Monday, July 27, 2020

Pick Up A Pulp [75]: BONES WILL TELL by Bruno Fischer


This is a hard book to find information about; this edition is was published in 2017 by Armchair Fiction as a double feature reminiscent of those highly collectable Ace Book Doubles from yesteryear and features the tagline on the front (back) cover ' first time in paperback', yet I can find pretty much nothing about this on the internet....

With the original publication is as much a mystery as the whodunit, perhaps Armchair Fiction wanted to add to the overall allure of mystery: Mission accomplished.

Bones Will Tell is a classic whodunit murder mystery with elements of horror (mostly from the suspense and shock methods spattered throughout). Clocking in around 60 pages, it's a quick read that gets straight to the point with little to no filler content.

The premise is pretty simple and that's part of the fun; a preteen couple daring themselves to be brave jump over the wall of a creepy old house inhibited by an equally creepy old woman (though in reality said creepy old woman is in her early 50's) in search of ghoulish things and, well, to prove to themselves they're brave. Little did they know what lay on the other side of the wall would haunt them for the rest of their lives! 

Whilst not as good as the book this is paired with in the two-for-one printing (Dead in Bed by Day Keene), Bones Will Tell is a lot fun to read, and will be more appreciated by readers familiar with pulp/dime-store paperbacks than traditional mystery readers. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Pick Up A Pulp [74]: DEAD IN BED by Day Keene


First published in 1959 and reprinted in 2017 by Armchair Fiction as a double feature reminiscent of those highly collectable Ace Book Doubles from yesteryear, Dead In Bed is a formulaic pulp private eye novel, complete with wanton dames, murder, deceit, sex, and a whole lot of easy violence. 

Johnny Aloha is a Hawaiian private eye who makes his living in LA. Set in the post World War II era, Aloha, a former marine himself, has all the tools to recuse any dame in distress (or state of undress as it were) and has the uncanny ability to dodge bullets and escape out of the most dire of predicaments (i.e he can untie knots while both hands are restricted and can swim for miles in ice cold water whilst feeling the effects of a concussion after escaping from a sinking ship which he was able to do after he took down two armed bad guys). Far fetched as this is, Johnny is a largely enjoyable character in similar mould to the protagonists featured in Carter Brown's pulp novels

"Aloha means hello, goodbye, and “much love” in island parlance, but Aloha’s presence usually meant murder…anytime, anywhere!" 


In Dead in Bed, Aloha is hired by a soon-to-be-wealthy beautiful blonde 20yr woman to find her missing promiscuous mother. What looks to be a pretty straight forward missing persons case soon turns deadly when Chinese gangsters show up looking to beat Aloha to a bloody pulp. Whilst this angle is ambiguous in the beginning, it makes sense in the end. 

Add some more beatings, blunt forced trauma, eager dames looking for the kind of love only Aloha can provide, and a cool 40 million dollars worth of inheritance and you've got a bag full of buttery popcorn pulp. 

My only major gripe with the book is that it reads as a second instalment in a private eye series. Throughout the book I couldn't help but think I was dropped into a story which started from a preceding volume, especially given the considerable references made to a previous case which didn't seem to have anything to do with the main plot in this book. After looking into it further, this is the first book to feature Aloha with Day Keene penning a second, Payloa, one year later in 1960.

Overall Dead in Bed is a solid enough pulp which achieves what it sets out to do; entertain. 

Author Interview: KYLE PERRY

Kyle Perry is a counsellor who has worked extensively in high schools, youth shelters and drug rehabs. In his work he encounters stories and journeys that would fill a hundred books. Kyle’s mother grew up in the foothills of the Great Western Tiers, in Tasmania’s heartland, where his grandfather was called on for search and rescues in the mountains. Kyle himself has been lost in Tasmanian mountains twice, and once used ripped pages of a journal stuck on branches to find his way back out. He has also seen strange things in the bush that defy explanation and are best not spoken about. Kyle divides his time between his small country hometown in Tasmania’s North West and Hobart. The Bluffs is his debut novel.*

*author image and bio from Penguin Books Australia

Kyle was kind enough to stop by the blog to answer some questions about his debut novel (which I loved),The Bluffs, but before we delve into that, take some time out to read my 5 star review on this blog and over on Goodreads

(Josh) The myth that is the Hungry Man adds an element of otherworldly to the story and heightens the fear-factor tenfold, where did the idea originate from? 

