Dirty Old Town is the debut collection from the prize-winning writer Nigel Bird.  His brilliantly observed slices of life allow us to visit places we may not normally choose to enter and to walk a few miles in the shoes of others.

Though his tales have darkness at their core, they are also full of a heart and spirit that one rarely finds in the world or ‘noir’ or ‘crime-writing’.

There are 9 stories here:  Drinking Wine (Spo-Dee-Oh-Dee); 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.  Each will remain with you for days after you’ve read it.  Some will be around for weeks.

In this collection we meet a frustrated housewife who needs to let her hair down; an elderly school janitor who can’t see the wood for the trees; a group of Muslims intent on revenge; a young girl whose father has just left home; a father and son breaking-and-entering partnership; a young man working on a city farm; and a pimp who’s fallen in love.  All of them struggle to meet life’s demands and some of them cope better than others.

Five of the stories here have been published by the highly respected editors of The Reader Magazine, A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Title Fights, Static Movement and Dark Valentine. The collection also includes two pieces that are being given their first outing and another that was put together put for the Big Beat From Badsville’s Ramones  series.

In 2010 Nigel Bird was the winner of the prestigious Watery Grave Invitational competition hosted by the Drowning Machine. Since then he has gone on to win the Things I’d Rather Be Doing fairytale/crime-story competition.

“More love for DIRTY OLD TOWN

Just can’t help myself.  I want more people to buy Nigel Bird’s Dirty Old Town and read it and love it and tell others about it.  I was surprised by every story.  These are short, punchy, thoughtful, hard as a punch, but sometimes they dig in and squeeze.  It’s dirty stuff, done beautifully.Nigel is also responsible for the too-cool “Dancing With Myself” interview series at his blog, Sea Minor.” Anthony Neil Smith (Yellow Medicine, Psychosomatic, Hogdoggin’)

‘Taking A Line For A Walk’, included here, was listed among the top 5 stories of 2010 by Bill Hayes and Naomi Johnson over at Death By Killing.

Praise for Nigel Bird and his work includes:

‘It won’t take long to realise he is also one of the best writers out there on the noir scene’  Ian Ayris (Abide With Me)

‘A rare talent.’ Allan Guthrie (Bye Bye Baby, Hard Man, Slammer)

‘So nice to read a story with this much heart in it.’  Patti Abbott (Discount Noir, Pattinase)

‘Absolutely brilliant.’ Richard Godwin (Apostle Rising)

‘Great Stuff.’ Charlie Stella (Charlie Opera, Johnny Porno)

‘Brilliantly razor-sharp, jagged slice of life.’  Paul D Brazill (ubiquitous, You Would Say That Wouldn’t You)

‘I sought out everything I could from him.  I dare you to read and not do the same.’ Chris F Holm (8 Pounds)

‘Took my breath away…Powerful.’ Kathleen A Ryan (Playing With Matches, Women Of Mystery)

‘Nigel Bird continues to amaze,’ Naomi Johnson (The Drowning Machine)

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Where Charity Begins

In a time when global issues are going haywire and the world has begun to spin backwards, it can be difficult to make sense of anything. Influencing outcomes feels further out of grasping distance than maybe it should. In the UK and the US the driving forces defy the rational and appeal to the insecure. I have no idea how to move forward just now and am reflecting on ways in which I might make a difference when the time feels right.

Maybe the best thing to do is to look to the local. There are many worthy things happening in my neighbourhood that respect both people and environment and I manage to do my bit without actually ever making a huge effort. I’m very grateful to those with big hearts who are out there influencing the world on my and our behalf.

My hope that all can be well has been given a boost of late by a campaign to help a girl who lives in my home town. Her name is Macy and she requires major spinal surgery to correct a massive curvature. In order to get the best of treatment £150000 is required and that’s a lot of dosh. Not that the organisers of her fundraising group have been daunted by the size of the mountain they have to climb. The Facebook page is here if you’d like to take a closer look.

I’ve loved watching the community come together to help them on their way. There have been or soon will be mammoth walks, swims, outdoor events, ceilidhs, gigs, school dress-downs and talent shows to help out. This morning I went in to the pop up shop on Dunbar High Street in the Be Green shop and bought a few things I don’t really need – if you’re in the area today or tomorrow it’s fab and well worth making a visit for.

In the light of such togetherness, I’ve offered to help out in the only way I really know or understand, and that’s by raising money through the sale of books.

