Category Archives: Book review


Book Launch: Michael, we really have to talk …

This gallery contains 11 photos.

The book will be launched at the West End Library on Saturday morning, 31st October 2015

Time: 10:30 am for 11 am start

Place: Upstairs at West End Library 178-180 Boundary St West End

Price: The book will be sold at the launch for $20 (RRP $25).

The book will be introduced by Julie Cork and Abraham and Dan O’Neill.

Music by Jumping Fences

Refreshments are available. Continue reading


A Natural Wonder in Peril

The Reef: A Passionate History: The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change by Iain McCalman Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 336 pp., $27.00 Australia’s Great Barrier Reef stretches for around 1,430 miles along the continent’s northeast coast, … Continue reading

Noir thrills in Brisbane

Bent Banana Books has all its titles at Bewdiful BargainBasement prices this festive season starting with Bernie Dowling’s neo-noir novel Iraqi Icicle at .99c.


Check back regularly at   click on books in our gallery and see what bargains are on offer.
The Iraqi IcicleeBook bargain begins on December 7 at Amazon US. Your copy for Kindle is a few clicks and .99c away.  The promotion begins at Amazon UK on December 8 for £.99.
In paperback, your favorite online book stores will have the 368-page paperback in your eager hands for $US16-17 including delivery.
For less than $20, you can give a paperback copy of Iraqi Icicle as a Christmas gift and have the eBook at your finger-tips for your holiday reading.
You might want to read the reviews before you buy.
Here is one from the most respected book magazines in the world, Publishers Weekly. At the very least, you will find out what an Iraqi Icicle is.
Australian author Bernie Dowling applauds this promotion.
“I am pleased Amazon and Bent Banana Books have made Iraqi Icicle available at the eBook price of .99c,” Dowling said from his home  north of Brisbane.
“I created the novel as a deliberate challenge for the reader with a headache from the sugar-hits of formula thrillers. Now, people can read the eBook to decide which friend would appreciate the paperback for Christmas.”
He said the correct answer to what is an Iraqi icicle was find out for yourself.
I have not blogged here for quite some time so I am not sure if you are out there. Helloooow!  Helloooow! Anybody there? 
Any way, if you are out there, you know the drill. We finish with a song. As this post is about a neo-noir novel this one is appropriate. The video is a cultural atrocity but the song is cool.
Cheers, Bernie.

Man trouble is murder for Annie

Annie: Bernie, what are your thoughts
on my character?
Bernie: Funny you should ask, Annie…
FREDERICK Lee Brooke could be creating a new literary sub-genre – the relationship thriller.
Like all good thrillers, Collateral Damage crackles along at a merry pace while the reader eagerly awaits the denouement of Annie Ogden’s entanglements with three men.

Ex school teacher/ Iraq War veteran/ part time private eye Annie is engaged to her tubby partner in crime solution Salvatore. But her former lover in Iraq Michael bobs up Stateside to stir residual amorous feelings. Michael’s eccentric behaviour is still attractive though his recent addiction to methamphetamine is not so much.
Another man to return to Annie’s life is her creepy brother-in-law, Todd who has deserted her sister Alison. Todd is a journalist doing a story on what life is like for homecoming vets. (I am a journalist and I swear only in fiction do you find a creepy journo)
When the first dead body hits the page, Michael is banged up as chief suspect and Annie is determined to get him out of jail which displeases fiancé Salvatore more than a smidgin.
Michael, of course, cannot do much sleuthing but Annie and her ex-army buddy June can and do. Salvatore and Todd, also team up in a hostile partnership to see who the killer is and who gets the girl.
If you told me the plotline of Collateral Damage, I would have provably said “pass” as in “pass me a neo-noir”.
But I read the book in three sittings and I turned the pages eagerly. Characters are believable and well-drawn. Pacing is executed with precision and there are some deft touches as when a distraught Salvatore seeks comfort in food. And I did want to know who gets the girl as much as the who and whys of the central mystery.
There is a fair bit of business about food and drink in the novel but everyone likes eating and imbibing.
I am not a big fan of prodigious questions in a thriller which seem designed to help the slower reader keep up. They are plenty of plot recaps here but for the most part they are fairly unobtrusive.
Author Brooke is clever in not overstating the serious theme in the book of problems of war veterans in adjusting in civil society. The message comes across finely with subtle handling of the topic.
I know almost zero about the romance genre, but I imagine some of its fans might jauntily cross over to this thriller. If you are a fan of romance, mystery and thrillers you may well have hit your literary jackpot here.
I believe Collateral Damage is the third in the Annie-Ogden series. I feel confident reception will be positive enough to encourage a fourth.
Here is out song tribute, a lovely singer, no blonde hair, though. You have to read the book to get my in-joke. Sorry.

Annie get your man before he gets you

Haven’t been around my blog for a while but I am back with the news of  a thriller

Protagonist Annie Ogden’s ex-boyfriend Michael Garcia reappears and she has to confront a lie dating back to her service in Iraq.
Will she go back to hot, passionate Michael, who has developed a disturbing interest in meth, or stick with her pudgy PI partner and fiancé, Salvatore?
The dilemma gets more core concentrated when Michael is arrested for murder and  Salvatore refuses to help investigate, Annie is forced to try to find the killer herself.
At the same time, Annie’s sister’s creepy husband, Todd, is making more of an arse of himself than usual.
Annie’s problems with these three obsessive men suddenly pale in significance when she realizes the killer has set his sights on her.
Changing his mind about helping her, Salvatore is the only capable of finding the killer before it’s too late.
Frederick Lee Brooke is the author of the Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and now Collateral Damage.
Find the author online at on Twitter and Goodreads.
A five-star review by Nanakulikane says:
“This is an intense, can’t put down book, that clearly shows the problems of returning Vets to mainland USA life. Even though this is primarily a well written mystery book, with P.I.’s at the forefront, this also shows the reality of PTSD of returning Veterans and the intense disfunctionality they, and we, have to deal with.
And here is our Annie song:


MSM judges Iraqi Icicle

From the Daily Telegraph Sydney
 MARGARET Thatcher’s death caused confusion on Twitter where some users were apparently left with the impression that Cher had died.
That’s a bit like confusing my novel Iraqi Icicle with the Life of Pi.

