PAUL D. BRAZILL
Pulp Metal Fiction
As indicated on the tin, twenty-one short sharp tales of crime, despair and bizarrely comic misadventures. If you’re not familiar with the world of Hartelpool’s favourite export, you’ll soon find yourself acclimated to the dark underworld. Not so much the demi-mondeof the rich and famous as that of the spent and fumbling, it’s a landscape of shadows and booze-soaked mutterings, where every corner brings you to some fresh hell or, if you’re lucky, a great dive bar. But it’s all observed through a bleary eye of cynicism that’s gilded with a mordant sense of humour, so you’ll be laughing even as you wince at the breaking bones.
The stories range from set pieces that serve as noirish Polaroids to fully developed tableaux of murder, betrayals and plans gone wrong. Song titles provide the starting point to many a yarn: Endless Sleep, Life on Mars?, Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime, and perhaps the finest story here, Guns of Brixton.
If there’s a fault here, it’s that they read too quickly. It would be a treat to see Brazill tackle something lengthier. In the meantime check out his other collection 13 Shots of Noir and look for his work in anthologies like his own Drunk on the Moon [reviewed here at K&Q], True Brit Grit and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales.