Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rubbish Book Reviews - Reviewing rubbish books so you don't have to read them

Rubbish Book Reviews - Reviewing rubbish books so you don't have to read them

No.2: 'Mad Frankie: Memoirs of a Life of Crime' - Frankie Fraser

Mad Frankie? Rubbish Frankie, more like.

My latest book rescued from the pile of abandoned dross found in the laundrette is the slash 'n' tell autobiography of one of London's most notorious criminals. I wasn't expecting Tolstoy here - not by any stretch. Good Lord, I didn't even expect Dan Brown, but this is hardly a work of literary genius.

The fact that - by his own admission - that he has spent more than half of his life doing stir suggests that he wasn't a very good one, but even in his 80s, Fraser would probably still be able to have both my legs broken for making such a scurrilous suggestion.

Less a book, unfortunately, more a series of unedited monologues spoken to an unfortunate ghostwriter, who, tied to a chair in the basement of a South London gymnasium made little attempt to make any sort of sense of Fraser's ramblings; and as such, it's hard to tell where one pummelling ends and the next inch-of-your-life slashing begins.

The whole experience isn't helped by the fact that the portrait Fraser paints of himself is so utterly unlikeable. He spent the Second World War dodging the draft, robbing shops, doing prison and feigning mental illness, and it was downhill from there.

Renowned for his brutality in the face of some slag who grassed him up and broke the criminals' code, he is remarkably reticent about the people he'd thrash into a bloody pulp, and the details of said thrashing, preferring, instead, the euphemism "sorting him out".

Random Criminal Code Quote: "And then we had a drink", meaning "I met the Krays in a pub, said very little, but came to an unspoken understanding that I was to beat the living shit out of a number of people. Then we had a drink."

Famous - and infamous - faces waft in and out of the confusing narrative, but there's no real continuity, and instead of the grudging admiration you get from Bark Charles Bronson's book, this leaves you with an overwhelming sense of "So what?" - a life wasted, and the waste of a book.

He's running guided tours of London Gangland for tourists these days. Poor Frankie.

The only other book left lying around the laundry is one about our Lord, big-nosed spiritual leader and creative tax-avoidance specialist Bono. I shall save myself the bother of reading it and writing a review by leaving the following two words: "sanctimonious cunt".

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