Title: The Man on the Street
Author: Trevor Wood
Date of publication: (hardcover) 19 March 2020
Genre: Thriller / Crime
How I got it: kindly sent by the publisher
Number of pages: 432
It started with a splash. Jimmy, a homeless veteran grappling with PTSD, did his best to pretend he hadn’t heard it – the sound of something heavy falling into the Tyne at the height of an argument between two men on the riverbank. Not his fight.
Then he sees the headline: GIRL IN MISSING DAD PLEA. The girl, Carrie, reminds him of someone he lost, and this makes his mind up: it’s time to stop hiding from his past. But telling Carrie, what he heard – or thought he heard – turns out to be just the beginning of the story.
The police don’t believe him, but Carrie is adamant that something awful has happened to her dad and Jimmy agrees to help her, putting himself at risk from enemies old and new.
But Jimmy has one big advantage: when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.
I refuse to believe The Man On The Street is a debut novel. Every word in this book oozes confidence, accuracy, and an indisputable ability to tell a story that grips your guts and make you feel.
My first time in Newcastle is with Jimmy. Neither the city nor the man seems welcoming at first. They appeared to me as harsh and battered protagonists with no more hope for the future. Trevor Wood is the best tourist guide a crime / thriller fiction reader could hope for. I got to visit parks at night, witness the reality of the street. No, this book didn’t keep me in the gutter. In fact, it showed me there sometimes is more warmth and camaraderie outside rather than inside the houses. But it also revealed the dark parts of the city in a breathtakingly cold reality. The sleep may be rough for homeless people like Jimmy, but it’s not the only rough thing they have to face. Fortunately, our main character has a ‘family’ First is Dog, faithful companion for whom I was very worried, until Harriet Tyce assured me things had been handled so that nothing would happen to a man’s best friend. Then you have Gadge and Deano, who may not have a roof but do have a bigger heart than some. So despite the grey pavement and the rain, despite doing a wonderful job describing life on the outside, The Man on the Street holds more compassion and realism than many of the books I’ve read before. And that says a lot, because I have been reading a lot!
Jimmy is a character you root for. He wasn’t born for it, and the author doesn’t try so hard that you think ‘nah, this is too easy.’ Jimmy is complex, struggling with PTSD and life where you’ve apparently nothing to lose. However, he is not a desperate cause and I didn’t pity him. I felt for him. His is the story so many veterans can relate to. His is the story of a man who has been let down, who hasn’t let anyone in and found himself at the bottom without deserving it. Jimmy is wearing a heavy cloak of nightmares, scars from his life in the military, ghosts from the past. Triggers put him on edge. Yet, his moral code is intact and his rules remain. Jimmy is a good man and I was on his team real fast.
Every homeless character I have encountered in the past was a passing protagonist, like a shadow. Jimmy is in the light, even though he’d rather not be. Fate, bad luck, call it what you want, but when an argument on the embankment of the Tyne wakes him up, he becomes the witness of a possible crime that will lead him out of his torpor. From the violence of the street to the calm of some neighborhoods and place, a library as sanctuary and benches as safe places, Jimmy walks a fine line to do what is right. His path crosses those of new people, some good, some bad. Trevor Wood throws Jimmy in a deadly race against killers, his own past, his issues, all fed by the pulse of the city. The Man on the Street is taut, yet witty. Thought-provoking and heart-breaking. Both dark and heart-warming. Scary and dangerous. Flawless.
I haven’t touched the plot. I will not. Take a walk on Jimmy’s side and dive into a superb thriller anchored to the core of society.
Do I recommend The Man On The Street? You bet! I finished this novel last night and woke up at six knowing I had to write a review and share my feelings. This is probably not the best review you will read, but my hope is for you to understand how excellent this book is.
Jimmy and is tribe feel like family now. I got the chills of a strong plot. I got to know Newcastle in an unexpected way. This novel delivered. It gave, and gave, and kept on giving. The next time someone asks me for a unique crime read, I will be recommending Trevor Wood’s book.
Rating: I adore this book. BUY IT NOW.
Here’s the way to grab your copy!
I need to thank Ella Patel for so kindly sending me a copy of this novel. This is my unbiased opinion.
Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for 25 years and considers himself an adopted Geordie, though he still can’t speak the language. He’s a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. Prior to that he served in the Royal Navy for 16 years joining, presciently, as a Writer. Trevor holds an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) from UEA. His first novel, The Man on the Street, which is set in his home city, will be published by Quercus in Spring 2020. He is represented by Oli Munson at AM Heath.
PS: Trevor will be attending Noir at the Bar, Edinburgh tonight at 7.05pm! Join us on Facebook!