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A. Watson "allan watson" (Glasgow)
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The House of Susan Lulham (Kindle Single)
The House of Susan Lulham (Kindle Single)
Price: £2.32

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil is in the Download, 30 Dec. 2014
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Phil Rickman breaks new territory with his first Merrily Watkins novella. This mini-novel sees the protective epidermis of the novels ruthlessly peeled back to bare muscle and bone; exposing the raw beating heart of the series - a heart that pounds out a steady rhythm of fear, malevolence, murder, exorcism, and the unquiet dead. With no sub-plots or large cast of characters to run interference, the story plunges in at the deep end and only rarely surfaces for air before dragging us back down to the murky, weed-infested bottom of the pool where the shadows lurk.

Normally I’d class this as a real page-turner, but as the novella is only available as an e-book (tough-titty Luddites) I’ll have to use the phrase a real screen-flicker, instead. Great story, spookily atmospheric, and sharp as the blood-spattered razor on the front cover.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2015 8:13 PM GMT


Night After Night
Night After Night
Price: £1.99

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Adjust Your Set, 30 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Night After Night (Kindle Edition)
As a writer how do you go about putting a new slant on the tired old haunted house format? Not easy, is it? Creaky doors, rats in the walls, flickering lights, hot and cold running blood in the bathroom, the sound of weeping from sealed-off rooms - it's all been done to death. Except, it seems, perhaps not. Phil Rickman's new standalone novel avoids the usual clichés by giving a wicked twist to a certain reality TV show, chucking down-on-their-luck celebs from either side of the belief spectrum into our haunted house and suddenly it's game on. Just as in real life, we have a Machiavellian production team doing their utmost to polarise and wrong-foot the housemates while striving to create an authentic ambience of eeriness that might just lure in a respectable ghost or two.

So what about the house itself? Knap Hall, an old property charged with the lingering essence of murder and sadistic sexual abuse, may have been infiltrated by teams of hidden camera operators and two-way mirrors, but still has its own agenda, and doesn't have to worry about viewing figures. There is a real air of darkness and spiritual corruption in this house, an atmosphere dense with growing unease fostered by grainy snapshots of slumbering malevolence that seeps through the narrative like contaminated water dripping from an old graveyard wall - this subtle approach proves much more effective at jangling the reader's nerves than luminous-painted skeletons or Christopher Lee with plastic fangs lurking in the pantry. If Big Brother had been on the wireless when MR James was around this book might well have been one of his projects.

As you'd expect from any Phil Rickman novel, the story abounds with characters you either instinctively loathe or clutch to your bosom like a long-lost family member. There is no middle ground here. Top of the list has to be a certain cross-dressing, ex-national lottery presenter cum Shaman cum ventriloquist who gives new meaning to the term Reality TV. Right - what smarty-pants at the back shouted out Dale Winton? For that crass display of stupidity you can leave this review immediately and spend the next two weeks in solitary confinement with nothing more than a 56 Disk DVD box-set of Supermarket Sweep to keep you company. No, I am of course talking about Cindy Lewis-Mars, one of my favourite ever Rickman characters. You might not actually clutch Cindy to your bosom, but you might lend him your best lip gloss and a spare pair of tights. Um... or so I'm told.

Great book. Fantastic writing. Go buy it, find a quiet room, plug in your catheter, and READ.


The Burning (Coroner Jenny Cooper Series Book 6)
The Burning (Coroner Jenny Cooper Series Book 6)
Price: £3.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burned a hole in my Kindle, 29 May 2014
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I'd bought this ages ago but wanted to keep it for my holiday. Damn thing almost burned a hole in my Kindle waiting to be read. Brilliant book as usual from MR Hall. Loved this one to bits. Thought Jenny Cooper's assistant, Alison, was the star of the show. Having her return to work slightly 'damaged' was an inspired move.


The Art of Hunting (The Gravedigger Chonicles Book 2)
The Art of Hunting (The Gravedigger Chonicles Book 2)
Price: £4.19

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely in Awe, 22 Feb. 2014
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Just spent the most wonderful week dipping my toes in and out of the Brine. Only wish I had a Replicating Sword so I could submit multiple 5 star reviews. I've loved all Alan Campbell's books so far. For imagination, prose, and sheer originality he far outstrips most writers on the planet... and any other horror laden multiverse hanging around waiting to be exploited by a fantasy author.


The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 12)
The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries Book 12)
Price: £1.89

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Magus, 7 Nov. 2013
Ever since Lamp of the Wicked, the supernatural quotient of this crime series has been stepped down, notch by notch, until you could be mistaken for thinking Merrily Watkins herself had exorcised all the lurking revenants hiding in the dark shadows between the pages. But just when you think it's finally safe to turn out the lights in Ledwardine, Phil Rickman gives the Creepy-Dial a hard twist to the right and we find ourselves in the middle of an authentically disturbing ghost story woven through with neo-nazis, sexual sadists, and a whole motley collection of Kindle-hating second-hand book sellers. I'm still unsure which of these scares me most.

