Impact – Rob Boffard

Impact | Rob Boffard

A signal has been picked up from Earth.

The planet was supposed to be uninhabitable. But it seems there are survivors down there – with supplies, shelter and running water. Perhaps there could be a future for humanity on Earth after all.

Riley Hale will find out soon enough. She’s stuck on a spaceship with the group of terrorists that is planning to brave the planet’s atmosphere and crash-land on the surface.

But when the re-entry goes wrong, Riley ends up hundreds of miles from her companions Prakesh and Carver, alone in a barren wilderness. She’ll have to use everything she knows to survive.

And all of them are about to find out that nothing on Earth is what it seems…

Regular readers will be aware that I am somewhat of a fan of Mr Boffard’s work. Tracer was fantastic and made my books of the year list for 2015, Zero-G upped the ante, and now we have Impact, book #3 in the Outer Earth trilogy.

The question was, having turned the action up to 11 for Zero-G, could Rob find a new setting on the dial for the finale?

Well, yeah, he knocked it out of the park.

Again.

Impact is an interesting change of setting from the first two as we find Riley and chums down on earth. The action still comes thick and fast, and the stakes are cranked up to the max. Facing new dangers, she has to put her tracer skills to full use just to survive.

Hard to say more without spoilers, but go with me on this – if you liked Tracer and Zero-G, you’re going to love Impact. And if you’ve not read Tracer or Zero-G, what are you waiting for? You’re in for quite a ride…

You can find Rob on Twitter @RobBoffard, his website, and last but definitely not least, on YouTube doing epic rap book reviews.

and launching a book into space to be the first author reading in space. SPACE!

The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis

The Wolf Road | Beth Lewis

Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.

But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

The Wolf Road is, quite simply, brilliant. A wonderfully written, with a superbly strong female lead the like of which I’ve not seen for a very long time. The story is told through her eyes, and she has a distinctive way of telling it – this takes a little getting used to, but you quickly come to love her tough talking, no-nonsense approach to life and the situations she finds herself in.

We follow Elka on her journey across the post-apocalyptic landscape of Canada and the Yukon, where the ‘Big Stupid’ has pushed what’s left of society into the days of the Western and the Gold Rush. Beth Lewis shows a deft hand with turning up the tension as the hunt progresses and we find out more about our young heroine. I loved the way that her life with Trapper is revealed an inch at a time, each one providing a glimpse into what made her the fearless young woman she has become.

I read this over the course of a weekend and found it incredibly hard to put down. It’s one of those books where you close it and just know that you’re going to be pestering others to read it.

So, go read it, before I start pestering you.

If this book doesn’t place very highly in my books of 2016, I will be very *very* surprised.

Poison City – Paul Crilley

Poison City

The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.

Life is pretty routine – I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga – a low-key vampire – basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer.

Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both.

It’s not looking good for the world.

Oof. It’s been a bumper year for awesome books, and Paul Crilley’s Poison City sits firmly on the List Of Books Dave Will Insist You Read (Or Else). List needs a snappier title. Suggestions welcome.

So this is another one for your to-read lists (whatever you might call them). Imagine Harry Potter grew up, moved to South Africa and adopted a sherry-loving spirit guide called Dog – a hard-boiled urban fantasy detective noir
.
It’s like a bit of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London mixed with Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police, with a healthy dash of Lauren Beukes.

And I *love* all three of those authors.

Great characters, fabulously sarcastic spirit guides and a boss from Yorkshire.

Very *very* recommended. Not for the faint-hearted.

You can read chapter one here

Thanks to the lovely folks at @Hodderscape for the advance review copy. You can find Paul on twitter @PaulCrilley

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Right. Where to start?

OK, how about this. You remember how much I loved Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy? And how I’d pester you mercilessly about reading it until you finally gave in and read it[1]?

Move aside, Brown. There’s a new kid in town and his name’s Kristoff. Jay Kristoff[2].

Nevernight is just simply wonderful. The worldbuilding is astonishingly good. Shades of Locke Lamora, with a ton of Pratchett-esque footnotes[3]. Superb, complex characters. And a sand kraken called Alfi[4].

Imagine if Hogwarts was a school for assassins where a young girl goes to learn how to avenge her father’s murder[5]. A school where you learned how to kill or be killed, with a blade, with poison, or with your wits. And you might learn some of the more… subtle[6] arts too.

The characters are plentiful and wonderful. Even the bad ones. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry[7], you’ll tell yourself ‘just one more chapter’[8]

And this is just book #1. I cannot wait to see where Mr Kristoff will take us next.

Many thanks to the lovely folks at Harper Voyager for the advance copy. You can find them on Twitter at @HarperVoyagerUK. Whilst you’re there, you should also say hi to Jay (@MisterKristoff) . He’s ace, and won’t bite[9].

[1] and then you loved it and started doing the same to all of your friends? SEE I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!
[2] OK, so it turns out he’s not *that* new and has written many other things. You should probably check them out. I know I will.
[3] I *love* footnotes. Possibly a little too much, some would say.
[4] I mean, how could you not love a sand kraken? Especially Alfi. Alfi is awesome.
[5] Shades of The Princess Bride as well then. Seriously, have you not already ordered and read this book? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
[6] You might blush. No, seriously. I didn’t blush. Much.
[7] no, really. Page 553. I’ve still not forgiven Jay for *that*
[8] and we all know how *that* ends, don’t we?
[9] Much. Probably. He does look rather like that Dave Grohl chap though, but much, much taller

The Dali Deception – Adam Maxwell

Dali_small

Five criminals. Two forgeries. And one masterpiece of a heist.

Violet Winters—a professional thief born of a good, honest thief-and-con-artist stock— has been offered the heist of a lifetime. Steal a priceless Salvador Dali from the security-obsessed chairman of the Kilchester Bank and replace it with a forgery.

The fact that the “painting” is a signed, blank canvas doesn’t matter. It’s the challenge that gives Violet that familiar, addicting rush of adrenaline. Her quarry rests in a converted underground Cold War bunker. One way in, one way out. No margin for error.

But the reason Violet fled Kilchester is waiting right where she left him—an ex-lover with a murderous method for dumping a girlfriend. If her heist is to be a success, there will have to be a reckoning, or everything could go spinning out of control.

Her team of talented misfits assembled, Violet sets out to re-stake her claim on her reputation, exorcise some demons, and claim the prize. That is, if her masterpiece of a plan isn’t derailed by a pissed-off crime boss—or betrayal from within her own ranks.

Now then, regular readers will be aware of my fondness for a good heist story, be it in the movies (The Thomas Crown Affair is one of my favourites) or in print.

The Dali Deception is a fine addition to the list. It’s a cracking ensemble piece – Violet Winters must assemble a crack team to lift a priceless painting from an impregnable vault whilst various obstacles stack up in her way, including one very annoyed crime boss, Big Terry.

It’s all too easy for these ensemble stories to fall a little flat when it comes to character, but Adam has shown a neat flair for characterisation, with each getting their own moment in the sun. They’re all essential to the plot and all feel like real, well-rounded individuals. I particularly loved Katie. She might not say much, but she’s a refreshing change to The Muscle you normally find in such tales. The classics are all there – computer hacker whizkid, the wheelman, the con-artist, but they all feel fresh. And Big Terry is a character I’d love to see more of.

There’s a lovely stream of wit throughout too, with sarcastic put-downs, pithy one-liners and a real feeling of camaraderie amongst the gang.

However, you can have all the fabulous characters in the world but a heist story lives or dies on the strength of its plot. And The Dali Deception’s plot delivers in spades. Plenty of twists and turns along the way, with more than one moment of ‘how *exactly * are they going to get away with it now?’.

How do they get away with it? You’ll just have to read it and find out!

The Dali Deception is out now in ebook. You can find Adam Maxwell on twitter @LostBookshop or on his website. Go say hi, then go read the book.

Many thanks to Adam for the review copy. The opinions are, as ever, my own.

Beast in the Basement – Jason Arnopp

Beast in the Basement

In a big house in the countryside, a recently bereaved and increasingly unstable author toils over a novel which will close the best-selling trilogy of Jade Nexus fantasy books.

Speculation and rumour are rife among hardcore Jade Nexus fans that their heroine will die at the novel’s conclusion – a possibility against which they loudly protest via social media as the release date nears.

How do you deal with grief, under such intense pressure? How do you cope with distractions from your work such as a violent intruder, panicked messages from your agent and a potential love interest moving into the cottage across the field? And far worse than any of those problems… what do you do about the Beast in your basement?

BEAST IN THE BASEMENT is a contemporary horror-thriller novella about obsession, revenge, censorship, blame culture and personal responsibility. A dark tale with a kick like a mule.

I’ve been trying hard not to acquire too many new books lately, but this pinged up on my radar earlier today courtesy of Gordon over at Grab This Book. Various people had been pointing me at Jason Arnopp’s The Last Days of Jack Sparks for weeks now, so that plus Gordon’s review lead me to click. After all, it was only a couple of quid and a novella. I’m sure I could squeeze it into the reading schedule at some point, right?

