Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: ASYLUM CITY by Liad Shoham

Asylum CityReading ASYLUM CITY provides the reader with a new perspective on crime. Not only does it expose the reader to new lawful processes (even within the fictitious landscape) but it introduces new rationale behind the crimes committed. In ASYLUM CITY the criminal elements are complex and are largely based on greed - a common enough element, yet when immigration, refugees, and other political factors come into play, ASYLUM CITY distances itself from the norm. 

The characters aren't all they seem to be with hidden motives and personal agendas dictating their every move and lie. 

When a likable Michal Poleg is found murdered in her apartment, a suspect is quickly determined yet, is quickly distanced from the investigation by virtue of a young African man stepping forward claiming to be the murderer. 

Going in I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleased with the overall flow and pacing of the novel. There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing while also dropping hints about the killers' true identity. 

Overall, ASYLUM CITY is a great read if you're looking to diversity your crime fiction pallet. Whilst Liad Shoham does follow the stereotypical police procedural formula, I think the place setting and parallel plots give it enough depth to separate it from generic mainstream crime. 

AURORA: CENTRALIS - Blog Tour is coming!

Each week throughout March I'll be dedicating a blog post, be it in the form of a review, author interview, essay, or recap of the Aurora series by Aussie Sci-Fi author Amanda Bridgeman to celebrate the forthcoming release of the latest book in the Aurora series, AURORA CENTRALIS (book #4). 

Readers of this blog will note that I'm a big fan of this series and I'm wrapped to have Amanda on the blog over the coming weeks. 

The learn more about the blog tour through March (including all sites participating), head over to Momentum's website

As for Just A Guy That Likes To Read, here's the schedule:

beginning with the Aurora series re-cap  March 2, followed by posts each Monday. 

March 9 

March 16

March 23

You can read my reviews of the first three books by clicking on the titles below:




Thursday, February 26, 2015

GIVEAWAY! The Buried Life by Carrie Patel

Carrie Patel's widely reviewed and much loved debut, The Buried Life, from Angry Robot Books is due to be published on 3 March 2015. I was fortunate enough to take a look at this book, which will have a high level of appeal for fans of Cherie Priest's novels, late last year and was impressed by the place-setting and emphasis on character and atmosphere. 

The Buried LifeHere's a brief synopsis:
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility. 

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs...

Sounds good doesn't it?

Angry Robot have kindly provided an ebook to giveaway to one lucky reader of this blog! 

How can you win a copy?
  • Simply comment on this post letting me know why you'd like a copy of the book (pretty easy huh?), and
  • provide you email address in the comment, and
  • specify which kind of ebook you'd like (mobi, pdf etc.)
The winner will be selected at random and contacted via email from Angry Robot! A formal announcement to be made in a later blog post congratulating the winner. 

This ebook giveaway is open from today 26 Feb 2015 through to 3 March 2015 to coincide with the publication date of THE BURIED LIFE.

So - who wants a copy? 

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

Last week I reviewed the following books:

THE VENUS TRAP by Louise Voss

STOLEN SOULS by Stuart Neville


I also had a DNF at 200pgs - THE WAKING ENGINE by David Edison. I really wanted to like this one but it just didn't work for me. 

Here's what I'm reading this week:

Asylum CityASYLUM CITY by Liad Shoham 

In this edgy thriller from the #1 international bestselling author of Lineup, which was described by New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder as ‘a marvel of tight plotting, spare prose, and relentless pacing’, a young police officer’s investigation of a murder plunges her into the dark underworld of Tel Aviv.

When young social activist Michal Poleg is found dead in her Tel Aviv apartment, with her body showing signs of severe violence, officer Anat Nachmias is given the lead on her first murder investigation. Eager to find answers, the talented and sensitive cop looks to the victim’s past for clues, focussing on the last days before her death. Could one of the asylum-seekers Michal worked with be behind this crime?

Then a young African man confesses to the murder, and Anat’s commanders say the case is closed. But the cop isn’t convinced. She believes that Michal, a tiny girl with a gift for irritating people, got involved in something far too big and dangerous for her to handle.

