Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Case of Noir and Vortex

A Case of Noir
Paul D. Brazill
With Lite Editions.

Paul D. Brazill’s world here is one of peroxide Berliner blondes wearing PVC raincoats with blood red lipstick smeared across their lips.  Barbarous gangsters and shyster scam artists, drunken literary agents and pop producers shelter in cities ruined by war and Vodka, drenched by decadence, spent of hope, driven by desire. Here we meet protagonist Luke Case who is drifting on a stream of booze and loose women from Poland to Madrid to Granada to London and then Cambridge  where he finds himself at a well observed and illustrated literary crime festival - the majority of the guests seem to  be enthusing over something called Nordic Noir – whatever that was.
Pic from
Witty observations, a shady past, and a name that  conjures up images of coffee and nuts. Sly references to Molly Drake and The Last Words of Dutch Schultz keep things interesting plus of course the use of FADE IN FADE OUTS, camera directions... These are welcome  touches.
Bleak yet humorous landscapes fertilized with witty dialogue and sewn up with spare descriptions. Brazill doesn’t waste words, instead he plays with the images they provoke and he has more ways to describe a hangover than there are ways to create one - Shards of sunlight sliced through the slats in the blinds, like a kick in the eye from a stiletto heel.
My only reservation was later in the book backstory was explained perhaps for those who hadn’t been paying attention or maybe the stories were written separately and then later welded together.... Either way it read like a slight slip in confidence in an otherwise bold journey .    
It matters not really for this is a great slice of Noir from an assured talent. Brazill is to crime fiction what a Guinness and Champagne is to a cocktail party.
I read A Case of Noir twice in one sitting. Recommended dark Euro sleaze for lovers of the black stuff and on Amazon HERE Or visit the author HERE  


Matt Carrell.
With Linden Tree

A few pages in there was no turning back from Vortex. Guess there was a clue in the title. Carrell understands the need to raise stakes and build tension to keep the reader hooked in this accomplished novel which I'll loosely describe as a financial thriller set in a tropical locale.
We follow the building and eventual collapse of a branch of an investment bank in the Far East. Most novels should have an overall message and the message that settles after Vortex has fallen is something along the lines of - Trust No One.
This is a story of greed and deceit in the shady world of investment management. A world that the author obviously knows well. Well enough to detail an elaborate scam unfold from cradle to grave. People get hurt, careers ruined, relationships faked and drugs taken... The prize of one billion dollars sits before the winner proving if any proof be needed that the greed for hard currency is indeed at the root of all evil. Vortex is described as a whirlpool  - get too close and you get drawn in and thrown to the depths of the ocean. This a page turner and once you're in, you'd better have a few spare hours. 
If I were to be picky I might say that the book can give too much information at times. This is, however, a problem with crime novels when they are based on politics, law or in this instance, finance. Too much technical details needs to be explained to make the story legit....Slip the information into dialogue and it would read like the script for a made-for-TV-movie.
Carrell has made a brave choice to inform in narrative which he does without devaluing the story. What we have here is not only an entertaining yarn but also an informative look at the world of corporate investment slugs and a peep into how and why capitalism often fails all but the super-rich.       
Look forward to reading more from the author starting with the football book A Matter of Life and Death. You can find Vortex HERE and visit the author HERE