Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: SEVERANCE by Chris Bucholz

SeveranceSEVERANCE is a clever, witty and entertaining romp through outer space. Perfect for readers who enjoy the closed in atmosphere of WOOL. 

A band of humans aboard a huge spaceship traveling hundreds of years towards their destination - a new inhabitable planet, find themselves embroiled in a civil war as the ships' authority attempt to literally split the interstellar transporter in two. There is method in this madness as an oversight which saw the ship run off course many years prior consumed unaccounted fuel. Fuel needed to assist with the planetary landing. The only way of correcting this, being to land a smaller, more economical ship. Hence the murderous plot to split the ship and condemn thousands of passengers to death.

The reason for leaving earth and how the inhabitants of this large ship came to be isn't explored and that suited me fine. Focusing on the present day conundrum with flashbacks to an earlier time aboard the ship ensured the plot focus remained consistent with the threat of violence and doom at the forefront. 

Tongue and cheek and laden with colorful characters, author Chris Bucholz did have a tendency to over indulge in the use of cringe worthy dialogue and throw away forgettable one liners but this didn't detract from the plot if anything it suited his lead characters and added to their uniqueness. Additionally, the later stages of the novel explore this use of profanity and seemingly dumbed down dialogue. 

SEVERANCE was a real find and one of the more enjoyable sci-fi's I've read in recent times. Many thanks to Apex Books for putting this one on my radar.   

Friday, November 28, 2014

Catching UP: HEADSTONE CITY by Tom Piccirilli

Headstone CityFrom the back of the book:
The night Johnny Danetello drove a dying girl through the streets of Brooklyn in his cab, he was trying to save her life. Instead he ran down a cop and lost her and his freedom. Every day in prison, Johnny knew that Angie Monticelli’s family blamed him for her death, and that going home would be suicide. But Johnny has unfinished business with his former friend turned mob boss, Vinny Monticelli.

Now Johnny has returned to converse with the doomed and the dead–and wait for Vinny to make his move. Survivors of a long-ago freak accident, the two men share access to alternate realities no one else can know–and to a past and present that will all become the same in a city only one of them can leave alive.


My Review:
I really liked this book yet am conflicted by the genre mash-up. Part crime/mob book, part horror/supernatural author Tom Piccirilli bleeds life and death over the pages of HEADSTONE CITY to formulate an interesting culmination of the two that just doesn't quite feel right.

I like subtle horror and an element of urban fantasy but I like that distinction to be well advanced and recognisable, not as a side bar to the main event. The supernatural elements felt a little like that here. Which isn't to say that they weren't good - the side plot to avenge a teen who had an OD was interesting and entertaining enough, but it would've worked better had that and elements like it been the main drive. 

The 'man-out-of-prison' aspect is equally good but again, fails from having the reader being distracted by the ghostly apparitions and other worldly events that take place.

This review sounds negative, however, it should be noted that I DID enjoy the book. I just feel it would've been better served had the author focused on one or the other and then let the plot dictate the turn of events. 

All in all, this is a good solid read which offers something for fans of genre mash-ups and those who like the steady evolution of a good mob book. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: THE COLD COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty (audio)

The Cold, Cold Ground | [Adrian McKinty]From the back of the book:
Northern Ireland, Spring 1981. A homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera and a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. On the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things - and people - aren't always what they seem.

My Review:
Sean Duffy is a cop tasked with solving a serial killer who targets gay men and taunts the police with cryptic messages. Coupled with a seemingly unrelated suicide and heat from above to close the cases (Duffy is yet to solve a murder as we're introduced to him), Duffy is instantly against the odds.

Whilst I'm familiar with author Adrian McKinty's novels, this was my first experience in listening to an audio book and I've got to say I found the experience rather pleasant. Narrator Gerard Doyle is an ideal fit for this book. His timing and switching of character personas is pitch perfect fully embracing McKinty's story and adding another layer of enjoyment to what is an exceptional crime novel.

