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Brighton Rock

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  14,771 Ratings  ·  889 Reviews
A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous Ida Arnold, who is determined to avenge a death.
Paperback, Vintage Classics, 269 pages
Published October 7th 2004 by Vintage Classics (first published 1938)
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The End of the Affair by Graham GreeneThe Quiet American by Graham GreeneThe Power and the Glory by Graham GreeneOur Man in Havana by Graham GreeneBrighton Rock by Graham Greene
Best Graham Greene novels
5th out of 24 books — 154 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Richard Derus
Book Circle Reads 144

Rating: 4.25* of five

The Book Report: Charles "Fred" Hale, aka newspaper columnist "Kolley Kibber," is in Brighton to hand out paper-chase prizes to loyal readers of his paper. He's also running as fast as he can from someone who means to kill him. Why? We aren't told. Who? That's made very plain within the first thirty pages. Well, there goes the suspense, right? Not right.

In a vain effort to live to fight another day, Hale hooks up with Ida, a blowsy pub-crawling broad wit
Jason Koivu
Jun 07, 2016 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
I'd just finished a book about 1940s/50s Cuba, in which Graham Greene is mentioned as having visited and enjoyed a place where "one could obtain anything at will, whether drugs, or women, or goats". Since I've been meaning to read more Greene, I figured now would be a good time for Our Man in Havana.

A couple days pass, things come up, apparently my memory is shit, and for some reason I start reading Brighton Rock. Hey, why the fuck not?! I'm an idiot...

This book has very little to do with Cuba.
Sep 11, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This book is a multi-layered and rather startling portrayal of gangster life in the thirties in Brighton, England. This is not a cheery read so be prepared to feel out of sorts.

It starts with 'Fred' Hale who knows he's to be killed but tries to keep someone by his side to prevent it happening - his chosen mate to this end is Ida who is a brassy sort but with a good sense of right and wrong.
When she discovers that the date she thought had stood her up has been found dead she suspects foul play an
"I know one thing you don't. I know the difference between Right and Wrong. They didn't teach you that at school."
Rose didn't answer; the woman was quite right: the two words meant nothing to her. Their taste was extinguished by stronger foods- Good and Evil. The woman could tell her nothing she didn't know about these- she knew by tests as clear as mathematics that Pinkie was evil- what did it matter in that case whether he was right or wrong?

That's pretty much the book right there.

This is a f
Richard Derus
Mar 23, 2012 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.25* of five

The Book Report: Charles "Fred" Hale, aka newspaper columnist "Kolley Kibber," is in Brighton to hand out paper-chase prizes to loyal readers of his paper. He's also running as fast as he can from someone who means to kill him. Why? We aren't told. Who? That's made very plain within the first thirty pages. Well, there goes the suspense, right? Not right.

In a vain effort to live to fight another day, Hale hooks up with Ida, a blowsy pub-crawling broad with a heart of gold and
“A Catholic is more capable of evil than anyone.”
Brighton Rock

I signed this paper saying I would sleep with a writer. Actually, the document in question wasn’t profession specific, but name specific. I swirled my J and ‘en’ and ‘nifer’ next to a guy named Christopher. But, as it turned out, the guy I agreed to sleep with for pretty much life became an editor and a writer. And ever since he started writing at night instead of sleeping adequately, I’ve had this problem. The problem is that afte
Apr 23, 2008 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Graham Greene's Brighton Rock tells the story of a young leader of one of the infamous razor gangs in 1930s Brighton who murders a journalist and then finds that his attempts to avoid any possibility of arrest lead him into ever-increasing complications and violence. A woman who had befriended the journalist sets out to bring his killer to justice. This is a remarkably dark and pessimistic novel. It’s a crime novel, but Greene has other agendas as well in this book. Greene was a Catholic, but he ...more
Krok Zero
Aug 17, 2011 Krok Zero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2011
William Gibson wrote something not long ago -- well, tweeted something, actually -- that has haunted me unexpectedly. Speaking of the sea change in American culture brought by World War II, Gibson noted that "WWII Americans looked like us; 1935 Americans seriously didn't." Somehow, this statement is totally accurate. If the past since WWII is a foreign country, the past before WWII is an alien planet.

Graham Greene wasn't an American, of course, but the same mysterious principle applied across th
Oct 30, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
I have a hard time believing all the stereotypical interpretations of this novel. This is not a book simply about Catholics and Puritans, or about the privileges of religious certainty, etc. The book is about poverty and being impoverished, and trying to add dignity to that reality amid the backdrop of vague traditions and terrible violence.

The majority of Greene’s characters are impressively unique and vital. The one exception is Ida, whose persistence and cloying eroticism drives the story li
Mar 01, 2014 Drew rated it really liked it
This was an epilogue to my Graham Greene phase from six months or so ago; I couldn't find a copy until now. And it's weird to read it after having read a bunch of his later, more accomplished work. Brighton Rock isn't as polished; you won't find too many sly jokes or profound philosophical thoughts in it. But it's amazing to see how complex his attitude towards Catholicism was even at that point in his career (or, more accurately, since every Catholic's attitude towards Catholicism is complex, h ...more
Mar 20, 2012 Robert rated it did not like it
Shelves: general-fiction
OK, I admit defeat. If I had not chosen to read this whilst ill I imagine I would have got through it, since it is short by modern standards. As it is I just can't stand to spend more time around these characters that I uniformly can't empathise with and mostly find irritating or down-right unpleasant. There is a character one is supposed (I assume) to like and root for but I find her as annoying as the other two major protagonists. Ultimately I just find these people boring. So, I give up havin ...more
May 06, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who skipped on the Greene
Recommended to Fabian by: Discarded book bin at Del Valle H.S.
A near perfect noir. The Cohen bros. looked at this type of literature for the basis for "Fargo." Just like that movie, this book takes you inside a world of misfits and fragmented members of a clandestine group: very disorganized mobsters. The bad guys are protagonists and the heroine is (unlike the Frances McDormand character) a cross between Ignacious from "Confederacy of Dunces" and the Wife of Bath! Her old style dogma of enjoying life, no matter how bad a "Christian" this might make you, i ...more
I'm still coming to terms with the ending, or last lines of this grim and gritty story. The story is set against the backdrop of Brighton in the early 1930's. The leader of a small and motley razor gang, led by the hard as nails Pinkie Brown is looking to expand his criminal empire.

When he succeeds in taking out a journalist who has some shadowy connections to a rival gang, PinKie's quest for recognition and respect begins to spiral out of control.

It's the character of Pinkie who grabs you and
Jun 25, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night, lit
Greene's most famous work is a game of two halves

I think it might be fair to say that this one is only as famous as it is because of the excellent film noir starring the old man from Jurassic Park. That was a shocker for me I can tell you, Father Christmas as a stone cold killer. It's a fine book, an early entertainment with an obvious study of the effect of the Catholic church on man. But I was at the midway point when I realised that it was suddeny becoming less enjoyable to read. Greene start
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
There are only human beings here. No ghosts, demons, haunted houses, strange creatures, aliens or mysterious apparitions. Just human beings. But I've never read any novel more horrifying than this.

Here's a frail-looking boy with a feminine name: Pinkie. He doesn't drink, smoke or gamble. Just seventeen years old and still a virgin. But he is the leader of a small gang and he kills.

Then here's a sixteen-year-old, equally frail, waitress, Rose. She loves Pinkie. She knows something which could imp
Feb 20, 2011 Alan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, read-in-2011
ordered this from the library so's I can read it for the Greene group thingie, but have read it back in the 60s (as a teenager). Wonder if my star count will go down (it can't go up)?
...finished this on Saturday and went straight out to watch the film. Won't file my review until what is it - Feb 20th, but just to say
a) my star count has not gone down
b) the new film is worth watching but seek out the original, it's better. Rose is very good in the new film however...

..Feb 20th - had to go out for
Dec 07, 2011 Lawyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock" is classified as one of his entertainments as opposed to his more serious works. But make no mistake about it, "Brighton Rock" gives the reader plenty to ponder, if you consider it more than the thriller as many have treated it.

Brighton Rock is that stick candy embedded with the letters "Brighton." As the confection diminishes, the letters remain clearly legible. Although the book may bear the name of a popular confection, there's nothing sweet about the story Gre
Jul 31, 2016 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Truman Capote calls this, "An incredibly beautiful, perfect novel." Why argue? He then adds, "It has the greatest last four paragraphs of any modern novel I can think of."
Dec 04, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1938, this novel sadly still retains much that is relevant. Set in Brighton, the novel revolves around Pinky, a young anti hero and his attempts to take control of a criminal gang. When Charles “Fred” Hale visits Brighton, in the guise of ‘Kolley Kibber’, his task is to leave various flyers around the town to allow readers of the “Daily Messenger” to claim prizes; a cash prize can also be won if he is recognised and challenged. Unfortunately, though, Hale is recognised by Pinky and ...more
Dec 10, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
Graham Greene sometimes categorized his own novels. He drew a line between the "Entertainments" like Stamboul Train and The Third Man (none of which I've read) and the more serious "Novels." You could break it down further: he wrote some political novels like the Quiet American and Our Man in Havana, and a number of religious (Catholic) ones like Power and the Glory and Brighton Rock. And Heart of the Matter and End of the Affair are probably about emotions or whatever, I haven't read them yet.

Feb 20, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jessica by: Sketchbook, Paperback Percy
Shelves: greeneland
This is an early novel of Greene's (1938), but a later one for me, as it's the sixth or seventh one I've read of his. As with all of Greene's novels, the setting, the seaside town of Brighton, is as much a character as any of the people who populate it. This setting is very different from that of other Greene novels I've read: Port-au-Prince, London, Havana, Sierra Leone, Mexico and other foreign landscapes.

As with others of his novels (despite what others on goodreads have said), the women port
Boring story, boring characters. Well written sense of place. The title is apt for the story, just a confection with no nutritional value.

Reconsidered reevaluated addition to review.

It has been a few months since reading Brighton Rock. This book has stayed with me and I think about it often and I concede it must have qualities that I initially missed in my first reaction when focussing on the elements that I found flawed with the novel. I initially acknowledged the quality of the writing captur

Brighton Rock is a love story.

The back-cover blurb, reproduced in the goodreads description, above, is one of the most grossly inadequate and misleading ones I have ever read. You keep waiting for a raging gang war to rage, but it becomes pretty obvious that Pinkie is not being underestimated like the anti-hero of an action flick, about to cut loose any moment with a shotgun and a steel katana ... his ambition far exceeds his criminal capacities. He’s a sociopath. A loser. And a barely-human (i
Jayne Charles
Jan 09, 2013 Jayne Charles rated it it was ok
I was glad to get through this with its teeny tiny print that strained my eyes and intense narrative style that strained my brain. Happily I did manage to stay with the plot despite being constantly worried that it would race off into obscurity and leave me behind. Looking back, though, my understanding of the story is fractured. So many places where I wasn't sure how we got from A to B.....the bit with the watch seller....the bookie.....who the heck was Johnny....and fundamentally, why was Pink ...more
Jared Colley
May 14, 2007 Jared Colley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in literature where pulp fiction meets high modernism...
Shelves: fiction
This is perhaps my favorite Graham Greene novel, and Graham Greene is one of my favorite writers. One thing I love about this book is its dynamic, multi-layered quality. One can read this book as a pulp, gangster novel that simply relates the struggle of a small time crook, Pinkie, facing the threat of being taken over by the infamous mob boss, Colleoni. Or one can read it as something much more complex - a story making sense of a new stage of capitalist, industrial experience where the urban ci ...more
Seriously, I am done with Greene's "gritty thrillers".

Years ago, I watched Brighton Rock and didn't enjoy it. Now, having read the book as the (hopefully) last of the "early" works, I have the same impression. Nice, but so not keeping me all.

And, oh dear, there is some clunky writing in this one.


Review originally posted on BookLikes:
May 17, 2008 Chloe rated it liked it
Recommended to Chloe by: 1001 Books List
Shelves: fiction, 1001-list
After reading several absolutely fantastic books by Graham Greene, The Power & The Glory, The Quiet American, The Honorary Consul, this book was a bit of a letdown. I like books about organized crime, I like mysteries, I like whodunits- but I didn't love this book.

I think a lot of this had to do with the ham-fisted way in which Greene went about portraying the characters and their internal conflicts. It was all very melodramatic and smacked of daytime television. The characters were caricatu
Dec 23, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pinky is one of the great literary characters in British literature. I even own an imported DVD film version of this novel. It's good! But back to the book, it really captures that depressed England cold weather thing that is slightly 'under' and in many ways it has a slight ring to "A Clockwork Orange." Pinky just reacts to his world by instinct, and it's a fascinating relationship he has with his much older gang.
Ned Mozier
Oct 17, 2015 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last night on an airplane I finished this one, my first experience with Graham Greene, a little bleary but happy to be home. I marked it with my seat assignment stub, put my name and date in the front, and went to bed. This morning I awoke prepared to use my early Saturday writing a brief review while the house was quiet. I started to look at Wikipedia, planning to move next to see what others in Goodreads said about this book, but (as often happens) I somehow became distracted and watched Tom W ...more
Natalie Carvajal
Jan 23, 2011 Natalie Carvajal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Thinking it'd be absolute shit I started to read this novel for my British Novel class, and I LOVED it. I couldn't put it down - well, when I had to I'd pick it right back up whenever I had the slightest chance. The characters are complex as hell especially the main character Pinkie - is he a sociopath, psychopath, or just really confused? Later you find out he's just evil but has some flashes of goodness in him which come as a surprise and make him more human. The girl who loves him (whom he de ...more
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Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca
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“You cannot conceive, nor can I, of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” 136 likes
“A brain was only capable of what it could conceive, and it couldn't conceive what it had never experienced” 29 likes
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