Sunday 13 March 2022



Alternative Ulster Noir

… The Cops Are Comin’

A collection of seven new NI crime short stories inspired by NI music.
Enjoy a diverse anthology of work from some of the best NI thriller writers featuring Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Sharon Dempsey, Gerard Brennan, Kelly Creighton and James Murphy. Curated and edited by Simon Maltman, with one of his own new stories included. This collection was inspired by local artists including The Undertones, Van Morrison, Ash, Snow Patrol, Therapy? and more.

An enjoyable short story anthology featuring four Northern Irish authors I've enjoyed before - Maltman, Murphy, Bateman and Brennan and three more that I haven't - Dempsey, Neville and Creighton. Creighton and Neville sit on the TBR pile.  

I liked that the stories were set around music from artists from the area, though did hope to find something inspired by Stiff Little Fingers; one of their songs having provided the title for the collection. Inflammable Material was a seminal album of my youth. Even though my copy has long since been disposed of I can recall many of the tracks on the LP. Nostalgia rules, right?

The collection comprised of ...

SHE’LL BE HERE SOON by KELLY CREIGHTON Inspired by Goldfinger by Ash 

ASTRAL WEEKS by COLIN BATEMAN Inspired by Astral Weeks by Van Morrison 

HOW TO BE DEAD by JAMES MURPHY Inspired by How to be Dead by Snow Patrol

HEAD GIRL by SHARON DEMPSEY Inspired by Teenage Kicks by The Undertones 

BLACK DOG SIN by GERARD BRENNAN Inspired by Black Dog Sin by Joshua Burnside 

TRIGGER INSIDE by SIMON MALTMAN Inspired by Trigger Inside by Therapy? 

HOLY DIVER By STUART NEVILLE Inspired by Holy Diver by Dio (Featuring Vivian Campbell)

A slight disappointment, which is no way related at all to quality of the stories is that only one of the songs which inspired them is instantly recognisable to me. That said I may know more of them by ear, as opposed to being able to identify them by title. That's often the case with music. Five of the other six artists are known to me. One I'm in total ignorance of.

The stories themselves were very good, as you'd expect from such a talented line-up.

Jealousy, delinquency, entitlement, swagger, fear, school, bullying, family, loss, buried memories, business deals, murder, a knife attack, conflict, imprisonment, freedom, consequences, city crime tours and a dwindling audience.

The Ed.
Humour and terror in unequal measures. Some of the violence is comedic, particularly in Maltman's closer. Some of it is more disturbing, especially in the Gerard Brennan tale. And a bit like real life some of it is reactive and instinctive and unplanned, and in the blink of an eye everything has changed.

4.5 from 5

Read - March, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 104
Source - review copy received from the editor
Format - Kindle 


  1. These sound like a great bunch of stories, but I only know two of the songs used as inspiration. Thanks for reviewing and sharing, Col.

    1. Ben, cheers for stopping by. You know one more than me sir. I was tempted to You Tube them to see if I had a familiarity with the other 6 of the 7, but never got around to it. I still ought to.

  2. Here’s a wee You Tube playlist for it guys 👍

  3. This looks good, Col. One thing I like about regional collections like this is that it gives you the chance to 'meet' authors from that area that you might not otherwise encounter. To me, it's a good way to broaden one's perspective. And the stories sound consistently good, too.

    1. There's a fine concentration of both literary and musical talent from a the Six Counties, Margot. I think you would enjoy both the stories and the songs.