Category Archives: CLIP

CLIP: BIG CITY BLUES

Big City Blues
Big City Blues
London Detective Sergeant Ronnie Burke and Polish cop Jola Lach are on the trail of a serial killer, and New York private eye Solitaire is sent to Spain to track down a missing rich kid. See how their lives intertwine in Big City Blues. British coppers, an American private eye, London gangsters, international spies, and a serial killer known as The Black Crow all collide violently and hilariously in Big City Blues, another fast-moving and funny Brit Grit novella from Paul D. Brazill.

And here’s a CLIP!

New York, USA.

The waiting room was filled with the sound of muzak – sleepy synthesizers and yawning saxophones. The pastel walls were covered with generic abstract paintings – all splashes, dots and sharp lines – that were probably worth a fortune.  The view from the window was terrific, despite the sky being granite grey.  The Manhattan skyline was everything it was supposed to be.

Lisi Solitaire checked her reflection in the mirror that hung on the back of the door, knowing that you didn’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Especially with big shot clients like the one she was about to meet. She was pleased with what she saw. She thought she looked as sharp as a razor. Dressed  all in black with thick black framed glasses and her head recently shaven she thought he looked more like a successful New York psychiatrist than a struggling private eye, even if her designer threads were all knock offs.

She picked up a magazine from the mahogany coffee table and flicked through it. She was reading an article about whether or not Superman was a scab – how the man of steel’s habit of working for free was reducing the salaries of hard – working cops and firemen- when she heard the cough.

The night before, she’d been playing the celebrity lookalike game with her roommate Dana, who was a dead ringer for ‘Father Of The Bride’ era Martin Short. Solitaire herself, it had been decided, was like ‘Alien 3’ era Sigourney Weaver. When she looked up she saw a more than passable Lauren Bacall lookalike standing in the doorway to her office. Doctor Katherine Howard was elegant, tall and beautiful.  Her raven black hair was tied back and her half-moon glasses hung from a chain around her neck. Solitaire guessed that Doctor Howard’s designer clothes were all bona fide. Unlike Solitaire, she was a genuinely successful New York psychiatrist and she could afford the real deal.

‘Ms Solitaire?’ she said in a husky voice that fit the way she looked perfectly.

‘That’s me,’ she said. ‘The only game in town.’

She winked.

‘Well, I don’t know about that but it certainly seems there aren’t too many female private detectives about these days, I’ll admit,’ said Katherine, with a warm smile.

Katherine held out a perfectly manicured hand.

‘Katherine Howard,’ she said. They shook. ‘Do I call you Antoinette or just Lisi?’

‘Call me anything you like but don’t call me early.’

She winked. Katherine smiled weakly.

Solitaire cringed.

‘Sorry, lame line. Most people call me Solitaire,’ she said.

‘Come into my office,’ said Katherine.

This certainly wasn’t the first time that Solitaire had been in a headshrinker’s office. Far from it.  In the past, though, the rooms’ design had been anonymous, minimal, Spartan. Devoid of any trace of personality. Much like most of the shrinks she’d encountered, truth be told. But Katherine Howard’s office was different, which led her to believe she was different from those other psychiatrists, too.

On one wall was a large print of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and on another a number of framed vinyl album covers – Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bessie Smith, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Edith Piaf. There were photographs of Katherine Howard socialising with various celebrities- Al Martino, David Bowie, George Clooney, OJ Simpson. There was a wall length shelf of vinyl albums and book case containing the works of Albert Camus, Dostoevsky and Graham Greene, amongst others. Solitaire realised that this was more of a masculine office than she’d expected.

‘Take a seat please,’ said Katherine.

Solitaire sat in a leather armchair.

‘Nice room,’ said Solitaire. ‘Not what I expected. Not a typical psychiatrist’s office.’

‘Oh, I don’t see my patients here,’ she said. ‘This is my sanctum sanctorum. My dojo. My home away from home. Would you like coffee or tea?’

