Song for a Saturday: Madonna of the Wasps – Robyn Hitchcock

Coming this Halloween, a neo-giallo serial magazine The Blood Red Experiment. My novella in slices takes its name from this song. An ancient knife, a bloody ritual and a killer obsessed with his queen: get ready for the Madonna of the Wasps and six more compelling thrillers.

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Review: Big City Blues

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They’re coming fast and furious from Paul D. Brazill: it’s another cracking Near to the Knuckle novella from Mr B, the hardest working man in Brit Grit. This is #9 in the series and like the others a rip-snorter of mayhem and it’s got plenty of humour.

Big City Blues ranges across Europe and over to the colonies, or at least New York, which is a world of its own. Brazill always like a sprawling jumble of wild threads which he slowly knits together over the course of the unpredictable events and connections. Even his Seatown stories make the small burg feel complex. It’s not like wild coincidences either; it’s more like Six Degrees of Separation — or in this case, maybe only three degrees.

There’s a joyful abundance that teeters on the baroque: old cons, old cops, young geezers, unpredictable collisions of desire and convenience, and always sudden bone-crunching violence lurking around the next corner. Some of the jokes my grandfather would know but with a twist that makes them new again, and so many original observations that had me laughing out loud with surprise. And don’t tell anybody but hiding in between the laughs, the grimaces, the double crossing and the name dropping, you’ll find heart-searing observations about the walking wounded and some prose that will knock your socks off:

The night had draped itself over the city, and the moon bit into the sky. He stopped on the neon-soaked street to breathe in the sultry air. He could smell the lust, the sin and the decay.

A shard of sunlight sliced through the blinds, picking out specks of dust that floated in the air. An old electric kettle boiled in another room. A refrigerator hummed. A dishwasher chugged dully. A mangy black and white car strolled across the newly polished bar before curling up on a wooden bar stool and going to sleep.

Check it out; you’ll see why I’m such a fan. Buy it here or US here.

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:

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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!

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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.