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Sloppy Operator

In some places, do your job wrong and you might get written up, even fired. In the Gutter? The punishment suits the crime.

Sloppy Operator by Tom Leins

Her real name is Carol Cummings, but she prefers to be called Khandi Kane.
She likes to tell people she works as a glamour model, but as far as I know she only ever made one topless calendar—for a local petrol station.
She is better known as ‘Snow White,’ after she fucked a couple of midgets while shooting a video for a smut-freak called Caruso back in the ‘90s. She was supposed to fuck all seven but the others were too drunk and sat around in the background, wanking and smoking noxious-looking cigarettes.
‘Snow White and the Seven Dicks’ was filmed in the cellar of the Kirkham Social Club, and what it lacked in production values, it made up for with its plot—which had a couple of well-judged twists. I know—I’ve watched it.
When I arrive at Hakan’s office, Khandi is sat on a patched-up sofa, painting her toenails a disturbing shade of stomach lining pink. She’s not his wife, she’s his mistress. Her flat stomach is heavily scarred, and a rusty-looking piercing dangles from her belly button.
She looks up at me, cigarette smouldering between her glossy lips.
“He’s in a bad mood, Joe. A rotten fuckin’ mood…”
I shrug.
Fuck it.
Bad news coming out of a pretty mouth is still bad news.
Hakan looks unwell. His skin has a sickly sheen, and his greeting comes out as a ragged bark. I heard that he got smashed in the throat with a baseball bat last week, during an altercation with a group of Aryans.
He is wearing a khaki jacket over a white turtleneck. He probably thinks it looks sophisticated, but frankly it looks fucking ridiculous.
He is a low-level guy but he’s running things for his cousin, Suleiman, while he is back in Turkey visiting his sick mother.
No one in Paignton stays powerful for long. They are either wondering how to keep hold of it, or wondering how they lost it. He is no different.
“What can I do for you, Hakan?”
He tries to clear his throat, and it sounds like cheap underwear ripping.
“You know my nephew, Kazim?”
I shake my head.
“You’re lucky. Kid is a fucking punk. He was getting his dick sucked in some boy brothel last week, and got loose-lipped with another customer. Some old Nazi bastard named Garrity. Fuckers raided one of my stash houses later that night. Shot two of my men through the kneecaps. Robbed my—Suleiman’s—smack.”
He rolls down the neck of his sweater, shows me the black and yellow bruising.
“And did this. Now he’s missing.”
“You want me to find him, right?”
He nods.
“What are you going to do with him?”
He pauses, lights a cigarette.
“Did your father teach you much, Joe?”
I shake my head. I never met him.
“Mine did. Before I left home. He taught me how to shoot cattle in the head when the animals were too far gone to save.”
He stubs out the cigarette without smoking it, a pained expression etched across his ravaged face.
When I arrive at the North Atlantic Motor Inn a pair of elderly cops called Benson and Hedges are dragging a floater out of the pool with a big fucking net. That’s certainly one way to check out.
It’s a typical no-tell motel—unless you grease the right palms, that is.
The cocktail lounge is surprisingly busy for a week-night. When this place first opened, the only hookers were he-shes and girls with visible deformities. Today, there are even a couple of high-class working girls further down the bar. Keeping their distance from Wet-Look.
Hunched on a barstool, he cuts a shambolic figure, hair slicked back with its own grease. He is a degenerate ex-cop with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local skin trade.
I pat him on the shoulder. His hound’s-tooth jacket is greasy to the touch.
“Fancy a drink, sunbeam?”
I shake my head. “I’m not staying.”
He shrugs.
“How did you find him so quickly?”
“In this town, it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow…”
He grins queasily at me, and wipes his lips on his Devon & Cornwall Constabulary tie.
“Is he still here?”
“Room 13.”
I start to pat him on the back again but think better of it and wipe my hand on my jeans.
Hakan is lurking in the lobby, still wearing his white turtleneck. It seems to glow next to the shit-brown décor. He is clutching a Slazenger kitbag. “This way.”
The thick carpet in the corridor deadens our footsteps.
Outside Room 13 Hakan unzips the hold-all and takes out a pump-action shotgun. Fuck me —it looks military-issue.
“Mossberg 590A1. You like it? Heavy barrel, metal trigger guard, collapsible stock.”
As long as it puts a fucking hole in someone, who gives a shit?
I bang on the door with my fist, while Hakan delicately cradles the shotgun like a new-born.
I press my ear up against the door. I can hear voices, but it doesn’t sound like anyone is going to let us in anytime soon.
I take a step back and kick the cheap door off its hinges. Hakan edges inside, gun raised.
There is a naked, stretched-out looking rent boy face down on the chenille bedspread. He is whining—like stray livestock that has wandered into an electric fence.
A stocky man covered in prison ink retrieves a bloodied baseball bat from the bedside table. Gordon Garrity.
“Fuck you, Nazi.”
Hakan blows a hole through the scratchy Hitler likeness tattooed on his stomach. Garrity is still twitching, leaking fluid, as he hits the wall. 
Kazim is slumped, passed out in an armchair.
Hakan stands over his nephew, eyes bulging.
“You don’t have to kill him, you know.”
Hakan grunts, but places the shotgun on the bed. “He needs to be punished.”
Hakan moves closer, cracking his knuckles, breathing heavily.
“What are you doing?”
“Deciding which bones to break in which order...”

Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Spelk Fiction, Near to the Knuckle and the Flash Fiction Offensive. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon, and a collection, Meat Bubbles (& Other Stories) will be out later this year. Find out more at:

Review: Dangerous Ends, by Alex Segura

Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorite magic tricks has been when the magician takes 3 different colored scarves, pushed them into the palm of their hand, says some magic words, and pulls out one long scarf that has all three of the scares linked together. One time, I witnessed a magician who pulled out one scarf that had all three of the original scares intertwined in a tie-die design, one scarf bleeding seamlessly into the rest. This image kept coming to mind as a read Alex Segura’s latest release in the Pete Fernandez series, Dangerous Ends.

Segura has seamlessly blended three different plots into one kick-ass books that has Segura’s writing talents on full display. The plot lines intertwine and diverge with a poet’s touch and each plotline could make its own sharp novella.

The reader gets to follow the lineage of the Fernandez family tree as Pete’s grandfather begins the family journey in Cuba, as Fidel Castro and his henchmen take power. He escapes Cuba and heads to Miami where the Fernandez family puts down roots. We follow the story as tragedy hits the family and we see where the honor of the family comes from and what drives them to be better men.

We also follow Pete as he attempts to help his partner, Kathy, figure out if a man long ago convicted of murdering his wife is guilty, or was framed for the crime. They look into all facets of the crime as they prepare to write a book on the case, but they are meant with potential violence at all turns as they get closer to the truth some people want to keep buried.

We also witness Pete’s sense of honor shine through as he investigates the murder of his former wife’s second husband. Pete initially decides he has too much on his plate looking into the murder case, but his desire to always do the right thing by the people he loves drives him to take on this investigation as well.

Segura handles all these plot lines with the skills of a veteran author and has them all have meaning as the book concludes. His ace in the hole of this novel is the humanity he brings to Fernandez. Fernandez is struggling to stay sober, struggling to live up to his father’s legacy, and struggling to not let himself or his loved ones down. The battles he faces are battles most people can relate to, albeit on a scale that doesn’t involve tracking down murderers, dirty cops, or dodging threats at every turn.

This book is a great addition to this series and showcases Segura’s expert plotting, great character development, and great sense of atmospheric writing. I would recommend reading the series in order, as this book does contain spoilers from the preceding books in the series.


Giving Them Back to God

If at first you don't succeed. . .

In The Gutter, second chances come punishingly late.

Giving Them Back to God by Kenneth Jobe

Gladys’s arms quivered under the weight of the shovel, heavy with dirt. She threw the last scoop on the freshly dug hole and patted the top to pack it. Sweat dripped down the side of her face. She wiped at her forehead with one scrawny, wrinkled arm, catching her breath while she leaned on the shovel to rest. 

As Mikey bounded down the stairs to the kitchen, he noticed the steps didn’t squeak or squeal anymore. Gramma always said it sounded like they lived in a haunted house. Not finding Gramma in the kitchen, he looked out the window and saw her in the backyard.

Mikey sat on the porch steps, watching as his grandmother leaned the shovel against the house and brushed off the floral house dress that hung billowy and loose off her withered, bony frame. He stood and walked down to the mound of fresh dirt. It looked just like the one that covered his former pet, only bigger. Mikey still looked at Scamper's grave sometimes, as if the dog might come pawing his way back up through the dirt, tongue flapping and tail wagging, ready for Mikey to throw a stick for another game of fetch.

Scamper was cute, but as bad as they came: gnawing on Gramma’s slippers, chewing on her cookbooks, peeing on the rug. Gramma told him they had been left with no choice—giving Scamper back to God was the only option. God would use the second chance to correct all the mistakes He’d made with the dog the first time.

“How long before God sends Scamper back to us, Gramma?”

Gladys didn’t hear him, climbing the steps and going back into the house.

Mikey hurried behind her before she closed the back door on him.

Gladys walked into the kitchen and filled a glass with water, then dampened a paper towel, dabbing at her hot face as she drank. She finished her water and took a seat at the kitchen table, where a legal pad and a pen were placed in front of the chair, waiting for her. She grabbed the pen and looked pensively at the blank page for a moment before beginning to write.

“Gramma, can I have a peanut butter’n jelly sandwich?” Mikey asked. He stood in the doorway waiting for her reply.

When she didn’t answer, he decided to make the sandwich himself. She was busy, and after all, he was a big boy, he could do it. 

He walked to the counter and struggled with the loaf of bread, his tiny fingers fumbling with the skinny twist tie on the end. “Gramma, I need help.”

Gladys stood from the table and walked into the living room.

Mikey watched from the doorway as she grabbed a photo from the antique desk against the wall and brought it back into the kitchen. She put the photo on the table and walked to the black phone on the wall. With the receiver in her hand and a crooked finger poised to dial, she hesitated, opting instead to replace the receiver. As she walked back to her chair, she saw the loaf of bread by the edge of the counter and slid it back thoughtlessly. Gladys scooted her chair in and resumed writing, her pen scurrying across the page.

“Gramma, I still want a peanut butter’n jelly.” Mikey jumped to try and grab the bread but couldn’t reach. He looked at Gramma to ask her for help again, but could see she was preoccupied. “Are you writing a letter, Gramma? Who’s it to?”

Mikey stood at his grandmother’s side, watching her write. She stopped every couple of lines to stare at the picture she’d brought in from the other room. 

Even though he never met him in real life, Mikey recognized the man in the picture—it was Harold, his grampa. Gramma talked about him a lot, saying how much she missed him and how she’d helped give him back to God, hoping God would send him back next time without the cancer in his tummy.

After a few minutes of writing, Gladys put the pen down and started to cry.

Mikey leaned over and looked at the paper in front of his grandmother—he was still learning to read, but knew some words. “Sor—Sorry? Does that say sorry?”

Gladys didn’t answer, only cried harder, which brought Mikey to the verge of tears himself. “Don’t cry, Gramma, it’s okay. You said you’re sorry.”

Gladys dabbed her eyes and took a deep breath, composing herself. She stood and walked back to the old black phone on the wall.

Mikey watched as she dialed 9-1-1, which he knew was the number to call if you needed help. He heard a muffled voice through the receiver.

"Hello, dear," Gladys said. "We need police and an ambulance at fifty-four-eleven Oak Bluff. That's right, dear, off of highway twenty-two.” The voice on the other end said something Mikey couldn't understand, and Gladys choked back a sob. "I've already given the dog back. Mikey, too. Hopefully next time God gets it right with him. But by the time you get here I'll be with them." 

The voice in the receiver got louder. "Ma'am? Ma'am, with who?"

Gladys hung up the receiver, slowly shuffling toward the staircase, grabbing the handrail and taking a step, then another. The stairs creaked and moaned under her feet.

Kenneth Jobe's work has been seen in The Rusty Nail, Jitter Magazine, and the horror anthology Robbed of Sleep, Volume 2. He is a Native Californian currently living in the Midwest and working on his debut novel.

