By Nicky Black
Published CreateSpace (8 July 2015)
The Prodigal is the first in a series of gritty crime novels set in the fictional housing estate of Valley Park in Newcastle upon Tyne. Exiled from his beloved Newcastle sixteen years ago, Detective Sergeant Lee Jamieson is returning home in search of the teenage daughter he’s never met. With a good promotion under his belt and his parents gone, he’s ready to return to his roots and the warm Geordie spirit he has missed so much. Much to his surprise, his first assignment is in Valley Park, a forgotten sink estate and home to some of the worst social deprivation in the country – the estate where he grew up, and where Nicola Kelly, the wife of a renowned local villain, calls home. As Lee and Nicola’s lives become entwined through a series of dramatic events, they fall in love and embark on a dangerous affair that will change both of their lives forever. Nicola’s husband, Micky, has few scruples, and, as he feels her slipping away, tightens his grip on her affections. In order for Lee and Nicola to be together, Micky Kelly has to go. The Prodigal examines the lives of those living on sink estates, not just in the North of England, but anywhere in the world, where domestic violence, drugs, organised crime and poverty are rife. But it also builds on the hope and humour that people living amidst such challenges show ever day as they struggle through life.
The Prodigal is a brilliant read from start to finish. I read it slowly, as I didn't want it to end.
I loved the opening chapter, which introduces the reader to the characters, setting the scene beautifully. It really grabbed my attention and pulled me straight into the plot, desperate to read more.
Detective Sergeant Lee Jamieson has returned to his roots, following a promotion at work. He was banished by his father 16 years earlier, after his girlfriend became pregnant, and is now determined to find his teenage daughter. He is swiftly drawn into an investigation involving a web of crime on the housing estate. Unfortunately he also falls for Nicola Kelly, whose husband is a well-known local villain.
The Prodigal is a book about murder, crime, love and lust. The author has a great way of showing not telling and grabs the reader by all of the senses. The narrative is hard hitting and very real, yet is also compassionate and humorous at times. The book is fast paced and gritty, yet an enjoyable read, not as heavy as some crime novels with similar themes. The characters are well developed too - and you actually care about what happens to them by the end, even the bad ones.
I'm hoping there's another book to follow, as this was such a pleasure to read.
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.