Monday, 14 December 2009


Gerard Brennan hosts a great blog, Crime Scene NI, which I always visit and read his posts with interest.

Gerard’s latest post, Play for Pay? is good reading and I was amazed that I got a mention. So, I thought I would flag it up here (not that his fine blog needs any flagging by me).

I’ve left a longwinded comment on CSNI and thought I would hold onto Gerard's coattails and see if anybody has any comments on this subject.

Monday, 7 December 2009


The starter sentence for FFF#12 is in bold. The rest is me...


She was always threatening to punch someone in the face, but this time she meant it.

Nicki’s personal rule was to carry out an assignment in a dispassionate and professional manner but this one was turning out to be something very different.

“Fancy a little bit of rough n tumble?” Nicki said, blowing a perfect smoke ring.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he replied, a salacious leer on his face as he moved closer with a drink in each hand.

Nicki felt nose cartilage snap as her first punch, a southpaw jab, connected and wiped the smirk away. She kicked off her heels, dropped the cigarette and danced softly from side to side on the balls of her bare feet.

“Rough enough for you honey?”

Getting into a rhythm she ducked inside and threw two successive punches to his flabby gut. A groan followed by exhaled halitosis as his hands dropped, leaving his chin exposed. A ferocious right left combination dropped him, dazed, onto the carpeted floor.

“This one’s not exactly Queensberry rules,” she said and booted him in the crotch.


The trial had been high profile and the TV news had broadcast pictures of him leaving the court, after the not guilty verdict, surrounded by his lawyer and other sycophant friends.

The rumours were rife of his connections to the “Organisation” and the protection that gave; an expensive legal team and witness intimidation that the authorities were seemingly powerless to prevent.

Eighteen months had passed since he had walked free.

When contact was initially made Nicki had made discrete enquiries. It seemed that his usefulness to the “Organisation” was waning. The persona of a shameless and debauched, ageing playboy lifestyle was becoming too much of an embarrassment.

The identity of her employer was academic. The contract was accepted and the clock began to tick.

Allowing him to pick her up at the club was simple. The temptation to drop something lethal into his drink and then slip away in the subsequent commotion would have been the easier option.

But Nicki wanted to get up close and personal.

The journey back to his plush apartment in the chauffeured limousine had been typically ostentatious and the chitchat banal.


“You stupid bitch there’s at least three security cameras in the foyer and the Limo driver...” He spat blood and loose teeth onto the shag pile. “With my connections you’ll be cold on a slab within twenty four hours.”

Nicki laughed and pulled her brunette wig free. She gave him a wink, “It’s all about misdirection baby.”

His eyes bulged as she wrapped one of her silk stockings around his neck. “Cat got your tongue?”

His reply was muffled gasp for air as Nicki steadily increased the pressure.


Afterwards she fired off a photograph from her mobile phone, which in turn would trigger the final payment of her fee into the offshore bank account.

Nicki went into the bathroom and stripped naked. She ran hot water into the washbasin and scrubbed her face clean of makeup then pulled a change of clothes from her handbag; faded denim jeans, white tee and blue canvass slip-on pumps.

The bathroom mirror reflected the transformation as he fingered gel through his short blonde hair.

Nowadays, Nick thought as he stepped over the prone body, even hit men needed a different angle.

© 2009 Alan Griffiths

Monday, 23 November 2009


Cormac’s FFF four starter words were: PATER, PEST, PERPENDICULAR AND SCHLEMIEL.


Arnold Barnes read through the Private Investigator’s report. Despite the somewhat seedy first impression, Valentine had provided a discrete and efficient service. The two typed pages were succinct and the enclosed photographs damning evidence of his young wife’s infidelity.

Arnold sighed and drank some more tea. Maybe he should have listened to his dear old father. The old man had warned him that a marriage to a woman thirty years his junior was doomed from the very beginning and would only lead to heartache.

“Arnie, you’re a fool,” the old man had barked and then insulted him coarsely using his native New York slang. “You SCHLEMIEL!

His father had never lived to see the outcome of his prognosis, passing away shortly before Arnold’s nuptials to the waiflike Cheryl.

Arnold’s firm specialised in long term bonds and financial investments. Succeeding his father as Chairman had made him a wealthy man and the subsequent inheritance had increased his personal fortune threefold.

Despite her new luxurious lifestyle and the many exotic holidays it soon became apparent that Cheryl needed to fill her days. Arnold happily funded her many hobbies; Yoga positions moved onto Pilates, Aerobic fitness classes sashayed towards Salsa dancing and the Piano lessons segued into her latest passion, the Flute.

