Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Harry Starke by Blair Howard (Excerpt, review and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Blair Howard


GENRE: Mystery/Crime Fiction



It's midnight on a cold and snowy night in January when a beautiful young girl, Tabitha Willard, throws herself off the Walnut Street Bridge. Harry Starke happens to be there. Wrong time, wrong place? Maybe. Although he tries, he is unable to stop her. Thus begins a series of events and an investigation that involves a local United States congressman, a senior lady senator from Boston, a local crime boss, several very nasty individuals, sex, extortion, high finance, and three murders. Harry has to work his way through a web of deceit and corruption until finally.... Well, as always, there's a twist in the tale, several in fact.

Harry Starke is a big fish in a small pond. He's a tough individual with a past and a conscience. He has friends in high places. He’s single, successful, wealthy, a womanizer, well educated, and he will hurt you if he needs to. This book is the first in the series of Harry Starke novels.



"You're about as transparent as that window, Benny. Maybe more so. It's filthy. Now tell me the truth."

"Screw you, Starke. I don't have tell you nothin'. Get the hell out of my office, and stay outa the bar too."

I sat there for a moment, contemplating his fat face, then I nodded and rose to my feet, but I didn't leave. I walked around the desk, reached inside my jacket and pulled out the MP9, and sat down on the desk facing him.

"Whoa." He leaned away from me, his eyes wide, his hands in front of him, fingers spread.

"Now then, Benny. There are two ways we can do this; either way you'll tell me what I want to know. So, what do you think? Painful or not?"

"Harry, I swear I don't know those two guys. I barely even noticed 'em."

I nodded, and then tapped him gently on the bridge of his nose with the barrel of the nine."

"Ow, ow, ow." he yelled. "That hurt, you son of a bitch."

"I asked you, Benny... painful or not? You chose painful." I tapped him again.

"Oh ow. Goddam it, Harry. Quit it. You'll bust my nose."

"Yup, it's quite likely I will. You ready to talk?"

"I told ya, I don't know who they are."

Smack! This time I laid the flat side of the gun hard against his ear.

"Uch, uch, uch, uch, uch," Hah, the man was actually crying, sobbing as he rubbed his ear. The bridge of his nose was already turning black.

I grabbed his right hand and slammed it down on the desktop, fingers spread.

"Benny, you want to talk to me, before I start on your fingers?"

"Okay, okay." He nodded enthusiastically.

"They... they... work... for the Packman."

"The Packman? You mean Lester Tree, Shady?"



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Blair Howard was born and raised in England. He writes sweeping historical epics, and is the author of four historical novels, with a fifth due to be released at the end of July this year: be on the lookout for Three Days in Hell: a Novel of the American Civil War. His current novels are: Chickamauga: a Novel of the American Civil War; The Mule Soldiers: a Novel of the American Civil War; The Chase: a Novel of the American Civil War: and Comanche: a Novel of the Old West. His new book, Harry Starke, mystery novel will be available on September 4, 2015 All of Blair's books are available on Amazon as eBooks or Paperbacks.

Blair is also a travel writer and professional photographer specializing in golf travel, vacation travel, and golf course photography. His travels take him throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean playing golf, writing about his experiences, and photographing the golf courses he visits. You can follow him on here:

Blair is the author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta's Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen's Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.

Visit Blair's blog
Follow Blair on Facebook
On Twitter @bcwhoward



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The tour dates can be found here


My review:

3.75 out of 5 stars

Harry Starke by Blair Howard is a mystery story that evokes the American noir genre, with its eponymous central character, a private investigator with ties to the police force as well as other movers and shakers.  An unwilling witness to a suicide, Harry is determined to discover the reason for the attractive young woman’s fatal decision.  His investigative techniques are sanctioned by his contact with the police department until he crosses a line that the lieutenant can no longer ignore.  As Harry gets closer to the truth, he finds that far more is at stake than he ever imagined and his case gets even more personal and the end result may not be what he wants after all.

The mystery that gradually unfolds through the course of the story is intriguing and fun to follow but I can’t say that I am thrilled with Harry’s persona.  His hard-bitten persona and adversarial relationship with both a former colleague as well as various thugs provided interesting interludes that show what a tough customer he is, but his blithe dismissal of a long-time relationship, disregard for proper protocol, and willingness to use whatever tools or connections he has to achieve his goals is less than attractive to me.  Despite that, the story is entertaining and keeps one’s attention as Harry works through the clues he finds, even though it has a bit of an unusual twist.  I was a little taken aback at the casual handling of items that I would think are supposed to be part of a documented chain of custody and I am sure that Harry’s unorthodox methods would not be accepted elsewhere, but they definitely contributed to a very colorful story.  This was a good light read that will be appreciated by fans of detective stories starring unorthodox characters who are willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve their goals.

A copy of this story was provided to me for review.


  1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

  2. Many thanks for the review. I appreciate your honesty:-))

    1. You are quite welcome, I appreciate the chance to read your story. I would be interested in knowing if I was provided with an ARC, as there were other issues that I did not mention in my review (0:

  3. BTW, I think the chain of custody you must be referring to is the pendant. If so, it's not. The girl committed suicide, thus there was no crime, and no chain of evidence:-)

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Blair. I was trying not to leave any spoilers...but my thought is that her personal effects would be released back to her family, not just passed out to anyone who was interested in the case.

  4. Great review. This sounds like a really fun read.

  5. I have enjoyed the tour and learning about your book.

  6. Thanks for sharing the excerpt, sounds like a really good book and I have enjoyed following the tour and learning about your book, Good luck and Have a wonderful holiday season!

  7. I am so glad that I was introduced to Blair and his work. Courtesy of this blog. Good job, both of you.

  8. Thanks for sharing your honest review. I haven't read anything by Blair yet so I'll be checking this one out :)

  9. I have always loved mystery stories but haven't read one in awhile. This sounds like it would fit the bill. Thank you.

  10. This sounds like a fun book to read. Lots of ups and downs, intrigue, a complex storyline and interesting characters. I also love the language.