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.

Out Now: Close to the Boneyard

From the wild guys at Near to the Knuckle, Close to the Bone comes a compendium of tales featured on the site in 2012. A great idea! Thanks, Craig Douglas. Includes my tale ‘Just Waiting’ but look at the full line up:

Erik Arneson – Swing and A Miss
Stuart Ayris – Heads or Tails
Bill Baber – Turn Me Loose
David Barber – Monster
Jack Bates – Sleep Tight
Eric Beetner – Gutshot
Paul D Brazill – Killing Mr Cornflakes
Joe Clifford – The Banyan Tree
Cheryl Anne Gardner – Victoria’s Even Bigger Secret
Candy Green Gustavson – California Dying
Ruth Jacobs – Protection
Dana C Kabel – Drinkin’ on the Job
Rob Kitchin – Target Practice
Len Kuntz – The Haters Club
Chris Leek – Reno
Benoit Lelievre – The Devil’s Shinbone
Finley J MacDonald – Blood Magic
Tom Pitts – Vigil
Ryan Sales – Douche
Andy Scorah – Shaka’s Fall
Graham Smith – The Morning After
Gareth Spark – Rundown Dog
BR Stateham – Vengeance is a Cruel Mistress
Liam Sweeney – All I Need is a Day
Aidan Thorn – The Clean Up
Edward Vaughan – Not in the Cards
Charlie Wade – Friday Night Fun
Townsend Walker – Cold Beer
Eileen Wharton – The Hollow Man
Graham Wynd – Just Waiting

Click to Buy

And yes, another swiped title from The Fall:

Save

Coming Soon: Close to the Boneyard

From the wild guys at Near to the Knuckle, Close to the Bone comes a compendium of tales featured on the site in 2012. A great idea! Thanks, Craig Douglas. Includes my tale ‘Just Waiting’ but look at the full line up:

Erik Arneson – Swing and A Miss
Stuart Ayris – Heads or Tails
Bill Baber – Turn Me Loose
David Barber – Monster
Jack Bates – Sleep Tight
Eric Beetner – Gutshot
Paul D Brazill – Killing Mr Cornflakes
Joe Clifford – The Banyan Tree
Cheryl Anne Gardner – Victoria’s Even Bigger Secret
Candy Green Gustavson – California Dying
Ruth Jacobs – Protection
Dana C Kabel – Drinkin’ on the Job
Rob Kitchin – Target Practice
Len Kuntz – The Haters Club
Chris Leek – Reno
Benoit Lelievre – The Devil’s Shinbone
Finley J MacDonald – Blood Magic
Tom Pitts – Vigil
Ryan Sales – Douche
Andy Scorah – Shaka’s Fall
Graham Smith – The Morning After
Gareth Spark – Rundown Dog
BR Stateham – Vengeance is a Cruel Mistress
Liam Sweeney – All I Need is a Day
Aidan Thorn – The Clean Up
Edward Vaughan – Not in the Cards
Charlie Wade – Friday Night Fun
Townsend Walker – Cold Beer
Eileen Wharton – The Hollow Man
Graham Wynd – Just Waiting

And yes, another swiped title from The Fall:

Pre-order Paladins!

paladins wrap around

You can now pre-order the crime collection in honour of Henrietta Furchtenicht, for which all proceeds will be donated to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. A whole bunch of crime fiction writers who know the real hero is the one who has empathy for those who fight every day in small ways.

Pre-order here!

Also that man Darren Sant has been busy recording audio teasers for the collection; check them out [my story ‘Inevitable’ up soon]:

 

Story for a Sunday: Masquerade

As part of the Near to the Knuckle Halloween extravaganza, my story ‘Masquerade’ went live last night. It’s a kind of prequel to Satan’s Sorority. 13 stories in 24 hours: text and audio! Darren Sant & Craig Douglas outdid themselves — and you’re the one who benefits. Check out all the deliciously decadent treats and be prepared for a trick here and there.

Win a copy of SATAN’S SORORITY!

Pledging Sigma Tau NuI am giving away a prize package of ONE print copy of SATAN’S SORORITY plus one “I’m pledging Sigma Tau Nu” promo badge and a couple of little surprises to some lucky winner here at the blog on Halloween (Saturday, 31 October 2015).

Enter to win by posting here (or on my Facebook page) with your name and the declaration: “I’m pledging Sigma Tau Nu!” The winner will be chosen by random. Be sure to include your email or I’ll choose the person via random lottery.

Deadline: noon (GMT) on Halloween.

Big thanks to Lys Guillorn for making the swanky badges.

Listen to a snippet of the novella read by Darren Sant of Near 2 the Knuckle. They’re going to have a big Halloween extravaganza that includes my story ‘Masquerade’ that’s a kind of prequel to Satan’s Sorority.

Spooky Women

There are so many influences on Satan’s Sorority, some of them direct, others more subtle. There’s an offhand mention of the avant-garde artist ‘Leonorini’ performing rituals in the early 20th century. I just wrote a brief prequel of sorts for the Near to the Knuckle big Halloween Extravanganza. Keep your eyeballs peeled for that — and your ears! Darren Sant is going to be recording the works for your aural pleasure. In my story I write about Leonorini’s big debut splash in NYC, where art and magic cross paths.

I swiped her name from the very real avant-garde artist Leonor Fini, who has long fascinated me. Her work taps into the mythic and magic effortlessly. The illustration at the top is her sketch of a witch. She used masks and transformed the ordinary into the extraordinary. Benjamin Britten wrote a play about her. She designed costumes and decorations for theater, ballet and opera, and later in life she wrote novels. In short, genius.

I realised when it comes to the actual magic, however, what I was seeing was the singular vocal talents of Diamanda Galás. If you ever have a chance to see her perform, take it. There’s nothing like it.

Surreal artists like Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Remedios Varo and more have been too often overlooked by the mainstream. The newly released Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz will doubtless stir up the wilder side of the art world. There’s revolution in the air, thanks to some spooky women. And I just discovered this lovely version of the Classics IV tune yesterday: lovely, ain’t it?