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Cocaine Nights [Paperback]

J.G. Ballard
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 April 1999
The setting for Cocaine Nights is the Costa del Sol and the stylish resort of Estrella de Mar. Into the queasy beauty of this artificial environment steps Charles Prentice, a travel writer from London who has come to visit his brother Frank, manager of the resort's Club Nautico.

Frank is in jail, having confessed to setting an explosive fire that has taken five lives. Certain that the confession was coerced, Charles launches his own investigation. As he allows himself to be drawn further into Estrella de Mar's dark underworld, this explosive novel accelerates toward a disturbing climax.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; New e. edition (16 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582430179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582430171
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,704,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 bestseller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J.G. Ballard died in 2009.

Product Description


‘Utterly compulsive’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Snort up “Cocaine Nights”. It’s disorientating, deranging and knocks the work of other avant-garde writers into a hatted cock’ Will Self

‘The possessor of a terrifying and exhilarating imagination – and a national treasure’ Guardian

‘Guaranteed to keep you reading into the early hours’ Sunday Times

‘Thrillingly wired … dazzlingly original’ Independent

‘The terrifying thing about Ballard is his logic; is this science fiction or history written ahead of its time?’ Len Deighton

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

J. G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 bestseller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J. G. Ballard died in 2009.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
CROSSING FRONTIERS is my profession. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Late Ballard, a bit tired 29 May 2008
By Greshon
This was another book I read upon finishing my English Literature degree, eight years ago, for light relief. The fact that it was modern and that it was set in sunny Spain appealed to me, but the book didn't live up to my expectations. I'd found Empire of the Sun stuffy when I had read it at school, but I had liked Crash very much, thinking it in fact a masterpiece (a pleasant surprise after that dreadful film). But Cocaine Nights seemed a bit tired, without flashes of Ballard brilliance. Solid stuff, all the same, but unless you are an avid Ballard fan, there is better stuff out there worth spending your time on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime as Moral Redemption 16 Jun 2011
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Briliant satire on lower middle class aspirations brimming with the desire to remain immobile and passive acting out a living boredom. This book provides valuable insights into the imaginary dream of going abroad to live out the lie. Ex Pats trapped in sepia memories of "Great" Britain; faded and tinged, popping up on yahoo websites to bark out their acidic recollections.

A connection between those who stayed and those who returned are the encoded memories. Relating to the time they left, nostalgic Britain; class divided, 60's/70's/80's football/TV shows, music (Glam, Mod, RNB, Soul) and all those carefully prepared memories of how it was round 68 Butterworth St. or Corporation Avenue; back in the day.

Returning, now all gone, bulldozed and transformed.

Lying in the sunshine soaked and baked in relative wealth the escapees feel the oil soak in as they lie on top of a shag pile. Instead, whilst living in glamorous surroundings; pueblo stucco, swimming pool, barbercue, sunshine, beach; an echo of various style over substance boredom drops in for a coffee, resonating with an inner doused ennui. Modern facades based on crowing outwardly to neigbours, portraying german success, whilst secretly craving life back in the council house.

Within the novel they drink themselves silly, intrigue, and then swap their partners. Bored with this lifestyle, go to the sands and keep on digging, looking for something that isn't there, a mirage inside the head. Theres only so much sun you can take.

