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by John Baker
Orion, February 2004
245 pages
ISBN: 0752847481

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's supposed to be a pleasurable day for Katy Madika. She has a new camera and she's gone to the Hull town center in the UK to take some photographs. She randomly selects her subjects, this one because of a certain turn to their mouth, that one because of the hook of the nose. As she's composing her shots, she is totally unaware that a crime is in progress, that in fact, the man she is shooting with her camera is about to be murdered.

She snaps several shots, and the killer sees her. He chases Katy and snatches her camera. However, she has stupidly removed the disc with the pictures on it. By doing so, she has inadvertently placed her entire family in terrible danger, far more than she can conceive. The fact of the matter is, Katy is in a mixed marriage; and the killer is a white supremacist. When Katy realizes her mistake, she confides in her best friend, Eve, at her cyber cafe. It's telling that she doesn't feel that she can confide in her husband. One of Eve's employees, Stone Lewis, overhears the conversation and becomes involved in trying to help Katy.

Katy's situation is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a group of skinheads living in the Hull area. They've set up a website and are recruiting members to assist them in racial terrorism activities. Gaz, Mort and Ginner prowl the area looking for vulnerable targets, such as a young black man who has been working with a white teacher or any of a number of people, including Stone's aunt, who are involved in mixed race relationships. This little trio is responsible for terrorizing the entire area. When they get involved with the killer that Katy photographed, the entire situation escalates from isolated incidents to a planned campaign of ethnic cleansing on a much broader scale.

WHITE SKIN MAN is an incredible book, powerful and absorbing. Its racial theme is disturbing. The horror builds page by page as the reader anticipates what this band of misfits is going to do to its next victims. Baker has done some astonishing work in the development of the characters. First of all, there's Stone Lewis, who is autistic and learning how to function in a world that he doesn't quite understand. One of the secondary characters, Heartbreak, steals the page every time he's on it. Even one of the skinheads, Mort, is sympathetically portrayed. Although his principles are reprehensible, he cares for his housebound and disabled mother without complaint.

WHITE SKIN MAN receives my highest recommendation. It hit me hard when I read it, and it's stayed with me ever since. A wow book for me.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, December 2003

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