Friday, March 30, 2018

Albatross (Richard Dean Buckner) by Ryan Sayles

Richard Dean Buckner helps out his cop buddy Clevenger to solve the murder on two nuns. When a priest is suspected Buckner is reminded of a case back when he was a cop himself and he becomes determined not to make the same mistake he did in the past.
This is, as we are used to in Ryan Sayles' stories a dark ride. Buckner can be quite the bastard, violent, hard-drinking more vigilante than private eye. I love the fact he's a bearded guy in his sixties with a necktattoo and carries a .44 Magnum. I imagine him as Jonathan Banks or Clint Eastwood, those tough old bastards.
What I admire in Ryan's writing is that it really looks like a lot of thinking went into every line, every word. His style is very hardboiled, but not in the sense of the old pulps. He manages to evoke a very dark, slightly tired and cranky mood that makes this the perfect stuff to read with a pitch black cup of coffee or a nice stout or whiskey.
I guess the only thing I didn't like was the fact I had to suspend a lot of disbelief to accept the cops were so willing to have Buckner along for the ride.
Nice, fast-paced and dark stuff.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Blackout (Pete Fernandez) by Alex Segura

Now sober, Pete Fernandez the reporter-turned-private eye is back to investigate a cold case from his own past. A girl he had a crush on in college was murdered before it could go anywhere. When new evidence in that case turns up Pete is compelled to investigate of course. He travels from NYC back to Miami where he meets his old partner and former lover Kathryn as well as his FBI agent friend.
The investigation leads him to a dangerous cult and what seems to be a political assassination.
The stakes are higher than ever and the last few chapters are very, very cinematic and exciting. But that last chapter... That last chapter will have you leaving full of surprise for sure...
With every novel Alex seems to become more ambitious and the story more multi-layered, luckily without losing some of the good more pulpy elements of the genre like a wisecrack or two and some good fight scenes. I love how the relationship between Pete and Kathryn evolves, as always reminding me of McKenzie / Gennaro from the Dennis Lehane books. I was sad to see that series end. If you were too, this will be the series for you.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Free Fiction: Man's Ruin Part One (A Lenny Parker serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Lenny Parker, PI / roadie / metalhead is back in a new serial. He’s my slightly more humorous version of the PI. He doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing and sure as hell isn’t the martial arts master my Noah Milano is. Also, starting with this new serial I will be showing more of my love for metal by posting a link to a metal video that someway is connected to the episode, this time a live performance of Code of the Slashers by death metal legends Cannibal Corpse.

For more Lenny Parker stories look here.


Lenny Parker thought his band, The Necromantic Poets, was killing it that night. After their most popular song Zero Tolerance and their new song Maim, Kill, Slaughter they did an encore playing a cover song, Cannibal Corpse’s Code of the Slashers. Lenny had a blast with the steady bassline and how it played off against Casey’s insanely fast drumming. Their aptly-named guitar player Mohawk gave his all with the buzzing riffs and their vocalist Mikey amazed Lenny once again with how gruff and guttural a guy of his stature could sound.

Their audience consisted of roughly only twenty people, the half of which was more interested in drinking their beer or their phones, but that didn’t really matter to him. He just wanted to play and The San Diego Batcave was always happy to give them that chance, offering them as much beer as they wanted as their pay. Didn’t every great metal band start that way?

Lenny was sweating like crazy when he walked off stage, cracking open a beer as he he did, holding it against his head to cool off somewhat. The other band members patted him on the back, telling him how well he played. He told them he was pretty about it himself.

One of their only local fans, a huge dude with even more tattoos than Lenny walked up to him. Keith had made a career out of getting shit-faced and visiting metal shows. He had a day job as a garbage man, nice and honest work that earned him enough money to pay for his habits. He was a pretty stand-up guy. He shook Lenny’s hand. Lenny wasn’t a weakling, but even he had to admit Keith’s grip was pretty strong. Sweaty too.

“Hey man, great show!” Keith told Lenny.

“Thanks, dude. I appreciate it,” Lenny said.

“Next time play Leatherface Should Kill Britney though. I love that one.”

“Yeah, our drummer Casey hates that one. She thinks Britney is hot. Go figure.” Of course Casey had the sexual appetite of a class of sixteen year olds on Viagra.

“Can I buy you a beer?” Keith asked.

“Still finishing this one, but thanks!” Lenny said. He didn’t mention their free beer arrangement with the Batcave so he wouldn’t sound ungrateful.

“Okay, just let me know if you want one. Say, I heard besides working as a roadie you also do some PI work?”

“Yeah, every now and then between tours.”

“I think I can use your services then.”

“No kidding. Tell me more.”

“Let’s have a seat,” Keith said and led Lenny to the bar. They sat down on the barstools, Keith ordering another beer. Casey was downing shots of Tequila with Mohawk. That girl could drink like a fish. Meanwhile, Mikey was talking to some teenage jailbait who was admittedly pretty cute, as he was wont to do.

