Tag Archives: Crime

Book Review: ‘The Sweet Oil of Vitriol’ by Daniel Eagleton

Title: The Sweet Oil of Vitriol: A Tom Glaze Hit Book 1

Published: 23rd February 2017

Author: Daniel Eagleton

 

Synopsis:

Ever get the feeling the staff want to kill you?

After a government sanctioned hit goes spectacularly wrong, Mossad agent Thomas is blamed for the mission’s failure by his superiors, ousted before completing his very first job. Desperate to prove himself, Thomas accepts an offer from his former handler, Yakov, to assassinate Jacob Okonjo, the head of the African Union. It seems Jacob is allowing certain parties to control Africa’s lucrative diamond trade, and in doing so has made some powerful enemies. But like that Mossad hit-team caught on camera in Dubai a few years back, how is Thomas supposed to terminate such a prominent figure without being caught on CCTV? The answer: to work undercover as a room-service waiter at a top London hotel, where, in a few months’ time, Jacob Okonjo will be staying. It’s the perfect plan. Jacob is to be administered an untraceable poison, and afterwards, even if there is an investigation, a trusted member of staff like Thomas will be above suspicion. That’s the idea, anyway. In the meantime, he’s to suffer month after month of boring, menial employment, serving rich, famous people dinner, when he should be making a name for himself amongst the intelligence community. Because you can bet this never happened to Bond or Bourne. Never had to work for tips, subjugating themselves like some average, everyday citizen…

Review:

Spy mystery that will keep you on your toes throughout trying to figure out which way everyone is going to go and what agenda they really have.

Things start out simple enough. Thomas and his team, secret agents hired to take out dangerous people, have been sent on a mission to eliminate someone their government wants gone. Thomas has been sent in advance to get a lay of the land and figure out the best plan of action for when the hit will go down. Their target is a tricky person to pin down with locations, times and whether decoys will be in play. So his task is to figure out every possible scenario before the team, and then their target, gets there. Would seem like a walk in the park for Thomas but he seems to have a little problem with the ladies. In that he can’t seem to stay away from them. Its because of this that the team comes in early to check on his focus, or lack there of. Things go from bad to worse when the time comes to take their target out.

Hit gone wrong and it seems and Thomas and his team are going to take the fall. Well mainly Thomas as he’s the only one that gets caught up with what goes down putting him in the hospital. It seems Uri, the tech guy, is the only one really helping Thomas when everything goes tits up. Even his handler Yakov has taken a bit of a back seat while waiting for the dust to settle. He needs to get out of the hospital before the police arrive, even if he isn’t 100%. Side note when you don’t have the right documents to go back to the hospital it seems wire cutters and a meat tenderizer will do.

Out of the company but not the trade Thomas and Uri go to Yakov to get a new job. Thomas might be wanted but he needs to redeem himself. A new target is set, one with a big payout, but he needs to be clever this time so no one suspects him. Poison is the key and to push any suspicion off him he is going to have to actually work as the waiter and not pose. Seven months till the hit gets to London so by then he should be a natural.

Once an agent always an agent seems to be Thomas’ motto. Said motto seems to attract trouble though. Mainly when a woman is involved. This time the hotels front desk clerk Nadine. Seems she’s in deep with some bad men and Thomas wants to help. The fact that he’s spent the last few months mooning over her being a bit of a key reason. Really he should know better by now. She can see him and his friends for who they really are so you just know a HEA isn’t on the cards.

I could never really get a feel for Yakov. Something was off with him from the start. I always got the feeling that no matter what he was going to throw Thomas under the bus so to speak. Just seems to take Thomas a little longer to figure out. For an agent he didn’t seem very focused with his mission but that could be because he was left to his own devices for so long waiting for his target. Seems trouble is brewing from more than one angle and he is just playing catch up to see it through.

