Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cocaine Nights by J.G. Ballard

"Those strips of no-man's land between the checkpoints of new lives, new scents and affections. At the same time they set off a reflex of unease that I have never been able to repress. As the customs officials rummage through my suitcase I sense them trying to unpack my mind and reveal a contraband of forbidden dreams and memories."

Travel writer Charles Prentice is in beautiful Estrella de Mar. But not for work. He's there because his brother has pleaded guilty to setting a fire that has killed five people. Charles knows it's not his doing and sets out to discover the truth. But this community of Englishmen is not an easy one to crack. "In many ways Estrella de Mar was the halcyon county-town England of the mythical 1930s, brought back to life and moved south into the sun." It is a creepy little place, full of secrets, drugs and crime that strangely goes unreported. The tennis coach Crawford has a strange way of waking up the neighborhood, and bringing it back to life - vice, crime, vandalism, arson, drugs. You name it, it's probably happening. And Charles, in a bid to get in with the right crowd in order to uncover the truth, gets sucked into this clubhouse of depravity.

I wasn't quite expecting Cocaine Nights to turn out this way. I was even more surprised that I quite liked it. It was different, and it was quite fascinating how all the characters get trapped in their little whirlpool, as it spins madly away.

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