stokes015Today’s delivery of two contrasting packets looked intriguing. One was large and weighty, while the other was much slimmer. When I opened the envelopes and looked at the books the differences couldn’t have been greater. One book, Blackmail, is actually written by a retired Judge, and the Nottingham Post tells us:

“The 68-year-old resident judge at Nottingham Crown Court once had a rapist expose himself to him in the dock, and was assaulted by a defendant during a trial in Leicester. He has also been sworn at countless times by unhappy crooks and their families.”

So, Michael Stokes has clearly faced down a generation or two of hardened criminals, and now he has put his experience to good use with his first novel, and you won’t be surprised to hear that the story features a judge who is presiding over a high profile criminal trial. When his wife and son are kidnapped, the ransom is a simple one. Rule against the prosecution of gangster Michael Doyle, or you will never see your family again. Blackmail is published by Matador/Troubador and is out now.

westworth016If you check the graphic at the top of this feature, it shouldn’t be too difficult to spot which is the retired judge, and which is Frank Westworth, a novelist whose twin passions are powerful motorbikes and playing blues guitar. Frank wrote us an excellent feature a while back called Killing Me Softly – A Guide To Murder, and you can click the link to read it.

Now Frank has published, via Murder, Mayhem and More – or M3 – a collection of stories involving his distinctly unusual covert operator, JJ Stoner. A fellow writer has warned us to expect “Guns, girls, guitars and gruesome violence,” so lovers of  Noir with a distinctly English flavour may well want to grab this slick and stylish volume. Me? I’ve got a signed copy, so I am feeling rather smug. The book will be available on 14th November, and here’s where to buy it.