The Pub Singer @ A Thin Slice of Anxiety

“Gloria worked the microphone like it was a cock – all animal print and animal urges.”

I’ve got some grim new flash fiction online at A Thin Slice of Anxiety this week. You can read The Pub Singer here.

I wrote the first draft of this story during one of the lockdowns. I must have been in a particularly cheerful mood that week, because I was intending to write a series of (non-Joe Rey) short stories about the unrelated deaths of a number of Dirty Lemon regulars. For better or for worse, I lost interest in the idea after one story.

The project will never see the light of day, but I thought this story was worth resurrecting!

All Due Respect 2021: Out Now

“The elderly woman’s face explodes in a ruptured mess of cartilage and bone as my lumpen forehead makes contact with the bridge of her nose. That’s going to leave a fucking mark.”

Today saw the release of All Due Respect 2021, a new anthology which collects the twelve monthly stories that were published by All Due Respect last year, alongside a surprise bonus story from John Rector, whose excellent 2010 noir novel The Cold Kiss comes highly recommended!

The collection – which has been edited by ADR head honcho Chris Rhatigan and Unlawful Acts blogger David Nemeth – includes my story ‘The Safe House’, alongside work by the likes of Rob Pierce, Daniel Vlasaty, Alec Cizak, Jay Butkowski, Copper Smith, K.A. Laity, Preston Lang and others. 

UK readers can click here to buy, or you can visit the Down & Out Books site for the full list of purchase options.

Ten Pints of Blood @ The Pensive Quill

“While some writers would shy away from going into lurid detail, Leins goes straight for the jugular and forces the reader’s face into the dirt. Not only is it a demonstration of the darker impulses that exist in every town and city, but it also acts as an example of how social and economic degradation can be fertile ground for these dark impulses.”

Of the books I have written to date, Ten Pints of Blood is easily one of my favourites, and I’m always happy when a new reader discovers it!

Suffice to say, I was delighted with this in-depth review by Christopher Owens at the Pensive Quill.

I like it when readers enjoy the pulpy, page-turning side of my work, but it’s especially satisfying when someone engages with the social and political backdrop as well as the narrative – as Christopher did here.

Whereas my first two short story collections (Meat Bubbles/Repetition Kills You) featured older content that was reworked and pieced together thematically, the bulk of the material in Ten Pints of Blood was written against the backdrop of Brexit, and the toxicity that accompanied it. I sprinkled on top a mixture of deprivation, addiction, abuse and bleary-eyed small town violence and left it to simmer.

It’s a book I’m really proud of, and the one I always pluck off the bookshelf when I want to re-focus my storytelling energies.

Check it out!

Broken English

This week, I was excited to be featured in Broken English – the monthly newsletter from Victor Santos, the Spanish author of the Polar series of neo-noir graphic novels, which were published by Dark Horse Books and adapted into a 2019 Netflix movie starring Mads Mikkelsen!

Victor highlights my work alongside the books of my fellow Close To The Bone/All Due Respect author Paul Heatley, whose ADR novel Cutthroat comes in for some praise.

Victor writes of the Paignton Noir series: “If you are a fan of Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis’ more over-the-top comics, Leins is your man.”

How cool is that?!

All Due Respect 2021: Cover Reveal

He edges closer, but not too close. Even from ten feet away he stinks like an unrefrigerated corpse.

“You got any ciggies, new boy?”

I shake my head.

“Don’t smoke, mate. Smoking can kill you.”

I’m excited to be able to share the front cover for All Due Respect 2021, a new anthology which collects the twelve monthly stories that were published by All Due Respect last year! The book includes my story ‘The Safe House’, alongside work by the likes of Rob Pierce, Daniel Vlasaty, Alec Cizak, Jay Butkowski, Copper Smith, K.A. Laity, Preston Lang and others. The book will be released on 18th February.

(I’m ‘Mr September’, which makes me sound like a Tailgunner centrefold!)

The book cover was designed by J.T. Lindroos, who also created the excellent cover for my new book, Sharp Knives & Loud Guns.

Speaking of which, my contributor copies of Sharp Knives & Loud Guns arrived this week. Here’s me accessorising with my Charles Bronson t-shirt.

2021 In Review

“I learned a long time ago not to leave blood, phlegm or semen at a crime scene, but that won’t be possible today.”

It’s time for my annual examination of unfinished projects, rejected stories and aimless distractions: 2021 in review!

Despite the aforementioned obstacles, I still managed to notch up a handful of publications in 2021! It’s definitely a case of quality not quantity this year, and I’m reasonably happy with my output – even if 2021 was the first time I’ve failed to finish writing a book since 2017. Ugh. I’ll have to try and finish two books in 2022 to make up for this year’s slack pace!

Hopefully I’ll crack on with the hyper-violent sequel to Sharp Knives & Loud Guns, which I’m very excited about. It’s like a ’70s men’s adventure novel given a degenerate Paignton Noir makeover. (Just thinking about it makes me grin!) The Joe Rey folk-horror book is also taking shape, although it needs a lot of focus, and that is something that has been in short supply lately. It is almost certainly the best thing I have committed to paper to date, so it needs to be just right before I try to work out what to do with it.

There are also a handful of novelettes that are embarrassingly close to completion, so look out for at least two of them next year. It might even be time to dust down (and type up) the Florida-set buddy mystery I wrote by hand in the summer. It’s one of those books that starts off with a mainstream hook, then goes fucking loopy.

Without any further ado, here are this year’s offerings for you to get reacquainted with:

Sharp Knives & Loud Guns (All Due Respect, December 2021)

Skeleton Crew (self-published, July 2021)

Dead End Jobs: A Hitman Anthology – includes my story The Body Count (All Due Respect, June 2021)

Coming Through In Waves: Crime Fiction Inspired By The Songs of Pink Floyd – includes my story Brain Damage (Gutter Books, February 2021)

The Safe House (All Due Respect, September 2021)

Short Lives & Blunt Knives (Shotgun Honey, December 2021)

The Deadlands (Punk Noir Magazine, March 2021)

Mistletoe & Swines (Bristol Noir, December 2021)

Happy New Year – and thanks for reading!

The 12 Crimes of Christmas: Part 5

“I’ve never worked for Ebenezer before – only for his business partner Marley. Ex-business partner, I suppose. Marley was found in the derelict Garfield Road multi-storey car park last month – throat slit, mouth sewn shut. His gouged-out teeth were stashed in the pockets of his sheepskin coat – along with the rusty chisel his assailant used.”

Blog visitors will be relieved to hear that my weirdly exhausting trawl through the festive archives concludes today, with a pair of Christmas crime stories that were published by Bristol Noir, namely: Ignorance & Want (2020) and Mistletoe & Swines (2021)! Editor John Bowie has published some great work on the Bristol Noir site, and I would definitely recommend checking out some of the emerging writers who have been featured to date.

As a bonus, I’ll conclude with the first ever Joe Rey Christmas story, Christmas Card From A Hooker In Newton Abbot, which was written back in December 2013 (but went live on New Year’s Day 2014)! I’m not even going to attempt to calculate how many Joe Rey stories have emerged in the ensuing eight years!

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you have a great Christmas!

I’ll be back with more Rey stories in 2022!

Mistletoe and Swines @ Bristol Noir

“Summers in Devon are characterised by long nights and short fuses. Winter days are grim, stunted affairs – sawn-off like shotguns – and it feels like the darkness is already closing in.”

My annual Paignton Noir Christmas story was published by Bristol Noir last week. Check out Mistletoe & Swines! Many thanks to Bristol Noir’s John Bowie for running the story!

The 12 Crimes of Christmas: Part 4

“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.”

It’s time for the fourth part of my ’12 Crimes of Christmas’ trip down memory lane, and a visit to the Punk Noir Magazine archives. Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells was written in time for Christmas 2018 and The Naughty List appeared in 2019.

As I’ve noted before, the Joe Rey stories can often be categorised as either rampage stories or mysteries – although the lines generally blur before each story reaches its blood-soaked conclusion! Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells is definitely a rampage story: Rey is hired to retrieve a kit-bag full of Fentanyl from a stash house, and shit inevitably goes sideways.

A reworked version of this tale (retitled as Stash House) went on to appear in my brutally enjoyable short story collection Ten Pints of Blood (or ‘ten bloody readers’, as it should probably be called!). Ten Pints of Blood also includes Spine Farm, a grisly cold case investigation that takes place at Christmas – making it my most Christmassy book yet!

I love the cold case storylines, as they are a welcome change of pace, and the stakes are generally very different. As is the case with a lot of my Christmas stories, The Naughty List is more light-hearted than my other material and examines the aftermath of a vicious Securicor van robbery that took place in 1991.

Enjoy!

The 12 Crimes of Christmas: Part 3

“The barman at the Cock & Whistle is the least jolly-looking motherfucker I’ve ever seen wearing a Santa hat. I pay for my pint and back away, slowly — he is nursing a baseball bat wrapped in tinsel. I don’t know if he is trying to scare off the carol singers, or the wiry Glaswegian who sells shower gel, bacon and socks out of a Slazenger hold-all.”

Time for Part 3 of my 12 Crimes of Christmas countdown!

Today’s selection includes a pair of flash fiction pieces that were published by Spelk to coincide with Christmas in 2015 and 2016: Christmas Is Going To The Dogs and All I Want For Christmas Are Your Two Front Teeth.

The first story went on to reappear in my experimental 2018 short story collection Repetition Kills You. Charles Boggs, the bent cop who crops up in the story, also has a brief cameo in Boneyard Dogs and reappears in Smut Loop, one of the three novelettes that makes up my latest book, Sharp Knives & Loud Guns. I always had plans to give Boggs a proper storyline, it just took me a while to get round to writing it!

All I Want For Christmas Are Your Two Front Teeth, meanwhile, is exclusive to Spelk. It’s probably my favourite title of all my Christmas stories to date, although there are a couple that run it close! (And, yes, in this case I came up with the title first and then concocted a story to do it justice!)