Top-5: Books I'm Yet To Read (published in 2014)


This series of blog posts is a top 5 topical 'best-of' list for all things bookish - be it true crime, fiction, novels to novella etc. - pretty much whatever topic I want to post about on a given day. The aim being to reintroduce myself with some old favorites (books/authors) and also take a look at some books/genres I'm yet to read much of. This is a more casual series of posts as there is no defined scheduled unlike my regular Friday Finds and Monday Reads, feel free to join in and post your top-5 all things bookish and provide a link in the comments. 

This entry looks at some of the books published in 2014 that are sitting in my tbr. Whilst my tbr is rather large, the books listed are the ones I was most excited about when we hit 2014 yet haven't gotten around to reading thus far - if only there was more time in the day! 

*I hope to read some of these off before the year is out :-)

PerfidiaPERFIDIA by James Ellroy 

It is December 6 1941. America stands at the brink of World War II. Last hopes for peace are shattered when Japanese squadrons bomb Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans - but now, war fever and race hate grip the city and the Japanese internment begins. The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. William H. Parker is a captain on the Los Angeles Police. He's superbly gifted, corrosively ambitious, liquored-up and consumed by dubious ideology. He is bitterly at odds with Sergeant Dudley Smith - Irish emigre, ex-IRA killer, fledgling war profiteer. Kay Lake is a 21-year-old dilettante looking for adventure. Hideo Ashida is a police chemist and the only Japanese on the L.A. cop payroll. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm centre that brilliantly illuminates these four driven souls - comrades, rivals, lovers, history's pawns. Perfidia is a novel of astonishments. It is World War II as you have never seen it, and Los Angeles as James Ellroy has never written it before.

Acceptance (Southern Reach Trilogy, #3)ACCEPTANCE by Jeff VanderMeer

The final installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy

It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown—navigating new terrain and new challenges—the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. In Acceptance, the last installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound—or terrifying.


The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3)THE BROKEN EYE by Brent Weeks

As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe. But Gavin Guile is enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse, Gavin no longer has the one thing that defined him -- the ability to draft.

Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will have to face a master of shadows alone as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins, The Broken Eye. 


Life or DeathLIFE OR DEATH by Michael Robotham

Why would a man escape from prison the day before he's due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent a decade in prison for an armed robbery in which four people died, including two of his gang. Five million dollars has never been recovered and everybody believes that Audie knows where the money is.

For ten years he has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened almost daily by fellow inmates and prison guards, who all want to answer this same question, but suddenly Audie vanishes, the day before he's due to be released.

Everybody wants to find Audie, but he's not running. Instead he's trying to save a life . . . and not just his own. 


Brainquake (Hard Case Crime #116)BRAINQUAKE by Samuel Fuller 

The bagmen who transport money for organized crime live by a special set of rules: no relationships, no ties...no alcohol, no women...no talking...and never, ever look inside the bag you’re carrying.

For more than ten years, despite suffering from a rare brain disorder, Paul Page was the perfect bagman. But that ended the day he saw a beautiful Mob wife become a Mob widow. Now Paul is going to break every one of the rules he’s lived by to protect the woman he loves—even if it means he might be left holding the bag...

Monday, November 24, 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 posted the following reviews:

ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS by Emily Herbert

PROHIBITED ZONE by Alastair Sarre

As I'm still listening to THE COLD COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty (which is fantastic by the way), I'm trying to avoid crime novels as to not confuse the print books with audio.

Headstone CityHEADSTONE CITY by Tom Piccirilli

The night Johnny Danetello drove a dying girl through the streets of Brooklyn in his cab, he was trying to save her life. Instead he ran down a cop and lost her and his freedom. Every day in prison, Johnny knew that Angie Monticelli’s family blamed him for her death, and that going home would be suicide. But Johnny has unfinished business with his former friend turned mob boss, Vinny Monticelli.

Now Johnny has returned to converse with the doomed and the dead–and wait for Vinny to make his move. Survivors of a long-ago freak accident, the two men share access to alternate realities no one else can know–and to a past and present that will all become the same in a city only one of them can leave alive.