‘Espresso would be great.’

She went over to a machine and made two death black espressos. Gave one to Solitaire and sat on the edge of the desk.

‘So what can help you with, doctor?’ said Solitaire.

‘Call me Katherine. It’s nothing complicated, really. I just want you to find my husband.’

‘How long has he been missing?’

‘Oh, only a few days.  It seems Howard has gone on one of his drinking binges – he does this every now and again- and I need him back here to sign some important papers.’

She handed Solitaire a piece of paper.

‘These are his regular boozing haunts. He’s sure to be at one of them,’ she said.

Solitaire looked at the list.

‘I’m not one to turn down work but why can’t you go? Doesn’t seem that difficult a task, since you pretty much know where he’ll be.’

‘I’m a recovering alcoholic, Mr Solitaire. It would be too much temptation. Especially under such stressful circumstances.’

‘Do you expect it to be stressful?’

‘For sure. You’ll need to use your brain as well as your brawn to drag Howard out of there. You know what, he’s like, right?’

‘Well …’

‘I’m sure my husband’s reputation has preceded him.’

Solitaire smiled.

‘For sure. He’s a crime fiction writer and a pretty successful one, too. Writers operate by different rules to the rest of us, I expect,’ said Solitaire.

‘Maybe. Or maybe it’s just an excuse for self-indulgence,’ said Katherine.

‘You’d know better than me,’ said Solitaire.

‘Oh, yes,’ said Katherine. ‘So, can I ask you about your name? It’s a tad unusual.’

‘Yes, it’s my real name and yes, before you ask, I am related to Antoine Solitaire.  I’m his daughter, for my sins. Which are not as many and as varied as his, of course.’

‘Antoine Solitaire.  Well, there was a man who operated by a different set of rules to the rest of us.’

‘He certainly did. For better or for worse.’

‘How long is it since he went missing?’

‘Five years, now.’

‘Do you have any leads on the case?’

‘Nope. There’s not a lot the cops can do short of digging up half of Brooklyn.’

‘Is your mother still alive?’

‘Sure is. She’s alive and kicking ass. Literally. She runs an actual dojo Downtown.’

‘Really?’ said Katherine.

‘Yes. She’s working with some has-been action movie star. Teaching the five fingers of death to the local geriatrics.’

Katherine walked over to the window and black clouds spread like a cancer across the skyline.

‘It’s certainly a life of surprises,’ she said.

‘Sure is.’

Solitaire finished her coffee got to her feet.

‘Well, I’d best get going.  I’ve got a long bar crawl ahead of me by the looks of it,’ she said as she looked at the slip of paper that Katherine had given her.

‘It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it,’ she said. ‘I’ll phone you as soon as I’ve found him.’

Katherine nodded.

‘By the way, Howard is a pussycat, even when he’s drunk, but if he’s with Bertie, you’d better be careful.’

‘That wouldn’t be Bertie The Bolt would it?’

‘It would, I’m afraid.’

And so am I, thought Solitaire.

Grab Big City Blues from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and any other Amazon.

 

CLIP: Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400Cold London Blues (CLB) is a blackly comic slice of pulp fiction (or Punk Fiction, if you fancy!) published by indie publisher Caffeine Nights Publishing.  CLB is a follow up to my book Guns Of Brixton (GOB) – a violent gangster romp, a sweary Ealing Comedy. With GOB, I used the titles of Clash songs to – loosely!- frame the book.

Whereas GOB was a tad Mockney music hall in its approach, with CLB I wanted something more noir, more torch song, and so I used Vic Godard and Subway Sect songs in the same way. (I’d previously named a couple of characters after Vic. In my story The Last Laugh there’s a hit man known only as Godard and a bent copper called Vic Napper.)

The following scene features the murderous priest Father Tim Cook, who is going through a delayed mid-life crisis.  He and his friend Gregor are on a pub crawl which takes them to a smokey, pokey bar full of sinners known as Noola’s Saloon.

