Sunday 21 June 2020


Severance Package (US) is bonkers. Seriously. I can’t recall
reading anything that’s taken its premise to such extremes.

So bonkers is good, right?

Absolutely. Somehow, by the skin of his teeth, Duane Swierczynski
pulls this one off to leave an exciting read that entertains and satisfies.

How to describe it? Imagine a Formula One driver who only
needs one more victory to snatch the title from an old rival. There’s one more bend to get round and the driver’s lagging in second. All they can do is floor it, take the curve, hope nature is on their side and pray. The force is immense, the driver nearly flies off the track, but manages with a final turn of the wheel to keep control and take the chequered flag to become the new champion of the world.

Told you it was bonkers.

I could put it another way.

Molly Lewis is called in to work for a meeting on a Saturday
morning. She gets up and dressed, then kills her husband with a bowl of potato salad.

The meeting, called by boss David, is on the thirty-sixth
floor of a Philadelphia office block.

When everyone who’s going to make it is in the room, David
explains that everyone is going to die. It’s in the national interest and is just one of those things that happens when you’re working for the secret service. The best way to do it is to take the easy way out- mix a glass of Champagne and orange juice, each containing a poison that would work in combination to offer a pain-free death.

For those not willing to choose their options, there’s no
way of escape. All doors have been booby-trapped with Sarin and there are explosive devices everywhere.

The six employees all react to the situation in different
ways. They’re all highly-skilled operatives in one form or another and giving in isn’t an option. If they could work as a team, things might be easy, only one of them is not who they seem and the personalities clash like titans.

Basically, this if office politics at its highest pitch.

While the employees battle it out for survival, two agents
watch from afar. An American and a Scot watch the Philadelphia antics unfold, backing their favourites and watching them crossed off the list through the grizzly action before them.

I guess the reason it almost spins too far is that it’s difficult to see the people you’re rooting for being bumped off one by one. As
each is sent to their wonderfully creative ending, the emotional investment lessens by a degree. Not that it should really matter. This is high rise, high octane, high adrenaline drama for the action junkie.

Apart from being a terrific read, it’s also a beautiful object. There are some books that feel great in your hands and this is one of
them. Silky smooth, malleable and illustrated at regular intervals with art work I’d happily hang on my wall. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday 10 June 2020

NOIR FROM THE BAR (a charity antholgy)

UK      US
This anthology, consisting of 30 stories by crime and mystery writers from all over the world has been conceived, created, and published in a month.
All stories have been donated free-of-charge by the authors, with the vast majority of them written specifically for this very special book. Originating from Virtual Noir at the Bar, a weekly online gathering where authors — best sellers, award winners and up-and-coming — join together to read sections live from their works to the public, the organisers of that event put the word out to writers who had appeared to submit a story to help raise funds for NHS charities. The result is this book. Inside you’ll find short pieces that have nothing in common other than their quality and a general tale-from-the-bar theme.
So whatever sort of crime and mystery fiction you enjoy, you’ll find something to appeal:
  • Locked room mysteries
  • Gritty noir
  • Cozy capers
  • Psychological thrillers
  • Twist-in-the-tales
  • Revenge dramas
  • Shocking shorts
  • Longer dramas to savour

With combined sales of more than three million books and awards galore, you’ll find familiar names and new finds within.

Support NHS charities and treat yourself by reading this exceptional collection. 

Full list of authors included in this anthology:
Suzy Aspley, Alison Belsham (The Tattoo Thief (Sullivan and Mullins)), Simon Bewick (You Could Make a Killing), Sharon Bolton (the Lacey Flint series), Neil Broadfoot (the Connor Fraser series), Philippa East (Little White Lies), Ashley Erwin (A Ballad Concerning Black Betty or the Retelling of a Man Killer and her Machete), Derek Farrell (The Danny Bird Mysteries), Margaret Kirk (the DI Lukas Mahler series), Neil Lancaster (The Tom Novak series), Louise Mangos (Strangers on a Bridge), Danny Marshall, Chris McDonald (A Wash of Black), Kirsten McKenzie (The Old Curiosity Shop series), Effie Merryl, Phoebe Morgan (The Doll House), KC Murdarasi (Office Life (and Death)), Rob Parker (The Ben Bracken series), Robert Scragg (The Porter & Styles series), Zoe Sharp (the Charlie Fox series), Sara Sheridan (the Mirabelle Bevan series), Dave Sivers (the DI Nathan Quarrel and Archer & Baines series), Graham Smith (the Jake Boulder series), DC Smith, Eve Smith (The Waiting Rooms), Martyn Taylor (The Price of Everything), David Turton (The Malaise), Fiona Veitch Smith (The Poppy Denby Investigates series), Roz Watkins (The DI Meg Dalton series) and Olga Wojtas (The Miss Blaine’s Prefect series).

More details of how you can join, free of charge, future Virtual Noir at the Bar events are included in the book.

Paperback available here.