Friday, 18 April 2014

DEAD DROP now available to buy on the Amazon Marketplace

Back in the halcyon days of 2012, an online serial called DEAD DROP was exclusively published on this blog. After a ridiculously long delay, I'm delighted to announce that the novel is now available as a Kindle ebook through the Amazon Marketplace.

As you can tell, the blog has undergone a bit of a redesign in honour of this momentous occasion. While all the old posts remain present and correct - the archive has merely shifted to the bottom of the front page - the vast majority of stories from here on out will be dedicated to keep you updated on all things DEAD DROP.

For now, pay a visit to the redesigned DEAD DROP homepage ( for more information and extracts from the novel. For quick links to buy DEAD DROP from your country's Amazon Marketplace, click any of the links below to get some action:

United Kingdom (£0.99)   United States ($1.35)   Canada (CDN$1.45)   Germany (€1.25)  France (€1.25)   Spain (€1.25)   Italy (€1.25)   Australia ($1.40)   Japan (¥155)   India ( 80)

Many thanks for your support and enjoy the novel!

Dead Drop Extract #1: Interrogation At Saint Nazaire

[DEAD DROP is available to buy now as a Kindle ebook on the Amazon Marketplace (UK/US/Ca/Fr/De/Au). The following is a free extract from the novel's 1st chapter.]

'I will give you this much credit,' the Nazi commandant said, 'Your fellows put up a good fight. Two of our pumping stations destroyed, along with significant damage to the machinery for opening the dock gates. Yet this is but a minor annoyance. These things can be rebuilt or repaired in time. The dock gate we believe was your main target is still intact, even if we have not yet had time to remove the destroyer you attempted to ram it with.'

He paced the small room. It seemed as though he was still trying to come to terms with the situation as he described it to his two prisoners, who were tied to chairs by the back wall. Two armed guards surveyed the scene from next to the room's only door. The commandant's shadow circled him as he walked beneath the naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling.

Dead Drop Extract #2: International Relations

[DEAD DROP is available to buy now as a Kindle ebook on the Amazon Marketplace (UK/US/Ca/Fr/De/Au). The following is a free extract from the novel's 5th chapter.]

'Tell me what you know about the crash on Mount Lambapahar.'

The Russian spoke slowly, clearly enjoying his position of strength. He brandished his Soviet machine gun in the direction of the smartly dressed Chinaman, Liu, and his muscular lieutenant, Wei.

'I don't know what you are talking about,' Liu said.

He pointed at the man who had followed the Russian into the basement laboratory and was now splashing the walls and floor with liquid from a red cannister. 'What does he think he is doing?'

'We are sending a message to your superiors,' the Russian said, 'And your new allies. What is on top of that mountain will be the prize of the Soviet Union.'

Dead Drop Extract #3: A Motorbike, A Mountain, A Machine Gun

[DEAD DROP is available to buy now as a Kindle ebook on the Amazon Marketplace (UK/US/Ca/Fr/De/Au). The following is a free extract from the novel's 11th chapter.]

With the wind tugging at his hair, Armstrong felt an electric thrill as he increased his speed on the straightening road, but the treacherous surface beneath his tyres reminded him to drive with his head, rather than on adrenaline. The bike was slightly heavier than he was used to, but its winter tyres were designed for traction on slippery surfaces.

The convoy came into view up ahead. It consisted of three vehicles: a military jeep at the front and back, protecting a prison van in between.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Book Of Mormon mini-review

The Book Of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's broadway behemoth, arrives in London under the stormcloud of controvery which follows the South Park creators wherever they go. The show's depiction of a poverty-striken Ugandan village being saved by two white missionaries has drawn the wrath of its left-leaning attendees, while conservative voices have risen in characteristic fury to denounce the mocking of white religious righteousness.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Review: Sightseers

Sightseers movie Ben Wheatley Steve Oram Alice Lowe

Review Scoring Chart - 10: Masterpiece; 9: Outstanding; 8: Very Good; 7: Good; 6: Above Average; 5: Average; 4: Below Average; 3: Bad; 2: Awful; 1: Reprehensible; 0: Non-Functional.

Dir: Ben Wheatley
Stars: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Richard Glover
Running Time: 88 mins
In a year where Great Britain has been celebrated by its Queen's jubilee, a successful Olympics and the fiftieth anniversary of its greatest cinematic icon, there's something gleefully appropriate about the year's final show of national identity tearing the pomposity and circumstance down into the mud. Brits often cite self-deprecation as a shared characteristic, and Sightseers is a movie which delights in pettiness rather than pagentry, a nation of grumblers as frustrated by manners, history and the countryside as they are in love with them.

