Review of East End Butcher Boy by Joe Lawrence


I rarely enjoy a book as much as this one. I binged it and completed it in one day. This story is addictively fascinating.

 

We are taken to the East-End of London in 1974. We meet Joe, a lazy fourteen-year-old who really doesn’t like the idea of anything even scantily linked to working.  His mother has other ideas and drags him out of bed one Saturday morning to attend an interview—in a butcher shop of all things.

 

Joe is determined not to get the job, but daren’t not turn up. He compromises and walks in with a belligerent teenage attitude an hour and a half late. Far from being interviewed, he’s thrown an apron and told to make the tea.

 

And that’s it—the morning that maps the rest of Joe’s life. He’s never had to work so hard before and he loves every second of it.

 

It only takes him a few weeks to gain the trust of Roy and he’s brought into the back-end of the business. Roy is one of the most notorious and well-known ‘fences’ in the East-End. Anything that falls off the back of a lorry goes into the back room of his shop and Roy finds a buyer for it.  He takes Joe under his wing and trains him in the world of commerce—but not the kind of apprenticeship you’d ever find advertised in Further Education. They buy wagon-loads of knock-off from corned beef and cowboy boots to sanitary towels.

 

This is the best book of the year so far. I loved every word of it and didn’t want it to end.  The characters are larger than life and jump off the page at you, and the description is just as big and generous. The writing is conversational and so easy to read that the pages almost turn themselves.

 

If you only read one book this year, make it this one.  Excellent.

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