Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Rolling Thunder (Hammerhead Jed Ounstead) by A.J. Devlin

I just loved the first outing of Jed Ounstead. The wrestling setting and the light sense of humour were awesome. Things get better with this one. The comedy is amped up a bit more and the setting is not only wrestling but also the very interesting roller derby world.
Ex-wrestler Jed Ounstead (now a PI in his dad's firm) is asked by his old friend Stormy Daze to find her roller derby coach who's gone missing some time ago. Investigating he ends up in an S & M club, clashing with a shady rich guy who has his own TV show and more colorful characters than you see on any wrestling show. And then there's those two women he loves but cannot decide on.
There's so many laughs, funny situations and oneliners that I chuckled every page. Don't get me wrong, stuff can get pretty dark as well. And while Jed can be a laidback guy he can get very dark, brooding and gritty as well.
I just love Jed's archetype psycho sidekick Declan! Not only is he a deadly fighter his lines are so incredibly crude and funny... Yeah, this one has everything I love about the genre. Action, laughs, attractive women, mystery.
This one proves the first novel (Cobra Clutch) was not a one hit wonder. Can't wait for the third book.

Friday, June 12, 2020

OUT NOW: the first Lenny Parker collection!

Who likes the Lenny Parker story at my blog? Well, good news! I collected the first four serials in one nifty collection available here.

If you are a regular reader of this blog I'd appreciate you picking it up and spreading the word,

Pick up the book here.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Q & A with John Ryder

John Ryder is the pen name of a British crimewriter  who just came out with the first book in an exciting new series of thrillers starring tough guy loner Grant Fletcher. Of course I wanted to know more...

Q: What makes Grant Fletcher different from other hardboiled characters? 
This is a really good (hard to answer) question as Fletcher has many of the traits found in so many hardboiled characters. He’s comfortable operating alone, ready with his fists when necessary, brave, cynical, and dogged by past events that won’t give him inner peace.
I think his USP has to be that he’s not one of the love-em-and-leave-em characters. His wife died years ago and he still loves her, and to this end he’s never once looked at another woman.

Q: How did you come up with the character? 
I’ve read a lot of books featuring similar characters by authors such as Lee Child, Matt Hilton, Zoe Sharp and many others so I knew the basics that had to be included in a character who features in crime action thrillers. What I wanted to do when building Fletcher was imbue him with enough commonalities to make him familiar, yet also to have enough differences to make him stand out in a crowded field. Fletcher’s back story came from events that happened in the Sam Carver series by Tom Cain. The series ended on a bombshell with a hugely emotional thread that had me wondering about its psychological impact for years afterwards. I’ve been lucky enough to befriend Tom and receive permission to appropriate the event he never tied up. I did of course put my own spin on things and I consider what I have done to be a homage to a fantastic piece of writing rather than a continuation of his character’s story.

Q: What are your thoughts on eBooks? 
I like them for their convenience as commuters approaching the end of a book don’t have to lug their next read along for the journey home and holidaymakers can take a supply of books that don’t require a separate suitace. When it comes to my own reading I’m probably a 70 / 30 split in favour of paper or hardbacks, but that’s largely because I’m fortunate enough to have books sent to me. I also think that ebooks offer fantastic value for money as where else could you get many hours of entertainment for 99p or even £1.99?

 Q: What's next for you and your characters? 
Things are looking busy for myself, Fletcher and Quadrado. Book 2 is written and the copy edits have been sent back so there’s only the proofing stages to go through. The title and blurb are still to be finalised, but book 2 sees Quadrado calling on Fletcher to investigate the murder of her lifelong friend. Naturally for one of my stories, the killing has only just begun.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing? 
All the usual boring stuff. Read, watch TV, support my local football team, socialise with friends and family and plan murders.

Q: How do you promote your work? 
I’m lucky to have a fantastic publicist who does most of the heavy lifting. There are blog tours, social media posts, engaging with readers and writers. Occasionally I’ll run some ads to support what my publisher is doing, but mostly it’s about social media engagement.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
I tend to be firmly stuck in the crime camp, but I read across almost all of its sub-genreswith the exception of cosy. I tend to mix things up with police procedurals, crime action thrillers, conspiracy thrillers, lost artefact stories and PI fiction to name but a few styles of the crime novels I read.

 Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation? 
This is another toughie to answer as I’d be very wary of burdening another writer with expectation, but some authors who write PI style fiction I read are Matt Hilton, LJ Morris and Rob Sinclair.

