Lead Review (Red Menace)

  • Book: Red Menace
  • Location: London
  • Author: Joe Thomas

Review Author: tripfiction

Location

Content

A novel of LONDON in the 70s and 80s

15th January 2024

Red Menace by Joe Thomas, a novel of London in the 70s and 80s.

A novel of London in the 70s and 80s

Red Menace is the second in a planned trilogy of books by Joe Thomas covering events in the East End of London in the 1970s and the 1980s. It follows on from White Riot, and precedes the yet-to-be published True Blue. I was living in London at the time, and was aware as most of what was going on in Hackney. These events to me seem pretty recent, so much so that I had trouble just now when I entered Red Menace into the TripFiction database classifying it as ‘Historical Fiction’…

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The characters and some of the detailed events described in the book are fictitious, But very clearly Joe Thomas has done a great deal of painstaking research. The book has a ring of truth about it. It primarily covers the Broadwater Estate riots in Tottenham and the movement of ‘Fleet Street’ to Wapping – and the links between the two. It is a story of bent police planting and dealing in drugs, dodgy East End councils being manipulated by corrupt land developers, and the freezing out of the once all powerful print Trade Unions – set against a series of ‘politically inspired’ pop concerts culminating in Live Aid in 1985.

It was a very different time. Though I am far from sure the black youth of North London feel any more supportive of the police now than they did then, or that corruption has been removed from the property development process. We used to think that such things were un-British – I’m not sure that we do any more. And world poverty hasn’t exactly gone away since Live Aid.

Red Menace is an excellent and nostalgic trip down memory lane. The London of the day is well portrayed and the (fictitious) characters are well drawn and convincing.

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