SeveranceSEVERANCE by Chris Bucholz
After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.


A Confusion of PrincesA CONFUSION OF PRINCES by Garth Nix

I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time. This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between. My name is Khemri.

Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn...Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review: PROHIBITED ZONE by Alastair Sarre

Prohibited ZonePROHIBITED ZONE, despite being touted on the cover as a 'thriller in the desert', is very much a crime novel centred around an escapee of the Woomera Detention Centre and her accomplices as they traverse Adelaide city and it's outlying suburbs.

Former Adelaide Crows football player and now mining engineer Steve West becomes embroiled in a search for a presumed terrorist, newly escaped from the Detention Centre following a spate of riots. Assisted by a handful of activists and detention centre guards, Saira and Amir flee their captures in search of a better life. Becoming separated in the outbreak, Saira stays with Kara, one of the activists and her only link to the Australia she'd hoped to see after fleeing her country. While Amir goes missing in the endless desert.

Steve, convinced by Kara to help her and Saira agrees to take them to Adelaide so Saira can tell her story to the world of the gross injustice undertaken within the confines of the detention centre. With a bounty on offer to bring all the escapees back to Woomera, a group of detention centre guards sets out to retrieve the attractive Saira and her friend and accused terrorist Amir.

PROHIBITED ZONE was a lot of fun to read. I got a real kick out of reading a book set in my home state and enjoyed the familiarity of the place-setting with many landscapes and towns instantly recognisable.

The cat and mouse nature of these types of 'search and retrieve' crime thrillers can be tedious, however PROHIBITED ZONE doesn't suffer from that with each twist and turn electrifying and believable.

PROHIBITED ZONE is author Alastair Sarre's debut novel (2011) and I'm certain to be on the look out for more of his work - and that of crime/thrillers centred in my home state.

I highly recommend PROHIBITED ZONE for crime and thriller fans, as well as those wanting a distinct brand of Aussie fiction that doesn't hold back on the colourful dialect and mannerisms unique to Australiana.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Finds (21 Nov 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 (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 stumbled across the new Jack Taylor book by Ken Bruen due out mid next year and a new book by the awesome Ray Banks (of which Blasted Heath were kind enough to provide a copy for review). Keeping with my diverse taste in fiction, Apex Books provided a sci-fi book for review which looks a lot of fun too.

Angels of The NorthANGELS OF THE NORTH by Ray Banks (due to be published 4 Dec 2014)

Thatcher's Britain. A boom time for entrepreneurs, patriots ... and vigilantes.

Gateshead's notorious Derwent Hall estate. Crippled by unemployment, awash with drugs, and a no-go area for police and politicians alike.

Three men – a taxi driver with political aspirations, a soldier with black dreams, and the jobless victim of a brutal attack – come together to rid their estate of crime. But when conscience collides with ambition, it's not long before the streets turn bloody and their community burns.


Green HellGREEN HELL by Ken Bruen (due to be published 7 July 2015)

In the previous book in the series, Purgatory, ex-cop Jack Taylor had finally turned his life around, only to be taunted back into fighting Galway’s corruption by a twisted serial killer named C33. In the new novel Green Hell, Bruen’s dark angel of a protagonist has again hit rock bottom: one of his best friends is dead, the other has stopped speaking to him; he has given up battling his addiction to alcohol and pills; and his firing from the Irish national police, the Guards, is ancient history. But Jack isn’t about to embark on a self-improvement plan. Instead, he has taken up a vigilante case against a respected professor of literature at the University of Galway who has a violent habit his friends in high places are only too happy to ignore. And when Jack rescues a preppy American student on a Rhodes Scholarship from a couple of kid thugs, he also unexpectedly gains a new sidekick, who abandons his thesis on Beckett to write a biography of Galway’s most magnetic rogue.

Between pub crawls and violent outbursts, Jack’s vengeful plot against the professor soon spirals toward chaos. Enter Emerald, an edgy young Goth who could either be the answer to Jack’s problems, or the last ripped stitch in his undoing. Ireland may be known as a “green Eden,” but in Jack Taylor’s world, the national color has a decidedly lethal sheen.


SeveranceSEVERANCE by Chris Bucholz (due to be published 9 Dec 2014)

After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS by Emily Herbert

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops 1951 - 2014Film critique quotes and testimonials aside, ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS is a deeply moving read about a man who brought happiness to millions yet despite this penchant for comedy couldn’t bring happiness to himself.

Repetitive at times, but then again isn’t life at certain stages? This bird’s eye account of the man behind the mask of laughs portrays Robin Williams as a depressed, isolated, and womanising man-child whose coping mechanism was his craft. Hash but reality rarely coincides with fiction.

His highs praised his lows painstakingly prominent and seemingly in direct correlation with his state of mind. As a fan of his movies and not knowing much else about the famous comedian/actor it was interesting to read how difficult (and enjoyable as he certainly had his good times) life in and out of the spotlight was for Robin Williams.

From his three marriages, to his monetary woes (though this is still somewhat disputed) to his predilection for gaming and stand-up comedy, WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS evokes equal feelings of happiness and sadness for a man who touched so many, bringing to light information many fans would not be privy to.  

Monday, November 17, 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 posted the following reviews:

SHELLA by Andrew Vachss (noir)

DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins (PI)

THE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE by Jonathan Maberry (zombie)

THE FORGOTTEN ADDICTION by Michael Lion (PI) 

The Cold, Cold Ground | [Adrian McKinty]THE COLD COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty 

(This is my first foray into the world of audio books. I've read a number of McKinty's books and am enjoying this so far. The narrator Gerard Doyle is a perfect fit).

Northern Ireland, Spring 1981. A homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera and a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. On the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things - and people - aren't always what they seem.

The first book to feature Sean Duffy. 

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops 1951 - 2014ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS by Emily Herbert

At midday on August 11, 2014, much-loved comedian Robin Williams was pronounced dead at his California home. From Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Aladdin to Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams brought laughter—and deep joy—to a generation. He was sparklingly funny, a lightning-fast improviser, and a wonderful comic. But what touched millions of people was the warmth and compassion he exuded. The deeply tragic manner in which he took his own life has come as a shock to the world and caused people to wonder about the desperately troubled life behind the laughter he gave to millions. With Twitter igniting from record volumes of tributes to the much-loved actor, the death of Robin Williams has caused a public outpouring of grief not seen since the passing of Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston. Emily Herbert’s sensitive and thoughtful biography celebrates his genius, and attempts to understand what could have driven such a warm and gifted man to take his own life.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Returning to the scene of the crime: SHELLA by Andrew Vachss

ShellaFrom the back of the book:
He is called "Ghost" because he is so nondescript as to be invisible and because he slays with such reflexive ease that he might be one of the dead. Once he traveled with a woman who was called "Shella" -- because those who had treated her as a horrendously ill-used child had tried to make her come out of her shell. Now Shella has vanished in a wilderness of strip clubs and peep shows, and Ghost is looking for her, guided by a killer's instinct and the recognition that can only exist between two people who have been damaged past the point of no return. The result is Andrew Vachss's most compelling work to date, the thriller reimagined as a bleak romance of the damned.

My Review:
I originally read SHELLA is May 2010 (thanks Goodreads for assisting my reader memory) and my 2014 re-read pretty much leaves me feeling the same as back then. SHELLA is a satisfying read, if, perhaps not everyone's poison.

A tale of three stanzas intertwined by an overlapping theme of violence, heartache, and pain, SHELLA forecasts storm clouds and doesn't fail to deliver a downpour.

Probably one of the best noir's I've read, SHELLA, seemingly delivers on all fronts yet for some reason I can't give it 5 stars. I think this is due to the quite separate courses the plot forks - firstly in the dark and seedy clubs of the adult industry - strippers, prostitutes, pimps and beat downs, then on to the white supremacy inner circle as 'Ghost' becomes right hand to a racist movement, all for the purpose of chasing down Shella, a woman he hasn't known since before his incarceration.

