This is a very powerful and at times harrowing story about a Polish immigrant and his rough times in London. Used to violence at home, he finds himself stranded in an equally violent surrounding in the drug and crime underground scene of London. Looking for his friend Jan, whose example he followed, he finds that said friend is involved in the prostitution business.
Le Pard portrays the ‘dog eats dog’ society of that layer of society very well, showing the helplessless and denial as well as the brutality and heartlessless. I particularly was fascinated by the mind set of Jerzy as he makes choices that often don’t pay off.
This is a gripping and very haunting tale, told in a beautifully simple prose with good pace and clever plotting. A very accomplished novel with much food for thought. Given the current political climate in the UK and Europe, many passages about cultural clashes and immigration rang all too true.
The book left a big impression on me, staying with me for days after I had finished it.
Here is the official blurb:
Jerzy Komaza is adept at turning a blind eye. He has allowed his father’s beatings of his sister, Maria, to continue for years. Yet one hot summer day he finally snaps, and it is Maria who sends him away from their home in Białystok in rural Poland, fearing the consequences if he stays. Desperate and unsure, Jerzy heads for London where his old friend Jan has promised him work.
At first he is completely disorientated. Worse, there’s no sign of Jan. Feeling lost and adrift in the strange city, Jerzy overhears a young woman’s cries. Memories of his sister stir him into action and he intervenes.
The woman is Suzie Thomas, a drug addict dependent on local thug Paul Rogers for her supplies and for whom she turns tricks. Rogers also runs gangs of workmen around the city, and Jan works for him. Gradually Jerzy is dragged into Suzie’s world, a violent dog-eat-dog existence of the underclass living next to but separate from London’s affluent citizens.
Jan has his own problems with Rogers, and when his cousin Ola Nowak is slashed with a knife while trying to sort out Jan’s debt, he is bent on revenge. Jerzy is torn between stopping his friend and, because of his own growing hatred of Rogers’ casual violence towards Suzie, helping him.
Suzie’s family are hunting for her. Her grandparents hear she has moved to London and seek her out. In doing so they too find themselves pulled into Rogers’ orbit. As the heat builds and the rain pours down, various forces begin to drag these desperate individuals together into a violent confrontation. And into this mix comes Lech Komoza, Jerzy’s half-brother intent on his own violent retribution.
This story contains elements of revenge, love, the clash of classes and cultures, the isolation of large cities and the single-minded determination to survive. Set against a backdrop of one of the most affluent cities in the Western world, it is a modern parable about the lure of redemption and how hope can be corrupted by despair.
Buy all of Geoff Le Pard’s books: http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Le-Pard/e/B00OSI7XA0
About Geoff Le Pard
Geoff Le Pard (not Geoffrey, except to his mother) was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light. He started writing (creatively) in 2006 following a summer school course. Being a course junkie he had spells at Birkbeck College, twice at Arvon and most recently at Sheffield Hallam where he achieved an MA in Creative Writing.
And what did he learn?
That they are great fun, you meet wonderful people but the best lessons come from the unexpected places. He has a line of books waiting to be published but it has taken until now to find the courage to go live.
He blogs at http://geofflepard.com/ on anything and everything. His aim is for each novel to be in a different style and genre. Most people have been nice about his writing (though when his brother’s dog peed on the manuscript he was editing, he did wonder) but he knows the skill is in seeking and accepting criticism. His career in the law has helped prepare him.
Connect with Geoff
Also by Geoff Le Pard.
“My Father and Other Liars” is a thoughtful book full of twists and complex characters.
The way author Geoff Le Pard develops characters to be both flawed and evocative is becoming a hallmark of his writing. The suspense in the book rises from a multitude tensions at the heart of which is political intrigue in regards of the use of stem cells in research. One of the thought-provoking aspects of the story is the crossroads between theology and science. It’s handled in such a way as to be believable and not offensive (unless one has a highly sensitive nature in regards to religion used as a medium in fiction).
The author even shares (at the end of the book) how he developed his fictional theology. Another tension arises from the idea of adult orphans and those who have absentee-fathers or poor relationships. It’s a theme that crosses global borders just as the book itself is set in England, America and Nicaragua. The pace is steady and picks up so that it is hard to deny the next chapter.
This is the second published novel by Geoff Le Pard and while it is different from his first,“Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle,” his voice comes through as a writer and someone I will continue to follow as a reader.