When I sat down to write this review of Johana Gustawsson‘s third book in her series featuring her dynamic duo, police profiler Emily Roy and true crime writer Alexis Castells, I had a problem. I mean it was a pretty big one really. It was a problem thus: how was I supposed to write a review for a book that is pretty bloody serious? I mean, this story is dark, like, eyes shut in a very dark cave that has had the entrance blocked up on a cloudy moonless night, dark. This is undoubtedly, for me at least, the darkest and most disturbing of the series so far. So how was I supposed to review this book in my usual, flippant, irreverent and, frankly, ridiculous way?
Like a recently felled tree, I was stumped.
I knew of one other blogger who had read the book and would be able to give a serious and thoughtful, respectful and knowledgable review of this moving book. Someone who would give the source material the respect it deserved.
But they were out. A family emergency apparently (I later discovered that they had run out of onions and were making a French Onion soup for some family get together, so that was understandable).
That left me with just one other option. An option that I was very, and I do mean very, reluctant to take. One that I have taken before and it has never turned out very well. It was an option that I have safely kept hidden away behind several layers of safety glass and electrified wire. One that has a direct link to the security services in case someone else accidentally triggers it, and they have been instructed to use extreme force where necessary (and trust me, it would be necessary). One where no one in their right mind, especially after previous encounters, would even consider using it.
But I was desperate, and desperation can be a very persuasive force in making one make stupid, stupid decisions. So I disabled the security measures in place and enabled the Optione Desperaté, as they may, but probably don’t, say in France.
And so, with a heavy sense of foreboding and that sickly feeling in my tummy, I called up myself.
Yes, I called up The Beardy Book Blogger once again to get me out of this desperate situation that I had found myself in.
May your *insert deity of choice here* have mercy on your blog reading souls.
But first, here’s some blurb:
Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.
Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.
Welcome one and welcome all to my little beardy blog for my stop on the blog tour for T. S. Hunter’s ‘Killer Queen’, the 5th entry into the soon-to-be-classic series of Soho Noir novellas. So, I hear you cry, what has Toby cooked up for us all this time around? Do you need to have read the first four books to be able to enjoy this one? Does he serve up more of that jazz that has entertained those who have read those books, but remaining accessible to those new to the series? With the first book, Tainted Love, released back in July, we’ve had nearly one year of love for this series as it heads towards its conclusion in December. But for now the show must go on and so let me entertain you, I hope, with my review. Small disclaimer: if you want to remain totally spoiler-free, may I suggest you don’t try so hard to read the blurb and main review as there may be some small spoilers within. Skip ahead to the author photo and read the summary instead.
First up, some blurb:
It’s 1988. Soho is enjoying a mild summer after a turbulent political year for LGBT rights. While working as an assistant to a successful Theatre Director, Joe Stone finds himself unwittingly embroiled in another murder investigation.
Lexi Goode, a young, up and coming actress has her bright future cut short when she is found murdered in her exclusive top floor apartment in the posh end of Soho. Knowing that the police are as racist as they are homophobic, Joe and Russell inevitably take it on themselves to investigate what happened to the young woman.
Along the way they discover illicit liaisons, a string of admirers, a secret life that was helping to pay for the glamorous lifestyle no young actress should have been able to afford. But who would want to kill Lexi?
Finding the answer to that question puts Joe in mortal danger and a young police officer in an awkward position.
(P.S. As this book is named after a certain Queen song, can you find all 100-ish Queen song titles hidden in this review? Ok, some are not so hidden and tweaked a bit, but you get a great big beardy smile and blown kiss if you do 😘)
Hello my beloved Beardy Blog Fans, and welcome to what will eventually be my review of Crazy For You, the 4th book in the Soho Noir series by T.S. Hunter (the other books in the series being ‘Tainted Love‘, ‘Who’s That Girl‘ and ‘Careless Whisper‘, my reviews of each you shall find here, here and, yes, you guessed it, here. You’re welcome). But why do I say ‘eventually’? Well, you see, I have just settled down in my favourite café with my laptop, a large coffee and a pastry, to write my review. I have no idea where I’ll go with it, but I cannot possibly foresee any problems whatsoever. Nope, this shall be a most uneventful and informative review, just you wait and see.
” ‘Ere, are you the Beardy Book Blogger?”
Yes I am he, how may I hel …..mmmmph…….
THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE NEVER RUNS SMOOTH
It’s 1987, and Soho is in the grip of another hot summer. While working part-time in The Red Lion, Joe finds himself agreeing to help a notorious gangster search for her missing girlfriend.
Antonia The Gecko Lagorio is daughter to the ruthless but ageing gang boss, Tony The Lizard Lagorio. When her girlfriend, Charlotte Fenwick, goes missing, Antonia turns to Joe for help, believing her to have been kidnapped by a rival gang.
Charlotte Fenwick is daughter to multi-millionaire, Charles Fenwick—who also happens to be one of Freddie Gillespie’s bigger clients. Keen to keep any hint of a scandal out of the public eye, Charles Fenwick had already asked Freddie to recruit Russell and Joe to help him find his daughter discreetly.
With both of them on the case, Joe and Russell find themselves trying to stop a turf war between the two rival gangs while uncovering all manner of dark secrets about the missing heiress and her troubled life.
Meanwhile Freddie Gillespie has a run in with an old foe that could see him lose both his job and his relationship with Russell.
LOOSE LIPS COST LIVES.
It’s 1986, and Adam Cave, lead singer of the pop sensation Loose Lips, is struggling to stay in the closet, especially as his group is going through a messy split, and media speculation about the reasons behind it are high.
