The Rise of Cromwell Jones
Warner Books, London, 1995
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.
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:
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.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 1/5
from the maker of...
To Dream of Freedom