Joined by Michal’s clumsy yet charming boss, Anat is pulled deep into a perplexing shadow world where war victims and criminals, angels and demons, idealists and cynics, aid organisations and criminal syndicates intersect. But the truth may be more than Anat can handle, bringing her face to face with an evil she’s never before experienced.

Doll FaceDOLL FACE by Tim Curran

Six friends are returning home from a night out when they end up in a town called Stokes. They discover they are trapped there, as Stokes does not really exist. The actual town had burned to the ground more than fifty years ago. The Stokes they are in is a nightmare version of the former town, engineered by a deranged and undead mind, a supernatural machine of wrath that will destroy them one by one....unless they submit to its dominance and become living dolls.

The Magdalen Martyrs (Jack Taylor, #3)THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS by Ken Bruen (continuing my re-reading of the Jack Taylor series - this being book 3.)

Jack Taylor is walking the delicate edge of a sobriety he doesn't trust when his phone rings. He's in debt to a Galway tough named Bill Cassell, what the locals call a "hard man." Bill did Jack a big favor a while back; the trouble is, he never lets a favor go unreturned.

Jack is amazed when Cassell simply asks him to track down a woman, now either dead or very old, who long ago helped his mother escape from the notorious Magdalen laundry, where young wayward girls were imprisoned and abused. Jack doesn't like the odds of finding the woman, but counts himself lucky that the task is at least on the right side of the law. 

Until he spends a few days spinning his wheels and is dragged in front of Cassell for a quick reminder of his priorites. Bill's goons do a little spinning of their own, playing a game of Russian roulette a little too close to the back of Jack's head. It's only blind luck and the mercy of a god he no longer trusts that land Jack back on the street rather than face down in a cellar with a bullet in his skull. He's got one chance to stay alive: find this woman.

Unfortunately, he can't escape his own curiosity, and an unnerving hunch quickly turns into a solid fact: just who Jack's looking for, and why, aren't nearly what they seem.

Review: THE VENUS TRAP by Louise Voss

The Venus TrapFrom the back of the book:
Jo Atkins’ sixteenth year was disastrous: she lost her dad, was assaulted by a stranger, and then had her heart broken. For the last twenty-five years, she’s believed that nothing could ever be as bad again.

She was wrong.

Now, still smarting from her recent divorce, pretty, self-effacing Jo finally gathers the courage to enter the dating scene. She meets Claudio, whom she vaguely remembers from her youth, but after a few dates decides he’s creepy and politely tells him ‘thanks but no thanks’.

But Claudio has no intention of letting her go.
Instead of never seeing him again, Jo wakes up sick and terrified, handcuffed to her own bed. She is given a week to prove her love for Claudio—or he will kill her.

My Review:
Jo, a single mother held captive in her own home by a deranged admirer, Claudio - a former high school acquaintance with delusions of love is forced to reevaluate her sense of self, taking a hard look in the proverbial mirror in order to stay alive and come to terms with the decisions that have left her vulnerable. 

With twists that turn the stomach, Jo's trials and tribulations of twenty years ago are revisited, her pain a pleasure for her captor. A conceptually well executed form of localised survival horror made real by the easiness of the household confinement and uncertainty of finding love in strange places. 

The occasionally repetitive nature of the novel is broken by way of flashback sequences via rediscovered diaries. Being trapped in a room and provoked into violent acts by a madman over the course of a number of days doesn't give the author much room to write diversity into the plot, yet author Louise Voss manages to keep Jo's plight interesting and entertaining.

THE VENUS TRAP is good without being great. Initially I thought it would follow a similar path to the plot in KILLING CUPID, yet THE VENUS TRAP focuses more in providing the reader with a fully formed three dimensional view of Jo; her past, present and future all lay bare along a journey of survival and perseverance. She's a character readers will grow to like despite her flaws. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Catching Up: STOLEN SOULS by Stuart Neville

Stolen SoulsFrom the back of the book:
Gayla's only hope is about to turn into her worst nightmare.

Tricked into coming to Ireland with the offer of a good job, all Gayla wants to do now is run. As far and as fast as she can. Because her captors are close behind her, and they want her dead - no matter what.

Two people are hunting her...

Crime lord Arturus Strazdas has never had a woman he hasn't paid for and never had a friend who wasn't afraid of him. Now his brother is dead, and he's determined to find - and destroy - the woman responsible.

...And neither one will rest till she is dead

On the other side of the city, Detective Inspector Lennon wants a quiet Christmas with his six year old daughter. But as the bodies start to mount up, he finds himself in a desperate race to save a woman's life, and track down two very dangerous killers.

My Review:
I love books that immediately immerse me within their pages. Opening chapters, lines, or paragraphs are paramount to making that first up reader impression and in STOLEN SOULS the opening was vice-grip like:

 "Blood hot on her hands. Red. The brightest red Gayla had ever seen. Her mind tilted, her vision disappearing down a black tunnel."

And the momentum carried through until the very end.

The third Jack Lennon book continues to distance the series from the opening installment, THE TWELVE, all but abandoning the paranormal elements to be a fully fledged crime thriller - which is a good thing (though THE TWELVE is an exceptionally good read). This time round Lennon faces fearsome competition from within the force and outside via a dangerous serial killer and a sex trafficking ring. It's a thrill ride that reads more noir than mainstream crime fiction.

Stuart Neville has a way of making his characters connect with the reader and those that appear in STOLEN SOULS are no different. Gayla Petrova is a victim of people smuggling and sex trafficking. However, this is one 19yr old who isn't ready to succumb to a shortened life of pain and prostitution. With a shard of glass she becomes and instant murderer and survivor only to fall into the hands of a more sinister predator; one who is as sadistic as his misguided religious beliefs (linking murder with acts of faith). Lennon, the series protagonist and police officer with a solid moral compass forgoes his personal life to save Gayla and bring the sex peddlers to justice. 

STOLEN SOULS is very readable - the chapters are short jabs to the stomach, the action is fast, the characterization is deep but efficiently concise and the twists and turns (especially towards the ending) are awe inspiring. This is a must read book but beware, STOLEN SOULS is not new-reader friendly (something I talk a lot about with series books) and does contain spoilers of the events that occurred in its predecessors.

Friday Finds (20 February 2015)

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

The Invisible Man from SalemTHE INVISIBLE MAN FROM SALEM by Christoffer Carlsson (many thanks to Scribe for the arc! Due to be published late March 2015)

A bestselling and award-winning first volume in a trilogy by Sweden's leading noir crime novelist, starring a troubled police officer called Leo Junker.

In the final days of summer in 2013, a young woman is shot dead in her apartment. Three floors above, the blue lights of the police cars awaken Leo Junker, a longtime police officer. Leo works in the Internal Affairs division as the lowliest form of officer — a spy. Leo is even lower, however, having been suspended after committing a terrible mistake. In what became known as the 'Gotland Affair', a police officer was accidentally killed, and Leo was found holding the offending weapon. But he wants to help on this case, despite being on mandatory leave, because this woman has connections to people from his past. Now, in the backstreets, shadowed alleyways, and decaying suburbs of Stockholm ́s underground, the search for the young woman ́s killer — and the truth of the Gotland Affair —begins.

Dark WatersDARK WATERS by Deborah Sheldon (many thanks to Cohesion Press for the review copy! I loved RONNIE AND RITA, Sheldon's crime noir novella and am looking forward to reading this.)

Brendan Reilly, a.k.a. Danny Boy, is a veteran of the Overlords, a Melbourne outlaw motorcycle club. 

A near-fatal accident leads him to an epiphany: he is determined to quit the life and reconnect with his ex-wife and son. 

At the same time, the Overlords are preparing for war against a rival gang, the Golden Jackals, and with Brendan’s loyalty in question he is pushed further into the war when all he wants is a way out.

Dark Waters is an exploration of love, duty and redemption played against the backdrop of Australia’s criminal underbelly.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: WHEN YOU RUN WITH WOLVES by Robert White

When You Run with Wolves"There's nothing really safe in the world. Evil stops here and there for a while, but it's always on the move and able to come to you wherever you are. It's when you stand still too long that you make the best target."

