Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Ten Days: Gillian Slovo, February 10—19, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
A death during a police arrest sparks a chain of events that sees a run-down London housing estate erupt into violent riots. Ten Days follows the unfolding crisis through the eyes of a resident, the new Met chief, the Home Secretary and more.
The macabre schadenfreude of the 2011 London riots are painted vividly in Slovo’s version of civil unrest. The dramatic scenes of police lining London’s streets while vehicles explode and shops are raided is darkly fascinating.
Meanwhile, our leads are facing a medley of crises. The Home Secretary wants rid of the Prime Minister, and is plotting with his wife to spin the riots into a promotion opportunity; the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is establishing himself while the country burns; downtrodden single mother Cathy is caught in the eye of the storm as her community descends into anarchy. From politics to infidelity, Slovo masterfully sweeps the spectrum of class. Rather than put things in perspective, the unfolding nightmare sharpens each character’s own perception that their problem is the most important and insurmountable.
Ten Days is not without its oddities. Sporadic excerpts from the inquiry into the book’s events add little, but are inoffensive. And it seems to be set in the future: yes, this is a London which has the iPhone 8, and refers to elements of incument Boris Johnson’s apparently concluded mayorship. But none of that detracts.
Slovo’s writing is so detailed and well researched that you are transported directly onto the scene, be it a running street battle or Downing Street’s inner sanctum. It’s immersive and captivating, and the ten days will fly past in what feels like ten minutes. Each story creeps from the page into your mind and once you’re sucked in, you’re there for the duration.
To think about it, Ten Days is an immensely challenging piece. To read it, it appears effortless. Fantastic!
Disclaimer: the publishers provided an advance review copy free of charge for the purpose of review.