Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Free Fiction: Runaway Bride Part Four (A Lenny Parker Serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Hired by a young man to find out why his fiancee ran away roadie / PI Lenny Parker finds her quickly and sees her drive away with a big black man who turns out to be a pimp called Larry Thunder. For earlier episodes click here.

FOUR



Lenny was just in time for practice. The Necromantic Poets jam in their vocalist’s , Mikey Taylor garage. Mike is a good looking guy with long brown hair.
“You cut that one close,” Mikey said. “We were all looking forward to hearing about your life on the road. It’s been awhile.”
“Yeah, but first let’s jam. I’ve been aching to put up my riffs against Lenny’s bass lickfs long enough,” a wiry guy with a Mohawk said. That’s what the band called him too, Mohawk. Nobody knew his name but Lenny figured it had to be something embarrassing like Theodore or Harold.
“Yeah, let’s rock,” a girl with a lot of tattoos and pink hair said. She was sitting behind the drums. She was called Casey. Last time Lenny saw her she was dating a stripper and her hair was blue. Next week he knew she might as well be dating a waitress and her hair might be green.
Lenny unpacked his bass. “Fine with me. Time to make some noise. What will we start out with? Zero Tolerance? I love the intro to that one.”
Casey hit the drums with a quick solo. “Go for it!”
Lenny served up a low throbbing bass that Mohawk followed up with a down tuned riff. Mikey screamed, “Zero Tolerance!” Then they were off.
They played a mixture of death metal and thrash that they liked but didn’t seem to find a big audience. Perhaps because Casey had a habit of getting so pissed off at the mistakes Lenny made she sometimes walked off during a gig. Or the fact Mohawk showed up drunk for a lot of them. Or didn’t show up at all.
They played two more songs before they decided they needed a break. And a beer. They got some bottles of Corona from the fridge which they drank with a rockstar’s gusto.
“So, how was life on the road?” Mikey asked Lenny.
“What’s to tell… Long drives, hard work schlepping around stuff. Managed to ace the opening riff to Iron Man while sound checking which the audience loved,” Lenny said.
“Did you manage to party some with the band?” Mohawks asked.
“Yeah, two nights. Had fun with those guys. I did a few shots too many though. Almost barfed over the lead singer.”
“That’s a pretty good way to get yourself fired,” Mohawks chuckled.
“Luckily I just managed to get the champagne bucket. After that I went to the hotel right away. Shit, makes me wonder what happened to the bucket. Hope they got wise and…”
“Just stop it,” Casey said, shutting my mouth with two fingers. “Maybe you should tell me a bit more about your side job instead. Any new interesting cases?”
“There is a confidentiality thing attached to the gig,” Lenny said.
Casey handed Lenny a new beer and said, “You know we can keep a secret.”
“I guess. And I wouldn’t mind getting this one off my chest.” Lenny gave them the short version of his latest adventure.
“That Larry Thunder sounds like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with,” Mikey thought.
“That’s not the thing worrying me. I’m bothered by the fact that I don’t know what I should tell me client. Poor guy. Would you want to hear your fiancĂ©e is a hooker?”
“I dated one or two in my time,” Mohawk said. “But you really think she’s a whore?”
“It’s pretty much the only reason I can think of why she would be hanging with him.”
“Ever think of the possibility she’s dating him?” Casey offered.
“It didn’t really look like that. And do you think that would sound better to the poor guy?”
Casey shrugged. “Maybe he’s got a right to the truth, even if it’s ugly.”
“He did hire you to find out why she left him,” Mikey said.
“Maybe I just pull out and pay him back. I just don’t want any of this shit on my conscience.”
Mohawk slapped Lenny on the back of the head. “Fucking pussy! You’re such a damned softy.”
“Maybe you should try to get the details from the lady first. Ask her why she left him in person,” Casey said between to pulls from her Corona.
“But try not to face Larry Thunder,” Mikey brought in.
“Sounds like a good idea. Now I just need to know how I’m going to do that,” Lenny said.
“Never mind that for now. Let me hear you do that Iron Man riff,” Mohawk said.

Lenny gave it a try and fucked it up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Free Fiction: Runaway Bride Part Three (A Lenny Parker Serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Hired by a young man to find out why his fiancee ran away roadie / PI Lenny Parker finds her quickly and sees her drive away with a big black man. For earlier episodes click here.


