Reviewer: JJ Marsh
What we thought: An ambitious debut, this sprawling thriller boasts a large cast of characters, a complex plot and an intense sense of place. The novel begins on an East London estate where Gary Marshall, promising young footballer, is ‘rescued’ from a gang of muggers by Arnold Dolan. It’s the beginning of a long association Gary will live to regret.
The story follows the boys’ growth and development as the Boxer Boys, a gang with a reputation. Then two shocking incidents change the paths of both lives, with a permanent effect on their personalities.
The tough world of a council estate is vividly evoked, where violence is as natural as breathing. Once Gary gets a journalist position on a Cardiff paper, the author’s sports journalism background adds colour and expertise in the character’s adjustment to the regional newspaper life, rugby and Wales.
The plot is cleverly constructed with twists and tension throughout, the characters are believable and elicit extreme emotions in the reader, the locations are rich and detailed, and although a good editor could have taken this to another level, it’s clear this is a writer to watch.
You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Feral Youth by Polly Courtney, Stag Hunt by Anthony McGowan, This is England by Shane Meadows.
Avoid if you don’t like: Violence, sport, newspapers, Wales
Ideal accompaniments: A pint of Brains SA, chips with curry sauce and Blondie’s One Way or Another.
Available from Amazon