2 Poems by Ian Copestick

Punk Noir Magazine

New Year’s Resolutions

As for New Year’s resolutions
I’ve never really bothered before.
But now ;
I feel like I’ve got to make some,
I’ve been letting too many things go.

I need a bath.
I need a shave.
My room is bloody filthy.
I need to cut my toenails,
and my hair, 
anything else is beyond me.

I need to snap out of 
this depression, or
whatever you may call it.
I need to really start writing again,
I really feel that it’s my calling.

Well, the bathtub, the razor,
the scissors, the hair clippers.
All that will be easy.
But finding myself again 
and my muse ?
Do I think I can do it ….
really ?

Just the fact that I’ve written this,
it gives me a little hope.
But it’s months since I 
gave up on my book.
Have I got the strength to cope ?

Can I keep writing about my life,
when it feels like it’s gone against me ?
If I’m not a writer, I’ve got to try.
What else is there I can be ?

Another Late Night

Another late night, fuelled by alcohol, and nicotine.
I stay awake until 5 a.m., talking to friends from the U.S.of A.
They’re 5 hours behind us, so it’s not a late night for them.
The next day, I’m fucked up, feeling hungover through lack of sleep.
Knowing that I haven’t drank enough to get a real hangover.
But, I feel a real need to talk to other writers, other poets
the only people I speak to now are my family, and my pets.
As much as I love them, they don’t know much about literature.Especially my cat, and dog.

A conversation with Outcast Press

Interviews, Punk Noir Magazine

PNM: You arrived on the scene in March 2021, can you tell us how you got around deciding to start Outcast?

OP: Very rarely do I think we know where our decisions come from. We go through the motions of so-called rational deliberation, and when it comes to pulling or not pulling the trigger it’s usually a snap judgment. My memory is superius at best, though it was some confluence of events surrounding being kicked off a writing site + finding one too many so-called “edgy” magazines with a big X next to most of what I write. I discussed starting a press with two women I’d known a few years, Emily Woe and Paige Johnson. The rest is history.

PNM: And how was it first starting and making your mark in the indie scene? What were your main challenges and high points?

OP: Starting out, we planned on just doing anthologies for the first few years. Eventually we planned to branch out into novels and poetry, but I (I don’t want to speak too much for anyone else), had it set in my head to do three years of anthologies, then dive into novels. But life never goes the way you expect, does it? We got a pitch from Sean McCallum, then more pitches, and went from there. It’s been more successful than I imagined. And I couldn’t be more grateful to all the fans, authors and people who do us solids. The transgressive fiction market is a hard sell. The fact we made it this far is shocking to me. So a big shout out to everyone who bought a book or merch from us, retweeted our stuff, and to all the authors we have on board. Finally, a massive shout out to the Outcast Team.

Biggest obstacle? Money. We needed capital so we ran a successful kickstarter. Beyond that? Learning the ins and outs of the business side.

The high points? Seeing our authors succeed. There’s no feeling quite like that. There’s a lot of boring bullshit in what we do. But accepting a short story, accepting a novel, and working with the author to publication and seeing the elation? That’s the cream of the gods. Side note: I wager Amy-Jean feels much the same when it comes to the poetry feature, but she handles that, so I don’t want to speak for her.

PNM: You started with taking subs for an anthology which is now out and went on to developing a poetry team which publishes a monthly feature as well as became a press. That’s a massive achievement in under a year, what are the main elements to this success?

OP: Unhealthy levels of hard work + luck. I wish I had a more substantive answer, but that’s the crux of it. For the most part, we work 7 days a week. And no, this isn’t a transition into some meritocracy bullshit. It’s a lot of luck coupled with grinding it out daily.

PNM: There are a lot of indie presses around, what makes you different?

OP: There aren’t a lot of transgressive fiction presses out there. We aren’t the only players, but compared to science fiction or crime, the competition isn’t high. Perhaps it’s too much to say this, but I wager what sets us apart is we want the darkest of the dark shit. No caveats. Theme wise, everything is on the table when it comes to what we want. We want the work other places won’t take.

PNM: Tell us a bit about your masthead, who are they?

OP: Amy-Jean and HLR put together one hell of a poetry feature. Paige Johnson is, dare I say, one of the best editors and formatters around (Look what she’s done so far). Natalie too is a hell of an editor we recently took on. As for myself? Well, I think I do a decent job with promotion. But the credit really goes to the other folks. They blow me out of the water.



PNM: You’ve got 4 books scheduled to come out over the next few months, can you tell us a bit more about each one of them and their authors? What made you pick those books in particular?

OP: The first one is Poser by Nevada McPherson dropping Feb 14th. The writing was just outstanding, and she is a master at piling on conflict on top of conflict. Poser is a like a noir version of Breaking Bad when it comes to conflict. Things just get worse and worse. She’s also an outstanding human being. If you’re a fan of the work of Jackie Collins, you’ll love Poser (which is the first book in a three-part series).

A late acquisition is Austin Davis’ Poetry chap Lotus & The Apocalypse that drops March 1st. First, the poetry is outstanding. Raw, unfiltered, like blood spilled on the page from a man who’s heart is tattooed to the streets. Austin is an impressive man too. He gets nothing but mad respect from me. Austin has dedicated his life to working with the homeless population of Arizona. He’s an all-around outstanding dude and the bonus is an excellent poet.

Jack Moody’s Crooked Smile drops March 15th. The clear Bukowski vibe sold us. Is there a transgressive fiction fan out there who hasn’t been influenced by Bukowski? I doubt it. Beyond that, the semi-autobiographical novel is intensely raw and honest.

We also have an anthology coming out called Slut Vomit about sex work. We’ve collected the stories and anticipate it dropping sometime in April. We have a nice mix of stories from past and present sex workers, but also non-sex workers.


PNM: Do you get a lot of submissions and what are your acceptance criteria?

OP: A decent amount, sure. We aren’t bombarded, but there’s no shortage of people writing transgressive fiction and we wish we could give more stories and poems a home. We’re pretty niche, obviously, so I wager we get a lot fewer than, say, fantasy or crime.

As for the criteria, check the website as the guidelines are updated every few months.

Thanks so much for the interview. I really appreciate it. And once again: thanks to all of you who support us. We only exist because of you.

An interview with James Jenkins

Interviews, Punk Noir Magazine

BFJ: You arrived on the indie lit scene at the end of October with a first story published in Bristol Noir, followed shortly by the announcement that your first novel, Parochial Pigs, was going to be published in January by the Alien Buddha. Can you tell us a bit about how the query process went for you? 

JJ: Red from Alien Buddha was fantastic. A real person rather than a generic email responding that they had received my manuscript was a rare treat. I was fortunate that The Book Folks considered my manuscript back in the summer. Despite reading both books, they decided it wasn’t right for their list and advised I try Bristol Noir. I reached out to John Bowie who invited me to submit a short. If it wasn’t for John, I probably wouldn’t have discovered the indie scene or the Alien Buddha. From query to publishing date, Red has been exceptional. 

BFJ: And tell us about this debut novel. How long did it take you to write? 

JJ: It started in a very round about way. A friend of mine who made a gangster indie film, asked me to write another script idea. I had a concept I wanted to use and after sixteen hours and ten thousand words later I realised that this wasn’t going to be an indie film. I didn’t know what to do with it for a while but then spent another two years turning it into a novel.

BFJ: How would you describe it in a few words? And how would your harshest critic describe it? 

JJ: Me: “A gritty gangland novel entwined with dark humour and a ritualistic undertone.”  Critic: “Too much foul language, overly violent and borderline perverted.”  Mind you, I’d be happy with that! 

BFJ: What authors influence you?   

JJ: Chuck Palahniuk, Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson and Irvine Welsh. More recently it’s all been Indie authors. Thanks to yourself, Stephen J Golds, M. E. Proctor, John Bowie, Scott Cumming and so many more. Basically, if you’ve had a story in one of these great lit mags then you had an influence in my short story writing.

