Updated: Mar 11, 2021
By E2E Team
The story behind this book is almost as remarkable as the one within its pages and an inspiration to budding writers. With no publisher, agent, editor or budget behind him, Pennell uploaded his debut novel onto Kindle himself. A series of rave reviews and 5-star ratings were left on Amazon, resulting in healthy sales and a place on their ‘hot new releases’ chart, which in turn led to demand for a physical edition. These were made by the author’s friend at his printing business, a real DIY endeavour which piqued the interest of local radio.
Eventually the book was snapped up by the first publisher it was sent to. I learned all this through exchanges with Pennell on Facebook messenger, which until the involvement of Old Dog Books was the only medium through which one could obtain a physical copy. He was happy to chat about the book and delighted, surprised and grateful for the support of its readers. Such accessibility was refreshing and gave me a personal stake in wishing him well. But getting to chat to the author is not my only motivation for wanting him to succeed - it’s more the fact that he has written such a brilliant book.
From humble beginnings in working class Birmingham, the second city of the UK, Gangsters, Geezers and Mods takes the reader on a rags-to-riches journey from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century, via football, fashion, music and crime. We are treated to some insightful analysis and exposed to some shocking violence, but love is never more than a couple of pages away and another hilarious scenario is always just around the next street corner. The three main characters are childhood friends who grow up and catastrophically apart, and despite some of the things they get up to one can’t help but sympathise with them.
Other characters add to the mayhem and join us on a breakneck sprint finish that leaves the reader wanting more. Another star of the book is the city of Birmingham, a place I previously knew little of but now feel like an authority on. The locations are brought vividly to life and I now keep an eye on the fortunes of its sports clubs. Gangsters....is a tale of blue-collar resourcefulness and resilience, as inspirational in its own way as the story of how the book came to be.