NOBODY’S SCARED

Noola’s Saloon was even more crowded than the pub they’d just left but that certainly didn’t deter Father Tim and Gregor, who had decided they were on a drinking mission. As they shuffled through the door, the Wurlitzer jukebox burst to life and Howling Wolf snarled out ‘I Ain’t Superstitious.’

The pub was dimly lit and smoky, despite the fact that no one was smoking. Gregor found a small table near a disused cigarette machine and Tim went to the bar. A dishevelled and unshaven old soak, who seemed to be dressed like a private eye from some old black and white film, nestled on a bar stool, calmly contemplating the glass of whisky that was in front of him. The ice cubes seemed to shimmer, glimmer and glow in the wan light.

He looked up at Tim.

‘Twilight time,’ he said, his hangdog expression never changing.

‘Isn’t it always,’ said Tim.

The old soak nodded and went back to staring at his drink.

Tim briefly turned his gaze outside. The wet pavement reflected Noola’s Saloon’s flickering neon sign. Headlights cut through the heavy rain. He unsteadily shuffled up and leaned on the bar, plonking the sleeve of his jacket in a puddle of spilt lager.

After a while, he caught the eye of the barman , a grumpy-looking bloke with a pock-marked face and inky black quiff. He slowly put down his copy of National Geographic and Tim made the two finger gesture for two pints, making sure his hand was facing the right way.

The antique Wurlitzer Jukebox was playing Mel Torme’s version of ‘Gloomy Sunday’. Tim had always been a big fan of The Velvet Fog but the cacophonous voice of a fat bald bloke in a corduroy jacket boomed over the lush sounds.

‘Well, I’m certainly not a fan of the popcorn trash that the multiplex inflict upon us but at least Christopher Nolan treats Batman with the gravitas he deserves,’ said the bald, fat man.

A tall, twitchy man who was looming over him, almost spat his half pint of Guinness over his Armani shirt.

‘Gravitas!?  It’s about a bloke who dresses up in a rubber bat suit to fight a baddy who dresses up like a clown. It’s not exactly Marcel bloody Proust, is it?’

‘Well some critics would argue that it’s a metaphor for …’

‘Critics! Jeez! Film critics! Have you ever been to the BFI?’

‘Of course. The recent Alain Resnais retrospective was …’

‘The British Film Institute is a very creepy place indeed, my friend. Creepy people, too. And the shite they spout. Like that crap about Dawn of The Dead being a satire of consumerism because the zombies go to a shopping centre. I mean, that’s one gag in the whole film! There’s also a scene where one of them gets decapitated by a helicopter blade. Is it a satire of air traffic control? Eh? I ask you?’

The bald man shuffled in his seat and wiped cappuccino froth from his top lip.

‘Well …’

Father Tim, picked up two pints of Kronenburg from the bar and resisted the temptation to give both of the blokes a slap.

‘Wankers like that are what put me off going out for a drink in the West End these days,’ he said as he put the drinks on the table.

‘The city is riddled with them these days,’ said Gregor. ‘They’re like the clap. Even worse than northerners.’

‘I was in that poncy over-priced sandwich shop before I came here,’ said Tim, unsteadily sitting down. ‘Away in a Manger or whatever it’s called. Anyway, they were playing Nick Drake. ‘Fruit Tree’ to be precise.’

‘I like Nick Drake,’ said Gregor.

‘Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of Nick myself but there were a couple of media wankers in there talking about his mum’s LP’

‘Whose mum?’

‘Nick Drake’s. Some sad bastard has put out a few songs she record in the olden days.’

‘Any good?’

‘Dunno. Never heard it. Anyway, these twats in the sandwich shop started prattling on about how Drake and his mother’s music was ‘quintessentially English’. I mean what the fuck’s that all about? Quintessentially posh sissy boy with a quintessentially stuck-up mother, I’ll give you that. Quintessentially poncy. It’s all that John Betjeman, cricket on the village green, Downtown Abbey, Latin quoting detective cobblers that they punt to the Septics because, well, Yanks are thick. And it has nothing to do with the life of a hairdresser from Wolverhampton or a bingo caller from Hull or the vast majority of English people. You know what I’m saying?’

‘Poshness. Poshnessabounds,’ slurred Gregor, sinking even lower in his seat. ‘This country is crippled by its class system.’

‘Exactly. Switch on the telly and it’s all Sherlock poncy Holmes or Dr poncy Who. This is the bullshit we have to put up with. Oxbridge twots and Oxbridge wannabees.’

‘We need another class war, that is what we need,’ said Gregor. He spilt a splash of lager on his shirt as he slurped it.

‘I blame America for it … well, I blame America for everything …The United States Of America is a cancer. A poisonous virus that has fatally infected its host,’ said Tim, reclining in the leather chair and waggling his outstretched fingers, trying to get the circulation back in them. He checked his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t looking so good.

‘It’s like in those horror films, eh?’ he said. ‘They say you shouldn’t make your home on an Indian burial ground but when you think about it, the whole of the United States is a bleedin Indian burial ground. Think about it.’

Grab COLD LONDON BLUES here, if you’re that way inclined.

CLIP: Kill Me Quick!

cropped-20160219_112120.jpg‘He changed stations and found a phone in talk show. The host and callers were discussing the upcoming Seatown elections. It was getting pretty heated.

‘One of my old teachers is standing in this election,’ said Mark. ‘A bloke called Pike.’

‘Aha,’ said Roy.

He slowed at a zebra crossing and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as an old woman with a tartan shopping trolley doddered across the road.

‘I don’t follow politics myself,’ he said. ‘Which party is he in?’

‘GBIP,’ said Mark. ‘Not that I know much about them.’

‘They’re a bunch of tossers, I think,’ said Roy.

‘Aren’t they all?’

‘Probably. People put too much faith in politicians to sort out their lives.’

‘Aye. Life’s all about playing a bad hand of cards well,’ said Mark.

‘True, true Barney Mcgrew. Was he a decent teacher?’ said Roy.

‘A bit of a tosser, as I remember.’

‘Should do alright as a politician, then.’

‘Yep. A smooth career transition, that.’’

We’re all lying in the gutter. But some of us are staring at the spaces between the stars…

Seatown may not have a lot going for it – apart from the Roy Orbison lookalikes and Super Seventies Special every Thursday night, of course – but it is at least the place Mark Hammonds calls home. And after a decade away, it’s the place he returns to when he has nowhere else to go.

From dead bikers to dodgy drug deals, from one downbeat bar to another, from strippers to gangsters and back again: the luckless former musician bounces from one misdeed to the next along with a litany of old acquaintances, almost as though he never left. And if only he can shake off everybody who wants to kill, maim or otherwise hurt him, maybe he could even think about staying.

After all, there’s no place like home, eh? 20160219_112120

Grab KILL ME QUICK! at Amazon.com , Amazon.co.uk and some other joints.

CLIP: THE LAST LAUGH BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

The Last Laugh paperbackThe early-morning sun eased through the cluttered record shop’s grubby windows and blanched its contents. Flecks of dust floated in the thick air and a scratched copy of The Best of The Eagles leaked out of the paint-flecked sound system. Fat Roy leant back against the stained formica counter, inhaling a spliff. As he farted, tobacco tumbled out of the joint and spilled over his beer gut, which flopped over his too-tight supermarket jeans. His greasy, grey ponytail hung like a rat’s tail down the back of his faded paisley shirt.

A smirk crawled across his face. It looked as if as the joint had finally kicked in. I could see that he was starting to enjoy needling Garner.

