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col2910 (Bedfordshire,UK)

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Scoundrel (A Noah Milano Novelette)
Scoundrel (A Noah Milano Novelette)
Price: £1.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Dutch delight!, 5 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A 50 page long short story or short novella to finish off January’s reading with and get the numbers up to a round total of 10.

Interesting tale, well told - Noah Milano – PI or security specialist – take your pick, is hired to locate the guy who has gotten his client pregnant. With abortion not an option, financial recompense is sought to enable the lady to support her child.

Milano starts digging and soon establishes that he’s not the only guy in town hunting down the vanished lothario. Having tracked down Robert Reynolds, ahead of the Russian mob, Milano agrees to allow Reynolds some time to collate the pay-off or he’ll alert the Russians as to his whereabouts.

Before Milano has time to congratulate himself on his speedy resolution, he’s arrested for Reynolds murder by a cop with a hard-on for him and his estranged criminal father. Released after the intervention of his father’s lawyer, Milano at risk to himself soon secures his client’s recompense from the only likely source of the funds before handing the cop’s Reynolds murderer.

I liked how Vandersteen started us off in one direction, before the story morphed into something else.

Entertaining throughout and definitely a PI I wouldn’t mind reading more about in the future.

Jochem Vandersteen is a Dutch crime writer.

4 from 5

Bought a couple of years ago on Amazon UK for Kindle.

Rappin' Dog: A  Leo and Serendipity Mystery (A Leo and Serendipity Mystery Book 3)
Rappin' Dog: A Leo and Serendipity Mystery (A Leo and Serendipity Mystery Book 3)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting intro to a new-to-me double act, 4 Mar. 2015
Dick Lochte is the author of about 15 books in total. His debut in 1985 was SLEEPING DOG which introduced investigator Leo Bloodworth as well as his teenage helper Serendipity Dahlquist. This was followed in 1988 with LAUGHING DOG. Both have been re-published by Brash Books in the past few months.

RAPPIN’ DOG is a recently penned short story which introduced both main protagonists to me. Bloodworth is hired by a high profile rapper after receiving some death threats. Bloodworth tries to advise him he would be better off in the hands of the police, but our rapper doesn’t like the cops.

Having had run-ins in the past with a former employee, we already have a likely suspect (or fall guy).
A fair few twists and turns along the way before we arrive at a resolution. Our B.A. Dawg dude is kind of past caring by this point. Neat resolution and credit to the author, I missed the subtle pointer towards our guilty party.

Interesting enough and definitely a pair of sleuths I will want to read more about.

20-odd pages long, but good enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over!

4 from 5

A freebie short story courtesy of Brash Books.

Duke City Hit: A Lawbreakers Thriller
Duke City Hit: A Lawbreakers Thriller
Price: £3.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Another great Austin, 3 Mar. 2015
Another fast-paced action read which ticked a fair few boxes for me. I read the first in Max Austin’s (AKA Steve Brewer) proposed Duke City trilogy back in December and was expecting a follow-on with the reappearing characters, which wasn’t the case.

Disappointed? Not really, I was soon absorbed in the life of a loner hitman, Vic Walters. Can you warm to a guy who cold-bloodedly kills for a living……err, yes I can.

Vic’s life is fairly straightforward……, sleep, kill…..repeat……..obviously eating and sleeping a few more times than actually killing. He’s no family to worry about, no close attachments or friendships – the closest thing is his manager, Penny; the only one privy to Vic’s career choice. He’s ultra-professional, he’s careful in his approach to his assignments and he is content with his life.

All of which is the cue for an approaching storm cloud on the horizon. A couple of Vic’s assignments are compromised and suddenly the hunter has become the hunted. Who is killing Vic’s intended targets before he can? And more importantly why? Vic’s uncomplicated life just got complicated.

A satisfying read, plenty of action, a decent twist in the plot, probably not too much in the way of emotional depth to our characters, but that’s alright.

Did I like the people involved, did I like the storyline, did I enjoy the action, did the resolution work, did I turn the pages quickly enough, was there something else I would rather have been doing or reading, would I go back to the author for more…..yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, yes….enough said.

Roll on book 3!

4 from 5

I got access to this one via Net Galley

Cry Uncle: A J. McNee mystery set in Scotland
Cry Uncle: A J. McNee mystery set in Scotland
Price: £13.76

4.0 out of 5 stars Dundee dirt - compelling crime!, 2 Mar. 2015
Another Net Galley read, another new author and a tick in the box for my on-going Scottish reading challenge.

Cry Uncle is the fifth from the author featuring J. McNee. The previous four, of which I have a couple are The Good Son, The Lost Sister, Father Confessor and Mothers of the Disappeared.

I must admit whilst I enjoyed it, at times I did feel like I had come in halfway through the viewing of a film, where although you get the gist of what is going on, you do feel like you have missed out somewhat.

Cry Uncle was an interesting enough tale whereby our main character has gone undercover in an effort to help take down Dundee’s crime-lord and king-pin, David Burns. McLean throws up an interesting conundrum, as to what level of law-breaking is acceptable in an effort to establish trust whilst working undercover. Our man when out and about with his enforcer partner, has some grey areas to navigate when there a bit of violence and intimidation on the menu.

As the novel progresses we understand why McNee has been tasked with gathering evidence for his puppet-master and you have to feel sorry for him in the situation where he is extremely isolated and vulnerable. Events from his history, further cement that sense of reader empathy.

Overall enjoyable, a decent plot, interesting main character. Plenty of grit and violence though not at the expense of the development of the cast of characters. I also enjoyed the setting of Dundee – a bit of a change from Glasgow, though I doubt McLean would endear himself to the Dundee Tourist Board (if such a body exists)!

I did like McLean’s sly hat-tip to author Ray Banks and his Manchester PI – Cal Innes.

I do think my enjoyment would have been enhanced by having read some, (possibly all?) of the earlier books in the series.

4 from 5

Accessed via Net Galley

Archangel of Sedona
Archangel of Sedona
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An off-beat but interesting mystery, 1 Mar. 2015
An unintentional and accidental read this one. I was e-mailed by the publisher Open Road seeing if I wanted to take a look via Net Galley. I replied saying thanks but no thanks and then hit the Net Galley button to check again and confirm my negative response only to inadvertently accept it.

Mysticism, extra-terrestrials, spirituality, unexplained disappearances, synchronicity or coincidence, the Vietnam War, the Catholic Church, family, adventure, dope, guns, death and a revelation.

Not my usual type of book, though I have to say I really enjoyed it once I started. The author has an engaging style of writing and from fairly early on, I was engrossed and eager to find out what was going on and the rationale for events.

We start with an eleventh century happening among the Indian tribes that inhabit the Sedona area of Arizona. We pick up with our narrator Tony visiting Sedona in the 60’s and an unexplainable encounter at the Catholic Church in Sedona. Tony’s life continues in the service during the Vietnam War then afterwards with some legal training working for various justice departments preparing paperwork for trials.

A lingering obsession with events from his 60’s visit to Sedona and the discovery that the controversial statue of Jesus disappeared from the church some years ago, brings Tony back to the area ostensibly for a holiday with his reluctant partner Gretchen, but really to do some digging.

The second half of the book was compelling, with Tony upsetting a few people in Sedona with his questioning. His subsequent hook-up with ex-army grunt Eddie Grimes and their subsequent escapades in an environment where everyone they crossed paths with had the potential to be untrustworthy and potentially harmful to them both ramped up the excitement.

Unexpectedly enjoyable, likeable characters, easy-flowing narrative, plausible explanations for events, possibly a little bit too much detail in respect of the firearms, but he obviously knows his stuff. Maybe 90% straightforward mystery and 10% non, which was a balance that I could readily accept. The book is populated with images/photographs throughout which also added to my enjoyment.

Overall pleasantly and surprisingly good.

4 from 5

A Net Galley read.

