Book Review – This is How You Disappear by Allen Miles

Allen Miles doesn’t fuck about. Jeezuz. I think he either hates his characters or loves them a wee bit too much.

Sadistically, he drops his characters into the brown stuff and invites all his mates round to watch then swim. Not to mock, not to judge just to observe. Maybe have a wee smoke or a beer and take in the mayhem.

It’s only as the reader staggers through the ragged-edged corridors of each story that it slowly becomes apparent that Miles has issues. The scenes unfolding, the dirty-filthy, wonderful emotions his characters have to suffer and the sheer hardship they endure are excruciating at times. What makes me worry about this Miles laddie though is how he gets the reader smirking when they know they shouldn’t and places you firmly on his characters side rather than laughing darkly at them, from beyond the fourth wall. My granny would describe the boy as ‘Just no’ right, son’. Miles lays bare each and every one of his neurosis for us to see in this collection, at least in my head he does. Simply because it’s much safer to assume the laddie’s ‘no’ right’ than to accept that he’s just this good.

miles

Allen Miles and his books (and neuroses) can be found at Amazon, UK and US

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Book Review – Russian Roulette by Keith Nixon

A collection of all seven Konstantin Novellas:

    • Dream Land
    • Plastic Fantastic
    • Fat Gary
    • Bullet
    • Infidelity
    • Close Contact
    • A Chorus of Bells

Russian-Roulette

If you’re a crime novel connoisseur and love punchy, bullet-paced plots with pitch perfect dialogue and the darkest of humour, Nixon and his anti-hero creation Konstantin are the very boys for you.

Me? I never read crime fiction. It’s just not my bag, I’m a character-development man and like a slow burn story where people are gradually revealed along the way. Despite my unmanly aversion to crime novels, I’m first in the queue when Nixon delivers his latest work. In the Konstantin series Keith manages to pull both worlds together, violently fusing a hurtling plot with outstanding characterisation and development.

As each chunk is a complete little story in its own right shoving you through Konstantin’s hurricane, so too is the greater collection a cleverly constructed journal of Konstantin’s complexity of character, morals, and capacity for general mayhem. Konstantin himself seems genuinely ambivalent towards the right or wrong of his actions.

Nixon’s work, all pace, venom and clattering twists, never fails to drag his readers into the piss-soaked murky alleys and streets his characters frequent.

Another lesson in storytelling from one of the mainstays of the new Brit writer invasion currently swaggering through Amazon Bestseller lists.

You can find Keith and his books at Amazon, UK and US

Book Review – The Search for Ethan by Robert Cowan

This was my literary surprise of 2014. I picked this book up for a few reasons. The author comes from my home-county. Mainly though because of some great reviews the book has been picking up.

Robert is a cheeky bastard. With his debut novel, Cowan has thrown out the rule book and avoided all the basic errors first-time writers always, always make. Cowan shows, he doesn’t tell. His dialogue is tight, and the pace is perfect. Generally books from Scotland fail to deliver the true feel of the towns and cities, simply because they’re steeped in stereotypes and tired clichés.

Cowan unapologetically lays his protagonists out for the reader, each of them a heart-felt, painful and emotional mirror of the towns they spring from. Each truly representative of the type of people found in every impoverished town. Complete with their problems, desperations, virtues and victories, Cowan’s characters radiate realness and are heroic in their murky, hopeless-heroics.

With his debut novel, Cowan joins the ranks of a new breed of British novelists, telling their stories the way they want them told. Wonderful.

Aye, he’s a cheeky bastard this Cowan.

cowan

You can find Robert and his books at Amazon, UK and US