Published by Garvey Publishing
Liverpool is the City of Culture, and nothing is going to tarnish its sheen – certainly not the murder of a prostitute on prime development land.
The text resonates with the misogyny of daily language, daily lives. From the off, it’s nasty and visceral, dripping with unfortunate accuracy. Men, money, and power operate the controls in a violent world of intimidation, where truth is anathema to ambition. But Kearney is able to write of considerate tenderness, too. Scenes in which the Vice Squad communicates with the prostitutes they aim to protect are delicate, with heart and wit at the forefront of the interaction. The thriller is surprisingly domestic, home lives impacting unreservedly on the plot: two female journalists are at its heart, combining raw vulnerability with toughened determination as they learn to cope with being their own greatest disappointment.
Occasionally repetitive, this is a convincing portrayal of friendship in the workplace, of how courage comes in stages and cannot always run deep. However, the novel is also a love-note, and perhaps a battle-cry, to Liverpool. Kearney treasures the detail with which he lays bare his city’s streets, neatly traversing between the wealthy and the deprived, conjuring the fierce collective pride and desperation of a city in transition.