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Tuesday 27 December 2016

‘The Stoner Stories’ by Frank Westworth

Published by Murder, Mayhem and More,
November 2016,
IBSN 9781539667964

An ‘incident’ in the Iraqui desert brings Sergeant Stoner to the attention of the Hard Man. Now, he’s serving Queen and country in a slightly different way ... or is it the same way as before, killing the people he’s told to kill?

This series of six short stories takes us from Stoner’s initial recruitment and through his first assignments. Stoner’s a soldier, as he tells the policewoman in Fifth Columnist, in an unusually personal conversation: ‘The state pays me to kill the people the state doesn’t like. ... It says, take up this big nasty bang-bang gun and kill that nasty Irish, German, Arab, Russian, Iraqui, Syrian .... whatever.’ He’s also a motorcyclist and a jazz musician; he has quick reactions, a SIG Sauer P226, and an endless supply of smart retorts. Also, in general, the people he kills are trying to kill him, so our sympathy is retained. Stoner’s surrounded by a cast of interesting characters: the Hard Man, US Navy SEAL Stretch McCann, and Stoner’s attractive Irish contact, Bernadette - most of the stories are set in Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the Good Friday agreement. The final one takes Stoner to the States.The action in each story is non-stop, the twists clever, the sex energetic, and the wise-cracking narration a delight. There’s plenty of blood, but the deaths are described as part of the action, rather than being torture porn.

Wittily-written high-action, high-tension page-turners. This volume is a great way to meet Stoner, but if you prefer full-length novels, then he stars in the Killing Sisters trilogy, beginning with A Last Act of Charity. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Frank Westworth shares several characteristics with his literary anti-hero, JJ Stoner: they both play mean blues guitar and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Unlike Stoner, Frank hasn't deliberately killed anyone. Instead, Frank edits a monthly classic motorcycle magazine (see and has written extensively for the UK motoring press. Frank's 'Killing Sisters' series starts with A Last Act Of Charity and continues in The Corruption Of Chastity. However, you can start with any of the books in the series; they're written to be enjoyed if you come in halfway through...
Please note; the Stoner stories and Killing Sisters series are intended for an adult audience. They're violent and explicit and contain the occasional intellectual challenge.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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