My favourite Crime novels No. 22 – GBH

GBH – Ted Lewis: If any of you are in any doubt about how good a crime writer Ted Lewis was (and, along with Derek Raymond, I think he’s the greatest we Brits ever produced, that includes the modern breed of British writers – sorry guys, but these two are in a league of their own, never been bettered) then you need to read GBH.

His worst stuff was sloppy. But, hey, this bloke wrote Jack’s Return Home, Billy Rags, Plender and this total masterpiece.

It’s about a crime lord and pornographer who has fled Soho for a coastal retreat and is basically drinking his life away, thinking about the life and woman he left behind. In the present tense he’s a bloke who’s hiding from his past, leaving his business in the hands of his lawyer and trusted confidante. In the past he was a gangster battling  other criminals for control of the London underworld in addition to being a pornographer who likes to run a line in snuff for special clients. As the novel progresses the story of the past and the story of the present converge on each other in dark and unpleasant ways.

Lewis’ masterpiece is a novel about a man who is unable to deal with his past, a man surrounded by ghosts, a man who may or may not have lost his mind somewhere amidst the depravity of his previous life and the inebriation of his current one.

It’s beautifully written in both past and present tense, which isn’t a trick that many writers can pull off with the effortless skill that Lewis manages here. The pacing is awesome and the storytelling… Christ, if you want to learn how to tell a story and pace it just so, then this is where you come to learn. I’ve read it three times now, and every time for pure reading pleasure. Hell, what goes on within these pages might not be pleasant, and in places, folks, it gets downright horrible, in fact has the feel of nightmare about it, but the whole thing, when push comes to shove, shows just what is possible within this genre when a brilliant writer digs deep within himself and pulls truth out of the darkness (in the same way that Derek Raymond did with Dora Suarez).

It is a fucking crime that this novel is not currently available. So, right now, unless you scour a secondhand bookstore you can’t buy it. But if you do want it, and, believe me, you do, then you really need to get yourself on eBay or any secondhand store that deals with genre and pick it up. If you want it on Kindle, then you’re going to have to clamour and holler until some publisher with a combination of balls and brains picks this up and puts it out there.

GBH deserves better than this. It deserves an audience.

That is all.

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