Tag Archives: Blood and Tacos

My top crime reads of 2012

What’s the end of a year without a best of post?

Recently, I was asked by UK site Crime Fiction Lover to list my top crime reads for 2012. They would only let me pick five, but obviously I’ve read a lot more books worthy of mention than that. Here’s the long list.

He Died with his Eyes Open, Derek Raymond

A police procedural like no other, it starts, like so many other crime novels, with the discovery of a body. The unnamed cop (the story’s narrator) who catches the case is a tough talking sergeant from the Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14, at the Factory police station. There’s no apparent motive and all the cop has to go on are a series of old cassette tapes in the dead man’s property that contain the deeply unhappy ramblings of a deeply unhappy man. Most police procedurals deal with crime from the point of view of the police. What’s unusual about this book is that the cop concerned is more like his victim.

Raymond was the pen name of English writer Robert William Arthur Cook, who eschewed his upper middle class family for a life of odd jobs, bohemian travel and frequent brushes with the law. Although he wrote for years, success eluded until with the publication of He Died with His Eyes Open in 1984, the first of five Factory books.… Read more

Pulp Friday: mercenary pulp

This week’s Pulp Friday is a selection of covers from the seething, sweaty, bloody, intrigue laden world of mercenary pulp.

I picked them celebrate the fact that I have a story in issue 2 of Blood and Tacos, which launches today, called ‘Bastard Mercenary: Operation Scorpion Sting’. Well, it’s not my story. It was written by a guy called Arch Saxon, one of the mainstays of the local pulp fiction scene in the seventies and eighties.

I discovered Saxon living in a down at heel rooming house in Brunswick, while researching a piece for this site. After he’d drunk his own body weight in beer and caged a hundred dollars off me, he agreed to let me submit a story of his featuring his little known creation Bruce ‘Boomer’ Kelly to Johnny Shaw’s Blood and Tacos series.

Kelly aka Bastard Mercenary is hard-bitten Bangkok-based Australian mercenary who’ll undertake any job so long as the beer is cold and the money right. Much like Saxon himself.

The rest as they say is history.

Blood and Tacos is an affectionate homage to the crazy, over the top world of late seventies, eighties pulp fiction. A time when titles such as Penetrator, The Liquidator, Death Merchant, Black Samurai and The Executioner rubbed muscular shoulders with each other on the pulp paperback rack of the local newsagency.… Read more

Pulp Friday: pulp from the seventies and eighties

“When he has to, Shannon can be as vicious as the worst Mafia thug who ever used a blow torch on a stoolie.”

We usually associate pulp fiction with the classic hard-boiled covers of the fifties and sixties. But pulp endured well into the seventies and beyond, before finally dying out and in the late eighties.

Today’s Pulp Friday is a selection of pulp covers from that latter period of pulp, the seventies and eighties.

I’m not sure why, but the pulp from this period seemed more extreme than it’s earlier iterations, if that’s possible, more turbo changed and over the top. The violence was more pronounced. The characters were PIs, mercenaries, spies and adventurers, like their predecessors, but they were even more starkly drawn, often to the point of being bizarre.

If you doubt me, check out the following.

Shannon #3: The Mindbenders features a private eye who lives “in a penthouse on Manhattan’s swank Upper East Side, but most of his work is done in the gutter”. He is the number one agent for a boutique government spy agency called Morituri, run by a priest referred to as Number One. Shannon is handsome, independently wealth and writes PI novels in his spare time. This book involves the suicide of a woman Shannon was close to which he ties to other deaths involving the UN.… Read more