I recently read another book by Hilary Bonner, which I really enjoyed, so was delighted when I managed to get my hands on another in the series. Having worked my way through most crime fiction authors in my local library, it was a relief to find another good author. I have read that Hilary Bonner has been likened to Minette Walters and Ruth Rendell I personally didnt see the likeness, although her plots are definitely as intricate.
Hilary Bonner was show business editor for the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mirror. She turned freelance in 1989 and finished her first novel in 1994, although she still writes about film, theatre and television. She worked with Gordon Kaye on his autobiography, Rene and Me and helped write Benny Hills biography. She has written two series of crime fiction novels; one featuring DCI Rose Piper and another featuring DCI Karen Meadows and journalist, John Kelly, as well as a few non-series books.
Rock star, Scott Silver and an odd-job man, Terry James, were both stabbed to death in the Silvers bedroom. Scotts wife, Angel, witnessed the murder and claimed that Terry broke into their house and attacked and killed Scott; Angel then killed Terry in retaliation. She is charged with manslaughter, but gets off without a jail sentence in the wake of the Tony Martin controversy.
John Kelly, journalist for a local paper, becomes intrigued by the case and uses his connections with DCI Karen Meadows to obtain inside information. He also takes advantage of the fact that he once saved Angel Silver from prostitution when she was young to get close to her and scoop a series of articles on the case. However, he is mesmerized by Angel and slowly becomes drawn in to her dark world of drugs, violent sex and alcohol. As an ex-addict, this proves lethal. He also begins to believe that Angel was not completely telling the truth about that evening. Can he drag himself out of the hole into which he has dug himself and find out the truth about the night of the murders before it is too late?
Although the other book that I read in this series mainly featured Karen Meadows, she was very much in the background in this book; John Kelly was very much the main character. He was a Fleet Street journalist at the top of his profession; but became addicted to drugs and alcohol and was eventually sacked, losing his job, wife, son and house all in one foul swoop. He became a beggar on the streets of London until managing to get himself into rehab. He then took a job in his local hometown and starts to rebuild his life, helped by his partner, Moira. However, the addiction is never far away and his reintroduction to drugs and alcohol through Angel prove to be fatal. Spellbound by Angel, he is prepared to give up his life with Moira and his career for her. I found John Kellys life story even more fascinating than the plot. Ive had personal experience of alcohol addiction and the way that it was portrayed was really excellent. I really cared about what happened to him.
Angel Silver, despite the ridiculous name (apparently Angel is short for Angelica) is another fascinating character. She was an actress as a child and made quite a name for herself, but rebelled against her showbusiness mother when she was 16 and stopped her acting career. She married a Hollywood actor some 30 years older than her, but then becomes addicted to drugs and turns to prostitution. After John helps her break the cycle, she meets and marries Scott Silver and to all intents and purposes, they have a happy marriage. But she has clearly suffered from her experiences and there is something deep inside her that belies her fragility and beauty.
I did really enjoy the story; it was addictive and I read it within 24 hours. The plot was not great, to be honest, hence four stars instead of five it was fairly obvious what was going to happen from the outset. But the story of John Kellys life really fascinated me and it was that that drew me in and kept me reading. I still dont see the connection with Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters; I think Hilary Bonner has her own distinctive style and stands on her own as a good writer.
One major difference with other books of this genre is that the sexual content plays a major part in the story. It is very descriptive and is rarely pleasant. If violent sex is not your thing, stay away from Hilary Bonners work. There are also graphic descriptions of drug and alcohol abuse, which again doesnt always make for pleasant reading. I personally thought these parts were the best-written in the book. Recommended.
The book is available from Amazon for £5.99. Published by Arrow, it has 400 pages. ISBN: 0099415348
Will the secrets of a dark night ever be revealed? When rock idol Scott Silver is found murdered, the prime suspect lies dead next to him. For Silver's killer broke into his mansion home on the South Devon coast and it appears that the rock star's mesmerising widow Angel killed the intruder in self defence. However, gradually an intense and complex tale of intrigue and deception evolves. Local paper journalist John Kelly, a man with a past which still haunts him, begins to investigate. Soon he finds himself falling under the spell of the beautiful but dangerous Angel. Kelly becomes embroiled in a sexual obsession so overwhelming that it threatens to destroy him. Yet he continues to seek the truth about the night two men died a brutal death...