Savage Minds and Raging Bulls: Out Now

“Some people have a sociopathic disregard for fear. Not me. When I get scared, I feel it all the way down to my fucking ball-bag.”

These two crime fiction anthologies edited by John Bowie are out now via Bristol Noir. The second volume (Savage Minds & Raging Bulls) includes my story ‘The Proper Disposal of Body Parts‘.

You can buy the anthology here!

The Safe House @ All Due Respect

“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 I have a brand new short story online at All Due Respect: The Safe House.

I think it’s one of my best Paignton Noir stories to date, but I’m biased!

Thanks to ADR publisher Chris Rhatigan for running the story.

If you missed my 2020 ADR story, 49,000 Ways To Die, here’s the link.

Skeleton Crew: Out Now

“I scratch my balls and survey the prison car park, wondering which one of my dwindling pool of acquaintances is going to pick me up this time. There are men – and women – on both sides of the law who would like nothing more than to bundle me into a Transit van and bludgeon me with blunt objects before burying me in a shallow grave. I look over my shoulder. Governor Diggs is curtain-twitching in his office like a suburban voyeur. For all I know, he has his hands down his fucking pants as well. He’s definitely the kind of guy who could get physically aroused by the prospect of masked men inflicting extreme violence on me.”

Who’s ready for a new Paignton Noir e-book? Good, because Skeleton Crew is out today!

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

As with all of the other e-books, Skeleton Crew is a self-contained story, although it is worth reading Dirty Bullion first if you want to find out why Rey is in prison in the first place!

There are also appearances from characters we’ve met in Snuff Racket, Sin Clinic and Slug Bait, so regular readers are in for a treat!

Here’s the synopsis:

Fresh from his second stint in HMP Channings Wood, disgraced private investigator Joe Rey returns home to find out that his crumbling rooming house, the Black Regent, has been quietly acquired by Devon & Cornwall Constabulary and converted into a clandestine safe house to shelter witnesses to some of the Westcountry’s most horrific crimes.
While he gathers his belongings – and enjoys one final drink in the TV lounge with decrepit elderly cops Benson and Hedges – a masked mob descend upon the building, in search of the sole occupant: a terrified woman, who is now ensconced in Rey’s former room.
Fight or flight? What do you think?
Welcome back to Paignton, Joe. There’s no place like home…

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…)