Sunday, 31 January 2021

One Man's Opinion: CHARLIE 316 by COLIN CONWAY and FRANK ZAFIRO

 


My previous encounters with Spokane have been limited, as far as I can remember, to episodes of Frasier where it is used as the butt of many a joke.

This time, I arrived at a very different kind of place. 

Charlie 316 opens with a car chase that escalates into an ambush and a shootout where the only casualty is created by the gun of SWAT officer Tyler Garrett. The outcome is complex and tricky for a number of reasons. The victim has been shot in the back and doesn't appear to have a weapon. The officer doing the shooting is black while the dead man is white. There have been recent cases of racial tension due to a similar incident in Chicago, so everyone's on tenterhooks and worse, Garrett is something of a poster boy for the department.  

As the investigation and the public relations machine get into action, the whole of Garrett's life is put under the microscope and soon begins to unravel. Those in positions of power are mainly loyal only to their positions and genuine friendship and honest police work are not easy to find. 

The news becomes a focus of the national press and Garrett's home address is leaked to the public via social media. Before long, everything is spiraling out of control and it looks as if an innocent man is likely to be thrown to the dogs. 

There's a huge amount in this one. The knowledge of police work is, not surprisingly given the authors, brought to life in terms of its detail and authenticity. The politics of race is sliced up for examination in a number of ways. There are enough twists to take you where you weren't expecting and the action is fast and furious when required. Add to that really strong characters and a real desire to find some kind of justice and you have a substantial crime novel that will pass a good few days of your lockdown. 

If you read it and want more, fear not: this is the opening novel in a series that you can track down via Down & Out Books here


Friday, 29 January 2021

DOWN & OUT BOOKS PRICE SLASH

 



It's almost February, which means it's also almost Valentine's Day and that my latest novel is in season.
 
Down & Out books are marking the occasion by slashing the price to a mere 77p in the UK or 99c in the US. 


And that's not all. The price of Let It Snow, the opening book in the series is also 77p/99c, so you have the option of reading them in order if you haven't already given the series a try. 

There are some excellent reviews of each book to recommend them in case you need the opinion others to sway you. 

If you decide to go for them, I'd like to thank you on behalf of Down & Out and, of course, me. I'm always grateful for any sales, reviews or support and I hope you know that's the case. 

The books are available from these Amazon links:


The offer is also available from all the usual ebook shops and the direct links can be found here

If you pick up the books and read them, let me know what you think. I'm always happy to gather feedback. 

Many thanks,

Nigel

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

One Man's Opinion: HERMIT by SR WHITE

 


Dana Russo, an Australian detective working out in the wilds, is having a bad day. In fact, it's the same bad day she has every year as the events of a personal anniversary surface to challenge her will to live. When a local shopkeeper is murdered early that morning, it proves to be a distraction from her inner struggles, though she'll remain haunted by them whatever happens.

The chief suspect is a man who won't talk. He's in a state of shock and is in no fit state to open up. It's only when Russo interviews him and a bond is formed that they can begin to communicate. Even when they do, it turns out that the man has been living off grid for most of his adult life and is entirely invisible to the state. 

It takes an immense amount of skill for the detective to get her man to talk, but even her talent wouldn't be enough if they didn't recognise something of their mutual suffering in each other. Neither can quite work out what the link is, but their bond grows as they spend time together. 

The rest of the team are busy trying to work out where he's come from, as well as supporting their colleague and untangling each of the loose strands to the case. 

All options are plausible and the aspect of the case are intriguing enough to keep any fan of the police procedural hooked. What takes this to another level are the surges of emotional engagement for the reader in terms of both detective and prime suspect. It's hypnotising and tense and as much as I wanted to get to the core of the case, the direction of the story makes it clear that this isn't going to be an easy thing to deal with.   

I believe Hermit (US) is a first novel and there are elements where this is apparent, especially regarding the levels of Russo's introspection and the maintenance of that particular thread (for me, it eventually moves past it's sell-by date), That said, this is a powerful read and a recommended one. What's exciting is that there might be more books to come- this would be a great platform in the series- and if it is, I think I'll enjoy watching it evolve. 

Check it out. 


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

One Man's Opinion: ROGUE MALE by GEOFFREY HOUSEHOLD



My copy of Rogue Male is published as one of Orion's Crime Masterworks. I guess that should make the author a household name, though I very much doubt that is the case. 

Rogue Male wasn't the story I expected. It tells the story of a hunter on the run after attempting to assassinate a European leader who is clearly a malignant influence on the world. The opening is a thrilling tale of an early capture and escape. Following on, we accompany the protagonist back to the UK where he uses his connections to help him disappear.

In truth, the hunter-turned-hunted is highly skilled in keeping a low profile. His chosen method of disappearance is to live from the land. In many ways, his animal instincts to survive are all he needs. There are occasional treats, such as taking a hot bath, which are described in wonderful detail and should make one grateful for the luxury items in life that we take for granted. There's also an acknowledgement that some of his desires can't be satisfied within a solitary world, though he is logical and philosophical about how to cope with such problems. 

As it turns out, the foreign agents who are hunting him down are skilled and plentiful. Even when going totally off-grid, they are able to follow the scent and pin our man into a corner. 

It's a gripping read while also being one that requires the taking of time to savour the language and the ideas being explored. I imagine a runner may appreciate some of the contradiction here: the desire to produce a quick time conflicting with the benefits of slowing down in order to appreciate the features and natural beauty of the route. Household succeeds by sucking the reader into the internal workings of the protagonist's mind as well as into the dark pits he inhabits along the way. Ideas of purpose and lack of it are reminiscent of existential fiction and, though the language is sublime and beautifully English (I had to make frequent use of a dictionary to help me along the way), there's also a sense that the style is of European stock.   

Totally engaging, yes. Powerfully intelligent? I think so. Surprises at every turn? Definitely. A dull and anticipated ending? Definitely not. 

In short, worthy of the classic status and I wish I'd read it a long time ago. Well worth your time and, given the theme, more than appropriate for our latest lockdown. 

And here's a link to info of the Fritz Lang adaptation in case you're interested. 

Friday, 25 December 2020

One Woman's Opinion: MY FUNNY VALENTINE by NIGEL BIRD

 


TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 December 2020
This is an excellent and gripping story that revolves around a 
serial killer who strikes just before, and on, St Valentine’s Day. 
This central core is interwoven with some of the police officers’ 
back-stories, including one whose cousin is in thrall to a group 
of drug dealers. It’s a kind of matriarchy whose tentacles it’s 
almost impossible to escape. There’s more than just this, though.
 It’s a densely-woven fabric of a story and I whizzed through it. I enjoyed it hugely.

I don't usually post individual reviews of my work, 
but when you get your first for a new novel it means a lot. 
Not only was this the first review, it's the first time anyone 
has given me any feedback on the novel. Of course,
I'm delighted that she liked it and I'd like to express a
heart-felt thanks for the thought and the effort taken to
 read and evaluate. 
It may seem strange that this is my first feedback and 
that probably says more about me than anything else. 
After working closely will the lovely Allan Guthrie 
right through the first book in the series, I was lucky 
enough to have his input into thinking about aspects of
 the story arc for Valentine. After that, it's pretty much 
been a solitary venture. Because the book was already 
signed as part of a series, there was no direct feedback 
from the publisher either- I think that possibly gets lost
 in the journey when one book follows another. 
So, a huge thank you and a happy Christmas to 
Kath Middleton.
Can I also pass on my Christmas wishes to everyone
 who has popped in over the last year or who has taken
 the time to read any of my work. It's been tough and
 we've all had to dig deep. I know my personal reserves 
all but ran out months ago, but there's hope and I'm clinging 
to that with the strength I have left. Be happy and healthy 
and try and appreciate the good things about what you have. 

My Funny Valentine is available from the links below:

• Amazon — Trade Paperback | eBook
• Amazon UK — Trade Paperback | eBook
• Barnes & Noble — Trade Paperback | eBook
• iTunes — eBook
• Kobo — eBook
• Play — eBook

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

One Man's Opinion: LIKE LOVE by ED McBAIN

It's 173 pages long and it catches the interest from the off, so it's a mystery to me that it took me almost four months to read this, my latest in the line of 87th Precinct novels. Truth is, it's not likely to be the book's fault at all- I put it down to losing my way and unraveling since March. It's been the kind of fragmentation that builds up without being noticed, but I guess the pieces must be coming back together just now otherwise I wouldn't have finished it at all. 


Like Love opens with a suicide and moves onto a huge explosion and the discovery of two semi-naked bodies sharing a bed. The woman is married to someone else, a bottle of whisky has been consumed and there's a suicide note to explain their final moments of life. Thing is, none of those involved in the case believe the note and there are enough clues to investigate further. 

I was getting on really well with it until I reached a section where it's revealed that Bert Kling has turned sour following on from recent events, which was a pretty hard pill to swallow. After that, I lost momentum and stopped reading altogether. 

When I picked it up again, the threads were still tight and the case was still fascinating. The clues were finally put together in about the most unusual circumstances I can remember and all's well that ends well.

Truth be told, it took so long I can't give it any sense of detail. I enjoyed it and there are terrific scenes which means I'll recommend it to the house. Whether my slow reading was down to the book, you might get a better idea from the guys at Hark, the 87th Precinct podcast

And speaking of podcasts, my brother Geoff''s been at it again. His latest series involves the discussion of music by Elizabeth Alker and Stuart Maconie and it's called Notable if you fancy checking it out. 

Nothing to do with podcasts, my latest, My Funny Valentine, has it's first review. It's courtesy of Ignite (a top #1000 reviewer here in the UK) and it's a real Christmas cracker: "It’s a densely-woven fabric of a story and I whizzed through it. I enjoyed it hugely." Other than a vaccine, what better shot in the arm could there possibly be than that? 
 

Sunday, 29 November 2020

My Funny Valentine



Double Dutch loves playing Cupid and for one lucky lady his arrow will be painfully sharp. Only the police can prevent him from hitting his target before Valentine’s Day comes to a close.


It’s almost twenty years since the last Double Dutch killing and he’s back with a vengeance. The discovery of his latest victim resurrects ghosts the police hoped they’d laid to rest forever.

With Valentine’s Day almost upon them, detectives know they have limited time to avoid another slaying.

Follow DI Wilson and his team as they try to locate the killer before he strikes again.

My Funny Valentine is the second novel in the highly-praised Rat Pack series.