A chance encounter with a newspaper man on a sunny day turns into a mystery that leads Ida Arnold on the hunt for a Brighton gang.
Pinkie managed to pull off the murder of the decade at just 17. As the new leader of one of Brighton’s biggest gangs, He managed to end the life of the man who had grassed on his former boss, and make it look natural. Unfortunately for him, there are a few loose ends that don’t seem to want to tie themselves up…
The narrative is fast-paced, the characters are clever. The only thing I can’t figure out is why the police didn’t clock what was going on at all.
The story starts with Hale (Fred) who thinks that Brighton will just be another job of dropping off clues for the newspaper and waiting to see whether anyone recognises him from its photo competition. But when Pinkie shows up and calls him Fred, he knows the game is up and that the gang is going to try to kill him. He tries desperately to pick a woman up to try and get a witness, someone to protect him in public to avoid the inevitable. This is how he bumps into Ida, who loses sight of him after she goes into the ladies room at the pier. The next time she sees him, his picture is in his own paper where they are reporting him as dead.
Although she had only just met him, Ida is convinced that the man was afraid of something and didn’t want to kill himself like the police were claiming. She decided still go back Brighton after consulting a spirit board (I know) and investigate the situation.
But Ida isn’t Pinkie’s only problem. So that they could hide Hale’s time of death, one of his lackeys put a clue card in a cafe, which was spotted by a waitress named Rose – who knows for sure that it wasn’t Hale who left it. Pinkie starts a fumbling game of seduction and threats to try to get her to keep quiet – but as the questions mount, will he be able to keep a handle on things and not lose it all?
The themes of power, sexuality and moral retribution are beautifully intrinsic in this novel. You can’t help feeling sorry for Pinkie at times, especially when everything looks set to fall apart. Ada’s intense quest for justice for Hale and to save Rose from Pinkie is relentless. She is his vengeful angel, while Rose represents the demons he ran away from when he left the slums.
This book was recommended to me by my boyfriend Tom, who gave it to me as a Christmas gift alongside a trip to Brighton – which we are going on this weekend! Very excited.
This book is part of my 1000 before 30 reading challenge. Read more about it in my other blog posts!