"Last Bird Singing" is where bleak noir meets the mean streets of Splott, Cardiff. Tommy is a man in his fifties who has lost all hope for the future and cannot come to terms with the past. A 'spare-room husband' he is living with - but estranged from - his wife Lillian and his twenty-something son in the Welsh capital's seediest suburb, wondering where it all went wrong. Fighting drink, he lapses into a state of self pity, reminiscing about the glories of his youth when he was a brickie with loads of mates and a footballer who scored on and off the pitch.In an attempt to apologise for an incident some thirty years before, Tommy visits his childhood friend who is dying of cancer. The situation is not improved. Sinking further into drink and depression, Tommy discovers the woman he lusts after is having an affair with his son. Meanwhile Lillian leaves him for another man. In a fit of mania, he sets fire to his own house. Despite giving up the drink, the downward spiral continues, as family members come to untimely ends. Tommy walks the street of Cardiff, trying to make sense of events as if they were a map of his life.
Getting ever more desperate, he shoots his wife's lover and realises that for him, there are no happy endings. "Last Bird Singing" is a catalogue of despair and thwarted expectations, a novel redeemed for the reader by Bush's beautifully-rendered prose.
Allan Bush is a an author and retired building surveyor.