REVIEW by Chris Moss

NWR Issue 105

Ugly Bus

by Mike Thomas

Somewhere between the romanticised detective fictions of Ian Rankin and Colin Dexter and the depressing reality of gritty, formulaic television documentaries about speeding motorists and midnight drunks lies the shadowy world of real police work.

Mike Thomas worked for two decades as a cop before turning to novel writing, and his working-class characters, down-at-heel urban locations and hard-boiled language ring true. Much of the dialogue in Ugly Bus is delivered in a dry slang that can become wearing at times but is probably true to form. The title is typical, the ‘ugly bus’ referring to the TSG or Territorial Support Group police vans that patrol our city centres, especially on special events and Saturday nights. Five cops (Martin, Flub, Dullas, Vince, Flinch) have been assigned said vehicle for the Boxing Day football derby. As well as the inevitable stresses of coping with drunken, raucous, potentially violent fans, the cops have to keep apart two groups of political activists. Damned by one faction as ‘Nazi scum’ and by the other as allies of the Unite Against Fascism protestors, they are obliged to remain publically neutral while reflecting on their own individual prejudices...

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previous review: The Bad Doctor: The Troubled Life & Times of Dr Iwan James
next review: Dark Actors: The Life and Death of Dr David Kelly



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