Nick Miller (mid-teenage) is forced by his older brother’s motorcycle gang – which he secretly wishes to join – to become friendly with Joseph Fisher, whose family run a small shop out on the fens. Nick suspects (accurately) that the gang wants to rob the shop, and is using him to gain information about the security. He joins in a role-playing game run by Joseph and his older sister Ruth, but eventually turns against them and helps the gang to raid and fire the shop.
The sub-plot is that the Fishers are a hard-up family with four children: two teenagers and two toddlers. They are of some (unspecified) Christian persuasion and are seen to be scrupulously honest (as well as vegetarian). It is his perception of their “super-piousness” that turns Nick against them, preferring his more “normal” schoolfriends who like poker, smoking and dirty pictures. The final moral dilemma for both Nick and Joseph occurs because the gang pour petrol all over the shop, but have no time to light it. Joseph, coming in, sees a semi-legitimate chance to gain insurance money and tries to set it alight, unwittingly failing. Nick, unseen, finishes the job. Joseph later has scruples and goes to the police, and the book finishes with Nick realising that he must go to confess Joseph’s innocence and his own guilt. Conclusion: not specially worth reading.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London. He is also editor of the Good-to-Read website.