In America, social rebellion has been given a glamourous veneer by such movies as Natural Born Killers or Bonnie And Clyde, perpetuating a myth of the heroic outlaw originating in the tales of the Old West. Britain has its romantic ideals too, but places as much value in subverting as championing them: in a year where Judi Dench's recital of Alfred Lord Tennyson's 'Ulysses' provided a moment of unashamedly thrilling patriotism, Ben Wheatley's use of Blake's 'Jersualem' over a man beating a fellow rambler to death following an argument about dog excrement becomes all the more perfect.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II launch event report (via Hit-Reset)

Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 game launch event players Xbox 360 PS3 Playstation Wii U

Last night, I attended the London launch party for Call Of Duty: Black Ops II. You can read my full report over at Hit-Reset, which includes impressions of the game's multiplayer modes in addition to INSIDER GOSSIP on why rapper Professor Green is a distinctly ungallant loser, the career change Olympic gymnast Louis Smith would consider if offered £50k a year by Chris Kamara, and what craziness adorned the loo walls. All that and more in this week's Hello Magazine!

Sorry, I meant at the link below. Easy mistake to make.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Retrospective: Ran (1985)

Akira Kurosawa Ran poster retrospective

[An earlier version of this article was originally published on Flixist]

Ahead of an announcement tomorrow on this blog's future, I thought now would be a good time to pay tribute to a masterpiece of world cinema, a movie both intensely personal to its director and grander in scope than any before or since. For me, as a teenager sitting down to watch it on a cheap television in a boarding school common room reeking of various substances I didn't want to think about, it opened my eyes and mind to the majestic heights cinema could achieve under the limitless artistry of an old man looking through his camera at a world so much darker than he remembered it from his youth.

That man was Akira Kurosawa. His movie, his magnum opus, is Ran.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Movies: Skyfall review

Skyfall review James Bond 007 Daniel Craig

Review Scoring Chart - 10: Masterpiece; 9: Outstanding; 8: Very Good; 7: Good; 6: Above Average; 5: Average; 4: Below Average; 3: Bad; 2: Awful; 1: Reprehensible; 0: Non-Functional.

Dir: Sam Mendes
Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw
Running Time: 143 mins

This review will be spoiler-free, making it one of the hardest I've ever had to write. Not only because I'm a Bond nerd of unhealthy magnitude, no doubt demonstrated by the Countdown To 007 feature running on this blog for the past nine days, but because many of Skyfall's biggest joys come from its celebration and repositioning of a fifty year cinematic legacy. That's not to suggest there isn't plenty for non-devotees to enjoy as well: these days, Bond follows the trend of the times, and the movie's central set-piece offers a very British take on The Dark Knight's formula for sprawling urban epics, before moving to the remote highlands for a climactic showdown which blends the 'Englishman's home is his castle' ethos of Straw Dogs with a strong nods to Ian Fleming's Spy Who Loved Me novel.

Those calling Skyfall a 'classic' Bond are wide of the mark, however. It is unlike any other entry in the series, driven by theme rather than plot and with a distinct identity to its visuals, soundtrack and direction. The Bond series' deliberate visual uniformity has given it a reputation as a no man's land for technical artists, but Skyfall is very much the amalgamated product of Sam Mendes' character-driven theatrical background, Roger Deakins' stunning use of colour and composition, and Thomas Newman's subtly evocative score. For the first time since the early Connery era, the people behind the camera represent top tier talent operating at the height of their powers, and it shows in every gorgeous frame.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Countdown To 007: Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace

James Bond 007 Daniel Craig

This Countdown comes to an end with Daniel Craig's two Bond movies under the microscope ahead of his third outing, Skyfall, released tomorrow in the UK and on November 9th in the US. The actor's powerhouse performance in Casino Royale was undermined by a big stumble in the under-developed, poorly shot Quantum Of Solace, and it will certainly be interesting to see whether the right lessons have been learnt. For all the untidness of the movie as a whole, there's real potential in some of Quantum's individual ideas and while Skyfall won't be taking them up, fingers crossed that future Bonds make the most of them.

My review of Bond's twenty-third outing will be going up tomorrow. Don't miss it.