Counting Ashes

Time for Breakfast in the Gutter. While you have the whole day to plan how to spend the rest of your life here. In this story Angel Luis Colon gives us a man whose plans may be dreams, nightmares even. And in the Gutter? Nightmares
come true.

Counting Ashes by Angel Luis Colon

You’re sitting in the back of a U-Haul truck with no rental papers or insurance associated to it. There are huge scratches across the truck’s side, defacing a picture of alligators. It’s the kind of summer morning where the air’s thick as custard and it’s already pushing 90 degrees based on the cheap little thermometer to your right.
You jam the fresh pack of Newport you bought last night against your palm and unspool the cellophane from the box. Light one up. First smoke of the morning always goes down nice with coffee. Shame you’re still waiting on a cup—light and sweet. Asked for a buttered roll too, but your faith on that showing up with the coffee is low. New kid who takes the breakfast orders is an idiot.
Today you’re selling leather jackets with no price tags. Tomorrow, who knows. Shoes, bootleg handbags, knockoff sneakers, maybe even cases of the cigarettes you’re smoking now. There was a time you could do this at a flea market or door to door, but folks don’t take kindly on these hustles anymore. You lean back and wait for your partners. Think of how you’d rather be home on the sofa watching TV—maybe Maury or whatever fake judge is screaming at idiots. It’s the kind of day where pants should be entirely optional, but you’re stuck in slacks and a light blue button-down—poor choice on the shirt when you spy the growing darkness at the edges of your armpits.
You think about whether that SUV across the street is an unmarked cop car, try to get your mind off the lack of coffee and the pit stains.
That’s a terrible distraction, so you let your mind wander.
You think about when you said no to Sally all those years ago that time she came calling about that belly bump. Think about how instead of going with the safe bet, the sure bet, you said yes to that bartender, Debbie, at the Knights of Columbus on account of the way she looked in those slinky neon dresses that were so popular back in the day. You think about how Debbie hasn’t let you sleep in your bed for three weeks, about how she does more blow than eats food and calls you everything but your name.
A few people walk over and haggle over the price of a ¾ length brown leather trench. You upsell the product—swear it’s authentic. They know your line ain’t true, but still want to hear you say that bullshit. They’ll tell their friends the guy who sold it said the product was legit and pretend to be ignorant, to have been swindled. More fun to play the victim than be called out for being a cheap piece of shit.
You pocket some of the surplus from overcharging for two coats and a wallet.
You think of when you dropped out of high school, of choosing liquor and weed over digging your nose so deep in books you’d have ink stains all over your face to this day. You always liked reading. Had a thing for Robert Frost poems.
You think about your brother with his skinny wife and his skinny kids and their skinny life. You think about their twice-a-year vacations to places far and wide. Think about that big house in Greenwich and how every room has a TV that would be better off in a movie theater. Those things cost a mint. So does all the jewelry you’ve seen hanging off that skinny wife’s skinny neck, wrists, and fingers. You think about how one of those vacations is coming up this weekend and count the time between now and Saturday in menthol cigarettes. You wonder if you can convince Ernie, your boss, to let you have this U-Haul and some Virginia plates over the weekend. Feel confident your brother is the kind of man to overpay on his insurance.
And you wait.
You wonder if you’re ever going to get that goddamn buttered roll and coffee.
Angel Luis Colón is the Anthony and Derringer Award-nominated author of NO HAPPY ENDINGS, the BLACKY JAGUAR series of novellas, and the upcoming short story anthology; MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES). His fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He’s repped by Peter Steinberg at Foundry Literary. Keep up with him on Twitter via @GoshDarnMyLife

Review: She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper

“He wanted to choke the world if only he could find its fucking neck.” –She Rides Shotgun

Jordan Harper has previously released two collections of short stories that showcased the talent he possesses and left a lot of us salivating at the prospect of him putting his pen to work on creating a novel that allowed him to further explore all the potential he exhibited in these collections. Well, the wait is over and it has been worth every second; Harper has blessed us with a book that will kick your ass in a way that will leave you begging for more. She Rides Shotgun is gritty, unflinching, and full of heart and soul.

