Brighton rock (1943, Penguin) 4 stars

An atmospheric crime thriller featuring a teenage sociopath intent on becoming the underworld boss of …

Bleak and devastating

4 stars

Brutal psychological portraits of people we are not meant to love. A gang war with no glamour or illusions on either side. We begin to sympathize eventually with a somewhat pathetic and naive middle-aged woman, who lives for simple pleasures and takes no shame in lust. If virtue is to found in this world at all, she is the one who possesses it, and it gives her the strength she needs.

I found this a bit inaccessible, full of obscure-to-me midcentury British gangster slang, but well worth the effort.