John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.
Lynsey Quinn, daughter of notorious crime boss, Joe Quinn is in love. The problem is that the object of her love is a copper. She is also pregnant. She soon learns that her vision of happily married bliss to her love, Alan Beck is no more than a mirage.
Cut to 11 years later and we find Helen, the offspring of the couple being cared for by her maternal grandmother. Her father has died some years previously and now, more bad news arrives as we learn of the death of Helen’s mother. Suddenly, Helen finds herself living with the Quinn family after being taken in by her Uncle Tommy. Life becomes uncomfortable as Tommy’s wife begrudges her presence and her grandfather Joe despises her. Poor Helen is about to learn who she is and where she comes from.
The story takes place over a period of more than 20 years. Helen, or “Mouse” as she becomes known due to her timid nature, begins a life that will lead her to some unexpected revelations while coming across a wide variety of characters most of whom are unsavoury to say the least. Despite this, she has her allies in Uncle Tommy, family friend Moira and Frank Meyer, her uncle’s “business” partner. Yet, inevitably, her surroundings lead her into danger and bring constant heartbreak as the years pass.
Roberta Kray’s eighth novel is a well-paced thriller that surprised me with its ability to keep me riveted. I had expected some kind of ultra-violent gangland story. But it is surprisingly low-key in that respect. The threat of violence is constantly there and there are some frankly terrible moments but it is not constantly shoved in the reader’s face. Gradually it becomes more of a murder mystery and doesn’t let up until the end. I found myself wanting to learn more about the backgrounds of a number of characters. A definite thumbs up. I shall look out for more of her work.