Bowman: If you will stay a sergeant you'll always get the shitty end of the stick.
Sergeant: Maybe, but I think that's where the truth is.
This is the second novel I have read by Derek Raymond (born Robin Cook in 1931, and who died in London in 1994).
Derek Raymond was the son of a textile magnate, he dropped out of Eton aged sixteen and was employed at various times as a pornographer, organiser of illegal gambling, money launderer, pig-slaughterer and minicab driver. Much of this work experience was reflected in He Died With His Eyes Open, the first of the Factory novels, nominal police procedurals narrated by the unnamed protagonist, a sergeant at London's Metropolitan Police Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. A14 handles the lowlife murders, and which are in stark contrast to the headline-grabbing homicides handled by the prestigious Serious Crimes Division, better known as Scotland Yard.
The Devil's Home on Leave, the second factory novel, is a departure from its predecessor. Some themes continue: the nameless sergeant narrator is still on a collision course with authority in all its myriad forms; he's still continues his hate/hate relationship with Bowman his nemesis and alter-ego; and he's still a loner.
The Devil's Home on Leave is more traditional than He Died With His Eyes Open. The first book pushed the boundaries of crime writing, and was more literature than procedural, a lyrical work that was both original and surprising. That said, there is still much to enjoy in The Devil's Home on Leave. We meet a disturbing psychopath who, through the sergeant's diligent and fearless work, is turned inside out and brought to life with a chilling authenticity.
Corruption lies at the heart of The Devil's Home on Leave - both personal and political, and the plot hinges on the links between a gory murder and Cold War politics.
We also discover more about the sergeant's tragic past, and so get a better grasp on why he's so single minded about seeking justice for the crimes that few others care about.
The Devil's Home on Leave is good, very good, however not as good as He Died With His Eyes Open. However I am still looking forward to reading the rest of the Factory novels. I have bought all five. I will be reading How the Dead Live (Factory 3) sometime soon. I'll add a review once I've read it.
The five books in Derek Raymond's Factory series are...
1. He Died With His Eyes Open (1976)
2. The Devil's Home on Leave (1985)
3. How the Dead Live (1986)
4. I Was Dora Suarez (1990)
5. Dead Man Upright (1993)
Click here to read my review of "He Died With His Eyes Open" (Factory 1) (1976)
Click here to read a discussion thread about Derek Raymond