Thursday, 13 December 2018

Decompress for Christmas

If you're finding the Christmas rush all a bit too much, take a breather at the Bass Rock Gallery in Dunbar.

I'll be doing a little reading, signing a few books and there will be poetry readings and more.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Highland Times - new article

THE Highland Times has a lengthier piece on my painting which is to be auctioned for the cancer charity Maggie's. 

There's a link here and you can view the painting now at Bass Rock Gallery, 144 High Street, Dunbar. The gallery can be contacted on 01368 865141. 

On Dec 22, 5pm-8pm, I'll be doing a reading at Bass Rock Gallery along with local poets and, possibly, a guest musical appearance. 

Friday, 30 November 2018

My painting auction for Maggies Charity

Big thanks to the Ayrshire Post for running this piece about the painting I donated for auction by Maggies Charity. You can see the painting in Bass Rock Gallery right now, where you can also get details about the action, which comes with a complete backlist of my books.

London Calling is FREE today

FREE   FREE   FREE  ... need I say more?

A low-life drug-dealer has a sudden change of heart as he takes revenge on his cheating partner in London Calling, the title story of this collection of original short stories by Tony Black. 

See a loose-moralled lothario get his painful comeuppance in Pretty Boy and laugh at the antics of a pathetic patter-merchant in the anti-romance Jailbait Stalemate. 

You can also enjoy a short tour of the seedier side of Edinburgh with reluctant investigator Gus Dury in the original short-story version of Last Orders. 

These Scots-themed stories are collected here for the first time in a 10,000-word anthology. London Calling originally appeared in Esquire Magazine whilst the rest of the collection featured in the Best of British Crime, Requiems for the Departed, Protectors, and Crime Factory.


Friday, 23 November 2018

Book Week Scotland, Berwick Lit Fest

I took part in an eventful reading at Danderhall library last night. Luvly crowd of locals, all really interested in crime fiction. I filled them in on how I researched HER COLD EYES and I don't think I've ever experienced a more blatant example of the cliche 'you could have heard a pin drop'.

Yes, that's my tip for your next outing in mixed company, talk endlessly about ritual Satanic sex abuse, it's a real conversation starter.

Huge thanks to all at Midlothian Libraries for organising the event, especially to Danderhall Library manager, Gwen Reid, second from right, who even brought her hubby along to raise the testosterone levels in the room. With me, my mate, Jim, and Gwen's hubster, that made three men and the rest were women. I have no idea what this says about the fairer sex and would never be so uncouth as to suggest otherwise.

My personal high-point of the night, was the elderly lady who turned up to ask me to give Gus Dury a break, she said: "I just want to see him find a wee bit of peace, can we see him settled and happy?" I know how she feels, but I cannae see it. Gus always seems to find the self-destruct switch.

A few weeks back I was in Berwick for their Literary Festival, sharing the stage with the writer Tom Maxwell. We've written a crime novel together and that's about to be turned over to my agent so watch this space for more news about that.

Tom's dad, the famous Scottish journalist Fordyce Maxwell had an event at the festival too and that was a personal highlight, along with Tom's robotix moves (left), for me. Fordyce talked about the good old days of journalism, when companies like The Scotsman were regarded as quality products the world over. A fabulous and engaging speaker, if you get the chance, go and see him.
And finally, thanks to Jim Divine for the new strap at the top of the blog. I don't know where I'd be without his creative talents, he also does fine book covers and calendars if you're in the market. Ta, Jim.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

The Bold Stauner

Facts ay life, innit. Or so he says, if you missed the stage play of my novella THE RINGER you can now catch it online, in full. The excellent stage-play and direction is all down to Pete Martin, and the actors Evie Adams, Chris Taylor, Bryan Larkin and many more deserve huge praise for their efforts.
Here's the trailer below, and a link to the full video on Vimeo:

The Friday Round-up (Or, How to Fuck-up Publicity for Your New Book)

Yes, folks, it's time once again for the ever-popular Friday Round-up. And this time, as ever, it's not appearing on a Friday, but, for a change, it's not a round-up.

