Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: MR MERCEDES by Stephen King

Mr. MercedesA retired detective is brought back into the criminal fold when he receives a disturbing letter from someone claiming to be responsible for the hit and run murder of 8 people whilst driving a stolen mercedes. Billy Hodges is the stock standard ex cop who drinks too much, lives an uneventful life and on occasion thinks about eating his gun. Using the tried and true formula, King gives his protagonist meaning through his antagonist. Not only does the letter confess to the crime, it goads Hodges into action,  re kindling a long extinguished flame for life.
 
I enjoyed King's venture into mainstream crime fiction yet felt it would've been better had the story been condensed and the identity of the killer hidden rather than given to the reader early on, essentially eradicating any element of mystery.
 
A staple in King novels is the emotionally complex and disturbing characters that bleed over the pages and here it's no different. Hodges has blood on hands, his sidekick a target on his back, and his partner's cousin madness on the mind. As for the serial killer his motives are without reason and his relationships unhealthy.  If nothing else MR MERCEDES is worth reading for these diverse and intrinsically linked characters.
 
Hardboiled MR MERCEDES isn't but reading it did conjure subtle images of Bosch for some reason. Not necessarily in the description but more in Hodge's voice and dedication to justice, even if it meant turning 'uncle'.
 
Overall I thought this was an ok venture into mainstream crime fiction that, with a couple tweaks could've been great.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Finds (29 Aug 2014)



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 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 weeks entry is a day late but worth the wait as I've found some great titles this past week!

THE FALL by Amy Dale (non-fiction, copy provided by Random House)

On July 30, 2011 a terrified woman ran for the door of the 15th storey, inner Sydney apartment she shared with her cruel and controlling fiance, desperately trying to escape. She wasn't quick enough. A hidden camera captured him covering her mouth to suppress her screams and dragging her back inside. Sixty-nine seconds later, Lisa Harnum was dead.

This is the case that captured the attention of a nation.

Amy Dale, Chief Court Reporter for The Daily Telegraph covered the case from the very beginning. Speaking to numerous sources including Lisa's counsellor, THE FALL goes behind the headlines of Australia's most captivating court case to tell the suffocating story of how Lisa fell in love but then grew to fear her overbearing fiance. Amy reveals information that wasn't publicly known leading up to and throughout the trial, including the fears for the star witness, Josh Rathemell, how close the trial came to not even happening, and the picture painted by what was found on Lisa's iPhone.

THE KILLING KIND by Chris F Holm (coming soon from Mulholland)

THE KILLING KIND is the story of Michael Hendricks. Once a covert operative for a false-flag unit of the US military, Hendricks was presumed dead after a mission in Afghanistan went sideways. Now he makes his living as a hitman entrepreneur of sorts who only hits other hitmen. For ten times the price on your head, he'll make sure whoever's coming to kill you winds up in the ground instead. Not a bad way for a guy with his skill-set to make a living – but an even better way to make himself a target.

HustleHUSTLE by Tom Pitts (review copy provided by the author)

Two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs. Donny and Big Rich want to film Gabriel Thaxton with their cell phones during a sexual act and put the video up on YouTube. Little do they know, the man they’ve chosen, a high-profile San Francisco defense attorney, is already being blackmailed by someone more sinister: an ex-client of the lawyer’s. A murderous speed freak named Dustin has already permeated the attorney’s life and Dustin has plans for the old man. The lawyer calls upon an old biker for help and they begin a violent race to suppress his deadly secret


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview: Chris F Holm (author of THE COLLECTOR series)

Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York to a mother from a cop family and a father from a long line of fantasy and sci-fi geeks. He wrote his first story at the age of six. It got him sent to the principal's office.

Since then, his work has fared better, appearing in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. Chris has been longlisted for a Stoker Award and nominated for a pair each of Anthony, Derringer, and Spinetingler Awards, as well as Killer Nashville's Silver Falchion Award and a few House of Crime and Mystery Readers' Choice Awards. He's even racked up a couple wins along the way.

Chris'
Collector trilogy recasts the battle between heaven and hell as old-fashioned crime pulp. His forthcoming thriller THE KILLING KIND is about a man who makes his living hitting hitmen, only to wind up a target himself. He and his wife, writer/reviewer Katrina Niidas Holm, live in Portland, Maine. No, she hasn't reviewed his books.

*Bio and pic from Chris's website

I love The Collector books and was wrapped to be able to interview Chris on the blog after having some contact with Angry Robot (publisher of The Collector series). You can read my reviews of the books below:

- DEAD HARVEST [GR]

- THE WRONG GOODBYE

- THE BIG REAP

The interview:

(Josh) First up – are there any plans to expand upon the three books in the Collector series?

(Chris) This question's a difficult one to answer, because publishing is a strange and untamed beast, residing at the intersection of art and commerce. Which is to say that, at present, there are no new Collector books in the works, but I can't rule out the idea of revisiting the series in the future. To my mind, Sam still has plenty of story left to tell.

Noir and supernatural tones are rife throughout your books with a touch of horror added to spice things up a little – is this something you wanted to incorporate into the series from day one?

Yes and no. When I conceived of the Collector series, my goal was to tell a story that was equal parts fantasy and crime-fic, and I knew the brand of fantasy I wanted to include would be derived from folklore, myth, and religion. What I didn't anticipate is expanding the universe book by book until it included Lovecraftian horror, Shane Black buddy-comedy, Powers-ian secret history, and Universal movie monster homages, to name but a few of the geeky obsessions I folded in.

Who are the authors that influenced your writing style?

I think authors are all unreliable narrators when it comes to answering this question. The best I can do is list the people I hope influenced me. For this series, which has roots in the masculine pulp of the '30s-'60s, Chandler and Hammett loom large, as do Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake. On the fantastical/sf side of the fence, Tim Powers and William Gibson are huge influences on this series. (I keep specifying "this series" because these guys -- and it hasn't escaped my attention that they're all guys -- are but a small subset of writers I claim as influences. But these books don't owe as much a debt to Donna Tartt, Patricia Highsmith, or Susanna Clarke as some other things I've written, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous.)

I love the covers – the noir/pulpy-feel really compliments the books, did you have much input into the design?

Thanks! I love them as well. Angry Robot is rare in including their authors in the design process, so I did get some say in how they looked. But ultimately, credit for my covers is largely due to Marc Gascoigne, who came up with the concept, and Amazing 15 Design, who knocked said concept out of the park.

If you could sell The Collector books to prospective readers unfamiliar with your work, what would the tag line be?

My go-to line is this: "The Collector series recasts the battle between heaven and hell as old-fashioned crime pulp." If that sounds like your cup of tea, you'll probably dig my books. If not... uh... buy them anyway -- their covers sure are pretty.

***

View The Angry Robot author page for The Collector books. 

Dead Harvest (The Collector, #1)  The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector, #2)  The Big Reap (The Collector, #3)

Reiew: QUICK by Steve Worland

QuickFrom the back of the book:
Melbourne, Australia: Round one of the Formula One World Championship. Billy Hotchkiss no longer races a V8 Supercar, but that doesn't mean he's lost the need for speed. When the young cop uncovers a diamond heist in progress he leaps into action and almost captures the thieves single-handedly.

Lyon, France: Interpol are convinced the criminals are somehow connected to Formula One. And they think this Australian ex-race driver is just the guy to stop them.

Sent undercover with an unwilling French partner, Billy is thrust into the glamorous world of international motor racing. But as the duo closes in on the thieves they soon expose a far more sinister threat.

With the fate of a city and the lives of one hundred thousand people in the balance, Billy must drive like never before to stop the worst act of terror since 9/11.


My Review:
QUICK is high octane action delivered at breakneck speed; at no time does protagonist, Aussie cop and former V8 driver Billy Hotchkiss, get a moments reprieve as he tracks down a crafty gang of thieves responsible pulling jewellery heists from Melbourne to Monaco. 

Accompanied by a reluctant Interpol Agent, Billy forms an unlikely partnership that at once complements the plot while also providing a dose of humour. Billy’s dry Aussie wit is lost on his French counterpart, making their exchanges all the more enjoyable. The lighter perspective of Billy’s banter is refreshing and contributed to the cheeky nature of the Aussie.

I haven’t read a book set in the high money, high speed world of F1 racing and quickly found myself immersed in the place-setting. I like the fact that the reader gets to see Billy as a driver as well as a cop (of which he’s both highly competent). Additionally, there is a lot of technical elements to racing which provided further insight into the spot – the good thing is it was well within context of the story and rather than distract from the plot, it enhanced the action (some of the racing scenes are excellent to read and made me feel like I was there on the track with Billy).

It is evident author Steve Worland went to great lengths to research QUICK and the reader gets all the benefit as it adds considerable atmosphere and believability to the book. 

Readers should note that QUICK is a new book that doesn’t directly link into Steve Worland’s previous action novels in COMBUSTION and VELOCITY, yet, like those two, it is one action junkies shouldn’t miss.
Related Posts:

Monday, August 25, 2014

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.

Last week I got through more books than I had intended (see my last Friday Finds post). My two latest reviews are:

- THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman

- SEE YOU TOMORROW by Tore Renberg

I've just about finished QUICK by Steve Worland and will post a review soon.

Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:

Broken MonstersBROKEN MONSTERS by Lauren Beukes

In the city that’s become a symbol for the death of the American dream, a nightmare killer is unravelling reality. The new thriller from Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls.

Broken city, broken dreams.

In Detroit, violent death – along with foreclosure and despair – is a regular occurrence. But the part-human, part-animal corpses that have started appearing are more disturbing than anything Detective Gabriella Versado has ever seen.

