I like puzzles, building bricks, and coloring. But I have Fibromyalgia, which keeps me confined to the bed or couch many days. I'm creating this blog to share my opinions on the things I like in the hopes that others in similar circumstances can be inspired their low-impact hobbies.
I just read a fantastic book courtesy of DampPebbles Blog tours, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!
They say human life is the most precious thing. The Collector doesn’t agree.
When world renowned archaeologist Philip Carlton suddenly and unexpectedly commits suicide, the police are called to investigate. Heading up the investigation is Detective Lucy O’Hara, a Forensic Linguist – and she immediately sees something is wrong with the suicide note. In her gut, she knows this was cold-blooded murder.
Battling skeptical superiors and the Irish establishment, Lucy digs for the truth and begins to uncover a shadowy trade in ancient artifacts led by a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Collector’.
As Lucy works to uncover his identity, she soon realizes she is up against a ruthless mastermind who is systematically eliminating anyone who might lead her to him. But Lucy won’t give up and soon The Collector turns his attention to her…
The Collector is a great read! The first of a new series starring Detective Lucy O’Hara, a smart, sassy, no BS doctor of Forensic Linguistics who is haunted by both the death of her father during her childhood and the Bateman case where she had to shoot a suspect to save a child. She’s both daughter and mother, balancing home-life and an job that can be both dangerous and time-consuming.
This is less like reading a mystery novel(although it is), and more like watching an incredibly intricate game of chess played by a clever newcomer and a shadowy grand-master. Lucy is the knight, zigzagging her way to the heart of who The Collector is; while her mysterious opponent is ordering the deaths of all those who stand in his way, Lucy included! There are twists and turns, and the author doesn’t stint on showing the secondary effects of loss and the keeping of secrets. You are kept on your toes right up to the very end, and I for one, was very surprised with the reveal!
Title: The Collector
Author: John Maher
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Released: July 5th, 2020
Pages: 2358 pages
About the Author:
John Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.
A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a Phd from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).
He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.
Where to buy: The Collector will be available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon on July 5th. Preorders are available. Currently, here in the US, it is $0.99 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $11.99 USD.
It’s disgustingly early here in the States, but my UK friends are just starting their day. I have something exciting to share with you. Anne Pettigrew’s new book Not The Deaths Imagined will be hitting shelves on August 1st, and today we get to see the cover!
Here’s the blurb:
In a leafy Glasgow suburb, Dr Beth Semple is busy juggling motherhood and full-time GP work in the 90s NHS. But her life becomes even more problematic when she notices some odd deaths in her neighbourhood. Though Beth believes the stories don’t add up, the authorities remain stubbornly unconvinced.
Soon, Beth’s professional reputation is challenged. There follows a chilling campaign of harassment and she finds her professional reputation – and family – are put at risk.
Is a charming local GP actually a serial killer? Can Beth piece together the jigsaw of perplexing fatalities and perhaps save lives? And as events accelerate towards a dramatic conclusion, will the police intervene in time?
From the author of Not the Life Imagined, this slow-burning tartan noir novel from a Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight author follows Beth on another quest for justice. Reflecting Pettigrew’s own medical expertise, Not The Deaths Imagined re-affirms the benefits of growing up in a loving family and the need for friends in hard times, while offering insight into the twisted development of a psychopathic mind.
Great plot, right? Now here’s the cover!
I love covers like this, straightforward, elegantly simple, and hinting at the story inside.
Where to buy: Oh! I can’t wait! I’ll be reviewing this later on, but if you’re as intrigued as I am, here’s the preorder links –
Glasgow-born, 31 years a Greenock GP, graduate of University of Glasgow (Medicine 1974) and Oxford (MSc Medical Anthropology 2004). Worked also in psychiatry, women’s health, and journalism (Herald, Pulse, Doctor, Channel 4). In retirement took Creative Writing tuition at Glasgow University aiming to pen novels about women doctors (rare in literature except as pathologists or in Mills & Boon). Runner-up in SAW Constable Award 2018, chosen as a 2019 Bloody Scotland Crime Spotlight Author – ‘one to watch.’ Member of several writers’ groups and a short story competition winner, she lives in Ayrshire and enjoys good books, good wine, and good company.
