Archive for the ‘crime’ Category


It is your typical college boy story. Boy goes to college to study journalism. Boy meets girl and falls in love. Girl, however, is not so in love with boy. Summer comes boy and girl has to go separate ways. Girl finds a job (and a new “love”) in some other state. Boy finds job at carnival with colourful characters … which also involves a haunted mirror house with a ghost. Girl breaks up with boy (at least he didn’t get played with that “I have to concentrate on my studies” bollocks only to find out that she’s dating your swim team mate who is stupid enough to blurt it out to you … oh, I’m sorry, just a flashback detour). Boy decides to hang around with carnival beyond the summer. Sounds pretty much cut and dry, except it is not. After all, this IS Stephen King, mates.

And yes , I know … doesn’t sound like your typical chill-up-your-kilt scary King stuff that I’m always reviewing but when you like a writer … well … you can’t help it. Believe it or not, this is actually a crime novel (sprinkled with bits of supernatural shenanigans … of course). A bit like Stand by Me and Green Mile minus the jail stuff. In Joyland, the readers are guided through the story through the eyes of Devin Jones (the down and out on love lad), as it is written in the first person narrative. Starts a bit slow, but Devin’s life with the carnival is filled with colourful characters (each with their own intriguing mini-stories) that keeps the reader sucked in. Somewhere in the 70s, King’s tale captures a bit of nostalgia of a time when nothing said fun like the annual summer carnival and water park. And the best part was that there was not Twitter, Instagram and other such bollocks that kid us into believing that we’re capturing the “fun” moments of our lives. Really? I thought we already had a built in app for that and it does not come with contracts or limited memory and it was called … memories. And believe me, some things are best left in your memory than preserved on Instagram for the rest of the world to see. Think 80s, hair mousse and lots of neon-coloured clothing … on a black bloke. Hope you folks out there have a really good imagination because you will NEVER see that on web. Ah yes, great times. I detoured again, didn’t I? Just a wee bit.

One of the most delightful characters introduced comes in the form of Mike Ross, a young kid, with a terminal disease, filled with supernova wisdom packed into his short and tragic. Needless to say, he is one of these characters that will linger with you long after you’ve read this book. But just as the book is beginning to get all touchy-feely, and most readers are resigned to a nice calm roller coaster ride to the end, the roller coaster suddenly dips and plummets at a terrifying pace as the reader practically wets their undies holding for dear life. Yes, there is a ghost of murdered girl(Linda Gray), strange mutterings from a fortune-teller (Madame Fortuna), and a serial killer twist that would cause most readers to drop their jaws in the puddles of their own discharged body fluids. A bit too graphic on that one? Sorry. I need to control that.

The beauty of Joyland is that even though it is a first-person narrative, most of the characters we encounter have their own stories, that are intriguing, shocking, frightening and yes, tugs on the heartstrings. Did I weep like a nancy, you ask? Like bloody hell, I am going to admit that. (Ok … sort of … but I didn’t need a tissue). Splendid King as usual, and perfect for summer reading at the beach. Ah yes, you remember that … SUMMER. The other S word. Warm, sunny days. Girls in … oh, never mind me.

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No surprise here, but I’m a big fan of British gangster movies. Particularly, the ones made by Guy Ritchie and um … starring Jason Statham. So as I going through my rounds at the library I came across this one in the stacks. Something about a bloke holding a gun, on the cover, and pointing it at the reader … gets my attention. On top of that, when I saw it was written by J.J. Connolly, the author of Layer Cake, my interest was naturally heightened. Yes, I’ll admit it … I have never read Layer Cake but I did see the movie that starred Daniel Craig (you might know him … tall, blond and acts as that Bond fellow) and I did like it. But enough with the pleasantries, shall we?

Madness, apparently, continues from where Layer Cake left off where we find ourselves guided, throughout the book, by the narrative of Cake’s anonymous hero. Whom, I must add, seemingly speaks with Jason Statham’s voice (in my head). Yes, it has occurred to me that I “like” Mr. Statham way too much that it is enough to put my current sexual orientation in complete and utter peril. I have detoured and may have ventured into the “Too Much Information” zone. My apologies.

The book opens with our hero in Barbados waiting at the airport for several of his mates (from the underworld) from England. Though not an entirely social visit, this is a business trip where Sonny, a major “player”, is doing a bit of banking (or hiding) of – no surprise – ill gotten gains. Somewhere, along this get-together, our nameless hero is old that he is need back in England, where (by the way) he is wanted criminal and has been living in Barbados on the lam. Whilst in England, he is soon re-united with his mates from their abruptly interrupted Barbados vacation for what seems to be the untimely passing another fellow comrade-at-arms. There is an encounter with a psychotic Venezuelan gangster which leads to his untimely and extremely violent demise. And then the fun begins. There are Venezuelan and Brazilian hit squads; narcissistic and self-delusional South American psychotics; a fiery, sexual Latino femme fatale named Jenna Zambrano; the usual English underworld back stabbings and bumblings all marinated in Machiavellian schemes; and yes, a USB drive with information that everyone’s willing to paint the streets of London red for. Yes, London has some interesting visitors and they are not there to see the changing of the guards, Big Ben or to have some bloody tea and scones. The action is fast, vicious and sometimes, senseless (what’s new). The language is most definitely politically incorrect (thin-skins be warned) and marinated in dark English humour, wit and Cockney lingo (don’t worry you’ll start figuring out most of it before the book ends). And oh yes, from some strange reason Jason Statham’s voice seem to be narrating the entire bloody book (I think I mentioned that before). Bloody hell, I think this what they call a man crush. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out too loud. Sigh. Great book, though.

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When Priya, a young woman with a promising future, is found dead in front of her dormitory building at NYU, everyone assumes it was suicide. But there are a few that fear differently. Niral Solanke, one of Priya’s childhood friends, is a down-on-his-luck type, just drifting through life after living a life filled with decadent appetites and really crummy choices (oh I ‘m sure some of us can identify … well .. minus that whole bit about sex parties and other such naughtiness … didn’t have too many “artistic friends”). His limited experience with the law leads to him being recruited the Brotherhood, a Hindu religious organization, to investigate the Priya’s death. Along the way he finds himself being drawn back to his Hindu roots, and not so-convenient crossings with an ex-flame (Lauren) turned artist/turned stripper/turned prostitute/turned artist (hmm, sounds like your average pop singer … yes, I did go there) and a quick talking, sleazoid named Vishal. Vishal is quite the wank. He’s seemingly made some good dosh and is living the good life (or so it seems)… and on occasion tends throw it in Niral’s face. Oh, did I mention that these two blokes were childhood friends also? But everything and everyone and anything aren’t what they seem, and even as you adjust your logic to keep up Brotherhood keeps you guessing all the way … to the nerve-wracking conclusion. A conclusion that is so abrupt that I found myself shaking my fist to the sky and demanding “why does cruel fate mocketh me?” as the author teased us with a glimpse of the second part of this trilogy. Yes, it is trilogy. The best way to describe Brotherhood is simply this: a Mickey Spillane novel with a Bombay (or is it Mumbai … bloody hell) flavour … set in New York City. Betrayal, religious hypocrisy, greed, and sexual nastiness … it is nice warm cuddly pulp fiction with a nice global marinade. The book contains a lot exotic jargon that is dispersed throughout the writing but is easily appreciated thanks to the glossary that is, thoughtfully, provided by the author. And yes, there is more to the Indian culture than “namaste”, curry and yoga. Feel free to indulge. It is also one of the few self-published books that I’ve read out there and I just happen to know the author. Great chap. Does a mean Garth Brooks and Tupac at karaoke (yes, I’m probably breaking our Karaoke Krew rule: whatever happens at karaoke STAYS at karaoke). Um … sorry, mates.

