Messy Business – Books, Writing, Stuff

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crime fiction

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. 

New release: Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 – out 14 November 2016

So, I have a new book out on 14 November, packed with 22 stories across more than 300 pages. You’ll have seen a few on the magnificent crime fiction sites, Shotgun Honey, Pulp Metal Magazine, Plots with Guns, and The Flash Fiction Offensive, but they’ve been heavily edited for their new version in this book.

Most of the stories are new and unseen. They include a novella and a couple of novelettes. Here’s the blurb:

In New Jersey, a woman flees from her dead boyfriend’s family – who’d like to feed her to their pigs. In Sheffield, a former pop star is willing to humiliate himself to a crowd of smartphones in the hope of a social media-charged escape from his burger van. In the southwest USA, a father goes too far to protect his daughter. On a stage in northern England a drummer brawls with his egotistical front-man after a threat to ditch him – the talent scout better watch out. A gang member, after the robbery of a Saudi prince on the streets of London, strips the other members of their money in pursuit of a dream which leads to mayhem.

Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 is a bloodied fist packed with grit and heart, filled with bad and good souls in often horrific moments – where one bad move means an avalanche of trouble.

The bugger is available for pre-order at an introductory price of 99p, $0.99, and 0.99 euros for Kindle versions.

Pre-order Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 here.

To celebrate, Moorlands will cost 99p, $0.99, and 0.99 euros from 14-21 November and the first Bullets, Teeth & Fists is free from 14-18 November (Kindle versions).

Other stuff you ought to get your eyes on are Thomas Pluck’s Blade of Dishonor, Ryan Bracha’s After Call Work: Verbal Warning, and Remission by Ed Chatterton. I’ve not finished the latter yet, but the thing makes the blood pulse – with one scene at a zoo which might make you vomit.

Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 contents:

  1. Pusher
  2. Red Hole
  3. Here Comes a Soul Saver
  4. Getting Home Late
  5. Pop Star Burger Van
  6. If You Want a Job Doing
  7. Die, Witch, Die
  8. A Damned Agreement
  9. Corner Flag
  10. The Cops
  11. Brother
  12. Drumsticks
  13. Banking on It
  14. A Conversational Robbery
  15. The Lad Needs a Lesson
  16. Dirty Night
  17. The Other Woman
  18. Invisible Man
  19. Scrag
  20. Pop Star Burger Van 2
  21. Should Have Been a Son
  22. Dressed to Live

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