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by Sheila Quigley
Tonto, November 2009
336 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 1907183035

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sheila Quigley has had an eventful life, with a succession of dead-end jobs and then success later on with her dogged and gritty Seahills series. After a break of a couple of years, she's back with THE ROAD TO HELL, published by north east indie publishers Tonto.

This time out DI Lorraine Hunt is haunted by memories of the past. She grew up in the tough, working class town of Houghton-le-Spring and many of her school mates are still around, struggling to survive on the poverty line. When a woman's body is found in a field, it also uncovers memories of a horror crash which ripped Lorraine's circle of friends apart.

As with the previous books, the police procedural angle is the least interesting and convincing. There's some rather forced tension between Lorraine and her colleague and lover Luke. And without giving too much away, that murder from early on stays very much in the background.

Quigley's writing is rough around the edges, but it rarely matters. Her storytelling packs a punch it's edgy and authentic and real, and you can 'hear' her characters speaking and interacting with each other.

Those characters leap off the page as fully-formed creations Quigley can paint a picture of someone in just a few words. As a result, there's never a problem remembering who any of her fairly large cast are. Jacko and his mates are, as always, still trying to make some money particularly as Jacko's wedding is closing in. But it I had to choose, I think Mr Skillings, Dolly and Doris get my vote. They're the neighbours who miss nothing and who sound just like the old folk you end up behind in a post office or supermarket queue!

What also makes Quigley a must-read for me is the storytelling. OK, so the point of view wanders. But every book of hers, despite the rough edges, pulses with energy and has been a genuine page-turner. And it feels like a real novelty to read a crime novel populated by ordinary people leading lives where new cars, faddy food and the gym membership might just as well be on Mars.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, December 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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