Sunday, 24 March 2019

PUSHER REVIEW: The Cage by Julie Morrigan

Julie Morrigan has a new book out. And, if that wasn't cause for celebration enough, it's an absolute belter. In fact, I'm probably not doing it justice, it's better than that. A double-belter? Triple ... oh, ffs.

Regular readers of Pulp Pusher (like my mum, hi Mum, I will call) know Julie Morrigan's face. It's been spray-painted on walls down her native Sunderland way. Now, that's some serious cult standing for you. Julie was featured here in a guest blog a short time ago, which has attracted a lot of praise and if you tap her name into the search box you may find one or two more pieces.

Anyway, to THE CAGE, a grimy, edgy dalliance with the dark side ... of Sunderland. 

It's the seaside and somebody is preying on young women. It's not supposed to be like this, but Noir always works best in the places you least expect it. There'll be a reason for that: something about bad things happening in nice places being more shocking.

So, these women are plucked away at random. It can take a few days, or weeks, or longer for the bodies to show up which obviously gets right up DI Eve Strong's beak - quite literally.

The seaside town gets a wee bit upset by this, a bit nervy. The Kiss Me Quick hats aren't selling quite so fast. And, after a while DI Strong concedes she might just have a serial killer on her hands.

If only that was all she had to worry about, but no, this is a classic case of chasing your protagonist up a tree and throwing rocks at them. The detective soon uncovers missing teenage twins and a house creeper who likes to sniff about in folks' houses whilst they sleep.

There's layer upon layer of tension here - there could even be more layers than a Sarah Lee black forest gateaux. That's a lot of layers to juggle, but Morrigan handles it skillfully. This aspect reminded me of a DI Frost Novel, so much going on and seemingly prosaic happenings all melding together to make the whole.

I rattled through THE CAGE - the first in the DI Eve Strong series from Morrigan - and I might just be the first in line for book 2, which is planned for autumn 2019.

:: THE CAGE is available now on Amazon, priced £1.99.

Friday, 15 March 2019

FREE #Giveaway Weekend

Got a couple of books going #FREE all weekend. You can pick up my freshly edited new version of ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, and if you're one of those lovely American people, PAYING FOR IT is also going free on your side of the Pond. Just clickety-click over to Amazon. Enjoy!


Thursday, 14 March 2019

GUEST BLOG: Character Assassination by Julie Morrigan

Julie Morrigan.


Many moons ago, I was pootling around the west coast of Scotland and rocked up in sunny Plockton. It’s a stunningly beautiful wee place, and one you may be familiar with, even if you’ve never visited, as it’s where Hamish Macbeth was filmed. There was a clapperboard behind the bar in the place I stayed, and tales of ‘good drinkers’ and ‘great company’ to be heard.

Anyway, I got talking with a couple of couples who were also staying there, and we chatted about all sorts, including books and writers we enjoyed. Then one of the women said something that stopped me in my tracks: ‘Crime writers should be careful what they write – they give people ideas.’ The other three nodded sagely at that. I had another drink.

You see, I reckon it’s the other way around. And we usually have to tone things down to make them believable, or at least digestible. The majority of us couldn’t come up with the sort of stuff real monsters do.

A body count in a book would be unlikely to match some of the real-life tolls achieved: the Wests killed at least a dozen people, Mary Ann Cotton poisoned more than 20. Harold Shipman was convicted of 15 murders, but is believed to have committed more like 260. It makes Jack the Ripper sound like a part-timer.

Murder is a fascinating issue, because life is the most precious thing we have. Yes, we’re all going to die and we know that, and even those of us who don’t fear death often feel apprehension as to how it might transpire. What will I die of? When will it happen? Will it hurt? All of that, and more, can crowd in, especially in the wee small hours when all is still – then a board creaks, and we wait for the next sign there’s someone in the house with us that shouldn’t be.

Stories fail if they don’t make us feel something. Some also teach us things, make us think, and even change the way we think, but the main point of a story, for me, is that it makes me feel something. Real me is easily unnerved, reader me loves to be scared. Real me can’t bear arguments, reader me loves a bit of drama. Real me hates the fact that people attack and kill each other, reader me watches and tries to understand the motivation for such acts (and, sometimes – for example, when a banker is found impaled on a pole that’s been inserted where the sun don’t shine – enjoys it!).

I don’t think the fascination with writing and reading about murder, whether true or fictional, is sick, however. I think it’s more a desire to understand ourselves a bit better. Bad people do bad things. Sometimes good people do bad things. Not all bad things are done to bad people. So, if you, like me, enjoy being scared, love a bit of drama and are fascinated by murder, rest assured it doesn’t make you weird. Just human.



:: Pulp Pusher will post a review of Julie Morrigan's new novel next week. Watch this space.



:: Find out more about Julie Morrigan at her website. THE CAGE is available now from Amazon UK.


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

MAURICE DE VLAMINCK









Haven't done any painting in a while, have to get back to it soon. Garage clear-out this weekend, then.


Monday, 11 March 2019

USA Only Kindle Deal


"Black is the new noir" -Allan Guthrie

Gus Dury once had a high-flying career as a journalist and a wife he adored. But now he is living on the edge, a drink away from the city's down-and-outs, drifting from bar to bar, trying not to sign divorce papers. But the road takes an unexpected turn when a friend asks him to investigate the brutal torture and killing of his son, and Gus becomes embroiled in a much bigger story of political corruption and illegal people-trafficking. 

Limited time offer, USA only: $0.99 PAYING FOR IT

Expanding Horizons: The Jake Needham Interview

Jake Needham.
Trying to persuade your home market to take a chance on a novel setting beyond their own shores can be a tough call. It can be even harder to persuade publishers to take a punt — as I know too well. But Jake Needham has managed to pull it off.

A former lawyer and sometime Hollywood screenwriter, Jake sets his heart-pounding thrillers in Asia. He hasn’t been put off by the groans of New York editors who claim they can’t sell such an exotic setting — I’ve heard similar claims about my Scottish novels — so it’s great to see Jake succeeding on his own terms.

I spoke to the Bangkok-Based author about his experience of the publishing world, about watching sales rise to more than half-a-million, and about where he plans to take his writing next. 

TONY BLACK: I’ve recently bought a couple of Jake Needham novels and I’m hooked. The quality of the writing is so high, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover your work, but I believe it’s a common problem in your home country of the USA?

JAKE NEEDHAM: None of my books have ever been published in the US or even sold there other than through Amazon. Over my twenty-year career, I’ve had four New York agents, all of them well-known and well-respected, and not one of them was ever able to stir up the slightest whisper of interest in my stuff anywhere among the New York publishing establishment. Americans don’t much like Asia, my agents were told over and over, and they certainly don’t want to read fiction set there.  

There was also apparently a good deal of suspicion from New York editors about me personally as well. Most Americans don’t know what to make of their fellow citizens who have chosen to live outside the United States, but they seldom make anything good out of them, particularly not when they discover you’re living for some reason in Bangkok, which is probably the world’s most notorious city.

One of my agents told me that more than half of the American editors to whom he submitted my novels refused to read them at all. We have no interest in that kind of material, they sniffed, and returned my books to him unread. Hey, my agent shouted back, Needham doesn't write those kinds of books, but he found that no matter how loudly he shouted he was still facing a formidable wall of presumption based solely on my personal geography. 

One editor even inquired of quite a prominent agent who represented me for a couple of years whether I was a pedophile. Because, she asked, why the hell else would anyone live in a place like Bangkok? Seriously. That really happened. I am not making that up.

You’ve sold more than half-a-million books in Europe and Asia, so you’re far from unknown there.

Yeah, I started out doing the traditional publishing thing in Asia. America publishers might not have wanted me, but publishers in a lot of other countries felt quite differently. I got pretty darn good distribution, too, particularly in Asia and a hell of a lot of publicity in the regional press. In several countries where my books came out, the publishers owned their own bookstore chains and controlled literally thousands of spinners in hotels and convenience stores. Naturally, they put a lot of effort into pushing the books they published themselves out using those channels. My first novel sold over 100,000 copies in trade paper in Thailand alone. A publisher that controls its own sales channels can be a really potent ally.

The problem was that most publishing outside the US and the UK is so regionally based that I had to do a ton of separate deals to get my books out widely. And I never managed to get any of my titles into the US markets. Not one. Foreign publishers have no real chance of competing effectively there so they don’t even try. I can hardly blame them.

To this day, even at Amazon, about half my sales are still in the UK and Europe. It appears to me that readers there may simply be more sophisticated than American readers in their taste in fiction. More UK readers than US readers seem to like fiction that takes them away to other countries and into other cultures. That’s a happy thing for me.

Jack Shepherd Book 1.
I read somewhere that ever since you began publishing crime novels Asia has been home and you’ve said it sometimes feels like a 1950s’ black and white movie to you. Has that era’s storytelling had any influence on your writing?

There is a noir aspect to life in contemporary Asia that feels very real. If you will permit me to quote from, LAUNDRY MAN, the first of my Jack Shepherd novels:

“Bangkok was an enigmatic city at the best of times, a place where the mystery of what you couldn’t see was surpassed only by the ambiguity of what you could. But it was also a place of sensual immediacy and lush, transporting power. Something magical always seemed to be dangling just out of reach. Living in Bangkok, I sometimes felt like I was playing out a scene from The Third Man—lurking warily in the shadows; picking my way through markets, temples, and bars; dodging gangsters, con men, and terrorists; trolling the streets of the city like Holly Martins searching the back alleys of Vienna for Harry Lime in 1945. Holly Martins did have one thing on me, however. At least he knew what he was trying to find.”

What about contemporary fiction, what have you been reading recently?

When we’re in Bangkok I read a lot of UK crime fiction and thrillers because the English-language bookstores out here are very much UK focused. I really like that because a lot of the guys I’ve discovered over the years aren’t all that widely available in the US. For example, I’ve read all of Steve Cavanagh’s books, and Tony Parsons’ and Tom Cain’s, Alex Shaw’s, and of course my mate Tony Black’s.

Another pal of mine is Stephen Leather, who lives out here just around the corner from me but does his best to keep that quiet. Steve started his writing career producing Asia-set fiction. THE FIREMAN, HUNGRY GHOST, THE CHINAMAN, THE VETS, THE SOLITARY MAN, and THE TUNNEL RATS are among the best crime and adventure fiction to come out of Asia since the golden age of Le CarrĂ© and Clavell, but he hasn't published anything similar in more than a decade. He told me he didn’t really want to stop using Asia as source material, but that his UK publisher had forced him to. He said they told him to stop writing about Asia or it would kill his career.

How Asia went in a couple of decades from a place where internationally bestselling writers like James Clavell and John le Carré once set enormously popular novels to a place that publishers claim kills writing careers absolutely baffles me.

You had an interesting route to becoming a writer. Starting out as a lawyer isn’t so uncommon, there’s Grisham, Vachss, even Robert Louis Stevenson, but you ended up in Hollywood — tell us about that journey?

Yeah, I used to be a screenwriter. But don’t hold it against me. It was entirely accidental. Honest.

I had practiced law for a couple of decades, doing mostly international corporate work, and I found myself involved in a complicated and unpleasant corporate merger. To get the deal closed, I ended up buying a piece of the target company that no one else wanted myself, a very modest little Hollywood production house that was making movies for cable TV in the United States. 

Since I was stuck with the company, I did my best to make it profitable, and I tried to focus it more tightly on what I thought it could do well. I dashed off an outline of the kind of movie I wanted the company to make and a copy of that outline accidentally got sent to one of the TV networks the company worked with. Several weeks later the development people at the network called up and asked me to write the movie for them. 

‘Write what movie?’ I asked. 

‘The movie you sent us that treatment for,’ they said. 

‘That wasn’t a treatment,’ I said, ‘it was a business plan.’ 

‘That’s okay,’ they said, ‘we want you to write it anyway.’

And that, girls and boys, was how I became a screenwriter.

I wrote screenplays for American television for quite a while after that, as well as a handful of features, but eventually I came to realize I didn’t actually like American movies and television very much. That was when I decided to see if I could figure out how to write novels instead. 

You’ve written two crime series (the Samuel Tay Books and the Jack Shepherd books) and you’ve put out a number of collected works on Amazon. Is it important to retain control of the whole publishing process yourself as opposed to handing everything over to a legacy publisher? 

In my case, it was purely involuntary. If I wanted my books to be available in the United States, I had to put them out myself through Amazon to make that happen. I was never offered any alternative. 

That said, I think both my e-books and print editions look an awful lot better now than they did when they were being produced by people who cared less about them, and had less at stake, than I did. But then I would, wouldn’t I?

New release today, get it on Amazon.
You’re about to publish another book, if I’m counting correctly, there’s been ten of your crime and mystery novels over the last eighteen years, all of them set in places like Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Yes, the new one just coming out will be my eleventh. It’s called AND BROTHER IT’S STARTING TO RAIN, and it’s the fifth title in the Inspector Tay series. It moves from Singapore to Hong Kong to Thailand to Washington, DC. So, bring your passport. 

Like all of my books for the last few years, it will only be available at Amazon. The e-book edition will be open for pre-orders around the middle of February and both the e-book and the trade paper edition should be available for immediate delivery from around March 1 at all Amazon stores worldwide.

Okay, that’s the commercial. Now we can move on.

You and your family split your time between Thailand and the USA, how do these two quite different places compare to you right now?

We’ve been doing it for thirty years so we’re pretty well settled in both places. In the States we live in a house on a cobblestone street that dates back to the American Revolution. In Bangkok, have a duplex surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass that’s at the top of a high-rise tower overlooking the central city. 

It makes for a nice change going back and forth a couple of times a year, although – to be honest – I personally prefer being at the top of a tower in the middle of a city. There’s a grand sense of privacy to it, as well of course as the God-like benefit of standing on our terrace with a good single-malt in one hand and a great cigar in the other and blessing the city below.

Thailand has experienced quite a lot of upheaval in the time you’ve been there, have you ever felt like leaving or is the upheaval something you capitalise on in your work?

It certainly makes for a rich canvas to set narratives against, doesn’t it? Two of my Jack Shepherd novels – A WORLD OF TROUBLE and DON’T GET CAUGHT – had their roots in the political turmoil in Thailand, and in both cases many of the events I created for those novels actually did occur after I created them. I was even forced to go back and add an Author’s Note to each title reminding readers that the books were fiction, not journalism, and that I hadn’t been attempting to predict the future when I wrote them.

Here’s an anecdote from one of those notes that I rather like:

“I have a friend who was a senior intelligence officer in Asia for most of his career. On a night not long ago in Macau, we were smoking a couple of good cigars and talking about my books. He asked me how I had found out the truth about an event around which I had built the plot of one of them. I didn’t find out about anything, I told him. I just made it up. ‘That’s the thing about Asia,’ he chuckled. ‘You really can’t make anything up. No matter how outrageous what you have written might seem, one day somebody will come up to you and tell you it really happened, or that it is about to happen.’”

And that’s the name of that tune.



:: Find out more about Jake Needham at Amazon and at the author's website. His new release AND BROTHER IT'S STARTING TO RAIN is out now. 


Saturday, 9 March 2019

Top Ten Noirists You Should be Reading

I can guarantee there will be names on this list you've never heard of.

I can also guarantee that there will be names missing from this list that are equally worthy.

But, before you start busting my balls, let me explain the criteria I used to compile the list: My six-year-old is watching Tremors for the first time as I write this, so maybe I'm being a bit nostalgic for past yarns.

I enjoyed reading all these writers, and I'm quite hard to please. You won't find any writers of truck-stop thrillers on the list, they're all curiosities. These writers test the boundaries and bring some style or new perspective to the genre.

So, in no particular order. But actually adding up to ten, here we go:


10:
Brian Murphy - The late great Mr Murphy was for a decade or so, the author of some of my favourite short fiction. True grit, and trust me I've seen the bullet hole in his back.

9:
Julie Morrigan - Her new one's set in Sunderland, a seedy seaside town where young women meet random deaths, apparently. Yes, that real.

8:
Nick Barlay - The most original London crime trilogy I'm aware of came from this dood. Take a blast on his Hooky Gear, it'll blow your mind.

7:
Paul Sayer - Wrote The Comforts of Madness, which only knocked a certain Salman Rushdie out of the running for the Whitbread Prize. Not impressed? Read The God Child, you will be. It's the kind of seaside noir Morrisey might write, if he was particularly depressed.

6:
Paul McGoran - Writes old-school noir, the kind like your mama used to make. Or maybe Gill Brewer, erm, brewed up. Published by the edgy noir imprint New Pulp Press, and well worth your neetbux.

5:
U.V. Ray - They broke the mould when they made this guy. No one writes like him, and no one ever will - the mould's broken, remember. Down and dirty, with an emphasis on the dirty, and the down. If you like your noir bleak, go grab some Ray's.

4:
Barry Graham - I used to say that The Book of Man was the best Scottish novel of the last 50-years, but I predict it'll be the best of the century.

3:
Les Edgerton - Wrote a book called The Rapist, and it's so good it found a publisher. In today's feminised marketplace, that's like launching a pant-liner called gonorrhoea.

2:
Saira Viola - Quite a way out there. No, keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Close. Keep going. Getting warm. Keep going. Keep going. Yeah, there. Well out there.

1:
Timothy Jarvis - Wrote a book about an obscure author of strange tales; dunno why that appeals to me so much. More unique than noir, but bleak enough to earn its slot. Read The Wanderer and tell me I'm wrong. Hot tip: you can't.







Friday, 8 March 2019

Top Tips for School Talks

Back to School: I made a school visit to Dunbar Primary P7 class today.

It's been a busy old week, putting out the new eBook of ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD being top of the list. So, today's venture out to Dunbar Primary was a nice change of pace.

Most people make a face when I say I'm off to speak to a classroom full of kids. They seem to be asking, 'Have you totally lost your marbles?' But, I've always had a blast at schools. And prisons. Go figure.

Today's class were P7s, a very nice, engaged bunch, who had stacks of questions about the craft of writing - including a few I couldn't answer. Sorry kids, but I've no idea how many words I've written over the years, but I'm pretty sure I used some of them more than once.

My top tips for anyone doing school talks are: 

1. Bring props. I brought foreign language editions and some press cuttings my German publisher had sent along. I also took some audio books and it really got their noggins joggin'.

2. Let the audience do the hard yards. Ask for questions and sit back and answer them. Kids get bored easily, you don't want to be standing up there lecturing for 45-mins.

3. Be interested. Give some attention to the classroom, it has work on the walls; ask the kids about their writing and how they went about it.


I've lost count of the number of school visits I've taken part in over the years - I've even read (in Scots) to a Kindergarten - and every visit has been a blast. It's always good to see an interest in writing, and perhaps even meet a few writers of the future.
   
:: You can get in touch via my website's contacts page if you'd like me to give a talk or a lecture to your school. Or prison. Artefacts of the Dead is available in eBook now on Amazon for £0.99.
 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

A Dark, Twisted Story (for £0.99)


New edition out in eBook.
Finally, my full DI Bob Valentine series is back in eBook.

After a short break, and a 40k word haircut, ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD (Book 1) has been uploaded to Amazon.

Trimming such a huge amount of words was hellish, but the book needed it. Now, it’s much more pacy and fits in better with the rest of the series, which all came in around the 70K+ mark. Bob’s first outing originally weighed in at a hefty 120K words. 

There’s a danger, when writing any new book, of letting the ‘getting used to your character’ process run away from you. ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD was my first venture into occult/supernatural elements in the novel form, and I wanted these to be as believable as the other elements, but as the series grew, I discovered I could get away with a ‘less is more’ approach.

I’m not the sort of author who believes a book is ‘set in stone’ the minute you type The End. I’m more of the school that says: ’a book is never finished, merely rested’. Likewise, feedback from readers - and even Amazon reviews - can be priceless for fine tuning the finished product.

So, the latest edition of Book 1 is much leaner, much meaner. It was an edit I’d been toying with for a long time, so it’s great to finally get it out there. If you’re keen to review the new edition of ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, drop me a line and I’ll fire off a free review copy.

It’s a story I had a lot of fun with; possibly because it involves impaling a banker - where the sun doesn’t shine. Could there be some wish fulfilment there? 

The supernatural element is pretty low-key. Bob, my detective, having just survived a near-death experience seems to think he’s developing a sixth sense, or maybe he’s just going mad. I leave the reader to make their own mind up.

Set in the sleepy costal town of Ayr, it’s a completely different environment to my previous Edinburgh novels. Family man, Bob, has none of the baggage that Gus Dury brought to the page, but he does delve into the same seedy crimes.  


‘A dark, twisted story’ (Amazon 5-Star Review) * * * * *


:: If ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD sounds like your kind of thing then get down to Amazon and pick up a copy for a mere £0.99. The book’s similarly priced in other teritories. 

:: All books in the DI Bob Valentine series are now available on Amazon as eBooks. They're written as standalone novels so can be read out of order, if you like: ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD (Book 1); A TASTE OF ASHES (Book 2); SUMMONING THE DEAD (Book 3); HER COLD EYES (Book 4). 


Friday, 1 March 2019

HER COLD EYES is out today!



It's publication day for me again today.

HER COLD EYES is out in large print, through WF Howes. This is a fabulous publisher, who has been with me from the beginning, publishing the entire DI Bob Valentine series and many more. Howes do some great covers and their books are always beautifully produced.

HER COLD EYES, book 4 in the series, has also recently been re-published in eBook and is available on Amazon for £1.99.

Book 1 in the series, ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, should be published next week, all going to plan!

Death by a Thousand Cuts

After weeks of round the clock editing on my soon to be re-released novel, ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, the good news is I might soon get that mirror hung in the downstairs loo.

Writers quite often bemoan the intense level of effort it takes to get a book finished — it is a ton of work writing a novel and there’s no getting away from that fact. 

Why we put ourselves through this arduous process, again and again, is the subject of another post; or perhaps Orwell’s Why I Write, for starters anyway. 

Graham Greene insisted that what drew him back to the writer’s desk was that his life had “been a battle against boredom”. Mr G felt that his creativity was only to be found at the stop just after boredom, and this is what pushed him to start another book. 
The Red Terror.

An interesting thought, but I’ve never found myself saying: “Christ, I’m bored, I know what I’ll do …” I’m pretty sure the results would be desultory, but maybe that’s just me.

I once heard a writer describe the process of finishing one book and starting another as being a bit like waiting for the cistern to fill up on a toilet. There just had to be a bit of time left between books if you were to be, ahem, flush with new material. 

Iain Banks was known to big-up the importance of long breaks where a lot of curry was consumed at regular intervals. He thought it was integral to his output to be dining out on the day to day. 

And William McIlvanney coined the term “productive indolence” for the process. A lovely turn of phrase, but one I’ve had trouble convincing my wife of from time to time, as I spread out on the couch within easy reach of the Doritos.  

