Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
Published in 2014, I reviewed Fallen On Good Times for Rosie’s Book Review Team. It’s an excellent debut novel and if you enjoy a mix of paranormal and hardboiled noir, this might be a book you’d enjoy.
- Author: Simon Michael
- Published: June 2017 by Urbane Publications
- Category: Historical Fiction, Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Books, Book Review, Reading
The Lighterman is the third book in the bestselling series of legal thrillers starring barrister Charles Holborne. Simon Michael’s follow up to the bestselling The Brief and An Honest Man, continues the adventures of criminal barrister Charles Holborne.
A copy of The Lighterman came to me through a giveaway in conjunction with Matthew at Urbane Publications and Jo’s Book Blog. Not having read the first two books I was a little concerned, but happily there was enough back information woven into the story so that I didn’t feel confused at all or unable to follow the plot.
The story opens with a short prologue going back to September 1940 and the blitz. Charles Horowitz along with his brother, David, and parents, Harry and Millie, live in the East End and are taking shelter from the bombs in the depths of the school. When one of the bombs lands too close for comfort the family risk a race across the playground and just make it before the school suffers a direct hit. The Horowitz’s are evacuated to Carmarthen but after four weeks Charles runs away, back to London where he spends his formative years as a Lighterman with his cousin, Izzy. Continue reading
- Author: Francis Sparks
- Published: January 2017 by Pandamoon Publishing
- Category: Crime, Thriller, Book Review, Books, Reading
For Private Investigator, Moses Winter, the job just got more complicated. His adultery case has taken a violent turn landing the subject of his investigation, Fred Dunsmore, in the hospital and Moses in jail. Moses is held for questioning along with his erratic client, Sharon Dunsmore, and Fred’s mistress, a Bosnian refugee who just happens to be related to the DCI agent investigating the case, Raif Rakić.
When Private Investigator Moses Winter was hired by Sharon Dunsmore to find out if her husband was having an affair, he got way more than he bargained for. What had seemed like a straightforward infidelity case turns into something much darker when Sharon and Moses confront Fred Dunsmore and his girlfriend, Šejla, a Bosnian refugee. Sharon has a gun, which happened to belong to Moses, Šejla has a knife and Fred ends up in hospital fighting for his life, while Moses winds up in jail. When Fred goes missing the case takes on a whole new slant. Continue reading
- Author: Joe Hefferon
- Released: 20th May 2017 by Evolved Publishing LLC
- Category: Hardboiled, Noir, Crime, Mystery, Book Review
A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.
Lynn Killian left Chicago in 1948. She wanted a new life in a new place with a new name. With no particular plan in mind she headed west. Who she left behind would never really leave her. She would always wonder. Continue reading
- Author: Rewan Tremethick
- Published: June 2014 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
- Category: Hardboiled/Noir, Paranormal
Fairy tales are warnings. Legend is history. Monsters are real.
America, 1920. The city of Pilgrim’s Wane. The people on the street can be dangerous, the ones in the shadows even more so. Private Detective Laslo Kane is giving up. But then a brutal murder drives a terrified investor to offer Laslo a life-changing sum of money to solve the case.
The fee could set Laslo up for the rest of his life, assuming he still has one when he’s finished going up against the most dangerous crime family in the city.
Can Laslo survive and claim his fee, or will earning a living be the death of him?
Laslo Kane, a paranormal detective living in 1920s Pilgrim’s Wane during prohibition, is broke, down on his luck and minus his girlfriend. Not renowned for solving regular cases, Laslo deals with the supernatural and his two worlds overlap making solving crimes that much more difficult. And as most of the residents of Pilgrim’s Wane are oblivious to the vampires, werewolves, trolls and demons inhabiting the city, they tend to think of Laslo as incompetent. When an old lady asked Laslo to find her missing cat and was told it had been eaten by a sabre toothed tiger ‘she tried to have me committed.’ Laslo still bears five large claw marks and to add insult to injury he didn’t even get paid.
While contemplating a career change Laslo gets a job offer from Darius Targar to investigate the murder of his business partner, and bank robbers who are putting money into his account. With the promise of a huge fee which would get Laslo back on his feet and then some, and a down-payment of more than he’s earned in the last four months, Laslo is hooked. The huge downside is the fact the most powerful criminal organisation in the city is involved. The Pottellis, lead by the fearsome Adamar Pottelli, also have vampires, the undead and a werewolf available to them whenever they wish.
Vampires and werewolves banking I could understand. But depositing cash at gunpoint? Hell, if they were so desperate to give people money, I’d happily write down my account details for them. Obviously there was something more to it, something bad hidden behind what, on the face of it, seemed like a nice thing. It was like an alligator dressed as a chocolate bar.
Laslo enlists the help of his friend, journalist Rita Orbit, his go to person for information and to ‘chin about a tricky case’, now that his former girlfriend and the love of his life, Kitty, is no longer in the picture. As he connects the threads between several murders the clues lead him to the Pottellis and Laslo receives another, much larger offer placing him in an untenable position. That’s nothing new to Laslo, though…’This was my life. Whatever I tried to do, things always seemed to get deadly.’
An original and very entertaining book with an unconventional and extremely likeable protagonist. The story is narrated in the first person by Laslo with lots of humorous wisecracks, and mixes the paranormal with mystery and intrigue. All the characters are fleshed out, individual and compelling. Misty Joe, the ghost medium who didn’t realise he was dead, Rita, Kitty and her parents. Even the villains are great characters and they’re all fundamental to the plot. Hardboiled/Noir is a favourite genre of mine and the paranormal aspect of the story adds an interesting and innovative layer. Great pacing, impressive action sequences, especially at the end, and skilfully written, it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. I love it and look forward to the next book.
I reviewed this book for Rosie Amber’s book review team
About the author
Rewan (not pronounced ‘Rowan’) Tremethick is a British author who was named after a saint. St Ruan was invulnerable to wolves; Rewan isn’t. Rewan is a fan of clever plots, strong women who don’t have to be described using words like ‘feisty’, and epic music. He has dabbled in stand-up comedy, radio presenting, and writing sentences without trying to make a joke. He balances his desire to write something meaningful by wearing extremely tight jeans.
- Author: G M Ford
- Performed by Patrick Lawlor
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio, released on Audible April 2014
- Category: Hardboiled, Noir
Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do that come back to haunt you, just as surely as some questions are best left unanswered.
When “Leo” is the last word a stranger speaks, the Seattle private eye launches himself into a search for answers. Not only does the dead man have a connection to Leo’s past, but he was also worth millions—and some very dangerous people know it.
After years of struggling to make ends meet as a Seattle PI, Leo Waterman recently inherited the trust fund from his late father’s less than legal dealings and has lapsed into semi-retirement, although he can’t quite come to terms with having such a large sum of unearned wealth. His thoughts and feelings show a conscious awareness of himself and give a roundness to his character.
This story has our hero involved in a new relationship and life is going well. Until there’s a burglary at the house next door to where he and his girlfriend are house sitting. The arrival of the police result in the death of a man whose last word was Leo’s name. It seems Leo and retirement don’t mix, especially when the realisation hits he was acquainted with the dead man. And the more he learns, the more answers he wants and the deeper the investigation pulls him in.
The Morrison’s door frame bristled with fresh splinters. The white, four panel door hung from a single hinge, oscillating slightly as the wind swirled about. A muddy boot print adorned the centre of the door. Probably not the UPS guy, I figured.
I heaved an inward sigh. I don’t know exactly what propelled me forward. I’d prefer to think I was motivated by a sense of responsibility, of being my brother’s keeper, or something vaguely noble like that, but when you look at my history, it’s hard to attribute it to anything except the mule-headed stupidity that’s taken a chunk out of my hide so many times in the past. I guess some folks never learn.
Leo is a nonconformist, realistic and sometimes laugh out loud funny – a great protagonist who is immediately likeable. He’s a mixture of smart, funny, good-hearted and doesn’t stand for injustice even if it means trouble with a capital T. Before long Leo is caught in the middle of a high risk situation where finding the truth could cost the ultimate price.
Colourful and entertaining characters, especially the new side kick, Keith, who makes a bad call in the beginning of the story which results in a big change in his life. He wants desperately to make amends as best he can. Conversely the villains are menacing and sadistic in the extreme, maybe a little stereotypical, but a classic good guys versus bad guys scenario involving big money, a casino and controlling mobsters, with some quite graphic scenes. A chilling look at how those who want absolute power and control consider people as disposable.
I like G M Ford’s writing style very much, employing humour and compelling story lines but I did miss Leo’s ‘team’ of misfits helping him out on this one albeit they did make a brief appearance at the tail end of the story. Patrick Lawlor really performed this story, great characterisations and he gives the narration just the right amount of emotional impact.
- Author: Russell Blake
- Performed by RC Bray
- Published: Janda Management, released on Audible July 2014
- Category: Hardboiled, Noir Fiction
When Artemus Black is hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents at LA’s most prestigious modeling agency, he quickly discovers that brooding pouts and mascara can be as dangerous as guns or bombs. From LA to Mexico to Tahoe to NY, the story pokes fun at the world of high fashion.
Models from a top class agency are dying at an unprecedented rate and Black is called in to investigate, requiring him to attend photo shoots in exotic locations. The first of which is in Cabo San Lucas. It doesn’t go well and Black manages to get into his girlfriend, Sylvia’s bad books. It seems the modelling world is rife with corruption and deceitful competitors. As events escalate Black has his work cut out to get to the bottom of the accidents…or are they murders?
All the old favourites are back, including Mugsy, the fat and flatulent feline. Black’s exchanges with Roxie, who is planning a move to Germany with her boyfriend (Black will have to see about that!) and Stan, his police buddy, are as funny and entertaining as ever.
