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ROY CLEWS
The Rise of Cromwell Jones


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Warner Books, London, 1995
(price: 4.99)


The blurb on the back:

England, in the near future. A country riddled with crime, held hostage by gangs of violent youths who roam at will through cities living in fear.
At first, Ivor Jones was just another victim, mugged and slashed in a busy shopping centre. Angered and humiliated, he seeks justice but finds only frustration. Then his elderly sister is attacked in their own home, and Ivor Jones decides it is time to fight back against the evil cancer that is destroying his country.
Resurrecting the spirit of his hero, Oliver Cromwell - Lord Protector, Ivor Jones raises his own New Model Army, the Cromwell Movement. Much more than a group of vigilantes, with Ivor Jones at their head there is nothing that will stop their onward march...


Ivor Jones is ex-Army, a hero of the Falklands War and now a Methodist lay preacher. He's also fascinated by Oliver Cromwell and, when his sister is murdered in their home, he decides to launch a crusade against crime by raising a new New Model Army. Jones' crusade rapidly builds its membership amongst the silent majority who have had enough, whilst also attracting support from right-minded politicians and police officers.

The picture of a lawless society, in which the perpetrators of crime are pampered by a liberal elite that doesn't believe in punishment, will be familiar to all Daily Mail readers, and the plot will be familiar to readers of exploitation novels from The Leader onwards. If there's a difference, it's that Jones' movement - which is quasi-fascist at least - is unchallenged by the narrative approach. The implied tone is not far removed from approval. The angle, of course, is that this is just common sense, but racism is never far from the surface:

'That's a thing we'll need to guard against,' Jones said reflectively. 'Any suggestion that we're prejudiced against coloured people.' He chuckled grimly. 'Though I know some of our members are.' (pp.199-200)

The Freudian typo on p.269 where our hero gets referred to as 'Ivory' Jones doesn't help much either.

Mostly the problem is the same as ever with these type of books: the description of how to build a movement just doesn't ring true. Trying to portray an ordinary man who becomes a demagogic leader is a tricky business, and compressing it into a short time-scale doesn't help: even Hitler took a decade to get a movement going properly, and - compared to a Methodist minister - he was a genuine demagogue.

Easy reading, though.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
1/5


from the maker of...
fe godwin ni eto
To Dream of Freedom

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