Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

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Lionel Asbo … Not for the faint-hearted

The end of this book was almost a blur because I felt so nervous – the tension had been building for sooooo long that I don’t know if I took the words in properly. Martin Amis has a wonderful style, very raw, and Lionel Asbo has to be one of the most … ahhhh … distasteful characters ever to be immortalised on paper.

I haven’t read much of Amis before so when I saw Lionel Asbo: State of England I thought why not? Reading the front and back covers made it sound quite funny. And it was! But it was also very, very chilling. Because I’m sure there are many real Lionel Asbos out there in the world, not just in England.

He’s a thug and petty criminal, who, in a fit of rage, makes someone disappear. In prison, on completely unrelated charges, he wins a fortune in the national lottery. Once he’s out, a reporter and photographer pretty much follow his every move – his new lifestyle and old personality are perfect tabloid fodder. He never thinks to help his large, struggling family with any cash and crashes his way through life with his own sense of what’s right and wrong.

Yes, his nephew and other main character, Desmond, does do something that 99.9% of the population would consider to be very, very wrong. But Lionel’s version of justice keeps you on tenterhooks right to the end. What will he do to Desmond?

I can’t say too much, other than if you’re looking for a bit of a laugh with a sinister undertone, this could be the perfect story. If you’re into civility, decorum and being nice to dogs, then this could be totally wrong.

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