in August).......over 1100 pages up on the previous month.

8 were Kindle reads, 3 were paperbacks, 1 was a PDF

1 < 50,
1 between 51 < 100,
3 between 101 < 200,
4 between 201 < 300,
3 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Graham Smith's Watching the Bodies was the longest read at 322 pages.

Eddy Cook's Faces, Places and Pain - the shortest at just 30 pages.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017



In snow smothered Warsaw, Luke Case, a boozy English hack with a dark secret, starts a dangerous affair with a gangster’s wife.

Case escapes to the sweltering Spanish heat where he meets a colourful cast of characters, including a mysterious torch singer and a former East End villain with a criminal business proposition.

In stormy Toulouse, he encounters a blast from the past that is positively seismic which forces him to return to England and confront his past.

A Case of Noir is a strong shot of international noir from Paul D. Brazill.

My second encounter with author Paul D. Brazill in the month of September and a slightly more agreeable reading experience for me this time around.

A Case of Noir collects five previously published Luke Case stories; Red Esperanto, Death on a Hot Afternoon, The Kelly Affair, The Big Rain and One of Those Days in England.

In Red Esperanto, our man is in Warsaw – drinking – a lot of drinking and spending a bit of time with some ladies – the wrong ladies and there’s a consequence. Our player gets played and gets to sample Polish hospital food.

Death on a Hot Afternoon – Wintery Warsaw was too hot for Luke, so he’s now decamped to 42 degree Madrid and earning a few quid as a journalist. Flat sharing with Nathan Jones, another man with secrets, trying to escape from his past. The problem is you can never run far enough or fast enough.

The Kelly Affair – From Madrid to Granada. We discover a bit more about Luke’s past and why he’s on the lam, and we run into an old friend from Madrid, before receiving a warning.

The Big Rain – Toulouse and still working as a journalist, encountering a friend (?) from the Warsaw days while Lena, our patricide-killer from Madrid is still on the scene. Chickens come home to roost, as events from the past eventually catch up with us and Father Joseph Black, the man we double-crossed and left face down in the dirt, enters stage left. A friend to the rescue - Pedro, but at a price.  

One of Those Days in England – Cambridge – to settle a debt, there’s a writer needs killing. Mission accomplished and the new passport and ID as promised.

‘The names a bit weird, isn’t it? I’m not too happy about being named after a South American country. There are sure to be jokes about coffee and nuts.’ 
Pedro shrugged. ‘Take it or leave it.’ 
‘Oh, I’ll take it. What’s my occupation supposed to be.’
‘An English teacher. EFL. Like your old friend Sean Bradley.’ 
‘Ha! EFL teaching. The underachiever’s paradise. Suits me. Where is my first job?’ ……..
‘Poland? Well, at least it’s not Warsaw,’ I said. 'The city’s name sounds like a winning round at Scrabble.’ …….

‘What the hell’ I thought. I had a new name, a new life and a brown envelope full of money. What could possibly go wrong? I sipped my drink and at last let a warm sea of expectation enfold me entirely.

A fantastic set, enjoyable enough on their own but collectively the sum is much greater than the individual parts. A road trip around Europe, a beating, a death, drinks and drugs, hitting on more bars and broads than is sensible, and a hit, culminating in a slightly improbable outcome.

I mean a deviant,booze-soaked, sex-mad, criminal type working as an  English Foreign Language teacher in Poland? I just don't buy it!

4.5 from 5

I bought an earlier incarnation of the collection previously as well as having ponied up for the individual installments when they were released as stand-alones, maybe 5 years ago. I received an ARC of the current fancy new edition from Near to the Knuckle courtesy of the author.

Mr Brazill has featured on the blog before, more than once.…. Kill Me Quick, The Last Laugh13 Shots of NoirGuns of Brixton and Big City Blues

His website is here.
He has a Facebook presence here and here and is on Twitter@PaulDBrazill

Read in September, 2017
Published - 2014 (new edition 2017)
Page count - 134
Source - pre-owned (plus review copy from author)
Format - Kindle

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


A couple more from the digital stacks on the Kindle this week with 2 from Mike Miner.

I bought one in 2014 and the other one of these in 2015 and kind of forgot about them afterwards. (Note to self, trying reading some of the previously stock-piled books instead of focussing on new stuff all the time!) 

I can’t find an author website but he does have a Twitter profile, which is used infrequently - @skyeminer

Both Prodigal Sons and The Immortal Game came out in 2014 in addition to Everything She Knows. His latest, Hurt Hawks dropped in 2015.

In addition, some of his short stories have appeared in a few anthologies – ThugLit, Protectors and Pulp Ink.

Anyone compared to Elmore Leonard or Charles Willeford need checking out in my opinion!

Prodigal Sons (2014)

Matthew Flanagan is living the American dream. A plum job at an ad agency. A hot wife. A beautiful home in Southern California. But something is eating him up inside and a nasty drinking habit is about to cost him everything. After his life finally collapses around him, Matthew disappears to Vegas with a girl he barely knows. When word reaches the Flanagan clan back in Connecticut, Matthew's brothers Mark and Luke are sent on a mission to find their brother and bring him home. It's a longer and darker journey than either of them planned on. At turns funny and moving, Prodigal Sons is a hard-boiled American odyssey. A family saga with the heart of a crime novel.

"The work of an extravagantly talented writer, Prodigal Sons is one of the best debut novels I have ever read.” --Sterling Watson, author of Suitcase City, Fighting in the Shade, and Sweet Dream Baby.

"Miner’s wicked electric chair humor calls to mind the best of Elmore Leonard and Charles Willeford." -- Patrick Michael Finn, author of From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet and A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich.

The Immortal Game (2014)

When mobster Richard "Red" Scarlotti's son goes missing, Dylan Thomas Lonagan, a private detective with truckloads of baggage, is hired to find him, and lands himself in the middle of a mob war. As two crime families try to settle old scores, Lonagan is forced to ally himself with Red's hitman brother, Whitey, a hard nut with a soft side and a secret of his own. Together, Lonagan and Whitey make a dangerous, desperate team. Searching to find the missing boy, they dodge bullets from cold-blooded assassins and daggers from the women they love, only to discover that, sometimes, the two are one in the same.

In the end, these dirty saints will learn that the road to Heaven is paved with bloody hands and bad intentions.



Dawson has seen miscarriages of justice before—firsthand, and it cost him his family—so when Kristine Seleski tells him about the man who brutally beat and raped her daughter, Amy, and how the district attorney’s office suddenly refused to prosecute the case, Dawson doesn’t hesitate to help. 

But, while trying to track down Amy’s assailant, what Dawson discovers makes his blood run cold. Refusing to accept the compromises the legal system is willing to settle for, Dawson sets in motion his own plan for justice, one that will be bloody and violent…and absolute.

Another short read from David DeLee after enjoying his Cop Shot a few years ago.

40 pages long and also including the opening chapter to his full length novel Fatal Destiny, which features his bounty hunter Grace deHaviland.

Whose Greater Good is a tale of a vigilantism. A girl was attacked and viciously raped. The cops secured the evidence and the case was a slam-dunk shoe-in, at which point the powers that be had it dropped. The girl’s mother is livid and wants justice, in whatever form she can get it.

Cue hiring Dawson. We don’t get to know too much about him, other than the word “enigma.” He gets the case file from the Assistant DA and the cop whose case it was.  Our rapist is wanted as a witness to drop the dime on a bigger fish that the Feds want to fry and is in witness protection.

Dawson goes on the hunt.

Best story enjoy? No.

Amazing dialogue and jaw-dropping prose? No, but enough to entertain and satisfy for an hour’s reading. I was keen to see how it all worked out and I wasn’t at any point wanting to be reading anything else.

Short and sharp – job done. And enough to have me contemplating reading something longer by the author at some point. The intro to Fatal Destiny wasn't bad, so I'll maybe make the leap with that one.

3.5 from 5

Thought on Cop Shot, read back in 2014 are here.

David DeLee has his website here.
He's on Twitter@Daviddelee

Read in October, 2017
Published – 2012
Page count – 40
Source – FREE via InstaFreebie
Format - Kindle

Sunday, 15 October 2017


Martin Holmen, Swedish author of the Harry Kvist trilogy - Clinch, Down For the Count and the yet-to-be published Slugger answers a few questions for me.

Down For the Count featured on the blog yesterday - link here.

Clinch was enjoyed a year ago - thoughts here.

This is the second time Martin has graced the blog with his presence having previously submitted to a bit of gentle questioning, last September.


Martin's books are published by Pushkin Vertigo, thanks are in order to Tabitha Pelly for setting this up for me.

I've just read the second Harry Kvist book and I'm assuming the third
in the trilogy, SLUGGER is done and dusted. Without any spoilers, is
Harry's tale at an end or can we but hope for a fourth?

This is the wild finish and me and Harry are going out guns blazing.

I was quite saddened by the ending of DOWN FOR THE COUNT, were you
ever tempted to offer a different outcome? (I'm trying to skirt around
giving too much away.)

There are basically two true noir endings and I think this is the happy one.

Did you have to do a lot more research for the second and third books,
or had your efforts with CLINCH, given you sufficient background and
detail to provide a realistic portrait of Sweden in the early 30s?

Not as much no, but you still have to put in a lot of hours.

Do you have a favourite out of the Kvist books? Which and why? Is
there one you would try and press upon a new reader more than the

I really do like the first one, since it was my debut but people seems to like the second one better, and from what I can tell, the third one even more. But that's me, always doing it the other way around.

What's the next writing project on the horizon? How is it going?

Doing something contemporary now. Sort of an Thelma & Louise road trip novel. It is going to something completely different, for me, and the readers.

The last five books you've read?

My new year’s promise was to read nothing but female writers so that is what I'm doing. Mostly Swedish ones.

Last film you watched that rocked you?

Manchester by the Sea. Great script, excellent acting.

Any must watch TV in the Holmen household?

Don't have a TV but I tend to watch stuff with some sort of a historical angle, anything from Taboo to Peaky Blinders. Gonna watch The Deuce tonight.

If I check back in a couple of year's time what are your hopes for the writing?

I want to write a bestseller so I can pursue some of my other childhood dreams, like being a truck driver, run away with a circus or becoming a stuntman. I'm far from done.

My thanks to Martin Holmen for his time.