Payback was first published in the UK by Victor Gollancz in 1991 and its first American publication was by Countryman Press in 1993. It was translated and published in Germany by Dumont Noir in 1999. Prospero relaunched it as an ebook in 2014.
When this book was first published by Gollancz the editor, Julia Wisdom thought it the best thriller Russell had written. Critics agreed. “A first-class story of London gangland, told with a considerable amount of panache,” said Time Out. “Pacy, credible and exciting,” agreed the Literary Review, adding that it had, “a feeling of here and now that’s rare in most British crime fiction.” “Splendidly staccato narrative,” chimed in the Sunday Times, and “A taut, tough, coldly realistic thriller,” said the Weekend Telegraph. The Times praised its “ambivalent underworld morality splendidly painted through raw dialogue and seedy-glam atmosphere.”
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Here are some of the original reviews:
“Something of a cult…He goes looking for trouble where more circumspect writers would back off’,” said Chris Petit in The Times Saturday Review
“A feeling of here and now that’s rare in most British crime fiction,” added Philip Oakes in the Literary Review
“An ambivalent underworld morality splendidly painted through raw dialogue and seedy-glam atmosphere,” was the opinion of Marcel Berlins in The Times
“Portrayed with a razor edge of social realism…sustained atmosphere of moral relativity…” agreed The Sunday Times
And in America . . .
“Crackles with action and with dialogue Hammett or Raymond Chandler might envy. . . James’s characters sprint off the page. . . Hard-boiled in the grand classic style,’ declared Publishers Weekly
“James has carved out a unique voice for himself and is rapidly becoming established as one of the leading hard-boiled British writers,” concluded ‘Britcrit’ in Mystery Scene
For more about Russell James, click here