Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Free Fiction: Doggone Part Six (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.


Lenny met up with Baby Jackson at a local Starbucks. The other patrons, especially the male ones looked up from their Macbooks and iPhones when she walked in. Tall, athletic with a model’s cheekbones Baby cut an impressive figure. She was wearing tight jeans, a long leather jacket and wore her hair in cornrows as she always does.
She walked over to Lenny’s table. He handed her a cup of coffee. “I already have yours. Black, like you want it.”
“Good to know you remembered something from training with us.” She was referring to the time Lenny spent with Baby Jackson and her dad, Old Man Jackson to get his private investigator license.
“I seem to remember a very large part of my duties were supplying you with coffee and donuts,” Lenny said. He was having a big White Chocolate Mocha himself. He liked to treat himself to something sweet every now and then. Like daily.
Baby sat down. “So, spill. What do you need?”
“You’re hurting my feelings a bit. Maybe I just wanted to see you again. Chew the fact. Talk about your love life. Your health.”
“Who I fuck is none of your business. And you can see I’m in perfect health as always. Now cut the shit. We never meet socially.”
“All right, all right. Sheesh, I can see you’re a top investigator. Seeing through my lies like glass. Okay, I need some advice on a case I’m working on. It’s about dognapping.” Lenny filled her in while Baby listened patiently and drank her coffee.
When Lenny was finished she put down her coffee and leaned back a little. “Dognapping is more common than you might think. It hardly shows up on the news, but daily dogs are stolen from their owners. Sometimes they are stolen so they can get a ransom from the owners. Sometimes the dog is of a rare and expensive breed and they just sell them. And then there’s the whole dogfighting thing. They are either used then to fight or just train the fighters.”
“I was hoping dogfights were an urban myth or something. I heard about it on tour in Asia. But it’s a thing here in the United States?”
“Shit, Lenny… How can you still be such a na├»ve little shit. Yes, there’s such a thing. Fuck, it’s huge. There’s a considerable amount of money to be made gambling on thes fights. And where there’s money to be made, people are willing to commit atrocities.”
“Yeah, I guess. Well, since Mr. Janson never got any ransom amounts and Ozzy’s not a rare breed I’m afraid we’ll have to consider he is indeed in the hands of dogfighters.”
Baby nodded. “That sucks, I know. I like dogs better than people.”
“I’m not sure you actually like people at all.”
Baby shot him with her finger. “Bingo.”
Lenny chuckled. “You’re something else, Baby… So, do you have any experience with a case like this? Any idea how I could track down Ozzy?”
“Doesn’t he have a chip implanted? A lot of dogs these days have.”
“I guess not. Janson never mentioned it.”
“All right. Then you might have to look around the dogfighting circuit.”
“I wouldn’t know where to start or find anyone who knows anything about it.”
“I might know a guy who can help. A snitch who’s got a good knowledge about the local illegal gambling scene. If you want me to, I can set something up. I’m not sure if you current pay can cover your expenses though.”
“Damn, they can hardly cover this coffee. I like Mr. Janson and I just want to see him reunited with his dog. I’m not in this one for the money.”
“Fucking sap. I thought we told you better. No pay, no case.”
Lenny shrugged. “What can I say? I’m do-gooder.”
“You fucking are.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Art Hound (Dev Haskell) by Mike Faricy

Mike Faricy has been cranking out the funny PI adventures of Dev Haskell at an impressive rate for years now. Every now and then I'm in the mood for some lighter fare and pick them up.
In this one Dev is stuck with a starving artist that has been just kicked out by his girlfriend. He ends up in a mystery involving strangely ugly paintings, international art and of course a few attractive ladies.
I wouldn't say the comedy always work in this series, but in this one it really did. I chuckled quite a few times and there's enough of a detective story with a good twist and reveal at the end to satisfy mystery readers. One of the better ones in the series.

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.


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.