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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

‘Sisterhoods’ by Linda Regan

Published by Accent Press,
26 November 2016. 
ISBN: 978-1-9109-3981-9

Sisterhoods is a gritty contemporary novel set in rough council estate in Peckham, London. Aptly called The Aviary, the estate is a cage where no once stands a chance of escaping and there is a very distinct pecking order. Nothing gets past the gangs that rule there.

Four teenage girls: Tink, Lox, Alysha and Panther are the leaders of a mostly girl gang called The Alleycats. They have had tough lives but are trying to make social changes on the estate so that they, and the younger kids, have a future other than drugs, crime and prostitution. When the book opens the community centre, which they had worked so hard to get council funding for has been burned down by one of the gangs. This vital hub for young and old alike has left the kids directionless once more and heading for trouble. The Alleycats are desperate to get things back on track and take risks that could get them killed.

The four Alleycat leaders are police informants and this has had a real impact on getting crime down but rival gangs, the RIP and the EIBs, are constantly watching for an opportunity to take over the patch and sell their drugs. The book opens with Tink fearing for her life as she is kidnapped, beaten, raped and burned.

A rival gang leader is fatally stabbed and a resident of The Aviary, Larry Hardy, is arrested for his murder. When Larry is found hanged in his cell the police believe it is suicide. The Alleycats don't. They know it is retaliation. Things begin to escalate and soon the police are looking at all-out war between the rival gangs.

DI Georgia Johnson and her sidekick Sergeant Stephanie Green investigate. They empathise with the girls and understand what they are trying to achieve but are in an awkward position trying to uphold the law and bend it in favour of the Alleycats. The police need The Alleycats' help finding out information. However the Alleycats have secrets that need to stay hidden and the fear of being exposed as informants is a constant threat.

The speech patterns in the dialogue really brought the story alive. The language of these streetwise girls comes across as very believable and draws the reader in to their grim world. Although The Alleycats have had horrific lives that have led them all into prostitution just to survive, they are moving forward. And despite the level of cruelty inflicted by the gangs within the book, there is a feeling of hope that things can get better if a few key people keep trying and work together, whatever the odds.
Reviewer Christine Hammacott
Linda Regan is the author of six police procedural crime novels. She is also an actress. She holds a Masters degree in critical writing and journalism, and writes a regular column, including book reviews, for three magazines. She also presents the book-club spot on BBC Radio Kent. She is an avid reader, and welcomes the chance to read new writers. 

Christine Hammacott lives near Southampton and runs her own design consultancy. She started her career working in publishing as a book designer and now creates covers for indie-authors. She writes page-turning fiction that deals with the psychological effects of crime. Her debut novel The Taste of Ash was published in 2015.

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