Somewhere out in the rural hinterland of England a tragi-comedy farce in three parts is playing out. Fat Boy by Joseph Cobb brings a seemingly disparate group of life’s more unsavoury characters together in a romp through the criminal underworld. Stranger McKrayne, it seems was a rare commodity – an honest copper. Deserted by his wife when their little girl, Evangeline, was just a baby, Stranger has had to try to raise his daughter as best he could whilst daily dealing with the evil criminals that make up the city’s underworld and staying straight in a world where it seemed every other cop was bent. Janet Cartwright, a movie producer whose latest blockbuster had not only been a flop but an absolute travesty was desperate to make her next movie. With the establishment funders not willing to touch her with a bargepole, Janet has sought out funding from the “Mr Big” of the criminal underworld, a man known as “The Captain”. The Captain has retired from the daily grind of big city crime, leaving that up to his boys to deal with. These days he lives in splendid gentrification on an estate in the country where he and his former prostitute wife love to play Lord and Lady of the Manor. All these characters and a whole pile more will find they are all intricately and unknowingly linked to each other and have an elegant date with destiny.
Fat Boy really was something else; refreshing, different and quintessentially British, with a cast of characters that were anything but quintessentially British. The motley, ensemble crew that author Joseph Cobb put together for this tale were a fascinating bunch of characters. As with any comedic farce it was necessary to draw these characters to their personality extremes and Cobb did an excellent job of doing that. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between the Captain and his wife – two characters who came from very much the wrong side of the tracks but who now projected the ultimate in respectability and were desperate to keep their criminal empire and their new found propriety apart. Given the size of the ensemble cast there were times, when I, as a reader, was asking myself how they all fitted together and what was the point of a particular scene or a character? What I admired most about the author’s work was how he was able to tie everything up into a neat little package, with a bow, at the end that perfectly explained everyone’s relationship within the narrative. The little kicker at the end was also very much appreciated. This was a refreshing read and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I will certainly be following this author with some interest in future.