The Concrete Grove (Concrete Grove, #1) - Gary McMahon
The word concrete, the overpowering image of the Concrete Grove, the shear struggle for survival in a world full of harsh, bitter and destructive influences is what flows through this book making it an unbelievable and at times difficult read. The content is bleak, the subject matter is bleak and the characters we meet, for the most part are people at the bottom of the food chain struggling for some form of survival and existence. The story takes place in a run down council estate somewhere in North East England, and in such a locality there lives the takers and those who are taken from. The author must surely draw upon his knowledge when he introduces us to Monty Bright, evil personified who together with his associates Terry (whose prosthetic limb lends itself to one of the most enduring and horrific scenes)and Francis Boater a murdering psychopath for most of his life but finally finds some sort of peaceful conclusion. The only real hero, in an otherwise pitiful list of characters, is Hailey whose bad luck it is to find herself living in this concrete hell, but has the good fortune to be drawn to a form of magic that may prove her redemption. Hailey's mother Lana Fraser is a woman who will do anything to remove herself from the burning fires of this living nightmare and when she finds herself in debt to Monty Bright hopes that her friendship with Tom will be her escape. Tom receives very little sympathy from the reader as he is fundamentally a weak character and bemoans his life and his non existent marriage to the grotesque Helen. Gary McMahon graphically shows what life must be like living in the gutter style existence of the concrete jungle where only the takers succeed and the taken from survive by eking out an existence in a world that largely chooses to ignore them.