Book Review: Penalties by Luis Adriano

penaltiesHomophobia, blackmail, disability, mental health, racism, gambling, cheating, paedophilia, drink and drugs.

Oh, and murder and football.

In Luis Adriano’s self-published crime novel we experience, as you might imagine from the list above, a dramatic 12 hours in the lives of the key players and staff of a football team on the verge of promotion to the Premier League.

Football though is only a backdrop.

Starting in the last minutes of Lyttleton Albion’s Championship Play-off Final, we are privy to the personal thoughts of those directly involved in the drama. Few of these thoughts relate solely to football and allow the author to introduce, amongst other topics; racism, mental health and homophobia to the story, contrasting starkly with the way that the real-life football world has barely raised an eyebrow to these issues.

It’s not short of footballing and social stereotypes, but the format of this imaginative tale is effective and engaging; in the penalty shoot-out we hear only the thoughts of Albion’s young keeper and those of his team’s respective penalty-takers with snatches of match commentary giving us the outcome of each tense penalty kick. From then on we are with the players and staff, and some family members, on the journey back to Lyttleton’s ground for the post-match party which is as intriguing as the penalty shoot-out and where a number of events unfold that decide the fate of the principal characters.

It is a noble attempt by the author to address so many topics: they are important ones that are rarely considered for long in the football world and they come thick and fast here because of the novel’s time-scale but, because of this, you feel that many of them have been ticked off a checklist rather than investigated in any way.

The novel needed a keener proof-read and the author’s eagerness to squeeze superfluous words or references into many sentences makes reading them akin to trudging through a muddy football pitch at times; you’re ready to take a step into the next sentence but you’re still trying to lift your feet out of the current one.

A screenplay of this could provide the basis of an entertaining TV drama but it lacks the atmosphere and the quality of prose of great football fiction. However I enjoyed the sentiment and the story very much.

So much so that I’d forgotten about the dead body until the last few pages.

(Note: The review above relates to the ebook version. A paperback version was released in February 2015)


Paul Gowland


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Posted January 9, 2014 by Editor in category "Reviews

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