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Several months ago I watched the remake of Coma on DVD. Though the storyline was slightly changed from the original (from the 80s) that starred Micheal Douglas and Genevieve Bujold, it was still watchable since it was great to see Geena Davis still looking saucy as ever. But back in the 80s it was Genevieve Bujold that had my attention since I was your typical hormonal teen and I had scorching crush on her. Oh sweet Canada. Yes, she may be a bit older, but I doubt whether my feelings have changed. Um … a bit much information there … and I’ve already detoured. Focus … and now we’re back. I came across Death Benefit in the stacks and since there was Robin Cooks name on it I was compelled to give it solid perusing.
Pia Grazdiani is not your typical medical student since she comes with a lot of baggage, and not the type found in overpriced shitty Coach designer types: her estranged father is a VIP in the Albanian mafia; she witnessed her mother’s mother at six years old; she was sexually molested by an uncle; she’s passed through more foster homes than extinct joint at a reggae concert; and she’s got some serious trust issues with authority figures. Yet, despite it all, she manages to become a very smart and focused medical student and PhD candidate that works under the equally feared and neurotic Dr. Rothman who is not only her mentor but is pioneer in groundbreaking medical research. The sort of research that could turn the medical world upside down … in a good way … but at the same time may put some folks out of business. When Dr. Rothman and his assistant, Dr. Yamamoto, become violently ill and within 48 hours is dead, on the surface it is nothing more than an accidental contamination, but as Pia digs deeper what she finds something even more sinister. The kind of stuff that could possibly get her killed. Oh, conspiracy you say? Well, I’m not bloody telling. Though Death Benefit at times comes across like medical science lecture, Cook does his earnest best to make it easily digestable for those (unlike myself) that are not so scientifically inclined. And yes, this aspect is kept to a delightful minimum. Filled with intrigue and surprising twists that’ll keep you anxious to get to the next page, Death Benefit is a great medical thriller that’ll keep you riveted to your seat as you mentally try to override all pertinent body functions … and it’ll probably scare you about ever getting life insurance. The same way Coma scared the living shit out of me about ever getting anesthesia for any operation. Then again, I wouldn’t mind being operated on by Genevieve Bujold or Geena Davis … though I ‘d prefer to be awake for that. A bit too … much? Bad images in your mind? So dreadfully sorry.

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Running Title – Gomorrah: A Personal Journey Into The Violent International Empire Of Naples’ Organized Crime System

In this current world, there are two types of journalists. On one side there are those who choose to remain in some lily-white/ white picketed fence backdrop such as Colorado, Connecticut or Virginia as they basically rehash the leanings of whatever political or religious drivel that they subscribe to. Once in a while they’ll further rehash this bunk as some superform of “the truth” in a book, on sale at the local book stores, that sucker unsuspecting sods into parting with their hard earned cash. Poor bastards. To add to their delusion, they’ll sometime invoke quotations by greats such as Cronkite and Morrow … simply because it makes them sound journalist … like. Tossers !!!!

Then there are those that take themselves out of the comfort zone and risk life, limb, sanity and even hygiene to bring to life things that are vile, vicious and occasionally heartwarming. In Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano does the thinkable and goes beyond his call of duty, as a journalist, to do the unthinkable. On the outskirts of the ever romantic Naples, is place called Camorra, where any and everything is for sale and life is cheaper than cheap.  Drugs, prostitution, gun running, smuggling, sweatshops, and land being sold to nations to dump toxic materials are all controlled by the Camorrista, the Camorra mafia.  Posing as a Camorrista underling, Saviano goes into the underbelly of this criminal underworld and brings to life all the viciousness that saturate the underworld. And yes, he even named names (the unthinkable part). Not exactly your tea and crumpets book-discussion group book, it spews out barbaric violence that could seem like a Quentin Tarantino wet dream and levels of corruption that would make Machiavelli blush outright.  The bad news is that this is non-fiction. Yes, non-fiction as in this shit has actually happened. Some scenes are graphic as is memorable such as a scene where a junkie overdosed after being given a “test batch” of heroin only to be revived by his junkie girlfriend who simply squatted and urinated on his face. Bloody hell, who needs a stab of adrenaline to the heart when female junkie piss would suffice quite nicely. And there are many more memorable gems such as this that grace the book. I kid you not. Really.

