Saturday, 27 April 2013

Same Face, Different Place: Beginnings by Helen J Christmas

This is the first in a series of books which span several decades, this one is set in the 1970's when the streets of London were particularly susceptible to corruption and gang warfare.

The central character, Eleanor, is the daughter of Ollie Chapman, a right hand man of Sammie Maxwell, one of the East End of London's feared bosses. Sammie sits comfortably at the top of his particular tree, thinking all is well when news reaches him there's a younger man in town. A man who incites so much terror that Sammie's patch begins to dwindle. Dominic Theakston begins to take over and Sammie is forced to retaliate. When Eleanor's father shoots Theakston's number one in the ensuing battle, killing him instantly, Theakston locks eyes with him and is set on the most terrible revenge possible. Chapman puts his precious daughter in Sammie Maxwell's care then leaves town, intending to return when things calm down, but Theakston has back up from powerful sources and things escalate in a way nobody saw happening. Eleanor is left with only her guile and the realisation that everyone has their price.

Helen Christmas gives us a thriller which explores love, hate, fear, terror, revenge, lust, betrayal and fortitude and this fast paced story really was difficult to put down. Eleanor is a fabulous character. At the tender age of 16 she is forced to grow up very quickly and lives in fear of her life but still she finds love and a reason to never give in. The background of life for some in 1970's London was very well described which gave the story an edge of truthfulness.

For a first novel this was written with a passion and consistency I would have expected from a more experienced writer and I really liked it. The only thing which gave me pause was wondering why Eleanor's father seems to have completely abandoned her but perhaps that will be explained in book two which, I have been informed, is due out late Summer 2013!

Twitter: Helen Christmas @SFDPBeginnings


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