Blood Rush (Lilly Valentine) Paperback – 21 Apr 2011
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A dark and gripping read that will have you on the edge of your seat. (Closer magazine)
Unexpected and moving ... A Place of Safety is written with sympathy and humour. (EuroCrime)
A leading lady surely destined for primetime. (The Pulse)
Frightening, depressing and knowledgeable. (Country Life)
Would you commit murder, just to fit in?See all Product description
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Helen Black doesn't hold back in her descriptive narrative and I found myself wincing after the first few chapters. However, this sets the scene for the sort of case that Lily takes on. Lily's personal life is a major factor to the story as her ex-partner Jack gets involved on the other side of the case. He is trying to prove a girls intent to murder, whilst Lily is trying to defend her.
The story continues at a good pace and it soon becomes clear that this case is a lot more involved and includes people a lot higher up the food chain than girls that are part of a local gang. The story from start to finish was very authentic and like I said before, not that hard to imagine being part of your local news report. I particularly like the fact that we see all perspectives of the case, from the police, to the lawyer and also both the victim and the accused.
The book wasn't that big an offering at only 320 pages but Helen Black managed to pack it full from start to finish. I think overall the gritty realism of this story makes it much better than her last offering and for that I was really pleased. I think towards the latter part of the book it really picked up pace and the ending was wrapped up nicely but there was one thing that bothered me. The `major reveal' of the person behind a particular murder didn't make sense to me. I had to go back and re-read the part where it was explained as I couldn't quite imagine the physical murderer being able to do it the way it was written. On reflection, maybe I am being a little too critical there, but the fact that I had to go back and re-read that section means it lost a little of its sparkle from my perspective.
I will still pre-order her next offering as I can't wait to see where Lily's life and career goes next so from that view it was a great overall read.
The rising tide of gang-related crime and the subsequent media outcry results in the case being given to DI Jack McNally who, before long, has his sights set on a leading member of the second gang, fifteen-year old Tanisha Mackenzie, as one of the girls who led the attack. Unfortunately, Tanisha’s foster mother has asked her friend, the solicitor Lilly Valentine, to defend the girl and McNally is the father of Lilly’s young daughter, Alice. The intertwinings of their personal and professional lives are described very authentically in this novel.
The author captures the gangland scene very well and her background as a lawyer working with disadvantaged children enables her to present heart-wrenching scenes of vulnerable children and families who are struggling to do as best for their children as possible. However, the pull of drugs and gang solidarity are much more attractive and lurking behind the gangs are the major drug dealers whom McNally and his colleagues seem not to know about. Not for the first time the legal system seems very unfair – even to those represented by someone as committed as Lilly.
The pace of the book is helped by its structure, a series of short sections written from the perspectives of all the major characters within longer chapters. Following the murder of a leading character the book’s climax is dramatic in the extreme although the final twist is not entirely believable given what has gone before. Into the gangland story a second narrative is introduced, about a rich schoolboy, Jamie, sent to a boarding school by his self-absorbed parents. He is desperately unhappy and lonely, and resorts to drugs to make his time there tolerable. After one disastrous event he runs away, meets a drug addict and, through him, the two stories come together.
Lilly’s chaotic family life, she has a teenage son from an earlier marriage, is pointedly described but the contrast between her in court performances and the disorder of her office and home is somewhat difficult to accept. McNally looks after Lilly whenever he has the time [indeed Lilly’s relationships with him and her ex-husband seem almost impossibly cordial] but Lilly’s attitude towards her daughter when she is caught up in her concerns for Tanisha and those like her borders on child cruelty. Fortunately Karol, an unlikely gay man who comes to work as her secretary, is on hand to take charge of the young girl [without Lilly knowing anything about his background!].
I have ambivalent feelings about this book, exacerbated by front cover showing such an attractive girl gang member – surely the intention was not to glamourise and glorify this violent culture?
Although this is the fourth in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. The book has the energy and scenic and plotting qualities of a good TV episode. It does not labour the economic and social problems of these youngsters and their families, or the difficulties of a single mother juggling a professional life and family, but lets these speak for themselves.
The subject ensures that this is not an easy read, but I will look out for further books about Lilly [whilst hoping that she can sort out her personal life before her own children are exposed to the pressures of today’s urban life].
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