Born Under Punches

1984: Thatchers Conservative government in power. The miners on strike. Two Tribes going to war. 2001: Blairs Labour government enters its historic second term. The rail network is collapsing; the National Health Service is descending into chaos. Things can only get better? Coldwell, a former pit town on the Northumberland coast, was once a cheerful and prosperous place. It now lies bleak and eerily empty. Moving seamlessly between 1984 and the present day, this tautly-plotted thriller involves five Coldwell inhabitants whose lives are radically changed by the strike: Tony Woodhouse, a professional footballer who cant escape his shady past; Tony Jobson, cruising the streets of Newcastle violently collecting debts; Mick Hutton, a striking miner, desperate to find ways to support his growing family; Stephen Larkin, an idealistic young journalist, determined to expose the truth about the strike – as he sees it; Stephens sister, Louise, in love with Tony Woodhouse, stalked by a shadowy figure from her past. As the lives of the five unfold, it becomes clear that the strike of 84 will have unforeseen and devastating repercussions – not only for those directly involved, but for future generations too.


‘A novel that grips, and squeezes, and won’t let go… Martyn Waites’ lean, exhilarating prose is from the heart and from the guts, and that’s exactly where it hits you’ Mark Billingham 

‘An ambitious, tautly plotted thriller… a stark antidote to the cosy world of middle-class murder’ Time Out

‘Not so much a crime novel as a furious study of the social spoilage which makes crime inevitable… Waites’ book has a reckless energy which demands attention and respect’ Literary Review 

‘The novel weaves its tapestry of characters impressively through each other’s lives. By contextualising them within the defeat of the Great Miners’ Strike, it brings home the devastation Thatcher’s victory wreaked on working class communities, and is a better explanation of crime and delinquency than Downing Street will ever manage.’ Socialist Review

‘An evocative, gripping and angry novel’ Newcastle Evening Chronicle

‘Topical and thought-provoking… Waites is successful in creating a feeling of menace – of something manipulative and calculation out of shot: ordinary folk trying to live their lives are set up to be trampled on’ Weekly Worker