 In 2009, the movie adaptation of this book (Gomorrah) made its debut and was shown at several select theaters. More than 180 minutes long, the gritty portrayals was enough to send many folks running from the theatre. I guess they were expecting some artsy-fartsy foreign love movie. Surprise. It was Grand Theft Auto in reality. The frightening thing about this was that as vicious and gritty as the movie was, it was the mere tip of the iceberg in the accounts of barbarism. Gomorrah smacks away the romantic imagery of gondolas guided by oarsmen singing operatic love lullabies and takes us to a whole different side of Italy.  Note to self: Stick to the tourist areas if ever should I visit Italy. The sad part, about this is that Mr. Saviano’s brave effort to bring light to the dark deeds of a few has resulted in him living in an undisclosed area under police guard. All the more reason to read this compelling and fascinating book yet extremely violent book. My hat’s off to Mr. Saviano

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Running Title – No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey To The Inner Circle Of Hells Angels

Meet Jay Dobyns. Real-life ATF agent. A walking, talking line that protects the law-abiding from the psychos. In every sense, Mr Dobyns is an unsung hero. In No Angel, Mr. Dobyns recounts the ordeals of life as an undercover agent infiltrating the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle gang. Reading the book feels like throttling down the highway at full speed on a 1200 cc chopper with no brakes … and on a highway that is also filled with blind turns. Infiltrating bike gangs are a lot more work than most folks can fathom. There are rules and certain codes of conduct that one must observe. Violation of certain “biker etiquette” will not get you slap on the wrist by a gloved hand but in some cases could result in a hole in the head … by a leather gloved hand. The type of holes that are somewhat terminal. And as the Dobyns and his “crew” try to build up a club and a reputation, they are constantly tested everyway and they often have to be on constant guard as if their life depended on it … which strangely in many cases it usually does. And sometimes people have to become innovative … like taking a piss in the bathroom and dropping a few bits of pee on your boots for “good luck” to impress some VIP in the biker gang. Needless to say, I do not envy these chaps. I’d prefer to take my chances in a Brazilian creek filled with ravenous piranhas … whilst bleeding profusely. Still it is a testimony to the work that these special breed of individuals do in order to protect the Joe Public from the outlaws out there. Something that we often take for granted. Quite often undercover law enforcement agents are constantly held under severe scrutiny by the public but few really do understand what many of these individuals have to deal with. No Angel shows life on the razor’s edge by through the eyes of an agent and the mental roller coaster both he and his family had to endure whilst undercover. Very suspenseful, filled with intrigue, and keeps you dry in the throat as you turn every page. It is the closest you can get to going undercover. If you know any one that works in law especially as an undercover agent, then be sure to pat them on the back or give them a firm handshake in acknowledgement for what they put on the line. Great read. Awesome bloke, Mr. Dobyns.

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EX-KOP takes us back to the steaming tropical dysfunction of a planet called Lagarta to meet our anti-hero and dirty cop, Juno Mozambe. A lot has happened since KOP. Juno is no longer on the force, his chief is dead (let’s just say it wasn’t natural causes) and his wife is in critical condition after a seemingly bizarre suicide attempt. Juno is also at his lowest point where he is reduced to a lowly pathetic bagman and a sort of scandal photographer that basically takes photos of certain public folks doing not so desirable things. Sort of like a paparazzi, minus a grinning Harvey Levin and that douchebag surfer dude “journalist”, with the propensity for occasional bouts of extortion. As a young girl is about to be executed for murder that she may not have committed, Juno is called on the case by former partner Maggie Orzo who is still on the force and managed to find herself with a partner that makes Juno (her former partner) look like a choir boy. And that is several levels, south of hell, of BAD. In EX-KOP, Lagarta is as disgusting a fur coat in Florida June weather, the sex is kinkier (and some cases, seemingly downright scandalous and cringeworthy), the action is fast and ultra-vicious, and levels of human depravity struggles for even lower depths. Hammond’s delightful blend of detective noir and science fiction has stepped up the ante from KOP and hooks the reader in … by the minerals.

