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Ishmael Toffee [Kindle Edition]

Roger Smith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $3.50
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  • Length: 97 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Ishmael Toffee's knife put him behind bars and kept him there for twenty years as a prison gang assassin until he lost his taste for blood. Paroled, he finds himself with no money and no family. And no knife in his hand.
He gets a job as a gardener at the luxurious home of a prominent lawyer and makes an unexpected friend--Cindy, the lawyer's six-year-old daughter. When Ishmael discovers that Cindy is being raped by her father he must choose: abandon the girl and walk away, or do what he does best . . .
A gut-wrenching novella of violence and redemption from the award-winning author of DUST DEVILS, WAKE UP DEAD and MIXED BLOOD.
BONUS CONTENT: FALLING, a previously unpublished short story.


"One secret to good noir is keeping the beauty and the dread in perfect tension so the reader is attracted and repelled at the same time. Smith does it." PETER ROZOVSKY - DETECTIVES BEYOND BORDERS

"Smith injects as much gut-wrenching emotion and as much action into the short form as he does his novels. I've never read anything by him that didn't steal my breath and this story is no exception." NAOMI JOHNSON - THE DROWNING MACHINE

"Roger Smith is unquestionably one of the most bold, powerful authors currently writing fiction. Period. A hard-hitting, gut punch of a novella." BOOK REVIEWS BY ELIZABETH A. WHITE

"Gripping and disturbing, ISHMAEL TOFFEE is another great story from Roger Smith. The bonus short story, FALLING, is also a fascinating, dark read." CRIMEFICTIONLOVER.COM

"No other thriller writer is writing such lean and powerful prose. Moving and gritty -- a must read for crime fiction fans." DAVE ZELTSERMAN - SMALL CRIMES & THE HUNTED SERIES
 "If you're looking for hardcore, gazing-into-the-abyss literature, Smith's the man you want to read." BENOIT LELIEVRE - DEAD END FOLLIES

"Another superb piece of writing from an author who is fast establishing himself as one of the best around. I can't recommend it highly enough." MARTIN STANLEY-  THE GAMBLERS BLOG

 "Fast-paced, powerful novella delivers with its bloody, blunt justice." ED LYNSKEY author of LAKE CHARLES & ASK THE DICE

Roger Smith's thrillers MIXED BLOOD, WAKE UP DEAD and DUST DEVILS are published in seven languages and two are in development as movies in the U.S. His books have won the DEUTSCHER KRIMI PREIS (German Crime Fiction Award) and been nominated for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE BEST NOVEL awards. His fourth novel, CAPTURE, is published internationally in 2012.

Editorial Reviews



"Smith writes with the brutal beauty of an Elmore Leonard in a very bad mood. " THE WASHINGTON POST

"If you are a fan of George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane, give Roger Smith a close look." BOOKPAGE

"Smith's writing is astonishing." CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

"Roger Smith is the shooting star of the crime scene." RADIO EUROPE

About the Author

Roger Smith interviews an ex-convict who inspired Ishmael Toffee. Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of violence.

Product Details

  • File Size: 558 KB
  • Print Length: 97 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Tin Town (February 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,596 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a short hard shot of Thompson, Stark, or Vachss March 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thank god that ebooks have brought the novella back to life by creating a market for titles like this one. I started reading this on my commute home with no intent of finishing it the same evening--but it's that kind of book: you'll read it even though you had other plans. Ishmael Toffee is a blistering thrill ride that grabs you with its talons and won't let go. With its setting in the slums and suburbs of Cape Town and fresh characters delineated crisply, this story doesn't waste one word. Next time you feel tempted to watch some warmed-over recycled attempt at noir on cable or Netflix, plunk down a few bucks for Ishmael Toffee instead. It's better noir than I've seen on screen in years, yet only takes about two hours to read. It's a better thriller than works four times its length. Roger Smith is one helluva writer, and this work crackles with the same kind of energy as Jim Thompson or Richard Stark at their mad best.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping March 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like Smith's previous three novels, this novella violently clashes the pampered wealthy of Cape Town, South Africa with the desperately impoverished. In this case, Ishmael Toffee is an ex-gangster just out of prison. A very violent man who has shed too much blood and has reached a point where he has lost his stomach for more violence. He now wants to live out his life quietly and indulging in a passion he picked up in prison--gardening. When Ishmael is given a job tending to the gardens of a wealthy man's home and is confronted with the knowledge that this man is sexually abusing his 6 year-old daughter, Ishmael can either turn his back to this evil or risk everything to save this girl. What pulses through this work are the raw motivations of the characters: evil, cowardice, avarice and ultimately, heroism. What's also on full display is Smith's prose--no other thriller writer is writing such lean and powerful prose. 'Ishmael Toffee' is less violent and has a lower body count than any of Smith's previous three novels, but it's every bit as powerful, moving, and gritty, and is a must read for crime fiction fans. As an added treat, Smith also included a bittersweet short story of failed redemption. 'Ishmael Toffee' is a perfect introduction to readers of one of crime thrillers rising new stars.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and Heart-wrenching April 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This ain't no cozy beach read. This is hard hitting, heart-wrenching stuff. Smith doesn't shy away from the horrors that the child in this novella goes through. Fast-paced and nerve-wracking you never know if Toffee will follow through on his promise to help Cindy or lose her to the money starved occupants of Tin Town.

My first from Roger Smith and definantly not my last. Highly Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...his shoes saying dirty whispers on the carpet. October 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Roger Smith has a definite talent for bringing unusual, hard characters to life. He writes about Cape Town, South Africa and the dichotomy of cultures there - the poverty stricken and the very rich.

Ishmael Toffee is out of prison for the first time in twenty years. He is working at his first job - ever - gardening, a passion he discovered in prison, after he decided that he didn't want to kill any more. He had been an assassin at the prison for most of his time sentenced there.

Smith develops the character of Ishmael very adeptly. He is a hard, extremely dangerous man who has fought and scrabbled for everything he has ever had his whole life. He is not a man you would expect to be a hero. But Smith introduces young Cindy into the story, daughter of Ishmael's employer, and the reader finds that the poor/criminals can be heroes and the rich/high society can be monsters.

"Ishmael Toffee" is a powerful story - one I won't be forgetting any time soon.

Also included with this novella is a short story by Smith called "Falling." Again taking place in Cape Town, the reader is introduced to the world of a man who has lost everything because of drugs and is given one more chance at redemption.

Be warned that neither story is for the faint of heart - violence, rough language, and abuse abound. I've never been to South Africa but the stories read as much too true to this reader.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, but not for everyone August 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Have you ever been so smitten by the quality of the writing that you continued to read a book that you might otherwise have set aside because it's depressing, violent, and utterly devoid of any possibility of a happy ending? Ishmael Toffee fell into this category for me, but I finished the book and the bonus short story that followed, fascinated by the opportunity to witness life struggles in a place where the most fortunate inhabitants are wary, shrewd, and strong--both physically and emotionally. Both the novella and the short story were outstanding examples of contemporary fiction. They transported me to a horrible place, yet I found it impossible to turn away. Surprisingly, I cared about these essentially unlovable protagonists, their failures, and their follies. Sadly, the sleaze factor and the prolific violence rang true--there is nothing redeeming about it; the stories are simply how the very poor survive, or don't, in South Africa.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut, tense, not a wasted word. August 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this book in one evening - I just could not put it down. The writing is tight, tense, with no fluff and the story is compelling. The central character, a professional assassin named Ishmael Toffee, is a highly sympathetic character and the setting -- Cape Town, South Africa -- comes alive in this taut thriller. Excellent read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Suspenseful, Highly Recommended
This is one of those few books that I've read and a month later, I find that I'm still thinking about it. Smith is an excellent author and story-teller. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tumbleweed
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it! Well written. Look forward to reading more from this writer.
Published 6 months ago by Robert Eastlack
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice title, decent artwork
I want to write a noir novella. So, I'll:

1. Write it in the third person present.
2. Swear a lot. Read more
Published 6 months ago by SgtPluck
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent. The story gives you a ruthless killer and then twists to make you love him.
Published 6 months ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Book to Read
It is hard not to get involved with this story when Ismael, a recently released prison inmate, became employed by a wealthy lawyer as a gardner. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Priceless Joy
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Bit boring for such a great author
Published 8 months ago by duncan
4.0 out of 5 stars Tense and Hard-Boiled!
This tale follows the title character, a career hitter for local Cape Town gangs. Him and his knife have been doing good work for about 30 years, 20 of those behind bars, killing... Read more
Published 8 months ago by rvialet
4.0 out of 5 stars There is always good in some people
Great short story about a man that killed for a living then lost his taste to hurt people. He tried to do the right thing in helping a little girl by trusting the system but got... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Shoulanda August
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ok
I'm glad that Ishmael killed the bastard. The maid should have done something instead of trying to use blackmail to help herself.
Published 10 months ago by Betty J
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the easily offended. Yes
Not for the easily offended. Yes, there is foul language and disturbing content but people like this exist and situation similar to this exist. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jennifer Hiles
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

"Roger Smith writes with the brutal beauty of an Elmore Leonard in a very bad mood." THE WASHINGTON POST

Roger Smith's thrillers MAN DOWN, SACRIFICES, CAPTURE, DUST DEVILS, WAKE UP DEAD, MIXED BLOOD & ISHMAEL TOFFEE are published in eight languages and two are in development as movies in the U.S.

His books have won the GERMAN CRIME FICTION AWARD and been nominated for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE BEST NOVEL awards. He also writes horror under the pen name Max Wilde.


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