Friday, 17 September 2021



I'm a big fan of this man's work and know that you're really going to love this one:

"Collecting stories originally published in Shotgun Honey, Needle Magazine, Crime Factory, and other magazines and anthologies, I WAS BORN A LOST CAUSE brings together the best of Heath Lowrance’s previously uncollected work— disturbing tales of crime, psychological horror, satire, and dark comedy— as well as two brand new forays into darkness."

I Was Born A Lost Cause came out this week, featuring Heath's short stories. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021


With her new book (released yesterday) on the way, I decided I'd revisit Sally Rooney's first two novels to get me in the mood. Without doubt, they have left me wanting more and I'm sure that Beautiful World Where Are You will be another terrific read to delight in. 

Conversations With Friends essentially follows the affair of a young writer and a handsome actor in Dublin. It's a perfectly simple idea, yet the twists and turns of their interactions bring levels of tension and engagement that make the story feel very real.

Frances is our lens and through her we explore the difficulties and wonders of being in love. I found the level of exploration of her emotions and thoughts to be so involving that Rooney's writing became more than words, as if Frances's consciousness had somehow become intertwined with my own. I have no real understanding of how that was achieved and can only hope that however Rooney created the depth and strength of the characters, some of those skills will filter by osmosis into my own work. At times, it's as if we can see through an skin and into her inner workings and at others like we're wearing that skin on top of (or perhaps instead of) our own. 

Perhaps what allowed the bond between Frances and my reader self to grow was the sense of common experience. It's so easy to identify with elements of the frailty and lack of confidence that we surely must all feel or have felt when growing up. It's magnified because the imagery and choice of phrase is so skillfully handled. There are poetic lines as well as cold and abrupt jolts that maximise the resonance and turbulence of the tale; she'd be a wonderful writer of noir should she ever want to reach a little further in that direction, which may not take such as big a step as you might think.   

The ending was wonderful and I was totally conflicted by what happened. It's a cracker that had me shouting at the pages and pulling faces at walls while I came to terms with it. 

It's a great read and I was really pleased to have Normal People as my next in line so that I could step back into a similar world as quickly as possible. 


Saturday, 21 August 2021



Jennifer Egan is a writer whose work I've come to admire. Though I seem to have read her books in reverse order, that feels rather fitting for this title.

Good Squad is a difficult piece to describe. In my mind, it's like a collage of tissue-paper circles that appear to have been placed at random onto a canvas so that they overlap and interlink to form a captivating image of swirls and colours. Upon closer examination, it transpires that they've all been carefully positioned in such a way that the visual effect is maximised and the emotional responses compounded.

There are thirteen stories, each superbly rounded and with an intensity that would grace any anthology were they to be included as individual tales. They are linked together in clever ways, using characters and time periods to make them one powerful whole. 

I'm sure each reader will highlight their own particular interest as being core to proceedings. For me, it helped, initially, that the theme of the music industry was key, more so that it featured the trials and tribulations of moving on from the punk era into a world where those early rebellious cries became inevitably entangled with the world of commercialism. There are two characters who are at the heart of the collection and maintain the pulse, but there's a fantastically varied supporting cast who bring the pair to life.

The variety of stories is quite something and demonstrate that the mind of the author is vivid, inventive and unusual. Things that appear to appear simple on the surface emerge through the story-telling to be deep, moving and sometimes bizarre. 

In essence, for me this is all about journeys through life and the way tangents, relationships, failures and successes form the way people develop. As time goes on, older experiences become paler and less powerful, yet they continue to hold onto personality and decision making and are ever-influential in the present and future. Tragedies, mishaps, moments of madness, insight and good fortune are all in the melting pot and there isn't anyone out there who doesn't have a web of interaction and memory to explore.

Breaking down the stories to give a sense of what they're about would be a fruitless task. Perhaps it would be better to mention that I was fascinated by it all and there were moments in there where the kicks were hard, whether they be of joy, humour, pain or sadness.

Such a work should have been challenging for me given that my memory is poor and that names and places are problematic for me. The issue was removed for me relatively painlessly by gentle nudges and reminders that allowed me to find my place in a way that few could pull off. These hooks were never clumsy or obvious and I was grateful for that.  

It's not a novel (or at least, I don't think it is), yet it still needed an ending to leave me feeling totally satisfied. I've no idea how she pulled it off, but she did. Loose ends weren't exactly tied up, but everything fell into place. 

I loved the variety and the depth and imagine you will, too. I read this a couple of months ago and still hear the echoes every now and then. 



Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Crediting the Editing

I've just finished working through the edits for my next novel, the third in the Rat Pack series which will be published by Down&Out Books later this year. The edit was by Chris Rhatigan and if you know his work, you'll also know that he made the process as painless as it could be. In tune with the style, fine attention to detail, can spot an error at a million paces, knows when the train has slipped off the track and when it's steaming ahead, picks up on character and point of view and even offers possible alternatives to those especially clunky sentences. What else could an author want? If you're looking for someone to work on your draft, you could do a lot worse and probably not much better. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 12 August 2021



It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was reading and reviewing The Thursday Murder Club. In a nutshell, I found that to be refreshing, fun and intriguing in equal measure. I think I was also aware that the situation and the characters involved would make a follow-on difficult to pull off.

In many ways, I think The Man Who Died Twice is a pretty good sequel and does manage to create a highly-engaging tale that suits the murder club. 

Appearing from the past is Elizabeth's ex-husband, a man who has already died once and, given the title, may find his number's about to come up. He has the charm of Bond as well as the smugness born of being talented and good looking. While working on a secret-service case, he's fallen foul of dangerous gangsters over in the US. Thankfully, he has a personal guard to protect him and a place to hide out (the very same home where the Thursday Murder Club wait for their live's to fizzle out, where else?).   

There are dead bodies and tricks with smoke and mirrors and, for a while, there's that satisfying buzz of wondering what the hell's going on, which is accompanied by the joy of trying to puzzle it out before reality is revealed. Essentially, that makes it a winning cosy mystery; if that's your bag, this is one for the top of your list. 

While meeting up with our gang again is a welcome experience, The Man Who Died Twice doesn't quite match the excellence of book one. In the main, I think that's due to the situation of the setting and having to stretch to create a new and believable situation. The observation are just that bit less sharp, the diary entries of Joyce are less powerful as a way of moving on plot, the police are less involved and more stable in a way that reduces the impact of their story-lines, and there's a tad less chemistry between the group (and so not as much character development as I might have liked). 

TTMC was always going to be a tough act to follow. The second in the series has proved to be a solid and enjoyable follow-on. I'd still read a third, but do worry that a further contortion to find a suitable plot and another dilution due to familiarity may make it a step too far for me. 

Richard Osman is a fine writer who brings his own twist to the genre. His humour is particularly noteworthy and his timing is excellent. Overall, I'm recommending this to anyone who enjoyed the last one and to the cosy mystery fan. It would work as a standalone, but reading in order would be much more satisfying. I worry for book three (for surely there will be one), but there will be many who will lap up each and every title with zeal in a way that may even make this a series that will be viewed as a classic when the world has warmed to the point where paper self-combusts- get it while you can.    

Saturday, 29 May 2021

News From Fahrenheit Press


Here's what they're saying, and they're worth listening to...


Hola Fahrenhistas,

We’ve celebrating public holidays on both sides of the Atlantic this weekend (May Bank Holiday in the UK - Memorial Day in the USA) so we decided to help all your weekends go with a bookish swing…

First off, we’re running one of our EPIC AMAZON PROMOTIONS - we published debuts novels in December 2020 and frankly they got swept away by the Christmas rush. These 4 books are some of the best debuts we’ve ever read and we’ve decided to circle around again and promote them as if they’re brand new books - so for a starter ALL FOUR OF THEM ARE FREE ON AMAZON this weekend."

The whole of their message is here

Friday, 14 May 2021




Here's one for fans of the hard-boiled hero who like their protagonist to be caught up in something big. This one will tick all your boxes and then some. 

Told in the first person by a reaper, Ramsay Cames, we know the setup and the energy force that will drive the story from the first few pages. 

This one has snappy everything: dialogue, set-pieces, one-liners, character descriptions and action. It's sharp as hell and grips like it's hanging on for dear life. Fine brushes are used where many a writer would choose the broader option and that has the effect of ramping up the energy and pace to make it speed by. For a fairly short piece of work, it feels like you've been on one hell of a journey by the end and, should you be hooked at that point, book two is waiting for you from wherever you picked up book one.

Spot on.  

The Blurb:

“You got 24 hours to live.”

That’s all he knows. Doesn’t know the how or the why— just the when.

Ram’s a process server, a reaper, for the Death Notification Agency—the DNA—which is now the biggest government organization in the world thanks to a mysterious and highly-guarded technology that can determine the time of anyone's demise, right down to the minute.

That’s where Ram comes in. It’s his job as a reaper to deliver death notices to soon-to-be-deceased citizens 24 hours before they give up the ghost. That’s it. Nothing complex about it. He’s assigned to District 598.4A. Hollywood. Not that one. The other one, in Florida—his own sunny armpit of the world.

And life ain’t that bad for Ram. Besides a wrecked marriage and kids that barely talk to him, Ram floats through his days letting people know when their life’s about to go belly up, then heads to Nasty Nate’s Tavern in his aloha shirt for a drink. As he sees it, at least he’s giving people a chance to put their affairs in order and say goodbye to their loved ones.

It’s definitely not the most glamorous job, but hey, it’s a job. And since the DNA’s never been wrong in predicting a death, he works with the confidence of knowing he’s doing his part to help people in their final hours.

But Ram’s simple life is about to get a lot more complicated when one night…

He receives his own death notice.

The Reaper  (UK) is the first volume of six in the Death Notification Agency series.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021



The Man With The Getaway Face? 

It's a peach, and a perfectly ripe and juicy one at that. 

Short and pithy, laden with tension within a story that's cut to the bare bones:

New face, new heist, new partners, unwelcome developments and a series of unfortunate events. 


Wednesday, 28 April 2021



Grief's a funny thing. It seeps into your being whatever measures you put in place to try and stop it penetrating. The way I picture it, it's taken hold of my insides like ivy might consume a house. Among the centres starved of energy and choked of oxygen have been my my reading and writing parts, which has meant that two of the things I would normally turn to for solace and comfort have been cut off, thus adding to the problem. 

I've been reminded once again that it's often people who make the most difference. Friendship and compassion in all of their forms- smiles, gestures, gifts, warm words, offers of support and the like- really do make a difference. 

One such gesture that has helped me along came in the form of the arrival of a book in the post. It came from Colman Keane who is behind the excellent review site for all things crime here at Col's Criminal Library. It's a great place to find new material, in no small part due to his voracious appetite for books, TV and films, and you should check it out if you've not been there before. I trust and respect his opinions and happened across his thoughts on Edgar Mint. I mentioned that it was the kind of book that might help me out of this ditch I've been in and he sent it along.  

What I think caught my attention in that review was the mention of resilience and stoicism, both of which I felt I might benefit from at the time (and still could). And he was right about the need for those qualities. For Edgar Mint, the passage through life is not a smooth one. He's born into a world that doesn't really want him, so much so that the running over of his head by a mail truck could be construed as a blessing of sorts. 

He's taken to hospital in order to recover and there begins a pattern where he finds a way through the most adverse situations with the help of people who are drawn to him and decide to take him under their wings. 

There's no soft-soaping his journey through life. It's about as tough as anyone could cope with. Particularly brutal is his time in an institution for children who are able to inflict cruelty and pain in ways that I wouldn't have begun to imagine and hope I can forget before too long. 

It's a kind of patchwork of a novel where you move between time period and situation in a way that isn't always linear. Each strand is absorbing and the meandering always take you to a point of interest. Much of the tragedy is related in a matter-of-fact style, but there's a gentle warmth through it all and always a hope that things will get better somehow. 

The conclusion is one that took me by surprise with a twist that offers a new filter for what has gone before, but that's not for me to mention here. 

I'm glad that I stumbled into the review and I'm grateful for kindness that allowed me to read it. The slow burn was exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks Col.

And it gets better. Having managed to build up periods of concentration spanning more than a couple of minutes, I set off reading The Man With The Getaway Face. It's the opposite of Mint- direct, pacy, tense, totally stripped back and gripping from the off- and I couldn't be more grateful to be able to focus on books once again. 

Now all I need is to find the equivalent medicine for the writing. Though I'm not sure in what form it might come, I'm going to take a leaf out of Edgar's book and just get on with it until things change.   


Sunday, 31 January 2021



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



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,


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


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.