As Gabriella works the case, her teenage daughter Layla embarks on a secret crime-fighting project of her own – hunting down online paedophiles – but it all goes horribly wrong…

TK has learned how to make being homeless work for him and his friends, but something evil is threatening the fragile world he’s constructed on the streets…

Ambitious blogger Jonno is getting desperate. The big four-oh isn’t that far away, and he’s still struggling to make his mark. But then he stumbles across some unusual and macabre art, which might just be the break he needs to go viral…

Mr. MercedesMR. MERCEDES by Stephen King (I've read mixed reviews about this but am looking forward to reading it and forming my own opinion)

A retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies race against time to stop a psycho-loner intent on blowing up thousands...

Stephen King is on a roll, this time with the heart-pounding suspense that he does best. A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who's haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular - the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out.

Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he's preparing to kill again.

Only Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, can apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

 

The WraithTHE WRAITH by Joe Hill (graphic novel prequel to NOS4A2 - couldn't resist getting hold of this during a recent sale on Comixology)

Collects Welcome to Chirstmasland #1- 7 comics published by IDW.

Joe Hill's New York Times Bestselling novel, NOS4A2, introduced readers to the terrifying funhouse world of Christmasland, and the mad man who rules there: Charlie Talent Manx III. Now, in an original new comic mini-series, Hill throws wide the candy cane gates to tell a standalone story that is at once both accessible to new readers, and sure to delight fans of the book.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman

The Brooklyn RulesFrom the back of the book:
Reed Farrel Coleman’s The Brooklyn Rules collects 6 hard to find short stories originally published in 2006 and 2007. Killing O’Malley, Requiem for Jack, Requiem for Moe, Pearls, King Fixer and Bathead Speed are included as well as a new introduction from Reed.

My Review:
I love the writing in this short story collection. As evidenced by lines like "some men are just bitter borne" from Killing O'Malley and "life is burden enough without the added weight of imagined sorrows" from Requiem For Moe.

THE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman, while not introducing long time readers of Coleman's work to anything new, does provide some nice Easter eggs for fans - notably, a couple of cameos by Bruen's penultimate ad-hoc PI, Jack Taylor in Requiem For Moe and Requiem For Jack.

The six short stories that comprise this collection act as an introduction to Reed's writing, providing bite size chunks of noir/hardboild while also serving as a taste of what to expect in his longer forms of fiction featuring his most renowned character in Moe Prager.  

"Hey, at least she's alive, right?"

My favourite is Pearl, which tells the story of an escort who watched her father rape her sister, only for the sister to then commit suicide. Following this (years later), the escort is shot by the partner of one of her clients. It's noir from begining to end and left me with a craving for more.

"I was the king fixter, the sultan of solutions...I knew I had been dethroned."

Another favourite of my mine was King Fixer; A jaded mistress, a cheater with a way out, an unavoidable murder. Double cross condensed in a bite size chunk of noir. It's a great short story that reads longer.

"No sound like it, breaking a man's shins"

The other standout is Bathead Speed, in which a hitman gets hit by the daughter of one of his former targets. It serves as the perfect way to conclude the collection while providing depth to Coleman's cast of characters outside of the Moe Prager series.

THE BROOKLYN RULES, despite it's length (most readers will get through it in well under an hour) is well worth checking out. Of the six stories, I was only familiar with one (Requiem For Moe) from the DAMN NEAR DEAD collection and enjoyed reading more of Moe and the other stories in this noir enriched collection.    

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: SEE YOU TOMORROW by Tore Renberg

See You TomorrowFrom the back of the book:
Pal has a shameful secret that has dragged him into huge debt, and he is desperate that his teenage daughters and ex-wife don't find out. Sixteen-year-old Sandra also has a secret. She's in love with the delinquent Daniel William, a love so strong and pure that nothing can get in its way. Cecilie has the biggest secret of them all, a baby growing inside her. But she's trapped in her small-time, criminal existence, and dreams of an escape from it all. Over three fateful September days, these lives cross in a whirlwind of brutality, laughter, tragedy, and love that will change them forever. A fast-paced, moving, and darkly funny page-turner.


My Review:
With passages reminiscent of the poetic styling of Megan Abbott combined with characterisation akin to Douglas Lindsay’s trademark dark humour, SEE YOU TOMORROW is a delightful novel of introspection, loss, love, hate, and misguided redemption. Author Tore Renberg takes his characters to a place so dark they can’t see the light for the poisoned haze of addiction. Wallowing in the depths of despair, suffocated by poor choices and semi hidden flaws, each uniquely tainted character battles an all-consuming affliction.

Despite the enveloping sense of hopelessness following the characters like the proverbial raincloud there is an underlying theme of love and the desire to see the better of people despite the cracked façade.

SEE YOU TOMORROW is crime fiction yet it’s not the criminal components that drive the story, rather the characters individual voice and perspective of how they arrived to their present day predicament.

