Review: Death on A Hot Afternoon

Death on a Hot Afternoon
Paul D. Brazill

After the violent events in the novelette Red Esperanto, freelance journalist Luke Case, escapes snow smothered Warsaw and heads off  to the heat of Madrid. The English hack encounters an old man with a violent past and a mysterious torch singer, during a scorching and deadly Spanish summer.

Review: I’m a sucker for Brazill’s singularly laconic style and his hapless heroes — or is it too grand to call them heroes? Main characters? Saps? No, they’re seldom suckers — just not particularly well prepared, thoughtful or lucky. You can move Luke Case around to a new city, but the seedy world seems to follow him there, whether it’s a Peruvian pan pipe band playing ‘Ring of Fire’ or any of a variety of other off-hand pop culture references (Arthur, Mr B? Priceless). If Luke Case manages to survive, it’s not down to his own skills or perspicacity — but surely there are enough gods to watch over drunks and fools. The fun is watching it all unfold.

Bundle this together with other Lite Editions and make your own noir collection.

~ K. A. Laity


Review: Vin of Venus

Beat to a Pulp * 99¢
Written by David Cranmer & Paul D. Brazill & Garnett Elliott


Vin, bereft of half his limbs and his memory, struggles between two worlds–the mist-shrouded, verdant hell of ancient Venus and the mean streets of modern Europe–battling both alien monstrosities and underworld villains on his quest to recover his identity. Along the way he is aided by an unlikely cast of allies, as well as the mysterious, ruby-encrusted bracelet that serves as the only link between his heroic past and grim present. Written in classic pulp-style, VIN OF VENUS mixes Hardboiled and Sword and Planet elements in a genre-bending series of action tales.


Chances are you’re not going to read anything quite like this novella: imagine if John Carter split his time between Mars and life as a thug in the modern world. Vin doesn’t quite know if the dreams he has are a life remembered or just a delusion. The harsh reality of his life — missing limbs and constantly the target of an endless line of mysterious people he sometimes half remembers — lends credence to the likelihood of the life on Venus being just an escape, but there’s the mysterious ruby bracelet that seems to be evidence of technology beyond this world. I think this starts out stronger than it finishes (such as it finishes — there is no resolution, it is a continuing yarn), but there’s a lot of fun along the way. I think I liked the Venus moments best when they were only snapshots, as in the start, but there’s some great adventure in the longer passages set there. I did like the giant insect riders! It would make a good action television series. A unique read and a good value for the price.

Paul D. Brazill’s 5 Top Reads For Halloween

Top 5 Reads For Halloween

When picking out five horror reads for Halloween, the temptation is, of course, to dig up the classics but I’m more interested in what’s walking the earth here and now, to be honest. So here are five modern horror books that I’ve taken a fancy to over the last couple of years.

High Moor by Graham Reynolds

Graeme Reynold’s gripping debut novel, High Moor, is the story of people struggling to survive.

The action kicks off – and ends – in 2008, but the bulk of High Moor takes places in a small town in the north of England, in 1986. The town, the eponymous High Moor, is in decline after Margaret Thatcher’s government has given it a good kicking.

John, Michael and David are schoolboys trying to survive the assaults of Malcolm, the local bully, and his cronies.

Davey and Michael are also trying to survive living with a violent and drunken father.

And then the stakes are raised even higher when a werewolf attacks.

High Moor is a true page turner. A gritty, social-realist horror novel and a coming-of-age story that is full of down to earth and likeable characters.

The pacing is great and the lives of the people living in High Moor is accurately and dispassionately portrayed.

Blood Crimes by Dave Zeltserman

Let’s face it; most vampires are big girl’s blouses. If Tom Cruise in `Interview With A Vampire’ is anything to go by then the typical vampire is about as scary as Adam Ant’s `Dandy Highwayman’.

But there’s nothing of the New Romantic about the vampires in Dave Zeltserman’s `Blood Crimes’. These are hard rocking creatures of the night. Indeed, the book kicks off with our heroes ,Jim and Carol, driving along an archetypal American highway listening to The Doors `Riders On The Storm’. This sets the tone of ‘Blood Crimes’ perfectly although there’s more than one `killer on the road’ in this hardboiled take on the vampire legend.

Jim and Clara are classic noir lovers on the run, like those in They Drive By Night, Theives Like Us, Badlands and Natural Born Killers. They’re trying to escape from Serena – a rich, vampire femme fatale – and Metcalf – an ex CIA hit man who performs experiments on vampires in an underground laboratory. Throw a world weary Private Eye and a biker gang into the mix and you have a really well written, blood splattered and very cinematic page turner that fans of From Dusk Till Dawn and Near Dark will love. And not a lavender fop in sight!

Paskagankee by Allan Leverone

Chief Mike McMahon is a big city cop living -in self-imposed exile -in the small town of Paskagankee, with a the shadow of a past tragedy hanging over him.

Sharon Dupont is a rookie cop who is unhappily forced to return to her home town after a liberating stint at the FBI Training Academy.

Professor Kenneth Dye is a soused, English academic, whose reputation was mangled after he published a conversational book on Native American folklore.

These three disparate individuals are thrown together after the town of Paskagankee is struck by a series of strange and gruesome murders.

Allan Leverone’s Paskagankee is a perfectly paced and hard hitting supernatural thriller that you will breathlessly race through and will leave you gasping for its sequel, Revenant.

Ill At Ease by Mark West, Neil Williams and Stephen Bacon

Ill At Ease by Mark West, Neil Williams and Stephen Bacon comes with the tag-line ‘Three New Stories Of The Macabre’, which is an accurate enough description but doesn’t really do justice to this cracking collection of urban horror stories.

In Stephen Bacon’s chilling ‘Waiting For Josh’, a successful London journalist returns to his home town to spend time with a dying friend. Guilt, disappointment, shame, dread and the ghosts of the past all haunt this wonderfully written story.

And more supposedly long buried secrets also crawl to the surface in Mark West’s vivid ‘Come See My House In The Pretty Town.’ Old friends make contact through Facebook -a nice touch -and have a reunion in an idyllic, quintessentially English village, complete with a country fair, which isn’t quite what it seems.

The last story in this far-too-short collection is ‘Closer Than You Think’ by Neil Williams, who is also responsible for the smashing cover. A dark cloud hovers over this gripping story which starts off with the mundane incident of someone picking up something discarded at a rubbish dump.

In fact, it’s the mundanity of the settings, combined with the masterful writing, that gives this marvellous collection a palpable sense of the ominous.

The characters in ill at ease are all very real and living recognizable lives of quiet, and mostly dull, domesticity. Until something happens that pulls so hard on the threads of their lives that the whole bloody thing unravels.

Ill at ease is a highly recommended collection containing three splendid examples of modern, British storytelling.

The Dead Man vol. 1 by Lee Goldberg, William Rabkin and James Daniels

The Dead Man : Face Of Evil is the first volume of this whipcracking cliff-hanger horror /thriller serial from Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, with stories from many other cracking writers too.

Our hero, Matthew Cahill, is a widower who spends a lot of his time and energy taking care of his self-destructive friend Andy. After they both lose their jobs, Cahill goes away on a skiing trip with a potential love interest. But there’s an avalanche and Cahill is killed. However, three months later Cahill’s body is found and he is miraculously brought back to life with a mysterious supernatural gift.

In Ring Of Knives, Cahill heads off to a mental institution to find a patient who may be able to shed some light on his affliction.

But all is not as it seems and Cahill is quickly pumped with a heavy dose of intrigue and pulse pounding action.

In the third story, Hell In Heaven , Cahill ends up in a town called Heaven which seems like it was trapped in amber in another century. But, of course, all is not as it seems and Cahill is once again caught up in the war between good and evil.

The Dead Man is a splendid series and is super rush of a read with plenty of sharp twists and turns. Later volumes are also well worth your time.

