Recommended Reads: Kolakowski, Javorsky, Miles, Young, Rhatigan, Woods

Fiona and Bill – the stars of Kolakowski’s cracking debut A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps – are  lovers on the lam  from New York gangsters The Rockaway Mob. Bill is hiding out in Havana and Fiona is taking a job in Nicuragura when they are tracked down. Mayhem and violence quickly ensue.

Like A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken SapsSlaughterhouse Blues is jam packed with high-octane action, gaudy characters, witty dialogue and enough sharp twists and turns to give you whiplash. Five hardboiled stars.

In Earl Javorsky‘s first Charlie Miner novel – Down Solo– the private eye discovered that he’d been killed but – for reasons unknown to him –  had come back to life. In Down To No Good, Charlie attempts to come to terms with this situation, as well as deal with the various other problems in his life.

Charlie also agrees to help Dave Putnam- his booze soaked Homicide Detective pal- investigate a flamboyant psychic who had helped the Los Angeles police in the past.

Down To No Good is a fast-moving and funny crime fiction thriller that is full of great characters and sharp satirical asides. The supernatural elements don’t detracting from this cracking yarn but give it a distinctive flavour all of it’s own.

If you enjoyed Down Solo then you’ll certainly love Down To No Good. Highly recommended.

Marietta Miles’ May takes place on Folly Island in the 1980s and in Shreveport, Louisiana  during the 1970s.  There’s a storm coming  to Folly Island and May Cosby is just hoping to survive it, and any other disaster that might befall her.

In the course of this tense and claustrophobic book we find out a lot about May and the people she encountered over the years.  As well as as moving backwards and forwards in time to tell May’s story, Miles also gives us a look at the POVs of a couple of the book’s supporting cast; the hapless Tommy and  the vicious John Karl Jr. And we see how they impact on May’s life.

Marietta Miles once again proves herself to be one of the best noir writers working today.  May is a brutal, brittle and brilliant gem.

It’s 1975 and a teenage girl’s mutilated corpse is found near the Berlin Wall. Oberleutnant Karin Müller of The People’s Police is told that she has to work alongisde The Stasi to find out the dead gir’s identity.

David Young’s Stasi Child kicked off his hugely successful series of crime thriller books and it’s easy to see why the books have been so popular. Stasi Child is a hugely enjoyable blend of police procedural, cold war thriller and high octane action. A whip-crack of a read.

Lionel Kaspar quits his safe-but-dull health department job and bullshits his way into a journalist’s position at a local newspaper.  However, Kaspar soon realises that it’s much easier – and more profitable- to just make up stories rather than do any actual reporting.

Chris Rhatigan’s Squeeze is just great. Lionel Kaspar is one of the sleaziest and most amoral fictional creations of recent times and easily one of of the most enjoyable. Imagine Melville’s Bartleby crossed with Henry Chinaski and Tom Ripley and you’re halfway there.

Squeeze is smart, askew,  laugh out loud funny, and, of course, not for those of a delicate sensibility.

Five stars.

Bill Derringer is an Iraq war veteran who is having trouble making ends meet. When he and his wife Edie take their two kids to visit Edie’s Aunt Ida, she turns out to be a lot more than Bill had bargained for and things soon spiral wildly out of control.

Jonathan Woods’ ‘Kiss The Devil Goodnight‘ is a lethal cocktail of pulp fiction and Beat poetry. It’s vibrant, violent and vivid. Lyrical and and lurid. Fast moving and funny. ‘Kiss The Devil Goodnight’ is chock-full of great lines and powerful imagery, and is certainly not for those of a delicate sensibility. I loved it.

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