Repetition

Hey, that’s me over at Spelk with another musically-inspired tale.

Spelk

by Graham Wynd

It was a ritual, she realised. All the little things you do to start the day, all the little steps you take that make everything normal. People liked to think that normal was just the way things were, but Julia knew that normal was made in a thousand little ways every day.

The way you counted the days until your next paycheck. The way you counted the coins in your pocket for the bus fare. The way you kept your eye on the clock so you could have everything ready when he got home. The way you moved quieter when he was hungover. The way you applied makeup to cover the bruises. The way you looked at your friends’ happy pictures and wondered if they hid as many secrets as yours did.

The face we show the world is always covered with concealer, shadows applied to shadows…

View original post 455 more words

Slovenian Double Feature

Two stories just out this month, both inspired by my travels in Slovenia. ‘These Toys Are For Tough Boys’ was the title Renato Bratkovič gave me as I was treated with great food, Lasko Noir and Alibi wine at Bar Grega and Gora pod lipo. Want a story from me? Fly me to an alpine location and give me good stuff to eat and drink. Boom! 6K story in a day.

Any takers?
‘Somewhere in Slovenia’ over at Near to the Knuckle looks at the potential problems of being unilingual in post-Brexit EU. Footie fans beware 😉 heh. Also a song by Slovenia’s premiere punk band, Res Nullius.

These Toys Are for Tough Boys

Fueled by Laško Noir and fantastic food! My crime story that includes everything from Giant Haystacks to Brian Blessed.

International Crime&Noir Literary Festival

K. A. Laity/Graham Wynd

‘But why do you want to kill him?’ Patrick tried to pay attention to the words instead of the way Simone’s low cut dress revealed her ripe breasts a little too evidently to the eye.
‘Does it matter? He has to be dealt with and I need one more in on the job.’ Simone gave him a look that made him feel both aroused and insulted. ‘Are you up for it?’
He knew what she was insinuating and he also knew that she was taking advantage of his lust for her. It had made him do stupid things before. But never killing someone. It was a big step up to go from a few shady grifts, a bit of petty larceny and the occasional minor break-ins to the ultimate crime.
Patrick had thought he could steer clear of that one. It wasn’t like they hanged a…

View original post 6,143 more words

Review: Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill

too-many-crooksToo Many Crooks
Paul D. Brazill
Near to the Knuckle Novella #7

I’m pretty much an easy mark when it comes to Mr B, as you’re doubtless already aware if you’ve read my enthusiastic reviews for his other publications. But I love writers I can count on (see also Liz Hand, the Abbotts, Tess Makovesky and some others I could name but why inflate all those egos?).

Too Many Crooks hits some of the familiar territory: colourful low lifes spread across Europe from Britain to Poland and points in between, salty language, implausible schemes and cataclysmic coincidences. It also has callbacks to other tales he’s written (fun if you know them, interesting hooks if you don’t).

But there’s something more in the wild kinetic machinations: dare I say a touch of the poetic? A lot of mad laugh out loud moments — the Mad Jaffa Cake Eater, a pruney face was so lived in squatters wouldn’t stay there, a Slippery Pole — and a whole bunch of references to classic punk tunes and venerable comedies, not to mention Fall lyrics.

You’d expect no less than offhand Carry On lines and knowing music choices for every mood. There’s a lot more, too:

He was also the world’s leading authority on the Klingon language, apparently and used speaking in Klingon as part of his radical therapy. Hattie had told him she wasn’t interested and had never seen Star Wars and he’d glared at her.

“If you haven’t made a fool of yourself at least once in your life, you haven’t lived,” said Anna.
“Oh, well, if that’s true, I’ve lived more lives than a cat, then,” said McGuffin.

He watched Leslie leave the café and put up her umbrella, which flapped in the wind like a black crow.

He was hungover from a bad dream, or maybe a bad life.

The old grandfather clock had just struck thirteen.

Obviously I could go on and on. Just the audacity of naming a primary character McGuffin (snort!). Get it. You need the laughs. Because all orange clowns should be fictional.

FFB: People Who Knock on the Door by Patricia Highsmith

9780349004976-usI started reading this on a transatlantic flight thinking I would be able to nod off get a little sleep. But it’s Highsmith, so of course I finally had to force myself to close the book so I could sleep a little. As Sarah Hilary’s astute introduction spells it out, ‘Her great skill was to make us, dear readers, complicit….Highsmith, let’s face it, is addictive.’

I’m not sure there’s a ‘typical’ Highsmith, but this one’s definitely an outlier. For one thing the protagonist is a high school kid. Written in the midst of the rise of the so-called Moral Majority in the Reagan years, her contempt is palpable for the grubby little hypocrites who trumpet ‘morality’ whilst using religion as a club to batter down any dissent.

But it doesn’t at once seem like a ‘crime’ novel. After a while I stopped waiting for something ‘criminal’ to happen and just settled in to the life of Arthur Alderman (oh, what a name) in a seemingly idyllic Midwestern town where everyone is a specifically odd reality and the sinister march of darkness creeps through the niceness everyone desperately struggles to maintain.

That unease: that’s Highsmith. That’s the art I struggle to put a finger on. How easily, how pervasively she develops it. I need to study her more closely. It feels effortless, but it’s got to be so carefully built. Into the maelstrom of religious tension, abortion controversies, money matters and always intimations of ‘morality’ that slowly drive a wedge into the ‘perfect’ family.

You always knew they were not perfect. But when it all explodes, it’s still a shock.

Her racism is much more on show here. Highsmith makes it a part of the small town outlook, a nodding us vs them mentality. The mindset that Arthur struggles against, both with his father’s closing mind after his ‘born again’ moment and with the ‘why not just settle’ message he gets from almost everyone else.

He comes to a conclusion, a philosophy that seems to finally bring him peace:

Take life as it comes. Enjoy and be grateful. Not grateful to God, but to luck and chance. Tread carefully, speak carefully, hang onto what you’ve got. Be polite to what you’ve got.

Of course that’s when, as they say, all hell breaks loose. Of course, this is Highsmith country.

Discover your new reads at Patti’s round up of overlooked tomes.

 

Interview: Paul D. Brazill

too-many-crooksHey, it’s the Duke of Brit Grit, that Paul D. Brazill! So what’s this new book of yours out this weekend?

Too Many Crooks is my latest Brit Grit novella and is published by Near To The Knuckle. It’s set in England and Poland. It’s a mix of pulp, farce and the grotesque. No change there, then. Though there is a bit of romance in this one …

The blurb says:

Too Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!

When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow…

Too Many Crooks by Paul D, Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.

How many crooks is too many? Is there a scientific basis for this claim?

Well there is a veritable cornucopia of crooks in Too Many Crooks. There are gangsters, a jewel thief, a biker gang, a mental neo-nazi politician. In fact there are pretty much only crooks! How they all collide is part of the fun, of course.

Are there more pop song references in this book or comedy classics?

Well the shadows of the Carry On films and Ealing Comedies hang heavy over the book, as per usual, and there are lots of top tunes from the likes of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and The Flys.

Should readers begin at the beginning and read all the way through or can they jump about from tale to tale?

Well, it’s a novella, so there’s only one story so it’s best to start at the beginning or it may not make sense. It may not anyway, of course!

Are there really large American themed bars in Warsaw? What on earth for?

There are indeed though not as many as there are overpriced Irish pubs. A Polish pub was once spotted …

What’s next from your prolific pen?

My novella A Case Of Noir will be re-published by Near To The Knuckle in March and there should be another novella out a bit after that. And I have a story in the debut issue of Switchblade Magazine.

Pre-order TOO MANY CROOKS! here.

Paul D. Brazill‘s books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. His blog is here.

Song for a Saturday: Hank Williams – I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive

H/t Anne Billson