I've been reminded, in somewhat blunt and even sweary fashion, that I have been neglecting this blog for some time. And I said to that: bollox! Because if you think this blog's neglected you should see my liver. Fuck it, you should really see my writing career, which I've been on the edge of abandoning completely all year.

More on that in a later blog (I will be back) but right now, let's jump to the ever edifying act of blatant self promotion of the most naked kind. I have, as reported on Pusher, a new book out. I may need to remind my publishers of this fact because the publicity has been about as effective as a CGI Jimmy Savile heading up a recruitment drive for the Scouts.

So, given that there is a clause in my contract to give first refusal on the next DCI Bob Valentine to this particular publisher, this will indeed be the final outing for the man himself. If it's of any consolation, I think HER COLD EYES is the best of the series and the blogosphere's reviewers seem to agree so perhaps, just maybe, it's worth the fucking ridiculous price of £2.48 my
publishers have been charging, uninterrupted, since launch. I'd suggest writing to them to seek a lower price but they never answer my emails, so I doubt they'll answer yours either.

Moving on, that pic up there in the corner is from the Arran Banner - the only piece of mainstream media publicity HER COLD EYES has had; and yes, I got that. Thanks to Hugh my old mucker at The Arran Banner, you are a diamond in the rough old son and I appreciate the hand-up. (PS-I left the bottle of Grouse in your desk drawer as agreed).

Next up, on this pitiful publicity round - I use the term loosely - is a picture of a book in a shop, face out, and in the 3-for-2 section no less. God bless you, Ellie Wixon, of Blackwell's in Edinburgh. You have been with me from the start and never failed to push my work in-store at every opportunity. You are a true saviour of all the writers let down by lazy publishers who can only be bothered to push the titles they have nearly bankrupted themselves to buy (you have to make that moolah back somehow, right?)

Finally, on this round up of my complete abortion of a book launch, is a pic sent from a reader who spotted HER COLD EYES in a certain popular bookstore, somewhere in London. Now this, I admit truly stunned me, because most of my emails from readers down south are to say they can't even find my books in their shops. So to hear that it's in the hooky paid-for bullshit top-ten chart that this retailer knocks-up I can only presume it's an honest mistake. I'm guessing by the delivery driver because I've no idea how I got in there.

And that's it.

If you'd like to buy HER COLD EYES, and frankly, with all this encouragement why wouldn't you? Then you can find it on Amazon (where I could have stuck it myself) for the outrageous sum of £2.48 in eBook and for the weird sum of £7.74 in paperback.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Paul D. Brazill on LAST YEAR'S MAN

We haven't had a Q&A at Pulp Pusher for quite some time. So, thought we should so something about that. 

We've asked the one and only Paul D. Brazill along to tell us about his latest tome, LAST YEAR'S MAN.

TB: I just read the blurb for LAST YEAR'S MAN, and fuck me, it sounds a bit tasty ... I'm hearing echoes of Get Carter in there. Tommy Bennet is an assassin with a hard paper-round, and he's getting on a bit. What appealed about bringing him to life? 

PDB: For sure, the shadow of the Brit comedy of my youth hangs over Last Year’s Man. The ghost of Galton and Simpson and especially the Tony Hancock of ‘Too many things went wrong too many times.’ Tommy’s had enough. He’s looking for respite. Takeshi Kitano’s sad-sack persona was also an influence – especially Sonatine and the end of Zatoichi.

Are you a fan of the old British gangster flicks? When I wrote R.I.P Robbie Silva, I'm sure I was channelling Villain in some way ... Burton rarely made a decent movie, mind you. 1984 was going out on a high. We're rambling off topic, pull it back by saying something profound about writing ...

For sure, but I’m more The League Of Gentlemen and The Ladykillers. The Italian Job and The Wrong Arm Of The Law - just full of character and characters.

Tell me about your publishers All Due Respect, they look an interesting outfit. They put out a Nigel Bird novella, I believe. Nigel's a great writer, are you a fan?

All Due Respect is ostensibly Chris Rhatigan, although they are under the umbrella of Down and Out Books now.  Chris is a great writer of lowlife yarns and he has an eye for an offbeat story too. They’ll be putting out a reboot of Nigel’s In Loco Parentis later this year. He’s a great writer. Mr Suit may be my favourite of his.

And, what's next for you?
Near To The Knuckle will be putting out my short story collection Small Time Crimes and I may get another book out this year too. I’m finishing off a follow up to Last Year’s Man. It’s called The Iceman Always Rings Twice. I hope to finish Carry On Criminal- at last- by the end of the year.

Anything you'd like to add before signing off?
Thanks for having me, Tone!

:: Find out more at Paul's website.

Pimp My Read

Yes, it's that time again. 

There's a new book out, making its way to stores and hand-held reading devices everywhere. 

Of course, you know nothing about it, so here's the run-down from Amazon:

Abbie is missing. Her mother knows who's to blame.

But nobody is listening.
When the case falls to DCI Bob Valentine, he has no choice but to listen. Haunted by the girl's cold gaze and her mother's hurt, Valentine finds himself at the centre of the most harrowing investigation of his police career.
As he uncovers a ring of ritualistic abuse that circles up to the highest echelons of a degraded, Satanic society, the detective wonders how the world can contain such evil.
And then the bodies start to mount up. And the demons defenders appear. Has Valentine any hope of finding the missing, never mind the guilty?
'This novel was totally Unputdownable. I loved every minute of Her Cold Eyes.' -Favourite Novels
'Horrifyingly dark crime fiction, brilliantly executed.' -Anne Bonny Book Reviews
'Very dark and gritty... definitely up there with my best reads of the year.' -Donna's Book Blog
'Another brilliant DCI Valentine novel and I really hope it's not the last.' -The Welsh Librarian

'The latest in a can't put down book series from crime author Tony Black' -There's Been a Murder
'A compelling book, forcing the reader to face the horrors revealed between its pages.' -Undiscovered Scotland
:: Buy HER COLD EYES on Amazon now.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Friday Update. (Yes, I know.).

Been a bit mental here at Pusher Towers of late, so apologies to my regular readers (both of you!) for the gap in writing up my usual guff. But here it is now. By way of news, that paper of note, The Arran Banner (ably edited by Hugh Boag) has been keeping my home town informed of the publication of Bay of Martyrs. A lovely piece about how my old mucker, Matt Neal, and I came to write the book - despite being on opposite ends of the globe - was followed up by a crackin' review.

The Arran Banner.
AAA Edinburgh also splashed Matt and myself all over their pages with a very nice interview slot, which you can read here. More coverage, and opportunities for blather, occurred at Paul Brazil's gaffCol's Criminal LibraryThe Highland TimesThe Standard, and Mick Malone's site.

Reviewers have been almost universally kind to BoM too, with write-ups at Shots MagCrime Fiction LoverBook BallonSugar PulpPromoting Crime Fiction, and more on the way.

Moving on, following a rights return, The Inglorious Dead has been re-released in eBook and can be purchased in the US right now for under a buck! There's also been a re-design by the brilliant Jim Divine on some of the other titles on my backlist, which are also going cheap in the US for a limited period. 

The Daily Record.

Summoning the Dead (currently 90p on Amazon), my latest in the DI Bob Valentine series has just been released in Large Print, too. Very nice cover design by my long-time LP publishers, WF Howes. And there's an audio version from ISIS Audio just out as well, featuring the silky tones of the uber-talented Garth Cruickshank. 

Still on the subject of Summoning the Dead, a piece appeared in the Daily Record (thanks to Shari Low for the sendalong) about the third book in the series. Book four is underway and is scheduled for release next year in paperback from Edinburgh-publisher Black & White.

And finally, news of an event. I'll be appearing at the Bloody Scotland Festival on 9 September alongside JG Sinclair and LA Larkin, which should be fun. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Message from Andrew Vachss

Andrew Vachss.
I've long been a fan of the work of Andrew Vachss, the legendary American author of the critically-acclaimed Burke series and countless outstanding crime novels.

I've raved about his work here, and elsewhere, over the years. I even interviewed him for my Hard Truths series.

I've been a little less circumspect in detailing some of his other achievements as a lawyer and dedicated campaigner on child protection issues. So I'm delighted to do that now.

This week Vachss got in touch to tell me about the Legislative Institute for Child Protection, and how you can donate to their good work with your Amazon purchases.

Amazon's Smile Program gives 0.5% of every purchase to the charity you designate and costs you nothing. So, if you'd like to help this very worthy cause, start shopping via the link below.

:: Shop at Amazon and donate to The Legislative Institute for Child Protection

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

What is Pulp Fiction?

Len Levinson.
by Len Levinson

After attending the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention on 4/23/2017, I found myself wondering what exactly is pulp fiction anyway.
I’ve written 83 published novels under 22 pseudonyms. All generally are considered pulp fiction so I should know what it is by now, but never thought much about definitions or codifications before.
When the expression “pulp fiction” first was used, it referred to cheap paper used in magazines publishing that kind of fiction. But precisely what kind of fiction was it? What is the difference between pulp fiction and ordinary fiction?
Raymond Chandler said, “I guess maybe there are two kinds of writers, writers who write stories and writers who write writing.”
First and foremost, pulp fiction tells stories. That means they require plots. But not just any old plots. Pulp fiction requires gripping plots. Something vital must be at stake in every story. Suspense is the name of the game. Pulp fiction is not about people sitting around having extended erudite conversations about Heidegger’s theory of being. Pulp fiction usually is about life or death situations, or the possible destruction of a city, or even the vaporization of the entire planet by an evil genius.
Villains must be truly villainous, not nice guys confused about moral issues, although villains certainly can be multi-dimensional. Heroes or anti-heroes must be brave, tough and resourceful, despite occasional human failings. There are exceptions to every rule but exceptions do not invalidate rules.
All characters must be finely etched and real. They should come to life and jump off the page into the reader’s lap. Their dialogue should snap, crackle and pop like Rice Krispies. No meandering pointless conversations allowed. Every word must advance the plot.
Regarding locales, the reader should feel that s/he just parachuted into a scene which s/he can vividly see, smell, hear and feel.. S/he must know precisely what’s happening at all times. But scene description must not be overdone. Good pulp fiction strikes the balance between too much and too little.
Pulp fiction should grab the reader by the throat with the first sentence, not on page 31 after lengthy scholarly expositions. Pulp fiction writing must have momentum, not meander lazily along like the Swanee River. The reader should feel as if s/he just stepped onto a fast-moving train. Ideally, the reader will become so immersed in the story, s/he will feel disoriented and won’t know where s/he is when looking up from the page.
Pulp fiction can be hard-boiled crime investigations, visionary sci-fi extravaganzas, sinister spy thrillers, supernatural fantasy melodramas, sword-swinging pirate bloodbaths, shoot-em-up westerns, bone-chilling horror tales, razzle dazzle action-adventure sagas, bloody exploding war novels, and even desperately passionate Harlequin-type romances. I suppose pulp fiction can be about anything, the weirder the better.
But the stories have got to move. They’ve must be humanly real no matter how offbeat the story. They’ve got to draw in the reader. They’ve got to totally fascinate or enchant.
I don’t intend to denigrate regular fiction. I’ve read and enjoyed most of the classics. But pulp fiction is like a punch in the mouth. It’s got to knock you out. You shouldn’t be able to put a pulp fiction book away and go to bed at night like a normal, decent person. It should excite your imagination and make you forget about going to bed. It should turn you on.
That’s pulp fiction in my opinion, folks. At least that’s how I’ve always tried to write it.

:: LEN LEVINSON is the author of 83 novels written under 22 pseudonyms, published originally by Bantam, Dell, Fawcett, Harper, Jove, Charter Diamond, Zebra, Belmont-Tower, and Signet, among others.  He has been acclaimed a “Trash Genius” by Paperback Fanatic magazine, and his books have sold an estimated two-and-one-half million copies.  Many of his novels have been republished as ebooks and paperbacks by Len Levinson.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

FREE: R.I.P Robbie Silva

* * * * FREE THIS WEEKEND * * * *

You can pick up the Edinburgh-set noir thriller, featuring fresh out of jail Jed Collins today, for the princely sum of nowt.

