Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hope Road by John Barlow





12. Hope Road - first in the LS9 series
by John Barlow
mystery, 2011
Kindle book, 9
finished 3/10/12












For the average person, if your parents are teachers or mechanics it isn't etched in stone that you will work at the same occupations. Some parents put more pressure on their children than others, but for the most part, a child is free to live a different life and have a different job from their parents. A glaring exception is if you are a child of someone who is part of an organized crime syndicate. You may remember that Michael Corleone, in the Godfather movies, didn't want to be part of the family business. Yet even going to Dartmouth and being a war hero couldn't stop the inevitable pull.

In Hope Road, John Ray is the son of Tony Ray, the former crime boss of Leeds, England. He is trying to run his father's used car dealership as a legitimate business, and in fact has just won an award for Auto Trader Used Car Dealership of the Year. But his family connections haunt him no matter how he succeeds. The headline after he receives the award screams out Family of Crime Turns An Honest Profit. He lives in the converted former art room at his childhood school.
… the building had an added attraction, because he'd always felt comfortable here, as if he belonged. This is where he'd become John Ray, where he'd escaped the shadow of his father and the family name. From these classrooms he'd gone on to Cambridge, then abroad, far away from the place where he'd grown up, and where he was always someone's son, never just himself. He had a lot to thank the school for.
The reader naturally wonders why he came back to Leeds and is running this business which used to be the headquarters for the work his father did. His girlfriend is, perhaps surprisingly, a policewoman. He met her two years ago at the scene where his criminal brother was brutally murdered. It is an uneasy situation for her, and she is always on the line with her boss who is asked
if it's police policy for officers to be seen about town with the family of known criminals.
The current case DC Denise Danson is investigating involves the murder of a young prostitute found in the trunk of a car. In the glove compartment is a business card from Tony Ray's Motors, Hope Road, Leeds 9. It is lucky for John Ray that 'Den' can give him an alibi for the night before.

If I had friends who worked in British television, I would tell them that Hope Road would make a great program. All the way through the book I could see the scenes. I don't know when I've read anything quite so visual.

There really is a Hope Road in Leeds. It sits
at the feet of the optimistic, vertical city, close to the glamour but somehow cut off from it, left on the outside. This part of Leeds clings to its low-slung industrial past like an old drunk, scared to change his ways .... Victorian workshops and squat 1920s factory blocks are either bricked up or hide unnamed businesses behind steel-panelled gates topped off with coils of rusting barbed wire. Occasional splashes of colour announce exhaust refits and commercial printing services.
… Hope Road. Named at a different time.
The hotel featured in the book:
The Eurolodge Hotel occupies a squat, pre-war office block a mile out of town on the York Road. When the building was new it would have been right next to the trams going in and out of the city. But now its two stories of old red brick and stained concrete sit beside four lanes of relentless, fast-moving traffic.
The window of his 'converted art studio' looks out on
rows of red-brick council houses running down the valley side, an ugly-as-hell modern comprehensive school, and further off the kind of grey tower blocks that seem to be rain-dampened whatever the weather.
Council-owned flats, thrown up in the sixties, pre-fab walls and poured concrete floors. Functional. Miserable.


Leeds City Centre


The University of Leeds


Hope Road Bridge



LS9 is the postal code for the region, hence the name for this series. I really, really liked Hope Road and can't wait for the next book.

I first read about it here.

There is a most interesting write-up about the author here in which he tells of his learning about a less-than-reputable member of his own family.

And John Barlow's website is here.

24 comments:

  1. I linked to your blog from mine: Reviews By Nellie. I wanted people to read your review. I love that you have the photos connected to your review.
    nellie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, Nellie! I so appreciate it.

      Delete
  2. This one sounds really really interesting to me. I like that it's the start of a new series and I didn't come in at like book #8!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Since I know this part of England better than any other (with the exception of London, but London is not England, it is... London), this would certainly make an interesting read for me. If it is available on Kindle I may well download it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read it on Kindle. It's a very good book.

      Delete
  4. Nan - what a great idea to link to the blog where you first heard about it. Very gracious of you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to do this whenever I've remembered to jot it down!

      Delete
  5. I'm not sure if I would have been interested in this one if I had not read your review. Your obvious enjoyment, the quotes, and the pics have sold me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's just how I would have felt if I hadn't read about it at the blog I noted. I do love books set in the large English cities, as well as the countryside. I shall be interested to hear what you think.

      Delete
  6. Sounds interesting. I don't live all that far from Leeds though I've only ever been there a couple of times. My daughter tells me that it's a very good shopping centre these days. My own memories are of a horrendous ring road that was practically impossible to change lanes in if you happened to be in the wrong one(which I was!)and coming the other way from Harrogate and getting lost in a really,really bad area! I was never so glad to finally see a sign that said M1 - that's the motorway from Leeds to Sheffield:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds just about right. He does a fantastic job of painting the scene. He doesn't venture into the upscale section very often. :<)

      Delete
  7. Book sounds good.....but I just wanted to comment on the wonderful header shot of the woodburning. I read about who made it and where it hangs and I am in absolute love with the words and the story. I didn't see a place to comment there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't you so very nice to mention it. Thanks so much. I've searched a bit but can't find it so I think just maybe Tom's grandmother really wrote it, as well as doing the wood burning. It is quite fitting for the porch since it faces west. Thanks again.

      Delete
  8. Another one to add to my list, Nan. What a great review, especially with the links.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. I really liked the book.

      Delete
  9. I'm the head honcho of "At the Scene of the Crime" (well, to be strictly accurate, the *only* honcho) and I'd like to thank you for linking to my review! I loved this book and I'm glad you enjoyed it as well. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I thank you for bringing it to my attention! I so look forward to the rest of the series.

      Delete
  10. Hi Nan,

    I haven't come across this author before, but this book has certainly gone onto my reading list off the back of your fantastic review and all the great suppoting links, which made it so interesting.

    Leeds is qute a way further up the county from where I live (we are right down in the far South), so isn't an area that we get to visit often and your links just brought the whole story alive.

    Thanks for the great recomendation

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! The book really brought Leeds to life for me. Such a strong sense of place. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

      Delete
  11. I'll be adding this to my to-read list. I love a book that has a strong sense of place, and the story is intriguing too.

    Off-topic - but on my last blog post you asked about the description of the turtles clinging to the fallen branch (what size and how many there were), so I posted photos of them :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure enjoyed it.
      And thank you! Aren't you nice to do this.

      Delete
  12. Hi Nan

    thank you so much for a great post about my book! It's taken a while for me to find it because I don't have regular access to a computer at the moment.

    Glad that the regional angle worked well for you. I wanted something 'from' Leeds, without there being too much information.

    Anyway, I'm into book 2, and will try and include a few new locations for variety!

    best wishes, John Barlow

    ReplyDelete
  13. And I thank you for your great book! Am so looking forward to the next one. Thanks also for taking the time to stop in here.

    ReplyDelete

Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.