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.