Jerzy Komaza is adept at turning a blind eye. He has allowed his father’s beatings of his sister, Maria, to continue for years. Yet one hot summer day he finally snaps, and it is Maria who sends him away from their home in Białystok in rural Poland, fearing the consequences if he stays. Desperate and unsure, Jerzy heads for London where his old friend Jan has promised him work.
At first he is completely disorientated. Worse, there’s no sign of Jan. Feeling lost and adrift in the strange city, Jerzy overhears a young woman’s cries. Memories of his sister stir him into action and he intervenes.
The woman is Suzie Thomas, a drug addict dependent on local thug Paul Rogers for her supplies and for whom she turns tricks. Rogers also runs gangs of workmen around the city, and Jan works for him. Gradually Jerzy is dragged into Suzie’s world, a violent dog-eat-dog existence of the underclass living next to but separate from London’s affluent citizens.
Jan has his own problems with Rogers, and when his cousin Ola Nowak is slashed with a knife while trying to sort out Jan’s debt, he is bent on revenge. Jerzy is torn between stopping his friend and, because of his own growing hatred of Rogers’ casual violence towards Suzie, helping him.
Suzie’s family are hunting for her. Her grandparents hear she has moved to London and seek her out. In doing so they too find themselves pulled into Rogers’ orbit. As the heat builds and the rain pours down, various forces begin to drag these desperate individuals together into a violent confrontation. And into this mix comes Lech Komoza, Jerzy’s half-brother intent on his own violent retribution.
This story contains elements of revenge, love, the clash of classes and cultures, the isolation of large cities and the single-minded determination to survive. Set against a backdrop of one of the most affluent cities in the Western world, it is a modern parable about the lure of redemption and how hope can be corrupted by despair.
Published: 4 August 2016
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