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Soljas Paperback – 4 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845966023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845966027
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 492,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Graham Johnson is a best-selling author and investigative journalist who has contributed to a variety of publications including News of the World, Sunday Mirror, The Observer, Vice, The Guardian and Liverpool Echo. Johnson is also an award-winning documentary maker. He often publishes crime stories under several different bylines. He is also a media personality, frequently appearing on Sky and BBC as a crime pundit and reporter. He has also made documentaries for Sky, Panorama and Germany's ARD. For Vice, Johnson has produced three documentaries: Fraud and The Debt Collector which are based on his own investigations. The Debt Collector was based on his books The Cartel and Young Blood. He also produced Bare Knuckle for Vice. He worked at the Sunday Mirror from 1997 to 2005 and for six years was the newspaper's Investigations Editor. He has been a finalist for "Reporter of the Year" three times and been described in parliament as an "investigative reporter supreme". Johnson has covered stories including drug dealing in Britain, people smuggling in Europe, child slavery in India and Pakistan, and war in the Balkans. To research his debut novel, Johnson spent several years on and off embedded with some of Britain's most notorious gangs. He currently lives in London. His books have been published by Mainstream Publishing and Simon and Schuster and his literary agent is Jon Elek at AP Watt.

Non-fiction (true crime)

Powder Wars (2004)
Druglord (2005)
Football and Gangsters (2006)
The Devil (2007)
Darkness Descending (2009)
Hack (2012)
The Cartel (2012)
Young Blood (2013)

Soljas (2010)
Gang War (2011)

Product Description


"A rip-roaring plot set against a backdrop of gang shootings, burning skylines and the heavens filled with police choppers and unmanned surveillance drones . . . [A] terrifying insight into gang culture" (The Sun)

"[Johnson] is an expert on inner city life and his grasp of gang culture seeps through every page . . . a bloody good read" (News of the World)

Book Description

Bestselling true-crime author Graham Johnson's acclaimed first novel, based on real-life events --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Helpless TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Let's be honest here.

The book has been written by an investigative reporter who has apparently spent time living with these so called `gangs' in the Liverpool area.
The book is written in dialect using street speak in an attempt to gain some authenticity. From a personal point of view and the fact that I have connections to the city it is based in, it does not quite work and gives me the impression that it has been written by a middle class Oxford educated wannabe gangsta who living on the fringes is trying to pretend to be in on the scene.

The word `lad' is so overused by almost every character in the book that it began to grate. The fact that the author had to research what a Mac-10 ( Ingram machine gun ) was before he wrote the book shows it was not something he came across when living with these gangs, the authenticity of the story which referred heavily to this item just flew out of the window.

It is as if the last 20 years of this kind of underclass life has been encapsulated into 240 pages of the book, and that is where the book fails for me. There is very little substance or development to the characters as the book progresses.

It tries to shock especially with a number of extremely violent sexual episodes. I assume the author wanted to shock but it becomes a comic book parody of the real thing.

The book has been written for and will have definite appeal with the violence and titillation to young male teenagers and the youth that think they live this kind of life. I cannot see who else it would appeal to.

The book will probably make the basis for a film but as a book it just does not quite hit the right buttons.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. J. Brindle VINE VOICE on 3 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Coming from Liverpool, and being proud of my home city, I looked forward to reading and reviewing Soljas as it made a "refreshing" change from the usual non-fiction Liverpool-based tomes (think ghost stories, or lonely women leaving on ferries in the late 19th century dressed in shawls). When I say refreshing, I don't necessarily mean in the good way of course. Liverpool has no more or less gun crime than many of the other deprived areas of the UK. But we all know the scouse jokes and we all see the news...

Basically, this book then which is filled with appalling gangland violence, revolving around a specific incident which actually did occur in Liverpool that I shan't spoil for you here. The characters and plots are suitably gritty, filled with enough sex, swearing, drugs and violence to satisfy those Irvine Welsh fans hoping for a scouse Trainspotting. I use the phrase sub-Welsh in my title because it times, it's hard not to feel as if Graham Johnson has tried to emulate that particular style a little too hard. And, as the violence gets more and more outlandish, and the futuristic part of the plot kicks in, your sense of belief and morality in some ways, needs leaving at the proverbial door.

That said, the characters themselves are utterly believable (when they're not contemplating the torture of newborn babies or searching for headless corpses) and the scouse dialect, culture and fashions have all been very accurately captured. The book quickly develops into a futuristic tale whereby our main cities are effectively Gaza-style no-go zones, policed by private security firms et al, replete with waterboarding and mini-rendition.
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This book works well if you want a fix of lurid exploitation - it's more of an unfilmed screenplay that a wholly satisfying novel though. I could easily see someone like Nick Love or Neil Marshall getting hold of this and making an ultra violent Brit movie from it. As a book, however, it's just not well enough written for me. Not to say I didn't enjoy it at all but it lacks real depth in the characterisation. The novel's anti hero Dylan is not rounded enough and the rest of the characters are often not sufficiently developed. However it moves at a brisk pace and there's some very graphic violence involving dismemberment, rape, eye gouging, steam irons, golf clubs etc, etc and some very explicit sexual references. In truth the violence is so ott at times (almost into Hostel waters) that credibility is often severley strained. The author also seems to revel in an almost pornographic attention to details when referring to the clothing apparel that the gang members wear;a mixture of mountain gear & sportswear that is almost always regulation black (reminded me of American Psycho in the clothing fixation). Also heavy focus on firearm details especially the Ingram Mac 10 SMG. Certainly by the time the military arrive and begin to engage the gangs on the ground, it's hard not to feel we are in Escape From New York waters rather than a Liverpool estate!!

Another thing, I have read is that the novel is set in the near future but I never found it to be stated anywhere in the book. The scenario of army vs lawless street gangs is an often seen futuristic scenario but there are no specific futuristic references here either in the dates, locations or cultural references. I guess it must be near future though for things to have got as bad as they are in the book!!
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