BFJ: If it had to be turned into a movie, what actors and director come to mind? 

JJ: Tim Roth, Paddy Constantine and Stephen Graham if they work on their West-Country accents. Tarantino, Guy Ritchie and Shane Meadows working together.

BFJ: Did you always write? What’s the first thing you ever wrote? 

JJ: I loved writing from an early age but lost my confidence in high school. I’ve always written songs so unfortunately, I’d have to be honest and say my earliest song I can remember, Lampshade Cat. An eleven-year old’s account of his feline after castration.

BFJ: And how do you fit your writing around your work and family life? 

JJ: I get asked this a lot by friends and family. The truth is, I have an incredibly supportive wife. I definitely married well. I could regret saying this, but I get a lot of free time at work. They put Word on the computer handhelds, what are you going to do?

BFJ: You’ve had a few more pieces published lately, are they part of a bigger work? 

JJ: I’m fairly new to writing short fiction. I started by writing extra parts from the world of Parochial Pigs, since then I’ve really enjoyed pushing my boundaries more. I’m not sure if I will ever do something to collect them together. For now, I’m just grateful that they were given a home. Nearly all my shorts have been written bespoke for each publisher. They are as much theirs as mine.

BFJ: What are your writing plans for 2022? 

JJ: Aside from promoting Parochial Pigs, I need to polish up the sequel and finish the third. Another novel has forced its way to the top of my focus. It’s a standalone from the series and not about twisted gangsters which makes a welcome change. Aside from that I really have the bug for writing short stories now. Be warned!

BFJ: What’s your current read? 

JJ: Ha! You timed this question well. I’m currently reading Artifice by B F Jones. You might have heard of them? Chuck’s Doomed is next.

BFJ: You’re at the bar, who are you drinking with, what are you having? 

JJ: Hunter S. Thompson. I’m drinking Carlsberg because I need a clear head for whatever Thompson’s got in that briefcase.  

Parochial Pigs

Parochial Pigs will be on available from Amazon from 16/01/2022: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NRK1J2Z/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_V0VNYQFD1YXMKVNM1MFA

Read Blue Tiger on Bristol Noir: https://www.bristolnoir.co.uk/short-story-blue-tiger-by-james-jenkins/

Read Brick on A Thin Slice of Anxiety: http://www.athinsliceofanxiety.com/2021/12/fiction-brick.html

Gaijin – A Life in Japan Part One

Punk Noir Magazine

I’d always had itchy feet. Never really feeling at home anywhere. One morning I woke up in the crappy flat I was sharing with a then ex-girlfriend and realized that I didn’t like my life or who I had become in London. I didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt more like a character I was playing out. Rehearsing scenes and dialogue from an old script I had come to dislike. I was depressed. In a rut. Dissatisfied. I drank myself to oblivion on weekends just to be able to cope with the prospect of going to work on my shifts the following Monday. More often than not, waking up covered in vomit and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life?

Basically that one scene from Team America… A lot…

A catalyst. Fate. Serendipity. Whatever you want to call it. Everyone has that something, that moment in their life that changes it all completely.

I’ll remember mine until the day I die. It was a poster on the wall of the Embankment subway in London that stated:

If you don’t like your life, then change it.”

I didn’t, so I did.

The best advice I ever got. My whole life. And it was on a wind-torn poster.

Six months later I was stood outside of Osaka KIX airport with a suitcase, an old leather jacket and a few hundred bucks in my back pocket. Unaware that I was at the first step of starting the rest of my life.

The end-plan was; Hong Kong: living out the rest of my life on a house boat in Victoria harbor.  I planned on a year in Japan, just a year. Then a year in Vietnam. Taiwan. A year in Argentina. A year in Mexico. I’d travel to all the countries I’d only ever heard about. 

The idea of staying in the same place for too long seemed insane to me. Those that don’t move, don’t grow. Like a shark, I thought I had to keep swimming or die.

So here I found myself in a country whose language and culture were completely unknown to me. I couldn’t speak a lick of Japanese and only knew about Japan from Beat Takeshi gangster movies (which turned out not to be helpful at all). KIX was my Ellis Island. Or so I liked to think. The start of a year that would turn into my whole life. But we’ll get to that later on.

Arriving in a country as a complete stranger, no family, no friends, no associates, no expectations, feels like real freedom. Almost like a religious experience. I shit you not. As though I found God in between the buses, taxis and hustle of human traffic and rolling suitcases outside the airport. It was just me alone, starting from scratch. A modern day monk. Or something. I don’t know.

In Japan the word for foreigner is


外 Gai – Outside

国 Koku – Country

人 Jin – Person

Or the less politically correct terminology – 外人 – Gaijin – which translates as Outside Person but basically means Outsider.


I liked it. I liked it a lot. I was Pony Boy in Japan, dammit.


That’s what I was when I arrived. That’s what I am still as I write this fourteen years later.

Not liking the Outsider status as much anymore, (now that I have two Japanese/British daughters and am struggling to give them as good a life as I can. Being an outsider is cool when you’re young, partying your way around Nippon. Making new temporary friends every other weekend. But not so cool when you’re looking to lay down solid roots for your family in the country you now call home. Screw you Pony Boy!) I’m accepting it as just something that is what it is.

My beautiful daughters

The Japanese have a great phrase which they use with a shrug in all manner of situations from the convenience store being out of milk, to someone dying:

仕方がない – Shikata ga nai – It can’t be helped.

Anyway, I’m getting away from myself again. Rewind. Back to the beginning.

We’ll return to that kind of stuff in later installments.

Starting afresh in a new country meant teaching myself how to read and write all over again. The Japanese language has three alphabets that they use together.

漢字           –  Kanji (the symbol alphabet)

ひらがな – Hiragana (the simple alphabet)

カタカナ – Katakana (the alphabet for foreign words)

A usual sentence may look something like this;


Tomorrow shall we go to Disney Land?

That easy run of the mill sentence has all three of the alphabets used as one. 

As someone that failed high school French and is a dumbass, it was starting to look like I was shit out of luck. As I wandered the bustling streets scratching my head at signs and staring helplessly at restaurant menus I wondered why I had decided to pick up sticks and move to a country that had one of the most difficult languages in the world to master.

I spent the first six months only eating at restaurants that had pictures of the dishes on the menu. Yep, pathetic, I know. But it’s all I could do.

from Wikipedia

Throwing yourself into the deep end. Stripping away all the comforts of your home country. Your language, your culture, your race, your way of thinking is a big fucking test. Something that’s an easy, mundane task in your home country like mailing a parcel at the post office, getting a new cellphone or getting a prescription filled becomes a titanic, mind boggling, draining task. It’s a constant hustle to just get by. I met other expats that just disappeared. Here one day, gone the next. A lot of people I grew acquainted with threw in the towel after six months in-country and went home. Knew a Canadian girl who only ever ate at MacDonald’s. Taking aside the military, or a life altering illness, living in a foreign country has to be up there as one of the most challenging feats you can attempt in life and I’ve nothing but respect for those that try and start fresh in a new country with a different language and culture. Especially all the folks who come to new countries and actually start businesses. This is where you find out what you’re made of.

At Sugar Loaf Hill doing research for my novel Always the Dead

Luckily the Japanese people are extremely kind and patient in most cases and I had a lot of people going out of their way to help me out as much as they could. Me. A stranger. I made a lot of great friends who would listen patiently as I babbled nonsense at them for hours.

I studied hard. Everyday. Learning the alphabets, the same way children in kindergarten were. I got quite a few smiles on the subway when people saw me revising my phonics cards and murmuring to myself like a mad man.

By the end of my first year in Japan, I could just about hold a very simple conversation. Needless to say, I must have sounded similar to Borat. I didn’t care. It felt amazing to be able to say the most simple things. To be able to order in a restaurant and ask for the check after.