Nate McClusky is a man bred for crime. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, he quickly escalates from a boy into a hardened criminal. After his second conviction for armed robbery, he is sent away for a long prison stretch. As he is nearing release, Aryan Steel (a white supremacist group) send a message he is to become one of their hired workers on the outside. Knowing this will be its own life-sentence, Nate declines the order and ends up killing the brother of the Aryan Steel leader. Nate emerges from jail days later, a free man on legal paper, but a dead man on Aryan Steel paper, courtesy of a signed death warrant from Steel’s leader; with the additional order of killing McClusky’s former wife and his child, Polly.

Nate seeks to protect Polly, but not so much out of love, but instead out of an internal refusal to let Aryan Steel members have control over him and his family. When Polly’s mother is killed, Nate must take Polly under his direct guidance and go on a quest to not only avenge her mother’s murder, but to eliminate all future threats. This quest is not altruistic, as Nate does it for his own reasons:

“He knew that vengeance was a dumb and selfish act, and he knew if it went wrong he would leave Polly exposed and alone. Nate would be a fuckup again, one last, worse time.
               But he was going to do it anyway. The ghost of his brother inside his head would have it no other way.”

In some ways, it’s a coming of age story. Not just of Polly coming out of her shell of innocence into a world in which everyone has an agenda, but the coming of age of Nate. It’s a beautiful story of him coming out of the hardened criminal shell he has surrounded himself within and learning to love something and someone, not for what they can do for him, but because who they are to him.

Harper has penned a very special debut novel. It is tender, yet rugged. From prison gangs, death sentences, and drug mules, to creating family bonds where there were none, loving the only way you know how to love, and accepting the love someone is prepared to give you, even if it’s not the love you thought you were looking for, this book covers a wide scope and does it all with a poet’s touch. I think this book is going to garner a lot of attention for Harper and it is well deserved. This novel does it all right.

Highly Recommended.

Method Acting

Ten-thousand hours of practice make you a master. 

Ten-thousand hours in The Gutter make you a disaster.

Method Acting by Matt Mattila

It never started with violence. He always walked up with a plan. 

The place was already scouted. Maybe it was empty. Maybe it was occupied. He had ways of finding out. A process he never strayed from. He had no reason to. It had never failed him.
First came three days of watching. Keeping tally of cars, of people, of the times they left, and how long they were gone, when they came back. Whether they went out, or got food delivered, or stayed home all night. Whether they smoked, drank, or hosted fucking acid parties. Whether the neighbors were friendly or argumentative, or kept quiet and shied away. He kept notes. He always kept notes.
He was always the brave one, using the throwaway phone the boss gave him to call the place and wait for an answer. If they pick up: “Sorry, wrong number.” If there was no answer: Hang up and try one more time. There was only one way to find out if they weren’t answering or not home.
He was always the brave one. He went up to check, leaving the throwaway phone in the car and bringing the real one with him.

Be fast, but calm. Smile at anyone who runs into you. Dress casually. “Oh officer, someone did pass through. Might’ve been their friend. He seemed nice.”
He'd knock on the door three times and keep the phone out. No response: He’d knock again. The phone always on the text screen. One letter to the driver outside. “Y” meant good to go/I’m in; “N” meant someone’s home/back off; “R” meant run; “H” meant help, something went really wrong. 
He knocked again.There was a groan inside. Footsteps squeaked across the carpet. Anyone else would have turned around and walked away but he was always the brave one, so he put on a smile.
A short woman in her mid-thirties answered. She was in her pajamas, her eyes tired. She crossed her arms. “What?”
“I apologize, ma’am, is-” He made a show of looking down at his phone. “-Jeffrey here? I’m his Uber driver.”
She blinked. “No. There is no Jeffrey here.” Her tone was stern and her eyes grey steel, fierce and prodding as she sized him up. She took a step back, heel folded above the carpet.

He was always the brave one. He smiled again. “I apologize. This must be the wrong address.”
Go back to the car. Wait until she leaves. Hit it then. She’s seen you. She will remember you. Get out while this still looks innocent.
He turned around and made his way to the staircase.
“Wait,” the woman said.

