Criminal Records #2 – Paul Heatley on An Eye For An Eye

In the second instalment of a brand new series, UK crime writer Paul Heatley puts together a playlist to accompany his visceral 2016 thriller, An Eye For An Eye (Near To The Knuckle).

PENDULUM by Mark Lanegan

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I’m a BIG Mark Lanegan fan. I don’t make any secret of it. Listen to this song and tell me how you couldn’t be? Let’s set the scene for this one: imagine a ‘True Detective’ style opening of dark and grainy images taken from the story to come – a bloodied dart, a hammer, a one-eyed girl, mangled and fallen bodies – and put this song over the top of it. As with the next song in this small collection, the lyrics pertain to the main character – the world-weary Graeme Taylor: ‘Swing Pendulum, Swing low, Got no place to call my own, Oh my Lord don’t you bother me, I’m as tired as a man can be.’


How could a story set in Newcastle not feature the music of the city’s finest band? I’m not particularly a fan of Lindisfarne so you won’t be seeing ’Fog On The Tyne’ or ’I’m Coming Home Newcastle’ on this list! As I stated above, this is the other song that relates most strongly to Graeme. He’s done with his old way of life and he wants to move on. Problem is, much like Michael Corleone, they just keep pulling him back in…


Transport the Southern Gothic stylings of The Gun Club’s ‘Run Through The Jungle’ to the concrete jungle of Newcastle and the beaches of Northumberland, and here’s a song that fits REAL well. Its oppressive, driving rhythm compliments a story about a chase that can only have one ending…

THE MERCY SEAT by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

It was a toss-up between this one and ‘Red Right Hand’, but by this point ‘Red Right Hand’ has been used to death. ‘The Mercy Seat’, much like ‘Run Through The Jungle’, captures the same oppression of a chase that can’t be outrun, which is why I’ve gone for the link to the full seven-minute album version, as opposed to the five-minute single.

EYE FOR AN EYE by Soulfly

Here’s a song that I hope captures the frenetic, Chester Himes style high-energy that I wanted to present with this story. Also, it has the same name as the book, so you can stick it over the end credits!


Paul Heatley is the author of more than fifty short stories published online and in print at a variety of publications including Thuglit, Mystery Tribune, Crime Factory, Spelk, and Shotgun Honey, among others. He is also the author of The Motel Whore & Other Stories, Guns, Drugs and Dogs, An Eye For An Eye and Fatboy. A prequel and a sequel to An Eye For An Eye will be released this summer from Near To The Knuckle with The Runner dropping in August and Violent By Design coming in September, and he has a new title, Guillotine, coming from All Due Respect in early 2019. 

Are you a crime writer? Would you like to write about the musical influences on your new book? If so, drop me a line via the contact form on the About page!

The Interrogation Room – An Interview With Frank Westworth

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Frank Westworth to discuss his JJ Stoner series.

Firstly, for readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you pitch the JJ Stoner series to readers?

Did you ever wonder what trained killers do when they leave the military? JJ Stoner is one such; he knows killers and their ways, which makes him pretty good at finding them. What happens after that is down to the politicians…

How did you come up with the character, and how has he evolved since his first appearance?

Originally, the stories weren’t intended to be about JJ at all – they were based around a team of three female killers, three sisters in fact. Stoner was simply intended to be a device to reveal the sisters and their ways to The Reader. The character himself, JJ, is based on guys I met when both my sister and brother were serving in the British Army. With added detail to make him a fuller personality – a passion for playing guitar and riding large Harley-Davidson motorcycles, for example.

What do you hope that readers take away from your books?

I want every reader to be entertained, to have a good read, maybe to smile a little at the way things go and at the characters in there. Entertainment – that’s all I want The Reader to take away.

What are the main positives behind self-publishing – and what are the chief drawbacks?

The positives? An author is free to write what they want, without any of the positioning demanded by conventional publishers. Good friend of mine who’s a seriously successful thriller writer was told by his publishers that he needed to introduce a ‘supernatural’ theme to his books to make them more like Stephen King or John Connolly. His books sell well without that, but no, he has to do what he’s told.

The downside is that it’s almost impossibly difficult to introduce your writing to an audience. And there is no money in it, which is fine if writing’s not intended to be an earner, less so otherwise.

Do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene?

I read all sorts of books, mostly crime and sci-fi. It’s not easy to define ‘mainstream’, but if you mean do I read books in the publishers’ Top Ten, then the answer is no, very rarely. They tend to be too formulaic for my tastes – probably because mainstream authors need to write what their publishers want, hence the current ‘The Girl Who…’ endless repetitions and the like. That said, there are a whole load of truly outstanding authors out there who are conventionally published on a smaller scale and produce stunningly good books. One joy of the internet is that it’s not difficult to find them. This is a good thing indeed.

Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?

Peers? That’s a hard one. I could never claim to be anywhere near as good as any of these authors, but I would be seriously delighted to be considered on the same page as Steve Hamilton, Craig Russell, Chris Petit, Michael Marshall Smith, Don Winslow, Derek Raymond, James Crumley and maybe even Fred Vargas! I’d not even try to compare my efforts with their books, but there’s a similar level of … intensity, perhaps.

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?

Jon Courtenay Grimwood, aka Jack Grimwood. He has written in so many different styles – SF, literary, historical and currently espionage – that his career has long been very interesting. He’s also a journalist – as I am – and I admire the way he writes and develops as a writer.

Finally, what are your future publishing plans?

Not easy to be define! I’ve started writing the fourth book in the JJ Stoner ‘Killing Sisters’ trilogy (every trilogy needs four books, we all know that!) as well as another couple of short stories set in the same universe and featuring appearances by characters from the full-length novels. I’ve also dug my way into writing a sci-fi novel, but it’s very slow going as it’s an entirely different way of writing. We live to learn, though, don’t we?


Frank Westworth shares several characteristics with his literary anti-hero, JJ Stoner: they both play mean blues guitar and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Unlike Stoner, Frank hasn’t deliberately killed anyone. Instead, Frank edits a monthly classic motorcycle magazine.

Frank’s ‘Killing Sisters’ series starts with ‘A Last Act Of Charity’ and continues in ‘The Corruption Of Chastity’, concluding in ‘The Redemption Of Charm’. However, you can start with any of the books in the series; they’re written to be enjoyed if you come in halfway through…

You can also meet key characters from the Killing Sisters series in the JJ Stoner short stories, which begin with First Contract.

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