Each character, be it the single parent Pal, the overweight and abandoned criminal Jan, or the teenager with a dark past that threatens to surface in Daniel, was well articulated and three dimensional with enough backstory to add context without detracting from the story.

I found SEE YOU TOMORROW hard to put down and will be on the lookout for more books by Tore Renberg.

Friday Finds (22 Aug 2014)


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 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 past week I reviewed the following books:

- A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND by Don Winslow

- BITE HARDER by Anonymous-9

- MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER VOL.1 by Fred Van Lente

I was also fortunate enough to interview Nadai Dalbuono, author of the Italian crime thriller THE FEW.

As for my new discoveries - these books are out now from Down and Out books:

The PerpetratorsTHE PERPETRATORS by Gary Phillips

With the clock ticking, the story jumps off in the border town of Tijuana, Mexico. A smooth cat who labels himself an expeditor must survive a gauntlet of hitters and freaks to deliver his client alive to their destination. She’s a high maintenance drug queen who’s made a deal with the top cop in California’s state capitol, Sacramento. By all means of transportation and dodging devastation, and busting some heads themselves, the two make their way north while behind-the-scenes machinations go down. Battered but not out, our man completes his assignment only to find out all ain’t what it seems–but then, he’s not getting two million just to look good. And handling fools, no matter how they trip, comes with the territory.

The Brooklyn RulesTHE BROOKLYN RULES by Reed Farrel Coleman

Reed Farrel Coleman’s The Brooklyn Rules collects 6 hard to find short stories originally published in 2006 and 2007. Killing O’Malley, Requiem for Jack, Requiem for Moe, Pearls, King Fixer and Bathead Speed are included as well as a new introduction from Reed.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Magnus Robot Fighter Vol 1 FLESH AND STEEL by Fred Van Lente

Magnus: Robot Fighter Volume 1: Flesh and SteelFrom the back of the book:
In the blink of an eye, young martial artist Magnus has everything taken from him: his father, his wife, his entire life. He's suddenly thrust into a futuristic world he doesn't understand, populated by humans and robots living together in oppression! Can Magnus fight to get his life back... and once he learns the truth about himself, will he want to? Collects issues #1-4 of the ongoing Magnus: Robot Fighter series.

My Review:
Magnus, Robot Fighter, is a character that has been around in comics for a very long time, though one that hasn't been prevalent in the medium since Valiant's run in the 1990's. Dynamite, the company that now leases the property has produced an entertaining first up arc that reintroduces the 'robot fighter' yet I'm cautious about investing in further installments.

FLESH AND STEEL takes the reader into a world where robots control the Government. Crime is almost non existent and the policing of the humanist populace acts as a social media outlet of entertainment for the artificial intelligence-dominated place-setting (see #3 in particular). I didn't mind this 'reality' style showcase with the scene reminiscent of STAR WARS Ep.3 and THE FIFTH ELEMENT (the Magnus chance through North AM skyline).

My main gripe with FLESH AND STEEL is the lack of a definitive end to the arc. Author Fred Van Lente has written some of the best 'funny books' during his Archer & Armstrong run and tries to emulate that tongue-in-cheek tone in this sci-fi futuristic pulp like tale - and he's successful, for the most part (I'm still undecided about H8R, Magnus's accomplice from his prison break). I couldn't help but think the story stopped short. The reader is left with Magnus at a pivotal point in his plight to discover the truth of his present (future) day predicament at the end of #4 (of #4). If only the last issue ran a few more panels, I think that closure I'm after would've been attained.

The art feels very comic booky (I know, IT IS A COMIC BOOK) but I like art to take the story further than prose, adding a little something more to the story - it's a visual medium after all. While serviceable to good at times, it's non comparable to the other futuristic comic series I'm reading in RAI vol.1 from Valiant (which I highly recommend reading).

Overall - FLESH AND STEEL is a good introduction that really has an epic feel to it - good for long running series but difficult to review in small story arc instalments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND by Don Winslow

A Cool Breeze on the Underground (Neal Carey, #1)From the back of the book:
Carey is not your usual private eye. A graduate student at Columbia University, he grew up on the streets of New York, usually on the wrong side of the law. Then he met Joe Graham, a one-armed PI who introduced him to the Bank, an exclusive New England institution with a sideline in keeping its wealthy clients happy and out of trouble. The Bank wants Neal to put his skills to work in finding Allie Chase, the rebellious teenage daughter of a prominent senator, an assignment that takes Neal to London's underground punk scene, a violent netherworld where drugs run rampant and rage is the name of the game.

My Review:
Despite being written by Don Winslow (SAVAGES, POWER OF THE DOG etc.) the first book in the Neal Carey PI series doesn't read like a Don Winslow book. At least not initially.