“Stan. It’s Black. You called?”
“Yeah. It was a lousy connection.”
“My blood pressure and cholesterol. Thanks for asking.”
“Appreciate the update. But I was thinking more about why you called.”
Black’s parents, Spring and Chakra, also feature and Black and Sylvia brave a visit with them en route to a photo shoot in Las Vegas. If Black isn’t being ragged on by Roxie, his mother is shooting her little barbs.
I’m enjoying this series so much, I love Black more with each book. Really great characterisation in the writing and narration. Black continues to develop into a genuinely good guy with a tough side and I think Roxie might even be slightly less abrasive. A surprising twist at the end, I didn’t see that one coming at all. The murder/mystery story lines are authentic and well thought out with a profusion of suspects to choose from.
Russell Blake’s characters are colourful, well drawn and very memorable, the writing clever and witty. Coupled with RC Bray’s masterful narration these audiobooks are a must have.
“Gunther will be out in a moment to show you back. Pellegrino?”
Black was stumped. “I don’t know who designed my suit.”
She didn’t blink. “Would you like some water? Juice?”
“Oh. No. I’m good.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed out loud. Several times. The snappy dialogue is such fun, especially when delivered so well.
Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of the audiobook which does not affect the content of my review in any way.
- Author: Russell Blake
- Performed by RC Bray
- Published by Janda Management and released on Audible April 2014
- Category: Hardboiled/Noir Fiction
Artemus Black. Perennially down-on-his-luck Hollywood PI whose Bogie fixation is as dated as his wardrobe. With an assistant who mocks him relentlessly, an obese cat that loathes him, a romantic life that’s deader than Elvis, money problems, booze, nicotine, and anger management issues, how much worse can it get? When he takes a case that’s supposed to be easy money working for a celebrity whose colleagues and surrounding paparazzi are dropping faster than interest in the star’s big comeback, the cakewalk turns ugly and Black finds himself in a web of deceit, betrayal, and murder – and bad hair days.
Black is a real vintage feel PI, with slicked back black hair, dressing in 40’s style suits and fedora hats, as though he’s been whisked away from his own time zone and dropped into the present day. I was picturing a James Garner look-a-like all the way through. He’s down on his luck and harbouring bitter feelings about his immensely rich parents who not only gave him the name he hates and refuse to call him anything else, but also became wealthy with the minimum of effort, while he struggles to make ends meet.
Artemus ‘Jim’ Black is an intriguing character and regardless of his faults he’s a really good guy with a soft side and a good dose of morality. This is a fun read with lots of humour, although the murders give the story a darker side which balances things out. The descriptive writing and solid plot are executed superbly and the dialogue is sharp and witty.
Black’s snarky secretary, Roxie, is an unconventional character with an individual appearance and an attitude issue. She is the antithesis of Black. She gives him a hard time verbally, mostly about his dress sense and because he’s less than affectionate to the stray fat cat who has taken up residence in Black’s office. The one liners and banter between the two of them is seriously comical. Well portrayed and defined, colourful and amusing characters abound and give the story an authentic feel.
Black had been working with Roxie on improving her attitude, but some days it seems like a losing battle. It was a pity she was so good at what she did – running the office, juggling administrative duties and research that made the FBI look like neophytes.
“It means I think we can improve our brand, Roxie.”
”Our….brand. I see. Have you been drinking?”
”Branding is very important.”
”Maybe if you’re a cowboy or a steer. Wait – did you mix up your meds again?” Roxie asked.
This my first Russell Blake book but I’ll definitely read/listen to more of his work. I have the rest of the Black series and Jet lined up. If you’re a fan of the genre it’s well worth a read or a listen if audio books are your thing. RC Bray does a great job giving Black a ‘voice’, also with his interpretations of the rest of the characters. The humour, pacing and delivery of the comedic lines are all spot on.
About the author
Featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, and The Chicago Tribune, Russell Blake is the USA Today bestselling author of thirty books, including Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, Blood of the Assassin, Requiem for the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET – Ops Files, JET II – Betrayal, JET III – Vengeance, JET IV – Reckoning, JET V – Legacy, JET VI – Justice, JET VII – Sanctuary, Upon A Pale Horse, BLACK, BLACK Is Back, BLACK Is The New Black, and BLACK To Reality.
Non-fiction includes the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related.
Blake is co-author of The Eye of Heaven, with legendary author Clive Cussler, to be released by Penguin in September, 2014. Blake’s novel King of Swords has been translated into German by Amazon Crossing, The Voynich Cypher into Bulgarian, and his JET novel into Spanish and German.
Blake writes under the moniker RE Blake in the NA/YA/Contemporary Romance genres.
Having resided in Mexico for a dozen years, Blake enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns. His thoughts, such as they are, can be found at his blog: RussellBlake.com