Review Blog

Jun 07 2011

Long Reach by Peter Cocks

cover image

Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 978141632474.
Longreach's publishers recommend this ultra violent, fast paced thriller for readers 14+. As a parent and library staffer, I would add two more years because the violence is graphic.
Opening implausibly, the story recovers well and the experience of Eddie Savage, working undercover for an obscure justice authority is related in style and language which will meet with the approval of young adults.
A familiar plot is employed with Eddie seeking to avenge his murdered brother and he is cast well as a physically tough, resilient and street smart young man. Curiously he is written as a seventeen year old, a factor which caused me some discomfort since the plot involves him and his under aged girlfriend drinking remarkably frequently. Disturbingly, Eddie as an individual and the couple are depicted as being independent and sophisticated partially due to their attendance at restaurants, private functions and relaxing in their own homes, all activities where drinking appears to underline their maturity.
Eddie infiltrates an established and feared London criminal family and working undercover becomes embroiled in their drug trafficking, art fraud and stand over crimes. Susceptible to discovery at any time Eddie must collect evidence and report back to his controllers and the author cleverly conveys the sense of constant fear, pressure and mixed loyalty which the central character faces.
The story is fast paced and captivating, yet the author is so clearly focused on preparing sequel titles that he does not create an adequate conclusion for this one. Coming to a desultory halt, Peter Cocks pretty much shouts that we will have to await the next title to find out what happens, a marketing tactic which is disappointing to the reader.
Whilst the author could not be accused of glamorising crime, he does fail to demonstrate legal consequences or emphasise moral outcomes for the teenaged readers his publisher states he writes for. Certain characters appear to have been preserved for subsequent plots and do not receive justice.
It could be argued that teenaged readers are capable of developing their own moral conclusions and that the harsh realities that crime sometimes does pay and that villains do go free are concepts worthy of literary depiction.
Whilst the author pitched sexuality (implying experiences rather than describing them) and language (limited swearing only when necessary for authenticity) in an age appropriate fashion, it bothered me that gross violence was treated as acceptable, if not a selling point for the book.
Rob Welsh

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