The unnamed narrator—My name? If I told you that you’d be as clever as me—is an up-and-coming London drug dealer who wants to retire by his thirtieth birthday. He’s professional, low-key, and a little bit cocky, and he has every chance of pulling it off. He reluctantly does a favor for the crime boss Jimmy Price and suddenly his plans are derailed. Double-crosses, snitches, betrayals, murders, hold ups, and stings ensue. There’s little honor among thieves, save for our hero’s immediate circle.
It’s easy to see why Layer Cake was made into a movie. It’s very funny and quite serious—our hero learns some hard lessons. Connolly has an excellent ear for dialog, particularly Cockney dialog, and perhaps a soft spot for London villains.