He was a step away. He should have kept walking, pretend he didn’t hear, but he’d already stopped and turned to face her, his body rotating like hands wound on a clock. “Yes?”
She took another step back into her doorway. “I’ve seen you before.”
He blinked and smiled again, pretended to be perplexed. “I’m sorry?” he asked, taking a step back with the phone open, down at his side.
“You’ve been hanging around here.” She went pale. “You’ve been snooping around, you stalker piece of-”
They each froze in their tracks.

He a one-letter text message: H. Help.
“Christ. I knew you freaked me out for some reason! What do you want? Why can’t you leave me alone?” she yelled.
“Ma’am, I’m just an Uber driver. Calm down.”
Always the brave one, he stepped closer. He was a friend. He was there to help.
“Fuck outta here. I’m calling the cops.”
She turned around and bolted through the door, trying to slam it shut behind her.

On instinct, he followed and kicked it in.
It all happened so fucking fast.
It was a small place, but nice.

Didn’t matter how many times he did this sort of job, he’d never get a pad like this. He’d be lucky if he could get the girl and the baby a car this year.
It’s all so fucking pointless.
She couldn’t run fast.

He tried grabbing her.

There was a fire in her eyes he hated seeing. She thrashed at him like a dying fish. Her long pink nails carved lines into his forearms, blood trickled out.

The pain was sharp and froze him. She kicked him between his legs. He crumpled to the floor as she ran off.

The whole thing was fucked.
He was always the brave one. It was agonizing to pick himself up.
Snap back to it. 

She’d barricaded herself in her room. The door was locked. She was going for a phone or a weapon. She was a boxer on the ropes, with one hell of a punch left in her.
The man in the car needed to get the fuck up here.
He was always the brave one. He had to move, get in there, restrain her, take what he could, and run. He kicked at her until his ankle snapped and his foot went numb. He was screaming and. . .

There was a bang and the whole world went quiet. He looked at a splintered hole in the door. He looked down and saw the red spot growing over his gut. It didn’t hurt. A comfortable numbness filled him. The phone fell from his pocket and bounced on the floor with red fingerprints smudged on the active screen.  

He looked to the hallway for the man from the car. It was empty.

He was always the brave one. He reached down to pick up the phone. It hurt to breathe. He looked at the phone and buckled to the floor.

He hadn’t pressed send. Everything went black.

Matt Mattila has had his short fiction and nonfiction in Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Commuterlit, two anthologies, as part of Lip Service West, and here in the Gutter. Moonlighting as a Hotel Night Auditor, he lives on the wrong side of a Connecticut city. You can find him on Facebook and his blog:

Brit Grit Alley

Brit Grit Alley features interviews, news and updates on what's happening down British crime fiction's booze and blood soaked alleyways.

By Paul D. Brazill 

Some recent BRIT GRIT publications.

Skull Meat by Tom Leins

Hired by mobster Marie Andretti to ransack the office of morbidly obese local nightclub owner 'Swollen' Roland Smart, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey quickly finds himself plunged into a dangerous cat and mouse game - which leaves him fighting for his life. His quest for answers - and vengeance - sees him plunge headfirst into the queasy underbelly of the grubby little seaside town he calls home. Rey is a man with a dark past, and, it seems, very little future. Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Marked For Death by Matt Hilton

Joe Hunter has been Marked for Death in his most explosive outing to date

It should be a routine job. Joe Hunter and his associates are hired to provide security for an elite event in Miami. Wear a tux, stay professional, job done.

But things go wrong.

Hunter is drawn into what appears to be a domestic altercation. When he crosses the mysterious Mikhail however, he soon finds something altogether more sinister…

Before long this chance encounter has serious repercussions for Hunter and his friends. Good people are being killed. On the run, in the line of fire, the clock is ticking.

From the bars of Miami beach to car chases and superyacht grenade battles, bestseller Matt Hilton dials up the intensity in this rip-roaring, set-piece filled thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child, David Baldacci and Stephen Leather.

Slaughterville by Rod Glenn

There's a newcomer to the small Northumberland village of Haydon...a charming novelist and movie buff, researching a crime thriller about a serial killer on a rampage in a remote Northumberland community. The only trouble is, it's a work in progress and it's going to be non-fiction.

