It is my great pleasure to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Time To Win by Harry Brett. I have a review to share with you in just a moment, but first of all, here is what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
When local crime boss Richard Goodwin is pulled from the river by his office it looks like suicide. But as his widow Tatiana feared, Rich collected enemies like poker chips, and half of Great Yarmouth’s criminal fraternity would have had reason to kill him.
Realising how little she knows about the man she married, Tatty seeks to uncover the truth about Rich’s death and take over the reins of the family business, overseeing a waterfront casino deal Rich hoped would put Yarmouth on the map.
Out of the shadows at last, it is Tatty’s time now, and she isn’t going to let Rich’s brother, or anyone else, stand in her way. But an American has been in town asking the right people the wrong questions, more bodies turn up, along with a brutal new gang. The stakes have never been higher.
With her family to protect, and a business to run, Tatty soon learns that power comes with a price . . .
Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of Great Yarmouth I think of beach holidays (albeit cold ones), caravans, ice creams and long, long tailbacks on all the major arteries that feed their way to the east coast. So when I see Ian Rankin quoted as calling this the Godfather in Great Yarmouth I have to admit to being more than just a little bit intrigued. How in the fluffy ducks can anyone write a mob type drama set in East Anglia?
Well, that is exactly what Harry Brett has achieved with Time To Win. Opening with the apparent suicide of local businessman and crime Boss, Richard Goodwin this is complex tale of family, double crossing, dodgy dealing and more underhand transactions and criminal intrigue than I ever imagined could happen when I first visited this seemingly sleepy seaside town. And yet far from being out of place or far fetched, there is just something about this book which works.
The story follows Goodwin’s widow, Tatiana, and her family as they try to make sense of what has happened and get to grips with the less salubrious elements of the business empire. This is not a necessarily fast paced novel. We are not thrown into the middle of some heavy deal which the family is forced to navigate although there are one or two segments of the story in which we are privy to some of the more negative aspects of the operation.
Much of the book is spent with Tatiana as she attempts to assert herself within the business, much to the annoyance of her brother in law, Simon. She is not a character which it is easy to get to like although kudos to her for trying to take barge in a male dominated world. You do get the feeling that life with her husband was not all rosy, that she had reason to loathe him, but then she is just as guilty as he was for a lack of fidelity and a cooling of the relationship. To be fair, it is not a book in which many of the characters were particularly likeable but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of the book itself. I think sometimes it’s okay to not like the characters, especially when they happen to be part of East Anglia’s answer to the mob who are preparing for battle with the suspicious and perhaps deadly characters trying to move in and take over. Sometimes not trusting people just feels right and this was one such time.
Of all the characters it was Frank and Zach who appealed to me the most. As the youngest child, Zach knew more of what his father really did and seemed a far more down to earth character than his mother or siblings. Frank was loyal to a fault, a straight talking tough guy with a surprising edge. Both had something which intrigued me and made me root for them above all others. Don’t get me wrong – Zach is reckless and left unchecked likely to get into trouble. Despite his understanding he makes naive choices and without his mother and, more importantly, Frank looking out for him, he’d be in for a whole load of problems. But that is a large part of his appeal – the folly of youth.
As I said, this it not a fast paced thriller and if that is what you are looking for then this probably isn’t the book for you. This is more of a subdued read. It also probably won’t feature highly on the Norfolk tourist board’s list of tomes to sell the area as the descriptions of the weather and the landscape are less than flattering. And yet they feel… right. And the hidden dark side of the town also feels right somehow and yet perhaps not as dramatic or as passionate as some may like or expect given the subject matter. But then if this was all major guns and gangs then it would be hard to hide in a town like Great Yarmouth so perhaps this is a more authentic approach than it first appears. However you view it, I know I will never look at Great Yarmouth in quite the same way again. And as today, of all days, I find myself just down the road in Norwich, perhaps I should be a shade more concerned about what is really happening about me. Everything appears calm and laid back but you never can tell… 😉
If I had one real problem it would be with the ending. After all of the build up it seemed to be a little flat and perhaps too convenient. To think of all that has happened, all that appears to be happening in terms of people trying to muscle in, there was not quite enough of a crescendo for me and it felt like there could have just been a touch more on offer. A little bit more oomph. But despite this, the book pulled me in and held my attention and I would be interested to see, if this story is revisited, quite how it works out for the characters concerned.
My thanks to publisher Corsair/Little Brown Book Group and NetGalley for the advance copy of Time To Win for review and to Hayley Camis for inviting me to take part in the tour. The book was released on 27th April and it can be purchased from the following retailers:
About The Author
Harry Brett is a pseudonym for Henry Sutton, who is the author of nine previous novels including My Criminal World and Get Me Out of Here. He also co-authored the DS Jack Frost novel, First Frost, under the pseudonym James Henry. His work has been translated into many languages and he has judged numerous literary prizes, including the John Lewellyn Rhys Prize and the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. He is the co-founder of the Noirwich crime festival and has been the Literary Editor of Esquire magazine and the Daily Mirror. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he is a Senior Lecturer and the co-director of the MA Prose Fiction course. He is also the director of the new Creative Writing MA Crime Fiction. He lives in Norwich with his family and is available for interview and to write features.
Be sure to check out the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour.