Blackthorn Tours Book Review: Hot Splices by Mike Watt

HOT SPLICES features eight interwoven tales about the Film Addicts, the flicker freaks, the Cinephages – they devour film for the high, to connect to the art on the granular level…the bleeding perforations in their skin is just part of the game.

There are five forbidden films, when run together, can induce madness, or release the Dark Gods that created them, speaking through the psychopathic director.

There is a man on the run, with a lost movie that others would kill to obtain. He barely escaped with his life.

There is a tower, once housing for students, now a crumbling, rotting monument to film history, and the men and women who returned to the tower, to die watching their favorite films.

Beneath the tower, there lies something made of light and shadow. It does not love its worshipers…

If you do not love film…
If you do not wish to devour it as it devours you…
If all you seek from film is entertainment…

…This is not the book for you.

My Thoughts

Mike Watt has penned an atmospheric and highly immersive horror novel that leaps at you with gore from the prologue’s first paragraph. The story then unfolds in a pleasingly noir vein, all taut clean prose, as Watt takes his readers behind the scenes of old-style movie making and on a journey through its history. The author knows his subject. But Hot Splices is less an exposé of film making and the industry that surrounds it – and there is plenty of that in this setting rich novel –  and more a fantastical horror journey involving flixing, in which scenes of a movie are absorbed quite literally through allowing the emulsion on the celluloid to absorb on the tongue, somewhat like dropping acid.

Hot Splices is a fast-paced and compulsive read. At the end there are three short stories that relate to the main tale. The whole is original in conception and masterfully constructed. The characters are well-drawn and the pacing and plot twists executed with an eye on the ball. I especially enjoyed the concept of mixing the flixing, a bit like mixing your drugs, as protagonist Tom Boone, an addict from his teenaged years, imbibes various combinations of old films, a habit with startling consequences.

A unique, highly readable and provocative novel, Hot Splices is a must read for horror lovers and dark sci fi lovers alike. The sort of novel that warrants a second read. Highly recommended.

About the Author

Mike Watt is a writer, journalist and screenwriter. He has written for such publications as Fangoria, Film Threat, The Dark Side, the late Frederick Clarke’s Cinefantastique, Femme Fatales and served as editor for the RAK Media Group’s resurrection of Sirens of Cinema.

Through the production company, Happy Cloud Pictures, he has written and produced or directed the award-winning feature film The Resurrection Game, as well as Splatter Movie: The Director’s Cut, A Feast of Flesh, Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation and the award-winning Razor Days.

He is the author of the short fiction collection, Phobophobia, the novels The Resurrection Game and Suicide Machine, and from McFarland Publishing: Fervid Filmmaking: 66 Cult Pictures of Vision, Verve and No Self-Restraint. In 2014, he launched the acclaimed Movie Outlaw book series, focusing on “underseen cinema”. He is also the editor-in-chief of the bi-annual publication, Exploitation Nation.

Through Happy Cloud Media, LLC, he edits and publishes 42nd Street Pete’s Grindhouse Purgatory Magazine, as well as Pete’s autobiography, “A Whole Bag of Crazy”.

In 2017, he edited the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD novelization by John Russo, and the 40th Anniversary printing of Paul Schrader’s TAXI DRIVER screenplay, featuring a new interview with Robert De Niro, published in 2018 by Gauntlet Press.

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill

It’s my turn on the Blackthorn Book Tour for Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill!

Gumshoe Blues

Following the breakdown of his marriage, in a booze-addled flash of inspiration, Peter Ord decides to become a private investigator. Dark farce and tragicomedy soon ensue. Peter must tackle many challenging cases, and when he comes under the radar of a local crime lord, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. With sidekicks, like boozy hack, Bryn Laden, failure is not an option – it’s compulsory.

My Thoughts

What a corker of a volume this is! Four stories, one a novelette in length, all told from the perspective of washed-up, hard-boiled private investigator and former English teacher Peter Ord. The opening scene of ‘Gumshoe Blues’ find Peter waking up on New Year’s Day after a night of binge drinking. I can hear U2 playing in the background, I can smell the fetid air in the grotty room. The sleaze continues on into pubs and Velvettes, a nightclub for ‘gentlemen’. We soon meet the  supporting cast of barmen, dancers, and underworld bosses make up the northern UK town of Seatown.

Throughout the volume, Brazill’s originality and imagination shine. ‘Mr Kiss and Tell’ finds a wife-beating loser and Ord as a store detective at Poundland – one of Britain’s cheap discount stores. I am reminded of ‘World of Quid’ in the opening episode of the new season  of Birds of a Feather. Stores existing to let the poor believe they can afford to shop. ‘Who Killed Skippy’ finds Ord paid to protect Craig Ferry, from himself. The mystery is solved in the end, but it is hardly the point to the story, which is rather to spotlight the iniquitous Ferry family and particularly the  loser-behemoth, Craig. ‘The Lady and The Gimp’ is an oddly charmingly bleak tale of former lead singer of a punk rock band Lightning Jones – who belongs to Spammy Spampinato doing time for a string of murders –  and Barry Blue, ‘The Gimp’, doing some handyman work at Harry Shand’s bar. His gaze lands on Jones and he falls in lust. Meanwhile, Jones hires Ord to track down his mother.

Brazill crafts strong, believable and quirky characters. The jump cuts walking us through vignettes and backstory work well. A healthy use of colloquialisms lends a gritty authenticity. Told masterfully with tremendous wit and realism in taut, punchy prose, Gumshoe Blues contributes a work of considerable merit to the noir crime stable. In all Brazill offers his readers a window on northern Britain’s underbelly, the everyday humdrum banality of struggle street existence and wrecked lives. Definitely a book to look out for.

 

About the Author

Paul D. Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and now lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where he’s been TEFL teaching for more than a decade.

His books include Last Year’s Man, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Small Time Crimes, and Kill Me Quick. He’s had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8,10 and 11, and his writing has been translated in Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovenian.

You can usually find him on Twitter @PaulDBrazill and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pauldavidbrazill/

Website: https://pauldbrazill.com/

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Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Launching Blackthorn Book Tours

I am thrilled to announce Blackthorn Book Tours, a review-only book tour service dedicated to dark fiction.

After almost a decade promoting my own novels I have a real understanding of how hard it can be sourcing reviews. I have pitched single emails to over two-hundred book bloggers for a single title. A 5% take up rate is said to be good. Out of that 5% maybe half will review. It’s demoralising, so I turned to paid book tour providers and booked tours. For a modest sum, the stress was removed, I could relax, and I got to enjoy the thrill of the tour and receive about twenty solid reviews of my book each time. But when I searched for a book tour service for my dark fiction, I couldn’t find one. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

Seeing many of my peers in the dark fiction scene also struggle to get reviews, I decided to create Blackthorn Book Tours, throwing in my lot with PR Manager and mover and shaker Henry Roi of Close to the Bone Publishing, and already we have a long list of top reviewers who have jumped aboard. We kick off our enterprise on September 1st with Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch.

 

Following close on the heels are these three book tours:

You can find out more about our book tour service here https://isobelblackthorn.com/blackthorn-book-tours/

 

Book review: Pigeon Blood Red by Ed Duncan

About Pigeon Blood Red

For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job: retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it.
But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu. There, the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory, when innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in a crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, hunter and prey develop an unlikely respect for one another, and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

About Ed Duncan

My Thoughts

What a treat it is to read a fast-paced hard-edged thriller when you know the author is in complete control and will take you to that point of release at the end, the literary climax, that vital point in any novel, but especially in a thriller. Duncan is a commanding writer who toys with his readers as all good thriller writers should. The author knows how to squeeze a story through a pin prick in a dam wall, the story unfolding in tantalisingly measured steps, the hallmark of great thriller writing.

Meet shady Rico and his side-kick Jerry, the corpulent and vile underworld figure, Frank Litvak, and a very expensive necklace. When hapless store owner and womanising drunk, Robert, snatches the necklace off the backseat of Rico’s car, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. Then there’s Robert’s wife, Evelyn, her friend, Rachel, and her old lover, Paul. A small collection of main characters and at first it is hard to know where to place your sympathies, except for Litvak! There’s a slow build, the sense of the threads intersecting without knowing how, the added complexities along the way. A portrait of Chicago, then Duncan takes the story to Honolulu, as the necklace itself takes up stage centre. 

Tightly plotted and cleverly told, Pigeon Blood Red has a gritty noir feel and the prose is crisp and clean and laced with a sharp wit. The characters are well-crafted and believable. The reader is given a bird’s eye view, adding to the tension. The twists continue right to the end, which does not disappoint. Shining through Pigeon Blood Red is the narrative voice, a voice I can hear, a voice that resonates in tune with the story. To being with, I could see Pigeon Blood Red would make a great movie and about three quarters in, all the way to the last page I was still thinking that. Highly recommended.

Find Pigeon Blood Red on Amazon

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About Me

For those new to me, I am a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. I write dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side are Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. My Canary Islands’ collection begins with The Drago Tree and includes A Matter of Latitude and Clarissa’s Warning. My interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. I am at work on my fourth Canary Islands’ novel, a sweeping historical work based on her own family history.

 

A Time for Violence anthology wows readers

A Time For Violence

A Time For Violence: Stories with an edge is out to rave reviews and little wonder. This anthology contains many top names in the scene including several who have co-written with Stephen King. I am chuffed to have one of my shorts included.

Along with many of the authors, I was interviewed on T. Fox Dunham’s What Are You Afraid Of? podcast, which includes an extract of my contribution, LACQUER, read by David Walton.

Here are some early reviews of A Time for Violence

“I thoroughly enjoyed so many of the short stories featured in here. The contributors include many of my own favorite authors. Exceptional writing from authors like Max Allan Collins, Paul D. Brazill, Andrew Nette, Joe R. Lansdale, Elka Ray, Tom Vater, and Chris Roy. (To name just a few.) And, boy, that last story! ‘Waste Management’. The name says it all.” – Debbi Mack, author of the Sam McRae mysteries

A Time for Violence is a hard-hitting anthology that pushes the envelope on themes of violence. Though a few authors have co-written with the likes of Stephen King, every story is its own superb boundary breaker and draws the reader in with such intensity that every word feels like a heartbeat. This anthology is for those of us who have looked at the monsters created by humanity and not flinched when they returned our gaze. The stories never fail to deliver thought-provoking takes on oft-told tales. From roaring hitmen thrillers to tense, gritty investigations into the very human soul, A Time for Violence will satisfy your every crime-reading need.” – Grace Wilson

And here is a review quote on mine! –

“Lacquer By Isobel Blackthorn.
This is one of my favourites so far in the book, a private investigator ends up finding a Jane doe when his drinking goes too far and he ends up in an alley. The person wasn’t too far from the back entrance to the bar and a friend of his has also seen the deceased. His friend begs him to find out who this person is and he also feels compelled as it is a particularly gruesome crime.” – Haley Belinda Belinda, Goodreads

Book review – Sangre: The Color of Dying by Carlos Colon

About Sángre: The Color of Dying (Volume 1)

Carlos Colón’s first published novel is the story of Nicky Negrón, a Puerto Rican salesman in New York City who is turned into foul-mouthed, urban vampire with a taste for the undesirables of society such as sexual predators, domestic abusers and drug dealers. A tragic anti-hero, Nicky is haunted by profound loss. When his life is cut short due to an unforeseen event at the Ritz-Carlton, it results in a public sex scandal for his surviving family. He then rises from the dead to become a night stalker with a genetic resistance that enables him to retain his humanity, still valuing his family whilst also struggling to somehow maintain a sense of normalcy. Simultaneously described as haunting, hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, Sángre: The Color of Dying is a breathtakingly fun read.

My Thoughts

Carlos Colón has penned a gem of a noir thriller in Sángre, the best vampire novel to come my way since Dracula. Meet Nicky Negrón, a thoroughly likeable and very reluctant vampire suffering from the burden of his own genetic resistance, which places him in a curious space in between being a fully fledged vampire and dead. He is a vampire with a conscience. Consequently, Nicky is the most fully rounded-out vampire character there ever was. He has scruples. He agonises over his every action. He is consumed by the intricacies of his moral position and his desire to do no harm, and his blood lust. And he is consumed with guilt and grief over the betrayal that led to his demise.

The story opens in Rahway State Prison, where Nicky is forced to find his next feed and the reader is confronted almost straight away with the raw reality of Nicky’s existence. What unravels is the story of how Nicky became a vampire and how he copes with his undead life. After his own ‘death’, Nicky encounters two other genetically resistant vampires, Travis and Donny, who educate him on the reality of his situation and offer guidance. Nicky discovers he was killed by a complete vampire, Simone, who Travis and Donny are determined to banish forever. Will they succeed? Or will Simone continue to kill and create a whole army of true vampires? And what of the curious Dr Teresa Gunder, bent on proving the existence of vampires with her groundbreaking investigations?

I loved the narrative style and the urban vibe. Told with compassion and insight, the narration in Sángre is upbeat, droll and sharply observant, the setting distinctly noir. Colón exercises superb narrative control, with excellent dialogue and perfect pacing. Exposition is kept to a minimum, carefully placed to keep the reader abreast of the reality of a genetically resistant vampire. The author has structured his novel with finesse, the movement through time, back and forth from past to present seamlessly intertwined, chapter by chapter, and culminating in a breathtaking and satisfying conclusion. Yes, there is horror here, but it is nothing the average dark thriller reader cannot take.

Sángre is laced with social commentary on the Bronx in the 1960s, on life for Puerto Rican New Yorkers, their values, culture and challenges. The author clearly knows and has a deep empathy for his subject.  A rich and immensely satisfying read. Can’t wait for the next instalment!

Check out Sángre: The Color of Dying on Amazon

A Time For Violence Anthology Podcast with T Fox Dunham

A Time For Violence

What Are You Afraid Of? – Podcast with T Fox Dunham and David Walton

NEW EPISODE 115 – CURSE OF THE BLACKTHORN

“Author T. Fox Dunham interviews Australia’s noir and horror writer, Isobel Blackthorn. Isobel answers questions about her writing, the state of women authors in the industry, her thoughts on crafting and shares some insights for new authors. In addition to her interview, she sent the show a haunting tale of an aggressive entity that haunted her in the Cockatoo house, narrated by David Walton. Fox also plays an excerpt from her noir fiction, “Lacquer”, which is featured in the anthology A Time For Violence: Stories with an Edge, available on May 1st from Close to the Bone. It is an anthology of noir and horror stories featuring the best in the industry for 2019.” 

Listen to the Podcast:

What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?