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Tuesday 2 November 2021

Blood on Their Hands by Bob Brink


This made for some difficult reading. Although set in 2008, it is shockingly prescient: the focus of the story is the unwarranted, severe beating of a US immigrant by two policemen. I'm sure that rings a very loud bell.

So we're talking racism; but then there's the lawyer, Hiram Garbuncle, (who also happened to be a witness to the event) defending the victim. He's an alcoholic, or a functioning alcoholic as he calls himself, which to me is an oxymoron. An alcoholic doesn't function, he's always drunk. He's also a bit of a slob, as tight as a cat's patootie and generally rather unlikeable. How or why his best friend, or anyone, in fact, sticks by him is beyond me. Even more incomprehensible is how he's still a lawyer: he's wasted most of the time. And, despite his resolve to get justice for the victim, there's a streak of racism running through him too:  it's uncomfortable.

A raw subject, a lot of unpleasant characters, some rather clumsy dialogue: nevertheless, you're compellingly nudged to read on. Garbuncle has to dodge death and bullets and suffer tragedy to get justice. Enough to make him sober up, you'd think.

I have to say, for all that (and despite the victim, Alec, morphing momentarily into an Eric (!!!)), I did enjoy this. It moves along apace and despite Garbuncle's unattractiveness, you do find yourself rooting for him. I think the author has been rather clever here. I might have to admit that I'd be tempted to read a Garbuncle sequel!

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