R.I.P Robbie Silva features all the Edinburgh gangsters you could ever want, a squabble or two, and a security van heist that makes Richie Burton's Villain look like a Disney movie.


:: R.I.P Robbie Silva is available on Amazon UK and Amazon USA and all other Amazon sites. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Sex and Violence and Noah Milano

by Jochem Vandersteen

I am far from a prude but I did it find it difficult to write sex scenes on the page.

I guess earlier Noah Milano stories reflected this a little bit. Ever since The Death Business I’ve been a bit more confident about it, I guess it has to do with getting older. That’s not to say my stories have turned into letters to Penthouse Forum, I have no illusion I am that literate, after all. 

Seriously, I try to write about sex the way I do about violence. Hell, the way I write all my scenes. The way Elmore Leonard intended us hardboiled writers to, leaving out the parts people skip.

I don’t get bogged down in the details of the acts of sex and violence but don’t pull back on the grit either. When people are horny they fuck, not make love. When people fight, they go for the kill.

There’s blood, naked bodies, bad language and nasty people all around my new novella as well.

The way I write I don’t need 60,000 words to get my story told. I know I’m not writing War and Peace. I’m not writing to change the world. I’m writing because I love what the ones who came before me did so well. 

You know, Hammett, Chandler, MacDonald and maybe even more so Mickey Spillane and later on Robert Crais and Robert B. Parker. I want to entertain. And let's face it, reading about cool private eyes fighting gangsters and bedding hot women is entertaining.

And make no mistake, my main protagonist for almost twenty years now, Noah Milano is one cool dude. He’s a Jack Daniels swilling, 9mm-packing wiseguy in a leather coat, as quick with his wit as his fists. 

Women want him and men want to  be him. That kind of guy. He’s also full of guilt and anger, so don’t think there’s not a certain level of deeper thoughts in the book. It’s just that’s the icing, not the cake.

What I’m trying to say, I guess is that if you like pulp fiction, if you want to be entertained and don’t get offended by sex and violence you might want to pick up my new novella. It’s dirt cheap too. Come on, you know you’re not better than I am. You love that kind of shit too.

* * * *

Serving Justice is available now on Amazon

When security specialist and son of LA's biggest mobster, Noah Milano, moonshines as a process server and manages to piss off a MMA fighter and stumble on a corpse. He's enlisted to prove a beautiful woman didn't killer her husband, the corpse Noah found. Caught in a dangerous web of deception where danger lurks around the corner and it can be very unclear who is friend and who is foe Noah Milano fights for redemption ... And to serve justice

"Jochem's deep and abiding love for classic pulp fiction comes through on every page, and his stories continue the time-honored tradition of the hardboiled American PI." 
--Sean Chercover, author of Trigger City.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Grab 'em whilst you can!

Some price drop news today. TRUTH LIES BLEEDING, the first in the DI Rob Brennan series is FREE in the USA for a little while. 

This one picked up some rave reviews when it was released by Random House, like this one from The Times:

"Tony Black's Edinburgh makes Ian Rankin's version of the city seem sedate, polite and carefree ... makes a strong case to assume the mantle of Edinburgh's leading fictional detective, vacant since the retirement of Rankin's Rebus."

:: Download TRUTH LIES BLEEDING for your Kindle at Amazon in the USA

In other news, you can also get my latest title, BAY OF MARTYRS for a mere quid right now.

:: Download BAY OF MARTYRS for your Kindle at Amazon UK

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

New Thylacine Interview

I've just completed a really great interview with a group of Tasmanian tiger bloggers. They asked some great questions that really made me think about how I got started writing THE LAST TIGER. Here's a taster and you can follow the link at the bottom of the page to the full interview.

Q- How did you get interested initially into writing a book about thylacines? 

