Meat Bubbles and Other Stories: Out Now

“I like my explosives the same way I like my pornography – homemade and volatile…”

Out now on Kindle and in paperback, my first ever short story collection: Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (Near To The Knuckle)!

Earlier versions of these stories were published over the course of the last decade by the likes of Akashic Books, Crime Factory, Spelk Fiction, Sein und Werden, the Flash Fiction Offensive, Yellow Mama and Near To The Knuckle, among others. I’m very proud of this collection, and had a great time working with NTTK publisher Craig Douglas on the book.

Note: Meat Bubbles & Other Stories contains language, scenes and descriptions of Paignton that may be considered offensive!

Synopsis:

Still licking his wounds after the brutal events of SKULL MEAT, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey is reluctant to take on another case that could have violent repercussions. However, a lucrative pay-day from a soon-to-retire cop tests his resolve, and Rey quickly finds himself on the trail of a deranged plastic surgeon with a queasy line in body modification procedures. Over the course of a long, bloody summer, Rey tangles with rogue ex-cops, suburban hitmen, neo-Nazi scumbags and even Paignton’s richest man – a notorious hoarder of unknown horrors. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…

Praise for Meat Bubbles:

Benedict J. Jones, author of Pennies For Charon and The Devil’s Brew (Crime Wave Press):

“Welcome to the nightmare factory – there’s dark and then there’s Tom Leins’ Paignton… By parts a mix of the brutality of Hubert Selby Jr and the pure noir-ish banter of Ray Banks with more than a dash of the good old ultra-violence. Thirteen brutal shorts and then the extended nightmare of Snuff Racket. You’d have to go a long way to beat the sheer violence, brutality, humour and brilliance of Meat Bubbles.”

Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy (All Due Respect) and An Eye For An Eye (Near To The Knuckle):

“Tom Leins’ Paignton is close to Hell on earth. His battle-scarred PI Joe Rey is navigating every circle of it here – hookers, pimps, pornographers, killers, crooked cops, and every other grotesque you could care (or not) to imagine make up the colourful characters in this grim collection of noir from one of the premier writers of gut-wrenching dark fiction currently at work. One day people will talk about the fiction of Tom Leins the same way they talk about Derek Raymond’s – get on board now and when that day comes you’ll be able to brag you were round at the start.”

Matt Phillips, author of Bad Luck City (Near To The Knuckle) and Accidental Outlaws (All Due Respect):

“If you had to kill someone with a book, you’d use this one. Cracked skulls. Bruised knuckles. Wounds in the shape of unnameable body parts. Characters as broken and misshapen as the populace of a violent noir hellscape. Tom Leins writes like a man skinned by jackals and doused in lighter fluid. Meat Bubbles & Other Stories is a new paradigm in noir—Paignton noir, an aesthetic built on images that’d make a seasoned leg-breaker squeal like a school girl.”

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Repetition Kills You: Cover Reveal

I’m excited to reveal the cover for my forthcoming Paignton Noir book Repetition Kills You, which will be published by All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books) in September 2018. The striking design is courtesy of Ben Shanks, who has done a great job!

Here’s a little bit about the book…

Repetition Kills You is an experimental noir. A novel-in-stories. A literary jigsaw puzzle.

The book comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’.  The key stylistic influence on this collection is ‘The Beach Murders’ (1966) by J.G. Ballard, which was collected in Low Flying Aircraft and Other Stories(1976). Like the letters of the alphabet, Ballard’s fragments can be arranged in any order. So can my stories.

Combined in certain ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. The narrative timeline is warped, like a blood-soaked Möbius Strip. It goes round in circles – like a deranged animal chasing its own tail.

The content is brutal and provocative: small-town pornography, gun-running, mutilation and violent, blood-streaked stories of revenge. The cast list includes sex offenders, serial killers, bare-knuckle fighters, carnies and corrupt cops. And a private eye with a dark past – and very little future.

Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Meat Bubbles: promotional trailer

Check out this fantastic Meat Bubbles promotional trailer, courtesy of Near To The Knuckle head-honcho Craig Douglas:

Also online this week: Murder, Mayhem & More said of Meat Bubbles: ‘Brutal violence, black humour, explicit everything – that’s just first page of this collection of 14 interlinked stories that surf the extreme, X-rated edge of pulp fiction… Who knew that a quiet English seaside town could have such a sleazy side to it?’

Coming Soon: Meat Bubbles and Other Stories

I am excited to announce that my new book MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES will be published by Near To The Knuckle on 2nd June 2018! NTTK has published some excellent books in recent years, so I will be in good company! Check out the fantastic artwork courtesy of NTTK head honcho Craig Douglas – you can definitely judge this book by its cover!

Synopsis:

Still licking his wounds after the brutal events of SKULL MEAT, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey is reluctant to take on another case that could have violent repercussions. However, a lucrative pay-day from a soon-to-retire cop tests his resolve, and Rey quickly finds himself on the trail of a deranged plastic surgeon with a queasy line in body modification procedures. Over the course of a long, bloody summer, Rey tangles with rogue ex-cops, suburban hitmen, neo-Nazi scumbags and even Paignton’s richest man – a notorious hoarder of unknown horrors. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…

Praise for Meat Bubbles:

Benedict J. Jones, author of Pennies For Charon and The Devil’s Brew (Crime Wave Press):

“Welcome to the nightmare factory – there’s dark and then there’s Tom Leins’ Paignton… By parts a mix of the brutality of Hubert Selby Jr and the pure noir-ish banter of Ray Banks with more than a dash of the good old ultra-violence. Thirteen brutal shorts and then the extended nightmare of Snuff Racket. You’d have to go a long way to beat the sheer violence, brutality, humour and brilliance of Meat Bubbles.”

Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy (All Due Respect) and An Eye For An Eye (Near To The Knuckle):

“Tom Leins’ Paignton is close to Hell on earth. His battle-scarred PI Joe Rey is navigating every circle of it here – hookers, pimps, pornographers, killers, crooked cops, and every other grotesque you could care (or not) to imagine make up the colourful characters in this grim collection of noir from one of the premier writers of gut-wrenching dark fiction currently at work. One day people will talk about the fiction of Tom Leins the same way they talk about Derek Raymond’s – get on board now and when that day comes you’ll be able to brag you were round at the start.”

Matt Phillips, author of Bad Luck City (Near To The Knuckle) and Accidental Outlaws (All Due Respect):

“If you had to kill someone with a book, you’d use this one. Cracked skulls. Bruised knuckles. Wounds in the shape of unnameable body parts. Characters as broken and misshapen as the populace of a violent noir hellscape. Tom Leins writes like a man skinned by jackals and doused in lighter fluid. Meat Bubbles & Other Stories is a new paradigm in noir—Paignton noir, an aesthetic built on images that’d make a seasoned leg-breaker squeal like a school girl.”

Snuff Racket: Out Now!

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce the publication of a new e-book: SNUFF RACKET.

Here’s the synopsis:

A missing video. A dismembered girl. A deranged ex-con. And a disgraced private investigator. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it…
Still recuperating from his previous case, Paignton private eye Joe Rey is hired by a mysterious stranger to track down one of the few remaining copies of a notorious 1970s Giallo movie – only to find himself embroiled in an increasingly vicious running battle with a demented ex-convict.

Buy:

UK

US

2017 In Review

2017 was a good year… Writing-wise, at least!

I’m not overly prone to self-examination, but this year I felt sluggish and unproductive for long periods. The end of the year prompted me to take a look at my story output, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had written/ published far more than I remembered in 2017: twelve short stories (ten of which were flash fiction), four longer anthology pieces, four (of five) 2,000-word chapters for The Blood Red Experiment and one 10,000-word novelette (Skull Meat).

On the down-side, not only did I not finish it, but I ripped the guts out of my novella Boneyard Dogs, when I set myself the target of completing it by the end of 2017! Either way, it is 2018’s problem now!