Cheryl would waffle on and on each evening. Telling Arnold how James, her private instructor, was coaching her on the rudiments of the woodwind instrument; how to hold the flute PERPENDICULAR to her body, helping her to develop the correct mouth shape and to control her breathing.

Arnold was sure that, given time, Cheryl’s prized golden flute would become another shrewd investment.

The intercom buzzed and broke his reverie, “Doc is here for your three thirty appointment Mr Barnes.”

“Thank you Rebecca”. Arnold closed the file and moved it to one side of the polished walnut desk. “Show him in please.”

The enigmatic Doc sat down opposite Arnold and declined the offer of refreshments. His eyes behind the steel rimmed spectacles were a piercing, vibrant blue and a little unsettling.

Arnold waited until Rebecca had closed the office door. He then opened a drawer of the desk and slid an A4 size manila envelope across the desk.

“Doc, you are an expert, how shall I put this... in PEST control,” Arnold paused to take a sip of tea. “All the details for your assignment are in the envelope.” He put his china cup down on the saucer, then added, “Naturally I would like this matter facilitated at the earliest opportunity.”

Doc broke the seal on the envelope and thumbed through the contents. “I can expect payment on the balance of my fee on completion of the assignment?”

“Agreed,” Arnold straightened his MCC necktie. “My word is my bond sir.”

“Then our business today is concluded.” Doc gave him a killer smile and extended his right hand.

Arnold felt a shiver run down his spine as he shook hands. He consoled himself with the thought that although Doc was a cold fish he was simply the best hit man that money could buy.

Later that afternoon Arnold wheeled the shredding machine over to his desk. He picked up the PI’s report and flicked through it. The photographs were quite graphic; the mouth shaping tuition appeared to be paying dividends. One by one the crude, glossy prints were eaten by the shredder. He glanced at the letter once again before feeding it into the machine.

Cheryl’s indiscretions were nothing new to Arnold and he had no doubts that they would continue. With each new pastime there would be another handsome tutor to help her while away the hours.

He went over to the drinks cabinet by the window and poured himself a whisky, adding two ice cubes. Savouring his drink he looked upon the vista that was the City of London. Arnold felt that he could almost smell the old money radiating from it.

The letter was a clumsy attempt at extortion. Blackmail was going to be a costly mistake for the flutist and one that James would pay for with his life.

When the time was right Arnold would make an appointment for the inscrutable Doc to meet the beautiful Cheryl, as he had done so with dear old PATER.

For now Arnold Barnes was contented to turn a blind eye. The hefty insurance policy on his wife’s life was too new and too obvious.

It was all about calculating the long term investments.

© 2009 Alan Griffiths

Monday, 16 November 2009


Beach Bum provided the starter sentence (in bold) for Friday Flash Fiction. The rest is me.


"The old camera had been in a box for decades, the pictures never developed, and now with the prints in his hand his blood ran cold from looking at the images that came from it."

“Sit down Pork Pie,” said Valentine. “You’ve gone a funny colour.”

Pork Pie, ferocious South London, criminal kingpin, was seldom short of words. The sepia images had rendered him speechless and he had almost bitten through the cigar butt in his mouth.

Valentine went over to the drinks cabinet and poured malt whiskey.

“Drink that squire.” Valentine sat down on a leather chesterfield couch. The walls of Pork Pie’s study were covered in prints and pictures celebrating Ska music. Shelves held books, records, CD’s and memorabilia.

The two drank in silence until Pork Pie spat, in a low gravel voice, “From the beginning.”


“Mr Valentine?”

Valentine stopped watching the blonde gyrate around a shiny pole on the stage and turned on his barstool; she was late twenties, mixed race with smooth coffee coloured skin and brown eyes. She smiled and took his breath away.

The cat finally let go of his tongue. “Just Valentine. Ms....?”

“Agnes Ryan.” She sat down next to him. “I prefer Agie.”

The punters roared approval as the blonde smoothly unclipped her sparkly bikini top and tossed it across the stage.

Valentine drained his glass. “Let’s find somewhere a little quieter Agie.”

On the way out he admired her curvy figure. Her backside, he decided, could crack walnuts. A glimpse of a sexy Celtic cross tattoo on her lower back had his stomach turning nine point nine somersaults.

The coffee shop, Pascucci, was towards the better end of Clapham Junction. Valentine ordered and they moved towards the back. Settled in comfy armchairs she began to tell her story.

Agie wanted him to find her parents. Not the two people who had brought her up in East Anglia. She learnt at an early age that she had been adopted.

“It’s been an annoying itch that just won’t go away,” she said.


Pork Pie picked up the bottle of 12 year old malt. “She’s definitely my daughter?”

“I wouldn’t be here unless I was sure.” Valentine sipped his malt. “You recognize the lady in the photo?”

“Her name was Lola”. Pork Pie poured more whisky. “She was a showgirl.”

Valentine resisted the urge to break into song. “You had a relationship with her?”

Pork Pie nodded, “She couldn’t take the gangster lifestyle.”

“She was pregnant with your child.”

“I had no idea.” There was raw emotion in Pork Pie’s voice and he quickly swallowed whisky.

“What happened to Lola?”

“Drugs.” Valentine hesitated then continued. “She died eleven years ago in a hospice.”

The crystal tumbler in Pork Pie’s hand shattered. Glass splintered and expensive whisky soaked into the thick Persian rug. “Where’s the girl?” Blood trickled through his fingers like spilt claret wine.

“She’s waiting outside in my Saab.”

Pork Pie wrapped a handkerchief around his fingers. He snapped a Zippo and put the end of a fresh cigar into the flame. “Go and get her,” he said between plumes of blue smoke. “Then piss off.”

The study door clicked open. Agie’s face was wet from tears. Her braided, pony tailed hair was a sophisticated mess. Her right hand held a small silver pistol. She pointed it at Pork Pie and clicked off the safety.

“You killed her.” Her tone was almost a whisper.

“Agie no!” Valentine stepped forward.

Pork Pie looked her in the eye. “She was the only woman I ever loved.”

“My mother ended her days as a penniless junky.” She sniffed back tears. “You drove her too it.”

“I found something else out,” said Valentine, urgency in his voice. “Pull that trigger and you’ll regret it.”

Pork Pie pulled the snub nosed .45 from under his suit jacket with one slick movement.

“Put it down Pork Pie.” Valentine stayed in the centre as the three began to slowly circle the room in a Mexican standoff.

“Out of the way private eye or I’ll plug you as well.” Pork Pie had regained his swagger. “Let the lady have a shot at the title.”

Valentine raised his palms. “Put the guns down!”

Agie put her left hand over her right and steadied her hold on the pistol. “Valentine, you’re job's done.”

“No! Not yet.” Valentine turned to Pork Pie. “Let me tell you the rest.”

“Spit it out gumshoe.” Pork Pie looked at him along the barrel of the .45. “While you still can.”

“Agie’s not your only child.” Valentine spun round. “You have a brother”.

One, two, three beats passed before Valentine turned slowly towards Pork Pie. “Dad. This is the dawning of a new era.”

This time Pork Pie bit clean through the fat Cuban.

© 2009 Alan Griffiths

Monday, 9 November 2009


Cormac decided to change the Friday Flash Fiction rules this week.

In lieu of a starter sentence, he posted four words, the idea being that you must incorporate the words into a story. It does not matter in what order they are used but all four have to be in there somewhere.


With words like that then it could only lead to another case for Valentine, my hapless South London PI to investigate…


Things might have turned out a lot different if I’d found Mickey Fallon when I was paid to.

The guy with the floppy hair sat down and pushed a folded copy of The Daily Mail across the table.

Maybe he had me down as a Tory in DISGUISE or had been reading too much Philip Marlowe.

I was in The Winchester and about to watch the football. I supped my pint of Stella. It wasn’t called ‘the old wife beater’ for nothing. I didn’t have a wife and after a couple more wouldn’t be able to beat the skin off a rice pudding.

“Mr Valentine?” Floppy hair cleared his throat nervously, “My name’s Frank Fields. You were recommended by a friend of a friend.”

I spend a small fortune, one I don’t have, on advertising but it’s always a friend of a friend.

I drained my glass. “Same again squire. Knock yourself out and have one as well.”

Frank returned with my pint and for him a small scotch with too much water.

Chelsea was already one nil down and The Daily Mail was still unopened. It’s a newspaper best left that way.

Frank’s sob story was his wife, Barbara, and how he suspected an affair with her boss. Frank said he wanted to save his marriage but he had to be sure.

It’s the small things that giveaway the LIES.

With Frank, it was his floppy hair, which was too long, too highlighted and the cut too fashionable. But his cash, between the folds of The Daily Mail, was cold, hard and much needed.

Frank was away for the week, on a training course in Warwickshire, while I snooped on Barbara.

After four days there was no sign of her amorous boss and I was thinking about those lies.

