Friday 29 October 2021

Last day to smash and grab.....

 The promotion on my bestselling mystery thriller, Down Among the Dead ends at midnight tonight - from tomorrow it will revert to its regular price. But for the rest of the day you can pick up the eBook at the insane, giving it away really, low low price.

What are you waiting for and please leave a review. Reviews matter.

1940 – France has fallen and Britain stands alone against the might of the German war machine; a fierce battle for supremacy of the air rages in the skies as the Battle of Britain hits full stride. For Chief Inspector Frank Parade, and his much depleted team there are many challenges to policing the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, for whilst miles away from the theatres of war the Home Front faces unique challenges of its own. The wartime demands thrown on the country mean that each officer in Parade’s team must do the work of two men – three even.

Soon the already overwhelming workload is increased when not one but two bodies turn up, and Parade finds himself having to investigate two murders as well as cope with everything else thrown his way.

 ‘Chief Inspector Frank Parade is going to become the new superstar cop.

An excellent book.’ *****

Dobbs is a shining star in the crime fiction universe *****


It all leaves a bitter aftertaste....

 Is there a subject the Tainted Archive won't touch?

Not really, and today I want to talk about the beers, particularly those marketed as craft ales that have become so popular over recent years, because I'm confused by something. You see, I'm primarily a whisky/whiskey drinker. Indeed I collect whisky's and consume maybe a little more than I should, but I do from time to time enjoy a good pint of beer/ real it what you may. 

I'll drink a lot of different beer styles, ales, porters, stouts (anything but that dreadful larger stuff).

Traditionally, my favourite kind of beer is a good bitter - so why then, does the word bitter seem to be vanishing from the vocabulary of beer makers?

A case in example is Fuller's London Pride (damn good beer) which was once marketed as London's Pride Best Bitter, but has been rebranded as Original Ale. And it's not the only one out there - Marston's  Pedigree Bitter is now Marston's Pedigree Amber Ale, Spitfire Premium Bitter is now Spitfire Amber Ale....the list goes on and on and on.

What's it all about?

Why has the word Bitter been wiped from history?

Picture the scene: It's 1979, you walk into a pub and amble to the bar, a ciggie dangling from the corners of your mouth, brylcreem holding your hair in quiffey splendour. You coolly put your money onto the polished bar, grab a handful of peanuts from the tray, and look the landlord in his smiling eyes and, 'Pint of best bitter please.'

As opposed to:

It's 2021, you walk into a pub, but not before covering thirty miles trying to find one that is still open, you stroll slowly to the bar, nodding greetings at the diverse bunch of characters seated around tables and head straight for the freshly sanitised bar. There are no peanuts and the landlord is not so much smiling, as looking kind of worried. You look him in the eyes, produce your debit card and, 'A glass of Amber Ale please, my good man.'

What's it all about?

It's all so confusing. As far as I can tell the beer itself hasn't changed but the name bitter seems to have been considered a NO NO. Likely some focus group somewhere are responsible for this, but what I want to know is...what the fuck! Why?

Last night I had a glass of Adams Southwold Bitter - one of the few brews, still using the name bitter. Of course, I'd like to say it tasted all the better for the traditional name, but then that would be silly... Wouldn't it?

Anyway, it was a nice drink - smooth, creamy and not at all bitter, but then bitter beer never really tasted bitter in the first place. 

What's in a name, I hear you ask. Does it really matter?

I guess not, but it's a bit strange why beer which has traditionally been called bitter now goes by so many different names - amber ale, golden ale, red ale...anything but bitter.

Historically pale ale and bitter have been the same thing - brewers used the term pale ale for their beer, but the consumer (those brylcreem wearing boozers) called them bitters.

Or as the beer historians put it -  Generally in the 19th century brewers called the drink in the brewery “pale ale”, and that’s the name they put on their bottle labels, but in the pub drinkers called this new drink “bitter”, to differentiate it from the older, sweeter, but still (then) pale mild ales.

I guess that over time the consumer use of the word bitter rubbed off on the brewers who then started marketing their pale ale as bitter -  According to the Wiki - The term "bitter" has been used in England to describe pale ale since the early 19th century. Although brewers used the term "pale ale", before the introduction of pump clips, customers in public houses would ask for "bitter" to differentiate it from mild ale; by the end of the 19th century, brewers had begun to use the term as well.

So it seems that things are changing again and the word bitter is falling out of style, and does it matter. Maybe not in the grand scheme of things, but I still think of beer as bitter, and I certainly don't think it should be a dirty word.

'Pint of your best bitter please, my good man.

Quick fact - the first ever pint I consumed in a public house was drunk in the old Ely Pub in Thomastown. These days the once grand old pub is a convenience store.

