Three Lives. One Night. No Future.
C was for cars which he'd nicked and crashed, R was for robbery, armed and fast, A was for arson, fire and theft, Z was for the cuts his switchblade left, E was for drugs, the Whizz and Horse, which just left murder, the hardest, of course. She was found on the tracks: burned up, tongue cut out, a finger removed. Who was she? 24 hours earlier Shazia Ahmed was leaving Manchester, but a chance meeting and a phone call and she finds herself in the underworld where life is cheap and usually very short. Jamie Farrell already knows this truth: that the drugs and crime will tip over into murder. His father's in Strangeways and he'll be joining him. But he can't give up the deadly game that is The Craze. Dru Round thought his big day had come: no more cheap drag acts and furtive sex in the backs of cars. A new dawn of TV fame beckoned. But he just needed that extra score to make things work for him-Three lives - one crime - the Craze.
Reviews of The Craze
'This is not the novel you want to read in central Manchester. It's scary, racy and gripping and tackles really important subjects.'
Jenni Murray, Radio 4
'a taut example of Manchester noir and a worthy look at the shady interactions between white, black and Asian culture in the crime capital of England...car heists, armed robbery, arson, switchblade hits and that extra score that will change lives ever beckoning over the horizon - these are the realistic signposts in a depressing but fascinating landscape.'
'A breakneck-paced modern thriller set in Manchester gangland.'
'Newcomer Paul Southern ... in The Craze, combines the drug scene, the Asian underworld, the gay underworld and joy-riding car theft, as the lives of three young, disparate people collide. It is a sorry thing to say but, written with great confidence and great verve, this sounds perfectly believable. It won't encourage many people to move to Manchester.'
'I read The Craze at a single sitting: fabulous piece of work. The racial overlaps are exactly right and there isn't a single character I didn't believe. The Craze culture feels likewise totally authentic.'
'The Craze is what might happen if James Ellroy and Irvine Welsh took a stolen GTI for a spin on Stockport Road.'
'A day and a night in Manchester's Asian underworld where three of its citizens - rebellious Shazia, at odds with her scheming Pakistani family; Jamie Farrell, teenage gangster yearning to go straight, and handsome, gay Dru Round, in search of showbiz stability - meet up with their painful destinies. Lurid stuff ('The pouting purple of her lips, a trepanner at his groin, mining the seams of his dark desires...') with much violence in the same key. Lots of energy, though, and an authentic, grimy sense of place. So OTT at times that you ask yourself if it's all for real. Almost certainly the answer's yes. If so, forget the North; stay safe in the soppy old South.'
The Literary Review
'Excellent pace. File under modern noir, maybe. Paul Southern, founder member of the indie band Sexus, and now of the Psychodelicates, has come up with a more than decent debut. Inside the hectic, neon lit tale of a city's glamorised squalor there are some hard truths about multiculturalism's dismal failures. The Craze speeds along like a stolen Golf driven by two smacked-up scallies: it has all that excitement...'
'a shocking but compelling read, spotlighting a tale of two cities - a stylish facade and a dark underbelly.'
Birmingham Evening Mail
'It's fitting that Southern should share a publisher with the American king of crime fiction, James Ellroy. Like Ellroy, Southern's writing is bleak and uncompromising.'
'Set in Manchester's dark corners, The Craze is slick, sharp, perfectly pitched new crime writing...The characters' lives don't so much connect as collide in this powerfully evocative book about the inside of a big, bad, colourful city.'
New Zealand Herald
'The Craze features all those bits of life today you pray you manage to steer clear of...The Craze is about death and despair. It will change you, for sure.'
'hardcore Manchester debut novel. Violent and realistic.'
'This fast-paced, modern thriller...makes an interesting examination of Mancunian society, with some excellent imagery to really drive home the futility and desperation of the characters' lives...It's an Irvine Welsh-like take on the darker side of British youth...It's got a great storyline, full of surprises and action. And it's thought-provoking, an eye-opening read.'
The Daily Dispatch (South Africa)
'a drive down Kingsway will never be the same again.'
Bolton Evening News