...this is a book that’s both eye-opening and hair-raising. Given Gillard’s assiduous quoting of chapter and verse – and the sheer complexity of the story – it isn’t always an easy read. But it is a riveting one. There’s also much to enjoy (if a bit guiltily) in its cast of archetypal East End villains, with their fondness for pigeon-fancying and restaurants full of West Ham footballers and Page 3 girls. And of course, at a time when the word “brave” is applied to any book that mildly dissents from contemporary social pieties – or that simply parrots them – it’s impossible not to admire Gillard’s courage in publishing Legacy at all.
Legacy is a truly original and only-too-real story of ganglands, crime and corruption in a run-down corner of east London that had suddenly become hot property as the site for the 2012 Olympics. It is a book packed with a long cast of colourful, if unsavoury characters and a host of jaw-dropping stories. At times, it reads like a script from an American television series such as The Wire or The Sopranos — only this is Britain in modern times and the events Gillard relates actually happened.