Until recently I almost exclusively read crime fiction through novels. In the last year or so, as I’ve started to dabble in writing short stories myself, I’ve discovered the short story format, especially flash fiction. And in so doing I’ve found some great writers who mostly specialize in the craft of telling perfectly formed little snippets of life, including Paul Brazill, Patti Abbott, Kieran Shea, John Mantooth and Nigel Bird. So it was great to see that Nigel Bird had collected together nine of his short stories (Drinking Wine (Spo-Dee-Oh-Dee); Taking a Line for a Walk; Dirty Old Town; Sea Minor; Sisterhood; One Hundred And Ten Per Cent; Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight); Three Little Birds; and Silver Street) and bundled them into Dirty Old Town. Some of the stories have been published in The Reader Magazine, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Title Fights, Static Movement and Dark Valentine.
What I like about the stories is twofold. First, how they are told – they’re conversational; like verbal storytelling captured on the page. As a result, they’re very engaging. Second, the humanity in the penning of characters. Bird doesn’t judge his characters – they are who they are: real people living ordinary lives, dealing with the crises that disrupt their hopes and ambitions. Each story is short and sweet, most with a nice wicked twist at the end. The blurb accompanying the collection says that the stories will stay with you for a while. A couple of them have certainly been rattling round my head for a few days. I did have one complaint, however – I wanted more of them! A nice collection and a taster of Bird’s storytelling. Hopefully more is on the way. You can pick up a copy via Amazon (UK or US) or Smashwords. At 71 pence or 99 cent you certainly get your money's worth!