Trust is an abstract concept in crime, one that is paramount to proceedings in WHEN YOU RUN WITH WOLVES by Robert White. 

A heist gone wrong and moment's clouded judgement leads to murder. For Jack Trichaud  in possession of nearly a million dollars and having fallen for a seductively sinister femme fatale of sorts, Marija his life is one enveloped in a constant state of danger; raw bloody wounds that never have time to heal. 

The allure of cash brings with it cruelty from those who want it, and pain to those who have it. Adding to the drama is a unique family element that ties Jack to the murderous group by virtue of his brothers' involvement in the heist and subsequent bloodletting that follows. Make no mistake, this is a violent read that fully warrants such brutality. 

There is also a little hint of Richard Starks' Parker by way of Andrew Vachss that makes WHEN YOU RUN WITH WOLVES all that much more enjoyable to fans of those respective authors.

I loved everything about this book - the more I read the better it was. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

Last week I reviewed the following books:

THE HAMMER OF THOR by Carter Brown (pulp)

PERMUTATION CITY by Greg Egan (Tech-fi)

FROZEN IN TIME by Owen Beatie & John Geiger (non-fiction)


DARK COUNTRY by Darren E. Laws (Crime)

Here's what I'm reading this week:

The Waking EngineTHE WAKING ENGINE by David Edison (I'm about 25% of the way through this and am enjoying the premise.)

Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.

Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.

Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.

Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.

The Art of Robert E. McGinnisTHE ART OF ROBERT E. MCGINNIS (I love McGinnis' artwork for Hardcase Crime and was wrapped to get a copy of this from the publisher for review. Will be one of my favorite reads of 2015 - a very enjoyable coffee table book)

Robert E. McGinnis began his career in 1947 as a cartoonist, and produced his first cover illustrations for 1956 issues of the magazinesTrue Detective and Master Detective. Then in 1958, he painted his first paperback book cover, and from that day forward his work was in demand.
The emergence of the “McGinnis Woman”—long-legged, intelligent, alluring, and enigmatic—established him as the go-to artist for detective novels. His work appeared on Mike Shayne titles and the Perry Mason series, and he produced 100 paintings for the Carter Brown adventures. Yet McGinnis became famous for his work in other genres as well: espionage, romance, historicals, gothics, and Westerns. 

Pick Up A Pulp [11]: THE HAMMER OF THOR by Carter Brown

The Hammer of Thor
The mysterious disappearance of a president of an electronics company who is being blackmailed for having illicit affair with his secretary along with household jewelry, pawned to payoff the blackmailer, lures Al Wheeler into the seductive embrace of a gold and white nymph; a bewitching beauty that should be grieving, not playing cupid.

THE HAMMER OF THOR is a change of pace pulp for the Carter Brown mystery series conjuring thoughts of Mickey Spillane mixed with the courtroom drama of a John Grisham thriller - this despite, the overtly sexual dialogue and all too willing female characters easily taken by Wheeler's tough-man persona and macho way.

I liked this installment in the Al Wheeler series, however, found the courtroom confrontations and trail proceedings drab. The whodunit nature of the book is its strength, so good in fact, that at times it was hard to distinguish Wheeler from Mike Hammer. 

The synopsis on the back of the book is designed as a marketing tool to pull in readers of sleazy pulps (this second edition was published in 1967) and is in no way reflective of the book itself (though briefly towards the later stages). I didn't mind that in this instance as it allowed me to delve in without any preconceived notions as to what to expect. 

THE HAMMER OF THOR is not the best Carter Brown I've read, but it's not the worst either. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Interview: Jonathan Ashley (author of THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS)

Displaying JonathanAshley.jpgJonathan Ashley is a freelance journalist and book dealer from Lexington, KY. His work has appeared in Crime FactoryA Twist of NoirLEO WeeklyKentucky Magazine andYellow MamaThe Cost of Doing Business is his debut novel. His second novel, Out of Mercy, will be out in 2015.

