Tuesday, 24 July 2018

He Kills Coppers by Jake Arnott

He Kills Coppers by Jake Arnott
Published in the UK by Sceptre in January 2001.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £8.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £7.63 (PB)
Waterstones : from £7.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $2.99 / £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

During the long hot summer of 1966, a senseless murder shocks the nation and brings the World Cup euphoria to an abrupt end. Yet it marks a beginning for three men, who are inextricably linked to the crime and its consequences: an ambitious detective struggling with his conscience; a tabloid journalist with a nose for a nasty story; and a disaffected thief, haunted by his violent past.

Spanning three decades of profound social change, this gripping novel explores corruption on both sides of the law and at the very heart of the state.

(I read this book in Dec 2014.) I loved both The House of Rumour and The Long Firm by Jake Arnott and so had high hopes for He Kills Coppers. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The novel has a similar London underworld setting to The Long Firm and a few characters make cameo appearances, otherwise it could have been written by a completely different author. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the previous book is absent as mostly are Arnott's descriptions and interesting characterizations. Two main characters, a journalist and a policeman, take turns speaking through first-person viewpoints but their voices are so similarly portrayed that I frequently had trouble trying to distinguish which was which. Much of their language is incredibly hackneyed and there are a lot of unexplained acronyms and jargon words that don't add authenticity, merely irritation. There is also a third-person viewpoint of a murderer on the run. His odd actions are often not really explained so it was difficult to try and build up any sense of him as a person.

He Kills Coppers is a particularly blokey book I think. Attempts at atmosphere and describing emotion are haphazard and often missing altogether leaving the emphasis on action alone. Therefore during later chapters where not much happens, it all got a bit dull. I also noticed spelling and typo errors increasing towards the end of the novel suggesting that perhaps the proof reader had gotten bored by then as well!

Apparently the overall story arc is based on true events - I haven't googled to confirm this - but, if so, the blend of imagination and realism that Arnott pulled off so well before just didn't work for me this time around.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jake Arnott / Thrillers / Books from England


  1. Oh no, it sucks when voices sound so similar that you find yourself having trouble remembering whose POV you're even in. Sorry this one didn't work for you.

    1. It felt like a completely different author to the books I had previously read!

  2. Books and movies based on true events are always interesting.

  3. It's frustrating when changing POV's aren't done well. Hope your next read is better.

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    1. This one made me cautious about picking up another Arnott novel

  4. I'd be staying away from this one purely for the World Cup storyline as I've been fed up hearing the media bang on about the one time England won it for the whole summer!!!

  5. Such a shame but there is always another book to pick up! @0zzyhog