(Kyle) The Hungry Man is based on a blend of real experiences, as well as the legend of Alexander Pearce - also known as the Cannibal Convict who is rumoured to have hidden out in the Tiers - and a bush myth my mate once told me about, called the Tall Man . . . apparently, if you’re in his bushland and look behind you three times, the Tall Man will take you.

The Bluffs echoes the female adolescence noir stylings made popular in recent times by Megan Abbott, are you familiar with her work and do you think this is a theme you will continue with in the future? 


No, I’m not – I just researched her and her novels look great! The female adolescence stories came from real experiences as a youth worker in high schools, and the fascinating and disturbing politics and lawlessness of teenage girls. It’s a theme I’d like to continue with in future for sure, there’s a lot of stories to be told, but I’d like a bit of distance right now, too, from that job, so at the moment I’m not sure expecting it to feature in my next book.


There are some truly memorable characters in The Bluffs, notably Madison Mason, how hard was it balancing these diverse character personalities and ensuing each had sufficient page time to tell their side of the story? 

A great question, mixed with the kind of feedback an author loves to hear! At the moment, I’d say it’s a writer’s instinct – when you’ve written as many stories as I have you eventually get a feeling for which character fits where and which chapter needs who – but this was matched with the dream-team of agent, publisher, and editor who give me the perspective to keep the characters and their energies balanced. Here, the diversity was a strength – whose energy will blend with whose to get the right tension or catharsis in this scene; which personality needs to clash right now vs which personality needs to blend right now; etc.

I’d also add that part of my strength as a writer is my profession and background as a counsellor, which gives me a few extra tools for how to dive deep into characterisation and the tiny cues and comments that bely the deeper things going on. I’m glad you liked Madison (or hated) – she was loosely based on a real student, but I’ll never, ever say who!

The Bluffs reads like it's part of a much broader story, are there plans to revisit the characters in future books? I'd personally love to read more about the Jaguar Girls.  


Awesome to hear that, too! The idea of a good story is that it’s taking place in a wider universe, and we’re just capturing one frame of that universe. I’m still unsure on revisiting that universe. If enough people want it, I might consider it, but when I held the final copy in my hands I felt it was nice and complete and didn’t feel like it wanted to be revisited. But that could change, once I finish my current novel – which is a standalone.

What would your elevator pitch to sell The Bluffs to prospective readers be? 


Four teenage girls go missing on a school camp in the Tasmanian mountains, where an urban legend stalks the trees. When a body shows up with the shoes nearby, neatly tied, the story twists and turns until the final page.

- - - - -

Many thanks to Kyle, and Jess from Penguin Random House Australia for arranging this interview. 

If you've not done so, head over to one of these sites to pick up a copy of the book, you won't regret it: Amazon AU / Book Depository / Dymocks

Monday, July 13, 2020

Review: RUSTY PUPPY by Joe R Lansdale


I've said it before and I will say it again; no one is able to rival Elmore Leonard's craft as close as Joe R. Lansdale. In fact, I'd say the two are neck and neck for the best dialogue and characterisation ever written in crime fiction. Yeah - I'm fanboying hard over this one. 

Rusty Puppy pits the colourful duo up against corrupt cops, shady ambulance chasers, project drug dealers and common street thugs, and, to top it all off, a 400 year old vampire disguised as an 11 year old girl. 

