Johnny Come Home, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'Hypnotic, feverish and altogether wonderful' (Guardian) - the author of the bestselling Long Firm trilogy turns his eye on the anarchic 1970s.

As the dreams of the 1960s give way to anger and political unrest in the '70s, 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.


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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.

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