12. ‘Brighton Rock’ by Graham Greene

100_21491This is my first Graham Greene novel, and it certainly won’t be my last. Brighton Rock is captivating and horrifying, bitterly funny, and filled with dark, memorable characters. I loved every page.

It opens with Charles Hale, a man who works for a newspaper. He walks around Brighton, leaving cards in the places he visits, waiting for someone to come up to him and say the correct phrase to win the newspaper’s weekly cash prize. But straight off we know that something is horribly wrong. Hell, the first line is: “Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.”

After the incredible tension of the opening chapter, the reader is thrown into the Brighton’s disturbing underground gang scene, where we meet Pinkie, the man responsible for Hale’s death. Pinkie is only a teenager, but he’s in charge of a small group of gang members and he’s the most cold and ruthless of them all. What follows is an in-depth study of Pinkie: on the one hand he’s incredibly complex (we get hints of his troubled background, his confused relationships with women, and his irrepressible ambition), but on the other he’s very simple (he just wants to be respected and free).

The story’s other characters are no less finely drawn: there’s Rose, a highly religious girl who is drawn into Pinkie’s world; Spicer, one of Pinkie’s conscience-stricken accomplices; and the formidable Ida Arnold who dogs Pinkie’s every step, determined to get justice for the poor murder victim, Charles Hale. The story tears along, going to completely unexpected places, and for the last few chapters I just had to shut myself away in my room and read them without blinking.

If this book is on your shelf and you haven’t picked it up yet, do it now. This is a fantastic story about murder, betrayal, faith and twisted love that you won’t be able to forget for a long time afterwards.

Brighton Rock

If you liked my review, why not read the book and let me know what you think?

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