‘They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down……’
A DIPLOMAT VANISHES A BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT GOES ROGUE
Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.
As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..
Title: The Kompromat Kill
Author: Michael Jenkins
Publisher: Failsafe Thrillers
Released: June 19th, 2019
Pages: 407 pages
About the Author:
I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defense Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.
I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.
I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.
The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.
I’m lucky to be participating in two Damppebbles Blog Tours this week!
Called out one night in the hope that she can identify the body of a man found in a field, Edinburgh forensic geologist Jessica Spargo – Jez – inadvertently becomes involved in the investigation of a university lecturer’s murder. The investigating officer, Tom Curtis, hands her a small glass vial and asks her to analyze its contents. She agrees to do it. The results confound everyone.
Media attention around a seemingly unconnected incident on a construction site near Edinburgh means that all work has stopped. An object discovered beneath the site confounds everyone, including the police. Employed by the firm’s owner to attempt to solve the mystery, Jez falls foul of an uncooperative site manager. Unruffled, she perseveres. Meanwhile, the murder mystery deepens. Despite her reluctance to become further involved, she has her own theories about the origin of the vial’s contents, theories the police do not accept.
To Jez’s dismay there are more deaths. As she says to Curtis, ‘I don’t do bodies. I’m a geologist, I look at rocks. If I’d wanted to look at bits of body then I would have become a surgeon or a pathologist.’
I have to give the author mad kudos for this book. Once I picked it up, it was nearly impossible to put down! I wasn’t certain that a crime novel featuring a geologist would be interesting, but boy, was I wrong!
Dr. Jessica Spargo( Jez to her friends), is a character that is a delight to read about. She’s wonderfully real in her interactions, from dealing with the grouchy DCI that asks her to consult on cases, to dealing with mansplaining on the job, or dealing with the fact that bodies are not at all to her taste. Honestly, I think the reason I like Jez is that I kept expecting her to quote Bones McCoy when at a crime scene.
Ground Rules weaves a beautifully complicated narrative between two seemingly unrelated cases, and Jez trying desperately to solve them both. The search for clues leads to Jez making contacts all over Scotland and the final revelation of whodunit is a complete surprise!
This book was a treat to read and I very much hope the author will write more of Jez’s adventures!
Title: Ground Rules
Author: Richard Whittle
Released: March 9, 2020
Pages: 235 pages
About the Author:
Richard has been a policeman, diesel engine tester, university student and engineering geologist. Writing as Alan Frost he was shortlisted from several hundred international competitors for the CWA (Crime Writers Association) Debut Dagger Award.
I’m lucky to be participating in two Damppebbles Blog Tours this week!
The Running Lie is the second of the Max Falkland trilogy by Jennifer Young. This is slightly new era for my historical thriller reading, but as I’d only gotten into 1950’s vintage pinup culture last year, I was eager to read it.
In Cold Crash, when Archaeologist Max Falkland, the Anglo-American daughter of a British peer, meets American John Knox in London in April 1952, her already troubled life takes on mystery. As the Cold War thriller progresses, Max finds herself in increasing danger, but three weeks after the events of Cold Crash, the point at which The Running Lie begins, Max has found an archaeological dig in London and John Knox has entered her life. But even now, can he be trusted? Max encounters both skulls and sexism on the dig site at the bombed out shell of St. Bride’s Church in London. A family request sends her to the Berlin International Film Festival, away from the dig and her growing relationship with John Knox. But after she sees John in Berlin with another woman, Max forces him to confess he is an American spy. When his current case collides with her family life, Max has to find a way to navigate layers of lies. As fireworks explode for the Fourth of July party, Max must make a dangerous choice if she wants to save both John and her family. The Running Lie is a page-turning Cold War spy thriller that reboots old school cloak and dagger Max Falkland is the James Bond of the 21st Century.
I truly loved this book, and cannot wait for the finale to be published in 2022. The Running Lie had all the things I like in a good thriller, likeable and hateable characters, twists and turns of plot, action that made my heart race, and an ending that left me aching for more.
