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Tuesday, 1 June 2021

‘One Way Street’ by Trevor Wood

Published by Quercus,
10 June 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-78747-838-1 (HB)

Jimmy Mullen knows the way to survive on the street is to keep your head down. Ever since he was tipped out of what passes as the system into Newcastle’s homeless community – and community is what it is, in a rough sort of way – his mantra has been not my fight. But however hard he tries to avoid trouble; it seems to find him.

This time it’s his young mate Deano who’s in trouble. Or possible worse. He hasn’t been seen for days, and there are rumours of a bad batch of spice, the drug of the moment, going the rounds. Kids not much younger than Deano are dying is circumstances which strike Jimmy and Gadge, the third musketeer in their little gang, as suspicious, and they don’t want Deano to go the same way. And suddenly they’re mixed up in something far more complicated and nefarious than either of them is comfortable with.

One Way Street is another delve into a lifestyle few crime fiction readers will ever experience: a sympathetic view of a group of people who are almost invisible but nonetheless have backstories, feelings and distinct personalities. As Jimmy, Gadge and their helpers from the other side of the tracks get to the bottom of the drugs problem, the reader is drawn into their world: the social workers who are sometimes endowed with common sense, like down-to-earth Sandy, but too often not; the police who (mostly) equate homeless with criminal; the volunteers who work hard against considerable odds to provide basic needs. Everyone is drawn with meticulous skill – one might almost say with love, though perhaps not in all cases.

Through it all there’s wrongdoing to be uncovered, and bad guys to be exposed and vanquished, whether Jimmy likes it or not. One Way Street, like its predecessor The Man on the Street, is primarily a crime novel, with all the tension, cliff-hanger moments and surprises that that entails. Then, just when you – and Jimmy and co – think you’ve got it sussed, there’s even a neat little twist as it all builds to a dramatic climax.

And we’re left with just enough of a suggestion that Jimmy and his friends won’t be able to keep their heads down for long; trouble will find them, and they’ll be back. I for one will be very glad to see them again.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for 25 years and considers himself an adopted Geordie, though he still can't speak the language. He's a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. Prior to that he served in the Royal Navy for 16 years joining, presciently, as a Writer. Trevor holds an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) from UEA. His first novel, The Man on the Street, which is set in his home city, was published by Quercus 19 March 2020, winning the The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2020.  

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 in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.


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