Apr 232014
 
I praised the first in the Joe Tyler series before so it shouldn't be a big surprise I liked this one as well. I just think Joe is one hell of a character and the idea of a lone man trying to find his daughter while helping out finding other people help their children is a great concept. Together with the sparest and most effective writing style since Robert B. Parker Jeff writers my kind of book.
This time Joe ends up in Minneapolis, brought there by a picture of his daughter with another girl. He meets a woman who helps runaways and aids her in finding the missing son of a mobster. During his stay he gets some surprising clues about his daughters whereabouts.
I loved this one, but not as much as the first novel. Part of it might have been the fact the surprise effect of this great protagonist was gone, part of it was the story seemed a bit thinner than in the first one. Nevertheless, if you like hardboiled fiction you need to read the Joe Tyler series. Period.
Apr 232014
 
I know Mark Troy's work from his Val Lyon stories that used to appear online in the past. I was eager to check out his new Ava Rome series. I love novellas, so that was an extra plus for this one.
Like my own Noah Milano Troy's Ava Rome is a security specialist, specializing in bodyguarding. In this novella she's hired to protect a wealthy young man. When she's starting to get attracted to him and a hurricane is nearing things get pretty dangerous for Ava.
I liked this one. A fast-paced quick read which did a great job at introducing Ava Rome, a very strong female lead and managed to surprise me a few times.
I'm happy to tell Mark Troy will have an Ava Rome story appear in the second Shamus Sampler, coming soon.
Apr 152014
 
As a fan of Hunsicker's previous book (the Oswald series) I was excited to read this new novel, especially since it's been quite some years since his last one.
What can be found between the pages of this one is the same dark vision of Dallas, fast-paced plot and dialogue and a fair amount of action. The tone is bit grimmer though, where the Oswald series had a fairly goofy bunch of characters this one's characters are a bit darker and less prone to quips. The action is even bigger than in Hunsicker's last Oswald book. Yeah, where the Oswald books were mysteries in the vein of Robert Crais this is a thriller in the vein of Lee Child.
Jon Cantrell is a private contractor, working for the DEA on a commission basis, which I found an interesting situation. Together with his partner and sometime-lover Piper he ends up in possession of a star witness. What follows is a road trip through Texas with several violent encounters with past and new enemies. There's some time for good characterization among the explosions and firefights though, as a result of Cantrell's dysfunctional family, ex-cop past and Piper's remarkable hobby.
All in all an action-packed and dark ride that will appeal to lovers of general action thrillers but probably less to readers craving a bit more mystery.
I will be sure to pick up the next one in this series to see what happens to Cantrell and Piper.
Apr 042014
 
I loved the first two Liam Mulligan novels so was eager to read this one, sure I would enjoy it as much as I did those two. I was wrong. I enjoyed it even more.
Where the first two were relatively enjoyable but standard PI books where the PI role was taken by a reporter this one is a very different kind of novel. This time the POV is not first person anymore and the scale of the story much bigger.
We follow reporter Liam Mulligan helping the cops put a young serial killer in jail and later we see how he works to dig up the dirt on the killer to make sure he stays in jail. Meanwhile there's a younger reporter trying to show the serial killer has been kept in jail because of trumped up charges from wardens. They are in a race with very different goals, but in the end they need to work together in order to save someone dear to the young reporter's heart.
What makes this novel so great? It's the fact that is all seems so real, with the involvement of politics, a shock jock, lawyers... It's almost as if you're reading a true crime novel, just gripping you in a way as you soon forget this is all just fiction. Part of it can be explained by the fact this one was inspired by a true story, but most of it comes from the excellent way DeSilva plays with the several POV's and the crips, reporter-style writing.
This one puts Bruce DeSilva into Michael Connelly territory and personally I think this could be a great DeNiro / Pacino vehicle.
Mar 212014
 
This is already the fourth novel in the excellent Frank Boff series. This time the ex-DEA agent is hired by a newspaper columnist to find out who killed a young reporter. Of course Boff is helped by boxer Cullen and his many contacts on both sides of the law. Along for the ride is a young female reporter who butts heads with Boff & Cullen on a regular basis, adding some laughs and chuckles. The bad guys are well represented by bikers, mobsters and crooked cops, so expect Boff & Cullen to get in serious danger.
I noticed a small shift in the writing style, reminding me a bit more of Lee Child instead of the usual John Sanford. As always the dialogue is very entertaining and the descriptions of food made me hungry.
Boff shows what an unique character he is once again as he shows how far he will go for justice without ever having to lift a weapon himself. The thinking man's hardboiled detective struts his stuff once again...
Mar 032014
 
This one starts standard enough... A skip tracer is hired by a good-looking woman with a lot of cash to track down her missing husbands. The twist comes when said husband is found dead pretty early in the narrative. What follows is more of an investigation in who this man was than a murder investigation. It takes the skip tracer (Swann) from New York to LA to Berlin.
Swann isn't the toughest or most heroic of hardboiled eyes, but the sticks with the job and his first-person voice is pretty much what we all expect and like of the genre.
With each chapter you get the feeling this isn't as standard a mystery as you at first think. It borders the more literary genre and the end is so very surprising a lot of people will not like it. In fact, the author added an alternative ending and an explanation of the history behind it.
Well-writing and surprising... BUT I can imagine the ending might not be to your liking. I found it a refreshing change...
And no, I don't do spoilers here so you will need to read the book to find out what I'm talking about!

Feb 272014
 
I'm always delighted when writers contact me to showcase their work. G.Y. RO was cool enough to do so. So, here's my interview with the writer of the David Pain series which sounds pretty good.

Q: What makes David Pain different from other hardboiled characters?
David Pain is a fish out of water. He doesn't have a law enforcement background. He wasn't in the military. David is a bit of a geek with an Information Technology background. He lost everything, including his wife and job, during the Great Recession. A middle aged man, all that he has left is the guts to find a new purpose in his life. Those past failings fuel his cynicism and bad attitude. It's crazy, but David is a hardboiled detective who doesn't carry a gun. I've fleshed out a five book story arc for Cases of Pain. As the series progresses, David will make use of an interesting weapon to punish the human monsters in his rundown Ohio town. He doesn't quite realize it yet, but those monsters are transforming him into a full-blown vigilante. David Pain gets to a point where he isn't sure if he's any better than the bad guys. Classic noir for modern times.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
David Pain came to me during a rough period of my life. I lived in a fleabag motel for a time. That's when I started to get the idea for a hardboiled detective fiction series. I found myself living as a dead end character in a real life noir story. And let me tell you. Fiction is a much better place than the reality of starring in your own downward spiral. You can put down that Chandler book and go to sleep in your own comfortable bed. You can turn off the television after you watch Out of the Past for the 18th glorious time. Damn. When you have no hope. When you are at the end of your rope. That's brutal. David Pain was a coping mechanism for me. Fortunately, I prevailed. I got my act together. I tried to bring Cases of Pain to life at various times over the years. And I failed. Yet, that didn't stop me from believing in the character and the series. I sat on the manuscript for Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend for nearly a decade. Last year, I worked like a writing fiend to update the manuscript to make it more contemporary. In Schemes, David Pain is getting his life back together. Like me, he's a survivor. As the old saying goes, write what you know.    

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
The eBook revolution is chaotic. Isn't it? Anybody with access to a computer has the means to tell their story. No more gatekeepers. Anything goes. That's beautiful. Let people tell their stories. Ultimately, the market will decide what sticks. Take blogging for example. A lot of people got on the bandwagon when blogging was the next big thing. Eventually, most of those bloggers faded away due to lack of readers, waning interest or lack of time. I think we'll see the same thing with the eBook revolution, particularly with independents like myself. Some independents will flourish. Most will not. Writing is the fun part. As I've come to learn, editing, designing and marketing are grueling chores. It takes some thick skin to make it in the book business.

Q: What's next for you and David?
I'm working on the first draft for book two of the series. In the second installment, David Pain will be pitted against a sadistic serial killer who has a bizarre fetish. This case will take David on another step in his journey towards a dark place. Book one, Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend, introduced some key supporting characters. Anessa, who is much younger than David, is manipulating him into finding out the truth about her missing parents. While she seems innocent on the surface, Anessa is destined to become the femme fatale of the series. Another character, Paddy, is David's cagey old mentor. Both of them will figure into a subplot of the second book. Book two also introduces a love interest named Daemon for Anessa. Yes, Damon with an e. I'm brewing up a hell storm. This is only the beginning. Expect a violent love triangle between Anessa, David and Daemon. The weather forecast calls for jealousy, betrayal, beatings and vengeance. Don't leave home without your body bag.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
There's more to life than working and writing? I don't seem to get enough rest these days! At this moment, I'm doing this interview on a commuter train. I try to get outdoors to enjoy nature, but I haven't been doing enough of that lately. Cycling is another one of my non-writing pursuits. I also like to travel to new places. Last summer, I finally made it to Europe. I'd like to go back. I enjoyed the chance to get in touch with my family roots. I'm also a long-time comic book fan. I know it doesn't sound cool, but I liked DC Comics more than Marvel. I'd like to get back into comics. I just need to find some free time.

Q: How do you promote your work? 
I'm knocking on virtual doors. I've been pitching Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend to book review blogs. The reality is that most book reviewers have a huge backlog of books to review. Interviews and guest posts seem like a more viable option to get the word out. I'm probably going to test some online advertising campaigns as well. I also have a Tumblr blog. It's an interesting social media platform.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I'm a big fan of the kind of gritty realism of writers like Hubert Selby, Jr. Selby managed to distill the essence of human suffering. It's like he had a pipeline into the misery of the human condition. His writing is provocative, shocking, sickening, powerful and sad. Add to the list stuff like Affliction by Thomas Banks and Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb. That kind of writing really moves me on an emotional level. Obviously, I gravitate towards stories about doomed individuals. The genre isn't important. It explains why I write a series called Cases of Pain.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Why should those guys have all of the fun? David Pain works alone. He is the moral compass in the Cases of Pain universe. Yet, he will get plenty of opportunities to get his hands dirty. In Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend, David has a prescient encounter with a violent mercenary named Augustine Struthers. Struthers is a vulture-like bad ass who does dirty jobs for the highest bidder. Period. His ethics went by the wayside a long time ago. As he tells David after a beat down, every last man who got into the detective racket had the noblest of intentions. Every one of those men thought he was one of the good guys. And look at the outcome. Struthers has become totally corrupted. That's how it should be. Pure noir. I think it's more interesting to have my protagonist take on some of the bad ass elements of those sidekicks, and wrestle with his actions on a moral level.

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will?influence the coming generation?
Definitely writers like Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen. In coming years, I think we'll see the emergence of new talent from gutsy publishers such as New Pulp Press.

Q: Why do you write in this genre? 
The hardboiled genre gets my blood pumping. Part of it goes back to my childhood. I'm a middle aged American. Well, that's assuming that I'll live to be around hundred. Anyway, I was brought up in a household where old time radio shows, film noir and mystery books were the norm. I loved comic books. My older relatives immigrated to the states from Eastern Europe. I'm talking some hard-scrabble, no-nonsense, ethnic miscreants right out of hardboiled central casting. As a grown man, I've gone through my share of rough life experiences. I view life as a long struggle. Happy moments are rare treasures. The sum of my childhood influences and life experiences make the hardboiled genre a perfect fit for me. I like how I can take a character like David Pain and pit him against some of the most vile and obscene monsters out there. This average man relies on his attitude, smarts and guts make a go of it as a private detective. David has flaws. He works alone. He will make mistakes. He will get beaten down. Yet, there is no quit in this man. He is a good man who is sometimes forced to take actions against his own moral code for the greater good. That's what it's all about. That's why I love this genre.

Feb 222014
 
This is the story of JL Abramo's regular protagonist's mentor, Jimmy Pigeon. He tells Jake Diamond the story of the murder of his former partner and we see how he takes on Jake as his partner in his PI firm. Yep, it's a prequel to the excellent Jake Diamond series.
The murder of Pigeon's partner, Lenny Archer (nice  homage) is linked to the actor who played Charlie Chan it seems. In fact, there seem to be some connections to Bugsy Siegel, giving this one a Max Allan Collins / Nathan Heller / historical mystery vibe. Wait a minute... Lenny's brother is called Nathan... Another homage?
Anyway, we follow an assortment of cops, crooks and private eyes move like chesspieces across the board that is Hollywood. They investigate, cheat, and murder as one stupid move leads to another. I really enjoyed seeing these diverse stories intertwine even though I usually like first-person better. And I'm sure you won't guess the surprise ending... I sure didn't see it coming!
It's nice to see Mr. Abramo isn't afraid to experiment a bit. You might want to pick this one up soon because there's a special bonus edition on sale right now.
Feb 142014
 
This isn't a PI story, even not in the unofficial sense, really. It's more of an action / crime story and would make a pretty good action flick.
Ex-war hero Bill Conlin returns from the war to live in New York. His cousin Jimmy asks him to join the mob and after some refusals ends up doing their bidding. He saves some sex-slaves, kills some gangsters and is set up in a fancy appartment, complete with loads of guns and a good-looking woman. Stuff gets more dangerous, bloody and violent by the second and Bill is soon hip-deep in blood.
There's a lot of tough guy conversations and a lot of violent encounters in this book. There's also a lot of bourbon being drunk. So yeah, the title sums up the story pretty well.
If you think there's not enough action in a Lee Child novel and an Andrew Vachss novel isn't dark enough this one might be for you. Personally, I like a little bit more mystery in a crime novel and a little less action.
Feb 072014
 
I was expecting a story that was more amateur sleuth than PI... What I got was a story so action-packed it would make Lee Child blush.
Mark Tanner is a wise-cracking ex-Army veteran now making a living as a personal trainer and sometime-bounty hunter. His best friend is Bear, who wears a prosthetic arm filled with gadgets. There's another man with prosthetics, Mole, who uses his extra fingers to hunt down the information on the digital highway Tanner needs. Tanner agrees to train a young and attractive tennisplayer but when she disappears is forced to track her down and face some enemies from his dark past.
The incredible toughness of Tanner, the many fights and the gadgets The Mole and Bear carry takes this story a bit too much into pulp / Doc Savage territory sometimes, but basically the story is very entertaining.
Tanner's backstory is very large and an important part of this story. Sometimes it feels like the author put a bit too much story into one novel but will have to admit I stayed glued to the pages during the entire narrative.

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