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Ten Crime Books To Help Cure Your Hangover

Feb 22, 2011 in Books, Guest Posts

StormPaul D. Brazill is among the most frequent commenters on Mulhollandbooks.com.  Here, we salute Paul with a column of his own, an engaging best-of list with medicinal properties.

It’s a gloomy morning. Outside your window, dark malignant clouds fill the sky. The residue of the weekend’s fun and frolics is draining away like dishwater down a plug hole. And work – the ultimate four letter word- is hanging over you like a hawk ready to strike its prey. Just when you thought nothing could get you going, here are ten shots of crime writing medicine that will work as more than a little eye opener.

1. Deadfolk by Charlie Williams

Royston Blake is god. Well, in his own mind he is. The head bouncer at Hopper’s Wine Bar is the king of Mangel, a dead end town somewhere in the north of England. In the first of a cracking series of books, Royston is dragged by his lapels into a series of wickedly funny and increasingly violent scrapes. This book will change your life in a way Paolo Coelho never will.

2. One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night by Christopher Brookmyre

Die Hard An On Oil Rig. Like the pitch? In One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night a school reunion is held on an oil rig that has been converted into a luxury hotel. But when an inept bunch of terrorist mercenaries gate crash the party only Scotland’s answer to Bill Hicks can save the day. Yes, really.

3. The Mexican Tree Duck by James Crumley

The eponymous tree duck is Private Eye C.W. Sughrue’s Rara Avis and it’s part of a wild ride that is cluttered with multi-coloured characters and vivid, lurid even, scenes. You have bikers and obese twins and ‘Nam and stolen fish and booze. And a tank. This is a book for someone who, like C.W. Sughrue, thinks that ‘life is a joke so make it a funny one.’

4. Top Ten by Alan Moore, Gene Ha & Zander Cannon

Like Ed McBain’s 87th precent novels, the graphic novel Top 10 details the work and day-to-day lives of the police force at one particular police station, in this case the 10th Precinct Police Station in Neopolis, a city in which everyone, from the police and criminals to civilians, children and pets, have super-powers.

One story involves the suspicious death of the member of a boy-band called Sidekix, whose hit single was Holy Broken Hearts, and other pop-culture in –jokes abound, including a clothing store called The Phonebooth and  Deadfellas, a story about vampire gangsters.

5&6. The Big O /Crime Always Pays by Declan Burke

The Big O and its follow up Crime Always Pays actually are that oxymoron ‘screwball noir’. These novels are like two cracking, fast paced, clever and very droll road movies with a top drawer cast that includes a narcoleptic called Sleeps and a one eyed wolf.  Twists and turns, spicy dialogue and scenes which really make you ‘LOL’, as the young people say.

7. On Broadway by Damon Runyon

You know you’ve made it as a writer when your name is used as an adjective: Runyonesque.  Damon Runyon  is probably best known for the film adaptations of his stories such as Guys and Dolls and  The Lemon Drop Kid. He created his own world with a number of pithy short stories set amongst the low lifes of New York’s Broadway during the 1930. These yarns, sometimes shaggy dog stories, are peppered with gaudy, fast talking characters and smart punch lines. The language and the style is Runyon’s own.  Much copied –think of the film Some Like It Hot – and never bettered.

8. Musical Chairs by Kinky Friedman

Kinky Friedman is his own number one fan. The country/ protest singer is also the hero of Friedman’s novels and the cast of these novels is Friedman’s cronies, The Greenwich Village Irregulars. But what could have been an elaborate in – joke is actually a series of very funny and entertaining mystery romps. In Musical Chairs Kinky riffs on Agatha Christie as the members of his old band, The Texas Jewboys, get bumped off one by one.

9. Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan

Gilbert Selwyn is selfish, feckless, greedy and, more pointedly, openly gay, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to all and sundry when he decides to get married and especially when the person he is going to marry is Moira Finch, a person who, to all intents and purposes, he had previously loathed. What their friends don’t know, however, is that the marriage of inconvenience is a plot hatched by the money grabbing ‘couple’ in order to score a payday on the wedding gifts.

