Monday 12 June 2017
IAN AYRIS - APRIL SKIES (2016)
An East End tale to tear your heart out...
Sometimes, you don’t know what sort of man you are until you are called upon to protect your family.
Bethnal Green, East London. Nineteen-ninety-one.
John Sissons is out of work, out of friends, and out of luck. Fortune soon smiles upon him, though, and he gets a job in a door factory.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
But as the days go by in the factory, and the layers are peeled away, John realises he didn’t get this job by accident.
His past is exploding in front of his eyes. And when you have a past like the one John has, he knows he’ll be lucky if he makes it out alive.
Every fibre in his body is telling him to run. But John’s had a lifetime of running. Running is no longer an option.
When his sister goes missing, John knows it’s only a matter of time before they come for him.
But he won’t be going down without a fight.
Not this time.
Another outing with John Sissons, as we pick up on his life after events in Ayris' Abide With Me.
Family life has moved on. John's father died in our last book and Charlie is his mum's partner, an arrangement that now sits comfortably with John. John works the markets with Charlie before harsh economics intercede with the dead of Charlie's white van. Unemployment is the new reality.
A situation which changes when Sissons is offered a job in a door factory. John's an ex-con, with a past that involved Ronnie Swordfish. Ronnie and his family have long memories and an appetite for revenge. Before too long he realises his enemies have him just where they want him, but despite his jeopardy, his main focus remains Becky, his not so little sister any more. Who's the mysterious boyfriend and is Becky a pawn in a larger game targeting Sissons?
Great story telling with a finely depicted East End. There's a wee bit of social commentary as Ayris observes the changing face of the community through immigration. There's also a fair bit of football, as we follow West Ham, again on another cup run this time in 1991.
A really enjoyable book, in the company of a sympathetic protagonist. Sissons isn't perfect but he commands our allegiance. Ayris again demonstrates the importance of family, community, friendship and loyalty.
4.5 from 5
Ian Ayris has his website here. In addition to Abide With Me, he has one other published work (apart from short story contributions to some UK anthologies) - One Day in the Life of Jason Dean. It's on my radar.
Read in May, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 176
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle