Category Archives: Crime Fiction

Switchblade is OUT NOW!

switchbladeCutting edge suspense under extreme tension. Quick & dirty flash fiction and sharp & deadly crime fiction at your fingertips; featuring a motley crew of 13 usual suspects, and new blood. This is it: the first cut of Switchblade. No-limit crime culture springs to life at the hands of Paul D. Brazill, Preston Lang, Liam Sweeny, Steve Liskow, Jim Wilsky, Larry Kelter, William Dylan Powell, Susan Cornford, Travis Richardson, Jack Bates, Tom Leins, Fred Zackel, and Scotch Rutherford.

Includes my yarn GETTING AWAY WITH IT.

Grab it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk etc

Guest Blog: Bay Of Martyrs by Matt Neal

bay of martyrs coverA good trick in songwriting is to start with the title first. Come up with a great name for your song and you’re well on your way – a good title can not only sum up the central ideas and themes of the song, but it can also give you a rhythm, suggest a melody or hint at a musical style.

I think Tony Black had the title for Bay of Martyrs before he had the plot – he’d seen the cove on the Great Ocean Road during his days as a journo in Warrnambool, and filed it away as a possible name for a novel. Just like with a song, the title suggested key elements. There’s a coastal setting, and people are being martyred for causes (they just don’t know it). As a title, Bay of Martyrs also has a noir-ish feel, despite it being a lovely place to visit, especially at this time of year.

It also helped set up the plot. If nothing else, it’s a good place for a body to wash up, at least in a crime novel (in real life there’s no such thing as a good place for a body to wash up, is there?). There’s your first chapter, but as all writers know, a first chapter is just that, and there are about 40 or so more you’ve got to figure out after numero uno.

The other thing Tony and I liked about the title was it gave us a good template for a crime series – we’ll name each one after a place in south-west Victoria in Australia. That’s where I live, and where Tony and I worked together at a newspaper back in the early 2000s. Tony always figured the region was ripe for a crime novel or three, so when we set to work in late 2015 to co-write a book, the pieces were already there in the back of his mind.

The question everyone asks me is how do you write a novel with someone on the other side of the world? The short answer is Google Docs. It allowed Tony (in Scotland) and I (in Australia) to be accessing and editing the same document at the same time. As I was writing the first draft, Tony was following a few chapters back, tweaking my words to create the second draft. The cool (or maybe creepy) thing was I could watch him editing my work. I don’t know if he knew I was watching, but sometimes after I finished a three-hour late-night stint of writing, I would see him log on and I would follow his cursor around for a while. Almost everything he changed made sense, so it was a great learning experience to metaphorically lean over his shoulder and see him at work.

A few people have asked me if any of Bay of Martyrs is taken from my real experiences as a journalist. I have seen a dead body on a beach down here before, but it was very different to the opening chapter. The second chapter, in which our hero Clay Moloney has a run in with a cop that doesn’t like him, well, I’ve definitely had that happen to me. The plot for Bay of Martyrs needed a bad cop obfuscating things, but I was loathe to make all the cops bad because I have some good friends on the force. So for every bad Frank Anderson there is a good Eddie Boulton.

The idea of good and bad really intrigued me while writing Bay of Martyrs. Our hero takes drugs, fraternises with drug dealers, and is somewhat sympathetic to one of the killers. I wanted to make sure there were some grey areas. Not everyone who takes drugs or sells drugs is bad, and sometimes people kill with good intentions. These are facts, but it also helped us (hopefully) steer away from caricatures.

I have to confess I haven’t read a lot of crime or noir – aside from Tony Black’s work, the only crime/noir I’ve read is by Raymond Chandler or Carl Hiaasen – but this was probably a strength. Tony handled that side of things, ensuring the plot was full of the requisite level of corruption and killings, with a few prostitutes and drug dealers thrown in for good measure, and decorating the prose with the right amount of noirish flourish. I tried not to think of it as a specific genre piece, but rather looked at it as though it was a movie, and took care of what I saw as the cinematic elements. I made sure there were enough action set pieces, in particular that our hero got beaten up enough times to keep it interesting, and made sure the dialogue hummed along.