The first newspaper reviews of Iraqi Icicle are in. As they are from the News Limited stable they are pretty much the same. Take a look.

·         6 Apr 2013 The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) HARRY BRUMPTON
The Courier-Mail Queensland Life 6 Apr 2013 Page 20 BOOKS
Iraqi Icicle
Bernie Dowling Bent Banana Books, $11.86
STEELE Hill hasn’t had a job since he lost his gig as a racetrack bookie, but it’s not for want of talent.
His major talent is his unfortunate but entertaining ability to be in a sorry spot at the most inopportune moment.
The moment is the late-’80s and the spot is Brisbane, in particular its underworld. As young Mr Hill slides through these scenes a string of his acquaintances begin to drop dead in circumstances that leave him looking red-handed. To clear himself, poor Hill is prompted to find the culprit.
The ride is clever but chaotic. It’s a littered with wild divagations and madcap monologues. It’s redeemed by character – often literally, with mentions of local identities including jockey Chris Munce, reporter Phil Dickie and others.
The narrator’s sardonic humour, adult wordplay and jaded world view give Iraqi Icicle a definite neo-noir feel. The pleasure of sorting through these mysteries lies in the story’s steady ascension through the clues. 
Harry Brumpton
The Verdict is interesting. I am not sure it reflects and was probably given by a journo other than the reviewer. What do you think?
Disclaimer: The price of $11.86 is the current Amazon price before shipping. Any bookshop should tell you how much it will cost if they order it in for you.

Here is our song. It is a tribute to the collective amnesia of MSM. For some strange reason, comments on the vid are disabled.

Book review of Iraqi Icicle

My reaction to  a review of my novel (Only joking)
Glenda A. Bixler is the latest reviewer of my novel Iraqi Icicle.
Glenda writes she had never heard of the band The Go-Betweens which is a regular motif in the novel. Ms Bixler went to the trouble to present a Go-Betweens sampler which heads her review.
Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and give a big shout out to our guest reviewe,r Glenda A. Bixler.

Go to Glenda’s review

The whole world loves freedom

Handmade notebooks from  Libre Livre

I TRY not to trouble myself unduly with matters of commerce.
For five days next week, I am giving away my enovel Iraqi Icicle. I do this not because I think it makes a lot of commercial sense but because others tell me it does.
It seems the Amazon algorithms will discover me this way.

I HAVE a theory that in a thousand years’ time, a new set of gods will live on Mt Algorithm. Amazon will be the god of Books. Google will be the god of Discovery. PayPal will be the god of Commerce.

PayPal has proven a great boon for commercial Luddites such as myself. The payments take but a few minutes and the commercial records are somewhere on the internet.
I have spent about $5000 through PayPal. That I am a commercial publisher and have received not one cent into my PayPal account is a bit of a worry. But not too much.
One day, I will get around to sticking an estore on my website. Watch the cents roll in then!
In the meantime, I am content to give away my novel for a week. No paperwork there.
The print version of Iraqi Icicle will be unleashed on the world on January 26.
Here is the blurb to show you just what a fantastic novel it is. At the very least, it shows my editor Eoin O’Brien can write a great blurb.
A dead actress, a dead gambler, a dead professor, a dead fisherman …
With murder following his every step, determined under-achiever Steele Hill is tangled in layers of intrigue and deviousness.
Pulled from his cosy world of the racetrack, the rock-music pub and the gambling den, everybody the wise-cracking Hill meets is in danger, as he is sucked into the undertow of forces beyond his understanding. One ally is a reclusive teenage maths whiz, channeling Hendrix, and tapping into military software and magic mushrooms.
The fix is in and the bodies are piling up.
Leaping off the shoulders of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Iraqi Icicle is a wild and hilarious ride through the dark and murky worlds of gambling, drugs, politics and rock’n’roll.  
The comparison with Catch-22 was my idea. As you know I am a humble style of fella. I asked Eoin if it was not too much and he said we could scale it down later. Eoin left it in so it must be true.

The paperback is priced at US$14.99 plus shipping and is available from Amazon and book stores, if you ask for it. (Please do.) Amazon will not make it available for libraries because I refused to surrender the Bent Banana Books ISBN. As always, the fabulous Maria from Thorpe-Bowker Australia got that ISBN for me. I was not giving it up.

I am not sure why Amazon will only deliver to libraries under its own ISBN. It is probably a commercial thingo and as you know I do not worry unduly about commerce

Iraqi Icicle is about 380 pages of near-perfect prose and $14.99 seems a fair price. For the technically minded, it is set in an 11-pt font. If I had put it in 12-pt and created two-page chapters as some of the best sellers do, that sucker would have been 500+ pages and a real bargain at $14.99.
The eBook comes in at 406 pages and it’s free. Now that is a bargain! I should make a killing from that. Just not sure how.
To obtain, your free copy during Jan 21-25, go to your local Amazon estore and download. If your country, such as Australia, has not got an estore, I think you can download free from Amazon US. But again that is a commercial affair, so I would not completely take my word for it. Worth a try but.

The US link is HERE
And HERE is the UK site

“Iraqi Icicle 2 nd edition  (48の検索結果をすべて見る)


Iraqi Icicle 2nd edition Bernie Dowling (Kindle版 – 2012/12/17)

購入:¥ 411


(The Japanese will so get the rock-music references in Iraqi Icicle. That is not a joke; they will.)

I could not find my eBook on Amazon India.
They tell me Iraqi Icicle might struggle in India because they do not get hard-boiled detective yarns. It seems they are into the ideology of “anyone can make it”. Goddamn Bollywood – it should be Mullywood, anyway – they need Martin Scorcese over there making films.
Iraqi Icicle 2nd edition

Voir une image plus grande (avec un zoom)

Iraqi Icicle 2nd edition [Format Kindle]

Bernie Dowling  

(The French will love Iraqi Icicle. It would not surprise to see them start making the movie next week No-one’s ‘jáime-d it yet but it is only a matter of time).

No Curtirs in Brazil for Iraqi Icicle, yet, but I am sure Olympic Games visitors will be clutching a paperback to read during the boring bits of the synchronized swimming.

Fellow Aussie author Ryle Winn says his books sell well in Germany perhaps because so many Germans enjoy the  backpacking experience in Oz. 

Inspector Rex is an Austrian production but I might put a police dog, a german shepherd named Rex, in the sequel to Iraqi Icicle.

I have never been to Canada but the people seem warm and the climate cold. Bit like Iraqi Icicle – cool title, hot novel.

Lots of people of Italian origin are in Australia and some of my important supporting characters are Italians. I love Amazon Italy because they call me the Autore which sounds so much sexier than the English translation.

Amazon Spain is running the American reviews of Iraqi Icicle which is nice of them.

“iraqi icicle 2 nd edition  (查看所有 27 个结果)


Articles on Military Units and Formations of Iraq, Including: Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion, Iraqi Special Operations Forces, 1st Division (Iraq), 2nd Hephaestus Books Hephaestus Books (2011-09出版)


购《波莉安娜》再优惠6元 查看详细资料


“Me old China (plate)” is a great Aussie expression for “mate’’. I am afraid me old Amazon China has let me down. Iraqi Icicle is described as a book of

Articles on Military Units and Formations of Iraq.”

That’s not quite a reliable synopsis of my novel and I will see if I can have that fixed.

Update on China and India
Amazon is impressive in answering queries within 24 hours when you can spend that long on a telephone call to an Australian enterprise. The big A tells me the Indian and Chinese operations do not have their on-line operations sorted yet. Citizens of both countries can buy my paperback which must be a great relief for them and certainly is for me.

All right, go to any of those countries where you have an Amazon account and download the eBook Iraqi Icicle for free January 21-25. If it is China, do tell us what the book on Iraqi military units is like.


Today’s video explains why my forebears emigrated from County Cork, Ireland, and I am therefore trying to flog books from Australia instead of living the pleasant life of the gentleman Irish farmer.

When Rusty snapped

Toytown: photograph by Russell Brown

RUSSELL Brown is an Aussie newspaper photographer.
He and I have worked on the same newspapers, the Pine Rivers Press and the Northern Times for more than a decade and we live in neighboring suburbs in the Pine Rivers district of Australia.
Because he is Australian, Russell has been honored with the nickname, Rusty. 

Rusty may seem like a strange nickname but even Russell Crowe is known as Rusty by his Aussie acting mates. There used to be an Australian actor call Chips Rafferty but I doubt Rusty Crowe would have enough gravitas to headline the big screen or to receive an Academy award.
The other Rusty, of the Brown persuasion, is quite the artist, too.
Last year, Russell’s work was included in the Salon de la Photo exhibition in Paris.

Silent Sorrow was a Russell Brown exhibit at Salon de la Photo 

Our little piece of home turf is not Paree but Russell was featured in two exhibitions at Pine Rivers Art Gallery last year.
The gallery is also why Rusty’s photograph Frosty Morning II adorns the cover of my novel Iraqi Icicle.
Every year for the past 12, I have covered the Moreton Bay Regional Art Awards, held at the gallery. Our papers send a photographer along and, for many of those years, it has been Rusty.
A few years back, we were doing our jobs when Rusty pointed out one photograph in the exhibition. It was his.
Rusty did not win. The winning photographer, who also won a major prize with his pic, had collected hundreds of dead insects, put them on the ground among some leaves and snapped the winning pic. Neither Russell nor I could figure out how that was an exemplary photo. But there you go and that probably explains why they do not ask us to be judges of art contests.

I had just completed a draft of Iraqi Iciclewhen Rusty’s photo was robbed at the art contest. I turned to Rusty to say his artwork deserved international recognition and I would like it for the cover of my novel. He agreed.
Rusty took the photo on a winter morning at Dayboro in Pine Rivers. It looks rural but Dayboro is but 20 kilometres from suburban Petrie.
I see Frosty Morning II as evoking mystery with a hint of menace. As with many great photographs, the viewer can see in it traces of people who are compelling because of their absence.

Rose Revisited I: photograph by Russell Brown
I was toying with the idea of having a different cover for Iraqi Icicle 2nd edition to emphasize the humor in the book. I envisaged a clown with a flower on his chest squirting water into the face of a “femme fatale” as she shoots him in the temple with a water pistol.

Here’s Rusty

In the end art triumphed over marketing and Rusty’s photograph will forever be on the cover of Iraqi Icicle.
The eBook of Iraqi Icicle is out now HERE 
The print version is out on January 26. You can win a pre-launch copy but you must enter before January 9. HERE 

And here is another Rusty. I do not know if it’s winter, but there’s snow.

Rain of humour among dark clouds

4.0 out of 5 stars 

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Dark Clouds (Kindle Edition)
This is the second I have read in the series with reluctant spy Rudi Flynn at its centre.
Like Weimar Blues, Dark Clouds easily stands alone as Flynn is once more conscripted into the secret service of Britain, and, for good measure, the United States, this time round.
This novel has the 30-something American-born and raised, English resident, Flynn, still pursuing his alcohol and drug fuelled journalistic career. We discover some of the reasons why he is pretty much washed up professionally by the time of Weimar Blues.
The trademark comedy is still here, especially in the amusing thoughts the somewhat aimless Flynn is reluctant to express in words.
At its core, the novel is as dark as the title, cover graphic, and plot suggest. Flynn is enlisted to help his president and her majesty when rumours surface that Islamic terrorists are plotting to explode a nuclear device in Britain. 
There are some quite harrowing scenes in which Flynn is present but either powerless or unwilling to intervene.
The person-in-the-street commentary throughout the book works well though the anti-multiculturalism rhetoric outweighs more liberal voices. It is obvious the views of send-`em-back to-where-they-belong are not those of the author but included to show a common sentiment in most western countries.
The powerful message I took from this book is that authorities from Islamic and Christian nations do evil things while flawed but good people look on.
If you have an interest in world affairs, a liking for bleak humour, and a reasonably strong stomach for violence, this book is for you.

For our musical accompaniment, let’s hear from some clouds which were not dark at all.

Please warn Grandma

Guest Book Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint of heart but great, December 25, 2012
This review is from: Iraqi Icicle 2nd edition (Kindle Edition)

“Iraqi Icicle” is definitely not your average run of the mill crime drama. Oddly, there are very few categories where a book could be listed that I can’t imagine this fitting in some way or another. While this book does have a hefty dose of profanity, there were times when I felt it added to the story and other times when it made me laugh.

This is a hard book to describe without accidentally giving something away as there is so much going on underneath the cover. Steele Hill is a character that I felt had the correct amount of inner turmoil and personality that made him not only fun to read, but memorable. There were some good secondary characters in this book too, but Steele definitely steals the show. This author certainly has a sense of how to keep his reader in suspense. This book deals with some hardcore subjects, but I thought the author did so in a way that made it exciting to read.

This book is gritty and a little dangerous and if you are in for a seat of your pants kind of ride this might just be the thing. Be careful though, I have warned you that this is not your grandma’s fireside novel!

Buy Iraqi Icicle HERE
You can imagine the conversation with Gran:
You: “Don’t read Iraqi Icicle, Grandma!”
Gran:”Don’t bother me, dear; I’m reading Fifty Shades of Grey.”
I thought Iraqi Icicle was only a trifle profane, but then I was brought up on Grandma’s knee listening to her sing her favorite song.
Cheers, Bernie

Guest Book Review

4.0 out of 5 stars
Iraqi Icicle by Bernie Dowling, 22 Dec 2012

Interesting theatrical, musical and political diversions
This review is from:
 I ENJOYED this story and I liked the main character, Steel Hill, who delivers as a first person narrator.

We start in Brisbane, Australia, where the story is focused initially on low-life betting scammers. But gradually we move on through an interesting cast of characters.

The narrator, Steele Hill, is involved with an intellectually enhanced Natalie, whose 16-year-old sister Jane – aka Bub – effortlessly entices him into an energetic copulation.
The genre is set in a low-life betting and corrupt police situation where a dumb Irish and a nasty German pair of cops attempt to frame Steel with just about anything that might jail him. They don’t succeed and as we conclude the devious Hill is winning a huge amount of horse race betting money while a sexy and opportunistic Crystal attempts to seduce him as a criminal collaborator.
There are interesting theatrical, musical and political diversions – and the Iraqi Icicle is a rather attractive white rose that Hill uses to try and seduce the sexy but elusive Crystal.
There’s good dark humour throughout – and I particularly liked the reference to a subsequently defrocked nun at Hill’s school who claimed that her occasionally recalcitrant pupil was in fact a John Lennon lovechild!
BUY Iraqi Icicle NOW
Thanks Kathy for your guest review – Bernie

A good Irish name like Kathy Hennessy deserves a song such as this:
And here is a bonus, one more in keeping with the tone of Iraqi Icicle

Aussie thriller sings and zings

Brother reviews brother. Oh, Brother!

4.0 out of 5 stars

THIS novel is an epic detective story of more than 400 pages.
Private investigator Steele Hill is a larger than life character who has the happy knack of being there when the action is happening.
His world is peopled with crooked cops and shady types in the gambling and horse racing industries.
The book describes some of the events happening in and around Brisbane from 1986 to 1992, including the music and musicians of that time.
It also gives the reader an insight into the political events which were occurring around the globe at this time.
You expect a number of surprises in a detective story and this novel has many including the basis for the title name.
If you like a long entertaining story, with plenty of salty language, this is the book for you.

Dennis Dowling, Brisbane Australia.
Mr Dowling is the brother of author Bernie Dowling.
You know you not going to get 5 Stars from your brother and I am kind of glad.
Readers are rightly wary of books with heaps of five-star reviews but with a sprinkling of most plausible one-star reviews as well.
The biggest challenge for eBooks is reliable curation or critical gate-keeping.
Personally I think you should take my word for it that Iraqi Icicle is a good book. That way, you can buy it and write your own glowing review.
You, on the other hand, may be looking for a different path of decision making.

Iraqi Icicle Second Edition is out now!

Buy Iraqi Icicle  HERE

No for our celebratory song, dedicated to my brother for his critical skills. And of course, it is the season of hollies:

Vision gets even better

5.0 out of 5 stars Harper Fan December 7, 2012
By Ruth G
Amazon Verified Purchase
I LOVED this book possibly more than the first. 
The short stories are easy to read and Vision II: The Reluctant Psychic Returns takes the reader on a great journey.  
Even though I know the main characters of the books, each of the short stories can stand alone but written so that they can be read one after the other in a way that does not detract from the continuing storyline. 
The way the author is developing the character of Trudy Harper and her special abilities gives a greater range of how her physic gift aids in each case. 
You never know what is coming up next and I look forward to the next book. Keep up the great work Jane.

Trudy Harper, did you say?

Laughs amid the turmoil

Book Review by Bernie Dowling

Weimar Vibesis a most humorous novel on a very serious subject.

Anti-hero Rudi Flynn is a former tabloid journalist, reformed cocaine abuser and practising alcoholic.

Under normal circumstances, he would not be first choice as an operative of Her Majesty’s Secret Service but here he is enlisted to thwart a takeover in Britain by the extreme right.
No one seems to quite know what Flynn is supposed to be doing, least of all the man himself. During his service for Her Maj, he does manage to cover his neighbour’s wife and encounter women who want to have sex with him, kill him, or both.
The novel operates at many levels and to appreciate its full range, the reader would best come armed with some knowledge of European history from as far back as the first world war, at least.
That being said, great slapstick and comic word-play will engage any reader. As a bonus, you receive the elevator pitch on Plato and Socrates, in case you thought they were Greek soccer players.
At the centre of the story is a discussion on social and political reactions to questions of immigration and refugees which most countries around the world are having right now.
This novel won a gold star and was rated as a ‘most popular’ novel on HarperCollins Authonomy emerging-writer’s website.
It is a part of the Rudi Flynn series but stands alone quite steadily.
There are a few typos and a couple of formatting glitches, but I did not find them overly distracting.
The story moves briskly and it is certainly refreshing to see humour at the centre of a thriller.
Any reader who enjoys this novel will probably back up for more tales of the engaging scoundrel, Rudi Flynn.
Today’s video song is a sweet way to end the review

As free as a the vision of a boirdy.

Jane Sharp’s great new psychic thriller eBook goes free tomorrow so we should all support it to encourage the give-away and create a legion of fans.

Here is Jane’s Twitter entry.

Jane Sauffs 10:26am Oct 5

My 1st book will be available free on Amazon(see link below) this Saturday Oct 6 (US time) 5 short stories featuring Detective Trudy Harper & her experiences with the paranormal, approx.48 pages. I would appreciate some reviews. Many thanks
What the heck,  my review is about the place if you wish to read on.
Hey, hey before you go to the review above here is our celebratory video.

On the road to Damascus Paul’s book pummels your brain

IF The Book of Paulwere a music album, a critic might say it had cross-over appeal.
It has a feel of a genre novel but it is hard to classify because of its elements of sci-fi, dystopia, psychological drama and comedy.
I believe its publicity machine  is running with supernatural thriller and that is a good as label as any.
I read not much genre fiction apart from Chandleresque private-detective yarns. While I say ’’not much’ , none at all is closer to the mark.
New York author Richard Long was able to hook me and keep me on the line until the end. That is a good effort as, before reading The Book of Paul, I thought tarot was an Asian root vegetable. 

I figured Hermetics were cosmetics Doctor Frankenstein especially made for his patient Herman Munster. I thought body modification was ‘’hotting up’’ an old car. I could go on but you should have my drift by now.

The Book of Paulis a cleverly constructed thriller, built around a title character who it must be said is not very nice. Sado-masochism  is often a relatively harmless  Saturday night in after a hard week at the office. Then there is a date with Paul.
Like the author, I am of Irish extraction with the attendant light skin so I tend to avoid ultra-violent rays (You might like to re-read that last sentence – or not – it is up to you.) The Book of Paul seemed ultra-violent to me, but maybe I am a shrinking violet.  From now on,  a great American rock band will not be the first thing that springs to mind when I hear the phrase “talking heads’’.
Not that the author  appears to condone violence, except  in the interests of entertainment.
To balance the horror and gore, there is a lot of humour – from puns and slapstick to satirical cultural references and even self-parody of the novel and its author.
There is also a lot of information, mainly delivered in a casual fashion so the reader can chose to investigate further or just read on.  As a journalist, I have been writing on visual art for the past 30 years but this novel first alerted me to the wonderful genre of outsider art.
Various readers will take different things from this most entertaining and thoughtful novel. Me I will remember the pieces of information and the theme that the child is parent to the adult.
If you are engrossed in this novel, there is promise of plenty more to come in sequels and prequels (I think I have the two out of order.)
Even if you just want to dip in your feet in the literary waters outside your comfort zone, you will be rewarded. Did I say I used to think Druids were the dysfunctional youth in A Clockwork Orange?
I thought tarot was this
Not this

I thought Hermetics were cosmetics especially made for this man
I thought these were Druids

Our celebratory song is a no-brainer for anyone who has read The Book of Paul.
– Bernie Dowling Last day of the week-long Book of Paul Blog
That was fun!

Hey hey Paul-eay, how many kids you kill today?

Welcome to Day 3 of my part in the whirlwind blog tour of The Book of Paul.
On Day 1, author Richard Long was kind enough to eloquently answer my questions on his supernatural thriller.
On Day 2, we ran an excerpt from the novel.
Today we return to Q&A, one of my fave media for discussion and robust debate. The questions are from blog-tour organiser Novel Publicity.  In the interests in massaging my ego, I may introduce my own comments. We will see. Let the fun and games begin.

Please enjoy this interview with Richard Long, author of the nail-biting supernatural thriller, The Book of Paul. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.

Tell us about the spark of inspiration that eventually grew into The Book of Paul.
The initial inspiration for The Book of Paul came when I wrote the first line of the first chapter called Exercises “He practiced smiling.”  I wanted to explore a character who had been so damaged by childhood trauma that he could no longer feel compassion, joy, affection, and had, accordingly, committed all kinds of horrible acts. I wondered if such a person could ever regain his emotional capacity and be redeemed by love.
What was the research process like for this book (which can at times deal with some pretty heady and—frankly—grotesque goings-on)? Any horror stories to share?
There are many aspects to the story, so the research was really extensive. I love doing the research almost as much as the writing, so it’s a joy for me to read and learn so many new things. The creation mythology literally goes back to square one and builds from there, tracing the history of Hermetic and Gnostic philosophy, alchemy, druidism and pagan mythology–particularly Egyptian, Greek and Celtic traditions. There’s also a strong science fiction element involving quantum physics, artificial intelligence, life extension and what’s known as The Singularity. Other lines of exploration involved Irish genealogy and what I call the pain culture: tattoos, elaborate piercings and body modifications.
I made some gruesome discoveries along the way. The most disturbing was the Extreme Body Modification website I stumbled upon, which is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen. I first saw it in the early days of the Internet, which is pretty amazing in itself. I checked recently and it’s still there, though I didn’t have the stomach to peek inside again. I’m actually as squeamish as some of my readers about certain things, which is probably why the horror comes across so vividly. If something scares the hell out of me, it’s easy for me to convey that fear and revulsion.
Tell us about Paul. Who is he and what is his book about?
The Book is a 4th century codex, the only one of it’s kind. How and why it was made and what it contains is one of the central mysteries of the series, so I’m not going to spill those beans. Paul is every bit as mysterious. When he is first introduced you might think he’s a serial killer involved with the occult in some way. As the story progresses you discover some really unexpected things about him. One thing is clear from the outset – he is one very nasty piece of work. I’ve always felt that any horror novel or thriller is only as good as the villain. I definitely aimed for the fences with Paul.
There is a strong tarot undercurrent to this novel. The protagonist even makes his living by reading the cards. Why did you decide to work it into The Book of Paul,  and how does it surface throughout the course of the story?
I actually did tarot and numerology readings when I lived in the East Village many years ago. The tarot led me to a lot of dark occult explorations, which are mirrored in William’s journey. I was lucky enough to pull out of that nosedive and hop over to the Buddhist side of the fence. William is not so fortunate. The reader gets drawn into William’s world through his first person narration as he talks about becoming a collector of ancient occult manuscripts, which leads him to the tarot. Then he gradually reveals more through his journal entries, which contain the meat of the mythology and all the Hermetic and Gnostic lore. Finally, he discovers that the tarot is actually related to an apocalyptic prophecy, which Paul is determined to fulfill by any means necessary, which is very bad news for Billy.
At almost 500 pages, this is not a short novel. From start to finish, how long did it take you to write, revise, and ready for publication?
I’ve written over 2,000 pages for The Book of Paul and the series. The first draft of this volume was close to a thousand pages long. I cut out eight characters and their storylines in the second draft, which netted my first agent. She wanted a lower page count, so many of the narrator’s interior musings were cut. Those were actually some of my favorite sections. Then I moved to another agent and he wanted more of the mythology put back in, so it grew close to this size. After six months he hadn’t sold it, so I got sick of the whole process, wrote it the way I wanted, and published it.
The concept of synchronicity plays heavily in this novel. What attracts you to it, and has it proven a heavy influence in your own life?
I’ve always been a spiritual seeker. I was raised as a Catholic, but the nuns effectively beat those beliefs out of me quickly. Even as a kid, I couldn’t accept the idea of God as the big guy in the sky with the white beard. Science and mythology and my own imagination showed me all kind of possibilities. I first noticed synchronicity when the number eleven kept showing up for me all over the place–addresses, hotel rooms, etc. Someone suggested I get a book on numerology and I discovered that eleven was my “name number” and also a power number. I started noticing all kinds of things after that, coincidences that were just too weird to brush away. Then I read some Jung, and when I got into quantum physics that sealed the deal. Synchronicity for me now is the manifestation of interconnectedness in the universe. There is nothing you can perceive that isn’t connected to you. As the Buddhists say, “no separate self.”
Paul is… scary (we’ll leave it at that). How were you able to effectively become this deranged character, and how did you hang on to your own humanity after the fact?</strong>
I would imagine it’s much the same as when Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter. He was very disdainful of method actors who got all caught up in identifying with their characters. There’s a famous story about Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man. Hoffman was a method actor and he stayed up all night before their torture scene together and Olivier said something like, “Why don’t you try acting, dear boy?”
That being said, I’m not immune to being disturbed by these things. When I wrote the traumatic scenes of him and Martin–well, I cried when I wrote them and they stayed with me for days. So maybe the method is working for me too.
Paul is great to write because it’s like letting my Id out of a cage. I get to play out my most evil imaginings and nobody gets hurt. I also had to find Paul’s humanity to make him really interesting for me. I didn’t want him to be some cartoon monster. Paul is also in a lot of pain; he was traumatized as a boy and his life was changed forever. By the end of the story you get to see many other sides of him. And of course, there’s a lot more to come.
Irish mythology is woven into <em>The Book of Paul</em>, and at one point, Paul even makes a sarcastic quip about the luck of the Irish. Why Irish, and how all does its culture influence the story?
When I’m writing, I go into a daydream state where I imagine the character and what he or she looks like and where they are and what they’re doing. No outline usually. I sit back and watch and listen. If it’s great the way I imagine it, then writing the dialog is like taking dictation. When I wrote the first chapters with Paul, I was surprised because I kept hearing him speak with an Irish brogue, but his accent went in and out – sometimes really thick, sometimes a little lilt, sometimes no accent at all. So I’m thinking, what’s that about?
I come from Irish American stock, but my parents told me absolutely nothing about their parents other than to say they were cruel. So that’s the starting point with Paul. He’s the ultimate bad dad. The more I explored Paul, the deeper it led me into Celtic mythology, Irish genealogy and history. I suppose I’m trying to find the missing links of my own heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland, so I have dual citizenship, even though I haven’t been there yet. I’m thinking I’ll go next year when I’m writing the third sequel.
The Book of Paul  is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and in that way, it can be difficult to classify. So tell us, who  is your target audience for this novel?
Given the fact that there are some rough episodes in the story, you might think that the so-called target audience would be men who are into horror, thrills and mayhem. But women actually seem to be my biggest, or at least, my most vocal fans. I’ve been getting some really enthusiastic reviews from men, but even more so from women, who surprisingly seem less squeamish than some of the male reviewers.
The Book of Paul doesn’t fit into any neat, tidy genre. It’s very complex and like you say, unlike anything I’ve read before either. There’s a  Pulp Fiction element to it, with quirky characters in a seedy environment. There’s a major religious/mythological mystery for the Dan Brown crowd. It’s very funny, but incredibly poignant. It’s very disturbing, but there are lots of fast-paced action scenes. There’s romance and kinky sex. Something for everybody.
 Why did you decide to self-publish The Book of Paul and how has the journey been so far?
Read above. The traditional publishing industry in general is like a boxer on the ropes in the tenth round. For fiction it’s even worse. Add first-time novelist to the list and sprinkle on an unclassifiable genre for a little seasoning. I had two agents who were well known and successful, and very enthusiastic about the book. But the editors they reached wouldn’t take a chance on it. I could have kept trying, but frankly, I ran out of patience.
How has it been so far? The book is out in the world and it’s just the way I wanted it. I have complete control over everything I do, including the cover art, which is also exactly how I want it. The marketing is a lot of hard work, particularly the social marketing, which I had never done before. But that’s turned out to be a lot of fun too. I’m meeting so many great people–other authors and readers–and getting such a strong response on the book that it feels like a vindication. See? I told you so. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is visy
 Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity</a></li>
About the author: 
Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace.  He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. 
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is visy
 Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity.
About the author: 
Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace.  He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. 

Visit Richard at

Here is our celebratory song. Enjoy.
When you buy the Special Edition of the T-shirt 

Evil is loneliness with nowhere else to go 

you get this video with it:

Tales of psychics and psychos

PERCOLATE the coffee and break open a bar of Swiss chocolate: a new author is visiting our home.
Australian Jane Sharp has arrived bearing the gift of her first published work, the eBook
Vision The Reluctant Psychic
A promise of more to come in the Vision series accompanies these five short stories, introducing psychic detective, Trudy Harper.
A young detective in the Metropolitan Major Crime Squad, Harper has been aware of her undernourished psychic ability since she was a child. But she is reluctant to discuss it, even with her trusted police partner Bruce Hotchkiss.
Harper, an unassuming but thorough investigator, certainly does not wish knowledge of her “gift” to be spread across the police force. More than one of her colleagues flippantly call her Harpy, symptomatic of the hard-bitten humour in the force. Harper knows many officers would be uncomfortable in her company if her secret were revealed.
A series of murders with the signatures of psychopaths force Harper to either embrace or reject her gift.
The first story in Vision is Random Victim, in which Harper believes a spirit is telling her he was murdered by a stranger for no other reason than the killer wanted to see what it was like to kill and whether they could get away with it.
Harper is desperate to discover The Missing Piece to find peace for a little girl murdered decades ago in diabolical fashion.
The Bubble Gum Killer introduces a chilling psychopath who murders women for bizarre reasons, only for the killer to die himself. That is just the beginning as the crazed spirit and a vengeful Harper struggle for how the future will judge the murders.
Cleverly titled Blood Ties tells the story of a trio of psychics locked in struggle against a backdrop of family, greed, lies and murder.
Love and Vengeance has a vulnerable single mother caught, living  in a rented house, with a dangerous spirit trying to resolve a love scandal harking back 60 years to the days of World War II.
Jane Sharp brings considerable talents, uncommon in a first time author, to her supernatural tales.
Her plots are fresh and free of cliché. The ordinary is interwoven with the other-worldly to keep the reader fascinated as the stories unfold.
Characters are keenly observed so the reader is immersed in the inner life of the vicious and the vulnerable with the author using an economy of description and direct speech.
Suspense is generated from the first paragraph of each tale which reaches a satisfying conclusion without tricks, smoke or mirrors.
Vision: The Reluctant Psychic is recommended to any reader seeking the privilege of embarking on the journey through a seductive new series from Book 1.
We need to celebrate in song:

Please re-tweet or re-post this review to support a new author.

