Monday, 18 September 2017

GRAHAM SMITH - THE KINDRED KILLERS (2017)


Synopsis/blurb…

An explosive new crime thriller

Jake Boulder’s help is requested by his best friend, Alfonse, when his cousin is crucified and burned alive along with his wife and children.

As Boulder tries to track the heinous killer, a young woman is abducted. Soon her body is discovered and Boulder realises both murders have something unusual in common.

With virtually no leads for Boulder to follow, he strives to find a way to get a clue as to the killer’s identity. But is he hunting for one killer or more?

After a young couple are snatched in the middle of the night the case takes a brutal turn. When the FBI is invited to help with the case, Boulder finds himself warned off the investigation.

When gruesome, and incendiary, footage from a mobile phone is sent to all the major US News outlets and the pressure to find those responsible for the crimes mounts. But with the authorities against him can Boulder catch the killer before it’s too late?

“Watching the Bodies is a storming addition to the action thriller genre, and Jake Boulder a new tough guy to root for. Be under no illusion, Boulder is no Jack Reacher or Joe Hunter clone- He is his own man and readers will delight in getting to know a hero who is as sharp with his wits, and his tongue, as he is with his fists.” Matt Hilton – Bestselling author of the Joe Hunter thrillers

The Kindred Killers is another fast-paced and satisfying read from Graham Smith. In the second Jake Boulder novel, our doorman and part-time investigator is involved in a case a lot closer to home.
Jake’s best friend Alfonse is distraught at the news that his cousin and his family have been brutally murdered in a crime that bears all the hallmarks of a racially motivated killing. With the local police department, the chief the exception, incompetent and unfit for purpose the pair are determined to nail the killers.

I don’t want to give too much away. The killings continue with a pattern emerging. Further down the line, the FBI get involved and Jake and Alfonse get shunted to the side lines.  But that’s not happening, this is Jake Boulder you’re dealing with, don’t you know?

Escalation, increased tension, fast-moving, short and snappy chapters, the odd mini respite with a bit of love interest for Jake with Taylor (has he met the woman who can tame him?), more killings - horrific in the execution and portrayal (possibly a bit too graphic for some reader’s tastes – but not mindlessly exploitative), and a logical investigation with the tools at hand.

There’s a decent support cast – our police chief Watson and the family leader of a troublesome tribe of rednecks, Butch Augiers and our local irritant the hard-nosed local reporter Miss Rosenberg. Smith invests a bit of time with his characters adding some depth and invoking the reader’s interest and sympathies.

Standout though is Jake himself. Tough, capable, intelligent, handy with his fists – all the things I’m not – I hate him!

Sometimes I want a book that informs and educates as well as entertains. Sometimes you want a book that distracts you from the everyday and allows you to lose yourself for a few hours. This one is the latter. Probably not going to win any prizes for literature, but who cares?

Overall a great read. Ticks in all the boxes. Graham Smith hooked me early and kept me invested in the outcome.

4.5 from 5

The first Jake Boulder book – Watching the Bodies was reviewed here.

Graham Smith has his website here
He's on Twitter - @GrahamSmith1972

He has another series to his name set in Cumbria – the DI Harry Evans books. 

Read in September, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 318
Source - review copy from publisher - Bloodhound Books (cheers Sarah)
Format - Kindle




Sunday, 17 September 2017

AUGUST 2017 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH



10 "books" read in the month, not bad going. Look a bit closer and you'll see that the word book is a bit of a stretch........oh well, my blog, my rules and I'm the official score keeper.

They were......

Ariana D. Den Bleyker - Dark Water (2015) (2)

Friedrich Durrenmatt - The Judge and His Hangman (1954) (4)

Dana King - Worst Enemies (2012) (5)

Eric Beetner - The Year I Died Seven Times: Book 3 (2014) (4)

Eric Beetner - The Year I Died Seven Times: Book 4 (2014) (4)

Eryk Pruitt - Dirtbags (2014) (4.5)

Dietrich Kalteis - Triggerfish (2016)  (4.5)

Eric Beetner - The Year I Died Seven Times: Book 5 (2014) (4)

Graham Wynd - Smallbany (2015) (4)

Michael Pool - Midnight at the San Franciscan (2015) (4)

My one "5 STAR" read was Dana King's Worst Enemies - it had everything - pace, plot, setting, humour, dialogue, action - a real mix of murder, scheming, duplicity, cops, a PI, sex, a femme fatale and a patsy. I wish I had read it years ago when I bought it.

