Thursday, December 28, 2017

Free Fiction: Runaway Bride Part Eight (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. When he arranges to meet her in a motel the pimp shows up as well, armed and dangerous. For earlier episodes click here.

“Take it easy,” Lenny pleaded. “We don’t mean her or you any harm.”

“And what the fuck do you mean then?” Thunder demanded.

“We just wanted to know why she left her fiancée,” Lenny said.

“Fuck that! You want her to marry him, right? I’m not going to lose my biggest moneymaker. And I don’t like getting fucked with!” Thunder aimed his gun at Lenny.

Jill jumped up, blocking his aim. Hands fending off potential gunfire, even if that would of course have no use. “Don’t, Larry! Don’t shoot! We’ll work something out!”

“Out of the way, bitch!” Thunder screamed, pulling back the hammer.

That’s when Casey kicked him in the balls. He let out a yelp as Mikey grabbed him by the wrist, pulling the gun down. Lenny moved in, and punched him in the face. His eyes rolled up, his knees buckled and down he went. Lenny wasn’t much of a fighter really but his fists are huge and there’s quite some strength behind it from schlepping around all those Marshall amplifiers and stuff like that.

Mikey had secured Thunder’s gun and aimed it at the pimp who was face down on the carpet.

Jill was crying, impressed by the violent little encounter that went on there. Casey was next to her, hand on her shoulder, telling her it was okay.

Thunder groaned and tried to get up. Mikey put the gun against his head and told him, “Easy, dude.”

“Fuck, you hurt my fucking nose,” Thunder complained to Lenny.

The roadie shrugged. “Seemed like the best thing to do at the time.”

“I’ll get you for that,” Thunder said, the hate in his voice almost palpable.

“Don’t forget I’m pointing a gun at you,” Mikey said. “That’s my best pal you’re threatening.”

“Look, I’m sorry I hit you,” Lenny apologized. “That gun just got me understandably nervous. Can’t we work something out together? Some way you let loose of Jill and forget about me punching you?”

“Wouldn’t know how,” Thunder said. Then he sneered at Mikey, “I don’t believe you would really shoot me anyway.”

“Sounds like you’re feeling lucky, punk!” Mikey said and started to put some pressure on the trigger.

“Wait!” Jill said. “Larry, what if I pay you off every year until I managed to approximate what you think I would have earned for you?”

“Where do you think you would get that kind of green?” Thunder wondered.

“By working hard for it. The clean and legal way,” she said.

“Tell Thomas about it,” Lenny said. “I’m sure he will help you pay him off as well.”

“I still don’t know I want to tell him about…” Jill said, voice shaking.

“Trust me,” Lenny said.

“Okay, I will,” she said.

Lenny crossed his arm, a smile on his face. “Great. What about it, Thunder? You get the money, she gets her freedom. How does that sound?”

“Not bad. That and I get to punch you in the nose,” Thunder said.

“What? No!” Jill said.

I shrugged. “Sounds fine.”

“Don’t let him do that,” Mikey says. “Should I shoot him?”

“No, let him take his shot at me,” Lenny said and spread his hands, offering the pimp a free shot at his face.

The shot came and it hurt like hell.


Tampa Two (Burnside) by David Chill

Burnside is back again and it's good to read about him. What makes this series cool is that aside from a good mystery story in every book you get to follow how his private life progresses. These moments of his private life are always very well balanced with the main plot, so nowhere I felt like skipping those pages. The scenes with his kid really took me back to the days when my own kid was four years old and brought a smile to my face every time.
This time the case is kind of personal as Burnside is asked for help by the teenage prostitute that cost him his badge. There's also a case of suspected adultery he has to investigate.
Both mysteries are well written and have interesting and surprising endings. Burnside is as always a  nice almost everyman kind of guy who however can be very tough when he needs to be.
Another solid entry in a solid series.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hang Time (Greg Salem) by SW Lauden