This is an interesting book. Unlike most historical thrillers, you experience the story from Max’s point of view; that of an educated and sophisticated woman who has to battle the patriarchy both in her field and at home. Max has a PHD in Archeology, which in 1952 is still overwhelmingly male, and as an heiress, she has the pressure to marry. She is smart, tenacious and tough, but Max is also very much a woman of her times and struggles to find her place.
Max’s relationship with John Knox is one of the most realistic I’ve seen in fiction. It’s confusing, in that Max is confused. There is romance, but it’s complicated in very real messy ways. She loves John, but can she marry a man whose life is full of lies and danger? How can they find common ground when their backgrounds are so disparate? Can she trust John when the nature of his work means he may have to leave for unknown periods of time or have relations with other women? When danger threatens her family, will their relationship survive the storm?
The author, Jennifer Young will be holding an online launch party at 6pm on 13th of May on Zoom. Here’s the link: The Running Lie Zoom Launch
Title: The Running Lie (Max Falkland #2)
Author: Jennifer Young
Publisher: Cinnamon Press
Released: April 22, 2020
Pages: 319 pages
About the Author:
Jennifer Young was born in a small textile town in North Carolina, USA, and moved to the UK in 2001. She has since completed a PhD, become the daughter-in-law of a Catholic priest, and gained British citizenship. Her degrees are from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Cardiff University and the University of Southampton. She is the Head of Writing and Journalism at the University of Falmouth. Jennifer lives in Cornwall with her daughter.
Her novel Cold Crash won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize.
Follow Jennifer at http://www.maxfalkland.com or on Twitter @maxfalkland.
Hi! SC Here. (What Again? Where’s PuzzlePaws? Is she OK?) PuzzlePaws is fine, but between the Stay-at-Home, the Coronavirus, and the Groundhog-Day-like effect this produces, nothing much has been going on. Like everyone else, we’ve been living.
Puzzlepaws has been adding to her library personally, has been signing up for “Blog Tours” to make her name as a book reviewer, but her puzzle suppliers have dried up. As a puzzle reviewer, she’s basically unemployed. (What do you mean “dried up”? Where did they go?)
Typically, puzzle makers send PuzzlePaws puzzles to review, but puzzle companies and manufacturing companies are “non essential”, so they’re home like everyone else. We got quite a few companies who said they’d send us puzzles at Toy Fair 2020, then the country shut down. We haven’t seen a shipment. Normally we’re buried in puzzles by now, setting the schedule for the entire year. This year? Nothing. Since puzzles ARE PuzzlePaws’s income, she’s unemployed (and on unemployment).
Also, we’re not really buying puzzles. (What!?) Yup. There aren’t any. Walmart is out, Target is out, and the price-gouging online is outrageous. Puzzles that list for $20US are going for $80US New, $60US Used. On Amazon. Not worth it.
So I’m upgrading the Laptops (2012 Razer Blade Pro R2 for PuzzlePaws, 2008 Dell M6400 for myself), building new gaming towers, building a NAS for the house, and generally using our government income to improve our standard of living. I didn’t buy these laptops recently, both were gifted to us. I design and build tower computers on the side.
I’m also the caffeine addict in the house (and kitchen chemist, I do things with caffeine that make wiser heads cringe.) I decided our caffeine stores were low, so I hit my favorite vendors.
First up was Redux Beverages. This is (was?) a small company out of North Carolina. Rumor has it, one of the founders used to work for Red Bull back in the early days of Energy Drinks (this would be in the aughts, about ’04). He wanted to make something stronger, but Red Bull didn’t like that idea so he struck out on his own. He came up with a very controversial beverage that was the same size as a Red Bull, but contained 3.5 TIMES the caffeine. He called it COCAINE.
They had a new flavor: Peach Mango. The other flavors are: Regular (Hot Cherry), Mild (Cherry), and Black (Cinnamon Kola). When you buy it, you’re buying 12-12oz cans, and paying UPS shipping. Total cost is about $40US in the lower 48. Each can contains 280mg of caffeine.
There are seldom sample packs and very few retail stores carry this beverage (If you do find it retail, it is usually $5/can). Some municipalities have banned this beverage altogether, and the FDA has attempted to do so on multiple occasions. (Thus why it is labeled as a “High Caffeine Energy Supplement” now.)