I reviewed THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS last year, with the book featuring on the years best crime fiction list for 2014. 

*See what made the list for best crime fiction in 2014*

Jonathan was kind enough to stop by the blog to answer some questions about the book and where to from here. 

The Cost of Doing Business(Josh) The reader doesn't get a chance to settle into reading THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS with the action at the forefront of the story and continuing through to conclusion. How important was it to establish the status-quo in THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS?

(Jonathan) The status quo is established by the narrator/main character's demented and selfish perceptions of the world and his fellows, the people he uses and manipulates to get what he thinks he wants, and who knows if even he's aware of what that is. The novel is an attempt to probe the mind of a true American capitalist, one unencumbered by social mores.

Jon’s ambition initially seems to develop from addition and accident before being a natural progression. When this character was conceived, was he always destined to rise up the ranks in the dangerous drug trade?

Most of the natural progression in the criminal underworld relies heavily upon accident and folly. Most people do not purposely rise from drug mule to kingpin. They fall into bad situations, make bad decisions, then at some point decide, "This is what I am, I guess. I'm a criminal, Might as well be the best I can be."

The supporting cast add an element of dark humour in Paul and Jimmy – did you actively try to balance out the violent nature of THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS with this?

It was not a conscious balancing act. Jimmy and Paul are based on real people I knew and I simply scanned my memory thoroughly to give a realistic rendition of their wickedly hilarious senses of humor.

What authors inspired you to write noir and how did that influence the writing process of THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS?

David Goodis was the poet of the common criminal and his works made mine possible.

What books would you recommend reading for fans of THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS?  

The Sweet Forever by George Pelecanos. The Burglar by David Goodis. Give Us a Kiss by Daniel Woodrell.

If you could sell THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS in one sentence, what would it be?


What are you currently working on? Will there be more noir novels from you in the future?

I'm currently working on a historical novel set in Louisville at the turn of the century involving ex-slaves, serial killers, bordellos, and bent cops. There will be many more noir novels from me.

- - - - - - - - - -


Find out more about THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS

Visit the publisher, 280 Steps for more crime fiction

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: PERMUTATION CITY by Greg Egan

Permutation City: A Novel of “Eternal Life”From the back of the book:
A life in Permutation City is unlike any life to which you’re accustomed. You have Eternal Life, the power to live forever. Immortality is a real thing, just not the thing you’d expect.

Life is just electronic code. You have been digitized, scanned, and downloaded into a virtual reality program. A Copy of a Copy. For Paul Durham, he keeps making Copies of himself, but the issue is that his Copies keep changing their minds and shutting themselves down.

My Review:
PERMUTATION CITY is a complex and at times challenging read that is well worth persevering through. 

First published in 1994, it reads as relevant today as any modern day tech-fi, if not perhaps more so, encompassing a deep cogitation of reality and it's endless boundaries elevated by technology and re-rationalizing what it means to simply 'be'. PERMUTATION CITY will make you think and read harder - and that's a good thing.

The story is multifaceted, taking the reader on a journey through the possibilities of alternate life, and exploring the inventive use of sophisticated technology, while also delving deep into the human psyche to question it's very existence in both biological and artificial terms. 

Author Greg Egan, doesn't limit the novel's pretense to text-book design and pure futuristic academic study, there is a deeply rooted human element that binds these theories to match the complex topical nature of PERMUTATION CITY. 

For readers wanting something more than a quick escape into a fictional landscape, PERMUTATION CITY is just the thing - it's a book that will resonate for a long time to come.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition

Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin ExpeditionHaunting, distributing, atmospheric and educational - Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition is this and more. 

From detailed source accounts comprising a bevy of topics (the nutritional value tinned cans as food aboard the ships, letters to the sailors from loved ones, and more), this chilling tale of the doomed Franklin Expedition to the Arctic to chart the North Passage is a historians and general interest readers' delight - despite the macabre  and detailed exhumation of frozen corpses some 130years since being encased in ice. 

