Thursday, April 21, 2011

Killing Mum by Allan Guthrie

If I were asked to describe Allan Guthrie's Killing Mum in one word, it would be "twisted". There were so many aberrant turns throughout the story that half the time I didn't know who, or what, to believe. It was a lot of fun, (and I'm not typically a fan of short stories or novellas).

The story starts out with Carlos, our protagonist, receiving a commission to have someone killed...
The padded envelope contained a note and a bundle of cash. The note read:
advance for Valerie Anderson. You know her address. Second half of payment on completion of job.

We quickly find out Valerie Anderson happens to be Carlos, AKA "Charlie's", mom, and, only two people call him "Charlie"...his mom and his wife. The question is, which one wants him mom killed? Carlos intends to find out. And when he enlists his wife and a young friend he occasionally hires as a hit man to help him, things get very interesting and Carlos may be lucky to walk away with his sanity.

Killing Mum is only about 96 pages long and only available in ebook format. It's a nice quick way to get introduced to a new author that will keep you reading until the very last moment, and then make you want to know more. And at .99 cents, you can't beat the price.

Killing Mum

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Fear is my enemy, pain is my friend" (Michael Forsythe in Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKinty)

A few months ago my husband started the "Couch to 5K" running program to begin training for the Warrior Dash. He started out running a minute and walking a minute for about 40 minutes total, by the time of the race yesterday, he was running a full 5K with very little trouble. The program seemed to work pretty well, and yesterday was the test. The 5K course consisted of about 10 obstacles including climbing a 10 ft wall, climbing and running over broken down cars, jumping fire, pushing and climbing over logs in a pond and, of course, going under ropes in a giant mud pit. What would be fun if you didn't get completely filthy in the process right?

At the end of the 3 point some odd miles, when all was said and done, there was a reward. After your hosing down with a fire hose to get most of the mud off, you not only had the euphoric feeling of knowing that you've succeeded, there were tangible winnings for finishing the course. No "warrior" race would be complete without a "warrior" hat, a t-shirt, and beer. In all honesty, the hat and shirt were nice, but I think the beer was the most appreciated by said "warriors".

Chad had fun, and I did too, although there wasn't much room for spectators. I would have liked to see him climbing, jumping and crawling through muck, but had to make do with the stories he had to tell. I really can't complain though, the weather was beautiful, the company was good, and I even got a bit of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep read. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ireland reading Challange 2011

Thanks to Seana, I have discovered a reading challenge for books I would have read anyway. Now, I've never actually done a reading challenge, but I'm going to attempt this one and read 6 books relating to Ireland before the end of November. Since I've read 3 of these already and I have many more relating to the subject on my shelf waiting, I think I'm up for it. So, wish me luck, and feel free to join me at the Ireland Reading Challenge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eightball Boogie by Declan Burke

I once saw a movie, I forget which one, and I'm not even sure of the scene, but the general idea was an Irish guy saying how the story should have ended there, (referring I believe to a somewhat happy ending), but it wasn't an American story, it was an Irish story. That thought is what ran through my head throughout Eightball boogie. American novelist don't seem to get quite the same level of betrayal, dissembling, and general sense of pathos that some of these Irish novelist do. And that is a compliment to the portrayal of their characters and story, and Declan Burke nails it, with a sense of humor to boot. Eightball Boogie is dark, edgy, fast paced and funny with a protagonist that isn't perfect, but will do anything he has to do to do what needs to be done. And, I have to admit, being in Harry Rigby's head as he was doing what he was doing was very entertaining.

Harry Rigby describes his job..
My job was to find out who and why, at twelve cent per word for the right facts in the right order. Enough facts, a decent hook, they might even add up to a front-page clipping for the dusty folder in my filing cabinet.
And unfortunately, sometimes that just about gets you killed, but Harry has advice for surviving that too...
If you're going to get kicked senseless, it's best to take certain precautions. Getting drunk is one. That way you go with the flow and don't resist, which is how bones get broken, especially when there's three of them and one is wielding an empty beer keg like it's a beach ball.
Through beatings, a swim in the river with a hole in his gut, his girlfriend kicking him out..again, and his psychotic brother returning, Harry manages to wade through the dissimulation and betrayal to track down the killer of a politician's wife and save his young son whose life has been threatened.

If you are interested in, or looking to try out, what has been recently labeled "emerald noir", I'd recommend giving Eightball Boogie a try, and thanks to the very generous author, you can do it for .99 cents if you have an e-reader or the cost of shipping for an old-fashioned paperback book. For more information simply click HERE.

Update: Here's another great review of Eightball Boogie by Seana over at Not New For Long with a bit of a different angle on the story.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Falling Glass excerpt and links

Back in mid-March I posted my thoughts on Adrian McKinty's new novel Falling Glass. I honestly loved the story, but unfortunately, it's not available in hard copy in the U.S so I wasn't able to post an excerpt to give those of you that pop on here a sense of how the author writes. Well, that issue has now been resolved thanks to Spinetingler magazine being allowed to post the prologue and first 2 chapters of the book. So, just CLICK HERE to check it out. I promise it won't be a waste of time.

Spinetingler has also posted some interesting thoughts by Adrian McKinty of how Falling Glass came to be HERE for anyone who might be wondering where "Killian" came from.

And last, but not lest, some reviews of said novel. Again from Spinetingler, CLICK HERE, from Detectives Beyond Borders HERE, and From Seana at Not New For Long, HERE.

Why, might you ask, am I posting all of these links for a book not available here? Easy, because the book is worth it and I'd like to get the word out. So, check it out, and if you're interested, it can be ordered from over seas by Amazon affiliates or downloaded from Audible.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Field of Blood by Denise Mina

Denise Mina's Field of Blood was a random find I came by in a somewhat local second hand bookstore I visit. She is the first Scottish author I've read, and she set the bar nicely high, (although it did take me a bit to get past some of the terminology and descriptions, I was glad I did). Her writing is beautiful and captivating and I found myself getting lost in conversations and characters. The language just seemed to flow.

One of my favorite parts of the story, and what got me hooked, was the description, and conversation of an antagonistic relationship that started like this:
Pete looked up and frowned, dropping his bushy eyebrows to shade his eyes. "what do you want?"

"Um, I wanted to ask you about something."

"Spit it out and then piss off."

It was not going to be a Love Is...moment, she just knew it.

To a friendly and companionable conversation, ending in this:
Pete spoke quietly. "Please don't go."
"But I need--"
"If you go, Richards'll come over here. It's been a long day, and it's hard work being pitied."

So they sat together, a man facing the end of his life and a young girl struggling to kick start hers. They drank together, and then Paddy started smoking with him. Cigarettes and drink complemented each other perfectly, she discovered, like white bread and peanut butter. She drank an all-time personal best of four half-pints.

they talked about anything that came to mind, their thoughts swimming sympathetically, barely connecting. Patty told hm about the Beatties' stuff in the garage, about how she'd always hated it when she saw the Queen's picture up in offices, because of what she represented. She always saw her smiling and handing out OBE's to the soldiers who shot into the crowd on Bloody Sunday, but she'd looked at the Beatties' portrait of her and thought she might actually be quite a nice woman, doing her best. She talked about her Auntie Ann, who raised money for the IRA with raffle tickets and then went on antiabortion marches.

Dr. Pete talked about a wife who had left for England years before and how she would cook a leg of lamb for special occasions. She stuck the meat with rosemary she grew in their garden and sat potatoes under it to roast in the lamb fat. The meat was as sweet as tablet, as moist as beer; it lingered on the tongue like a prayer. Before he met her he had never eaten food that made him feel as if he had just woken up to the world. The way she cooked that lamb was beautiful. She had black hair and was so slight he could lift her up and swing her over a puddle with one arm around her waist. He hadn't talked about her in a long time.

That one conversation takes up the majority of a chapter and gives a lot of good information about not only the history of the crime, but also about the characters having the conversation. I enjoyed watching that relationship grow, and the characters view of each other change.

I will say, however, the crime committed is a hard and violent one against a very young child. As much as Ms. Mina can use her talent to make you want to taste the succulent roasted lamb, she can also make you see the evil done to someone's baby. Thankfully, it was only to set the beginning of the plot, and the harshness wasn't continued throughout the story.

And, speaking of the story, here's what the side flap says, (because it probably gives a better summery than I would).
The murder of three-year old Brian Wilcox is the saddest story to hit the newspaper in years. Even Paddy Meehan, the new copygirl at the Scottish Daily News,feels the tremors it sends through the jaded newsroom. It's the kind of once-in-a-generation crime that changes a city's landscape-the kind that can make or break a journalist's career.

And Paddy could use a break: her battle for stature in the men's club of the newsroom is going nowhere. So when she discovers a personal connection to one of the young boys implicated in the killing, her job prospects look bright-but at the cost of her family's trust. Loyalty and ambition are at war only briefly, until the secret explodes into public view in the worst possible way. Under siege in the newspaper office and in her own home, Paddy realizes that the only way to make amends is to clear the boy's name, when he's been all but convicted by her colleagues in the media. On her own, and then with the help of charmingly disheveled young beat reporter, Paddy begins an investigation that reveals hidden allegiances and lines of deception that go deep into the past-and that could spell even more horrible crimes in the future if Paddy doesn't get it right.

Denise Mina follows Field of Blood with The Dead Hour and Slip of the Knife, all three being part of the Paddy Meehan series, and according to her website, there are two other books in the series I didn't see mentioned. More, and interesting information about Denise Mina, and Field of Blood can be found here and it can be ordered from Amazon here