‘Pipeliner’ by Shawn Hartje


Like most teenage lads, seventeen-year-old Jason wants to join a rock band and get a girlfriend. But the path to love and musical stardom is paved with a ton of other stuff that gets in the way – like dealing with parents, teachers and everything else that young people are faced with. When he joins a team of gas-pipe layers, our hero believes he’s taking a step in the right direction…

This is a coming of age story about a young guy, his aspirations to fame and his experiments in love, as well as the usual issues and challenges that face most of us at that age. Though it took a little while to get going, the book is an easy read, and while I thought the author spent a bit too much time describing every single person we encounter, it’s a generally enjoyable tale peppered with colourful characters. Having said that, comparing the book to thousands of similar stories, there didn’t seem to be anything new or different about it, and I was left wondering if I’d missed something. No doubt it’ll ring a few bells with folk who can still recall their teenage years, but in my case, it was a pleasant read that should have been better.

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‘Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century’ by Peter Graham

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century

In 1954 two teenage friends, Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, took a walk in a New Zealand park with Pauline’s mother, Honora. Half an hour later, the mother lay dead. The girls claimed there had been a terrible accident, but the crime scene and subsequent investigation revealed a much darker truth – the girls had brutally murdered her.

Known as one of New Zealand’s worst killings, the Parker/Hulme case made headlines around the world and set off an interest in the murder that is as strong today as it was then. Thousands of articles were written, dozens of books, stage plays and even movies were made (including Peter Jackson’s award-winning ‘Heavenly Creatures’). What drove two schoolgirls to commit such a terrible crime? Were the pair simply insane, or was it due to the bizarre fantasy world they created in order to explore ideas about writing, movie stars and sex?

Peter Graham has fashioned a well-researched, eminently readable and totally engrossing book that takes us from the girls’ early lives to the murder and beyond, exploring the many theories put forward both at the time and since. Though the book still leaves questions unanswered, Graham is a master of his craft and lays out the evidence in a logical sequence that will thrill lovers of true crime everywhere.

But what of Anne Perry?

Though I had heard of her (and had also seen the movie), I hadn’t made the connection between the best-selling crime writer and the schoolgirl who used to be known as Juliet Hulme. This book shines an interesting light on Perry’s writing ability, as well as exploring her and Pauline’s lives since the murder.

A fascinating book that tells a horrifying story with panache and piercing insight. Read it now.

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‘Confronting the Hostile’ (Audiobook) by Joy Mutter

Confronting the Hostile – Audiobook


Following the multi-storey carpark scene in the previous book (where Serena and her pal take a flying walk to freedom), retired cop John and DCI Damon become the unexpected ‘keepers’ of Joe and Tile X. The demonic bathroom tiles stick to their usual routine and are soon making hideous and unrelenting demands on the unlucky humans – if the unfortunate coppers don’t hand over the names for the deadly tiles to slaughter, their joint futures will be short. And very painful.

Though I’d already read ‘Confronting the Hostile’ (book 4 in The Hostile series), I was interested to listen to the audio version to see how it stands up in the entertainment stakes. Actor and voice artist Alexander Doddy narrates this episode, bringing a new dimension to the gory tale with his range of accents and talent as a storyteller. This particular copy came via a free trial with Audible – Amazon’s spoken audio entertainment wing – and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

NB I’m not too au fait with Whispersync, but apparently if you already have the Kindle version, you can add the audio for a mere £2.99. Bargain.

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‘For Weeds Will Grow’ by David Six

For Weeds Will Grow

After thirteen-year-old Danny Noble and his best pal find a body in a storm culvert, some pretty weird stuff starts to happen in the young lad’s life. Maybe seeing a corpse has messed with his head, but Danny knows normal kids don’t see things that aren’t there, and the stuff he’s seeing definitely ain’t normal. As he struggles to make sense of the visions, he discovers there’s more to his own family history than he’d thought, but some of it might help explain what’s going on in his head. And then there’s the gray people…

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I can say with certainty that it won’t be the last. With elements of horror, suspense, fantasy and a bit of romance, there’s something here for everyone – provided you don’t scare too easily. David Six has a gift for dialogue and characterisation that isn’t too common in the world of indie authors and his storytelling skills reminded me a lot of Stephen King, which can’t be bad. I loved all the cultural references too, and way he moved things along over several years without losing my interest. Though he didn’t scare me in the same way Mr King does, this author has an imagination that promises to get you hiding under the bedsheets and peering into dark corners.

The gray people are coming…

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‘The Dark Half’ by Stephen King

The Dark Half

When novelist Thad Beaumont dreams up pseudonym George Stark, he allows a different side of his imagination to emerge and, weirdly, the books ‘Stark’ writes turn out to be way more successful than Thad’s usual fare. However, when the writer decides to get rid of his other half, things don’t go to plan, and a series of gruesome murders threaten to land Thad in jail, if not the nearest asylum.

Whenever I read a Stephen King novel, I’m always rewarded with great writing and sharply-drawn characters, and this one is no different. King’s own foray into the world of pseudonyms (as alter-ego Richard Bachman), was the inspiration for this tale of dark deeds and deadly doings. Taking the idea of ‘killing off’ the Bachman side, King has his hero Thad Beaumont put out press releases and stage photographs at the dead writer’s graveside. Unfortunately, that’s when things begin to go wrong.

I loved this book – it kept me guessing all the way through, wondering if King’s hero was just completely mad, or if his belief in the reality of George Stark was justified. As always, the writing is tight and clever, though it also had me laughing out loud in places, which is nice.

A must for fans of horror, murder and imaginary authors coming to life and killing loads of folk.

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