The life of a contract killer can be complicated. JJ Stoner’s boss wants him to kill someone. His best friend’s girlfriend also wants him to kill someone. His best friend could kill him for getting cosy with the wrong woman. Stoner just wants to ride his Harley – but the forces of law and order have other ideas…
This pithy mix of hardboiled humour and blunt force trauma comes recommended for readers who enjoy Christopher Brookmyre, Lawrence Block or Stephen Leather. And here’s what some recent reviews say about it:-
Hilarious. Tense. Thrilling. Surprising. Sharp. Stylish. For people who like their crime fiction fast-paced, hard-edged and baptised in black humour.
CzechM8 continues the author’s improbably high standard with a plot more straightforward than most and a solid poke at the sleazy underworld of business and politics. This time the Dirty Blonde’s story emerges, a character familiar to readers of the Killing Sisters trilogy, and how she became close with the central character, JJ Stoner. Without giving too much away, this involves a quid pro quo assassination arrangement with Russian Special Forces associates, a long ride for JJ on his beloved Harley-Davidson and an amusing, for us, encounter with UK Secret Service officials.
The whole episode wraps up quite neatly for a Stoner story and we have our first glimpse of the Killing Sisters coming onto the scene. We are simply left to contemplate exactly how the Dirty Blonde will express her overflowing gratitude for Stoner’s execution of her very special request.
Like all Frank Westworth’s Stoner novels and short stories, it’s dark, fast-moving and well plotted. Frank Westworth’s prose is as skillful and inventive as Stoner’s guitar playing must be. And Stoner is just achingly cool!
There’s something fascinating about JJ Stoner, Frank Westworth’s covert operative for a shady part of the British Secret Service. It struck me again in the recent novella, CzechM8. Sometimes Stoner, ex-military and tough as nails, seems devoid of emotions: when on an assignment, he acts almost like a robot-killer. But in other situations, he displays razor-sharp black humour, and he offers women his respect and an easy, laid-back attitude. It seems like there are two Stoners, and you keep on wondering when and how that schism has arisen.
In this, book eight of the JJ Stoner series, Stoner gives more of himself away than usual during his bantering with his ex-comrade in arms, Shard. Their wry verbal exchanges, peppered with testosterone-driven humour, appear on the surface to be the usual macho play between two alpha males, but underneath friendship, hurt and menace are also present. Scenes like these distinguish Frank Westworth from your run-of-the-mill hard-boiled adventure series.
But don’t worry: there is plenty of adventure when Stoner journeys for a clandestine killing operation to the Czech Republic. And naturally, a crispy plot, guitars, tight action, and Harley-Davidsons are on the menu. But it is the depth of Jean-Jacques’ character that gives the Stoner series its added appeal.
You’ll find CzechM8 as an ebook at Amazon for just 99p
It can be read as a standalone quick thriller or, if you like starting at the beginning, it fits in between Seven Hells and the first of the Killing Sisters novels, A Last Act Of Charity.
The Stoner stories start with First Contract, and the first five of these short, sharp stabs are collected together in an anthology