Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fade To Tomorrow (Steve Madison) by Stephen Mertz

I love PI books set in the music business, that's why I write the Lenny Parker stories. This one is perhaps a bit more action/adventure than straight PI, but a nice read nonetheless.
Ex-Army Ranger Steve Madison is now a troubleshooter in the music business. He's hired to help a blind music superstar get out of some nasty business with a bunch of drugrunners. What follows is a story that could have been a Don Pendleton Executioner story with a lot of violence and an almost superheroic protagonist.  Definitely the book for fans of classic Men's Adventure paperbacks, not if you're into Sue Grafton.
There's also three short stories two of which featuring Steve Madison that are nice fast reads included.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

One Mississippi (Arch Dixon) by Steve Ulfelder

I loved Steve Ulfelder's Conway Sax novels so I was excited to learn about his return to fiction.
In this novel he introduces his new main protagonist, Archer Dixon. After all sorts of jobs this 38-year old man starts to work as a private investigator. As he's new at this and not your usual ex-cop or ex-soldier he's not so hardboiled at the start. He quickly learns how to be though as a simple case gets him involved with a bunch of dangerous Russian criminals. Luckily, he can count on a rag-tag bunch of friends among which are a bit of a lovable loser and two criminals.
The best part of this book is not the mystery or the action or dialogue. The strength lies in how Arch is an everyman and his buddy Kevin is not exactly a standard sidekick. Aside from that, the writing flows naturally and fast and as strange as it might sound I liked how the paragraphs were structured.
All just made for some relaxed and easy reading. I for one am eager to see how Archer's character will develop over the course of this series.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Free Fiction: Doggone Part Five (A Lenny Parker serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Lenny Parker, PI / roadie / metalhead is back in a new serial, blending a bit of comedy with a hardboiled detective story, one feet into metal culture. This time he is hired to track down a missing dog. Read the other parts here.

FIVE

Lenny and his friends got to work at the crack of dawn. Mikey had printed out flyers that Casey helped him pass around in the neighborhood. Mohawk, who was often just too abrasive or freaky looking with his face tattoos and spikey hair for people not to stay out of his way decided to just hang the flyers in stores and on trees. Lenny had asked Janice to help out as well. She was glad to help. He didn’t bother asking Cliff.
Janice was standing at Lenny’s truck, picking up some new flyers.  She was wearing jeans short and a tank top that said “Eyes front, sailor.” Lenny had to admit she looked even more attractive than the day before. It probably wouldn’t take long for Mikey to make his move. The metal god with the long hair and strong chin got all the babes.
“That’s a great group of friends you’ve got there,” she said.
“Yeah, they sure are. Good people,” Lenny said.
“The one with the Mohawk looks a bit scary though.”
“Looks often deceive you. Not sure if they do in this case though,” Lenny told her, grabbing another stack of flyers from his car as well.
“The guy with the long hair… Is he single?” Janice asked.
Shit, there we go, Lenny thought. “More or less. Mikey usually has a few things going if you know what I mean.”
“Player, huh? Never mind then. Hate players,” Janice said. “See you later!” She walked off with the flyers. Lenny was embarrassed to catch himself staring at her ass a bit too long.
“Nice ass, right?” Casey said from behind him. That startled him, feeling even more embarrassed and caught. He tried not to blush but failed.
Casey laughed. “Relax, dude. Nothing to be ashamed of. I was checking her out myself. Any idea if she’s into girls?”
Not Casey too, Lenny thought. “She liked Mikey.”
“Maybe she swing both ways. Lot of that going around these days,” Casey offered.
Lenny sighed. “Just get some flyers, okay?”
Casey chuckled, ruffling Lenny’s hair. “Just messing with you, dude. I can see you like her. I’m not the kind of girl to cramp your style. Enough fish in the sea for me.”
“I really don’t think she’s interested in me,” Lenny said.
“Hey, some girls like big dudes. It could happen. And you’re a nice guy, Len. Contrary to popular belief these days, most girls still like nice guys.”
“Haven’t noticed,” Lenny said.
“Ah, fuck it, Lenny! You’re making me sad!” Casey said and smacked him on the arm. “Let’s get these flyers out there.”
With those words they both got to work again.
The whole neighborhood was covered, flyers ended up in everybody’s hands that was willing to listen to the metalheads and the nurse. Nobody had seen Ozzy the last week though. Some people knew the dog and told them how sorry they felt for the old man. While those sympathies were heartwarming it did little in helping them find the dog, though.
It was getting dark when they all got together at Lenny’s car, sharing their progress or lack of it.
“We did our best, that counts for something I guess. And I got some exercise walking all over the neighborhood,” Janice said.
“You don’t look like you need any,” Mikey said, all shit-eating bad boy James Dean smile. Lenny rolled his eyes.
“That’s laying it on a bit thick,” Janice said.
Mikey shrugged, “I just calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.”
“I think it’s still a bit weird nobody saw Ozzy,” Lenny cut in. “It’s like he vanished in thin air. Or indeed, someone did… Dognap him.”
“Did you just really say dognap?” Mike guffawed.
Lenny shrugged. “Best name for it I guess.”
“You might be right,” Casey agreed.
“Hey, you know I already thought that was a possibility,” Janice said.
“But how are we going to find Ozzy then? He could literally be anywhere about now,” Lenny said.
“Hey, don’t look at me. You’re the fucking private eye,” Mohawk said.
Lenny couldn’t argue with that. Maybe he should indeed start acting like a private investigator instead of someone just looking  for  a missing pet. He should start treating this as a real abduction case. Unfortunately he never worked on any of those. He knew someone who probably did though. Time to give her a call.

TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, December 23, 2019

Favorite Sons of 2019


I had some more time to read this year and managed to enjoy some great new PI writing. As I do every year I managed to pick my favorites again.

BEST PI NOVEL: Behind The Wall Of Sleep (Henry Malone) by James D.F. Hannah
BEST DEBUT: Cobra Clutch (Hammerhead Jed Ounstead) by A.J. Devlin
BEST NEW PI: Auggie Velez by Robert J. Randisi


Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Last Sweet Song of Hammer Dylan (Auggie Velez / Nashville P.I.) by Robert J. Randisi

Robert J. Randisi shows again what a master he is at the Elmore Leonard style of writing: leaving out the parts people skip. That makes for a highly entertaining, fast read.
I also love the character of guitarplayer / PI Auggie Velez. Never do you think of him as a superman, but he still is a strong protagonist and pretty good private eye. In this novel he is hired to track down country artist Dylan Hammer who went missing years ago, presumed dead. In this mission he stumbles on a dead body and two older ladies with a very healthy sexual appetite to complicate things.
While the mystery isn't that complicated and there's not much action within the pages the strong writing and atmosphere made me really enjoy it. I just love how Randisi uses the country scene to really give the story extra color like I try to use the metal scene in my Lenny Parker stories.
I really hope Mr. Randisi sticks with this character!