Oozy Rat In A Sanitary Zoo @ Spelk Fiction

The toilet attendant looks unconscious. He is slumped on a barstool, the sunken shoulders of his black jacket layered in big asbestos-like chunks of dandruff.

I kick his foot, and his eyes flicker open. He gestures lazily towards the tray of toxic-looking aftershaves next to the basins.

“No splash/no gash …”

I shake my head.

“No Lynx Java/no how’s your father …”

“Just soap, pal.”

He squirts bright pink lather on my bloody hands, but the hot water does little to remove the coppery stink.

Last month saw a new piece of flash fiction go live at Spelk: OOZY RAT IN A SANITARY ZOO.

Big thanks to editor Cal Marcius for running the story – my 11th hosted by the reliably excellent Spelk!


Snuff Racket @ Unlawful Acts

My new e-book SNUFF RACKET was given the Unlawful Acts treatment by top US crime reviewer David Nemeth last week.

He said: “There’s noir and then there’s Paignton Noir. If you have never heard of this type of noir before that’s okay Tom Leins invented it. Leins takes a tourist town on the southwest coast of England and turns it into a cross between Boston’s Combat Zone and San Francisco’s Tenderloin where killers, pornographers, pedophiles, gamblers, and drug addicts are the everyday people in the streets and bars.”

Check out the full review hereand make sure you take a look around David’s site. He has tipped me off about some great books over the last year.

Snuff Racket: Out Now!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce the publication of a new e-book: SNUFF RACKET.

Here’s the synopsis:

A missing video. A dismembered girl. A deranged ex-con. And a disgraced private investigator. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…
Still recuperating from his previous case, Paignton private eye Joe Rey is hired by a mysterious stranger to track down one of the few remaining copies of a notorious 1970s Giallo movie – only to find himself embroiled in an increasingly vicious running battle with a demented ex-convict.




Paignton Noir: Location As Character

“Leins’s Paignton is like an open, festering wound on the underbelly of a failed society.”

(Chris Rhatigan, All Due Respect publisher, writing at Criminal Element)

This week I was extremely flattered that my novelette Skull Meat was included in an eclectic list of crime books with a strong sense of place over at Criminal Element. The list was put together by Chris Rhatigan – the publisher behind top independent crime imprint All Due Respect.

He said of Skull Meat: “The atmosphere is as dark and deliciously depressing as they come – the vomit-slick floors of pubs, the scummy offices of criminals, a decrepit local hospital. The characters reflect the place as well, almost to the point of blending with it so the reader can’t tell them apart.”

For people who aren’t familiar with my home town, Paignton is a much-loved holiday destination within the UK. I think that seaside towns in this country have a Jekyll and Hyde quality depending on the season, and all manner of unknown horrors lurk below the surface. I’m a big fan of location-as-character in fiction, and although I’m pretty well-travelled, I don’t think I could sustain a book (let alone a series) set anywhere other than Paignton.

The characters and scenarios have been given an apocalyptic edge, and some of the location names have been changed (to avoid legal action…), but the landscape and geography have been preserved. Ultimately, this is my interpretation of Paignton, as filtered through the prism of my obsession with US crime fiction.

Every time I think my stories have drifted too far from reality, I pick up a copy of the Herald Express, and scour the crime reportage, and realise that I’ve only scratched the surface of what actually goes on in this town. (And then I file away the details for future use!)

I sometimes wonder: could a private investigator really flourish in a town like Paignton? Well, they bulldozed Paignton police station to make way for a property development that never happened, and now they have to send out-of-town cops down in people carriers to raid local crack-houses. So, yeah!

Anyway, brand new Paignton Noir coming very soon – watch this space!

Buy Skull Meat:

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

XXXmas Boogaloo @ Near To The Knuckle

“Christmas Eve… in the drunk tank. I’m on a concrete bed, sleeping off a heavy session. It started with a quiet pint in the Cock & Whistle and ended with a knife-fight in the Dirty Lemon. The other guy had a fucking meat cleaver, so I must have been drunk to try and fight him…”

One last Christmas present at the bottom of Santa’s sack: XXXmas Boogaloo, a festive slab of Paignton Noir, over at Near To The Knuckle. Thanks to Oliver and Craig for giving the story a home!

This one is my 11th story online at Near To The Knuckle, and my 3rd Christmas story at the same venue, following on from Christmas Eve Can Kill You and Blue Christmas.

2017 In Review

2017 was a good year… Writing-wise, at least!

I’m not overly prone to self-examination, but this year I felt sluggish and unproductive for long periods. The end of the year prompted me to take a look at my story output, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had written/ published far more than I remembered in 2017: twelve short stories (ten of which were flash fiction), four longer anthology pieces, four (of five) 2,000-word chapters for The Blood Red Experiment and one 10,000-word novelette (Skull Meat).

On the down-side, not only did I not finish it, but I ripped the guts out of my novella Boneyard Dogs, when I set myself the target of completing it by the end of 2017! Either way, it is 2018’s problem now!

Here are the links to the online stories:

Paignton Noir:

Evil Heat (at Pulp Metal Magazine)

Clawfist (at Spelk Fiction)

Sloppy Operator (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

Dry Salvage (at Near To The Knuckle)

Bedlam Money (at Spelk Fiction)

Wrestling Noir:

The Last Dog & Pony Show (at The All-New A Twist of Noir)

Bloater (at Shotgun Honey)

Beauty & Ruin (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

Black Sheets of Rain (at Pulp Metal Magazine)

The Glory Hole (at Horror Sleaze Trash)

The Sunset Flip (at Story & Grit)

Christmas Noir:

Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

… and here are the links to the longer works:

This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology (includes my story Incarcerated Scarfaces)

Switchblade – Issue #1 (includes my story The Stooge)

More Bizarro Than Bizarro (includes my story Here Comes That Weird Chill)

Wrestle Maniacs (includes my story Real Americans)

The Blood Red Experiment (includes my serialisation Didn’t Bleed Red)


Skull Meat!

Thanks for reading!


Slay Ride 2 – Jingle Bullets @ The Flash Fiction Offensive

“Christmas Eve. The Merry Gentlemen Rest Stop. The space-heater is turned up high enough to make me sweat and the slashed double mattress is lumpy with what is left of my fuckin’ loot.”

Check out this year’s Christmas crime story, Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets – a sequel to last year’s violent festive caper, Slay Ride!

Thanks to Hector and Rob for having me back at the Flash Fiction Offensive!


Wrestle Maniacs Reviews

Image result for wrestle maniacs adam howe

Wrestle Maniacs – released on 1st December by Adam Howe’s Honey Badger Press – has picked up some nice reviews so far. One of my favourites is this one, over at Dead End Follies.

Benoit Lelievre said of my story: “The first story that caught my attention in Wrestle Maniacs was Tom Leins‘ opener Real Americans, which aptly mixes pro wrestling over-the-top theatrics with the gloomy and subtle atmosphere of True Detective, which you know is, like one of my favorite thing in the world. It sets the tone for what is going to be a recurring theme in Wrestle Maniacs : the fine line between reality and kayfabe, pro wrestling’s portryal of staged event as real. Real Americans features retired wrestlers struggling to let go of kayfabe, which offered them their best and most intense memories. The inner conflict between the over-the-top characters and their broken human counterpart really get the story going.”

The full review is great, so check it out and see what Benoit thought about the rest of the collection.

Earlier this month, The Grim Reader – Adrian Shotbolt – said of the book: “I loved wrestling in the 80s and 90s. I loved the greats of that era, superstars like The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Legion of Doom. These guys were wrestlers with HUGE personalities that coincided with their obvious skill inside the ring. But how will a wrestling-inspired anthology work? Pretty damn good as it happens, especially when you see some of the names included. This is an anthology that hits the ground running with an opening tag team clothesline via Tom Leins and James Newman.”

Make sure you check out his site too!

   Amazon US

Amazon UK

Repetition Kills You – Coming In September 2018 – From All Due Respect

I am delighted to confirm that All Due Respect, an imprint of Down & Out Books, will be publishing my Paignton Noir book Repetition Kills You in September 2018.

Repetition Kills You is an experimental noir. A novel-in-stories. A literary jigsaw puzzle.

The book comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’.  The key stylistic influence on this collection is ‘The Beach Murders’ (1966) by J.G. Ballard, which was collected in Low Flying Aircraft and Other Stories (1976). Like the letters of the alphabet, Ballard’s fragments can be arranged in any order. So can my stories.

Combined in certain ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. The narrative timeline is warped, like a blood-soaked Möbius Strip. It goes round in circles – like a deranged animal chasing its own tail.

