Billy Morris was born in Leeds in 1966. He left Leeds in the late 1990s and has lived and worked in Europe and USA. He now lives mainly in South East Asia.
He wrote his first book Bournemouth 90 in 2021 and published the sequel, LS92, in 2022. The books form the Eighties Leeds series are dark, crime fiction set against the backdrop of a northern English city trying to reinvent itself, as its once famous football team emerges from a period in the doldrums to reclaim its position at the forefront of European football.
Morris’s third book Birdsong on Holbeck Moor is set during the tumultuous period at the end of the First World War. The Leeds Pals have been decimated at the Somme and the soldiers who survived return to find a city on the grip of a global pandemic, with food rationing, unemployment and a football team facing expulsion from the league due to financial irregularities during the war years. Throw in some corruption, inter-city gang wars and witchcraft and you have the makings of a gritty, Edwardian thriller.
This fourth book from Billy Morris forms a third part of the Eighties Leeds series, and is a prequel set in 1965. The central focus is the back story of Alan Connolly, one of the main characters in Bournemouth 90 and opens with the teenager arriving in Leeds from Glasgow during the swinging sixties.
What Morris has established through his previous books is a winning formula. And as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Reassuringly in LS65 readers will find the usual heady mix of dark gritty menace, the underworld, and football set against a convincing background of the time – a culture of coffee bars and clubs, drugs and dance halls, Mods and their mopeds.
Once again the research is spot-on with great detail about the city of Leeds and places still familiar today, but reflecting also many that have long gone, yet synonymous with a city much changed since the sixties.
Additionally, what Morris also demonstrates is his ability to provide a full back story to his characters, that in this instance go a long way to understanding the Alan Connolly that features in Bournemouth 90.
There is also some homage or influence of David Peace’s writing, with the flashback sequences within LS65 reminding this reader of the style adopted in parts of The Damned Utd.
In Bournemouth 90 the football storyline was one of a pivotal moment as Leeds United regained their top division status, leading to them becoming Champions of England once more in 1991/92. In LS65 the football backdrop is once again an important moment in the Club’s history, with the Elland Road team, after only having been promoted the season before, missing out on the First Division title on goal average and then losing in the FA Cup Final 2-1 to Liverpool. However, despite those disappointments in 1965 it was the start of what was to be a Golden Era under Don Revie as Leeds United became one of the best sides in England and Europe.
(Publisher: Independently published. September 2023. Paperback: 217 pages)
Buy the book here: LS65