Thursday, May 12, 2016

Jack Lark: Rogue by Paul Fraser Collard

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: May 11, 2016

As pot boy at his mother's infamous London gin palace, Jack Lark is no stranger to trouble. Between dog fights and street scuffles, if he's not being set upon, he's starting a brawl himself. But when an unlikely ally draws him from the dark alleys of the East End into the bright lights of a masked ball, he gets a glimpse of another life. That life, once seen, is impossible to forget. Jack will do anything to outwit, outsmart and escape the cruelty in his own home. He is determined to get out, but what price will he be forced to pay for his freedom?

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Paul Fraser Collard’s Jack Lark series has interested me for a while. My father gifted me a copy of book one last year, but in looking at the series as a whole, I decided it best to tackle the prequel novellas before the full length narrative which meant jumping in at Jack Lark: Rogue.

I inhaled this piece, but that fact has as much to do with its modest size as it does Collard’s ill-mannered protagonist. Life in Whitechapel hasn’t been easy for Jack Lark and the realities of daily life in the notorious district have gifted him the survival instincts of a country cat. He’s rough around the edges, but I found his pragmatism and pride endearing.

I was also struck by the complex relationship he shares with his mother. It’s obvious she cares about her son, but she is as much a product of Whitechapel as he is. She is used to hard living and despite her harsh treatment, I have to wonder if her decisions are motivated by selfish desire, selfless sacrifice, or a mixture of both.

Brief though it was, I enjoyed the time I spent with Jack Lark: Rogue and can’t wait to see what the next novella, Jack Lark: Recruit, has in store. 

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He closed his eyes and made up his mind. He knew what he had said. He might not have a brass farthing to his name, but he did have his word.
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