The deep brown pint was bought for me by my uncle Jeb (I think I was likely under age) and the drink was.....Welsh Bitter.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Reader's Anonymous

 Do your palms sweat at the thought of a new Stephen King hitting the shelves? Do you neglect your friends in order to curl up between the pages? Do you have to charge your Kindle more than twice a month?  Are there books in every room of your house?

 If you answered yes to any of the questions above then you may be addicted to reading.

This addiction is widespread and the side effects are a stronger vocabulary, an imaginative mind and a better understanding of what makes things tick.

Mini Review: The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction


What's not to like about the Rough Guide series of books designed to give an introduction to a subject? I've already got several of these books in my collection - Blues, Elvis, Western Movies, Poker, The Beatles, Wine. And as soon as I saw this new volume, edited by Crimetime boss Barry Forshaw I wasn't long getting to the checkout.

The books starts with an introduction by crime master, Ian Rankin and then after a brief preface we're quickly into the meat of the volume. It's split into sections covering classics, the Golden Age, PI's, Hard-boiled, Cops, Amateurs and others making this an exhaustive study of the world's most successful literary genre and its'  sub-genres.

There are numerous lists of books to read in the various sub-genres and the foreign language crime list was especially welcome with its pointers towards crime classics from non-English speaking countries which have been translated into English.

This book is great for crime buffs and newcomers alike and each section features potted review of must read books in that particular sub-genre. For instance in the hard-boiled section the book heavily recommends The Asphalt Jungle by W R Burnett,The Postman always Rings twice by James Cain, Chandler's The Big Sleep, No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hardley Chase, Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammet, Kiss Me Deadly by the late great Mickey Spillane and several pulp classics I'd never heard of but will be checking out.

An excellent referance work.

Brian Cox is Inspector John Rebus

 Ian Rankin's detective, John Rebus was brought to life for the TV series by two actors - firstly, John Hannah took on the role and then Ken Stott walked the mean Scottish streets - well now you can add a third thespian to the list with Brian Cox taking on the role for what is billed as a one off playlet - Lockdown Blues.

The full playlet is embedded below:

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Licence renewed

 Fans bemoaning the changes made to the James Bond character in the new movie can relax with the all new edition of John Gardner's first James Bond novel available now - print and digital

All New edition of a Bond classic.

The Men with the forgotten Pens: Walter Tyrer


Walter Tyrer 1956

My previous post on Walter Tyrer and the Sexton Blake novel resulted in me getting an email from keith Chapman - it's always nice to hear from Keith, the man behind Chap O'Keefe, author of so many great westerns. 

Now as well as penning all those great westerns, Keith can claim a lifetime working in the publishing industry, and can always be relied upon  to supply interesting anecdotes.

Keith tells me that Walter Tyrer was not in fact a pen name, but rather a prolific English writer who wrote under not only his own name but many others.

Here's what Keith had to say:

"Walter Tyrer" (1900-1978)  was the man's real name, although I do know he wrote under others, such as "J. T. Lang". He used this one when working for Micron/G. M. Smith, probably to thwart any possible complications should word leak back to Fleetway who were his main employers.  While I was editing at Micron, he contributed scripts for their 64-page romance and western comic-book "libraries" (clones of various Fleetway titles and forerunners to DCT's Commando) and short stories for Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine. He also offered to do rewrites of his Sexton Blake novels for the latter, but I rejected that as I wanted the mag to be "all new" except for the Edgar Wallace reprints."

Keith went onto to direct to me an article at the Sexton Blake blog HERE.

It turns out that Tyrer passed away in 1978, and had been born in Liverpool in 1900 - during the second world war he served as an ARP warden, and during the previous war had served with the Royal Navy. A prolific writer, he wrote more than 30 novels for the Sexton Blake Library alone.

Keith also informed me that Tyrer had contributed scenarios for TV's long running soap, Coronation Street.

Biographical information on Tyrer is slight: Born in 1900, he sold his first story  in 1921 and by 1947 had sold at least 20,000,000 words of juvenile fiction. He died in 1978, aged 78.

You can find a vintage Tyrer story at the Beat to a Pulp webzine HERE

Sexton Blake on the HP trail


Sexton Blake and the secondhand books incident

I picked up this old pulp, one of the Sexton Blake Library, largely because the title amused me. I found the book in Cardiff's excellent Troutmark Books which is situated in the Castle Arcade. The character of Sexton Blake of course came about in 1893 in the Halfpenny Marvel paper. The character owed much to Sherlock Holmes - in fact he's  been called the poor man's Sherlock Holmes - and was often drawn to resemble Doyle's most famous creation.

This particular book was published in 1952 and written by Walter Tyrer, a man who wrote a fair number of Sexton Blake adventures. I think the name is likely a pen name but I cant find anything out about the writer on the internet other than a list of titles he penned.

There's a rather good blog HERE that reviews many of the Sexton Blake adventures but the blog doesn't seem to be updated on a regular basis - pity.

Together with the Sexton Blake book I also picked up a bunch of old paperbacks as well as several issues of Warlord Comic. I do love browsing in secondhand books shops and Cardiff's Troutmark Books is an excellent store. I'd recommend a visit to anyone who finds themselves in Cardiff. You'll find it in the Castle Arcade which is across the road from Cardiff Castle.

Monday 25 October 2021

The Bond Conundrum


Starting with Dr No in 1962 and continuing until Die Another Day in 2002, the James Bond film series followed a loosely connected narrative that spawned twenty financially and mostly critically successful films, but then in 2006 the franchise rebooted itself with Casino Royale - it was from this point on that the James Bond films became a separate entity to what went before. And whilst Casino Royale is a good well made and well acted movie it is not, at least in the traditional sense, a James Bond movie.

And that would be fine if the producers stuck to that, but they didn't and Skyfall and perhaps Spectre very much want to be James Bond movies, in the traditional sense that is, whilst the latest Bond, No Time to Die is more soap opera with blistering action scenes than James Bond movie. It seems that the current producers want to have their cake and eat it. They want their movies to be James Bond movies and yet not be James Bond movies. It's a conundrum, indeed.

At the end of Die Another Day we were told that James Bond would return...we're still waiting.

Let's look at the recipe for Bond, the ingredients created way back when Ian Lancaster Fleming relaxed in Goldeneye for six weeks to write that first novel, Casino Royale: 

James Bond, the name considered bland and boring and pilfered from a bird book that Fleming owned.

Two parts womaniser.

Mix with one part cold, calculated, aloofness.

Add a lot of over the top villains with world domination schemes.

Toss in fast cars, good clothes and expensive cigarettes.

Stir in a good measure of sexism and misogyny.

Add a touch of toxic masculinity.

Bake solidly.

That recipe served the films well right up until Die Another Day. No matter what fashions came and went the Bond films remained essentially the same. 

Though that recipe has been amended by the current producers. They have come up with a low fat, gluten free version to carry the series forward, and whilst that may seem sensible in order to keep the franchise relevant it's resulted in all the flavours being removed. It's given us a very bland tasting Bond. They can have their cake and eat it. I don't want any of it.

The truth is that the Craig movies have been generic action films featuring James Bond in name only, with a few winks and nods to past glories - again they want their cake and eat it.

However, I will say that No Time to Die has been a fitting end to Craig's era. Since the Eon team have spent the past four movies trying to kill everything James Bond and this time they actually did kill Bond. Well, they have him commit suicide by allowing a pile of missiles to blow him to pieces.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Is self digital publishing dead?

 One of the most well known platforms for digital publishing is Amazon's Kindle digital publishing - anyone can publish a book here -It simply means authors can sell their digital version works on For the writers who already have a dedicated following, it would be a good idea to utilize the audience source to publish and sell books. In this case, self-publishing may present long-term challenges to book publishers, as they are now losing those potential and probably profitable works.

The problem with this is that it is often not the best writers who are the most successful here, but rather the best at handling marketing. I've lost count of the amount of times I've read a massive selling author, only to discover that the books are cliched, badly written and hardly engaging. Still these books seem to attract scores of reviews and sell like crazy. Go figure!

That's not to say there are not some great writers out there who have mastered selling through Kindle - there are many many of them. but the fact remains that it is getting increasingly difficult to get noticed in the crowded digital marketplace. There are some excellent books out there that have yet to achieve the sales they deserve.

Writers going down the digital publishing route need to beware.

  • A lot of small presses will say “we want to publish your book” but actually make you pay for some of the services or split the costs.
  • A lot of small presses have good intentions but actually know nothing about book design or book marketing, which means you’re giving them the lion’s share of profits but they can’t help you sell the book.
  • Nobody is going to give up their own time and money to support your dreams, nor should they. (But there are “book coaches” who will take thousands of dollars and help along the path… they may be helpful for finishing a great book, but you really need to hire the best editor, best cover designer, etc rather than leave it up to one “expert”).

Though with the right approach self publishing can work -  you should do everything you can to do it well. Set a goal of 5,000 copies, and treat your writing and publishing like a business.

That means, stop asking for help and support. Stop desperate, largely useless marketing tactics like spamming Facebook or blasting Twitter. It would be nice if all your Facebook friends bought a copy of your book, but believe me they wont.

To sell 5,000 copies, you need to reach about 50,000 readers in your target genre or topic, get their attention with amazing content, and then convince them they need to read your book. You can do this with:


Blurbs and testimonials

An amazing cover design

A great book description.


Friday 22 October 2021

Thursday Murder Club Book Review Richard Osman

 This is one of those books where the characterisation is far more important than the plot  - not that the plot itself is not well enough done, but it is the characters that carry the reader forward. The Book really is a joy to read - I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end.

The four main characters are quite a varied bunch - they are all elderly and live in a retirement home where they pass the time with the Thursday Murder Club. The spend their time looking over cold cases in the hope that they can spot something the police failed to see - it hasn't happened yet though. No matter since there's plenty of lemon drizzle cake and tea to go round.

The four members of the murder club are made up of ( all retired), a spy chief, a nurse, a psychiatrist and a militant socialist.

Soon there is a murder in the area when local businessman Tony Curran is bludgeoned to death in his kitchen and the fantastic four and now on the case - 'Isn't it delightful. A fresh murder for us to look into.'

There are some beautiful character moments throughout the book, and a lot of poignant scenes that deal with the reality of growing old.

This truly is a fantastic book.

Tuesday 19 October 2021


 The Amazon bestseller - twice topping the crime charts!

The start of a world war two set crime/mystery series featuring the incredible, Chief Inspector Frank Parade.

Everything a mystery lover could want.

The early days of WWII, and murder has definitely not taken a holiday. Chief Inspector Frank Parade has first one and then another murder on his hands, and it's up to him and his depleted force to solve them both. Which he does, of course. As said in his own words, "Sooner or later the long arm of the law will catch up with you." *****

Available in all formats with the Amazon eBook at an incredible low price for a limited period only. CLICK HERE...IT'S A STEAL.



The Best ways to download and read comic books online

 There are a lot of comic book fans among Archive readers, so I thought it would be nice to point readers in the direction - what direction is that, you ask! 

Well follow me, down that rabbit hole.

When you download a comic online you'll need software that can open the files - formats like CBR, PDF or even Mobi are quite common and there are many comic book readers apps/programs online for free. So just take a browse with the search term: Comic Book Reader and you'll find a suitable program. Personally I swear by cDisplay

 Comixology  is an Amazon owned site and contains stuff by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and a lot of independent houses. There are also free comics on the website so it is well worth a visit.

DriveThruComics   is a great website that contains a lot of older comics as well as the new stuff.

GetComics is awesome, even if the website is a bit clunky but best of all everything here is Free to download and you can download entire runs of issues in one click. Bodacious, dude!

Internet Archive for nostalgia fans then this is the website to visit. It's comics and graphic novel section is filled to the brim with some great stuff.

British Comics is my website of choice, mainly because the archives are full to bursting with classic British comics, all of them free to download. This website is a comic historians wet dream.

Sunday 17 October 2021

The Rise of the independent Publisher: Publicity


Available now
Mr. Dobbs has created a complex character who is both diligent and compassionate. This is a well written story. a tantalizing mystery and a excellent description of the difficulty of policing in war time.   *****

I'm what you call an hybrid author - I've been published traditionally, and continue to be so but for the Frank Parade wartime mysteries I decided to go down the self publishing route - well sort of. 

I've set up my own publishing house for these books - Red Valley Publishing. The books are set in my home village of Gilfach Goch and the name translates as little red nook or red valley and so the name Red Valley Publishing is apt.

The book, Down Among the Dead is the first in a series to feature the police detective Frank Parade and the second, provisionally titled Listen to the Wind should see print during the first quarter of 2022.

I believe Down Among the Dead is a good book and the many reviews seem to agree with this assessment.

The author made me feel like I was actually stood at the side of Chief Inspector Frank Parade watching him work. So if you like murder mysteries I highly recommend you give this book a go *****

But  writing a good book, while paramount, is only half the battle. These days the author, particularly if going down the route of independent publishing must publicise their work. There are ways to do this but be warned it takes time, and of course the author is walking a fine line between being a nuisance and offering the reader something they actually want.

  1. Create a killer landing page. ...
  2. Promote it within your website. ...
  3. Use supporting content formats. ...
  4. Go all-out on social media. ...
  5. Explore other content sharing platforms. ...
  6. Use free tools to make your eBook go viral. ...
  7. Try guest blogging on authority sites. ...
  8. Invest time in traditional email outreach.

Skilful marketing is something that all authors must learn to master if they want their books to stand out amongst the many many that are available, particularly digitally, and often it is not the best authors who manage to score a hit with publicity. I've lost count of all the badly written books I've seen selling in high numbers simply because the author has managed to get the hang of digital marketing. Similarly there are some great even excellent books out there that don't get the sales they deserve because - and here's the thing, being a brilliant writer doesn't mean you will be brilliant at marketing your work.

So what's the answer?

 I'm blown if I know!

I'm simply stumbling about in the dark but I'm learning as I go along.

The steps highlighted above are a must for any writer to try, but maybe the best advice I can give is to target your audience and reach out to them. Use systems like Mail Chimp to build up a mailing list, and find blogs that cover the genre you work in. Become active there, reach out and see if you can get your book reviewed  or maybe you can write a guest post yourself.

Reviews are the lifeblood of the small independent publisher.

Coming 2022
Don't give up - the book pictured above, Down Among the Dead was published in 2018 and yet in the last month it's sold more copies than it managed in the last few years. This is good for me since the second book in the series is nearing completion and should see print around March of 2022. I've been plugging this book like crazy recently because I'm proud of it; believe it is a damn good thriller and will satisfy crime/mystery/thriller readers. If I didn't believe that then I wouldn't bother.

These days it is not just enough to write a brilliant unputdownable book - you'd got to find the market for that book, build your brand and hopefully then you can watch sales rack up.

REMEMBER First and foremost though you've got to write a bloody good book, because good marketing or not poor work will eventually lose readers. It's all about hard work and the unpleasant fact is that after all the hard work of writing and perfecting your book, the real hard work begins.

If you're reading this then the chances are that you are a writer yourself, and it would be nice to think that all writers leave reviews, good or bad, of the books they read. I always do. It helps get books noticed . So each time you buy a book then please leave a Amazon, Goodreads or blog review. It's the least we can do. After all, we'd like others to review our work.

Down Among the Dead is currently available in print, audio and eBook. Amazon currently have the eBook for a limited time at 99p.

Listen to the Wind will be published in 2022.

Saturday 16 October 2021

Re-evaluating Bond - Die Another Day Movie Review


Die Another Day is a tale of two halves, the first half is mostly good, the second is nearly always awful. This is how Pierce Brosnan's Bond goes out, which is a damn shame. Rotten Tomatoes Review

Die Another Day: impossibly bad and utterly unmissable – The Guardian

Die Another Day was Pierce Brosnan's final Bond film and today it remains one of the most wildly panned movies in the history of the franchise. Some even claim it is the worse Bond movie of them all.

 I'm not sure why, since it is without a doubt better than Quantum of Solace, Spectre and maybe even Moonraker. A lot is made of the stupid invisible car and yes it is silly, but then is it truly any more outlandish than the submarine car in The Spy who Loved Me? 

Even my favourite Bond of them all, the late great Roger Moore took a swipe at the invisible car -  “I thought it just went too far – and that’s from me, the first Bond in space!”

So let's put the invisible car aside - yes the moviemakers may have gone too far but I would hate to think that these excesses were responsible for the boring Bond movies that would follow with Daniel Craig's era in the role.

Another weak spot in Die Another Day is the ropey CGI, which just doesn't look real but then it remains preferable to the action scenes in A View to a Kill where the stunt double for Roger Moore can clearly be seen.

I watched Die Another Day again in preparation for this article, and to be honest I really don't think the film is as bad as its reputation suggests, and maybe I'm a strange Bond fan but I would take it over all of Craig's Bonds with the exception of Skyfall. And there is really no logical argument to suggest that it is a worse entry in the canon when Quantum of Solace clearly deserves that dubious accolade.  I would also argue that the Craig films making Blofeld Bond's long lost brother is far more outlandish than anything Die Another Day does. In fact that little twist with Blofeld is a mockery of the franchise itself.

So why all the hate? The first section of the movie is superb, with Bond captured and tortured in Korea. He is held there for fourteen months and looks like one of Charles Manson's followers when he finally emerges. A quick shave and a visit to the tailor sorts this out and Brosnan is immediately the 007 of old again. This may be a bit jarring and perhaps the movie should have explored the aftermath of Bond's imprisonment and torture, but then this is James Bond - he is invincible after all. Maybe they should have remembered that with the travesty of an ending in No Time to Die when the producers sacrificed Bond on the Woke alter.

What follows are perfectly normal Bond action scenes - all of them over the top and many of them breath-taking. Brosnan is again superb in the role. Looking far more like James Bond than Craig ever could. There is also the fact that at the time Die Another Day was the most successful Bond movie of them all, but then that means nothing given that Craig's movies have been even more successful.


I really don't think Die Another Day deserves the hate it gets, and it remains perfectly watchable today. In fact it's aged rather well. Yes, it maybe the weakest of the four Bond movies that Brosnan made but it is far from the weakest entry in the series. It's a solid enough movie - blunt instrument or not the celluloid character of Bond has developed over decades of great movies, and this movie honours that character and that legacy. Somewhere down the line the movie Bond and the literary Bond became very different characters, but at the same time aspects of Fleming's original creation remained the same as they were ported across to the big screen.

I'm a lifelong fan of the Bond franchise - I've read Fleming's canon, some of them several times, and I've also read everything done by other authors who have built on the Bond story. 

I've seen every Bond on the big screen since Moonraker - I've been a Bond nut for many years.

 In fact, I've seen every Bond movie more than once and I love aspects of each and every cinematic era, which is probably why I don't really like the latest movies in the series. I know that Casino Royale is a very good thriller but it just doesn't seem nor feel like a Bond movie to me, and so to my mind Die Another Day is preferable since it is very much a Bond movie and depicts the character that has developed from all the other Bonds who went before. No matter how well scripted, acted and put together a Bond movie is if you've got the central character of Bond wrong then it's not really a Bond movie in the first place.

