A Ticket To The Boneyard: How Boneyard Dogs Came Back From The Dead

“Dead characters were hauled away in digital body-bags. Surviving characters re-emerged to cause chaos.”

The release of Boneyard Dogs is only a month away, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the book’s tortured origins.

I’m not usually inclined to yank back the curtain and discuss the inner workings of my books, but – now that the dust has settled – I wanted to try and work out why it took me ten years to finish.

Thanks to Paul D. Brazill at Punk Noir Magazine for running the piece, which I have titled A Ticket To The Boneyard – How Boneyard Dogs Came Back From The Dead‘.

Also online at Punk Noir this week is an interview with me, conducted by John Wisniewski. Thanks to John for the questions!

Boneyard Dogs Review @ Break The Code

“This is a world where pessimism and cynicism fall short, a violent backwater of the imagination where primal fear and terror haunt the broken realities of some forgotten realm.”

S.C. Hickman on Boneyard Dogs 

Boneyard Dogs is out next month, and some early reviews are starting to pop up online. Thanks to S.C. Hickman at Break The Code for this fantastic write-up, which name-checks a number of my literary heroes, including Andrew Vachss, Jim Thompson and Charles Willeford.

Boneyard Dogs is out on 26 July, and available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Earlier this month, Beau Johnson, author of A Better Kind of Hate and The Big Machine Eats (both Down & Out Books), went toe-to-toe with Meat Bubbles & Other Stories, and lived to tell the tale. He wrote of the book: ‘Tom Leins is not only cutting to the bone in each and every story involving [Joe Rey], but exposing the muscle and nerve endings that lay beneath with such deftness that I know I’ll be coming back for more.’

The Only Bones That Show @ Boned

“My face slams into the royal blue wall tiles at Parkside public toilets. The tiling has been polished to a deep gleam. Someone around here really takes pride in their work. I slide down the wall and taste metallic trough-piss. At least one of my teeth comes loose and floats lazily towards the rusted drain, which is clogged with pubic hair, bloody phlegm and even a condom wrapper.”

I have brand new piece of Paignton Noir flash fiction online this week at Boned: A Collection of Skeletal Writings.

As editor Nate Ragolia explains: “Whether protagonist, antagonist, setting, or MacGuffin, each work in Boned corresponds — somehow — to the architecture of living things.”

Check out my brutal Boned story: The Only Bones That Show

Splatterproof Is Not A Challenge @ Shotgun Honey

“Do you know how many times you need to bounce a man’s skull off a breezeblock wall before you split the epidermis, shatter the brain-pan and draw blood?”

This week I have some brand new flash fiction online at Shotgun Honey: Splatterproof Is Not A Challenge.

Joe Rey gets a new assignment and 700 words of carnage ensues!

Splatterproof … is my sixth Shotgun Honey story. A previous Paignton Noir story, Ventilator Blues, was one of the jigsaw puzzle pieces in Repetition Kills You, while Bloater will be included in The Good Book later this year.

Strangely enough, a couple of my older Shotgun Honey stories are actually being reworked into longer pieces for a pair of future books. One of them has provided the jump-off point for what is shaping up to be my most riotous book to date!

New Interview @ The Flash Fiction Offensive

“As Torbay’s second most famous crime writer, I think it is probably time to unveil my fiendish Agatha Christie tribute, in which Rey gets to act like a Poundland Poirot…”

Thanks to Jason Beech, Jesse Rawlins and the rest of the new team at The Flash Fiction Offensive for running this new Paignton Noir-themed interview.

Among other things, I spill the beans on the forthcoming Boneyard Dogs, which is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

As for my Agatha Christie tribute? Watch this space!

Boneyard Dogs: Cover Reveal

“If I can’t find her within seven days, she’s probably dead.”

The rumours are true: there will be a new Paignton Noir book out this summer!

It has been a pleasure to work with Close To The Bone publisher Craig Douglas once again. Not only does this book follow on from the events depicted in Meat Bubbles, but the intensity has been cranked up a notch too.

Boneyard Dogs is a savage whodunit, which also explores how and why Joe Rey became the man he is today. This is another book that you should definitely judge by its fantastic cover (see below).


If you are desperate enough to hire Paignton private investigator Joe Rey, things have already gone from bad to worse – and a happy ending is highly unlikely.

Hired to track down the missing teenage daughter of a demented local lounge singer, Rey’s investigation spirals bloodily out of control, and he finds himself surrounded by the ruined corpses of dead people traffickers. The police are determined to pin the murders on the hapless PI, but as his search unfolds it becomes apparent that the culprit may actually be a man he knows all too well…

BONEYARD DOGS is the blistering sequel to the cult classic MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES.

(Cover design by Craig Douglas @ Close To The Bone)

Suggested Paignton Noir reading order:

Character Assassination: Wet-Look

“His real name is Charles, but I’m not sure whether that is his first name or his surname. As I walk up the rickety staircase the stink hits me. I peer through the doorway and see him gnawing at an oversized chicken leg. He’s sweating hard, and the stench fills my nostrils. He has grease-streaked silver hair and unruly mutton-chop sideburns. He hasn’t been near a shower in months, and all of his clothing is tinged yellow with filth.”

Skull Meat (Chapter 3: Slippery When Wet)

All fictional characters have a shelf-life.

Even Joe Rey – my thuggish loose-cannon of a private investigator, who has now notched up story appearances spanning 15 years!

Thankfully, Rey’s use-by-date is still decades away, but another one of my favourite characters – the deranged ex-cop Wet-Look – is preparing for one last hurrah.

Everything this guy says and does is obscene, which obviously makes him one of my favourite characters to write. He did bad things in Skull Meat and even worse things in Meat Bubbles & Other Stories, and I think it’s fair to say that his narrative trajectory will remain horribly consistent when he re-enters the Paignton Noir fray next year.

Like a lot of my characters – in appearance at least – Wet-Look was inspired by a real person. Nine years ago (shortly after starting my current job) a group of middle-aged ex-Devon & Cornwall Constabulary officers used to travel home on the same train as me – from what I assume was some kind of regular liquid lunch for ex-cops. In their midst was a man resembling Wet-Look: sweaty, red-faced, half-crippled and genuinely unnerving.

Every week this posse of tough-looking men – all wearing matching commemorative police ties –would sit in edgy silence, while an older guy gazed around the carriage, a lascivious grin etched across his puffy face. Every week the collective sigh of relief was tangible, as their elderly ex-colleague hobbled off the train with his walking stick, and the queasy spell finally was broken.

Sitting a few seats back – beer in one hand, hardboiled book in the other – I became fascinated by this awkward interplay, and the power that he clearly held over these men. Immediately, Wet-Look was born – featuring in a story at A Twist of Noir in September 2010. His scenes were resurrected and retooled for Skull Meat in 2017 and I liked the character so much that I remixed Meat Bubbles & Other Stories to allow Wet-Look to explore his… full potential.

I know that rumours are swirling about a 1980s-set Wet-Look prequel, so I am happy to confirm that these whisperings are true. What kind of sordid horrors turn an idealistic, clean-cut young cop into an obese, murderous degenerate? I already know – and you lucky people will have the pleasure of finding out!

Are you curious about the past – and future – of Wet-Look? Watch this space, sun-beam!

A Vulgar Display of Power @ Punk Noir Magazine

“I peel the bloody dressing off my nose and drop it into the sink. Jesus. My face looks like something out of a fucking horror-show. I’ve been sticking my nose into other people’s business for longer than I can remember. Usually for money, sometimes out of sheer perversity. My latest injury – caused by deranged Albanian with a box-cutter – feels horribly apt.”

My first story of 2019 went online today: A Vulgar Display of Power. Thanks to Paul D. Brazill at Punk Noir Magazine for running it!

This one follows on from the events depicted in Repetition Kills You, and sees Joe Rey get reacquainted with his on-off lover Cherry – and a new bunch of unsavoury characters!

She also appeared in Venus In Fake Furs last year, and I’m keen to explore their warped relationship further in a future book, as she is a woman who can definitely get Rey in all kinds of trouble!


2018 In Review

This time last year I remember feeling distinctly underwhelmed by my written output in 2017, and wanted to step up my game in 2018.

I have no such misgivings about my written output in 2018, and probably wrote more fiction last year than I have at any time in the last 15 years – which I’m very happy with.

New material aside, I also managed to finish a handful of long-abandoned projects – by hacking them up for parts and stitching them together in grisly new combinations, which was similarly satisfying. In some cases, decades-old antagonists were lifted out of botched books and given a new lease of life in alternative narratives.

My first two books (not written in 2018 admittedly), Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (Close To The Bone) and Repetition Kills You (All Due Respect) were released in June and September, respectively.

I also self-published a trio of e-book novelettes, Snuff Racket (also included in Meat Bubbles), Slug Bait and Spine Farm, all of which complement and expand the Paignton Noir universe explored in the books. Spine Farm is a direct sequel to Snuff Racket/Meat Bubbles, and paves the way for the events depicted in the upcoming Boneyard Dogs.

Slug Bait is part of a different (post-Repetition Kills You) timeline, and a number of supporting characters will also appear in future books. Of the three novelettes, this one sold the best, so something about the story must have piqued people’s interest. Either way, this narrative isn’t dead and buried – unlike half of the characters!

The novelettes are great fun to write – and have probably replaced my enduring obsession with flash fiction – although I still managed to notch up a handful of short stories across the course of the year:

XXXmas Boogaloo (Close To The Bone, January 2018)

Oozy Rat In A Sanitary Zoo (Spelk, February 2018)

Murderers I Have Known (Horror Sleaze Trash, June 2018)

Dirty English (Close To The Bone, July 2018)

Venus In Fake Furs (Retreats From Oblivion, August 2018)

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells (Punk Noir Magazine, December 2018)

Looking ahead, I have at least two books coming out in 2019 (watch this space for more details), and I would like to find a home for a couple of extra novellas too – which is easier said than done!

Thanks for reading!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells @ Punk Noir Magazine

“It’s Christmas Eve and I’m standing in the middle of a stash house in Hookhills, bleeding from one ear and trying to work out which one of the hired hands I should shoot first: the skinny guy in the soiled Sexy Santa minidress or the fat fuck in the scuffed-looking ballistics vest.”

Thanks to Paul D. Brazill for running this year’s Paignton Noir Christmas story, JINGLE BELLS, SHOTGUN SHELLS, at Punk Noir Magazine.

This is a heart-warming festive romp involving firearms, fuckwits, Fentanyl and food banks. You can read it here.

And if you want some added Christmas cheer, why not check out my previous Christmas stories here?