Dying For Paradise

DyingForParadise

This Aussie crime pulp novel isn’t too old. I think I picked it up around 1996 or so (was published in 1995). I can’t remember too much about it now, so I’ll let the back cover blurb do the talking for me – although this description reads a little muddled.

A tropical paradise on the outside
a slaughterhouse on the inside

When professional gambler, Jack Speerman goes looking for his mate Charlie in Far North Queensland, he already knows something is wrong. Not that the crocs have left much of Charlie to find. Not that Charlie’s girlfriend, Verve is saying much either. Until someone else gets killed right in front of her eyes and a head shot from a moonlit beach into a crowded restaurant, turns the brains of an American privateer to sauce.

The hunt for Charlie’s killers follows a bloody trail of bodies leading to an international bird smuggling ring more ruthless and deadly than the crocs which snatch the unwary killers.

As Charlie and Verve unreel the layers of deception, greed and murder – they learn to trust no one, not even each other…

Green’s novel is based on the disappearance of five bird smugglers and a wildlife officer in FNQ. Authorities are still searching for the bodies.

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Dying For Paradise

Swamp Walloper

SWAMP smallAuthor: Paul Bishop
Published: October 2013

Swamp Walloper is the follow up to Felony Fists, the first book in the Fight Card series written by Paul Bishop. Fists saw L.A. cop, Patrick ‘Felony’ Flynn fighting on two fronts, first corruption on the streets, and then duking it out with one of gangster Mickey Cohen’s minions – it was a fantastic, uplifting story with a knockout ending.

Walloper heads in a different direction, and sees Flynn plying his skills – as a cop first and as a fighter second – in the Crescent City, N’Awlins, and in the croc infested Bayou Sauvage. The villain of the piece is a crooked prison warden named Lucas Trask – a man steeped in dark voodoo rituals.

The tale is pure pulp, dripping with steamy New Orleans atmosphere, and featuring great characters – heroes you want cheer, and villains you want to hiss. The action packed climax will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Like Felony Fists before it, Swamp Walloper punches above its weight and recommended to all fans of rapid-fire adventure.

Swamp Walloper

Leaving Bondi

BondiAuthor: Robert G. Barrett
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 2000

Over the years I have read a few of Robert G. Barrett’s Les Norton series. I don’t know how many there are in the series. I have about seven of them, and I’d guess there’s probably that many I don’t have. I have always found them to be – for wont of a lazy comparison – a knockabout variation on the Cliff Hardy stories – the obvious connection being that they are often set in Sydney (but the boys move around a bit from story to story). However Les is not a Private Detective like Hardy. Instead he’s a trouble shooter at the Kelly Club. ‘Trouble’ being the operative word. Les seems to attract it. In this story he gets mixed up in a movie deal – the movie being called ‘Leaving Bondi’.

As I implied above, I have enjoyed many of Norton’s adventures – but this one was undone by one particularly sleazy scene which ruined the whole book. In the scene, Les rescues a drugged girl from a cult of devil-worshipers who are about to slit her throat. After the rescue, Les takes the unconscious girl back to his hotel room – and let’s just say things get a little rapey for my liking. Worse, still the incident is passed off as a joke a bit later on. The Les Norton stories have never really been politically correct, but this one went over the line for me.

I doubt international readers would find a lot to enjoy in the Les Norton series. They are very Australian with little explanation of the wheres and whyfores – if you’re not familiar with the place names and products you may feel left out – and very much of their time. This book is fourteen years old and some of the products mentioned are no longer available, television shows are no longer on etc…

The Les Norton books can be good fun, but unless you’re a die hard fan of the series, I’d give this one a miss.

Leaving Bondi

Dig Two Graves

DTGAuthor: Eric Beetner
Publisher: Snubnose Press
Published: November 2011

As the title, Dig Two Graves, would imply, this novella is a tale of revenge. It concerns Val, who is an ex-con. But one who has lived a strange double life. On civi-street he is straight, and while in prison he is gay – described as an ‘innie and outie’. As the story begins Val is busted by the police. He was ratted out by his prison lover, a Latino named Ernesto.

