Friday, August 5, 2016

Free Fiction: Runaway Bride Part Five (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.


Lenny managed to work out a plan with Casey. She had nothing to do that morning and offered her help. Like most of the others in the band she liked the excitement of helping a real PI with his work. Since Lenny was the closest to one they knew they chipped in every now and then when Lenny needed some help on a case.
Lenny had parked his car across the street from Larry Thunder’s place, a bungalow in the heart of Northpark. The neighborhood didn’t look like it had a lot pimps living there. Obviously, Larry was a very successful pimp.
Lenny was watching the bungalow from the car, using the powerful zoom lens of his Nikon. Casey was sitting next to him, eating a bag of Cheetos.
“I can see Larry is in there. Looks like he’s playing around with an iPad. No sign of Jill but it’s hard to look inside,” Lenny said.
“That’s where I come in, right?” Casey said.
“I’m not really sure if it’s such a good idea you suggested. Thunder is a really nasty guy, you know. And he’s got a history of hurting women. Also, I’m not sure he’s going to believe you in the role you want to play.”
“Trust me. I can take of myself and I’m probably a better actress than you think. For one, I’ve been pretending to be straight for the first sixteen years of my life with big success.”
She wiped her Cheetos-stained hands on my jeans and left the car. Lenny watched her walk over to the door to Thunder’s bungalow and ring the bell. It took a few minutes before the door was opened and Thunder appeared in the doorway. He was shirtless, his muscles impressive. A gold chain was around his neck. Lenny watched Casey do her act, playing the part of a beauty product saleswoman, asking for the lady of the house.
Thunder just shook his head. Casey brushed a hand through her hair and change her posture, sticking out her boobs, her shirt lifting just high enough to show her belly button. The full charm offensive. Lenny worried Thunder might want to put Casey into his stable so to speak.
After a brief conversation the door was shut and Casey was left alone on the doorstep. She walked back to the car and got in.
“Maybe you should have thought about bringing some samples or something to sell the act a little bit better,” Lenny suggested.
“Fuck that. He told me there were no ladies in his home. When I flirted with him a bit, suggesting he’d offer me a drink he didn’t blink. Guess he’s not straight either,” Casey said.
“I think he’s just used to seeing a lot of hot women, being a pimp and all. Don’t take it personally.”
Casey leaned back. “Right. So now what do we do?”
“I guess we wait. He has to leave the house sometime. We try and find Jill then,” Lenny said.
“Cool. Put on some Death Angel then,” Casey said.
“Sure,” Lenny said and fiddled with the buttons of the car stereo, looking for the right MP3.
“Lenny?” Casey said.
“Yeah, just a minute,” Lenny said, continuing to search through the playlist of his stereo.
“Yeah, yeah. Hang on.”
“LENNY!” Casey yelled.
“What?” Lenny said, slightly annoyed and looked up at Casey. Casey was pointing out the window.
Lenny looked out of the window and say Larry Thunder walk over, a big gun in his hand. Lenny knew it was a Desert Eagle from one of his favorite PS4 games.
“Shit! Shit!” Lenny said.
Thunder pointed the gun at the car and yelled at them. Lenny was pretty sure it was something like, “Get the fuck outta here.”
Maybe it wasn’t the smartest move to park in front of Thunder’s home in the same car he used when he first encountered the pimp. Lenny thought it best to follow Thunder’s advice and indeed got the fuck out of there, driving away with rubber burning.

Stealling the Countess (Rush McKenzie) by David Housewright

The McKenzie series I've been constantly enjoying for years now. Like clockwork there's a new book every year that may not be very surprising but very entertaining. I compare it to the first few Elvis Cole novels before Crais felt the need to experiment with different ways of telling the story.
Although a hardboiled detective novel there is a certain lighter mood to this series that makes it an enjoying read for all mystery fans.
Ex-cop McKenzie is rich enough to be able to spend time taking on some unofficial PI work. He is asked to find a stolen Stradivarius, a mission that takes him to a small time. There he meets semi-regular Heavenly, a Travis McGee like salvage consultant but with a more criminal bend who's got the same mission. She's becoming more interesting with every novel. Beautiful and smart, I wouldn't be surprised if she's going to star in a novel of her own soon as David Housewright seems to lover her so much as any man she meets.
The chemistry between Heavenly and McKenzie is fun to read, the mystery entertaining and McKenzie one of the most likable PI's out there right now.

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.


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.


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.