A 'non-fiction crime novel' charting the rise of Thatcher, supercharged by the music and counterculture of the 70s and 80s
"One of our very best contemporary crime writers" David Peace
1978: The National Front is gaining ground in Hackney. To counter their influence, anti-fascist groups launch the Carnival Against Racism in Victoria Park. Observing the event is Detective Constable Patrick Noble, charged with investigating racist attacks in the area and running Spycops in both far-right and left wing groups. As Noble's superiors are drawn further into political meddling, he's inveigled into a plot against the embattled Labour government.
1983: Under a disciplinary cloud after a Spycops op ended in tragedy, Noble is offered a reprieve by an old mentor. He is dispatched in the early hours to Stoke Newington police station, where a young black man has died in suspicious circumstances. This is Thatcher's Britain now, a new world that Noble unwittingly helped to usher in, where racial tensions are weaponised by those in power.
Supercharged by the music and counterculture of the era, White Riot weaves fiction, fact and personal experience to record the radical tale of London's most thrilling borough. Politics, music, police corruption, institutional racism and the power of protest all take centre stage in a novel that traces the roots of our current political moment.
Praise for Joe Thomas
'Brilliant' The Times 'Feverish energy' Guardian 'Wonderfully vivid' Mail on Sunday 'Sophisticated, dizzying' GQ 'Vivid and visceral' The Times 'Superbly realised vivid and atmospheric' Guardian 'Original' Mail on Sunday 'A stylish, atmospheric treat an inspired blend of David Peace and early Pinter' Irish Times 'Sparse, energetic, fragmented prose' Spectator 'Vibrant, colourful, and complex' Irish Independent 'Stylish, sharp-witted, taut. A must for modern noir fans' NB Magazine 'Definitive confident and energetic' Crime Time 'Brilliant manic energy' Jake Arnott 'Wildly stylish and hugely entertaining' Lucy Caldwell 'Vivid, stylish, funny' Mick Herron 'Gripping, fast-paced, darkly atmospheric' Susanna Jones 'Snappy, thoughtful, moving' John King 'Exciting, fresh, incredibly assured' Stav Sherez 'Utterly brilliant' Cathi Unsworth 'Had James Ellroy and David Peace collaborated on a novel they'd have written something like this' Paul Willets
Police and thieves, punks and spycops. White Riot captures the raw energy of the times in spectacular fashion, evoking a visceral narrative of power and corruption
Joe Thomas takes on the inflammable end of the Seventies, when Rock Against Racism took the National Front head on and Margaret Thatcher turned the Winter of Discontent into her own Springtime . . . Like Daniel Rachel's Walls Come Tumbling Down meets David Peace's GB84 in a dark labyrinth of bent coppers, sleeping policemen, political polarity and the greatest sounds of the dirtiest decade
Stylish and pacy, White Riot throbs with a restless, punky energy, bringing Hackney of the late 70s and early 80s compellingly and disturbingly to life. A full-throated, swaggering roar of a book
White Riot is an electrifying novel of politics, the counterculture, and music as a powerful force. In Suzi Scialfa, Thomas has given us a pioneering character - a female journalist, forging her way in a man's world; you believe in her, root for her, want to hear more. I loved this book
JOE THOMAS was born in Hackney in 1977. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Sao Paulo quartet - Paradise City, Gringa, Playboy, and Brazilian Psycho - and Bent, which was a Guardian Best Book of 2020 and an Irish Times pick of the best crime fiction of 2020. His new novel, White Riot, the start of a trilogy set in Hackney in the 1970s and 1980s, is to be published by Arcadia in January 2023, and will be followed by Red Menace and True Blue. Joe lives in London with his partner and son, and teaches at City, University of London.