BLOOD WATERS, by Chaz Brenchley (Flambard, £7.99)
FALSE START, by John Francome (Headline, £16.99)
The other thing that Jonty can remember is his friendship with Luke - and Luke is not an apostle in his world but an angel. Chaz Brenchley is moving sideways - I had an idea that he was going to write horror, but this is something else: magical realism on the Type and a bit like Christopher Priest in Priest's last three or four novels. Jonty must try to discover how he has any reason to maintain his essential goodness when he appears to have thrown over everything he stood for and now has thrown his lot in with the biggest gangster in northern England.
Jonty is eventually shriven, after standing by while terrible damage is done, but I never really liked him. Luke the angel I thought was acceptable, a great ace to pull from a sleeve in a loaded game, but I was surprised that Jonty can get a taxi at any time he likes and anywhere he likes. I can't believe in that magic.
BLOOD WATERS is a collection of stories written while Chaz Brenchley was a writer in residence in Sunderland in 1993/94. These are more horror stories than DISPOSSESSION - stories of feral kids, impersonation, children who kill their parents, people who must confess their crimes, but without any sense of repentance. "My Cousin's Gratitude" and "Scouting For Boys" are most traditional - but only if you want stories of the low life, because if they are not lying on the bed of the Tyne, there is little life lower than in BLOOD WATERS.
FALSE START is set in the world of facing, so I found passages like this one slightly offputting: "Kenny had taken his Range Rover to collect some peat-moss, so he took the VW Golf which Kate had recently bought to replace the old Renault. He was just getting into it when he saw a large Mercedes swing off the road and creep down the drive to the stables." Should a man who knows so much about horses be interested in such details as individual models of cars? And should different individuals be so closely identified with different models of cars?
The "his" and "he" in that passage refer to Charlie Patterson who has just established, with his best mate Nick Ryder, a new training yard. By chance, because its elderly owner has been murdered, one of the first horses they are sent turns out to be a new National Velvet. This is going to be the horse that will make their name and secure the business ... until the horse's new owner, Charlie's step-father, has to sell because of his Lloyd's losses. And is then murdered by Nick. Or is not murdered by Nick, as Charlie tries to prove. Or is not murdered at all, as the police discover. I won't tell you how the step-father does die, because there's still a lot of story to go.
I did learn something about this sort of people, though. And running a Range Rover, to them, is obviously part of a business just turning over. I wish my business turned over that easily.
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