Manchester has its own Mario Puzo
This book is stunning.
Say hello to the gangland of Manchester.
The O’Brien family run one half of the City. The Boddlington Gang runs the other.
There has to be conflict and, bloody hell is there conflict, very bloody conflict
The head of the O’Brien family, Paddy, is a ruthless gangster that treats those close to him as badly as he treats his enemies; but his family love him.
His brother Frank runs one of Manchester’s top night clubs, at which his son is a celebrity DJ
His enforcer, or Loss Adjuster, ss he calls himself, is Conky McFadden.
Conky is a fascinating character. A man that thinks nothing of beating people to a pulp or carrying out revenge shootings, yet he is into the classics and thinks deeply. He reminds me of Colin Dexter’s Morse gone rogue.
Then there’s Paddy’s wife Sheila. His punch bag and sex toy, when he’s not using younger versions in Franks club. Sheila runs her own cleaning company, a semi legit business she’s quite proud of.
On the other side of the City Tariq Khan and Jonny Margulies run The Boddlington Gang, an operation every bit as nasty as the O’Briens. They traffic young girls and force them into prostitution, make and distribute drugs, run guns, and destroy everything that comes into their path.
Just like the O’Briens, the Boddlingtons are all about family, but unlike Paddy Tariq and Jonny treat their families like human beings, and keep them in the dark about how they actually earn their money. So somebody’s in for a shock.
Just like the O’Briens, the Boddlingtons have an enforcer, Smolensky, The Fish Man. Why is he called the fish man, because he runs a fish mongers, and also because he guts and displays his victims like a dressed salmon, what a character, he even leaves sliced cucumber along the side of bodies.
After a conflict in Franks club, with a young drug dealer from the Boddlingtons, that leaves Paddy in hospital following a heart attack, the last thing I expected was that Paddy would say enough is enough and decide to retire to Thailand, but he does.
And that’s when the problems start, Paddy decides to sell up and he wants to do business with Jonny and Tariq. It is never going to be easy and somebody really doesn’t want him to sell up.
What ensues is a gangland battle that affects both gangs. Both enforcers are chasing around the city trying to find out who carried out the latest attacks, and carrying out revenge attacks of their own.
Paddy’s family is torn apart, so are the families of Tariq and Jonny.
Meanwhile Sheila is suffering in silence, with an admirer who can’t do anything about his feelings for her. Conky, the misfit of an enforcer hates, the way Paddy treats Sheila but his loyalty is to his boss.
There are subplots in this book that will have the reader loving a character on one page, and hating them the next. There are moralistic twists and turns which will see the reader empathising, and having disdain, with a person all at the same time.
The interwoven lives of the gang members earning illicit money through drugs, prostitution, and violence, should make the reader hate them all. But they are human, they have problems and you just can’t help liking them at times.
The book starts of really well, and right up to the very last page, just keeps getting better and better.
Somebody has to make this book into a film. Guy Ritchie, or Danny Boyle this story should be your next blockbuster, just don’t change anything its perfect as it is.