Genre: Thriller, Crime, Dark
“DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
ENTER THE DRUG GANG…
What would you be prepared to do to have everything you ever wanted? How far would you go and where would you draw the line?
These are the questions facing John Kennedy, a young man with a mysterious past from Belfast – Northern Ireland, when he arrives in Manchester in the summer of 2001 and finds the sinister but exciting world of drug gang The Brotherhood…
This twisty urban crime thriller takes us into the violent underbelly of organized crime in England in the early 2000s and contains drug dealing, robbery and vengeful murder.”
I’m always wary of media that boasts controversy or disturbing content and the like, however ‘Drug Gang’ IS both compelling and easily controversial. After the protagonist and atmosphere were introduced, I kept waiting for the ‘good guys’ or change of heart to be quickly following, but they never showed. And this is what made the story so great.
John isn’t your typical lead character; he is, in the general sense of the word, a lowlife. That’s not to say he’s a bad person, he’s simply not interested in the society and lifestyles that the world favors. After going from bouncing between dead-end jobs and sinking into a general apathy regarding life, John takes an interview with a close friend’s boss with the promise of an exciting new career. He learns that this work will entail drug dealing and fending off rival gangs.
Forsaking normalcy for riches and freedom, John falls in love with a life he always wanted, but never expected to achieve. He’s not afraid to do what needs to be done to maintain this lifestyle and protect his new ‘brothers.’ In fact, he quite enjoys the daily grind of strength training, night clubs, drugs, brawls, and parties. Getting to do the things you love while having everything you could ever want and at minimal risk? Fuck yeah.
Although his new life does entail danger, including the morally acceptable dismissal of common law, John is at peace. That is…until his boss’ actions whilst disciplining certain members takes it a little to far for his comfort. John can reconcile everything he has done thus far, but there remains things even he won’t accept as okay. At this point, most stories would see John return to the typical notion of right vs wrong. In this book, though? What transpires may surprise you.
I found this representation of a protagonist very refreshing. It’s not often that an author shows the other side of the coin AND does so in a way that is relatable and, dare I say, positive in its own right. ‘Drug Gang’ presents a story of a prevalent, albeit undermined and unappreciated, mindset in the world we live. While it is clear that John isn’t interested in a stereotyped sense of morale, he does have a sense of what is acceptable and what, in no way, is anything except evil.
I don’t know if John’s beliefs will change over the course of the series or if he will maintain the same views that make this book uniquely interesting in its approach, but I’m definitely eager to see what happens in the next installment.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden