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HIT GIRLS (AUDIO)
by Dreda Say Mitchell read by Adjoa Andoh
Whole Story Audio Books, September 2012
Unabridged pages
24.84 GBP
ISBN: B0094V1WEE


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Listening to a Dreda Say Mitchell audiobook in the car is rather like having the Eastenders cast bawling in your face in a confined space, where the standard response to anything is: "Leave it fackin' aht!"

Some Americans complained that Mitchell's outstanding first book RUNNING HOT was more or less impenetrable to anyone outside of the UK with its black street slang. I reckon it was more like someone was breaking out of the confines of the really very white thriller genre.

Her later books (GEEZER GIRLS and GANGSTER GIRLS) have moved more into Lynda La Plante territory feisty women with shady pasts who watch out for each other and who can wield a gun as well as the blokes. But they've also retained something that so few crime novels, particularly in the UK, offer a multi-racial cast with strong women and where sexuality is no big deal.

The series retains characters from those earlier books. Schoolboy, the main character in RUNNING HOT, is now married to Jackie and runs a trendy east London restaurant. Misty, Jackie, Roxy, Anna and Ollie from GEEZER GIRLS have a nightclub, but can't keep their noses out of investigating when a hit and run accident outside of a school leaves two children dead, a third fighting for their life and is far too close to home.

The dead girls are the daughters of gangster Stanley Lewis, and when rival gangster Paul Bliss is arrested on suspicion of mowing them down, full-scale gang warfare looks likely to engulf East London.

You don't read Mitchell for her technical brilliance as a writer. She appears to have no understanding of point of view, and a tough editor would have hacked out repetition (people stagger, beauty spots bounce, glasses slide up and down noses, fingers are run through hair, dreadlocks swing, skin on foreheads crinkles) and also taken out a lame attempt at a newspaper article which would have landed an editor in court.

Why this series is worth sticking with, though, is that it's an old-fashioned page-turner (or, in audiobook terms, leaves you sitting like a lemon in your car until the end of the disk). Mitchell, like north eastern writer Sheila Quigley, fills her books with working class people who fizz off the page. None of the characters are ones you'd want to spend an evening with, and some of the violence is over-done. But HIT GIRLS is a rattling good story, peopled by gutsy female characters, and helped along no end by narrator Adjoa Andoh (she was Martha's mum in Dr Who), who turns off her volume control and gives it all she's got.

One minor gripe which I've noticed across the usually very reliable Whole Story Audiobooks is that there are no pauses for scene breaks. So occasionally the listener is left disorientated by an abrupt change of personnel and place.

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, December 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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