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Wayne Simmons "HOO-HAA" (Ireland)

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The Vengeful Virgin (Hard Case Crime Book 30)
The Vengeful Virgin (Hard Case Crime Book 30)
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Brewer knows best, 19 Mar 2014
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Another cracker from Hard Case Crime. Beautiful cover, as always, and great story.

Brewer is a complete diamond: roughneck prose, sharp dialogue and a breakneck pace all making for an easy and fast read. But it’s with characterisation he excels: THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN’s two leads, Jack and Shirley, are far from good people – they’re planning to murder an old man with no other motive than to grab his inheritance – yet still we get behind them. In fact, despite their many flaws, we want them to succeed.

Quick-fire read with an explosive ending.

Dead Street (Hard Case Crime Book 37)
Dead Street (Hard Case Crime Book 37)
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Spillane says goodbye..., 11 Mar 2014
I’m a HUGE fan of pulp fiction and of Hard Case Crime in particular. I’ve read and reviewed books by Donald E. Westlake, Christa Faust, Richard Aleas, Lawrence Block, Jack Clark and more. My own writing is greatly influenced by pulp and noir: I’ve often described my zombie novel FLU as noir with zombies and in his review of my most recent novel, PLASTIC JESUS, fellow genre hack, David Moody said: ’it’s as if the cast of a hard-boiled crime novel had simply been picked up and dropped into Wayne’s future nightmare.’

That all said, there are still many classic pulp novels and writers that I’ve yet to read. Mickey Spillane, for one.

DEAD STREET is a strange place to start with Spillane. It’s one of his final books, released posthumously by Hard Case Crime. But, although written just before his death in 2006, and set in contemporary times, DEAD STREET captures the charm and feel of the old-school pulp world perfectly.

It features ageing super cop, Jack ‘Shooter’ Stang, now in retirement, still grieving over his late fiancé, Bette, believed killed after a kidnap attempt by the mob went wrong. But that isn’t the whole truth. Although her kidnappers did indeed die that night, only a part of Bette died: her memory and her sight. Twenty years later and Bette’s living in a retirement home, mostly populated by retired cops. Jack Stang finds himself among their number and back by Bette’s side once more. But he isn’t the only one who wants her…

DEAD STREET is an old-school crime caper clearly written by a writer aware of his own mortality. Although set in contemporary times, our ageing cast still use the language of 1960s noir. They’re constantly struggling with new technology and clinging on to the old ways of doing business: calling in favours, running stake-outs and shakedowns, digging up skeletons from their past. It adds a certain charm to this book that most neo-noirs just couldn’t achieve.

In many ways, it’s a love story. The reader becomes invested in Stang’s plight to reignite what he once had with a Bette who doesn’t remember him; whose mind was wiped the night she went into the water during that kidnap attempt; who had to relearn everything twenty years ago and whose only friend now is an overprotective greyhound called Tacos that she herself rescued from death. Of course, ultimately, this is Spillane’s love letter to the genre and his passion for noir is clearly evident throughout the book. But the themes of death and renewal may speak to something even deeper than that; Spillane is clearly saying goodbye in this novel and that makes it as heart breaking as it is compelling to read.

As a story, DEAD STREET is everything you’d want from a pulp novel: fast-paced and loose-lipped, with a rough hewn writing style that seems to be something of a trademark for Spillane. But as a parting piece, this is something truly special. A very high recommend indeed.

Farscape: Dark Side of the Sun
Farscape: Dark Side of the Sun
Price: 2.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Captures the mood of the TV show well, 25 Feb 2014
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Tie-in novels generally will only appeal to fans of the franchise they relate to and this book is no different. If a living spaceship called Moya means nothing to you, then best look elsewhere (or better still, go grab yourself a complete Farscape box set to watch then come right back!).

For the initiated, DARK SIDE OF THE SUN is a Season 2 based Farscape tie-in novel. We follow our favourite ragtag crew as they seek out a cure for an ailing Moya. Trader, Jansz, has that cure but is the price he offers our heroes too high?

DSotS is a mixed bag: beautifully written in some places but overwritten and bloated in others. It's like two writers were involved and one of them I like, the other not so much. The characters are all quite well represented, even if some, like D'Argo and Zhann, are seriously underused. There's a definite quirkiness to the story, a la the TV series and, in general this book does the job just fine if you're craving a little more Moya in your life.

In short: at times overwritten but some great ideas and, in its finest moments, perfectly captures the mood of the show.

The Eternity Ring
The Eternity Ring
Price: 1.53

5.0 out of 5 stars CIDRE WITH ROSIE if written by Neil Gaiman, 23 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Eternity Ring (Kindle Edition)
One of my favourite reads from school was CIDRE WITH ROSIE by Laurie Lee, a vivacious memoir of a young boy’s life. I was an incredibly imaginative lad, for better and for worse, and Lee’s magical account of his War era childhood, and the characters that punctuated such, very much resonated with me. Sion Smith’s THE ETERNITY RING has a lot in common with Lee’s memoir both in terms of tone and style.

