The Prodigal – Nicky Black

Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (8 July 2015)

the prodigal

Exiled from his beloved Newcastle sixteen years ago, Detective Sergeant Lee Jamieson is returning home in search of the teenage daughter he’s never met. With a good promotion under his belt and his parents gone, he’s ready to return to his roots and the warm Geordie spirit he has missed so much. Much to his surprise, his first assignment is in Valley Park, a forgotten sink estate and home to some of the worst social deprivation in the country – the estate where he grew up, and where Nicola Kelly, the wife of a renowned local villain, calls home. As Lee and Nicola’s lives become entwined through a series of dramatic events, they fall in love and embark on a dangerous affair that will change both of their lives forever. Nicola’s husband, Micky, has few scruples, and, as he feels her slipping away, tightens his grip on her affections. In order for Lee and Nicola to be together, Micky Kelly has to go.

My thoughts

This is an unconventional love story, with the backdrop of a gritty run down Northern housing estate.

The story takes us into the life of Lee, a police officer moving back to his roots. Lee wants to trace his daughter, a product of a teenage love affair. Lee lived briefly on the Valley Park Estate, a very run down crime ridden area of Newcastle. Now he finds himself back there working as a police officer. Lee runs into Nicola, the wife of a local criminal and an attraction grows. Nicola is married to Micky Kelly, thug and villain of the estate. Will Nicola leave everything she knows for Lee?

This is a novel with a great deal of potential. It highlights the poverty and despair of life on a sink estate, quite beautifully. We also get a strong sense of the community and the way people stick together rather than call the police. Set in the 1990s, there is a real sense of Newcastle being a divided city, with the Valley Park Estate in a world of its own. It is a violent and very raw world, where people do what they can to survive.

One of the main characters was Nicola, wife of the local tough villain. I was rather disappointed in Nicola. As a character, she seemed to fall into the trap of being a stereotypical working class victim with few life chances. The male characters seemed much more empowered, than Nicola. I was willing Nicola to have more backbone and to take control of her life. I would have loved to see her evolve and break away. At least in Lee, there was hope that someone can escape this kind of sad background.

Overall I was very engaged in the dark gritty world created by Nicky Black. It had a lovely sense of realism. I would have preferred a more kick ass female lead. This is an author with a great deal of potential, that I will look out for again!

My thanks to Nicky Black for my review copy!

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About Christine

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