The charity anthology is edited by Betsy Reavley and the full cast list is as follows:
Dark Minds Charity Anthology by Bloodhound Books
1. Ten Green Bottles — B A Morton
2. London’s Crawling — Emma Pullar
3. The Shoes Maketh The Man — Louise Jensen
4. Never tell a Lie — Tara Lyons
5. A Christmas Killing — Richard T Burke
6. By the Water — Betsy Reavley
7. A Cup Of Cold Coffee And A Slice Of Life — Tony R. Cox
8. Slow Roast Pork — S.E.Lynes
9. A Lawful Killing — Ross Greenwood
10. Sticky Fingers — JT Lawrence
11. You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger — Ron Nicholson
12. The Wages Of Sin — Lisa Hall
13. Hidden — KA Richardson
14. The Sydney Dahlia — A.J.Sendall
15. Pop Dead – The Pension Papers — Pete Adams
16. The Sins of Muriel McGarry — A.S.King
17. The Shepherd’s Bothy — L J Ross
18. Life After Life — Paul D Brazil
19. The Smallest Acorn — April Taylor
20. An Onion — Joel Hames
21. I’ve Gone — Anita Waller
22. The Bridge — Simon Maltman
23. The Moth In The Jar — Jim Ody
24. Jimmy Jimmy — Steven Dunne
25. Be Careful What You Wish For — Peter Best
26. My Own Eggsecutioner — Tess Makovesky
27. One Last Job — Alex Walters
28. A Stranger’s Eyes — Paul Gitsham
29. Dangerous Actions — M.A.Comley
30. Captive — Stephen Edger
31. Left Behind — Nick Jackson
32. Horror — Roz White
33. Mary and Joseph — David Evans
34. Love You To Death — Lucy V Hay
35. Fastball — Alex Shaw
36. The Retreat — Jane E. James
37. Out of Retirement — Mark L. Fowler
38. Don’t go to Marsh Town, Johnny Ray! — Charlie Flowers & Hannah Haq
39. Everything Comes — B.A. Steadman
The sirens wail in the distance and a buzzing street light flickers as I run into the darkened alley, the black rucksack with the broken strap bouncing against my dodgy back. They’ll never catch me, though. They never do but I’m getting too old for this cobblers, for sure. Almost fifty and still on the friggin’ run. My chest feels like it’s going to explode. My legs about to buckle under me. I’m sweating buckets, gasping for breath. I pause to puke. Start running again.
I’m back at my mother’s pock-marked terraced house within twenty minutes. The lights are already on.
I open the front door, pull off the balaclava and walk upstairs, still wheezing.
“A nice shower will sort you out, pet,” shouts my mother from the living room. “And a cuppa with a snifter.”
I go into the bedroom and drop the rucksack on the bed. Open it to check that the money’s still there. Flick the dirty notes. Take off my blood-stained clothes and walk into the bathroom. A short, sharp shower.
When I get out, I hear my mam singing along to The Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ and getting the words wrong, as usual. Feel comforted.
I pull a suitcase from under the bed and stuff the rucksack into it. Put some clothes over the top.
I get dressed. Black suit and tie. Crisp white shirt. Diamond shaped cuff-links. Shoes shiny enough to see your face in. The full clobber. I slap the after shave on, Henry Cooper style. Pick up the suitcase and walk downstairs.
“Only Captain Morgan left,” says mam, as she hands me the mug of tea that is generously laced with rum.
“Should still do the trick,” I say.
I knock it back in one. Feel a glow, like one of the kids in the old porridge advert.
Mam’s dolled herself up in her new black dress. Earrings. Necklace, the lot. She finishes her drink. Puts on her coat and hat. Picks up her new handbag.
“Best get going. The stink of that petrol’s playing havoc with my chest,” she says.
“Want to do the biz?” I say.
“No, you best do it. You know I can’t get the hang of them Zippo things. Not with my rheumatism.”
“See you in the car, then,” I say.
She picks up a small bag and heads out the door.
I fish in my jacket pocket for the Zippo. Set the corner of one of the cushions alight and pick up my suitcase. Walk outside as the living room starts to burn.
Mam has already started the hearse’s engine. I get in the passenger seat.
“Just like the old days,” she says. “Just the three of us.”
I put the suitcase on top of dad’s coffin. Mam stalls and then starts the car. I close my eyes.
PDB: Can you pitch your latest book in 25 words or less?
JASON: 22 shorts, novelettes, and a novella, featuring violence, rotten goings-on, smart-arses, dumbos, and a dodgy inn-keeper, all with dirty hands and stress-addled minds.
PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows do you wish you had written?
JASON: I wish I’d written Ellroy’s American Tabloid, Iain Banks’ The Crow Road, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, and Ray Banks’ Matador. I’d beam with pride if I’d come up with Faith No More’s Angel Dust, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Radiohead’s The Bends, and Super Furry Animals’ Fuzzy Logic. I’m sure there’s been good music since.
PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?
JASON: Ray Banks’ Matador would make a brilliant film. I think I’d sweat and squirm as much as I did watching Breaking Bad. Ryan Bracha’s After Call Work: Verbal Warning would make a great Happy Valley-style TV series.
PDB: Who are the great British writers?
JASON: Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Iain Banks – but I’m struggling here because I read far more American authors than Brits.
PDB: What’s the ex-pat life like for you?
JASON: I love it in the United States. There’s nothing like being able to go for a wander round New York or Philadelphia whenever you fancy it, though I wish they had better boozers outside of the big cities. The idea of jolly Americans and cynical Brits doesn’t ring true, though. There are a lot of very cynical people over here, and it seems a lot stronger than back home. However, they’ll invite you into their homes at the drop of a hat. We met a couple in Vermont once who we hit it off with. Ended up in the shed in their back garden that very night, which they’d converted into a bar. Had a great time. Just don’t bring up politics.
PDB: What’s on the cards?
JASON: I’m working on the next novel, City of Dens, which I hope to have ready by next summer.
PDB: Anything else?
JASON: I’ve recently released my novel, Moorlands, which spiked and sold a ton in the last few weeks, and I’m hoping Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 gets a few more readers.
I’ve just read Ed Chatterton’s Remission, which is great. I’m looking forward to The German Messenger by David Malcolm and Chastity Flame by K.A. Laity.
Bio: Jason Beech grew up around the flattened bricks of post-industrial Sheffield in the UK. He now lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter. His novel, Moorlands, and the Bullets collections are available on Amazon now.
Publishing really is in a state of flux, with the rise and rise of Amazon and it still seems many publishers do not know what they are doing and behave with a lack of the kind of professionalism and regard for Artists that you would expect given the fact that without the author without the novelist there would be no publisher, a fact that seems all to easily to have been forgotten.
I have had four novels already published this year, Savage Highway, The Pure And The Hated, Ersatz World, and Disembodied. This September sees the translation of my novel Apostle Rising into Slovenian, now that seems postponed, and the coming months are going to be busy. One interesting event, or two rather, have been the demise and behaviour of two Italian publishers, Lite Editions an imprint of Atlantis, and MeMe. I received notification from Lite that they are shutting down, no explanation, and then I had to email them repeatedly to get the right letter and payment from them. As a result I have the full rights back to my erotica Noir Novel, Noir City, which I have extensively re-written and which is available here and here.
This is a synopsis:
Dangerous, blonde Gigolo, Paris Tongue, uses his looks to seduce beautiful and wealthy women and introduce them to the Secret Hour, that hidden time when they can escape their lives. Using his inheritance to travel, he penetrates the erotic essence of different cities, from London, to Paris, Rome, Madrid and Dusseldorf. But his sexual escapades begin to catch up with him. When he sleeps with the wife of a Mafia Boss he is hunted across Europe by hit men. He manages to evade his assassins, until they find him in Spain. But by then he has understood the deeper philosophy of Eros at the villa owned by the illegitimate granddaughter of Georges Bataille, and he sees them off. He is, after all, the bastard child of a killer, who knows how to survive. In Germany he meets Anja from Croatia, the first woman he wants to settle down with.
MeMe contacted me to say they are selling the company and I waited for six months to receive further news, none came. So I got my rights back to Confessions Of A Hit Man..
Once again a synopsis:
Confessions of a Hit Man is a high octane thriller with a plot that adds velocity like a well-oiled chicane. When ex-Royal Marine Jack becomes a paid assassin, work comes easily, especially when working for the Sicilian Mafia, until he gets drawn into a government plot selling enriched plutonium to a rogue Nation.
My new novel Buffalo And Sour Mash is now out fromDown & Out Books, and you can buy it here and here. It is a crime novel about distorted love. A Western. A lyrical slice of the prairie, a frontier narrative. A noir novel about obsession and revenge, desire and predation. A look at one man’s grip on insanity and a story about female beauty and showmanship.
‘It was those wild eyes that did it to them every time. Every look as intense as a cobra stare, as if he was looking through the spider webbed surface of a broken window.’
I am on the BBC talking about it soon. My novel Locked In Cages is to be published this December.