On the Thursday evening I boarded a number thirty eight bus behind Barbara. That was when I spotted Mickey, a fifteen year old runaway. When Mickey got off I followed.

Six months ago Mickey’s mother had paid me her government single parent allowance to find him. I miserably failed but lady luck had given me a chance of REDEMPTION. I trailed him across London to a seedy squat.

Curiosity then got the better of me. It usually does.

Early the next morning I was plotted up in my Saab. Four hours passed and my Farmers were starting to play up. Then Mickey and two other teenagers left the squat.

It was lunchtime and all hell let loose when Mickey’s gang snatched the handbag of an orange haired young lady and scarpered.

I should have given chase but I was more interested in the middle aged lothario consoling the redhead. Why was Floppy Frank sitting outside a trendy Tapas bar, looking too much too young in a tanned bomber jacket, stonewashed Levis’ and loafers?

Orange hair finally stopped blubbing and the manager waived the bill. I tailed Frank and his flame haired floozy back to a swanky apartment block.

I snapped away with my Sony Cybershot and waited until Frank left; carrying a suitcase and a guilty conscience.

Frank’s game, I was sure, was to use me to get some dirt on Barbara so that he could hit her with a quickie divorce and rob her of the family home.

Then move his young bit of crumpet in.

I put my foot through the backdoor of the squat and retrieved the handbag. Orange hair was Sally Reynolds a Learning & Development Executive at Frank’s Insurance Company. Sally’s mobile had enough steamy text messages to fill a Mills and Boon romance.

They’d been planning their weeklong session of hanky-panky for a while.

I confronted Frank at his office and he bleated like a lamb before the slaughter. There was more cold, hard cash on offer, to help me forget, but I was in no mood to COMPROMISE.

On the way out I slipped a piccie onto Sally’s desk. Her face turned the same shade as her hair, quicker than it took me to say, “How’s Yer Father!”

Barbara had asked me, over and over, “Why would Frank betray forty years of marriage?”

I couldn’t answer but had given her enough evidence that, with the help of a shit hot lawyer, would keep her in the four bed semi for the rest of her days and a hefty chunk of Frank’s money for good company.

Mickey was back at home but it was only a matter of time before he broke Mrs Fallon’s heart again. It’s what boys do and something we never grow out of.

Barbara was being consoled by her boss. Hannah seems to be a very nice boss and she’s discreet but, as I said, it’s the small things...

© 2009 Alan Griffiths

Friday, 6 November 2009


This blogging lark has got me thinking about my own influences and inspirations within the crime genre.

First and foremost I’m a fan of the genre and this has lead to my own sporadic amateur writing. I’ve always been an avid reader but film and television has inevitably played a part.

I started giving some thought to my earliest, British TV crime drama, memories and came up with such names as Public Eye, Callan, Special Branch, Hazell, Fox and of course, The Sweeney.

Another vivid memory from my teenage years (and the original reason for this post) was a one-off miniseries called OUT.

I have OUT on DVD and watching it again has underlined, in my opinion, what an outstanding piece of television it is.

Out was first broadcast in 1978 and was produced by Thames Television (Euston Films). A basic plot summary of OUT: Frank Ross (played by the excellent Tom Bell) returns to London after an eight-year prison sentence for robbery. The robbery was thwarted by the police because persons unknown had 'grassed'. Ross is determined to find out who the informant is and take his revenge. Over six episodes Frank Ross pieces things together...

I knew OUT was written by Trevor Preston who also worked on The Sweeney and later Minder but after I started to do a little bit of research for this post I soon realised that Trevor Preston also contributed to the other names listed at the beginning of this piece – Public Eye, Callan, Special Branch, Hazell and Fox.

As far as I am aware, Trevor Preston has only one published novel to his name, The Judas Crew, a paperback published by The No Exit Press. I said I was a fan and yes I have this in my collection. I read and enjoyed it a good few years ago when I first purchased it (oh how I miss Maxim Jakubowski’s Murder One bookshop on Charing Cross Road) but The Judas Crew will definitely now go back on my TBR pile so that I can refresh my memory once again.

If you remember these TV shows then please double digit on the links above folks and get some insightful information on all of this, which is much better than my off the cuff ramblings.

Trevor Preston is, in my opinion, a very talented, award winning writer. The following is from The No Exit Press website...

Trevor Preston has been involved with film and TV since the early sixties when he worked with Orson Welles, John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Juliette Greco, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Tati and Alain Robbe-Grillet. He has written scripts for Callan, The Sweeney and Minder as well as for Ruth Rendell's work, and was the creator of Out and Fox. He has won many awards including a BAFTA.

Monday, 26 October 2009


The starter sentence for Friday Flash Fiction is in bold. The rest is me, as my hapless South London gumshoe, Valentine, investigates.

It’s a bit longer than my first FFF effort. I’ve edited and edited but it kept getting away from me...

With thanks to Cormac Brown for Pork Pie’s new Titfer-tat.


"The strange man dressed as Carmen Miranda walked into the bar and demanded to know who had taken his pet iguana."

Saturday night and The Winchester was heaving. I guessed Carmen was another karaoke drunk. Drunk and heading for a beating as I watched Frank curse and put down his half eaten sandwich. Frank was, apart from being my friend and landlord, the owner cum bouncer. Six foot six and with hands like coal shovels. The only thing short about him was his temper.

I felt a paw grip my shoulder. A gorilla towered over me with a threatening bulge under his jacket.

Around us the punters roared as Frank began to frogmarch the pissed drag queen, minus iguana, towards the exit.

The gorilla leaned in close and I smelt his bad breath and cheap, spicy aftershave. “Backroom. Now!”

A cloud of blue tinged cigar smoke floated in the air of the back room like a menacing omen. Sitting under it Pork Pie looked immaculate. Black, three button, single breasted two piece suit. White shirt and a plain dark necktie. A powder blue handkerchief peaked from his suit breast pocket. He was puffing on his usual fat Cuban and idly twirling his leather flat topped hat.

“Sit,” Pork Pie commanded.

I sat.

Pork Pie was a vicious South London criminal kingpin; my cracked ribs were a testament to his ruthless reputation.

“You owe me Valentine,” Pork Pie continued, his voice full of gravel. “And this is the start of payback.”

“Sure Mr P.”

Pork Pie’s reptilian eyes locked onto mine. “I need you to find a man for me.”

“I know the number of a good dating agency.”

If Pork Pie gave a signal then I missed it. Or maybe the gorilla used his initiative. The punch to my gut was swift and ferocious. I fell off the chair and puked a beer and whisky mixture.

Pork Pie sighed impatiently, hunched down and gave me a close up of his highly polished brogues and a face full of smoke. “That smartarse mouth of yours...” He put the cigar down and grabbed my balls. “And your dick will be the death of you...” The brass knuckles on his other hand felt cold against my cheek. “Shut the fuck up gumshoe or that wisecrack will be your last.”

So Pork Pie talked and I listened.

Albie Perkins was Pork Pie’s bean counter. He was the magician behind the tricks and illusions that laundered Pork Pie’s fortune clean and out of the VAT-man’s clutches. Albie had disappeared three weeks ago. Taking a tidy little nest egg with him.

Pork Pie wanted Albie and the loot found.


It took me a week to find Albie; he was entering a dodgy health club called The Erogenous Zone, a spit away from The Oval tube station. Three hours later he left with a rake thin, dark haired, twentyish looking guy.

I guessed they’d found each other's zones.

I snapped some pictures and followed them back to a Bayswater hotel. Forty eight hours later and Pork Pie had Aaron Grant’s address in Vauxhall, bank account details, star sign and mother’s maiden name.

I’m good at my job and thorough.

I did the decent thing before I made that final call to Pork Pie and knocked on Albie’s hotel door.

“Why Albie?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

Albie looked haunted, his face covered in salt n pepper stubble. “I thought I’d found love Val,” he said, full of melancholy.


Frank had closed early. I was alone, sat at the bar, with a guilty conscience and a bottle of Chivas Regal for company. I'd already drunk down to the label.

The South London Press lay open on the varnished bar top. I’d read the article umpteen times. Aaron Grant’s body had been found in his Vauxhall bedsit. The smell had finally become too much for the neighbours and they’d called Plod. Another, unsolved, murder statistic.

Albie was counting beans again and making them disappear. Safe until his usefulness to Pork Pie waned. A harsh lesson learned that love, of any persuasion, played no part in Pork Pie’s villainous empire.

I poured another hefty shot of whisky and savoured the aroma and taste while I contemplated a change of scene and profession.

I dropped a couple of pound coins into the jukebox and after a few beats I drunkenly joined in. “Working for the rat race. You know you’re wasting your time. Working for the rat race. Your no friend of mine”.

I turned quickly at the sound of scratching. A large green, spiky backed, lizard flashed a tongue at me. It’s long, black striped and whip-like, tail snaked behind it as it quickly scuttled away.

“Well I’ll be fucked,” I said.

