THE LIBERATOR is on sale again.
A priest tracks down his kidnapped sister and finds her trapped in a nest of evil.
Van Helsing meets The Punisher in The Liberator, a hard-boiled noir/ horror short story from Paul D. Brazill creator of Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI.
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:
William Dylan Powell
Paul D. Brazil
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.
“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.
(c) Paul D. Brazill
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.
‘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)’
The motel room is dark except for the faint light from an old transistor radio that is tuned to a classical music station. Hinkson sits in an old rocking chair, eyes closed. A sawn-off shotgun across his lap. A half-empty bottle of whisky on the table beside him. He opens his eyes, leans over and unsteadily lifts the bottle to his lips. Takes a little sip. Closes his eyes again for a moment. Drifts away.
The slam of a car door drags him back to reality. He peels back the blinds. The motel’s neon sign flickers. Snow falls like confetti and the brothers stand in front of their battered BMW. They’re dressed in black, as always. Overcoats, flat caps. Black leather gloves. They are illuminated by a string of Christmas lights that encircle the car park. They take something out of the car boot, slam it shut then slowly trudge across the snow smothered car park, looking like shadows. Larry leads the way. Lloyd and Lee either side of him, as usual.
Hinkson rummages in his jacket pocket and fishes out an amphetamine tablet. Pops it in his mouth and washes it down with the whisky.
A church bell chimes.
Lloyd span the BMW into the side street, narrowly missing an old woman with a tartan shopping trolley as she dragged herself across the street.
Lee, his massive frame jammed into the passenger seat, giggled.
‘For fuck’s sake, that was close. Nearly got ten points,’ he said.
‘Only five points for a coffin-dodger,’ said Lloyd.
Harsh winter sunlight was pouring through the shattered windscreen and he was sweating like a pig.
‘Focus, lads,’ croaked Larry. ‘Focus.’
He was slouched in the back seat, blood pouring from a shotgun wound in his stomach. Hinkson had covered the wound with a towel but it was already soaked red.
‘This’ll have to do for now,’ said Hinkson. ‘Fucks knows what I’m doing, though.’
‘Thought you were medically qualified,’ said Lee, his speed-freak eyes dancing a tarantella.
‘First Aid certificate from when I worked at the swimming baths,’ said Hinkson.
‘Beggars can’t be choosers,’ said Lee.
Sirens screamed in the distance as they pulled up in front of The Royal Oak. The pub was stained with graffiti, its windows boarded up. A rusty metal shutter was pulled down over the front door.
Lee rushed out of the car and pulled up the shutter while Lloyd dragged a black holdall out of the car boot. Hinkson eased the groaning Larry out of the car and into the darkened pub. Lloyd followed, struggling with the holdall.
‘I’ll hide the car round the back while you phone Doc Holloway, then,’ said Lee.
‘Most sensible thing you’ve said all day,’ said Lloyd.
Lee stopped as his hand gripped the car door handle. He glared at Lloyd.
‘Do not blame me for this, bro,’ he said. ‘Understand?’
‘Whatever,’ said Lloyd. ‘Just get a move on’
He pulled down the shutters with a bang.
The radio’s batteries are dying and the music and lights are fading. The brothers are outside the motel room’s door now. Hinkson can hear Lee trying to suppress his giggles. Larry is breathing heavily. Hinkson pats the holdall.
There is a knock at the door.
‘Three strikes and you’re out,’ rasps Larry. ‘I’m growing impatient. I’m not a well man.’
The radio dies and the room is completely dark, silent. Except for the sound of Hinkson’s heartbeat which seems loud enough to make his head explode.
The day had melted into night. Lee and Lloyd were crashed out on the sofa, bottles of vodka drained and littering the floor. Larry was knocked out by the morphine administered by Dr Holloway. A police siren dragged Hinkson from his slumber. Seemed to be getting nearer. Hinkson looked at the black holdall and did what he always knew he would do. He picked it up and left.
The hammering on the door is getting louder. Hinkson opens the holdall. Pours the last of the whisky over its contents. Takes out a lighter and sets fire a toilet roll. Puts it in the bag and puts the bag in front of the door.
He stands and picks up the shotgun as the front door bursts open.
‘Bring it on,’ he says, as he presses the trigger.
(Seven Minutes To Midnight first appeared at Pulp Metal Magazine)
An alcoholic cop, a Jesus freak, a pregnant homeless teenager, a stripper, a cop in debt to a gangster, and the manager of a fast food joint who is in the wrong place at the wrong time are all part of the rich and varied cast of characters in The Deepening Shade, Jake Hinkson’s superlative short story collection.
The writing is vivid, lyric and brutal. The stories are powerful and involving. The characters are human, all too human.
Every story in this collection is a gem but standouts for me were Makers And Coke, Night Terrors, The Serpent Box and Our Violence.
Very highly recommended.
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.
Crime fiction writer Steven Gomez asked a few people to define noir.
Eddie Muller, Lawrence Block, Christa Faust, Will Viharo and more- including me – gave him short, sharp answers.