One disadvantage of having a successful long-running series is the sheer weight of secondary characters picked up along the way, all demanding their own major story line (plus personal luxury trailers) and threatening to defect for Eastenders if they don't get it. So all credit to Rickman for having the courage to stand firm and thin out the pack, giving the stage-set a leaner, more tightly focussed demeanour that allows the spotlight to swing firmly back on Merrily Watkins. Pared back to basics and with fewer characters to juggle with, the story itself rises from the pages in a more direct and urgent fashion.
The underlying theme of `damaged goods' provides a strong undercurrent to the subtext in Magus of Hay with many characters either physically or spiritually compromised, each injury and hurt a mirror fragment reflecting the real principal character of the novel - the ailing and economically moribund Kingdom of Hay. This border town, once newsworthy for a meteoric rise in fortune due to second-hand book-trading is now in serious decline. Some blame the recession and the emergence of digital books for Hay's economic problems, but a select few, those shadowy practitioners of ritual magic from both ends of the colour spectrum, have their own ideas and are waging war behind the scenes for the soul of the town.

If you're already a fan of Phil Rickman you're going to love this book, while those of you dipping your toes in the water for the first time will be scratching your heads and wondering how the hell you've missed out on this wonderful series up till now.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2014 9:36 AM GMT


Already Dead (The Cooper & Fry Series Book 13)
Already Dead (The Cooper & Fry Series Book 13)
Price: £4.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already Dead - Already Finished, 17 Sept. 2013
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Stephen Booth's novels are always an eagerly anticipated event for me, but more so this time as so much was left unresolved in the previous book. Obviously Ben cooper was always going to pull through, we expected no less. But now damaged both physically and mentally, the sea-change in Cooper's normally placid, no-frills character while coming to terms with his injuries and personal loss, adds an edgy new layer to this compelling series. Diane Fry's demeanour continues to curdle in direct proportion to the copious amounts of rain falling on Derbyshire, while Gavin Murfin provides some brilliant comedy moments. I can't imagine any other writer taking the death of an insurance claims adjuster and turning it into such a dark piece of quasi-tragic theatre. Now comes the long wait until the next one. Sigh...


Shit Happens
Shit Happens
Price: £1.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Drugs and Stolen DVD Players, 17 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Shit Happens (Kindle Edition)
Shit happens. In spades apparently. Get yourself a worm's eye view of life at the bottom of the social compost heap. A novel filled with psychotic, hate-filled, drug-dealing, benefit-scrounging, ultra-violent, sexual predators - and that's just the women. Think of a north-east version of Shameless that actually is very funny. So many great one-liners that had me feeling like I'd accidentally infiltrated the hen-night from hell. Be warned my fellow gentlemen, this book won't do your self-esteem much good unless you take great pride in being an under-endowed, misogynistic, lazy-arsed waster who keeps his socks on in bed.
Eileen Wharton doesn't however solely depend upon the social (un)niceties of poverty-stricken, hand-to-mouth life among the inwardly despairing unemployed. In amongst the grit and the gags there are seams of pure gold waiting to be discovered in the shape of prose that sings with the heart of a soul-searing diva, wearing Jimmy Choo shoes of course.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 15, 2013 7:33 AM GMT


The Good Son (J McNee series Book 1)
The Good Son (J McNee series Book 1)
Price: £2.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Shadow Rises in the East, 17 Aug. 2013
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I think it was Gandalf the wizard who mumbled about a dark shadow rising in the east. If he'd added that this dark shadow also appeared to wearing a wide-brimmed hat, I'd have known straight away he was referring to Russel D. McLean. Okay, obviously the people in Dundee don't actually speak the foul tongue of Mordor, although at times you could be mistaken for thinking so, but McLean has painted a vividly dark picture of the city as the backdrop for his private investigator PI J. McNee. The Good Son is the first in the series and even before I'd finished I was already reaching for my Ipad to purchase the two follow-ups, The Lost Sister and Father Confessor.
The Good Son introduces us to PI J.McNee, a crocked ex-copper with a bad leg, who nonetheless certainly gets about the city as he sinks his teeth into the mystery of why his client's brother, a shady character with heavy London gangster connections, should return home to hang himself. A finely crafted novel by a terrific writer. Well worth reading.


Broken Dreams (Joe Geraghty Book 1)
Broken Dreams (Joe Geraghty Book 1)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London 0 Quantrill 4, 15 Aug. 2013
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A terrific novel from Nick Quantrill whose short stories I've been highly impressed by over the past year. In Broken Dreams he lays the gritty foundations for his Private Detective series featuring PI Joe Geraghty. Most refreshing to have a crime-busting character who can't seem to punch his way out of a paper bag (or even hold his drink very well) despite being a rough, tough ex-rugby player. Never been to Hull, but Nick Quantrill does paint a very colourful description of the city even though most of the colours are different hues of murky grey. Looking forward to reading the follow up - The Late Greats.


The Chosen Dead: Coroner Jenny Cooper mystery -book 5 (Coroner Jenny Cooper Series)
The Chosen Dead: Coroner Jenny Cooper mystery -book 5 (Coroner Jenny Cooper Series)
Price: £3.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Please wash you hands after reading this book, 21 Feb. 2013
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Thoroughly enjoyed this latest Jenny Cooper novel by MR Hall but strongly feel the book should have displayed a health hazard warning on the front cover. As someone already beset by fequent occourences of OCD (I obsessively count the sharp knives in the cutlery drawer every night before retiring to bed)the subject matter in this book which deals with lethal bio-weapons of mass destruction now has me scrubbing at my hands with a Brillo pad at least two dozen times a day.

As usual for these books the pace is rocket fuel-propelled and the regular cast of characters play out their assigned roles with clockwork precision. It begins with Cooper being given a clean bill of mental health but within a few chapters the mounting pressure of work/family conflicts soon have Bristol's favourite coroner back to her pill-popping best.

Sorry, have to go wash my hands.


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