Hamilton has got it made. By day he manages a City of London broking
office dealing with millions of pounds at the flick of an index.
He is one of the 'golden' traders, 'master of the universe' making
more money in a year than most others do in twenty. By night he
has the comfort of his girlfriend or the many expensive bars, bistros,
restaurants and clubs where his fellow carousers are likely to be
his clients enjoying their unlimited expense accounts.
is a friend of Roger from his schooldays. He has a degree and a
fast-track career with the police force. Despite the difference
in their financial status, it's a friendship which endures not least
because Roger has an abiding interest in criminal detection. When
a serial rapist, using a black London taxi, appears on Frank's patch
he discusses the case with Roger, in confidence, fuelling his interest
and determination to help bring the man to justice.
scenes with Frank are contrasted by those depicting Roger going
about his daily life at the office and occasionally with his family.
The office will be something of a revelation to those not versed
in 'laddishness', a clear euphemism for sexual denigration and discrimination
against women. The theme running throughout the citadels of high
finance is use, abuse, discard. Singularly appropriate for the mentality
of a rapist. Roger joins in what passes for 'banter' without giving
it a second thought. The paradox is he adores his parents, his father
is a former famous racing driver, and his sister. The message comes
across that all women are whores, unless they're your family or
girlfriend, when they become madonnas. Obviously City traders are
brothers under the skin of the Italian Mafia on their most machismo
Penny, Roger's sister falls victim to the rapist, the hunt steps
up and reaches a climax which leaves the reader relieved at the
'justice' of the ending, but interested to see where Roger's own
predatory instincts will finally take him.
book is written both as a narrative and in first person by Roger.
This enables the author to perform cunning and adept sleights of
hand which add verismo. About halfway through the work, the rapist's
identity becomes known to the reader only and is carried along by
the twisted logic which informs his criminality.
of the fascinating aspects of this work is whilst it's very realistic
in every respect, it is also a pastiche, a subtle mockery of all
the cliches uttered about rapists. Inevitably, he blames mother
for all the evils he, of his own volition, visits upon the women
he attacks. 'Psycho' has a lot to answer for. This does not detract
from the value of the story, on the contrary, it supplies the building
blocks carrying the whole to a violent, but satisfactory, conclusion.
Armour has made an impressive debut. This is a book you can read
as a fast paced crime novel or an insightful psychological drama
with very disturbing undertones. Throughout there is schizophrenia
in the major characters. Roger and Frank, both capable of oafishness,
but also of sensitivity. The rapist, paranoid as well as schizophrenic,
enjoying, exploiting and living a double life. These twists of characterisation
are skilfully woven together, the story developing from them as
all good plots should.
prepared to read in one sitting.