You Review: Hood Rat by Gavin Knight

Reviewed by Jake Lloyd Staley

In Hood Rat, author Gavin Knight reports on the subject of gang warfare by telling stories about particular individuals and specific events. It is nonfiction that reads like fiction.

The antihero of these stories is a consummate urban warrior, a skilled and practiced killer who lives and fights in parts of certain major cities in the United Kingdom: Manchester, London, Glasgow. He is a young man who begins to rob and even to kill when he is as young as eight years. Murder is not incidental to his life, but central to it. Knowing how to use guns becomes an emblem of his manhood. It gives him access to drugs, money and girls. He avoids the police as much as he can, but risks being killed every day, either by a cop or by another street killer. Jail is part his life, and he expects to spend some number of the years he is alive locked up. His violent criminal life goes on, whether he’s in prison or out. He has a short life-expectancy.

On the other side are earnest officers of law enforcement, who are doing a good job of detection, and putting criminals in jail, but who are not able to change the culture of warfare that continues to thrive.

Some elements of these stories seem familiar, for the very reason that they are typical of the ones most often borrowed by writers of crime fiction for their stories. The challenge to the reader is to appreciate that these events are real and current, not fiction, and not something out of some long-ago, more savage age. Knight stacks one appalling tale on top of another in such a way that the reader feels some of the pressure that life in this underworld puts on both criminals and police officers. The result is a provocative and informative piece of journalism.

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