Wednesday, 28 September 2011

"Blood Tears" update

It seems that small publishers are having problems with a certain book-chain which means a delay in the publication of my debut crime novel.

Put it in your diaries, people ...

July 1st, 2012

We're currently talking cover designs (not the above image) and final edits so it's all coming together. At frickin' last.

We're also hoping that advance copies will be made available for those events I've committed to - so some lucky people will get in there first.

In the meantime, I've been busy as a wee bee on another very different project. Which will mean a new publication direction for me. It's all VERY exciting, but I don't want to say too much until details are finalised.

Don't worry, my MCN friends (all three of you) will be the first to know.



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Review - The Sparrow Conundrum by Bill Kirton

The Sparrow Conundrum by Bill Kirton

The blurby bit -

Chris Machin isn’t his name, at least not to the bottom feeders in Aberdeen squabbling over North Sea oil and gas contracts. Chris has a code name, and when his garden explodes, The Sparrow takes flight, plunging everyone involved into chaos and violence.

A sociopathic cop and an interfering ex-girlfriend don’t exactly make for clarity of thinking, not when the one fancies a bit of violence to add spice to an arrest. The ex adds other, more interesting dimensions to Chris’ already complicated life.

The bodies pile up—some whole, some in fragments—and two wrestlers join the fray. A road trip seems just the solution but then so do Inverness, a fishing trawler and a Russian factory ship as the players face … The Sparrow Conundrum.

The review -

The Sparrow Conundrum is a laugh-a-paragraph comic crime caper set against the backdrop of the oil industry in Aberdeen. A full range of funny-bone tickling is on offer for the discerning reader; from a grin sparked by a witty comment, to a chuckle ... to a hefty belly-laugh when a delightful set piece reaches its hilarious conclusion.

The characters that Bill Kirton serves up in The Sparrow Conundrum are a continuous delight throughout the book. My favourites were the sociopathic detective Lodgedale and the crime boss Eagle who surely had his head turned by a gang of bullies at a private school.

Kirton is a master of the comic. His scenes are carefully orchestrated for maximum laughs and his language carefully chosen to tickle.

If you like a change from the normal mystery/ thriller fare and you don’t take your crime fiction too seriously you owe it to yourself to get a copy of The-Sparrow-Conundrum. Hiaasen, Bateman and Moore should be looking over their shoulder, 'cos Kirton has arrived.

(The above link takes you to Amazon - it should be noted there are plenty of other ways to buy this -bloody good - book)

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Stranger You Seek - Amanda Kyle Williams

What have I been reading recently, I hear you ask? Sit back and I’ll tell you.

Sitting comfortably? Cast your peepers over this...

The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

 The blurb goes thus -
“In the sweltering heat of an Atlanta summer a killer is pushing the city to breaking point, preying on the unsuspecting and writing taunting letters to the media which promise more death.

Desperate to stop the Wishbone Killer before another victim is murdered, A.P.D. lieutenant Aaron Rauser turns to the one person he knows can penetrate a deranged mind, ex–FBI profiler Keye Street.

Keye was a rising young star at the Bureau until addiction derailed her career and her life. Now sober and fighting to stay so, Keye picks up jobs where she can get them: catching adulterers, serving subpoenas, chasing down bailjumpers and dodging the occasional bullet.

With multiple victims, little to go on and an entire police force looking for direction, the last thing Keye wants is to be pulled into the firestorm of Atlanta’s worst nightmare.

And then it suddenly becomes clear that the hunter has become the hunted - and the stranger she seeks is far closer than she ever dared imagine.”

My take on it?

This was the Fresh Blood read over at last month and deservedly so. Serial killers are (to borrow the cliché) ten-a-penny in crime fiction and it takes something a little bit special to grab and hold my attention. The Stranger You Seek has got “special” in bucketloads.

Keye Street is my new favourite character and it’s her voice that takes us through this cracking read.  She is spunky, sparky (he feverishly seeks another word beginning with “sp”) and (goes for) sassy. (I didn’t get the “p” in there. So sue me.)

Aspiring writers who are struggling with the concept of “voice” should read this book and they’ll receive the message loud and clear. The author uses this to great effect not only giving the reader everything they would be looking for in such a novel, but with added warmth and wit. And this (despite the tension and body count) makes The Stranger You Seek such a joy to read. 

I will admit to quick roll of the eyes when I realised Keye was a recovering alcholic, but this well-worn device never felt tired thanks to the zip Williams injects into her writing.

REALLY looking forward to see what Amanda Kyle Williams comes up with next. She’s a rising star people – get her book on your shelf now so you can brag to your mates that you were one of the first to spot her.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

It was my birthday last week – and that’s my excuse for not blogging for a wee while – and YES, it took me all week to celebrate.

Anywho, on the afternoon of my birthday I was sat sitting in my car in a queue for fuel. The petrol station was VERY busy.

As busy as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest.

And if you know me, you’ll know that I hate waiting in queues.

Eventually, after much huffing and drumming of fingers on the steering wheel, there was just one car between me and some diesel satisfaction. A young woman climbed out of her car and filled up. (Haven’t you noticed that everyone in front of you fills their tank, while in the other queues they are only topping up with about ten pounds worth? What’s that all about?)

At last, she moved as if to pull the nozzle out of her car. Nothing happened. She pulled again. The nozzle didn’t move. The girl blew hair out of her eyes, shifted her grip and pulled some more. Nothing.

C’mon, missus – I mumbled.

Her handbag was over her shoulder. She adjusted it – pulled some more. No movement. She shook it about. Nothing.

She looked over at me and made a small grimace of apology.

I smiled back and muttered – awfurfucksake.

She adjusted her handbag again, pushed her fringe away from her eyeline, took a deep breath and PULLED. Nada, zip, zilch. She pulled, pulled and PULLED. With the same result.

I caught myself about to swear again and gave myself a lecture. What was I getting annoyed about? She wasn’t doing this deliberately. I didn’t have to be anywhere in a hurry –  and the poor woman was getting really flustered. I’m always telling the wee fella “its nice to be nice”. Time to live up to the lecture, Mikey-boy.

Then I wondered if I should offer to help. Maybe she was a rampant feminist and would knee me in the danglies and tell me to go do myself. Maybe she would dislodge it just as I walked up and I would end up looking like an eejit. Or maybe I would end up struggling just as much as she was.

While I indulged in my pointless internal debate she was still tugging at it, so I got out of the car and walked towards her.

Want me to try, I asked?

Oh yes please, she answered.

The nozzle was fully inserted into the – don’t know what to call it – fuel-hole? I went through the same pantomime she had been performing with the inevitable result. It was well and truly stuck.

It’s really stuck, innit? I said helpfully. I pulled some more. It’s a really tight fit – I continued – your hole is awfy tight.

Realising what I had just said, I coughed and fought down a blush.

I gave the nozzle a wee jiggle (I give good jiggle) and I could see that the curved pipe inside her fuel-(ahem) hole had a row of ridges on the underside and one of these was getting caught in a lip inside her - , no, I’m not going there.

I twisted the nozzle and jiggled some more (see above) and the handle moved out of her car as smoothly as  if it had been coated in lube. (I’m at a bad age, let me go with this.)

Men and their hoses, eh?

Back in my car, feeling pleased with myself I waited for the woman to pay and move her car so I could drive mine into position. After paying and before she sat in her own car, she approached mine. I rolled down the window. She handed me a bar of chocolate – a yorkie bar – that’s for being a big strong man, she said grinning her thanks.

Ten minutes later and I was still smiling at this turn of events as I parked in a car park in town. I had birthday money melting in my wallet and I HAD to spend it. The car park is one of those where you pay at the machine; it prints a voucher and you display it prominently in your car. As I walked to the machine a young man moved towards me.

He asked me -you about to buy a ticket?


Here ye go – he handed me his. I just bought this a minute ago and then I got a text saying I needed to be somewhere, you might as well have it – he smiled.

Well, you have this - I offered the man the pound coin I was about to slip into the machine.

Nah, you’re alright mate, he said and walked away with a wave.

See. Perform an act of kindness and it come right back atcha.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Down These Green Streets - A review

The super-talented writer and all round nice guy, John Connolly was in my local bookshop yesterday so I popped in for a blether. 

This reminded me of a book I reviewed for Crimesquad recently - and here it is ...

Down These Green Streets: Irish crime writing in the 21st Century edited by Declan Burke


A generation of Irish crime writers has emerged onto the international stage in the last decade, among them John Connolly, Tana French, Eoin McNamee, Gene Kerrigan, Arlene Hunt, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Jane Casey and Ken Bruen. Down These Green Streets: Irish crime writing in the 21st Century charts the evolution of the Irish crime novel since the inception of the Irish state through a series of essays, interviews, personal testimonies and short stories, offering the writers’ perspective on Irish crime writing in fiction, non-fiction, film and theatre.


John Connolly was my introduction to Irish crime fiction some ten years ago – my gateway drug if you will, and he offers a fascinating essay detailing among other things, why he chose to set his novels in the US. Adrian McKinty and Brian McGilloway offer views from the north and the impact of the troubles on their desire to write. Declan Hughes talks about  Irish identity and links with America. Ken Bruen in “The Houston Room” has delivered a short story which will be an emotional punch in the gut to devotees of the genre.

There is however, more ...much more.

Throughout this process Declan Burke displays himself to be a very generous fellow indeed. A writer with talent to match anyone in the book, with his only contribution to the collection (introduction aside) he gives John Banville an opportunity to answer his critics who have accused him of literary snobbery. As a follower of his excellent blog,  Crime Always Pays. I know Declan to be an articulate and thoughtful advocate of the genre and I would have enjoyed some of his own thoughts to be included in the book (but then that’s the problem with being the editor).

Down these Green Streets is not a book to gallop through. It’s one to savour and ponder the points raised by some of the keenest minds writing in fiction today. It is in turns discursive, instructive and entertaining and is never less than fascinating. This needs to be in every crime writing fan’s library, regardless of the hue of their preferences. The Scandinavians need to have a good look at their royalty statements; the Irish are here! 

To buy (and you know you wanna) simply go HERE

Amazon also have availability, but they're getting too powerful for my liking. Spread your cash around, people.