An hour later and I’d finished. What a corking short story Mr Arnopp has cooked up for us. Deliciously dark and twisty, It’s hard to write more without spoiling it, and you want to go in as I did, fresh and untainted by any expectations.

Suffice it to say that The Beast in the Basement is a glorious dark novella. As Gordon says:

Don’t spoil it for anyone.

Only discuss it with people that have also read the book.

Tell others to read it too.

This is me telling you to read it. And if The Beast in the Basement is anything to go by, Mr Arnopp is an author to watch very *very* closely indeed. Just make sure the door to the basement is firmly locked.

You have checked, haven’t you…?

Writers from All Countries – Unite! a guest post by Gunnar Staalesen

Today I’m delighted to be playing host to Gunnar Staalesen, author of We Shall Inherit The Wind and his new book, Where Roses Never Die. More of that later, but without further ado, over to Gunnar.

Gunnar Staalesen

In May this year I had the honour of being selected Festival Poet for Bergen’s literary festival, a fringe programme of the Bergen International Festival, which takes place every year in May and June. As part of my role I had the opportunity to invite five crime writers to an event. I and the festival organisers therefore decided to plan a series of staged interviews, with me as the chairperson. What a pleasure it was that all five writers accepted our invitation; and on 29 May we met at the Literature House in the centre of the old city of Bergen.
Who were these five esteemed colleagues? And why did I invite them? I will present them in the order they appeared on stage at the Literature House.

Antti Tuomainen from Finland was the youngest of the bunch. He writes dark and compelling novels – The Healer perhaps the most frightening of them all, taking a look, as it does, into the near future, post a climate crisis, and with fugitives streaming into Europe. Does this perhaps sound at least partly familiar? Not only that, it is a good crime mystery, too! Dark as My Heart is another of Antti’s impressively well-told novels, this time in the more classic clime mould, with revenge as its central theme. These two novels are both translated into Norwegian. But I am also looking forward to reading the next one, The Mine, which it seems I have to read in English before it is translated into my own language. Finnish is impossible to read, even for someone from a neighbouring country.

Swedish we Norwegians can read, however, and number two on the writer list was Håkan Nesser, my personal favourite among the generation of Swedish writers who have followed Sjöwall & Wahlöö. Nesser is both a very good literary and crime author who never writes the same story twice. That may be the reason why he has already completed two series: the first one totalling ten books, all concerning police inspector Van Veeteren and located in the fictional city of Maardam, somewhere in Europe. The second series consists of five books, all about Gunnar Barbarotti, a police inspector in another imaginary city – Kymlinge in Sweden. Both series are extremely well written, expertly plotted and are a pure pleasure to read. Nesser has also written several standalone novels, one of which bears the intriguing title, Kim Novak Never Swam in Geneserat’s Sea.

Of all the Norwegian crime writers from more or less my own generation, Karin Fossum is the one I respect the most. She writes intriguing thrillers, in which she dives into the dark psychological secrets of her characters’ lives, thus painting some fascinating portraits. These character studies are always seen from the perspective of a crime, which allows her to introduce again and again her principal character, police inspector Konrad Sejer, one of the most sympathetic police detectives in modern crime fiction. One of the titles in this series, Calling Out For You (in Norwegian: Elskede Poona; in the US: The Indian Bride), is one of the best crime novels published in Norway in the last fifty years, and in 2009 it was selected as the all-time best Norwegian crime novel by the readers of the newspaper Dagbladet. Karin Fossum has also written poetry and short stories, and she is deeply respected by her Norwegian colleagues.

British readers need no introduction to Ian Rankin. However, it was a pleasure for me to invite him for the first time to Bergen, the old capital of Norway in the middle ages – before our four hundred years under Danish rule, which were followed by almost one hundred years in union with Sweden. There is, therefore, an historical alliance between Scotland and Norway, and this can be sensed in the literature of the two countries. There is even a connection between Bergen and Edinburgh, which goes back to the story of ‘The Maid of Norway’ from the thirteenth century. When I read Ian’s John Rebus books, I also feel a relationship with my own books about the private detective Varg Veum. The way we describe our two cities is very similar; and the way Rebus acts and thinks can be compared to Varg Veum’s idiosyncrasies. Ian Rankin is one of the best crime writers of his generation, and when I met him for the first time in Edinburgh some years ago, he told me he looked upon himself more as a North Sea writer than a UK writer. He was influenced by the same writers as I was when I started writing crime novels – Raymond Chandler, of course, and the guest who followed him onto the Bergen stage.

