Recommended Read: Gender Justice by Nicky Charlish

Brit Grit, London, London Noir, Nicky Charlish, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads

gender justice

Twenty-year-old Toni is fresh out of the slammer and working in a gay bar in London’s Old Compton Street when she is embroiled in a gang war war that threatens to shatter her dreams of a better life.

From the very first page, Charlish grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you through the mean streets of Soho and South London.

Nicky Charlish’s Gender Justice is a violent, fast-paced and involving slice of Brit Grit that wears it’s bloody heart on its sleeve.

Recommended Reads: Stay Ugly by Daniel Vlasty, Let It Kill You by Andrew Rausch

Andy Rausch, Crime Fiction, Daniel Vlasty, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Shotgun Honey

stay uglyStay Ugly by Daniel Vlasty

‘Eric is an ex-con, bareknuckle boxer better known around his Chicago neighborhood as “Ugly.” He wants to shed his past, build a life with his family, but his past won’t be so easily left behind. His junkie brother Joe has stolen $100K from a powerful drug dealer—and Ugly’s on the hook unless he hands Joe over.  Which is gonna be hard considering he has no idea where Joe is.  Ugly and his “business partner” Nicky hit the streets to find him, each step taking Eric back into the violent life he’s desperate to leave behind. Ugly’s done with it all. He’s pissed, sad, and exhausted, but he’s gotta keep moving if he wants any chance of Joe—and himself—getting out alive.’

Daniel Vlasaty’s Stay Ugly is a vivid, visceral and bone-crunching tale of loyalty, loss and redemption.

let it kill youLet It Kill You by Andy Rausch

‘Chino Genetti is about to break one of the first rules of being a hitman: don’t fall in love with your target. The alcoholic assassin’s life changes when he receives the assignment to eliminate beautiful jazz singer Ericka Green. When love clouds his judgement and he forgoes his loyalty to crime boss Cocoa, he ends up a target himself. On the run from assassins, Chino makes a begrudging deal to live in peace, but old wounds and retribution threaten to take away everything he loves. Desperate to protect Ericka, Chino is ready to leave a bloodbath in his wake. But will his trail of vengeance be enough to save her?’

Hardboiled crime fiction turns grindhouse in this fast-moving, high-octane slice of power-pulp!

Recommended Read: Coal Black: Stories by Chris McGinley

Blue Collar Noir, Chris McGinley, Down and Out Books., Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Short Stories, Shotgun Honey

Chris McGinley‘s Coal Black is a brilliantly powerful collection of short stories set in the hills of east Kentucky. This is a world of poverty, deperation, drug addiction, and crime. These are stories of good people and bad people living on the razor’s edge. The stories and the characters in Coal Black overlap, intertwine and interconnect to create a whole that is as just as good as its parts. The tales are social realist with a strain of magic realism and every single story is great. These are artfully crafted stories to savour. Coal Black is simply one of the best short story collections that I’ve read, and I look forward to rereading it. Very highly recommended.

coal black


Recommended Read: Let It Snow by Nigel Bird

Brit Grit, Crime Fiction, Down and Out Books., Nigel Bird, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads

A young policeman is killed by a suicidal teenager while the city – and the murder investigation- is crippled by a snowstorm. Nigel Bird’s Let It Snow smoothly combines kitchen-sink social-realism with a Brit Grit police procedural and is as authentic as it is involving. Let It Snow is the first in Nigel Bird’s new series and is highly recommended.

ket it snow


Classics Revisited by K A Laity

Charles Willford, Denise Mina, K A Laity, Muriel Spark, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads

burnt orange heresy

The Burnt Orange Heresy: I finally got around to reading this Charles Williford novel because I know there’s a film coming out in the new year. Besides it has sly nods to Beckett, art and art history, and a caper plot, so what’s not to love? I did enjoy Miami Blues though I haven’t seen it in years. There’s a lot going on here: Tom Ripley may think forgeries are better than originals, but James Figueras thinks critics are more important than artists. He’s so smug, ambitious, misogynist and misanthropic that you know he’s going to take the too-good-to-be-true opportunity that comes along to gain access to the reclusive artist who will cement his standing as the critic nonpareil—even if the price is stealing one of his paintings for an avaricious collector.


Maybe I’ve read too many post-modern twists; I started seeing clues dropped to a twist that Figueras ought to have seen coming if he weren’t so blindly focused on his own fame. Alas, no. I can’t help thinking the movie might benefit from that extra layer of caper I imagined (judging from the early reviews, it did not). Nonetheless, there’s some fun sleight-of-hand about art and its value (don’t let that scare you), Florida ambience and a meditation on how far you can go in pursuit of self-glory and still have something left to enjoy it.


The book is out of print at present, but I got an omnibus that also includes Cockfighter and Pick-Up so I’ll get around to them as well.


The Long Drop: When is this going to be a movie? I’m not sure why I didn’t read this Denise Mina novel when it came out. Serial killer fatigue perhaps—or just the fact that I seldom have time to read things right when they come out. You already know Mina is great. This is a dive into Capote territory (as she talks about here), creative non-fiction to deal with gaps between what is known. When it comes to the Manuel case, what’s known is odd enough—including the all-night pub crawl he took with the husband and father of his victims Marion and Vivienne Watt, who had also been accused of the crime.


