on 18 April 2014
The book is interesting but does lack style, but perhaps he wants it to read like a cheap thriller. It is hard to write a book about someone it is so difficult to like. Jack Spot seems to have had no endearing qualities. His fall from power shows how this his empire was. It all seems to have fallen apart when he married and lost his concentration on the business while others moved into his territory plus changes in betting law made his rackets superfluous.
It is worth reading for anyone who likes that era. His role in the Battle of Cable St is disputed. Did he really have a jail sentence for his part? Certainly a hard character. Most of us would not want to have met him.
on 23 January 2013
A disappointingly poorly written book that often resorts to producing a lists as an unimaginative way of padding out thin, unsubstantiated unanalysed material.
The writing is very disjointed and often follows unconventional rules that are sometimes fairly meaningless:
"Few villains needed ration books because they tended to eat in caffs. Poles, Czechs and French-Canadians joined up with villains on the run, and many used guns." (Page 54) or
'Soldiers from Canada, France, Holland, Poland and Norway turned London into the wildest, most cosmopolitan capital in the world.' (Page 48) or
"The Buttolph was also frequented by villains from areas across the river such as Walworth Road, Old Kent Road, Kennington, Lambeth, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Peckham, Camberwell and the Borough" (page 64) or
"Most of the members weren't actually from Elephant and Castle, but from Walworth Road, Old Kent Road, Kennington, Lambeth, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Peckham, Camberwell and the Borough" (Page 121).
"Sending out Wolselys, Bentleys, Morrises, Rileys, Railtons and secret squad cars to hundres of locations across the capital brought no results" (Page 108)
It makes one wonder why we were not given a more comprehensive lists of areas of London or nations of the world or the marques used as police cars but I imagine that it was just random lists like so many others thrown in at random - not definitive, not researched just random lists.
Then there are some extraordinary inaccuracies:
"Greeno personally handled twelve murder investigations and solved them all including the apprehension of cold-blooded child killers Gordon Cummins and Arthur Heys" (Page 106)
Cummins killed four people aged between 40 and 32 whilst Heys killed one person aged 27.
The lack of knowledge of, or disregard for geography is also disappointing - I presume that this was also done in a desperate attempt to make the book slightly longer and that it was felt important to drop as many references to places as possible
"......a postman walked through the gates of the main London post office in Eastcastle Street, just a stone's throw from the Old Bailey, on the edge of the City of London." (page 101)
Whilst it is true that the Old Bailey is in the City of London - Eastcastle Street is a couple of miles away running off Oxford Street. I suppose that we should be grateful that it was not described as being almost outside Buckingham Palace or on the very steps of Scotland Yard.
The way the author constantly drops into the turgid narrative the same hackneyed expressions is generally uninspiring - almost everyone or everything is fearsome; a legend or legendary; famous or infamous; beloved or adored.
This is a dreadful book - throwing away the £1.99 will be a far more rewarding experience