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col2910 (Bedfordshire,UK)

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Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life while Hiding in Plain Sight
Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life while Hiding in Plain Sight
by John Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.75

2.0 out of 5 stars CODE NAME: BORING, 16 Feb. 2017
Not a memorable read by any stretch of the imagination, I'm afraid. Code Name: Boring would be a fitting alternate title in my opinion.

"Papa" went to Vietnam, made a couple of life-long friends in combat and was recruited along with them to a shadowy, secretive organisation which set about eliminating threats to Joe Public's well-being all around the globe.

Corrupt American Generals, dodgy politicians, Mafioso types, drug-runners, human traffickers......BOOM, because with Papa and his trusty crew on the case......they're going down!

In between our missions, we have chapters spent training, recruiting, planning and living a far from normal family life.........dull, dull, dull.

Early on - maybe chapter 5 from a total of 43, I knew I wasn't going to be thrilled by this book, but was still minded to complete - albeit at a pace of a couple of chapters a day while enjoying a couple of more entertaining reads.

Missions described were vague and sometimes seemed a bit too fanciful to be true. Conversations recalled and reported seemed incredibly wooden......

He said, "Very good sir, would you like me to have the kitchen fix you anything to take with you?" I declined.

"You do know the plane has been waiting for you for approximately an hour?"

I replied I knew.

He said, "Sir, we will miss him also, but we understand you are our primary concern from now on. We will do our best to meet your needs."

I softly thanked him. After he closed the doors, I walked over and picked up my briefcase. I opened it, checked my revolver, and put it back, along with some papers I needed.


True - false? Who cares? Memoirs or fantasy? I'm not sure, at times it read like The Man Who Saved The World meets The X-Files.

Disappointing and 2 stars from 5.
(In fairness, a few folk over on Amazon.com seemed to enjoy this a lot more than me....24 reviews - 14 @ 5 STARS, only 1 @ 2!)

After finishing chapter 43, page 313, I softly closed the book.....plucked the skewer from my eyeball - implanted around 200 pages earlier, so I could experience a different kind of pain while reading, whispered "thank f*^*" to myself and went off to make a sandwich.... (turn the page to discover just what type of lunch I made for myself)......yawnsville.

Read in February, 2017

Thanks to Kelsey @ Book Publicity Services for my reading copy.

The Drifter Detective: Volume 1
The Drifter Detective: Volume 1
by Garnett Elliott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 50s set PI novella, 13 Nov. 2016
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A PI novella here with a difference. Instead of the gloomy office with the desk and the obligatory bottle in the bottom drawer, we have a travelling PI, Jack Laramie. Laramie is driving through Texas, trying to eke out a living picking up cases town to town. Our setting is post-WWII.

Arriving in Clyde, he lays up while his car receives some necessary repairs. A trip to the saloon, a drink with the sheriff and he has a new case. He's hired to keep watch on the comings and goings at an out-of-town ranch owned by a rancher turned oilman Thomas McFaull. The sheriff suspects McFaull of running illegal booze to an Indian reservation. A few days in and Laramie thinks he's been sold a pup.

An interesting story; we have a small town with the gossiping inhabitants, each with a whisper in the stranger's ear about the sheriff, there's obvious friction between him and his deputy which Laramie finds himself in the middle of. A couple of dames adding to the mix. Laramie is rooming at the boarding house run by the lonely widow woman, where a few night-time shenanigans occur, and McFaull has an attractive buxom wife, one who is quite generous with her favours to a couple of the locals.

Great sense of time and place and a decent twist at the end. Elliott has created an intriguing character in Jack Laramie and drops just enough snippets about his history to make me want to read the next Drifter Detective tale and discover a bit more.

At the back of this 106 page e-book there's a great bonus story - Fighting Chance. A boxer gets slipped a mickey while celebrating his acquittal in a court case. He wakes up in the ring, where he has to fight for his life literally, his mob boss displeased at recent events.

Excellent reading fare - 4 from 5

Garnett Elliott has penned a few more Jack Laramie tales, some of which I have on the kindle. There's eight in the series so far with three of them penned by other authors. BEAT TO A PULP is the publisher.

Read in October, 2016.
Bought a year or two ago for Kindle.
106 pages

The Defective Detecive : Murder on the Links
The Defective Detecive : Murder on the Links
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Half an hour's reading fun!, 12 Nov. 2016
Another short story/book to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Best story ever? No but I do like Adam Maxwell's entertaining writing style.

We have our man Clint, a narcoleptic plotting revenge on a group of friends on a stag do - a bit of schoolboy humour and a prank with some strong laxatives. All goes to plan, but fast forward and Clint wakes up in a bunker on the golf course with to a corpse.

The police fancy him for the murder, but with some questioning of the witnesses in the vicinity, some applied logic and a bit of luck Clint can clear himself........always assuming he can stay awake long enough.

A couple of lines I really liked.....

Waking up in public with subtlety is something that's difficult to achieve.

It's amazing how much information you can glean from an idiot with a personality bypass.

3.5 from 5

I've read Adam Maxwell previously - Dial M for Monkey (short stories) and his novel The Dali Deception.

Read in October, 2016
Copy received from author after a sign-up on his blog/website
Kindle read - 27 pages.

Hard Boiled Witch: Toil & Trouble (Hard-Boiled Witch Book 2)
Hard Boiled Witch: Toil & Trouble (Hard-Boiled Witch Book 2)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough short witching tale!, 10 Nov. 2016
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In truth, not a book that will live long in the memory but you know what - it was short, (27 pages), it was seasonal - I read it around Halloween, it had witches and it was a lot shorter than Rowling's HP offerings.

Hecate's working away, her new neighbours turn up and introduce themselves. They're interrupted by the arrival of a young woman done up in her best Stevie Nicks clobber. A young witch is being harassed - drum roll please - Hecate Sidlaw and her cat Henry to the rescue.

Spells turning cobwebs into intruder alarms, pin-sticking magic in beeswax figurines, protection charms and a silent toad called Elvis, we climax with some duelling witches and a granny riding to the rescue.

An enjoyable half-hour or so's reading. A few cultural references, a bit of history and a bit of humour interjected into a narrative fuelled by an over-active imagination.

4 from 5

I read the first in the series of short Hard-Boiled Witch tales - Hocus Pocus You're Dead last year and enjoyed it.

An author I'll be reading more from in the future.

Read in October, 2016
Bought on Amazon for Kindle.
27 pages.

Yellowthread Street (A Yellowthread Street Mystery Book 1)
Yellowthread Street (A Yellowthread Street Mystery Book 1)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hong Kong set mystery from the 70s - well worth a look!, 8 Nov. 2016
A series opener from Australian born author William Marshall, Yellowthread Street was originally published back in 1975. Set in British controlled Hong Kong it was followed by 15 more books with the last To the End coming out in 1998, the year after the British Handover to the Chinese took place.

At first I found Marshall's writing style quite confusing and had to re-read the first couple of pages several times to see whether I had missed something in respect of our opening crime scene. I soon settled into the book.

It kind of reminded me of an episode of Hill Street Blues as we have more than one crime occurring and a team of officers dipping in and out of the narrative each following their own particular case.
There are seven or eight police officers in the team at Yellowthread Street police station. In the course of the book we get to know them a bit better, understand their rivalries and get a slight feel for their lives outside the job with a couple of them.

We have a double murder with an axe, a stake-out at a cinema which was previously held up by a US sailor when his ship last docked at the port, a report of a missing American tourist by his wife, the aforementioned missing American tourist getting drunk and out of control at a bar and finding himself arrested for attempted rape and a Mongolian extortionist removing fingers, hands and ears with a ceremonial Nepalese knife. Oh and one of his victims also steals a wheelchair from the hospital where she was treated. Plus the Chinese have turned the water supply off again.

All in 128 pages - so it's non-stop busy.

Enjoyable without being the best book ever and its definitely a series and a set of characters I'll be interested in returning to, which is probably just as well as I bought the first ten in the series blind.

Plenty of humour in the narrative, especially in the scenes between the cinema owner and the detective working the ticket booth on the stakeout. He gets continually harangued for allowing customers to access dearer seats at cheaper prices. Little touches like that which add to the enjoyment of the book.

Overall 4 from 5.

William Marshall has penned another eight books outside this series.

Read in October, 2016
Paperback copy bought secondhand a couple of years ago.
Page count - 128.

Criminal Thoughts: A Short Story Collection
Criminal Thoughts: A Short Story Collection
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of Brit-Grit stories!, 6 Nov. 2016
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A gangster sneers at the cops making a house call....who has the last laugh?

A cut with a shank, a cheap price to pay for breaking out of prison... though you might wish you hadn't bothered.

A couple of heavies on a night out......that doesn't end well.

The War that took more........PTSD in the civilian world......He'd lost everything but his memories.

A pub landlord with an interesting sideline.....

A hitman does his job, too well in fact........someone does a number on him. We get to meet wheelchair-bound criminal Rick Thompson for a second time.

Mikey Hayes and Rick Thompson again.....the job that went wrong and cost him his legs, sees some overdue payback.

A Weighty Problem.....an enjoyable piece of flash fiction with a dose of humour.

A pub landlord snaps when the heavies try and collect the protection money early. Blame Simon Cowell!

A jilted wife and her estranged husband. Time to protect what's yours even if you might be taking things a little bit too far.

Detective Simmons (encountered in a few of the stories) tries to save his drug-addicted son from a stint in prison.

An interesting mix of stories, a few repeat characters, some bloody violence - 11 tales of theft, revenge, family, loyalty, loss and more.

A cracking 60-odd page collection.

4 from 5

Read in October, 2016

Bought on Amazon a while ago.

Gunshine State
Gunshine State
by Andrew Nette
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Top Aussie Crime novel!, 2 Nov. 2016
This review is from: Gunshine State (Paperback)
My second time around the block with Andrew Nette after reading Ghost Money a couple of years ago.

Gunshine State provides us with a heist novel, starting out in Oz, with a sojourn to Thailand before climaxing back in Australia, in the company of Gary Chance, our main man.

We open with Chance in on a robbery at a miner's union clubhouse which goes pear-shaped. One dead, one wounded and a take hardly worth the bother.

Next stop Brisbane and another job set up through Chance's contact, The Chinaman.

Chance is part of a seemingly more professional set-up, targeting a visiting high-roller. On the night of the take-down Chance gets crossed by some of the gang and is left in the frame for a couple of homicides. Instead of a cash only heist, Chance has been duped. The real target is a suitcase full of heroin worth $3 million. The only plus side is Chance escaping from the hotel room, over the balcony into the pool below with a bullet wound in his shoulder.

Re-grouping back at their base, Chance discovers the job's planner dead and re-unites with gang member Amber who fled from the double-crossing Dormer when things turned hinky. Despite a wariness about each other, circumstance has contrived to throw them together - particularly with Chance in a weakened state from his getting shot.

Factor in a bent but busy and efficient police force - step forward Sergeant Blake - looking to wrap up a couple of cases of murder and recover the drugs stolen on their patch and the property of the retired ex-police chief, the extremely bent and vengeful Costello, and Gary and his female companion Amber are deep in the mire.

Nette has crammed a helluva lot in this busy little book. All the above and we aren't even a quarter done!

More hiding out, reluctant assistance from the Chinaman and his feisty daughter, another come-on-board fugitive - an intriguing American with some useful skills and contacts, a close encounter with the police, frantic flight from Oz, a temporary respite in Thailand, fleetingly temporary as our band of fugitives have fled the frying pan straight into a sizzling wok in the form of a powerful Thai gangster. More twists, turns, subterfuge, a bit of facial plastic surgery (Nette paying homage to Westlake/Stark - Parker?), the passage of time and a return to Australia for some settling of outstanding debts.

Busy, compelling, never less than totally absorbing, with pace, characters, action, dialogue and several fascinating settings. Our resolution, nothing less than totally satisfying.

One minor minor gripe, I would have loved to have seen the intriguing Detective Sergeant Elyssa Blake figure more heavily. Capable and competent with a steely streak, I'm hoping Andrew Nette features her again as more than a sideshow. She's interesting enough to merit a book on her own.

Ditto, the main hombre, Gary Chance. He is definitely a series character worth following; with Andrew Nette, a serious crime author worthy of a wide audience.

4.5 from 5

Read in October, 2016

My reading copy came courtesy of publisher 280 Steps, via reviewing website Edeleweiss.

Devil's Kitchen: An Inspector Drake Prequel Novella
Devil's Kitchen: An Inspector Drake Prequel Novella
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Welsh crime novella - interesting enough!, 25 Oct. 2016
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An Amazon FREEBIE and a 70 page introduction to Stephen Puleston’s DI Ian Drake character. Puleston has written three full length novels featuring this detective – the first of which Brass in Pocket was also hoovered up when it was an Amazon FREEBIE.

We have a double death in the Snowdon Mountains, which to first appearances seems to be a bit of domestic strife. The husband stabs the wife then kills himself by throwing himself to his death. Its Drake’s first major case and quickly he’s under pressure from his super to wrap things up, pass it to the coroner and stop wasting time.

Drake isn’t in such a rush and wants to establish beyond all reasonable doubt that everything is at it seems. Obviously it isn’t as otherwise we wouldn’t have a particularly interesting narrative. Drake and his investigative partner Caren Waits interview witnesses on the mountain, work colleagues, family (eventually) and fellow members of a ramblers club, which in addition to the husband’s diary and his suspicion of her conducting an affair, eventually shed a bit of light on who did what and why. The investigation was quite thoughtful and methodical.

Puleston gives Drake a few mannerisms or traits which add flesh to the bones of the character. He’s obsessively neat and tidy with shoes spit-polished to within an inch of their life – though he probably didn’t spit. He’s a bit anal. By contrast, Waits has to be his polar opposite – she turns up late, eats her food with her mouth open, and is a lot less fastidious about her appearance. All irritants to Drake. We also have the potential for some domestic strife in future books. Drake’s wife Sian is resentful of his dedication to his job and the disruption it causes to their family life, the couple having two children. I can’t see this marriage lasting three more books, if I’m honest.

Verdict – enjoyable enough. I quite liked the progress of the investigation and Drake’s approach, though I wasn’t totally sold on the characters. Maybe I read it grumpy, but I kind of felt that the author was trying a bit too hard to make the main character memorable. All I could think though was – he’s Adrian Monk’s annoying Welsh cousin, assuming he has one. Conversely though – what’s the alternative? A stick figure for a detective with no back-story or life outside the job.

Maybe Brass in Pocket will have me warming to both Drake and the author, though I’m not rushing towards it for now.

3 from 5

Read in October, 2016

Amazon FREE download

Genuinely Dangerous: A Novel
Genuinely Dangerous: A Novel
Price: £3.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manic mayhem from Mike McCrary!, 20 Oct. 2016
A week or two after reading this I'm still shaking my head and thinking - what the hell!

Jasper Tripp is a film-maker or at least he used to be. His first venture was a success, his second a bit of a vanity project bombed - his finances taking a dive along with his reputation. Now he's toxic. It's a difficult situation exacerbated by the soaring success of former childhood friend and film school graduate Wilson Gains.

(QUOTE) Wilson was like a brother to me. And now?
Well, now, he's kind of a d**k? (END QUOTE)

Catching a shot of himself on TV with the caption under his picture - The Rise and Fall of Jasper Tripp doesn't help. Tripp's in a bad place.

(QUOTE) I need to sleep. Losing the respect of the people you know and the people you don't, it'll suck the life right out of you.
So tired of being tired. (END QUOTE)

But don't panic, he's plotting a comeback - a documentary featuring some real-life criminals engaging in heists, robberies and stick-ups. He's sold the concept to his brother Alex, not-withstanding some serious reservations and once he's got the finance in place. He's good to go.

We have some absolutely hilarious scenes with Jasper trying to engineer an in with a gang of heisters. ...he meets a crazy lawyer named Remo, who pulls a gun in a coffee shop and we have a bizarre greeting ritual at a Korean massage parlour with Tripp meeting his contact - sans trousers exposure full.