THREE



Lenny gave the daughter of his old mentor a call. They called her Baby Jackson, because they called her father Old Man Jackson when he was still alive and heading up their PI agency. They didn’t call her that because she was such a sweet and innocent girl.
“What the fuck, Parker? Who the fuck do you think I am? Your personal assistant? If you’re too damned cheap to pay for the databases we own maybe you should quit PI work.”
“I kind of need the money to pay for my bass guitar and shit. And gas ain’t cheap, you know?”
“Maybe you should sell those guitars. And drive a cheaper car than that gas-guzzling monster you own now.”
“You sound like my mom. If she cursed every two words,” Lenny said. “Give me a break, for old time’s sake. And look at it this ways if you help me do this case it might lead to more cases and after some time I might make enough dough to indeed own those databases myself.”
“That’ll be the day. Well, I ran the plate when we were having our little conversation and I think I have some advice for you… Stay away from the owner of that plate.”
“You sure know how to get a guy’s interest. Tell me more.”
“That car belongs to one Lawrence Thaddeus Walker. But people on the street call him Larry Thunder. He’s the biggest pimp of San Diego and has done some time for beating a man into the hospital with the lid of a garbage can. They fucked up his trial in some way, unfortunately so this piece of trash is still on the streets. He’s been known to beat his girls into submission violently.”
“Sounds like a sweetheart indeed. He doesn’t look that tough, though. I’ve faced some tougher customers in seedy bars while on tour.”
“Fuck that bravado, Parker! You’re a drinker, not a fighter. I’ll admit you probably gained some strength from hauling around those huge-ass speakers and shit but that doesn’t mean you can fight. And besides, Larry Thunders is known to carry a gun. You don’t even own one.”
“Those things are too loud. Don’t want to damage my ears. I need them to play my axe.”
“Another reason to avoid this guy. He’ll break your fucking fingers just for kicks and you won’t play that bass ever again.”
“Didn’t know you cared. But I’m afraid that’s a negative. Isn’t it in the PI code that you never quit on a client?”
“Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“I won’t. What’s his address?”
She gave it to him. “That’s the last favor I’m doing you for now.”
“Sure, sure. Thanks! If you want I can get you tickets to my next show.”
“You know I hate that fucking noise you play.”

Lenny knew. She was into jazz and blues like a PI should be according to fiction. Too bad for her. He thought The Necromantic Poets were killing it the last few months. That reminded him he was going to be late for band practice if he didn’t hurry up.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Iron Goddess (Shea Stevens) by Dharma Kelleher


Shea Stevens is absolutely one of the more original crime fiction heroes to come along since Lisbeth Salander. Ex-con, lesbian bike mechanic Shea gets involved with a kidnapping of her niece when some bikes she crafted for her rockstar clients get stolen.
She learned some badass skills from her biker gang dad that come in really handy as she clashes with cops, biker gangs and other enemies.
The tone of this book is very dark and violent as are most of the characters. There are some positive things in Shea's live, like her girlfriend and some friends from work that make this story just a bit easier to digest.
The prose isn't special but does its job. The story itself folds out nicely, but isn't too exciting or surprising. It has a very punk/metal feel to me which I enjoyed.
The best thing this book has going for it is unique and tough Shea Stevens and I will be happy to see her return.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Second Life of Nick Mason (Nick Mason) by Steve Hamilton

I was intrigued when I heard Steve Hamilton had a new series coming out. I've been enjoying his McKnight books forever.
Nick Mason manages to leave prison because of the intervention of criminal kingpin Darius Cole. As part of this deal he will have to answer his new cell phone at any time and do what Cole orders him to do.
At first I figured he would do some kind of detective work, allowing him to stay a heroic character. I was wrong. He's used as a hitman, killing people (although criminals) in cold blood. Still we are able to like him, partly because he was kind of suckered into this and the fact he deeply loves his child and protects his friends.
During the novel we follow his comeback to society, meeting a new love, struggling not to meddle to much into the life of his daughter and clash with the cops who think he's their ticket to nabbing a killer.
Nick Mason is the closest thing to Richard Stark's Parker we can find in novels right now and I love him.
I have to mention that Steve's writing is better than ever in this one. It's a bit tighter and cleaner than it used to be. The plot a bit more fast-paced.
Yeah, I guess he managed to top his Alex McKnight series!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Nickel Package (Burnside) by David Chill

I'm a loyal reader of the Burnside series, so of course I read this one as well. The LA PI is now a dad of a 3-year old kid and happily married. That makes for some nice warm scenes, making him very human an likable. He's hired to do a background check on an employee for a big company he gets involved in several murder investigations.
As always the story doesn't break much new ground, though of course Burnside being a married dad is a bit unusual for a PI. What it does do is entertain! Burnside investigates and solves the mysteries like a good PI should, trades some blows with thugs and clashes with the cops.
This sixth novel in the series satisfied me enough to be eager to read the 7th.