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The war on drugs has been lost but for want of the courage to face the fact that the whole world is rapidly becoming one vast criminal network. From pop stars and princes to crack whores and street kids. From the Groucho Club toilets to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we are all partners in crime. HIGH SOCIETY is a story or rather a collection of interconnected stories that takes the reader on a hilarious, heart breaking and terrifying journey through the kaleidoscope world that the law has created and from which the law offers no protection.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780552999953
ISBN-10: 0552999954
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 127mm x 23mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Black Swan
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Jul-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » In this fast-paced tale, Elton successfully interweaves the stories of his characters with an examination of British drug culture from a variety of perspectives. The novel focuses on three key characters: Tommy Hanson, the winner of the national Pop Idol contest and a drink- and drug-addict, Jessie the abused teenage runaway from Scotland who arrives in London only to be dragged into drug-taking and prostitution, and Peter Paget, a Labour MP determined to make all drugs legal. In the background are Sonia, a young English girl who ends up in a Thai jail for drug smuggling, and Commander Leman of the Metropolitan Police, who is fighting corruption in the force and supporting Peter Paget's crusade. This is a persuasive story which through its clever mix of drama and humour makes a series of important political points. In the best traditions of story telling the light comedy allows for relief from the dark moments of horror and despair which many of the characters encounter. The narrative is told by the different characters in turn, involving the reader in each of their predicaments and showing how the chain of events set off affects all those around them. Elton manages to make a convincing argument for the incoherence of British drug policy without sacrificing the integrity of his characters, and the result is an engaging and thought-provoking novel. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A member of Parliament takes on the bugaboo of drug decriminalization. Well-known British comic author Elton has already taken on reality TV (Dead Famous, Feb. 2003), Tarantino-esque filmmakers (Popcorn, 1997), and the perils of pregnancy (Inconceivable, 2000). Now, he takes up the drug trade and attendant criminality, in pretty much all their aspects. His method is to weave together a number of different plotlines dependent upon a light web of coincidence and interrelations (something like the film Traffic), the most central of these involving a heretofore-overlooked Parliament member, Peter Paget, who proposes a sweeping decriminalization bill that's met at first with expected jeers and consternation but gradually gathers some real steam. If only Paget-the picture of two-kids-and-a-wife decency-wasn't shagging his comely assistant. Elsewhere, there's the crusading anticorruption police inspector, the Scottish girl sucked into addiction and prostitution on the streets of London, a drug mule in Bangkok, and, providing most of the needed comic relief, a running monologue given at various recovery meetings by a hugely successful Robbie Williams-esque pop star about his crimes and misadventures as he ingests truly heroic amounts of cocaine and alcohol. Paget provides Elton's thesis: the illegality of drugs mixed with the near-universal taking of drugs makes the entire county criminal: "We are all either criminals ourselves or associates of criminals or relatives of criminals." The first third or so here is rather inspired, mixing Elton's quick-witted banter with a high-minded yet concretely realistic assault on drug hysteria. Elton, however, like his pop star who whines about this fact, will not be breaking the US market with his effort. No matter how cheeky the whole, the last half of the book, in which Paget et al. collapse in a welter of bad decision-making and the ravages of addiction, is not as successful in its pathos as the earlier pages were in their humor. A mixture of comedy with tragedy that fails to produce real black comedy: another decent but desperately uneven effort from Elton. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Ben Elton

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time. He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty. He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You. He is married with three children.

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