If anyone asks me which bits I wrote and which bits Tony wrote, the short answer is that I wrote the bits in between the quotation marks and Tony wrote the rest. Or, rather, that’s the pithy half-true response that sounds good in interviews.

untitled-43Bio:  Australian journalist, film reviewer, musician, songwriter, and international author Matt Neal was born and raised in south-west Victoria. He’s been writing for The Warrnambool Standard for 15 years, is a prize-winning songwriter and a film reviewer for Australia’s ABC Radio. His first book Bay Of Martyrs – a crime thriller set in south-west Victoria – has been co-written with Scottish “tartan noir” novelist Tony Black. A sequel is due out in 2018.

Short, Sharp Interview: Matt Neal

bay of martyrs coverPDB: Can you pitch BAY OF MARTYRS in 25 words or less? 

A sexy, funny thriller set along south-eastern Australia’s Shipwreck Coast. Someone called it the Aussie True Detective. I won’t argue.

PDB: Which music, books, films, songs or television shows do you wish you had written?

The entire oeuvres of XTC and The Beatles, The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Muppet Movie and the first 12 or so seasons of The Simpsons.

PDB: Which of your books do you think would make good films or TV series?

I’ve only written (co-written actually) one book, Bay of Martyrs, so that one. But I have written a screenplay which is a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit which I am desperate to get made (I’m not even kidding).

 PDB: Who are your favourite writers?

Aside from my co-writer Tony Black, who I am forever indebted to, my two favourite writers are Hunter S Thompson and Terry Pratchett, may they both rest in peace.

PDB: What’s your favourite joke?

Donald Trump is President of the United States of America.

PDB: What’s your favourite song?

Today, I think it’s Television’s Marquee Moon. Yesterday it was XTC’s Books Are Burning. Tomorrow it will probably be Ween’s If You Could Save Yourself, You’d Save Us All.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

I’m balls deep on the sequel to Bay of Martyrs, which is currently titled The Cutting -named after another local landmark in my little patch of Australia.

untitled-43.jpg

PDB: Anything else?

Did you know the outro to Hey Jude is longer than the rest of the song?

Bio:  Australian journalist, film reviewer, musician, songwriter, and international author Matt Neal was born and raised in south-west Victoria. He’s been writing for The Warrnambool Standard for 15 years, is a prize-winning songwriter and a film reviewer for Australia’s ABC Radio. His first book Bay Of Martyrs – a crime thriller set in south-west Victoria – has been co-written with Scottish “tartan noir” novelist Tony Black. A sequel is due out in 2018.

Train In Vain at Pulp Metal Magazine

PULPLOGO (1)I have a new yarn up at Pulp Metal Magazine.

It’s called TRAIN IN VAIN:

Seatown train station was certainly a lot better looking than I remembered it but it still smelled of puke. And shit, And sweat. Well, it did now that Smiffy was there. He’d spruced himself up a bit, slicked back his hair, put on a double-breasted pinstripe suit. But his rancid stench still oozed out. I hadn’t really seemed to notice it when we were boozing together in The Cobble Bar but out here in the fresh air it seemed overpowering.

A small group of football fans, watched by an equal sized group of bored policemen, snaked out of the station, through the streets and toward the town centre. They were quieter than I expected but then I’d never been much of a football fan, even as a child. I assumed supporting a football team was something you just grew out of although a few of the fans looked as if they’d grown a bit too much. Especially around the stomach area.’

Check it out, if you fancy.

Pre-order A Case Of Noir for 99p!

a-case-of-noir-n2tkThe eBook of the all-new A CASE OF NOIR is available for pre-order and it’s only 99p!

Here’s the blurb:

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. While 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.

You can grab it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and any other Amazon that takes your fancy. The paperback is on its way.

Warren Stalley Reviews Too Many Crooks

too-many-crooksOver at Amazon.co.uk Warren Stalley says:

5.0 out of 5 starsSeven Dollars on the Red

Right from the start of Too Many Crooks there’s a blast of violence and gallows humour which sets the tone for the latest novel by talented Brit Grit author Paul D Brazill. The narrative follows various dubious criminals caught up in the search for the valuable Nazi Totenkopfring. Can amnesiac victim McGuffin stay alive long enough in Poland to recover his memory and find the ring? What connection does he have to Leslie Hawkins and her husband Sydney back in England who are also looking for the ring? Too Many Crooks is littered with the usual Brazill razor sharp one liners honed to perfection, as the eccentric characters’ weave in and out of trouble in England and Poland. To summarise this is another polished winner and one of the very best pieces of work from Paul D Brazill.’

Short, Sharp Interview: Tom Leins

wu-tang-antho-coverPDB: Can you pitch This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck with: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology in 25 words or less?

Tremendous hip-hop inspired collection edited by Christoph Paul and Grant Wamack. My story, INCARCERATED SCARFACES, is a Paignton Noir remix of Van Damme’s Death Warrant!

 PDB: Which music, books, films, songs or television shows do you wish you had written?

Music: Mule Variations by Tom Waits, and Hold On in particular. That song and album introduced me to his work back in ’99, and remain firm favourites.

Book: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. An absolutely devastating piece of work. If I were to read it again since becoming a father it would probably destroy me!

Film: Pulp Fiction. Most of my nominal ‘Top 10’ movies would probably be drawn from the 1990s, back when video shops still ruled the roost. Tarantino has plenty of detractors nowadays, but the Reservoir Dogs-Pulp Fiction one-two punch still excites me.

TV show: Breaking Bad. Such a smart, multi-faceted show. Excellent storytelling, and great attention to detail.

PDB: Which of your books do you think would make good films or TV series?

I would love to see a Paignton Noir TV series one day. Regional voices have always done well in the UK cop-show world, and I would like to see my shabby seaside town given the same treatment. It would be great to shine a light on the sun-blurred beaches, dilapidated caravan parks, murky amusement arcades and time-ravaged pubs that are this town’s stock-in-trade. I’m working on a ten-book series, starting with ‘Boneyard Dogs’, so there is plenty of scope for small-screen action. (Of course, I need to get the actual books published first…!)

PDB: Who are your favourite writers?

Far too many to mention, so I will namecheck the writer I have been reading back-to-back in recent weeks: Adrian McKinty. I thoroughly enjoyed his Dead trilogy years ago, but his Sean Duffy series – set in 1980s Northern Ireland – sees him raise his game to dizzy new heights. The volatile backdrop provides extra frisson, and the mysteries themselves are impeccably put together. Plus, anyone who uses Tom Waits lyrics as book titles is worthy of our attention, right?

PDB: What’s your favourite joke?

My literary career!

PDB: What’s your favourite song?

To answer this question properly would take me weeks of contemplation and research, so I will defer to the all-time most-played track on my iPod: ‘Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable)’ by James Brown and 2Pac, as featured on the Django Unchained soundtrack.

tomleins-2017-bwPDB: What’s on the cards?

My story THE STOOGE is in the first issue of the brand new California crime magazine Switchblade, edited by Scotch Rutherford. It is one of the nastiest stories I have ever written, and has little in common with anything else I have ever published. After that, my story HERE COMES THAT WEIRD CHILL features in ‘More Bizarro Than Bizarro’, the new anthology from Bizarro Pulp Press, edited by Vincenzo Bilof. It is Paignton Gothic rather than Paignton Noir – a slight departure from my regular stuff. In terms of flash fiction, I have a new batch of wrestling noir stories in the pipeline, which I hope people dig.

PDB: Anything else?

Thank you for having me, Paul!

Bio: Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun HoneyNear to the KnuckleRevolution John and Spelk. He is currently working on a novella called Boneyard Dogs. Get your pound of flesh at https://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com

Out Now! Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill

too-many-crooksToo Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!

When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow…

Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.

Published by Near To The Knuckle, you can grab Too Many Crooks from Amazon.com , Amazon.co.uk and any other Amazon. The paperback is on its way!

Short, Sharp Interview: Lesley Welsh

20160524_195220PDB: Can you pitch TRUTH LIES BURIED in 25 words or less?

Female ex-solder with dodgy past saves savvy dead gangster’s kid from vengeful step-mother and deadly villains.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows do you wish you had written?

Songs. For Free by Joni Mitchell, or I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Rait. But especially any of the lyrics of Lorenz Hart.

Books. Crow Road by Iain Banks.

Films. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead or The Guard.

TV Shows. Mash, Deadwood or Traffic.

PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?

Mine.

PDB: Who are the great British writers?

I think that Paul D Brazill is rather spiffing.

PDB: What’s the ex-pat life like for you?

I have met and mix with lots of people here in Spain from all walks of life, most of whom I would never have met in the UK. For example, one friend was a prison governor in England, others were police officers and one was in close security work. I exploit their expertise mercilessly for research purposes and they get a mention in acknowledgments and a free copy of the book in return. A bargain all round I think.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a dark and disturbing (or so they tell me) tale of a serial killer and now have a new publisher for that. The title is still to be finalised but they like ‘The Serial Killer’s Daughter,’ so we may go with that. I have just signed a two book contract with that publisher and they want another in the same genre delivered in by May. Gulp!!!

PDB: Anything else?

I am currently finishing off a novel of the hard-boiled variety for Thomas & Mercer who published Truth Lies Buried and hope they’ll give that the green light too. But, of course, there are no guarantees.

lesley-welsh_croppedBio: Lesley Welsh was born in Strawberry Filed children’s home and raised on a notorious council estate in Liverpool. Later she moved to London where she studied English and Drama and worked as a freelance writer specialising in alternative lifestyles. Her articles appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Calire, Red, Bite, Time Out and many others before she established Moondance Media, a magazine publishing company. Her dark and compelling short story Mrs Webster’s Obesssion was turned into a film. She now lives and works in Spain.

Top Telly 2016

better-call-saulLike 2015, 2016 was another great year for telly. I watched a lot of good TV this year, most of it American and mostly crime fiction. Second seasons can be problematic, as True Detective showed, but Fargo’s second season was even better than the first – cinematic, sharp dialogue, great music and top turns from Kirstin Dunst et al.

Better Call Saul was also on top form in its second season, bittersweet and painfully funny.Great characters, acting and writing.  Happy Valley had another powerhouse performance from Sarah Lancaster and quality writing.

Marvel’s Luke Cage was probably the coolest show this year and with the best soundtrack. It dithered off a bit toward the end but still had a lot of punch.ray-donovan

Hap and Leonard was all loose-limbed charm, great acting, razor-sharp dialogue,  and great music. Capturing the spirit and feel of Joe Lansdale’s great books.

Goliath gave the boring old legal thriller a kick in the eye. Billy Bob Thornton was particular appealing as washed up Billy MacBride but the rest of the cast were no slouches either.

Ray Donovan is probably my favourite telly show. It’s now the fourth season of TV’s most gleefully nihilistic and cruelly funny show. Great acting and top work from directors like John Dahl and writers like Michal Tolkin.

(This first appeared as part of my Review of 2016 at Vic Watson’s place.)

Switchblade Magazine – The Line Up

SWITCHBLADE First Issue Lineup:

Arriving in early March of 2017, and featuring a motley crew of noir fiction usual suspects, along with some new blood; here are the lucky thirteen.

The eight short fiction authors, and five flash fiction authors who will appear in the very first cut of SWITCHBLADE:

Tom Leins
Liam Sweeny
Patrick Bates
Travis Richardson
Preston Lang
Steve Liskow
William Dylan Powell
Larry Kelter
Paul D. Brazil
Jim Wilsky
Fred Zackel
Scotch Rutherford
Susan Cornford

#FRIDAY FLASH: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Living well is the best revenge, or so they say, apparently. And, for most of my life, I did live very well – once I’d broken free of Seatown’s umbilical cord, which was strangling me like a noose.

Fame. Money. Drugs. Travel. Fast cars. Faster women. All of the above.

And it felt good. Bloody good.

Or, at least, it used to.

***

The taxi crept along the coast road, past the worn-out Bed & Breakfasts, half-empty amusement arcades and deserted kebab shops. A shabby looking Santa Claus pissed against the side of a mangy looking Christmas Tree that stood shaking in the wind outside the public toilets.

“Do you get home much these days, Mr Stroud?” said the crumpled tissue of a taxi driver with the big, bushy eyebrows.

“Not so much, these days,” I said, half yawning.

The radio was playing a medley of Christmas carols at a volume so low it was sending me to sleep.

“Bet it’s a fair bit different to life down the smoke, eh?” said the taxi driver. “Bright lights, big city and that.”

He slowed down as a raggle-taggle group of rat boys staggered across the road.

“Vive la différence,” I said.

The taxi pulled up at a red light. It was early evening and allegedly rush hour but there weren’t too many cars on the road. The granite sky was filling with black storm clouds.

I gazed out of the window at Booze n News, Seatown’s popular chain of newsagents and off-licences. Booze n News had been the brainchild of Frank Griffin, a local Conservative Councillor and father of Nigel, my childhood tormentor and font of all of my bile.

Outside the shop was a familiar looking woman being hassled by a whining toddler as she struggled to put a buggy into the back of a Renault Espace. Karen Griffin, Nigel’s wife.

Once she’d been the glam of glams but now she was looking more than a little shop soiled. I smiled to myself with satisfaction. This is what I really came “home” for. Bathing in the misery of the people that had caused me so much unhappiness during my youth. Taking pleasure in seeing any spark of life that they’d had dampened by the drab hand of domesticity.

Karen locked eyes with me and smiled but I just turned away and looked at the torn billboard outside the shop.

In red marker pen it proclaimed:

“Best-selling thriller author Julian Stroud to host Rotary Club Christmas Charity Lunch”.

“Bet it’s gone downhill since you came here last time, eh, Mr Stroud?” said the taxi driver.

“Plus ça change,” I said, as I slowly let out a silent fart.

“Aye,” said the taxi driver, winding down the window.

***

I used to lay awake at night thinking of my childhood humiliations. How much I was ridiculed. Laughed at. And over the years I let my hatred marinade. And congeal.

And then the doctor told me about my body’s uninvited guest. The plague that crawled through my veins. And then I had an idea.

For revenge.

***

“So, you never heard about Fast Eddy then?” said Karen Griffin.

She downed her fifth Baileys with a gulp. Her face flushed red and her eyes sparkled.

“No, I hadn’t,” I said. I looked out of the Carvery window. Out at sea, a fishing trawler adorned with Christmas lights bobbed up and down on the waves.

“They say he met a lass on the Internet. Was getting on really well, too, until he sent her his picture, that is, and then she blocked him,” said Karen.

I remembered Fast Eddy and could understand the girl’s consternation. He was once described as being like an uglier version of Shane McGowan. Without the charm.

“And what happened?” I said, almost interested.

Karen was looking good, I had to admit. She’d dolled herself up pretty well. Her idiot husband had apparently been in a drunken sleep on the sofa and hadn’t even noticed her sneak out.

The fatigue was behind her eyes, though, and I almost felt sorry for her. I was starting to wonder if I could go through with this nasty little plan that I’d hatched.

“Well, he had an idea of where she lived. Some village in Scotland. And so he started to spend every weekend going up there on the train and walking around the place looking for her. Until he got picked up by the police for being drunk and disorderly. Thing is, though, he’d got the wrong village, anyway!”

And then she laughed.

Karen Griffin’s cruel cackle hauled me back to my teenage years and the agony of just living. And made up my mind for me.

***

The motel room was dimly lit. Outside, I could hear the heavy bass of an old Public Image song. I finished my brandy, popped a Viagra and crawled into the bed.

“Speak French to me Julian, you know it really turns me on,” said Karen, as she pulled me towards her.

I took out a condom that I’d earlier pricked with a pin, and put it on.

“Le Petit Mort,” I said with a smirk.

Well, Christmas is a time for sharing, after all.

The End.

(c) Paul D. Brazill

 

The Best Of Brit Grit 2016

marwick's reckoningWell, 10 of the best, anyway. There were a few other Brit Grit gems I also read in 2016 that I really enjoyed. If I had to pick one book to personify The Best Of Brit Grit this year, it would probably be Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark. However, in no particular order, here are 10 of the best …

Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark

Marwick is a broken man. Broken but not shattered. Marwick is a violent London gangster, an enforcer who has moved to Spain for a quieter life and who is eventually embroiled in drug smuggling, murder and more.

Published by Near To The Knuckle, Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark is fantastic. Like a Brit Grit Graham Greene it’s full of doomed romanticism, longing and shocking violence.

Beautifully, vividly  and powerfully written Marwick’s Reckoning is very highly recommended indeed.

thin iceThin Ice by Quentin Bates

A small-time criminal and his sidekick decide to rob a big-shot drug dealer. But things quickly go pear-shaped when their getaway driver doesn’t turn up. After kidnapping a mother and daughter, things spiral even further out of control.

Quentin Bates’ Thin Ice brilliantly blends a fast-moving crime caper worthy of Elmore Leonard with a perfectly paced police procedural. Great characters and tight plotting abound.

Thin Ice really is marvelous, and is very highly recommended.

after you dieAfter You Die by Eva Dolan

DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are back for a third outing in Eva Dolan‘s marvelous After You Die.

The mother of a disabled child is stabbed to death and the child is left to starve.  Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit are called in to investigate the murder and in the process DI Zigic and DS Ferreira uncover a lot of dirty secrets in a seemingly close-knit community.

