Monday, 22 December 2008
Crusaders by Richard T Kelly
DATE PUBLISHED: 2008 DATE READ: December 2008 NOTES: A sprawling “state of the nation” novel that takes a great sweep over two decades up to the election of New Labour. It is set mostly in the north-east of England and takes in lots of the issues of the 1970s – 1990s including steroid abuse, drug culture, gangs, political corruption, prostitution and the emergence of New Labour politics. Much of the book was enjoyable but it was spoiled for me by the weakness of the central character. John Gore is a Labour supporting Anglican minister who is sent to Newcastle to start a new church in a run-down council estate. His motivations are never made very clear and his relationship with a somewhat slovenly single mother did not ring true. The gangster Steve Coulson was a much stronger character, as was Martin Pallister (the New Labour MP who is prepared to accept any policies as long as they have something to offer him personally). The way in which religious faith insidiously became almost a necessity for Blair supporters is well documented. Some reviewers criticised the way in which the writer put so much of the dialogue in the local accent. I thought this was done well and the various “voices” were very believable. An ambitious first novel – but I really think it did not need to be over five hundred pages long. Some judicious editing was needed!