Self published by Nicky Black in 2015
Have you ever persevered with a book because deep down you know that eventually, even if it is slow at the beginning, something is going to happen, to grip you, to make you want to read more. ‘The Prodigal’ is that book for me.
I will admit that there were times where I considered giving up, unable to fathom where the twist would come; that bit of the story that suddenly causes you to sit up and take note.
Frank is a power linesman who takes pride in his work; he is the one person that the company can rely on to return power to Newcastle. Until one fated day in 1977 that is when he went out to work, fell and broke his back. The problem, his superiors decided that no compensation could be given because it was deemed that he had been drunk on duty. It was his 40th birthday and his wife had given him a small winter-warmer to take with him in his lunch box. Add to this a couple of pints he had in the pub with his colleagues during their break to celebrate and an accident of some kind was sure to follow.
The outcome – he lost the family home. Not only that, they had to move from the nice area around Gateshead to the where the dregs of society were raised; Valley Park in Newcastle.
Fast-forward to 1999 and we are introduced to Lee, Frank’s son who at the age of 16, disgraced his father and left home.
After spending time in London, Lee is back and retracing his history by heading to the one place he knows will still welcome him, the local pub at the heart of the Valley Park Estate. This time however, he is not likely to become one of the crowd; this time he is returning as DS Lee Jamieson. He has high hopes, he believes that Valley Park can regenerate and improve; he also believes that he can win over the love of his daughter.
Within hours of his return he is caught up in a fight that sets him of a potential catastrophic downward spiral. In one night, he not only finds himself caught up in a drug brawl he also falls in love. There is just one problem, the person that caught his eye is the wife of Micky Kelly, a man no-one wants to mess with.
Nicola Kelly is attractive, self assured and loyal to her own. Lee has little chance of gaining her trust, after all she holds a real dislike for the police.
Her brother, Mark, is heading to prison and she believes he has been set up by one of Lee’s own and in order for her to start trusting Lee he is going to have to solve the riddle and find out who planted the drugs in the drainpipe of her brother’s house.
Over the following chapters we read about the dealings of Micky, the heavy-weight ex-boxer turned nasty guy about town. Not only is he a bouncer at a local nightclub, he is also a front man for a local drug trafficking ring and is trying to worm himself in to the inner circle of the criminal scene in Newcastle. In his mind, he believes it is to give his wife a better life; realistically however, it is because he simply likes the fame that comes with this territory.
As Micky falls deeper into the underworld his wife becomes his punch bag. Every little irritation results in another blow, another bruise. How long will their relationship survive? Add to this the mistress that may know slightly more than Nicola about his dodgy dealings and it can only end one way, in disaster.
Will Micky end up with all he wants? Will Nicola learn about his second family and the loyalty she seems to have with his associated? Will Lee win the hearts of both his daughter and the woman that he is chasing?
Love can be a volatile commodity which can either make or break someone, and on this occasion men will both win and loss however, it is only a matter of time before things come crashing down for everyone concerned.
Originally written for TV, this book has been adapted into a one off story rather than a prelude to something more substantial. With that in mind, whilst it starts with a bang, with a scene that forms the basis for the remainder of the novel, the narrative slows, causing the reader to drift.
My advice, don’t get despondent and give up on this book half way through. It is well written and deserves to be read, although, as crime novels go, it is not a fast-paced, action packed story full of twists that people have come to expect from this genre.
Disclaimer: We did receive a free copy of ‘The Prodigal’ but all thoughts and opinions are our own.