Set in the resort town of Brighton, England, this book is hailed as one of Greene’s masterpieces. The story opens with the character of Fred (Charles) Hale, hovering along the seafront in the certainty that he is about to be murdered. Thus hooked, the reader is then introduced to the other personalities that populate this stark, working-class world.
By far the most chilling, is the central character, Pinkie Brown, a catholic youth who also happens to be a sociopath and wannabe mobster; just one of his insights being “love was not an eternal thing, like hatred and disgust…”
In contrast to Pinkie, we meet the good, but irreligious barmaid, Ida, who is drawn into the events by a chance meeting with the terrified Hale. The two make a real connection and Hale asks Ida to walk with him in the hope of keeping the encircling killers at bay. However, when Ida goes for a toilet break, Hale vanishes. Later, reading about Hale’s supposedly ‘natural’ death in the papers, Ida suspects foul play…
So begins this murder mystery, with Pinkie next fixing his sinister attentions on a naïve waitress, Rose, who has the power to discredit his alibi. Will she become his next victim?
Published in 1938, Greene’s prose is as crisp as ever, and most empathically stands the test of time.
RATING: You won’t regret a promenade through the deckchairs, pebbles, piers and pages of ‘Brighton Rock’.