Some extracts from Skinback Books

no place for dinosaurs cover

No Place for Dinosaurs - John Morrison

When Superintendent Bob Menzies arrives at the scene of the gruesome sex killing of a sixteen year old girl, his first reaction is to “hunt down the creature responsible and beat the living shit out of him.” He has been SIO on far too many such vile cases in his years as a detective, and heard far too much cod psychology. A heavy smoker whose idea of relaxation is drinking pints with whisky chasers until the early hours with his friend and colleague DI Harry Grice, he knows his attitudes and methods are frowned on. In an era where crime fighting seems as much a question of watching budgets as catching criminals, Bob, to his superiors, is a dinosaur.

But he also has a great track record. And as the case of poor dead virgin Beverley Baines becomes more complicated, the other sides of his personality – kindness, humanity, a determination to never give up – come to the fore. He has to fight ambitious and dishonest colleagues, an intrusive press, and a marriage that is creaking underneath the strain. In the background, always, is an incident from his and Harry’s past that could blow up in their faces.

As the lack of evidence becomes a real brick wall, and the powers that be keep cutting, cutting, cutting because the investigation seems to be getting nowhere, another teenage girl is lost. The dread words ‘serial killer’ are suddenly in the air. The pressure ratchets up unbearably.

Written by a former high-ranking detective, this novel is like no other in its field. Each twist and turn of the investigation, each obstacle Bob and Harry Grice come up against from within the force and out, is frighteningly authentic. The apparently simple, if unsolvable, first murder bleeds into even more brutal areas, more terrible crimes, with suicide and twisted sex thrown in. The truth, when it emerges, is shattering.

J cover

J - Margaret McCann

Skinback Books, 2012

The narrator of this small, powerful, erotic book is called J. She is an art student in Liverpool, which is all we ever really know about her. She has a one-room flat in an Edwardian terrace, and the lady she pays her rent to is the madame of a brothel. A small brothel, a select brothel, with only quiet, well-dressed, respectable ‘clients.’ But J has to pay her rent of course, so she also has a job. She is a waitress in a small café, owned and run by a man called only Chef.

Chef is not a bad man. He does not harass her, or even underpay her. They hardly talk. But one night, after she has cleared away before going home, he invites her to share a drink. Very soon, almost as if by magic, J finds herself spread out on the steel table, naked, with Chef – still hardly talking – making love to her. J does not understand. J does not dislike it. Next night, it happens again. And still she does not understand.

J’s life, so quiet, so humdrum, becomes truly strange. Chef is an experimenter, and J is the canvas on which he paints his fantasies. J wants to be an artist, and she fantasises too. She thinks she loves him – he says she does – and she is prepared to do for him whatever he might ask. The things he asks become stranger, and stranger and stranger. Before very long, they involve strangers, too. And still J does not understand. Her landlady joins in. Chef comes to the house. The clients multiply.

Weirdly, J does not feel abused. She does not know what is going on, but she feels safe. Her life, her world, becomes confined to sex, and satisfaction. And not just other people’s. At the end of every chapter, a third person fills in the gaps. Not all of them, not fully.

J’s life goes on. J does not understand. Her life, one could say, becomes fifty shades of grey. She does not understand…