In his introduction, Graham Greene notes that Brighton Rock “began as a detective novel,” but readers and critics of the work soon realize that in the development of the central character, Pinkie Brown, and in the reversal of the hunt for the victim, Fred Hale, Greene has provided yet another of his studies of evil, sin, and the “appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.”
Against the lively backdrop of a Bank Holiday, which brings happy tourists to the seaside resort, Greene presents the frightened Fred Hale. The first words establish the terror: “Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.” Hale, known as Kolly Kibber in a popular newspaper, has been hired to leave cards at various places so that readers who recognize him can claim a prize. Instead, he is recognized by Pinkie, who seeks revenge for Hale’s betrayal of Pinkie’s mentor (and father figure), Kite. The first hunt is under way.
Although Hale seeks refuge in Ida Arnold’s Earth Mother arms, Pinkie and his gang find him as he waits for Ida to come out of the lavatory. Seeking to establish an alibi, Pinkie has Spicer, one of his gang, leave a Kolly Kibber card in the restaurant where he was to have appeared, but the new waitress, Rose, notices that he does not look like the person in the newspaper picture. Pinkie, knowing that he cannot permit this loose end, plans to control her, either with the threat of...
(The entire section is 570 words.)