My books:

If you are an author and would also like to be featured with your five favorite horror/Halloween books, email me at

Review: Red Esperanto


The winter night had draped itself over Warsaw’s Aleja Jana Pawla like a shroud, and a sharp sliver of moon garrotted the death black sky. I was in the depths of a crawling hangover and feeling more than a little claustrophobic in Tatiana’s cramped, deodorant-soaked apartment. I poked my trembling fingers through a crack in the dusty slat blinds and gazed out at the constellation of neon signs that lined the bustling avenue. Sex shops, peep shows, 24 hour bars, booze shops and kebab shops were pretty much the only buildings that I could see, apart from The Westin Hotel, with its vertigo inducing glass elevator. Looking it always made my stomach lurch a little.


PAUL D. BRAZILL was born in England and has lived in Poland for the last ten years. His comic crime novel, Guns Of Brixton, will be published in  2012. His collections 13 Shots Of Noir and Snapshots out now as eBooks.  He is the editor the anthologies Drunk On The Moon and (with Luca Veste) True Brit Grit. Paul’s short stories have appeared in dozens of international magazines and anthologies -including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime. Paul’s short story “The Tut” was nominated for a 2010 Spinetingler award, which recognises established and up-and-coming authors. His blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You? has featured interviews with many writers including Tony Black, Matt Hilton, Simon Wood, Sheila Quigley and Anne Billson.
He contributes to Pulp Metal Magazine, Mean Streets and Sabotage Times.


The Warsaw Tourist Bureau is not going to be using Red Esperanto to flog the city to tourists. While some of the nicer bits of the city make it into the tale, Brazill sketches a city that would rival Brixton for grit. From the sordid view of a hooker’s squalid flat with its view of “sex shops, peep shows, 24 hour bars, booze shops and kebab shops” the hapless narrator, journo Luke Case, stumbles his way into incongruous Irish pubs and a casually dangerous relationship with the second-hand clothes Baron’s wife, Crazy Jola, who does what she can to live up to the name. As usual, Brazill will have you alternately wincing and laughing as you follow Case’s shambling wreck; fun stuff. You won’t be disappointed.

‘The only crime is getting caught,’ I said, shrugging.
‘Yes, but if a butterfly beats its wings in the forest a one handed man claps and a tree falls down.’ said Sean, and he stumbled off in the direction of the toilets.
I ignored him and tried to catch Jola’s eye. Rory was placing a drink in front of her. She said something to him and, for the first time since I’d known him, I actually saw him laugh. Though, when he turned back to me he had the same grimace he always wore.
Jola took out her mobile phone and began sending a text message. Fuelled by Scotch courage, I walked over.
‘Would you like another drink?’ I said, swaying a little.
Jola looked up and tried to focus on me, as if she were attempting to take in a magic eye painting. She sipped her drink and shook her head.

Atlantis eBooks: Global Noir

Atlantis eBooks — a division of Lite Books — has launched a new publishing venture of noir stories that crisscross the globe. As you can see, they’ve developed a clear marketing identity and a slick design sense. You’ll find some familiar names like Richard ‘Mr Glamour’ Godwin, Paul D. Brazill and myself, but there’s also a wealth of names and stories from around the world. What they have in common is that they bring a sexy noir aesthetic to famous cities around the world. The site is still in the beta stage, although you can already buy the books (if you use the epub format). There’s an English language website coming and the books will also be in all the usual outlets like Amazon, iTunes and so forth (some already are). Check it out: the site offers generous samples from the stories.

Richard Godwin: The Secret Hour
Paris Tongue is an accomplished seducer. He has a blond fire about him. He can read a woman’s sexual needs as quickly as he used to pick pocket the tourists who frequent Piccadilly with cameras on their shoulders and maps in their eager hands. One day he seduces beautiful Viola. The Secret Hour is the time when Paris meets his lovers, and allows them to escape from their lives. He makes love to Viola in various locations in London. The wealthy, exclusive districts of Mayfair and Piccadilly form the backdrop to their erotic liaisons, as Viola becomes another woman. But she is married to gangster Max Reger, and he is watching her. As Twilight falls on Golden Square and Paris makes love to Viola, Max steals into the house where they are sharing their stolen time together. And Paris discovers something about Viola.
Paul D. Brazill: Red Esperanto
The winter night had draped itself over Warsaw’s Aleja Jana Pawla like a shroud, and a sharp sliver of moon garrotted the death black sky. I was in the depths of a crawling hangover and feeling more than a little claustrophobic in Tatiana’s cramped, deodorant-soaked apartment. I poked my trembling fingers through a crack in the dusty slat blinds and gazed out at the constellation of neon signs that lined the bustling avenue. Sex shops, peep shows, 24 hour bars, booze shops and kebab shops were pretty much the only buildings that I could see, apart from The Westin Hotel, with its vertigo inducing glass elevator. Looking it always made my stomach lurch a little.
K. A. Laity: The Claddagh Icon
He saw Clodagh by the Claddagh Icon when the sun lit her golden hair. Two drinks later he figured he was in like Flynn and ready for sin. Of course there was the small matter of her husband, but once she had him on his knees, there were all kinds of things a man might agree to do.

Crime Fiction Conference

by K. A. Laity

Need an excuse to travel? This fall you could travel to Poland with the grand excuse of attending the Crime Fiction Conference in Gdansk. Time is short to get your abstracts in if you want to participate. Here’s the details —

Crime Fiction, here and now, now and then
International Postgraduate Conference at University of Gdansk, Poland
9-10 November 2012

The aim of the conference is to discuss crime fiction across national borders, across time periods, across languages, across genres and across boundaries between the literature and the other arts (film, theatre, graphic novel etc.) We invite papers which deal with one or more of the following points (the list is by no means exhaustive), in any given literature and country, or in international

– Comparative study of crime fiction
– Detectives now and then
– Genres, systems, conventions
– National, regional or local contexts (e.g. Scottish, Scandinavian, American; Edinburgh, Breslau, LA)
– Crime fiction and the reader
– Dubious villain – why do we like villains?
– Crime and gender
– Crime and identity

Please send your abstract (max. 250 words) to before 30th of June, 2012. We welcome proposals from postgraduate students as well as from established scholars.

The conference will be held in English. Papers should be no longer than 20 minutes of presentation time.
Selected papers will be published in a post-conference volume.

Conference fee is:
100 PLN (for participants from Poland)
25 EURO (for participants from outside Poland)

The fee will cover conference materials, refreshments and a conference get-together. Please note it does not include accommodation.

Conference organisers:
Agnieszka Sienkiewicz-Charlish, M.A. agsien AT
Urszula Elias, M.A. urszula.elias AT

Academic advisor: Prof. dr hab. David Malcolm

*UPDATE: Friend of the blog, Paul D. Brazill, will be a special guest at the conference. So, now you have to go!

Rapid Fire Interview: Paul D. Brazill

In this hard-hitting interview I get down to the really important questions with Mr True Brit Grit himself, the man with the dazzle, Paul D. Brazill. If you don’t know Mr B you must be from some other planet newly arrived, surely. He’s the leader of the DRUNK ON THE MOON pack and editor of TRUE BRIT GRIT, the mighty charity anthology, as well as his own black-hearted collections SNAPSHOTS and 13 SHOTS OF NOIR in addition to stories appearing a slew of other anthologies.

Knowing the world demanded to hear what this nattily dressed man about town was up to, I recently persuaded him to indulge us at AK&AQ with a little of his time — which is to say, I bought the drinks and he offered some opinions. The upshot was this:

Which came first, the bottle or the pen?

Never the twain!

Is the right kind of hat essential to the writing process?

As long as it’s worn at a jaunty angle.

500 words or 5000? Why?

It’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that counts.

What’s the soundtrack to your writing?

Which Rat Pack member would you hang out with if Doctor Who took you to 60s Vegas?

Peter Lawford. I’m easily intimidated.