For the next three months, any money I make from sales of The Shallows (US) will be going to Macy’s fund. I’ve chosen The Shallows because it’s been very well received and is possibly the most accessible of my crime stories. It’s practically mainstream fiction and there’s even a police procedural thread weaving through the fabric. The money will come whether the sale is a paperback or an ebook and if you feel like enjoying a read and helping out a great cause, then I’d be grateful of the support.

I know that there are lots of worthy people and groups out there who deserve your attention and that you may have your own favourite charities or organisations , but I still would like to flag this up to you in case you feel like joining this particular cause. Maybe it’s by coming together in circumstances like this that those seemingly untouchable bigger issues might be addressed.

If you like the idea of supporting Macy, but don’t really want to buy into the author angle you can always make a direct donation at www.gofundme.com/fund-spine-surgery-for-macy Every little bit will be gratefully received.

Thanks for listening and good luck Macy. Here’s hoping.


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The New Cover and a Book Giveaway.

Free until Friday 30th September.


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Thirty Free Mysteries and Thrillers

f649354c-dff1-4be0-a292-4380b838b6b2Final day!

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4amessing (1)

A young woman on vacation in Florence meets a handsome street artist and interferes with his work – the collection of souls.

Available at the release price of 99p this week.

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Dancing to the Jailhouse Rock


It doesn’t take long for Ray Spalding to realise that prison is nothing like an Elvis Presley movie. The warden has no intention of throwing a party and the only bands Ray encounters are gangs of hard men. When an old adversary seeks him out, Ray decides his only chance for survival is escape.

Ray’s son, Jesse, is discovering that being on the run in the middle of winter is no fun. With his stamina stretched to the limits, he’s ready to surrender himself to social services. At least that way he can see his girlfriend again.

Danny Boy is the man in the middle. He thinks he can break Ray from prison and reunite father and son. All he needs is an ambulance, a funeral, the help of some of his old friends and a big slice of good fortune.

Southsiders: Jailhouse Rock (book two in the Southsiders series) takes you for an eventful ride on a Mystery Train where the destination is as likely to be the Heartbreak Hotel as the Promised Land.

Available Now.

“The prose is tightrope taut and the plotting first class … a tense and thrilling novella” – Crimesquad.com on Mr Suit

“Grim, but really good” – Ian Rankin on Smoke

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Ready to enter The Shallows?

small picture The SHALLOWS Nigel Bird3

I have a new title out today. It’s called The Shallows:

Lieutenant Bradley Heap has gone AWOL and taken along his wife and son. They’re managing to cope until a chance encounter with a gang of drug dealers turns their world upside down.

With no money and no contacts, the Heaps are forced underground. It’s a tough path they’ve chosen, but they can cope with anything as long as they stay together as a family unit.

Detective John Locke of Police Scotland joins forces with the Navy police in the search for Heap and his wife, on a trail that will take them from the middle of Scotland to the edge of the South Lakes.

The Shallows explores the limits of human endurance and examines how far people will go to protect the ones they love. It is a twisting tale of tension, despair and intrigue that encapsulates the essence of hope.

Available at the release price of 99p until St Patrick’s Day (17th March)


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It’s A Deal


In case you’ve missed it in the past, How To Choose A Sweetheart is currently on offer for the discounted price of 99p today for your kindle. There are plenty of reviews to check out if you fancy finding out a little more and, should you choose to read it, I’d be keen to hear your opinions.

It’s found it’s way into the top 100 romantic comedies, which is a first. It’s unlikely to stay there for long, so I’m trying to enjoy the moment.

Thanks for your support.


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The Legend Of Barney Thomson


Last night I went along to the Festival Theatre to see the premiere of The Legend Of Barney Thomson, which also happened to be the opening film of The Edinburgh Film Festival. If you follow the link, you can watch the trailer and get a sense of what will be waiting for you come the general release in the middle of July.

The film sees the directorial debut of Robert Carlyle who has managed to get a cracking cast together and uses them extremely well to bring out the many flavours of the story.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the film is based upon the excellent The Long Midnight OF Barney Thomson by Douglas Lindsay and published by the Scottish team at Blasted Heath (who also publish my own Southsiders and one of the reasons I went along). I reviewed the book many moons ago here. If you want to get ahead of the game, you can find the first book in the series here (a Kindle steal at 99p) and the whole omnibus (The Barbershop Seven) here.

I really enjoyed the film. It’s stays true to the book and that is to its credit. It’s a very funny, dark piece just like the novel. It opens with the posting of body parts by a serial killer and in the barber’s shop where Barney is on the verge of losing his job. The police are on the case after a fashion and, due to unforeseen events, eventually end up on Barney’s doorstep.

In terms of the plot, I won’t elaborate here. I can say that it’s extremely funny, visually very pleasing (occasionally stunning) and that the performances are superbly OTT. As reference points, I’d pick Shallow Grave, After Hours and TV’s Tutti Frutti with a nip of Hot Fuzz and Carry On. Judging by the guffaws of the audience, this one’s going to do very well indeed.

A word of warning, it’s not for those who dislike strong language or the macabre.

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A Little Tartan?


There’s a great new book out by Lenn Wanner called Tartan Noir (US). I’ve seen Len interview Allan Guthrie and William McIlvanney and can tell you that he’s an extremely well-informed academic and he also has a great sense of style as a speaker. In this one you’ll find a thorough working over of things noir in Scotland and I’d recommend it as a read to anyone who has a strong interest in the subject. Here’s the blurb:

A comprehensive and fascinating guide to the worldwide crime fiction phenomenon known as Tartan Noir covering all its major authors. What is Tartan Noir? Which authors belong to this global crime fiction phenomenon? Which books should you read first, next, again, or not at all? And what are the many historical, political, and cultural influences that have woven themselves into the Tartan Noir success story? Here, Len Wanner investigates the literature’s four main sub-genres – the detective, the police, the serial killer, and the noir novel. Covering four decades’ worth of literary history, Wanner offers not only four in-depth cross-examinations but also close readings of another 40 novels – everything from commercial hits and critical triumphs to curiosity pieces and cult classics. Books critiqued include international bestsellers by the likes of Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Val McDermid, and Denise Mina, alongside lesser known gems by counter-cultural icons such as Hugh C. Rae, Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie, Helen FitzGerald, and many more.

‘Tartan Noir seems to me a ground-breaking book. The intensity of Len Wanner’s intelligence sees beyond the superficial perception of crime fiction as just a way to pass the time to find in it a significant reflection of society.’ –William McIlvanney, author of Laidlaw and Strange Loyalties

‘Sharp, insightful and thoroughly readable. Wanner brilliantly analyses a current literary phenomenon. A must-have for all readers of Scottish literature and Tartan Noir. It gave me a real sense of the history of it and just how many good writers there are!’ –Denise Mina, author of The Field of Blood and The End of the Wasp Season

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Under The Radar



Today I posted a review of Worm over at Sea Minor. It’s a cracking book and deserves some attention.

It occurs to me that a number of brilliant reads from the US seem to dip under the radar here in the UK, so I thought I’d highlight some of my favourites from the past year in case I can get your juices flowing. These are mainly gritty noir and crime titles, but they’re worthy reads regardless of the genre.

Uncle Dust tells the story of a small-time bank-robber who is struggling to settle down with a lady and her son. He takes on a little job on the side as muscle for a local heavy and it’s not long before his life crumples once again.

Worm is set on an oilfield that has created a new wealth to the local town. In many ways, this reflects the lawless Wild West, but the themes seem more serious and the stakes are higher than they were back then.

Tussinland by Mike Monson is a romp through a murder investigation with a hapless ex-teacher at its core.

Factory Town is extremely dark. It takes place in a nightmare of a man who is dying. The unfolding of his world tangles reality with fantasy and is uncompromising.

Dirtbags follows a would-be serial killer as he takes his chance to fulfill the dreams of a lifetime when he is presented with a hit.

The Iron Will Of Shoeshine Cats is how The Godfather might have turned out if the said Godfather was a Jewish New Yorker.

Home Invasion by Patti Abbott is a very well crafted tale that traces the generations of a dysfunctional family as they are sucked into the shadows.

Dare Me is by Patti Abbott’s daughter, Megan. It’s a brilliantly told tale about a cheer-leading team that exposes the charades surrounding the youngsters and the coach alike. Brilliant and poetic.

Gravesend is a novel about Brooklyn. A murderer is about to be released and the brother of the victim are preparing for his return. Nothing is as is expected.

The Axeman Of Storyville is a great interpretation of true events in New Orleans. It’s by Heath Lowrance, which should be enough.

Finally, seek out Willy Vlautin’s The Free. You won’t regret it.

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