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Something You Are (Underground) Hardcover – 1 Dec 2012
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'Jameson writes like an angel on speed. Ellroy and sometimes Rankin walk you to the dark side brilliantly. Something You Are is no less gripping, shocking and relentless' Q magazine.
'Jameson's taut and spare narrative complements a gripping plot with unmistakable undertones of the legends of this genre, Chandler, Ellroy, Rankin' Red.
'Jameson writes in turbo-charged shorthand, her fierce, sparse prose sparking off the page. She's able to evoke a whole scene with a single detail, and she's got a gift for getting under the skin of her characters ... a great new voice on the British crime fiction scene' The Book Bag.
'accomplished and polished ... the first in a gritty and compelling series' We Love This Book.
About the Author
Hanna Jameson drafted Something You Are when she was just 17. She has lived in Australia, and travelled Europe, Japan and the USA with bands such as the Manic Street Preachers. She is studying American Literature at the University of Sussex.
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The story is set in London and Nic (Dominic) Caruana is the narrator and main character in the book. When Nic was young he killed someone and had to do time in prison. He didn't intend to kill anyone. He was set upon by a gang, one of whom had a knife and in the scuffle Nic accidentally killed his assailant. Nic was only seventeen.
This incident seemed to shape Nic's destiny and he became a sort of private detective. Rubbing shoulders with London low life in the form of traffickers, drug dealers, gangsters and hit men, Nic drifted into his 'career' being paid to kill.
In the book, Nic is working on two different cases - one is working for arms dealer, Pat Dyer. Nic has been hired to find out the whereabouts of Pat Dyer's daughter, Emma. Where is she? What has happened to her?
Nic is also working on another case. This is for Mrs Edie Franco, owner of a London nightclub called 'the Underground'. This job concerns Edie's divorce from husband Sidney and the custody of their son, Scott.
Nic takes us on his journey, his work on these cases and the people he rubs shoulders with along the way. The journey and his encounters are violent. They are bloody. Life is lost. Complicating his life along the way is Clare Dyer, Pat's wife, Emma's mother. Nic feels strangely drawn to her.
Entwined in-between is an insight into Nic's family and what problems and tragedy there is.
This is a fast paced and very raw book. It sucks you in and is a real page turner. It is brilliantly written and you feel you are there shadowing Nic, like a cameraman does when filming a documentary with the Emergency Services. You experience what Nic experiences. There is profuse swearing throughout the book, sex, violence, drug taking etc.
Is evil something you do or something you are? You decide when you have read the book.
It is amazing that the author, Hanna Jameson, was only 17 years old when she wrote this, her first nove. What a brain, what a talent, what an imagination!
It's not really all about the blood and gore though, for me it was about the character interaction and there are lots of little interactions that have a role to play in the bigger picture although they're not always instantly understood. A tighter edit would bump this up another star for me but for a debut story it's a solid read.
This is a pared back crime novel set in present day London, with little description or exposition. The laconic style gives it a directness and immediacy which I liked, and the dialogue is dark and smart, sometimes morbidly jocular and brutal.
With its skewed moralities, its twisted characters, and its moments of extreme violence, this is hardboiled and edgy. The youth, however, of its author seems to come through in the way her characters might be social dropouts and psychopaths but they're all terribly well-read.
Despite the squalid, sordid, and grubby ethics of almost everyone, Jameson has imbued her world with a kind of hard-edged and sinister glamour - this is modern London noir with a breathtaking freshness about it.
The writing, the complexity to the background of the novel and the understanding of the dialogue is brilliant. Regrettably, some of it passed me by being a rather older person. Nonetheless, it entertained in a very dramatic manner with an anti-hero in place who, I imagine, will be around for a while on the strength of this book.
As I said, some of it passed me by, especially the self-harming in such a serious way but it works well into the study of a woman on the edge in a life which hasn't dealt her the fairest of cards. Married to a 'loving' father and mother to a beautiful girl, much of this is not what it seems. So there are difficulties ahead for the main protagonist, Nic Caruana, a sort of PI with a gritty and violent streak which, at times, seems out of place. It's never quite made clear why these rages overtake him. He is called in by the father to try to locate the whereabouts of his missing daughter. Inevitably, the search becomes a hunt for the killer with Nic meeting out his idea of justice, helped along the way by a coterie of thugs, superficially disguised as friends and acquaintances.
There is a great deal of violence in this book, made all the worse for knowing the age of the author when it was written but, that aside, the book demands your attention lest you miss another twist or turn as the story unfolds.
I didn't tally up the body count, something I usually do out of idle curiosity because there was so much going on the life of Nic Caruana, be it the job or having to deal with his less than even-handed family at the same time. The poor man has no stable relationships with anyone apart from a like-minded flatmate who just happens to be a Russian-born hitman or something.
I'm not clear if this series is to centre around the Underground Club and its merry band of customers or whether Nic is the feature-line but, either way, if the relentless prose of this first book is anything to go by, there are some gritty times ahead. I'll look forward to book 2.
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