By David Pitt
August 20th, 2014
In the 1970s, Barker was a member of the British anarchist group the Angry Brigade; he served time in prison for conspiring to carry out bombings in London. Later, in the mid-1980s, he was convicted of being involved in a scheme to import cannabis into England. The novel, which tells the story of a group of people who create a new kind of cocaine market in late-1980s London, was written over a period of a couple of decades and is being published now after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s a fascinating backstory, but what’s most interesting is how very good the book is. The characters are fully realized, the dialogue is snappy and appropriately vulgar, and the story is a riveting mixture of ’80s greed and violence (think Bret Easton Ellis). Obviously, Barker brings a certain firsthand experience to some of the story’s criminal elements, but it would be a mistake to write the book off as just another crime novel by a guy who did time. This is a serious literary achievement, a remarkably well told story that has real emotional depth.