It's 1972 and as the dreams of the sixties give way to anger and political unrest, the charismatic anarchist Declan O'Connell commits suicide, leaving his boyfriend Pearson and fellow squatter Nina to try to make sense of what has happened.
Enter Sweet Thing, a streetwise rent boy, who has an uncanny hold over glam rock star Johnny Chrome; and in the wings lurks Detective Sergeant Walker of the newly formed Bomb Squad, who knows more about O'Connell than anyone ever suspected.
The course of all their lives is about to change forever - for better and for worse.
In this taut, powerful novel, Jake Arnott portrays four people searching for a sense of identity, their emotional and sexual turmoil mirrored by the turbulence of the times.
Bringing that era vividly to life, he captures the mood of Britain at a turning point in history.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 08/02/2007
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780340818596
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.
Review by MikeFarquhar
Read Johnny Come Home by Jake Arnott on the train today, which moves on historically from his previous three books, set in the London underworld of the 60s, to the glam rock scene of the 70s.Three characters orbit around each other: Stephen Pearson, a hippy living in a squat, still reeling from the suicide of his lover, the anarchic Declan O'Connell; Nina, who shared the squat with them, struggling to come to terms with her own mixed-up sexuality; and Sweet Thing, a teenage rent boy that Pearson invites to live in O'Connell's room on an impulse. Floating around on the outskirts are DI Walker, a philosophical policeman who has been investigating the terrorist activities of the Angry Brigade; and Johnny Chrome, a sort of quasi-Gary Glitter figure who has accidentally hit on the secret of early glam rock, and has unexpectedly become a Top of the Pops star, who has discovered that he needs the semi-mocking presence of Sweet Thing in his life to perform.The novel starts with O'Connell's suicide from a heroin overdose, and his death echoes through the rest of the book. Unable to deal with his lover's death, Pearson starts to slowly crumble, accelerated when he discovers the material to make a bomb in O'Connell's effects. The tension in the novel slowly rises, as the elements of the three's lives start to wind together. The climax when it comes feels inevitable, with an understated air of optimism amidst the devastation wreaked on the characters.Arnott writes well; the feel of a different time pulses through and he succeeds in making the 70s feel like a genuine place rather than a stop on a tourist tour. His characters have passion - though it varies from vibrant electric fire to the dulled, deadened embers found in Pearson - and the plot, while feeling spare for a lot of the book, layers well to the conclusion.