The best thing about this movie, the one thing that raises it above the movies that have followed is that Pierce Brosnan is playing James Bond and not some Bourne clone - it is Bond that we pay our money to see, and we know that this comes with a certain amount of baggage - So what, if there is an invisible car! It's only a small part of the movie and although it seemed stupid on first viewing it does improve with subsequent viewings. So what if the CGI is a bit ropey! It was of it's time and perhaps a little too ambitious given what could be actually achieved at the time.

I like Die Another Day.

James Bond will return, the movie promised as the final credits rolled and you know, when you really think about it, we're still waiting.

Friday 15 October 2021

Limited time.....

 For a  limited time only

Amazon have the eBook 

for only 99p.

Also available in hardcover,

paperback and audiobook.

940 – France has fallen and Britain stands alone against the might of the German war machine; a fierce battle for supremacy of the air rages in the skies as the Battle of Britain hits full stride. For Chief Inspector Frank Parade, and his much depleted team there are many challenges to policing the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, for whilst miles away from the theatres of war the Home Front faces unique challenges of its own. The wartime demands thrown on the country mean that each officer in Parade’s team must do the work of two men – three even.Soon the already overwhelming workload is increased when not one but two bodies turn up, and Parade finds himself having to investigate two murders as well as cope with everything else thrown his way. 

‘Chief Inspector Frank Parade is going to become the new superstar cop. An excellent book.’ *****

Podcast of the Week

 I listen to a lot of podcasts and there are billions, willions and sqillions out there - some are excellent, many are great and a lot are not so good. 

Whatever your interest you will, believe me, find a podcast that covers it. 

Where do you start, though?

Good question.

Which is why, every week here on the Archive I will point you to a podcast (myriad subjects will be covered) that I think you may enjoy.

And so this week I direct you to the excellent, Partners in Crime podcast

Hosted by bestselling crime authors, Adam Croft and Robert Daws the show is set out in a kind of magazine format. Think The Breakfast Show with knives! The show features genre news, interviews with well known authors and general chit chat. The latter is often hilarious.

The two hosts have a great chemistry and as well as the usual audio feeds there are several video episodes available on You Tube.

You can get the show from most of the podcast providers out there, and you can visit the Partners in Crime website by clicking HERE

Adam Croft is a highly successful English writer of crime/mystery fiction and a advocate of independent publishing.                      

Robert Daws is a stage, television and film actor as well as a writer of a series of successful crime thrillers.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Book Reviews: The Hawks of Delamere by Edward Marston

 I've been reading a lot of historical fiction over recent months, but this is the first time that I've dipped into Edward Marston's works - the book is set in the historical mystery subgenre and is set in the 11th Century. 

This is actually the seventh book in the series set around the compilation of the Domesday Book, and featuring Ralph Delchard and Grevase Bret who have been tasked by William the Conqueror to look into serious irregularities that arise while engaging in the great survey.

Those who know their history know that the Doomsday Book, or to use it's Middle English spelling, The Domesday Book was the result of agents being tasked to survey every shire in England and a goodly part of Wales in order to secure taxes and discover the strength of power following the Norman conquest.

This being a crime novel rather than a straight historical book means that the reader gets a lot of the colour of the period, whilst the main thrust of the story is the mystery that unfolds with the historical landscape very much setting the parameters within which the fiction works.

The book opens with boastful Earl of Chester ( a vile tub of lard of a character) out with an hunting party when his beloved Hawk is shot out of the sky in Delamere Forest. Two poachers, a father and son are found nearby and with no evidence they are accused of killing the bird and cruelly lynched. Not long afterwards, Ralph Delchard and Gervase Bret arrive in Cheshire in order to carry out work related to Domesday. It is not long before another man is killed by an arrow and it becomes evident that the earl may have carried out his cruel justice in the woods on the wrong men.

The medieval slueths' are soon up to all manner of intrigue as they try and stop and killer and avert an all out war.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and followed the story easily without having read any of the other books in the series that preceded it, so I guess that each of the novels can be picked up and read in any order.

I'll certainly be reading more of this series and anyone who enjoys mystery with history will no doubt find a lot to like here.

Available both digitally and in print


Tuesday 12 October 2021

Available now

 There are few other crime writers in the same league *****

Print, digital and audiobook

Monday 11 October 2021

The Red Beret digital version available....

 Digital copies of my latest Commando title, The Red Beret can be picked up HERE

Commando #5469: The Red Beret

The tattered red beret sat upon Major John Bell's head. He and his crack team of paratroopers were on a suicide mission to destroy a bridge to clear the way for D-Day operations. They all knew the risks, they all knew that they might not come back -- but they were brave and their determination was like no other! So why did Bell wear a tattered red beret when his men donned their helmets? As a symbol of survival and luck he hoped would take them to victory!

Down Among the Dead FREE CHAPTER


Down Among the Dead

Available now


1940 – France has fallen and Britain stands alone against the might of the German war machine; a fierce battle for supremacy of the air rages in the skies as the Battle of Britain hits full stride. For Chief Inspector Frank Parade, and his much depleted team there are many challenges to policing the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, for whilst miles away from the theatres of war the Home Front faces unique challenges of its own. The wartime demands thrown on the country mean that each officer in Parade’s team must do the work of two men – three even.Soon the already overwhelming workload is increased when not one but two bodies turn up, and Parade finds himself having to investigate two murders as well as cope with everything else thrown his way. ‘Chief Inspector Frank Parade is going to become the new superstar cop. An excellent book.’ *****

The book is a very good tale of crime and murder, and also gives an insight into the conditions people in rural Wales lived in during the war years. The narration is great and very easy to listen to.

I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to hearing more from this author.
Review of the Audible edition *****

Down Among The Dead

The following extract is taken from Chapter Two of Down Among The Dead (C) Gary Dobbs

‘You say they’ve found a body in a graveyard?’ Detective Chief Inspector Francis Charles Parade frowned. ‘Not an unlikely place to find one.’

            Detective Sergeant Hugh Llewellyn looked at his superior, unsure of how to answer.  The inspector had only been stationed in the village a few weeks, transferred from the town of Pontypridd, and Llewellyn had yet to get used to his ways.

            ‘A little levity,’ Parade said, noticing the look on the sergeant’s face. He grabbed his heavy coat from the hanger besides the door and slipped into it. It was nearing the middle of a blazing hot July but the mornings still held a chill and the inspector couldn’t tolerate the cold. It never used to bother him that much but these days he felt it bone deep. A sign of getting old, he supposed.

            ‘Well come on then,’ he said. ‘Let’s go investigate. It is after all what we get paid for.’         

‘Sir,’ Llewellyn said and followed behind the inspector. There was a police car waiting for them outside the station, a young constable at the wheel. Parade and the sergeant jumped into the back of the vehicle and the sergeant brought the inspector up to date.

The dead man was thought to be somewhere in his early fifties and by all accounts, had been discovered, face caved in, amongst the ruins of Llanbad Church.

‘Dan Elkins found the body while out looking for stray sheep,’ Llewellyn said, consulting his notebook. It was he who had taken the telephone call from the frantic farmer. He had immediately sent for the police doctor and ordered two constables to secure the scene before waking the inspector. ‘Reckons it must have been about two in the morning when he stumbled across the body.’

‘And he telephoned at what time?’

‘Just after four,’ Llewellyn replied.

‘Why the delay?’

‘Well he went back to his own place,’ Llewellyn had already asked Elkins the same question. ‘He said he didn’t think anyone would be in the office of the nearby colliery, and he knew it would be pointless trying to wake Tom Coggins at the Griffin Inn, which was only a mile or so away. Elkins said he was in shock at the time, not thinking clearly. Finding the body gave him quite a nasty turn.’

‘I imagine it would, ‘Parade nodded. ‘It took him some time to get home?’

Again Llewellyn consulted the notebook before speaking. ‘A good hour and a half. There was a thick fog down and he said he stumbled over the mountains, getting lost in the process. He then took a drink, homebrewed ale -he was very specific on that. He said he then collected his thoughts and made his way into the village to find a telephone. They don’t have one at the farmhouse, you see.’

‘Not uncommon,’ Parade said. ‘Not to have a telephone. Even in this day and age.’ 

‘ I spoke to Elkins on the telephone myself since I’d pulled night duty at the station,’ Llewellyn continued. ‘It was evident that he was still very much shocked by his discovery.’

Parade nodded.

‘And where is this Elkins now?’ he asked.

‘I believe he’s at home,’ Llewellyn replied. ‘Taken to his bed. ’

‘Well we’ll likely be getting him out of there before too long,’ Parade said. ‘If he wanted to sleep he shouldn’t go around turning up dead bodies.’

 The police vehicle pulled into the yard of the Hendreforgan Colliery. Constable Watkins who directed them to park the car besides the colliery office, which was situated directly to the left, met them at the gates. Ahead of them stood the imposing structure of the wheel, which would lower the workforce into the bowels of the earth where they would spend their shifts. Smoke bellowed from the huge chimneys, which towered towards the sky, choking the early morning light while the sound of straining metal echoed from the winding house.

‘Got a bit of a climb, sir,’ the constable said as Parade and Llewellyn stepped from the vehicle. ‘The doctor’s gone up a few minutes ago.’

‘Then lead the way, Constable.’ Parade said. ‘Nothing like a brisk early morning stroll.’