I think too much emphasis was placed on developing Neal Carey's origin; the finer points to honing his craft as a deft private detective who could easily turn cat burglar or stalker extraordinaire. His relationship with Joe Graham, a one-armed PI who recruited Carey into the secret association, understandably added context to the present day setting, yet, this combined with extensive skills training did have a tendency to detract from what was really an entertaining and page-turning plot.

As a side note of interest, I love books that bring books in general into context within the main story and Winslow does just that here by using a rare book worth 20k to a collector as a means of introducing one of his character's into the world of drug running - where crime and fiction collide.

I got the feeling Winslow was just developing his voice in crime fiction yet A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND is no amateur feat. The dialogue is sharp, the characters have a voice of their own, and the plot is pretty damn good. With a couple nice twists to keep things interesting, A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND has me wanting to rush out and grab a copy of the follow-up in THE TRAIL TO BUDDHA'S WINDOW, the second book to feature Neal Carey.

Related Posts:

- Friday Finds (15 Aug 2014)

- Review: THE POWER OF THE DOG by Don Winslow

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Interview: Nadia Dalbuono (author of THE FEW)

Nadia Dalbuono has spent the last fifteen years working as a documentary director and consultant for Channel 4, ITV, Discovery, and National Geographic in various countries. The Few is her first novel. *Bio from Scribe Publications website

Nadia was kind enough to stop by to answer some questions about her debut novel and provide an insight into what readers can expect from Scamarcio in future installments. 

Read my review of THE FEW.

(Josh) Where did the idea of THE FEW originate from and what crime writers inspired you to write crime fiction?

(Nadia) The idea for The Few came from the vast array of corruption and sex scandals I came across in the papers while working in Rome. Italy is fertile ground for such tales. Crime writers who have inspired me, include Michael Connelly, Linwood Barclay, John Le Carre, Patricia Highsmith and Stieg Larsson.

An interesting element in THE FEW was Scamarcio’s ties to the criminal underworld and his apprehensive nature towards blurring the cold blue lines of law enforcement for the betterment of justice. How important was it to introduce this side plot to THE FEW?

This side plot was important because given Italy's imperfect justice system I've always been interested in how people work effectively within such as compromised system. If you are dealing with a justice system that doesn't function does it force you into 'unjust' behaviour?

The Few THE FEW places a heavy emphasis on political corruption (more implied than explicit) and abuse of power. Is this a theme likely to be prevalent throughout the series?

The theme of political corruption and abuse of power will be a key theme running throughout the series.

What research did you undertake pertaining to the various types of crimes referenced in THE FEW?

I carried out general research through newspaper cuttings, TV news stories and conversations with various experts in the field.

Jurisdictional confrontations are rife throughout THE FEW and play an important part in proceedings. From Scamarcio’s involvement with Garramone to investigating a missing child case with Garramone. These scenarios are prominent through most crime fiction, why do you think it’s such a staple in the genre? 

I think jurisdictional confrontations are so prominent in crime fiction simply for the conflict they provide. Conflict is the oxygen of drama + these tussles supply the plot with vital momentum and sustained narrative development. They also challenge the protagonist and offer a chance for character development.

If you could sell THE FEW in one sentence, what would it be?

How do you fight for truth in a society without justice?

What are you working on and how soon will readers get to read more of Scamarcio and the intriguing career choices he has ahead of him?

I'm currently working on the sequel to The Few. Scamarcio is drawn into an uncomfortable investigation with far reaching international implications. The inquiry threatens to compromise his private life and he's forced to take some difficult decisions about his past. It's time for him to grow up and he ends this novel a changed person from the angry young man of THE FEW.

* * *

THE FEW is due to be published September 2014 (Scribe Publications).

Kindle edition available from 27 Aug 2014 from Amazon

Monday, August 18, 2014

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. Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:

Quick
QUICK by Steve Worland (review copy provided by Penguin Australia)

Strap in for a breathtaking, tyre-peeling, high-octane adventure ride by rising star of action trillers.

Melbourne, Australia: Round one of the Formula One World Championship. Billy Hotchkiss no longer races a V8 Supercar, but that doesn't mean he's lost the need for speed. When the young cop uncovers a diamond heist in progress he leaps into action and almost captures the thieves single-handedly.

Lyon, France: Interpol are convinced the criminals are somehow connected to Formula One. And they think this Australian ex-race driver is just the guy to stop them.

Sent undercover with an unwilling French partner, Billy is thrust into the glamorous world of international motor racing. But as the duo closes in on the thieves they soon expose a far more sinister threat.

With the fate of a city and the lives of one hundred thousand people in the balance, Billy must drive like never before to stop the worst act of terror since 9/11.


See You TomorrowSEE YOU TOMORROW by Tore Renberg (review copy provided by Arcadia Books)

Pal has a shameful secret that has dragged him into huge debt, and he is desperate that his teenage daughters and ex-wife don't find out. Sixteen-year-old Sandra also has a secret. She's in love with the delinquent Daniel William, a love so strong and pure that nothing can get in its way. Cecilie has the biggest secret of them all, a baby growing inside her. But she's trapped in her small-time, criminal existence, and dreams of an escape from it all. Over three fateful September days, these lives cross in a whirlwind of brutality, laughter, tragedy, and love that will change them forever. A fast-paced, moving, and darkly funny page-turner.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Advance Review: BITE HARDER by Anonymous-9

Bite HarderFrom the back of the book:
Some say he's a serial killer. Others, a vigilante doing what police can't or won't do. What's certain is that Dean Drayhart, a paraplegic, will soon sit on death row for killing hit-and-run drivers in Los Angeles. But not if the Mexican Mafia gets hold of him first. Somewhere, Dean's trained companion monkey Sid and girlfriend Cinda are outrunning the law in a fast '98 Trans Am. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department wants Sid, dead or alive. Dean may be broken in body but his fierce spirit is determined to protect Sid and Cinda in the most creative ways imaginable.

My Review:
The murderous mayhem continues where HARD BITE left off in a tale of vengeance, redemption, death, and loss. Equal parts humanist and animal instinct, author Anonymous-9 delivers another shot of pure pulp goodness.

The lead character Dean Drayhart, a paraplegic as a result of a hit and run that also ripped his family apart, is further explored via flashbacks of his former family life. The omnipresent sense of sadness and sloping slide towards acceptance really give Dean a completely three dimensional feel. He's no longer the tortured soul hell bent on revenge, rather, he's more about preserving the lives of those close to him, Sid (helper monkey) included, as he struggles to free himself of the shackles of the Mexican Mafia.

Where HARD BITE focused on Dean's quest to rid the demons of his past by becoming an unlikely serial killer, BITE HARDER targets Dean as the victim of the Mexican Mafia's blood lust as a result of Dean having murdered one of their own. It's a nice flip of the script from the books' predecessor.

BITE HARDER is a lethal mix of black humour, heart, and hard bites. A self contained story that fits in with a broad spanning pulp narrative that leaves room for further installments while still delivering a satisfying read of a uniquely engrossing vigilante.

Hard BiteIf you haven't read HARD BITE, go buy a copy HERE from Amazon.

Read my review of HARD BITE HERE.

BITE HARDER is also available to pre-order HERE.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: THE FEW by Nadia Dalbuono

The FewFrom the back of the book:
Detective Leone Scamarcio, the son of a former leading Mafioso, has turned his back on the family business, and has joined the Rome police force. He may be one of the last honest men in Italy.

But when Scamarcio is handed a file of extremely compromising photographs of a highprofile Italian politician, and told to ‘deal with it’, he knows he’s in for trouble. And when a young man is found stabbed to death in Rome, and a young American girl disappears on a beach in Elba, Scamarcio’s job gets a whole lot more complicated.

Worst of all, every lead seems to implicate the prime minister — a multi-media baron, and the most powerful man in Italy.

As the case spins out of control, and his own past catches up with him, Scamarcio must navigate the darkest currents of Italian society — only to find that nothing is as it seems, and that the price of truth may be higher than he can pay

My Review:
THE FEW is an Italian police procedural that maintains a constant mystery throughout – though it’s not the murder of a rent-boy that captivated me, rather the person pulling the chief of police’s strings; a mysterious handler dictating terms and using sheer political power in their pursuit of their intended version of the truth.

For Detective Scamarcio and his superior Garramone, the murder of a male prostitute (or rent boy as referred to in THE FEW) looms as a career defining case, one that leaves no stone unturned as it unearths the sect known as The Few. With severe ramifications hanging over the heads of many, the case threatens to destroy more than it can possibly save.

Detective Scamarcio is an interesting character; one constantly conflicted by his criminal heritage and law abiding occupation. It’s something that the character tries to distinguish himself from, toting the line of cop over Mafioso. Despite his best intentions the lives bleed into one another to formulate an interesting dynamic and complementary secondary plot.

The case evolves and morphs into a larger all-encompassing criminal investigation that spans sex trafficking, kidnapping, and murder among other heinous crimes. Tying the narrative together is the continued icy-at-times relationship between Scamarcio and his superior in chief of police Garramone. I enjoyed the constant shroud of mystery surrounding Garramone’s motives and the kept-in-the-dark Scamarcio’s battle to perform his duty. Not only is Scamarcio up against a disturbing case, he’s also fighting against internal police bureaucracy.

While it felt like THE FEW took a little while to gain momentum following an entertaining opening, I can see the rationale behind building the caseload and establishing the interlocking crimes to form a broader picture. Author Nadia Dalbuono has written a decent first up police procedural that has me interested in further series instalments.

Friday Finds (15 Aug 2014)


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 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.

