Book Review: Ted Lewis ~ GBH (1980)

Until I’d read this book I hadn’t appreciated how tame police procedurals novels are. The maverick Detective Inspector heroically cuts corners. There’s always a common-sense explanation, which everyone except the bureaucratic Assistant Chief Constable accepts. He’s standing in the way of real policing. The DI is a Goodie. A A Dhand’s principal character, Harry Virdee, has moral ambiguity, which is charming, but ultimately there’s a whiff of righteousness hanging in Bradford’s air.

Ted Lewis is a c rime write who invented Brit Noir.* He doesn’t do nice. If you buy his book you’re getting blood soaked crime hence the unambiguous title – GBH. You enter a world of extreme violence executed with ruthless efficiency: sadistic ruthless efficiency.

Mr Fowler’ is how we first meet George Fowler. He and his wife, with principal accomplice Mickey Brice, torture a man in the living room of an associate. A living room! A truly horrible touch by Lewis. From then on we see Fowler’s descent into alcohol and violence fuelled insanity. He enjoys violence too much, which clouds his judgement. His associates see he’s a liability and plan to do the obvious thing. He escapes to Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire and the parallel story.

Lewis’ s GBH is two novels woven together. The first is of a sadistic killer and the second is a man desperate to carry on living. Chapters are interwoven, which makes for an interesting read. This review offers a blatant health warning but if you still fancy it it’s an excellent read.

* The film Get Carter was based on one of Lewis’s books.

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