Nolan Kennedy teaches English in Istanbul. One day, Kennedy, the son of an unsuccessful American Beat writer, accidentally finds out that Don Darius, his main boozing partner, has been secretly writing a novel – and a bloody good one it is, too. But Don has already upped sticks to Poland so Keenedy decides to track him down. Kennedy’s fool’s errand soon melts into Don Darius’ own romantic quest.
Nick Sweeney’s Laikonik Express is a marvelous novel that is full of warmth and charm. Although the young protagonists are a touch pretentious and overly earnest it’s still a pleasure to spend time in their company. The real strength of Laikonik Express, however, is its rich supporting cast of people and places. Highly recommended.
Scottish teenager Jesse Garon wakes up one day and finds a note on the fridge from his father saying that he has left home to get work in Belfast. Later that day, Jesse gets an email from his alcoholic mother telling him that she has also left home. So Jesse is forced to fend for himself.
That’s All Right is the first of Nigel Bird’s Southsiders books. There are three novellas in all. This is a great slice of kitchen sink drama that is full of well-drawn and sympathetic characters. That’s All Right is touching as well as gritty and I look forward to reading the next in the series.
Aidan Thorn’s Tales From The Underbelly is a collection of hard-hitting, interconnected crime stories, and is pure Brit Grit. The collection kicks off with a fistful of short, sharp jabs of flash fiction and ends with a couple of longer pieces which really show Thorn’s strengths.
A Sporting Chance is the story of a local football star who returns to his home town after a stint in the Premier League and has a fateful encounter with local gangster Tony Ricco. The final story, Worst Laid Plans, is a knockout punch telling the tale of a group of young lads whose lives soon spiral out of control after a night out. Worst Laid Plans is an absolute belter of a tale, full of dark humour, sharp twists and turns and great characters.
If you enjoyed Thorn’s cracking novella When the Music’s Over then you should most certainly grab a copy of Tales From The Underbelly.
Detective Sergeant Solomon Grey is a wreck of a man, battered and bruised by personal tragedy.
When he investigates the apparent suicide of a sixteen-year-old boy, he is soon embroiled in something much more sinister.
Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon is a not only a cracking whodunnit, it is also a powerful and gripping crime thriller that twists and turns as tightly as a corkscrew.
Jasmine Doyle and her friends are messing about in a pub after hours when one of them throws a dart which hits Jasmine in the eye. Her gangster dad Neil is soon out for revenge, calling in old stalwart Graeme to track down the perpetrator of the crime.
Paul Heatley’s Eye For An Eye is a brilliant and brutal novella with a fantastically drawn cast of characters. The father-son relationship between Graeme and his reluctant sidekick Tracksuit Tony is particularly marvellous and the book is as touching as it is violent. Very highly recommended. More Please!
Craig Collins has a pretty cushy job mowing the lawn of local pizza magnet Gino Pasarelli but he goes and screws it up when he can’t keep his eyes off Gino’s ageing glamour-girl wife. So, he comes up with a foolproof get-rich-quick plan as a way to take his revenge.
Chuck Caruso’s The Lawn Job is just fantastic – cruel, hilarious and painfully true. Craig Collins is a classic noir protagonist – thinking that he’s much cleverer than he actually is, he just keeps digging himself deeper and deeper into the mire. The Lawn Job’s cast of characters is great from the ridiculous Gino to Craig’s stoner cronies to the super-cool stripper Juana.
There’s the flavour of early Elmore Leonard and the taste of James M. Cain in The Lawn Job but Caruso’s debut novel is completly NOW and is very highly recommended.
Joe Rey is a small town tough-guy-for-hire who digs himself deeper and deeper into the mire when he takes on a job for ageing gangster Marie Andretti.
Tom Leins‘ ‘Skull Meat’ is Brit Grit at its grittiest. Ulra-violent, foul-mouthed, atmospheric, hilarious and choc-full of great lines. I loved it!
Jaded Las Vegas hack Sim Palmer is approached by a stranger in a bar and asked to look into the disappearance of a young girl.
Twists, turns and violence quickly ensue in a classic slice of atmospheric, brutal, fast-paced pulp fiction.
Matt Phillips’ Bad Luck City is a whip crack of a read and is highly recommended.
Joey has had enough. His girlfriend has left him, taking their young son with her. He comes close to losing a bar job that he hates, and he is regularly verbally abused by one of his customers, a local big shot.
So he hits on a plan that will sort everything out. Of course, in true noir fashion, it’s not as easy as he thinks.
Paul Heatley’s Fatboy is brilliant. A perfect example of smalltown noir worthy of Jim Thompson or Dave Zeltserman. Highly recommended.
Jack is a successful international hit-man who is usually employed by the Sicilian Mafia.
When he finds himself deep in the murky waters of the British government, things spiral violently out of control.
Richard Godwin’s Portrait Of An Assasin is full-on, hardboiled, pulp action and cracking fun it is too!
Jake Boulder is a Scottish hardman transported to the USA who works as a bouncer and also as an assistant to his PI friend Alfonse. As they investigate the death of one of Jake’s old flames, they discover that there is a serial-killer on the loose.
Watching The Bodies is the first in what promises to be a cracking new series from Graham Smith.
Hard-hitting, tightly paced and with lots of great twists and turns.
DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are called to investigate the murder of a trans woman in Eva Dolan’s fourth novel set in Peterborough police’s Hate Crimes Unit.
Once again Dolan gives us an evenly paced police procudural full of twists and turns, believeble characters and a stong sense of place and time.
Engrossing and moving, Watch Her Disappear is another gritty gem from Eva Dolan.
Some recent faves …
The Things I Love Will Kill Me Yet by Rob Pierce
Rob Pierce is surely the noir Raymond Carver. In this brutal and brilliant short story collection you’ll find a veritable cornucopia of tightly written and gritty tales of people living on the razor’s edge of life.
Fun City Punch by James Newman
James Newman’s latest spin on the private eye novel is a potent piece of futuristic noir. Fun City Punch is winding and twisting tale that vividly blends Beat poetry and pulp prose to create something quite special.
A Man With One Of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell
Fast-moving and hilarious, McDonnell’s knockabout crime caper is a joy from start to finish. Great characters, fantastic dialogue and full of twists and tuns, I bloody loved it.
A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps by Nick Kolakowski
Kolakowski follows up his cracking debut short story collection with a full-on slice of hard-boiled pulp fiction. Blackly comic, violent and jam-packed with richly drawn characters, A Brutal Bunch Of Heartbroken Saps is a hell of a read.
Moorlands by Jason Beech
Larry is a burglar who needs to get his hands on some cash. Sharpish. When his step- father – a retired cop – asks him to track down his errant sister , he has the chance of a way out of his financial problems but Larry soon digs himself even deeper into the mire. Moorlands is a tight, atmospheric crime thriller with a strong sense of melancholy.
The Vampire by Paul Heatley
Martin works in a dirty book store and spends his life haunting the losers and lowlifes at the nearby motel. Like Heatley’s similarly hard-hitting The Motel Whore, The Vampire gazes into the darkness with bloodshot eyes and is similarly unflinching. Gripping and certainly not for the squeamish.
The Black-Hearted Beat by Jason Michel
War correspondent Jude Mortimer lives a life on the edge in the first part of Jason Michel’s The Black-Hearted Beat, which kicks off brilliantly, like a visceral blend of Graham Greene and The Deerhunter. Teetering on the precipice of a dream, a nightmare, delirium, oblivion, The Black-Hearted Beat is as rich and red as wine and blood. Taste it.