Long Reach


Long Reach

Note:  Peter Cocks makes use of a lot of slang and British terminology in this book.  To help make it less confusing I’ve compiled a glossary of basic British slang I’ve come across in various books.

Author: Peter Cocks

Publication: 2011, Walker Books

Pages: 402

Overall Rating: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1] 

Rating for Action: bth_5-star-rating_zps467d5332[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Eddie Savage’s brother is dead – a suicide according to the police.  But days later Eddie learns that his brother actually worked undercover for a shadowy government organization tasked with fighting organized crime.  They recruit Eddie and send him off to make friends with Sophie Kelly, daughter of mob boss Tommy Kelly.  Eddie’s soon in over his head, and struggling to walk the line between good and evil.  He sees the violence of the Kelly family, but also feels their love as they welcome him into their home.  And yet with every passing day the danger grows.  It’s only a matter of time before the Tommy Kelly discovers there’s a snitch in their midst, and when they do Eddie will be hard pressed to keep from following his brother to the grave.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most: Cocks doesn’t pull any punches.  This is a story about an average kid getting dropped into the hellish world of organized crime, and Cocks doesn’t try to put a rosy touch on it.  Tommy Kelly acts and sounds like a sauve business man, a cook and art dealer with a loving wife and a beautiful daughter who welcomes Eddie – the new boyfriend – into his home.  From the outside it’s the picture of a perfect family.  But Cocks never lets us forget what’s really going on.  Sprinkled in among the regular action are brief glimpses of Donnie Mulvaney, Tommy Kelly’s chief enforcer.   Donnie is violence personified, and when he enters the scene blood is sure to flow.  Each time Donnie beats someone or slams their fingers in the door of a safe, you want to squirm, because you know the day will come when Eddie’s going to find himself face-to-face with this man.  And as the story progresses, and cracks start to appear in Tommy’s carefully cultivated image, you can’t help but imagine what’s in store for Eddie when they figure out who he really is.  Great stuff.

What I Liked the Least: This is very much a British book, by which I mean that unlike say Alex Rider or Young Bond – which may be based in Britain but can be easily understood by readers everywhere –the language in Long Reach is rife with British Slang and references to British geography, food, entertainment, and the British education system.  There’s probably more British slang and cultural references in this book than in any other one I’ve ever read.  Now, that didn’t mean I enjoyed it any less.  A lot of the slang I was able to figure out from context.  But, to be fair, I’ve spent some time in Britain and didn’t have to struggle with too many of the cultural references.  This is a great read, but it could be a challenge for anyone who’s not at least somewhat familiar with British culture.

How Good was the Action?  Flipping amazing.   Cocks writes some of the best action out there, with plenty of blow-by-blow description and tense emotions.  But I’ll warn you up front, the action here is dark and bloody.  People scream and some of them die.

How Engaging was the Story?   Eddie is in deep, struggling with the near constant fear of discovery and trying to balance his job with the genuine feelings of love and affection he has for Sophie and her parents.  It’s intense stuff, mixed in with a healthy dose of action and intrigue along with the occasional burst of extreme violence.   Overall, a very hard to put down read.

Overall Assessment:  Dark and intensely violent.  This is a real nail bitter, a classic example of violent crime fiction.  Powerful and fun to read.  The only downside is that it’s rife with British and cultural references that could be hard for people from other countries to grasp.   Hard, but worth the effort.

Profanity:  Yes.  There’s a ton of it.  It’s not on every page, but it starts on page 1 and is pretty constant. 

Sex:  Yes.  Eddie dies have sex, though most of it is only hinted at.  We don’t really see much more than a kiss with the clear promise of more.  There’s also a lot of drinking – the minimum age in Britain is 18 and Eddie has a government issued fake ID – and a bit of drugs.

Violence:  When Donnie Mulvaney steps into the scene, blood flows, and Cocks doesn’t shy away from making it graphic.  There’s also an extended, bone crunching scene involving a boxing match that makes it very clear what it must feel like to be in the ring getting the piss beat out of you.

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