Sunday, October 27, 2019

Biker (Biker/Josh Pratt) by Mike Baron

I've always really enjoyed Mike Baron's comic book writing. Especially his work on Badger, The Punisher and The Butcher. It's  no surprise I enjoyed this novel. It has all the things I liked about those comics. Great fights, motorbikes, Native Americans and badass dudes along with an intelligent and original sense of humor.
Josh Pratt is a biker and ex-con who found Jesus while in jail. Now the tries to make an honest living as a private investigator. He's hired to track down the missing son of a dying woman. That has him investigating while at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and clashing with an almost inhuman Native American psycho.
At first sight Josh might sound like your average hardboiled tough guy, but I assure you he isn't. Yeah, he's tough. But he's also very religious, and a bit clumsy with women.
Low on the mystery part, very heavy on the action adventure part this is great reading for fans of Men's Adventure paperbacks and lovers of Mike Baron's comic books.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Free Fiction: Doggone Part Three (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 tried Janson’s other neighbor's door. She had a doorbell which he rang. It took a while but the door opened. He could understand why Cliff classified her as hot. She was a full-bosomed redhead with wide hips that were clad in tight jeans. Her skin was unblemished, her lips thick, eyes a sparkling blue.
“Hello,” Lenny said.
“Hello?” Janice greeted slowly. She didn’t have metalheads visiting every day, obviously.
“I’m sorry to disturb you. I’m Lenny Parker, I’m a private investigator.”
“Okay?” She seemed a bit scared. Could be the tattoos. Or the goatee. Lenny didn’t look like an insurance salesman.
He held up his hands, showing he meant no harm. “Nothing to worry about, Janice.”
“How do you know my name?” All right, that might not have been the smartest move on his front, mentioning her first name.
“Chill, your neighbor told me your name. It’s okay. I’m here because your neighbor, Mr. Janson hired me to find his dog.”
“Ozzy is missing?”  Lenny wasn’t sure the worry she showed was because she felt sorry for the dog or its owner.
“Yes, for a week now.”
“Oh, no… Now that you mention it… I haven’t seen the little rascal for a few days now. That’s terrible. Mister Janson loves that dog!”
“Indeed he does. That’s why he hired me to get it back.”
“All right… Wow. Okay. So you’re like that guy in the movie, the pet detective?”
“Not really. Only thing I have in common with that character basically is his love for Cannibal Corpse.”
“Never mind.” Lenny wasn’t surprised Janice didn’t get the hint. She might have seen the movie, but she hadn’t recognized the death metal band playing in one of the scenes. He figured her for an Ed Sheeran fan. Springsteen on a good day.
“Well, do you want to come in then?” she asked.
“Yeah, thanks a lot,” Lenny said.
Janice’s place was the exact opposite of Cliff’s crib. It was clean as a whistle, nicely decorated with vintage but well-kept furniture.
“Have a seat,” she told Lenny.
He sat down on a comfortable chair, declining the coffee she offered.
“So, I was wondering if you’ve seen or heard anything a week ago… I mean, did you see Ozzy maybe out of the backyard? Or did you maybe notice the gate was open?”
“Mr. Janson never kept the gate open. He wouldn’t want Ozzy to escape. Oh he loved that animal like crazy.”
“He’s not the youngest anymore. Maybe he forgot to close it?”
Janice shook her head vehemently. “No, no way. I know Mr. Janson. His mind is still working very well. He wouldn’t be careless about that.”
“Strange… How did the dog escape then? Maybe he could have jumped over the gate? Have you ever seen Ozzy jump that high?”
“There’s no way Ozzy could jump that high,” Janice said.
Lenny stroked his goatee. “Odd… Any idea what could have happened then?”
“The only thing I can think of somebody else opened the gate.”
“Any idea who could have done that? Maybe some visitor of Mr. Janson?”
“He never invites people in really. I only meet him when he’s walking Ozzy. Maybe… Maybe someone took Ozzy?”
“Took? As in dognapped?”
She shrugged. “These days, you never know what people will do, right? Maybe someone has wanted a dog like that for a long time but can’t pay for one or something?”
“Doesn’t sound very likely. But maybe if we have to rule out that he just escaped you might be right. Thank you for your time. If you think of anything that could be of importance to the case, give me a call.” Lenny handed his business card to Janice.
She had a look at it. “Here it says you’re a guitar technician/roadie.”
“Yeah, I do that too. I don’t have the budget yet to get one printed that says I’m a private investigator as well.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I’ll let you know if I think of anything for sure. I hope you find Ozzy. Oh poor Mr. Janson…”


Robert B. Parker's The Bitterest Pill (Jesse Stone) by Reed Farrel Coleman

Reed Farrel Coleman really managed to make Robert B. Parker's character Jesse Stone his own, infusing him with a deeper character and managing to make his story less static.
In this one Paradise police chief Jesse Stone seems to be doing pretty okay after some hard time. He's going to AA meetings and slowy manages to be better at working with his feelings.
While investigating the death of a high school cheerleader who seems to have died of a drug overdose he uncovers a clever gang of drug dealers, dealing in pills.
Reed cleverly moves the chesspieces of characters across the board of Paradise until a dramatic ending. Jesse's cast of minor characters comes to life even more than usual, Reed clearly having gotten intimate enough with them to understand what makes them tick.
There's the loss of one of Jesse's new loves and the very real threat of Demon Alcohol returning that will make the next novel no doubt just as interesting. As long as Reed is writing them, I will be reading them.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Headstone Detective Agency (John Headston) by Robert J. Randisi

Robert J. Randisi has done so much for the private eye novel heading up among other things the Private Eye Writers of America for some time. Aside from that he's written some pretty good PI series. After treating us to the Nashville PI series he's now back with a brand new series.
It features John Headston, a 50 year old PI who used to have big agency but is now back to a one man operation.
In this first novel Headston is hired to find a missing stockbroker by his wife. As these cases often turn out he is drawn into a murder investigation. During this investigation he gets a new employee, a young girl with tattoos more or less his own counterpart.
The best thing about this novel is the tight writing. Never do we get bogged down by too detailed descriptions of furniture, houses or the weather. Instead the plot is moved forward by dialogue and short scenes, just how I like it. Aside from that Headston starts out as pretty standard PI but we get to see deeper layers of his character as the story continued. And you will fall in love with his female sidekick Ally for sure.
Randisi shows off what experience can bring you in this very solid tale that is bound to be loved by all PI fans who want the good old stuff instead of the fancy thrillers like Robert Crais seems to be writing these days or the Reacher novels.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Free Fiction: Doggone Part Two (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 first part here.


Lenny decided the best place to start the investigation was at Janson’s place. Specifically, the neighbors. Janson might have thought they hadn’t seen anything, but Lenny figured it couldn’t hurt to double-check. He parked his Dodge Ram in front of Janson’s place, ending the Destruction album he was playing when he turned  off the ignition. He left his car and knocked on the door of Janson’s left door neighbor. The blinds in front of the window told him this was probably the pot-smoker’s place.
There was no answer. He decided to knock a little bit harder. Still nothing. Of course, you don’t earn a living as a private eye if you’re detained by such a little thing. He walked over to the window and banged on that.
The door opened. A lanky, pimply kid with a mullet and a Kyuss T-shirt opened the door. Lenny had to admit he approved of the kid’s taste in bands. He wasn’t sure about the mullet though.
“What the fuck man? You startled the living shit out of me, dude!”
“Sorry about that. I really want to talk to you,” Lenny said, holding up his hands apogolepticaly.
The kid squinted. “About what?”
“Your neighbor’s dog.”
“What about that stupid mutt?”
“It’s missing. And dear to your neighbor.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Maybe we can talk about this inside?” Lenny suggested.
“Well, you sure as fuck don’t look like a narc. Come the fuck inside. Nice battle jacket, by the way.”
“Thanks. Sowed it myself,” Lenny beamed.
“Good for you.”
Lenny followed the kid inside his home. “What’s your name?”
Cliff’s place reeked of marihuana. It was also very dark inside, the only light coming from a weak table-lamp. The floor was littered with pizza boxes and empty cans of beer. Lenny recognized the band playing on the kid’s stereo as Monolord. Fine riffage.
Cliff dropped down on a ratty chair and pointed to an old crate for Lenny to sit on. Lenny slowly lowered his ass, not sure the crate would hold his considerable weight. It creaked, but didn’t break.
Cliff lit a joint. “You want a hit, dude?”
“No, thanks. Haven’t smoked one since high school.”
“Shit, really? Can’t miss it, dude. Not that I’m hooked or something, you know? I just like the fucking way it makes me feel. A beer then?”
“I’m fine, thanks.  So, can you please tell me if you saw how Mr. Janson’s dog got out of his yard two weeks ago?”
“How the fuck should I know? It’s not like I sit staring at his yard, you know. Good fucking riddance too, that dog. Sometimes that fucking creature barks so loud I can’t even hear my tunes.” Cliff blew a huge amount of smoke to the ceiling. It was as yellow as egg yolk.
“Come on, Cliff… That animal means a lot to the old man. Don’t be a dick. Anything you saw or heard might help.”
“Why the fuck are you asking these questions anyway? Who are you?” Paranoia had struck the stoner.
“I told you. I’m Lenny.”
“Yeah, but why are you off busting your ass for the old man? I know he ain’t got no son.”
“Mr. Janson hired me. I’m a private investigator.”
“What the fuck? In that outfit? I would never have figured you for one dressed like that!”
“We don’t all wear trench coats or Hawaii shirts, Cliff. Now please, humor me… Is there anything you can think of that might help me track down the dog?”
“Sorry, dude. Really don’t. Maybe the hot chick next door to the old man.”
“The nurse?”
“Yeah, Janice. She usually works nights, though. But she likes the old man. And the dog. So you never know.”
“Guess I will try that, then. Keep on rockin’. I’ll let myself out.” With those words Lenny left the place before he got high from second-hand smoke.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Daughters and Sons (C.T. Ferguson) by Tom Fowler

A new C.T. Ferguson book is always sure to be an enjoyable read. In this one the hacker/PI is hired to protect a hooker from a stalker. It turns out she's not the usual kind of woman who ends up in this business as he uncovers some dirty family secrets.
There's another case waiting for him though as he discovers his sister's death was not natural. Seeking out her killer and swearing revenge he has to do his best to juggle both cases.
The fact this one is personal gives this entry in the series a nice extra edge. We also see C.T.'s relationship with his girlfriend Gloria deepen a bit more.
A nice, fast-paced read.