In the Dark
On a hot August night, what seemingly looks like a random shooting is so much more. Lives are lost, more lives still go in a downward spiral.Paul Hopwood, a police officer, died in that shooting. Helen Weeks, her heavily pregnant girlfriend, and also a police officer, attempts to find out what really happened on that fateful day. On the other side, gang members are being singled out and killed. One of them, Theo, struggles with his own conscience, while trying as best as he can to take care of his own small family and to prove himself to other gang members.While the story is fast-paced and somewhat interesting, the reader is pulled in many directions at once throughout the novel. The gang members are portrayed as disillusioned, heartless thugs, but Billingham is careful not to fall into stereotyping. However, the only character I found endearing, was Theo, a young gang member struggling between two worlds; that of family life, where he has to take care of his girlfriend and his young child, and the world in which the gang exists, which is a world of sex, drugs and constant violence. He wants to prove himself, yet is very reluctant in participating in these acts of violence and cruelty, which seem normal to everyone around him. The reader almost forgets that he hasn't even entered adulthood yet. Theo is only seventeen.Helen Weeks, the pregnant girlfriend in mourning, is just plain stupid. Fine, she's mourning. Fine, she's a police officer. But an investigation regarding Hopwood's murder is already in the works, but she goes off on her own, running her own investigation. She's pregnant, two weeks away from giving birth, and she risks life and limb, and that of her unborn child, to find out exactly what happened that fateful August night, and why. But then, if she hadn't acted as impulsively and stupidly as she has, there would be no story, as implausible as it this situation is.While the novel moves from one part of London to the next without too much difficulty, I found that it moves around too much, even though separate plotlines eventually converge into a coherent whole.It becomes painfully clear that violence is an ever present theme in this story. However, in some parts of the story, it is completely unnecessary. But in a world where teenagers, driven by desire of prestige and respect, are lured in gang warfare, violence is a way of life, one that is hard to break out of.