Monday, September 30, 2013
Review of The Riot by Laura Wilson (Quercus, 2013)
The strengths of The Riot are the characterisation, sense of place and time, and social contextualisation. DI Stratton is a strong and interesting lead and the book is full of a diverse set of well defined and vividly penned characters. There is a strong sense of London in the late 1950s as the social mix of some neighbourhoods start to change, and Wilson does a good job at conveying the social realities of working class life and the tensions around change. Indeed, the story works well to weave issues of race (both Black and Jewish) and gender through class and capital. And the plot is intriguing and quite complex. That all said, the story is let down a little by its pacing and balance. Prior to ‘the riot’ the storytelling is quite slow and there is a lot of unneeded detail. For example, on his initial visit to the house in which a murder occurred Stratton laboriously meets everyone in the building and others nearby, most of whom never reappear in the book and who tell him little of importance. After ‘the riot’ things speed up somewhat, but there’s sometimes not enough fleshing out or reveal as to what is going on, especially with respect to the Perlmann’s empire. Overall, an interesting and entertaining story that’s nicely contextualised.