Recommended Read: FTW: The Rise Of The Anarchy March by Russ Lippitt

In the not too distant future, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened to such a degree that the United States of America has turned into a dystopian nightmare for most people. But Jack, Doyle, Darla, and a raggle-taggle bunch of anarchist punks march to overthrow the government and save America.

Russ Lippitt’s FTW: The Rise Of The Anarchy March is like a lethal cocktail of The Road, Mad Max and anarcho-punk polemic.

Brutal, gripping and entirely plausible.

Find out more about Russ Lippitt here.

Recommended Read: Blood by Choice by Rob Pierce

Uncle Dust is out for revenge after two woman an a child are murdered. Teaming up with his old crony Karma, he sets about killing the perpetrators.

Rob Pierce’s Blood By Choice is a brutal gut-punch of lowlife crime fiction with a great cast of characters. Cracking stuff.

Recommended Read: 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn To Love by Ian Moss

Ian Moss has been an integral part of the Manchester music scene since god was a lad. His latest band is the brilliantly named Fourcandles, and 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn To Love is his massively enjoyable tribute to the flotsam and jetsam of music. Interesting – and sometimes odd-records that seem to have passed many people by.

As someone who worked in a second-hand record shop for many years, quite a few of these LPs were familiar from the 50p section – Montrose! – and there are just as many records in this scattershot collection that I’ve never given the time of day to. 

But Ian Moss’ enthusiasm is infectious and have led me to dipping more than a toe or two into this proudly unhip selection. 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn To Love is a cracking read with more than a few top musical tips.

Highly recommended.

Recommended Read: Gender Justice by Nicky Charlish

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

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

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

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

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

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