Book Review: Something’s Gotta Give

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You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat)
Andrew Hankinson

Review by Grace Harrison

On 1st July 2010, 37-year-old door-man, body-builder and mechanic Raoul Moat walked out of HM Prison Durham, where he’d been serving a short sentence for assault. Nine days later he would be dead, along with Chris Brown (boyfriend of Samantha Stobbart, Moat’s ex-partner and the mother of their children, who was injured in the attack). A televised, seven-day police hunt – in which bizarre turn followed bizarre turn, occasionally reaching farcical levels – was the largest in modern British history.

Andrew Hankinson’s You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life charts what happened in Gateshead on those balmy summer days, starting with Moat’s release from prison. He includes an explanation of how the text will work. It’s written in a second-per-son narrative, meaning that the reader ‘is’ Raoul Moat, a man who, as Hankinson writes, is not a reliable witness. The pieces that make up the story have been carefully assembled by Hankinson from Moat’s own words and letters, which give a unique view into a contradictory and often deluded mind.

The case reached levels of mass hysteria: ex-England footballer Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne turned up at Moat’s suspected whereabouts a rotisserie chicken and a fishing rod; a short-lived Facebook group titled RIP Raoul Moat, You Legend surpassed 35,000 followers. But a great feature of the writing is that such famous elements don’t feature, as Moat was unaware of their existence. Those of us who vividly remember following the case on TV or social media are forced to see it anew, and accept that the prevailing media narrative can also be a blinkered one.

Readers see and experience only what Moat saw, which helps to paint a terrifying picture of a man who was suffering from acute mental health problems; he was the subject of imagined derision, jealous of his ex-lover, full of hatred for the police and struggling to cope with the world around him. The style of writing naturally makes you empathise with the villain in a way that other books would not, but Hankinson manages to tell the story with impressive objectivity.

To read this book is to spend time in the head of someone extremely troubled, which, unsurprisingly, can be uncomfortable. You feel claustrophobic and like an unwelcome guest, witnessing a descent into madness. You also realise quite quickly that Moat was a ticking time-bomb of toxic masculinity. It’s an imaginative, gripping and terrifying journey for the reader, who is right there with Moat, a voice inside his head counting down the days, propelled towards the precipice and wondering where it all went wrong.

 
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CASE NOTES
You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat)
Author: Andrew Hankinson
Publisher: Scribe
ISBN: 9781922247919
RRP: £12.99
Format: PB
Length: 224pp

(THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FOUL PLAY ISSUE TWO. YOU CAN ORDER A COPY OF THE MAGAZINE HERE.)

 
Grace Harrison