This novel is full frontal nude expose of someone, who roles a conductor of communal violence to form social glue.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Embarrasing 21 Mar 2013
Oh dear, the superlative reviews featured on the back cover bear no resemblance to the same gook I read, faintly embarrasing in its old school, swallows and amazon style boys adventure, incomprehensible characters and motivations (admitting to crimes not committed for the good of the community, causing violence and death to encourage the town to join your sports club etc) ... worse of all, the central premise gets derailed for 80 percent of the book as our hero decided he is not a sleuth but manager of a new leisure complex ... this so called 'future' vision of an ex-pat enclave in Spain, feels more like something from the fifties, and one does feel that Ballard should have got out of Shepperton a little more in his final years ... Super Cannes, his follow up was a near identical premise, and nearly (but not quite) as bad !
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3.0 out of 5 stars OK Crime Novel 5 Dec 2013
By Rachel
Very much a crime thriller, it wasn't really what I expected. Although cocaine was mentioned as a past time I expected a book at lot more about parties and the drug culture, rather than a crime novel, trying to prove the innocence of one of the characters after a house fire. It is set in the ex-pat community of the Costa Del Sol during the 1990's and does give an idea of the hedonistic lifestyle and has a darker undertone that you do not really begin to see or understand until 2/3s of the way through the novel. It took a very long while to get going and only really reaches a basic conclusion with many aspects left either unanswered or open to interpretation. None of the characters are likeable, including the main character who is easily led, and led to believe many untruths, but this seems to be the part of being swept up in the lifestyle of doing little during the day except play tennis or golf, with many people turning to drugs to cope with the boredom of everyday life. Long winded with little excitement, with the occasional twist in the storyline.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great story 21 July 2013
By Beano
Format:Kindle Edition
a murder mystery set in a place like the Costa del Sol. Well-written and fast-paced, plenty of description. enjoyed it a lot and its easy-reading.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the title! 3 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was very much looking forward to reading this book, the title seemed to promise excitment but it failed miserably for me. The start was insipid, the middle rather droll and the ending frustratingly mundane. I felt the story never managed to grip or intrigue me, I found myself skipping lines and scanning pages for the really juicy stuff- which never materialized. Sad really
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Set in a Spanish ex-pat community this a tense thriller written with sarcastic wit that explores to quote from the text , `a social economy based on drug-dealing, theft, pornography and escort services from top to bottom a condominium of crime'.

Charles Prentice arrives in this strange community to discover just why his brother Frank, manager of the local sports club as confessed to a charge of murdering five people in a house fire! Everyone, apart from the local police, is so sure of his innocence that Charles decides to do some investigating of his own. His questioning causes all sorts of attacks upon him as he discovers a strong undercurrent suggesting that there are much more complex things of concern to the community than the death of five people!
At first Charles is sickened by the behaviour of the residents he meets but gradually he is drawn into their world. The person who has the most disturbing effect upon him is Bobby Crawford the club tennis coach who changes Charles Prentice just like he did his brother Frank before him. So much so that he accepts his logic without fully understanding that he is becoming involved in a bizarre social experiment.
A clever totally unexpected ending, though afterwards when I was still thinking about the novel I realised it was the obvious one, just that I had missed the hints!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I've been going to Marbella for 27 years since my Mum and Dad first bought a place. I seen a lot and although nothing like this it has a realism about it
Published 3 months ago by M BERRY
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost reaches heights of Concrete Island and other Ballard classics
Extravagant (sometimes surrealistic) prose occasionally impedes plot development in this excellent detective thriller.
A real pity Mr Ballard is dead.
Published 10 months ago by Mac fanatic Alan
1.0 out of 5 stars Dated and predictable, laugh-out-loud bad in places
One of the worst books I've read in a long time. The characters are thinly drawn, the plot predictable and unbelievable, and the style so dated that if it weren't for the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by M. Dennett
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, but unsettling
There are certain novels that are rated so highly that eventually the average bookworm feels obliged to read them. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Carol A.
1.0 out of 5 stars This book was like a...
Was really disappointed in this book. I never feel like writing reviews. But when I saw all the 5 star reviews on here I felt compelled. Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Bruno Hat
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
My first JG Ballard book and having read gushing praise for him over the years had high expectations, something which Cocaine Nights totally fails to deliver on. Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2012 by David Hampson
2.0 out of 5 stars A drag
Tedious and unrealistic, Cocaine Nights is burdened with an awful and distracting excess of similes, two-dimensional characters and a style that I suspect was intended to be... Read more
Published on 28 May 2011 by S. Cryer
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
How anyone can give this anything but 5 stars is a mystery to me. Haunting and without doubt truthfully scary.
Published on 12 April 2011 by White Swan
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