Source: Purchased copy
Publication: 20th September 2018 from Saraband
When Coleman Lang finds his girlfriend Gina dead in his New York City apartment, he thinks nothing could be worse… until he becomes the prime suspect.
Desperate to uncover the truth and clear his name, Coleman hits the streets. But there’s a deranged Italian hitman, an intuitive cop, two US Marshals, and his ex-wife all on his tail. And trying to piece together Gina’s murky past without dredging up his own seems impossible. Worse, the closer he gets to Gina’s killer, the harder it is to evade the clutches of the mysterious organisation known only as Janus – from which he’d long since believed himself free.
Packed with plot twists, suspense and an explosive climax, The Janus Run is an edge-of-the-seat, breathtaking thriller – NYC noir at its finest.
Blimey, but this bloke can write. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from Douglas Skelton’s first foray into the world of New York crime. What I got was the mafia, a top secret organisation with a suspicious political agenda; a couple of US Marshalls; snappy, stylised dialogue that keeps you grinning; fantastic characterisation and a great plot with loads of thrills and spills and not a little dark humour.
Intriguingly, Skelton has created a character in Coleman Lang that clearly has miles of life left in him after this book. I can easily see how this, now lone, hero could carry on book after book. I know I would read the next one.
Lang is everything you want to believe in. A man who is handsome, rugged, honest and caring – and who had almost recovered from the damage done by his job whilst in the marines, only to be blasted out of his comfort zone by the brutal killing of his lover. Pursued by a really well written cop character, Rosie Santoro, two US Marshalls and a psychotic singing mafia hit-man, Skelton uses Lang to take us on one heck an almost cinematic ride where we quickly learn to dodge the bullets that come at us at a fast and furious pace.
Tense, full of action and packed with double dealing and intrigue, this is a first class read that leaves you wanting more.
Verdict: All the stars for a snappy, zappy, zinging thriller read.
About Douglas Skelton
Douglas Skelton has been a bank clerk, tax officer, taxi driver (for two days), wine waiter (for two hours), journalist and investigator. He has written 11 true crime and Scottish criminal history books but is now concentrating on fiction. Doesn’t meanhe won’t, some day, come up with another factual piece – there are a couple of old cases he’’d love to get into – but for now he is making stuff up.
BLOOD CITY, published in 2013 by Luath Press, introduced Davie McCall, a young Glasgow hard man with a heart – a good man walking in a bad man’s skin.
CROW BAIT (2014, Luath Press) continued Davie’s story, pitting him against his murderous father.
In DEVIL’S KNOCK (2015, Luath Press) Davie tries to find a witness to a brutal murder while dealing with a Hollywood star who wants to pick his brains.
OPEN WOUNDS (2016, Luath Press) is the final book in the quartet. Davie wants out but will the Life let him? A miscarriage of justice may help him find redemption, while the woman who has moved in upstairs might finally bring him love. But in Glasgow’s underbelly, death is only a bullet away.
THE DEAD DON’T BOOGIE (2016, Contraband) is something of a departure – and the beginning of a new series. Dominic Queste is an off-beat hero who calls himself an odd-job man. One of those odd-jobs is to find Jenny Deavers for her aunt. But there are dangerous people on the young woman’s trail and Queste, more often than not armed only with a string of one-liners, finds himself and his friends in the firing line.
Skelton’s true crime career started with feature articles in the Glasgow Evening Times, then his first book BLOOD ON THE THISTLE (Mainstream, 1992).
That led to his involvement in the case of two men convicted of an horrific multiple murder on dubious evidence. The subsequent book, FRIGHTENER (Mainstream 1992), (written with Lisa Brownlie) helped kickstart a campaign to have the case re-examined by the courts. The two men were eventually cleared on appeal.
In NO FINAL SOLUTION (Mainstream 1994), a selection of unsolved Scottish cases, he linked a series of murders in Glasgow and Edinburgh. At the time the police scotched the notion but ten years later they launched an investigation into possible links between these, and other cases.
In MY BLOODY VALENTINE and DEADLIER THAN THE MALE (both Black and White) he turned his back on modern crime to write about older cases, including retelling the Burke and Hare story from the point of view of their wives.
INDIAN PETER (Mainstream) is the true adventure tale of a young man kidnapped from the Aberdeen quayside, transported to the American colonies, shipwrecked, sold as an indentured servant, captured by Native Americans, escaped, fought in the French and Indian War, captured again, exchanged as a prisoner of war, returned to Britain – and then his life really began! Once back in Scotland he commenced a 20 year legal battle to prove that powerful men in Aberdeen were behind the kidnapping trade. As he did so be became an author, printer, publisher, publican and formed the first penny post in Edinburgh.
In DARK HEART (Mainstream) he returned to Edinburgh to tell the story of the Tolbooth, the notorious Heart of Midlothian. In its life it was many things – centre of commerce, council building, parliament house, court house and finally town jail. It was one of the most important buildings in the country’s history and yet nothing of it exists, which is a shame.
His final non-fiction work was GLASGOW’S BLACK HEART (Mainstream), an account of Glasgow’s criminal history from the year 1800. It was an epic tale, encompassing bank robbery, murder, terrorism – a secret history of the city, in fact.
Follow Douglas on Twitter @DouglasSkelton1