Yowza. (Is that a word?) GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm in British criminal justice parlance) was the last work from the late great British writer Ted Lewis, author of “Get Carter” (eventually a film starring Michael Caine.) Ted Lewis was a major talent who died young, apparently from alcohol-related issues, gone far too soon. His work was not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
In GBH, Lewis colourfully inhabits rather than portrays British gangland brutality in the 1960s. I could feel the locations in my bones and dreamed about the book and about gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray and other notorious figures who stole headlines back then. (It wasn’t all tea and crumpets, that’s for sure.)
The novel is all the more chilling for the torture, not always graphically written (although there is plenty of that) but possibly because of what is not spelled out. Ted Lewis’s compelling writing helps you power through his last work. I really couldn’t bear to put it down.
Now it is behind me, I am still pondering the plot twists and just how he did it? I plan to go back to review a few passages to check out where I now, in retrospect, believe turning points in the plot may have lay in wait. If you are a fan of hard core crime fiction with a strong stomach (you will need it), Lewis was a master. As one reviewer suggested, Lewis’s viewpoint suggested that surely he must have been dangerously close at times to the world he painted on paper: too close to have made it all up. On that I won’t comment. Gangland brutality was a cloud shrouding areas of England: you only had to read the newspapers. But Ted took it to new levels.
His brief chapters–few exceeded three pages–accentuated the speed of the ride.