Book review: Burning Crowe by Geoff Smith

About Burning Crowe

Two teenagers, both alike in indignity. Will they be civil? Or will there be blood?

Bartholomew Crowe is 18 years old. His dad dead, and deserted by his stepmother, he’s running seriously low on justice. And when he is hired to find a rich kid gone AWOL, it isn’t just a job; it’s a chance to do good, a chance to fix things up, to make things right.

Handsome and loaded, Zack Richards has it all. A beautiful girlfriend. A burgeoning sideline in music management. Hell, he’s even semi-famous! But for all his good fortune, Zack Richards is angry. He’s addicted to trouble. And he’s gone into hiding.

But Bart isn’t the only one with Zack in his sights.

And as tensions rise and bullets fly, Bartholomew Crowe learns that the only things he can count on are friendship, and love.

My Thoughts

Burning Crowe is one of those thrillers that is impossible to put down. Smith draws the reader into the dark underworld of Margate and Ramsgate, two coastal towns in Kent, England – all sandy beaches and fun parks on the pier –  that were once primary holiday destinations for Londoners, and later infamous for gang violence. The author takes his readers into clubs and pubs and squats and cheap hotels, on the waterfront, the beaches, the arcade and there’s even a fabulous scene in the Turner Gallery. I enjoyed this realistic backdrop; Smith’s portrayal of these towns, through the youthful eyes of his protagonist, is well-executed and appropriately noir.

Smith’s private investigator is as unlikely as it gets, an eighteen year old not yet out of school, setting off on his first case, his solution to all the hurt he is feeling after the death of his father and his step mother’s apparent rejection. This is not a criticism; Bartholomew Crowe is a well-rounded and thoroughly endearing if hapless PI, bumbling and stumbling along, the most ineffectual hero, yet a hero turns out to be.

Smith deploys all the elements of a really good thriller, the twists and turns of the plot as the various players reveal their hand in a slow game of bluff, deceit and lies, play out convincingly. The pacing is good, the characters sharply defined. I particularly enjoyed the exchange of emails between Crowe and his granddad and seeing how that played out in the end. Satisfying complex, Burning Crowe is in essence a coming of age tale of love and relationships and the tensions in blended families. It is also a story of malice and greed and vengeance. This novel held my attention the the very end.

Find Burning Crowe here

 

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes 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. Her Canary Islands’ collection begins with The Drago Tree and includes A Matter of Latitude and Clarissa’s Warning. Her interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. Even her first novel, Asylum, contains a touch of the magical. Isobel is at work on her fourth Canary Islands’ novel, a sweeping historical work based on her own family history. You can find her novels here on her website.

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.

 

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

Vicky Aisha Inspires Twerk

Vicky Aisha –Australia’s high-profile dancer – inspires Twerk

Vicky Aisha

What a privilege it is to have a daughter as talented as Vicky Aisha! Doubly so, after she chose to be open and frank with me about her professional life! The result of six years of conversations is Twerk, a novel that puts dancers stage center in an edge-of-seat dark thriller. Vicky Aisha has supported the creation of this novel every step of the way. Neither of us is claiming that Twerk is representative of every club the world over – far from it, Twerk is fiction after all – but the novel does aim to do some justice to what is a very tough job!

A Foreword from Vicky Aisha

“Over my 5+ years as a dancer I’ve always been open and honest with my mother, Isobel Blackthorn. I live quite far away from the club that I work at, and to help me stay awake on the drive home it became tradition for me to call her and recount all the funny little things that happened over my night. Isobel made mental notes of the banter between dancers and customers and these anecdotes inspired her to write the novel, Twerk.

Twerk is a work of fiction and is first and foremost a dark and steamy thriller, however much of the behind the scenes details are based on an amalgamation of what I’ve recounted of my experiences as a dancer.

Isobel Blackthorn has an incredibly creative mind and has written a gripping thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat as you read. I am proud to have inspired her to write this unique novel.”

Twerk

About Twerk

“Twerk is a page-turning rollercoaster of a ride.”

“Addictive and thoroughly entertaining, Twerk sizzles on every page!”

Desire, a spark, a decision made too fast (in haste), and a Las Vegas stripper is plunged into the depraved world of a psychopath. But is she the only target of his twisted desires?

A regular Sunday night in a Las Vegas strip club is rocked when a local oddball dies mysteriously, during a private dance.

Amber falls immediately in lust with the hot paramedic who arrives, and follows him outside, anticipating sizzling romance. But, her casual encounter quickly descends into a terrifying, twisted nightmare from which she is unable to escape.

Five days later, and it’s Lana’s next shift at the club; she’s a fly-in-fly-out stripper paying her way through law school – she’s also Amber’s best friend.

Where is Amber? And what about the dead client? Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder?

Finding neither the police, nor the club are taking much interest, Lana conducts her own inquiries, even though she finds herself the victim of a social-media hate campaign, and an ex-boyfriend who is sending her death threats. She’s desperate to uncover the truth about the death, but the person she most needs to speak to is Amber, who has failed to show up for her shift yet again…

Lana is thrust into a web of lies and deceptions she is determined to unravel, in which everyone is a suspect.

An addictively dark, psychological thriller laced with steamy romance, mystery, action and suspense; Twerk exposes the working lives of Las Vegas strippers behind the glamor – the challenges, the rewards, and the deadly risks.

Early Reviews of Twerk

“I can honestly say Isobel’s book has left its mark on me and won’t be leaving me for a very time.” – Goodreads reviewer

“Twerk shot into my top 5 books for 2018. My imagination was stretched and taken for a chilling ride.” – Theresa Terry Hetherington, reviewer

Due for release December 7th

Order your copy of Twerk at Amazon viewbook.at/Twerk

Twerk by Isobel Blackthorn

Twerk – A dark psychological thriller laced with steamy romance

Twerk

“Twerk is a page-turning rollercoaster of a ride.”

“Addictive and thoroughly entertaining, Twerk sizzles on every page!”

Desire, a spark, a decision made too fast (in haste), and a Las Vegas stripper is plunged into the depraved world of a psychopath. But is she the only target of his twisted desires?

A regular Sunday night in a Las Vegas strip club is rocked when a local oddball dies mysteriously, during a private dance.

Amber falls immediately in lust with the hot paramedic who arrives, and follows him outside, anticipating sizzling romance. But, her casual encounter quickly descends into a terrifying, twisted nightmare from which she is unable to escape.

Five days later, and it’s Lana’s next shift at the club; she’s a fly-in-fly-out stripper paying her way through law school – she’s also Amber’s best friend.

Where is Amber? And what about the dead client? Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder?

Finding neither the police, nor the club are taking much interest, Lana conducts her own inquiries, even though she finds herself the victim of a social-media hate campaign, and an ex-boyfriend who is sending her death threats. She’s desperate to uncover the truth about the death, but the person she most needs to speak to is Amber, who has failed to show up for her shift yet again…

Lana is thrust into a web of lies and deceptions she is determined to unravel, in which everyone is a suspect.

 

An addictively dark, psychological thriller laced with steamy romance, mystery, action and suspense; Twerk exposes the working lives of Las Vegas strippers behind the glamor – the challenges, the rewards, and the deadly risks.

Release: December 2018 – AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER – ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

 

 

Book review: Her Name is Mercie by Chris Roy

The joy of writing book reviews is stumbling on good stories, well told. When the stories take your breath away, all the better! Here is my review of one Her Name is Mercie, a collection of short stories by Chris Roy.

“Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life.

Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn’t care anymore.”

My thoughts:

As the cover suggests, Her Name is Mercie is a dark and thrilling ride, the lead story, almost novella length, an edge of seat experience that demands to be read in one sitting. Roy does not let his readers stray from his pages. He has you right there with the action, living it, feeling it. Mercie and her sidekick are likeable characters, and through their eyes, from the initial story set up to the dramatic ending, Roy explores the theme of injustice. Hard and racy and thoroughly entertaining, ‘Her Name is Mercie’ contains a perfect story arc. The writing is vivid and controlled, Roy demonstrating poise and restraint even as he delivers the gruesome details.

All the elements of a good short story are present throughout the collection; with writing that is taut and punchy, sparse and edgy, and with plenty of twists and turns and unexpected and satisfying endings. There are moments of visceral horror yet the horror element is never overplayed. A good craftsman, Roy sets his scenes with acute observations and a minimum of detail and a healthy measure of wit.

The second story, ‘Re-Pete’ is a gem. Told from the perspective of a young child with OCD, the result of a ghastly and recent trauma, the tale is funny and absurd, and packs a delightfully wicked punch, if ‘delightful’ can be used in the context. Roy enters the mind of young Pete with sensitivity and compassion. Pete, like the other protagonists in the collection, deserves better than the life he has been given.

Themes of justice and corruption and revenge against wrongdoers dominate the collection. In Her Name is Mercie, Roy’s protagonists, the victims of bad deeds, step into their own power.

Roy clearly has a gift, invoking in his readers immediate and deep engagement. With this collection he has thrown down the gauntlet, meeting the challenge of originality and displaying prowess across multiple styles – spooky, sinister, surreal, brutal and ironic – each story is distinct. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Special discount! – The Cabin Sessions

I’m delighted to share this special discount of The Cabin Sessions, my dark psychological thriller published last October by HellBound Books.

 

Only $0.99 Kindle edition. Visit your Amazon website to grab your copy.

For the USA https://amzn.to/2vakBb8

For Australia. https://amzn.to/2M3X9q5