Mina brings to life that weird encounter, the trial and the times to vivid life. Manuel is no Hannibal Lecter, though he does want to be a writer. For a book that reveals the many facets of toxic masculinity in both the respectable and the disreputable, Mina keeps the presence of women constant. The victims, the witnesses and even more so, the audience, are mostly women—just as the audience of true crime are mostly women. People seem to always be surprised by this, but who else needs more urgently to understand the often poisonous culture we live in but those who are most likely to be its victims? Superb.


The Driver’s Seat: I’ve written about Muriel Spark’s novel before, but I want to say a special word for the audio book read by Dame Judy Dench. You may be accustomed to her imperious persona as queens and M in the Bond films, but this is more from her sit-com persona. Lise is a one-off and Dench perfectly captures her attitude of amazed dudgeon. How could you possibly see anything strange in her completely logical behaviour?! A real treat to hear Spark’s sparkling prose so crisply read. You can listen to a sample here.

Recommended Read: Bongo Fury by Simon Maltman

Brit Grit, Crime Fiction, Music, Paul D. Brazill, post punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Simon Maltman

Jimmy Black runs a small-town music shop called Bongo Fury. He is a family man, a part-time private eye, and a drug dealer, whose brother is a bit of a big noise in the Ulster paramilitary.

The various strands of Jimmy’s life become violently entangled in Simon Maltman’s short n sharp novella collection, Bongo Fury.

Authentic, violent, funny and touching, Bongo Fury is a cracking collection with a bonus music soundtrack.

bongo fury

K A Laity Reviews Galway Girl by Ken Bruen

Crime Fiction, Graham Wynd, K A Laity, Ken Bruen, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads
Galway Girl
The penultimate Jack Taylor story is out and I tried to make it last as long as possible, but I finished it. I always say I’m not much of a series fan but I am there for Bruen’s beaten and bloodied ex-Garda until the bitter end. If he gets resurrected, I’ll be there for that too. I was fortunate to pick up my signed copy at Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop and then enjoy a pint in Garavan’s on Shop Street and then read about Jack Taylor going to both of those places in the pages of the book. Surreal and delightful, just like Galway itself. If you know Bruen, you probably already bought this yourself. If you are among those not yet acquainted, it’s as good a place as any to dive in, though you may not know the true weight of the moment with his garda coat.
What to expect? Poetry, other crime novels, philosophy, music, drink, nuns, priests, actors, trouble — lots of trouble, always, but in particular trouble named Jericho — and quite unexpectedly, a hawk. Or rather, a falcon. Unspooling on the beautiful streets of Galway, which Bruen manages to make drip with the darkest shadows of noir. As Jack Taylor tells someone, ‘This is Galway. What they don’t know, they invent.’ I can never walk out to Nimmo’s Pier without thinking I might run into Taylor. Hasn’t happened yet. But it might.
Buy this book. Buy all his books. And never forget the parting gift.
‘A Galway girl
Doesn’t necessarily believe she
Is the best catch of all.
It’s more that she’d love
You to prove
She isn’t.’
galway girl.jpg

Recommended Read: Tommy Shakes by Rob Pierce

All Due Respect, Blue Collar Noir, Crime Fiction, Down and Out Books., Humour, Indie, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Rob Pierce

Former heroin addict Tommy Shakes is a perennial screw up. He’s an habitual criminal with a long-suffering wife, a young son, and dog called Rommel. He’s also a heavy-duty booze hound looking for a heist that will pay enough for him to get back into his wife’s good books.  He gets his chance when he meets a man called Smallwood but things run far from smoothly. Rob Pierce’s Tommy Shakes is a visceral and funny  blend of lowlife crime fiction and tragicomedy. Think of a lethal cocktail of Charles Bukowski and Eddie Bunker and you’re halfway there.  Highly recommended.

tommy shakes

Recommeneded Read: Four-Iron in the Soul by Lawrence Donegan

Lawrence Donegan, Music, Non-fiction, Paul D. Brazill, post punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Sport

Before reading Lawrence Donegan’s Four-Iron In The Soul, I knew very little about golf apart from the Rat Pack, Tiger Woods, Jimmy Tarbuck and, er. bogies. Indeed, for me, golf was just something that was on TV in the early hours in the days before proper 24-hour telly.

And I suspect that I haven’t learned much more about golf after reading Four-Iron In The Soul but the book is an absolute beaut.

Lawrence Donegan used to play the bass in a couple of tasty Scottish post-punk bands – The Bluebells and The Commotions.  But in the ’90s he decided to put away his childish things and become a journalist, working for The Guardian.

Although I was well aware of Donegan’s musical endeavours I can’t say I paid much attention to his career in journalism.  But a few weeks ago, somewhere on the internet, I bumped into Four-Iron In the Soul and took a punt. And I’m glad I did.

In the mid-nineties, Donegan contacted the obscure – to me at any rate – Scottish golfer Ross Drummond and asked to be his caddy for a season.  Drummond agreed and Donegan ended up following the golfer around Europe and beyond. Along the way, he encountered all manner of misfits and oddballs. There were highs and lows, comedy and disappointment.

Lawrence Donegan really is a cracking writer who can fire off sharp one liners as well as many a crime writer. Indeed, Four-Iron In the Soul is as gripping as it touching. Though I’m a bit surprised that no one asked him if his old man was a dustman Four-Iron In The Soul is highly recommended.

Four Iron In The Soul