This Gun for Hire by Graham Greene


Read by Patrick Tull

Description: Raven is a man dedicated to ugly deeds. When Raven is paid for killing the Minister of War with stolen notes, he becomes a man on the run. Tracking down the agent who double-crossed him, and eluding the police simultaneously, he becomes both the hunter and the hunted.

The novel ties into Greene’s later, more famous work, Brighton Rock. Pinkie Brown’s assassination of Kite, the Colleoni’s rival mob boss, sets the events of Brighton Rock in motion in much the same way that Raven’s assassination of the Minister of War sows the seeds for global conflict in A Gun For Sale.

Thoroughly enjoyed this ride. Three and a half smoking hand guns

Raven: the cold-hearted assassin for hire with hidden decency and a personal sense of justice. Extremely sensitive about his harelip.

Mather: stalwart police detective trailing Raven, with many of the same characteristics. Joined police for stability of the routine.

Anne: a chorus girl who is engaged to Mather, is used by Raven as a shield. The two develop a fragile friendship that may or may not be real.

Cholmondeley a.k.a. Davis: a grossly sensual man who acts as the agent of a masonic corrupt steel tycoon, Sir Marcus, and betrays Raven. Anne tries to help Raven get revenge upon him.

Saunders: a decent police detective with a heavy stammer. He is Mather’s loyal protégé who plays a vital role in the novel’s climax.

3* The Quiet American
4* The End of the Affair
3* Our Man in Havana
4* Brighton Rock
4* Travels With My Aunt
3* The Third Man
4* The Human Factor
4* A Burnt Out Case
4* Monsignor Quixote
3* The Captain and the Enemy
3.5* This Gun for Hire

Moment Of Freedom by Jens Bjørneboe

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-1966, norway, under-500-ratings, summer-2014, picaresque, noir, author-in-the-mirror, germany, jewish, nazi-related, wwii

Recommended for: Don
Read from May 02 to August 21, 2014


Cover image: Frans Wideberg: Selvportrett (1976) 91.5 x 76 cms oil on canvas. Property of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo. Photograph Morten Thorkildsen

Original title:Frihetens øyeblikk: Heiligenberg-manuskriptet

Translated from the Norwegian by Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Opening: During the several years that I’ve now been a Servant of Justice, I haven’t been able to avoid acquiring a certain perspective on life.

Re-booted twice due to travelling.

Our depressed and oppressed Servant of Justice has a very prominent nickname that we are not privy too. He has teeth missing behind his beard and no-one knows he wears glasses because he only uses them for reading, and that he never does in public.

Hilarious, that is the only way to describe this, yet it is not really meant to be so as we are looking inside the author’s mind, and he commited suicide. The episodic narrative becomes more dire with each new adventure. Page 92 for instance:

In the town wall I found a narrow gate down at the end of one of the back streets, and outside was a road which was more than usually filthy. I hadn’t discovered this road before; the earth was black and moist, slippery, polluted. There was a placard nailed up on a dead tree trunk at the road’s edge: “This area is infested with…” Then followed a word I don’t understand, a monstrously long word containing something with “…ixo…”

Doesn’t that read like an old text adventure?

Have marked up the other two book as wishlist, however, unless they leap out at me and at a reasonable price, that is where they will stay. Four blackest of the black skulls.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky


rosado mp3 on the road.

Description: Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Picnicers from SPAAAAAAACE!

Our poor human ego takes rather a pounding with the idea here. So insignificant are we that an alien ship stops off on planet for a minimal amount of time and fails to announce arrival. Same sort of discourtesy that anyone of us shows the ants etc. when we take out the ACME red-checkered picnic cloth over their pitch and squash the grass, drop our crumbs and wrappers, take a dump behind a bush.

There is a film loosely based on this book: Stalker (1979)

Three gold spheres as rating:

Eve by James Hadley Chase

bookshelves: film-only, noir, published-1945, under-500-ratings, italy, venice, rome

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Andrey Kurkov
Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read on June 24, 2014

Watch the full film here

Description: Clive Thurston was a hard, ruthless Hollywood writer. But his fame and reputation rested on the work of another man – a brilliant playwright who had conveniently died. Clive thought his secret was safe – but then he met Eve. Eve was on the game. To Clive she was an enigma – bold, shy, wanton, and childlike by turn. Clive was a pushover, from the moment he saw her he was a man possessed – possessed by a woman who was beautiful to look at but lethal to love..

How quiet is was at night in Rome in 1948.

From the Venice bath scene: Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra – Willow Weep For Me

A Matter of Life and Death

bookshelves: summer-2014, translation, ukraine, published-1996, under-500-ratings, noir, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, satire, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, amusing, lifestyles-deathstyles

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Fionnuala
Read from April 17 to June 24, 2014

Translated from the Russian by George Bird


Marital troubles?
Sick of life?
Suicide the answer?
Why not get yourself a contract killer?

Nothing easier, provided you communicate only by phone and box number. You give him your photograph, specify when and where to find you, then sit back and prepare to die.
Murdered, you will be of greater interest than ever you were in life. More to him than met the eye will be the judgment. A mysterious killing lives long in the popular memory.

Our hero meticulously plans his own demise, except for one detail: what if he suddenly decides he wants to live?

Opening: If I had smoked it might have been easier. Then each matrimonial sulk could have been followed by a cigarette or two, smoke and nicotine becoming for a while more a distraction than the sense and savour of life – like incense burnt for its own sake – and maybe even helping me discern some glimmer of joy in continued existence.

Here I am again in Kurkovian Kiev where the Dnieper waters run noir and rumour has it that there may be an assassination.

Grigory Skovoroda – first Ukranian Buddhist (page 12)

Chuckled at the James Hadley Chase reference, and if you are looking for a quick peek try the full film of Eve

Not much further to say for a 111 page short story where the book description has dealt with the salient issues, except of course, I enjoy Kurkov and am now hunting one of his concerning a thumb. have you read it?

3.5* Death and the Penguin
4* Penguin Lost
3.5* A Matter of Life and Death

Bears Of England by Mick Jackson

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, radio-4x, fantasy, summer-2014, britain-england, doo-lally, mythology, under-50-ratings, noir

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 06 to 12, 2014

Three eccentric stories from this collection by Mick Jackson, which mix fantasy with folk tale and myth with history. Read by Ian Holm

Episode 1: In the days before electric light and oil lamps most of England was troubled by spirit bears. But one village believed itself to be victim to an especially wicked gang and sought to find an answer.

Episode 2: The circus bears are deeply disgruntled at the extra risks being incorporated into their performance, and things come to a head at the annual circus convention in Bristol.

Episode 3: In the 19th century, under London’s streets, several bears are sorting the city’s effluent.

Every sewer bears the name of the street above!

Goldfish by Raymond Chandler

bookshelves: los-angeles, north-americas, noir, under-100-ratings, mystery-thriller, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-1950, seattle

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 22 to June 04, 2014



Description: The Leander pearls were stolen nineteen years ago. The thief was caught, but the pearls were never found, and there is still a $25,000 reward for anyone who finds them.

Episode 1/3: LA-based PI Carmady sets out to retrieve the valuable Leander pearls, stolen 15 years earlier. Read by Henry Goodman.

Episode 2/3: PI Carmady approaches the jittery Rush Madder about the stolen pearls, but gets in over his head.

Episode 3/3: LA detective PI Carmady is out in Westport hunting the stolen Leander pearls, but who is on his trail?

Goldfish by Raymond Chandler Short Story in “Trouble is My Business”

Plain Murder by C.S. Forester

bookshelves: britain-england, fradio, lit-richer, london, mystery-thriller, play-dramatisation, published-1930, noir, radio-4, spring-2014, under-50-ratings, serial-killer

Recommended for: Laura
Read from April 10 to 13, 2014

Classic Serial

Description: Most famous for his Hornblower series, C.S. Forester wrote three seminal psychological thrillers at the start of his career that took crime writing in a new direction, portraying ordinary, desperate people committing monstrous acts, and showing events spiralling terribly, chillingly, out of control.

Plain Murder, set in 1928, takes us into a London advertising agency. Morris, Oldroyd and Reddy, have been caught taking bribes. One of their colleagues threatens to blow the whistle on them. Instant dismissal will inevitably be the result, and at a time of severe unemployment, their future prospects are bleak. Morris, a menacing bully, offers them a road out of their dilemma – a perfect murder, cleverly disguised as a tragic accident. But is there such a thing as the perfect murder?

Music composed by Gary C. Newman
Clarinet: Samantha Baldwin
Producer/director: David Ian Neville.

Catch it here

‘Isn’t it a story-teller’s job, like a crazed mechanic, to put a spanner in the works?’ Brilliant!

4* Plain Murder
3* The African Queen
3* The Good Shepherd
3* The Gun
3.5* Payment Deferred

Lady of the Shades by Darren Shan

bookshelves: published-2012, tbr-busting-2014, fraudio, london, mystery-thriller, spring-2014, adventure, betrayal, books-about-books-and-book-shops, bullies, casual-violence, chile, contemporary, execution, gangsters, ghosties-ghoulies, lifestyles-deathstyles, newtome-author, noir, ouch, recreational-homicide, revenge, under-500-ratings, eye-scorcher

Read from March 04 to April 15, 2014


rosado mp3

Description: Ed, an American author on the hunt for a story for his next book, arrives in London looking for inspiration. A stranger in a strange city, he’s haunted by a deadly secret that refuses to stay buried, and no matter how hard he tries he cannot escape the manifest sins of his past.
What Ed wants is answers, what he finds is something he definitely didn’t bargain for: the beautiful and untouchable Andeanna Menderes. Andeanna is a woman who is dangerously bound to one of London’s most notorious crime lords, and if they are caught together it could mean death for them both.
Ensnared in an illicit affair that can only be conducted in the shadows, Ed’s world is turned upside down as a series of shattering revelations blurs the line between what’s real and what’s not…

If I had looked closely into the premise of this giftee then it would never have been listened to and what a shame that would have been. A tricksy plotline that forever leaves the reader on the back foot*, coupled with some creditable writing

*although I did suss it out before the end, yet couldn’t wait to see if the right conclusion had been reached. Eye-scorching fun.

Payment Deferred. C.S. Forester

bookshelves: spring-2014, noir, london, published-1926, play-dramatisation, mystery-thriller, britain-england, classic, under-500-ratings, fradio

Read on April 10, 2014


Dramatised by Paul Mendelson

Description: Most famous for his Hornblower series, C.S. Forester wrote three seminal psychological thrillers at the start of his career that took crime writing in a new direction, portraying ordinary, desperate people committing monstrous acts, and showing events spiralling terribly, chillingly, out of control.

In Payment Deferred set in 1926, William Marble, a bank clerk living in south London with his wife Annie and their two children, is desperately worried about money and is in grave danger of losing his house and job. An unexpected visit by a young relative with an inheritance tempts William to commit a heinous crime.

Music composed by Gary C. Newman
Clarinet: Samantha Baldwin
Producer/director: David Ian Neville.

That was an enjoyable listen!