Eventually The Pope sets him up with the Shaw Gang. The Pope gets killed as their introduction. Then the Shaw Gang get taken apart in front of him.

(QUOTE) I wasn't watching a great white eat seals.
I was watching a great white being eaten alive, pulled apart by something meaner.
Something that has yet to be defined. (END QUOTE)

Tripp gets kidnapped and then has to try and sell the deal to the new band of reprobates.

(QUOTE) "Are you criminals? I know you're killers......I need filmable crime. Do you commit crimes I can film in order to create an entertaining narrative?"
Blank stares.
It was as if I asked a twelve-year-old boy how to properly work a cl***oris. (END QUOTE)

Tripp's now in the hands of a deranged family of crims - Choke, the patriarch and his three offspring - Harry, Boone and Ruby. And this family has some serious issues.

We may get a film, we may get killed, we may become a part of someone else's plans for an alternate future away from the controls of blood and kin. Read it and find out.

An absolute belter......pace, action, comedy, violence, sex, dialogue, bizarro gross-out moments, with a plot that continually twists and evades you, just when you think you have a handle on it.

McCrary's narrative voice in the form of our protagonist Jasper Tripp is pitch perfect. I lived his failures, his fears, his humiliations, his wild, crazy romp.

4.5 from 5

Read in September, 2016
Review copy received from author.

Clinch (A Harry Kvist Thriller)
Clinch (A Harry Kvist Thriller)
by Martin Holmén
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Top Swedish crime fiction!, 19 Oct. 2016
Read and enjoyed last month, Martin Holmen's Clinch is the first in a planned trilogy featuring ex-boxer Harry Kvist in 30s Stockholm. Harry's retired from the ring, but still finds occasion to put his fists to good use, earning a living as a debt collector.

One job sees him visiting a man called Zetterberg. After a firm "chat", Kvist leaves promising to return the following day. Zetterberg is found murdered shortly after and Harry's looking good for the crime in the eyes of the police.

Kvist is an unusual character. He was destined for great things in the past. His boxing career was on the rise and fame and fortune beckoned in America. His wife and daughter were leaving ahead of Harry, they made the trip - he never followed. Throughout the book, Harry often thinks of his daughter, less so his wife. We have a kind of explanation for his remaining behind, but it's never totally revealed. Intriguing. We see a dark side to Kvist - he's bi-sexual favouring rough encounters with men in toilets and parks......perhaps there lies one reason for allowing his family to fracture.

When Harry is interviewed about the murder, we realise he is known to the police. His sexual appetites have resulted in his imprisonment in the past. Homosexuality is illegal in the 1930s in Sweden.

Fearing for his freedom, Kvist resolves to find a missing witness - a prostitute called Sonja. Harry spoke to her outside Zetterberg's apartment, but the police have been unable to locate her.

An interesting mystery unfolds as Harry endeavours to track her down, after a while becoming well aware that he is not the only one looking for her. Why is a mysterious German dogging his steps?

Further developments over time, advance our tale. The German makes an attempt on Harry's life and what's the story behind the estranged magnate's wife and why is she so interested in securing Harry's affections?

Great setting - Christmas and a bitter wintertime in 30s Stockholm. There's ripples and undercurrents prevalent with the rise of Nazism in Germany. Holmen shows us the life of the working classes in Stockholm at this time - their poverty, the unemployment, their daily struggles.

The undoubted star of the show is Harry himself though - not entirely likable, but never less than fascinating. Capable, intelligent, tenacious, thoughtful and kind, but also violent, sometimes taking a cruel pleasure in hurting others, more in pursuit of gratification than when his fists are the only recourse in securing information to advance his investigation. Definitely a man I'm keen to read more about in the future.

4.5 from 5

Publisher Pushkin Vertigo tentatively advises......2nd in the trilogy is Down for the Count (2017) and 3rd in the trilogy is Slugger (probably 2018)

Thanks to the publisher for my copy.

Read in September, 2016

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