Fahrenheit Press authors are a stellar bunch of writers. We support each other; we help promote each other’s books; and we buy books direct from www.fahrenheit-press.com. Writing is a subjective way of life: some readers like our work, some prefer other books – that’s freedom of choice. I’ve reviewed some Fahrenheit Press books – and the four below are, in my opinion, amongst the very best of any publishing house.
Black Moss by David Nolan
A bleakly brilliant and stretched finale
Danny Johnston is a disaster – jobless and with no future after pressing the alcoholic self-destruct button that so many young journalists, caught up in the exciting, unreal world of real news reporting, fall into. Nolan captures the very essence of regional journalism, where reporters have to stick with the story and dig out new angles, day-in, day-out.
He also nails two elements of writing where so many fail: 1. The complexity of the characters is handled coherently and simply; and 2. The historical switches are clear and obvious, removing any confusion for the reader.
The plot has an unnerving reality to it. I was a teenager during the Moors Murders; I was an adult with a fascination for hard news at the time of the Strangeways prison riots. Nolan weaves his lively, compulsive story through the riots and with hints of child abuse constantly present. From the heady early 90s to the EU referendum.
The finale is stunningly well written. It takes time to build, but every sentence, every word is made to work its keep and fit together in a jigsaw, where the finale picture is hinted at, but never quite completed until the final page. There are more twists and turns than a cross-Pennine minor road, and many more opportunities to gaze into a mountain-side abyss.
Black Moss is one of those crime fiction novels where, even though you know the ending, you will want to read again, and again.
Stoned Love – by Ian Patrick
An undercover cop with his own moral compass
Sam Batford is an unlikely hero. In normal people’s ideas of decency, he’s a thoroughly dangerous bloke and best avoided, but that suits Sam. He leaves a string of bloodied and broken noses, and dead bodies in his wake, as he follows his own, very individual, moral code.
Stoned Love is the second in the Sam Batford series, following Rubicon. They are standalone thrillers, but I’d suggest Rubicon first as a scene-setter. Both are fast-paced, excellently driven and paced books, but Stoned Love seems to have an extra dollop of maturity. Batford is a complex but straightforward character. His moral compass may be set due north as far as his police ‘handlers’ are concerned, but it quickly spins to fit his chosen directions.
Ian Patrick is an ex-copper, and his knowledge and experience keep the plot on track and within the bounds of reason and possibility. There are, necessarily, a variety of characters, but Patrick has mastered the technique of narrowing the main ones down – admittedly this involved writing some out through dramatically and bloodily dying – so that the key people are well rounded and have their own intrinsic back stories.
This book is far from being a traditional ‘police procedural’, and it is refreshing to have officers without a CV that includes alcoholism, marital break-ups, and sundry angst. The characters in Stoned Love stick to the storyline, and it’s a very, very good plot. Patrick is a story teller with a firm grip on the world of violence that clings inexorably to drug dealing.
Disorder – by Paddy Magrane
There’s a psycho in Downing Street – and not just the hero of Disorder
Author Paddy Magrane has one of those life histories heroes of fictional thriller heroes would give their last full stop for, but Paddy’s is for real – and his debut thriller Disorder takes the reader on a wonderful and literary journey.
Sam Keddie is a psychotherapist who gets drawn into a complex web – mainly consisting of psychological, and sometimes real, high walls and seemingly insurmountable barriers. As in the very best fiction, Magrane makes the unbelievable become reality without stretching the imagination of the reader.
Disorder is fast-paced and takes us through the highest echelons of the UK government to the souks of Tangier and back to Downing Street, where the author’s obviously intimate knowledge (or great story-telling) transports us into stately rooms and back door constriction. Magrane brings fictitious characters to life, and leaves the reader with the uncomfortable thought that perhaps today’s current crop of politicians are as dangerous and slippery as his creations.
The plot is straightforward. Keddie and Eleanor Scott go on an unlikely hunt for a truth that everyone wants to avoid. They build an investigation in the face of constant danger and open threats to their safety and lives.
Paddy Magrane has a page-turning, easy reading style without making the overall book a simplistic cartoon. His career in psychotherapy, freelance journalism for some of the Fleet Street nationals, interest in art, and travel has clearly helped to fashion a flowing style that brings a host of disciplines together.
Disorder gallops along, but at a pace that is also carefully modulated. Magrane avoids jumps in time and place and, despite the swift changes in location, continuity is cleverly maintained so the reader is carried along with the current and doesn’t have to readjust. It’s great bloodthirsty book and it, has the most unsettling and vicious villains and killers. The separate strata of finales keeps tension at a very high level.
I’m late to the party with Paddy Magrane’s books. That will be rectified.
When The Music’s Over – by Aidan Thorn
Know your murderer – and then the plot begins
Benny Gower is a murderer, a cold blooded-one at that, but in the dark and sinister world of drug-addled and dealing, punk rock and vicious gangsters, his crime must be seen in some perspective. But the contract’s out: he’s a dead man walking.
Thorn’s short novel – it’s not a novella – has a deep and wide thread of poignancy running through it that is uncomfortably natural in a plot that is both dispassionate and up-close and personal with the seedy side of life.
There are two intriguing storylines that sometimes run parallel and often intersect. There’s the hard life of a devoted musician trying to break into the big time with a record contract, which gets fatally harder when the mix includes other members of the band. Add a hypodermic syringe and you get a tinderbox of clashing talents and emotions. Then there’s the separate, almost divorced world of low-rent gangsterism, with the spectre of easy money from drug dealing hanging ever closer over the heads of the main characters.
When The Music’s Over is crammed full of flowing menace and careless violence. There’s familial destruction, death, drugs and devilment and it’s written by a great wordsmith.