Ever since I first read Dirty Old Town by Nigel I have been a fan of his short stories. The collection which followed it Beat On The Brat only reinforced this feeling. When I heard that Nigel had a novella out I was excited at the prospect of reading it. I wanted to see how Nigel would handle longer fiction and he didn’t disappoint me.
Bird brings us a unique flavour in the setting of the town of Tranent. Like most writers of his considerable talent you can’t quite put your finger on the singular thing that makes his writing unique. Smoke is Brit Grit at its very finest. Think in terms of Layer Cake or Snatch.
The story starts with Jimmy being humiliated at school and vowing revenge against his nemesis Sean Mulligan. Things go downhill for Jimmy very quickly from there. This is also the story of Carlo who we first saw in Nigel’s story An Arm And A Leg which appeared in The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8.
The story is set in the middle of a huge dog fighting tournament and one or two scenes excellently convey the brutality of this horrendous pastime. I won’t grace it with the word sport. Nigel’s writing often deals dark settings and damaged characters and this is particularly true for Smoke. The two main characters in Smoke are physically damaged in different ways. However, don’t let this put you off, always with Nigel’s fantastic writing there is humour and a nugget of hope. There is always a shot at redemption for these characters. The story is left open and we could possibly see the return of one of the characters in the future. I do hope so it would be great to see the setting of Tranent again.
I started off as a fan of Nigel Bird’s and my admiration for his work has only increased with the addition of Smoke to his portfolio.
Download Smoke HERE