Dead-End Jobs: Out Now

I’m happy to confirm that Dead-End Jobs: A Hitman Anthology is out now, via All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books)!

UK Link

US Link

Huge thanks to editor Andy Rausch for inviting me to take part in the project. It is a real thrill to be featured alongside crime fiction legends Joe R. Lansdale and Max Allan Collins. I remember buying a second-hand copy of Lansdale’s first Hap & Leonard book, Savage Season, in the (now defunct) Old Celtic Bookshop on Hyde Road 15 years ago, and I quickly became a massive fan of his writing.

I’m really looking forward to reading their stories, alongside those by my fellow contributors Paul Heatley, Matt Phillips, Daniel Vlasaty, Paul D. Brazill, Rob Pierce, Tom Pitts, Nikki Dolson and many more!

Here’s a brief taster of my story, ‘The Body Count’. It’s a standalone piece set in Florida. Eagle-eyed readers may spot a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them references to the world featured in The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men. There will be a fully-fledged return to Testament one day in the future. Until then, this story should help to scratch the itch!

(Note: the actual story is far nastier and weirder than this line suggests!)

Dead-End Jobs: Cover Reveal

I’m excited to reveal that my short story ‘The Body Count’ will be appearing in Dead-End Jobs: A Hitman Anthology, alongside stories by Joe R. Lansdale and Max Allan Collins!

Editor Andy Rausch has assembled a cracking line-up, and I’m really excited to read the other stories.

The book will be published by All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books) on 11 June.

I’ll have more details in due course, but in the meantime, how’s this for a blurb?

“An incredible collection of powerful and haunting stories that exist in that shadowy realm between tragedy, nihilism and noir.”
–S.A. Cosby author of BLACKTOP WASTELAND

The Deadlands @ Punk Noir Magazine

“The burn is horrendous and I struggle to look him in his good eye. His only eye. His face hasn’t healed, and he smells charred – like he has crawled out of the belly of hell itself.”

Time for some new flash fiction: The Deadlands, which is now online at Paul D. Brazill’s Punk Noir Magazine!

I have found myself writing more and more horror-infused Paignton Noir stories over the last year, and this is another one to add to the list. I’ve kept a bunch of them under wraps, but I’ve now written so many that I’m toying with a compiling them into a brand new collection. I’ll see how it all hangs together before I decide, so watch this space!

Coming Through In Waves: Out Now

Monday morning. A cold day in hell.

I sit  in the prison visitor’s suite, drinking a scalding vending machine tea, staring at the blinking red eye of the CCTV camera. Governor Diggs takes a keen interest in the rehabilitation of his former inmates, and I have no interest in doing a third stretch in this hell-hole.

Barrett laughs when he sees me. His big belly undulating beneath his grey prison sweatshirt as he swaggers across the linoleum.

“Man, I can’t believe you came.”

Coming Through In Waves: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd is now available in both paperback and e-book formats! This anthology, edited by T. Fox Dunham, is the fourth in Gutter Books’ Rock Anthology Series. Fox is a blood cancer survivor and a portion of the sales will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The book contains my story Brain Damage, which is a brand new Paignton Noir story, in which Joe Rey is coerced into performing a queasy favour from his ex-cellmate, Barrett. The story was a blast to write, and explores some pretty dark themes – even by my usual cheery standards!

Other contributors include the likes of Paul D. Brazill, Andy Rausch, S.W. Lauden, K.A. Laity, Kurt Reichenbaugh, Bill Baber – and many more!

(Note: for any regular readers grappling with the back-and-forth chronology of the Paignton Noir series, this story comes right at the end of the list – after Dirty Bullion, which was previously where the series ground to a halt.)

UK Amazon Link

US Amazon Link

Gutwrench @ Crystal Lake Publishing

“It’s hard not to shake with a gun in your mouth. Fortunately, I’ve had plenty of practice…”

If you are a patron of the Crystal Lake Publishing Patreon, you can now read (and vote for!) my story Gutwrench in this month’s Femme Fatale flash fiction contest!

An ex-porn star. A corrupt cop. A hardboiled investigator. A sinister artefact. What could go wrong?

The Good Book @ Col’s Criminal Library

“A day spent in the company of some of Tom Leins’ short stories is always rewarding. 2020’s reading ended on a dirty high.”

Thanks to Colman Keane – the man behind the cracking Col’s Criminal Library blog – for this great review of my wrestling noir collection, The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men.

Col was one of the first people to review Skull Meat and Meat Bubbles, and I’ve bought numerous books based on his regular recommendations in recent years, so I always value his opinion.

If you want to pick up a copy of the book you can find all of the relevant links here.

In other news, my brand new Paignton Noir story Gutwrench has made it into the final of the Femme Fatale flash fiction contest, which is being staged by South Africa-based horror publisher Crystal Lake Publishing. Voting is restricted to CLP’s Patreon patrons and I’ll share the story link in due course.

Finally, Coming Through in Waves: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd is now available for pre-order via Amazon, ahead of its 15 February release. The anthology includes my Paignton Noir story Brain Damage, and I’ll share more details when the book goes live.

2020 In Review

Well, that was a weird fucking year, wasn’t it?!

Writing provided a welcome distraction from the pandemic last year, so I wanted to compile a self-indulgent list of my 2020 publications.

Two short story collections, one novelette, four short stories and three pieces of flash fiction, as well as chapters in two separate Exquisite Corpse projects.

As always, there are a handful of unfinished projects still gathering dust, but I’m pretty happy with my output.

The books:

The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men (All Due Respect, January 2020)

Ten Pints of Blood: The Paignton Noir Case Files (Close To The Bone, June 2020)

Slop Shop: A Paignton Noir Mystery (self-published, August 2020)

The stories:

49,000 Ways To Die (All Due Respect, February 2020)

Demonology (Shotgun Honey, June 2020)

Recalibration (Pulp Modern Flash, August 2020)

The Heart’s Filthy Desire (Liars’ League, October 2020)

The Proper Disposal of Body Parts (Bristol Noir, October 2020)

Bone Train (Punk Noir Magazine, October 2020)

Ignorance & Want: A Paignton Noir Christmas Fable (Bristol Noir, December 2020)

The corpses:

The Exquisite Corpse: Volume 1

The Exquisite Corpse: Volume 2

Looking ahead to 2021, I’ve got stories upcoming in a couple of cool anthologies, there will be at least one new Paignton Noir novelette and I have got a new book lined up with one of my favourite crime publishers. I’m working on some really exciting material at the moment, so I may even be able to squeeze in an extra book at some point. Watch this space for more information!  

P.S. Early on – before the scale of COVID-related devastation was apparent – I started work on a new pandemic-themed mystery, in which I posed the question: what would Joe Rey be doing during a national lockdown? It was called Sick City. Ultimately, releasing it felt inappropriate, so I kicked it into the long grass. When we have finally turned a corner, the e-book might see the light of day, but for now it will remain a lost gem – the story that never was! (In the meantime, here’s the artwork, so you can ponder what could have been…)  

Ignorance and Want @ Bristol Noir

The fat man in the Santa suit splashes a glug of whisky into his mud-brown coffee and offers me the bottle. I cover my mug with calloused fingers.

“You can keep a quarter of the cash when the briefcase is recovered.”

Joe Rey’s 8th consecutive Christmas crime story is now live at Bristol Noir: Ignorance & Want.

Thanks to John Bowie for running the story – and for creating the excellent piece of accompanying artwork!

Elmore Leonard was often called the ‘Dickens of Detroit’. This story is me aiming for ‘Dickens of Devon’ territory!

You can find the links to all of my previous Christmas crime stories (Paignton Noir and otherwise) here.

Merry Christmas – and thanks for reading!

Author Spotlight @ 8 Million Books To Read

“It’s very likely the Joe Rey books are an acquired taste, but beneath the squalor of these down and dirty noirs is a protagonist with a rotted, but golden heart and prose that is always likely to elicit a chuckle, if not a hearty laugh.”

Many thanks to crime fiction enthusiast Scott Cumming for taking the time to put together this excellent blog which scrutinises my books. It is really interesting to hear his thoughts about the unfolding Paignton Noir series, as he wasn’t a fan of the earlier e-books, but enjoyed my short stories enough to persevere with the longer stuff. I’m glad he did!

Meat Bubbles & Other Stories, Ten Pints of Blood, Dirty Bullion, Slop Shop and Slug Bait all go under the microscope, as does my wrestling collection The Good Book: Fairy Tales For Hard Men. Check it out!

All Due Respect 2020: Out Now

“The house I’m searching for has a badly scuffed punchbag suspended from a steel bracket on the front wall. It dangles listlessly over the small front garden, swaying like a wet-brain after two litres of Diamond White. I look at the windows. The panes have been painted over with white emulsion and remind me of the dead, milky eyes of a stomped skull.”

The All Due Respect 2020 anthology was published today, and includes my brutal Paignton Noir short story 49,000 Ways To Die. The collection was put together by All Due Respect editor Chris Rhatigan and David Nemeth, who runs the Unlawful Acts crime fiction blog. I interviewed the editors over at my Dirty Books blog earlier, to find out what makes them tick.

Other contributors include the likes of Andrew Davie, Preston Lang and Jay Butkowski.

You can find all of the relevant purchase links at the Down & Out Books website.