Two reads were close contenders for top marks - Dietrich Kalteis continues to impress me with his cool, sassy Canadian-set crime. Triggerfish was excellent and Eryk Pruitt served up an interesting tale with Dirtbags - both were 4.5 STARS!

Another one from the Number 13 Press stable was read - Dark Water. It wasn't my cup of tea, for some reason I couldn't get into it. The only disappointing read in the month - 2 STARS!

All the rest were 4 STARS reads and fairly short. 3 episodes of Eric Beetner's The Year I Died Seven Times were devoured. I'm only two from home now. There was a bit of Swiss crime from Friedrich Durrenmatt - a re-issue of one of his mid-50s books and a couple of short stories from Graham Wynd (aka K.A. Laity) and Michael Pool.


More useless trivia......

10 reads - 8 different authors,

3 of the 8 were new-to-me authors....... Dana King, Michael Pool and Ariana D. Den Bleyker - I have more from King on the Kindle to enjoy.

Of the authors I have read before, I have a ton of Eric Beetner books still to enjoy, a couple more from Durrenmatt and Kalteis and a few from Wynd/Laity.

Gender analysis - 6 male authors, 2 females.



I think 6 of the authors I read are American, 1 is Canadian and the deceased Durrenmatt was from Switzerland.

All 10 were fiction reads - 5 novels and 5 novellas/short stories.

9 were published this decade -  1 from 2016 and 3 from 2015, 4 from 2014, 1 from 2012 and only one older book from 1954.

8 of the 10 books were pre-owned/purchased - 2 came via the publisher - though I did have an  old copy of one of them somewhere in my book tubs.

Favourite cover? Eryk Pruitt - Dirtbags!




Second favourite - Triggerfish from Dietrich Kalteis!




My reads were this long - 110 - 128 - 371 - 44 - 45 - 201 - 266 - 50 - 11 - 23

Total page count =  1249 (1775 in July).......over 500 pages down on the previous month.

8 Kindle reads, 2 paperbacks,

5 < 50,
0 between 51 < 100,
2 between 101 < 200,

2 between 201 < 300,
1 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Dana King's Worst Enemies was the longest read at 371 pages.

AUGUST 2017 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

Another month and further swelling of the ranks of the already over-flowing library.....


October release from publisher Perpetual Motion Machine
John Oliver Hodges - Quizzleboon

QUIZZLEBOON is a redneck fairy tale about Leon Hicks, a one-eyed outlaw who joins an anarchist collective in the hills of North Carolina. Guided by an imaginary man from the moon named Mr. Quizzleboon, Leon searches within these dirt people for a sense of family that seems forever out of reach.

Amazon purchase - well I did have a voucher that needed using up!

Colin Garrow - Death on a Dirty Afternoon (The Terry Bell Mysteries Book 1)

Introducing a brand new murder mystery series set on England's northeast coast.

When taxi driver Frank is found dead on his dining room table, ex-cabbie Terry Bell assumes his old friend died of a heart attack. But when Terry's former boss also turns up with his face bashed in, it starts to look like there's a connection.

Faced with a Detective Inspector who doesn't like coincidences, and a series of threatening letters, Terry does a bit of investigating of his own, but when another body is discovered, the temperature starts to rise - in more ways than one.

Death on a Dirty Afternoon is book #1 in the Terry Bell Mystery series.

It's a seaside town like any other seaside town: from the non-existent sand dunes and candy-striped deck chairs to the concrete piers and tacky market stalls, they've got it all - including dead bodies, arson attacks and hockey-stick wielding murderers. If you love mysteries and amateur sleuthing, bald-headed villains and Swedish construction bosses, this'll be right up your everyday seaside-town street. Download your copy of Death on a Dirty Afternoon now. Just scroll to the top of the page and select BUY to start your adventure today!