Bones Never Lie: (Temperance Brennan 17)BONES NEVER LIE by Kathy Reichs (It's been a while since I've read a book by Kathy Reichs, as a result I haven't been keeping in touch with her series. Random House kindly provided me a copy of this and I'm looking forward to jumping back into the world of Temperance Brennan).

A match was obtained on DNA sample 7426 to Canadian national number 64899, identified as:

Anique Pomerleau, White/Female

DOB: 12/10/75

The subject is currently not in custody.

For a decade, Temperance Brennan has been haunted by the monster.

Anique Pomerleau. Killer of young women. The one who got away.

The one who has now come back.

Feeding on fear, grief and rage.

Killing again. Killing girls.

Getting closer.

Coming for Tempe.


The Trail to Buddha's Mirror (Neal Carey, #2)The Trail to Buddha's Mirror by Don Winslow (the second book in the Neal Carey series. I've recently started reading A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND and will need to add this one to my 'wishlist').

Book two of the Neal Carey mystery series: PI Neal Carey is back on the hunt—this time on a chase across the back alleys and backwoods of China in pursuit of a missing scientist and his beautiful mistress

After a case gone bad, all PI Neal Carey wants to do is drop off the face of the earth. Instead, he’s asked to travel halfway around the world in pursuit of an AWOL scientist who’s taken a lucrative chemical formula to China. When Carey learns the scientist has fallen in love and shacked up with a beautiful woman, he figures he’ll solve the case in no time. But in the twisting streets of Hong Kong and vast reaches of China’s wilderness, Carey finds secrets that run deeper than a simple love affair—secrets that threaten to once again tear his life apart.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: THE FEVER by Megan Abbott

The FeverFrom the back of the book:
The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.
 
My Review:
Sweetly seductive and delicately deadly, Megan Abbott's THE FEVER is noir personified in a setting not typically associated with the genre. Who knew teenage girls could be so noir?
 
This is the third book by Megan Abbott focusing on teenage girls and it is just as good as THE END OF EVERYTHING and DARE ME, if not better.
 
What really struck me with THE FEVER was the undercurrent of poison amongst the seemingly innocent world of teenage girls. This unsuspecting venom packs a punch that renders a smooth and happy facade brittle and dark. Each of Deenie's friends in her inner circle, Deenie included, are capable and culpable of treachery.  
 
I would love to see Megan Abbott write a horror novel; I kept picturing the lake in THE FEVER as this omnipresent malevolent force drawing people towards it only to drag them under the thick soupy surface to their horrific end.
 
THE FEVER is a multi faceted tale that is not to be missed. Another great read from Megan Abbott.

Monday, August 11, 2014

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. Here are my intended picks for this coming week, including what I’ve got on-the-go today:
 
The FewTHE FEW by Nadia Dalbuono (review copy provided by Scribe)
 
Detective Leone Scamarcio, the son of a former leading Mafioso, has turned his back on the family business, and has joined the Rome police force. He may be one of the last honest men in Italy.
 
But when Scamarcio is handed a file of extremely compromising photographs of a highprofile Italian politician, and told to ‘deal with it’, he knows he’s in for trouble. And when a young man is found stabbed to death in Rome, and a young American girl disappears on a beach in Elba, Scamarcio’s job gets a whole lot more complicated.
 
Worst of all, every lead seems to implicate the prime minister — a multi-media baron, and the most powerful man in Italy.
 
As the case spins out of control, and his own past catches up with him, Scamarcio must navigate the darkest currents of Italian society — only to find that nothing is as it seems, and that the price of truth may be higher than he can pay.
 
Bite HarderBITE HARDER by Anonymous 9 (review copy provided by Blasted Heath/author)
 
Some say he's a serial killer. Others, a vigilante doing what police can't or won't do. What's certain is that Dean Drayhart, a paraplegic, will soon sit on death row for killing hit-and-run drivers in Los Angeles. But not if the Mexican Mafia gets hold of him first. Somewhere, Dean's trained companion monkey Sid and girlfriend Cinda are outrunning the law in a fast '98 Trans Am. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department wants Sid, dead or alive. Dean may be broken in body but his fierce spirit is determined to protect Sid and Cinda in the most creative ways imaginable. Hardboiled, funny, relentless, and unexpectedly tender-hearted, Bite Harder delivers riotous action all the way to a bombshell climax that could only have been written by Anonymous-9, the self-declared mad scientist of crime fiction.
 
A Cool Breeze on the Underground (Neal Carey, #1)A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND by Don Winslow (this one has been in my tbr for far too long)
 
Carey is not your usual private eye. A graduate student at Columbia University, he grew up on the streets of New York, usually on the wrong side of the law. Then he met Joe Graham, a one-armed PI who introduced him to the Bank, an exclusive New England institution with a sideline in keeping its wealthy clients happy and out of trouble. The Bank wants Neal to put his skills to work in finding Allie Chase, the rebellious teenage daughter of a prominent senator, an assignment that takes Neal to London's underground punk scene, a violent netherworld where drugs run rampant and rage is the name of the game.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pick Up A Pulp [6]: SEIDLITZ AND THE SUPER SPY by Carter Brown

Seidlitz and the Super SpyFrom the back of the book:
Mavis Seidlitz is the grooviest private eye in the business. A dedicated asset to the squad of LA's Rio Investigations. Top notch in the numbers game. Hotshot in the dope racket. Sexpert in the art of self-defense. A kitteny man-killer who learns the hard way that it's what up front that counts.

