Tiger Bay (1929) - W. Townend
A salty tale that takes in Cardiff and Buenos Aires. Even in the Twenties the exoticization of Cardiff docks was evidently well underway. Sample text: "Cardiff, Bute Street, with its little queer ugly shops, sailortown, Tiger Bay, pubs, loneliness, pawnbrokers', harlots, out-of-work seamen, shuffling Asiatics, half-caste children."
(1946) - David Martin
Hungarian writer Martin tells the gritty story of Hakif, a Somali, and Nest, a reform school runaway. The author was a stevedore and would have known Cardiff docks well.
Tiger Bay (1947) - (J)ames (M)organ Walsh
A mystery story by an Australian writer, best known for his sci-fi classic Vandals of the Void. The author also wrote two sequels Return to Tiger Bay (1950) and King of Tiger Bay (1952). Blurb: "To sailormen the world over Tiger Bay recalls that grimy but strangely fascinating arch of the docks at Cardiff where ships from all seven seas tie-up and disgorge their diverse cargoes and for a brief time, their stranger crews... Dark faces peer from darker doorways, raucous music blares from tiny cafes, countless feet patter by... feet that have known the waterfront of many distant ports."
(1959) - Noel Calef
The famous film was based upon a short story by Noel Calef called Rodolphe et le Revolver. John Hawkesworth and Shelley Smith turned it into the screenplay.
Bay (1970) - Bernard Picton
Standard police procedural from pathologist Bernard Knight. Dogged Chief Superintendent Meredith tries to nail elusive docks criminal Tiger Ismail.
At the End
of the Bay (1982) - Dic Edwards
A play about eviction influenced by Edward Bond. Self-obsessed characters play pointless games while their world collapses about them.
Tattooed Detective (1998) - David Craig
Craig's (better known as Bill James) superior crime books have a more sophisticated morality than previous Tiger Bay procedurals. His criminals are three dimensional products of their environment possessing plenty of good as well as bad qualities. Inspector David Brade on the other hand is anything but saintly, happily accepting blow jobs as well as information from local prostitutes. To add to the mix, his sidekick Glyndwr Jenkins confounds stereotypes by being black and bi-lingual. Other books in the series are Torch, Bay City and Middleman.
Dead (2000) - John Williams
Williams' fiction takes an even more liberal, non-judgemental stance. The author is concerned with the rapid makeover of the docks into 'Cardiff Bay' and where this leaves its local community. Underpinning his writing is a sense of injustice and loss and the author is always careful to humanise rather than demonise his criminal characters. His other Cardiff books are: Five Pubs, Two Bars and a Nightclub (1999) and The Prince of Wales (2003).
Place (2000) - Trezza Azzopardi
Azzopardi's Booker-nominated debut focusses on a previously underwritten group - Cardiff's Maltese community. A story of domestic abuse The Hiding Place has many gothic characteristics, especially in Frankie, the narrator's rather vampiric father. Her novel is set mainly in the 1960s.
(2002) - Sean Burke
The most violent and noirish depiction of Butetown. In many ways the ghost of Lynette White, a prostitute murdered in James Street, haunts this work. That notoriously bloody murder was unsolved at the time his book was written but the sense of paranoia surrounding the case is palpable in Burke's fiction. John Williams' true crime classic, Bloody Valentine, a Killing in Cardiff is an obvious influence.