The content is brutal and provocative: small-town pornography, gun-running, mutilation and violent, blood-streaked stories of revenge. The cast list includes sex offenders, serial killers, bare-knuckle fighters, carnies and corrupt cops. And a private eye with a dark past – and very little future.

Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Wrestle Maniacs – Out Now!

The 1st of December saw the release of Wrestle Maniacs, a top-notch wrestling-themed short story collection edited by Adam Howe – the author of the highly recommended Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and Tijuana Donkey Showdown.

Wrestle Maniacs includes my brand new story Real Americans, a standalone piece that also forms an unexpected epilogue to my existing wrestling noir online short story series, which will (hopefully) be collected and published as The Good Book in 2018.

In these stories, unhinged wrestling promoter Frank ‘Fingerfuck’ Flanagan – the owner of the infamous Testament Wrestling Alliance – rules his territory with an iron fist, and his personal road to hell is paved with dead wrestlers.

Real Americans takes place some eight years after the events of The Good Book, and follows the investigation of a brutal murder that sucks in the few surviving figures from Fingerfuck Flanagan’s unstable wrestling stable.

After drawing a line under my own wrestling series earlier this year, I was initially wary of revisiting my old stomping ground, but Real Americans was a hell of a lot of fun to write, and is (hopefully!) far funnier than the stories that preceded it.


Over at my Dirty Books blog, I’m in the process of interviewing my fellow Wrestle Maniacs (Adam Howe, James Newman, Eryk Pruitt, Ed Kurtz, Hector Acosta, Joseph Hirsch, Duncan P. Bradshaw, David James Keaton, Gabino Iglesias, Patrick Lacey and Jason Parent), regarding their stories – and their own wrestling memories. As such, I think it’s only fair to share a few thoughts on my own relationship with sports entertainment…

I grew up in a small English town in the 1980s, and my first (indecent) exposure to wrestling was via the defiantly un-glamourous duo of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks – a morbidly obese pair of mortal enemies who waddled across my boxy TV screen on Saturday afternoons.

(Years later, when I was in the lucrative employment of Torbay Council, an ex-wrestler used to sleep in one of the shelters on Paignton sea front. I forget his name, but apparently he used to be a big deal and wrestle against Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks back in the day. He used to wake up soaked in his own piss every morning, and the council had to hose down the shelter before the holiday-makers arrived. I had to run interference – scaring off kids who were throwing coins and flicking lit matches at him.)


After witnessing the underwhelming spectacle of Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree to his family and friends) going through the motions, experiencing Vince McMahon’s WWF for the first time was a mind-blowing experience. Swollen muscles, bouffant hair, dangerously tight spandex: this was what was missing from my suburban childhood!

I struggle to recall the first ever WWF match that I watched, but I definitely remember renting 1989’s Hulk Hogan vehicle No Holds Barred from the South Pacific video shop, and then watching 1991’s Suburban Commando (twice) at a bizarre makeshift cinema at the English Riviera Centre a couple of years later.

The event that got me hooked, however, was definitely the WWF’s Battle Royal at the Albert Hall VHS from 1991, which I spent my pocket money on at the late, lamented Paignton branch of Woolworths. The London-based event was conceived as a push for a Davey Boy Smith – the British Bulldog – whose surging WWF popularity coincided with the recent arrival of wrestling on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports channel in the UK. (Spoiler alert: Bulldog beat The Barbarian in 10:07 at the Albert Hall event, and then won the 20-man Battle Royal after upending a post-Tugboat Fred ‘Typhoon’ Ottman in the headline match!)

With Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart not making the trip over to the UK, the Bulldog was allowed to take centre stage (although the event was supposedly Ric Flair’s WWF debut, trivia fans!). With his meaty frame, braided hair and brusque Northern accent, the British Bulldog was an appealingly plausible home-grown alternative to exotic, balding middle-aged Americans like Hulk Hogan, and this event kick-started an obsessive relationship with early ‘90s wrestling – WCW included.

In truth, my own interest in wrestling died long before Davey Boy Smith did – I checked out in around 1995 – but I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting my pubescent passions in recent years, as I have put this series of wrestling stories together. I’ve also filled in a lot of gaps in my post-1995 wrestling awareness, although that initial era remains my clear favourite.


Anyway, you can check out my earlier wrestling noir stories here (note: I’ll be removing these links in the near-future, as I prepare the collection for publication), and then buy a copy of Wrestle Maniacs to see how the saga ends!

   Amazon US

Amazon UK