The Spectator: Muscle, by Alan Trotter, reviewed

Let’s hear it for the heavies, the unsung heroes of noir crime fiction on page and screen. The genre would collapse without them. Without the threatened or actual violence they so selflessly provide, the streets would not be mean and a private eye’s career would be only slightly less risky than an estate agent’s. Yet we rarely glimpse the private lives of these men (heavies are almost invariably male), or explore their hinterland of secret traumas and guilty pleasures.

Alan Trotter, then, gets bonus points for originality, from his choice of title onwards: this novel is all about the muscle who supply the heavy weaponry of the criminal world. The narrator of the story is Box, an enormous but generally docile freelance gangster who is in professional partnership with a rather nastier colleague known only as _____. Box’s favourite tipple is milk, and _____ refuses to live anywhere that does not have a fairground with rollercoasters. Their line of work ranges from breaking hands to contract killing.

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