Written in bite sized chunks, the authors maintain a constant and easy flowing narrative that takes the reader on a journey pre dating that of the 1845-48 expedition to provide context and depth to the troubles Franklin and co. faced during that ill-fated voyage to their icy graves. The later stages of the book detail the dangerous conditions of the Arctic in the 1980's, recreating that same bone chilling atmosphere that was prevalent throughout the 1840's and beyond.  

While comprising a good amount of scientific terminology, Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition is easy to read and doesn't come across as heavy or cumbersome, that said - I did feel the need to read something lighter afterwards (the images of the frozen corpses on King William Island are graphic and could be quite confronting to the squeamish).

Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition has left me wanting to delve deeper into this solemn event and other expeditions like it. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #3)
Comprising a gentle dose of humor deftly mixed in the world of professional thievery, Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr series is a lighter shade of crime fiction which also caters to those readers who like tension and a constant threat of violence on the horizon. 

Bernie owns a bookstore and has seemingly given up the life of crime. However, when presented with a nice payday to retrieve a valuable book from a semi-serious collector, he can't refuse. 

From that point forward, THE BURGLAR WHO LIKED TO QUOTE KIPLING is very much a classic whodunit as suspects fall and others emerge. It's a buyers market for death, little alone the item in question. 

I've been reading some heavy crime fiction and some rather bleak non-fiction and found this book to be a light read, just at the time when I was needing one. 

Additionally, THE BURGLAR WHO LIKED TO QUOTE KIPLING is the third book in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series and is new-reader-friendly, another tick in my book. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: DARK COUNTRY by Darren E. Laws

Dark CountryFrom the back of the book:
The second novel featuring FBI agent Georgina O'Neil finds her faced with her most challenging and disturbing case yet

Susan Dark, a singer on the verge of stardom, goes missing. Her mother and grandmother, both country and western stars, were kidnapped and murdered 20 years apart as they were about to hit the big time. Is there a connection or is this the work of a copycat? Is Susan Dark about to follow the family tradition? FBI agent Georgina O'Neil and ex-detective Leroy La Portiere find themselves embroiled in the investigation to find Susan Dark, when a sudden and catastrophic illness leaves Georgina on the outside of the FBI, fighting for her life while struggling to save the singer and hold on to everything dear in her life. 

My Review:
Plagued by a violent family history, country singer Susan Dark has lost her mother and grandmother to murder. Now she finds herself the third victim of a generational murderer hell bent on repeating history. Trapped, confused, bloodied, and without hope, Susan's family ghosts haunt her, their sickly sweet whisper on the winds of the reaper omnipresent as each passing day in captivity drives another nail in her proverbial coffin. 

FBI Agent Georgina O'Neil and private detective Leroy La Portiere are tasked with finding Susan before she descends to the grave joining her murdered family members. 

The narrative embraces the dark nature of the plot with the characters themselves equally haunted by the threat of impending violence; a mood well captured both in the descriptive nature of the place-setting and the characters' dialogue: 

"I am heading to a dark country and there are people who will dance on my grave when I am gone."

"Just before drifting off into unconsciousness the notion occurred to [her] that she might be dead, the corners of her mouth raised slightly, trying to form a smile."

While following the traditional path of the popular crime fiction formula, DARK COUNTRY does up the ante in terms of its evocative nature to shock and awe readers with scenes not for the feint of heart - making it appealing to readers of darker fiction and mainstream crime fiction alike. 

DARK COUNTRY is the second book to feature FBI Agent Georgina O'Neil and is new-reader friendly, a key element I look for when jumping into series books post that first volume. There is enough back-story to gain an appreciation of what came before without it hindering or diverting attention away from the events of DARK COUNTRY. 

I enjoyed DARK COUNTRY and will look to nab a copy of its predecessor TURTLE ISLAND. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

When You Run with WolvesWHEN YOU RUN WITH WOLVES by Robert White

Kidnap, robbery, bombs and guns. Then it all went wrong...