Learning and living in Japan was…

It was tough. Tiring. Stressful, BUT…

simply walking down the street was a magical experience. Out of this world. The lights. The buildings. The smell of the air. The foods. The people. The beauty.

I was falling in love with Japan.

Head over heels, in fact.

It was going to be a tumultuous relationship, like most of the relationships in my life at that time. However, as those other kinds of relationship so often prove to be; one of the most rewarding, satisfying and one helluva growing experience.

Part One 終わり


Comment if you have any questions!



Belated Christmas by Ian Copestick

Punk Noir Magazine

Belated Christmas

It was on New Year’s Day
When we finally got together.
Everyone except me in my familyHad contracted Covid.
So Christmas had to be delayed.
But, when it finally happened
It was fucking great.
Tracy, one of my sisters
Cooked an amazing meal,
Or maybe her husband, Phil
Did, they were (jokingly) laughing
Over who deserved the credit for
The meal, all day.
We swapped gifts, as we should
Have on the 25th.
I had 5 cans of Guinness, and a
Couple of glasses of wine.
So I was just merry, not really
We all took the piss out of
Each other, as we always do,
When the family gets together.
It was bloody great.
I enjoyed myself more than I
Had for a long time.
Covid, and cancer had ruined
Our Christmases for the last few
Years, and the death of my wife,
And me and my sister’s Dad
Threatened to destroy this year
Too. But sheer human optimism
Saved the day.
It’s one of the best ones that I
Can remember.
It just goes to show that the
Human spirit is stronger than
We ever give it credit for. Stronger, and stranger

Than we’ll ever know.

Everybody Pays by Andrew Vachss — A Quick Review

Punk Noir Magazine

Great short story writers off the top of my head.









Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s a whole bunch I missed off. I know. (Add any suggestions you have in the comments.)

But, let’s go ahead and definitely add Andrew Vachss to that list.

I was saddened to hear of A.V’s death recently, so picked up his collection from my To Be Read Shelf and cracked it open. A sophomore crime writer paying tribute to one of the heavyweights of the genre.

Vachss’ short prose is truly inspiring. Each story has something paramount to great story-telling.


Voice in spades.

Whiskey-drenched, pain-drilled, tobacco-croaked voice.

Reading a Vachss’ short is like sitting directly across from the narrator in a police interrogation room downtown, or next to them in a dimly lit basement bar, looking down into the golden glow of your fifth whiskey and wondering if you’ll make it home without being rolled.


These are stories of bad-bad guys and good-bad guys.

It’s dark, grim, brutal, but realistic prose.

Vachss’ work in max security prisons and legal practice shines through each sentence.

These are stories you can’t help but feel the author heard first-hand by offenders himself.

These are the stories of two-bit criminals, prostitutes, swindlers and killers for hire.

Not for everyone’s palette but a must read for fans of the darkest kind of crime fiction.


4/5 Stars


Not a fan of the super-hero, comic book stylings of the Cross stories. These seemed ridiculous when lined up next to his more realistic tales, so the collection loses one star. That’s just my own preference though.

If you haven’t read any of Vachss’ short story collections you’re truly missing out big time.

Start today!






Creepshow by Stephen King — A Quick Review

Punk Noir Magazine

I’m a big fan of graphic novels/comics as an art form and as a form of literature. Some of my favorites are Fables by Bill Willingham, the Criminal and Fatale series’ by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. To name just a few.

Also a constant reader and fan of Stephen King, so the comic Creepshow written by King with artwork by Berni Wrightson should be a slam dunk, hole in one, five star review, shouldn’t it?

It’s not.
It’s not at all.
It was actually quite disappointing.

I haven’t seen the movie Creepshow, not sure that matters though.

The comic is pretty badly written.
Example: one character is being eaten alive by a monster and the dialogue goes something like this — “Ah, oh no, it’s biting me. It hurts. It’s biting me.”
I never seen someone eaten alive by a monster but if I did, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be giving me a commentary of it.

