on 30 November 2013
I just finished what I think is amongst the best book I have read in ages, the story line could be straight out of a Peter Sellers starring role in a Boulting Brothers or Ealing Company Film, its fantastic .. and brings memories flooding back to me from a long old time ago.
Theres many a twist and turn... all neatly coming in at the end that put an even bigger smile on my face... I loved the characters, people I could easily visualise and their depth of personality made the whole story completely believable..
If the Boulting boys were still around this would be the film they would make today... its a perfect read, a brilliant story line that makes you want to put the book down have a laugh and then reflect a bit about yourself and where you are in life... some parts are a bit sad..and bought a tear to my eye, but, many others gave me such a laugh I even started telling a few of the one liners myself.... above all though I think its an inspiring read.
on 9 December 2013
Over the years Mark Baxter's name has become synonymous with quality book releases: The Football of Fashion and The A-Z of Mod are just two titles that spring to mind. The Mumper, Mark and Paolo Hewitt's glorious paean to South London community values, quite rightly deserved the enormous success it generated; the subsequent film and attendant buzz - a tribute to the belief and indefatigability of its creators.
Elizabeth, Peter and Me follows in this tradition, and is a brilliant, lively, funny and witty tale, borne from the environment that hosts the caper. The storyline concerns the movements of a south London jewel thief named Vinnie -who in his dotage - decides to revisit his rather dubious past and a sparkle that enchanted him 50 years previous.....But I'll end here... it's not for me to spoil the fun for you. Nonetheless, there are many twists and turns along the way, all leading to an extraordinary finale, it would be criminal for me to break the code on this one. You must go there yourself.
Needless to say, it's a rollicking good read - chock full of excellent character observations and gloriously idiosyncratic dialogue that is at turns, beautifully observed and as fresh as the streets and communities it evidently leapt from.
Mark is to be congratulated on his latest publication. I'm sure I echo many voices who would argue that it screams for a screen adaptation, or indeed a stage play, where the characters could be processed into an even greater reality. So move over Mr. Bart and Mr. Norman, Elizabeth, Peter and Me could well be heading for a stage up West very soon.
on 18 December 2013
After the great read that was The Mumper Mark Baxter had his work cut out with his follow up. Did he match it? No he surpassed it. With the balance of humour and touching moments you could be excused for thinking it was created by the late great John Sullivan. Ok Vinnie might have a shady past but does that make him a bad man? Anything but. This book is so well written you can easily picture the characters and their surroundings. Just when you think you know where this story is going you are thrown a curve ball. If his last book was made into a film ( Outside bet ) this has to go the same way. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
on 16 December 2013
An excellent London book written by a "proper" London author, Mark Baxter has written this in the way that real London people speak, not "Cor blimey guvnor" in every sentence like others less understanding often have.
Although the lead character Vinny is an old villain he also has a softer side which Mark captures really well as he does with his other characters in the book, they're described so well you can visualise them all.
The story takes many twists and turns, none predictable and keeps you gripped throughout, an excellent and easy read but difficult to put down, the sign of a great book.
on 28 November 2013
Elizabeth, Peter and Me was very enjoyable as it kept the suspense going, I'm familiar with the areas of London the book is set and enjoyed the characters but it also helped be re-evaluate my views of people in their twilight years. So i'd recommend it!
on 21 May 2014
Following on from the Mumper, Mark Baxter has produced another gem with Elizabeth, Peter and Me. Written in his unique and affable style, it takes you right inside the world of the Benhill residents and their lives, and holds you there. As a result I was hooked until the end and have since re-read which is something I rarely do, if ever. Do yourself a favour and read this book, it warms the heart and brings a smile to your face in every chapter without fail.
on 12 January 2014
Author Mark Baxter has done it again! ELIZABETH,PETER & ME is a winner from start to end!
The characters are real and you just cannot put the book down! The plot will have you on edge.
Justice rocks o.k.!(Hurrah!) Certainly it will make you think of all the people that crossed you! lol
The Mumper - a classic! Delighted this book was from the same stable! Cold modern day Britain
defeated by old time values. Loved it!
on 30 September 2014
If you've read any of Mark's work before then you'll know he does a great line in modern Ealing film style. An honest mix of knowing humour and gentle measures of pathos and mini-triumphs that make you smile as you read, and this book is no exception.
After the film success of The Mumper (Outside Bet) this should be a shoe-in for a brit-flick. It is a better story too and deserves to be read by anyone with a penchant for a bye-gone Britain that's still there if you wish to see it. To me, Mark is like the Ray Davies of literature in this way....
The book is about an ex thief and jailbird who now in his dotage suddenly needs to retrieve some stolen gems from the grave of his fences mother, 40 years after they were buried with her. The plot alone is well worth the entrance fee....
on 23 February 2014
It's a tale of loss and redemption and will strike a chord with every Londoner who reads it, and in every man who has ever set foot on life's tightrope, only to fall from grace and then rebuild his life.
Told in first person London vernacular with the warmth and good humour of old world (south) London, it's the tale of Vinny Hawkins, a pensioner reflecting on his life from the relative safety of an old folks home. At night he sups Scotch, tokes on roll-ups and remembers, and in his breast burns the need to right the wrongs of the past.
Put away at 21 for a 10-year stretch in the 1960s for a bit of thievery - and not for the fencing of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels for which he is actually guilty - Hawkins is everyman, a protagonist making do with the cards life has dealt him. But make no mistake, this is a crime caper and not some mixed-up Antiques Roadshow noir.
Hawkins' ultimate fate slowly dawns on him; that he will finally have the revenge that he himself scarcely realised he desired as his nemesis from his pre-prison days reappears.
Plotted tightly and without flab, the novel's strong point is the central character himself, Hawkins, a man unbowed by time and circumstance and rendered believable by a writer who knows his subject matter inside out. Is Baxter one of the best writers of working class novels today? I'd hazard a yes.
There's a cinematic quality to the story's telling, and with London as the ready-made stage upon which Baxter skillfully spins Vinny's tale, there's enough here to have you nodding in sombre agreement before you laugh at the cockney humour of it all. A TV adaptation in the offing? Let's hope so.
on 30 November 2013
Mark Baxter's terrific new novel `Elizabeth, Peter & Me' is quite gripping stuff. The twists and turns galore maintain the interest `til the final page. I think I enjoyed the book as much as I did because I read great chunks of it out loud. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, that that's the best way to read it. Whether dialogue or another Vinny Hawkins monologue, the South London patter just rolls off the tongue. It helps to know your cockney slang, of course, but if you do come a bit short there's a tidy little glossary at the end. I have to confess that I spent three quarters of the book waiting for a geezer called Peter to show up!
In Vinny Hawkins we have an archetypal south London pensioner who's been round the block a few times but always prepared to go the extra mile to help out his friends in need. The septuagenarian former jewel thief, served his time decades ago, and came out of prison a changed man. I won't say anything more in case I spoil the story. Just go out and buy the book and read it for yourself. If you can't afford it, sell your shirt and get one. If you haven't got a shirt, steal one.
This novel could quite easily go the same way as The Mumper - which Baxter co-wrote with Paolo Hewitt - and that one was successfully turned into the movie Outside Bet. And it's a shame that he's so poorly, because it would be a role tailor made for the brilliant Bob Hoskins.
The only thing that really lets the book down is the amount of typos that slipped through, but I'm sure that won't spoil the enjoyment of a very good read.