I’ve got a book review for you today & with the Six Nations coming up, I thought it only right that I should review a book centred on rugby – in fact, it’s a Rugby World Cup thriller!
Crossing the Whitewash by Nick Rippington is a fascinating book.
Chapter One introduces us to our protagonist, Gary Marshall who is growing up on a gritty London council estate. He & his best mate Arnie form a gang called the Boxer Boys & we follow them as they get up to all sorts. It is in this part of the book that we also discover how Gary becomes a ‘cripple’ as the others cruelly name him.
The first part of the book ends with something pretty big happening (I won’t tell you what – go read it!) and the dynamics of the gang are changed completely.
We fast forward a few years & Gary is living in Cardiff under a false name – almost trying to throw his past away. We find out why towards the end in a dramatic finale which takes place in the Millennium Stadium!
I did a course in university once on Writing Men & it was all about male protagonists. I actually took the course because I tend to read more books in the romance genre & I wanted to change that. Some of the books I read on that course changed my life but I’ve fallen back into my old habits recently, so I was very excited to read a thriller focusing on a male protagonist.
This book did not disappoint. It was pretty hard hitting at the beginning & warning: it contains quite a bit of violence! These fast paced scenes were extremely well choreographed & very realistic.
The author divides the book between London & Cardiff. I found that the London scenes were very dramatic while the Cardiff scenes were much lighter & had many comedic elements too. I enjoyed the Cardiff sequences much more & that is probably because of two reasons:
- I’m not used to reading violence
- Wales is my home & I’m much more familiar with it
At the end, these two different worlds collide & the final few pages are both surprising & exciting, keeping me gripped until the very last word. All the story-lines that had weaved their way through the book were tied up by the end & it was so great to know the answers to everything.
Nick nails the accents in this book too – the Welsh voices in particular were captured very well. At times, I felt the dialogue could have been more natural but the way in which the characters spoke was perfect!
Although the book is in the thriller genre, I felt that the reader wasn’t held in suspense throughout the entire book & I enjoyed this since I could relax into it a little more. Whilst the beginning & the ending are quite dramatic, the middle was a nice break where we are able to see the characters much more.
Nick’s background as a Welsh sports editor ensures that there are sports references aplenty which makes the book a must for any rugby or boxing fan. His descriptions of Match day in Cardiff are so evocative & true to life.
The tensions between the Welsh & the English, particularly when it comes to rugby, are also done brilliantly!
I gave this book 4/5 stars – the plot is incredibly strong, the characters are wonderfully drawn & Nick brings in the right amount of suspense without pushing it too far.
Not to be missed if you love gang fiction, Welsh literature or sport.
Any views expressed are my own & I have not been paid for this review, although it was gifted to me for review.