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by Minette Walters
G. P.Putnam's Sons, June 2002
374 pages
ISBN: 0399148620

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Acid Row is the cruel nickname of Bassindale Row, a dilapidated group of English housing complexes, given by the people living in the area. It is filled with low-income single-parent families, ex-cons, infirm elderly citizens, and unbeknownst to most of them, a convicted pedophile. They are not cut off from the rest of world. Every week a group of social health workers will come to check on their well-being and offer counseling. Most of the people living in Acid Row are already miserable, but things can change when one least expects it.

One day, a self-righteous health care provider is dealing with Melanie, a single mother with three children and one on the way, who is not exactly a picture of the perfect parent. In a moment of rage, the social worker lets it out that there is a pedophile living nearby and gives out enough information to figure out who it is. Melanie is shocked and decides to get the neighborhood together and do a protest. If it were all that simple; a few days later a child disappears from her home increasing tensions in the area. It will act as a catalyst leading all the way to a full-scale riot. Three people will die and hundreds will be injured.

Minette Walters explores the origin of the mob mentality in, what is one of her best novels up to date. She starts at the end showing the result of what happened, without providing any details. As the story progresses, leading to the events of the riot, there is a more complete picture. Everyone in Acid Row is convinced that they are doing the right thing by exposing a child molester in their group, when in reality it is something else. They are angry with themselves as well as with society, and the protest is the perfect excuse to lash out. Walter exposes the narrow mindedness of some of the individuals by exposing their hypocrisy. Nothing will be off-limits. She presents both sides from the rioters to the police, who are stillborn in trying to get into action. Heroes will come from unexpected sources, innocence will be lost; and redemption is just around the corner.

ACID ROW is a gritty, dark, and disturbing sociological novel. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the price is too high. This book is a great look at us, particularly when one seems to have good intentions. We know where that road leads to; letís avoid going there.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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