SHELLA is standard Vachss - it wont win hearts but it will darken them and that's just the way I like my noir.

Returning to the scene of the crime: DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins

Deadly Beloved (Hard Case Crime #38)DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins (Hardcase Crime #38)

The cool thing about DEADLY BELOVED is that not only is it written by MAC, the author who is responsible for everyone's favourite hitman in Quarry, but it's got a rich and interesting history associated with the lead character PI Michael Tree.

Mrs. Tree started in the newspaper funny pages as a comic strip which evolved to make the character the longest running PI comic in history (as credited by MAC in the afterword). Mrs. Tree also features in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS in the story Maternity Leave, and while, DEADLY BELOVED is outside of continuity, Maternity Leave does read familiar due to the reoccurring characters in DEADLY BELOVED. Having read Maternity Leave recently, I think the Hardcase Crime novel and the comic complement one another nicely.

DEADLY beloved is a multi layered PI pulp that is more smoke and mirrors than straight forward mystery. There are so many elements and plot threads that come in and out of play which keep the reader guessing and the bullets buzzing.

Originally published in 2006, I hope MAC revisits the series in prose form as this revised 'origin' story sets Mrs. Tree as a unique and dangerously addictive PI - a great diversification of the genre.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: THE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE by Jonathan Maberry

The Wind Through the FenceTHE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE by Jonathan Maberry is a zombie short story true to the genre with all the formulaic trappings yet it diversifies itself by virtue of the clever writing and use of sounds over gore and violence. 

A fence separates the living from the dead  with those manning it responsible for helping mankind reclaim the land a meter at a time. However, with the dead pushing back and seeking entrance to the encampment, the struggle is not easily won. 

There is a heightened sense of horror and anticipation for violence that keeps the reader engaged and looking over their shoulder, shuddering at silently caught words riding the wind, breathing the decayed drenched air and feeling the dread that those working on the fence feel. It's a really unique story that only gets better throughout. 

The ending is a beauty too - one that's just for the tale that leaves a long lasting impression. THE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE IS a must for zombie fans and those who like to scare themselves silly.  

Review: THE FORGOTTEN ADDICTION by Michael Lion

The Forgotten AddictionFrom the back of the book:
Los Angeles, 1993. The City is burning itself down. Murder is king. And Bird is back, right in the middle of the blaze. Still blaming himself for the death of the Butcher's Granddaughter, Bird is holed up in his girlfriend's apartment and trying to keep the demons at bay. But the City won't leave him alone, won't let him grieve. When the desperate father of a missing UCLA co-ed finds Bird and pleads with him to help find his daughter, Bird sees a path to personal redemption and takes it. It may be the last mistake he ever makes. From penthouse office suites to strip club poker games, Bird soon learns that the girl's disappearance may have been of her own making. But somewhere along the way she drew the interest of L.A.'s darkest corners, and in them Bird will have to choose between his own life and that of a woman he has never met

My Review:
Drawing similarities to Andrew Vachss’ Burke series, THE FORGOTTEN ADDICTION continues the back alley, down and dangerous theme of the earlier Bird installment THE BUTCHERS GRANDDAUGHTER where criminals and law enforcement alike willingly and reluctantly assist Bird in tracking down his quarry.

This time around, it’s a scarred beauty whose gone missing with her father seeking Bird’s expertise to locate her and bring her home to safety. After reluctantly accepting the case, the father is gunned down with Bird witness to the murder.


Scratching the surface of the case reveals a complex web of lies and intrigue as the missing girl turns out not to be the pitch perfect angel the deceased had painted her. Drugs, murder, grifters, blackmail – it all stacks up to one compelling and addictive read.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: FEDERALES by Christopher Irvin

Federales (One Eye Press Singles)From the back of the book:
Mexican Federal Agent Marcos Camarena dedicated his life to the job. But in a country where white knights die meaningless deaths, martyred in a hole with fifty other headless bodies in the desert, corruption is not an attribute but a scale; no longer a stigma but the status quo.

When Marcos’s life is threatened, he leaves law enforcement and his life in Mexico City behind for a coastal resort town—until an old friend asks him to look after an outspoken politician, a woman who knows cartel violence all too well. Despite his best efforts, Marcos can’t find it in his heart to refuse, and soon finds himself isolated on the political front lines of the war on drugs.


My Review:
In a world where bodies attract bullets and politicians are targeted by police and drug cartels alike, one broken federale, Marcos, stands to oppose corruption and protect the voice firing back at the cartels from being permanently muted.  

Pain is paramount and mistrust in abundance throughout FEDERALES as Marcos finds himself whilst trying not to loose the life of his protection detail. Eva, a political force in the fight against the Mexican drug cartels and her young daughter are under constant threat with their lives symbiotic of all that is law and justice. Snuffed out, their deaths would send a murderous message to the broader populace, one Marcos hopes to avoid.

FEDERALES is a one sitting novella that has a feeling of overwhelming hopelessness and impending sense of death underpinned by bubbling violence. There's backstabbing, murder, pain, and sad endings; an honest and raw look at the cartel's influence on policing and their destructive reach.   

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS by Jonathan Ashley

The Cost of Doing BusinessThe simplistic crime novel has never been so viscerally vicious. A lethal linear plot populated by evocative events of escalated murder and all too easy violence bleeds freely over the pages of Jonathan Ashley’s THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS.  

Mixing habit, ambition, self-preservation, and a love of books results in the proverbial storm only survived by living to the limits and maximising one’s penchant for murder. Luckily for lead character Jon Catlett his misguided moral compass and dead-eye shooting prowess save him from the reapers’ mark only to lead him one step closer to the grave, courtesy of the drug world and gangsters that thrive in the illicit business.  

I love the way Jon’s plot thread evolves from accidental murderer to ambitious drug boss over the course of a few bloody events. From taking out a fellow addict to dealing with police blackmail to getting into bed with some serious players in the drug trade, Jon temps fate with a bullet and somehow manages to improve his position both financially and credibility wise.


THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS is a great novel for noir enthusiasts who enjoy a fast paced tale of violence encompassing a raw and unhinged approach to the finer elements the drug trade.  

Monday, November 3, 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 posted the following reviews:

- STRAITS OF FORTUNE by Anthony Gagliano (crime)

- THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN by George RR Martin (fantasy)

- EL GALIVAN by Craig McDonald (cop-noir)

This week is all about crime for my reading. 

The Forgotten AddictionTHE FORGOTTEN ADDICTION by Michael Lion (I was fortunate to nab an e-arc for review. publication date 20 November 2014) 

LA, 1993. The City is burning itself down. Murder is king. And Bird is back, right in the middle of the blaze. Still blaming himself for the death of the Butcher's Granddaughter, Bird is holed up in his girlfriend's apartment and trying to keep the demons at bay. But the City won't leave him alone, won't let him grieve. When the desperate father of a missing UCLA co-ed finds Bird and pleads with him to help find his daughter, Bird sees a path to personal redemption and takes it. It may be the last mistake he ever makes. From penthouse office suites to strip club poker games, Bird soon learns that the girl's disappearance may have been of her own making. But somewhere along the way she drew the interest of L.A.'s darkest corners, and in them Bird will have to choose between his own life and that of a woman he has never met.

Federales (One Eye Press Singles)FEDERALS by Christopher Irvin 

Mexican Federal Agent Marcos Camarena dedicated his life to the job. But in a country where white knights die meaningless deaths, martyred in a hole with fifty other headless bodies in the desert, corruption is not an attribute but a scale; no longer a stigma but the status quo.

