Fourteen stories that explore the darker sides of the human psyche, each from a different neighborhood of Belfast.
“The Undertaking,” by Brian McGilloway, is a tale of a switched coffin and a deadly cargo. The narrator of Lucy Caldwell’s “Poison” recalls her schoolgirl obsession with a teacher. In Lee Childs’ “Wet with Rain,” a house rumored to kill its occupants more than lives up to its reputation. “Taking It Serious,” by Ruth Dudley Edwards, follows a boy who won’t compromise along his path to free Ireland. The narrator of Gerard Brennan’s “Ligature” is a prison inmate who’s curious about why someone on the men’s side killed himself. Another prisoner is the subject of a reporter’s piece about crime and retribution in Glenn Patterson’s “Belfast Punk Rep.” In “The Reservoir,” by Ian McDonald, a supposedly dead man comes to his daughter’s wedding and confronts his enemies; a criminal barrister in Steve Cavanagh’s “The Grey” serves his client well but at a terrible cost. The teenage private eye in “Rosie Grant’s Finger,” by Claire McGowan, takes on a case of kidnapping; a more mature investigator gets a 4 a.m. phone call that he knows will mean trouble in Sam Millar’s “Out of Time.” A sting operation to break up a dog-fighting ring has an unexpected outcome in Arlene Hunt’s “Pure Game,” and an alternate identity changes hands in Alex Barclay’s “The Reveller.”
The choices made by editors McKinty (In the Morning I’ll Be Gone, 2014, etc.) and Neville (The Final Silence, 2014, etc.) celebrate lowlifes, convicts, hookers, private eyes, cops and reporters, and, above all, the gray city at the heart of each story.