Review: Chasing the Game by Paul Gadsby (4/5)

Thursday 10 April 2014
London, spring 1966. England’s Football Association is preparing to host the World Cup, unaware of the shock – and shame – they are about to encounter as the audacious daylight robbery of the Jules Rimet Trophy takes place. The Football Association members have their reputations endangered as the robbery threatens to tear their lives apart...

Dale Blake, the recently promoted head of a west London racketeering firm, is struggling to deal with his unstable wife, Sheryl. Aside from his personal issues, he’s desperate to boost the firm’s income and prove his leadership in front of his troops, particularly second-in-command, Jimmy Parkes. Their plan is simple: snatch the Jules Rimet Trophy from its display case at Westminster Central Hall and cash in on the ransom.

Clement Spears, the ageing chairman of the FA, is outraged at the global embarrassment the theft has caused. He refuses to be bullied by violent gangsters and plans to rescue the trophy and reaffirm the association’s good name.

As the pressure mounts, Dale’s personal and professional life spirals out of control while an erratic Sheryl, a volatile Jimmy and a steely Spears are all determined to have their say in the turbulent aftermath of this notorious crime. Throw into the mix a secret replica of the trophy and a curious dog named Pickles, and the complex mystery deepens into something far worse than any of the characters anticipated...

I read the blurb for this book and immediately wanted to read it so I was very happy when Paul asked me if I would like a review copy. I eventually got round to reading it this week and I was not disappointed. I absolutely love books about gangsters and London in the 60s but this book sounded like something a little bit different. Different because the firm in this book are planning on stealing the World Cup and holding it to ransom. The Jules Rimet trophy. I have read snippets about the real life theft in the past but nothing in any great detail and this is the first fictionalised version of the theft and overall it was a very enjoyable read.

The book opens with the murder of Tommy who leads a West London racketeering film. He is killed by an erratic character by the name of Malc who goes on the run after the murder. Stepping into Tommy's shoes and becoming the new leader of the firm is Dale Blake. This causes a bit of animosity between Dale and another gang member called Jimmy. Jimmy is the one who comes up with the idea of robbing the trophy. We also learn that the firm was set up by Tommy and Dale's dad who is in prison. There's also Sheryl who is Dale's wife and they don't have the best relationship. So even without the planned World Cup theft there's plenty of stuff going on and I got lost in this world straightaway. As I said I love books set in this era about gangsters so I was hooked from the off. I especially enjoyed the scene with a Cypriot character which is definitely not for the faint hearted. Left me feeling a bit squeamish myself actually and this happened early on so I knew the book was right up my street.

The setting of 1960s London was felt throughout the book. The city was definitely brought to life here. And the book had a strong cast of believable characters. Yes it's a book partly about football but you don't need to be a massive football fan to enjoy the book. It's also about friendships, relationships and internal conflicts within a firm and we all know how the real life ones usually turn out so the fictionalised one here was very enjoyable. The writing in the book is incredibly strong too. It was also a very gripping read which once your start you won't want to put it down. I've already had my dad asking me if I've read it yet as he wants to read it too. Overall a very enjoyable book, definitely something a bit different to what's out there at the minute and a book I highly recommend. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author.

You can buy this book from Amazon

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