In true Hap and Leonard fashion, their prowess for detecting somehow leads them down a bumpy, bruising path and into a bush of brass knuckles and beat downs - the themes you'd expect to find are served up to perfection; comfort food akin to chicken noodle soup during flu season. 

Much like other books in the series (this is the 10th instalment), Rusty Puppy reads well as a standalone but it all the more enjoyable for having read what came before. The events of Honky Tonk Samurai lead straight into this book which is great for continuity and add a whole layer of depth to what is already a pretty meaty story. 

My rating: another 5/5 star read. Up next Jackrabbit Smile.  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Book of the Month [June 2020]


Hard to believe we're already half way through 2020 (though to be honest, I, like most, will be glad to see the back end of 2020). Despite the hardships and difficulties many of us are going through, there is one thing which helps to provide a distraction from the weight of the world - books. 

Being half way through the year, means I'm also at the half way mark of my 2020 Goodreads reading challenge (of 120 books). I'm happy to say I'm ahead, though my output is slowing in recent months. 

In June I read 10 books with, as the above imagine suggests, The Bluffs by Kyle Perry being the pick of the bunch. 


From the back of the book:

When a school group of teenage girls go missing in the remote wilderness of Tasmania’s Great Western Tiers, the people of Limestone Creek are immediately on alert. Not long ago, six young girls went missing in the area of those dangerous bluffs, and the legends of ‘the Hungry Man’ still haunt locals to this day.

Now, authorities can determine that the teacher, Eliza Ellis, was knocked unconscious, so someone on the mountain was up to foul play. Jordan Murphy, father of missing student Jasmine and the town’s local dealer, instantly becomes prime suspect, but Detective Con Badenhorst knows that in a town this size – with corrupt cops, small-town politics, and a teenage YouTube sensation – anyone could be hiding something, and bluffing comes second nature.

When a body is found, mauled, at the bottom of a cliff, suspicion turns to a wild animal – but that can’t explain why she, like all victims past and present, was discovered barefoot, with her shoes found nearby, laces neatly tied.

What happened up there on the bluffs? Somebody knows… unless the local legends are true…
    

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Review: THE BLUFFS by Kyle Perry


The Bluffs is a heady mix of mystery and intrigue fueled by speculative crime fiction amid a back drop of adolescent female noir; think Megan Abbott (Dare Me), Jonathan Janz (The Siren and the Spectre), and Jane Harper (Force of Nature). 

The complexities and cleverly plotted criminal components ensure the reader can never get complacent; just when I thought I'd figured it out, the script was flipped upside down with all blood soaked paths leading down a dark and dangerous new direction.

Despite the constant element of surprise and never ending twists, not once did the plot loose plausibility; every single piece of the puzzle fit perfectly; a testament to a well written story.

I can't recommend The Bluffs enough. 5/5 stars. 

- - - - - - - - 

Read more about Kyle Perry, author of The Bluffs HERE

Where to buy: Amazon AU / Book Depository / Dymocks

- - - - - - - - 

From the back of the book:

When a school group of teenage girls go missing in the remote wilderness of Tasmania’s Great Western Tiers, the people of Limestone Creek are immediately on alert. Not long ago, six young girls went missing in the area of those dangerous bluffs, and the legends of ‘the Hungry Man’ still haunt locals to this day.

Now, authorities can determine that the teacher, Eliza Ellis, was knocked unconscious, so someone on the mountain was up to foul play. Jordan Murphy, father of missing student Jasmine and the town’s local dealer, instantly becomes prime suspect, but Detective Con Badenhorst knows that in a town this size – with corrupt cops, small-town politics, and a teenage YouTube sensation – anyone could be hiding something, and bluffing comes second nature.

When a body is found, mauled, at the bottom of a cliff, suspicion turns to a wild animal – but that can’t explain why she, like all victims past and present, was discovered barefoot, with her shoes found nearby, laces neatly tied.

What happened up there on the bluffs? Somebody knows… unless the local legends are true…
    
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