Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Crime/Short Story Collection
Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words
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Danny Gillan was raised and still lives in Glasgow, Scotland. His first ambition was to be a musician, but ended up in the pub and hotel trade for a number of years in a wide variety of roles, interspersed with periods in social care.
Danny has written two novels, the most recent called Scratch and a series of short stories which have appeared in several magazines and anthologies.
You can learn more about Danny on his blog.
Twelve short stories across a variety of genres.
At first, if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t taken with Meats and Cheeses… (has there ever been an odder title for a crime / thriller book?). The opening story Awake was well enough written, no doubt about that. In essence it’s about a man attending his wife’s funeral and witnessing a fight, but the conclusion, well that made me sit up. It was very well done and I didn’t see it coming.
The second short, Nothing But Grief didn’t disappoint. It was, if anything, better. Written in the first person it opens with the protagonist Ped getting a beating via a hard man, Steph, who works for the local opposition. The pair end up in a pub and hatch a plan to take out their respective bosses. However all is, by no means, what it seems and there are several twists that make this an excellent tale. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt it the highlight of the series.
It’s Not About You is a thought provoking, clever story about a boy who witnesses an argument between his parents whilst the final episode of Buffy is on TV (there’s a reason for this). It’s a mix of first person (from the boy’s perspective) and third person (Graham Pollok a child psychologist) which gives it an additional dimension. Smart, clever writing.
Johnny Walker is a brief, but also thought provoking story about a tramp and his reasons for being.
Action is a decent story. It steps away from the above because it’s more of a thriller / espionage story with a twist at the end (note, there’s a theme developing here). Well done, which may form an interesting novel length book.
In Stalk and Cheese we meet Colette, a waitress who starts to receive threatening calls and letters. Who’s sending them? Her ex-boyfriend or ex-school mates? Again this steps away from the norm as there are progressive flashbacks from when Colette was at school and had an issue with a group of boys. Again it doesn’t end quite as you’d expect.
In The Mistake Graham Pollok makes a reappearance when his wife is kidnapped by a recently escaped mental patient Graham had put away several years ago. The boy claims he’s Graham’s son. This story had some echoes of recent events heavily covered in the press, but I won’t reveal what these are so as not to spoil the story.
Throughout the dialogue is excellent. The descriptive elements are well balanced, just right for a short story – which illustrates the author’s skill as a writer. Whatever Danny attempted worked well, sometimes brilliantly. None of the tales are quite what they seem and will keep the reader guessing. I’d very happily sit down and read Danny’s other work.
Nothing of note.
Rating: **** Four Stars