AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

August 14, 2011

State of the Nation by Paul D. Brazill—Brit Grit Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 3:17 pm

The Brit Grit mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quite desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT!

America may well be the official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long  perceived as the land of Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin-quoting police detectives, also has a grubby underbelly which has produced plenty of gritty crime writing. A new wave of Brit Grit writers are leaving their blood-stained footprints across this septic isle.

The Godfathers of the new Brit Grit must be Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and Mark Timlin. The next wave features Jake Arnott, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. Ken Bruen deserves a mention even though he’s Irish, not British, but his influence is strong.

In the last few years, more and more BRIT GRIT writers have been creeping out of the woodwork, through the cracks in the pavement, out of the dark and dingy alleyways.

Scottish crime writer Tony Black, for example, is the author of four novels featuring punch drunk, booze addled Gus Dury, an ex-journalist turned reluctant Private Investigator whose shoulder has more chips than Harry Ramsden. Gus sniffs around the back streets of Edinburgh and follows the rancid trail of crime and corruption right to the top.

They’re gruelling, intense and exciting journeys—not without moments of humour and tenderness. You may feel as if you’d like to give Gus a smack every few pages, but the pit bull proves himself again and again.

Gus Dury may be in the gutter but he’s still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky. And it’s down to Black’s great writing that when you  finish one of his novels you feel battered and bruised  but can’t wait for the next round

Pulp mastermind Otto Penzler famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Penzler may or may not have read Tony Black  or his fellow-Scot Ray Banks, then. Talk about losers, Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal. Inness is true loser. He’s a mess. A lush. A man so far in denial he’s in the Suez. In each brilliant tale he bangs his head against as many brick walls as he can. And he feels the pain. So do we. The quartet is as bitter and dark as an Irish coffee and leads to a shocking yet inevitable conclusion.

While I’m on about dark quartets, of course, I should mention  David Peace’s intense Red Riding Quartet, dissecting the lives affected by the Yorkshire Ripper with dense prog-rock prose.

And there’s more: There’s Alan Guthrie who gave us the best novel of 2009 with SLAMMER; Nick Quantrill BROKEN DREAMS which looks at a Northern English town that has had its fair share of kickings but still isn’t out for the count; BAD PENNY BLUES is Cathi Unsworth’s  ambitious look at  the many facets of London in the late fifties and early sixties; Comic genius Charlie Williams and his nightclub bouncer hero Royston Blake help you see life in a way that Paulo Coelho never will!

There are BRIT GRIT publishers too: Caffeine Nights who publish Nick Quantrill and Ian Ayris, amongst others; Newcastle’s Byker Books publish Industrial Strength Fiction such as the Radgepacket—Tales from the Inner Cities anthologies; Brighton-based Pulp Press publish short, punchy novellas with the slogan ‘Turn Off Your T.V. and discover fiction like it used to be.’
(Adapted from a piece written for the programme of the 2010 NoirCon)




Ian Ayris

Sheila Billingham

Nigel Bird

Gerard Brennan

Col Bury

Gary Dobbs

Alan Griffiths

Richard Godwin

Colin Graham

Danny Hogan

Danny King

Denise Mina

Mark Morrigan

Steve Mosby

Julie Quigley

UV Ray

Andy Rivers

Martyn Waites

Neil White


There’s even comic BRIT GRIT from Donna Moore and Christopher Brookmyre, BRIT GRIT thrillers from Matt Hilton and surrealist BRIT GRIT from Jason Michel.

BIO: Spinetingler Award nominee Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives in Poland. His stories have appeared in a number of online and print magazines and even in The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Fiction 2011, edited by BRIT GRIT  criminal mastermind Maxim Jakubowski.

His blog is “You Would Say That Wouldn’t You?

Trestle Press will be putting out a short story ebook from Paul called Brit Grit. It features ten of his more urban stories, including one unpublished.


  1. A lot of writers for me to discover, although I’ve read some of these.

    Comment by charlesgramlich — August 15, 2011 @ 7:18 am

  2. And then there are the riots fanning the flames… A few grim real-life stories there, I suspect.

    Comment by Nik Morton — August 15, 2011 @ 8:15 am

  3. Thanks for stopping over, gents.

    Nik, it certainly isn’t Cool Brittania at the moment, eh?

    Although it doesn’t seemed to have dented Cambridge, where I am for the summer…

    Comment by pauldbrazill — August 15, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  4. I am woefully unfamiliar with more than half of the writers named. Damnit, I have some catching up to do… thanks for the great leads, though, Paul!

    Comment by Heath Lowrance — August 15, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  5. Hope I’ve pointed a few people in the right direction, Heath!

    Elaine is off contract killing in Vegas at the moment, by the way. Which is why I’m hanging around more than somewhat.

    Comment by pauldbrazillPaul D Brazill — August 15, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  6. Terrific words of Brit Grit wisdom. Nicely done, PDB.

    Comment by Alan Griffiths — August 16, 2011 @ 12:28 am

  7. it’s a really big list isn’t it, which is really pleasing. really pleased to be on there, Paul.


    Comment by nigel — August 16, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  8. Top article, Paul. Thanks for the namecheck – it’s cool to be on that list.

    Comment by Col Bury — August 16, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  9. Just finished Brit Grit this morning — very fine work, my friend.

    Comment by Chris Rhatigan — August 17, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  10. I’m baaack! 106 in the shade in Las Vegas and I DID meet a couple of Londoners who had just tied the knot at a local drive-thru wedding chapel, and were honeymooning at The Riviera. (Not the French location; the seedy hotel with the Crazy Girls’ strip show and the statue of their bare butts outside on the sidewalk.)

    Comment by ashedit — August 17, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

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