**Review originally posted at Dark Valentine Magazine
Dirty Old Town by Nigel Bird is a dark and gritty collection of nine brilliant tales of darkness. Each individual story is full of spirit and darkness with a crime noir feel and introduces us to a slice of life not seen by many, whether because very few choose to walk down the dark alley at night or because they live their lives with blinders on…ignoring the shady characters they pass on a daily basis.
Drinking Wine (Spo-Dee-Oh-Dee) – is the tale of an embittered housewife needing a little fun who ends up finding it with someone quite unexpected.
Taking a Line for a Walk – Earl, a kind, elderly school janitor who works hard to keep the school clean and in running order finds out close to his retirement that he is losing his job.
Dirty Old Town – a gymnastic student’s death from performance-enhancing drugs sets into play a coach’s determination to never allow it to happen to his other athletes.
Sea Minor – is a tale of a child’s visit to her Gran on the island of Skye with her brother and mother. Dad wasn’t coming this time.
Sisterhood – young Muslim men are out for revenge when a white racist gang terrorizes Muslim women.
One Hundred And Ten Per Cent – what’s a promising young runner to do when opportunity knocks and his only real ability is that he can run?
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) – a vow of a pearl necklace made to a mother leads to a partnership between a father and son to fulfill the promise made.
Three Little Birds – being a little slow in school back in the day, Danny is now grown up and working at a place called City Farm when he gets invited to a party where he is again tormented by his former schoolmates.
Silver Street – a pimp should never fall for one of his girls, but Brad fell for Isla and has a jeweler make a ring that is especially fitting to her.
The stories in Dirty Old Town leave a reader with a deeper knowledge of the dirty deeds that happen in real life. Bird digs down deep to find the lengths humanity will go to right a wrong or to get what they desire. If there are questions to be asked, the characters in Dirty Old Town are not afraid to ask them and they are definitely not afraid to act on the information acquired.
Anthologies are not usually my cup of tea. I tend to get easily irritated when I read an amazing short story only to have it end just as it is beginning. However, I have come to learn that anthologies, also introduce me to authors I would have passed over had I not read their short story. Nigel Bird’s Dirty Old Town is the introduction to an author I will most definitely keep my eyes on. I didn’t just enjoy a few of the nine gems in his collection; I reveled in each and every one of them. There was something, some tiny glimmer in each story that kept me hooked until the very end.