Saturday 7 April 2012

Review: One Of Us by Iain Rowan

Iain Rowan has played a blinder with his latest book (and first full length novel) One Of Us. It's a crime novel from Infinity Plus, and like pretty much everything else I've read by Rowan it transcends the genre it's written in to become something else: an Iain Rowan book. And who cares about all this genre nonsense anyway, aside from marketing people - a good book is a good book. And even by his own previous high standards the author has excelled here.
One Of Us is told from the point of view of Anna, a medical student who has come to the UK illegally (the reasons why she has left home only become clear gradually). She is living in a hostel and working in a burger bar, when one day comes the chance to gain some identification papers - at the price of using her surgical skills for some local mobsters...
The story is told in the first person, and Rowan's depiction of Anna's point of view and character is accomplished and spot on. The characterisation of the others in the book, and the depiction of their changing relationships to Anna, is also extremely well done. The book takes a particularly adult and realistic look at how friendship (as opposed to romantic attachment) comes about and falls apart. Despite, or perhaps because of, the first-person narrative, the prose of the novel fizzes with great turns of phrase, acute observations, and sarcastic dialogue.

What really sets this book apart is its viewpoint - there's a palpable sense of anger at the way people like Anna are treated: the ignorance, the casual racism, the refusal to see. It's this that underpins the plot's twists and turns, and makes for a book both exciting and moving.

As I said, a blinder. You can get hold of it both as an ebook (Amazon UK | US) or a paperback (UK | US) and frankly you have no excuse not to.

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