Graham Smith sent me this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen

You can trace Graham Smith’s development as a writer through every story in this collection of (mostly) crime shorts, most of them entertaining. It kicks off with A Girl I Once Met, about a married man’s one night stand in Blackpool, England, that ends in disaster, through to the excellent My Job is Murder, and ending (almost) with the accomplished Star Struck Shooter.

The author writes in a conversational tone, as if you’re down the pub and he’s regaling you with some of his classics. The man runs a hotel, so I’m sure he knows a tale to make your hair stand to attention. When Gutshots is good, it is very good. Star Struck Shooter invites you in with some arresting language, sets you up beautifully, and then throws the pie in your face. You lick it all up with glee, completely satisfied.

My Job is Murder is another great example of a man loving his writing: a mad tale of a hitman who knows he’s dying and wants to do a bit of good before he falls before Death. To do it, he takes out three of his bosses in a trio of explosive gun battles, which ends with a bang and a smile – though you’ve got to feel for the hitman’s wife.

Following Full of Fear is a cracking little story about a man following his wife and daughter (both in an ambulance) to the hospital in his car, because of his girl’s condition. The ambulance abruptly speeds up, causing a panic of epic proportions in the father, who puts his foot down hard on the accelerator, crashing through traffic to get there when the ambulance stops. The ending makes you shift your worry from the girl to the father. Great entertainment.

On the downside, it could do with a good proofread, and I think some of the endings could do with a bit more punch. Some great stories, such as Suburban Combat and A Day of Deception, end a little flat. And Hannah’s Last Hurrah is truly terrible.

However, the collection’s last two stories show how Mr Smith has come a long way in his writing, with great endings, both fantastically written, and increasingly polished.

I’ll look forward to his Harry Charter novels.

You can buy Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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