Book review of the new novel by Conrad Jones (also posted on Book page)
I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of Brick through The Book Club on facebook in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own.
The murky underworld of gangland Liverpool is the setting for this gritty, fast paced thriller. With a prologue that leaves us with no illusions about the darker, violent sides of the story that are to come, the different threads and characters are introduced quickly. From the thugs of the prologue & burnt corpses of the first chapter, to a 14 year old boy and his family, to the new Detective Inspector with the police department, each character has their individual tale to bring, but these all feed one larger tangled web.
14 year old Bryn is the teenager who, out walking his dog one day, happens to say the wrong thing to the wrong person and finds himself the victim of an unprovoked attack. But this leads to a death, and the investigating police squad soon find that the teenager and his family are now unwittingly on the radar of a dangerous gangland criminal wanting vengeance. Stolen drugs, misplaced loyalties and the lengths that these gangs will go to, in order to protect their turf and their stock, make this a dangerous world for an ordinary family to find themselves in. Even DI Braddick who is investigating both the case of young Bryn and the case of the charred corpses, has some personal reason from his time in London to want to catch the Russians at the top of the chain. His investigations converge with an ongoing drugs squad investigation, and there also appears to be a mole within the police team. How else is the gang boss managing to find out the confidential whereabouts of witnesses & stay one step ahead? Even Bryn’s brother and the expensive lawyer that he hires appear to have something to hide.
This is not a novel for the faint hearted or squeamish as Conrad Jones paints a very vivid picture of the violence inflicted and the cheapness of life in the drugs underworld. This extends to the psychopathic tendencies of certain characters who are depicted as lacking in any empathy or morals, and unable to distinguish an innocent family for the sake of revenge & warped loyalties. I appreciated the way in which the police officers were depicted – they were not the usual upstanding pillars of the community who were whiter than white, but rather were humans with a range of personalities & emotions that they each brought to the job in hand. There were parts of the book that made me want to shout at the characters or hide behind my own hands as I couldn’t bare what might be coming next – how could Bryn’s family possibly think this action might be a good move, or why were the police not investigating that? For me this is great writing! I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next and yet almost didn’t want to know, as things couldn’t possibly work out “happily ever after” – Conrad Jones has not written a fairy tale but rather about real life.
I would love to see a follow up to this as the characters of several of the police officers have developed sufficiently to move into another investigation, and there are loose ends from this plot that could be investigated in a sequel – no spoilers! In my opinion a gritty page turner that I could not put down – this gets 5 stars from me. Please Mr Jones, bring DI Braddick back for more!