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Layer Cake Paperback – 12 Aug 2004

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Layer Cake + Viva La Madness + Layer Cake [DVD] [2004] [2005]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd; New edition edition (12 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071563335X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715633359
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JJ Connolly lives and works in London. He was born in North London to Irish immigrant parents and had an uncle who was a schoolteacher and wrote children's stories in his spare time.
JJ adapted his first book for the screen and now spends his time between novels and screenplays.

Product Description


'Layer Cake is a storming piece of work... the novel has a grasp of street argot unparalleled since Kinky Friedman first sashayed out of his from door and nailed a checker straight out of the bat' --D. J. Taylor

'Connolly's style is fast and funny and just frightening enough to make you sit up all night finishing the book.' --Independent on Sunday

'One novel in and Connolly has hit the jackpot, jump-started British crime fiction into the present... Like good drug fiction you're given glamour and squalor, a voyeuristic thrill, and the bill.' --Uncut

About the Author

J. J. Connolly was born and brought up in north-east London. His first published story was in the Brit Pulp! anthology. He is the author of the bestselling LAYER CAKE, which he adapted into a film script for Sony Pictures and director Michael Vaughn. VIVA LA MADNESS, his second novel, will be published in September 2011.

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I parked the motor under a streetlight so there's less chance of anyone breaking into it. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 July 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I greatly enjoyed the stylish, intricate movie of this story, and was keen to read the book in order to get another angle on it. It didn't disappoint. A book is often more expansive than a film (Connolly - who wrote the film's screenplay - has emphasised how much had to be cut away from the book to bring it to screen), allowing you to luxuriate in the description and the dialogue, and to gain an appreciation for the tone and the language. It's here that Connolly really scores, as the voice he uses for his narrator is lively, characteristic and fresh.

Given that the field he's working in (London-based crime) has been well-hoed, that latter quality is hard to attain. In fact, apart from a few early appearances of cliche (why is it that the hoary old benevolent epithet "Gawd bless him" is always applied to a thoroughly wicked person - who's invariably, of course, known as a "diamond geezer" who might have been "a little bit naughty" in the past?), Connolly weaves slang (both regular and rhyming), dialect and onomatopoeic invented words into his narrative in a way which grabs your attention and keeps it throughout the convoluted tale of this caper.

Further comparisions with the film are probably odious, but I thought the way in which the story was somewhat tightened up in the screenplay was an improvement - particularly in, for example, the contract killing scene, and the eventual fate of those wretched two million pills. But this is still a great book, and I'm looking forward to Connolly's next.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
I first came across Connolly through a short story of his I quite liked in the Britpulp! anthology. With his fist full novel he delivers on that early promise with the best British crime novel I've ever read. While I often enjoy traditional procedurals like John Harvey's Charlie Resnik series, have been known to enjoy Agatha Christie in my younger days, Jake Arnott's The Long Firm and He Kills Coppers, and quite like a lot of the pulpy/noirish stuff put out by The Do Not Press these days-this leaves them all in the dust. The book follows an unnamed narrator over two weeks in 1997 as he plots to end his criminal days and retire on his thirtieth birthday-of course there's just that one last job to take care of...
The thing you notice right away is the language. Nonstop patter, stories, and more slang than you can shake a stick at. The rhythms of the language, both descriptive and dialogue, is perfect and unique. The best comparison I can make is with some of Irvine Welsh's stuff-it's English, but unlike any English you or I speak. And like Welsh's stuff, it can be hard to follow for those not up on the argot (especially cockney rhyming slang), so be warned. But if you like the language, you fall in love with the characters. Finally, some honest to god smart criminals who understand that being low-key is the smoothest path to riches. There must be at least fifty characters in the novel and Connolly gives each one a distinctive voice, even if they're only around for a page.
Once you've absorbed the amazing language and characterization, you'll be swept away by the authenticity. The entire book takes place in the criminal underworlds of London and Liverpool, with details on international drug trafficking, porn shops, killings, and on and on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Perez on 1 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
I haven't seen the film, but I have to say, this is a page-turner of a story. It tells of the gradual descent into hell of a wide-boy who went out to make a quick buck and thought he was clever enough to get out before things got too dark. He was wrong.

This novel really inspired me, because the writer has dug-deep and used the dialect and rhythm of Londoners to poetic effect. There is a real honesty of emotions and thoughts in this thriller. If you like Irvine Welsh, and anything else with an edge of gritty social realism, you'll like this too.

It is violent, but the world it inhabits is uninhibited in an animalistic way, it is a layer of London, and generally, urban life, which we, normaltons, would all rather pretend didn't exist. But it does, and here you can view it all without getting burned.
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Format: Paperback
Layer Cake is the very definition of 'guilty pleasure'. You shouldn't enjoy sentences such as 'this gaff reminds me of Sunday mornin [sic] in the shovel', or sympathise with a leading character who is both a drug dealer and a murderer, but somehow you do. It's like a Cockney version of The Godfather or Ocean's Eleven. Sure, they're criminals, but when they're this cool, does it really matter?

Another point of reference is the fiction of Irvine Welch, and it is this that makes Layer Cake really special. I haven't heard so much Cockney rhyming slang since ... well, never, in fact. I doubt that anyone ever uses sentences like 'I ain't got a Danny La Rue what it is you're on about' in real life, but this is irrelevant. Drug dealers aren't like the narrator of Layer Cake either, but it makes for a damn good story.

Take out the 'boob' (prison) and 'Jack and Jills' (pills), and Connolly's style is still as experimental and daring as anything in contemporary fiction. Our unnamed hero's account of his double-crossing employer's execution is a masterclass of breathless urgency, unlike anything I can remember reading before.

The plot is satisfyingly complex (although maybe too complex for its own good at times - what exactly were the consequences of not shooting Klaus the German on Primrose Hill?), the set-pieces are memorable and inventive, and the array of characters are strongly drawn. How much longer do we have to wait for the follow-up?
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