Here are the links to the online stories:

Paignton Noir:

Evil Heat (at Pulp Metal Magazine)

Clawfist (at Spelk Fiction)

Sloppy Operator (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

Dry Salvage (at Near To The Knuckle)

Bedlam Money (at Spelk Fiction)

Wrestling Noir:

The Last Dog & Pony Show (at The All-New A Twist of Noir)

Bloater (at Shotgun Honey)

Beauty & Ruin (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

Black Sheets of Rain (at Pulp Metal Magazine)

The Glory Hole (at Horror Sleaze Trash)

The Sunset Flip (at Story & Grit)

Christmas Noir:

Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets (at The Flash Fiction Offensive)

… and here are the links to the longer works:

This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology (includes my story Incarcerated Scarfaces)

Switchblade – Issue #1 (includes my story The Stooge)

More Bizarro Than Bizarro (includes my story Here Comes That Weird Chill)

Wrestle Maniacs (includes my story Real Americans)

The Blood Red Experiment (includes my serialisation Didn’t Bleed Red)

and

Skull Meat!

Thanks for reading!

 

Repetition Kills You – Coming In September 2018 – From All Due Respect

I am delighted to confirm that All Due Respect, an imprint of Down & Out Books, will be publishing my Paignton Noir book Repetition Kills You in September 2018.

Repetition Kills You is an experimental noir. A novel-in-stories. A literary jigsaw puzzle.

The book comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’.  The key stylistic influence on this collection is ‘The Beach Murders’ (1966) by J.G. Ballard, which was collected in Low Flying Aircraft and Other Stories (1976). Like the letters of the alphabet, Ballard’s fragments can be arranged in any order. So can my stories.

Combined in certain ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. The narrative timeline is warped, like a blood-soaked Möbius Strip. It goes round in circles – like a deranged animal chasing its own tail.

The content is brutal and provocative: small-town pornography, gun-running, mutilation and violent, blood-streaked stories of revenge. The cast list includes sex offenders, serial killers, bare-knuckle fighters, carnies and corrupt cops. And a private eye with a dark past – and very little future.

Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Wrestle Maniacs – Out Now!

The 1st of December saw the release of Wrestle Maniacs, a top-notch wrestling-themed short story collection edited by Adam Howe – the author of the highly recommended Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and Tijuana Donkey Showdown.

Wrestle Maniacs includes my brand new story Real Americans, a standalone piece that also forms an unexpected epilogue to my existing wrestling noir online short story series, which will (hopefully) be collected and published as The Good Book in 2018.

In these stories, unhinged wrestling promoter Frank ‘Fingerfuck’ Flanagan – the owner of the infamous Testament Wrestling Alliance – rules his territory with an iron fist, and his personal road to hell is paved with dead wrestlers.

Real Americans takes place some eight years after the events of The Good Book, and follows the investigation of a brutal murder that sucks in the few surviving figures from Fingerfuck Flanagan’s unstable wrestling stable.

After drawing a line under my own wrestling series earlier this year, I was initially wary of revisiting my old stomping ground, but Real Americans was a hell of a lot of fun to write, and is (hopefully!) far funnier than the stories that preceded it.

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Over at my Dirty Books blog, I’m in the process of interviewing my fellow Wrestle Maniacs (Adam Howe, James Newman, Eryk Pruitt, Ed Kurtz, Hector Acosta, Joseph Hirsch, Duncan P. Bradshaw, David James Keaton, Gabino Iglesias, Patrick Lacey and Jason Parent), regarding their stories – and their own wrestling memories. As such, I think it’s only fair to share a few thoughts on my own relationship with sports entertainment…

I grew up in a small English town in the 1980s, and my first (indecent) exposure to wrestling was via the defiantly un-glamourous duo of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks – a morbidly obese pair of mortal enemies who waddled across my boxy TV screen on Saturday afternoons.

(Years later, when I was in the lucrative employment of Torbay Council, an ex-wrestler used to sleep in one of the shelters on Paignton sea front. I forget his name, but apparently he used to be a big deal and wrestle against Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks back in the day. He used to wake up soaked in his own piss every morning, and the council had to hose down the shelter before the holiday-makers arrived. I had to run interference – scaring off kids who were throwing coins and flicking lit matches at him.)

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After witnessing the underwhelming spectacle of Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree to his family and friends) going through the motions, experiencing Vince McMahon’s WWF for the first time was a mind-blowing experience. Swollen muscles, bouffant hair, dangerously tight spandex: this was what was missing from my suburban childhood!

I struggle to recall the first ever WWF match that I watched, but I definitely remember renting 1989’s Hulk Hogan vehicle No Holds Barred from the South Pacific video shop, and then watching 1991’s Suburban Commando (twice) at a bizarre makeshift cinema at the English Riviera Centre a couple of years later.

The event that got me hooked, however, was definitely the WWF’s Battle Royal at the Albert Hall VHS from 1991, which I spent my pocket money on at the late, lamented Paignton branch of Woolworths. The London-based event was conceived as a push for a Davey Boy Smith – the British Bulldog – whose surging WWF popularity coincided with the recent arrival of wrestling on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports channel in the UK. (Spoiler alert: Bulldog beat The Barbarian in 10:07 at the Albert Hall event, and then won the 20-man Battle Royal after upending a post-Tugboat Fred ‘Typhoon’ Ottman in the headline match!)

With Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart not making the trip over to the UK, the Bulldog was allowed to take centre stage (although the event was supposedly Ric Flair’s WWF debut, trivia fans!). With his meaty frame, braided hair and brusque Northern accent, the British Bulldog was an appealingly plausible home-grown alternative to exotic, balding middle-aged Americans like Hulk Hogan, and this event kick-started an obsessive relationship with early ‘90s wrestling – WCW included.

In truth, my own interest in wrestling died long before Davey Boy Smith did – I checked out in around 1995 – but I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting my pubescent passions in recent years, as I have put this series of wrestling stories together. I’ve also filled in a lot of gaps in my post-1995 wrestling awareness, although that initial era remains my clear favourite.

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Anyway, you can check out my earlier wrestling noir stories here (note: I’ll be removing these links in the near-future, as I prepare the collection for publication), and then buy a copy of Wrestle Maniacs to see how the saga ends!

   Amazon US

Amazon UK

More Bizarro Than Bizarro – Out Now!

“It’s not even Halloween yet, but the stripper at the Dirty Lemon is already wearing a Santa hat. I drop a fake pound coin in her pint glass and she smiles through broken teeth. Out-of-season seaside towns – other people’s last resorts. I pick my way through the crowd – day-time drinkers crouched perilously on the edges of their barstools, like swollen suburban gargoyles – and head to the toilet.”

Out this week from Bizarro Pulp Press: ‘More Bizarro Than Bizarro’ edited by Vincenzo Bilof.

This collection includes my story, Here Comes That Weird Chill, which plays out like a grindhouse version of Scooby Doo. Set in the Westcountry!

Here is an interview on the Bizarro Pulp Press site in which I discuss my story.

Amazon UK link.

Amazon US link.

Skull Meat – Out Now!

My Paignton Noir novelette SKULL MEAT is available for Kindle now, via Amazon. This story is intended as a teaser for my forthcoming collection MEAT BUBBLES (& OTHER STORIES), which should be out later this summer.

Here’s the pitch:

Hired by mobster Marie Andretti to ransack the office of morbidly obese local nightclub owner ‘Swollen’ Roland Smart, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey quickly finds himself plunged into a dangerous cat and mouse game – which leaves him fighting for his life. His quest for answers – and vengeance – sees him plunge headfirst into the queasy underbelly of the grubby little seaside town he calls home. Rey is a man with a dark past, and, it seems, very little future. Welcome to Paignton Noir.

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

SKULL MEAT grew out of a few old, unfinished pieces I found lurking on my hard-drive. The prologue, ‘Paignton Rust’, was previously published as part of the Akashic Books’ ‘Mondays Are Murder’ series a few years ago, while other excerpts were featured by A Twist of Noir and Straight From The Fridge. It is too long to publish as a short story, and too short to be a novella, so an e-book seemed like a good idea.

If anyone reading this would like a free copy (mobi or PDF) in exchange for a review, drop me a line through the contact form.