My next stop was FOB Kick The Can. (Forward Operating Base Kick The Can, WTF?!)
Quite a few years back I discovered “instant” energy drinks (4C makes a powdered variant, available at Walmart, we’re not discussing that one). You took the packet, tore off the top, and added the contents to water, theoretically. And, poof! Instant, sugar-free energy drink. 160mg of caffeine in 16-20oz of (now flavored and “sweetened”) water.
Strike Force Energy was created by a modern US military veteran for reasons known only to him. (A different US military veteran also created Crayons, Ready-to-Eat so there you go.) I, being the caffeine addict I am, immediately added one to an energy drink (400mg of caffeine, no waiting). That’s one way to start your day! (NOTE: Do not try this at home. If you do, please have adult supervision other than yourself.)
I used to work Security for Anime conventions (back before COVID-19), but I got into the Con Staffing gig late. (Most people do it between the ages of 18 and 24, I started at 26.) So I had to keep up with the 18 year olds. I believe in leading from the front, if I can’t do it, I can’t expect you to do it. But 26 (and later 30) isn’t 18, so I needed energy, and energy drinks weren’t cutting it anymore. So I created my own.
Wake the Dead is a proprietary blend of caffeine and other compounds that shall not be enumerated in a public forum. (Barring screaming from our legal advisors, we might put it on the Patreon, on one of the upper tiers.) If misused, adverse side effects, up to and including death could result. (It is actually THAT dangerous!) The recipe is known to only 5 people in the world to my knowledge, myself included. I have never seen it online.
When completed, WTD was 50mg/oz caffeine concentration. Most sodas are 4-6mg/oz, energy drinks are 6-14mg/oz. But the mechanism of action wasn’t just in the caffeine concentration, one of the ingredients came from Harcos Labs.
At the time Mana contained a blend of digestive enzymes that enhanced your ability to digest ANYTHING (including cellulose, weird that.) Which was good, since that level of caffeine would kill your appetite otherwise. So WTD would make you HUNGRY. So hungry that I was consuming 5,000 calories every 19-hour day. (You read that right, I was eating FIVE THOUSAND calories a day! If I ate less than 4,000, I lost weight.)
That was then. Much to my disappointed shock, Mana is now just flavoring, sweetener, food coloring, caffeine, and a pretty bottle. The website says that Mana still contains the enzyme blend, but these do not (neither does the Blood). Hopefully I can get my money back.
Detective Hanlon is addicted to violence. She likes the rush, the danger, the losing control…
When Hanlon is suspended from the force for assaulting a suspect, she escapes to the remote Scottish island of Jura, home to the mysterious Corryvreckan whirlpool.
But wherever Hanlon goes, violence is sure to follow.
As soon as she checks into The Mackinnon Arms, Hanlon senses something isn’t quite right about the staff at her home for the week.
Sure enough, within days of arriving, the body of a member of staff is found floating in the sea. While police believe she was claimed by the local whirlpool, Hanlon isn’t so sure.
As she pieces together the evidence, dark secrets begin to unravel. Can Hanlon work out what is going on before another floating body is found…?
This is one heck of a twisty ride, guys! We follow DCI Hanlon as she takes a much needed break from London and the accusations of police brutality. She travels to the remote island of Jura off the Scottish coast to focus on an upcoming Ironman Triathlon only to find that violence is everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere.
There is no real reason for DCI Hanlon to doubt the official ruling of accidental death in the hotel staffer’s death, but she does. And because of this, she uncovers a Gordian knot sex, drugs, betrayal and deceit. There are twists, turns, and dead ends in this investigation , as well as a red herring that is nearly Hanlon’s undoing! I never suspected the true villain, and was kept on my toes to the very end!
Hanlon is a beautifully complex character, both horribly flawed and incredibly strong. She knows her own mind, and can acknowledge when that leads her to make poor decisions (usually internally voiced by her therapist); I honestly cannot wait to see what new adventures await her!
Title: Silenced For Good
Author: Alex Coombs
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Released: April 14th 2020
Pages: 286 pages
About the Author:
Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.
