Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene

Pinkie Brown is a member of a gang that's involved in violence and extortion, and takes charge when the leader is killed. In the opening chapter of the book, Pinkie's gang (for reasons which aren't entirely clear) murders the unfortunate Hale, a newspaper man who's working in Brighton for the day. Hale knows his life is in danger, and before he's abducted, he strikes up a relationship with Ida, who subsequently determines to get to the bottom of Hale's death.

I first read this as an 'O'-level set book in 1977, and so remembered bits of the plot, but was surprised this time to find that Hale gets killed off so quickly (I thought he was pretty much being chased by the gang all through the book). And so I must also have forgotten Ida's role (although I remember the character).

I did remember Rose though, and her character was effectively pathetic. I also remembered the discussions she and Pinkie had about faith, and the chance to repent "between the stirrup and the ground".

What most struck me about the book was how well the atmosphere is conveyed - everything feels a bit squalid and seedy - you really feel a sense of the place and time, the heat and stickiness of summer, the fading paint on the attractions, and the cheap and cheerful nature of the entertainment.

Pretty good. Pity it wasn't read by Tim Piggot-Smith.

Completed : 29-Jun-2012 (audiobook)

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