Once again, Dolan paints a realistic and uncomfortable picture of the darker sides of British life but with After You Die the pacing is even tighter than in her previous books and she has produced a gripping, contemporary murder mystery that is highly recommended.

APRIL SKIES coverApril Skies by Ian Ayris

In ’90s London, John Sissons – the protagonist of Ian Ayris‘ brilliant debut Abide With Me– is out of the slammer and trying to get by, working at a market stall. When he loses his job, he gets a job at a door factory and his luck starts to change. But is it for the better?

Ian Ayris’ April Skies is marvelous. Full of realistic, well-drawn characters, great dialogue, sharp twists and turns,  and with a strong sense of place and time. Nerve-wracking and heart-breaking, tense and touching – April Skies is a Brit Grit classic.

the death of 3 coloursThe Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel

Jonah H. Williams is cyber- crook, a wheeler and dealer on the dark web. He awakes from a typically heavy boozing session to find that his precious crucifix has been stolen by the previous night’s pick-up. And things spiral on down from then on as we encounter  Bill – a bent ex-copper, drug smugglers, AK-47s, Ukrainian bikers, suicide, paranoia, betrayal, lust, love, loyalty, friendship, romance, nihilism, more paranoia, The Second Law Of Thermodynamics, Santa Muerte – Our Lady Of Last Resorts, an owl, and a cat called Vlad The Bastard. And then there’s Milton …

Jason Michel’s The Death of Three Colours is just great. It’s a richly written, gripping, noir-tinged crime thriller that is full of lyricism, flights of dark fancy and cruel humour. His best book yet.

the shallowsThe Shallows by Nigel Bird

When naval  Lieutenant Bradley Heap goes AWOL with his wife and son, he stumbles into drug dealing, people smuggling and murder.

Nigel Bird’s The Shallows is a tightly written and well-paced crime thriller that is full of well-drawn, realistic characters.

Tense and involving, The Shallows is great stuff!

for-all-is-vanityFor All Is Vanity by Robert Cowan

Jack is a nice, normal guy with a nice, normal family who records the events of  his day to day life in a diary. Then tragedy strikes and Jack’s life spirals violently out of control.

Robert Cowan’s For All Is Vanity is a gem. Heartbreaking, funny and violent, For All Is Vanity is a gripping look at what happens when a good man who loses it all.

Highly recommended.

dark-heart-heavy-soulDark Heart, Heavy Soul by Keith Nixon

Konstantin Boryakov is back!

In Dark Heart, Heavy Soul, the former KGB anti-hero is reluctantly dragged into taking part in a heist which soon spirals out of his control.

Keith Nixon’s Dark Heart, Heavy Soul is the best Konstantin Boryakov novel yet. Nixon smoothly blends high-octane thrills with gritty crime fiction. Dark Heart, Heavy Soul is packed full of tension, action, humour, great characters, sharp dialogue and a hell of a lot of warmth too.

An absolute belter!

summoning-the-deadSummoning The Dead by Tony Black

The mummified corpse of a young child is found in barrel that had been buried in a field years before. DI Bob Valentine digs deep to unearth’ corruption, cover-ups and murder.

Tony Black’s Summoning The Dead is an atmospheric, engrossing, lyrical and  sometimes harrowing police procedural that packs a powerful emotional punch.

The characters are well drawn and believable, the plot is involving,  the pace is whip-crack and the result is eminently satisfying.

Fantastic stuff.

the dead can't talkThe Dead Can’t Talk by Nick Quantrill

Power, corruption and lies would be a suitable sub-heading for Nick Quantrill’s hard-hitting crime novels. In The Dead Can’t Talk, as in his cracking Joe Geraghty trilogy, Quantrill tells the story of a criminal investigation which digs below the city of Hull’s surface to reveal a dirty underbelly.

The Dead Can’t Talk introduces us to two new protagonists – cop Anna Stone and ex- soldier Luke Carver. They are brought together to look into a murder, and an apparent suicide but all is not as it seems, of course.

Quantrill again gives us a perfectly paced criminal investigation but the tension is greater and the twist and turns are tighter this time. The characters are all typically well drawn, most notably the city of Hull itself. This is a novel of deceptive breadth and scope.

The Dead Can’t Talk is the start of what is sure to be another great social-realist crime fiction series from Nick Quantrill. Highly recommended.