Joe Blake

About the Author

Meet Detective Joe Blake, Australia's newest hero! "You can shoot a man hard or you can shoot a man soft. Hard would have been in the guts or the nuts or the knees. Considering what he had done I shot him soft, too soft for the rabid mongrel dog he was. I shot him right in the middle of his forehead. I aimed for the bridge of his nose but it was a hard shot. He was getting up out of his chair and I was rolling to the right out of my seat with the Glock in my hand, swinging it up and away from my shoulder holster. I saw his gun buck and I felt a tug at my left shoulder. The Glock thudded and he sprouted a third eye in the middle of his forehead reminding me of the cover of a Lobsang Rampa paperback. His head jerked and he fell back; sliding down to the floor. A splattering of blood and brains dribbled down the wall behind him."

Detective Joe Blake describes a shoot out with a murderer in the latest revelations from his memoirs as Australia's leading crime fighter. The book, Warning Shots Last follows on from Joe's first book Murder is Never Pretty... Even When the Corpse is a Blonde which was released in 2006. Move over Larry Kent, Carter Brown, Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ellery Queen, Frank Miller and Sexton Blake (perhaps he's a distant relation to Joe!) for there is a new cop on the beat! If you like tough cops, beautiful girls, fast action and kick-butt crime novels get ready for the next book in the Joe Blake Murder/Mystery series. Joe's editor and publisher Bob Sheppard says, "When I was contacted at Warrigal Press by Detective Joe Blake asking me if I would like to read the manuscript of his first book my thoughts were that, ' here was another dickhead copper who didn't really have anything interesting to say.' Wow! Wasn't I wrong. From the opening rubber burnin', siren wailin' scene I knew I was on a fast crime solving ride through the streets of Perth and regional Western Australia. It didn't take long for me to realise Joe Blake is no ordinary copper! His no-nonsense attitude to crime, obvious prowess in the boudoir and knowledge of the seedy underbelly of society makes him a force to be reckoned with. Not since Carter Brown's Al Wheeler kissed and kicked his way to popularity in the 60s have we seen a crime fighter with this sort of talent!

Following the release of Joe's first book he fast gained cult status as collectors of crime pulps realised there is no one anywhere in the world quite like Joe Blake! When Joe sent Warrigal Press a manuscript of Warning Shots Last there was no doubt the second book in the series would go to press.

Warrigal Press is recreating the pulp genre that was popular in the fifties and sixties and has discovered there is a real niche developing for popular publishing. What is the reason for Joe's success? "It's a simple recipe," says Bob Sheppard. "Kick-butt crime, buxom babes, a no-nonsense crime fighter in an Australian setting and a book that you can read in a single sitting: fantastic!"

And it's not only in Australia that Joe Blake is gaining a following. UK based popular publishing enthusiast David Whitehead recently reviewed Murder is Never Pretty for Mike Stotter's SHOTS website.

"Sporting a title that most mystery writers would sell their souls for, Murder Is Never Pretty ... Even When the Corpse Is A Blonde, is the first attempt by Warrigal Press to recreate the golden age of Australian pulp literature. Whilst the comparisons with Larry Kent and Carter Brown's Al Wheeler are inevitable, however, Joe Blake's world is slap-bang up-to-date, and its immediacy is reinforced by numerous current cultural references. Joe Blake, a tough-as-nails detective with the Major Crime department of the Perth Police Force, is called in when beautiful blonde, Kay Langdon, is found shot through the back of the head. His subsequent, painstaking and, I have to say, wholly credible investigation of the deceased throws up a number of potential, well-drawn suspects, including bouncer Tony Remigio, Kay's friends Alison and Bazza Templeton, local stud Mozzie Thomson and crooked nightclub boss Vinnie Valuka - but there are no shortage of red herrings here. Having said that, the denouement is neat, and the way in which Joe arrives there convincing.

As you would expect, the novel is written in a tough, laconic first-person style. Blake himself emerges as an entirely believable if not wholly likeable character, sometimes selfish, sometimes violent, hard, unforgiving and wholly committed to dealing with the bad guys on their own terms. The only thing that jarred for this reader was the obligatory sex scenes, which seemed somewhat contrived. If Joe Blake can lose those, however, and just stick to telling straight murder-mysteries, I predict that he will very quickly gain a cult following: indeed, it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that Warrigal's slim, attractive paperbacks of today will go on to become the classic collectibles of tomorrow.

Murder Is Never Pretty is a satisfying and recommended read - and I'm already curious to see what this hard-hitting, charismatic Aussie gets up to in the forthcoming sequel,Warning Shots Last."

While Dave Whitehead may have had some criticism of the obligatory sex scenes in Joe's books Bob Sheppard is not deviating from the formula. In a reply to Dave, Bob was quick to defend his inclusion of the descriptive nature of what Joe Blake gets up to in the boudoir. "Sorry Dave, there's more of that in Warning Shots Last. University lecturer in European history and exponent of the art of bondage, Josette Lachet, provides Joe with a first hand look at the what could have gone on in the mind of a young girl's killer. Its an experience that Joe may wish he could forget ..."

It is true the Joe Blake recipe has its critics. Warrigal Press sent a review copy to well known crime author Peter Corris for his comments and what did Peter think? "Sorry, but I couldn't come at it in any spirit. A big-noting protagonist who thinks it's fun to burn rubber loses me straight off."

It's a criticism that Bob Sheppard wears as a medal of honour. "What a great description of Joe, and hey isn't reading allowed to be fun? It's all about meeting the naughty girl, catching the bad guy and getting there fast and if Joe has to burn a bit of taxpayer's rubber doing it who cares! This is not pretentious and verbose crime fiction designed to fill hundreds of pages and long nights with the reader wading through lengthy scenarios. This is flat-out, kick-butt crime straight from the memoirs of our leading crime fighter. These aren't literary works by Patrick White or Tim Winton, this is raw, fast, tough and to the point. That's Joe's style and most readers love it!"

Dave Cunning director of Local Act Comics is a Joe Blake supporter. Following the publication of Murder is Never Pretty ... Even When the Corpse is a Blonde, Dave recognised the emerging cult status of Detective Joe Blake.

"Not since Mad Max has there been such a charismatic agent for the people in Australian fiction. Joe is the rugged and gutsy guy we all want to be deep down. It is a pleasure to read about his flawless navigation through situations that would have us otherwise baffled," says Dave Cunning. The cover artwork for Joe's books is created by students from the illustration unit in the Graphic Design and Multimedia Course at WA School of Art, Design and Media with the assistance of Senior Lecturers Jon Greenwood and Neil Hollis. Covers by Lauren Gale and Paul Ikin were chosen for Murder is Never Pretty and Julie Billoud created the cover artwork for Warning Shots Last with Dmitry Sergeev providing an interior illustration.

"We have world class young illustrators in Australia. Joe's books and web page give students an opportunity to show how good they are," says Bob Sheppard. "With the continuing support of readers we can continue to showcase this talent through the Joe Blake project. Recently I contacted Dave Cunning at Local Act comics. Dave was enthusiastic about promoting Joe Blake as a comic book hero. Illustrator Bill Micevski took up the challenge and has created two pages of Joe Blake comic art. Bill has done a fantastic job. This is a world first for Bill Micevski and Joe Blake!"

Dave Cunning agrees with Bob Sheppard's assessment of Bill's artwork. "I am very excited about the prospect of seeing Joe launch into the comic world and I believe Bill Micevski is just the artist to make it happen."

Meanwhile Joe Blake is working on a third book in the series. It appears the Director of Public Prosection's teenage daughter in Western Australia has been kidnapped by an emerging outlaw bikie gang hell bent on revenge for a narcotics sting involving one of their favourite pole dancers. Joe has only a few days to go undercover, join the bikies and rescue the girl. The Bikie's Cage is due for release in 2008 if fans can wait that long!

Limited first edition copies of Murder is Never Pretty ... Even When the Corpse is a Blonde are available in two formats 1A Cover art by Paul Ikin (500 copies printed) 1B Cover art by Lauren Gale (500 copies printed) Warning Shots Last will be released late April and Warrigal Press is now taking orders. The books are also available at http://www.joeblake.com.au

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