The Glasgow Grin by Martin Stanley

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About a year ago, I took a chance and bought a book called The Hunters by Martin Stanley, an author I was unfamiliar with. I devoured the book in two days and immediately started looking for other books he had written. That is how I stumbled upon the series of short stories and novellas that feature the Stanton Brothers. This accidental discovery of Stanley’s work is one of the top highlights of the past year in my reading life.

To say that the Stanton Brothers’ stories, novellas, and novels will keep you entertained is making too simplistic of a statement. To be accurate, they will entertain you, amaze you, make you laugh, keep you up late at night as you read “just one more chapter” and make you a fan of Martin Stanley forever.

I have been waiting for him to release The Glasgow Grin since I finished his last Stanton book. I was not disappointed with this book in any way, shape, or form. As is the key to any series with reoccurring main characters, Stanley allows the characters to evolve and we see new insights into Eric Stanton, the main character. The banter that passes between him and his muscle bound brother, is witty and makes the book even more enjoyable.

This book also develops the character of Bob Owden, a take-charge, take no prisoners boss who fears he is losing his turf and the respect of everyone who does business on his turf. The chapters that show him hunting down enemies and former friends are violent, bloody, and gory; which is just how I like them!

I found this book to be the most violent of the Stanton books and that sits well with me. The violence is brutal, but not gratuitous. It fits perfectly into the unfolding plot and kept me itching for more chapters with him. The best part of this book is that while I was itching for more chapters with his character, every time I got my wish, I was wishing for more chapters with the Stantons. That is the way this novel unfolded…it just kept getting better and better and I was hooked for the opening paragraph.

If you are familiar with Stanley, then I am sure you have this book on your radar. If you are new to his writing, grab some of his older work and get started. Once you read him, you will know why I am raving about his work. Highly recommended.

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Junkie Love Will Get You Addicted to this Author

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Heroin first, speed second, cocaine third, and then all the other stuff like food and shelter. That was my hierarchy of needs.

Junkie Love by Joe Clifford is an amazing testament to the power of drugs over the human mind, heart, and soul. But it is also a testament to the human spirit’s tenacity in the face of adversity. Clifford’s honest recollections of his time as an addict are heartbreaking and entertaining at the same time. Not that I find entertainment in the pain, suffering, and misery of others, but rather because I have followed Clifford as an author and as a Facebook personality and have witnessed how his story has blossomed into a seemingly wonderful life with a beautiful family, I am able to read the book while knowing the story ends in triumph.

Anyone who has read Clifford before knows that he has a beautiful way with words and has an uncanny ability to take the mundane nuisances of life and put a poetic spin on them and leave the reader thinking how he has captured an idea or sentiment in a beautifully poignant manner. This work of art is no exception and shows Clifford at his finest in stripping situations from his own past and putting them into insightful and honest words.

Clifford holds nothing back and bares his soul for all to see in these pages. It is this baring of the soul that allows you to connect with his pain and ultimately, his triumph.

He shares his relationship with his wife: I still love my wife. Very much. It’s just that I love something more.

We experience the love/need he feels for other women in is life and how drugs influence this relationship: …(people) don’t understand junkie love. When you’re as sick and addicted as we are, the rules of the game change. When you’ve just banged a speedball up your thigh and… (finished being intimate)…you can’t tell if it’s the orgasm or the rush of the narcotics that is making you feel so needed, so loved, so perfectly at peace with your disjointed world, because there is no division anymore, not from you, or from her, or from the drugs; it is one big tingling pleasure center, and it’s viral and parasitic. Amy will be my heroin.

 

I recommend this book without reservation and with extreme insistence that you grab a copy and experience this world that Clifford amazingly didn’t create for a work of fiction, but has lived through. This is a shot of strong writing; it will make your eyes tear, your throat burn, and will certainly leave an aftertaste. But the aftereffects of this one will be in your mind for days and you will enjoy the Joe Clifford rise to the top even more. Don’t just stop with this one, instead have a Joe Clifford novel marathon and see why he is an author that has gone from the bottom of the depths and is becoming the cream of the crop.

No Reason To Slow Down When Reading This One

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There is something special about Slow Down by Lee Matthew Goldberg that I just can’t seem to put my finger on. Sure the plot is quick moving and focuses on some of my favorite noir material, sure the dialogue is witty at places and insightful in others, and sure the characters seem to come to life as you read it…but the sum seems to be even bigger than all those respective parts would indicate it would be. This was a dynamite read from beginning to end and I dare say there are elements within the book that seem to indicate Goldberg is going be putting out even better novels in the future.

