Recent Events

Wednesday 2 September 2015

‘Stranger Child’ by Rachel Abbott

Published by Black Dot,
14 May 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-9576522-4-8 (PB)

Sometimes it’s good to have one’s preconceptions challenged. I make no secret of my views about self-published books in general, but every now and again, along comes a book which explodes those prejudices and puts a new slant on things. And that’s just as it should be.

Stranger Child, Rachel Abbott’s fourth title, is such a book.

The tension level is high from the outset: young woman drives along a deserted lane late at night and encounters a car blocking the road – then gets a call on her mobile telling her not to stop. In the ensuing crash she dies and her small daughter vanishes without trace, setting the scene for a tangled web of threads six years later.

The main storyline delves deep into blackmail, kidnapping and the sleaziest of organized crime, via the astonishing return of the dead woman driver’s daughter, whose disappearance in the earlier incident had completely stumped an extensive police investigation. Abbott proves herself adept at presenting the reader with layers of information, divulging just enough at a time to maintain those tension levels. The narrative threads include a detective chief inspector and his sparky female sidekick (Abbott’s characters are all sharply drawn, and the bad guys are especially nasty; but she is at her best with strong women), who don’t just unravel the tangle but connect up some apparently loose ends to other mysteries to create a much richer and more convoluted picture than the first scenario.

Perhaps the strongest and most complex character is the now-teenage daughter, whose life since the accident which killed her mother has been a far cry from the ordinary middle-class existence she would otherwise have enjoyed. It has toughened her, and made her mistrustful and resourceful, and one of the book’s great pleasures for me was watching her carapace begin to crack and her frozen emotions start to thaw as the possibility of love and security enter her mind.

There’s plenty of atmosphere too: rising stress levels in the house the girl returns to; a dark and strangely silent wood; a grim and rather spooky underground office complex; a converted barn in the middle of nowhere for the final take-down. And there’s a cute baby; a desire for his safety and well-being had me on the edge of my seat numerous times.

Stranger Child is well conceived, well-written and gripping – more so than many a conventionally published novel. It just goes to show, some preconceptions are meant to be challenged.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England.   She became a systems analyst at the age of 21 in the early 1970s, and formed her own software company in the mid 1980s designing computer programmes for education.   The company expanded into all forms of interactive media and became extremely successful. The sale of the company in 2000 enabled her to take early retirement and fulfil one of her lifelong ambitions - to buy and restore a property in Italy.  Once there she completely restored a ruined monastery and started a second successful business renting it out for weddings and conferences.
In 2010 she embarked on her third career and wrote her first book
Only the Innocent.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment