You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat)
By Andrew Hankinson (Scribe books)
Very occasionally a book comes along that just stops you in your tracks and you find yourself glued to wherever you are when you pick it up. I opened this book last Friday on a strict 15 minute break “if you’re late back you’ll be failed” Driving Awareness Course. Being a top ranking crime-lord I was a couple of minutes late. They didn’t fail me but they would certainly have done if I hadn’t casually glanced up at the clock on the café wall as I was two chapters into this book. At that point everything else had ceased to matter, I was in Raoul Moat’s head, I could have sat there all afternoon.
From low-brow real British crime biographies like the The Guvnor through to American literary real life classics like In Cold Blood and The Executioners song, the crime genre has its Must Reads. You might not necessarily know the author but you’ll know the titles or the cover because you’ve had it repeatedly recommended or you’ve seen it passed around. John Pearson’s Profession of Violence is ‘the Krays one’, Gordon Burn’s ‘Happy Like Murderers’ is the Fred and Rose West one, T.J. English The Westies is, naturally, the Westies one., Sammy Gravano’s ‘Underboss’ is the mafia one and on and on.
Andrew Hankinson has now written ‘the Raoul Moat one’ and it deserves to be up there swinging from the coat-tails of the most literary of that list – the Burns, the Mailers, the Capotes. Delivered in the little used second person (we the reader are Raoul Moat) and based on tapes, suicide notes, letters and diaries Moat recorded over the latter stages of his life, You Do Could Something Amazing With Your Life unlocks the gunman’s thinking and accompanies him through the last week of his life.
There’s no Gazza, and not too much media, really. It’s an engrossing piece of New Journalism that sticks to what Moat knew about during his shooting spree and the country side siege that lead to his suicide. You’d think there’s not much to know beyond the headlines but Hankinson’s brilliant reporting takes you deep into Moat’s violent and tragic world, a world that’s flashed with bizarre reasoning, paranoid delusion and brutal actions. Did the state and family fail him as he believes or did he just fail everyone else? It ends with a gut punch for a victim no-one ever thought or knew about too. Buy two copies, one for yourself and one to give away. You won’t regret it.