Monday 13 July 2015

The Prodigal - Nicky Black

Exiled from his beloved Newcastle sixteen years ago, Detective Sergeant Lee Jamieson is returning home in search of the teenage daughter he’s never met. With a good promotion under his belt and his parents gone, he’s ready to return to his roots and the warm Geordie spirit he has missed so much. 

Much to his surprise, his first assignment is in Valley Park, a forgotten sink estate and home to some of the worst social deprivation in the country – the estate where he grew up, and where Nicola Kelly, the wife of a renowned local villain, calls home. 

As Lee and Nicola’s lives become entwined through a series of dramatic events, they fall in love and embark on a dangerous affair that will change both of their lives forever. Nicola’s husband, Micky, has few scruples, and, as he feels her slipping away, tightens his grip on her affections. 

In order for Lee and Nicola to be together, Micky Kelly has to go.

What did I think?

I really enjoyed this book, I was hooked from the start and read it in two sittings.  WIth so much going on it was really hard to put it down.  The characters were true to life and likeable (or in some cases detestable) - Lee, the boy done good, moving back to Newcastle from London as a police detective; Nicola married to Micky but feeling the force of his fists if another man so much as looks at her; Margy, Nicola's friend who looks out for her as well as being a one woman citizens advice bureau for the community; Micky who's trying to be top dog in the local crime ring and doesn't care who he sets up or tramples on along the way.

The author has a way with words that had me laughing out loud one minute and holding my breath in apprehension the next.  I really admired Nicola for standing up to Micky, which wasn't an easy feat when he was an amateur boxer and nightclub bouncer.  Every time he was mentioned I felt the tension building and when Nicola was looking for the names of people in the syndicate I heard every creak of the stairs and actually found myself reading faster before he reached the bottom!

Although set in my native Newcastle, it could be applied to any area of the UK with the variety of topics covered;  domestic violence, the inadequacies of the police force, bigamy, criminal gangs and absent fathers.  The community spirit, especially in such a deprived area, really evoked the spirit of the North East.  They all stick together, perhaps not always for the right reasons, but they look out for one another.  The atmosphere of the amazing nightlife in Newcastle really shone through with a few mentions to pubs and clubs I used to frequent as a young ‘un.  Every night really is Friday night in Newcastle – orange-faced girls wearing summer clothes in rain, hail or shine.

I think it's a shame this wasn't picked up for TV.  I would certainly have watched it - it would have been like the Geordie Sopranos.  The interactions between Lee and Nicola fizzed with sexual tension – perhaps a love story in another time, another place - it was really a story of life, unfortunately a life lived by a lot of women suffering domestic violence.  It's gritty, realistic, funny and sad - a recommended read.

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

My rating:

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