Jack Trichaud only wanted a quiet life in small town Ohio. But when you’re in possession of nearly a million dollars from a bank robbery gone wrong, life is anything but quiet. On the one hand, Agent Pippin is searching for the evidence that will pin the robbery on Jack and send him away for a good long time. On the other hand, violent White Power thug Calderone – aided by his merciless girlfriend and Jack’s own long lost brother – wants the money and he doesn’t care who he has to hurt to get it. In fact, the more pain Jack suffers the happier Calderone will be.

Jack has more than a few cards up his sleeve, but blood will be spilled and he’s going to need every trick in the book to make sure it’s not his. Or not too much of it, anyway.

The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #3)THE BURGLAR WHO LIKED TO QUOTE KIPLING by Lawrence Block

Bernie Rhodenbarr has gone legit -- almost -- as the new owner of a used bookstore in New York's Greenwich Village. Of course, dusty old tomes don't always turn a profit, so to make ends meet, Bernie's forced, on occasion, to indulge in his previous occupation: burglary. Besides which, he likes it.

Now a collector is offering Bernie an opportunity to combine his twin passions by stealing a very rare and very bad book-length poem from a rich man's library.

The heist goes off without a hitch. The delivery of the ill-gotten volume, however, is a different story. Drugged by the client's female go-between, Bernie wakes up in her apartment to find the book gone, the lady dead, a smoking gun in his hand, and the cops at the door. And suddenly he's got to extricate himself from a rather sticky real-life murder mystery and find a killer - before he's booked for Murder One.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pick Up A Pulp [10]: THE FINAL FEAR by Laurance Janifer

The Final FearLaurance Janifer is most renowned for his sci-fi and surreal stories, of which he was proficient in all forms of fiction during the 1960's and 70's. However, during my research, what most impressed me about Janifer was discovering that he'd once collaborated with Donald Westlake - one of the great writers in noir of all time. That interesting footnote aside, Janifer published two pulps, both in 1967, THE FINAL FEAR and YOU CANT ESCAPE. I stumbled upon THE FINAL FEAR by pure chance a couple of weeks ago (see Pick Up A Pulp [9]) in a discount bin, purchasing purely for the pulp art cover alone. 

While the synopsis didn't sound all that intriguing (and poorly written on the back of book), I thought it was worth a read, especially given the relative speed by which I could finish the book as it clocks in at 140pgs, generously formatted to pad the count a little.

From the back of the book:
It had started in the arms of the woman I loved - or thought I did. But it wasn't going to end there. Her husband wanted to put me on a slab in the morgue... and it's hard to remember that the old rules don't apply any more.

I could be shot dead in broad daylight in the middle of a crowd of witnesses. I can't forget - I can't never forget  - that a man with a gun is stalking me, a who whose single-minded idea of vengeance feeds his passion for murder.   

My Review:
I've got to admit, I was very underwhelmed by THE FINAL FEAR. What attracted me to the book, the cover, was the only real highlight - and that doesn't even have a direct correlation to the plot or characters (the main female character is a redhead, the cover lead has dark hair). Whilst this trait isn't all that uncommon in pulp art, it did irk me in this case, mainly as I was wanting some redeemable quality to the book - at least a cover that depicted the characters would've made a better impression than random art.

As far as the plot goes, it's one made of cat and mouse with a hint of madness thrown in and no character development whatsoever. Basically a man has an affair with a married women whose husband has a terminal illness and only six months to live. The husband is also impotent. Seeking some form of intimacy she lures James Roe into her bed and into the firing line. Naturally the husband catches wind of the affair and seeks to kill Roe before his own illness takes him. 

This could have been a half decent read; there are a few solid ideas here that aren't fully executed or abandoned altogether; the hint of a romance between the inspecting detective and cheating wife for instance.  

My lasting impression of THE FINAL FEAR isn't a good one. The story was bland, the characters paper-lite, the overarching narrative unbelievable (a detective, on a mere suggestion of impending violence happily outfits Roe in a cop uniform and transports him to a mental hospital to evade the cheated husband). 

The good thing is it won't take long to read and does have a nice pulp cover. 
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The original 1967 cover to the other Janifer pulp YOU CAN'T ESCAPE

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