Billie Morgan by Joolz Denby (www.serpentstail.com)
It has been long enough since I last read one of Joolz’s books that I have two to read the first one was Billie Morgan that has the dread slogan at the bottom of the cover that reads “Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for fiction” which is the sort of tag line that normally gets me running away worrying at how bad something must be to be accepted into one of the major book prizes.
But then I’ve liked Joolz back far enough to the days when she never used her surname on anything and this novel follows her normal topics of life in and around the badlands of Bradford in Yorkshire and in this case we are following in flashbacks the life of Billie Morgan who as a youngster had been queen bee at the Devils Own Motorbike club, of course women weren’t allowed to be actual members and Joolz paints a picture of a time when just about every village large enough to have a couple of Ginnels would also have at least one motorbike club either of the hells angels or devils own style varieties and we journey into the dark heart of the one she belonged to.
The story slowly unfolds as do the lives of the characters as they intertwine and fracture and fall apart in the messiest of situations I had almost figured out the main twist before the end as Natty’s problems come to a head as his mum Jaz’s life falls to pieces and Billies role in her life is revealed in all it’s nasty reality.
Yes this book clings to the “It’s Grim Oop North” cliche quite tightly, but it’s also very well written and a good story and well worth reading if not Joolz best book yet.