I lived in the Manchester area in the 1990s, during the peak of the Oasis years, when everyone was ‘mad for it’ and the city was the coolest place to be. It was never a city centre I felt comfortable in. I was mainly passing through it from one transport hub to another, but it seemed edgy and dangerous for all its rebuilding and rebranding, so I tended to go out in the smaller cities and towns of Wigan or Stockport.
This month’s first book review is Andrew Field’s, All Down the Line – published in December 2020 by Boomslang ( http://www.boomslangbooks.org ) , which is set in modern Manchester. Like the city itself it hums with tension, and we find a place run by crime gangs, hiding behind the glamour of bars, restaurants, and movies.
We meet Cain Bell, who thought he had closure over his daughter’s hit and run death after a man confessed. Twenty years later and his new fiancée has just claimed the man was lying. Before she can say anymore, a savage attack leaves her in a coma. To make sense of the assault, Cain must discover why four friends swore blind to never reveal the tragic truth about the circumstances surrounding the killing of his daughter. He can only succeed if he persuades Manchester’s most terrifying gangster to talk. Can must convince him to tell all, even if it puts his own life on the line.
This book is dark. Certainly, I would class as Crime Noir. Edgier than your average crime thriller. More gruesome and gut wrenching too. Cain is an interesting main character. Struggling with grief and guilt, he talks to an apparition of his daughter on a regular basis, as he sees her near him, judging him . Whilst I felt that as a previous journalist he hadn’t used many investigative skills towards looking at the people nearest and dearest him and came over as unrealistically naive maybe, the book has you rooting for him to win and survive, as everyone else is pretty grim. The support cast could in some cases be the stuff of nightmares. The connections, twists and turns in the plot keep you guessing and the ending is satisfying enough too.
This is English author Andrew Field’s (@andrewfield208) fourth book. the others were Wicked Games (2014), Mind Games (2017) and Without Rules (2018). Before becoming a writer Andrew worked in PR and Marketing, he was most notably responsible for the Boddingtons Bitter account, during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday. He now lives in Northumberland.
Those who love stories where gangsters and crime lords are the heroes such as Peaky Blinders and Love Hate will enjoy this read. For those familiar with Manchester, it will hold an attractions too. But mainly for those who like their stories, dark , dirty and violent, this will definitely hit the spot.
Reviewed by Georgina Murphy