Review: Manchester Vice by Jack Strange from Coffin Hop Press

Manchester Noir. Dark. Sleazy. Violent. Graphically violent. Fast paced and engrossing from start to finish.

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Told in the classic noir first person style in the voice of a single narrator, Manchester Vice is the tale of Brad Sharpe and his fall from grace. The title is a clever play on words, which I won’t spoil here. Brad is a reporter for the Manchester Daily News (locals will know the real life version, Jack has even used the same location for the fictional offices as the real ones), he runs the crime desk and is getting increasingly bored. He also suspects his wife is having an affair. When a conversation with a prisoner at Strangeways, a wholly depressing building that I used to be able to see from the balcony of my Manchester flat back when I was a city dweller, leads to a cellar on the outskirts of town. A diary and some rather gory apparatus lurk within. What follows is a descent into chaos, a study of how far a man may be willing to go if pushed.

Charging around famous locations in Manchester is a great deal of fun for this particular reader, the local color really makes the story and characters relatable. My day job still takes me to the city centre on a daily basis. I have variously lived, studied and worked in Manchester on an almost daily basis since starting University in 2002. Which is why I think Brad wastes a lot of money on Taxis! You can walk most of Manchester really easily! That’s a rather silly aside though, and certainly doesn’t detract from the story or its blend of the real and the fantastic.

I adored the mash up approach that Jack uses, as well as the clear noir influences and the classic structure of the 50s, there is a lot of horror involved. A very 1970s feel to the horror in my view, graphic and detailed where it is used. You are also confronted as a reader with how quickly some can become inured to such violence. Violence is used sparingly, you know its coming which adds to the tension, but is isn’t used so often as to become a distraction to the wider tale. A balance which can be hard to strike, is achieved so well in Manchester Vice.

A good fun, gory read, layed in sleaze and filth, Manchester Vice is a face paced noir treat that is well worth your time and crucially your cash.

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