CLUB by Bill James


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 Lucky Ian Aston skates on the robbery charges that dragged down his mates, so he's free to get beaten to death on a garbage dump a few months later. The police suspects, Caring Oliver Leach and his sidekick Pete Chitty, have already lined up Aston's replacement: Ralph Ember, owner of the Monty, a club where only the quality congregate. (Caring inveigles wary Ralph into a big bank job by pointing out that now he can send his daughters to a school that teaches real Latin.) But Chief Supt. Colin Harpur, now in his seventh round, wonders whether Aston was actually killed by his boss, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles, whose pregnant wife Sarah had been sleeping with Aston up to and including the day he died. As Harpur and Chief Constable Mark Lane dance a stately minuet of questioning around elaborately ironic Iles, and as Sarah gapes at the crew who are restaging her lover's death for the telly--a horrifyingly funny sequence--Ember and his new best friends are rushing toward a TV tableau of their own (``I'm sorry if this sounds like Humphrey Bogart a bit,'' Caring tells the hostages in the bank job, ``but it's hard to fight free from those films we've all seen''). The menace is more muted and the plotting less inevitable than in Take (1994), but James's ear for the class distinctions that motivate and doom his luckless cast is still the best in the business.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1995
ISBN: 0-88150-331-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Countryman
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1995


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