Small Town Horrors by Tom Leins

Small Town Horrors – splicing genres in Meat Bubbles & Other Stories

My new book Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (Near To The Knuckle) is a collection of hardboiled crime fiction that sporadically lurches into full-blown horror territory. In recent years my pure, undiluted approach to crime fiction has started to blur at the edges: the story titles have got more visceral, the antagonists more ghoulish, the imagery more horrific and the sense of foreboding more pronounced.

I think this approach has reached its peak with Meat Bubbles, which includes delightfully titled stories such as ‘The Repulsion Box’, ‘Dirthouse’, ‘Other People’s Blood’, ‘Massive Bereavement’ and the closing story ‘Snuff Racket’. I won’t risk ruining any of the nasty little surprises that are in store for would-be readers, but these aren’t whimsical small town English mysteries that are solved between cucumber sandwiches and cups of Earl Grey – these are brutal, uncompromising tales about a small town private investigator whose threshold for suburban depravity is pushed to the absolute limit.

I’m no one’s idea of a trailblazer, but this whole ‘Paignton Noir’ world that I have strived to create over the last decade or so is highly stylised, and I like to use that to my advantage – dragging standard-issue crime stories kicking and screaming out of their comfort zone and dumping them in a blood-soaked narrative wasteland. Is the end product too horrific for crime fans? Maybe. Too tame for horror fans? Probably. Only time will tell!

Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Near To The Knuckle
Release date: June 2, 2018
Synopsis: Still licking his wounds after the brutal events of SKULL MEAT, Paignton private investigator Joe Rey is reluctant to take on another case that could have violent repercussions. However, a lucrative pay-day from a soon-to-retire cop tests his resolve, and Rey quickly finds himself on the trail of a deranged plastic surgeon with a queasy line in body modification procedures. Over the course of a long, bloody summer, Rey tangles with rogue ex-cops, suburban hitmen, neo-Nazi scumbags and even Paignton’s richest man – a notorious hoarder of unknown horrors. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do

Praise for Meat Bubbles-

Benedict J. Jones, author of Pennies For Charon and The Devil’s Brew (Crime Wave Press):

“Welcome to the nightmare factory – there’s dark and then there’s Tom Leins’ Paignton… By parts a mix of the brutality of Hubert Selby Jr and the pure noir-ish banter of Ray Banks with more than a dash of the good old ultra-violence. Thirteen brutal shorts and then the extended nightmare of Snuff Racket. You’d have to go a long way to beat the sheer violence, brutality, humour and brilliance of Meat Bubbles.”

Paul Heatley, author of Fatboy (All Due Respect) and An Eye For An Eye (Near To The Knuckle):

“Tom Leins’ Paignton is close to Hell on earth. His battle-scarred PI Joe Rey is navigating every circle of it here – hookers, pimps, pornographers, killers, crooked cops, and every other grotesque you could care (or not) to imagine make up the colourful characters in this grim collection of noir from one of the premier writers of gut-wrenching dark fiction currently at work. One day people will talk about the fiction of Tom Leins the same way they talk about Derek Raymond’s – get on board now and when that day comes you’ll be able to brag you were round at the start.”

Matt Phillips, author of Bad Luck City (Near To The Knuckle) and Accidental Outlaws (All Due Respect):

“If you had to kill someone with a book, you’d use this one. Cracked skulls. Bruised knuckles. Wounds in the shape of unnameable body parts. Characters as broken and misshapen as the populace of a violent noir hellscape. Tom Leins writes like a man skinned by jackals and doused in lighter fluid. Meat Bubbles & Other Stories is a new paradigm in noir—Paignton noir, an aesthetic built on images that’d make a seasoned leg-breaker squeal like a school girl.”

tom leins


Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Near to the Knuckle, Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction. A pair of Paignton Noir novelettes, SKULL MEAT and SNUFF RACKET, are available via Amazon. MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES will be released by Near To The Knuckle on 2nd June 2018, and REPETITION KILLS YOU will be published by All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books) in September 2018.

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