Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis

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Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A fast-paced thriller which sheds an uneasy light on the situation of illegal immigrants in the UK - and those who would take advantage of them. Recommended for anyone who likes a good chase-and-shoot thriller.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: January 2008
Publisher: Sort of Books
ISBN: 978-0954899554

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Inspector Jian is a Chinese policeman from the Siberian border and he's a man of some influence. It would be as well not to question the source of his power as he's not above taking financial advantage of his position. When his daughter rings him from Leeds begging that he helps her he doesn't hesitate, but once in the UK he realises how difficult the search for her is going to be as he doesn't speak any English and has none of the powers which he's so used to at home. He's not going to let that stop him though.

Ding Yi is also Chinese, but he had no position at home and has even less in the UK as he's an illegal immigrant in thrall to the gang masters. They're intending to pay him a pittance - and deduct money which he owes them for his journey to the UK. They might just get away with it, as Ding Yi is quite impressed by the sums the gang master suggests they'll pay him, but there's one problem. Ding Yi arrived with his wife and the gang master has separated them, but he can't rest until he knows where she is.

There's an uneasy alliance between Jian and Ding Yi, with a complete lack of trust on Jian's side which is entirely justified as Ding Yi would happily lead the gang masters to him if he thought that it would mean he could see his wife. But Jian needs Ding Yi as he speaks and reads English and Jian doesn't know a single word. Ding Yi needs Jian as he ultimately becomes the only way that he can get back to his wife.

It's easy to think of rural England as being idyllic and untainted, but this book paints a very different picture, where gangs of illegal immigrants are forced to work for a pittance, where Health and Safety regulations hold no sway and where life is cheap. Read this book and it will never look quite the same again.

Simon Lewis has a superb sense of pace. As Jian and Ding Li skitter about the country, pursued by or pursuing the men who run the illegal immigrants, it's almost impossible to put the book down. It seemed unlikely that there could be any satisfactory resolution to the situation, but the ending is a tour de force which completely took me by surprise.

The characters are good. The venal Inspector Jian is easy to dislike, even when you sense his worries about his daughter - and his guilt for the way that he's neglected her in the past - but he works his way under your skin. Ding Li is a sympathetic character right from the beginning as he emerges from a container lorry and he never loses that sympathy even when he's doing things which are less than pleasant, less than moral. The gang masters and their hangers-on are suitably repulsive but there's an uneasy feeling that all of this is fiction, but it's not too far removed from the truth. It might not have happened quite like this, but it has happened. Female characters tend to be peripheral, but this is still a book which will appeal to men and women who like a fast-paced thriller.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this type of book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Cut Her Dead by Ian McDowall or Miracle Creek by Angie Kim.

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Buy Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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