Another Amazon purchase adding to the unread Todd Morr stack!
Todd Morr - Best Laid Plan of Idiots and Fuck-Ups: A Cooke Novel

DNA evidence may have saved him from a life in prison for a crime he did not commit, but trouble still finds him and Cooke cant' help but embrace it.

Cooke retrieves a stash of money for lawyer Valerie Murphy. The money belongs to her client, but plenty of people have designs on getting it for themselves. The clients sister thinks she can use the money to pay someone to break her brother out of county jail while plenty of others, including the clients crew of thieves, some Christian Bikers, and a dirty cop want to get the stash for themselves.

Another one from the publisher Perpetual Motion Machine, came out last year I think.

Bob Pastorella - Mojo Rising

A new drug called Mojo is tearing through Southeast Texas, directly competing with Juney's own product. What starts as a minor annoyance quickly spirals into something much more serious once Juney discovers his cook murdered and his brother mysteriously missing, the Mojo trademark left at the crime scene. Mojo Rising is a strange trip through a world of thugs and junkies, hallucinations and apocalypses. Some doors you walk through, you can't come back in. Includes the bonus short story, "Pork Chop."

Second hand acquisition while book browsing on a break with my wife. Published late 90s. I looked Raine up afterwards having previously been unaware of him and he's written about a dozen crime novels in all. His Amazon reviews seem to give a divided opinion on him. Half love and half dislike - a bit of a Marmite author. Ian Rankin praised his early books.


Jerry Raine - Frankie Bosser Comes Home (Jason Campbell Book 1)

Frankie Bosser has been lying low in Italy for three years after the accidental shooting of a policeman in England. When he hears about his father's sudden death, he decides to risk all to return home for his funeral. On arrival, he finds out that his father was actually the victim of a beating, so he decides to hang around to see if he can find the person responsible. While killing time with old friend Jason Campbell, Frankie realises that he won't have to look very far for the killer at all. And when their two worlds collide the only outcome can be a bloody mess.

Amazon purchase after seeing Fahrenheit Press promoting the release of the third one in the author's series.

Derek Farrell - Death Of A Diva (The Danny Bird Mysteries Book 1)

"Quite fun..." - Eric Idle

Danny Bird is having a very bad day. In the space of just a few hours he lost his job, his partner and his home.

Ever the optimist, Danny throws himself headlong into his dream to turn the grimmest pub in London into the coolest nightspot south of the river. Sadly, everything doesn’t go quite as planned when his star turn is found strangled hours before opening night.

Danny becomes the prime suspect in the crime, and then the gangster who really owns the pub starts asking where his share of the takings has gone… it seems things are going to get worse for Danny before they get better.

“A classic whodunit brought bang up to date”

“A modern day Cluedo”

“Impossible to compartmentalise into one genre, the plot twists and turns through a thoroughly modern tale that will have you totally hooked.”

“A book full of clever plotting.”

“Excellent pacy story, great characters and laugh out loud jokes in places”



Saturday, 16 September 2017

ERIC BEETNER - THE YEAR I DIED SEVEN TIMES: BOOK 5 (2014)


Synopsis/blurb……

Four deaths into the worst year of his life and Ridley is ready to give up his search for the elusive girl of his dreams, Miho.

Then he gets a most unexpected visitor.

Ruthless assassins won’t leave him alone and now that’s he’s disturbed the hive, will the newest swarm mean his final demise?

On the run with his precious cargo Ridley will find mystery on the highway, death and sex in a cheap motel, and even more ways to die. But could this be the final curtain?

Only two more installments remain in the exciting adventure of The Year I Died Seven Times. Next: August


Deja-vous, deja-Beetner, deja-Ridley - another quick pacey 50 pages from Beetner and another click on the scoreboard.

Unexpected visitor indeed, Miho puts in an appearance. The end of our tale? No there's retribution to be had and a small address book hidden at her old apartment will sink the bastards who have done this to the couple, if we can stomach the smell from the decaying corpse that is her old flatmate.

A few more twists and turns and the opportunity to play a starring role in a porn film for Ridley is declined. A wise move. A good samaritan act on the highway cranks up the paranoia over the Japanese thugs that are imagined to be lurking around every corner, hiding behind every tree.