So what's a nice girl like Maivs doing in the orgy at Carla's place in Capri?

It's blackmail! That's what it is! A girl cant even take a vacation in Rome, France, without getting caught up in an embarrassing situation with somebody else's corpse, a secret service agent, and an oil-rich prince named Harry who just loves blondes.

Mavis is trapped. Game for philandering prince and a knife throwing cutup. A luscious target for murder. A swinging detective about to be axed to The Party of The Year.


My Review:
Perhaps one of the more cheesy pulps I've read, yet I found it strangely addictive. Kind of like watching a train wreck; you know its bad and the outcome isn't going to be good yet you can't look away - same deal with reading SEIDLITZ AND THE SUPER SPY.

The Mavis Seidlitz PI stories are a departure from the Carter Brown books I typically read (Al Wheeler and Danny Boyd mysteries) yet the result and plot are pretty much the same; someone is murdered, a band of suspects are formed, the protagonist weeds out the source of the crime by eliminating suspects one by one.

In this case, however, the protagonist isn't a male chauvinistic pig, rather, a comely young women who is on vacation who is unwillingly (though she doesn't put up much resistance) thrown (or should I say blackmailed) into the world of espionage and orgies - yep, it's an odd combination but one that works for this kind of book.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Finds [2]

 
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 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.
 
THE FADE OUT by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (new comic series from the makers of FATALE, #1 due to be published late August)
 
An intricate and groundbreaking crime story on a level Brubaker and Phillips have never tackled before, THE FADE OUT weaves a tangled web through the underbelly of a 1948 Hollywood... A noir film stuck in endless reshoots. A writer plagued with nightmares from the war and a dangerous secret. An up-and-coming starlet's suspicious death. And a maniacal studio mogul and his security chief who will do anything to keep the cameras rolling before the Post-War boom days come crashing down. THE FADE OUT is the most ambitious series yet from the award-winning Noir Masters.
 
Early praise for THE FADE OUT:

"Brubaker and Phillips's books have always been about eight years ahead of their time." —Brian K. Vaughan (SAGA, Y the Last Man)
 
"Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are the gold standard of the crime graphic novel." —Warren Ellis (PlanetaryTransmetropolitan)
 
"Brubaker & Phillips continue to make sweet music together, broadcast to you in the form of the best comics around." —Robert Kirkman (THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE)
 
A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES by Lawrence Block (Due to be published later this month)
 
Kenan Khoury’s wife went out grocery shopping and never came home. Alive, anyway. But because Kenan Khoury buys and sells drugs for a living he can’t go to the police for help. He goes to Matthew Scudder instead—an alcoholic ex-cop and unlicensed private eye who will stop at nothing to bring the brutal killers to justice before another innocent woman falls beneath their knives.
 
The classic novel returns to bookstores for the first time in almost 20 years! One of the most acclaimed detectives of all time, Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder returns to the big screen in his most shocking case ever, courtesy of international superstar Liam Neeson (TAKEN) and writer/director Scott Frank (GET SHORTY, OUT OF SIGHT).
 
Go Go GatoGO GO GATO by Max Everhart (discovered this while browsing Goodreads)
 
When Almario "Go Go" Gato, a handsome young Cuban baseball player, goes missing mid-season, his agent Veronica Craven hires a private investigator to track down her best client. No police. No press. Enter Eli Sharpe, an Asheville, North Carolina-based ex-ballplayer turned private detective who specializes in investigating professional athletes.
 
Eli begins by questioning Maria Gato, Almario's roommate and fraternal twin. Maria watched while both her parents drowned on the boat ride from Cuba to America, so she is naturally desperate to get her only brother back. She tells Eli a secret: Almario may have a problem with drugs and alcohol.
 
Eli tracks down Almario's supposed girlfriend, a rich sorority girl, but is soon led to another woman in his life, Sheri Stuckey, his cocaine supplier and fiancée who works in tandem with a gay bartender named Dantonio Rushing. Stuckey, a drug abuser and single mother, claims Almario split because she wanted the two of them to check into rehab. But Rushing, dazzled by Almario's boyish good looks, tells a different tale: Almario has taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy on himself and named Stuckey as the primary beneficiary.
 
With the help of his a mentor--a former homicide detective--and five ex fiancées who still care about him, Eli follows Go Go's trail, determined to locate the elusive ballplayer before one of the nasty people in his life--or his own bad habits--do him in.