Book Review: Hack by John Burns

It snowed for about 5 minutes of my 28 hours in Edinburgh visiting Mrs Towers this weekend. And that was all the time needed to seek refuge in a charity shop and for me to buy “Hack” – a comedy thriller about a tabloid journo called Max Chard.  Which I read, within what was left of those 28 hours.  I know, I’m dead romantic, me.
The book is great great fun; full of scathing criticism of the culture of journalism, and the bentness of the police when it comes to their relations with journos (if only there were Public Inquiries I could link to. No, wait…)

Chard is a wise-cracker, like the early Elvis Cole (before Robert Crais realised smarmy doesn’t sell as well as hard-boiled).  His investigation is plausible, and the final sequence (no spoilers) packs a real emotional punch.

Of the many many quotable bits, here’s one;

It is never a smart move to tell a newshound to push off. It onyl makes him want to push on. Thisi s a basic lesson which trouser-dropping celebs and dodgy Cabinet Ministers fail to grasp> They hide themselves from us and bleat about invasions of privacy. The upshot is we bivouac on their doorsteps for weeks and root around for further scandals in their tawdry lives. And we find ’em. What they should do, as soon as the story breaks, is invite the hacks in, offer them cups of tea – nothing stronger – and say: “It’s a fair cop. I’ve been a naughty boy.” Ten minutes later it’s all over. You see, if they invite us to invade their privacy, it’s no fun anymore. It’s like telling a schoolboy to come scrump  your apples. Besides, we love being hated.

page 74


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