From page one, Dig Two Graves is a wild ride, and the pace doesn’t let up. Val escapes from custody and seeks vengeance. Forgive me for being light on details, but I don’t really want to give any of the twists and turns away. I probably have already said too much!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this story is it serves up crime genre cliché after cliché – or at least it sets up each set piece that way – but as the story plays out, each of these sequences is turned on their head. Just when you think you know where the story is going, and you have read it all before, author, Eric Beetner drags the story kicking and screaming in a completely opposite direction.

This book is not for everyone. It fast, furious and filthy – and violent, but I found it to be a breath of fresh air in a genre where so many stories read the same. Highly recommended.

Dig Two Graves

Bear Pit

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Author: Jon Cleary
First Published: 2000

On the eve of the Sydney Olympic games, the city’s great and good assemble to celebrate the opening of a new luxury hotel complex. But the gala takes a grisly turn when State Premier Hans Vanderberg is assassinated by a sniper.

In his twenty years at the head of the Labor Party The Dutchman had made a number of enemies. Even within his own party, rivals who felt he had reached his sell-by date were clamouring for his retirement. But who wanted him out of the way badly enough to hire a hitman? And with ruthless casino boss Jack Aldwych and his son flanking the Premier at the time of the shooting, who can be sure that the hitman found his true target?

As if political ‘skulbuggery’ and high-stakes gambling weren’t enough to contend with, Inspector Scobie Malone finds that his daughter Maureen, now a tabloid-TV journalist, is working the same case – with terrifying consequences.

Bear Pit

Five Ring Circus

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Author: Jon Cleary
First Published: 1998 (1999 Harper Collins edition pictured).

As Sydney prepares for its grand role as host of the next Olympic Games, homocide detective Scobie Malone stumbles upon a scam that will do nothing for the city’s image. Illicit deals are being struck and money from Hong Kong is being banked in large quantities. But whose money is it, and where is it really from?

A series of cold-blooded assassinations follow, as the ruthless individuals behind the conspiracy seek to eliminate anyone who poses a security risk. Meanwhile Scobie’s investigation is frustrated at every turn by a wall of silence as vast as the Great Wall of China, making progress impossible… until he finds the cracks which will lead him to the unexpected truth.

Five Ring Circus

McGrave

Author: Lee Goldberg
Publisher: Adventures in Television
Published: February 2012

McGrave is a quick fire novella from Lee Goldberg, based on a pilot script for a television show, which never eventuated. And its humble beginnings are very evident as you read it. It is written in present tense as a script would be, and the action scenes are described, rather than lived, if that makes sense. If that simple framework doesn’t appeal to you, then you’d probably find McGrave a rather annoying book.

However, if you have no qualms about how your thrills are served up, then McGrave is a balls-to-the wall action adventure that doesn’t let up. John ‘Tidal Wave’ McGrave is a no-nonsense old-school L.A. cop. He gets results, no matter what the cost. He the type of fellow who would destroy $250,000 worth of property to capture a criminal stealing $100 worth of goods.

After such an incident (although more was at stake than $100), McGrave is booted off the force. But like any cop worth his salt, he doesn’t give up the case and follows his leads to Berlin. Then you’ve got you classic fish-out-of-water story. Much mayhem and property damage ensues.

Maybe it’s just my age, and growing up watching material such as this, but I found McGrave to be an absolute hoot. There’s no message beyond ‘enjoy the ride’ and that’s just the way it should be.

Here’s Lee’s promo spiel:

Los Angeles cop John “Tidal Wave” McGrave is an unstoppable force of nature who always gets his man…even if it means laying waste to everything around him, including his own career…which is exactly what happens in his pursuit of Sebastian Richter, the ruthless leader of an international gang of violent thieves. When Richter flees to Berlin, McGrave chases after him…even though the cop doesn’t know the language, the laws, or the culture. But McGrave doesn’t care…he speaks the universal language of knee in the groin and fist in the face…and he won’t let anything get in his way.

What follows is, I hope, a wild, action-adventure novella that captures all of the fun, excitement, humor and pure escapist pleasure of the Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard movies…

McGrave is an experiment for me. I set out to write something specifically for the Kindle that would take advantage of the way people read on the device…but that would also capture the pure, escapist fun of watching an action movie. I thought these were very compatible goals.

McGrave