The Treatment

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

The Treatment is set in London circa 2011, but so idiosyncratically framed it'd be easy to believe this was all taking place a few centuries ago, or at some point in the far future. The dialogue-heavy narrative – speckled with flecks of other languages, historical tidbits and obscure references – has all the uproarious colour of a street ballad; the characters, eccentric to a fault, are given to lengthy, verbose speeches that make them sound like neural nets trained on Shakespeare and Martin Amis. It's near-impossible to pin down the baggy story succinctly, but it involves a journalist named Carl Hyatt following the trail of Mulhall, a sinister kingpin.

Initially, I was interested in this because the blurb made it sound a lot like Danny Denton's brilliant The Earlie King & the Kid in Yellow. There are some similarities, and certainly Denton's book is the closest comparison I can think of, though The Treatment didn't thrill me in quite the same way. It's Earlie King with a more conventional setting; a present-day, less queer (but not exactly un-queer) Confessions of the Fox; Plume if it was spliced with a 17th-century picaresque.

It's sometimes hampered by an issue that also afflicts Joanna Kavenna's Zed: the sense of a plot-driven story trying to squeeze out from beneath a freewheeling narrative. Its digressive style is stirring, but it can also be exhausting, depending what you're in the mood for – or, indeed, what you want to get out of reading a novel in the first place. And just as with Zed, my final rating of three stars feels like an inappropriate but unavoidable compromise. I was so frustrated with some parts of it (hated almost everything about Carl's relationship with Karen) while loving others (Donna Juan is surely one of the best characters of the year).
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This is totally out of my comfort zone but I loved every moment even when it was like being punched in the face.
The style of writing is amazing, I loved how the writer uses words and how tells a dark and fascinating story.
The setting and the cast of characters are amazing and I won't forget them soon.
It was a great read, highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Michael Nath's imaginative, confident, erudite and original storytelling provided me with one of the most joyous reading experiences in recent times. It's scope is extraordinary as it draws on the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence that rocked the British establishment to its core when a public enquiry excoriated the society in which such grotesque crimes took place with impunity and a police force that failed to bring the perpetrators to justice, concluding that the police were institutionally racist. In this comic, witty and tragic novel, at a bus stop in South London, black teenager Eldine Matthews is murdered by a racist gang. Decades later, L Troops brutal thugs have evaded justice, protected by Michael Mulhall, a powerful London crime boss aiming for respectability.

Disgraced journalist Carl Hyatt lost his job after 'libelling' Mulhall, now working in a career ending post at the free newspaper The Chronicle run by editor, Andy Ravage. Eldine's murder has not been forgotten and whispers reach the ears of Carl, whispers he cannot ignore as an old acquaintance re-enters his life, criminal defence lawyer Victor Hanley, and he interviews rent boy Donna Juan for a profile in the paper. Stories of the past emerge from the streets, bars and brothels of London, of police corruption, and the elimination of key witnesses, such as that of a ticket tout, whilst in the present a councillor is hit by a car, put in hospital for asking unwanted questions and a rent boy disappears. Hyatt's curiosity and professional calling plunges him into a unfamiliar but dangerous London, but he is out of his depth and lying to his wife, Karen. He becomes part of a motley crew consisting of a lawyer, his black minder, a one-eyed comic, and a geographer rent boy, all fizzing with energy, looking for revenge and a justice which the rest of society failed to secure, unfazed by the obstacles in their path as his editor publishes a front page expose on Mulhall, tipping Hyatt into an abyss of fear as danger creeps ever nearer to those close to him.

Nath's use of language is sublime, in a narrative that more often than not feels like a stream of consciousness, and his priceless depiction of London is vibrant, ribald, and colourful, peopled by a huge cast of terrific characters. The interactions between the characters is done with a style, deftness and skill that I could only admire. Woven into the heart of this edgy and gritty story is a reflection of history, philosophy, religion, literature, politics and homophobia, through its portrayal of the integral characters. Nath examines the nature of race, individual, institutional and societal, the concept of justice, and revenge in this thought provoking and profound picture of a nation and a city. I was particularly delighted in the role of the women, Fabiana and Karen in the vengeance that takes place in this irrepressible, ambitious and exuberant tragi-comic tale. Without a doubt, Michael Nath deserves to win awards for this and I cannot recommend this highly enough! Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
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The treatment by 
Michael Neth.
At a bus stop in south London, black teenager Eldine Matthews is murdered by a racist gang. Twenty years later, L Troop's top boys - models of vice, deviance and violence - are far beyond justice. There are some people the law will not touch.
But Eldine's murder is not forgotten. His story is once again on everyone's lips and the streets of south London; a story of police corruption and the elimination of witnesses. A solicitor, a rent boy, a one-eyed comedian and his minder are raising ghosts; and Carl Hyatt, disgraced reporter, thinks he knows why.
There's one man linking this crew of rambunctious dandies and enchanting thugs, and it's the man Carl promised never to challenge again: Mulhall, kingpin of London's rotten heart and defender of L Troop's racist killers. Carl must face up to the morality of retribution and the reality of violence knowing that he is the weak link in the chain; and that he has placed everyone he loves within Mulhall's reach.
A good read with likeable characters.  Good story.  4*.
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I just do not know where to start. I have reviewed nearly 350 books on NetGalley and this is the first one where I really do not know what to say.

It is exuberant and paints wonderful verbal pictures beautifully expressed but I honestly found it almost unreadable. A long stream of consciousness which seemed to jump from place to place and character to character.

I tried, Oh I tried. I struggled with the opening five chapters and was totally unable to describe what I had read, who was who, who was doing what to who and what exactly was happening. So I started it again and felt exactly the same. Maybe I just could not summon up the patience or even concentration but I really just could not "get" this. I can well understand why David Peace apparently loves this book as there is a similar stream of consciousness in this work as there is in his.

It just wasn't for me but maybe it is my problem and I have just damned with faint praise what might be a massive best seller.

I am going to leave this one alone now and try it again after Christmas and see if my viewpoint or ability to assimilate, comprehend and enjoy it has changed.
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