Seemed to pick up more near the end when the chaos seemed to grow. Think the everyday life of him working at the hotel and then his on/off again thing with Nadine seemed to drag a bit. Women definitely seem to be his weakness and if he wants to continue what he’s doing then he’s going to need to work on that. Intriguing paced thriller with a bit of a difference.

For a lot of it I found either he, she or they seemed to be missing from sentences. Almost like you just would assume they were there so added them anyway in your mind while reading. A few other spelling mistakes and errors throughout (‘She put his hand on his’ instead of ‘She put her hand on his’) but nothing too major, just enough to stand out through rest of clean edit.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Author Interview: ‘Dark Water’ by Simon Thould

About the Book:

A girl goes missing – but has she been lost, or taken? Her frantic mother begs for help from the one man with the ruthless skills to track her down. Alex Rafter, former sniper, sees Madeleine Finch as a bad, erratic mother, and is reluctant to go back to a life he is trying to forget. But his own nightmares compel him to search, for the girl’s sake.

Rafter embarks on a murderous hunt, aided by Gabriel Montero, another former soldier, that leads through the wilds of the New Forest to the squalid back streets of Southampton. Rebecca Grant, local veterinary, drug addict and would-be lover, offers help, but her own agenda threatens to send Rafter astray. It becomes a race against time to find the girl before she is lost forever to the heartless world of people traffickers.

What people are saying:

“High intensity fight scenes… Thould’s writing style is to the point and sparse, emphasizing action over poetics.” Midwest Book Review

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I have always written since I was a boy, poems to start, then little stories and articles before feeling as I got into my forties, that I had enough life experience to tackle full-length novels. I think I express myself best in words as I am quite an introvert and was raised in a household where discussing stuff never really happened.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

My writing practice has developed now so I write 1,000 words to one chapter every morning, early-ish, taking as long as it takes to do that. Then I make notes for the next chapter, let that work in my brain overnight then do another 1,000 words the next morning and so on.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas come from anything that strikes a chord – can be seeing someone or something, hearing something, and then usually a sentence or two will just pop into my mind and I write it down along the lines of, ‘what if?’ I usually have a theme that interests me, for Dark Water, it was the struggle our ex-military guys have re-integrating back into civvie street after a lifetime of battle service.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I have to know my characters first. I scan and surf looking for pictures of people that fit the image I have in my head of the sort of personality I want for each character. Then I prepare extensive character charts and plan out the basic storyline on large accounting sheets that give me enough space to plot. Then, once I really know my characters as well as I do myself (sometimes even better!), I put the characters into situations and listen, watch and write down what they say and do. The story then just looks after itself using narration rather than too much ‘purple prose’. I plan on writing 80,000 words in 1,000 word chapters. I have a picture in my mind at all times, it’s a very visual process for me.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I would describe my books as an English version of the American hard-boiled, noir genre. I have always liked best writing that is character driven, in spare, direct language, just what really appeals to me. I get easily bored with too much descriptive stuff going on and will skip pages accordingly.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

For Dark Water, the main character, Alex Rafter, is based on the physical appearance of the US actor Dylan McDermott. I found some pictures of him where he had exactly the look I wanted to represent the ‘lost soul’ Rafter had become after the army. I suspect that Rafter is in some way the alter ego I would like to have been! The only other famous face I have used is the Chinese actress Zhang Zlyl (Crouching Tiger…) as Gabriel’s partner, while for the next Rafter story, Dark Horizon, (first draft just finished) I have used Dylan’s real life partner, Maggie Q for the co-main character.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read at least one book a week, usually of the thriller/crime genre and almost exclusively American authors. The only British writer I like is Mark Billingham. My all-time favourite is the late, great Elmore Leonard and I try to keep my writing along his ‘Rules for Writing’. I found a publisher, ‘Hard Case Crime’, that deals exclusively in the hard-boiled genre and I read Donald Westlake, James M. Cain, Lawrence Block, et al. I also enjoy Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly and Robert Crais a lot.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s, ‘Mr. Mercedes’, bit of a departure from his usual horror books.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Hard to have one favourite but, if I had to pick, probably Elmore Leonard’s, ‘ Out of Sight’. It was a great movie also with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. It would be closlely followed by his, Raylan’.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

If you are ‘thinking’ about becoming a writer, you probably shouldn’t try it. But, if you feel in your very soul that you have to write then go for it 100%. Read everything you can get your hands on, write as much as you can about anything until your own ‘natural’ style evolves. I write what I like to read, so there’s that too.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

There’s my Facebook and Twitter pages and some stuff available on the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency website too. I am considering creating my own website sometime in the not too distant future.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Thould

Twitter: @simonthould

Andrew Lownie Literary Agency website: www.andrewlownie.co.uk/authors/simon-thould

 

About the Author:

 

Simon was born in Somerset, England, where he went to public school and played rugby and cricket with more enthusiasm than he studied. He later managed to qualify as a chartered surveyor and practised for over twenty years in both public and private sectors in London and the south of England. Simon completed two Creative Writing night school courses and a Writers’ Bureau correspondence course in his spare time. He also worked as a restaurant and bar manager in Hampshire before moving with his two black cats to a mountain farmhouse in Andalusia, southern Spain for a year and a half. There he wrote his first novel.

He moved back to the UK and worked as a resident housekeeper and groom in Kent and wrote a second novel.

Then he relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, USA for several years and worked in warehouse stock control, sold insurance and then artwork in a downtown gallery. Returning to the UK once more, he worked as a postman and in several retail positions and wrote a third unpublished novel.

Simon moved to the island of Gozo in 2014 and wrote, ‘DarkWater’, a thriller introducing Alex Rafter. After a lifetime of rejections from publishers and agents with only minor success with magazine articles, Simon made a final push to try and get published. He sent the synopsis and three chapters to more than fifty UK agents before being lucky enough to be taken on by David Haviland of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency in London. ‘Dark Water’ is being published in August 2017.

Simon’s passions, other than writing, are reading hard-boiled, noir novels, watching classic movies, travel and following National Hunt horse racing. He has been married twice and has a daughter, Lucy.  He currently lives in Almunecar on the Andalusian coast and has just completed the first draft of a second, ‘Alex Rafter’ novel.

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Author Interview: ‘Mr Either/Or’ by Aaron Poochigian

About the Book:

Aaron Poochigian’s Mr. Either/Or is an ingenious debut, a verse novel melding American mythology, noir thriller, and classical epic into gritty rhythms, foreboding overtones, and groovy jams surrounding the reader in a surreal atmosphere. Imagine Byron’s Don Juan on a high-stakes romp through a Raymond Chandler novel. Think Hamlet in Manhattan with a license to kill.

Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His book of translations from Sappho, Stung With Love, was published in 2009. The Cosmic Purr, a book of original poetry, was published in 2012.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

 

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

In high-school I was all about music—my band, musical theory, songwriting—but as soon as I took a poetry class in college, the rhythms and sounds of language re-focused my creative impulses. I had a sort of religious experience during my Freshman year. I was reading the opening lines of Vergil’s Aeneid in Latin—Arma virumqute cano. . . Though I didn’t know the language, I was so moved that the sky became brighter and everything became clear: I should learn the Classical Languages and spend the rest of my life writing poetry. That’s what I have done. No regrets. I guess I’m lucky in that I never had a phase when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I write best in the morning at my favorite coffee shop. My mind is at its loosest and most open. The sentences arise on their own without any effort on my part. Writing full-time, I often have to push through afternoon doldrums with lots of caffeine and sugar. Sometimes evenings are productive for me as well but, ah, what would I do without those fertile mornings?

