The LONG FIRM by Jake Arnott

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In the London underworld, a funny and vicious hoodlum dreams of being a clubland impresario.

Harry Starks is a feared gangster in 1960s London, a rival of the Kray twins and every bit as ruthless. He is menacing and yet compelling. He has an expensive flat in Chelsea full of scrapbooks showing him with Judy Garland, Johnnie Ray, Sonny Liston, Ruby Ryder, and other celebrities who appear at or frequent his club. He likes to hobnob with fighters and performers, even with a member of Parliament. Harry collects them, as if proximity will give him legitimacy. He is like a performer himself, a strange mix of honor and evil. "Show business is in my blood," he boasts, chillingly. Five narrators tell the story of Harry's rise, fall, and surprising resurrection in Jake Arnott's vividly imagined portrait of the sleazy London mobs ("firms") at the end of an era. The Long Firm is being made into a five-part BBC miniseries.

The gun just goes click. Poxy automatic gone and jammed again. Click. Like a joke gun. Half expect a little flag with bang on it to come out of the barrel. Heavy-lidded eyes glaring at me. The boys have stopped dancing. People standing around stock-still like time has stopped. No joke. Look at fat Ron. Ugly lips flatten out like he's about to say something."Do him!" Ron hisses.


About Jake Arnott

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Jake Arnott is the author of The Long Firm, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, which was acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic and is being adapted as a five-part BBC series. He lives in north London.
Published August 31, 1999 by Soho Press. 343 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The LONG FIRM

Kirkus Reviews

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[for his] black moods and crazy outbursts.” Arnott keeps us guessing how he’ll continue topping himself, in an extravagantly energized narrative leavened by occasional outcroppings of grim humor (a carefully planned “hit,” for example, fizzles when its intended victim simply isn’t home).

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Publishers Weekly

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Jack the Hat is a pill-popping thug used by Starks for the dirtiest of jobs, while another employee, fading starlet Ruby Ryder, is kept in charge of Starks's pornography ring.

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Compelling for the sheer audacity of its premise and novel storytelling approach, this British miniseries begins so strongly that it pulls viewers all the way through, even though the last two hours prove a bit of a letdown.

Mar 03 2005 | Read Full Review of The LONG FIRM

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