Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
Fancy a vacation in South Africa? Here’s a book to warn you where not to go and who not to meet. Set in all the wrong parts of Cape Town, among folk so hard you want to wall yourself in with cement, Wake Up Dead is the kind of novel other tough-guy crime stories hope to be when they grow up.
Ex-cop, ex-mercenary Billy Afrika is tougher than most heroes but pales before feared gang boss Manson who, in turn, is chickenfeed before the real villain, Piper, in jail for life (or is he?), a man so unremorsefully deadly he kills women and children as easily as he fillets a man. Billy Afrika, when he had the chance, once let him live. And paid the price. Now Afrika, scarred and emotionless, has returned, Manson bides his time, and Piper has decided it’s time he broke out of jail. All this after the crushed Barbara, a police widow, has fallen under Manson’s cosh and flawed heroine Roxy has snatched a fatal opportunity.
Unremittingly violent and dealt out in a prose as lean and hard as its characters, this book is unputdownable.