Although you may not find anything as hum drum as a kitchen sink in this romp, you will stumble across the Mafia, cross dressing, blackmail and even a John Woo style shoot out.

10. Old Dogs by Donna Moore

Donna Moore’s smashing caper yarn has an absurdly colourful cast of self- interested characters chasing a McGuffin, a pair of rare ornamental Tibetan dogs. There are laughs aplenty and great farcical moments in this sweary Ealing Comedy as the characters collide with and crash into each other in their attempts to get their grasping and grubby paws their treasure. Murder, mayhem and mischief abounds.

Spinetingler Award nominee Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives in Poland.  He started writing short stories at the end of 2008 and his writing has since appeared in a number of print and electronic magazines and anthologies, such as A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Crimefactory, Dark Valentine, Needle – A Magazine Of Noir, Radgepacket and the 2011 Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime. His blog is YOU WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN’T YOU?

22 Responses »

  1. How about Elmore Leonard’s Pronto and Riding the Rap…? Bruen’s poet-titled Rilke on Black, Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice, Dispatching Baudelaire…? All act like the best sherry-swilled, celery-salted Stoli-laden Bloody Mary… Down in one! Or your haggis-sausage, egg, and bacon of Allan Guthrie’s Savage Night… that’ll get the juices working… or spend the day convalescing with John Lanchester’s neglected The Debt to Pleasure… Mine’s a pint of Stella… Cheers…

  2. Interesting list. I have read a few, and love THE MEXICAN TREE DUCK, but some of those are new to me…must investigate! 🙂

  3. Thanks to Miriam and Mulholland Books for letting me gatecrash!

    Hope you enjoy the tips, Elizabeth.

  4. Well done Paul. This is a fantastic reading list. It still breaks my heart that Top 1o didn’t go on for hundreds of issues.

  5. Paul – Much obliged for the mention, sir, and indeed for the double mention – I am truly humbled to see my own name nestling among such luminaries. Many thanks.

    Cheers, Declan

  6. I’m thoroughly digging DISCIPLE OF THE DOG which I learned about right here on this site.

  7. Well, I obviously need to read more crime fiction because these authors and titles are all new to me. Thanks for the recommendations!

  8. You nailed the description of Declan Burke’s ‘screwball noir’ novels. Loved those. And I’ve got the Crumley and the Donna Moore books waiting their turn here. Looking forward to them. Thanks for the other reccies, Paul.

  9. Great piece, Paul and cracking recommendations; some I’m familiar with but some not – I’ll have to try and put that right.

    Thanks and best wishes.

  10. One of my favorite humorous (screwball) drunk detectives is Bill Crane, who figures in several novels by Jonathan Latimer. I guess THE LADY IN THE MORGUE might be the best of the them — or the best known. All the titles are worth reading.

  11. A great list – but I’d like to add THE DEATH AND LIFE OF BOBBY Z by Don Winslow.
    Fast, funny, sexy, violent. Buckle up. Adopt the crash position. This is a great ride.

  12. Excellent choices, Paul. Faves of mine among these are Donna Moore and Declan Burke. My next ten would be made up entirely of books from Colin Bateman and Carl Hiaasen.

  13. Hey, great to see Mulholland Books giving Paul some airtime. Now, how about that book deal? 🙂

  14. Thanks for stopping over, every one, and the other suggestions. I almost put some Elmore in there but I’m doing a piece about him elsewhere. Pronto is my favorite of his books. Savage Night would join the list without a problem.

  15. Great post as always Paul. Concise and informative, entertaining and readable.

  16. Ah, a fine list. And is that a surprise coming from Hartlepool’s gift to crime-lovers everywhere? Of course not.

  17. An excellent post as always Paul. More for my reading list.

  18. Three cheers for Top Ten!

  19. Great choices Paul. Loved the Brookmyre most though

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