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NB: The dialogue in this novel includes strong language.

Mobs is the first person story of Martin Jackson, a young man growing up on the brutal streets of north-east London just a few years in the future. It is a future where local government and policing are absent or at least ineffective, where mobs rule the streets and where membership of the mob is inevitable as mob leaders demand low-level involvement from youngsters almost as soon as they are capable of thinking – a process that inevitably leads to more and more active involvement as they grow older.

The leader of the small-time mob in Martin’s “territory”, whilst as brutal as the others, nevertheless controls the territory with some commitment to the quality of life for the residents by providing, for example, in the absence of public services, home helps for elderly people and by not allowing drugs to be sold on his territory to young children – although he actively deals for older people.

Martin is different from others of his generation. Although he has been excluded from school after being found in bed with his girlfriend, he is better educated than many of his contemporaries and is something of a computer whizz-kid. He is initially employed by the local council and, until the mob leader engineers his dismissal, spends much of his time hacking into confidential records and the private e-mails of his employers. He is in love with Sandy, his girlfriend, and, although we don’t follow them into the bedroom, it is clear he is having sex with her. Sandy, too, is a cut above the rest of the territory and is working towards her Bac diploma. Her brother was killed in a mob war and she tries to persuade Martin to have nothing to do with the mob and, although he is reluctant to be involved, he has no effective choice. Having been “captured” by a rival gang, beaten up, and then released, he eventually kills one of his abductors and is forced to join his local mob as a computer expert with the intention of hacking into police and planning authority computer systems. Martin is, by his own account, “an arsehole” and demonstrates this whilst Sandy is on holiday with her parents by having an affair with another girl, taking her to live with him in Sandy’s parents’ house, and by sleeping with her in Sandy’s bed, resulting, when Sandy discovers this, in a devastating break-up of their relationship

At the same time, the central government is worried about organised crime and sets up a semi legal task force, Unit Twenty, led by a Special Air Service officer to “take out” the big time gangs by whatever means may be possible. With the intention of recruiting him, the task force secretly arrests Martin. They mildly torture him to test his loyalty to his gang, induce him to join the task force, and help to bring about a reconciliation with Sandy. He is trained in covert activities, cyber-crime and weapons handling. He returns to the territory and apparently continues his membership of his local mob (and its leader provides Sandy and Martin with a flat in which they live together). He helps Sandy with her Bac diploma studies, and, together with her, he clandestinely assists the task force in a major operation against large-scale organised crime by accessing the bank accounts and private computer of a gang leader who has connections with the Colombian drugs cartels. Martin identifies himself to the gang and purports to offer to sell his help to the gang leader in protecting the gang’s security. He visits the gang at their headquarters while Sandy and Unit Twenty provide secret support in the vicinity. He inadvertently discloses that Sandy is backing him up and the gang endeavours to force him to reveal her whereabouts by torture.

Members of Unit Twenty burst on the scene and kill all the gang members but one, including the leader of Martin’s local gang who is suspicious of Martin and who has turned up, unknown to anyone, “to protect his interests” although, in fact, Martin has been at pains to protect his local gang from Unit Twenty’s destructive intentions.

Martin escapes and is reunited with Sandy but has been followed by the gang member who has escaped the fire fight. He accosts Sandy and Martin and Sandy knifes him to death.

Sandy and Martin are dismayed at what they regard as the “murder” of the gang members and Martin threatens to challenge Unit Twenty’s account of the event but, of course, Sandy herself has killed one of the gang, Martin has killed the gang member who abducted him at the beginning of the story, and Unit Twenty’s leader “suggests” that cyber-crime is, in fact, a crime and an investigation of the events of the day will inevitably lead to a disclosure of his illegal activities. Martin is well aware that, as civilians, Sandy’s and his involvement in Unit Twenty is “deniable” and he and Sandy, whilst ashamed of their own motives, decide not to challenge the “official” story of events.

The death of the local gang leader means that Martin and Sandy have to give up the flat he had provided but they are both reconciled with their parents who are proud of their activities in support of the police and Sandy’s parents, even though only partially reconciled to Martin after his misbehaviour whilst they were on holiday, allow him and Sandy to live together in their home because, as Sandy’s mother says, ‘I want to keep an eye on my daughter,’ she said, ‘and, if that’s what it takes, you’d better come as well, Martin, so I can keep an eye on you, too.’

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