A new breed of gangster appears and the battle for the East End begins. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy is quite literally caught in the crossfire, when he is hit by the blast from a car bomb.
His girlfriend and boss want him to retire, but then his past emerges in the form of an old mistress, and his youth returns to haunt him.
It is time for Troy to return to the fray.
©2007 John Lawton; (P)2007 Oakhill Publishing Ltd
"Racy, rakish, and addictive." (Literary Review)
"The period atmosphere, illustrated with readable characters, is impeccable and the writing elegantly precise." (Daily Telegraph)
Many years ago I bought John Lawton's Black Out, in paperback, and although I finished it eventually, it was a struggle from the very start.
Last month I was pleased to see a Lawton book available on Audible. Having read reviews of Lawton's work on other site, I decided to give it a go in digital format. Certainly the subject of Blue Rondo - gang warfar, London, 1950's - sounded interesting.
Just like Black Out I realised my mistake very early on in the story. It's just ... too long. Way too much padding. Large chunks of story could be disgarded as they were of little relevance to the overall story. Hints of villans, gangs, murder. Some interesting sections about regeneration of London. Sadly, this come infrequently as instead we have to meander away on sub-plots and follow weak characters.
The main character, Troy, is clearly from a well-to-do family and having the luxury of a family estate to wander around in makes the London Copper character a little hard to believe. A brother who is highup in the Shadow Cabinet in Parliament, twin sisters who share lovers from time to time. Just some of the characters that flit in and out of the story but add nothing except more pages / listening time.
The voices given to the characters on the audio book were OK but I'm left with the impression that Troy is about 22 and could be 'had' by any street smart teenager. Future recordings should beef up the characters voice as it really is just too whiny to be believable. Stay away from American women too as that voice just forced me to skip every section where 'Katie' and Troy were together.
I'm sure the book is well researched and for some readers it will be an entertaining, gripping read - a trip down memory lane. However, I found it disappointing and considered just not bothering to finish it. Where I originally hoped for a gutsy London-based gangland war story, what I actually got were some OK villans, weak characters, annoying voice-overs, and way too much padding.
Witty, interesting, dramatic, well-developed plot and a classy performance by Lewis Hancock. I loved it.
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