Friday 25 October 2019


Price Hike has just been released by All Due Respect. Contrary to the title, it's available at the early-bird offer of $2.99 and £2.33, both of those a bargain if you like fast-paced crime fiction with strong characters and a complex enough setup to allow for emotional engagement. 

It's a complicated affair and too-detailed a description might spoil the fun, so here's a basic intro. 

A conceited businessman (Kanganis) has made his millions in the pharmaceutical industry. After some issues with one of his products, he's left with a whole lot of pills on his hands. The thing is, the pills (formula P8) actually work and can cure children facing early death from their medical conditions. Jane, a con-artist of some experience, needs to get her hands on the meds to save her own son who is now living with a wet-blanket of her ex-partner. Problem for Jane is that someone has beaten her to the stash and has stolen enough of the pills to save many a child. Jane's not happy and neither is Kandanis, who is too proud to let anyone pull a fast one on him. They both go chasing the prize and both underestimate the prowess of their target as well as the complex web of deception they will have to navigate to get what they want. 

Or as the blurb says:

Jane is a struggling con artist, estranged from her ex and her sick son, just trying to raise a little cash to buy some black-market meds from a mysterious seller called P8, a dangerous, raspy-voiced woman.

Kanganis is a widely-hated pharma executive, furious that the raspy-voiced girl he picked up at a chic downtown bar just ripped him off for millions in prescription drugs.

When Jane figures out a way to con P8 out of her entire stash of stolen meds, it’s great news for her kid’s lungs, but it also puts Jane and family in grave danger. Soon they’re on the run from a criminal network bigger and darker than they understand. And when Kanganis begins to use all of his resources and guile to catch up with his lost drugs, the game becomes even more deadly.

Price Hike is a fast-paced tale of con games, corporate greed, and one of the douchiest bros of modern times.

It's a really fun read with twists and energy that does the excellent premise of the tale justice. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and give it a whirl.

And isn't that cover something? It's by Eric Beetner and it's not the only thing Price Hike has in common with the designer. I'd say that Price Hike is Beetneresque and you know that means I rate it. 


Wednesday 23 October 2019

One Man's Opinion: THE HECKLER by ED McBAIN

I’ve read a few stories involving the Deaf Man, so it was nice to finally get to meet him at the point when he was actually introduced. He’s a terrific villain who has the capacity to keep the whole of the 87th on their toes. He’s strong, cunning, logical, clinical and lethal and that makes him the perfect adversary for Steve Carella.

It’s April. Myer Myer is visited by an old friend of his father’s. The guy is receiving threatening calls insisting that he leaves one of his business properties by the end of the month, or else. As it happens, a number of other businesses in the city are being heckled and messed about in one way or another. Random packages arrive that were never ordered. Chauffeurs turn up to collect passengers who aren’t traveling. An entire catering and entertainment menagerie appear for a wedding where there is neither bride nor groom. The Heckler is creating low-level chaos around the city and for the police and it’s entirely part of his big plan. 

Meanwhile, the body of an older man is found wearing nothing but a pair of navy-issue shoes, a pair of socks and a peppering of shotgun pellets. The identity of the guy is a complete mystery, but when an old night-watchman’s uniform is pulled out of an incinerator, the pieces begin to fit together. 

They’re all the Deaf Man’s dirty deeds, of course. He’s all set to pull off a major heist and will go to any length to make sure everything goes to plan. 

The unfolding of the novel is utterly compelling. Whether we’re with the detectives investigating the murder, the businessmen who are victims of threats and practical jokes or following the gang as they prepare to carry out their robbery, the levels of intrigue remain high. 

I found it interesting that I was rooting for both the police and the thieves at the same time. By the end of it all, I was hoping the Deaf Man would manage to pull it all off in spite of all the horrific chaos left in his wake. Maybe you’ll feel the same. I won’t tell you how it plays out just in case. 

The Heckler (US) is a spectacular book. It offers the space and time to get close to the characters while moving ever forward in the cases and schemes. Definitely one not to miss whether you feel like reading anything else in the series or not. 

The Deaf Man appears in the following 87th Precinct novels:

  • The Heckler (1960)
  • Fuzz (1968)
  • Let's Hear it for the Deaf Man! (1973)
  • Eight Black Horses (1985)
  • Mischief (1993)
  • Hark! (2004) 

Read and weep.