Messy Business – Books, Writing, Stuff

Books and books and books …


crime fiction

I have a new book coming out in April – here’s the cover reveal.

I have a new book out on 15 April 2018 called City of Forts. Feast your eyes on the first draft cover below. The eagle-eyed will note there’s a typo of my name on the spine, but that will be fixed for release.

Christopher Lucania, as always, has done a beautiful bit of work. You should check his work out here.

Here’s the blurb:

All thirteen-year-old Ricky Nardilo wants is a fun summer before he and his friends part for school again. But, when he and Liz fall through the floor of an abandoned house and comes face to face with a dead man, the hot months become charged with danger.

The City of Forts is the name Ricky and his friends have given a crescent of abandoned homes at the edge of Town. Lying in the shadow of a disused factory it is their refuge from the Town’s rust, its drug dealers, and the Ghost Boys.

It’s not a refuge for long. The dead man has triggered a gangster’s warpath. Tarantula Man wants to know how his man has disappeared. And he wants to use the City of Forts for his own purposes.

Ricky, Liz, Bixby, and Tanais will not give it up without a fight – and maybe with the help of Floyd, Mr Vale and his son, Charlie, they’ll rid themselves of the invaders.

City of Forts is a dark coming of age crime drama where every street and alleyway is loaded with menace.

Here’s what those in the know have to say about it:

“A haunting tale of death, love, and the American Dream on a US town’s mean streets” –

Keith Nixon, author of the bestselling Konstantin series.

“A brilliant read that explores society and all its cracks. Jason Beech expertly balances the nostalgia of childhood adventures with the brutality of life in a very grown-up and dark town. City of Forts deserves to sit equal with the greats as a piece of entertainment and a study of modern life’s struggle” –

Aidan Thorn, author of When the Music’s Over from Number 13 Press.

To celebrate its release I’ve invited a bunch of really exciting authors to not talk about my book at all, but instead talk about their work. You should check them all out and give them your hard-earned money. I don’t mind if you buy mine either.

The first will run tomorrow, Monday – so tune in to check it out.

In the meantime, you can pre-order City of Forts (ebook version) by clicking here.

The pre-order is $1.99 and £1.49 (so save a couple of bucks/quid).


Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon

Keith Nixon’s Dig Two Graves is a dark and very enjoyable character study. Solomon Gray is a copper whose life has been put on hold since his son went missing ten years ago at a fairground. In the present is a sixteen year old whose been murdered, and he has Gray’s number on his phone.

From there, Gray is on the hunt for the murderer, complicated by bodies piling up around him. The blame seems to point at him.

The book is more about Gray than the actual murders, and I’m fine with that. I love a dark protagonist and Gray’s life is as storm-ridden as any. He doesn’t know if his son is dead or alive. He doesn’t know if the sixteen year old is his son, though his age pings all possibilities around his racked mind. His wife, Kate, committed suicide in the aftermath of her son’s disappearance, and Gray has a non-relationship with his other child, a daughter.

On top of all that he has to deal with religious busy-body, Alice, who encouraged Kate’s faith, aggressive colleagues, and the possibility of new, complicated love. When the screw is turned you want to swig some of that whisky he throws down his neck.

When the screw turns, I did question Gray’s character. After one particular murder I wanted to bash him over the head with that whisky bottle for not being clear with the police – it felt out of place.

But, if you like mood, setting, and a great character to set your teeth into, this is a classy read.

You can buy Dig Two Graves at:

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (US)

The Guns of Brixton by Paul D. Brazill

The Guns of Brixton is a mutt, bred from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Pulp Fiction, The Sweeney, and the Carry On films. All of this could have been a mushy stew, but Brazill has such a way with words and structure that this is all its own thing. It’s funny, as his books always are, extremely silly, but utterly engaging.

It starts with Big Jim and his accidental killing of Half-pint Harry. They head off to a robbery wearing women’s clothes. Lynne and George have some work boredom to alleviate, and the priest has issues to discuss over food.

After a near car crash, one character, Richard, is about to call the cops when the other car’s inhabitant puts a gun to his head and forces him to drive them away:

“Shit, thought Richard, as he heard the approaching sirens screaming in the distance, why the hell not? It couldn’t be any worse than Camilla’s party.”

Here’s a bunch of criminals and other dodgy characters who revel in their strange, comical lives, and they drag you through their grim lives with a smile smudged across your face.

There’s a whole bunch of viewpoints in the novella, all living disconnected lives from each other. How do they come together? Comically, that’s how.

Brazill’s novella isn’t a massive read, but it’s a good ‘un.

You can buy The Guns of Brixton from:

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)



Bullets, Teeth & Fists is FREE

Download Bullets, Teeth & Fists

Bullets, Teeth & Fists is FREE from 25 April to 29 April 2017. It’s a collection of strange tales such as:

  • Old folk next door needle into your head to make you question your reality.
  • A man called Rupert has grisly work to get through so he can make the most vital appointment of his life.
  • A cop let’s his snitches die for a greater good.

Download the e-book, enjoy, and leave a review if the fancy takes you.

You can get the book at Amazon.


Remission by Ed Chatterton 

Ed Chatterton’s crime thriller, Remission, opens with Frank Keane, a Liverpool cop, in possession of £25 million and incurable cancer. The money comes from a dodgy character from his mission in America to keep schtum about his Stateside business. Suspended from the force, he spends a bit of quiet time in the countryside, but, this being a crime thriller, such peace doesn’t last long. Keane will check his shoulder to see if his American “friend” or Liverpool drug gangs are behind him with a gun aimed at the back of his head. 

Meanwhile, the body of a woman is found in a van stolen from a Berlin Clinic but which has crashed in Liverpool, leaving both abductors dead and leaving a bunch of weird questions behind. 

So begins a trail of blood and terror which Liverpool’s MIT try to clear up and from which Frank Keane tries to escape and ultimately solve. It’s a thrill-ride and a grim exploration of far right extremism. There’s one scene in a zoo where a German Nazi operative is threatened by another in such a way you lose sight of his extremism and experience a real primal fear for him that I almost fell off my chair. I can’t remember a time I read something which made me so clammy and fearful, and that includes Ellroy. 

Chatterton matches it later at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, a scene of horror as grim as anything I’ve ever read. The buildup is pacy, relentless, cold (and funny). Keane’s cancer gives the book a personal urgency which parallels the larger picture and gives the novel some warmth from the cold motives which populate the rest of the story. 

There are a lot of characters in the book. Frank Keane is the protagonist, but he’s not the sole viewpoint. We get in the head of his colleague and former lover, Harris, as well as her protege, the far right characters, and even the security team in Berlin. I’m fine with all that, though I’m not sure how I needed to get involved in the security team’s mindset. It seemed a bit much. There is also some head switching within scenes which can lead to a bit of confusion. 

If you leave the book for a while you might get lost on returning with all the stories involved, but I doubt you’ll leave this lying on the bedside table for long. It compels you to turn pages and its darkness drags you into its abyss. 

A great read. 


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