The story follows its narrator, an average boy who becomes obsessed by crows after witnessing something quite fantastical, involving the birds, down by the lake close to where he lives. We follow the boy through to manhood and eventually old age, the birds never far from view. And just like with CIDRE, the seemingly ordinary takes on an extraordinary quality all of its own when seen through the narrator’s eyes. There’s a magical sway to this story, the crows taking on an almost shamanic quality after being tattooed onto the narrator’s skin. The events that transpire thereafter could be interpreted as supernatural. And yet despite this fact, with an accessible writing style, and working class protagonist, Smith succeeds in keeping the essence of his story quite grounded.

I read THE ETERNITY RING in one sitting. It’s an enigmatic and engaging book that you’ll find hard-pushed to put down once you start. There’s a dark fairy tale quality about the novella that I really enjoyed. And just like all good fairy tales, its resolution proves both satisfying and mystifying all at once.

Originally posted at: [...]

Straight to You
Straight to You
Price: 1.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think STAKE LAND meets THE ROAD, 15 Feb 2014
This review is from: Straight to You (Kindle Edition)
Most folks who are regulars to my website will know that fellow hack, David Moody, and I are something of a double-act within the world of genre fiction. Maybe it’s our shared fascination with the end of the world, or a tendency to write about a certain grey-faced bogeyman, but for one reason or another we’ve found ourselves doing a lot of events together and, needless to say, have become very good friends over the years.

What you may not know (although I do shout about it all the time in interviews and the like) is that I first met Dave as a fan of his work. I’ve got a signed copy of Dave’s debut novel, STRAIGHT TO YOU, that’s dated April 2005 (the book itself is a first print hardback published in 1996). And while I thoroughly enjoyed it back then, the rewrite, released just today through Infected Books, is a different beast altogether.

In the new edition, we meet Steve and his partner Samantha at a very trying time in their relationship. Unlike the 1996 edition, where Steve and Samantha had just got together, we find them in 2014 as a married couple having just suffered a miscarriage. The resulting strain upon their relationship is played out brilliantly and brutally and you can really feel the couple’s pain: Steve doing what men do best; internalising all the pain, drinking heavily, falling behind at work, becoming reclusive; Samantha pushing to make him open up and talk about things. Ultimately, the couple split, Sam leaving to spend time with her father in North Wales, who as it happens, really doesn’t think our Steve’s good enough for his little girl.

This is an apocalyptic horror novel that wears its dark heart proudly on its sleeve, plenty of gore and suspense and terror to enjoy. But as with all Moody’s books, where STY really excels is with the characters. There are a lot more of them now, the 96 edition being more of a one-man sprint across country. Here, Steven starts his journey with another man named Roy, someone he met once at a party but feels sorry for and agrees to give a lift to. The dialogue between these two very different characters brings some much-needed levity to an otherwise very bleak story, as well as grounding the book further, giving a shared commentary of a world (quite literally) going to hell. I found their aimless and uneducated chatter much more palatable than the pseudo science we’re usually fed in books and movies of an apocalyptic fare, where much of our time is spent in some government research lab or crisis room, theorising. Here, there is no military. There are no scientists or government ministers, only the people on the ground and the talking heads on TV and radio. Refreshing, to say the least.

In some ways, I was reminded of the recent vamp movie, STAKE LAND, when reading STY. It’s a very different story, but Steven’s journey has a similar feel to that of the kid and the enigmatic Mister, travelling across the rugged, post-apocalyptic terrain to find their promised land. THE ROAD is another reference point. Fans of those two movies should definitely find a lot to like here, too.

In short, STRAIGHT TO YOU 2014 is an engaging and heart-breaking read, further cementing Moody as the go-to-guy for extraordinary stories starring ordinary people. It should appeal to horror fans and sci-fi fans alike, as well as those who just like a damn good story.

I really think you should buy this book

Genocide (Aliens)
Genocide (Aliens)
by David Bischoff
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Girl walks into a spaceship..., 10 Jan 2014
This review is from: Genocide (Aliens) (Paperback)
Okay, stop me if you've heard this one before...

Girl walks into a spacecraft filled with marines. They're off to a planet called Hiveworld. Our gal's badass but scared, having something of a history with the Alien sonsofbiatches they're going to hunt. But that's okay because there's a company guy there and, sure, he's a bit sleazy but she kinda likes him and thinks she can trust him and...

What? You know that one?

Safe to say, David Biscoff's GENOCIDE treads familiar ground. It's basically a remix of Aliens, with a few things shifted around a bit, and while for some people that might be a turnoff, it kinda worked for me.

It's a page-turner, you see. Cliched characters, maybe, but Bichoff makes them work and I found myself buying into their little dramas. The writing itself, while clunky at times, remains accessible. It's clipped, no unnecessary exposition in there. Very dialogue-driven. There isn't a hell of a lot of aliens; you could say it's heavy on the opera, light on the space; but for some reason... well, I just really enjoyed reading it.

If you're a fan of the franchise, I think you'll enjoy this. Newbies could have better access points.

Sweet Justice: Selected Short Stories from the 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Annuals
Sweet Justice: Selected Short Stories from the 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Annuals
Price: 1.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet nostalgia..., 7 Jan 2014
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Nostalgia's the name of the game, here...

SWEET JUSTICE collects many of the short text stories I ignored (too young to care, is my excuse) within 80s/ early 90s 2000AD annuals and presents them in a very affordable e-book format. The stories are all set within Mega City One, many featuring Anderson, some told from the perspective of the perp or other citizens, and for the most part, they make good reading.

Probably one for fans of the prog/ meg only, I'd reckon. That said, plenty of fun to be had here and at this price, why not?!

The Omega Solution (Durham Red)
The Omega Solution (Durham Red)
by Peter J. Evans
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing Red..., 5 Jan 2014
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This is a black Library tie-in novel to the Dan Abnett/ Mark Harrison era Durham Red. Durham Red, of course, is a character from longstanding brit comic, 2000AD, and if little of that makes sense to you then I reckon this isn't the book for you.

Fans of Durham Red, however; folks who've read the Abnett/ Harrison comics and want another fix; should enjoy this. Evan's prose is both sharp and descriptive and works perfectly in bringing the comicbook world of Red & co alive. It's far from a character-driven book; Evans more invested in a twisty-turny plot and high-tempo action; but he does a bang-up job in realising Abnett's vision of Red (very different to the Strontium Dog version, by the way) and her two aides.

His world-building is both imaginative and yet clearly realised. There's a tendency, when reading sci-fi, to get lost within the less tangible elements - the tech or spaceships or alien worlds or fantastical creatures - but Evans does a fine job of keeping us with him. The storyline is very typical of the comics; lots of hoodwinking and double-crossing between our ragtag cast of anti-heroes as Red & co struggle to stay alive and do the right thing, often failing. It's pulpy as you like, 250 pages long, so there's no filler at all: this is high-octane from start to finish and all the better for it.

In short, if you enjoyed the Abnett/ Harrison Durham Red comics, you'll very likely enjoy this series. If, however, you didn't enjoy that particular era in Red's stay at 2000AD, or haven't yet read it, I wouldn't think this would appeal.

Personally, I had a blast.

Highly recommended to fans.

Sins of the Father (Anderson PSI Division)
Sins of the Father (Anderson PSI Division)
by Mitchel Scanlon
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Pulpy PSI..., 5 Jan 2014
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Anderson was always the darker Judge for me; her character and stories more complex than those of Dredd. Mitchel Scanlon's third Anderson tie-in novel takes this darkness and rolls it up to eleven: SINS OF THE FATHER is as much neo-noir as it is sci-fi; its main storyline focusing on paedophilia.

True to noir, we have a sizeable cast of anti-heroes as opposed to heroes, not least the Judges themselves. In fact, it's the characters that make this book for me. Anderson herself is well represented, but it's Leonard, the misunderstood mutie, that stands out; his story is a tragic and intriguing one that had me hooked all the way through this short novel. Scanlon does a fine job of capturing both the seediness and ridiculousness of Mega City One, too, managing to blend the more campy elements into his bleak vision of the world, some trademark tongue-in-cheek prog humour even creeping in.

The writing style is mostly accessible, albeit clumsy at times. It gets a little rushed towards the end, maybe due to pressure from deadlines. Overall, though, this is a pulpy read which worked for me, with short chapters and plenty of hard-boiled action.

In short, this is a high recommend; my first Anderson tie-in and definitely not my last. Scanlon has done the girl proud.

Judge Dredd #1: Dredd vs. Death!
Judge Dredd #1: Dredd vs. Death!
Price: 2.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Mega City One comes to life in text only adventure..., 5 Jan 2014
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Being a regular droid over at 200AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, I was interested to see how Gordon Rennie would do with the written word only. With Dredd vs. Death, this first entry in the Judge Dredd novel series, Rennie excels; his prose does a fine job in bringing Mega City One, and its colourful characters, alive.

There's an epic feel to this book. Rennie employs every corner of the city in telling his story. It's high-tempo all the way, moving from one setpiece action scene to the next. Although predominantly a Dredd tale, there's considerable airtime given to Anderson, too. Other MC1 favs, such as Judge Giant and PI DeMarco, also get a good innings. Our villains, the four Dark Judges, are well presented; a great balance between their kookiness and spookiness achieved by Rennie.

All in all, this is a wonderful first outing for the Dredd series and a high recommend for newbies and seasoned fans of the prog/ meg alike.

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