Author: Gareth Spark
Publisher: Near To The Knuckle
Release Date: March 2016
Marwick – a thug-for-hire with a dark past – is marking time in Spain with his criminal associates, running a bar, but increasingly disenchanted with the decisions he has made. When a potentially lucrative drug-deal goes haywire, and ends with one of his dearest friends shot in cold blood, Marwick is determined to track down the men responsible for the killing. Caught between his duplicitous, self-serving Cockney cronies, and a gang of sadistic Eastern European gangsters, Marwick unravels his flimsy leads one at a time, until he is right at the heart of a murderous criminal conspiracy.
Lean and mean, Marwick’s Reckoning sees Gareth Spark make the step up from respected short story writer to Brit-grit contender. The propulsive plot is peppered with outbreaks of sudden, bloody violence, and the well-rendered Spanish backdrop sets the story apart from bog-standard British crime capers that Spark appears to rail against with his richly observed set-up. Marwick himself is a principled man in an increasingly shitty line of work, and he finds himself surrounded by hideous men – all trying to keep their heads above water in the gangster toilet bowl.
Anyone who has sampled Spark’s shorter fiction will already be familiar with his compelling brand of poetic crime fiction, but to his credit, this novel is also a skilful whodunit, a facet initially obscured by the classiness of his prose. If you are fond of lazy comparisons, try: Sexy Beast rewritten by Derek Raymond. If you are fond of thoughtful well-written Brit-crime thrillers, try Marwick’s Reckoning. This is a terrific book that will hopefully see Spark nudged slightly closer to mainstream success.
Reviewed by Tom Leins