Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Finds (30 January 2015)

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

This week I discovered and obtained so very cool books. Unlike last weeks mixed variety, this week three crime books came my way for review:

WormWORM by Anthony Neil Smith (thanks to Blasted Heath for this one! ANS is one of my favorite authors with ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS one of my all time favorite books so naturally I delved into this one straight away).

In the Bakken oil field of North Dakota, they call the new guys “worms.”

Ferret is a worm from Alabama, trying to kickstart a new life for his family, while back home his in-laws whisper break-up songs in his wife Dee Dee’s ear.

His boss, a shadowy old guy called Pancrazio, drags in Ferret, Gene Handy, and two roustabouts from Oklahoma to deal with a new meth empire on the prairie. Meanwhile, a reservation cop keeps a close eye on the big picture.

All Ferret wants is some easy money and the love of his family. But he quickly finds out that there’s danger around every corner, in every drill, truck and train car. And if the machines or chemicals don’t get him, then the other roughnecks will. Because beneath the dirt and grease, nobody is what they seem.

Dark CountryDARK COUNTRY by Darren E Laws (many thanks to Caffeine Nights Crime Club for this one. DARK COUNTRY will be my first title for CN)

The second novel featuring FBI agent Georgina O'Neil finds her faced with her most challenging and disturbing case yet

Genna Dark, a singer on the verge of stardom, goes missing. Her mother and grandmother, both country and western stars, were kidnapped and murdered 20 years apart as they were about to hit the big time. Is there a connection or is this the work of a copycat? Is Genna Dark about to follow the family tradition? FBI agent Georgina O'Neil and ex-detective Leroy La Portiere find themselves embroiled in the investigation to find Genna Dark, when a sudden and catastrophic illness leaves Georgina on the outside of the FBI, fighting for her life while struggling to save the singer and hold on to everything dear in her life. 

Archie in the CrosshairsARCHIE IN THE CROSSHAIRS by Robert Goldsborough (After receiving the fantastic EVERYBODY GOES TO JIMMY'S earlier from Mysterious Press, the second book from the publisher that I'm to review this year sounds very cool. I have high expectations.) 

Nero Wolfe is back with his right hand man, Archie, in Robert Goldsborough’s latest Nero Wolf mystery, Archie in the Crosshairs, to be released on March 10 2015.

Archie Goodwin is chipper as he strolls home from his weekly poker game, money in his pocket and a smile on his lips. He has just reached Nero Wolfe’s stately brownstone on West Thirty-Fifth Street when a sedan whips around the corner and two gunshots ring out, nearly hitting Goodwin. It is a warning, and the message is clear: the next bullet will not miss.

The Nero Wolfe estate officially sanctioned Robert Goldsborough to be the continuator of the beloved Nero Wolfe series. Nero Wolfe remains one of the most popular mystery characters of all times and is so engrained in popular culture.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Upcoming Hardcase Crime Releases

Whilst browsing around the internet today I discovered that the Hardcase Crime website had updated it's listing of books to include releases in July and September of this year as well as the first title for 2016 - and they all look fantastic! 

I own just about all of the HCC novels and will be sure to pre-order these. 

Below are cover images and text (replicated from the website). I've also included the April 2015 release of THIEVES FALL OUT, because why not? 

CUT ME IN by Ed McBain (scheduled publication Jan 2016)

Maybe no one liked Del Gilbert a whole lot, not the men he ruthlessly did business with, not the women who discovered they weren’t his only lover, not even his partner in the Gilbert and Blake literary agency—me. But when I found him shot to death on the floor of his office, I had no choice. I had to track down the person responsible. And not just to lay Del to rest, either. Next to his body, the office safe was wide open, and a contract worth millions was missing...

From the pen of MWA Grand Master Ed McBain comes this unforgettable story of warring agents and Hollywood deal making, murder and scandal—and passions igniting in the dark of night,

THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES by Lawrence Block (scheduled publication Sept 2015)

Cashed out from the NYPD after 24 years, Doak Miller operates as a private eye in steamy small-town Florida, doing jobs for the local police. Like posing as a hit man and wearing a wire to incriminate a local wife who’s looking to get rid of her husband. But when he sees the wife, when he looks into her deep blue eyes...

He falls—and falls hard. Soon he’s working with her, against his employer, plotting a devious plan that could get her free from her husband and put millions in her bank account. But can they do it without landing in jail? And once heÕs kindled his taste for killing...will he be able to stop at one? 

SO NUDE, SO DEAD by Ed McBain (scheduled publication July 2015)

He’d been a promising piano prodigy, once. Now he was just an addict, barely scraping by, letting his hunger for drugs consume him. But a man’s life can always get worse—as Ray Stone discovers when he wakes up beside a beautiful nightclub singer only to find her dead...and 16 ounces of pure heroin missing. On the run from the law, desperate to prove his innocence, Ray also faces another foe, merciless and unforgiving: his fierce and growing craving for a fix...

Ed McBain was one of the most popular mystery writers of all time, creator of the 87th Precinct series and recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. SO NUDE, SO DEAD was his very first crime novel—and this is its first appearance in print in more than half a century.

THIEVES FALL OUT by Gore Vidal (scheduled publication April 2015)

In 1953, Gore Vidal had already begun writing the works that would launch him to the top ranks of American authors and intellectuals. But in the wake of criticism for the scandalous content of his third novel, Vidal turned to writing crime fiction under fake names: three books as "Edgar Box" and one as "Cameron Kay." The Edgar Box novels were subsequently republished under his real name. The Cameron Kay never was.

Lost for more than 60 years and overflowing with political and sexual intrigue, THIEVES FALL OUT provides a delicious glimpse into the mind of Gore Vidal in his formative years. By turns mischievous and deadly serious, Vidal tells the story of a man caught up in events bigger than he is, a down-on-his-luck American hired to smuggle an ancient relic out of Cairo at a time when revolution is brewing and heads are about to roll.

One part Casablanca and one part torn-from-the-headlines tabloid reportage, this novel also offers a startling glimpse of Egypt in turmoil—written over half a century ago, but as current as the news streaming from that region today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: AVENGER (Intrepid #3) by Chris Allen

Avenger (Intrepid #3)
From the back of the book
Policeman, soldier and spy for INTREPID, black ops agent Alex Morgan is hunting the Night Witch—the head of a shadowy criminal empire spanning the four corners of the globe and connected to Chinese triads, corrupt cops, and the Russian mafia.

When Morgan's sent to China to shadow INTREPID's newest agent, Elizabeth Reigns, he soon discovers she's been sold out and the triads are after their pound of flesh.

My Review
third installment in the Intrepid series (following DEFENDER and HUNTER) pits the black ops specialist Alex Morgan against an international people trafficking ring who peddle unsuspecting young women as sex slaves to the wealthy. 

AVENGER is a truer rendition of the crime genre as opposed to the previous installments which predominately focused on the thriller and action elements of international spy capers akin to big budget Hollywood-type blockbusters. That said, the action is still plentiful, it just doesn't take center stage.  

The emphasis is clearly placed on the antagonist and her crafty deception as the front woman to a heinous criminal underworld movement. I liked the approach author Chris Allen took with this, flipping the script on its head and indulging in the unexpected to define her back-story and subsequent business methodology. The mantra is consistent; cruelty for cash, catering to any dangerously perverted desire. 

Series protagonist Alex Morgan once again finds his 'Intrepid girl' - the theme playing out like that of the Bond books (which is a good thing by the way) while also finding a deeper sense of survival and calm among conflict.

The Intrepid series, and the latest installment AVENGER will appeal equally to readers of Ian Fleming's Bond books and Matthew Reilly's Scarecrow series.    

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I love browsing second hand bookstores and unearthing gems - even moreso when said gems are pulps. Today I managed to get 4 from a secondhand bookstore in Adelaide including a Gil Brewer I haven't yet read in 77 RUE PARADIS - all for a total cost of $2! 

FlameFLAME by Kenneth Roberts (pub. 1970, this edition, 1973)

More beautiful than a goddess, more spell-binding than a witch, Flame was both leader of a tribe and slave to white man.

But her body was too beautiful, too brave to be tamed by the indignities of slavery. Though brutally captured and degraded time and again, Flame's tribal pride soon taught her how to use her body to dominate her masters.

Author Kenneth Roberts reveals what happens when a native lust for life confronts the social aberration of slavery.

Kiss the Boys and Make Them DieKISS THE BOYS & MAKE THEM DIE by James Yardley (pub. 1970, this edition, 1972)

Kiss Darling had nerves of steel, a computerized intelligence, and a body designed provocatively for the pleasure of men...She had one weakness. She was a virgin...Investigating the sales of ancient Egyptian jewellery involves Kiss Darling and her ex-Flying Squad boss with assassins, bedouins, bellydancers, revolutionaries, ceremonial sacrifices, duels and death in a Pharaoh's tomb hidden beneath the rising waters of the Nile...

The Final FearTHE FINAL FEAR by Laurance Janifer (publication unknown)

It had started in the arms of the woman I loved - or thought I did. But it wasn't going to end there. Her husband wanted to put me on a slab in the morgue... and it's hard to remember that the old rules don't apply any more.

I could be shot dead in broad daylight in the middle of a crowd of witnesses. I can't forget - I can't never forget  - that a man with a gun is stalking me, a who whose single-minded idea of vengeance feeds his passion for murder. 

77 RUE PARADIS by Gil Brewer (pub. 1954, this edition, unknown)

He met a gutter angel on the roadway to hell! It began here for Baron--the whole grotesque skein of terror-- here in this Marseilles street of despair, the street called the Rue Paradis. There was Gorssmann, fat and corrupt, who waited until Baron scraped bottom--and then blackmailed him into treason. And Lili, the dark, lovely gamin, who fell in love with Baron--and worked for the man determined to destroy him. Altogether for Frank Baron it was a small hell on the street called Paradise! 

Catching Up: THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese FalconFrom the back of the book
Sam Spade is hired by the beautiful Miss Wonderley to track down her sister. When his partner, Miles Arhcer, is shot while on the trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted as he tracks down a jewel-encrusted treasure people are willing to kill for.

My Review
How do you possibly review a book which has had so much praised lathered on it over so long? I could just reiterate how good it is, how real and well written the characters are, how enjoyable the plot is, and how it conforms to my ideal 'package' of a novel - binding the elements that make a five star read. But I wont. Instead I'll simply say THE MALTESE FALCON (pub,1929) is one of those rare timeless tales that reads as relevant today as it did some eighty-plus years ago when it was first published. Sam Spade is sinister; the multi-faceted shade of grey that is the very foundation of noir, while Miss Wonderley is mysterious, devious, and dangerous - basically in replica of the novel itself. The only way to do this book justice is to read it again and again and again - and that I will. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

Avenger (Intrepid #3)AVENGER (Intrepid #3) by Chris Allen

Alex Morgan is back and he isn't playing by the rules.

Policeman, soldier and spy for INTREPID, black ops agent Alex Morgan is hunting the Night Witch—the head of a shadowy criminal empire spanning the four corners of the globe and connected to Chinese triads, corrupt cops, and the Russian mafia.

When Morgan's sent to China to shadow INTREPID's newest agent, Elizabeth Reigns, he soon discovers she's been sold out and the triads are after their pound of flesh.

With Reigns in his corner, Morgan must find a way through a complex labyrinth of scattered connections and corporate takeovers to find the real Night Witch, and crush an empire built on trading in human life. But there's only one problem. To achieve his objective Morgan must confront an enemy he thought was already dead and buried. Will Morgan have what it takes to survive?

The Killing Of The Tinkers (Jack Taylor, #2)
THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS (Jack Taylor #2) by Ken Bruen (re-read)

When Jack Taylor blew town at the end of "The Guards" his alcoholism was a distant memory and sober dreams of a new life in London were shining in his eyes. In the opening pages of "The Killing of the Tinkers," Jack's back in Galway a year later with a new leather jacket on his back, a pack of smokes in his pocket, a few grams of coke in his waistband, and a pint of Guinness on his mind. So much for new beginnings. 

Before long he's sunk into his old patterns, lifting his head from the bar only every few days, appraising his surroundings for mere minutes and then descending deep into the alcoholic, drug-induced fugue he prefers to the real world. But a big gypsy walks into the bar one day during a moment of Jack's clarity and changes all that with a simple request. Jack knows the look in this man's eyes, a look of hopelessness mixed with resolve topped off with a quietly simmering rage; he's seen it in the mirror. Recognizing a kindred soul, Jack agrees to help him, knowing but not admitting that getting involved is going to lead to more bad than good. 

But in Jack Taylor's world bad and good are part and parcel of the same lost cause, and besides, no one ever accused Jack of having good sense.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Catching up: PLUNDER OF THE SUN by David Dodge

Plunder of the Sun (Hard Case Crime #10)From the back of the book

Al Colby should never have agreed to smuggle the package from Chile to Peru. Now one man’s dead, two beautiful women have betrayed him, and a couple of gunmen are hot on his trail. All because of an ancient Quechua manuscript pointing to the hiding place of a priceless hoard, lost for centuries. 

Now the race is on – by train, by plane, by motorboat and by mule – first to find the treasure and then to escape with it alive…

My Review
PLUNDER OF THE SUN is good old fashioned pulp with substance. It takes the reader on a cross continent journey full of mystery, intrigue, broads and bullets - and some murder to liven (or deaden) things a little.

I enjoyed PLUNDER OF THE SUN more than I had anticipated after no being able to get into THE LAST MATCH (the other Dodge book published by Hardcase Crime) - it's always a pleasant surprise when a book exceeds expectation.

The plot is pretty simple and that's part of the attraction, allowing the characters to develop and assume roles in a more fleshed out and realistic capacity. Given the page count (a tick over 200) this is sign of a good writer. 

I won't give much away as it's easy to spoil the mystery to prospective readers but I will say, PLUNDER THE SUN has loads of twists and turns - everyone isn't necessarily who they are perceived to be. 

This is the second Al Colby book and I reckon I'll track down books two and three (images below) - who couldn't love those covers?

The Long Escape (Al Colby murder mystery)  The Red Tassel