Following on from his bestselling study of violence, The Football Factory, John King considers Britain's other obsession - sex. Formed in the chemical mists of New Year's Eve, The Sex Division sees the once sacred act of procreation at its most material, as five men devise a system based on the sexual act. In this lager-soaked league, the most that women can offer a man is 4 points - unless, that is, she leaves her handbag unattended...
From its base in the asset-stripped, emotionally castrated 90s, Headhunters shows the dreams of The Sex Division members breaking through the heavy media cloud of anorexic pin-ups and paedophile fashion. A missing brother, prophetic visions, a love affair, and tit-for-tat confrontation draw the characters out into the open - revealing the men behind the machismo, their need for mutual respect, and their recognition of the hidden or suppressed affinities.
King loads his characters up with enough interior life, but it's the raw energy of their interactions - the beano to Blackpool, the punch-ups, the casual fucks, the family skeletons and the unburied fantasies - that make this excellent book run
Sexy, dirty, violent, sad, funny: in fact it has just about everything you could want from a book on contemporary working-class life in London
An odyssey into southern English blue-collar manners as King deconstructs the stereotype of Essex Man and his outer London contemporaries and finds rather more complex attitudes towards gender and class than the tabloid image suggests
The realism and political edge echoes Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Blackstuff