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Brighton Rock [Paperback]

Graham Greene
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jan 1970
From the author of THE POWER AND THE GLORY. A story of gang war in the underworld of Brighton. Pinkie, only seventeen, has already brutally killed a man. Now believing he has escaped retribution, he is unprepared for Ida Arnold, who is determined to avenge the death.

Product details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Reprint edition (29 Jan 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140004424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140004427
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


With this brilliant portrayal of crime and punishment, Greene proved that the thriller need not be pulp fiction. When Pinkie, the tormented Catholic, encounters his unlikely nemesis in Ida, Green means to show that there is justice and vengeance in this life as well as in the world beyond death. (Kirkus UK)

A blend of horror, adventure, mystery and morbid realism for this weird, sometimes original story of murders at Brighton Rock, the London Coney Island. An unprepossessing Londoner on a Bank Holiday is the first victim and his friend of the day investigates the murder, which was done by Pinkie, a boy of 17, heading a gang of racing racketeers, whose rule is threatened by another more powerful gang. Perversed, abnormal, dwarfed, the "Boy" goes from one razor cutting to another in his attempt to cover his initial crime, is forced to marry a young girl who holds the clue to the first killing, though he hates women and despises his own impotency. And in the end - inevitable defeat for the "Boy". For this type of thing, overlong and occasionally repetitive, with some unconvincing elements. But there is a good sense of the tawdry scene and the crowds, and considerable originality with interesting psychological touches to the characterization. Plus sale in the mystery section. (Kirkus Reviews)

Book Description

Gripping, terrifying, an unputdownable read - Greene's iconic tale of the razor-wielding Pinkie. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pinkie and the Greene 26 Nov 2012
I have a lot of time for Graham Greene. I like people who are contradictions and Greene was certainly that. He converted to Roman Catholicism, was recruited into MI6 prior to World War Two, but also had affairs and spent time smoking opium in Vietnam. His books are comic and they are dramatic, his main characters hapless heroes or ruthless antiheroes. Pinkie Brown is Greene's most antisocial creation of all.

Brighton Rock is the tale of Pinkie's murder of a man called Hale and his efforts to conceal the crime. Pinkie is a young and precocious gangster. His murder of Hale triggers a ruthless grab of power and the narrative arc is like that of a seafront Richard III. Pinkie even has his Anne, a girl called Rose and the only person who could blow his alibi. Brighton Rock is a study in evil and the dark underbelly of Britain's seaside towns in the 1930s.

Graham Greene loved to travel and most of his best novels, Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American, Travels With My Aunt, are international affairs. British set novels like Brighton Rock and The End of the Affair tend to be less adventure romps and more treatises on the nature of religious morality. Pinkie and Rose are both Catholic and yet it is the irreligious Ida who pursues Hale's murderer. Like I said, I like contradictions. Greene had faith and yet he never stopped questioning religion or the people who use is as an excuse.

Brighton Rock is perhaps Greene's most famous novel, although I think he wrote better. Not many, but a few (see previous paragraph). Moreover, his novels have been generally well adapted for the cinema and Brighton Rock has had a couple of pretty good films of it made. Sam Riley is good as Pinkie in the 2010 version, but I still think Richard Attenborough nailed it in 1947. Attenborough captures Pinkie's heartlessness and ambition. Yet neither version takes massive liberties with the text and I can recommend both. Read the book first.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate anti-hero 16 Jun 2003
By A Customer
A fan of Graham Greene, I consider this the best of his books I have read so far. Quite long for a Graham Greene book, I found this book literally impossible to put down and finished it in one sitting.
In Pinkie, Greene has created a character repulsive in his seeming amorality and ruthlessness, and yet one that you cannot help sympathising with. Considered one of the greatest villians in fiction, Pinkie's character slowly comes into focus as a victim too - and someone for whom redemption is visible on the horizon but always out of reach.
I have always found Greene a master at handling moral ambiguity, and Brighton Rock is an example of Greene at the height of his powers. Read this book for a well-crafted story, and one that makes serious points about the weaknesses of moral absolutism. Personally I think the ending is sheer genius.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
It begins with one of the best opening lines in fiction, and ends with one of the best closing lines. In between, Greene reveals a seamy, dark underside to 1930s Brighton, where behind the facade seen by holidaymakers and racegoers the bookmakers are in thrall to razor gangs offering protection. Hale, the seedy journalist who dominates the early pages, soon emerges as merely incidental; Pinkie, a seventeen year old gang leader, is the central character, leading those around him deeper into his own downward spiral of evil. Greene never reveals how Pinkie knows Hale; but Hale's fear of the boy is clearly drawn, and like Hale himself, you realise the inevitability of his murder, and of the consequences that unfold thereafter.
Tremendous charcterisation of most of the main players - Pinkie is frighteningly nasty, the more so for his total lack of conscience; Rose, his weak-minded girl, is also entirely convincing, as is Hale, the catalyst for the story as it unfolds. I would have wished Greene could have done more with Spicer particularly, perhaps also Dallow and Colleoni, and I'm a little less convinced by Ida Arnold and her motivation for getting involved to the point of being Pinkie's nemesis.
Pinkie himself, though, is one of fiction's great characters, and perhaps merits a better demise than Greene gives him here. But in spite of these minor reservations, this is a tremendous book, still relevant now even after the slums that gave birth to these characters have been taken off the Brighton landscape, and still able to disturb the reader by picturing what humanity is capable of becoming in the absence of conscience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brighton Rock 1 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Published in 1938, this novel sadly still retains much that is relevant. Set in Brighton, the novel revolves around Pinky, a young anti hero and his attempts to take control of a criminal gang. When Charles "Fred" Hale visits Brighton, in the guise of `Kolley Kibber', his task is to leave various flyers around the town to allow readers of the "Daily Messenger" to claim prizes; a cash prize can also be won if he is recognised and challenged. Unfortunately, though, Hale is recognised by Pinky and his gang as being involved in the earlier murder of another criminal, Kite. Realising that his life is in danger, Hale finds fun-loving Ida Arnold on the pier, and tries to keep her with him as a witness - but it isn't enough to save his life.

What follows is a hideous chain of events, in which Pinky attempts by more and more desperate measures to cover up his role in the murder. These involve the naive young waitess, Rose, who is unknowingly a witness. Pinky, has, though, not counted on the determined Ida; who feels that she must obtain justice for the man she knew for such a brief time.

This is a journey through a sordid world of unremitting violence and desperation. Pinky is little more than a child, but, like so many young men who fall in with criminal gangs, he has made it his family and world. He is up against the much wealthier rival gangster Colleoni, reluctance to be seen as a leader from the men in his gang because he is too young, and events which begin to spiral out of control. His desperate need for respect and his loathing of being controlled and manipulated, cause him to become more and more desperate and violent as the book progresses. This novel is timeless - beautifully written, as you would expect, with an ending which still shocks. Not exactly a `joy' to read, but a thought provoking, intelligent and important book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 7 days ago by samwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 days ago by deejay
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 13 days ago by msMD
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read book - eloquently written.
Great story of a young mob leaders tortuous and twisted existence and thinking stemming from childhood trauma. It also includes crime solving by the most unlikely character.
Published 15 days ago by mezzmuzz
4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing read - and perhaps more so than the author intended.
Graham Greene is a favourite author of mine and one re-read from time to time. Recently, I've been re-reading some of his earlier, pre-Second World War books, those described by... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Lady Fancifull
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
For my sons birthday. He has so far read it twice!
Published 28 days ago by John H
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A classic!
Published 1 month ago by Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking to read this with a book group of 18-21 ...
Looking to read this with a book group of 18-21 year olds who don't read very much. They will relate to the story.
Published 1 month ago by Prisongirl
5.0 out of 5 stars books
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Published 2 months ago by Mr. K. M. Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple story told in a very exciting way
This book is beautifully written. As soon as I started it, I was pulled into the book's world and into the lives of Rose and Pinkie, the two main characters. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mme Suzanne Lageard
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