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James M. Cain, ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ (1934)

Even 80 years after it was first published, The Postman Always Rings Twice retains its power to shock. The novel’s tale of sex, murder and retribution is not new; but what Cain brings to this old, old story is blunt, fat-free storytelling that makes the events it portrays all the more arresting. Postman is the tale of Frank Chambers, … Continue reading

Book-drunk in Hay-on-Wye

Just to mark the occasion of what may (or may not…) be a significant birthday this week, I took a trip to Hay-on-Wye, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit ever since I first heard about its reputation for secondhand bookshops. It’s not as replete as it once was – there’s now around twenty, from a high … Continue reading

Ken Bruen, ‘The Killing of the Tinkers’ (2002)

There aren’t many characters in literature who scare me, but Jack Taylor is one of them. I was blown away by The Guards, Bruen’s first book in this series, and one which has all the queasy inevitability of a Greek tragedy (you can read what I though of it here). And I’m now pleased (okay, maybe pleased isn’t … Continue reading

Warren Ellis, ‘Gun Machine’ (2013)

It’s funny how you can pinpoint the exact moment a book grabs you in a headlock, forcing you to finish it no matter what. This happened to me on page 19 of Warren Ellis’ visceral cop-thriller Gun Machine, which contains one of the punchiest (and funniest) passages of dialogue I’ve read in a long time: The … Continue reading

All Due Respect Issue #2

I was delighted when Chris Rhatigan, editor of All Due Respect agreed to take a couple of my reviews. And I’m even more pleased now that Issue #2 is out, and I can see what illustrious and talented company I’m in. The fiction is top-notch, and pleasingly varied; the cover story, Owen Laukennen’s ‘N.F.G’ (two of those … Continue reading