When a middle-aged alcoholic is found brutally battered to death on a roadside in West London, the case is assigned to a nameless detective sergeant, a tough-talking cynic and fearless loner from the Department of Unexplained Deaths at the Factory police station.
Working from cassette tapes left behind in the dead man's property, our narrator must piece together the history of his blighted existence and discover the agents of its cruel end.
What he doesn't expect is that digging for the truth will demand plenty of lying, and that the most terrible of villains will also prove to be the most attractive. In the first of six police procedurals that comprise the Factory series, Derek Raymond spins a riveting, and vividly human crime drama.
Relentlessly pursuing justice for the dispossessed, his detective narrator treads where few others dare: in the darkest corners of London, a city of sin plagued by unemployment, racism and vice, and peopled by a cast of low-lifes, all utterly convincing and brought to life by Raymond's pitch-perfect dialogue.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 14/09/2006
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9781852427962
- EPUB from £6.39
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by darkline
Bleak crime drama with the sort of tough guys that only a generation of encroaching nihilism can create. Through the legacy of a brutalized corpse's confessional audio tapes, the nameless Factory detective discovers what purpose a man can make for himself when despair and hopelessness have devoured everything. Hard noir with a hidden empathy that is almost indiscernible, but by God! it is there, nonetheless. Very good, but not for those who are looking for sunlight.
Review by sherton
"All the evil in the world is powerless against intelligence and courage".A dead body of a man is found in London and the detective protagonist needs to find who did it. What he finds is an interesting oral history of the victim's life captured by the victim on tapes. The tapes reveal the loneliness and destitution that the victim endures and the people that play a part of his life and death.This book was originally published in the 1980's and the writing is fantastic. I really enjoyed this noir crime story. It is stark, gritty and real and you keep wanting to read more. The great mastery of this story is that you never learn the name of the detective who is investigating the story and you don't even realize it because it is so well written. I can't wait to read the next in the series.Thank you to Mr. Raymond, Melville House Publishing and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
Review by missizicks
In a word: brilliant. The narrative is compelling, the prose like poetry. Raymond wrote as well as Dostoevsky about the criminal mind, the pathos of the victim, and the frustrations of the law enforcer.
Review by nigeyb
My first novel by Derek Raymond (born Robin Cook in 1931, and who died in London in 1994). The son of a textile magnate, he dropped out of Eton aged sixteen and was employed at various times as a pornographer, organiser of illegal gambling, money launderer, pig-slaughterer and minicab driver. Much of this work experience is reflected in He Died With His Eyes Open, the first of the Factory novels, nominal police procedurals narrated by the unnamed protagonist, a sergeant at London's Metropolitan Police Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. A14 handles the lowlife murders, and which are in stark contrast to the headline-grabbing homicides handled by the prestigious Serious Crimes Division, better known as Scotland Yard.He Died With His Eyes Open was a precursor to the work of David Peace and James Ellroy and, if that makes you sit up and take notice, then you should most certainly read this book. I am now resolved to read the other four Factory novels.The tale takes place in the London of the mid 1980s, and the brutal killing of Charles Staniland - a middle-aged alcoholic failure - is handed to the sergeant at A14. The detection primarily involves the sergeant listening to cassette tapes made by the victim in which he describes his relationships and his personal reflections on his complex and dysfunctional world. This is not a standard crime novel, and - like the best genre fiction - Derek Raymond pushes the boundaries to create a bleak and surprising study of obsession and evil, that also evokes the matt black darkness of Thatcher's London. Beautifully written and quietly profound, what more could could anyone want from a crime novel?4/5