Albie Perkins certainly was.

© 2009 Alan Griffiths

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


I’m delighted that the terrific webzine Thrillers Killers ‘N’ Chillers has accepted and posted my latest flash story Monkey Man.

My thanks go to Matt Hilton and Col Bury. I really like the accompanying photo, which sort of sums up the piece – nice one Col!

The original version of this piece was posted as part of Friday Flash Fiction.


My flash piece Old Age and Treachery posted at The Flash Fiction Offensive picked up another review earlier this week – this one by Col Bury at his blog.

My thanks go to Col, who apart from being a fine writer is the co-editor of the excellent Thrillers, Killers ‘N’ Chillers.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


I came across the following meme on the excellent The Rap Sheet and I thought it would be fun to participate.

Anyone else who’d like to take up the challenge of answering the questions below is encouraged to add a link in the comments section of the original post over at The Rap Sheet, a double digit gets you there folks but please leave a comment on Brit Grit if you wish.

Do you snack while you read?
Yes. My day job is in a busy office and I try to take a lunchtime break away from the PC and read in the canteen while tucking into my sarnies.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I hate marking or damaging books that’s why Post It notes were invented.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
Bookmark - usually with old train tickets. I never dog ear.

Laying the book flat open?
I always close the book and try to avoid over stretching the spine.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
95% fiction. Any non-fiction tends to be sports bios. I’ll read author interviews on the web or in a newspaper and nosing around favourite blog sites takes up a lot of my time.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Paperback, particularly mass market format. I’ve never tried audiobooks but I’m sure I will someday. There is a tremendous amount of great short fiction available from Webzines such as A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Blink-Ink, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Plots with Guns, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Pusher, Six Sentences and Thrillers, Killers ‘N’ Chillers. I thoroughly recommend anyone to pay these sites a regular visit.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I’ll always read to the end of a chapter but as much of my reading is on the train I have to stop when the journey ends – if it is at a crucial part of the story you will often find me hanging about on the platform reading to the end of that part.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
I’ll make a note and look it up later. Usually the context of the storyline will help explain.

Are you the type of person who only reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one at a time?
One at a time but my TBR pile is getting so high I think I might have to have two on the go at the same time.

What are you currently reading? Crime fiction:
Just finished (today) James Crumley’s Bordersnakes.

What is the last book you bought?
The Dirty South by Alex Wheatle, which I bought after one of his book readings and signings. I’m attending one of his creative writing workshops this weekend.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
My lunchtime canteen haven. A comfy chair or sofa in a nice coffee shop is always good.

Do you prefer series books or standalone books?
I read and enjoy both. If I can I’ll read a series in the correct order but that’s difficult to do.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Ken Bruen – the man is a genius.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
Shelved and also in a bookcase. Alphabetical by author’s last name but the shelves are a bit messy, in particular that TBR pile.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


My short piece Old Age and Treachery published at The Flash Fiction Offensive has picked up a review by Keith Rawson in his Short Thoughts on Short Fiction column.

My thanks to Keith, a writer I admire, for the review.

Double digit here for the link.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


A few weeks ago I was fortunate to get an advanced read of Declan Burke’s, currently unpublished novel, The Big Empty. This is the sequel to Declan’s first novel – Eight Ball Boogie, which featured Harry J Rigby, Independent Research Consultant.

Harry’s a bit edgy, full of attitude, cynical, with some smartarse lines that earn him the occasional fat lip for his troubles.

Harry has moved on from the first Rigby novel. Not surprising, after the conclusion of EBB, which I’ll not giveaway but a tougher Rigby returns.

TBE starts with Rigby recently out of gaol and sporting a prison tattoo as a memento. After witnessing a dodgy suicide, Harry gets dragged into a tangled web of deceit, lies and stitch-ups. Dirty paramilitary money and its greedy custodians, together with an old school copper who likes to trade punches and insults, all conspire against Harry, while he try’s to get a grip on personal problems that threaten to push him over the edge. Mix in a bit of shady taxi drug running, missing persons, a few ferocious beatings and you have yourself a rollercoaster read. Some nasty bastards and a spot of torture add to the cocktail.

The narrative and dialogue is tight with a plot that is full of tension and quickly picks up pace after an explosive opening.

There are some violent scenes but nothing gratuitous; it’s real, physical and painful stuff where people get hurt and hurt others as payback. At the end Harry is left, bloodied, bruised and battered.

TBE gets the three g’s from me; great characters, great plot and a great read. In my humble opinion it deserves to be published and enjoyed because it’s a darn good read.

My thanks go to Declan, for sharing TBE manuscript, which was a blast to read. I hope I’m able to repay the favour soon by buying a copy in a bookshop.

For more information on Declan Burke’s work and expert insight into the thriving Irish crime fiction scene then do no more than double digit here and visit his cracking Crime Always Pays blog.

Sunday, 4 October 2009


This is a blog where a starter sentence is given every Friday@12PM PST. You then have until the following Tuesday@9AM PST to come up with short story or poem.
This week MRMacrum has come up with the starter sentence, which is in bold the rest is what I made of it....

"Hanging on with one hand, he considered his alternatives."

Zilch came back as goose pimples rose on his naked backside in the cool night air.

Below the goon sat on the bonnet of the BMW M5 saloon and sucked on a cigarette. Unaware of Valentine PI perched precariously on the soil pipe. Valentine’s fingers gripped the window ledge for dear life. His other hand, clutched to his chest, held trousers, boxers, shoes and a shrivelled latex condom.

Inside he could hear raised voices. Lily, adopting an affronted tone and wiping away crocodile tears as Pork Pie stalked, like a feral tomcat, from room to room.

Valentine’s brief was to watch and report any sign of Lily’s infidelity. She was young, beautiful and recently married to violent gangster Pork Pie; nicknamed, not after the staple British meat pie but his love of Ska music, tailored suits and flat top Trilby hats.

Good money and a straight forward case until Valentine’s dick started to do the thinking and Lily’s insatiable sex drive kick started like a Harley. The PI’s rule book went out the bedroom window and Valentine followed it when Pork Pie returned early from his Soho club.

The goon flipped the glowing butt and sauntered over to the shrubbery, standing directly below Valentine. He unzipped his fly and let out a low sigh of relief as urine gushed over the flowerbed.

They were at the top of the stairs now. Pork Pie unused to being answered back, raising his voice and then his hand. A cold, harsh slap made Valentine wince. Seconds later the front door slammed with enough force to take it off the hinges.

“Put that away and think of the bleedin neighbours,” barked Pork Pie, straightening his flat topped hat and crunching gravel on the driveway with his Italian leather brogues.

“It’s good for the roses guv.”

Pork Pie fired up a fat Cuban. “Where the fuck’s that poor excuse for a Private Dick? He’s supposed to be snooping twenty four seven.” He pulled a mobile phone from his expensive suit jacket and blew a cloud of blue tinged cigar smoke. “If I could get my hands on Valentine’s balls....” Stubby, calloused fingers stabbed at the phone.

Valentine felt his trousers start to vibrate in his hand and the condom shrivelled some more. He closed his eyes, saying a silent prayer as his ringtone greeted the night with.... ‘This one’s for the bouncers. Big, big... Monkey Man! Aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye!’
© 2009 Alan Griffiths

Friday, 2 October 2009


Shortly after my flash story TOAST was accepted by Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers I exchanged emails with co-editor Col Bury. Col asked if I was working on a novel and I said not at the moment. I’m not sure if I have a novel inside me, let alone the talent and determination to write it.

The email conversation got me thinking about a scene that popped into my head many months ago. I put that scene down on paper and it has gathered dust on my hard drive ever since.

I’m a fan of the PI genre – fiction, films/TV and I hope one day to write a PI story (short or long). My dusty piece, dated November 2008 with no name, may be the opening chapter to something. Or maybe not…

I thought I would post it here and see if it provokes a reaction. Hopefully not rotten fruit and eggs! Is it good, bad or ugly? Should I progress with it? Or right click and delete?


An insistent, unforgiving, shrill buzzing found its way through my unconsciousness. It viciously stabbed at numbed brain cells and stirred them to life. I groaned and rolled off the couch. I lay on the floor and tried to piece a few things together. I was in my office. The brass band bellowing in my head and a mouth as parched as the Sahara were souvenirs of a ferocious drinking session. Nothing else fell into place.

I staggered to the kitchen, turned on the tap, running it cold. The shakes spilled water down my shirt as I downed two pints of water like they were to be my last. The buzzing was outdoing the band for my attention.

I grabbed the intercom handset, belched, and growled angrily, “What the fuck!”

“Delivery and signature required.” An anonymous voice said. “I’m parked on a red route and the wardens are like piranhas around here.”

I dropped the receiver as the floor suddenly shifted around me. My stomach lurched in the opposite direction. Falling to my knees I crawled to the sink. With my head under the cold tap I let the water cascade, dousing the brass ensemble and steadying the dizziness. When I could take no more I turned the tap off and dried myself with a reasonably clean towel. The intercom continued to buzz long and loud. I cursed, crossed the room, opened the office door that announced ‘VALENTINE INVESTIGATIONS’ on grubby frosted glass and went shakily downstairs.

Bright sunlight invaded my world of pain as I opened the street door. The guy waiting impatiently on the other side was dressed in a gaudy uniform that did nothing for my queasiness. A package sat on the pavement at his feet. Traffic crawled along Lavender Hill behind him.

He was stick thin. I’d seen more fat on a roll of electrical cable. Showing me a set of bad teeth he made a poor effort at a smile. “Sign against six,” he said thrusting a clipboard and pen towards me with nicotine stained fingers.

Upstairs I put the package on my desk and went to the kitchen for more water and got the coffee percolator going. I took a mug of coffee through to my office and sat behind the desk. The package was about twenty inches square, covered in brown paper and masking tape. A courier sticker was stuck to one end. I pulled the pink flimsy free and scanned it. It gave nothing away.

I opened the desk drawer and took out a Swiss Army knife and began to tackle the wrapping. It took a few minutes until I was looking at a red cool box encased in bubble wrap. I sat there thinking while I finished my coffee but nothing came. The brass band were encoring with another raucous number so I went back to the kitchen for paracetamol and more coffee.

Curiosity got the better of me as I returned to my desk and tore into the bubble wrap. The cool box felt heavy in my hands as I lifted it clear and set it down again. I flipped the locks on the lid.

Amongst chunks of blood stained ice two eyes stared up at me. I gagged, dropped the lid and bolted for the kitchen to vomit violently. After a long while, when my retching had given way, I slid to the floor and sat there with my guts aching and sick dribbling off my chin.

I could see through the open doorway to my desk and the cool box that held the severed head of my cousin Vinnie. From what I could recall of last night, like me, cousin Vinnie was legless but his head was intact.

© 2009 Alan Griffiths


And if that load of old tosh has left you without the will to live then refresh yourself with an insightful piece on PI fiction and far more interesting read than my twaddle - a double digit here will do the trick.

Have a good weekend folks.

Monday, 28 September 2009


…. Hic, hic….

Brit Grit.

Thanks for dropping by and a very warm welcome. Please stay a while and have a nosey around, although at the moment it feels like an empty house with only a few sticks of furniture.

I’ve decided to dip a toe into the blogosphere with this, my inaugural, post. My aim is to update this blog on a regular basis, at least once a week but we shall see.

I’m sure I’ll be tweaking around with the format etc from time to time but I think she is pretty much ready to go live. Here goes….

My profile, the website links listed, as well as the links to my own scribbles scattered around the web, will give you a feel of what I like to read and in my own small way write.

My writing is sporadic and I know that I need to discipline myself and sit in front of the keyboard as often as I can. That’s really why I’ve started this blog. I’m hoping that blogging will kick start my own writing as well as having a bit of fun and making friends along the way.

Subjects covered, well that’s still a little up for grabs. I’ve a few ideas and I’m sure, at times, I will make it up as I go along – hopefully that’s all part of the fun. I’ll post again towards the end of this week – so please stay tuned folks.

The highlight of my weekend was watching Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at The Wimbledon Theatre. My opportunities to watch live theatre and music are limited but whenever I do, lo and behold, I really enjoy myself, resolving to do so much more.

Billed as the biggest and baddest rock ‘n’ roll musical ever! No argument from me with that statement.

It’s loud, fun and great ‘out of your seat’ stuff. The cast are excellent and too many to list here but a special mention goes to David Bedella as Frank N Furter (pictured) and Steve Pemberton as The Narrator.

The participation of the audience helps enormously particularly those seasoned veterans who turn up in costume. I’ve never seen so many men in drag!

Who could resist lyrics like....

It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane
Let's do the Time Warp again!

For more information double digit here….

What made it even more enjoyable was sitting between my beautiful girlfriend and my seventy four year old mother. Watching my dear old mum, singing along, dancing and clapping with the rest of us – even through some of the naughtier moments (I cringed several times). Wonderful, raucous stuff!

Note to self – get out and enjoy more live theatre and music!

Finally, thanks go out to Col Bury and Matt Hilton for their help and advice in getting this blog up and running. And last but by no means least Paul D. Brazil for his encouragement and the inspiration behind the name of this blog.

Say hello and leave a comment if, by chance, you have stumbled across this blog and taken the time to read through my off the cuff ramblings, which I thank you for.

That’s all for now folks.