Nestling somewhere between TV shows Shameless and This Is England, Matthew Crow’s debut novel takes us into the heart of the Meadow Well estate, a grim inner-city jungle dominated by thugs, drunks and drug addicts.
Following his release from prison Jack vows to stay out of trouble but his long suffering Mum Shirley fears the worst and when two locals are involved in a fatal car accident her intuition is proved to be correct.
Also helping Jack stay on the right side of the law is his Probation Officer, a former Meadow Well resident who has proven that with work and ambition you can make it out.
The first half of the book is fantastic as we join a community of rogues and scallywags struggling to make ends meat, all told in a fluid style peppered with fine moments of gallows humour. Unfortunately the humour quickly fades as the mood changes, along with the story, to one of disgruntled youths on a path of destruction. The riots themselves become quickly repetitive as innocent bystanders fear for their lives and property while the only way the gangs can show outrage is by setting fire to buildings within their own estate.
A fine debut showing bags of potential from the 23 year old Matthew Crow and while this isn’t perfect it signals the arrival of a future main player in the genre.
Ric's Rating: 72%