I backed this book at Unbound because my last 13 years in the Air Force were spent in Lincolnshire, in one of the snooty cliff villages that – in spite of taking barely an hour to travel from one to the other – are a million miles away from the flatlands between the coast and the Lincolnshire Wolds, . Having played rugby in Lincoln prison (they don’t play away matches), my interest was piqued by the fact that the novel’s protagonist leaves it on page one.
This blog-post’s title says it all really. It’s a tag-line used by the author himself, as I recall, and he’s on the nail.
Gripping, gritty and gangland-savvy, Griffin’s East of England guides us on the usual loner’s quest through the mean-streets of a thinly disguised Mablethorpe, Skegness (the real Skeg Vegas) and the market town of Louth. Matlock leaves prison after two years in Lincoln nick at a time in the not too distant past, where the world is wired by cable and copper wire and people use handsets in telephone booths. The author does not hit us over the head with historical detail but evokes this different time with subtlety and finesse. I would put it in Mid-Thatcher period, but honestly, it was only after finishing the book that I started wondering about that at all. Yes, it was that good.
One cover quote refers to an English Jack Reacher, but I think it’s much better than that.
No, far more telling is the source of another cover quote, Nick Triplow, the author of Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir. Matlock owes far more to Carter than Reacher, and that is a very good thing.
Violent, with a truly chilling villain at its core, East of England is the first in a series of novels featuring Matlock. I for one will be on board for the fairground ride of the next instalment.