Steve: Jim? Are you okay.
Jim: No, Steve. I’m being eaten by an ancient creature. It’s chewing my face as we speak.
Steve: That sounds pretty shitty, Jim. Is there something I can do?
Jim: Ah, it hurts!
Steve: I’m sure it does.
Jim: It’s eating my face! Ah!!

Don’t get me wrong, I can see this for what it is. A homage to the great pulp horror comics of the past. The art by Berni is stellar. The actual plots for the stories are awesome. The dialogue is just awful.
Furthermore, it’s all woefully short.
I’ve seen a lot of reviewers say that this project comes across as a quick cash grab, sadly I agree.

3/5 For the great art work and the actual idea.

If you’re hankering for a homage to pulp horror comics of the past you’re better off reading the real deal — Doctor of Horror with art work by Graham Ingels.

an interview with Scott Cumming

Punk Noir Magazine

BFJ: Your first ever poem is as just over a year ago, published by Punk Noir. What, or who, made you decide to start sending out subs?

SC: Your very own Stephen J. Golds was the catalyst for me trying my hand at the writing thing. He basically said he’d like to see some of my writing in response to a review of one of his books, but at the time I didn’t actually write, but did have some ideas floating around my head, but not the confidence to act upon them. Steve’s call was the shove in the back I needed.
My first poem came to me one night while putting our youngest to bed almost fully formed and I had to try my best to remember it as he was drifting off.

BFJ: This was the first of an impressive amount of publications this year, how many in total and any particular favourites?

SC: 104 pieces across 23 sites and publications over the course of 2021. The main piece of advice I got was to write something every day and there was a furious start to my writing as a lot of things spilled out of me in various ways. Poetry, stories, CNF, some photography even. Among the favourites: A story in Shotgun Honey, The Quiet/Loud Dynamic, the issue winning poem, Blood on Snow in the first issue of Outcast Poetry, a couple of poems at Yellow Mama, Power Murder Ballad over at The Five-Two, Happy Days is Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience here, which was picked by the mighty guest editor, HLR, and added as one of your favourites of the year.

BFJ: Today is the official release day of your début chapbook, A Chapbook About Nothing, how do you feel bout it?
SC: Excited and bewildered. It’s been a bit mental really and I’ve not had or really given myself the time to take it in properly. I feel a bit detached from it all at times as life goes on as it once did even when I have handfuls of people looking at lines and thoughts I wrote.

BFJ: What themes inspired it and how did you put it together?
SC: My mental health issues were the catalyst for it, but it is interspersed with poems on the death of a friend, which happened not long before I put the book together.
I guess feeling outside of things is a big theme of the book that you can see in the personal, crime or silly poems as the book has a heavy swing in tone in places. Putting it together I tried to show all these elements at the start and then give them their place within the latter half of the chapbook. I think it displays the full array of my personality and obsessions.

BFJ: Who are your poetic inspirations? Were you always into poetry?
SC: My inspirations are mostly very contemporary with the exception of Bukowski. Stephen J. Golds taught me about the honesty and power of poetry. Shawn Berman taught me that you can be as irreverent as you want while still keeping the heart of your poem intact. C.W. Blackwell is a noir master of the art. William R. Soldan is a voice I love.
I didn’t get into poetry until Close to the Bone started publishing it on their site and through the First Cut series, so to have my book out with them a little more than a year after first getting into it is kind of insane to me.

BFJ: How about prose, you also wrote a significant amount of flash and shorts this year, who inspires you?
SC: It’s harder to pinpoint my full prose influences in terms of stories as I think what I am mostly doing is following in the tradition of noir storytelling, so it could almost become an archeological dig in that regard.
Influence This, published at Close to the Bone is heavily Chuck Palahniuk influenced, but a lot of the time I am writing stories with ideas I connect with.

BFJ: You’re also a pretty prolific reader having read a whooping 273 books this year alone. What are your favourites of all time, name 3 you’d take on a desert highland.
SC: Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin, The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami are the first ones that spring to mind.

BFJ: Highlights of 2021?
SC: Becoming an uncle for the first time and some good friends announcing they are expecting children in the new year.
Just watching my own children grow up a bit more and seeing them becoming their own little people. They test me, but I am just as bad as them at times when it comes to mucking about or being a grump!

BFJ: Are you working on anything at the moment?
SC: Just now I am trying to soak in the release of A Chapbook About Nothing. I’ve recently submitted chapbook no.2 to a Scottish publisher and a micro chapbook to a competition too, so I haven’t been resting on my laurels.

BFJ: And what are your writing plans for 2022?
SC: Plans for 2022 revolve around getting through the pile of stories I’ve let fester a bit and then attempt a novella. I’m having fun with this, so anything feels like a bonus really.

BFJ: Favourite word?
SC: Fallopian.

BFJ: Favourite take out food?
SC: We usually go half and half with our Chinese takeaway order, so the sweet and sour chicken/crispy chilli beef combo is a total winner for me.

You can purchase A Chapbook About Nothing on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chapbook-About-Nothing-Scott-Cumming/dp/B09NWZ2VQ7/

Scott’s blog: https://scottcummingwriter.wordpress.com/

The Right Madness by James Crumley — A Quick Review

Punk Noir Magazine

“I was still covered with pig shit and wanted to kill somebody, anybody. If you’ve never felt that fire, you don’t know what it’s like: like an orgasm that never stops, like a moment when everything is right.”

Hell. As we reach the twilight of 2021, I curse myself for only just now discovering the absolute beautiful madness that is James Crumley’s pill-popping, weed-smoking, coke-snorting, ex-hippie, barfly private detective C.W. Sughrue. But, as I finish THE RIGHT MADNESS, I find myself smiling as well. Because discovering a new series that’s incredibly well-written, in a hard-boiled, hard drinking vernacular that fits your world-view is similar to starting a new friendship with someone who “gets you”.

To be honest, I picked this book up in a second-hand bookstore because I dig the cover. Again proving the point that judging a book by its cover is correct in the majority of cases.

Crumley’s prose is perfect. This is crime fiction at its absolute peak. Poetic, lyrical, gritty, hard boiled, stylized paragraphs pulling you along on one helluva joyride of a mystery.

“The last gig almost killed me partner,” I said. “I didn’t shit right or sleep through the night for months…”

CW Sughrue’s psychotherapist best buddy, Dr Will Mackindrick, begs him to come out of retirement and a drunken stupor to find out who broke into his office and stole his patients confidential files. Reluctantly, C. W takes on the case and is confronted with a grisly suicide his first day on the job. Murder, madness and mayhem ensues.

I realized this is the fourth in the C.W. Sughrue Series and have scrambled around on Amazon to get the rest of the series. The writing is that good.

Hell, I think this could possibly be my number one read of 2021.

I’ve also had Crumley’s One to Count Cadence on my TBR shelf for a while and will be jumping into that ASAP.

If you’re a fan of crime fiction or transgressive fiction this is a must read. ASAP. You won’t regret it.


Highly Recommended

El Narco The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels by Ioan Grillo — A Quick Review

Punk Noir Magazine

Far away from the glitz, glamour and likable protagonists of Netflix’ true crime series Narcos Mexico, journalist Ioan Grillo documents the history of the narcotics trade south of the boarder in extremely brutal detail.

Written in three parts HISTORY, ANATOMY and DESTINY, El Narco is a painstakingly researched biography of every facet of the Mexican Drug Cartels from birth to present day. Grillo leaves no witness unheard and no word unwritten and I found myself wondering if he had a death wish for reporting on the ugliness that has grown out of the narcotics business and scourged Mexico for decades. The kidnappings, the public executions, the beheadings, and most of all, the corruption that infects all areas of government.

This was a very disturbing but overall compelling read and I commend Grillo on his boots on the ground, in-depth approach to his journalistic research.

I believe this to be one of the best accounts written about the Mexican drug trade and how it’s tentacles reach into all aspects of society.

A must read for any student of true crime.

5/5 Stars
Highly Recommended