In life, it’s tangled webs we weave. In small towns, those webs are likely to become infinitely more tangled.
Unfortunately for the Morgan brothers, this complication isn’t something they’ve considered when they decide to move out to The Point of the title.
In their defence, moving there makes sense in the context that the local hard man and hippy-thug (Mad Mike) has given Paul a week to get out of Belfast. Even though Mickey smokes a lot of gear, when it comes to retribution he’s about as laid back as Mike Tyson on speed.
To get them started, the brothers have to rob a few houses to build up a stash of cash.
Paul and Brian don ski-masks for their work. During one of their crimes, we see that Paul is a quick thinker and a man with a slick tongue who’s likely to talk himself out of any situation; by contrast, Brian, is seen to have a conscience that might be described as a half-baked, murky grey.
Once their stash is collected, all they need is transport. Paul, in one of his twisted moments, decides to take the van from the hippy - after all, they’re leaving the city and there’s no way they’ll be caught. How little he knows his new enemy.
When they get to The Point, the differences between Paul and Brian lead them into different lives. Paul has his mind set on getting involved with the local mobster and climbing to the top of the criminal tree. Brian meets a girl and decides it’s about time he settled down. The thing is his girl’s a real firecracker; her psychopath points outscore Brian and Paul together.
The story unfolds from there as we watch webs weave around the boys like executioner’s rope.
Gerard Brennan’s novella, The Point, is a wonderful example of setting off at pace and then maintaining momentum right to the end.
His writing style has no frills. He delivers the story without any obvious tricks or hidden doors. What you see is what you get.
What you get is a cast of characters who are so wonderfully defined and so brilliantly conceived that it’s a wonder adventure finding out what they’re going to do next.
Brennan writes about human responses to situations with accuracy and frankness.
Then there’s the plot. It really hums along. Each chapter complicates the lives of the protagonists a little further. Turns the screw a notch. More importantly, he brings everyone together so that everyone stumbles into everyone else’s business like they’re toppling dominoes.
I thought long and hard about whether to mention Bateman as my best attempt at giving you a mark for Brennan’s territory. Clearly I’ve failed. But that’s OK. The humour, intensity and sure pleasure of the read are reminiscent of the Bateman I’ve read and, as such, if you’ve enjoyed ‘I Predict A Riot’ and the like, this one’s definitely for you.
If you’re like me and you really love the cover, you can judge the pages within by what you see in that image (great job, Pulp Press).
Mr Brennan, I urge you to go forth and multiply (in the book sense). Please.
The Point is available at the bargain price of £1.14.