Monday, 24 October 2011

'SMOKE' by Nigel Bird - a review




'Smoke' is the first novella from the pen of the accomplished, Nigel Bird - critically acclaimed short-story writer extraordinaire, and proper nice bloke to boot.

Being familiar with Nigel's bitter-sweet short-stories, I was fascinated to see how trying his hand at a longer piece would turn out.  This novella is a little different from many of Nigel's aforementioned short-stories in that the writing voice is unashamedly Scottish.  And brilliantly so.  I think of all the UK short-story writers plying their trade at the moment, along with the inimitable Mr Paul D. Brazill, Nigel is the one writer that has most successfully found a voice for the US market.  That being so, I loved the fact he's returned to his Scottish roots for 'Smoke'.

'Smoke' centres around a lad called Jimmy.  Not a bad lad, but a lad who gets into the odd scrape every now and then.  In 'Smoke', one of these particular scrapes involves the psychotic Ramsay Brothers and their incredibly vicious, and incredibly well-written, dog-fighting competition, and also a one-armed, one-legged bloke in a motorised wheelchair, called Carlos.  The bloke is called Carlos, I hasten to add, not the wheelchair.

Carlos is the other central character - along with Jimmy - and provides the comic edge to what is a primarily gritty story.

The pace of 'Smoke' is first class, whizzing along like Carlos involuntarily descending a hill into traffic - a terrific scene in the book - and a definition of noir itself.  The characters in 'Smoke' are well-rounded, the dialogue top drawer, the ending a satisfying conclusion to a cracking tale.

'Smoke' is available on Amazon in the UK here and in the US here

4 comments:

  1. Great review of a really gripping novella. I hope Nigel never stops what he's doing.

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  2. I've got this to read and Julie Morrigan's Heatbreaker. Some great reading ahead :)

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  3. You're a delight, Ian. Great review.

    Interesting you mention the US-UK thing. I didn't really notice the difference between Smoke and Nigel's other work, then again I wasn't looking for it.

    I'd put Iain Rowan in that category of bound to catch on in the US too.

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  4. so many thanks for that. not long till Abide With Me - that's on all our lists.

    nigel

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