True to its title, MacVeigh’s Pros and Cons crawls through the gutters of Bristol’s red light district, deprived estates and seedy inner-city bed-sits in a tale of misogynistic murders, street prostitution and drugs. Almost all of the female characters are on the game and all the men are steeped in crime.
MacVeigh paints a world or sordid morality and deception where sex and affection rarely mix and everything, and everyone, is for sale. His hero, Boswell, is constantly torn between a fear of returning to prison and his inability to rise above his prison mentality where blackmail and backstabbing are par for the course, great kudos is earned by attacking sex offenders and the police are both incompetent and complicit in sexual abuse. I found it hard to find a character I liked.
The plot develops slowly through a series of murky sexual encounters, masturbatory fantasies, off-the-shelf fetishes and racial stereotypes where crimes against women are rooted in the worst of Freudian excuses for violent acting-out. Whilst the names of streets, pubs and urban areas are accurately used to label the setting, very little of it is actually described and, without being familiar with Bristol, it would be hard to imagine where the action takes place.
The dialogue is realistic and believable, although limited, with most of the story being told by an all-seeing narrator. In the final quarter of the book MacVeigh’s hero, a recently released ex-prisoner, suddenly, and barely believably, becomes an expert psychological profiler sought out by a senior detective to help him solve a case whilst the hero gets the upper hand with everyone.
Nevertheless, it is a gritty drama with some interesting plot twists, and the suspense is nicely built up towards an unpredictable ending.
Pro’s and Con’s is available to purchase on Amazon.