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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, riveting, genuinely original
Most modern crime novels with a gritty bent seem to focus on the relationship between the perpetrator of the crime and the detective or police officer hunting him or her, showing how much they have in common. In Hamelin' s Child, DJ Bennett takes a different approach. Michael "Mikey" Redford is a seventeen-year-old boy, rebellious although not remarkably so, who finds...
Published 15 months ago by Tim Stevens

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Brilliant read couldnt put it down.
Published 9 months ago by Sallybosher


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, riveting, genuinely original, 24 Jan. 2014
By 
Tim Stevens (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
Most modern crime novels with a gritty bent seem to focus on the relationship between the perpetrator of the crime and the detective or police officer hunting him or her, showing how much they have in common. In Hamelin' s Child, DJ Bennett takes a different approach. Michael "Mikey" Redford is a seventeen-year-old boy, rebellious although not remarkably so, who finds himself dragged out of his middle-class life on his birthday and hurled into a sordid, terrifying world of hard drugs, prostitution and violence. With startling speed, he adapts to the life, making his rescue from it all the more difficult for his sister Kate, herself trapped by others' expectations in a life she never really wanted, and Derek, the (presumably) unhappily married police detective in charge of finding Michael.

With its graphic descriptions of heroin abuse, homosexual rape and beatings, the story could easily have wallowed in luridness. It's a testament to the author's skill as a writer that this is never allowed to happen, and despite the horrors you get the sense that the narrative' s under tight, expert control. The structure of the novel is masterful, with an apparently climactic midpoint series of events which turn out instead to open a new phase in the story. And Hamelin' s Child opens with one of the best first lines I've ever read.

A most impressive debut, and I'm looking forward to reading the next two novels in the series. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left me speechless, 29 Oct. 2014
By 
BookAddictShaun (England, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
I was browsing Amazon when I came across this book. The author very kindly sent me a review copy and I couldn't wait to start it. With some glowing reviews on Amazon I started it with a bit of trepidation at what to expect. Debbie Bennett has written one hell of a story here, one that will pull at your heartstrings and have you experiencing every emotion possible as you read. At times the story becomes so difficult you almost want to put the book down, but it is just too gripping to do that.

Michael is approached in a bar by a stranger when his girlfriend is occupied with another man, the stranger spikes Michael's drink, taking him back to a flat in the East End where he is kept prisoner, raped, shot full of heroin and sold for sex. We see Michael, or Mikey, go from a normal teenager to a drug addict, so dependent on the drug he will do anything for it. Debbie has captured the mind of the male teenager incredibly well. We really get inside Mikey's head, and start to understand his thought processes. At times he is confused and angry, coming across sometimes like an adult yet retaining that childlike vulnerability that teenagers still have. Sharing the house with a boy named Lee, Mikey wants to escape, but it isn't long before his drug addiction prevents him from doing so. His friendship with Lee starts to develop further, leaving him even more confused and angry at the things he is thinking and feeling. You do want Mikey to escape and find freedom but at the same time know that there won't be much of a story if that happens. Lee has an adult voice despite being younger than Mikey, and this isn't due to an author fault but the fact that Lee has had to grow up very fast.

Debbie writes with such knowledge about the subject of drugs and the world Mikey finds himself in that it adds a greater feeling of authenticity to the novel. Scarily so at times which left me wondering just how she knows this world so well. A look at her biography says she worked in law enforcement for 25 years. Perhaps that's where it comes from but the book feeling so real draws more emotion from you as a reader, parts of the book were read by me with a lump in my throat, my heart thumping in my chest. In the background we have Mikey's sister Kate looking for him, the only one in her family that doesn't think he ran away, she thinks there's more to it. These parts of the book I didn't enjoy as much, and found myself wanting to get back to Mikey's part of the story. Events halfway through though change drastically, meaning I was hooked on the book and simply unable to put it down.

