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.’

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!

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!

Paignton Noir: Weekly Round-up

“People say that Paignton turns feral after dark, but I think it’s feral all day long – you just have to know where to look…”

Brit-grit supremo Paul D. Brazill, author of the recent novella Last Year’s Man (All Due Respect), cast an eye over my latest e-book, SLUG BAIT, this week, making it one of his recommended reads of the week. If ‘vivid, lurid, lewd and crude’ sounds like your cup of crime fiction, you should probably check it out!

Meanwhile, tireless UK crime fiction blogger Colman Keane plunged head-first into the seedy world of MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES, saying ‘I’m entertained, I’m thrilled, I’m appalled, I’m amused, I’m disgusted and I’m hooked.’ It’s a tremendous review, in which Col unpicks the key themes of the book, so please check it out.

Finally, one last MEAT BUBBLES interview, before the REPETITION KILLS YOU promotional bandwagon rolls into town. This is a short Q&A on the Close To The Bone website. I discuss violent repercussions and unknown horrors: ‘Rey is a hard man – nowhere more so than in Meat Bubbles – but I don’t like the idea of an indestructible character. He is very much destructible, and every hideous thing he experiences affects his body and his mind. Watch this space to see how bad it gets.’


New Interview @ My Life My Books My Escape

What were some of the inspirations behind Meat Bubbles & Other Stories?

Tom: In no particular order: B-movies; pub crawls; US crime fiction from the 1980s and 1990s; Englishness; Psychogeography; abandoned spaces and places; and, of course, my home town, Paignton!

I have a brand new interview online at My Life My Books My Escape. Thanks to DJ for the questions!

Meat Bubbles aside, I spill the beans on a couple of forthcoming attractions: Boneyard Dogs and The British Meat Scene, so check it out if you want to learn more about what I have been cooking up this year…

Interview @ Toe Six Press

“Popular books fascinate me and terrify me in equal measure. I struggle to get more than 50 pages into most mainstream thrillers, and these brutal, intense stories of mine are an antidote to that.”

Thanks to Sandra Ruttan for having me back at Toe Six Press to discuss Meat Bubbles & Other Stories!

New Interview @ Unlawful Acts

“I can assure you that my next book, ‘Repetition Kills You’ represents a nervous step towards the light – a bit like a captive stumbling out of a sex dungeon, I suppose…”

This week David Nemeth interviewed me as part of his ‘Suspect’s Viewpoint’ Q&A series over at Unlawful Acts. We discussed Paignton Noir, my murky historical fiction project Pig Alley and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Check it out!

David recently went toe-to-toe with Meat Bubbles and survived. Here is what he had to say.

Meat Bubbles: Brit Grit Alley Recommended Read

“It’s gritty, it’s visceral, it’s stomach churning – everything you want from crime fiction, British or otherwise.”

Last week Paul Heatley – author of the excellent novellas An Eye For An Eye (Near To The Knuckle) and Fatboy (All Due Respect) – wrote a great little feature on Meat Bubbles & Other Stories for his Brit Grit Alley column at Out of the Gutter Online. You can check it out here.

And here’s a vicious Meat Bubbles taster, also online at Out of the Gutter: Sloppy Operator.

Sons of Spade: Guest Feature

“He is a cut-price private investigator with a nasty side-line in muscle-for-hire work. As the series progresses his investigative skills are honed, and his client list improves, but he never really loses his willingness to get his hands dirty for personal gain and his unwavering commitment to revenge.”

I am excited to have a new guest feature over at Sons of Spade, the great fictional PI blog run by Dutch crime writer Jochem Vandersteen.  I discuss the top five private investigators who have influenced the character of Joe Rey. These may or may not be obvious to people who have read my work – see for yourself!

Meat Bubbles @ Unlawful Acts

“The hard-boiled edge of Mickey Spillane’s ‘I, the Jury’ and the drug-infused rantings of William S. Burroughs’s ‘Naked Lunch’ fused together in a whiskey-soaked opiate haze.”

David Nemeth, Unlawful Acts on Meat Bubbles & Other Stories

I felt downright queasy reading David Nemeth’s review of Meat Bubbles – and I was the one who wrote the damned book!

Unlawful Acts is a must-read crime blog, and David’s passion for independent crime fiction is infectious. I’m very happy that he crawled back into the Paignton Noir wasteland after going toe-to-toe with series opener Skull Meat last year.

I would like to tell you that I will never write another book as extreme as Meat Bubbles, but then I cast an eye over my works-in-progress and I’m not so sure!

My next book, Repetition Kills You (out in September from All Due Respect) dials down the darkness a notch. Hell, there’s even a love story in there… kind of. Suffocated beneath meaty slabs of suburban savagery!