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Chris Elliot is a riot. I’ve enjoyed his short-lived show Get A Life on Fox during the early 90s and loved Cabin Boy. Some find his humour … well more to be desired, whilst those of us that are easily amused think his humour is the dog’s bollocks (or excellent). So when I came across Shroud of the Twacker in the stacks, I was somewhat puzzled because I didn’t know Chris Elliot (THE Chris Elliot) had decided to put his wit to paper … in novel format. Of course, turning to the back and seeing him with Cheshire grin … well. So my curiosity got the best of me and I was not disappointed.

The story is narrated by a detective called Caleb in 1800s New York City on the hunt for a serial killer called the Jolly Thwacker that has a penchant for killing prostitutes. Sounds familiar. Yes, it is basically a parody of the Jack the Ripper situation from across the pond. But that’s just the half of it. Throw in a randy Teddy Roosevelt, time traveling, and Yoko Ono (yes you heard me on that one, THE Yoko Ono) and you’ve got a recipe for laughter and the possibility for pissing yourself silly. Caution if you are easily amused, don’t drink too much liquids and read this book. Seriously, it is painful, especially when you’re stuck on a slow moving, very crowed MTA bus and every bump in the road amplifies that need to void your bladder. Too much information, maybe? Why yes, I fear I have detoured. Even worse, the book hits hilarious highs as Chris Elliot breaks character as the narrating detective and gets into banters with the reader. Yes, he actually starts conversations with the readers. And it is the funniest stuff you can stumble upon. The funny thing is that as you read the novel, those of us that are familiar with Mr. Elliot, you basically hear his voice narrating the whole thing. Or maybe that’s just me. No, really, you sort of hear his voice doing the narration … and this puts everything into a new humourous stratosphere. Another caution: avoid reading this in public for if you are easily amused you will find yourself giggling like a little girl. Or bursting out into sidesplitting guffaws, that will make others wonder if some nice afternoons with electro-therapy, in a nice sterile building complete with padded comforts, would do you the world of wonderful good. Ah Chris Elliot, you wonderfully funny bastard.

Twacker is a magnificent, hilarious read and it seems as if Elliot has found his niche in writing comical prose.

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Lagarta is a planet that is fourteen light years away from Earth. It is gritty place to live, and living in Lagarta is hard. Meet Juno Mozambe, a vice cop that makes a living shaking down brothels and other shady enterprises. Seems likeable. When his superior puts him on a homicide case, with a green rookie to add to his frustrations, Juno becomes cautious and wary of his new assignment. And he’s got good reasons, since life is cheaper than cheap on Lagarta and the corruption is rampant and normal as say … breathing. In typical fashion, KOP blends gritty detective noir with the likes of Blade Runner along with William Gibson-esque dystopic settings where life is nothing more than an afterthought and the action is lightning-speed, vicious, and heartless. The action and the suspense leaves the reader basically peering around each page in anticipation of what’s waiting to leap out and grab them by the throats … like a Lagartan dragon-lizard (which just happens to be a delicacy on the planet … sorry, I have detoured). Warren Hammond’s KOP is quick delightful read and it prepares the reader for the exciting sequel to this novel, EX-KOP … which, strangely enough, will be reviewed on this site. Bet you didn’t see that coming didn’t you. Ok, maybe you did. Bloody hell, even Stevie Wonder on a pitch dark night saw that coming.

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