Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Jo Cooper leads an uneventful life; selling jewellery on a Greenwich market stall, babysitting her neighbours’ kids, and trying not to pay too much attention to the noises made by the S&M devotees who live across the hall in a notorious council block on the Old Kent Road. She has a penchant for rescuing people but when her latest turn out to be a Ukrainian refugee, and a man in buttock-less leather trousers she finds chained to the roof of her building, she gets herself into almost more trouble than she can handle.
Debi Alper brilliantly evokes
the lives of people living on the fringe – ex-drug-addicts, a young man with
agoraphobia, and the seedy goings on in the world of people trafficking and
prostitution. With subject matter such as that, the book should be bleak, but
it isn’t. The central character, Jo, is engaging and sparky and the runaway
teenage prostitute, Tatiana, is very believable in her complexity. The blurb
says the novel is ‘darkly comic’ but I find little to laugh at in the
trafficking of young girls, however Debi Alper writes with a lightness of touch
that does leave room for lots of gentle moments. The relationship between Jo
and the two girls she babysits is particularly sweet and touching. This is a
book threaded through with the warmth of caring relationships and ultimately
says a lot about the triumph of compassion over sleaze.
Full of fast-paced action and tension, Trading Tatiana is a book I recommend reading. It opened my eyes to a thing or two.
Reviewer: Ruth Wade
Ruth Wade is a part-time lecturer teaching creative writing at local colleges and academies. She spends the remainder of her working week researching and writing crime novels. Weekends can find her either learning to dance the Argentine Tango in Cambridge or deep in the woods of Hertfordshire shooting a longbow. She was once the proud owner of a ruin perched on a mountainside in Spain’s Sierra Nevada, toiling the summer months stopping the place from falling down and tending the adjacent vineyard. These days she confines her physical labour to re-pointing the flint walls of her country cottage. Ruth Wade also writes as BK Duncan. Under that name her historical crime novel Foul Trade (is the first in a series featuring May Keaps, a 1920's Coroner's Officer)