Low Life: a gritty psychological schism

RD Jahn is one helluva writer. If you’ve not thought so before then the opening chapter of Low Life should convince you. He so compellingly describes waking in a run-down grubby two-room apartment that you can almost smell the rank cabbage-water air and see the paint peeling from the walls. He doesn’t so much write…

Inherent Vice: intrinsic instability

This gloriously shambolic, rambling psychedelic mess of a movie brilliantly captures a slice of 1970’s beach-bum life, mixing it with all the black paranoia of hard-boiled noir. Only an extremely ambitious auteur (or an idiot) would attempt to translate Thomas Pynchon’s loosely lucid perspectives in film form. Paul Thomas Anderson deserves credit for even having…

The Disappeared: substantial Scandinavian procedural

A solid Scandinavian police procedural, set in urban, modern Sweden, ‘The Disappeared’ is not your typical melancholic Nordic noir. The writing is plain and accessible; the style is matter of fact and occasionally straightforward to the point of being clumsy. But the author has constructed an intriguing mystery, one which successfully kept me involved throughout…

Sleepless Night: a chaotic cocaine chase

Instantly intense, Sleepless Night immediately plunges into the action before the (cleverly reversed) title credits have left the screen. Within two minutes, tyres are squealing and there’s automatic weapons fire on the Parisian backstreets as a drugs heist gets messy. Then things get really complicated when we discover that the robbers are actually cops… This…

Sniper’s Honor: there’s life in the old dog yet…

An aging, charismatic cowboy with a unique set of skills seeking a cause to champion. A dedicated WW2 sniper, subsequently dishonoured and forgotten. A real and present-day WMD threat, chillingly described. Overlooked events in the dog days of the fight between Nazi Germany and the Red Army. The working day grind of an intelligence analyst…

Sector 64: Ambush. They come in peace. Or not…

This is an entertaining military sci-fi romp; an opening episode in a new series which refreshingly does far more than introduce the characters, set up the scenario and leave us dangling for Part Two. Too many early novels by indie authors grind to a halt just as the going gets good, but instead Ambush delivers…

FranksWrite: creating strong female characters in crime fiction

A new series of hard-hitting crime-thriller novels began last autumn with ‘A Last Act Of Charity’ by author Frank Westworth. Unusually, the first woman we meet isn’t some simpering victim – instead she’s one of the killing sisters, the hand which wields a bloody blade with fatal efficiency. Not the normal opening chapter, even for the…