What practical advice would you give to wannabe writers?

There is very little that is practical about writing.

Bowie or Eno?


Best film on a rainy day when the writing’s not going well?

The writing always goes well, when I get around to doing it. Eraserhead is a good rainy day film, though.

What song will you dance to — even in public?

The Funky Gibbon.

Assuming it’s not a moot point, what might you be persuaded to sell your soul to obtain?

All of the above.

What’s on your bucket list?

My Fuckit List is longer. Things that I hope never to have to do before I die. Like parachute jumping or going to India.

What will you call your memoirs?

Life On The Lam.

What’s your criminal underworld nickname?

Paulie Decibels- named by Cormac Brown.

What writer do you most envy?

Katy Price nee Jordan.

Granted miraculous musical ability (assuming you don’t already have it) what band would you want beating down your door to join them?

The Kings Singers.

Most embarrassing fact about yourself you are willing to reveal here?

I once mistook Oliver Sacks’ hat for a wife.

Thanks, Mr B. You’re an officer and a gentleman fun guy.


Review: Werewolf of Paris

Werewolf of Paris

by Guy Endore (1933)

From Publishers Weekly:

Out of print since 1972, this gruesome classic is based on a true story from 19th-century France; the author of Psycho adds an introduction to this new edition.Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author:
A Hollywood screenwriter who collaborated on scripts like “Mark of the Vampire” with Tod Browning, as well as receiving an Oscar nomination for GI Joe, Guy Endore wrote several novels in addition to his film work. He was blacklisted by the studios in the late 1940s for his political beliefs, slowly faded from the scene and became more involved with the Synanon Foundation (later renamed Synanon Church.)

I think that this is one of the books I gave away while jettisoning my library for the move to Ireland, which I probably regret (but surely I can get an ebook). It was the primary source for Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf with its cursed child born out of wedlock on Christmas day, his mother violated by a priest. The young child Bertrand discovers strange hungers as he grows up, dreaming that he has changed into a wolf (oops, guess what — the dreams are real!) and his uncle finds it difficult to cover up the increasingly nasty shenanigans of his nephew. After an explosion of assault, incest and murder, Bertrand runs off to Paris. He tries to find ways to manage his affliction and joins the Guard to fight in the Franco-Prussian war. He falls in love with an innocent girl. They try to cope with his hungers by letting him drink her blood in a wonderful sort of sadomasochist relationship. But eventually Bertrand fears he will hurt Sophie and ventures once more out into the city to satisfy his dark desires, exposing his secret and resurrecting danger for them both. The rest of the story is suitably gothic and tragic against the historic backdrop of the Paris Commune.

This is a fine gem and one that horror and Gothic fans will enjoy. It was certainly one of my influences for writing “It’s a Curse” for Paul D. Brazill‘s Drunk on the Moon.

~ K. A. Laity

Review: Snapshots

Pulp Metal Fiction

As indicated on the tin, twenty-one short sharp tales of crime, despair and bizarrely comic misadventures. If you’re not familiar with the world of Hartelpool’s favourite export, you’ll soon find yourself acclimated to the dark underworld. Not so much the demi-mondeof the rich and famous as that of the spent and fumbling, it’s a landscape of shadows and booze-soaked mutterings, where every corner brings you to some fresh hell or, if you’re lucky, a great dive bar. But it’s all observed through a bleary eye of cynicism that’s gilded with a mordant sense of humour, so you’ll be laughing even as you wince at the breaking bones.

The stories range from set pieces that serve as noirish Polaroids to fully developed tableaux of murder, betrayals and plans gone wrong. Song titles provide the starting point to many a yarn: Endless Sleep, Life on Mars?, Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime, and perhaps the finest story here, Guns of Brixton.

If there’s a fault here, it’s that they read too quickly. It would be a treat to see Brazill tackle something lengthier. In the meantime check out his other collection 13 Shots of Noir and look for his work in anthologies like his own Drunk on the Moon [reviewed here at K&Q], True Brit Grit and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales.