Monday, 21 April 2014

Pushing the boat out ...

This week's Ayrshire Post column.

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Pusher Towers in the run up to the publication of this year's three books.

Yes, you read that right. There's three books hitting the stores this year: my new Doug Mitchie crime serial THE INGLORIOUS DEAD; my standalone Tasmania-set novel, THE LAST TIGER; and the first in a new crime series ARTEFACTS OF THE DEAD.

THE INGLORIOUS DEAD is going to be serialised in that newspaper of note, The Ayrshire Post, and that kicks off mid-May, when copies of the book should be hitting stores as well. This is the second serial I've done for the Post and will be illustrated by photographer Euan McCall with Ayrshire actor Chris Taylor playing the Mitchie role again. The first of the scheduled photo-shoots kicked off just the other day and Chris proved himself just the dude for the gig, as ever. Some pictures from the shoot to follow soon.

In other Ayrshire Post-related news, recently wrote a column for the paper - filling in for legendary columnist Bob Shields - which was a blast, unless you were among those I was having a pop at, ahem

The Last Tiger in The Scotsman newspaper.
Second cab off the rank, THE LAST TIGER, in stores this summer, was recently featured in The Scotsman. The national paper ran the first chapter of the novel, along with some great illustrations. This book's been picking up some fabulous advance reviews from, among others, Whitbread-prize winner, Paul Sayer. A very nice early review was also written recently by the writer Michael Malone.

And finally, I had another mad dash down the M8 this week to film a little Edinburgh crime slot for the BBC's The One Show. A great pleasure to hang out in the Port O' Leith pub with kent face Gyles Brandreth, though slightly disappointed there was no wacky jumper on display. The One Show slot could be running any time now, there's no fixed date set.
With Gyles in the Port O' Leith.

:: A new serial of LONG WAY DOWN my Gus Dury novella kicks off in the Edinburgh Evening News today. You can grab a copy of the novella  for free on Amazon until Tuesday.

::  Right now there's a sale on last year's release HIS FATHER'S SON, which is going for 99p in digital format, a mass-market paperback version of the book is due to hit stores soon.

::  Check the website for more new title release details and special offers/discounts. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


By Andrez Bergen

I have two things I'd like to run by you today, and first up I'd like to thank the remarkably supportive Tony Black for the opportunity to do so.

Fittingly, I guess, both projects relate to pulp. And noir. But they also brush up against elements of dystopia, science fiction, horror and the hardboiled. One is set in the past (1986) while the other takes place in a relatively near future.

First up? Let's talk Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

Yes, this novel — heavily influenced by Raymond Chandler, Philip K. Dick and Dashiell Hammett — was previously published, in 2011, but I'm doing a George Lucas in grabbing the thing by the scruff of its sepia-brown cover to reboot and rejig much of it... from a visual perspective.

Having run IF? Commix with Matt Kyme over the past six months, and with a few comic book short yarns under the belt, I've decided to tackle my first book head-on as a graphic novel, for which I'm also doing the artwork and rejigging the story/dialogue, plus inserting some plot extras.

And I'm actually rather over-excited about the thing.

I'm doing this the same way I write my novels, short stories, and music — on the fly, with a vague idea of short-term planning that's flexible and bends at every turn.

Like my music, I'm also able here to better pursue the Dadaist ideas of "found" objects and the collage — along with William Burroughs', Brion Gysin's and Cabaret Voltaire's suggestions of cut-ups — to create some kind of original comic book art: Slap-happy painting and inks along with said wayward cut-ups and collages, an underlying sense of humour and silly surreal moments.

I mean, one of my favourite pieces of "art" still remains Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917) and I've always loved the sense of mischief as well as iconoclasm and inventiveness that applied in Dada.

I also dig my Dalí, and have been mad about comic book artwork since I first started turning pages.

I grew up at the altar of Jack Kirby, along with Jim Steranko, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, John Buscema and Barry Windsor-Smith. More recently — here read over the past 30 years — Frank Miller, Steve Epting, Matt Kyme, David Lloyd, Sean Phillips, Walter Geovani, Matteo Scalera and David Aja have joined these people. Writers? Eisner, Miller, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Rick Remender, Stan Lee and Roy Thomas.

To fund this project (printing of a -colour, full gloss, 130+ page tome is pricey) I've also decided to test the waters of the Kickstarter enigma, running a campaign till the May 23rd. We've had fantastic support already, and received over half said funding in pledges from some brilliant people — but further support to get us over the finishing line would never go astray.

Second up, before I lose your interest, is my next novel.

It's titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth (yes, I do like my long-winded epithets) and we now have finished artwork and a publication date — July 25th.

I'm working again with Perfect Edge Books in the UK, and this time around it's something close to my heart that reflects a particular time and place (the Melbourne gothic/post-punk scene in the 1980s) and yet also embraces much, much more.

Encapsulated within the story are studies of the human condition, domestic abuse, coming-of-age under duress, self-identity, murder and heroism — soundtracked by music from the '80s.

It's also a leftfield detective/crime story with a touch of surrealism and should appeal to pulp and comic book fans as well. Since I'm a major fan of all these things, they definitely infiltrate my work.

You can find out a wee bit more here:

Anyway, I've had my "me" time here and you're probably exhausted, so I'll try not to overstay the welcome mat Tony lobbed my way.

:: Visit Andrez Bergen on Amazon

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

PUSHER REVIEW: One for My Baby by Barry Graham

It's testament to Barry Graham's skill as a writer that he has managed to distill all the classic elements of Noir into such a short, potent story. In clean, spare prose the tale grabs you from the first page and doesn't let up for even a second.

The protagonist, Mark, could easily have been a creation of David Goodis or Jim Thompson if they had been around today to utilise the full spectrum of our modern malaise. This is the dark side of the American dream: blunt and brutal and every page is painfully portrayed by one of the greatest practitioners of the dark novel working today.

A full five stars, and very well earned.

Buy on Amazon UK. Buy on Amazon USA.

Monday, 17 February 2014

GUEST BLOG - The Cabinetmaker by Alan Jones

There have been several periods in the last ten years when The Cabinetmaker, my first novel, has taken over my life. During the months since I published it for the Kindle, I think I've spent every spare minute I've had furiously promoting it, in between working, eating, sleeping, making furniture, and playing the odd game of football to retain my sanity.

It had also been like that during the few months when the first draft of the book went from one-third finished to being completed, after taking a number of years to get to that stage, and the same again trying to get signed up by an agent or publisher. Despite a couple of close things, it was a largely frustrating experience, but with each rejection, I would try and refine my manuscript to make it more readable. When a publisher finally asked to read the entire book, I couldn’t help but get my hopes up, so when I received a qualified rejection and a heavily edited manuscript, I was deflated, but realised that my book was publishable. It was painful to cut 30,000 hard earned words, but when I had finished, I sent it to off to another literary agency.

Groundhog day: Full manuscript requested, another rejection, but he’d liked it, and had wrestled with the decision. He told me that he wouldn’t be surprised if The Cabinetmaker became successful, if I published it on KDP.

So far, I’ve had a great response from book bloggers and review sites. They have been incredibly enthusiastic, friendly and helpful. It is the greatest encouragement you can imagine when somebody you have never met likes your writing, and is willing to spread the news about your book to their online friends and the wider book-loving community.

The Cabinetmaker is a Glasgow crime story about two men; Francis Hare, the local cabinetmaker in the book’s title, father of a murdered son, and John McDaid, a young detective on the case. Unusually, the story focuses as much on their developing friendship as it does on Francis’ attempts to fight for justice when his son’s killers walk free, and on John’s desperate search for the truth.
It features sloppy policing, Scottish amateur football, fine furniture making, a fair bit of strong language, a smattering of Glasgow slang, and some interesting detective work.

To help promote the book, there’s a website,, packed with extras: four free sample chapters, an interactive Glasgow map, an audio ‘Glasgow slang’ dictionary, a glossary of cabinetry terms, and a page about the book launch that we did during Literary Dundee.

:: Follow Alan on Twitter @alanjonesbooks. Buy The Cabinetmaker at Amazon.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Best of 2013

Yes, it's that festive round-up, look-back-at-the-books-of-the-year time again, folks. And Pulp Pusher has rolled out the big guns for their expert opinions. There's Matt Hilton and Doug Johnstone from the UK and Dave Zeltserman teams up with Pusher-fav Barry Graham from the US, just to keep both camps happy. Some of their picks - and a few more from their peers - won't be a surprise but one or two might make their way onto next year's must-read lists. So, enjoy, you're in safe hands with this lot ...

Matt Hilton.

Matt Hilton

Being an author, I’m also an avid reader, and I tend to read the kind of books that I also like to write. So it probably comes as no surprise to learn that a few of my favourite reads of 2013 have been in the crime thriller genre.

I’ve enjoyed a number of good books this year, some of them from some of my must-read authors, like Simon Kernick, John Connolly, Robert Crais, Tom Wood and J A Kerley, but I have also discovered three notable writers worthy of mention that you might not have tried yet.

Sean Lynch, an ex soldier and ex police detective in the San Francisco Bay Area, served up his debut novel ‘Wounded Prey’ (Exhibit A Books) and it satisfied my needs for a great read on many levels. So much so that I offered the following endorsement: “With Wounded Prey, Sean Lynch delivers a hell for leather, wild ride of a debut with the “been there done that” authenticity that lifts it above other thrillers. I just added Farrell and Kearns to my short-list of favourite characters, and Vernon Slocum to my worst nightmares! Think First Blood meets No Country For Old Men.”

I have come late to my second pick of the year, and the name James Lee Burke probably requires little introduction to crime fiction readers. His Dave Robicheaux books are well known and well respected, but to my shame I must admit to never having read one until this year. Because I’m a bit finicky when it comes to reading books, I prefer to read a series in order, so started with ‘The Neon Rain’. Though the book feels a little dated these days (it was first published a number of years ago), it is beautifully written, poetic in paces, evocative, and stuffed with the kind of gritty realism I enjoy.

Lastly, and I’m cheating slightly here because the book has not yet been released, but I had the pleasure of reading an uncorrected proof of the book, there’s Mason Cross.  Cross is the pen name of an author based in Glasgow, Scotland. His book ‘The Killing Season’ featuring Carter Blake, will be released on 24th April, 2014, so it’s one to watch out for this coming spring. When Caleb Wardell, the infamous 'Chicago Sniper', escapes from death row two weeks before his execution, the FBI calls on the services of Carter Blake, a man with certain specialised talents whose skills lie in finding those who don't want to be found. It’s a fast-paced, thoughtful novel that is at once a manhunt and a terrific introduction to a brand new series.

Barry Graham

Barry Graham.
Unsurprisingly (since everybody else seems to share this opinion), your novel His Father's Son is one of the best I read this year. Since it's your first non-genre novel, I'm glad people weren't put off, because it not only isn't a departure from your crime novels, but a deepening of their themes and concerns. That said, anybody who worries that you might be turning into a law-abiding citizen will be reassured by your newest one, The Ringer.

The least-known author I read this year is also one of the best. Bart Lessard is the pen-name of an American writer who does nothing to promote himself or his books, which makes me think his modesty exists in proportion to his talent. His first novel, The Danse Joyeuse at Murderer's Corner, is a historical crime story about Shanghaiing that shocked me with its brilliance. His second novel, Rakehell, was published this year and might be even better. There's no one better than Lessard at combining a gripping story with convincing historical detail in elegant prose.

Gerard Brennan's latest, The Point, isn't as good as Wee Rockets or Fireproof, but it's still terrific.

Daniel Woodrell's The Maid's Version is probably his weakest novel - but Woodrell at his weakest ranks with most others at their strongest, and, though I didn't love this book, I liked a lot.

Larry Fondation has never written a book that wasn't great, and his latest, the short story collection Martyrs and Holymen, is magnificent.

Greg Rucka's graphic novel Lazarus Vol. 1 is as good as it gets, perhaps equalled only by his Stumptown Vol. 2.

Dave Zeltserman.
Dave Zeltserman

Best ebook: Sacrifices by Roger Smith
Best print novel: Swallowing a Donkey's Eye by Paul Tremblay
Best classic crime novel: The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown

Nick Quantrill

My reading this year was bookended by two great crime novels. I started the year with RATLINES (Stuart Neville), a dense and morally ambiguous look at the harbouring of Nazis in 1960s Ireland. I finished the year with HOW A GUNMAN SAYS GOODBYE (Malcolm Mackay). On the face of it, the Glasgow trilogy is yet another exploration of gangland, but Mackay offers a nuanced take of human behaviour. Away from crime, TUNE IN (Mark Lewisohn) functions as a social history as well as a rock biography when looking at The Beatles pre-fame. Think you know their story? Think again.

Paul D. Brazill.
 Paul D. Brazill

The Street Martyr by T. Fox Durnham

Over the years, America has given us an abundance of great urban poets, such as Johnny Thunders, Chester Himes, Tom Waits, George V. Higgins, Bruce Springsteen, Nelson Algren, Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes. Poets that simultaneously eulogise, celebrate and chastise the neon soaked and blood stained streets of America’s cities. Poets that embrace the highways and the alleyways. The bodies and the bullets. The sirens and the screams. The saints and the sinners. The lost and the lonely. The dispossessed. People like The Street Martyr’s Vincent – a battered and bruised small time criminal with a tarnished heart of gold.

With The Street Martyr, T. Fox Durnham has created visceral, vivid, lyrical, and heart wrenching tale of lost souls living life on a razor’s edge. A powerful and gripping tale which will haunt your dreams.

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green – Paul O’Brien.

Epic and intimate. Intense and involving. Paul O’Brien’s follow up to Blood Red Turns Dollar Green is even more streamlined and even faster moving than its cracking predecessor. Loose ends from the first book are tied up and new ones opened up. This is a major piece of crime fiction storytelling that breathlessly moves from character to character and backwards and forwards in time. It really would make a great TV series along the lines of Boardwalk Empire or The Sopranos and I can’t wait for part three.

Doug Johnstone.

Doug Johnstone

James Sallis, 'Others of My Kind'
Helen FitzGerald, 'The Cry'
Sara Gran, 'Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway'
Alissa Nutting, 'Tampa'

Douglas Jackson

A Delicate Truth - John Le Carre. The master right back to form in a bleak, frightening and uncomfortably realistic spotlight on our times.

The Twelfth Department - William Ryan. Moscow militia detective Koralov swept along by the tide and trying to stay afloat in Stalin's Russia.
I appear to also have reread Patrick O'Brian's entire Aubrey-Maturin series, which is right up there at the pinnacle of historical fiction.

Howard Linskey
Howard Linskey.

I read a lot of good stuff in 2013 but I am going to single out two books; the first is from an established writer and the second a debut novel. Megan Abbott’s ‘Dare Me’ focuses on a high school where a driven and glamorous new teacher takes over the cheerleading team, alienating its formidable captain in the process. Their feud escalates following a murder, with the narrator of this intriguing tale caught between her best friend, the vindictive team captain, and the inspiring teacher with a dark secret. I got an early look at Evan Dolan’s assured debut ‘Long Way Home’, which has a gritty and realistic UK backdrop, involving gang masters and exploited immigrant workers. It also features highly believable lead characters and is very well written. I have no doubt this one will do very well in 2014.

Helen FitzGerald

Doug Johnstone for writing a believable, well-rounded and modern male character in Gone Again (and not for saying nice things about my book, honest). 

Lisa O’Donnell, for being the standiest-outiest voice I’ve read in years. Closed Doors is very different from her first (The Life of Bees) and I think it’s even better. 

And Alissa Nutting’s Tampa, the bravest and most challenging book I read this year.

Gerard Brennan.
Gerard Brennan

The Lost, Claire McGowan
This novel, set in Ballyterrin (a fictional border town in Northern Ireland rather similar to Newry), introduces us to Paula Maguire. A young girl has gone missing and Paula's supervisors hope that she'll have an insight into the case having attended the same school and grown up in the same town. Unfortunately, Paula would prefer to stay in London rather than face her own past demons. McGowan is an excellent writer with a knack for fully-formed, believable characters. I'm impatiently waiting on the second instalment.

The Twelfth Department, William Ryan
Set in 1930s Russia, this is the third novel to feature Captain Korolev of the Moscow Militia. The Twelfth Department delivers a satisfying mystery that will appeal to all crime fiction fans. It is also a fascinating lesson in the history and politics of Russia during Stalin's reign. I loved everything about this book, not least the understated wry humour that Ryan employs. He has written this historical novel with a contemporary audience firmly in mind, and that makes all the difference.

A Dark Redemption, Stav Sherez
My first Sherez read, but it will not be my last. In fact, Eleven Days, the second Carrigan and Miller mystery, is currently nearing the top of my teetering 'to be read' pile. The duo investigate the rape and murder of a Ugandan student in London. They traverse immigrant communities and uncover dark secrets that have far-reaching consequences. And Carrigan has secrets of his own that Miller isn't privy to. His inability to face his past could destroy them both.

Ratlines, Stuart Neville
Stuart Neville takes a break from his Belfast-set series of thrillers to turn his hand to historical crime fiction set in Dublin in 1963. Lieutenant Albert Ryan is called in to investigate a number of murders. What links the victims is the fact that they are former Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government. With a terrific representation of Charles Haughey at the height of his colourful career, this book will appeal to crime fans and history buffs alike.

Safe House, Chris Ewan
Set on the Isle of Man, this novel boasts a wonderfully intriguing premise. Rob Hale, island native and TT racer, meets a mysterious woman with a strange accent. Lena asks him for a spin on his motorcycle. Unfortunately, despite Rob's proficiency on a bike, the pair take a tumble. Rob comes to in hospital and when he asks about Lena he's told the girl wasn't at the site of the crash and is likely a figment of his imagination. Rob refuses to believe this and teams up with a PI to track down the mystery woman. Ewan's writing style is as strong as his plot. He had me gripped from start to finish.

5 anticipated reads for 2014

In the Morning I'll Be Gone, Adrian McKinty
The third in the Sean Duffy series of mysteries. McKinty is one of the greats and I'll always look forward to his latest releases.

Hurt, Brian McGilloway
The second Lucy Black novel. Little Girl Lost was the first book in this series and a departure from his Donegal-set Inspector Devlin series. Lucy Black is a member of the PSNI and a Derry native, as is her creator.

All the Things You Are, Declan Hughes
Declan Hughes is best known within crime fiction circles for his Ed Loy novels. Set in America, as opposed to Loy's Dublin, this seems to be a major change in direction for Hughes, and I'm chomping at the bit to see where he's ended up.

Long Way Home, Eva Dolan
To date, I've only read some short fiction from Dolan, but I'm also a fan of her blog, Loitering With Intent. Judging by her reviews, she has incredibly good taste. A crime fiction connoisseur. I expect great things.

The Norfolk Mystery, Ian Sansom
Cosy or not, Sansom is a genius. End of.

Because I like the idea of a list containing 13 entries, here are 3 old skool reads, new to me in 2013, that I highly recommend. I read other classic titles, but these stood out in my memory.

Joe Gores, Interface
The Heat is On, Chester Himes
The Prone Gunman, Manchette

I'm not going to write entries for each of these. Instead, I urge you to google/bing/whatever the authors and learn a little more about them. All three taught me a lot this year.

Here's to more reading in 2014.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Amazon eBook price cuts

I've cut the prices of my top three selling eBooks over the festive period. From today, THE RINGER; LONG TIME DEAD and LAST ORDERS are all going for £0.99.

And that's in the UK and USA.

There'll be further price cuts and a few giveaways, over the holidays too so keep an eye on Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

James Oswald's Best of 2013

James Oswald
My top three reads of the year

This is a tricky one. It’s hard enough remembering what I had for breakfast, let alone what I read back in the dim and distant past of, oh, last week. I don’t get much time to read either, fifteen minutes snatched between getting into bed and falling asleep most nights.

Looking at my bookshelves doesn’t help much either, it just reminds me of how many books I want to read but haven’t found the time for yet. And then there’s the fact that I’m being sent ARCs a lot now (lucky me), with the hope that I might write something nice about them. The last three books I have read (and one of them - Eva Dolan’s Long Way Home - would most definitely be in my top three list) won’t actually be published until next year.

Casting my mind back, I’ve not actually read much crime fiction. This is possibly because I try to read in other genres than the one that I am currently writing, and I’ve been writing crime fiction all year. I thought I’d read Steve Mosby’s Dark Room, and that’s certainly up there in my top three. but now I look at it, I see it came out in 2012, and that’s when I bought and read my copy, so it doesn’t count.

One that most certainly came out in 2013 and which falls neatly into my idea of crime fiction, if not everyone else’s, is Gun Machine by Warren Ellis.

There are enough ideas in the book for a dozen lesser novels, all mashed together in a tight story that’s a delight to read. Some themes recur if you’ve read Ellis’ comics work over the past twenty years - it doesn’t take long for the main character to acquire a pair of unconventional assistants, for instance -  but the whole is very satisfying and a delight to read.

Not crime at all, but a fantasy reworking of classic Western material is Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country. I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about how remorselessly grim Abercrombie’s books are. His earlier novel, Best Served Cold, has to go down as one of the best books I’ve read where I could find no redeeming features in any of the characters. Red Country is still grim, but it’s also playful rather than depressing, and continues the building of the world first seen in The First Law trilogy. Excellent stuff. Oh, and Logen Ninefingers.

I’m only allowed three books,  but I’m going to cheat with the last one. Sarah Pinborough’s modern reworking of classic fairy tales in Poison, Charm and Beauty are wonderful, short romps that play fast and loose with Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. If you think fairy tales are for children, I suggest you read these alone first before picking them as bedtime stories for your kids. Unless you like explaining things to enquiring minds.

There are many, many other great books that came out this year. Some of them I even managed to read, but alas all too few. I’d like to think I might read more in 2014, but realistically that’s not going to happen. If everyone could just stop writing for maybe a decade, I might be able to catch up...

:: James Oswald is the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels. Visit his website at:

James Oswald is the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels
Read more at,,2000002159,00.html#xis6gRf8tPKTJOmH.99
James Oswald is the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels
Read more at,,2000002159,00.html#aw7K3bQ6l6rRc7bK.99
James Oswald is the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels
Read more at,,2000002159,00.html#aw7K3bQ6l6rRc7bK.99

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ali Karim's Best of 2013

He's the main geezer when it comes to crime fiction writing - and reading - so Pulp Pusher is delighted to welcome back the ever-generous Ali Karim with his festive round-up of top reading tips.  

There's one or two you'll recognise from big hitters like Stephen King and Thomas H. Cook  but a few more that are worth taking note of. 

So, sit back with a mince pie and some cherry brandy - or whatever your particular poison is - and enjoy some tips from the top.

Dead Lions by Mick Herron

A surreal look at the world of British Intelligence with a cynical, yet amusing eye – in which Herron’s novel scooped the CWA Gold Dagger for best novel of 2012. The narrative focuses on the losers at Slough House, a group of misfits or ‘slow horses’ who have been transferred from active MI5 Operations due to internal politics, messing up, incompetence, alcoholism et al. Things take a curious turn when ‘slow horse’ and legendary slob Jackson Lamb decides to delve into a lackluster case – the death of Dickie Bow, [a retired old Cold Warrior] from a heart attack on an Oxford bus. Lamb worked with Dickie in Berlin and starts to suspect something more sinister than a natural death. Told with shifting point-of-views, Lamb and his colleagues find themselves back in action and embroiled in the looking-glass world of KGB under-cover agents, a Russian oligarch, a text message on a mobile phone and the ghost of a fabled Soviet spymaster who may not be real. Dead Lions’ plot is as serpentine as it is amusing, and as far from the glamorous world of Fleming’s Tuxedo wearing spy as one could imagine.

Sandrine’s Case [UK Title ‘Sandrine’] by Thomas H Cook

Husband and wife academics, Samuel and Sandrine Madison work at Georgia's Coburn College, in what appears a successful marriage; one that has resulted in a grown-up daughter and outward happiness. The tranquility and genial married lives of the History and Literature Professors are soon shattered when the beautiful Sandrine is found dead in what appears a suicide by Vodka and Demerol. The local community are shocked at the death, which soon becomes a murder investigation as the police [and later the over-zealous prosecutor] zero in on Samuel Madison as prime suspect. The cloud of the death penalty casts a dark shadow over Sam, and his defense team. The narrative structure is that of a courtroom drama, but in the hands of Cook, it only acts as a microcosm of what actually was behind the death of Sandrine, a woman as enigmatic as the ancient history she taught and brooded upon. The themes that Cook explores impinge on what we truly know about those we love, and in reflection what we truly know about ourselves.

Bear Is Broken by Lachlan Smith 

Bear is Broken is a debut legal thriller, reminiscent of early John Grisham or late Michael Connelly, as it reeks with the cynical authenticity of the games cops and lawyers play. At its core, this debut is basically a compassionate tale of two brothers, with lawyer Leo Maxwell seeking to discover who shot his older sibling, fellow lawyer Teddy – hence the title. It seems that Teddy was preparing to wind-up the case of Ellis Bradley, a man accused of marital rape when over lunch with Leo, he takes a headshot from an unidentified assailant. With Teddy in a coma and fighting for his life, Leo finds himself alone. The San Francisco police are of little help, as Teddy in his role as a successful criminal defense lawyer often came into conflict with the boys in blue as well as fellow lawyers. Leo, only recently qualified from his bar exams finds himself having to piece together the mystery of who wants his older sibling dead. The motif that this tale hangs upon is the question that do we really know people that we call family, and how do we deal with uncomfortable truths?

Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley 

Deadly Harvest [the fourth novel in the Detective David “Kubu” Bengu police series] set in contemporary Botswana opens disturbingly with two unrelated incidents each detailing the kidnap of schoolgirls from two different places; each leaving a vacuum within the families they left behind. The local police struggle to find the perpetrators from a combination of a lack of will, as well as a lack of resource. Months later Detective Kubu while chomping his biscuits and singing along to the Barber of Seville watches the politicians battling the upcoming elections with disdain and cynicism. Kubu is especially troubled by the changing politics and corruption endemic in a country ruled by superstition and violence; and sees linkages to the child abductions, and the political forces fuelled by fear. The divergent plot strands slowly start to weave together, though for the reader, it is hard to see where the joins are, such is the narrative talent of the writers, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, who use the name Michael Stanley. With short and surgically edited chapters, like bush-meat the narrative is devoid of any fat, combining a twisting plot striated with social commentary upon which this dark tale is hung.

Joyland by Stephen King

Joyland is a shining example [pardon the pun] of King’s skill as a novella writer, even if its length is that of a short novel. Set in 1973 North Carolina, we follow a coming of age tale based around college student Devin Jones as he goes to work at an amusement arcade for the summer to help fund his education. In the back-story we learn of Devlin’s clinging emotions to a girlfriend who seems to show the signs of tiring of the young student. There is little sadder than the hopeless desperation of a boy’s first love, when all evidence indicates that the love has all but gone. Coupled to this, is his leaving a father [a widower] who also clings to the love of his live, now long gone, leaving an old man bewildered and confused at the uncaring hand of fate. The narrative details Devin’s summer, in which we are treated to his escapades as he enters adulthood, as well as investigating the ghosts of ‘The Fun House Killer’ as under the sound of the carnival beat, the sawdust underfoot and the aroma of candy floss and hot-dogs - lurk dark and terrible secrets. Accomplished story-telling by a writer who after decades of publication can still produce a work that stops you dead in your tracks and forces you to question what it is to be human.

Rage Against The Dying by Becky Masterman

Masterman introduces Brigid Quinn in her debut, as a former FBI agent who spent her early years undercover, often acting as bait in the tracking of serial killers and psychopaths. Facing sixty, and retired from the FBI, the novel opens with a very unsettling scene, one that makes the reader queasy as an elderly lady confronts a nasty sexual predator. Finding the academic and former Catholic Priest Carlo, late in life; their marriage has made Brigid’s life complete, blotting out the darkness of her past. But the past has a way of creeping back into Quinn’s life, reopening an episode that still haunts her. Quinn finds herself dragged back to the case of the Route 66 killer, the case that closed her career, and left scars in her psyche. The authenticity of the proceedings is of little surprise as Masterman works in the publishing side of forensic medicine and law-enforcement, while the pace of the narrative is frenetic and serpentine. With Brigid Quinn we have a protagonist that could have been who Clarice Starling grew into, if Dr Hannibal Lecter hadn’t lured her to Florence.

The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

Literature Professor David Ullman decides to accept an unusual extra-curricular assignment from an equally unusual woman. The assignment is an all expenses trip to Venice to examine a historical manuscript. David decides to take his 11 year old daughter Tess with him. It appears David’s marriage is about to reach its conclusion due to his wife seeking solace in an affair with a colleague on the campus. The trip becomes a journey, almost torn from the pages of David Ullman’s passion - Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. On arrival in Venice, he is confronted by a most troubling spectacle. The manuscript he’s meant to interpret is actually an insane man, chained to a chair in a tenement on the outskirts of Venice. In that encounter the literature professor’s atheism is firmly tested, as the insane man utters some words that David’s own dying father spoke to him on his death-bed; words that no one else knows. This encounter with what appears as a demonic presence makes the hairs on the readers forearm stiffen such is the pace and language that Pyper deploys, reminiscent of his previous works ‘Lost Girls’ and ‘The Guardians’; and those memories are equally terrifying. The Demonologist is in reality a dark thriller that uses the conventions of the horror genre to propel the story toward its dark conclusion.

:: Ali Karim writes regularly for Shots and The Rap Sheet.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

"Tony Black makes Irvine Welsh look benign"

Every once in a while a review comes along which totally blows me away, when it's from Paul Sayer - the Whitbread-winning novelist - I'm pretty much struck dumb.

As a huge fan of the man's work from The Comforts of Madness to the excellent crime tale, The God Child, it's impossible not to be chuffed to bits.

So, what did Mr Sayer, say ...

"Terrific. Gus Dury is the freshest and most engaging protagonist to appear in crime fiction for years. Near musically foul-mouthed, and with the painful honesty of Philip Marlowe, Gus also has a view of the Scottish political and social landscape that strikes more chords with readers from south of the border than he could possibly imagine. A high-class read from a first-class author whose place at the top table of British crime fiction is already most firmly assured."
Whitbread-Prize winner: Paul Sayer

It was a five-star review the author kindly posted on Amazon for Last Orders (now available in paperback) and you can check the review here.

It's been a week of very nice reviews with The Scottish Review of Books also weighing in on the same collection. Just a snippet this time ...

"The characters in these short stories, in which the private detective Gus Dury figures prominently, make Trainspotting look like an afternoon tea party in Morningside ... None of this makes for easy reading, and I would guess that it is not the intention of the author that it should do so. It seems to me that he wants to explore and to expose the sheer unpleasantness of patriarchal society, and what the need to be macho does to men."

You can read the whole review ... here.

:: LAST ORDERS is available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

QUICK-FIX: Nick Alexander

Right now I’m reading … The Quarry by Iain Banks

Three things I can see from my writing chair are … a bunch of paragliders floating in the sky above a frosty mountain, one extremely old, toothless cat, and a woodburner that has been threatening to go out all afternoon, and has now, finally, expired. Brrr.

The biggest time-suck that stops me writing is
… facebook. But I love the connection to readers that it provides, and no one can write 24 hours a day anyway, so it’s all good.

It might surprise you but I like reading … Virginia Woolf novels. Over and over again. Best prose ever written.

The fictional character I’d most like to meet is … Jack Twist. We’d “sure find a way to pass the time up there on Brokeback Mountain, boy.”

One writer who should be much better known is… Michael Cunningham. Not exactly unknown, but he should be a superstar IMHO.

:: OTHER HALVES - Nick Alexander's sequel to the No.1 Kindle bestseller THE HALF-LIFE OF HANNAH (currently free) is available from today.

Monday, 9 December 2013

PUSH-UPS: Charlie Williams

So, what you pushing right now?

A short story of mine called LOVE WILL TEAR US APART has just been released for Kindle. It's part of a new Amazon imprint called StoryFront. There are about 40 stories released in this first wave, but as far as I know mine is the only one named after a Joy Division song.

What’s the hook?

With a title like that, obviously it is a zombie story. Marylebone area of London, post-apocalypse (or nearly - things are not quite under control yet). Two best friends are having a beer together, thinking about walking home. But only one gives a shit about survival. The other lost the love of his life to the outbreak, and life isn't worth living. But how far should his friend go to keep him alive?

And why’s that floating your boat?

It's a mundane situation (a best friend can't get over a lost love) in an extreme environment (zombies). I guess I like the challenge of making mundane situations compelling. Also I do love zombies. Have done ever since I saw DAWN OF THE DEAD (orig.) at far too young an age.

When did you turn to crime?

It wasn't so much turning to the genre as taking inspiration from a new area. When I started writing, for years I was writing in the now, depicting where I was living (London) and the people around me. But getting nowhere, besides a few short stories published in the horror small press. I’m still dead proud of those publications, but I was gagging to get a novel out too, and no one was biting. Trouble was I probably didn’t have enough to distinguish me from everyone else. I was just a face in the crowd. Then I remembered the crazy world of Worcester (my home town) in the 80s, and new voices started coming through. I grabbed them and ran with them. And they were doing bad things. Criminal things. All I knew was that this was different, and would take my face out of that crowd. Little did I know that it would dump me alone in some alley. The crime alley. Faces started emerging from the shadows, and they were guys like Al Guthrie, Ray Banks, Jason Starr. I guess I felt at home.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?

Noir. Classic and contemporary. But if it's the latter, it's got a fuck of a lot to live up to.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

One of my favourite authors is Magnus Mills. His latest is A CRUEL BIRD CAME TO THE NEST AND LOOKED IN (actually a couple of years old – I’ve been holding it back). Can you imagine handing in a manuscript with that title on the front? He is utterly original, deeply off-kilter and right up my street. Also been dipping back into H.P. Lovecraft. Whenever the world starts resembling a safe place, I read a few of his stories to remind myself of the unfathomable horror that is lurking beyond the surface. Crime-wise I've been catching up on some Robert B. Parker. How did I not discover him until this year? This is the beauty of an enduring genre like crime - you've got eighty years of it to dip into.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

I read a great book earlier this year called FIRST BLOOD, by some dude called David Morrell - I reckon that would make the transition OK. Seriously, it's a great book. This is the problem of a franchise that takes on a life of its own - you lose sight of the source. If you'd just seen that recent Rambo reboot, you probably wouldn't be that inclined to track down the novel it all came from. But you'd be missing out big time.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Who cares? It's all in the text. As long as I can read the thing and it's not hurting my eyes, I don't give a shit. I'm in the story.

Shout us a website worth visiting ...

It's actually a podcast, not a website. But it has a website:

The podcast is presented as news reports. From a very strange place. Just subscribe to the thing.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …

My latest Royston Blake book, MADE OF STONE, features a LOT of HIGHLANDER-related stuff in it, right down to having Ramirez (Sean Connery) as an actual character... which I get away with by suggesting he is hallucinated by Royston Blake. (Cough.) So I’m in Seattle for an Amazon thing this summer and who should I randomly bump into? Greg Widen, creator of HIGHLANDER. I told him about the book and his role in it, but he didn’t seem that bothered. Unless he was playing it very cool. Thinking about it now, Ramirez is *definitely* hallucinated. Yes.

Thanks for inviting me to push my pulp.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Don't Feel Sorry For Loverboy ...

I feel I should begin by apologising for the Scritti Politti reference in the title but it seems to fit, so stay with me on that ...

THE RINGER has hit the eBook shelves this week and if there's one thing I don't want readers to do, it's sympathise with my protagonist.

But you bloody-well must - that's the received wisdom - that's what has been drilled into me by publishers over the course of my nine books. Well, bollocks to it.

I wanted to create a totally unsympathetic character ... and THE RINGER's main man, Stauner, is just the dude for the gig.

He's a sexist, misogynist, deluded little bigot and if he rings true in any of those regards it's because he's not alone. There are idiots like him all over the place. I've met a few myself.

Without dropping into a writing lesson, characters must be principally one thing only: real. They must be real in the context of the world they inhabit and they must be real, or true, to the story they feature in. Think Irvine Welsh's diabolical Robbo in Filth: a prime example, you wouldn't want Hamish MacBeth telling that messed-up tale but the bad-ass Robbo is perfect.

If you've read my Dury series, you'll know he can have his unsympathetic moments - he goes a bit Paul Calf with students for example - but he is essentially a good guy. And my Blasted Heath title,  R.I.P Robbie Silva, features an ex-con who really doesn't give a shit about much, except his dead sister - is that enough to make him sympathetic? Stauner, however, is the literary equivalent of Rat Boy from Viz; I don't think he possesses a good point. And that, you might say, is the point.

So, what's THE RINGER about?

For small time Glasgow drug dealer, Stauner, life is sweet when he meets Monique. With free board and an unpaid servant at his beck and call, the daily trip to the bookies is his toughest chore. It could all be too good to be true, but the misogynist Stauner stupidly believes it's his due. When the wide boy's deluded state persuades him that Monique should steal from night-club boss Davie Geddes, however, Stauner's arrogance gets the better of him. Soon his cloak of small-minded bigotry is stripped from him and he's forced to pay for the grievous misdeeds of his past.

THE RINGER is a cautionary tale of revenge, enacted upon the most unsavoury of characters. Told in the raw Scots tongue, and equally unflinching language, the lowlifes of Scotland's second city have never looked so low.

:: THE RINGER is available now at Amazon UK and at Amazon USA.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

NEW BOX-SET: The Crime Shorts

If you like your stories bundled, or if you prefer, in a box then the latest offering from the Pusher Press has got your name all over it! Actually, no, it's got my name all over it ... and the titles. Of which there's three.

Yep: London Calling, Killing Time in Vegas and The Lost Generation can be yours for the ludicrously low price of £1.77 in The Crime Shorts 

But what's the story or stories, I hear you say? Well, thanks to the cut and paste function and Amazon's beautifully turned out pages I can advise herewith.

The hook:

The Crime Shorts is a box-set collection of stories by 'Irvine Welsh's favourite British crime writer,' Tony Black.

In 'London Calling' see a loose-moralled lothario get his painful comeuppance and laugh at the antics of a pathetic patter-merchant in a hilarious anti-romance. You can also enjoy a short tour of the seedier side of Edinburgh with reluctant investigator Gus Dury.

The City of Sin plays host to a performance-enhanced bodybuilder who loses control with bloody consequences in the second collection 'Killing Time in Vegas'. And an attempt to kidnap a billionaire's daughter goes badly wrong, whilst a victim of high school date rape takes the ultimate revenge in these US-themed tales.

A lonely ex-pat in Paris finds himself acting out of character when a beautiful but troubled young woman walks into his meaningless work-fuelled existence in the final collection, 'The Lost Generation', whilst an ex-con takes matters into his own hands when a bullying boss targets his new inamorata.

Praise for Tony Black:

'An authentic yet unique voice, Tony Black shows why he is leading the pack
 in British crime fiction today. Atmospherically driven, the taut and sparse prose
 is as near to the bone you are ever likely to encounter in crime noir. Powerful.'
-New York Journal of Books

'With comparisons to the likes of Irvine Welsh and William McIlvanney echoing
 in his ears, Tony Black has become a top-class author in his own right.'
-3AM Magazine

'Tony Black is my favourite British crime writer.'
-Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

'Powerful, focused, and intense ... and then it gets better. Get your money down
 early on this young man - he's dead serious and deadly accurate.'
-Andrew Vachss, author of Hard Candy

'Tony Black is the Tom Waits of Crime fiction, yes, that good.' 
-Ken Bruen, author of London Boulevard 

:: The Crime Shorts is available on Amazon, now for £1.77

Thursday, 7 November 2013

GUEST BLOG: Keith Nixon on his killer debut, The Fix

Well that blew by… it’s a year since I stepped tentatively into the self-publishing world with my crime novel, THE FIX, and a hell of a lot has happened in between. Lots of good reviews, a few ‘bad’ ones (too much swearing, naughty Keith!) and three covers. The first cover, we’ll forget but the second, designed by Jim Divine, pictured right, was a cracker.

Then THE FIX was picked up and reissued by a leading independent publisher, Caffeine Nights, in August which led to the third and current image, see left.

So, what’s THE FIX about? Fundamentally it’s those everyday aspects of our existence - ego, murder, lies and the need for change. The setting is just before the financial collapse in 2007 and some of the action occurs in a bank - that’s ego and lies dealt with then. The main character, Josh Dedman, leads a dull life, until £20m goes missing from the bank he works for and his boss ends up dead.

In THE FIX pretty much everyone tries to get ahead in life by fair means or foul. It works out for some, not for others... Basically don’t trust any one of the characters, they’re all liars.

The one character that’s come through for most readers is one of the minor players, a Russian tramp who claims to be ex-KGB. Konstantin has grown in stature since and he takes the lead in four novellas and a full length novel follow-up to THE FIX.

Now, the blurb:

It’s pre-crash 2007 and financial investment banker Josh Dedman’s life is unravelling fast. He’s fired after £20 million goes missing from the bank. His long-time girlfriend cheats on him, then dumps him. His only friends are a Russian tramp who claims to be ex-KGB and a really irritating bloke he’s just met on the train. His waking hours are a nightmare and his dreams are haunted by a mystery blonde. And to cap it all, he lives in Margate.

Just when Josh thinks things can’t get any worse his sociopathic boss — Hershey Valentine — winds up murdered and he finds himself the number one suspect. As the net closes in Josh discovers that no one is quite what they seem, including him, and that sometimes help comes from the most unlikely sources...

Part fiction, part lies (well, it is about banking) and excruciatingly funny, THE FIX pulls no punches when revealing the naked truth of a man living a life he loathes. This is a crime fiction novel with a difference...

And some stuff said about the book by other, far more talented, writers:

'A blast from first page to the last, this high-octane debut takes aim at the corporate world and is fast, furious and a lot of fun. If there’s a knack to writing dark comedy, Nixon surely has it.'

Nick Quantrill, author of The Late Greats

'Keith Nixon delivers big fun in a tightly woven package.'
Josh Stallings, author of Beautiful, Naked and Dead

'Moves faster than a speeding bullet. Can't wait for more from Keith Nixon.'
Tony Black, author of Murder Mile

'Sharply observed, fast paced. Hard as a knuckleduster.'
Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising

:: You can pick up THE FIX at Amazon  and Kobo.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Guest Blog: Seth Lynch

Hello, my name is Seth Lynch and my debut novel, Salazar, has recently been released by the Isle of Man's Nemesis Publishing.

I planned Salazar as a series so I wanted to put him in a time and place that would grow and change around him. I picked Paris 1930. Paris in the twenties was a swinging town full of rich foreigners over-indulging themselves. By 1930 the party's over. The US Stock market's crashed and the Americans are pulling out fast. Tensions between fascists and communists are beginning to rise. The police forces are corrupt (police forces with different overlapping jurisdictions). The government seemed to be on the point of collapse and the nation on the point of civil war. Jobs were scarce and a series of financial scandals did bring down one government. This turmoil bleeds into 1939, the phoney war, followed by the German invasion, collaboration and resistance. In short, it felt like the place to stick a hard-boiled detective and see what came his way.

Here's the blurb:
Paris. 1930. An English detective haunted by his experiences of the Great War, Salazar whiles away the days playing chess and taking on as little work as possible. When the alluring Marie Poncelet hires him to find a missing man, Gustave Marty, it's a case he'll soon wish he'd refused.

Because finding a missing man isn't anything like finding a man who doesn't want to be found. And Gustave Marty has covered his tracks with a smokescreen that will push Salazar beyond the limits of physical endurance and to the edge of insanity.

As he's drawn ever deeper into the shadowy underbelly of the City of Light, Salazar's closed, structured world is blown apart by the arrival of a friend from his pre-war youth, the beautiful Megan Fitzwilliam, whose tenderness and love of life is a stark contrast to the brutal violence that lies within him.

When that violence threatens to engulf them both, Salazar must seek redemption or lose that which has finally made his life worth living.

And some kind words from fellow authors:
‘Combines the appeal of a colourful and fresh lead character with an intriguing Parisian setting at a fascinating moment in time. A promising debut.’
Chris Ewan, author of Safe House and Dead Line

‘An intelligent, moody novel, brimming over with well-drawn characters and unexpected insights. But more than anything else, Lynch gives us a Paris that feels real; his knowledge of the city in that particular time is staggeringly evocative, and makes Salazar an exceptional novel.’
Heath Lowrance, author of City of Heretics and The Bastard Hand

‘Superbly evoking the atmosphere of 1930s Paris, Salazar is a taut and engaging mystery novel from a great new writer. Lynch has created a classic anti-hero. Still carrying the scars of war, he’s the kind of man driven to do the right thing, regardless of the cost to himself in this engrossing debut novel.’
Nick Quantrill, author of Broken Dreams and The Late Greats

‘An absorbing twist on the hardboiled detective. Lynch has invented a whole new landscape: Paris-noir in the dissolute 1930s.’
Gary Corby, author of The Pericles Commission and The Ionia Sanction

:: You can get Salazar on the kindle from Amazon and in ePub format from iTunes, Smashwords and other eBook stores.

Monday, 23 September 2013

His Father's Son

The rave reviews continue for His Father's Son over at Scotland On Sunday who have declared:  

'This is a tale of father and son, man and wife, and how a journey to be reunited can mean rediscovering part of yourself that was buried long ago – and Black tells it perfectly.'

If you'd like to read the whole review, click here.

An interview I gave to The Bath Chronicle is also live now, where I reveal all about my drop-out student status.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

His Father's Son picks up some raves

His Father's Son continues to pick up some nice raves in the national press, with the likes of The Sun and The Herald weighing in. There's also been a very nice feature-length piece in the Daily Record, with appropriately for a 'dad and a lad' novel, a wee pic of me and my lad!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

HIS FATHER'S SON - BBC Radio interview

The lovely Janice Forsyth let me gatecrash her BBC Radio Scotland studio recently and was nice enough to let me stay and chat about my new book for a while. I even do a reading from HIS FATHER'S SON and try to explain why I've made the shift to a whole new genre.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

His Father's Son - reviews

HIS FATHER'S SON only came out on Thursday but has already racked up some brilliant reviews; check these beauties out!

'It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.'

'Heartfelt and incredibly moving, the sins of the fathers are confronted in a narrative that seethes with raw, blistering emotions.'

'His Father’s Son is a very powerful novel that is thoughtfully written, with so much emotion and rich in detail. It is a compelling read and one that I would definitely recommend.'


'This is such a beautifully written story – the characters and the settings come to life and the ups and downs of daily life and those things that can haunt us are brilliantly imagined but oh so realistic.'

'I thought the pitch of the story and the writing on the whole was perfect, and have to agree with Lisa Jewell's comment - this really could be a future classic.'

If you'd like to find out a little more about the book, you can read the following interview in The Ayrshire Post, conducted by the fine journo Tom Maxwell.

 :: HIS FATHER'S SON is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

His Father's Son by Tony Black -- Book Trailer

The new book trailer for my first novel outside the crime genre, HIS FATHER'S SON, has just been filmed by the excellent Pete Martin of Edinburgh. He's worked on some great videos for the likes of James Grant and Hue and Cry so this is a bit of an honour for me.

Monday, 26 August 2013


Next week sees the publication of HIS FATHER'S SON, my first published novel outside the crime genre.

Early reviews have blown me away, check out the kind words from heavyweight authors Lisa Jewell and Doug Johnstone on the cover.

The bloggers, real book lovers, have weighed in too. With The Book Boy's five-star review concluding: 'It's perfect. Absolutely perfect.'

I'm launching HIS FATHER'S SON in Waterstone's on Princes Street on Thurs, Sep 5 at 6pm. Come along and pick up a signed copy. Or, order in advance on Amazon UK.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

FACE OFF: Julie Morrigan and Paul D Brazill

Julie Morrigan.
Every now and again I get the chance to feature some work by authors I admire and, hello people, this is one of those times! Julie Morrigan and Paul D Brazill are composing some of the edgiest fiction around at the moment and also have the advantage of not being in the slightest bit boring - great subjects then for a Pulp Pusher face off.

Paul: What the hell is Cutter’s Deal?

Julie: A novella published by Byker Books, which is a sweary tale of violence and nastiness set in the north-east of England.

What about Guns of Brixton – what’s that all about?

Paul: GOB is a mockney romp. A foul mouthed London-based crime caper influenced by Ealing Comedies, Carry On films and dodgy old punk songs.

Where did the idea for Cutter’s Deal come from?

Julie: A couple of years ago I wrote a short story called ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ (inspired by the Who song of the same name) for the Off The Record charity collection.

The main character was Mac, a crime boss with his own sense of right and wrong … but who wouldn’t shy away from doing whatever was necessary to show he was top dog and not to be messed with. When Byker Books asked if I was interested in writing a novella for the Best of British series, Mac popped into my head again. He was getting on in years; I wondered who the new players might be, what might happen if Mac was out of the game … and so Cutter was born.

How did you dream up Guns of Brixton?

Paul: I just wanted to have a story where a bunch of disparate characters’ lives intersect. Rather like in that turgid film Crash – but with men in drag and a saxophone playing hit man.

How much research – if any – was involved for Cutter’s Deal?

Julie: Very little with this one. It’s mostly about voice and force of personality.

Did you need to do much/any for Guns of Brixton?

Paul: No, I just checked a couple of London streets to make sure I got the geography mostly right.

Novellas are making a bit of a comeback, is it a form you are partial to?

Julie: Yes, very partial. Long enough to really get into a character or a story, short enough to be a relatively quick read.

How about you?

Paul: Yep, I think the same as you. I also think they’re a good way to break down a longer story into bite size slices.

Will there be a sequel to Cutter’s Deal?

Julie: Yes, I’m working on it now. There’ll be three parts altogether, although each will be written to stand alone.
Paul D. Brazill.

You’re good at series characters (Roman Dalton, Peter Ord) so how about you? Any plans for a follow-up to Guns of Brixton?

Paul: Yep, Holidays In The Sun is knocking about. There may even be one more.

What are you working on now?

Julie: In addition to the follow up to Cutter’s Deal, I have a novel (The Last Weekend) with my editor. Both should be out by the end of the year.

How about you, what are you up to?

Paul: Getting Blackwitch Press – my dalliance with publishing/self-publishing – moving. Mainly promoting Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI.

Also, something for the French publisher Meme and a secret project.

:: Cutter’s Deal and Guns of Brixton are part of Byker Books’Best of British series of novellas.

Paul Brazill: Julie Morrigan: