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Saturday, 30 November 2019

‘Geraldine’ by John Mead

Published by The Book Guild Ltd,
28 September 2019.
 ISBN: 978 19112881 772

The first of many questions that need addressing in this book is, who exactly is Geraldine? 

When an attractive female is found washed up at the edge of the Thames at Wapping Old Stairs, attending police are startled when the police surgeon informs them that the body is actually that of a man.  Enquiries reveal that Geraldine, or Gerry, Driver is a much loved, happily married female impersonator who until a few hours before his/her death had been working in the nearby Blue Snake nightclub.  The postmortem shows that she had been tortured before being consigned to the river whilst she was still alive.  Given that Geraldine was terrified of water and couldn’t swim this was a particularly cruel thing to do to him/her.  It also suggested that the killer was well acquainted with, and really hated Geraldine.

Inspector Mathew Merry and Sergeant Julie Lukula investigate under the watchful eye of Superintendent Malcolm Swift.  As a motorbike had been seen in the area around the time of the crime, Geraldine’s death was quickly linked with a series of other hate crimes in which victims were showered with acid by two men riding a similar bike with false number plates. Inspector Merry finds he has a personal connection to Geraldine’s death when he learns that that Blue Snake Club and Geraldine’s agent and agency are owned by the notorious Towers family. Merry was at school with two of the Towers brothers, Ricky and Gary, and was good friends with Ricky until they fell out.  Ricky and Gary are trying to become honest citizens, but other members of the family are into every sort of crime imaginable. They think nothing of killing anyone who gets in their way and are top of the National Crime Agency’s most wanted list. 

On the personal side, Merry’s marriage was floundering before his wife’s rape further complicated the situation, and  Superintendent Swift struggles as he juggles with the increased workload that follows his recent promotion, and with a tired partner who needs help with their fractious new baby, whilst on happier note Sgt Julie Lukulu agrees to marry her partner.

Geraldine is a complicated book both as regard the plot and the topics it covers. There is an excellent sense of location throughout, detailed plotting, and a wide variety of characters to keep one entertained.  Hate and jealously are at its core, though I thought it dealt sympathetically with the issues surrounding transvestites and transsexuals that are integral to the story. It also gave interesting insights into the reactions of a rape victim and her family. 
Reviewer Angela Crowther

John Mead was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes. John is currently working on a trilogy of novels set-in modern-day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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