First, the weather. It is warm in London, too warm, the air is heavy, the sun is shining. Then the dullness. London is not the usual thrilling and naughty, alive place; it’s boring, and bored. And more, the rich powerful people, the exclusive club from Oxbridge that leads the country: not the charming well-dressed gentlemen we imagine, but gangsters exerting real physical violence, getting pleasure in the way they achieve power even more than in obtaining the power itself.
And finally sex; in this book, in this London, sex is not sexy. It is revolting, brutal, humiliating. It’s never described as something pleasurable. It’s devilish. It’s hurtful. And it’s the ultimate motor of the story.
Joe Carlyle is an inspector, a man alone, following his path towards the truth. He finds it out in the end, but it makes no difference: the city is doomed, and Carlyle can’t lead it from the darkness into the light.
The story jolts back and forth, hints from the past come and go, get us deep into the story, drown us with a sense of the ineluctable, like we’re caught in a stream that cannot be stopped or diverted. Evil wins, because it’s powerful, like a natural instinct that cannot be overcome.
Here we are in some horror film, where everybody can feel the creepy, feral black soul overwhelm the normal life, and become more than normal itself. Evil is more than just normal, it is obvious. The good is no hero. And Carlyle is not pursuing the truth rationally; rather it is mere instinct he follows.
Because the truth has no meaning, after all.
London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared, and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don’t look to us
Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain’t got no swing
‘Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing
What a world it would be, where the truth cast no light on our lives. What a dark world it would be.
Author: James Craig
Title: London Calling. An Inspector Carlyle novel
Luvvit: If you think crime stories are the keenest pictures of the present day. If you have faith in the truth; and even more if you have lost it. If you love London; and no less if you hate it.