It’s almost impossible to avoid the obvious boxing clichés when reviewing this book – hard hitting action - packs a hell of a punch – and indeed this debut novel is both hard hitting and grittily realistic. Styling himself the ‘FighterWriter’, Lee Cooper certainly comes out all guns blazing with this debut novel.
The story of one man’s spiral, through desperation, into destruction is both of its time and timeless. It paints a grim but authentic picture of what it is to be young and hopeless in the North East of Scotland in the early 21st century. I’m sure it’s the same all over the country.
There is nothing slight about this novel. It is an accomplished debut in its genre and its genre is that of gripping action come crime thriller. But it steps beyond that as well. It is a psychological exploration of the mind of a young man with promise but without hope. The kind of guy we are always being told we should help ‘live up to his potential.’ And Granite Grit shows what happens when such potential is ignored.
The central character Joe is at times chillingly dissociated from those to whom he should be emotionally close, but mostly we see him as a struggling, flawed human being. An ordinary guy we could relate to, if we weren’t too busy living our own comfortable lives to notice his existence. Undervalued by society he channels his anger the only way he knows how – with his fists – to devastating result.
The plot twists and turns and is never predictable. The book cries out to be made into an action movie, yet for me its greatest strength is that part which could never be converted onto the screen – the interior monologue and the graphic description of the mind of the fighter. For fans of boxing it offers descriptions that are both accurate and gruelling and for those of us without practical knowledge of fighting it gives an insight into the mental state before, during and after a fight.
Whether this is the kind of book you normally read or not, I can heartily recommend it as a great example of a debut novel by a young man who is less worried about ‘the rules’ of writing and more concerned with telling a gripping story that will keep the pages turning for his readers. Job done. And the second part of the series is in the pipeline!