Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 10-15,000 words
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Darren Sant’s childhood was spent living between two large housing estates. The locations and characters provided the inspiration for Sant’s stories.
To learn more about the author visit his website.
An interlinked series of short stories about the less than law-abiding residents of the Longcroft Estate.
Tales from the Longcroft Estate is an interesting group of stories which I enjoyed reading.
The first is A Good Day, written in the first person by a self-confessed drug addict and thief who, in the course of his daily habit of stealing to gain a fix, actually does the right thing by stumbling (almost literally) onto a paedophile ring and in the process saving a four year old boy. Ironically it’s his nose for a dodgy deal that helps the protagonist save the day. Despite the basis being an unpleasant subject Sant handles it very well, never allowing sensationalism to drift in and distract the reader.
The title of the next short, Community Spirit, gives a clue as to the theme. Tracy owes a nasty (and cowardly) loan shark money. She recently moved to the estate and isn’t happy. She feels her neighbours will do nothing to help her as Taff Hargreaves comes to reclaim his money (or payment in kind). However, Tracy soon learns the perception of her neighbours is incorrect. A good story that raises the spectre of debt over a family and is a position probably many find themselves in today.
Rowan’s Folly is a grouping of stories about the local hard guys, the Cullen family. Andy Rowan is a self-employed electrician. He carries out some gratis work for the Cullen’s (no-one would dare charge them!) but gets involved in a relationship with the daughter, Shona. The problem is her boyfriend is Mark Temple – gangster and lunatic – and he finds out about the affair, with drastic consequences.
This was the best of the tales, it hangs together very well. The characters are excellent, the events they’re involved with are ordinary, yet not.
Tucked in the middle is a funny two page short – Mrs Jones Gets An Unexpected Treat. Two scallies rob the old lady, but she catches them red handed and ties one to a chair, letting the other go. She gets some personal satisfaction from the captive (he doesn’t).
Tales From The Longcroft feels like a personal journey, as if the author has an experience of the events and people. Although the majority of the characters are unpleasant, Sant displays a touching affection for them which gives each a broader appeal. A short, but very satisfying read.