Tuesday 6 April 2021

BLOG TOUR: Playing the Pools - David M. Sindall

The sheet is pulled back; the body is face down. He looks to the left shoulder for no more than a second or two and sees a tattoo. It’s a Tranmere Rovers crest, with the club’s motto, ‘Lux et Robur’, indelibly marked on the yellowing skin.

He knows who this is. He nods again.

In 1960s Liverpool, life is hard for Reggie Kellison. His marriage is stalling, baby number six is on its way, a fall out at work has put his nose out of joint and the football team he supports offers little relief.

But Reggie has a plan.

If it works it could give him the life, lover, and money he dreams of. If it doesn’t, a jail sentence could be on the cards.

Either way, he can only find out by risking everything, and playing the pools.

What did I think?

Playing the Pools is a very entertaining novel and quite a quick read at just over 200 pages long.  The prologue (which is mentioned in the synopsis) is an immediate hook and I couldn't read fast enough to find out which Tranmere Rovers fan the body belonged to.  Even though I got carried along with the brilliant story, that question kept popping back into my head and where money is concerned, it could be absolutely anyone.

I loved the 1960s Liverpool setting, even more so as I visited this wonderful city in 2019 and recognised a lot of the places mentioned in the book.  With a foot in both gambling and retail camps, Littlewoods must have been one of the biggest employers in Liverpool in the 1960s and Littlewoods Pools is where the main character of Reggie Kellison works.

Reggie comes up with a brilliant idea to improve Littlewoods Pools' business but this is rejected by his employer, only to be resurrected a few months down the line as if it wasn't Reggie's idea in the first place.  This made me so mad!  It's not the first time I have heard of this happening and it seems like employers will do anything to get out of paying a bonus on an incentive scheme that they have created; it's shocking as they are basically stealing intellectual property from their employees.  No wonder employees become aggrieved and start working to rule or planning to get their own back like Reggie does.

David M. Sindall has included characters, places and events that are very personal to him and I love how this not only inspired his story but brought the whole book to life.  I found it very nostalgic as my Dad and I used to play the pools in the 1980s and we used to look forward to the knock on the door from the 'pools man' to hand over our coupon then eagerly watch the football results for score draws on Saturday evening, although I can't ever remember us winning anything.

Entertaining and nostalgic, Playing the Pools is very well written and held my interest throughout.  It's something a bit different from the norm and well worth a read.

I chose to read an ARC that I received from the publisher and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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