Taylor, D J - 'Secondhand Daylight'
James Ross is a writer/poet living on the very edge of society, scraping a living anyway he can in 1930s London.
He is offered a job working as a rent collector for a nightclub owner and is asked to supplement this as a part-time bouncer for the club. When collecting the rents, James meets Gladys and falls for her in a big way although she doesn't keep her promises and treats him badly.
The nightclubs and chemists selling certain personal products for gentlemen are being targeted by bat-wielding hooligans with links to Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts. James is caught up in an incident and is taken to the police station, charged with fighting. He is given the opportunity to work undercover for a shadowy figure called Haversham investigating the Blackshirts. James takes up the offer and volunteers at Mosley's headquarters.
The period is well researched and comes across very well: the poverty and the daily grind to make ends meet as well as the political situation, as fascism is promoted as a panacea for all of society's ills.
However, I found this really irritating to read. I don't particularly like reading about this period of history but the main reason was because I didn't feel any affinity for the main character, James Ross, and just wished he would grow up. I felt as if the author is aiming for an atmosphere similar to the Chandler mysteries but if this is the case, he missed by a mile in my opinion. This hasn't got the lightness of touch or of humour that Chandler evokes effortlessly.
Susan White, England