When a mystery author writing under the name, Horace Silver, claimed to be London’s top dog gangster, published a memoir of raging violence and greed in the early 2000s, the book quickly spun into the realms of cult classic storytelling.
Indie publishing has opened its doors to a legion of strange writers, oddballs, and many with a new angle on how to tell a story. This is one of those books.
Judas Pig presents its own strange world successfully. Even today, its words cause ripples of controversy to spread amongst the London gangsters who remember those days.
Judas Pig, a strange name that alludes to the pig that leads the others into slaughter, but escapes through the abattoir backdoor, is an intense but fast read. So long as you don’t buckle and reel at the gut wrenching violence.
It’s a sloppy edit, but full of the humorous and well thought out London prose expected of a man who lives life by the moment, respects nobody — least of all himself.
Somehow, as you read this independently published book, you want to get past each typo, and double-printed word, just because you know that what’s coming next is worth reading.
Not a chapter break in sight, but you soon get used to this constant flow of words, not one wasted on pointless fluff. Always a new bit of “graft”, (criminal work), to do, always something profitable to check out, then deviously plan on how to take the money by force. More lives flushed down the gutter at the end of a sawn-off. More loot for expensive suits, over the top cars, and new business deals that require smoothing out with the green stuff.
The main protagonist is the nom de plume of a well known London gangster. Yet, the “well-known” face, hasn’t been proved.
The acts described in the book are known real robberies and murders which add to the without a shadow of a doubt it’s a real story, claims. It’s claimed that the book holds the key to at least five unsolved murders. It’s just a matter of putting the massive jigsaw puzzle together, then you’re nabbed.
A life lived at such intensity, always close to the edge, falling into a drugged fuelled rage, or a bad decision that would open a door to an enemy and be the violent end you always knew was coming, keeps you on the edge of your seat and up all night.
The pseudonymous Billy Abrahams, the main character, matches perfectly with a known real life gangster. So does each crime described. And, as I say, the description of those crimes is written in vivid colourful detail. Again and again. The constant repetition and depiction of violence, described with the gab of London street prose, begins to create a layer cake of thought.
The reader soon realises what Billy Abrahams’ main problem is; Navigating a world of pure violence. That’s what it involves, violence, and the ability to dish it out as viciously and psychotically as possible. It seems there is never enough room, or space to escape the nightmare.
The layer cake builds up and creates another world, one that most of us are careful not to visit. Billy Abrahams, born into the miserable housing estates of 1960s South London. Crumbling projects that were soon forgotten by the council, kids that wandered the streets and learned that life is a cruel and vicious plan that casts weakness to the wayside.
Their parents boozed out, gangsters or villains themselves, or just too tired of life to care for their families anymore. The kids learned to navigate a hard territory where the choice was to survive, and raise themselves up any which way they could, or become a local numpty who pays out to the local gangs.
His main goal is to make as much money, as fast as he can. And to make other gangs understand that Billy Abrahams and his men are the most vicious and hardest criminals in London. A game of intelligence, a la Machiavelli.
The problem with Billy Abrahams is, that somewhere, deep down, a touch of humanity has remained intact. It nags at him like a distant barking dog. He thinks of all that he has done, and all the terrible things he will probably do, and asks himself if he wants to really be the person the streets have made him.
If you’re into violent descriptions right down to the grinding gristle and bone, then this is for you. I read it in a few days, and enjoyed every bit of it — one of those books that in spite of its need of an overhaul in the formatting and proofreading department, makes you want to go back for more.
The language is lovely London slang, mixed with some hearty Cockney rhyming banter that gives it an edgy feeling of reality.
The writer certainly has a knack for metaphors that make you giggle. And even though there are no chapter breaks, just one long gush of ‘out to do the business’, followed by more business, and more, it doesn’t get boring.
There are some humorous and well written anecdotes that serve as ‘breathers’ in the same way a chapter might make you take a break.
It makes you feel like you are on an intense ride through the streets of dark and dangerous 1970s London. I think it ends up in the 1980s. The timeline is non-existent, and that bothered me, but the locations and descriptions were first class. Streets, bars, and clubs that you and I could never know about, let alone enter.