Friday, 6 November 2015

Harm - Hugh Fraser



'What makes an innocent girl become a contract killer?'

Acapulco 1974: Rina Walker is on assignment. Just another another quick, clean kill.

She wakes to discover her employer's severed head on her bedside table, and a man with an AK 47 coming through the door of her hotel room. She needs all her skills to neutralise her attacker and escape. After a car chase, she is captured by a Mexican drug boss who needs her radiant beauty and ruthless expertise to eliminate an inconvenient member of the government.

Notting Hill 1956: Fifteen-year-old Rina is scavenging and stealing to support her siblings and her alcoholic mother. When a local gangster attacks her younger sister, Rina wreaks revenge and kills him. Innocence betrayed, Rina faces the brutality of the post-war London underworld - a world that teaches her the skill to kill...

What did I think?

Wow – what a rollercoaster and a stonking debut from Hugh Fraser. This was another one of those books that you can't put down. It is evident from the start that Rina is a very strong female lead character. As we delve into her background, we find that she’s had such a hard life looking after her young siblings and alcoholic mother but surrounded by an amazing female support system.  She's suffered so much that it's not surprising she has turned into a contract killer - she has nothing left to lose.

The writing was so vivid, perhaps too vivid sometimes – the scene near the end with Carmela still churns my stomach when I'm thinking about it now!  There are some surprising twists as you don't know who is on which side in Mexico, and the way the deal goes down between Lee and Manuel really was inspired - all I'll say is metal joints!  The flashbacks to Rina's teenage life in Notting Hill really captured the essence of the era; men in dark smoky pubs and women at home with the kids living in poverty.  Rina reminds me of Sydney Bristow in Alias and I wouldn't be surprised to see Harm picked up for the small screen.

There were a few same-sex love scenes but they were written with enough subtlety so as not to disturb even the most faint-hearted reader.  With her history, it's hardly surprising that Rina would avoid men at all costs.

Hugh's writing is excellent; I really hope it's not the last we hear of Rina Walker!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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