A look in­side a crim­i­nal’s mind

The Herald - Arts - - BOOKS -

lazuli, he puts up such a con­vinc­ing front that he is lit­er­ally able to steal clothes from a shop win­dow dis­play and get away with it.

Gary’s en­hanced in­tu­ition and per­cep­tive­ness al­low him to break into strangers’ homes and imag­ine what it would be like to be them, im­mers­ing him­self in their lives. It’s a cre­ative abil­ity, but it never oc­curs to him to use it for any­thing other than be­com­ing a bet­ter crim­i­nal. More than once, he re­flects that peo­ple are born into a cage and have no real con­trol over the course of their lives. Given his back­ground, he be­lieves, a life of crime is in­escapable.

But, of course, it’s a ca­reer path that has to be trod care­fully, and Gary could be bet­ter at that. He is taken on by men­tors, then dis­ap­points or be­trays them with­out hes­i­ta­tion or re­gret. He ac­cepts the pres­ence of al­co­hol and hard drugs in his life, too, as just part of the lifestyle. His bit­ter, un­re­solved fam­ily con­flicts con­tinue to re­ver­ber­ate through his life and into his trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with his drug-ad­dicted girl­friend, Mandy. It all com­bines to drag him into a down­ward spi­ral which even­tu­ally forces him to ques­tion his core be­liefs.

Di­rect and com­pelling, Leyshon’s fourth novel has the mak­ings of a cult hit. Hav­ing worked in pris­ons, and based much of Gary’s char­ac­ter on the men she’s met in them, she has en­dowed him with a dis­tinc­tive voice that’s rough­hewn and street­wise, but also thought­ful and self-aware. He’s some­one whose sur­vival has de­pended on his abil­ity to con­stantly eval­u­ate his sur­round­ings and she en­ables us to briefly see through the eyes of this bright but deeply flawed man.

Nell Leyshon, who has worked in pris­ons, has en­dowed her char­ac­ters with a dis­tinc­tive street­wise voice

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.