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The Long Firm Paperback – 24 May 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 343 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; Television tie-in edition edition (24 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340752416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340752418
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 961,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


One of the smartest, funniest and most original novels you will read all year ... Arnott is quite brilliant at excavating the cultural minutiae of the time to bring the period vividly to life (Independent on Sunday)

Truly fascinating ... Arnott's ability to powerfully resurrect an era is astonishing (Guardian)

This is pulp fiction so polished as to be immaculate (New Statesman)

THE LONG FIRM manages to hook you from the first. It is compulsive reading, powerful writing with an evocative feel for the bleaker side of the Swinging Sixties (The Times)

Outstanding ... as smooth as a seersucker suit, as sweet as a purple heart. Suck it and see. (Observer)

Book Description

London. The Swinging Sixties. Welcome to the manor.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 15 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
thoroughly enjoyed this book. Arnott's central character of the gay gangster Harry Starks is charismatic, enigmatic and deeply disturbed. His story is told through the eyes of 5 other characters, all whom are given their own distinct voice and offer a perspective on him from the point of view of a boyfriend, a love rival, a political contact, a criminal on the edge and a 70s sociologist.

The story's got a great scope, taking the reader from the early 60s to 1979 and Arnott has a great feel for the history and culture going on around his plot.

If I had a complaint, it's that the final section, told by a sociologist, is a little slower than the rest. We get a great deal of sociological theory on the nature of deviance which is interesting, but gets in the way of the plot and I wasn't that interested in the sociologist's domestic breakdown as his wife becomes a radical feminist lesbian.

That aside, it's definitely a book that's worth a few hours of anyone's time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The great story of a minor villain 11 Jun. 2001
By Stephen Dedman - Published on
Format: Paperback
THE LONG FIRM is an excellent crime novel with an unconventional approach. It tells the story of London crime boss Mad Harry Starks from the first-person viewpoints of several of his associates through the 1960s and 70s: his rent-boy turned house-boy Terry; closeted politician Lord Thursby; aging freelance villain Jack the Hat; failed sex-symbol and minor actress Ruby Ryder; and finally, socialist criminologist Lenny. Arnott's description of scams such as 'the long firm', demurrage, airport rackets and pornography smuggling is fascinating, and so detailed that it feels almost autobiographical. He has also done a superb job of capturing the seedy side of London in the '60s.
When we first meet Harry, he is singing "there's no business like show business" while heating up a poker to torture a former lover, and despite his charm and his attempts to seem respectable, we never forget how dangerous Harry really is. The plot mostly concerns Harry's attempt to build up his own empire in the shadow of the Kray twins, with some assistance from a corrupt vice squad detective who wants to see all of London's porn business run by one firm. Occasional touches of humour lighten the sleaziness, but can't dispell it, and the book never becomes a comedy. Even if you're not normally a fan of crime fiction, but are looking for a well-written character-driven novel, THE LONG FIRM is well worth reading.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Peek at the Brit underbelly is bloody entertaining 3 Feb. 2000
By Cityview - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In "The Long Firm," British author Jake Arnott tries to do for London what crime writer extraordinaire James Ellroy did for L.A. Label the results "Ellroy lite," which isn't a bad thing. Using swinging '60s London as a backdrop, Arnott creates a fast-paced gangster story filled with cool characters and memorable violence. The central character, Harry Starks, is a gay, Jewish goodfella who wants to be seen as a respectable businessman. He wears Saville Row suits and hangs with fringe celebrities and retired athletes. He also is prone to dark moods and even darker actions. Harry's story is told by five characters whose lives intersect with his. Terry, a young gay hustler, is Harry's kept boy until he falls out of favor. In a nasty torture scene, he receives a very real tongue-lashing. Lord Teddy Thursby has a drinking problem. His homosexual tendencies land him in Harry's circle, where he becomes mired in a shady scheme in Nigeria. Jack the Hat is a boozing, pill-popping loser who thinks he has it made when Harry recruits him to head a profitable scam involving airport luggage handlers and parking lot attendants. Ruby Ryder is a B-movie actress who makes the mistake of falling in love with one of Harry's boys. Lenny, a young criminologist, is seduced by Harry's deviant charm. As in Ellroy's novels, real people from the period - Judy Garland, the Kray brothers - move through Arnott's story. "The Long Firm" was a best seller in England last year. (The BBC is doing a series based on the novel.) Harry Starks won't make Harry Potter's trans-Atlantic splash, but this British bad boy's tale should be a hit with fans of gangster fiction.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
London of the shadows 31 Aug. 2001
By "" - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Long Firm
Swinging London in the 60�s, but forget London of Cliff Richard and Summer Holiday, more a London of the shadows; gangsters, corrupt police, rent boys and a decayed and decadent aristocracy. This is the story of Harry Starks, club owner, racketeer, porn king. He is violent and sadistic, a believer in Queen and country, Judy Garland fan, depressive and gay.
We first meet Harry through the eyes of one of the young rent boys he takes up and employs to run an illegal business scam, (The Long Firm of the title). Harry�s story is filled out by Lord Thursby, Jack the Hat, Ruby Ryder and Lenny the sociologist. Arnott has done his research, the decadent and corrupt peer of the realm has echoes of the scandalous Profumo affair, Jack the Hat (Mc Vittie) was a known gangster and associate of the notorious Kray twins, Ruby Ryder the Rank Starlet could be Barbara Windsor (the blonde buxom one in the Carry On movies) with her involvement in London�s underworld. Lenny the sociologist is a cruel characterisation of the inept idealist. Arnott has used Harry Starks to provide a thumbnail sketch of how the UK progressed from the cosy days of P.M. Harold Macmillan to the social maelstrom that was the legacy of Thatcher�s Britain. We see glimpses of the nascent National Front and its hatred of Asians; the pervasiveness of the drug culture, and the importance of dress to define class, tribe and social standing � that appearance was everything to these men ��my hippy aesthetic didn�t impress them at all .It didn�t look confrontational, it merely looked sloppy.�
This book has a gritty realism that is essentially English and specifically London flavoured. Think Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, The Long Good Friday, The Krays, yes they are all movies and can it be any surprise that the BBC are already filming this as a 5 part series?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An Offer You Can't Refuse 30 Oct. 2004
By Owen Keehnen - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Long Firm is a gripping novel of the 1960s London crime syndicate headed by gay mobster Harry Starks. Arnott's juxtaposition of the two elements (the mob & homosexuality) provide a truly uncommon combination and tension that's utterly fascinating. The atmospheric work is amazing as well. The underground scene vividly comes to life, is driven by a solid plot, peopled with excellent characters (especially Harry himself), and given great period touches...and it even includes a guest appearance by Judy Garland. The Long Firm is a bold and successful literary undertaking that really delivers on it's promise...and makes the reader an offer he/she can't refuse. Seedy, sensational, and a truly unique gay historical/cultural treat.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Pleasant Diversion for a Couple of Days 27 Dec. 2003
By John Russon - Published on
Format: Paperback
Arnott's book is basically a quick-read, light novel, but it uses some interesting devices from more "serious" literature to make an engaging little book. The book focuses on Harry, a gangster in 60s London, but it does it by portraying him solely through the eyes of others. The book has five sections, each of which is written from within the perspective of each of 5 characters who relate to Harry in markedly different ways. Some characters are handled more effectively than others, but overall it is competently done. The gay sex scenes are described with more enthusiasm than the straight, and the last section in which the relevant character is a professor becomes somewhat didactic, but otherwise it is fairly well-balanced. I enjoyed reading it, and would have been happy for it to continue.
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