Maj Sjöwall is the queen of modern crime fiction. With her husband, Per Wahlöö, who sadly died in 1975, she created a watershed in crime fiction. The ten novels they wrote about Martin Beck and his colleagues on the Stockholm police marked the beginning of Nordic Noir, and their writing has had a huge influence on crime writers all over the world for generations since. Without Sjöwall & Wahlöö there would perhaps not be a Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbø, Karin Fossum, Ian Rankin or Gunnar Staalesen.
At eighty she is still a very lively woman, and the interview with her was, for me personally, the highlight of the evening; a conversation I will never forget. We spoke about what she and her husband were thinking when they wrote the very first book in the series, Roseanna, in 1965, their political backgrounds, their view on crime fiction as both entertainment and literature, and the creation of Martin Beck and the other characters in the series.

It was the perfect finale to an evening illuminated by fabulous crime fiction, and by my meetings with five masters of a genre to which I have myself contributed since 1975.

Thanks Gunnar – lots of writers to add to my list to investigate!

Where Roses Never Die is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and ebook now.

Where Roses Never Die cover Vis copy 4

September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl, disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close, middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found.
Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge … Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost crime writers

 

Epiphany Jones – Michael Grothaus

Epiphany Jones cover - 500

A man with a consuming addiction. A woman who talks to God.
And the secret connection that could destroy them both…
Jerry has a traumatic past that leaves him subject to psychotic hallucinations and depressive episodes. When he stands accused of stealing a priceless Van Gogh painting, he goes underground, where he develops an unwilling relationship with a woman who believes that the voices she hears are from God. Involuntarily entangled in the illicit world of sex-trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, and on a mission to find redemption for a haunting series of events from the past, Jerry is thrust into a genuinely shocking and outrageously funny quest to uncover the truth and atone for historical sins.
A complex, page-turning psychological thriller, riddled with twists and turns, Epiphany Jones is also a superb dark comedy with a powerful emotional core.You’ll laugh when you know you shouldn’t, be moved when you least expect it and, most importantly, never look at Hollywood, celebrity or sex in the same way again. This is an extraordinary debut from a fresh, exceptional new talent.

When I first started reading Epiphany Jones, I really wasn’t too sure about it. It starts with a pretty graphic hallucination of a rather sexual nature, and I started to wonder what I was letting myself in for. However, Karen at Orenda Books has yet to let me down when it comes to compelling fiction (seriously, check out the Orenda catalogue and no, I’m not on commission) so I carried on.

What followed was one of the more… unusual books I’ve ever read. Jerry Dresden is a man with issues. Serious issues. He keeps seeing people, figments he calls them. We, the reader, are never quite sure what to make of them. What’s real and what’s in Jerry’s head?

Then he meets the titular Epiphany Jones, who is convinced that she’s hearing the word of God. She convinces Jerry to join her (sort of) and what follows is an adventure thriller quite unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Sex trafficking amongst the Hollywood elite, the most powerful figures in the entertainment world. People who will stop at nothing to make sure their secrets remain firmly behind closed doors.

The writing has a deliciously blacker than black humour to it. It’s sharp and graphic and uncomfortable, and you’ll find yourself questioning your assumptions about the characters as the novel progresses. There are rare moments of calm amidst the storm of Jerry’s predicament but even there the tension ratchets up notch by inevitable notch. Nothing is simple or straightforward in Jerry Dresden’s world and Epiphany Jones is the fizzing sparkler in the cocktail.

Whilst my feelings for Jerry went from one end of the spectrum to the other, I flat-out adored Epiphany Jones. She’s a brilliant, brilliant character and you’re never quite sure what she’s going to do next.

I’ve read a lot of thrillers over the years, but never one quite like Epiphany Jones. It’s unusual, quirky, dark, graphic and unsettling in equal measures. Michael Grothaus is a seriously talented guy and one to watch very, very closely.

Huge thanks to Karen (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy, and to Michael Grothaus (@michaelgrothaus) for taking us into the world of Ephiphany Jones. As ever, the opinions are entirely my own. The blog tour continues tomorrow with Sophie at Reviewed the Book with @SophieRTB.

epiphany jones blog tour

Deadly Harvest – Michael Stanley

DeadlyHarvest copy

A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge. As the trail goes cold, Samantha Khama –new recruit to the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department –suspects the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African medicine usually derived from plants, sometimes animals and, recently and most chillingly, human parts. When the investigation gets personal, Samantha enlists opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu to help her dig into the past. As they begin to discover a pattern to the disappearances, there is another victim, and Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer who has only one thing in mind

 

Regular readers of the blog will no doubt have noticed that I’ve read quite a bit of Nordic Noir this year, from Ragnar Jonasson’s brilliant Snowblind and Nightblind, to Quentin Bate’s Thin Ice and Gunnar Staalesen’s We Shall Inherit The Wind amongst others.

