Back in 2011, I dipped my toe into ebooks with The Death of Ronnie Sweets (and other stories) that collected the short stories featuring my original Dundee Detective, Samuel Bryson. The book did okay for a while and then languished in the upper reaches of the charts, in part because I didn't realise the typos that had sneaked in. So now the collection has had a good old copy/proof and is back in e-print for you to put your hands on. It also retains the original introduction by the incredible Sean Chercover, a writer whose work you really should seek out. Right now. Go on. Go on.
The collection has been untouched beyond the update for proofing, so these stories read as they were back whne first published - warts and all. I'm proud of them. They were my first professional sales for the most part, and some of them contain little easter eggs for fans of McNee (Sandy Griggs makes an early appearance many years before he returns in Mothers of the Disappeared, and a very young McNee even makes a little cameo in one of the later stories).
Here's a wee scene from my second published story, Dudman's Word, to whet your appetite:
Big Ian Machie was behind the bar in the Crow and Claw when I walked in. He wore a horizontally striped polo shirt and black trousers. The “middle-age” spread seemed to have grown since the last time we talked. I didn’t want to bring it up, however. It’d only piss him off. Nevertheless, despite the advance of the years, he still looked more than capable of holding his own against any of the rough crowd who composed his regular clientele.
“Sammy,” he said. “No seen you round here in a while.”
I smiled, grabbed a seat at the bar. Big Ian pulled me a pint without asking. I figured one couldn’t hurt too much. I was driving, but sometimes you have to make these sacrifices.
“I’ve not been in the area,” I said.
“No one’s around these days,” he said with a sigh. He looked at the bar. People congregated round the tables, leaning into their small groups like they were afraid someone was listening. “No one worth bothering about, anyway. All the old crowd have gone. They either got respectable or they got into trouble.”
“What about Ally Dudman?”
“Whit am I now, yer wee snitch?”
I smiled. “Ally’s the snitch, or hadn’t you heard.”
“He was in trouble with the Kennedys right enough,” said Ian. “Mind you, Ally’s the type of bawbag who’d get in trouble with just about anyone.”
“I need to find him, Ian,” I said.
He put the pint on the bar. Some of the head broke off drifting down the smooth edges of the glass.
“How would I know where he is?” asked Ian.
‘Ally was still a regular” I said. “You’re known for your loyalty.”
“Even to wee bawbags who went and joined the coppers,” he said, pointedly.
“I’m not a copper these days.”
“Just as bad. You work for them.”
“I do favours for friends sometimes,” I said. “Some of those friends are in the law enforcement business.”
He chuckled at that.
‘Ally’s life is in danger,” I said. “I’m looking to help him.”
“Aye, and what about your friend?”
“He’s looking to help too,” I said. “All we want is to help Ally.”
“He was in here about half an hour ago,” said Ian. “He asked me for help.”
“What did you say?”
“I said I couldn’t help someone so messed up as him.”
“You couldn’t help a wee bawbag like that, you mean?”
“Aye, that’s it,” he said. “Look Sammy-boy, I don’t know what all this is about, ken, but Ally looked in a bad way.”
“Where would he go if you couldn’t help him?”
“There’s a few places,” Ian said.
I nodded. I took a deep drink of the pint.
“He couldn’t go home,” Ian said. “No if he was in trouble with the Kennedys. So he’d need money and clothes and all that if he wanted to get out. I’d say he’d go to see Omar.”
“Omar? I can’t see the two of them exactly getting along.”
“Omar doesn’t care about that kind of crap, Sammy. All he cares about is making sure his family are taken care of. All he cares about is where the next bushel of money comes from.”
I nodded. I didn’t want to go and see Omar, but Ian was right.
If Ally wanted money, clothes, and a quick, quiet escape from the city, he’d go and talk to Omar.
If you like the sound of the collection, please feel free to go and pick up a copy! I'm hoping to do a print version through KDP tools soon, too. There's a link below this post to Amazon, where you can pick up the collection for your Kindle quickly and easily.
I'm also planning to do a collection of the later Bryson stories alongside some stand alone shorts originally published in other venues. More news as, when, and if it all happens.
Quick note: The collection is currently enrolled in the KDP plan at Amazon.co.uk and therefore is only available for Kindle. Any links from this page to Amazon.co.uk will take you through a special link, as I'm enrolled in the Amazon associates programs. This means that any products linked to Amazon will earn me a small commission (put mostly towards the cost of maintaining the site) but will not affect the prices you pay for anything you buy. Legally, I'm obliged to tell you this (and there's also a notice on my Russel Reads blogs about the links there).
On Saturday the 13 May 2017, I took a trip to Waterstones in Oban to do a little signing. It was a fairly wet day, but that didn't seem to put off people in Oban from being out and about.
The store - ably run by manager Ewan (who, disclaimer, worked beside me many years ago in another bookstore) - is a lovely space inside an old building, just a short jog from the train station, and overlooks the main harbour. It also has a very well stocked and looked after crime section.
The signing was lovely - Oban customers are fantastic, and one man even drove over 100 miles just to get his backlist signed! And there were chocolate biscuits. Note to other bookstores: chocolate biscuits make authors very happy indeed.
Anyway, below are some pictures from the event. Some taken by me and others by Waterstones Oban. If you're in the area, there are some signed copies of Ed's Dead and And When I Die left in stock, but you should go in anyway and support a brilliant wee bookstore.