Wednesday, 17 November 2021
One Man's Opinion: THE IMPROBABLE MONSIEUR OWEN by GEORGES SIMENON
Saturday, 13 November 2021
AIN'T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD
At last it's here, the explosive follow up to Let It Snow and My Funny Valentine, available at half price until the end of November.
“Nigel Bird knows his characters inside and out—what they want, how they think, how they grow and how they fail. Ain’t that a Kick in the Head might be his best work yet. A convincing, engrossing portrayal of what life is like for cops and criminals alike.” —Chris Rhatigan, All Due Respect Books publisher
“One of my favourite contemporary crime fiction series.” —Colman Keane, Col’s Criminal Library
This year, the fireworks will be red hot…
Skates Farrington is a changed man. Gone are the smart suits, the dull meetings and the extra pounds. Nowadays, he gets his thrills at the skate park and from whatever substances his dealers send his way. The only thing missing from his life is his ex-wife. She’s shacked up with a respectable partner in an isolated farm and striving to create the perfect life. Skates is convinced that she will come back to him when she sees his new self, but when attempts to win her heart all over again are thrown back in his face, he decides a little gentle persuasion is in order. Now he can include murder and abduction among his new-found skills.
DI Oliver Wilson, leading the investigation, has more than a few things on his mind. The case and imminent arrival of his third child should be at the forefront of his thoughts, but the arrival of a sequence of unusual gifts is making him nervous. The packages are sending him a message, he just can’t work out what they’re trying to say.
Hope you love it.
Available here as well as from all the usual suspects.
Wednesday, 10 November 2021
One Man's Opinion: BEAUTIFUL WORLD, WHERE ARE YOU?
"Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he'd like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young - but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?"
Saturday, 6 November 2021
One Man's (second) Opinion: THE BASTARD HAND by HEATH LOWRANCE
Here's a blast from the not-too-distant past. It's just been re-released by Shotgun Honey and has a wonderful cover that I hope will draw readers in. I reviewed this one way back when, and here's what I said:
The Bastard Hand. It's one hell of a title and one hell of a book.
It’s not that long ago that here in the UK there were lots of fires, burning up moorland and woods, challenging the fire-services to
their limits. The countryside had been turned
fields, so nobody knew where the next flames were going to sprout
That’s how I see this book. It’s a smoulderer which catches flame
regularly as the author expertly blows upon the embers.
Take the opening. It’s beautifully described. We meet Charlie,
escapee of an institution, free of his therapies and his medication,
wandering as his spirit takes him. Being in a town he doesn’t know,
he finds himself in a dodgy area and is soon battered to bits by a
small-time gang headed by a beautiful woman. He’s stabbed and
left for dead. And he was being nice, too. There’s certainly no
justice in his world.
He’s not one to go to hospital – it doesn’t seem to occur to him that
it might be a good idea. Instead, he does it his own way and lets his
body recover in its own good time.
Soon enough, he ambles over to the laundrette. Puts in his clothes
and discovers a bible with a hole through the ‘O’ of holy. He reads
Genesis until he’s interrupted by a preacher man, the Reverend
Childe, who could talk the Ten Commandments from Moses. Even
though Charlie knows the man’s no good, partly because he was in
a laundrette without any laundry, he sticks with him.
They visit a brothel, for the Reverend likes his drink and his
women and, from that point on, Charlie’s life is intertwined with
Childe’s like a swimmer might get tangled in pond weed.
From then on the book smoulders away, bursting into flame without
The series of events that follows unfolds beautifully. Not once
during the read did I feel any of the situations were forced, it was
simply the way it needed to be.
Missing preachers, small Southern town life, a crazy (though not
stupid) mayor, a number of women who all have their own allure,
gang battles, illicit stills and a series of plots and counter-plots like
you wouldn’t believe, fan those flames all the way through as does
Yes, Charlie is crazy, or at least he would seem so if the folk around
him weren’t so unusual. Lowrance is clever with his characters. I
felt blindfolded from the beginning so that I couldn’t tell the good
from the bad or the wicked from the saint. It’s one hell of a thing to
pull off, yet he did it with the subtlety of a close magician.
So Charlie’s crazy and he’s also our story-teller. It gives the whole
piece a curious foundation that’s part cement, part quicksand.
I loved this book. Really loved it.
It’s place in a contemporary setting, yet for me there are echoes of
older works and older times. The images I conjured for myself
were all in black and white and there’s something of the classic-noir
movie in this work.
Though full of dark events and madness, it’s written with a light
touch I hadn’t expected. Smooth as a ride on new tyres in a
freshly serviced car along a flat tarmac road when the living is easy.
His characterisations are so three-dimensional they’ll poke a reader
in the eye if they’re not careful. The people who inhabit the
book I liked, mistrusted, hated and loved in turn, every last one of
The weaving through of the preacher and the bible offers a powerful
medicine of its own. Not an expert on the bible, I have to play it
through the filters of Nick Cave and Night Of The Hunter, but I felt
the weight of the Old Testament burdening the skies in the novel
and my own.
Lowrance plays with Charlie like God played
with Job. He takes advantage of Charlie’s misplaced senses of
loyalty and obligation, lets things go well then turns them all to
shit when he’s least expecting it.
I’ve mentioned a few of the echoes I felt as I read. Here are a few
other ghosts I felt were hanging around – Harper Lee, John
Steinbeck, Guthrie’s Slammer and the movie Inherit The Wind;
maybe it’s way off beam to cite those, but you’ll have to read it for
yourself make up your own mind.
A brilliant book by a writer of real talent.