Crusaders review

 Alastair Sooke writes

The central character of [Richard Kelly’s novel Crusaders] is County Durham-born vicar John Gore who, following an unfulfilled spell as a pastor in Dorset, accepts a challenge from the Bishop of Newcastle to ‘plant’ a church in benighted Hoxheath, a fictional and forlorn sprawl of painfully deprived housing estates, blighted with tykes in tracksuits, burnt-out cars and bloody syringes discarded on the street, on the fringes of the industrial metropolis on the banks of the River Tyne.

After moving into a run-down council flat in one of Hoxheath’s poxier corners – where the bus shelter looks like it has been ‘assailed with a sledgehammer’ – Gore toils at drumming up support among suspicious locals for his first service in the assembly hall of a nearby red-brick school.

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