This was the first ‘Sunshine Noir’ (is that the right term?) that I’ve read though! It’s a *lot* warmer and the detectives drink a lot less coffee than their Scandinavian counterparts!

Deadly Harvest is set in Botswana – I have to confess that my African geography is a little sketchy, so had to look it up. Plus, I love a good map! Here it is, just north of South Africa.

Botswana | Google Maps
image courtesy of Google Maps

Right, Geography lesson out of the way, on with the book. It’s set in Gaborone, near the south-east border of the country, and the authors paint a vivid picture of the city and its politics.

At the heart of the story is the fascinating subject of muti, a traditional medicine usually made from plants and sometimes animals. But in this case, there’s something darker and gruesome afoot and people are going missing. Powerful muti…

The story starts with a missing girl, picked up on the way home from the shops. Her disappearance is more or less ignored by the local police and it’s only much later when new recruit Samantha Khama, new recruit for the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department gets involved that the case really starts to get moving. It took me a little while to get into the book, but once Samantha and Assistant Superintendent Kubu are on the case, I was hooked.

The case unfolds at a leisurely pace and we’re left wondering who is doing the abducting and what their ultimate motive is. Along the way we meet a lot of fascinating characters, chief amongst them David ‘Kubu’ Bengu himself. I loved that he was a normal family man with a solid family life – so often in crime fiction you find someone with deep dark secrets or issues they’re wrestling with. With Kubu his only vice seems to be his addiction to sneaking cookies at every available opportunity!

This is my first Detective Kubu book, but definitely won’t be the last. I was surprised to find out that it’s the fourth book starring our cookie-loving detective, but provides a great jumping-off point into his world.

You can read an extract from Deadly Harvest over at Damp Pebbles, where you can read the start of chapter 1.

Many thanks to Karen (@OrendaBooks) for the review copy of Deadly Harvest in exchange for an honest review. Another cracker from Orenda Books – Karen has some kind of sixth sense when it comes to picking outstanding crime fiction!

Deadly Harvest is available now in ebook and paperback.

MichaelstanleyPortrait 300 dpi

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvestwas a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge – Paul Krueger

last call at the nightshade lounge

Part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, part Harry Potter, with a dash of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge introduces the secret world of magical mixology, where a screwdriver bestows super-strength, a martini induces invisibility, and a perfectly conjured Long Island iced tea is rumoured to impart immortality on the drinker.

College graduate Bailey Chen is not living the dream. She’s had to move back in with her parents and take a job at the Nightshade Lounge while she hunts for her dream gig. Working under the supervision of high school best friend Zane, Bailey soon discovers that there’s more to working at a bar than she expected. Zane and his friends are members of a secret society of bartenders that use alcohol to fight bloodthirsty monsters that roam the streets of Chicago. In order to stop a recent string of attacks on the city and keep the Long Island iced tea recipe from falling into the wrong hands, Bailey must reconcile the differences between who she is and who she expects to be.

I’ve been very fortunate of late to end up on the mailing lists for various publishers and authors, and have (as regular readers will notice) partaken in several blog tours this year. I’ve got a stack of books which I’ve got carefully scheduled in over the next few months, so when I got an email from Quirk Books asking if I’d like to read Paul’s book, I added it to the pile.

Then I took a sneak peek. After all, it was hard to resist the premise of magical mixologists coming up with cocktails to fight against the supernatural. A mix of Buffy, Harry Potter and Scott Pilgrim? Colour me intrigued.

That sneak peek turned into a couple of hours. Paul has come up with a book that cracks and fizzles along like a sparkler in a slightly too colourful drink. I loved the characters and the diversity amongst them. Bailey Chen had just the right amount of smart-assed sass. Bucket was… well, Bucket. (I adored Bucket in particular). The bad guys were suitably evil and bad, the cocktail recipes were a lovely touch, along with the magical meaning behind them.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a huge amount of fun. A sharp, snappy urban fantasy with a lovely twist. Recommended.

Paul Krueger is a fantasy writer and cocktail connoisseur who lives in Los Angeles.
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is his debut novel. Follow Paul on Twitter @notlikeFreddy.

thanks to Paul and Quirk Books for the copy in exchange for a review. Opinions are, of course, my own.