No Peace for the Wicked (by Pip Granger)

I had never heard of Pip Granger. I probably wouldn't have picked up one of her books by choice - I don't particularly like novels based in the 1950s, and the cover makes it look like a thriller.

However, a friend lent me 'No peace for the wicked', saying that she thought I would like it. So after it sat for a while on my shelf of unread books, I picked it up a few days ago.

It's narrated by Lizzie who works in a dress design shop in 1950s Soho, part of London where the morals and societal expectations of the era were apparently ignored. Lizzie is separated from her husband and sadly lost their only daughter a year or so before the story begins, but she's trying to move forward with her life. She invites a young Chinese/British girl called Peace to share her flat, and all is going well until Peace disappears...

Apparently this book is the fourth in a series involving the same characters, which would explain why there were so many people mentioned who had little part to play in the story, and so many references to events that had nothing to do with this book. I found this very confusing in the early chapters; add to that a very informal writing style, and a tendency by the author to over-describe places and situations with lists of details, and I almost considered giving up on the book.

However, I decided to keep going, and am glad I did since by about half way through I was able to get into the style, and found Lizzie increasingly interesting as a person. I still skimmed a lot of the detail, and lost track of who was whom in many cases, but found that it didn't really matter too much.

I gather that the author herself grew up in Soho in this era, so the settings and people are, presumably, authentic. As such it was interesting from the social history perspective. There was a great deal of drama towards the end, involving the Chinese community, which seemed a little far-fetched - but perhaps not.

I imagine this would have been better if read after at least one of the earlier novels in the series.

Available in paperback in the UK, and also on Kindle.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 23rd June 2012

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