Tony- I used to work on a paper in SW Victoria called The Standard and when I was there I wrote several stories about strange animal sightings in the district that the locals thought were the thylacine. I started to dig into the subject and was immediately hooked. It's a tragic story, something that should never have happened, and it struck a chord with me, on a very deep level, that is still resonating today. 

Read the whole interview at the Australian Tasmanian Tiger blog and you can follow the group on Facebook.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Last Tiger

I have a new cover for THE LAST TIGER, created by the incredibly talented Mr Jim Divine - check out his stuff, if you're an author in the market for a cover, promo banners or more. He's highly recommended and an author himself (The Lost Tornado) which currently boasts around 70-plus reviews, mostly at 5-star. 

Jim created the cover for THE LAST TIGER to replace the original created by publishers Cargo. I loved the original cover too but really wanted to get one that shouted about the Tasmanian setting more and I think Jim's one fits perfectly. 

Since the rights for THE LAST TIGER reverted to me last month I've been selling the book at £0.99 on Amazon, which isn't a bad price for a book that was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger and Not the Booker Prize, but don't tale my word for it.

"Striking, wildcard brilliance," was the word of the Sydney Morning Herald.

:: The Last Tiger is £0.99 on Amazon UK.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Questions on the Queensland Tiger Search

ANYONE who takes an interest in the story of the Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) has had a lot to think about this last week. 
News outlets the world over have been busily splashing headlines about a number of new sightings alleging to be the thylacine in the far north of Queensland. As ever with new thylacine sightings, a certain amount of excitement follows but the excitement this time round has been exceptional.
It's an interesting story, with some very interesting elements that will set antennae twitching among thylacine researchers. I don't count myself among this number - my novel about the demise of the thylacine in Tasmania involved a lot of research but those very few thylacine experts out there have spent lifetimes studying the subject.
What I do know, however, caused me to wonder what exactly was going on in Queensland. The evidence from the sightings is very interesting, and from seemingly reliable sources, but what perplexed me more was the fulsome backing from the James Cook University academics involved. Academics tend not to be so confident where the thylacine is concerned.
Knowing what I do about the Tasmanian thylacine, the method of research that is going to be used (going on the press reports) prompts more questions. 50 high-tech baited camera traps are to be set in the territories identified but this has been tried in previous searches without success. Thylacines, at least those in Tasmania, were not carrion eaters so the 'bait' presumably would need to be live.
Live traps bring their own problems to a search. Not least the inevitable human involvement necessary and thylacines - again, the Tasmanian ones we have some knowledge of - were notoriously wary of human scent. If you've seen the movie The Hunter you'll recall Willem Dafoe had to smear himself almost completely in scent-masking mud and gloop to have any chance of fooling his prey.
I was, though, much more heartened by the eye-witness reports. Brian Hobbs, who the media describe as a tourism operator in Queensland, said the animals he saw were shy creatures. Now this does fit with original testimony on the thylacine and made me think. When I was a newspaper reporter in SW Victoria I interviewed people who claimed to have seen thylacines and some had clearly viewed the YouTube footage of that enormous gape with the teeth inside and invented an aggressive predator to suit their story.  
But, again, I latched onto some doubts about the sightings. The second witness, a parks ranger this time, detailed a pack of animals and in a separate location. Thylacines were not known to travel in packs, but were solitary night hunters. And the chances of two separate populations surviving at different locations seemed slim to me; though I did wonder if we were dealing with one population that moved about over considerable distances as thylacines were known to do.
In the end, I was left with more questions than answers about the latest sightings and the planned search they'd sparked in Queensland. But, as I say, I'm no expert. The research required to write a novel is nothing compared with the intensive, life-long study and scientific analysis that accompanies the work of a man like, for example, Col Bailey.
Bailey, has been one of the leading experts on the thylacine for decades. He has conducted innumerable searches, written three books on the subject and was the man that Australian film director Daniel Netteim called in to add credibility to Dafoe's character in The Hunter.
Now in his 80s, Bailey remains lively in all debate about the thylacine. He's known for his forthright views, expressed in numerous newspaper and television interviews throughout the world. He seemed like the perfect man to put my questions to on the latest Queensland thylacine story - so that's what I did. 
TONY BLACK: Another search, another round of media excitement - I've noticed over the years that you tend to be far more reserved in your assessments of such events, Col. Is this time any different?
COL BAILEY: Yet another mainland search for the holy grail of rare and supposedly extinct animals. It may well be the media who, as is usual, come out in front again. The thylacine or Tasmanian tiger most certainly did at one time exist in Queensland but is believed to have died out there several thousand years ago. However, over the past 100 years or so, consistent reports have ensured the possibility of the tiger’s survival, and the latest round of sightings only add to the anticipation.
The people reporting the latest sightings - one a former Queensland National Parks Service ranger and the other a tourism operator - seem to be reliable witnesses, but you've spoken to a lot of reliable witnesses in the past, can we place too much emphasis on such claims?
NPWS officers and tourism operators? Tasmania has had its fair share of this type of sighting too. They are, after all, at the forefront of Parks maintenance and adventure tour activities that often place them in remote and seldom accessed wilderness areas. They above all people should be conversant enough with this animal to give a balanced opinion, but as is so often the case, human error can so often overrule common logic.
The tourism operator, Brian Hobbs, says he saw a pack of animals in the Cape York Peninsula. Does this sound like thylacines to you?
Thylacines in Tasmania have never been known to be a pack animal, rather a solitary, lone-wolf, hunter - type top order carnivore. However, a family grouping of mother and young were often seen in days – gone-bye. This could comprise of an adult female and anywhere up to four immature offspring, once commonplace, but a highly unlikely prospect these days.
Hobbs' description of the animals he saw as quiet and non-aggressive does sound very like the thylacine to me. The popular myth is of a much more threatening animal, does this say anything to you?
Records of thylacine behaviour generally describe a shy, placid animal with a non-aggressive attitude towards humans. The exception was their savage attitude to other animals, domestic dogs and the like. Very few recorded instances exist of their unrestrained belligerence towards humans.  Conversely, there do exist inconsistent hearsays alleging otherwise, these being more in the realm of fiction.
The ranger's sightings were in a separate remote location in the far north of Queensland. Would this suggest the possibility of a separate population or a roaming population? 
This is perhaps a more interesting aspect of this scenario, casting as it does a more credible light on the probability of a thylacine presence in the area. Thylacines are by nature territorial animals, roaming over large swathes of countryside, this dependent on the nature of the terrain and the availability of prey species within that expanse. Therefore, there remains the possibility of their inhabiting such an area as that in question, its seclusion and inaccessibility having previously protected them from detection, thus enabling them to survive against the odds. 
When the ABC put Hobbs' description to Professor Bill Laurance from James Cook University he came to the conclusion, after dismissing everything else, that it was a thylacine sighting. I generally find academics extremely reluctant to nail their colours to the mast so strongly when it comes to such sightings - should we read anything into this?
Professor Bill Lawrence, as an academic of some standing, has either intentionally or inadvertently laid his reputation squarely on the line in advocating a thylacine presence, regardless of whether it is in Queensland or anywhere else in Australia. This therefore gives considerable credence, particularly to the QNPS ranger’s sighting rather than that of tourism operator Hobbs who would be less experienced in these matters, particularly in the identification of such an unfamiliar animal as the thylacine. This then perhaps, throws a new perspective on Bill Lawrence’s undertaking, considering the likelihood of a pending field survey and investigation of the matter.
The field survey is going to be led by Dr Sandra Abell, also from James Cook University. She has only recently discovered a population of the near-extinct northern bettong nearby. On paper it sounds like a serious search by well-qualified people - how do you rate it, and also, their chances?
The interest being shown by James Cook University is noteworthy and strongly suggests an academic awareness of the possibility of thylacines in north Queensland. In appointing Dr. Sandra Abell, the recent discoverer of a near extinct bettong population in northern Queensland to lead the investigation, their chances of their locating a thylacine presence, however inconceivable it may appear to some, cannot be ruled out entirely. It is possible too, that a form of allopatric speciation may have taken place through isolation that differentiates the Queensland tiger from our own Tasmanian version.
More than 50 high-tech baited camera traps are to be used in two sites. I'm presuming this will have to be live bait to even tempt a thylacine but given the animal's wily nature does this sound like a sound plan to you?
The employment of baited camera traps, be they live or dead baits, does pose several pertinent questions. Such contrivances have, from time to time been used in Tasmania without success. Live baits comprising poultry, domestic stock and small animals etc. have proven extremely time consuming with on-going care and maintenance commitments. Dead baiting with offal, various animal parts along with a variety of other mediums have failed to bring positive results. Unless Queensland thylacines have differing gastronomic desires to their Tasmanian cousins, the results may well end up the same. I have long stressed that human scent associated with such tactics can and does act conversely, as the thylacine will stay well clear once human scent is detected. However, back in the days when thylacines were common in Tasmania, their guard was down and they were nowhere as restrained and cautious as they are today. If by chance there are thylacines living in that surreptitious Queensland haven in unmolested bliss, they may well take the bait and be reeled in. Whatever the outcome, it will most certainly be an interesting exercise.

:: Col Bailey's most recent book, Lure of the Thylacine, is available on Amazon Australia and Amazon UK.

Friday, 24 March 2017

OUT NOW: Bay of Martyrs

Sooo, the day has finally arrived. BAY OF MARTYRS is out!

If you like the sound of 'True Detective Down Under' then this is the boyo for you. Co-written by the excellent Aussie scribe, Matt Neal, you can walk into any good book store - and a few shit ones - in Scotland right now, hand over legal tender (or shoplift it) and walk out with the bad boy.

You can also pay a visit to the website place that sells books. Where we have a cracking first 5-star review in place, which states: ''I thoroughly enjoyed Bay of Martyrs. It is a thumping good read which held my attention throughout.''

There's a few more reviews out there, including Shots, who say: ''Aussie noir has a certain ring to it, almost like the sound of half-empty lager cans being banged together at the end of a test match. If this is the start of a new wave in crime writing, you can expect Tony Black and Matt Neal to surf it all the way to Bondi beach.''

Matt does a fine job of pimping our wares down at the Highland Times, that northern paper of note, too. And there's an interview with the very man on Paul D. Brazill's brilliant blog, where he reveals a certain fondness for The Muppets, among other things.

:: BAY OF MARTYRS is out now on Amazon UK   Amazon USA   Amazon AU

Thursday, 16 March 2017

True Detective on the Australian Coast

FOR those of you paying attention it can't have escaped your notice that there is a new book with my name on it fast approaching. But, not only my name! Let me explain ...

''True Detective on the Australian coast''
A few years back I worked beside a precocious journalist by the name of Matt Neal. Soon after meeting Mr Neal I hatched the dastardly plan of harnessing his talents in service of my own, er, dastardly plan. It took more than a decade, and pulling in copious favours from all my Illuminati contacts, but hey presto!

Yes, Mr Neal was duly signed into servitude on BAY OF MARTYRS and what a beezer of a job he's done on all the heavy lifting. The book, which is being described as ''True Detective on the Australian coast'' is out this month, March 23 to be precise but for those of you interested in reviewing on blogs etc there are some review copies kicking about at my publishers, Freight.

The excellent Freight have a detailed run-down on the book's plot on their website for those of you keen on that kind of thing, but I'll shove in a few quotes from big name authors here just for the sake of bumming us up:

''This is one hell of read, two authors is a tricky gig and most times results in desultory effect. But here are two writers so in sync that it is seamless. A get in yer face, down and dynamic read that grips and enthrals. Tony Black at the very height of his terrific talent and now with a double act to enrich his solid rep.''
-Ken Bruen, author of The Guards and Priest 

''This was a great read. Really cool, interesting and unusual locales, with a fast-paced thriller narrative and some very sexy lead characters. Highly recommended.''

-Tony Cavanaugh, author of Promise and Dead Girl Sing

Drop Freight or me a line if you fancy reviewing BAY OF MARTYRS or, indeed, interviewing myself or Mr Neal about his ordeal.

:: Bay of Martyrs is available in bookstores and on Amazon.