The Replacements (A Bruno Johnson Novel)
The Replacements (A Bruno Johnson Novel)
Price: £11.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb crime fiction, brutal with a heart!, 28 Feb. 2015
I read and enjoyed Dave Putnam’s debut novel The Disposables early in 2014. The Disposables attracted praise from the likes of Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker and William Bernhardt.

His second novel picks up with Bruno Johnson, our ex-cop settling into life as a bar-keep in Costa Rica with his girlfriend, Marie, his ailing father and the children they saved from a lifetime of abuse and hurt. Bruno is wanted back in the States by the FBI for his part in the children’s abduction. Bruno has a chequered past, as well as being a former cop he’s also an ex-convict, having killed his son-in-law after the man was responsible for the death of his grandson.

All is going well until a former colleague of Bruno’s walks into his bar and entices him back to the US. A couple of girls have been kidnapped and the perpetrator, Jonas Mabry will only deal with Johnson. The two have a connection, as 20 years previously Bruno saved Jonas as a small child when his mother shot and killed his two sisters before shooting her son and turning the gun on herself.
Bruno, despite the risk to his freedom and over the protestations of his family, goes back under the radar. Once he’s back in the States the pace picks up and is pretty relentless until the climax.

Child abduction, a rapid quick-fire investigation, cops, the FBI, Sons of Satan biker gang, a stakeout on a beached whale of an ex-bank robbing felon, ransom demands, gold bullion, Aryan Brotherhood, fractured and damaged family and history and a bitter resentment fuelling a desire for revenge.

Harsh, brutal, violent – Bruno is not averse to employing a bit of the aforementioned in his efforts to get him closer to the missing kids. So probably not a book for the faint-hearted.

I loved it myself….great characters with heart, doses of humour and plenty of action. Unlikely characters, such as Karl Drago – our whale-like bank robber revealing hidden depths of humanity and stoicism and a desire to do the right thing, despite all the previous evidence to the contrary.

A fantastic read.

5 from 5

I was fortunate enough to receive and ARC from the author just before Christmas.

The Owl: An Owl Thriller
The Owl: An Owl Thriller
Price: £3.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Action packed US-80's crime novel, 27 Feb. 2015
My take......

New author – tick,

Brash Books offering – tick,

Los Angeles setting – tick,

80’s – time frame - tick

Action, gun-play, a kidnapping and vigilante pay-back in the form of the insomnolence-suffering, enigmatic Owl – 4 ticks.

Plot and main character were a wee bit OTT, but after chucking my plausibility-radar in the corner after a chapter or two, I kicked back and enjoyed the ride. Did I totally buy into The Owl as the equally feared and revered harbinger of doom to the lawless? Not totally, but I was convinced enough to finish this one in fairly short order. I used to love watching Arnie and Bruce busting a few heads on screen. I loved reading about The Owl busting a few heads here.

Credit to Bob Forward for introducing a unique protagonist with a condition that stops him sleeping…..ever. His back-story and the minimal amount of personal relationships or contact he allows himself, firmly cements him as one of society’s outsiders. Definitely a guy you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of. I was reminded me a little bit of Andrew Vachss’ Burke character, although Burke has a larger network of helpers.

Great little diversionary scenes from the author which underline the lack of normality that The Owl enjoys in his everyday life. For example - the lengths he has to go to in order to get a shower in a motel had me chuckling.

Best book ever? No but more than enough to like and have me looking forward to Forward’s second Owl book – Scarlet Serenade.

4 from 5

Accessed through Net Galley, courtesy of Brash Books

Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another new author to follow, 26 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Detached (Kindle Edition)
I had a recent e-mail asking if I would be interested in taking a look at the author’s debut novel, SLOW DOWN. Rather than jump in with both feet, I had a little look around to see whether I could sample the author’s style before committing myself to something longer that might not necessarily float my boat. Not like me to exercise restraint when offered a peek at a book!

DETACHED is an 18 page short story available for free download on Amazon, so why not. Worst case, I don’t like it and I can bat away the offer without feeling like I haven’t abrupt.

Best case I enjoy it and have the opportunity to try a bit of NEO-NOIR whatever that is. Plus it counts as another one read on the old scoreboard – not that I’m obsessed or anything with hitting my year-end total.

Verdict – strange, disturbing, weird – are there people who actually live their lives like this? A husband films his wife around the clock and the following day does exactly the same whilst organising time-slots and their schedule for reviewing the previous day’s footage. Send for the strait jackets immediately. I don’t think the climax of one day’s footage was quite what he was expecting.

Short, sharp, intriguing…..and a yes to the offer of SLOW DOWN.

4 from 5

Outrage at Blanco: An Ellie Taine Thriller
Outrage at Blanco: An Ellie Taine Thriller
Price: £3.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Western-cum-crime novel!, 25 Feb. 2015
A 1998 book from Bill Crider and an absolute blast. A dark Western-cum-crime novel that starts ferociously with an attack and rape of Ellie Taine and never really lets up throughout.

Naively and ill-equipped for the task in hand, Ellie’s husband sets out after the culprits and soon perishes whilst they are in the middle of a bank robbery. Something inside Ellie has broken and she decides to pursue the gang herself and get herself a bit of frontier justice.

Great time frame and setting for this, interesting plot which soon sees Ellie teaming up with Jonathan Crossland – a man with more than foot in the grave already – on their chase, an interesting bunch of characters, not the least of which is Irish villain, Daniel O’Grady. O’Grady is the most likeable of our bunch of desperadoes and didn't have any involvement in the earlier rape. Moments of humour as well, especially when our thieves fall out and cross paths again.

Whilst empathising with Ellie Taine and wanting her to achieve closure, I had a hankering for O’Grady to live to fight another day. A satisfactory ending that ticked all the boxes for me.

5 from 5 and a scratch of the head, where has Bill Crider been all my reading life?

Crider originally had this published back in 1998. He released a follow up – Texas Vigilante in 1999. One to keep an eye out for I think.

Bill Crider has been a fairly prolific author over the years with a 20 plus book series starring Sheriff Dan Rhodes, as well as many others. I do wish I had discovered him 10 years ago though.

I got hold of Outrage at Blanco via Net Galley. One of my favourite publishers - Brash Books have brought this and Texas Vigilante back into print.

Duke City Split (Lawbreakers)
Duke City Split (Lawbreakers)
Price: £3.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro to another fine crime fiction writer, 24 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Max Austin (aka mystery novelist Steve Brewer) serves up a taut tale of robbery here with a couple of cool, calculating and likeable career criminals, falling foul of a couple of their golden rules – don’t pull jobs on your own doorstep and if you are breaking this rule don’t exacerbate the problem by allowing an amateur on board your tight-knit team.

After scoping out the job brought to them by a local guy, Johnny Muller. The gang successfully relieve the local bank of the weekend takings from the out-of-town casino. However unbeknown to our pros Mick and Bud,their third wheel has revealed an identifying tattoo to the Hispanic security guard at the bank.

With the cash stashed and cooling off our weak link in the chain, Muller is targeted by the bank’s security guard and his hefty girlfriend who fancy a cut of the cash themselves. Muller’s expectations of an easy haul and an upturn in his prospects have just taken a nosedive. His two partners assist in resolving this problem, but with the casino having mob funds behind them – another cloud has appeared on the horizon in the form of Vincent Caro from Chicago, an enforcer who intends on making a few inquiries and securing himself a share of the robbery proceeds at the same time.

Throw into the mix, an oddball FBI couple who are investigating the robbery and have a lead that links our dynamic duo of Bud and Mick to 30-odd other bank robberies. Add in another couple of local crims with a blood thirst and their own monetary ambitions and the heat is rising in Albuquerque.

Thrills, action, pace, violence, death, robbery, ambition – in abundance. Slightly less in character depth, but I’m not too bothered.

Best book I've ever read – no, but I loved it all the same.

More from Max Austin/Steve Brewer – hell, yes.

Duke City Hit is the second in Austin’s proposed trilogy. I would say I’m looking forward to it, but I have already read and enjoyed it. Roll on number 3!

Verdict on this one – 4 from 5

Bought on Amazon kindle late last year. Read and enjoyed December 2014

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