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Here Comes the Nice

by Jeremy Reed

Paul is a journalist working on a book about John Stephen, creator of the Mod style and self-proclaimed King of Carnaby Street. Paul is lost. He is trying to go straight, to give up drugs and wanton promiscuity (with both sexes) and to settle down with his girlfriend, Alex. He lives in a near-future London, in Soho, a grey and threatening place where the city weather affected by global warming, features hugely and graphically: “Although Diadem Court was only minutes from Soho Square, the punchy monsoon-like downpour hit them as though they were running into an aquatic hologram”.

Soho is a scary place patrolled by “Blackjacks”; PTSD damaged injured, limbless soldiers back from pointless overseas conflicts instigated by the heavily-guarded Commissar - now a millionaire Middle East envoy. No wonder Paul obsesses about the vibrant, colourful place it was in the 1960s.

He runs into “the Face” an authentic Mod, a legend in his day, who begins to stalk Paul, his Vespa scooter buzzing around at night outside Paul’s flat like a demented mosquito. The Face takes Paul to his basement where he claims that he is the real deal, the genuine Face, not some retro wannabe but someone who has undergone genetic re-modification to remain as he was in the 1960s and he tells Paul there are others like him.

This is a uniquely urban fable, written in a totally inimitable style and brilliant in its bonkersness. Reed captures the clothes, the music and the mood of the period perfectly (I know, I was there). Who would have guessed that a book about 1960s Mod culture fused with a dystopian near-future London would be so utterly compelling?

Irene Haynes

Published by Chomu Press – 279pp

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