Yes, the words come easy sometimes but, of course, they often do not. Here’s some advice for writers—if you are committed, make yourself do it, even if you aren’t in the mood. Treat writing as an obligation, like any other job. You have to put your hours in. Breakthroughs can happen at any time, even during the dull, slow afternoon hours—don’t lose your chance to have one.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

A good question. Where do my ideas come from? Out of my curious mind and out of all that I have read, yes, those and out of daily experiences—the doppler sound of traffic passing in front of my house, the sheen the barista’s mop leaves on the floor at the coffee shop, out of the crazy junk in my backyard and backlot, out of the many, many places I have lived. You’ve got these lines from Yeats’ “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” running through my head:

A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

When writing poetry, I usually let the poem crystallize around phrases and rhythms I have put in a word.doc. I just play around until something happens. “Mr. Either/Or,” however, is narrative, so I took the time to story-board the entire plot. I then created one word.doc for each plot event and allowed myself to go crazy creatively in each file, so long as I also narrated that one plot event. I then fitted all the files together into the whole narrative and polished the transitions. That way, I found I was able to get the story told while still giving myself freedom for creativity.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

“Mr. Either/Or” brings together all of my great loves—epic poetry, genre fiction (noir and thriller), action films and Americana. I really don’t know what to call it—sometimes I call it a thriller, sometimes urban fantasy, sometimes an epic poem. I guess I see “Mr. Either/Or” as reviving the genre of the verse adventure-story (à la Homer’s Odyssey and Byron’s Don Juan). It alternates between free-rhymed iambic pentameter and the pounding alliterative verse of Beowulf, so that the poetic rhythms cue the action like the soundtrack to a film. Yes, the book has its own soundtrack built in.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

For the hero, “you,” Zach Berzinski superspy, Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, would be perfect. I would love to see Lynn Chen from “Saving Face” playing the heroine Li-ling Levine. And, oh, for the old spy “handler,” Zero Zero One, please, please give me Jonathan Lithgow.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I do spend more time writing than reading nowadays. I’m trying to break myself of my habit of simply re-reading my favorite poets and writers—W.B. Yeats, W.H. Auden, Raymond Chandler, P.G. Wodehouse. I find myself returning to their books as if they were so many Bibles to guide my career.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

This week I am reading “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth and a poetry collection by Adrianne Rich. I would be reading the new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child (love that series) but I am cheap and thus waiting for it to come out in paperback.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

My favorite novel is Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.” It was another major model for “Mr. Either/Or.” It taught me that the needs of the plot need not restrict wild creativity. The writer should never be merely telling the story—he/she should do that, of course, and do it well but always at the same time be enjoying him/herself creatively. Pynchon’s novel is a mad whirlwind of a thing, a boundless conspiracy theory. I highly recommend it.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I’m afraid that I won’t be able to give anything more than boilerplate advice: craft, craft, craft. Work, work, work. Force yourself to know boring subjects like grammar backwards and forwards, so well, in fact, that you don’t have to think about them any longer. The time you spend early on studying grammar, for example, will pay off down the line, I promise, by making you a clearer and more efficient writer. Preachy, boring advice, I know, but it’s sincere as Hell.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

I’m big on Facebook—I have 5,000 friends and quite a few people following me. Facebook has been very good at fostering literary communities at the local and national levels. It’s also a good place to learn about events such as readings and giveaways. I have even gotten in the habit of posting my most topical new poems on Facebook—my profile page has become its own literary venue.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/aaron.poochigian

Website: www.mreitheror.com

About the Author:

Aaron Poochigian earned a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Minnesota in 2006 and an M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University in 2016. His book of translations from Sappho, Stung With Love, was published by Penguin Classics in 2009, and a translation of Apollonius’ Jason and the Argonauts was released October 2014. For this work in translation he was awarded a 2010-2011 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Cosmic Purr, (Able Muse Press), a book of original poetry was published in 2012, and many of the poems in it collectively won the New England Poetry Club’s Daniel Varoujan Prize. Poochigian’s work has appeared in such journals as The GuardianPoems Out Loud and POETRY.

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