‘The sky above the Dirty Lemon is the colour of diseased lungs. Fat clouds swirl above the pub, and the bronchial sky erupts as I push through the double-doors – bullets of rain thudding into the wheelchair ramp behind me.’
The first paragraph of Slug Bait – Tom Leins’ latest Paignton Noir Mystery – is a belter. It’s vivid, lurid, lewd, crude, and it sets the scene for the rest of the book perfectly. In Slug Bait, Poundshop PI Joe Rey is entangled with amusement arcade entrepreneur Ray Coody and he’s soon dragged even deeper in the mire, as usual.
As always, Tom Leins pushes the Brit Grit volume up to 11 and, as always, he does it with great aplomb.
Jackson Stobbart is given the unenviable task of taking care of Newcastle gangster Danny Hoy’s cash-stash. When Jackson’s girlfriend does a runner with the money, he sets off to track her down and get it back – before the psychopathic Hoy finds out he’s been ripped off. The Runner is another short, sharp knockout from the talented Paul Heatley. Also includes the cracking short story The Straightener.
When loan shark Alan Piper offers Eric Stanton a job, he reluctantly agrees. Against his better judgment, Eric enlist the aid of his psychotic brother, Derek. The pair are soon embroiled in dog fighting, mad junkies, Polish gangsters, and a hell of a lot of violence.
Martin Stanley’s Fighting Talk is Brit Grit at its best. Choc full of great characters and dialogue, its as funny as it is brutal, and has a great sense of place. Five Gritty Stars!
Nick Kolakowski – Boise Longpig Hunting Club
There’s a bounty hunter and his missing guns. There’s Aryan assassins and there’s Zombie Bill. And there’s more! Nick Kolakowski’s Boise Longpig Hunting Club is a terrific read. A great blend of hard-boiled pulp fiction and high-octane action thriller. Pow!
Jason Beech- City Of Forts.
A group of kids find a body in the basement of an abandoned house and a criminal known as Tarantula Man is soon on their trail. Jason Beech’s City Of Forts masterfully blends urban noir with coming of age drama. Tense, atmospheric, and haunting.
Matt Phillips – Know Me From Smoke
A singer with a bullet lodged in her hip. An unsolved murder. A killer just out of prison. Matt Phillips’ Know Me From Smoke is a beautifully written, brutal & brilliant slice of hard-boiled crime fiction. A Knockout
Dickens obsessive Mr. Madden is a spy whose mission is to infiltrate the right wing group England Awake!
He is also a serial killer known as The Chavkiller who is out to revenge his dead wife.
Dread: The Art Of Serial Killing by Mark Ramsden is violent, gripping, clever, touching and very, very funny.
The wordplay is witty and the structure is remarkably inventive.
Cultural references abound – high-brow, low-brow -and any book that mentions both Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd is fine by me.
Ex-police detective Bunny McGarry is missing and his friend – would-be private detective Paul Mulchrone – sets off to track him down. Meanwhile, a terrorist group appears to be killing Dublin’s fat cat property developers. These and other story strands are soon entagled in Caimh McDonnell’s The Day That Never Comes – the second part of his four part ‘Dublin Trilogy.’ And like McDonnell’s debut novel – A Man With One Of Those Faces – it is a cracking blend of quick humour and fast-paced crime thriller. The Day That Never Comes is choc-full of great characters and sharp satire, and is marvelous fun.
Lawrence Odd is a psychopath with a long history of committing violent crimes and he is more than happy to be recruited as an assassin by the Cleansing Department – a particularly shady branch of the British Secret Service. All goes swimmingly until Lawrence discovers the Cleansing Department’s darkest secret.
Jack D. McLean‘s witty, quirky thriller Confessions Of An English Psychopath is fast moving, funny, violent and a hell of a lot of fun.
Imagine a lethal cocktail of The Ipcress File, The Prisoner, Monty Python, and A Confederacy Of Dunces, and you’re halfway there.
‘History’s never written by the dead.’
Math Bird’s Histories Of The Dead is a brutal and brilliant short story collection that is bookended by two truly powerful short stories- ‘Histories Of The Dead’ and ‘Billy Star.’
The rest of the stories in the collection are just as well-written, moving and compelling. These are evocative stories of hard men and women living hard lives and Bird proves himself to be a master storyteller throughout.
Comic book artist, part-time sleuth and multi-millionare Kirby Baxter arrives at a Canadian comic book convention intending to catch up with old friends but he is very quickly caught up in a murder investigation.
Duncan MacMaster’s A Mint Condition Corpse is a joy. Fast-moving, funny and choc-full of great characters, observations and dialogue.
John, the protagonist of Untethered, is a man with a dark and secret past who is living a new life under witness protection. As he sits alone in his flat, drinking and writing in his journal, John becomes embroiled in the search for a missing neighbour.
John Bowie’s ’90s set Untethered is a violent and inense read. Lyrical, moody, funny and as gritty as hell, Untethered is like a British blend of Jim Thompson and Nelson Algren.
In war torn Britain, Chief Inspector Frank Parade is sent to investigate the suspicious deaths of a man and woman whose corpses have been found in a small Welsh mining village.
Gary M. Dobbs’ Down Among The Dead is a gripping historical police procedural with a great sense of time and place.
A terrific read.
Hapless Paignton PI Joe Rey is hot on the trail of a rare and much sought after ’70s Giallo video film when he is quickly dragged down into a whirlpool of violence and sleaze.
Tom Leins’ Snuff Racket is even better than his debut Skull Meat. There’s blood, guts, cracking one-liners and a hell of a lot of dark humour here.
Oh, and as the man said, Snuff Racket really is not for those of a sensitive disposition.
Who makes the best beer in the world? Maybe the Czechs or Belgians.
But when it comes to short stories, well, the American’s pretty much rule the roost, they really do. Flannery O’ Connor, Raymond Carver, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Kyle Minor. Loads and loads more.
And you can add Les Edgerton to that list, of course.
Monday’s Meal by Les Edgerton was first published in 1997 and contains twenty-one tales of dirt realism. Sharp slices of American life. They’re set in New Orleans and Texas. Sometimes in bars or behind bars. They’re about café owners, hairdressers, nightclub musicians, prisoners, ex-cons, drifters and drinkers.
Monday’s Meal opens and closes with ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Monday’s Meal,’ tales of strained relationships. But the real meat is sandwiched between them. And Monday’s Meal is a particularly meaty collection.
Some favourites: ‘The Mockingbird Café’ is the story of a man in a low-rent bar trying to mind his own business; ‘Hard Times’ is bleak and scary and brilliantly written; ‘The Last Fan’ is a tragic look at a shattered marriage; ‘My Idea Of A Nice Thing’ is a touching and sad story of an alcoholic’s crumbling life;’Telemarketing,’ is the story of a young couple just trying to get by; ‘I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger,’ is a fun Runyonesque crime story.
And there’s plenty more to enjoy in Monday’s Meal. Edgerton has a strong and sure grasp of the lives of people who are standing on the edge of a precipice.
The eBook of Monday’s Meal is to be published by the splendid Down and Out Books. It’s currently being offered as a prepub sale. It goes on regular sale on April 23.
A gruesome murder starts a labyrinthine investigation that digs below Paris’ glittery surface and unearths the city’s dark underbelly.
Seth Lynch’s The Paris Ripper is a vivid and gripping slice of historical crime fiction.