When Ridley dies for a fifth time his demise is somewhat innocent, blame Mother Nature.

Plenty of wry smiles as opposed to out and out chuckles, a lot of action, short and sharp. A fun read for those who don't want to take their fiction too seriously.

4 from 5

The writing machine that is Eric Beetner has his website here. He's on Twitter@ericbeetner

The previous installments of The Year I Died Seven Times....

Book 4 here
Book 3 here
Book 2 here
Book 1 here

Read in August, 2017
Published - 2014
Page count - 50
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle

Thursday, 14 September 2017

DIETRICH KALTEIS - TRIGGERFISH (2016)


Synopsis/blurb……

Rennie Beckman is a dishonored ex-cop with only two things on his mind: his new boat, the Triggerfish, and his hot date, an environmentalist named Vicki. After the two unknowingly dock the boat in the same secluded cove as a Mexican cartel’s drug submarine, the date ends with a bang.

With the cartel’s coke-for-guns deal with local bikers torched by Beckman, he’s forced to go on the run with half the underworld chasing him through the streets of Vancouver and the waters surrounding it. While he tries to stay alive, a woman from Beckman’s past — currently on the run from CSIS and the anti-terror squad — comes back to settle an old score.

When the gangs start to go after his friends, the ex-cop stops running and turns the tables. With a ragtag crew of his own, Beckman fights the cartel and bikers, head on. Fast, vicious, and thrilling, Triggerfish delivers a story where all the criminals are in conflict and no one is certain who will come out on top.

Another slice of top class Canadian crime fiction from Dietrich Kalteis with Triggerfish. Triggerfish is the third novel from Kalteis after Ride the Lightning and The Deadbeat Club.

My kind of book…….. a cop becomes an ex-cop and a boatman, a drug-smuggling submarine owned by a Mexican cartel, a biker gang trading guns for cocaine, a raspberry thong-ed environmentalist, a sexual encounter interrupting the drugs transfer, and the aftermath. The cartel coming after our main man Beckman and his date in an effort to eliminate the witnesses.

Action, violence, sex, vegan food, environmentalists, the sea, a hapless assistant, a concerned friend, a love rival, drug-runners, bikers, a stabbing, a terrorist on the most wanted list, a low-level criminal duo of uncle and nephew in over their heads, cocaine and guns, opportunity, theft, torture, arson, death, fisticuffs and more.

Fast-paced, entertaining, engaging, funny in all the right places, educational (whoever knew the cartels smuggled drugs in purpose built-submarines? not me), satisfying.

Ticks in every box.

4.5 from 5

Ride the Lightning was enjoyed, thoughts here. As was The Deadbeat Clubhere.

House of Blazes - a historical novel set around the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the forthcoming Zero Avenue await.

Dietrich Kalteis has his website/blog here. Catch him on Twitter - @dietrichkalteis   and Facebook here.

Read in August, 2017
Published – 2016
Page count – 266
Source – review copy from publisher ECW Press

Format - paperback


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

GRAHAM SMITH - WATCHING THE BODIES (2017)


Synopsis/blurb…..

Watching The Bodies: an explosive new crime thriller from a critically acclaimed author
When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive. But who will it be?

Watching The Bodies is the first in Graham Smith's new Jake Boulder series, a fast-moving and action packed crime thriller, it will appeal to greatly to fans of Lee Child's Jack Reacher series.

“Watching the Bodies is a storming addition to the action thriller genre, and Jake Boulder a new tough guy to root for. Be under no illusion, Boulder is no Jack Reacher or Joe Hunter clone- He is his own man and readers will delight in getting to know a hero who is as sharp with his wits, and his tongue, as he is with his fists.” Matt Hilton – Bestselling author of the Joe Hunter thrillers

I will hold my hand up and admit I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the serial killer book. In the main I tend to avoid them. I will make an exception for John Sandford’s books, though I’ve not picked up one of them for a few years now.

I did enjoy this one and it was my first outing with Graham Smith. Kind of fortunate really, because I had already committed to reading the second Jake Boulder book – The Kindred Killers for a post next week.

Over 300 pages long, but it was a quick easy read. Plenty happening to keep me engaged and speeding through the story.

Jake Boulder is single, a bouncer at a bar and sometime help for his friend, Alfonse who runs an investigative business. We learn about Boulder’s upbringing, the abandonment by his father at a young age, the Scottish heritage, the inherited fiery temper and willingness to engage in casual violence. He’s well-suited to his role as a bouncer. You start trouble, he’ll happily finish it. He’s intelligent and practical. He dreads phone calls from his mother….the constant ear-bashing about the lack of a meaningful relationship and the absence of a grandchild. Boulder and women - he loves them and leaves them, having serious commitment issues.

A women has been murdered and the dead girl’s father has hired Alfonse to look into the death. Our small town of Casperton has a police department, legendary in its incompetence. The lead detective and the mayor’s son has his role courtesy of nepotism instead of ability. There’s a new competent police chief recently appointed, but a new broom hasn’t yet swept through the department.

Stories in order to engage me have to be credible and on the face of it, I think a bouncer investigating a murderer is a bit of a stretch, but the author did a great job in convincing me to buy the premise.  The skilful portrayal of the PD and its less than glorious abilities and the plausible involvement of a PI and ergo Boulder in looking into things, was thus only a small leap of faith.

One murder to begin with, many more follow. What’s the connection between the victims and what is the killer’s motive?

Boulder and Alfonse with the tacit agreement of Chief Watson continue to investigate. Alfonse with his PC skills, tracking and hacking and uncovering details helpful to the investigation; Boulder on the ground doing the leg-work and interviews and a bit of less than gentle persuasion when called for. We have a quid pro quo arrangement with Boulder’s mother’s psychiatrist for a bit of insight into the killer. Boulder in return for the shrink’s input has to open up about his commitment issues and suppressed angst.

Our narrative also offers us chapters from the killer’s perspective which add to the excitement and help keep the book pacey and punchy.

Inevitably Boulder and our killer collide.

Enjoyable and entertaining. A wee suspension of disbelief was required to get on board with events initially, but I was soon swept along by the rapid escalation of killings. I like Smith’s style. Story, plot, setting, characters, action, wit and resolution were all present and satisfying.

4 from 5

Graham Smith has his website here
He's on Twitter@GrahamSmith1972

He has another series to his name set in Cumbria – the DI Harry Evans books. The second in the Jake Boulder series - The Kindred Killers is now available.

Read in September, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 322
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle






Tuesday, 12 September 2017

2 BY FINN BELL

A new-to-me author and one that came to my attention because both his books received nominations for the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Two books published in the same year and two nominations - that's got to be worth checking out!

Finn Bell lives in New Zealand and has his website here.

Apparently there are another two books in the pipeline, so I'd better pull my finger out and get to these one first.



Pancake Money (2016)

Bobby Ress is a cop with a simple life.
He believes in making a difference.
He loves his wife and his daughter. He has a place in the world.
Then people start dying, a lot of them, in horrible ways. It's a case like no other. And step by gruesome step the simple, true things Bobby knew to be right and good begin to make less and less sense. Because Bobby is learning about pain. He doesn't like to admit it. He doesn't like to know, but he's slowly realizing: If you hurt someone bad enough for long enough then there's nothing, absolutely nothing, they won't do.









Dead Lemons (2016)

In the far south a young girl goes missing, lost without trace in the wilderness beyond her remote family cottage. A year later her father disappears in the same place. Then nothing. At all. Eventually the years grow over the grief. The decades wear away the questions, life flows past the forgotten tragedy.

Until Finn moves into the abandoned home, looking for a fresh start.

A place to heal himself far from his old problems. But rebuilding life is complicated by chance encounters and odd occurrences leaving Finn with the growing suspicion that the people here are harboring a terrible secret. Suspicion turns to obsession the deeper Finn digs while also facing steadily escalating dangers in the here-and-now. Soon Finn's own journey of recovery becomes inextricably linked with his need to unravel the mystery. Past and present finally collide when Finn starts to learn the truth about this place and himself. Now he must choose between exoneration and condemnation, justice and vengeance.