There are a lot of good qualities to this book and I did find it an enjoyable read which was both gripping and thought provoking however the one thing that did let it down was that it followed a very tried and trusted formula and hence it became quite predictable and lacked the sort of plot twists that would make me as a reader think Wow I never saw that coming
The book centres on three main characters, a Yardie drug dealer Roots Johnson, DCI Hogarth a MET officer and Andrea Chambers a former criminal barrister who now practices commercial law in her fathers practice. The story opens with the shooting of a white south London eight year old girl who is caught in the cross fire of a Yardie shoot out in the playground of her school. If that fact alone is not enough to make it a headline story then the whole tragedy is raise to another level when it turns out that she is the daughter of a serving police officer in the MET.
However the real twist which the reader is soon made aware of is the fact that of the three shooters, two are in fact Yardie drug dealers one of whom is Johnston whilst the third person involved is Hogarth who appears to be in cahoots with Johnston. Two arrests are soon made in the case; one is the third shooter Earl Whitely whilst the other is his best friend Calvin who is the son of Andrea Chambers. This brings all three of the main characters into contact both on the street and in the courtroom.
Although the story does switch between the three main characters from a story telling viewpoint by far the one who is the centre of attention is Chambers, and it is she that the reader gets the most insight into with regards to motivation and emotions. All three of the main protagonists have flaws to their characters and with Chambers these mostly focus on her emotional state of mind linked to the events of the past which saw her give up criminal law and also in her attempts to maintain a parental relationship with her angry and disillusioned son Calvin who seems to becoming involved in the Yardie gang culture and gun crime. The vulnerability that she shows does make her character quite interesting however I also found it a little frustrating at times as it seemed to slow up the flow and pace of the story and also became a bit repetitive.
The other two main characters are less well developed and I found both of them a little too stereotypical for my liking. The drug dealer who wants to get out of the business and go straight is supposed to be portrayed as a character you might want to sympathise with however it is not a very original image and has been done both in other books and on film so I felt that the story of Roots Johnston became all too predictable, in one sense this helps the reader identify with the character quickly however it would have been nice to have seen some sort of break from the stereotype within the story. A similar challenge could be raise against the character of Hogarth, a police officer who appears to consider himself above the law (hence the title of the book). I also felt that at times his character was all too predictable and towards the end I started to feel as a character he no longer became credible in the actions he takes.
There are some positives to this book, it is an entertaining read and the pace is well maintained throughout however I did feel at times there was a bit of padding to the storyline. At 472 pages in the paperback version I thought that 30 of these could have been cut out. The subject matter is quite thought provoking, as well as raising the usual questions about gun crime and the link to drugs the book does explore the lengths to which the police force could justifiably go to remove the threat of violent gangs who deal in drugs and seem to be untouchable in the courts. It also examines the idea that it is better to control and limit the activities of these gangs even if that means a certain number of innocent victims rather than allow a full scale drug war that would see many more people dead. Ultimately the book explores, in a limited way, the extent to which those in authority can become obsessed with believing that their actions are justified whilst losing sight of the laws they are in place to protect.
The action in this book takes place in and around South London however some of the most dramatic scenes take place within the court room. It is a book I would recommend however it would only get three stars from me as it is not a book Im likely to return to and certainly it did not want to make me add the author to my reading list, I would still read his other books (especially while on holiday) I just would not go out of my way to hunt them out.
The author Dias is a practising barrister hence the court room scenes in his books and the law he practices is closely linked to the subject matter in this book as he specialises in civil liberties and abuse of power. This was the fourth book that he has written.
Published by Coronet Books the rrp on my copy is £5.99 however it is available on Amazon in the new and used section only with prices starting at a penny. The ISBN is 0-340-66555-6.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
When Calvin Chambers is arrested for the murder of a young girl who is caught in the crossfire of a shooting, his mother Andrea, a former defence lawyer, manages to free him by agreeing to defend a Yardie hit man. She then becomes embroiled in a case where corruption, drugs and violence are rife. Customer Reviews