Llewellyn smiled weakly, getting used to his superior’s odd manner.

‘We’ve got a horse and cart waiting, sir,’ the constable said. ‘And that’ll take you some of the way but you’ll have to use shanks’ mare for the last part of the journey. No tracks up to the old church, sir. Not anymore.’

‘This is the easiest way to the site,’ Llewellyn said. ‘Elkins came upon it over the mountains. His farm is a mile or so yonder in the other direction.’

Parade nodded and climbed up into the cart, which was driven by a local man, whom Parade knew by sight but not by name. Llewellyn climbed up besides the inspector and the cart pulled off.

‘I ordered a couple of constables to secure the scene,’ Llewellyn explained. ‘And the police photographer’s up there but the crime scene should still be fresh.’

‘Good,’ Parade replied and thumbed Rubicon tobacco into the bowl of the pipe he had pulled from his coat. ‘I do so like a fresh murder scene. We are assuming this was murder?’

‘Elkins said the head had been bashed in, so yes.’

Parade nodded, looking ahead as the trail they were upon steepened. It would be a bugger to have to walk up here.

‘By all accounts the man may have been dead sometime,’ Llewellyn said, reading from his notebook.

‘You’ve not seen the body yet, though?’

‘No, I came directly to the station house,’ Llewellyn answered. ‘But Elkins gave quite a colourful description. Said the thing was, “bloody crawling with maggots and had no eyes.” ’

‘Sounds delightful. Just the sort of thing to see before breakfast.’ Parade stuck the pipe into his mouth and brought a match to it. Within seconds he had smoke seeping from the corners of his mouth.


The paperback edition retails for £9.32, the audiobook for £16.00 but the electronic eBook is currently available for only 99p with comparable prices in other markets worldwide. 

Clearly the eBook allows you to get the book for a steal, however the new paperback edition is handsome indeed and it's not overly expensive considering the quality of the product you get. There is a way to get the audiobook version, read by the incredibly talented Aubrey Parsons, for free. All you have to do is take out a no risk free trial with Audible and select the book as your first free audio title. This option offers more than five hours entertainment. Imagine five plus hours in the velvet voiced company of Aubrey Parsons.

I recently listened to the audiobook again myself, a chapter or two a day during my daily commute, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator's voice is spot on and he brings out the nuances of each character in his performance. Listen to a sample HERE

It's 1940 - France has fallen, and Britain stands alone against the might of the German war machine; a fierce battle for supremacy of the air rages in the skies as the Battle of Britain hits full stride.

The eBook

For Chief Inspector Frank Parade and his much-depleted team, there are many challenges to policing the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, for while miles away from the theatres of war, the home front faces unique challenges of its own. The wartime demands thrown on the country mean that each officer in Parade’s team must do the work of two men - three even.

Soon, the already overwhelming workload is increased when not one, but two bodies turn up, and Parade finds himself having to investigate two murders as well as cope with everything else thrown his way.

The book, billed as a Chief Inspector Frank Parade wartime mystery, is just that - the start of a crime series set on the home front during the second world war. Think of Edward Marston's Home Front Detective books or TV's Foyle's War for an idea of what to expect. Though I do think Parade is sufficiently different and should be able to find his own place with the affections of readers everywhere.

I gave this book five stars because it was a murder mystery that was quite similar in style to Agatha Christie with a bit of Sherlock mixed in. The author made me feel like I was actually stood at the side of Chief Inspector Frank Parade watching him work. So if you like murder mysteries I highly recommend you give this book a go. *****


There is now a special large print hardcover version in the works for the public library trade, and as soon as I know the date of publication I will let you, the readers of this blog, know.

Well done police procedural. Chief Inspector Parade is a good cop with a wry humor. Faced with a double murder and little help he must find a muderer. *****

Mr. Dobbs has created a complex character who is both dilligent and compassionate. This is a well written story. a tantalizing mystery and a excellent description of the difficulty of policing in war time. The dectecive sergeant and the young teacher who captures his interest make up the supporting cast--who one hopes to see in future stories.  *****

In the meantime why not check out Down Among the Dead and meet Frank Parade and his team, follow them as they work in the Welsh home front village of Gilfach Goch meeting the demands thrown at them, while the war rages in the skies above them.

Chief Inspector Frank Parade is going to be the next superstar cop *****

 Author's Note from all editions of the book:

The location in which this novel is set is factual – I was brought up in the small Welsh mining village of Gilfach Goch, and still live in the general area. And although I have taken some liberties with the geography of the area, in the interests of telling a story, I have tried to capture its true feel and colour. I hope that readers of this work will find that the village is almost a character in itself. ©2017 Gary Dobbs (P)2019 Gary Dobbs


 The UK's new tax on vaping which will come into force in 2026 is not only immoral but patently insane, and will hit those reformed smok...