It's that time of year again when we celebrate some old murder with chocolate and barbecues (weather permitting - and the forecast looks promising in the UK this Easter). But what if you're looking for a treat that doesn't involve chocolate? Perhaps because you already have your own chocolate factory or are mentally ill or ... (I can't think of any other reasons - sorry!)
Well, look no further. Calorie free Easter treats exist, and they're criminally good.*
Or full length novels, as I believe the adults call them.
Mindjacker - Sean Patrick Reardon
When wealthy Russian mobsters contract L.A psychologist Joel Fischer to develop a device to manipulate minds, the DreemWeever exceeds all expectations. Everything is on track for delivery and a big payday, until two adventurous stoners steal his Dodge Challenger. Unknown to them, the DreemWeever is in the trunk. Fischer and his crew have two days to get it back or he dies.
Broken Dreams - Nick Quantrill
Joe Geraghty, PI, is invited by a local businessman to investigate a member of his staff’s absenteeism. When she is found bleeding to death, Geraghty finds himself trapped in the middle of a police investigation and, as her tangled private life begins to unravel, the trail leads to local gangster-turned-respectable businessman, Frank Salford. Still haunted by the death of his wife in a house fire, it seems the people with the answers Geraghty wants are the police and Salford, both of whom want his co-operation for their own ends. With everything at stake, some would go to any length to get what they want, Geraghty included.
Novellas - long short stories or short novels. Either way, they're a satisfying read and you can get through 'em in one sitting. You may have to truss up the spouse and the kids and stuff them in the cupboard under the stairs, but that's a small price (for them) to pay (for you) to have such fun.
Bye Bye Baby - Allan Guthrie
When a seven-year-old boy disappears after school, the case is handed to Detective Frank Collins. He's been looking to lead a high-profile case for a while, and sets out determined to prove his worth. But the missing schoolboy is only a trigger for another crime. Someone is intent on exploiting the boy's grief-stricken mother. And they have plans for Frank Collins too.
Jailbait Justice: The Girl With the Big Iron on her Hip - Danny Hogan
Fifty years in the future, an apocalypse has sent civilization two hundred years into the past. The once proud state of Texas has been returned to its wild west origins. Enter a gunfighter, Jezebel Misery St. Etienne, young and vicious. From her home in Austin she is called upon to escort a girl called Alice across the badlands of East Texas, filled with savage mutants and evil outlaws, to Houston. Little does she know that Alice is seeking vengeance against the posse that decimated her family, and that by the end, it will be Jezebel herself who will be seeking that vengeance. Her and her old .44.
You can scoff the whole packet at once if you have time or feel so inclined, or you can nibble your way through them as and when you get the chance. Hell, at those prices, you can have a few packets on the go at once.
Nowhere to go - Iain Rowan
Eleven stories of murder, obsession, fear and - sometimes - redemption. Featuring stories published in Alfred Hitchcock's, Ellery Queen's, and more.
Dirty Old Town - Nigel Bird
Nine stories from prize-winning writer Nigel Bird. His brilliantly observed slices of life allow us to visit places we may not normally choose to enter and to walk a few miles in the shoes of others. Though his tales have darkness at their core, they are also full of a heart and spirit that one rarely finds in the world of noir.
Or there's always this one:
Gone Bad - Julie Morrigan
Gone Bad is this prize-winning UK writer’s first collection of short stories and gathers together 18 titles, mixing ‘flash fiction’ pieces with longer reads. Within the pages you can meet a murderous little boy, a psychotic Scouse backing singer, and a wannabe crime fiction writer with a penchant for hands-on research. This is strong stuff, no holds barred and no punches pulled. You wouldn’t want to be sharing your Easter barbecue with these people!
*I've gone for instant gratification here, so the links are all to e-books on Amazon UK. Most, if not all, of these are also available from Amazon.com, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and anywhere else you care to buy from. Pop in and have a browse. And if you don't have an e-reader but fancy giving it a go, there's a link in the Amazon Kindle store to free reading devices - or ask Google, because Amazon aren't the only providers of free e-reader software.
If, after all that, you still want a 'proper' book (and there's nowt the matter with that), you won't go far wrong with Richard Godwin's Apostle Rising or Ray Banks's California.
(Disclaimer: My apologies to all the cracking writers out there who didn't get a mention. Also, if there's nothing here that appeals to you, other books do exist - go find your fave and enjoy!)