Monday, December 26, 2016

A Holiday Gone Wrong

Brighton RockBrighton Rock by Graham Greene
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd just finished a book about 1940s/50s Cuba, in which Graham Greene is mentioned as having visited and enjoyed a place where "one could obtain anything at will, whether drugs, or women, or goats". Since I've been meaning to read more Greene, I figured now would be a good time for Our Man in Havana.

A couple days pass, things come up, apparently my memory is shit, and for some reason I start reading Brighton Rock. Hey, why the fuck not?! I'm an idiot...

This book has very little to do with Cuba. Zero actually. It's set in beach-resort south England in which some young hoods roll a newspaper man for his holiday money and have to spend the rest of the time looking over their shoulders, because some random and tenacious woman won't let the matter rest even though the police have dropped the case.

Greene created some great characters here. I wanted to wring their necks, the violent little brutes. His wastrel criminals remind one of Fagin's children from Oliver Twist, but with a touch more dimension to the focus gangster than say the Artful Dodger receives. It's that fold of character that makes you see Greene's creation as human, pitiably human.

At times the novel seems simplistic, especially to mystery readers, who easily can suss out the herrings and what seems like heavy-handed foreshadowing. But Greene should not be underestimated. His work is solid in Brighton Rock.

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