GBH, short for Grievous Bodily Harm, is an unnerving tale of paranoia and madness in the heart of the 1970s London criminal underworld. Two intertwining narratives - past and present - chronicle the man's tragic fall from power. In London, Fowler resides at the head of a lucrative criminal syndicate that specializes in the production and distribution of "blue films" - illegal pornography and some nasty stuff. Fowler is king, with a beautiful girl at his side and a swanky penthouse office atop a high-rise, but his entire world is in jeopardy.
Someone is undermining his empire from within, and Fowler becomes increasingly ruthless in his pursuit of the unknown traitor. As his paranoia envelops him, Fowler loses trust in just about everyone, including his closest friends and associates, and begins to rely on the opinions of an increasingly smaller set of advisors.
Juxtaposed with the terror and violence of Fowler's last days in London is the flash-forward narrative of his hideout bunker in a tiny English beach town, where Fowler skulks during the off-season among the locals, trying to put together the pieces of his fallen empire. Just as it seems possible for Fowler to reclaim his throne, another trigger threatens to cause his total, irreparable unraveling.
It is difficult to listen to a novel as gruesome as GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm) without the temporary respite one finds in a sympathetic character. In this story everyone is bad, really bad. They do terrible things to one another without any of the necessary backstory that allows the reader context for their motivations. Even money, wealth and power do not seem to drive these malefactors. Revenge crops up occasionally, but it is so out of proportion to our understanding of the characters that it feels forced.
I do not recommend this book. It is dark without redemption. However, Gerard Doyle is, as usual, phenomenal.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful