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Summary

Every village, town, and city has its share of notorious names and infamous families. Ones who seem to capture the headlines and imagination of its inhabitants. On Tyneside, one family name has long been synonymous with controversy and crime for decades, yet their lifelong conflict with the law began over a century ago.

In this dramatic story, we take an inside look at a family that lived outside the law. Forerunner to the best-selling crime book The Sayers: Tried & Tested at the Highest Level, this book tells how one family's battle lines with authority were drawn up as early as 1886.

This book gives a different perception of a family you will have heard of and the people that they come from. People who, even in their world, really were a breed apart.

©2019 Media Arts (P)2020 Gadfly Press

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  • Buretto
  • 17-01-21

Only if you're looking for local color

The trouble begins in the foreword when the author backs away from the book summary, warning the listener not to expect a Tyneside Cosa Nostra. The book is filled alternatively with griping about gossip about the family and unfair treatment by police, alongside the winking stories of a family of roguish outlaws. Of course, each of these themes are common to families like this, but the juxtaposition of both so closely in one book just works to accentuate the hypocrisy. It becomes pretty clear the truth lies in between, the family of hawkers on the move, always at odds with municipal and fixed business interests. In all honesty, I asked a friend from Newcastle about this story, and his recollection of these people was vague at best, even after considerable prompting.

Frankly, the book is written by members of a family who are not quite as smart, clever or colorful as they seem to think they are. A family that thinks "What goes in ya', comes out ya'" qualifies as profound philosophy. The origin stories of the family history from Ireland, and the early matriarchs works reasonably well as interesting background, but as the story enters the 60s and beyond, times contemporaneous with the authors' experience, the appeal declines markedly. It's a series of casting themselves as low-rent Goodfellas (and if we're being honest, the originals were low-rent to begin with). And yet, remember, all the time claiming most of the outlaw history is an elaborate police frame. Hardly worth the time, unless you have a connection to the region.