392 men, women and children stand in his way to achieving a sadistic dream. But there is something a little odd with this quaint secluded community. Something doesn’t seem quite right and the would-be serial killer begins to wonder whether he has bitten off more than he can chew.

As the worst winter in more than a century approaches, can two investigating detectives trapped with the residents stay alive long enough to figure out just what the hell is going on?

A chilling and surreal re-imagining of Rod Glenn’s best-seller, Sinema: The Northumberland Massacre.

Crystal on Electric Acetate: Stories by Richard Godwin

Crystal on Electric Acetate is the first and ultimate original collection of short stories by crime and mystery novelist Richard Godwin. Comprising a fascinating and versatile range of stories previously published in great and ground-breaking cutting-edge paper and online magazines, this collection sums up his take on noir. From urban decay to Gothic explosion, at once revolutionary, iconoclastic, erotic and dark as that cellar next door.

“If you think this is one genre, think again. If you think you can work out what hybrid genre this is, think again. Mutation exists at all levels. Welcome to the mix of stories.” —Richard Godwin.

“Godwin is truly one of our great authors.” —Luca Veste, author of Dead Gone.

Tales From The Underbelly by Aidan Thorne

Tales from the Underbelly is a series of linked stories, centred around a few characters and those that get caught up in the criminal word in which they operate, some through choice, some through circumstance and some that aren't even aware of their brushes with these kingpins of the underworld.

Tony Ricco and Jimmy O'Keefe are rival gang leaders running the streets of a gritty UK city. The incidents in this book take the reader on journey's through Chinese takeaways, gyms, city streets and roads, run down council estates and fancy suburban houses - the places you and I visit daily - but hopefully never encounter the underbelly that's never far away.

This linked collection includes six short stories, a novelette and a novella. Throughout these stories we learn more about the world in which Ricco and O'Keefe operate, and the reach of their influence over the minor crooks, the police and even the general public - just how close are you and I to rubbing shoulders with someone linked to the urban underbelly.

There'll be more carryings on down Brit Grit Alley very soon, sorta kinda thing, like.

Paul D. Brazill's books include A Case Of Noir, The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. His blog is here.

THE SAD TALE OF SUZY YEN, by Johnny Strike


Sparse weeds swaying in the wind,
Gentle Asian dancers,
Who are not faraway but rather in a theater,
On a stage...
All glitz and gold,
Fantastic made-up faces,
Large, slow raindrops, wet streets,
Red and yellow banners,
Flapping in another breeze,
A walk through Chinatown,

"The Mouth" they call him,
A crooked private eye, enters Red's,
leans on a bar top,
He has false teeth, sagging bluish eyes,
He clicks his teeth after ordering,
Eyes are watery, pools of regret,
He sucks in a bit of stale air,
He speaks to the Chinese bartender,
"Just whose facts are we talking about here?"

"Suzy Yen. She work theater next door."
The light rain becomes a downpour,
"The Mouth" finishes his drink,
slaps down a few damp bills.
The bottom one is a hundred.

In the dressing room the dancer approaches him,
for an embrace.
He stabs her in the heart.
Chinese folk music squeaks from a cheap radio.
Suzy Yen takes in a final breath of air.
"The Mouth" goes out the back way,
Red and yellow banners flap above,
a few greasy garbage bins.

Johnny Strike, is an American writer, mostly known as songwriter, guitarist and singer for the proto-punk band Crime based in San Francisco.Headpress in the UK published Strike's first novel in 2004, Ports of Hell, with a blurb by William S. Burroughs. Strike also interviewed Paul Bowles, Mohamed Choukri, Herbert Huncke and traveled, with extended stays in Morocco, Mexico, and Thailand where he set his fiction. His writing has appeared in Ambit magazine, Headpress Journal and Pulp Adventures. In 2008, with artist Richard Sala providing illustrations, Rudos and Rubes published his short story collection: A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above. His last two books, Name of the Stranger and Murder in the Medina are mystery/thrillers out on Bold Venture Press and set in the infamous city of Tangier. His latest music endeavor is Naked Beast, due out in 2017 from Guitars and Bongos.