Jeremy Cameron is an ‘inspirational local’ who was a probation officer in Walthamstow for twenty years until he left in disgust at the government messing with his job. His writing has ostensibly been about crime. In 1995 Touchstone published Vinnie Got Blown Away, a novel about vengeance. 1996 saw the publication of It Was An Accident, more work about crime and community which became a movie of the same name. The film involved Chiwetel Ejiofor playing Nicky Burkett, who was just out of prison and trying to go straight but failing to do so for reasons that, as they say, were not his fault.

Jeremy Cameron, in the meantime, had written Brown Bread In Wengen, a crime novel which takes its characters to Switzerland. The plot has Cameron’s main protagonist from his previous works, Nicky Burkett, caught up, as ever, in things that aren’t his fault, and even in gainful employment – hired by the wife of the local MP to investigate the death of her husband. People surprised at the venality and money grubbing of the political classes revealed in recent years will be interested to see Cameron’s portrayal of the political/criminal milieu who carry his plot in 1999. The actual criminals who come to Burkett’s aid in his investigations seem positively attractive by contrast.

In 2002, Cameron brought out Hell On Hoe Street, a title very much in accord with my own feelings when I contemplate the rows of estate agencies which stretch their way from our local McDonald’s. Hell On Hoe street, which takes Nicky off in search of a chap called Kamran in Pakistan, is puffed in Fantastic Fiction thus:

From the man whose street talk ‘sizzles with wit and invention’, a new, turbo-charged East London thriller. Out of the nick, in his own gaff, and with Walthamstow’s tastiest bird hanging off his arm, life couldn’t be sweeter for East London anti-hero Nicky Burkett. Even the Old Bill are laying off the hassle which, bearing in mind his previous, is little short of a bleeding miracle. But when the lovely Noreen tells him her mate Alia’s got this problem, and needs to get it sorted right quick, she’s got him stitched up proper, and now that bother’s got him all the way to Pakistan…”

Wider Than Walthamstow, published in 2004, is my favourite for its cover, which is graced by our Town Hall. The book, as ever reflecting the funny dynamics of local life, brings Nicky Burkett into proximity with Walthamstow criminality Lithuanian style.

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Extra comment. “Cameron is an East End Runyon. His characters live in a world of their own. Also Cameron has one of the funniest and tenderest sex scenes, which are famously difficult to get right, that you’ll ever read. I hardly ever read fiction, but go out of my way to find his.”