THE LAST LAUGH: Crime Stories by Paul D. Brazill
It’s always a good day when there’s a new Brazill tome out and just in time for the end of the semester harried chaos, All Due Respect dropped this one on the world like a UXB ready to blow. This is the perfect book for the busy passive-aggressive: a bunch of tight little stories that hit like a spray of machine gun fire in a crowded bar. From the first to the last you won’t know whether to laugh or wince more but you’ll keep turning the pages until you get to the end and then start badgering the man for more.
Because there’s never enough of that pitch black chaos to suit me. I love the down on their luck characters who, often through every fault of their own or just an inability to defy gravity, end up in absurdly awful situations with few possible outcomes that don’t spell disaster. If they make it through the gangsters, murder and mayhem it’s generally just dumb luck.
A great bunch of stories here: I may have read most of them before but I chortled just as much reading them again and seeing new things in them when they appear cheek by jowl with the other tales. Brazill’s world of low lifes in sad seaside towns both hit with a familiar realism and yet for all their decadent hopelessness offer a touch of sublime madness that suggests if they can just brazen out the day things may be rosy tomorrow.
But not usually!
Some damn fine lines between the always impeccable hit parade and casual mentions of Lovejoy:
‘That sneaky bastard. More bent than a pipecleaner, he was.’
‘Great minds drink alike,’ said Godard.
‘Home’s where you go when you’ve nowhere better to go.’
‘Mikey Mike Calloway was so far up his own arse he could have give himself an enema.’
‘Toga was so far in the closet he was in Narnia.’
‘Lager than life,’ I said. ‘And the same for him.’
‘The place stank of death and disappointment. And kippers.’
‘A big grin crawled across his flushed face like a caterpillar.’
I could go on and on. Get it: you won’t be disappointed. And it’ll tide you over until Cold London Blues comes out this summer. Looking forward to that.