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Blow Your House Down - Pat Barker

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Pat Barker / Edition: Reprint / Mass Market Paperback / 224 Pages / Book is published 1985-08 by Ballantine Books (Mm)

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      06.04.2010 20:42
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      Challenges your preconceptions of the ladies of the night

      The title makes this sound as though it's a grown up version of the tale of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs and in a way it is although in this variation the big bad wolf is human and he doesn't so much blow your house down as snuff your life out. One by one the ladies of the night are meeting a very violent end although in a run down area full of derelict boarded up houses it can take quite some time before their partially decomposed corpses are found and so no one knows exactly how many ladies this particular serial killer has murdered nor do they know who he is for these ladies spend their evening getting into the vehicles of strangers and accompanying them to isolated spots in order to perform a variety of adult acts. Clearly one of their clients is stranger than most.

      The killings escalate in both their frequency and their violence and those that can quit do whilst other have no such choice and in order to put food on the table they must risk their lives. The police do what little they can and marshal the ladies into a smaller and smaller area providing a visible presence whilst using the ladies as bait. Will the killer strike again or will he find his next target where the women of this town least expect it?

      Written in a period when the Yorkshire Ripper was at large the author goes to great lengths to make it very clear that this is not yet another book about Peter Sutcliffe and although it's set in a Northern town featuring a man who preys on prostitutes there the similarities end. There's none of the fever gripping the town nor the random stop and searches that were inflicted upon every car driving male under the age of 35 in the hopes that one of these random stops would lead to a conviction. Instead it's a game of cat and mouse hampered by the fact that no one has any idea who this man could possibly be. It lends a threatening element to the story in that every woman's client could be her last.

      Mid way through the book I was sure I knew who the killer was and what would happen next and then BANG with a single turn of the page and a stab of a knife everything I was so certain of collapsed and I was clueless but hooked.

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