Trick by Sean Hancock – Review

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By Sarah Morgan

At the start of Stand By Me, the narrator says: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

Richard Trick, the central character of Sean Hancock’s enthralling novel, is a little older, but one hopes that his future pals are nothing like the ones he has at the age of 15.

He’s the only black kid in his small Devon town and both boredom and a need to belong have caused him to fall in with the wrong crowd. The gang he hangs out with are slightly older and pass most of the time in a drug-induced haze; Trick (as he’s mostly known) has become sucked into their world, even though he knows there’s no future in it.

When we first meet him, he’s about to help his friends pull off a robbery at a local supermarket. It was his idea, although he never really thought they’d go through with it. It’s clear from the start that Trick is a bright lad, but one being led off the straight and narrow.

Trick Sean Hancock book review coverThey successfully carry out the raid, expecting to nab a few grand, more than enough to pay for some much-coveted Guns ’n’ Roses tickets. So imagine their surprise when they realise they’ve actually netted closer to £200k.

“Neat crime-infused coming-of-age tale”

The rest of the book follows Trick as he worries about what might happen when a local businessman, who has a lucrative sideline in drug-dealing, works out who has the cash. Throw into the mix Trick’s efforts to impress the girl he’s been in love with since primary school, and you have a neat little crime-infused coming-of-age tale.

The central character could easily have been a pain in the backside, a sulky teen you wouldn’t have minded being taught a lesson, but Hancock has created a sympathetic, likeable young man you root for, always hoping he will turn his life around.

It’s a world he perhaps knows, having been a mixed race kid who also spent his formative years in Devon.

Hancock has spent much of his professional life working in TV; he commissioned and was the executive producer of the Bafta-winning comedy The Revolution Will Be Televised, and currently works for Netflix.

Trick has been a big success to date, even appearing on the shortlist for the coveted Debut Dagger award. It’s clear that if he wants to give up TV, he could have a big future in literature. Or, who knows, maybe he’ll simply turn to adapting his own work for the small screen?

‘Trick’ by Sean Hancock is available in paperback (£7.99) and ebook (£2.99)

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