Too Many Crooks

5199zNjeOiLI’ve had my head down coping with some fairly challenging re-writes lately and haven’t had much time for reading anything else. But I finally finished the edits yesterday, and promptly finished a book I’d been meaning to for weeks, if not months.

The book is Paul D Brazill’s ‘Too Many Crooks’, and like so many others of his, it’s tremendous fun. From the punning title to the madcap action of the final scene, it hurtles from drunken encounter to heist to blagging and back again, against a backdrop of the sleazier parts of Warsaw and London.

You can see my full review at Goodreads, but for anyone who likes their fiction witty but gritty, I can recommend this one.

Advertisements

Where the Heck Wednesday: Paul D Brazill

Another Wednesday rolls around and this week it’s the turn of the king of Brit-grit himself, Paul D Brazill, to take part in Where the Heck.  Thanks to Paul for shedding some light on the dark corners of London in his books.

Book titles: Guns of Brixton, Cold London Blues, A Rainy Night in Soho

Author: Paul D Brazill

Setting: London, UK

http://pauldbrazill.com / Facebook / Twitter

clb-3d-stack_d400-2

‘Once our beer was frothy  but now its frothy coffee…’ – Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be by Lionel Bart

In 1959, the great Lionel Bart turned Frank Norman’s London set play ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be’ into a musical comedy about ‘low-life characters in the 1950s, including spivs, prostitutes, teddy-boys and corrupt policemen’. This was a time of great change in post-war London – what with the ‘birth of the teenager’ and the Swinging Sixties looming on the horizon – and not everyone copes well with change, of course.

London is changing again, too, though not necessarily for the better.  Online, I see a litany of news stories about classic cinemas being converted into apartments for the super-rich and the destruction Tin Pan Alley – the home of British rock n roll. Indeed, the Soho of Bar Italia, Ronnie Scott’s, Norman and Jeff in The Coach and Horses, or Francis Bacon and Derek Raymond in The French House seems long dead or dying.

Ironically, the 50s coffee bars so disparaged in ‘Fings’ are now lamented as they are replaced with over-priced, homogenised sandwich bars and ‘frothy coffee’ seems decidedly risqué.

My books Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and A Rainy Night In Soho are violently comic tales of London low-life, occasionally rubbing shoulder with the high-life.  All three books focus on the Cook family – ageing London gangsters who aren’t adapting to change too well. All they have left is the shitty weather.

Here’s a clip from COLD LONDON BLUES :

‘Father Tim … looked out across the London skyline. The inky-black night had melted into a grubby-grey January morning. The city was waking now and the windows of the other granite tower blocks outside were starting to light up.

A cold wind, as sharp as a razor blade, sliced through him and Father Tim fastened his leather biker’s jacket as tightly as possible. Dark, malignant clouds crawled ominously across the sky.

‘Pissin’ miserable weather,’ he muttered to himself. ‘Pissin’ miserable country.’

He took a crushed packet of Marlborough cigarettes from the back pocket of his Levis, fished inside with shaking fingers.

On the opposite balcony, a tall man with long black hair took breadcrumbs from a plastic bag and threw them in the air. Black birds darted down from telephone lines where they had been lined up like notes on sheet music. The birds flew towards the tall man, landing on his balcony and sometimes on him. His raucous, joyous laughter brought an unfamiliar smile to Father Tim’s face.

On the street below, he could see a branch of a small general dealer with a bright green logo above the door, as well as an old bicycle factory that had recently been converted into a Wetherspoons pub, and a stretch of hip bars, including Noola’s Saloon, its green neon sign flickering intermittently.

The street bustled with the drunken debris of the previous night’s New Year’s Eve parties. The still-pissed and the newly hungover mingled.  A massive skinhead in a leopard skin coat walked up to Noola’s Saloon and pressed a door bell. The door opened emitting a screech of escaping metallic music as he slipped inside. Iggy and The Stooges’ ‘Search and Destroy.’ A sense of longing enveloped Father Tim. A feeling of time passing like grains of sand through his fingers.

Father Tim felt his rheumatism bite as he inhaled his first cigarette of the day. His chest felt heavy. If ever there was time to get the hell out of London it was probably now. The quack had told him to piss off to Spain, or somewhere as sunny, for a bit, for his health’s sake. It wasn’t a bad idea, either. He could even stay at his sister-in-law’s gaff in Andalucía if he wanted. But he knew he wouldn’t stay away for long. London was in his bones. His blood. His lungs. For better or for worse.’

***

Paul D. Brazill is the author of books like Cold London Blues, The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc. member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German, Polish, Finnish, and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has even edited a few anthologies, including Exiles: An Outsider Anthology, and True Brit Grit.  His blog is here.

 

The last laugh?

This little story caught my eye earlier for all the wrong reasons, because it reads like something from one of my own short stories, or perhaps from Paul Brazill’s wonderful collection of hapless tales The Last Laugh.

Basically a man was convicted of assault and sentenced to carry out unpaid work.  He refused, twice, and was caught boasting about it on social media.

The judge’s response was to jail him – and make the highly appropriate comment in court of ‘LOL’.

Clearly a man after my own heart!

 

Exiles is back

exiles-new-coverOne of the first stories I had accepted in print was ‘Dead Man Walking’, in Paul D Brazill’s excellent collection of ‘outsider’ themed stories, Exiles: An Outsider Anthology.

I’ve always been fond of the story, and of the anthology overall, which is stuffed with really good, well written, thought-provoking stories about how it feels to be an outsider in today’s society.  With a bit of sleaze, action and fun thrown in.

So it’s great to see that the book, which had been temporarily unavailable, is now back with a new, eye-catching cover but the same contents (and the same charity beneficiary, the Marfan Foundation) as before.

Currently, it’s available in digital format from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I5O70LY), and there are also plans afoot to resurrect the print version as well.

‘Dead Man Walking’ focuses on Johnny, an overly optimistic armed robber with a plan for the perfect alibi – until it all goes horribly wrong.  After all, you can’t be done for murder if you’re dead…

The Last Laugh

lastlaughI’ve just finished this super collection of noir short stories from the master of Brit-Grit Paul D Brazill, and thoroughly enjoyed the lot.  You can read my full review over at Goodreads – and check the book out if you want a good, gallows-humour giggle.  The collection really lives up to its own title!

Hmm.  WordPress isn’t letting me use ‘hidden links’ at the moment, so here’s the url for the review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1635156425?book_show_action=false

Brazillian interrogation

lastlaughDon’t be put off by the horrible pun in my post title today.  This has nothing to do with police questioning tactics in Brazil, and everything to do with Paul D Brazill’s latest interview over at The Interrogation Room.

Paul’s latest book, ‘The Last Laugh’, is out now.  I’m (rather smugly) reading what was an advance copy and enjoying it immensely, and will comment in more detail once I’ve finished.  But in the meantime, you can head over to The Interrogation Room for a fun and insightful series of responses to questions about writing, markets and noir in general from the master of Brit-grit.

I’ve been an admirer of Paul’s work since I first came across it in the Radgepacket books from Byker Books, so you can imagine just how bowled over I was by his very kind comment about my own book.  If you haven’t got time to read the entire interview (although you’re missing a treat), here’s the quote: “Tess Makovesky has a sure fire hit on her hands with her forthcoming book, ‘Raise the Blade’.”  Thank you so much, Paul – I’m blushing as I type!

Blackwitch sale

Just a quickie to let everyone know that Blackwitch Press is having a cut-price sale and has reduced the price of all their books to 99c or 77p depending which side of the pond you’re on.

This means, of course, that ‘Exiles: An Outsider Anthology’ is available for next-to-nothing, but the catalogue also includes many of Paul D Brazill’s own works, together with books written by other authors but set in the entertainingly dark world of Roman Dalton, the PI who’s also a werewolf!

Hurry along to Blackwitch Press to take advantage of the offer before it’s too late…

Shelfie of the Week #3

And now… the king of Brit-grit himself, Paul D Brazill!

shelfie 2

True to form, Paul calls this shelf of his own ‘crimes’ (against literature? surely not!) “getting away with it”.  You can find more of Paul’s criminal output, including such gems as ‘A Case of Noir’ and ‘Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI’ over at his blog of Brit-grit and International Noir.  I would say ‘happy reading’ but I’m not sure happy is quite the right word!

Exiles! Out now!

exiles-cover-preview-2Tired of being an outsider, looking in? Well, now you can be an outsider looking in, reading about other outsiders looking in! Because Exiles, Blackwitch Press’s latest anthology featuring some of the best-known names in modern noir and ‘grit-fic’, is out right now.

This is a terrific collection of 26 short stories, all completely different in style and tone but all dark, and all featuring the common theme of ‘outsiders’.

My own story involves Johnny, a brutish robber who comes up with the perfect alibi (“You can’t be done for murder if you’re dead…”), until his plans go horribly wrong.

Johnny grinned under his stocking mask as he shot the lock off the airport security depot door. This was the life; this was the mayhem he loved. A bit of strong-arm stuff, a bit of arm-twisting or fingernail-pulling, a bit of blagging with a shotgun in one hand, just to make sure people did what they were told. A heap of cash at the end.

This time was better than usual. This time the target wasn’t just a post office or a bank; this time there’d be millions involved. Cash, bonds, jewellery, electricals, all stored neatly under one anonymous warehouse roof, waiting for transport around the world. The airport wouldn’t know whose army had hit them; by the time they woke up and smelled the coffee it would be too late.

And this time, Johnny’s plans had given him a licence to kill. He couldn’t be done for murder if he was dead.

As I might have mentioned once or twice before, it’s based on a true story of a man who was declared dead in America – but with my own distinctive sting in the tail.

You can pick up your copy of Exiles as an ebook for only $1.29 at Amazon US, or 77p on Amazon UK.

All proceeds go to charity (the Marfan Foundation, in aid of people suffering from Marfan syndrome). So go on – you have no excuse. Don’t be an outsider looking in (and wondering what all the fuss is about).  Get your copy today!

Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI

I’m ashamed to admit how long it’s taken me to read this book.  So long, in fact, that Kindle had an upgrade while I was at it, and I had to download a whole new version of their e-reader.  And it’s only a handful of short stories.  Imagine what I’d be like with a novel!

Seriously, I do tend to read digital books slowly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them.  In this case, I had a blast.  Paul D Brazill’s collection of stories, centred around a private investigator who’s a werewolf in his spare time (or should that be the other way round?) are tremendous fun.  That might sound like a strange description for such obviously noir writing, but it’s true.  The stories are a rip-roaring roller-coaster of monsters and mobsters, booze and guts, and (of course) the obligatory femmes fatales.

The setting intrigued me.  Described only as The City throughout, it had elements of 1940s America overlain with something distinctly post-modernist and European.  Smoke, mist and grungy bars vied with fine buildings and squares.  Mostly, the grunge won.

My own favourite story was probably the last one in the collection, the prequel ‘Before the Moon Falls’, if only because it was good to go back and see where the story started.  But if you’re looking for a good dose of traditional ‘private investigator’ paired with an unhealthy seasoning of werewolves, zombies and clones, then the rest of the collection ain’t bad either.

Dead Man Walking

exiles-cover-small-2
A couple of weeks back fellow Brit-grit author Paul D Brazill invited me to send in a story for his new charity anthology, Exiles. I was delighted and quickly identified a previously published piece which I knew would fit the theme to a ‘t’. Unfortunately, it was still tied up in the archives of the magazine it had appeared in, so I quickly wrote to ask if they would take it down. After all, it really isn’t fair to ask readers to pay for a story which is freely available on the net, especially when all proceeds are going to a good cause.

Even more unfortunately, said magazine is messing me around and there are doubts over whether they’re ever going to remove the story from their archives. So, rather than keep Paul hanging on for weeks, I settled down and wrote a whole new story – in two days flat!

It’s called ‘Dead Man Walking’ and was inspired by that odd case, a few weeks back, where an American man had disappeared for three years, been declared dead, then turned up safe and well, but couldn’t be declared alive again because of some odd state law. Needless to say I’ve strayed from the truth and added my own dark twist to the tale, and you can see it, together with a whole pile of stories from some of the big names in noir writing, in the forthcoming Exiles anthology. To say I’m excited is the understatement of the month!