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by Martyn Waites
Pocket Books, January 2008
464 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847390587

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Martyn Waites doesn’t believe in sparing the gore. To offset that, he is very good at engaging the reader’s interest and writes about topics that are of contemporary interest. WHITE RIOT deals with the unpleasant – but all too possible – subject of racial discrimination and racial violence in the northern English city of Newcastle.

The tale begins with a kidnapping and murder. A victim is taunted with the Muslim beliefs of his parents. He, perhaps, is not convinced of the validity of the notion of the numerous virgins that await him in the imminent paradise that he is about to enter -- or not.

Kev’s mate Jason is scheduled for slaughter by a ruthless group, at first unknown by the reader. Jason has been dubbed The Butcher Boy, a reflection of his job but it seems as though someone else intends butchering him.

Peta Knight, an associate of former journalist Joe Donovan, is hired by one Trevor Whitman. Whitman has written a tell-all book detailing his time with a right-wing group calling itself The Hollow Men. He has been receiving threatening phone calls which he wishes Peta to investigate.

Joe Donovan, meanwhile, is still trying to investigate the kidnapping of his son. Years later, he seems finally to have located the boy’s whereabouts but the people who have the boy in their care and have adopted him hold him close and Joe seems to be no nearer to being reunited with his son – and his relationship with his wife and daughter is fractured. All Joe wants is to retrieve David and to have a family once more.

Waites is truly a master at building tension. He also has no scruples when it comes to subjecting his characters to violence and, indeed, death. He constructs a plot that is at once horrific yet believable. Not the least of the horrors is the concept of people cold-bloodedly manipulating True Believers into actions they probably would not contemplate, were they privy to the machinations of their leaders. The portraits of his characters are well drawn and, alas, convincing.

The author seems to delight in cliffhangers. Somehow, I wish he wouldn’t. When his next book in the series is released, no doubt I’ll have to reread at least part of this one. Perhaps I need to take a memory course!

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, December 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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