Written as a dual narrative, this is an uncompromisingly gritty reflection of modern society. As such it comes with an adult content warning.
On the one hand there is hard-man Alex from a gangster-connected family, where the mother is a lush and the father’s punch bag. This same father is willing to involve his young son in illegal cage fighting and to profit from placing bets on him to lose. When the father’s violence spills into murder he needs to use any means possible to ensure that Alex keeps quiet.
The other narrator is a sensitive, gifted artist Kyle, who, with his friend Gareth, becomes the focus of Alex’s mounting frustrations that spill into sadistic, psychopathic behaviour and a catastrophic clash of values.
A fateful mistake brings the three boys into an uneasy friendship and Alex realises that he must do the right thing to try to rectify the mess that threatens any hope for his future and for the other two boys. This is a first novel. It creaks a bit in places but it is definitely a gripping, suspenseful read. Read it before you recommend it.