Quick ‘n Dirty is a term used for that first quick search you perform when starting a new research project. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive and all encompassing; it’s just an exploratory search to see what is out there and to collect more search terms before starting a true literature review. I thought it would be a good description for reviews of shorter works, such as short stories or novellas or for less comprehensive reviews of longer works. They may not be as in-depth as I usually try to write my reviews, but hopefully they’ll be a good introduction and indication whether you’d like the stories or books reviewed.
Issue 1 of All Due Respect has the best of crime fiction today, including an original story and interview with featured author Chris F. Holm. The rest of the lineup: a brutal story from Thuglit editor Todd Robinson; the deeply disturbing “Amanda Will Be Fine” by Renee Asher Pickup; a revenge tale by the King of Brit Grit, Paul D. Brazill; the strangely satisfying combination of yoga and organized crime from Travis Richardson; a still-beating heart ripped straight out of the Amazon River basin by Mike Miner; and Walter Conley kicks a couple of clueless Connecticut thugs to the curb. Plus reviews of Steve Weddle’s Country Hardball and Holm’s Collector series—and an entire section devoted to the books of legendary paperback publisher, Hard Case Crime. All Due Respect and your eyes: a combination even better than doughnuts and coffee.
When editor Chris Rhatigan approached me about reviewing the first issue of his crime fiction magazine it wasn’t a difficult sell, seeing as the issue’s featured author was Chris F. Holm whose The Collector series I’ve adored from the get go. Plus, while I’ve become better read in SFF and Horror short fiction, crime short fiction was unexplored country to me and I was curious to see how it would work. Continue reading
By 27 March, 2014
Posted in crime, review
A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travellers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit.
In a time before our own, wandering bard Talus and his companion Bran journey to the island realm of Creyak, where the king has been murdered.
From clues scattered among the island’s mysterious barrows and stone circles, they begin their search for his killer. Nobody is above suspicion, from the king’s heir to the tribal shaman, from the woman steeped in herb-lore to the visiting warlord. And when death strikes again, Talus and Bran realise nothing is what it seems. Creyak is a place of secrets and spirits, mystery and myth. It will take a clever man indeed to unravel the truth. The kind of man this ancient world has not seen before.
Graham Edwards’ Talus and the Frozen King combines three of my favourite genres into one fascinating tale. The book is a historical crime fantasy, set in an era which I’d not read any books in since reading the first four books in Jean M. Auel’s Children of the Earth series, the Neolithic. As such is more fantasy than historical fiction, a fact corroborated by the author in his Author’s Note, since there just isn’t enough historic fact to create anything but speculative fiction. The Neolithic island community of Creyak did make for an interesting setting and created the ideal stage for what is essentially a locked room mystery. Living on an island without easy access to the main land, means that the murderer is most likely a member of the community. Continue reading
By 24 March, 2014
Posted in crime, fantasy, historical fiction, review
Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won’t share with anyone.
But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women’s shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women’s husbands, who shouldn’t have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.
As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.
Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed…
I love a good police procedural, especially if its main character is female. That’s why, when Someone Else’s Skin arrived at my house, I was immediately intrigued by the blurb. And the book was every bit as interesting and riveting as promised, but where it surprised me was the fact that this is as much a psychological thriller as it is an exciting police procedural. Sarah Hilary’s début was chilling in some instances, but it was also quite engrossing and I found myself drawn into our characters live and the case at the heart of the book more and more as the pages flew by. Continue reading
By 5 March, 2014
Posted in crime, review
She’s the person you hire when you need something fixed—permanently. With a strict set of criteria, she evaluates every request and chooses only a few. No more than one job per country, per year. She will only step in if it’s clear that justice will not be served any other way. Her jobs are completed with skill and precision, and never result in inquiry or police investigation. The Fixer is invisible—and quite deadly. . . .
In the office of a clinical psychologist in Olympia, Washington, a beautiful young woman is in terrible emotional pain. She puts up walls, tells lies, and seems to speak in riddles, but the doctor is determined to help her heal, despite the fact that she claims to have hurt many people. As their sessions escalate, the psychologist feels compelled to reach out to the police . . . but it might be too late.
In Seattle, a detective gets a call from his son. A dedicated journalist, he wants his father’s expertise as he looks into a suspicious death. Together they follow the trail of leads toward a stone-cold hired killer—only to find that death has been closer than either could have imagined.
The Fixer is my first pure crime book read in 2014 and it was a good one to start the year with. T.E. Woods’ debut novel offers a smooth reading experience with sympathetic protagonists and a very mysterious antagonist. Woods wrong-footed me several times with some elegant plotting and effortless misdirection, which made reaching the end of the novel and the final resolution of the mystery even more rewarding. Continue reading
By 12 February, 2014
Posted in crime, review
Meet Stan Markowski or the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit.
“My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
“A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton and it looks like I’m going to have to work with the current mob to prevent a demonic gang war.
“If there’s one thing I hate more than living with supernatural scumbags, it’s working with them! But you know that they say, better the devil you know…”
In 2012 I developed a taste for supernatural police procedurals, when I read Scott Sigler’s Nocturnal and Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London and Justin Gustainis’ Evil Dark was the one that confirmed that these sorts of books were really my thing. After finishing Evil Dark I was really looking forward to reading the next instalment in the Haunted Scranton series and, after two years, this weekend I finally got to return to Scranton and Detective Sergeant Markowski and friends. Known Devil was a blast, with the same sense of humour that had me chuckling out loud when reading Evil Dark and another action packed adventure. Continue reading
By 3 February, 2014
Posted in crime, fantasy, review
In the past two and a half weeks I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Winter/Spring 2014 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Tom Pollock’s final book in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets, Douglas Hulick’s long-awaited second book Sworn in Steel and Stephanie Saulter’s Binary, the second book in her ®Evolution series. I also left off repeat offenders who also made the list last time, such as Mark Alder’s Son of the Morning. So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently? Continue reading
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today it’s time for crime and historical crime fiction books. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
By 18 December, 2013
Posted in article, crime, historical fiction
New York, 1891. A prostitute is found brutally murdered. The victim bears the same hallmarks as a notorious recent killing spree in England.
Could it be that killer has crossed the Atlantic to fresh killing grounds? Or is this simply a copycat murder? Fear spreads through a city already rife with cut-throat gangs, corruption and vice.
Aristocratic English pathologist, Finley Jameson, is teamed up with Joseph Argenti, a streetwise New York cop, to solve the case. But as the body-count rises and the killer taunts his pursuers in open letters, Jameson & Argenti find themselves fighting not just to prevent yet more victims, but also to save the city’s very soul.
Jack the Ripper’s identity is a mystery for the ages. As the first modern serial killer and certainly the first whose acts have been so well documented, he has been the inspiration for countless stories, many of them creating their own solution for the riddle of who he was. Letters From a Murderer is the latest novel in this vein and it has to be said, the story John Matthews paints is riveting. It’s clear that Matthews knows his Ripper history and he weaves in some very detailed facts into his fiction, making his story that much more plausible. Continue reading
By 9 December, 2013
Posted in crime, historical fiction, review
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the States and the lovely team at Angry Robot and their various imprints surprised us with their Team Robot Blogger Award. I was really flattered to have been shortlisted and while the ultimate win went to the wonderful Kristin at My Bookish Ways and to Josh from Just A Guy That Likes To Read, it really is true what they always say in these situations, it was an honour to be nominated. One of my fellow nominees, Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm created a post with covers of all the Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A titles she’s reviewed on her blog, in honour of her shortlisting and to say thanks. I thought this was a really cool idea, so with Ellie’s blessing I nicked it and today I bring you my own cover post of all the AR titles I’ve reviewed to date here on the blog. Hopefully there will be many more to come. Continue reading
By 30 November, 2013
Posted in article, crime, fantasy, science fiction, YA
Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.
However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?
Since the publication of Chris F. Holm’s first Collector novel, Dead Harvest, I’ve been a fan of the series. I absolutely adored books one and two and book three lived up to my expectations and more and had me once again guffawing out loud at Sam’s dry wit. For those familiar with Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the title gives some clue of what to expect from the novel as it’s a word play off of Chandler’s book, but there are some twists Chandler himself wouldn’t have thought of. Like the previous book, The Big Reap retains the gritty, noir flavour in its story-telling, but in some places it’s actually a little darker in tone than anything that went before. Continue reading
By 20 November, 2013
Posted in crime, fantasy, mystery, review, thriller