1968 the year the swinging sixties smash into the summer of love. Britain’s adolescence explores life at the edge. LSD, Marijuana and Purple hearts become names as synonymous as Carnaby Street, the Beatles and Mary Quant.
JAMES BISHOP, born into the harsh realities of a post war Britain has survived in the only way he knows, from petty thief to gentleman gangster, Raffles in a camel coat.
The bloody Krays, self-proclaimed Kings of the underworld, have gone and dropped Jimmy right in it. So long under their protection, their arrest means he is vulnerable to those that seek the Krays vacated throne. Drawn into a fight for criminal supremacy, he must not only face up to the demons of his past, which threaten to explode his understanding of family truths, but adapt to a seismic shift in criminality that sees a deadlier, more lucrative substance hit Britain’s streets: heroin.
A histiographic exploration of crime through four decades, mating a fusion of real world events with fiction. Bishop E16 to Sw3 is the first in a quintet of novels set on making James Bishop as familiar to the public as Vito Corleone, the Godfather.
I have a confession, I’m an addict…. James Ellroy, Elmore Leonard, Hammett, Chandler, Thompson, a slew of excellent American crime authors that opened a world much after my own vision, dark, self-destructive, cynical.
But, you ask, what of the Brits…. enter Ted Lewis, he of Jack return’s home, translated to celluloid as Get Carter, a man that combined the grit and brutality of the British crime scene, a far cry from the brashness of American authors.
The novels are heavily influenced by this world of noir, cinematic in their approach, uncompromising and brutal.
Why 1968? In crime terms, we’re talking about every Brits favourite criminals, those lovable rogues, the Krays…. Yep, Ronnie and Reggie, the psychopath and the homosexual, so distorted in fact and fiction that they’ve become falsely idolised over the years. This book puts a full stop, new paragraph, capital letter on that era by starting as the Krays are arrested.
This, in no way is yet another novel featuring the Krays…
1968 was dubbed the summer of love and it is hard to fathom why. Globally, The Viet Cong launch the Tet offensive. Paris is embroiled in student riots. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King are assassinated, and to top it all the Russians invade Czechoslovakia.
Whilst the world was in a state of aggression, 1968 saw a momentous shift in criminality with the introduction of heroin, in what would become the footing of the modern drug trade in Britain.
Why James Bishop? Similarly, he is born into the harsh world of the East End, home to the Krays. The problem from a story goal was that the Krays offered nothing more than a stereotypical insight into the British gangster. The majority of criminals of that era were unorganised and crime was localised. Jimmy, once pushed, sees crime as a global business. Jimmy has a plan and with that comes a greater narrative arc and the chance to explore multiple story through lines.
The first novel, set in London, explores Jimmy’s trajectory from grass roots to heir apparent of London’s criminal fraternity. Heroin, being the central turning point for all those involved, highlights the naivety of the criminal fraternity’s readiness to pursue this line of criminal endeavour. Crime is just one storyline. The impact of criminal activities past and present also plays a major role in defining character paths and their relationships. The basis of Jimmy’s character stemmed from my love of all things Michael Caine. Before you start quoting “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off,” let’s look at the man and the actor. A cockney, intelligent, good looking, a man with presence that proved he could cross class boundaries, (ALFIE, ZULU, THE ITALIAN JOB). This element was key in Jimmy’s character development as he aspires to escape the trappings of birth and the associated opportunities restricted to class.