Who’s There? by Kerena Swan

5 Stars from me
County lines are of serious concern in the UK right now and Who’s There? really taps into this current and troubling issue. Kerena’s history of working in the sector shone through and added a breadth of credibility to the story.
For me, (I work in a secondary school and live in a town that is on a main line from London) this book is highly insightful and deals with a contemporary and very real issue in a sensitive way. Safeguarding of young and vulnerable people is high on the agenda for schools and government agencies and Who’s There? really shines a light on just how easy it is for someone to fall foul of these gangs of drug dealers.
This book is worth reading for that alone. So much so that I would actually recommend this to anyone who was seeking to gain an understanding of how the county lines work and why they are of such a risk to our children and young people.
Chip was a sweet character and again all too familiar to me as it is young, disconnected kids who are often targeted by these gangs to be their drug runners – kids like Chip who aren’t being closely monitored by their families and who are desperate either for attention, money or even just a sense of belonging.
Arnold is a superb character, I loved him so much for his straight forward view of things. What lovely eyes to see the world through – I felt quite jealous of his naive ability to see just the good in things. His view of the housing estate was so different to the cynical first impression gathered by his mum. Sadly this also meant he was the perfect person for them to ‘befriend’ and abuse. Yet, in among on the awfulness, I loved his little obsession with Clint Eastwood and the cowboy films, that was a nice touch.
Poker and Spider – ugh. Awful people with literally no morals.
I felt for the poor girl who lived next door to Arnold. Saskia was clearly a very genuine and kind girl – she was very sweet to Chip and Arnold on several occasions, yet her own dark past had led her to become hooked on drugs. Such a shame how the story panned out for her.
The parallel story of Arnold’s family would have been just as intriguing as a book on it’s own and showed a real depth of understanding of family dynamics and the complexity of the relationships within. Arnold’s mum, sister, stepdad and of course the dog were all excellently crafted and served to bring the story to life.
The fear for Arnold’s mum as she let go enough for him to leave home and live on his own was tangible and beautifully written.
I really enjoyed Who’s There? and am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour.
Synopsis: Appearances can be deceptive… Arnold Eastwood is thrilled when social services allocate him a flat all of his own. Independence hasn’t come easily to a young man with Downs Syndrome but now he has the chance to live free from his mum’s nagging, find a girlfriend, watch endless movies and make new friends. Meanwhile a London drug gang is setting up a supply line in Arnold’s town. They’re looking for someone to deliver drugs for them and somewhere to set up a base of operations. Soon Arnold and his flat are in the drug gang’s sights. Drawn into the dark underworld of crack cocaine and modern slavery, Arnold soon discovers that friends can in fact be deadly enemies. The question is: can he break free?  
Author Bio:
Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated agency for children with disabilities.  Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfil her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel. 

After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ is now available and her third book, ‘Who’s There?’ will be released on December 13th 2019.

Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, UK and her books are set in the surrounding areas.

Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.

If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena’s blogs and download a free short-story – the prequel to Dying to See You – then visit www.kerenaswan.co.uk   and join her mailing list.

Facebook – Facebook.com/kerenaswan

Twitter- @kerenaswan

Instagram – kerenaswan

Goodreads link – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48763828-who-s-there

Amazon link – https://www.amazon.com/Whos-There-Kerena-Swan-ebook/dp/B081D5JWXG/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Kerena+Swan&qid=1573648513&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski

4 Stars from me

My first introduction to the writing of Leopold Borstinski and the character Alex Cohen has been a fascinating glimpse into a world ruled by mobsters in New York.

I loved the internal conflict within Alex himself of the good gentle boy who gave up a delicious pastry for the girl the next door vs the conscious-less thug who can stab someone without a second thought.

The mob lifestyle and the violence are intoxicating as we follow Alex down an inevitably dangerous path – he seems instinctively drawn to danger, with money as his guiding force.

The imagery and descriptions of the streets, clubs, shops and the hustle and bustle of 1919 New York is just wonderful. I felt transported back in time and could almost smell the dust and the grime on the streets and the stale booze and perfume in the club. The skill in making this come alive is subtle yet effective.

Great, immersive dive into the New York mob scene.

My thanks to Damp Pebbles blog tours and Leopold Borstinski for letting me be a part of this blog tour.

 

Synopsis: A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.