Bernie Dowling August 18, 2012

The Maltese Falcon: classic book review

The Maltese Falcon: classic book review
Falcon strikes magnificently
The large print version from GALE CENGAGE Learning which has a better cover than the other version is not listed on the publisher’s current catalogue.
MANY of those familiar with the title The Maltese Falcon may be acquainted with the 1941 film noir rather than Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel published by Alfred A. Knopf.
There is a remarkable synergy between novel and film, perhaps without parallel in such translations.
Writer/ director John Huston wrote the script to closely follow the order of the novel, retained much of the dialogue and then filmed it in sequence.
He even persuaded the censors to let him keep the recurring motif of hard liquor. No objection was raised to the continual prop of hand-rolled cigarettes.
Huston self-censored to remove most of the key homosexual references in the novel but the character of Joel Cairo (played by Peter Lorre) would have left sophisticated viewers to clearly see the elephant in the room.
Many readers are disconsolate when a favourite novel is translated onto the screen.
In this case, seeing the film enhances the novel as the reader can have the authentic dialogue being voiced in their mind by actors Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Lorre, Mary Astor, Gladys George and Elisha Cook Jnr.
Although neither was a prolific writer, Hammett and Raymond Chandler, after him, were the fathers of the hard-boiled detective novels translated into 1940 film noir.
It may surprise some that both authors have been recognised as great writers, not just as doyens of their genre. I do not believe any of the current crop of superstars of the detective thriller will garner such recognition in the future. In1998, the Modern Library ranked The Maltese Falcon 56th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Hammett and Chandler had similar histories which could partly explain their emergence as writers of edgy fiction. As young men in World War 1, both suffered debilitating injuries, the effects of which remained with them for the rest of their lives. They reached the peaks of their writing careers during the Great Depression of the 1930s which followed the decade of post-war licence hailed as the Roaring 20s.
The plot of The Maltese Falcon evolves from the murder of private detective Miles Archer, the business partner of the novel’s protagonist Samuel Spade. The story is written in the third person with virtually no interior monologues yet the reader identifies with the subjectivity of the flawed character of Sam Spade.
What makes this novel good are the spare style and the clipped dialogue – tougher than Chandler’s though not as funny.
What makes the novel great is the extraordinary way the author uses detailed character descriptions and dialogue to render the story without any back-up of interior reflection or self-justification. Spade’s moral ambiguity is a magnificent theme and device upon which to pin suspense.
The reader learns early on that Spade has been having an emotionless sexual affair with his dead partner’s wife, Iva. The shamus grumbles to his loyal secretary, Effie Perine, ‘I never know what to do or say to women except that way.’
Don’t go retro-reading that as some kind of prescient observation by Hammett on the male inability to commit. The author is merely laying the ground to prove Gutman’s assessment of Spade that we never know what he is going to do or say next.
Homosexuality is central to the novel though it does not have as many echoes of homophobia as it often does with Chandler.
Let’s start with the least clear-cut example of secretary, Effie Perine, who lives at home with her mother. Effie appears to have a woman crush on femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy, who, in the manner of the genre, has to be Spade’s love interest. As I say, the hint at lesbianism is subtle and possibly unintended, but look for the fascinating reactions of Perine in the last pages of the novel.
Joel Cairo is obviously homosexual as delightfully rendered in an exchange with the perhaps promiscuous O’Shaughnessy. (Cairo) ’Exactly, and shall we add the boy outside?’
‘Yes,’ she agreed and laughed. ‘Yes, unless he’s the one you had in Constantinople.’
Sudden blood mottled Cairo’s face. In a shrill enraged voice he cried: ’The one you couldn’t make.’…
The sinister urbane Casper Gutman has a daughter but he appears to be bi-sexual.
In the lengthy and wonderful denouement, at midnight, Spade unwillingly hosts Gutman, Cairo, O’Shaughnessy and the seemingly psychotic young gunman, Wilmer Cook, mostly referred to in the novel as “the boy”..
…’That daughter of yours (Gutman’s) has a nice belly,’ he (Spade) said, ‘too nice to be scratched up with pins.’ Gutman’s smile was affable if a bit oily
The boy in the doorway took a short step forward, raising his pistol as far as his hip. Everybody in the room looked at him. In the dissimilar eyes with which Brigid O’Shaughnessy and Joel Cairo there was, oddly, something identically reproving. The boy blushed…
Hammett tells us, purely though actions and facial expressions, that O’Shaughnessy, Cairo and probably Gutman are jealous of the boy’s infatuation with Gutman’s daughter Rhea.
Besides killing people, that boy has been busy and mental derangement has not impaired his youthful sexual attractiveness.
If there is one flaw in this almost faultless novel it is the characterysation of Brigid O’Shaughnessy. While this has much to do with the structural imperative of mystery and suspense, O’Shaughnessy lacks the sensuality of  Vivian Sternwood in Chandler’s The Big Sleep.
That quibble aside, The Maltese Falcon dispels the ignorant snobbish and vicious myth that a genre novel cannot be counted as great literature.
-Review by Bernie Dowling
Gooseberry Lays and Gunzels
CENSORS and censorship are often good for a laugh.
The Maltese Falconfirst appeared serialised in the pulp fiction mag Black Mask.
Magazine editor Joseph Shaw was offended by vulgarity and he took exception to the term “goose-berry lay’’ in The Maltese Falcon.
…Then Spade asked (the boy) pleasantly: ‘How long have you been off the goose-berry lay, son?’
You could hardly blame puritanical editor Shaw; the phrase sounds scatological. However, it was a slang term for stealing clothes from a line to sell them with the culprit perhaps lying among gooseberry bushes before the theft.
One word Shaw had no objection to was gunzel. In fact the editor loved its use in the novel.
…’Keep that gunzel (the boy, again) away from me while you’re making up your mind. I’ll kill him. I don’t like him. He makes me nervous.’
Shaw thought gunzel meant hired gun and a host of Hammett imitators used it in that sense.
Gunzel actually meant a boy or young man paid or kept for sex, a rent boy.
Both expressions gunzel and goose-berry lay survive in the latest editions of The Maltese Falcon.
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