4 out of 4 stars
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Regular activities in Bull Heads Pub in Halifax, West Yorkshire, get suspended when two unsuspecting guys get in and torch the whole place. This arson sets the pace for a thrilling, fast-paced, action-packed gang story written by Terence O'Rourke, Good Lads. The fire gets the attention of the police, who swiftly kickstart the complex investigation process. First, they have to figure out the motives and intentions of those who set off the fire, but it's not only them who act after the inferno. Bobby Collins, the owner of the pub and the leader of a gang in the city, also needs to find answers fast and act.
Bobby believes the fire might have been caused by a rising gang led by two Polish brothers, Pete and Willy. Well, Bobby only knows one way of dealing with this threat and isn't hesitant to execute it. So he sets out on a mission to eliminate this potential threat to his dominance. This plot, like many others Bobby had hatched up to now, succeeds, but he still has work to do to protect his territory. He has to fend off police and investigative agencies who keep sniffing around, hoping they'll finally find something to send him to jail for. He also has to deal with a surprising and real threat from an Irish gang led by Irish Bill, who forces him to investigate the murder of his daughter. Despite all this, the calm and stoic Bobby remains adamant about getting into the lucrative drug business, which gets him entangled with another dangerous drug cartel from Columbia. Bobby faces many challenges through his journey and has to deal with them to survive in the murky world he chose for himself. Being the expert Bobby is, he assembles a group of dedicated, hardworking, and composed people that help him navigate the huge waves that come his way. These are the people he occasionally refers to as his good lads.
This book was an absolute page-turner. It constantly kept me on the edge of my seat and never let me get comfortable. The consistent action, plot twists, and suspense left me yearning for more of the story. I enjoyed that I couldn't predict what would happen in the next chapter or even the next page as I read the book. The book's descriptions of actions and scenes were vivid and clear. The author also knew which emotions to stir at which points, which improved the experience of reading the book. Specifically, it almost felt like watching the crime film Gangs of London.
The author did excellently with character development in this book. He explored sides of the characters that showed their emotions and personalities quite well. I couldn't help but fall in love with the protagonist in the story, Bobby Collins. He was always calm, calculative, and brutal when required. I loved that he could show empathy towards his men even when they made costly mistakes. Also, he always came through for them and even shared the same lawyer with them. The fact that he believed they were good people and even called them good lads said so much about him. This isn't a trait most authors would give to gang leaders in their stories. Arthur's loyalty, though expected, was also something I liked about the story.
Another trait of a good writer is their ability to simultaneously flow different storylines and thoughts in a book without making them confusing. Terence gives us almost four parallel storylines in the book, jellying them expertly and enjoyably. He narrated the police investigations, cartel rivalries, politics, drug business, Bobby's club business, and love life without confusing them. I loved that I was able to keep up with all these stories without even once getting confused. I applaud the author for jellying these stories perfectly.
I disliked nothing about this book; therefore, I gave it a perfect five out of five stars. It was well-written and professionally edited. The language was also simple and easy to understand. However, the understandable use of profanity in the book may make it unsuitable for younger audiences. I recommend it to all crime thrillers lovers; they'll enjoy reading this one.
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