Category Archives: recommended reads

Recommended Reads: February 2017

ryan-bracha-jeebiesPhoebe Jeebies and The Man Who Annoyed Everybody by Ryan Bracha

Tony is a horrible man, he really is. He’s one of ‘the enlightened’ – a group of oddballs who are paid by a nasty rich kid to annoy people. Not in any major way but just enough to entertain the kid. And he’s good at it too. And then he meets Phoebe and she’s lovely, she really is.

Phoebe Jeebies and The Man Who Annoyed Everybody is bloody marvelous and really showcases Ryan Bracha’s strengths as a storyteller. In lesser hands, Phoebe Jeebies and The Man Who Annoyed Everybody would have just been an entertaining but slight scattershot of high-brow farce, low-brow satire, 6th form japes and jibes.  Bracha, however, has crafted a book that is artful, full of heart and really quite lovely.

The Origins Of Benjamin Hackett by Gerald M O’Connor benjamin-hacket

Five days in the life of eighteen-year-old Benjamin Hackett as his world is turned upside down. The Origins of Benjamin Hackett by Gerald M  O’Connor is a raucous and riotous coming of age story that is brutal, tender and hilarious.

vicious-dogsVicious Dogs by Henry Brock

Derek Lasker is a down on his luck PI who is hired to follow a wayward son and inevitably digs himself deeper and deeper into the mire. Henry Brock’s Vicious Dogs is a brutal slice of lowlife noir that smartly blends Charles Bukowski with Eddie Bunker and breathes new life into the PI novel. I bloody loved it!

Recommended Reads: January 2017

a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-billingham-forumA Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Billingham Forum – Martin Stanley

The Stanton Brothers are back and they have a plan to rip-off a drug deal that takes place at Billingham Forum. But,as ever,  things soon spiral violently out of control. Martin Stanley’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Billingham Forum is simply fantastic. A violent and funny masterclass in Brit Grit crime fiction that is full of sharp dialogue and great characters.

The Death Of Tarpons by Les Edgeron

Cory returns to the small town he grew up in and digs through the ashes of his past. Les Edgerton’s The Death Of Tarpons is a brilliantly written, vividly evocative, and very moving coming-of- age story with a razor-sharp edge.the-death-of-tarpons

church-of-wireChurch Of Wire by Andrew Hook

Mordent is a private detective on the trail of a serial killer whose victims are the survivors of attacks from other serial killers. His investigation eventually leads him to a strange religious cult known as The Church Of Wire. Andrew Hook’s Church Of Wire is a quirky, clever and vividly cinematic twist on the PI tale that would make a great HBO television series.

Shine On, Marquee Moon – Zoe Howe shine-on-marquee-moon

Sylvie works for Concierge, former New Romantic superstars who are in the middle of a career comeback. She is also engaged to one of the band, moody Nick. However things swiftly turn pear-shaped when Sylvie starts to suspect that Nick’s mansion is haunted.  Zoe Howe’s Shine On, Marquee Moon is a freewheeling blend of romantic comedy, French farce and musical satire that is choc-full of laugh out loud moments.

Recommended Read: Summoning The Dead by Tony Black

summoning-the-deadThe 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.

Recommended Read: Burning Down The House by Evangeline Jennings

burning-down-the-houseThe United States elects a flim-flam man as President and America very quickly becomes no place like home for any of Burning Down The House‘s well-drawn cast of characters.

Evangeline Jennings‘ gripping dystopian novel takes place in a near future that seems chilling real.

Burning Down The House is part slice -of-life drama, part violent thriller, part satire.

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.

Recommended Read: For All Is Vanity by Robert Cowan.

for-all-is-vanityJack 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.

Recommended Read: Paper Gods and Iron Men by Kevin Cowdall

paper-gods-and-iron-menNorth Africa, World War 2. An airplane is shot down. The two survivors – a prisoner and a war hero -set off across the desert with limited supplies. Paper Gods and Iron Men by Kevin Cowdall is gripping and atmospheric, with rich, vivid writing and strong characterization.

The accompanying story, Flanagan’s Mule, is set in South America during the 1950s. It too tells the story of a dangerous trek and is also involving and really well-written.  Marvelous stuff.

Recommended Read: Marwick’s Reckoning by Gareth Spark

marwick's reckoningMarwick 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.

Recommended Read:Dark Heart, Heavy Soul by Keith Nixon

dark-heart-heavy-soulKonstantin 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!

Recommended Read: The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinkson.

the-deepening-shadeAn 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.

Recommended Read: The Pure And The Hated by Richard Godwin

the pure and the hatedFamily man Shepherd Butler is mourning the death of his son when he decides to take in a homeless man who has also suffered a violent tragedy. Things then quickly spiral violently out of control.

Richard Godwin’s The Pure And The Hated starts as an atmospheric tale of loss, then twists into a graphic cross between Cape Fear and Grande Guignol horror.

Recommended Read: The Motel Whore by Paul Heatley

the motel whorePaul Heatley’s The Motel Whore is a short, sharp look at a day in the life of Joanie, who works as a prostitute in room 16 of a sleazy motel, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Rich with great characters, The Motel Whore is sad, brutal and completely enthralling.

 

Recommended Read: Route 12 by Marietta Miles

route-12-finalRoute 12 by Marietta Miles contains two unflinchingly  dark novellas that savagely slice up America’s  dark underbelly.

In Route 12 itself, which  takes place in the 1970s,  the lives of three troubled young people intersect brutally.

The second novella, the 1960s set Blood and Sin, focuses on  the tragic woman that circle Pastor Friend.  Both novellas are intense, chilling and completely gripping.

Recommended Read: Raise The Blade by Tess Makovesky

Raise the Blade FrontWhen Brian Warren first tells his probation officer Jo Jackson about finding a body, she doesn’t believe him but as she digs deeper into his story she uncovers a chilling and grisly truth.

A serial killer and six unconnected victims are trapped in a web of violence in Tess Makovesky‘s cracking debut Raise The Blade, a brutal slice of Brit Grit crime fiction.

Recommended Read: The Death Of Three Colours by Jason Michel

the death of 3 coloursJonah 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.