Ricky Nardilo is a cop in the small town where he grew up. His position there is tenuous – he doesn’t know who on the police force he can trust. Everyone in town is owned by Vale.
Vale who haunts his life and watches his every step.
It wasn’t a great town when Ricky and his friends were growing up. Drugs and desperation had seeped into the pores of everything there. But things are changing, gentrification has arrived.
Nardilo is torn apart by the money being used to rebuild the town. Corruption money, murder money, Vale’s money.
In retribution, Nardilo burns down Vales’s businesses and yet … nothing happens to him as a result. How long will Vale’s tolerance of him, and the past, keep going.
Cops are dead, tension mounts and the result will be cataclysmic.
You won’t race through the books by Jason Beech. Rather, you’ll engage in a close reading, parsing the words and experiencing a delayed impact that will jolt you.
~ June Lorraine
See review of City of Forts below Jason’s interview
Jason Beech advises this about his author photo, “I’m a ray of sunshine.” That must be accurate because I really laughed.
Once I read both City of Forts and American Spartan, I had questions, how, who, why? So straight to the source, Jason Beech, and here’s what he said …
What the hell am I doing writing a novel set in America with exclusively American characters? Surely, I have no legitimacy. The danger is I come off as a reverse Kevin Costner in Robin Hood mode.
I’m a Brit living in New Jersey and my first instinct when I started City of Forts was to set it in my hometown, Sheffield, Yorkshire. The place runs through my marrow, though it’s years since I lived there. I wanted that post-industrial feel in the novel’s setting, Town, much like I remembered Sheffield in the early 80s – demolished factories now a sea of dirty brick rubble, and people finding their way to new ways of life in a tough new landscape.
But the novel, based around four teenage friends, instead of speaking Yorkshire, started talking in American accents. That’s when I knew I’d reached a comfort in telling an American story. I haven’t located their Town except you know it’s in America’s hinterland. The kids escape their family problems by playing in and around an abandoned development in the shadow of an equally abandoned factory. The seams of their friendship fray when they find a body in one of the basements that sets a vengeful gangster on a warpath.
The characters, two boys Ricky and Bixby, and two girls, Liz and Tanais, are composites of a bunch of people I knew, with a bit of myself. We’d charge around abandoned houses, careless of loose floorboards in rotten upstairs rooms. We’d chop down unused telephone poles for firewood and hide it down a steep bank until Bonfire Night so nobody would see it, though neighbours must have seen us walk up a busy street and through the estate with a battering ram of a pole. We ran through newbuilds and played war, throwing loose screws at each other. I’m amazed none of us came out of that childhood blind.
It’s that kind of atmosphere I tried to create in City of Forts, adding a bunch of horrible events that never happened for dramatic licence. Still, why Americans? I’ve been over here nineteen years, now. More than a third of my life. When I first came over here, I travelled half the country, working. I stayed in Motel 9s, Super 8s, motels I’m not sure had a name except Motel. I stayed with Americans, in their homes, from Connecticut to Florida, New Jersey to Wisconsin. Ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them at their tables, all a mix of hardcore Republicans, live-and-let-live liberals, working class, upper class (one family had their own plane and a runway in the backyard), and comfortably middle class. So I feel I have a good ear for the way they speak and how they think, and why they think the way they do in all their mad variety.
But what the hell does ‘they’ mean now? I’ve been here long enough to become ‘us,’ albeit with a strong Yorkshire accent still prominent. And I hope that has come through in a vivid, entertaining way.
~ Jason Beech
City of Forts
Summer of Ruin
Where the story of Ricky, Liz, Bixby, and Tanais began. All of them young teenagers, hanging out for the summer break.
They spend their time in an abandoned housing site, getting away from their grim town to a place they call their own.
But the Ghost Boys, hoodie wearing gangsters, are moving in and setting fires to the houses. And a chance collapse of a floor reveals a man’s body in a basement.
It all goes wrong from there, in ways deeper than you can imagine.
~ June Lorraine
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