 Q: Why do you write in this genre? 
Because I get to read the story I want to read is the simple answer, but on a deeper level I think it’s because I love the puzzle element. While it’s always easier to set a puzzle than solve one, I take great enjoyment in seeding in clues and red herrings to misdirect readers while also worrying that I’m either being too obtuse or too obvious. Another great thing about writing crime stories is that I can explore themes and topics that interest me or that I feel ought to be brought to a wider audience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Free Fiction: Doggone Part Nine (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’s stomach turned when the two dogs started to fight. He just couldn’t bear watching it. Even the sounds sickened him. He averted his gaze, not even caring that would cause suspicion. He looked right in the eyes of Cliff. What was he doing there?
Cliff now noticed Lenny as well. “Parker? What the hell are you doing here?”
“That’s what I was wondering about you,” Lenny said.
Cliff stood, pointing an accusing finger at Lenny and shouted, “This dude’s a private investigator!”
“Shit,” was all Lenny could think of to say. The muscular guys who had been at the door had heard Cliff shouting and walked into his direction. That would be trouble. Lenny decided to take a run for it. There were two ways to run. One way would take him directly in the arms of the bouncers. The other way would lead him to the ring. He liked vicious dogs better than vicious men.
His weight didn’t make him the best climber, but the guys who were behind him motivated him enough to climb the gate and get inside the ring. The spectators were shouting at him to get out. The two dogs noticed him and growled at him.
“Easy, easy…” Lenny told the dogs, showing his empty hands. “I don’t mean you any harm.”
The dogs were on him before he knew it, knocking him over. One of the dogs started to tear at his pants, the other one was going for his throat. He figured the one at his throat should be his highest priority so he tried to arm it away. With all the strength gained from carrying around amplifiers, monitors and all sorts of other gear he pushed the dog away from him. He kicked at the other dog, feeling so damned sorry for having to hurt it. He managed to get the two animals away from him for a second though. He ran for the gate. There was a bolt that unlocked it. He used it. The dogs saw their way to freedom opened and decided that to be more interesting than his meaty ass. The ran into the crowd who started to panic.
Lenny took out his cell phone and called 911. Before he could say anything he felt something cold against his neck. He glanced down and saw it was a stiletto knife. The voice of Luis sounded behind him.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing asshole? Drop the phone.”
Lenny complied. The phone hitting the floor with a dull thud. “Take it easy, Luis.”
Luis grabbed Lenny by the hair, turning him around to face him. The knife stayed at Lenny’s neck. He hated it when someone pulled his hair. He kicked Luis in the nuts. Luis let go of the hair and the knife was lowered as he sank down on his knees. Getting a steel-toed boot in the ball sack will do that to you. Lenny put his boot in Luis’ face and kicked the knife out of his hands. He picked it up and threw it away. He then picked up his phone and finished the 911 call.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Forceful Intent (Porter) by R.A. McGee

In the PI world you have the Lew Archers, the Philip Marlowes, Matt Scudders... And you have the Mike Hammers, Jack Reachers and Joe Pikes. This one falls in the last category. Porter is pretty much a man's man and absolutely a man of action. I must say his accountant sidekick and the name of the author made me think a bit of Travis McGee as well.
Porter (no last name in Spenser and Parker style) is an ex-FBI agent who is now working as a private investigator. When an old friend asks him to look into the disappearance of a young girl he clashes with street gangs and a very wealthy and evil psychopath. He gets some help from a lovely detective (bit of a tired trope, but hey, it's hardboiled pulp so who cares).
Porter is a very hardboiled guy, reminding me as I mentioned before of Reacher. He is sometimes a much a vigilante as he is an investigator. Sometimes he can even come over as a bit of an asshole. But it was those traits that made this novel so enjoyable to me as the story itself is fairly standard.
I'm going to read more of this series.

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Blues Don't Care (Bobby Saxon) by Paul D. Marks

What  a time for this book coming out. It is situated in WW II but is very topical now. Bobby Saxon is the only white musician in an all-black band. When one of the bandmembers get accused of murdering a racist Bobby is asked to investigate. It turns out Bobby is pretty good at investigating for an amateur. As you might expect this is not just a mystery but also a story about racism in the forties. What you don't expect is the incredible twist that will surprise you a few chapters in. It is this surprise that adds an extra layer that allows Saxon to give even some more extra social commentary.
I hate saying a book transcends the genre and I honestly usually don't like books that do. This one however does and might win some awards because of it.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

PWA Shamus Award Nominations 2020

The Shamus Award nominees are in. Excited to see favorites like James DF Hannah, Casey Barrett and Matt Coyle in there.

PRIVATE EYE WRITERS OF AMERICA SHAMUS AWARD NOMINEES 2020 for works published in 2019. (The lists below are in alphabetical order by author.) Congratulations for all!

Best Original Private Eye Paperback 

The Skin Game by JD Allen / Midnight Ink

Behind the Wall of Sleep by James DF Hannah / author

Paid in Spades by Richard Helms / Clay Stafford Books

Ration of Lies by M. Ruth Myers / author

The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin / Cinco Puntos Press

Best Private Eye Short Story 

“The Smoking Bandit of Lakeside Terrace” by Chad Baker in EQMM May/June

“Sac-A-Lait Man” by O’Neil De Noux in EQMM Sept/Oct

“The Dunes of Saulkrasti” by William Burton McCormick in EQMM Sept/Oct
“The Fourteenth Floor” by Adam Meyer in Crime Travel anthology from Wildside Press

“Weathering the Storm” by Michael Pool in The Eyes of Texas anthology from Down & Out Books

 Best Private Eye Novel 

The Tower of Songs by Casey Barrett / Kensington

Lost Tomorrows by Matt Coyle / Oceanview

The Shadows by Matt Goldman / Forge

Below the Line by Michael Gould / Dutton

Cold Way by Julia Keller / Minotaur