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Monday 11 May 2020

‘Life Ruins’ by Danuta Kot

Published by Simon & Schuster,
7 February 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-47117593-0 (PB)

What an excellent book this is!

Kay is a recently widowed foster-carer, living near Whitby; Becca, one of her long-term foster children is trying to scrape a living waitressing in a drop-in café for deprived young people in Bridlington; Jared is a misfit, obsessed with caving. The unforgiving Yorkshire coast, with its poverty and its opportunities for crime, brings them into a strange alliance when Jared finds what he is sure is a young woman’s corpse deep in a coastal mine shaft. A girl goes missing from the drop-in café. Kay frets over the disappearance of another of her foster children. Can the three possible crimes be connected? Separately – they never quite mesh enough to function as a team – the newly formed trio of justice-seekers are harassed, attacked and nearly killed. Is there a conventional happy ending? You must read the book to find out.

And read Life Ruins you ought. If you’re leading a comfortable middle-aged, middle-class life you may dismiss some of Kot’s scenarios as far-fetched, but please don’t. Without preaching, she shows what it’s like to be alone, desperate, penniless – but still capable of loyalty and a belief in right and wrong. This is Kot’s debut novel: make sure you read her second. I certainly will.
Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Judith Cutler

Danuta Kot, who also writes under the name Carla Banks and Danuta Reah, was born in South Yorkshire. She comes from an academic family but opted out of formal education at the age of 16. She worked in a variety of jobs from barmaid to laboratory assistant, in a variety of locations, including a brief spell in Kingston, Jamaica. She went to university as a mature student and then went on to teach adults in Further and Higher Education. She taught linguistics and creative writing, and in the course of this, refined her own writing style. She published her first novel Only Darkness in 1999.
Danuta lives in South Yorkshire. She is past Chair of the Crime Writers' Association. A regular speaker at national and international conferences and literary festivals, she has appeared on radio and television.

Judith Cutler was born in the Black Country, just outside Birmingham, later moving to the Birmingham suburb of Harborne. Judith started writing while she was at the then Oldbury Grammar School, winning the Critical Quarterly Short Story prize with the second story she wrote. She subsequently read English at university. It was an attack of chickenpox caught from her son that kick-started her writing career. One way of dealing with the itch was to hold a pencil in one hand, a block of paper in the other - and so she wrote her first novel. This eventually appeared in a much-revised version as Coming Alive, published by Severn House. Judith has seven series. The first two featured amateur sleuth Sophie Rivers (10 books) and Detective Sergeant Kate Power (6 Books). Then came Josie Wells, a middle-aged woman with a quick tongue, and a love of good food, there are two books, The Food Detective and The Chinese Takeout. The Lina Townsend books are set in the world of antiques and there are seven books in this series. There are three books featuring Tobias Campion set in the Regency period, and her series featuring Chief Superintendent Fran Harman (6 books), and Jodie Welsh, Rector’s wife and amateur sleuth. Her most recent series features a head teacher (3 books). Judith has also written three standalone’s Scar Tissue, Death In Elysium and The Wages of Sin.

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