Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review: THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS (Jack Taylor #2) by Ken Bruen

The Killing Of The Tinkers (Jack Taylor, #2)From the back of the book
In the opening pages of "The Killing of the Tinkers," Jack's back in Galway a year later with a new leather jacket on his back, a pack of smokes in his pocket, a few grams of coke in his waistband, and a pint of Guinness on his mind. So much for new beginnings. 

Before long he's sunk into his old patterns, lifting his head from the bar only every few days, appraising his surroundings for mere minutes and then descending deep into the alcoholic, drug-induced fugue he prefers to the real world. But a big gypsy walks into the bar one day during a moment of Jack's clarity and changes all that with a simple request. Jack knows the look in this man's eyes, a look of hopelessness mixed with resolve topped off with a quietly simmering rage; he's seen it in the mirror. Recognizing a kindred soul, Jack agrees to help him, knowing but not admitting that getting involved is going to lead to more bad than good. But in Jack Taylor's world bad and good are part and parcel of the same lost cause, and besides, no one ever accused Jack of having good sense. 


My Review
Continuing on from THE GUARDS, my rereading of Ken Bruen's penultimate series continues to bare fruit with THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS being another top read. 

Jack progresses from mere alcoholic with a good natured if somewhat destructive personality to a full blown drug addict - coke the poison which pumps it's devilishly smooth disguised death in his very veins. It adds another affliction to the already well afflicted - and that's part of the charm isn't it? Jack's not meant to be a nice man, he's not meant to be the copper you run to. No. He's the bloke at the bar you go to when the bottom of the barrel has turned you down. Yet, he gets results - and in THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS he does just that. 

Of course, this wouldn't be a Bruen novel if some claret didn't get spilled along the way. Enter a serial killer hell bent on murdering tinkers (oh there's a nice wee twist to this one) and a deranged maniac taking heads off swans and Jack's got a bit on his plate - plus the drinking and drugging, as well as the odd relationship with a lass and befriending a cop from London. Despite Jack being pulled in so many directions, Ken Bruen keeps it all on point, allowing each thread to overlap and merge with no another to form a greater narrative. 

THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS is a fantastic sophomore outing for Jack Taylor. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Finds (30 January 2015)


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Upcoming Hardcase Crime Releases

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: AVENGER (Intrepid #3) by Chris Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- - - - - -


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pick Up A Pulp [9]: BARGAIN HUNTING


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Catching Up: THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett

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

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Catching up: PLUNDER OF THE SUN by David Dodge

Plunder of the Sun (Hard Case Crime #10)From the back of the book
ON THE TRAIL OF THE LOST TREASURE OF THE INCAS – WITH EVERY FORTUNE HUNTER IN SOUTH AMERICA CLOSING IN!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Finds (23 January 2015)


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

This week I discovered and obtained so very cool books, and naturally, the mix is eclectic:

Avenger (Intrepid #3)AVENGER (Intrepid #3) by Chris Allen (published today!)

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

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

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

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


Doll FaceDOLL FACE by Tim Curran (to be published in March)

Six friends are returning home from a night out when they end up in a town called Stokes. They discover they are trapped there, as Stokes does not really exist. The actual town had burned to the ground more than fifty years ago. The Stokes they are in is a nightmare version of the former town, engineered by a deranged and undead mind, a supernatural machine of wrath that will destroy them one by one....unless they submit to its dominance and become living dolls.

FlexFLEX by Ferrett Steinmetz (to be published in March)

FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.


Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin ExpeditionFROZEN IN TIME by Owen Beattie & John Geiger

The truth about what happened on Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated Arctic expedition of 1845–48 has been shrouded in mystery for 165 years. Carrying the best equipment that the science and technology, Franklin and his men set out to “penetrate the icy fastness of the north, and to circumnavigate America.” The expedition’s two ships — HMS Erebus and HMS Terror — carrying 129 officers and men, disappeared without a trace. From 1846 to 1880 more than 20 major rescue parties were involved in the search for the missing men and ships. The disappearance of the expedition and absence of any substantial written accounts of the journey have left attempts at a reconstruction of events sketchy and inconclusive. In Frozen in Time, forensic anthropologist Owen Beattie and historian John Geiger tell the dramatic story of the excavation of three sailors from the Franklin Expeditions, buried for 138 years on the lonely headland of Beechey Island. This book contains the astonishing photographic record of the excavation, together with the maps and illustrations that accompany this riveting account of Franklin’s fatal adventure. The unfolding of Dr. Beattie’s unexpected findings is not only a significant document but also, in itself, a tale of high adventure.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: DRIVEN by James Sallis (audio book)

Driven | [James Sallis]
From the back of the book
Seven years have passed since Driver ended his campaign against those who double-crossed him. He has left the old life, become Paul West, and founded a successful business. But walking down the street one day, he and his fiancée are attacked by two men, and his fiancée is killed. 

Sinking back into anonymity, Driver realises that his past stalks him - and will not stop. He has to turn and face it.

My Review
DRIVEN, the sequel to the highly entertaining DRIVE starts with a bang as Driver's partner is brutally gunned down and Driver himself attacked by a couple of hired thugs. That sort of blistering opening really set the scene for what should have been a bloody story of revenge filled with heartache and pain - and ultimately, satisfying revenge; a form of judge, jury and executioner rolled into one big pile of cordite smelling  vendetta. Unfortunately, things didn't quite turn out how I had hoped.

For me, the audio book was greatly hindered by James Sallis's writing style. DRIVEN doesn't have chapters, making it difficult to find a definitive change of perspective and/or place setting. Narrator Paul Michael Garcia also didn't handle the different characters well making it hard to distinguish between who was who and what was dialog verse internal thought verses narrative. However, the narration did improve towards the later stages of the book - either that or I got used it... 

Narrator aside, DRIVEN didn't work for me due to the repetitive nature of the plot; Driver survives an attempted murder, beats-up some bad guys, drives around, reminisces on the past - repeat until ending.

I had such high hopes for DRIVEN given the way it started. Unfortunately the beginning is where it ended for me. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H Wilson

Robopocalypse
From the back of the book
They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies… Now they’re coming for you.

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.


My Review
Adopting a short story approach to the early chapters to detail the robot uprising, ROBOPOCALYPSE hooked me in from the get-go. The short, sharp bursts of pulse pounding action and steady characterisation of the key players established the scene for what was to be a unique look at a war many feared would come - and come it does.

Set in the near future (the exact year isn't specified), robot intelligence has managed to surpass its makers. No longer confined to code and control, these self thinking, self aware machines carve out a path of destruction across the globe. However, humans are resilient and soon small bands of fighters gather to ward off the impending extension of humankind, fighting fire with fire, or as the case may be robots with robots. 

I really liked the way the narrative flowed and was kept fresh by the differing perspective and manner by which humanities fight back was told. My only complaint was certain aspects to the war were glossed over but it's only minor in what was otherwise a very enjoyable read. 

Since finishing ROBOPOCALYPSE I've learnt there are more books set in this setting. The good thing is this book reads very well as a standalone and doesn't require the reader to source further installments, however I'll be sure to check them out. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


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

Last week I posted the following reviews:


SHAKY GROUND by Sharon Kae Reamer (fantasy/romance)

EVERYBODY GOES TO JIMMY'S by Michael Mayo (prohibition-era crime)

I HEAR SIRENS IN THE STREET by Adrian McKinty (crime) (audio)

OF BLONDES AND BULLETS by Michael Young (crime-noir)

This week I'm reading:

RobopocalypseROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H Wilson

They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies… Now they’re coming for you.

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years. 


Plunder of the Sun (Hard Case Crime #10)PLUNDER OF THE SUN by David Dodge

ON THE TRAIL OF THE LOST TREASURE OF THE INCAS – WITH EVERY FORTUNE HUNTER IN SOUTH AMERICA CLOSING IN!

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

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


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: SHAKY GROUND by Sharon Kae Reamer

Shaky GroundFrom the back of the book
Her bruises barely healed, Caitlin Schwarzbach needs time to settle into expatriate life with her brother Gus. Caitlin looks forward to her new job. She has new friends. She also has new enemies. And a new boyfriend. Hagen von der Lahn owns a haunted castle, a title, and the sexiest smile she's ever seen. But her romantic reunion with the baron of Burg Lahn is cut short when Gus's car blows up. 

Far from being settled, Caitlin's life has also become supernaturally complicated. Long-term goal: Accept a new paradigm that includes Celtic deities and ancient curses. Short-term goal: Choose between keeping Gus safe or learning the truth about her past and its implications for her future. When she learns about the 'fracking' experiment in Cologne being conducted by her enemies, Caitlin's short-term goal becomes dangerously acute. 


My Review
The second book in the Schattenreich series, SHAKY GROUND further explores the unique and unpredictable character dynamics established in its predecessor, PRIMARY FAULT (review link below). Caitlin, her love interest Hagan, her brother Gus, and many more are the epicenter of SHAKY GROUND and the glue that binds the fantastical within this fictitious reality. 

Unlike PRIMARY FAULT, the plot devise is largely one comprising of constant drama rather than a definitive mystery. Caitlin, a strong character in PRIMARY FAULT requires mollycoddling and a lot of attention from the other characters throughout proceedings which was at times to the detriment of the concept behind the series.

I got the impression that SHAKY GROUND was moving into the YA-ish supernatural/other worldly romance and suspense genres - whilst this was hinted in the earlier installment, it's more pronounced here; which is fine, but not really my thing. 

I enjoyed elements of SHAKY GROUND but really struggled to get past Caitlin's needy nature. She's critical to the series and aptly portrayed in that vein, however the constant need for someone to care for her be it Gus, Hagan, Heinrich, or Sebastian was a distraction from the otherworldly side of the equation which wasn't given enough page time. 

Readers who enjoy supernatural suspense and romance will no doubt enjoy this book. 

Links

Author website

My review of PRIMARY FAULT

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: EVERYBODY GOES TO JIMMY'S by Michael Mayo

Everybody Goes to Jimmy's: A Suspense NovelFrom the back of the book
An explosion outside his speakeasy draws Jimmy into a life-or-death chase Young Jimmy Quinn is delivering a bribe for the infamous racketeer Arnold Rothstein when a bomb goes off on Wall Street, killing thirty people and scaring every banker in the city right down to his spats. Twelve years later, Rothstein is dead, and Jimmy is doing his best to stay out of trouble, running a quiet little Manhattan speakeasy. At a particularly bad moment for him and his favorite waitress, a blast rocks the alley outside and draws him right back into the madness of a dozen years ago.That morning, a strange package came in with his liquor shipment: four plain books filled with cryptic numbers. It seems this bombing may have had the same motive as the one that shook Wall Street more than a decade ago: money. The incident sets Jimmy off on a mad race to stay out of the line of fire, taking him from the heights of the Chrysler Building to the depths of New York's underworld.

My Review
I love prohibition-era crime and this book really captures that period in time with the plot revolving around Jimmy Quinn, the owner of a speakeasy profiteering off the sale of illegal alcohol. 

Author Michael Mayo's New York is brimming with corrupt cops, gangsters, and femme fatales - all of whom find their way to Jimmy's speak for one reason or another. All of whom bring trouble in one  form or another. 

Bombings, brawls, money, and murder are commonplace in Jimmy's line of work and a constant threat to his livelihood. However, among this mayhem are clearly defined characters with interesting stories and a plot that has many threads weaved cleverly together to deliver an enjoyable and entertaining read. 

EVERYBODY GOES TO JIMMY'S is a sequel and, as a reader not familiar with the first series installment, I was pleasantly surprised as the book reads very well as a stand alone, providing plenty of backstory to add context to the current day setting. I will, however, track down a copy of the first book, given I enjoyed this one so much. 

EVERYBODY GOES TO JIMMY'S was published by MysteriousPress.com on 6 Jan 2015. I highly recommend the book.  

You can read more about the book and where to purchase from the publisher website here:

http://mysteriouspress.com/products/available-in-paperback/everybody-goes-to-jimmys-by-michael-mayo.asp


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Top 5: Crime/Noir Re-reads [1]


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 features my top 5 re-reads. These are the books I keep going back to again and again. I should state that this list isn't necessarily reflective of my top 5 favorite books - however, these are close. 

Looking through my re-reads shelf on Goodreads I found so many quality re-reads so this top-5 will be part 1 with a part 2 post coming later as I simply can't limit my top re-reads to 5! 

First up it's a crime/noir themed list: 

The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)THE GUARDS by Ken Bruen

read my review HERE. 

Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Síochána—the Guards, Ireland’s police force—and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. In his sober moments Jack aspires to become Ireland’s best private investigator, not to mention its first—Irish history, full of betrayal and espionage, discourages any profession so closely related to informing. But in truth Jack is teetering on the brink of his life’s sharpest edges, his memories of the past cutting deep into his soul and his prospects for the future nonexistent.

Nonexistent, that is, until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumor about Jack’s talent for finding things. Odds are he won’t be able to climb off his barstool long enough to get involved with his radiant new client, but when he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he’s getting into.

The Black DahliaTHE BLACK DAHLIA by James Ellroy

read my review HERE. 

Los Angeles, 1th January 1947: a beautiful young woman walked into the night and met her horrific destiny.

Five days later, her tortured body was found drained of blood and cut in helf. The newspapers called her 'The Black Dahlia'. Two cops are caught up in the investigation and embark on a hellish journey that takes them to the core of the dead girl's twisted life.

Johnny PornoJOHNNY PORNO by Charlie Stella

read my review HERE. 

It's the summer of 1973. Disco is King and the New York mob is at the peak of its power. John Albano, an out-of-work construction worker with child support and rent payments he can t keep up with, is driving for a local car service when his quick hands and honorable nature place him in the middle of a perfect storm of danger. He s just trying to make ends meet with a weekend stint counting heads and collecting the take at illegal screenings of the recently banned porno film, Deep Throat, for Mafioso Eddie Vento. But a devious ex-wife, her more devious ex-husband, the wiseguys behind the film (including one obnoxious wannabe with a frenzied beef for Albano), the Fleetwood Eldorado used in the opening scene of the porno film and a host of cops (both good and bad including the deranged one Albano punched out) snowball into an often humorous, sometimes violent, action-packed trip back to the year Willie Mays hit his last home run. This is the world of Johnny Porno.

The Wounded and the SlainTHE WOUNDED AND THE SLAIN by David Goodis 

read my review HERE. 

THEIR VACATION IN PARADISE BECAME A DESCENT INTO HELL

Their marriage on the rocks, James and Cora Bevan flew to Jamaica for a last chance at patching things up. But in the slums of Kingston James found himself fighting for his life – while Cora found her own path to destruction, in the arms of another man.

Available for the first time in more than 50 years, this lost novel by legendary pulp author David Goodis is a stunning, shocking tale of cruelty, danger, desperation…and the possibility of redemption.


The Power of the DogTHE POWER OF THE DOG by Don Winslow

read my review HERE. 

Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug cartel, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his pursuit of the cartel veers dangerously towards an obsession outside the law. This is a world characterised by its brutality, yet all Winslow's incredibly varied cast - including a high class prostitute, an Irish hitman and a charismatic Catholic priest - are all in their own ways searching for salvation.