Suburbia holds more than you care for…
My little tale of a heist gone wrong is over at the brand-spanking-new A Twist of Noir. We’re all glad to see ATON back sharing stories — and surprise, I’m following on the heels of Mr B, who’s got a fine little black diamond, ‘Things I Used to Like’ (and he gets to be #007, too). You won’t be surprised to find ‘Copped It’ is another title stolen from The Fall. I can’t help being inspired: originality is overrated anyway 😉 besides, you might catch a few other references in the tale.
Too 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.
As Aunty Fox says:
Our first crime themed anthology featuring crime, fantasy, horror, humour and baked goods. It’s basically just like one of our events.
10 stories, by ten authors, all with a crime at their heart, some of them with biscuits. Whether that is the stories or the authors I leave to you.
Elf Prefix by Graham Wynd
Between Love and Hat by Jay Eales
Ghost Signals by James Bennett
No Mercy by K.D. Kinchen
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Penny Jones
Feeding the Fish by Carol Borden
Mermaids in Cape Town by Mame Diene
Patron by E.J. Davies
The Price of a Biscuit by Kate Coe
The Princess, The Pekingese and the Ivory Box by R.A. Kennedy
COLD LONDON BLUES
Paul D. Brazill
Caffeine Nights Press
I know: you’ll be shocked to hear that I loved this. I’ve been champing the bit waiting for this book to drop because there are few writers who genuinely entertain as much as Brazill. And this is no exception.
If you’ve read Guns of Brixton, you’ll recognise some of the folks here. The tune has changed from the Clash to the inimitable Vic Godard and this offers the chance to slip in a little — dare I say it? — poetry between the mayhem. There’s a confidence here that allows some audacity. The first line: ‘The morning that Father Tim Cook killed Aldo Calvino the air tasted like lead and the sky was gun-metal grey.’ Mood and mayhem plonk down on a bar stool next to you. You’re not going anywhere until you find out how it all shakes out.
As always it’s laugh out loud funny between bouts of wincingly painful chaos brought on by characters who are as unlikely as they are vivid: gangsters who are feeling their age, hitmen who miss, hoods who want to go straight, and an actor so far up his own arse he thinks he’s god — or maybe just Batman.
I love the expansion of the Brazill world: both the London stories and the Seatown tales feed into the history of Cold London Blues. You don’t need to have read all his other books but it helps. There’s a mad world of lowlifes, cops and random walk-ons — no innocents though. Everyone has their demons — but they’ve got music too.
And I love the idea of the Roman Dalton P.I. series: TV people, make it so!
Some quotes (I’ll try not to post everything): just go buy it now.
A face so lived-in squatters wouldn’t stay there, as his old gran would have said.
Tim wasn’t sure when it was that domestic drudgery like cooking and gardening had become elevated to the level of the works of Beethoven and Chaucer but it was another sign of what was wrong with the modern world, the country.
‘Consistency is the city hobgoblin of little minds.’
‘If you gaze into the abyss’ said Marty, with a lop-sided smirk. ‘The abyss also gazes … and sometimes winks at you and blows you a kiss.’
The winter night bit like a savage beast.
A murder of crows scattered and sliced across the white moon, as the purr of an approaching Mercedes grew to a roar.
‘I blame America for it … well, I blame America for everything …The United States of America is a cancer. A poisonous virus that has fatally infected its host’…‘They say you shouldn’t make your home on an Indian burial ground but when you think about it, the whole of the United States is a bleedin Indian burial ground. Think about it.’
Marty hated high places. He got vertigo in thick socks.
Another fistful of fun from Blackwitch Press. A bunch of terrific writers run away with Paul D. Brazill‘s werewolf detective Roman Dalton and the dark madness of The City. Matt Hilton brings ‘Booze and Ooze’ while Vincent Zandri takes on ‘Full Moonlight’. ‘Chances Are’ you’ll enjoy Carrie Clevenger’s fresh take on the old cop tale. Ponzi schemes from JJ Toner, darkness from Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw and wild times from Chris Rhatigan, Ben Sobieck and Ben Lelièvre. The lad himself rounds out the collection with ‘The Brain Salad Murders.’ Spend a night with the werewolf detective and you’ll never be the same again — and who’d want to be?
I am delighted to say my story ‘Life Just Bounces’ for has been selected for the upcoming Bouchercon anthology Murder Under the Oaks. Plus editor Art Taylor added, “Let me say how much I adored your story!”
Woot! I originally wrote this as a short play and when reminded by Thomas Pluck of the fast-approaching deadline for the anthology, hastily rewrote it as a short story. I still think it would great fun for performance. It made me laugh!
Yes, of course I looted another Fall song title:
See the full table of contents at Down & Out Books so you too can be gobsmacked (seriously, what company to be amongst!) and order a copy if you’re of a mind to do so.
See you at Bouchercon!