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.

Bone Train @ Punk Noir Magazine

“I’m leaning against a badly rusted rollercoaster called the ‘Titty Twister’, staring at a guy who looks like a fucking autopsy sketch. His complexion is tombstone grey and he’s wearing a fluorescent 1980s ski jacket with one of the ragged sleeves gaffer-taped back on. He looks like he’d be more at home selling crack to addicts in a graveyard than working at a funfair.”

Today I have a brand new Halloween-themed Paignton Noir story online at Punk Noir Magazine. Why not take a ride on the Bone Train?

Thanks to Punk Noir head honcho Paul D. Brazill for running the story!

In the mood for more Halloween flash fiction? Try Flesh & Bone, which was featured at Close To The Bone on Halloween in 2015.

The Proper Disposal of Body Parts @ Bristol Noir

“Wet-Look used to keep a jam jar full of loose cigarettes on his desk for visitors.”

I shrug. Wet-Look’s dead – and it wasn’t the fucking cigarettes that killed him. 

This morning I made my debut appearance at Bristol Noir, the cracking e-zine run by writer/designer John Bowie (author of Untethered). Not only did John run The Proper Disposal of Body Parts, he also produced a fantastic piece of artwork to accompany the piece (see below for a preview).

The Proper Disposal of Body Parts is a ‘late-period’ Joe Rey story (post-Repetition Kills You), which finds Paignton’s least favourite private investigator plying his trade out of the grotty, inherited office above the North Atlantic Video Lounge, as previously seen in Dirty Bullion and 49,000 Ways To Die.

I’m having a lot of fun juggling the two timelines at the moment, and they will hopefully congeal next year with some vicious stories that bridge the narrative gaps!

Coming Soon: Coming Through In Waves

The room is pretty fucking bare. No pictures. No television. No fucking décor. Apart from the sofa, all I can see are a laptop and a carrier bag full of well-worn sex toys. Since Barrett went inside and his ‘liquid assets’ dried up, he told me that his wife has covered the rent money by doing a webcam show called ‘See Emily Play’.

Next month, my story ‘Brain Damage’ will feature in Coming Through In Waves: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd – the fourth instalment in Gutter Books’ Rock Anthology Series. The new anthology is edited by T. Fox Dunham, and proceeds from the project will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The cheerfully titled ‘Brain Damage‘ is a brand new Joe Rey story, which sees him doing a queasy favour for Barrett, his ex-cell mate, who is still serving time in Channings Wood.

All things being well, the book will be out next month. I look forward to sharing more details about the book – contributors, release date, etc – in due course!

(I’ve just realised that Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime And Heartbreak, Inspired By The Replacements was published four years ago next month! There were a whole bunch of cracking stories in that anthology, including the brutal Joe Rey story ‘Nightclub Jitters’ – a reworked version of which can be found in my latest book, Ten Pints of Blood.)

The Heart’s Filthy Desire: Video Online

“The torrential rain sounds like gunfire as it clatters against the roof of the blood-coloured Austin Allegro. I wipe the condensation off the window and stare at the crumbling mansion. The building looks enormous – stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions. Half of the windows appear to be broken and the ancient brickwork looks chipped and rancid.”

Here is the video of my short story The Heart’s Filthy Desire being performed by actor Tim Larkfield at the Liars’ League Halloween event in London earlier this month.

Suffice to say, this story is one of Joe Rey’s strangest cases to date! (Those of you who have read Repetition Kills You may notice namechecks for a couple of his queasiest antagonists.)


The Heart’s Filthy Desire @ Liars’ League London

I’m delighted to reveal that my new short story The Heart’s Filthy Desire has been selected for the Liars’ League London ‘Hide & Seek’ event next month. It will be performed live by an actor, alongside four other short pieces.

The event will be held on Tuesday 13th October at the The Phoenix, Cavendish Square. You can find more details here.

Several years ago, my story The Carny was performed at a Liars’ League event in Hong Kong, and it was great, so you should check it out! (The story itself later resurfaced in my collection Repetition Kills You.)

As for the new story: I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a Joe Rey Halloween story…!

***

I have probably written more short stories this summer than I have in years, and I should have some extremely exciting anthology news to share very soon!

(What I’m going to do with the gruesome piece of historical fiction – created during an online workshop run by a well-known crime writer – is anyone’s guess!)

During the summer, I also won the runner-up prize (£50!) in a Devon-based short story competition, which involved creating a tale that linked a beginning and an ending supplied by UK crime writer Graham Hurley. The story was set in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, and involved the abduction of a baby. Dark, right? Naturally, I went even darker!

That particular piece isn’t online, but I’m intending to rework it as part of a future Paignton Noir story, so watch this space.

On the subject on future Paignton Noir stories, there should be a new novelette before the year is out. I’ll keep the title and cover under wraps for now, but this one is going to be absolutely brutal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…!

Recalibration @ Pulp Modern Flash

“When news of ‘The Surge’ leaked out, the government put imprisoned sex offenders to work in the Extermination Division. The chemicals they used on the rats hadn’t been properly tested, and they were reluctant to risk decimating the military with a hazardous, untried substance. Fourteen elderly rapists died within the first fortnight due to chemical exposure. They were burned in shallow pits, along with the rats.”

… and now for something entirely different!

My new dystopian short story Recalibration is featured online at Alec Cizak’s new Pulp Modern Flash venture this week.

I wrote the first draft of this story four years ago as a companion piece to my story Rat Farm (a dystopian flash-forward Joe Rey tale set in 2031).

It felt weirdly appropriate to retrieve it, kick it into shape and let it loose during the ongoing pandemic.

I can assure you: the references to empty food-banks, scarce breathing apparatus and contemptuous government officials were all in the first draft…

Enjoy!

Slop Shop: Out Now

“The man wipes the condensation off the cracked mirror with the threadbare sleeve of his sanitarium-issue sweatshirt. It’s a bitterly cold day and he tries to massage some feeling into his hideous, rubbery face. A face that only a motherfucker could love. A visage that was clumsily stapled back together after it was disfigured with a meat axe in an abandoned factory three years ago. The staples got infected in an effluence-splattered holding cell and now form a rusted diagonal seam that bisects his warped face. He was never a good-looking man beforehand – his slack jaw and bottle-thick National Health Service glasses only serving to highlight his otherness. Now he looks fucking repulsive.”

From the Slop Shop prologue, ‘Hometown Scars’

New e-book time! First: a confession. I never intended to write Slop Shop. It definitely wasn’t on my hit-list of planned projects. I was flicking through Repetition Kills You to make a few continuity notes ahead of a separate project, and a few RKY supporting characters snagged in my consciousness. A lot of people die in that book, but these ones didn’t, and it got me wondering what they would be up to – three years on.

As for Rey, this book finds him in muscle-for-hire mode, no longer doing investigative work. An opportunity to find a meat tycoon’s daughter changes all that, and his demons come out to play. I love writing the PI stories and I love writing what I call the ‘rampage’ stories. This story combines both elements, but definitely feels more like a rampage story.

In terms of style and content (and the disjointed writing process), it resembles Skull Meat more than any other story of mine. See what you think!

Synopsis:

A wrongfully discharged mental patient with an axe to grind.

An elderly mob matriarch with a scorched earth revenge policy.

An ageing meat tycoon with a trophy wife and a missing daughter.

And a disgraced private investigator with blood on his hands.

Everyone’s a victimiser and everyone’s a victim. Dead meat is the best they can aspire to. Welcome to the SLOP SHOP.

SLOP SHOP is the nerve-shredding new thriller from the author of SKULL MEAT, SNUFF RACKET, SPINE FARM, SIN CLINIC and SLUG BAIT.

Buy on Amazon UK

Buy on Amazon US

Ten Pints of Blood: Trailer

To give people a taste of what to expect from my new book, Ten Pints of Blood, I’ve cobbled together a trailer!

You can watch it via YouTube:

Here’s me raising a glass to celebrate the book’s arrival!

And a ‘shelfie’, with my books filed alphabetically between Lansdale and Leonard!

Ten Pints of Blood: Out Now

“I’m not a skilled investigator. Far from it. My methods are questionable and my morals are murkier than gutter water, but I somehow manage to scrape a living. If ten years of mostly bitter experience has taught me anything, it is that finding the living is far easier than finding the dead. No blood-streaked shovels, no cobwebbed cadavers, and only the occasional bad dream.”

New book time!

Ten Pints of Blood is out today from Close To The Bone, in paperback and e-book formats. It was a pleasure working on another book with Craig at CTTB, after Meat Bubbles & Other Stories and Boneyard Dogs. I think Ten Pints – a new set of Paignton Noir Case Files – might be my favourite one yet.

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

Blurbs:

“Leins’ spare, striking prose confronts the horror beneath the skin of England with savage, astringent grace. These haunting tales deal compellingly with the open wounds of our world. Leins’ bloody and bruised characters drive into your skull and stay there.”

Gareth Spark, author of Marwick’s Reckoning and The Dark Earth of Albion

 “These stories kicked my ass. They are beautifully violent. Told in simple prose that is equally elegant and nasty, filled with blood and broken bones. Joe Rey is the exact kind of person I’d love to follow into the darkness that is Paignton. Tom Leins is a bad man.”

Daniel Vlasaty, author of Stay Ugly and Only Bones

 Ten Pints of Blood — a twisted novelette and nine seriously fucked up short stories — chronicles the further misadventures of unscrupulous private eye Joe Rey as he delves deep into a cesspit of sex pests, dirty coppers, serial killers and neo-Nazi toe-rags. For Rey, never likely to pass up an opportunity to inflict violence on anyone dumb enough to get in his way, it’s all in a grubby day’s work — an excuse to dust off his beloved brass knuckles and bust a few heads as he metes out his own warped brand of justice. Leins is on irresistible form here. His pared down prose will make you snort and cringe and look away, and the violence is so visceral you can almost taste the blood.”

Gary Duncan, author of You’re Not Supposed to Cry