FREE THIS WEEK: a five-star quick thriller

  Meet JJ Stoner: motorcyclist. Musician. Murderer. ‘Stoner stepped back, balanced like a murderous ballet dancer and swung his heavy biker-booted foot, catching the guard’s chin with his toe, breaking the jaw at its hinge with the skull, and driving the man’s head backwards into the rough red brickwork of the wall. ‘Silenced. ‘Permanently.’ Go…

Suburra: gritty, bitter Eurocrime

An Italian neo-noir thriller about organised crime in modern day Rome. Gritty, violent, explicit and enthralling, it depicts the semi-fictional events of a single week building up to its ultimate ‘apocalypse’. Suburra pulls absolutely no punches in its depiction of brutal, street level intimidation and corruption among politicians and the clergy at the highest level.…

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…

A Perfect Crime

The mystery in this modern Chinese morality tale is not ‘whodunit’. We share the killer’s perspective as he plans and enacts bloody murder and a subsequent escape. No mystery there. Instead, the mystery is ‘whydunit’. Why would a young man choose to obliterate a friendly classmate, effectively ending both their lives in violent cruelty? It’s…

FranksWrite: Nordic noir comes to the West Country

English crime fiction used to be deeply rooted in traditional murder mysteries, country house investigations and character-driven police procedurals. If Colonel Mustard didn’t do it in the library with a candlestick, then DCI Tom Barnaby would have any Midsomer murder wrapped up by the time the parish clock chimed for tea. Yet the sudden popularity…

FranksWrite: it begins in the middle

The second novel in the Killing Sisters series comes out in September. Even before the first book was released, several short stories set the scene for the main event. Author Frank Westworth explains why he was unable to resist the lure of the back story… There is something monstrous frustrating about writing. And writing provides…

Normal: not by a long way

This is an extremely cleverly-constructed first person narrative, told from the perspective of a psycho serial killer who in many ways resembles a certain Dr Lecter. But this guy lives in England (even though he spells tyres with an ‘I’) and flirts less with authority while he wields the knife, strangles the spark of life,…

Peckerwood: a rough-edged romp with the rednecks

Backwoods American noir is all the rage right now – I’ve read a half dozen this year already – and Peckerwood is among the best of them. It takes all the usual ingredients – small-town sheriff, probably corrupt; meth-labs and whore-houses run a by local hard man; three-time losers looking for a big score; wayward…