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Cronos Rising (John Purkiss Thriller Book 5)
Cronos Rising (John Purkiss Thriller Book 5)
Price: $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fallen gods, November 16, 2014
When his boss is killed in a terrorist bombing, Purkiss has to investigate urgently since, quite apart from his personal feelings, there is every chance that he will be next on the list. Via a Greek islet and some neat allusions to the pantheon, the investigation reaches back into the unholy mess that was British intelligence in the nineteen-seventies. The assistance which Purkiss picks up along the way - a blandly efficient fellow-agent, a mysterious sleeper and a battered ex-squaddie - is all kinds of uncertain, and the story contains all the multiple-crosses one would expect, and a couple more for good measure. This is another excellent performance by Stevens, and the final revelation about Cronos adds a surprisingly emotional twist to the many others preceding it.


The Last Days of Mankind: The Last Night
The Last Days of Mankind: The Last Night
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The epilogue as prologue, September 1, 2014
It beggars belief that Karl Kraus' monstrous masterpiece, The Last Days of Mankind, has had to wait almost a century for a full English translation. As Michael Russell, the brave man who has finally taken on the task, points out in his introduction, Kraus is both a great European writer and a member of the still more exclusive club of great satirists; and his insights into the poisonous relationship between war and the media are as depressingly relevant today as they were during the Great War. The Last Night is the epilogue and summing-up of The Last Days of Mankind, and its extraordinary imagery of gas-masks, hyenas and the mass-media Antichrist has lost none of its potency. Russell's translation, like the original, is in rhymed verse and reads very well for the most part; and the explanatory notes are useful without being obtrusive. On the evidence of this work, Russell's forthcoming translation of the complete play should be a worthy commemoration of the genius of Kraus, and the horror of the Great War and all the wars to come.


Tundra (John Purkiss Thriller Book 4)
Tundra (John Purkiss Thriller Book 4)
Price: $3.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Cold war, June 6, 2014
A former British intelligence agent turned KGB mole has surfaced for reasons unknown, and Purkiss is dispatched to an international research station in the middle of Siberia to find out why. In contrast with previous adventures, virtually all of this novel takes place in the confined settings of the station and the Lubyanka, which allows Stevens to place less emphasis on chases and physical action and spend more time on personal intrigues and the depiction of character. The station personnel are nicely drawn, as is the ambitious FSB officer whose decisions affect them all. In addition, as usual, Stevens delivers the spy-novel goods in crisp and concise fashion: there are plenty of twists and turns, and a gruelling chase at the climax.


Annihilation Myths (Martin Calvary Book 2)
Annihilation Myths (Martin Calvary Book 2)
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Movement in the shadows, March 31, 2014
Martin Calvary, the reluctant assassin last seen in Severance Kill, has bounced around Europe for several months trying to stay ahead of his presumably vengeful ex-employers. Approached in France by a former army comrade who wants help tracking down a missing girl, Calvary is at first unenthusiastic, but that changes when the man is murdered. Calvary infiltrates the cult-like movement of Soleil Levant, whose charismatic leader and flexible rhetoric are making converts all over the country, apparently including the missing girl. As it turns out, the stakes are a little higher than first appears, and in the course of revealing SL's agenda Stevens pulls off several ingenious twists, not least of which is the way the hero brutally interrogates the villains rather than the other way around, without the sense of danger being diminished in the least. The characters are crisply drawn; there is an intriguing hint that Calvary may inhabit the same universe as Stevens' other series protagonist John Purkiss; and one day I may have to steal the title.


Liability Limited
Liability Limited
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Short and very sharp, March 30, 2014
This review is from: Liability Limited (Kindle Edition)
Two men sit in a room. One of them is a bit uncomfortable, and not only because the springs in his chair are taking undue liberties with his backside. Something very unpleasant has happened, and there is a need for liabilities to be limited, Fortunately, as the other man points out, this is more or less how the world works anyway. "Liability Limited" is a spring-sharp conspiracy comedy with the same delightful grottiness as its predecessor, "Jasper and Ruby", and only slightly less apocalyptic.


Jokerman (John Purkiss Thriller Book 3)
Jokerman (John Purkiss Thriller Book 3)
Price: $3.99

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Purkiss yet, September 26, 2013
An assassination at the highest level means that no-one can be trusted, so Purkiss, as the perennial outsider, is brought in to investigate. As usual, personal ghosts are stirred up along with the larger spectres of Iraq, Guantánamo Bay and black-site interrogations. All the main characters are well-drawn and convincing, without the occasional hints of stock villainy from the earlier books. Stevens' plot, as always, is satisfyingly intricate and cracks along at a terrific pace towards rather more twists than one. Purkiss himself, who was upstaged by a schizophrenic musician in Delivering Caliban, is allowed to unfreeze a bit and, if not to come to terms with past betrayals, then at least to confront them in a more constructive way. This is the best of the Purkiss thrillers so far, which means it's very good indeed.


Freaksome Tales: Ten Hitherto Uncollected Stories of V. V. Swigferd Gloume
Freaksome Tales: Ten Hitherto Uncollected Stories of V. V. Swigferd Gloume
by William Rosencrans
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.41
5 used & new from $7.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doom and Gloume, May 21, 2013
The ten tales collected in this volume were apparently published a hundred years ago, under various pseudonyms and in publications which, like Gloume himself, moved rapidly from the obscure to the defunct. Nevertheless, the best of the stories retain a sometimes startling relevance to the present day: "Hysteria Horrificans" features a thoroughly contemporary monster for our over-sexed and over-populated times, and in "Metempsychosis" Gloume even refers to the country of Israel, some thirty-five years before it came into existence. This and other, subtler textual signs may well feed the conspiracy theories about the author's pseudonymous or even supernatural nature, just as the editor's discovery of a verse duel with H P Lovecraft has reduced most scholars to a bitter, envious silence; but it is to be hoped that such marginal issues will not distract from the fungally piquant pulpishness of the tales. "A Haunting at the House of Quaddock" is an effectively hirsute evocation of existential doom; and "Manuscript (Found Beneath a Service Pipe)" will equally delight the dog-lover and the enthusiast of home vivisection. Here, also, are two stories featuring Gloume's serial heroes, the stone-faced Aeonius and the intrepid Knoal Heftmonks; and the collection is well served by the editor's introduction and by a convenient index in which the hurried reader can more easily locate the horrors which particularly suit him.


Haven (A John Purkiss Short Story)
Haven (A John Purkiss Short Story)
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday agent, March 29, 2013
For detectives and secret agents, holidays are rarely a simple matter. John Purkiss, the Ratcatcher, is both, so it's no surprise when his vacation in Malta turns up a Ukrainian ex-secret-police thug who has been off the radar for a while. Purkiss reports the undesirable presence to the British authorities, but almost immediately discovers that there may be a rat in the High Commission itself. Like Stevens' Snout, Haven is structured as a short detective story; but its mechanics work better because the characters on whom its back-and-forth suspicions fall are more thoroughly developed, and the third-person narrative means that at a couple of crucial points Purkiss can know more than the reader without the latter being cheated. It's taut, tense and nicely written, with a chilly coda where Purkiss dons the black cap via mobile phone.


Severance Kill (Martin Calvary Book 1)
Severance Kill (Martin Calvary Book 1)
Price: $4.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and sharp, March 3, 2013
An ex-soldier turned secret-service assassin, the delightfully-named Martin Calvary is reluctantly dispatched to the Czech Republic for what his obnoxiously smug superior promises will be one last job: the revenge killing of an elderly British expatriate. Thanks to the involvement of Russian intelligence and the local mafia godfather, matters do not go according to plan; but then again, it all depends what the plan really is. As usual, Stevens presents a complex plot with several complicated set pieces that never become confusing, and the major characters are for the most part plausible and interesting. The hairy mafia monster with the family values is a fairly effective stock villain; but the Russian intelligence chief, not quite old enough to be old-school and not young enough to be new-school, is much more subtly drawn and, at least for the present reviewer, equals the hero in intelligence and ruthlessness and perhaps even surpasses him in pathos. Like many who drift into espionage, Calvary has suffered the traumas of war; but Calvary's trauma is a rather more complex and interesting one than the usual business of seeing a friend killed or accidental participation in collateral damage. Pacey and well written, this is a thoroughly efficient thriller.


Blood from a Shadow (Con Maknazpy Book 1)
Blood from a Shadow (Con Maknazpy Book 1)
Price: $0.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple as Ireland, November 25, 2012
Cornelius Maknazpy, a Polish-American Rambo tormented by his experiences in Iraq, and especially by an incident in which his closest friend went insane, is approached by an untrustworthy acquaintance to investigate a property scam in Turkey. Things just get more complicated from there, particularly as virtually nothing in the preceding sentence turns out to be true. It's a tribute to the author's abilities that his book can demolish both its hero's illusions and its readers' expectations (psychological, national or parental) without ever seeming contrived, manipulative or politically correct. The story also displays a commendable ruthlessness: unlike many thrillers, this one treats the death of innocents as considerably more than a plot motor, and we are never allowed to forget that being injured hurts (Con is tough, but he never degenerates into a superhero) and that redemption comes at a price. The style is plain, and sometimes plain slangy ("thru" for "through", indeed!), but keeps lurching lyrically off at unexpected moments, and the plot and characters incorporate various Easter eggs from Irish history and myth: all very fitting in a first-person account by this deceptively simple character.


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