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Living on a Prayer By Sheila Quigley
I got this book out from the library last week, not because I had read any reviews or indeed because I had read other books by the same author, but because it was the libraries book of the month. I like a good crime novel and the 'blurb' on the back made me think I would enjoy this one. Apparently this is the third novel in a series, but I read it with out having read the other two.
Plot out line.....
The story is set during the week before Christmas in the North East of England, in and around the town of Houghton-le-Spring. The novel opens with a mothers worst nightmare coming true. Her son (Richard) - her only child - has been found hanging from a tree. The police think that it is suicide but his mother won't accept it, she cannot believe that her son would have any reason to kill himself. Detective Inspector Lorraine Hunt is heading up the case. She is unsure about the boys death and decides to pursue the case. She is certain that Richard's friends know more than they are saying about the events surrounding Richards death.
DI Hunt soon realises that the teenagers are clearly frightened about something - something that scares them more than the police. As Christmas fast approaches, Lorraine, increasingly overworked and under pressure, can't ignore her suspicions that there's more to Richard's death than meets the eye. When she discovers a religious cult in the town, and Richard's friends start going missing, her worst fears are confirmed. She must discover who is preying on the young people in Houghton-le-Spring. The big question is will she be able to stop them, before another vulnerable teenager is found dead?
DI Lorraine Hunt is the main character and a believable police officer with a determined character. She has a sad past (to know more I guess you need to have read the previous books) but a new romance is in the air. She holds the plot together well and is a credible character.
Quigley puts together four friends who all face major issues ranging from obesity, self harm and victims of sexual and physical abuse. As readers you don't really get beyond the teenagers problems which I feel is a shame. However this is quite a fast paced novel and too much information and character building can slow the pace down.
Throughout the storyline Richard's mother is seen in various states of her grief. This starts of as believable, however in my opinion, her character mutates beyond control. Her character is not really necessary to the plot towards the end and yet she plays a major role.
Quigley paints a picture of Marcel as being the charismatic and attractive leader of the cult. I am unsure what it is about him that attracts the teenagers, but that I guess is the mystery that surrounds such cases. Vulnerable people can be drawn towards someone who shows interest in them and an understanding of what they are going through.
Sheila's writing style is 'gritty and earthy' and possesses a degree of realism. I struggled however with some of the dialogue mainly because of the 'Northern-ness' of the accent. I found myself re-reading conversations in an attempt to get the accent sounding right in my head and I found this a distraction!!
The main plot revolving around the four 'problem' teenagers being sucked into a religious cult was interesting. It made me wonder how much research the author had done into cults and how they prey on vulnerable people, those who desire to be loved and belong. (A chilling thought).
It was a good read from start to finish. I shall certainly look out for other titles by this author, but before I do, I need to brush up on my northern accent!
Thanks for reading! :o)