Where to buy: Silenced For Good is available in both the UK and the USA via Amazon. Currently, here in the US, it is $2.99 USD for the ebook, and the paperback price is $16.99 USD.
1969. In a town where nothing happens, a gang of kids uncover a kidnapping plot.
In the days following the excitement of the moon landings, a group of criminals plan to kidnap the son of a Government rocket engineer – but they don’t expect a gang of kids to get in the way…
Sam Todd dreams of adventure and longs for something exciting to happen for him and his friends. When he and the gang try to add a touch of excitement to their lives by stealing empty bottles from a pop factory, they are easily caught. But the consequences lead them back to the factory where they begin to uncover a villainous scheme.
THE DEVIL’S PORRIDGE GANG is book #1 in this Sixties adventure series.
About the Author:
True-born Geordie Colin Garrow grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland and has worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor, and has occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. Colin has published three stage plays, six adventures for middle grade readers, two books of short stories, the Watson Letters series and the Terry Bell Mysteries. His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grind, A3 Review, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine. These days he lives in a humble cottage in North East Scotland where he writes novels, stories. poems and the occasional song.
Greetings fans, SC here. (uh oh, it’s an SC post…probably short with bad news, where’s my Content! I’m bored!)
I actually have been planning to do a post or two since PuzzlePaws and myself are now Sheltering-in-Place (vs. me leaving the house to work). Basically, I got laid-off. It’s more complicated than that, but it isn’t germane to PuzzlePaws’s blog, so I decline to digress.
Y’know how you’ve got that Really Nice bath stuff you’ve been hiding in the closet for a rainy day? (Our stash is a bit large, ATM.) Well, since we’re all stuck at home anyway, now is the time to use it!
Being stuck in the house is no fun for anyone, add in the current pandemic and it is a recipe for stress. What better way to remove some of that stress than to break into your stash and have an enjoyable bath? (Now you see where I’m going with this.)
Now, I will take the odd bubblebath or use a bathbomb once in a while, and while those are enjoyable I wanted to truly relax. I needed something that literally felt like it pulled the stress out of me. So, I dug deep into the closet and found a favorite that PuzzlePaws and I discovered at ToyFair NYC about 2 or 3 years ago: Ooze Baff.
If you are familiar with the works of Anne McCaffrey, specifically her Crystal Singer series, you remember the odd, viscous liquid called Radiant Bath. (Hint: the Crystal Singers would immerse themselves in it to take out some of the crystal song in their blood when fresh off the Ranges. I’ll post a link to the first book at the bottom, cracking good read, that. The audiobook is perfect for the bath to come.)
What you will need:
Ooze Baff 50g or 150g
Bathing tub to fill with hot water (Do not use in a hot tub or anything with a pump in it. Puzzlepaws Blog is not responsible for damage)
Hands-free entertainment (I used some music I enjoy)
Optional: Candle(s) for mood lighting
Optional: Epsom Salts (to thicken the Baff)
Before drawing your bath (baff?), make sure your drain is clear of anything that might cause it to drain slowly. (Other than PuzzlePaws, everyone else in the house has long hair. Cleaning the tub/shower drain is a monthly exercise.) Once you have cleaned your drain and reassembled the plug, draw about 2-3 inches of warm water. Before opening your package of Ooze Baff, make sure none of the powder is clumped together, if it is clumped up, break it up in the package.
Open the pouch of Ooze Baff and sprinkle it all over the surface of the water, a bath will take a minimum of 50-75g to create. (Ideally, use 100-150g of powder per bath for the best experience.) Stir the water with your hand until the powder is fully dissolved. The water will turn the color of the powder and will smell slightly sulfurous. (This is the only design flaw I have found. I have not experimented with adding scent/oil to the water to “improve” the scent. I prefer the effect, I can ignore the smell.)
Sorry, no bath pictures here. This is a family blog.
At this time, set up your bath, start your music, etc.
Shortly, the water will feel slipperier and become noticeably thicker. If it isn’t as thick as you’d like, or you want something else to relax your muscles, add some Epsom Salts. Once everything is dissolved carefully “hop” in (while bracing your body, or with assistance, carefully crawl into the tub and get comfortable.) Continue filling the tub with the hottest water you can tolerate. (I use a temperature just below “Hell, No! I’m not getting into that!”)
NEVER try to stand in a tub of Ooze Baff, you WILL slip and fall!
This is an odd chemical reaction. The powder combines with water and creates a mucous-like slime. Epsom Salts enhances the slime effect (thickening the slime). It is an endothermic reaction, thus you use the hottest water you can stand. (Endothermic – the reaction absorbs heat, making the resulting fluid cooler than it was at the beginning.)
Fill the tub as deep as you like with you in it (I prefer about 1/2″ from the rim). Rest in the water until you feel your stress melt away. Don’t get too comfy, you’re still going to have to shower this off. (Even the least buoyant individual will feel supported. I’m pretty low body fat and my arms floated comfortably in the bath.) Don’t worry if you get this slime in long hair, you can shower it out. The slime will form a thin, slippery coating on your entire body.
Please use common sense, don’t use Ooze Baff if you have open wounds or are allergic to any of the compounds in it.
When you’re ready to get out, pop the drain on the tub and let it drain with you in it. DON’T try to stand up yet. Once the tub is drained, start the water and rinse the bottom of the tub until you have a place to stand. Once standing, turn on the shower. (Yes, I have been known to write manuals.) If you’ve gotten the slime in your hair, draw the slime towards the ends of your hair until you’ve gotten most of it out. Shampoo as usual until the slime is gone.
Ooze Baff is colored-hair-safe (I have neon pink hair, the slime didn’t harm the color at all), non-staining, and easy to clean up.
East Side Hustler (Alex Cohen #2) by Leopold Borstinski
Monday 23rd to Sunday 5th April
I was lucky to be selected to participate in a Damppebbles Blog Tour this week.
I’d not been feeling well, and this was the perfect book to help me ignore the current state of the world while I rested in bed.
Alex lived through the war, but will he survive the peace?
Jewish gang member, Alex comes back from the Great War almost destroyed by the horrors he has seen. When he is plucked from certain death by an old friend, he commits to making so much money he’ll never know that agony again.
But the route to the top is fraught with danger and every time he helps one of his powerful friends like Al Capone, he acquires more enemies who want to see him dead. When organised crime financier, Arnold Rothstein dies, the turmoil caused by his loss sets in train a chain of events which means Alex must once more fight for his life. How far would you go to attain your American dream?
The second book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which tears through the Prohibition years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir pierces the heart of every reader like a bullet from Alex’s sniper rifle.
So, this is the second book in the Alex Cohen Series, and while you don’t absolutely need to read The Bowery Slugger, it really does help. East Side Hustler picks up with Alex having returned to NYC from the horrors of WW1 trench warfare. I have to give Mr. Borstinski credit, his portrayal of Alex’s PTSD is amazing.
Like Bowery Slugger, East Side Hustler follows Alex through a decade of his life on the streets as a member of the Jewish-American Organized Crime Syndicate. Alex has to rebuild his relationships with his family, his lover, and his gang associates to become a success.
East Side Hustler is very much a different style of book from my usual crime fiction, while the author refers to is as Noir, I find it to be more Narrative Historical Fiction with a criminal background. Alex Cohen isNOTa good person, and only rarely a nice one. But as you read through his struggles and triumphs in the seedy underbelly of Prohibition Era New York, I can’t help but empathize. Alex is a gangster when we were only just defining what made one a gangster and his decisions and motives are defined within that context.
I think my favorite part of reading this series is spotting the real life historical figures. Most people wouldn’t get the references until they smack you upside the head, but because I’m a history nerd with a love of true crime; I actually know who these mooks were! To paraphrase, “So Benny Seigel wants me to go to the Windy City to meet Alfonse.” I had to explain to my spouse why this made me shout. “Bugsy Seigel wants me to meet Al Capone!” While Alex Cohen isn’t an actual person, that I could discover, there are a few people who he seems to be based off of and if my theory is correct, I can’t wait to read the next book!
Title: East Side Hustler (Alex Cohen #2)
Author: Leopold Borstinski
Publisher: Sobriety Press
Released: March 21, 2020
Pages: 238 pages
About the Author:
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.