I don’t know if the author plans to make this a series but I would happily follow the adventures of the young journalist, Clare Jackson. On the whole, the book was entertaining but I have been struggling with a rating for this book. Part of the issue is the story and main character are strikingly similar to Denise Mina’s Paddy Meehan Trilogy. While the author is skilled, she does not yet display Mina’s skill. Regardless, I was entertained and erred on the high side with a 4 star rating. This book has been released in the UK as is available in ebook format in the US. The book will be release in Canada on April 1, 2015.
Clare Jackson is a young and ambitious journalist. Due to mysterious circumstances, Clare lost out of a promotion that was hers for the taking. Suffering grief from a series of losses, Clare finds comfort in her job and soon finds herself too emotionally involved in her investigations. While the entanglements fulfill professional and emotional needs, they lead her into danger that could cost her more than her job.
The setting is 1984 England with the miner’s strike as a historical backdrop. The author does an excellent job of immersing you in the setting and uses the strike as a propellant for the overall plot. There is a real sense of unrest, unease and fear that drives all of the characters. As I myself live in a city and region with a strong union presence, the themes rang true.
I enjoy when authors write about what they know. The author is a former print and broadcast journalist. While I noted that the author doesn’t possess the finesse of a more seasoned author like Denise Mina, she does surpass Mina with the realism of the field of journalism. When the author speaks of the profession, she write it with conviction of knowledge. The characters are realistic and believable.
While I was interested by the characters, I found that Clare was occasionally flat. At times, she was outshined by the supporting cast. This may have been intentional considering Clare’s emotional state. Regardless, if this becomes a series, I expect Clare to shine more in future installments.
I enjoyed the story on the whole but I felt that the ending was telegraphed to the reader through the novel. A little foreshadowing goes a long was and too much is, well, too much. Saying much more about this would be a significant spoiler so I will leave it at that.
Can this Book Stand Alone
Yes. It is a standalone novel.
I think the author has a character worthy of a series and I hope that she considers doing so. While there is room for improvement, I would hope that experience would bring growth to the writing. Overall, an excellent read for fans of journalist thrillers and mysteries.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations. When reviewing language, mild obscenities are words like, shit, hell or damn. Religious exclamations are words such as Christ or Jesus when used as profanity.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 2
There is a romantic entanglement in the story but there is no graphic content. It is implied that a character may be engaged in prostitution and that another may be suffering sexual abuse. Again, there is nothing graphic.
Language – 1
24 Mild obscenities, 5 f-words, 11 religious exclamations.
Violence – 3
The miner’s strike has emotions running high. There is violence on the picket line and violence in surrounding towns. There is death of baby at the beginning and the curious death later in the book as well as an attempted murder. Overall, the violence is not graphic.