What was all the more horrifying for me is how real this story felt. Walking around London, or indeed any major city in the UK you very rarely take notice of the people around you. In a club especially, or on the street outside, a man walking with a younger man and taking him down a side alley might not draw much attention. It's scary but it is also true to life. In London now there are people living the life that Michael unwittingly found himself in, and there are men preying on the vulnerable. It's a very human story, with very realistic characters not just in Mikey and Lee but in the people keeping them prisoner. Eddie, who kidnaps Mikey, and Joss, the owner of the flat the boys are prisoner in are as evil as they come. Very rarely have I felt hatred for a fictional character more than I did for these two men. It's a very thought provoking book. Mikey makes a number of choices throughout the book that aren't perhaps the ones you think he should but it makes sense because of the person he has been forced to become. It's impossible to say how you would react in this situation and you really agonise along with Mikey as he struggles to make sense of things.

More often than not you finish a book and move on to the next one. However when a story affects you as much as this one - I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading the book - it is incredibly hard to just finish it and move on. Because of how real it felt, the character of Mikey is so vivid in my mind that you almost want to reach out and help him, I am still thinking about it even now. It's hard to reccommend a book like this, does it have a particular audience? I think not. I think if people look beyond the blurb, rather than being put off I'd urge people to pick it up. It makes you grateful for your own life. It would make a parent hug their child extra tight at night and make all of us more wary of those around us when we are out and about. You only need to read the news to know stories similar to Mikey's kidnapping appear far too often.

Never once is the book predictable. You have an idea of what's going to happen and then Debbie takes you on a completely different path. The ending knocked me for six, I was speechless, sitting staring at the book long after finishing it. It's a heartbreaking ending, but one that demands you read the sequel, which is just what an author sets out to achieve. I have a review TBR which scares me, yet this book was so good I just don't think I can wait very long to continue the story. If this was a film or a TV show, the ending is so dramatic that there would be an audible silence around the room as the credits rolled. It stunned me and left me speechless and if I'm honest a bit upset. This definitely isn't a book to miss, and those that might perhaps be put off by the subject matter should totally look beyond that, and give this book a chance.

Thanks to Debbie Bennett for the review copy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful writing and a great storyline. Recommended., 26 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
Hamelin's Child is a novel of rare power with a storyline that takes the reader into a world very far removed from normality. 'Mikey' is a a victim, preyed upon and forced into a life that degrades and yet draws him into its spell. Forced into prostitution and heroin addiction, the contrast with his plight and the sheer normality of the family who search for him is remarkably well portrayed by a gifted author whose attention to detail never wavers. The powerful nature of chapter eight, in particular, will remain with me for a long time.
Exceptional writing, I recommend this very strongly.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying Beauty--with William Friedkin's Blessings, 10 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
The director of The Exorcist and Cruising would heartily approve of D J Bennett's relentless pacing and unflinching commitment to showing, in horrifying detail, one boy's forced descent into heroin addiction and gay prostitution. The suspense is finely orchestrated on several fronts: our empathy for this likable boy...our growing realization that this author will go the distance in showing still worse degradation...and the artfully shown race to find him--while there's still something worth saving. Make no mistake, it's a grim read. But there's more compassion here than you'll find in all of Friedkin. While surgically dissecting the progression of his addiction, Bennett is careful to add rays of hope: a rebellious streak...shrewd attempts to escape his captors and his sickness. He falls hard, and then harder,and then harder still. But he never once falls from our hearts. The book has first-class villains and a fine set-up at the end for the two sequels that followed. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read., 13 Oct. 2014
By 
Mick Hare (Warrington, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
DJ Bennett's Hamelin's Child, demonstrates an original approach to crime fiction by the author. We are used to the crusading police officer pursuing the shadowy, one dimensional perpetrator of some evil act. Rarely do we get inside the world of the criminal to such an extent that our sympathies fluctuate so dramatically. There is Michael and there's Mikey. We know what we want for one, but what about the other? The attention to realistic detail made this reader question his own attitudes and even loyalties within the context of the novel. Beneath the gritty realism lies a delicate sensitivity, with which DJ Bennett manipulates your expectations and emotions. Resonating throughout the novel are echoes of the Pied Piper and this leads one to formulate a possible ending scenario. But Ms Bennett never does the expected. This book succeeds on many levels. It is a pacey thriller, a microscope on a brutal underworld, a raw dissection of modern family life, an intelligent consideration of the descent into drugs and, not least, a page turning, entertainment.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, compelling and disturbing ~ a brilliant read., 8 May 2011
This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
Hamelin's Child is a dark novel that had me gripped from the first page. I found myself caring deeply about the main characters, even though the topics involved within the evolving plot were disturbing.
The moral dilemma`s raised for `Mikey' and the life choices that he is forced to make contribute to a story that leaves an impression long after the last page has been read. The combination of heroin misuse and the seedy side of male prostitution contrasted starkly with the mundane side of family life - where a cup of tea is the answer to all lifes problems.
I came across this book by chance and purchased it after reading the reviews posted. I would recommend this book to others looking for a though provoking and dark read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening and enlightening in almost equal measure, 7 Nov. 2011
By 
This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
Unbelievably cheap at 86p, this is a harrowing book, yet enjoyable too, particularly for readers who like a book to shock them.
Hamelin's child follows the story of a boy who is picked up in a nightclub by a stranger, and ends up becoming a "rent boy", only surviving because he is forced to become a heroin addict. Drug dependency is one of the main themes of the book, and the author's intimate knowledge of this, coupled with her understanding of the suffering of a family when their son goes missing, means that the book has a depth which makes is entirely believable. So believable, in fact, that you can almost imagine yourself in Mikey's position.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gritty & emotive, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
This book is not my usual cup of tea, but I couldn't put it down. The story focuses on Michael's descent into heroin addiction and prostitution; and on his sister Kate's attempt to find him, support their parents, and reconcile her increasing attraction with Derek, the police officer looking for Michael, with the fact that she's due to get married to oh-so-reliable Colin.

Through the narrative of the two siblings' actions and emotions, the book raises questions about the choices we all make in life; and about the accountability we have to take for our own actions. What happens to Michael is horrific, but it is never graphically described; I have found that some books on similar themes run the risk of turning rape into something tittilating, but there was no sense of that in this novel.

I felt that the character Joss, source of the heroin, could have been more developed, but I liked the fact that he was a three-dimensional character, and as we learn more about his background he becomes surprisingly sympathetic.

This isn't a 'happily ever after' book; and the questions it raises about self-control and accountability are at best uneasily answered, but it is well written and will stay with you long after you've finished reading it. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Brilliant., 29 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
I've just finished reading this book, but I know it's a story that is going to stay with me for a long time to come. I've read it in 4 sittings over 4 days, and from the moment I started it, its main character has rarely been out of my thoughts - even when I've been asleep. It really is that good.

Michael is a regular teenager with regular teenager troubles, until he has his drink spiked in a club by Eddie, and he is manipulated into going back to Eddie's London flat. And so for Michael, begins his unwanted and horrific transition into the seedy under-world of heroin addiction, prostitution, violence and exploitation. It's harrowing. It's heart-stopping on more than one occasion, and it's compelling. I feel like I know Michael; he's so real, and I've wanted to cry for him, rescue him, and protect him. I've also wanted to shake him - as he's so real, some of his choices have left me seething with frustration.

This author knows her stuff. It's in the detail, the descriptions, the language. It all just combines to create a world that although alien to me at first, quickly became alive and real, and incredibly disturbing.

I would recommend this book unreservedly. You will learn something, you will be shocked, you might cry - but you won't be able to put it down. A book about something that really happens and really matters, and although it might not be pleasant for its readers in places, we kneed to know - and this author tells it like it is.

I'm now off to download the sequel, Paying the Piper, and although I can't wait to start it, I must admit to some anxiety regarding what emotional turmoil the author is going to put me through this time ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 10 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
A strong plot line, good characterisation and interesting subject matter. Not knowing much about the effects of heroin on the mind, or 17 year old boys for that matter, I was a bit bemused by Mikeys reaction to his initial freedom and his choices thereafter. The storyline revolves around his fears/what other people will think and his need to blame himself. The use of his sister to show the family side helps reflect his family backround and her ensuing issues with relationships add interest too. Looking forward to the next installment!
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Hamelin's Child
Hamelin's Child by DJ Bennett
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