Originally published by Serpent’s Tail; reissued in America by Foul Play Press –
South-east London gangland meets the alternative lifestyle of a travelling fair. A dark yet moving thriller, moving from the hard streets of south-east London to the last fairground boxing booth in Britain.
Jet and Scott Heywood are two brothers looking for a way out of their dead-end lives. Jet is a fairground boxer past his prime and nursing a head wound. His straight-laced brother is a security van driver. When Scott’s van disappears with a two million pound payload Jet doesn’t know whether Scott was victim or thief. But Scott’s old gang believe he does know.
They are an evil crew – Gottfleisch, a gargantuan and sinister fence, Ray Lyons, a vicious thug out for revenge, and little Ticky, a paedophile with his own malevolent objectives.
Jet decides to take his eight year old daughter with him on the road. But a travelling fair provides no hiding place. Hounded by press, police and increasingly intrusive social workers – but above all by his brother’s determined gang – Jet realises he must come out of hiding and fight again.
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Count Me Out
“Russell James’s novels about south-east London gangland are stealthily emerging as one of the major bodies of work in British crime fiction. This latest may well be his best.” – John Williams in the Mail On Sunday.
“This is a bleak, uncompromising look at a hardscrabble underclass existence. Using a compressed, laconic prose style to great effect, James conveys a dark, suffocating world from which there is no escape and where, in fact, good intentions and well-laid plans are the surest route to disaster.” – Booklist *starred* review.
“Russell James is emerging as one of Britain’s best Noir writers, producing dark, powerful novels with a distinctive South London setting. In his novels, humour and humanity flourish in strange places, accentuating – and occasionally redeeming – the bleakness of the setting. . . The combination of an honourable loner, a powerful narrative and an interesting specialist background suggests an unexpected parallel: the novels of Dick Francis.” – Andrew Taylor in Tangled Web magazine
“James has created an entirely loathsome and creepy pair of criminals (bringing to mind Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre in their roles in the MALTESE FALCON) who balance the plucky and admirable father-and-daughter team of Jet and Stella.” – Publishers Weekly
“What a splendid offering … The consistently high quality of Russell James’s work must put him up amongst the elite of crime writers, and this book is no exception to his excellence …This is a wonderfully evoked work in all aspects: pace, plot, characterisation and narrative are all excellent. An absolute must.” – Steve Freeborn in A Shot In The Dark magazine.
“A very good writer … a strong sense of realism” – Peter Walker in Crime Time magazine.
“James is a British crime poet of lost souls and grey streets with all the empathy for the downtrodden of a David Goodis. His tale of two doomed brothers is as English as Graham Greene or Ted Lewis, and ranks as his best in ages. Relish the darkness.” – Maxim Jakubowski in Time Out.
“Awash with sleaze and excitement … what I really liked about this book was the immediacy of the characters. The setting of a fairground added a magical quality and the plot kept me guessing till the end. It’s different, original and well worth a read. I shall certainly be looking for more books by Russell James.” – Lynda Ross in Tangled Web magazine.