When Marcos’s life is threatened, he leaves law enforcement and his life in Mexico City behind for a coastal resort town—until an old friend asks him to look after an outspoken politician, a woman who knows cartel violence all too well. Despite his best efforts, Marcos can’t find it in his heart to refuse, and soon finds himself isolated on the political front lines of the war on drugs.


The Mammoth Book of Best Crime ComicsTHE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS edited by Paul Gravett (I'm about half way through and am loving this collection. Recent reads include a Dashiel Hammett serial and Ed McBain's 87th prescient)

One of the only compilations of the crime comic genre, this volume contains 25 of the best graphic short stories, spanning all the nuances of noir, from classic American newspaper strip serials and notorious uncensored comic books to today’s global graphic novel masterpieces.
  
This collection includes Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Max Allan Collins, and Alex Toth—plus adaptations of and collaborations by famous crime writers, such as Dashiel Hammett, Mickey Spillane, Lesley Charteris, and Raymond Chandler.

Catching up on crime: EL GAVILAN by Craig McDonald

El GavilanFrom the back of the book:
The news is full of it; escalating tensions from illegal immigration, headless bodies hanging off bridges, and bounties placed on lawmen on both sides of the border. New Austin, Ohio, is a town grappling with waves of undocumented workers who exert tremendous pressure on schools, police, and city services. In the midst of the turmoil, three very different kinds of cops scramble to maintain control and impose order.

But the rape and murder of a Mexican American woman triggers a brutal chain of events that threatens to leave no survivors. El Gavilan is a novel of shifting alliances and whiplash switchbacks. Families are divided and careers and lives threatened. Friendships and ideals are tested and budding love affairs challenged. With its topical themes, shades-of- gray characters, and dark canvas, El Gavilan is a novel for our charged times.

My Review:
As New Austin, Ohio struggles to police the ever growing numbers of illegal Mexican immigrants, three police chiefs from three distinctly different backgrounds meet to counteract the problem. What Tel (formerly from Border Patrol and new chief), Hawk (old school cop with good intentions), and Pierce (shady cop with a string of questionable deaths of those in his custody) didn't envision, was the impact a rape/murder of a local Mexican resident would have on their respective counties and the bloodshed that would ultimately claim their respective postings.   

EL GAVILAN is one of those rare novels that blends plot with the natural progression of character development without sacrificing key elements to either. Tel, Hawk and co are well rounded and believable. I couldn't help but back Tel’s every move while sympathised with some of the difficult predicaments Hawk found himself in.

As far as the multiple plot devises and threads go, I thought author Craig McDonald did a great job by concluding it all in once nice bundle of violence at the completion of the book.


Backstabbing, wrong doing, murder, good intentions, misguided justice and vengeance are all prevalent throughout proceedings ensuring there is never a dull moment or skerrick of filling – just straight-up cop noir.  

This was my first read of a Craig McDonald and it sure wont be the last. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review: THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN by George R.R. Martin

Dangerous WomenThis novella published in DANGEROUS WOMEN, a monster of a book featuring loads of short stories and this novella is a pure delight for fans of the Fire and Ice epic fantasy series and those only familiar with the Game of Thrones TV series adaptations.

THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN explores the bloody history of Westeros, taking an in-depth look at the ‘Dance of Dragons’, the epic war between the Targaryen’s as sides of the dragon riding family fight for the throne.

Chief combatants are Rhaenyra Targaryen, who is the rightful heir to the throne following the king’s demise and Queen Alicent, Rhaenyra’s stepmother who wants her side of the family to rule. Amidst the bloodshed, these two characters are well fleshed out with their respective followers and family members feeling right at home as puzzle pieces in the broader Fire and Ice fictional universe.

The only real problem I have with THE PRNICESS AND THE QUEEN is the high volume of characters mentioned, some only in passing. Trying to keep abreast of them all is difficult yet it’s no different from the novels. A minor gripe that doesn’t dull the reading experience.

THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN is a must read for fans of the series, however I recommend reading the long-ish novella in a single sitting as its relatively easy to misplace which side the characters are on, similarly with the dragons themselves.