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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2005
Joolz Denby has the amazing talent of leading you into the world of her characters and making you care about them, making you feel what they feel, smell what they smell. The despair and mental torment in this suffered by Billie Morgan become real to you.
This is the kind of story that has no happy ending, just a kind of coping. It makes you glad that you are who you are - makes you realise that your own life is not so bad after all... You may not like your job, you may have big debts, various problems - but at least you aren't a character in this book, for that would be real cause for complaint.
I read my first Joolz Denby because of her New Model Army connections. I now read her because she is herself and I love her books.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2005
Joolz Denby is a poet and speaker and this shines through her gorgeous prose. Her descriptions of Bradford are both beautiful and real, she evokes the city so well, in all its grimy reality. Indeed the city itself is almost a character in the book. Knowing Bradford fairly well it felt like she was describing a relative who can be sometimes embarrassing but occasionally brilliant.
Although the book has been put into the Crime genre it is so much more than that. The voice of the book is Billie Morgan, named for Billie Holiday by her father. Billie grows up in Bradford in the 70s and gets involved with a Biker Gang. This leads to a murder. The novel is told as a confessional leading the reader slowly to understand how the murder happened and why. Joolz' descriptions of the intricacies of family relationships are superb. You really feel that you can get under the skin of the characters - all of which have huge but loveable flaws. The overriding feeling I had when reading this novel was that this really happened and that the characters really do live in Bradford. It is shocking, devastating, fragile and real. I don't often re-read books but this is one I could read again.
Here's a taste of the prose to whet your appetite (on Bradford):
"Oh sure, it's a poor place; when the textile trade all but died poverty crept in on naked, rotting feet and soured things; clabbered the milk in babies' mouths and put a blighted fury in our young men's hearts that leads them to rash and brutal acts...But it's not grey; it's not dull - it's as fiery and drenched with colour as a Turner painting. It's a stone maze; a trap for the unwary - I'm not surprised poor old Londoners get culture shock..."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2004
As with Joolz's previous two novels, I could not put this down until I had finished it. The thing that strikes me with Joolz's writing is that the characters are like people that you know, your friends, enemies, and in the case of Billie's mother - my mother. This story is so well written that you will really care about Billie, and like me, continue reading to find out what happens to her.
On first reading, I found this darker than Corazon or Stone Baby, I felt the hopelessness of Billie's life as one thing lead to another, with a sense of inevitability about it all. Don't want to say much more so as to not give any of the story away.
I would thoroughly recommend thie book to anyone that has read and enjoyed Joolz's work before, and if you have not, then this is a perfect place to start - once you've read this one you'll be back for the others!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2005
Why aren't more people raving about this book yet? A tensely-written, utterly compelling study of it's protagonist's tormented state of mind - one of those books that keep making you postpone your bedtime so you can try and finish it that night.....
One of _Billie Morgan_'s most impressive aspects is the quality of its narrative voice, one that manages to be both intimate and ironic, to be lyrical and poetic as well as fluent and conversational. The novel also possesses a distinctive sense of place and is brilliantly evocative of the 1970s, in which much of its action takes place, as well as of grimmer parts of present-day society that appear all too rarely in much contemporary fiction.
If you enjoy Leslie Glaister, for instance, you will love this, but fans of psychological crime writing and of gritty social realism will find much to appreciate here. Even if you're not familiar with Denby's previous work (I wasn't), this is a novel that's well worth taking a chance on. Also features one of the best openings to a novel you will ever read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2005
This really is a very well worked book. It really is very emotional at times but it is just that power that makes the book so great. If you like your books rather dark but very real you will enjoy this.
Buy it and if you haven't tried it Stone Baby is excellent too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2007
Its over, Billie Morgan is finished.

I have finished reading this book and I am breathless with wonder, the author delivers as promised. I really felt strapped to the back of a bikers rig.

I read this book in a flash. I was hooked from the first sentence. Joolz Denby has created a wonderful character in Billie Morgan, she is like some I knew from my youth, though none were as extreme. It is a carefully crafted work that brings that time and place back to life. I lived in Bradford a few years ago and Miss Denby has caught the interpersonal relationships well. I enjoyed my time there and this book takes me back, the sights, the sounds and the smells. The plot twists are subtle and yet not so and the writing style gentle but graphic. The characters in this book are mostly lost souls, damaged in some way, which makes them very interesting. It is a real roller coaster of a ride, I laughed and I cried along the way but most of all I cared. I cared about Billie, poor misunderstood Billie, this happens infrequently to me. Why did I care? Because the writing and literation were/are top notch. I am amazed that Joolz Denby is another of Britains best kept secrets.

I have bought this book several times as gifts for my friends and they are just as blown away by it as I am. I heartilly recommend this book to any arm chair adrenaline junky, just like me. Enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2006
This is my favourite of Joolz's books so far; it's just amazing. One has real problems putting down one of Joolz's books, although I often find I am practically reading through the slits between my fingers that i have put up over my face to hide behind. Plot's great, characterisation's great, relentless engery's great. It's break-neck and brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2008
Billie Morgan is a pacy and gritty page-turner about a grown up ex-biker at a turning point in her life. It is big on drugs and social realism, big on explaining why people react with rage, and insightful about manipulators.

It is not great literature and it does not pretend to be. Denby writes reasonably well, but is keen on tying up all the loose ends.

The book has a straightforward structure and a straightforward story. Some of the points and character descriptions are rather hammered home; Denby is not too big on subtlety, but she does write about people who are normally ignored, with insight and knowledge, she writes accessibly and vividly. 4 stars is probably a bit generous, but if you want a page turner then you could definitely do worse.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2015
I bought the Audible version, and so glad I did ! Loved this book, we all know the story. But what Joolz does best is deliver an astonishing performance throughout. The is so much attention to detail, so much emotion put into the different character voices, and a really dry funny sense of humor from Billie herself !
Some very stirring moments in the book that makes you pause and take it in again.
Sure wished she did some more audible books, because Joolz has amazing talent for this sort of thing !
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on 18 June 2014
Billie is a biker named after Billie Holiday. From the start I was hooked, as I've grown up around bikes and bikers, it was a familiar world. I, also, love Billie Holiday. All through the book I rooted for the characters, who were richly portrayed. I wanted them to survive and flourish, but this is in essence a dark drama and life in Billies' world is never easy. I would definitely recommend Billie Morgan and will be seeking out Joolz Denby's other novels which I hope are as beautifully composed as her stunning tattoos.
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