The Last Laugh, a collection of short crime stories by Paul D. Brazill, opens with the signature story “The Last Laugh.” Godard comes back to reality on a hot day in the doorway of a record shop. He might be in Madrid, but he isn’t sure. The dream might have been real or might not. It has been a bad few days and he is feeling it in every fiber of his being. Though, for a man that is supposed to be dead, he is doing okay. Well enough to deal with a complicated problem because, though he mellowed a bit while underground, he still has the stones to do what needs to be done.
Toby Richards likes being whipped by Ania Nowak even while it has gotten rather boring for her. But, she does what she has to do to survive. In “The Luck Of The Devil” Ania and film director Toby Richards are just two players in a complicated situation involving what might be the skull ring of Himmler.
Mickey Mike Calloway is always hatching get rich plans during drinking binges with his friends. Normally, in the cold light of day, such plans are forgotten. But, one such plan stuck with the postman known to all as “Diggsy.” In “Route 66 And All That” the basic idea to get rich is to rip off a man known to everyone as “Big John Little.”
A get rich quick scheme is also at the heart of “The Postman Cometh” where some of the characters of the previous story make a return engagement. Mikey Mike has an idea how they could take over a certain local pub and become wealthy. Or, at the very least, better off than they are now. Not all the business conducted in the pub is above board and law abiding as there are various side businesses being conducted in the establishment.
This same idea naturally leads into the next story titled, “Up The Creek.” Paul Garner of the local record store has a deal with Mikey Mike. A bit of business is being conducted when Diggsy sees Eileen Calloway out on the street. Based on her attire and the black bag she is carrying she might be back in the burglary game. If so, that could be a serious problem. Not just because she is Mikey Mike’s sister.
Bertie Peaslee has really done it this time in “A Bit Of A Pickle.” He needs help and not just with getting rid of a body. Though that needs to be done too.
A cold winter night in Warsaw by way of “Red Esperanto” and Tatiana’s place is very claustrophobic at the moment. Looking over at the glass elevator at Westin Hotel does not help. More booze as well as Tatiana’s services, of which he will pay for, might help before he meets others at a local bar where plans sure to go wrong will be hatched and stories will be told.
The annual meeting of writers and crime fiction fans known as “Bullets in the bookshop” in Blackstone’s Bookshop in Cambridge is underway. Julian Stroud is holding court and is the target of a journalist representing the Madrid Review. Known as Luke Case, the journalist does quite a few things and not all of them are above board in “One Of Those Days In England.”
Jude Walker is very much dead and probably had it coming. Why Ginger Ronny had to confess to Burkey about it after a night of heavy drinking Burkey had no idea. It wasn’t like they were even friends. But, he had. Now Ronny is about to make things way worse.
Quigley is working “The Bucket List” for the exact reason one would expect. His version is a list of folks who should be permanently taken off the board. One of those names is Jacko Butler. He wasn’t the only name on the Quigley’s list that dates back to childhood. There are lots of scores to settle.
Lewis Quad also deserved to die in “A Dead Pimp In The Trunk.” But, that isn’t the point. What happened next is what matters in this tale.
He’d never thought he would ever pick up a hitchhiker. Even if she had great legs like this one on the side of the road somewhere a little down the road from Leeds. Of course, he’d also never had the idea that he would have to flee his six bedroom home in Essex in a stolen car. Now he is doing both in “A Tissue Of Webs. The fact she has a white guitar case is also important.
There are those days when everything you do goes very bad. Being the top dog at Premier Properties means there is always more than one young buck looking to take you down. That is not going to happen in “The Weather Prophet.” When Ed started at wrong in life he thought it gave him a heck of an edge sales wise and until now that has been true.
Everything that ever went bad in Peter Robson’s life could be blamed on the old Victorian house at 10 Sycamore Hill. “This Old House” is the bane of his existence. One late October night he came up with the same brilliant idea others before him have had over the decades to get rid of the problem. Like all plans, bad or otherwise, execution is the key. One has to have good help.
Lee Madison is haunted by the past in “The Return Of The Tingle.” One can never escape the past as it always is a major motivation in our lives. That fact is certainly true for Lee Madison.
Marcus Finch is in quite the mood when he leaves the Blackjax Casino with his younger brother, Toby, in tow. In “Silver Dream Racer” it is time for Marcus and Toby to hunt for action. The hunt is also a way to vent off the rage building in Marcus. Others are hunting as well.
First seen in the story in “The Luck Of The Devil” Himmler’s skull ring takes the starring role in “The Skull Ring.” Found on a stormy night that broke the stifling summer heat it was on the ground next to the dumpster. Just up the alley behind the Methodist church, Rowan woke up. He spotted the ring, picked it up before staggering home, where his life changed forever.
Lightning Jones is tall, beautiful, and extremely loud. She is also trouble in “The Lady And The Gimp.” For Private Detective Peter Ord she could turn out to be a problem he is going to deal with very soon.
Dealing with a drunk and drugged up Craig Ferry is just part of the job in “Who Killed Skippy?” Private Detective Peter Ord has known Craig since they were kids. The job is not getting any easier.
Oliver Robison finally snapped and ended his wife’s life using a couch cushion. Gloria is dead, but that did not solve the problem in “The Tut.”
If you have read A Case of Noir, Gumshoe, 13 Shots of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, or any of the other numerous works by author Paul D. Brazill you know what to expect. Stories filled with characters that experience constant hard times, drink a lot, and do what they have to survive. The Last Laugh most definitely lives up to its billing of “Crime Stories.” From start to finish in each tale the crime is the thing. The how, the why, and the players all change, but a crime remains the focus of each tale. As is the noir spirit regardless of the European setting of these twenty short stories.
The Last Laugh: Crime Stories
Paul D. Brazill
All Due Respect Books
eBook (print format available)
Publisher and author each provided me an eBook copy to read and review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016