This series seems to be written with me in mind. It combines two of my greatest loves: punk rock and private eyes. Too bad it seems to be the last one.
Greg Salem's life might just be going the right way finally after some scarring adventures and dark and violent past. His band, Bad Citizen Corporation is
together again and on tour.
When Greg is hired to spy on the pop star wife of a rich producer his life gets dark again though. And when young men are found hanging on ropes with a reference to his brother who committed suicide his life is in a downward spiral again full of booze, violence and pain.
The pacing of his novel is just as fast as the punk rock songs being referenced through out. There's twists and turns and intense feelings of lust, pain and anger. Yeah, it's not just the fact Greg is in a punkrock band that this feels like a punk rock crime novel. It just has that feel, that attitude and energy.
Talk about energy... You can see Steve Lauden used to be in punk bands himself. The scenes with the band read so real. As a rock journalist in my spare time I know the scene pretty well and Mr. Lauden just manages to convey so well how it is and feels, it's impressive.
Awesome, awesome stuff. I will really mis Greg Salem.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Favorite Sons of 2017

Every year I let you all know what my favorite reads of the year were. This year is no exception. Competition was very tough but the list ended up like this...

BEST PI NOVEL: Invisible Dead (Dave Wakeland) by Sam Wiebe
BEST DEBUT: The Lost Ones (Norah Watts) by Sheena Kamal
BEST NEW PI: Dave Wakeland by Sam Wiebe
BEST ACTION SCENES: Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton

Thanks for keeping me entertained again all you other writers that I reviewed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Free Fiction: Runaway Bride Part Seven (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.

Mikey had agreed to open the motel room door for Jill. Mikey is a good looking dude and probably the least crazy looking of Lenny’s band. More Jon Bon Jovi than Lemmy Kilminster or Ozzy Osbourne.
Thunder was standing behind Jill. She was dressed in knee-high boots, a denim short-short skirt and a tight top. She looked hot.
“Hello there,” Jill said as she got a look at Mikey.
Mikey ran a finger through his long brown hair and gave her his best smile. Odd that they the Nekromantic Poets didn’t have any groupies really.
“Pay first,” Thunder told Mikey and blocked his view of Jill like he was a bit jealous of how she looked at him. A jealous pimp? That must get difficult.
“Sure,” Mikey said and took a wad of cash from his jeans pocket. He counted the money for Thunder and handed it to him.
“Good. Be back in an hour. Treat her well or I kick your ass when I come to pick her up,” Thunder said.
Mikey spread his hands and gave him that smile of his. “I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”
“Very funny, wiseguy. Just remember what I said.” Then Thunder left and Jill entered.
“You’re a handsome one, baby…” she cooed as she came in, a hand brushing his cheek.
“You’re pretty hot stuff yourself. Have a seat. I had the bed made especially for you,” Mikey said.
Jill gave him a quizzical look but sat down on the bed. “So, how do you like it baby? Soft? Rough? Want me to be your momma or your baby?”
“Actually, he just wants some answers,” Lenny said and stepped out of the bathroom door together with Casey.
Mikey shrugged, an apologetic smile on his face. “Sorry, sugar.”
Jill jumped up from the bed. “What the fuck?”
“Relax,” Lenny said, a hand in the air. “We were hired by your fiancée, Thomas.”
She sighed, averting her eyes. “Shit…”
“He wants to know why you ran out on him and I figure he has a right to know,” Lenny said.
Jill dropped down on the bed. She covered her head with her hands, eyes to the floor, hair hanging down her face. “Just shit…”
“Come on,” Casey said. “It has to do with all of this, right?”
Another sigh. Long, containing months of stress. “Yeah… If you met Thomas you know the kind of catholic goody two-shoes he is. Before I met him I was working for Larry Thunder already. When I met Thomas I tried to quit that life. Larry wanted me back in his stable though, saying I was just too much of a money-maker to just let go. He threatened to tell Thomas what I used to do for a living if I didn’t work for him one more year. Only one more year and then he would let me go. I just couldn’t have him tell Thomas about my dark life. It would fucking crush him. So I decided, what’s one more year.”
“And after that? You were planning to return to Thomas?” Lenny asked.
She shrugged. “If he loves me as much as I think he does he would take me back without a second thought.”
“I guess you’re right,” Lenny had to admit. “But what were you planning to tell him? How were you going to explain your taking off like that?”
“Haven’t exactly come up with a plan for that yet, but I should be able to come up with something in a year.”
Lenny kneeled down beside Jill. “Listen, you’re right… He does love you. And I think he’ll take you back right now, even knowing about your other life. And I’m also pretty sure that knowledge won’t hurt him as much as a year without you.”
She pulled her hair. “Dammit! Maybe… I don’t know… Fuck it! I love him so much as well, but…”
Then there was a loud bang. The door flew open, Larry Thunder bursting in, brandishing his .44 Desert Eagle again.
Jill screamed. Mikey dove for cover and Casey just cursed. Lenny put up his hands.
“You stupid fucks. I noticed that damned Dodge Ram of yours parked behind the motel. Do you think I’m a moron? Who the hell are you assholes?”

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps by Nick Kolakowski

This isn't a novella, it's a Tarantino movie in prose...
Con man Bill, having stolen a lot of money from the mob is being hunted by a professional killer who is just trying to come to terms with the fact his wife left him. When he ends up in a town in  Oklahoma it turns out most of the residents are psychos. What follows is a lot of action, some laughs and some mild Elvis impersonating. If that doesn't indeed sound like a Guy Ritchie or Tarantino movie to you I don't know.
There's many small, cool things in here like a GG Allin reference, an obscure but fantastic Russian gun and some quite endearing prose by hardboiled criminals.
And... It's a novella, a format I love. Great fun, never boring. Not a real PI novel, but hardboiled enough for me to feature over here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Free Fiction: Runaway Bride Part Six (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.
It's been awhile since the last one, but enjoy...



Lenny parked his Dodge Ram at a McDrive, after picking up some cheeseburgers and a large Coke. Casey had some chicken nuggets.

“Well that went pretty pear-shaped,” Casey said.

“Yeah, sure did,” Lenny admitted. “So what now? I still want to talk to Tina.”

“I figure there’s  way easier way to do this. We figure Tina’s a hooker now, right? Why don’t we just order her?” Casey suggested.

“That’s so simple it might just work,” Lenny said between two bites of his cheeseburger, ketchup dripping down his beard.

“Just call Larry and order the chick,” Casey said, belching after a sip of Coke.

“There’s only one problem with that idea… I don’t have his number.”

Casey sighed. “Do I really have to think of everything for you? These days hookers are all on the internet. We should try to book her online.”

“Book her online? What are you talking about?”

Casey grabbed her phone and logged into a website called Lenny looked with her on the small phone screen in awe.

“We fill in the data we know. Like her physical description, the area she would operate in and click the Search-button,” Casey said.

“How do you know all this stuff?” Lenny asker her.

“Hey, a girl gets lonely sometimes, so sue me. I’m not always able to pick somebody up in a bar when I have a hankering for some pussy,” Casey said.

Lenny almost choked on his fries.

“God, repressed much? Didn’t know you were a devout Catholic,” Casey remarks. “Hey, think I hit pay-dirt already! Looks like her stage-name so to speak is Jillian.”

Lenny looked at the profile picture on the site Casey was pointing at. Her face was made blurry by some kind of Photoshop-like software but he could still make out enough to make it indeed very likely this was Jill. She was dressed in a short-short skirt and just a lacy bra, wearing fuck-me shoes with stiletto heels.

“You might be right,” he admitted.

“Right, now to set up the appointment,” Casey said. “There’s this motel nearby here you can rent by the hour that would be just perfect for this.”

“How do you know--,” Lenny started to say but the rolling of Casey’s eyes had him shut up.

“It’s done. She should be arriving there in three hours,” Casey said.

“Won’t Thunder be with her? And what will he do when he sees us?” Lenny wondered.

“He’ll be only there to drop her off and pick her up. We’ll just ask one of the guys to open the door. We’ll hide in the bathroom or something until Thunder is gone.”

Lenny leaned back and whistled. “Sheesh, you’re good at this stuff. Maybe you should have become the PI?”

“Just consider me the Metal Nora to your Nick, Thin Man. Or should I say Thick Man?” Casey said and ate the last chicken nugget.

Finding Chloe (Leah Ryan) by Tracy Sharp

Leah Ryan, former car thief and now a repo agent is hired by the boyfriend of an exotic dancer to find her. When she investigates someone is trying to frighten her. Leah is not one to back down though and as the bodies start to pile up she finds herself investigating a very difficult case.
I just loved Leah! She's so very tough but still very human. She's so punk rock! I also liked her brother and best friends Jack in the supporting cast.
The pacing is great, never getting boring. The descriptions are very vivid and I could so often picture Leah in her car or making love. I actually figure it has a cinematic quality that would make this a good Netflix show.
It actually looks like Tracy isn't writing this series anymore, which is too bad because Leah is one of my favorite female PI's now!