Joe Stone is assigned to Adam as a runner for the behind-the-scenes, warts and all expose of the recording of the bands last album, and an unlikely friendship begins to form.
But when Adam’s manager, Jack Eddy, is found dead in Adam’s hotel room, in what looks like a sex game gone wrong, Joe turns to his flatmate, Russell, to help him clear the pop star’s name, and keep his secret.
Russell, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. He’s just been for a test, the results of which may change his life forever.
Hey hey you lovely, lovely and bloody gorgeous people. Welcome one and welcome ALL to my humble, hirsute blog. If you are a brand new visitor then please leave your shoes at the keyboard as I’ve just vacuumed and I don’t want it all messed up. Oh, and there are nibbles and a can of peas on the side so please help yourself.
May I take the time to thank you from the bottom of my bottom for visiting today. I’m guessing that you are here to read the guest post from Derek Farrell as part of the inaugural #IndieCrimeCrawl? If that is the case you are in luck for it follows at the end of my preamble below…
Oy, come back, I haven’t finished preambling yet. Rude! I wouldn’t wander off like that if you were in the middle of preambling. Have some manners, please. The very notion. That’s okay, I’ll put it down to eagerness and over-excitement. It’s all good 😊
Okay as I was saying…
What was I saying? Oh yes, Derek. Right, so, who is Derek Farrell anyway? Let me enlighten you:
Derek Farrell is an author. Okay, no big surprise there I guess. What else can I tell you then? He is Irish, wears glasses, has a jaunty hairdo, and is very happily married to his husband of some 30 years (though they haven’t been married that long, obvs, but you know what I mean), so hands off!
But much more importantly than any of that, Derek is the author of the utterly wonderful and stupidly brilliant Danny Bird series of books. I have SO MUCH LOVE FOR THESE BOOKS I COULD LITERALLY EXPLODE 🥰🥰💥
I HAVE PREVIOUSLY REVIEWE….
BUGGER, THE CAPS LOCK IS STUCK… HOLD… ON… IT WON’T TURN off. Ah, there we go.
As I was saying, I have previously reviewed these books and you may find the links to those very reviews here:
I have also conducted a Q&A with Derek and you may read that here:
And that’s not all Derek Fans, for he also very kindly offered a guest post on his favourite queer crime reads, which you can peruse, yes you guessed it, here:
Oof, that’s a lot of Derek right there. Once you have read those links (and you will read them now, right? We are friends now, yes? Good good, just checking), you’ll also fall in love with this hilarious guy and his books. I have met Mr. Farrell in person and I can confirm that he is a genuinely warm, funny and friendly guy.
Now that you are familiar with Derek and his body of work (not his actual body. As I’ve already said, he is married), let us turn our attentions to his publisher, Fahrenheit Press.
You may notice that in all of the above links, except one, there is the hashtag #Fahrenbruary. I’m not going to go in to what that is all about right here, but, oh alright cocky pants, you guessed it already, yes, here is a link explaining what it is, why it was, and how it came about:
I also reblogged a post from my partner in #Fahrenbruary Crime, Matt Keyes, from It’s An Indie Book Blog, with his own rationale behind the month (while you’re there, check out his blog; his reviews are fucking brilliant. Love him 😊)…
And so, what do I have for you today? Well, as I have already hinted at the very top of this post I have a guest post for you from the man wot I have been waffling on about, Derek Farrell.
So feast your eyes upon what Derek thinks are the 4 best, and 1 worst, things about the Indie Crime scene.
Who’s That Blurb?
A FEMME FATALE WITH A POINT TO PROVE
It’s the summer of 1985 in London’s Soho, and Joe Stone is settling into his new life living in the heart of London’s developing gay scene.
When Danny Devraux – the compère they’ve hired to host their charity ball, The Frock Show – is found dead backstage, it falls to Joe and his friend and flatmate, Russell, to figure out what happened.
All they have to go on is a broken stiletto found near the scene, and the briefest glimpse of a mystery woman fleeing the club. But who was she? And why did she kill the most loved man in cabaret?
Past secrets, bent coppers, drag queens and old lovers all play their part in this noir murder mystery, set in the 1980s.
The throbbing, pulsating beats of the dance music are really not your thing at all. They reverberate throughout your entire body, the bass making it almost hard to breathe at times, but despite yourself you are having a good time. The club is bustling with men, women, and all those in between, gyrating and throwing shapes upon the sticky, sweaty dance floor. Maybe it’s the drink taking effect, but you are actually having a fun time. You’ve already caught the eyes of several potential admirers, not that you’d have the energy, or inclination, to do anything about it. Still, this is a new feeling and it’s a good one. Above the floor a huge glitterball slowly rotates throwing shards of sparkling incandescence across the walls and the ceiling and onto the hot sweating bodies lost in the music all around you.
As the night draws to a close the club is looking very empty now. Unfortunately you’re stuck here until the end as your friend is the night’s DJ and you promised to help them pack up their gear.
As you recline against the wall you stand transfixed as the glitterball continues to reflect the light in tiny iridescent tesserae all around you. As you continue to stare at it, mesmerised by the many rainbow colours, you start to notice something odd. You look around to see if anyone else has noticed this strange effect, but the few remaining clubbers are off their tits too much to notice anything anymore. You crane your neck back up and stare at the light dancing across the ceiling. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, those really are words dancing above you, revealing a blurb sparkling above your head:
SOME RELATIONSHIPS ARE JUST MURDER
It’s 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London’s Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town where Joe and Chris grew up.
When Chris is found brutally murdered, the police write his death off as just another rent boy fallen foul of a bad hook up. But Joe knows his friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris’s flatmate—to find out why.
Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris’s killer?
A noirish whodunnit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer.