I'm going to hazard a guess that when Paul Brazill was jotting down names for the forthcoming Brit Grit Too collection, Nigel Bird was one of the first on the list. This novella shows exactly why. The writing is tight and intense with no let-ups - there's no filler in here. Every character desperately wants something and is prepared to fight for it, whether they're chasing love, money, respect or revenge. The perspective shifts are skillfully overlapped to provide us with a second point of view, a little distance before the dirt and the violence are thrown back in our face. Yet somehow it never seems over the top. This isn't cartoon violence, or blood for the sake of blood, but realistic, painful violence. Hardboiled and dark, Smoke is very British, and very, very gritty. An excellent little noirish read.