Several weeks have gone by, and I’m still not sure if I liked this book. I think I did. It certainly kept me guessing, and I definitely did not expect the end. It just took a while to get into. But once I did, I (think) I liked it.
Our unnamed protagonist deals coke. He’s about to turn 30, he’s got quite the little nest egg and he’s ready to retire. He doesn’t want to be some old gangster. But he gets roped in one more job for his boss (and his boss’s boss), and of course, it all goes south on him.
The biggest point for and against Layer Cake is the language. And I don’t mean cussing. That I can handle. Connolly has written this entire thing from the first-person perspective of our protagonist, and between his own internal musings and the dialogue between the rest of the characters, this book is so chock full of slang that it made me dizzy. There’s several layers to the slang, too: British terms that I’m unfamiliar with, a random smattering of foreign language and worst of all, piles of gangster slang for drugs and violence and woman that made my head spin.
BUT this constant barrage also serves a purpose: the reader becomes immersed in this world of sleazy deals and rather graphic violence. This is not a book to be read in short pieces (which I did for the first few chapters and may explain my ambivalence). It needs to be devoured in a few sittings so the rhythm of Connolly’s language and actions properly translates.