Paul Garner just sat there frowning, but then that was his permanent expression. Hangdog. Browbeaten. A face so lived-in squatters wouldn’t stay there. Even as a kid he’d looked like he could be any age from fifteen to fifty, he just had one of those faces. Now the tattooed teardrops and the spider web tattooed around his neck were fading and made him look grubby. His shaven head was constantly flaking. His teeth were like cracked tombstones. He shuffled his skinny frame on a cracked plastic chair. Drained the last of the muddy coffee from the paper cup. His right leg shaking, jumping like he was being electrocuted. He looked even more hot and sweaty than usual. Scratching himself, wiping his clammy brow with the back of a hand. Picking imaginary flecks from his Adidas tracksuit. ‘

This CLIP is from Up The Creek, one of stories in my collection  THE LAST LAUGH, published by All Due Respect.

 

CLIP: The Bucket List by Paul D. Brazill

adr 1He grabbed the remainder of Butler’s corpse by the legs and dragged it along to a gap in the railings, leaving a snaking trail of blood. He checked once again to see that no one was watching. It was just after dawn and everywhere was deserted. Out at sea, a lone fishing boat, adorned with fairy lights, rocked on the waves.

Quigley picked up Butler’s body and effortlessly hauled it onto the rocks below. A moment of vertigo and he steadied himself by holding onto the wet railings. Closed his eyes. Waited a moment. Shivered and yawned. Fumbled with the unopened packet of Marlboro  in his coat pocket, opened it and then decided to wait.

Soaked by the early morning sea spray, he fastened his black overcoat tightly. The cold autumn wind blew harder still and he pulled a flat cap from his pocket, put it on his shaved head and set off along the promenade, slouched with Sisyphean resignation. His meeting with Marta wasn’t until noon and he still had plenty of time to head back to The Seaview Hotel and catch a short nap, if he could. Another yawn crept out of him.

 Quigley decided to take a short cut across the muddy town moor, the rain now attacking him from all sides. He jolted alert, a hand immediately on the pistol in his coat pocket, as he noticed an old woman wearing a bright headscarf and yellow anorak heading towards him, gauchely propelled by a pair of Nordic walking sticks. Her head was down and she was listening to an old pink Sony Walkman. Without looking up, she barged straight into him, jabbing him in the foot with one of the walking sticks.

‘Sorry, luvvie,’ she said in strong local accent.

‘No problems,’ growled Quigley. He hadn’t spoken to a soul for the last three days and his throat was like sandpaper. His foot began to burn.

Their eyes locked for a moment and there was a flicker of recognition there but the woman seemed to dismiss whatever thought passed through her mind as ridiculous and continued on her way. Quigley watched as she disappeared down the cobblestone alleyway that led up to St Hilda’s church. She stopped at the church gate and turned back to look at him. He took a moment of cruel satisfaction in the fact that Lydia Mulcahy had aged so much – and so badly – but realised that it was only a matter of time now before word of his return would spread across the town like cancer. He would have to expedite his plans. He limped toward the hotel feeling ever older with each step but also with a sense of resignation, like before the break of a particularly fearsome storm.

Rear the rest of The Bucket List in the first issue of All Due Respect magazine which also includes stuff from Chris F. Holm, Todd Robinson and more.

Get it here!

CLIP: GUNS OF BRIXTON BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

gob‘Right annoying fucker though, that Half-Pint Harry. Eh, Kenny? Non-stop motor mouth, he was. Gob-shite Geordie twat,’ said Big Jim as they put the body in the Jaguar’s boot and slammed the lid shut.

‘He wasn’t a Geordie,’ said Kenny, resting on a barrel and wiping the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve.

‘Eh?’ said Big Jim, as he took the hose pipe and sprayed water around the garage.

 Kenny grinned.

 ‘Half-Pint Harry. He wasn’t a Geordie, was he? He wasn’t from Newcastle. He was from Sunderland, James. He was a Mackem, wasn’t he?’ Kenny said.

‘What’s a fucking Mackem when it’s at home?’ said Big Jim.

‘A Mackem is to a Geordie what a Canadian is like to an American. Like margarine to butter. Like Spurs to Arsenal. A bit like a decaffeinated Geordie,’ said Kenny, chuckling to himself. He coughed up a lump of phlegm, spat and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

‘The North’s all the fucking same to me,’ said Big Jim. ‘Never been further north than Dagenham, myself. And I didn’t like that much.’

 ‘I wholeheartedly agree,’ said Kenny. ‘Mushy peas, black pudding, Pease -pudding, fishy-wishy-fucking-dishy. I usually start to hear the banjos from Deliverance as soon as I get north of Finchley.’

Guns Of Brixton (published by Caffeine Nights Publishing) is out NOW as a paperback and as an eBook.  You can get it from from loads of places including Barnes & Noble,  Caffeine Nights PublishingWHSMITH, Waterstones,Foyles Amazon and Amazon UK. 

CLIP: A Case Of Noir by Paul D. Brazill

acon‘ The bookshop was jam-packed and stuffy. The wine and conversation were overflowing in equal measure. Keith Jarrett’s ‘Standards’ played numbly in the background as a veritable cornucopia of crime fiction writers of various levels of success held court in different parts of the room, shuffling nervously behind tables cluttered with copies of their latest pot-boiler. Their faces were frozen into rictus grins.

‘Bullets in the Bookshop’ was an annual event. An international meeting of writers and crime fiction groupies organised by Blackstones’s Bookshop in Cambridge, an archetypically quaint English bookshop on an archetypically quaint cobble-stoned English street, not far from King’s College. The non-writers were in the majority, of course. Most of them were spinsterly types of both sexes enthusing over Nordic Noir— whatever that was. Then there were also a few academics slumming it — one particularly dandruff speckled gent with the complexion of a blackcurrant crumble was talking loudly and authoritatively about crime fiction as a social novel and receiving a number of approving nods. And, of course, a few wannabee crime writers were there, too, trying to look mean and moody — all leather jackets, stubble and gently sneering. I even recognised a couple of the faces from the Quais Du Polar crime fiction festival in Lyon that I’d attended in the Spring.

Not that I was a connoisseur of crime fiction. I rarely read fiction at all, in fact. I’d attended the Quais Du Polar in order to meet up with Lena K, the torch singer turned bestselling crime writer who was also my partner in several unlawful activities. And I also had an ulterior and particularly criminal motive for being in Blackstone’s. A meeting with the man who was holding court at that moment.

Julian Stroud stood behind the largest table in the room and clearly thought a lot of himself. He was tall, handsome man in his mid-fifties and painfully well dressed. A pair of half-moon spectacles hung around his neck and he had the look of someone who had just smelt one of his own farts and found it surprisingly rank.

‘Why kill time when you can kill other people,’ said Stroud, the shadow of a smirk creeping and crawling across his too-tanned face. ‘Although, only on paper, of course, eh?’’

Read the rest of A CASE OF NOIR by buying it here or elsewhere.

aconcfl‘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 blackly comic international noir from Paul D. Brazill.’

 

CLIP: A Bit Of A Pickle by Paul D. Brazill

drag noir 2‘The ghost of a Petula Clark song drifted into The Bag O’ Nails through a partly open window. A shard of sunlight sliced through the blinds, picking out specks of dust that floated in the air. An old electric kettle boiled in another room. A refrigerator hummed. A dishwasher chugged dully. A mangy black and white cat strolled across the newly polished bar before curling up on a wooden bar stool and going to sleep.’

To read the rest of A BIT OF A PICKLE you should pick up a copy of DRAG NOIR.

‘DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot.

Here are the stories in Drag Noir, suitably wrapped in a stylish cover from S. L. Johnson:

Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury , The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin , Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky , No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon , Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker , Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates , Trespassing – Michael S. Chong , Chianti – Selene MacLeod , The Changeling – Tracy Fahey , Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett , Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates , Protect Her – Walter Conley , King Bitch – James Bennett , A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill , Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan , The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden.’