Like The Fall by Anthony McGowan (reviewed recently) and Them and Us an earlier Bali Rai book (reviewed a while back) The Gun is a serious book for serious times.
The scene is set in the prologue, Jonas is in a police cell. The details are specific and telling; officials, fashions and smells. As Jonas begins his tale in Chapter 1, we know from the first line, the world he inhabits, "freezing our arses off outside Lahore Fried Chicken".
Jonas is not a bad kid but his situation in life means it is tough to avoid trouble. Especially when his best mate turns out to be worryingly crazy. Throw a loaded gun into the mix and things are never going to end well.
Their estate is always violent. Jonas and his mates dabble in gangs without getting sucked right in. But it is the gun than tips them over the edge.
In his intro Rai says the story was inspired by The Wire TV series. I am still having withdrawal symptoms after this ended, so I am bias. But, I have to say, in 65 pages Rai creates some moving characters and the journey they go on filled me with affection and dismay.