The long and short is, when your mind’s full of make believe 24-7 there’s very little space for anything else. Truth told, my life’s a shambles when I’m writing, because I’m so distracted by what’s happening with my characters. I’m bloody sure I shouldn’t drive with a WIP.

Since I finished the ARTEFACTS rewrite a few days ago, it’s been like emerging from a deep-sea dive. I don’t want to alter the atmospheric pressure too quickly and end up with decompression sickness. To totally mix my metaphors, I need to replug into the Matrix, slowly.

But I’m getting there. I found myself mooching about the garage this morning, I even checked the tool box to see what was there in the way of nails. At this rate the mirror will be up by next weekend; unless I go for a curry instead.


:: ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD is being re-issued in eBook this month. The other books in the DI Bob Valentine series are available on Amazon. If you'd like a free copy, sign up to my newsletter. Review copies are also available free in exchange for honest Amazon reviews, just message me via the usual places to request a book.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Gus Dury Gets Tarted Up


So, with my DI Bob Valentine series getting something of a rebrand of late, it seemed a good time to tart up Gus Dury.

The Edinburgh PI-jakey is looking the best he's been in a while. It won't last, though, it never does with Gus. He'll be getting pished and pouring vintage Red Stripe down himself or sumthin.

These new covers are only available in the USA, unfortunately. So, UK will just have to put up with the old ones. US readers can pick up the four books in the series for the princely sum of $4.95. That's a figure recommended to me by a far more knowledgeable author that myself, but I'd be interested to get any thoughts on this.

The Dury books - PAYING FOR IT; GUTTED; LOSS; and LONG TIME DEAD - are all sitting on 5-Stars apiece in the Amazon review stakes. These reviews make all the difference, so if you have the chance to review I'd be in your debt.

Likewise, if you're a reviewer, or would like to leave an honest review, let me know and I'll send you the eBook. You can DM me via my website, www.tonyblack.net or shout me on social media.


You can also grab a quick shuftie of the new Bob Valentine cover for ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD, over at the website. This one should be published early in March, after getting a 40k word haircut. The new version is much more pacy and sits better alongside the other books in the series.

And, finally, there will be a new Gus Dury novel along soon. I'm well passed the half-way line on Book 5, so watch this space and I'll have some news about that very soon.

:: The Gus Dury Series is available on Amazon US now.


Friday, 8 February 2019

Four New Books for £0.99




Talk about a click-baity headline ... well, it's kinda true. All four books are new editions and they're all £0.99 - each.

Three crime thrillers from my DI Bob Valentine series are being re-released in a sparkly new eBook form. (With a fourth to come soon, following a quick haircut.)

There's also the far more civilised 'dad and a lad' HIS FATHER'S SON now available in eBook.

The Bob Valentine series is set on the west coast of Scotland and features a detective who is back on the force after a close shave with death.




Bob's recent stabbing to the heart saw him die on the operating table only to be revived later, however, he's never been quite the same man since. Could it be paranoia on his part, or is there a creeping paranormal influence on him?

Although a 'numbered' series all the books can be read as standalones. The most recent, published last summer, HER COLD EYES, sees Bob peering beyond the murder of a young girl and discovering political intrigue and a Satanic conspiracy that makes him question his real purpose in life.

A TASTE OF ASHES starts with a corpse on a kitchen table and goes on to reveal a torrid family drama. A missing girl, a tragic past and secrets revealed along the way to a haunting ending.

SUMMONING THE DEAD sees the unearthing of the mummified remains of a boy. The investigation takes Bob into the corridors of power and opens a cold case that reveals a political cover-up involving a disgraced MP.

So, yeah, just another day at Westminster or the BBC ... that kinda thing. Obviously, the books' resemblance to the current news cycle garnered some praise from UK's rapidly shrinking bien-pansant. Some of their nice words follow:

“Taut, with a heart-wrenchingly honest protagonist and impressive literary style, it is among the best of the new Tartan Noir.” (The Daily Mail)

“Irvine Welsh adores him, Ken Bruen can't praise him highly enough - Tony Black is the new Scottish noir king you need on your bookshelf” (Shortlist Magazine)

"An accomplished and impressive piece of tartan noir" (The List)

"Black's visceral prose makes this a superior offering in a crowded market" (Big Issue)


The 'not at all crime fiction' HIS FATHER'S SON is also out in eBook. It's more of a 'dad and a lad' type of tale, so if you liked Man and Boy or Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha (one reviewer even compared it to Angela's Ashes) this could be one for you.

HIS FATHER'S SON takes place in the Lucky Country of Australia, and in the not so lucky (with the weather, anyway) Ireland. Two countries I love, and spent some of my own boyhood in, so perhaps the reasoning behind the media's insistence on calling the tale biographical.

Still, HIS FATHER'S SON attracted more kind words than perhaps any one of my other novels. Readers really loved this one.

“Soulful and stunningly written, this reads like a future classic.” (Lisa Jewell)

“A moving and evocative tale, a heartfelt examination of the bond between fathers and sons, and about the baggage one generation passes on to the next.” (Doug Johnstone)

“This is a tale of father and son, man and wife, and how a journey to be reunited can mean rediscovering a part of yourself that was buried long ago and Black tells it perfectly.” (The Scotsman)

“This is an emotional story to be sure. Poignant yes. It also has its humour cleverly paced and bittersweet I highly recommend that you pick a copy of this book. Mr Black can write more than crime fiction that's for sure. I hope he continues to do so.” (Liz Loves Books)

“His Father's Son is an emotional story fraught with believable characters, a finely woven plot, and a mesh of two cultures expertly revealed. This story is written in a style reminiscent of the late Frank McCourt and should sit alongside Angela's Ashes as one of Irish literature's classic novels.” (Heart of Fiction)


:: The newly re-released eBooks can be found on Amazon, with ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD (currently getting a haircut) coming before the end of the month.

Friday, 1 February 2019

WARNING: bad words included

WARNING: Free swearing too.

It's FREE book time at Pusher Towers. 

Go grab yourself a copy of R.I.P ROBBIE SILVA for nowt down at Amazon this weekend. 

This was a fun yarn to write - I put it to bed over the course of a month or so in Melbourne a few years back. 

It's a short, leery novella about an ex-con (Jed Collins) who just can't seem to get his shit together. When he meets wild child Gail, he doesn't realise how much trouble he's getting in to. One mad caper later and he's offered a job by city villain Robbie Silva, who just happens to be Gail's father. It might be the big payday Jed has dreamed of, but his gut tells him to run a mile.

R.I.P ROBBIE SILVA is also one of my most Marmite creations - you either love it or have it. My original editor Al Guthrie loved it and that's good enough for me. But, going by the reviews on Amazon some readers had trouble with the language.

This is the most common complaint I hear - sweary language. I'm not alone in this. I once attended an event where one of these (Boomers/ church ladies ... insert your own description here) presented a copy of an author's book with the swear words circled in red pen and asked for an explanation.

I shit you not! That happened. Later, I asked the legendary William McIlvanney how he would have handled the situation and he replied: "I'd have told her to fuck off."    

I'm sure the Godfather of Tartan Noir would have been too much of a gentleman to word his reply quite like that, but there you go, sweary language picks up reviews like this:

One of the very few books I have been unable to finish reading, relies on bad language and ridiculous rhyming slang, even tho the chief character claims to hate Londoners. Strongly suspect I will feel the same way about the other two books I already purchased by this author


-AMAZON one-star review. 
And in the interest of balance, or something:

Tony Black's novella is set in the parts of Edinburgh your average tourist doesn't see. Add in some crackling dialogue - much of it littered with Edinburgh slang - and you've a dark, menacing crime story with touches of real humour. This is a great story from one of the finest crime writers of today. 

-AMAZON five-star review

:: R.I.P ROBBIE SILVA is free on Amazon this weekend, Saturday, Feb 2, and Sunday, Feb 3.