Book Review: Guilty Tiger by Chris Brown

With the advent of books about football terrace culture in the late 1990’s from writers such as John King and more recently Dougie Brimson, this genre has gradually gained an acceptance and recognition in the literary world. Chris Brown is a Bristol Rovers fan, who in the 1970’s was a skinhead on the terraces in the Tote End at Eastville (Rovers home ground up until 1986), who detailed his experiences, the music and fashion of the time in his autobiographical book Bovver (published 2001); it was subsequently updated and released in 2009 as Booted and Suited. Following on from the success of these books, Chris Brown has written his first novel, Guilty Tiger, which draws on his Bristol roots and some of the themes of his earlier work.

Steve Allen is the central character, who back in the 1970s was part of a gang called ‘The Big Five’, who got involved in hooliganism and right-wing politics. Now he has all the trapping of a good life – well paid job, big house, top of the range car, designer clothes and a cocaine habit. However, all is not well in his world; his beloved Bristol Rovers are languishing in the lower reaches of the football league, whilst he reviles the money and influence of the Premiership. Moreover, Steve is frustrated with his sex-less marriage and disenchanted with what he sees around him in the country and the city of his birth; worst of all Allen is suffering a mild-life crisis. However, his life and that of ‘The Big Five’ changes when Kirsty an old flame of Allen gets in touch.

What unfolds is a fast-paced page-turner of a book with revenge and redemption the order of the day. In terms of writing style and telling, it has a graphic quality that would lend itself to a television series, with ‘action’ on the streets as well as in the bedroom. However, Guilty Tiger is not just about the physical, as Chris Brown through his characters, looks at how as people we deal with love, friendship, loyalty and trust, as well the moral dilemma of what constitutes ‘justice’. Brown presents to the reader a world where the idea of ‘good and bad’ and ‘right and wrong’ is blurred, and for all its protestations that we live in a much more moral and politically correct world, Guilty Tiger shows that underneath it all that the corruption, back-handers and violence of the 1970s is still with us.

My only gripe with the book is that the Premiership sub-plot feels slightly hidden and is then concluded too quickly. However, overall it does not detract from a what is a highly readable and engaging first novel from Chris Brown.


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Posted February 28, 2013 by Editor in category "Reviews

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