A Time For Violence: hard, fast and occasionally nasty

The short stories in this anthology provide a sometimes spiky slice of stylish writing from 28 assorted authors; some of them well-known names in the crime genre but many unfamiliar to me. They each take a different tack to interpret the central theme. Many inevitably showcase criminals doing the wrong thing for all kinds of…

Best International Crime Books of 2018

Our year has been stacked with mystery and intrigue, betrayal and revenge, bitterness and redemption – and some simply stunning plot twists. We’ve reviewed and read almost 200 crime / thrillers, from literary fiction by established authors to debut books by indie authors. Only a very select few, less than 10%, achieve a full-on five-star…

Down In The Devil Hole: dark and nasty

Sixteen separate stories in this edgy collection drag us off the beaten track and into the nasty reality of poverty-line life in rural Kentucky. A major storm batters the backwoods, providing a menacing backdrop to these interconnected episodes. The storm itself is a pivotal character; a catalyst to unleash a torrent of pent-up fear and…

The Ways Of Wolfe: bandits on the border

Pull together the pulp perfection of John D Macdonald and the grassroots grit of James Lee Burke; mix with one of Stephen Hunter’s alpha male Swagger clan; add the cross-border corruption of Don Winslow – and then you come close to the tales of the Wolfe family. This standalone focuses on Axel, serving hard time…

Nail’s Crossing: native American noir

This rural American police investigation is a sheer delight, conjouring characters as credible and a situation as intriguing as you’ll find in James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series. Here the hook is somewhat different: we follow Detective Maytubby of the ‘first people’ Chickasaw Nation as he plunges barefoot into a rough and tumble murder manhunt…

Kill Devil Falls: trailer trash terror

Kill Devil Falls isn’t somewhere you’d want to end up stranded. A ruined wreck of rust belt Americana in the Sierra Nevada region, it has no main road. No mains power. No cellphone signal. It has an incompetent, possibly corrupt local police force. It has a single criminal incarcerated in its ramshackle jailhouse. It has…

Die Dog: pure pulp and hardcore horror

These three very different novellas go far beyond the boundaries of backwoods noir into no-holds-barred horror. Gator Bait (which I read first) is maybe the most mature and most conventional of the trio – stylised, snappy prose in the hard-assed tradition of hard-boiled crime. It oozes the atmosphere of the Louisiana swamps to evoke a…