FRANKIE - Kevin Lewis
If "About the Author" in the press release is to be believed, then in FRANKIE, Kevin Lewis is writing about a world not that far from the one he grew up in.
On a cold London evening Frankie, a young woman with a sad past, now living on the streets, has no choice when a drug dealer, pimp and lowlife targets the very young Mary - a recent street kid, still pretty, still not drawn into addiction and degradation. Frankie fights for Mary and the pimp dies. Frankie is now not just on the streets with her own past to deal with, but she's running from the police, from the consequences of the fight.
In the process Frankie mugs another young woman - not realising that Rosemary has just broken into her bosses computer, and the necklace that Frankie grabbed contained the evidence that the Fraud Squad desperately need to keep Rosemary safe as well.
Frankie finds she can run, she can escape from her past and from the events of that night, but only for so long. Sometimes your actions come back to haunt you years later and in Frankie's case, the consequences are more dire when you actually have more to lose.
There's a lot to like in FRANKIE and there's a lot to feel a bit let down by. The direness and desperation of life on the streets is really well drawn in the early parts of the book, and the events that happen to send Frankie on the run tear along at a great pace with good tension and the reader's interest is firmly held. The consequences of what seems like a simple case of purse snatching by Frankie are a sobering twist and Mary's fate is no holds barred confrontational. Frankie is a good character in that she has guts and determination and a willingness to try again, despite everything that has happened and does happen to her.
Possibly that is the source of a feeling of being slightly let down, the events that sent Frankie to the streets were overly predictable - the characterisations of her mother and stepfather too formulaic; the sudden remembrance of evidence of her past too contrived. Frankie's rescue from poverty and despair was a little on the unbelievable side, and her achievement of everything a girl could possibly hope for mildly over-sentimental. The conclusion where everything she's built for herself is threatened and torn apart as a result of the actions of years before, on top of all of that build up just seemed a bit on the melodramatic side.
On the run, Frankie unknowingly stumbles across a dangerous secret, a secret so powerful that men will stop at nothing to protect it. She tries to build a new life, but you can only stay anonymous when no one wants to find you. Hunted by both the police and shadowy assailants with powerful connections, the odds are stacked against a woman who will do whatever it takes to protect herself - and those who mean most to her ...