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After seeing the series advertised that was based on the book I am going to review, I was hopeful that it would be a good read, I unfortunately missed the aforementioned series so cannot compare the two!
The book I will now review is - "He kills coppers by Jake Arnott".
The book is written about three separate men, that are all affected and in turn have life changing circumstances happen when one of them is involved in a policeman's murder.
Billy Porter is the criminal said to have murdered a policeman in broad daylight and cold blood, though he starts his journey in the book in the sweaty depths of the Burma jungle, fighting for his and there country, flushing out hiding bandits.
When his released from service however, he finds he is not to lead a normal life, rather opting for a life of petty crime, that is until he groups up with a couple of what he deems as "gas meter bandits", and things take a dramatic turn for the worse.
The next is Frank Taylor, a policeman that has enrolled on the "fast rise" scheme through work, meaning he will bypass many of his senior officers to take the jobs that they were probably aiming for. He is desperate to get to the flying squad, but finds himself instead helping to clean up the streets of London, before the impending 1966 England match, they found that due to the high amount of foreigners travelling in, there were suddenly a huge amount of prostitute bars opened, or as they delicately put it "clipping"!
His life is simple enough until one day when his policeman partner is murdered in broad daylight, this changes his life and himself forever, vowing to hunt down Dave's killer.
Finally there is Tony Meehan, a wannabe writer and a closet homosexual, that gets a job at the local rag paper to tide him over. He becomes obsessed with the killing of the policeman, and inevitably with Billy Porter himself, and starts saving any information on him with the purpose of writing a book on the killer once captured, though of course he isn't captured meaning he doesn't know who the actual killer is and what the outcome will be.
Alongside this he is also examining his own urges, he feels that maybe one day he will be a danger to the public himself!
I have to say when I first started reading this book I initially found it quite confusing.
Each characters chapter is written in the first person, which is fine when you have been introduced to the character, what I found difficult to get round is the fact I was being told various and detailed parts of these characters personalities and current situations, without actually having at least there names!
This said, once I had read a few more chapters you do find you are familiar with which character is speaking, though chapter headers would have made things much easier, as you find yourself looking for vital clues or markers as to who is actually speaking, which of course there weren't any!
There were a smattering of support characters which added much needed depth and flavour to the book, and I found they were all quite essential to the storyline, I especially liked the fact that I could visualise these characters, which is fantastic as someone who wasn't around in the 60's, so all the detail of the people and the time itself was relevant.
I liked how within each character they had their flaws of personality on show, so that even the "goodies" were at times as bad as the "baddies" making them just people.
There is a fair bit of death within the book, but not at all gruesome, but more with the briefest of detail, with the rest being left to the imagination, this is the same with any sexual content which is very little within this book.
The one thing there is an abundance of is foul language, so anyone with a delicate constitution in this respect will be most certainly be offended!
The book also covers the police force at the time, with corruption being rife and dedicates while sections to the people who were involved to the clean up, though some of these parts are more disturbing than the actual killings themselves, a lot of the police characters are completely out of control and are more vicious and cruel than anyone else, some of things they do to "get results" are appalling!
I would definitely recommend this book, though don't expect to be completely bowled over, the first few chapters spoilt it a little for me, though it did redeem itself towards the end.
Price wise this is available from www.amazon.co.uk for around £5.99.
Thanks for reading x
Before becoming a successful novelist, Jake Arnott had a number of jobs. He was a mortuary technician a sign language interpreter and also an actor - his last part being the title role in The Mummy! Then in 1999 he was one of the subjects of a BBC2 documentary about writers trying to get published. His novel The Long Firm, which masterfully recreated the atmosphere of the underworld in swinging sixties London, was an instant success, and is going to be turned into a television series by the BBC sometime soon. The Long Firm centred around the activities of a gay gangster called Harry Starks who mixed with the real-life glitterati, and Arnott has used the same formula here. Real-life 'faces' like the Krays and their nemesis, detective 'Nipper' Read, rub shoulders with his characters. This time it's July 1966, so the World Cup is going on in the background too. I doo mean in the background though, this story revolves around crime not football. He Kills Coppers is told from the perspectives of three characters: FRANK TAYLOR - a detective "itching to get on the Flying Squad." He considers himself a good thief-taker, and is happy to bend the odd rule now and again to nail known villains, but he soon finds himself out of his depth in a police force awash with corruption. This was a long time before the Police And Criminal Evidence Act, when freemasonry and 'hookeyness' were rife. Oh yes, the swinging sixties were also rather dodgy... TONY MEEHAN - a scuzzy, pervo journalist who works for a rag called the Sunday Illustrated, which is edited by a bloke called Sid, whose maxim is: "Any excuse for a bit of tit." Meehan was 'asked to leave' school after a jar went missing. Just don't ask me what was in the jar, ok? Meehan is a closet homosexual, and through him we see the seedy side of sixties Soho. and BILLY PORTER - who, ten years ear
lier, went straight from Borstal to National Service and saw active service in the jungle in Malaya. He is looking for the right job, but not down the Labour Exchange if you see what I mean. I'm not really giving away the plot when I tell you that Billy gets caught up in a nasty incident. Well, the clue's in the title really - he does exactly what it says on the cover. The incident is based on the murders of three policemen in Shepherd's Bush in 1966. For a while, the perpetrator of that crime, Harry Roberts, eluded capture by living rough. The title comes from a football hooligans' chant, sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down: ~ Harry Roberts is our friend, is our friend, is our friend. ~ Harry Roberts is our friend, he kills coppers... The later parts of the book jump forward in time and we see how the characters' lives developed, and perhaps more importantly, Jake Arnott gets out of the sixties for the first time! Well, I mean, he can't keep writing novels set in London in the 1960's, can he? Mind you, he does do it very well, Arnott is doing for 60's London what Irvine Welsh has done for contemporary Scotland. I expected to be giving this three or four stars, but while reading it I realised that I would feel mean if I did, so it has to get all five. I shouldn't tell you, but there is a satisfying twist at the end too... If you loved The Long Firm you love this too, and verse vica. ISBN: 0-340-74879-6 ____________________________________________________
A dazzling successor to The Long Firm August 1966, the long hot summer of World Cup euphoria is suddenly shattered by a brutal crime that shocks a nation seemingly at ease with itself.