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Hooky Gear by Nick Barlay
J is a successful burglar, with a house full of 'well-selected antique furnishins', a wife with an 'enhanced front', and a talent for acquiring hooky gear. But when a break-in goes badly wrong he finds himself betrayed and deserted by the people he trusted the most. Emerging from prison, J is torn between good intentions and the desire for revenge, but as the strands of his life continue to unravel before him, he becomes an unlikely, and ultimately tragic, hero. This is an engaging novel, by a writer with a really strong voice. Read the first two pages and you will be hooked. 'This is a fine literary novel with an ambition to be greater than a gangster-police thriller. Barlay has achieved his goal and more.' Telegraph
'Barlay's evocation of the grimy end of Notting Hill, west London, is wonderfully written, with a convincing cast of characters, from the villainous to the inane. Dominated by the brooding figure of the absent sibling, this is a low-key treat'
The Times Rarely does one read writing so inventive, yet so tensed against habituation
; so exuberant, but so obsessed with the business of conveying depression, hopelessness and failure. What elevates Barlay from the crowds of undistinguished caper-writers is an extraordinary facility for creating and sustaining individual voices - this is a brilliantly literary novel. Guardian A disturbing peek into London's real underworld . A brilliant, haunting snapshot of a subculture which is really quite sumfink. Big Issue in the North 'A nicely judged balance of insightful descriptions and world-weary sarcasm. It's full of colourful characters and the dialogue is fantastically rich ... Barlay's ear for slang and talent for getting it on the page is, like, the wickedest. Y'na mean? Independent on Sunday 'An extremely well written and provocative novel which makes Nick Barlay the Zola of North West London
Kilburn Times Barlay recreates the inner city
's cold, closed world of deprivation, crime, drugs and violence with an expertise which recalls Chandler's expeditions to the seedier side of Hollywood. There's black humour on every page. Highly recommended. Time Out 'It was very nice to pick this up and find a writer who is not only in command of his technique but seems to be have his finger on the city's pulse'
Guardian Funny, poignant, oozing attitude and character, this is the final part of Barlay
's urban trilogy. Hits the spot Mirror Barlay's controlled and energetic demotic fixes you to the page - and it is not just the language that sets this above all other 'Geezer Chic'
; it is the superbly bitter-sweet desperation of J. This is a fine literary novel with an ambition to be greater than a gangster-police thriller. Barlay has achieved his goal and more. Telegraph Barlay is fast developing a reputation as the new Elmore Leonard. Unlike lesser urban chroniclers, Barlay refuses to romanticise the thug life. Instead his probing and flowing prose digs under the skin of nervy paranoia, self-loathing and misguided heroism. Deceptively intelligent, tragic but never sentimental, [Hooky Gear] is a welcome alternative to Guy Ritchie's slumming habits Jockey Slut Brilliant ... one of the Dons of British urban writing Diran Adebayo, Observer With stampeding pace, theatrical slanging matches and a murky landscape of docks and backstreets, 'Hooky Gear
injects fresh venom into the London crime thriller. Big Issue
J is a successful burglar, with a house stuffed full of expensive antique furnishings, a wife with an 'enhanced front
and a talent for acquiring stolen property
- the 'hooky gear
of the title. Life seems pretty good. That is, until a break
-in goes badly wrong and J is betrayed and deserted by the very people he trusted the most. Emerging from prison with a poem composed by his erstwhile cellmate, J finds himself torn between a touching desire for reconciliation with his wife and an understandable thirst for revenge. As the pressure mounts around him, J is cast in the role of unlikely and ultimately tragic hero. Nick Barlay's previous books, Curvy Love Box and Crumple Zone, have attracted plaudits for the streetwise savvy they wear on their covers and for Barlay's uncanny (some might say unenviable) ability to capture London street vernacular. His prose and dialogue undoubtedly reach beyond the faux-Cockney world of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and its comic-book imitators. Barlay depicts an authentic underworld in the ugly, ungrammatical, expletive-riddled demotic of the moment. If you want to read books full of barely articulate characters incapable of finishing one-syllable words - less Elmore Leonard than Irvine Welsh - this is for you. To the rest of us, it looks suspiciously like more post-Tarantino gangster chic. It may not glamourize the life of the small-time crook exactly, but for all its grit and unflinching 'honesty
it still offers a vicarious thrill we can do without. (Kirkus UK)
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