This firecracker of a book centers on Noah Spaeth, a trust fund type of guy who wants for nothing; except to be a big time writer. Things begin to look up when he strikes up a friendship with Dominick Bamback, the new “it” director of Hollywood. The two men bond; yet remain like water and oil.

…then us two men, differing a little in age, laughed obnoxiously: at our new friendship based on who could be the bigger a##hole. At the time, neither of us realized what the other one had planned, both thinking we had the upper hand, while in reality a war was about to begin. ..

 

The friendship between a somewhat snobby Noah and the world-at-his-fingertips Dominick is one based on getting the upper hand and being willing to go to all lengths to do just that. When you mix in Dominick’s wife and Noah’s desire to possess her, the sparks begin to fly for the reader.

This book does everything right. It contains everything you could want in a tightly written piece of literature. Goldberg penned the type of book that makes you want to shake people who aren’t aware that there are authors that exist outside the aisles of Barnes & Noble and their local Costco. This is a perfect example of why people need to look at the smaller presses to find the best books being published.

New Pulp Press has put out yet another winner. The emergence of the E-Reader has allowed noir lovers to be drenched with novels, novellas, and short stories that are published by publishers that seem to be run by noir readers and noir lovers. These books are cheap to access and there is no reason for you not to drop a few dollars on this book. Great read!

You Will Burn Through Burn Cards

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Burn Cards by Christopher Irvin is the second book I have read that is published by 280 Steps Publishing and I am already seeing a trend; they are publishing strong, well-plotted books that keep the reader invested from beginning to end. It is great to see yet another small publisher making a name for themselves by publishing some great up and coming authors.

Burn Cards is a quick paced novella that takes place in Reno and shows us that a loser never wins and often pulls everyone around them down into the gutter. Mirna Fowler is trying to claw her way into a better life by working at a salon and saving all her money so she can find a place to go start the life she dreams of. But her gambling-addicted father seems to always be standing in her way and he is always looking to her for handouts and favors. Although everyone around her tells her to cut him loose, the love she has for him seems to always pull her back into his gravitational downspin.

Things go from bad to worse when her father checks out of life, leaving Mirna holding the bag for his huge debt to a local loan shark. After she loses the little bit of money she has managed to save to the collection efforts of the loan shark, she realizes she has to make a desperate move to free herself from the clutches of her dead father and Reno itself or she will end up in the same low places she has always found her father.

“During the day, Reno looks like any other western tourist destination; an aging downtown surrounded by clustered suburban neighborhoods, tracts of fast food and mini-malls…At night, the city is awash in strange colored light that’s visible for miles. Some say you can read the mood of the city by the dominant color of neon. The might be right, it’s been blue for years.”

 

I found Irvin’s ability to bring the dreary Reno landscape to life to be a brilliant part of this novel. He goes behind the bright lights and glittery façade to find the heartbreaking truth of a dingy, tired, vortex-like town that sucks the life out of people before they even recognize what is happening. A fall from the top can be a hard one, but Irvin shows that a fall from a low spot can be equally hurtful and soul wrecking.

The novella was over before I knew it and I wanted more. Mirna could definitely become a recurring character for Irvin and I would be interested to see where he could take her. But in the meanwhile, I will be seeking out previous works from Irvin. That speaks to the true beauty of beginning this blog; I am finding many new authors that have great works out there. I hope I can help shed the light on some of these authors and help others to find the great depth of writing talent that is out there. Seek and ye shall find.

Dark Water is Darkly Wonderful

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The latest release by Number Thirteen Press is one hell of a explosive firecracker. Dark Water by Ariana D. Den Bleyker has a short fuse and a powerful bang that wipes out everything you think you know about typical novellas.

Bleyker’s plot is slick. Henry is on the run. His wife has been murdered and no one would believe he is innocent. Why not? Well, maybe because it would not be the first time Henry has killed. He has a very dark past and that past makes Henry a man you should never trust. Henry fancies himself an artist who created exhibits…now he may begin creating canvases out of bodies. He is a dangerous man to come into contact with and as he slowly begins to lose control, the violence inside him grows and sets up a killer ending to a well-plotted, well-written piece of art.

This novel is full of plot twists and is a great example of dark, twisted noir. The book is a fast, quick read but it packs the punch of novels twice its size. This novel had me guessing on which way the next chapter would turn the story and that is an extreme compliment. There is no greater compliment to pay a piece of writing than to say you hated to see it end. Did I hate to see this novella end? Hell yeah. Did I think Bleyker should have made it a longer piece of writing? Yes, but who am I to argue with near perfection?