As the DJ started his death metal mix with some Gojira Keith confided in Lenny. “I got robbed of a million dollars yesterday.”

Lenny’s beer went out through his nose. “What? How much exactly do you make on that garbage truck because maybe I should think about a career change.”

“No, it’s like this… I bought this lottery ticket… And yesterday I went for some drinks in town, met up with this hot Asian chick… We ended up at my place, you know, fucking… Then I saw on the ‘net that my ticket fucking won… A million bucks man, can you believe it? To celebrate we had some more Jack Daniel’s and some weed and fucked some more, you know… At some point I must have fallen asleep and when I wake up my lottery ticket is gone.”

“Wow, that’s some story,” Lenny had to admit. “So you tried to get it back from her?”

“That’s the problem, I don’t know where she is. All I know is she called herself Jade. I want to hire you to find her. I’ll pay you 10% of the prize when you get me the lottery ticket back.”

Lenny whistled. That was a lot of money. Maybe now he could build that home studio he’d been dreaming about. “Sounds good.”

“You’re the only PI I trust with that ticket, man. I know you’re the most stand-up fucking guy in the whole of San Diego.”

“Well, thanks. All right. Can’t say no to a job like that. I’m going to need some more information about this Jade though.”

“Sure. She about five-ten, slender, Asian… Hair dyed silver and she’s like covered with tattoos. And she’s insanely hot.”

“That’s actually a description that should get me somewhere,” Lenny had to admit. “Where did you meet her?”

“Dive bar called the Tower Club, you know that one? I walked in for a little nightcap after a show here and when I saw her dancing by herself, holding a vodka in one hand and an unlit cigarette in the other I just knew I had to have her. The way she moved, the way those tattooed legs looked in the Daisy Dukes she was wearing… Dude, she was something.”

“All right. She tell you anything about where she worked or lived. Or something about her family?”

“No man, it wasn’t that kind of night, you know? I just know she liked rough sex and prime weed.”

“Right. Of course. Well, I guess that’s a start. Sounds like I should start at The Tower Club then.”

Keith squeezed Lenny’s shoulder. Lenny winced. “Thanks, dude! Thanks!”

It had been a tiring night but for the kind of dough that was to be earned with this job Lenny figured he shouldn’t waste any more time and as the DJ segued into Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast he walked out the door, ready to play the PI.


Cut You Down (David Wakeland) by Sam Wiebe

Tabitha Sorenson dipped her hands in the college fund and disappeared. Her college professor hires PI David Wakeland to find her and ends up sleeping with him. I cannot say more about this plot without spoiling too much but I guarantee you that there will be twists you didn't see coming as half way the book it turns out in a whole different direction.
The other plot is about how David's ex-girlfriend, who's also a cop, asks him to investigate her corrupt partner.
There's the darkness of the first novel alleviated by some nice funny tough guy dialogue and more tender moments of the first novel in this series. There's also a more spare writing style and short chapters that I personally have loved since picking up my first Spenser novel. Good stuff once again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bad Samaritan (Nick Forte) by Dana King

I loved the first few Nick Forte books because of the pretty straightforward, no frills nature of them. The draws were the clean writing and the strong bond of Forte and his daughter, described in scenes both fun and moving. This one starts out that way as well, even more fast-paced and with sparer prose. All great. He is hired by an author who is getting some disturbing sexual letters and comes to the aid of a former prostitute he helped out before. During these investigations he tangles with a men's rights movement and the Mob.
The further you get into the novel the further you notice Forte's descent into darkness. There's a scene with him getting very rough with the prostitute that was a bit shocking and we witness how the criminal you might think of as psycho sidekick acutally has to cool Forte down.
A strong PI story with an interesting twist. It reads so good an fast I was suprised when I already arrived at the last chapter in just two days.

Killed in Action (The Equalizer) by Michael Sloan

I used to love the Equalizer TVseries back in the eighties. Edward Woodward as Rober McCall was a very compelling and original protagonist. Not a younger, macho kind of handsome hero but an older, tough gentleman. The premise made for some really cool stories that sometimes were very PI in nature and sometimes more spy stories. I was disappointed about the movie remake and felt it had little to do with the series.
Equalizer creater Michael Sloan is now writing books about Robert McCall. It seems to be more of a reboot than a continuation of the TV show. McCall is kept busy by taking on a white slavery ring, freeing a soldier in Syria, preventing a terrorist attack and taking on a ruthless vigilante who is operating under the Equalizer name, much to McCall's chagrin.
Some favorites from the show like Control and sidekick Kostmayer are in the book as well and the business card the fake Equalizer uses seems to show the image of McCall in front of his Jaguar that was used in the opening credits of the old show.
There's a lot of action and it's nice to have McCall back. The number of plotpoints might have been a bit too numerous to make for a good coherent stories, though. I also felt the many pop culture references McCall makes in the book seemed a bit off. It made me think this McCall is much younger than the one in the TV show, but he sometimes if referenced as ''old man'', so maybe not.
All in all, not all I hoped it would be, but better than the movie.