Here are a few words on it: The therapist was paid to take their nightmares away, their abductor is putting them back in.
That’s nine, not bad for a year, and next year looks like it will be eight, including the long -awaited release of the sequel to Apostle Rising.
‘It was windy, it was cold and it was pissing down with rain. Craig Spark and Carl ‘Robbo’ Robinson sat illuminated by a flickering streetlamp on a graffiti-stained park bench sharing a litre bottle of White Lightning cider. A church bell chimed midnight and a cat screeched. A siren wailed in the distance.
‘They say you used to be able to hire a contract killer there in the fifties,’ said Sparky, shivering.’
The rich plot is full of sharp twists and turns and the characters are all realistic and sympathetic. The many music references are smartly used and the ending is both brutal and sad. Highly recommended.
RW: Well, I’ve written a screenplay adaption for Fat Man Blues, which is being considered by the agent of an A-list Hollywood actor, so there’s that… I’m also currently writing the sequel to Fat Man Blues, the working title is ‘Alabama Charlie.’
PDB: Anything else?
RW: I’ve had an idea for a collection of short stories based around a used-car lot in the boondocks of Texas.
Bio: I was born in England in 1962, and grew up in a small market town in rural Herefordshire before joining the Royal Navy. After 22 years in the submarine service and having travelled extensively, I now live in Worcestershire, where I work as a freelance Technical Author.
I’ve had a keen interest in writing since childhood, and I’ve had poems published in magazines and newspapers and have appeared several times at Ledbury Poetry Festival.
My first stab at prose writing produced the short story, “Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner”
I WAS GOING to tell you about why I killed Lewis Quad and how he’d had it coming to him. How he’d asked for it and deserved everything he got. Tell you what an evil bastard he was and how many lives he’d destroyed over the years. All the shitty little things he’d done just because he could. Justify my actions, and the like. But then I realised that, well, if you knew Lewis Quad you’d know all of that anyway and if you didn’t know Lewis there was no way in heaven, hell or purgatory that I was ever going to be able to explain the whole thing to you. So I thought I’d just tell you what happened next.
I wasn’t even close to Cyrus White’s farm when I realised I was running low on fuel. The last few hours had been a blur. I’d been so wrapped up in replaying the events of the last few days I’d been smothered by them, truth be told.
As I drove through the night, the streetlamps were yellow streaks across the pallet of darkness. I’d been listening to a phone-in talk show about ghosts, hauntings and such, and though I’d never been superstitious, I sure was glad when the dawn eventually broke on through.
I saw a sign for a gas station off of a side road and turned off the radio so that I could concentrate. I followed the directions until I reached a small disused general store with a dusty, rusted gas pump in front and a battered old station wagon parked beside it. I parked my Dodge, lay my head on the steering wheel and groaned.
After a moment or so, I switched on the radio to wake myself up but it was as dead as the corpse in my trunk. I lay back in the seat and pulled out a quarter bottle of Wild Turkey. Sipped. As I watched the sun rise like a gold doubloon, I started to relax.
Then I heard the bang.
She was old, in her eighties or something like that, carrying a sawn-off shotgun and wearing a ragged green-velvet ball gown. She staggered out of the store, tripping over her high heeled shoes and pulling a red beehive wig from her head as she raced toward the station wagon. I guessed she didn’t notice me at first because she threw the gun into the car and crawled in after it. She started up the station wagon with a struggle and reversed. Right into my car.
The sunny morning had hardened into a granite gray day and the non-stop drizzle failed to wash away the pain in my head. It wasn’t the impact of the cars so much or even the hangover that was kicking in. It was Mathilda and the way she talked. And how much she talked.
I pulled up outside White’s farmhouse just as Mathilda was telling some long and winding anecdote about unpaid alimony, jailbait whores and a pawn shop.
‘And, you know, what would you do, if you were unlucky enough to have found yourself in my situation?’ she said. She scratched her bald head. Glared at me.
‘I know what you mean,’ I said. ‘I know exactly what you mean.’
Although I most certainly did not.
Cyrus came out of the door cradling a crossbow that I knew he had made himself. He was tall and gaunt, with a long white beard and a bald head. He was wearing a frayed black suit. He swayed a little as he walked toward the car.
‘You took your time,’ he said. ‘My babies are getting hungry.’
I heard the pigs scream and a chill skewered my soul.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said, as I got out of the Dodge. ‘I have a little extra snack for them.’
‘Then come on in, ladies,’ said Cyrus. He opened up the passenger door and winked at Mathilda. ‘You’re just in time for tiffin.’
I picked up my purse and slammed the car door. Straightened my skirt.
Mathilda was already hobbling alongside Cyrus, arm in arm with him.
It was going to be a long day.
Dedicated to The Soska Sisters.
Dead Pimp In A Trunk first appeared online at Shotgun Honey and is included in my short story collection The Last Laugh, which is published by All Due Respect and currently on sale for 99p.
‘In 1959, the great Lionel Bart turned Frank Norman’s London set play ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be’ into a musical comedy about ‘low-life characters in the 1950s, including spivs, prostitutes, teddy-boys and corrupt policemen’. This was a time of great change in post-war London – what with the ‘birth of the teenager’ and the Swinging Sixties looming on the horizon – and not everyone copes well with change, of course.’
My short story collection, THE LAST LAUGH, is currently a KINDLE COUNTDOWN DEAL, which means it’s only99p for the next few days.
‘From France, to Spain, to the north east of England, hit men, gangsters, corrupt cops, drunks, punks, and petty thieves all tumble toward the abyss. The stories in The Last Laugh are vivid and violent slices of Brit Grit and international noir, full of gaudy characters and dialogue sharp enough to cut your throat. The Last Laugh is a violent and blackly comic look at life through a shot glass darkly.
“If you took Ken Bruen’s candor, the best of Elmore Leonard’s dialogues, sprinkled in some Irvine Welsh, and dragged it all through the dirtiest ditch in South London, the result will be something akin to Brazill’s writing.” – Gabino Iglesias (author of Zero Saints and Gutmouth)
“A broad range of cultural strands come together in the melting pot and form a delicious stew of criminal adventure… The observations are sharp and the characters create small nuclear explosions as they collide with each other.” – Nigel Bird (author of Southsiders)
‘Brazill isn’t just a writer; he’s a poet and you can take any of his stories and write a master’s thesis on just the language employed.’- Les Edgerton (Bomb!, The Bitch)’
Urban noir meets rural horror; dog fights, horse mutilation, private eyes, country cults – dark secrets and danger lurk behind every hedge!
PDB: Which music, books, films, songs or television shows do you wish you had written?
Well, I always say I’d prefer to write my own stuff BUT if I had written The Damnation Game (Clive Barker), Red Dragon (Thomas Harris), or The Friends of Eddie Coyle (George V Higgins) I’d be pretty chuffed with myself. Likewise if I had written the TV shows True Detective, The Shadow Line, or Edge of Darkness (original BBC series rather than Hollywood remake).
PDB: Which of your books do you think would make good films or TV series?
It would have to be the Charlie Bars stories and books. I think they would lend themselves well to a down and grimy adaptation. After seeing the recent success of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor books being adapted to the small screen it has made me believe that we might be seeing a resurgence of real noir on the TV. The only problem would be deciding who could play Charlie!
PDB: Who are your favourite writers?
It is always difficult to distil it down to a few names but I’ll give it a go; Jim Thompson, Chester Himes, Umberto Eco, Clive Barker, Ken Bruen, Adam Nevill, and Donald Ray Pollack.
PDB: What’s your favourite joke?
I think jokes are becoming something of a lost art – I remember when my dad would come home from work on a night with a new joke, or someone would tell one at school, it this digital era we seem to have lost that somewhere.
My favourite would have to be about the monkey being interviewed after the coach crash – I’ve seen it written down but it’s funnier with the visuals. If you haven’t heard (and seen) it you should…
PDB: What’s your favourite song?
That’s nearly as difficult as the favourite writers! Right now I’ll go for; Slick Rick’s “I own America Pt II”, Nas’ “Halftime”, and Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World”.
PDB: What’s on the cards?
Well, the new novel “The Devil’s Brew” is dropping now so I’m looking forward to seeing what people, especially those who enjoyed “Pennies for Charon” and “Skewered”, will make of this one.
It seems for the past few years I’ve mainly been caught up in my longer works so I‘ve been giving some much needed attention to various pieces of short fiction that should be coming out.
I have recently finished a further Charlie Bars novel and I am also working on a pair of longer works that combine WW2 and horror (with a healthy dose of noir).
PDB: Anything else?
Just a big “thank you!” to you, Paul – cheers.
Bio: Benedict J Jones lives in London. He writes crime, horror and western fiction. He has had over thirty short stories published as well as the collections “Skewered; And other London cruelties” and “Ride the Dark Country”, the novellas “Slaughter Beach” and “Mulligan’s Idol”, as well as the novels “Pennies for Charon” and “The Devil’s Brew” both featuring his ex-con turned private eye Charlie “Bars” Constantinou.