Brit Grit Alley

Brit Grit Alley features news and updates on what's happening down British crime fiction's booze and blood soaked alleyways.

By Paul D. Brazill 

Evenin' all!  This week's guest columnist is the very smashing TONY BLACK. He's going to talk about short stories, since his own short stories have recently been released in two Kindle collections: LONDON CALLING (UK-set stories) and KILLING TIME in VEGAS (US-set stories).  Tony Black is Irvine Welsh's "favourite British crime writer", BTW. He's the author of the cracking Gus Dury series of Edinburgh crime novels: PAYING FOR IT; GUTTED; LOSS and LONG TIME DEAD. A second tasty series, featuring DI Rob Brennan includes: TRUTH LIES BLEEDING and MURDER MILE. His novel THE STORM WITHOUT is set in Burns Country and was described by Ken Bruen as "The great Scottish novel". For more information, and the latest news visit his website

THE SHORT OF IT by Tony Black

There's something beyond merely good writing that defines a good short story. A great read, in this miniature form, goes beyond voice or character or setting. You know when you've read a great short because it stays with you forever. It carves out a little niche for itself in your mind that makes you pause and say, 'Yeah, that's so right.'

Most shorts, don't do this. And that's fine, the quick-fix can be a heady cocktail too. But when they're done well, they're something special.

Shorts are also very difficult to write. Like a condensed form of the novel they need to have a hell of a lot going on in their limited ambit. I could go on, but I guess you get the idea that I love short stories.

So here's ten short stories - broadly in the crime genre - that I rate particularly highly. They're in no particular order, but each offer a slightly different take on the theme of crime, and each is the work of a modern master.

1 Ernest Hemingway, The Killers.

2 El Doctorow, Jolene: A Life.

3 Jay McInerney, Third party.

4 William McIlvanney, At the Bar.

5 Guy De Maupassant, The Necklace.

6 Cathi Unsworth, Trouble is a Lonesome Town.

7 Jim Thompson, Forever After.

8 Mulk Raj Anand, The Thief.

9 Barry Graham, Big Davey Joins the Majority

10 Irvine Welsh, The Shooter. 

Ta Tone!


Spinetingler Award nominee Paul D. Brazill has had bits and bobs of short fiction published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books Of Best British Crime 8 and 10,and he has edited the anthologies True Brit Grit & Off The Record 2– with Luca Veste - and Drunk On The Moon 1 and 2. His ebooks Red Esperanto, Death On A Hot Afternoon, 13 Shots Of Noir, Vin Of Venus (with David Cranmer & Garnett Elliot ) and Snapshots are out now, and his novellas The Gumshoe and Guns Of Brixton will be out pretty damned  soon. His blog is here.