This collection of stories is not a happy one. In fact it is about as far away from happy as it is possible to get. Even for a collection of noir stories this is pretty grim. The is no glamour in crime or life in general. Everybody has problems and most of them end up being terminal or at best highly self-destructive. Even alcoholism that usual stalwart of good cheer in noir stories brings more pain than joy for the characters in these stories.
The one thing that isn’t gloomy is the quality of the writing. I first heard of this author in some American anthologies. There was something different about his stories. They were noir like the other stories but somehow felt more personal to me. It wasn’t until I read the stories again I realised that there was a definite British twinge to the style. I was hooked. There are certain phrases like ‘saying hello to the one-eyed milkman’ that you just don’t hear outside of dodgy pubs in the city centre. There are also a lot of references to Seatown which took me back to my teenage years sitting in dodgy pubs playing pool and drinking beer.
This book contains nearly everything I have spent my life trying to escape. The gritty realism hits you in the face and makes you say rude words. This book is like meth. You know it is bad for you but you have to keep reading. Mr Brazill nails this one.