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by Penny Deacon
Creme de la Crime, September 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0954763483

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Penny Deacon's A THANKLESS CHILD is set a futuristic England where people have high-tech implants but where much of society is falling apart around their ears.

Humility, heroine of the first book A KIND OF PURITAN, is back at Midway Port much against her better judgement. But her boat, bound for France, was forced to limp back after being damaged in a storm.

She's hardly back on dry land when Morgan Vinci, leader of one of the all-powerful Families, is asking her to investigate why a man has hanged himself on boat in the marina.

And then her mother wants her to look for her missing niece. Humility is estranged from her religious nutters family, but being saddled with a new Puritan name has put her a long way down the pecking order.

And here surfaces the problem I have with amateur sleuth mysteries -- the hoops the author has to jump through to get them involved in the investigation. I could just about buy the first investigation, which would put her on good terms with the powerful Vinci. But the lack of soul-searching when her mother makes the request is highly problematic -- in fact it's over in a sentence.

The strength of A THANKLESS CHILD is the basic premise and the world building -- a decaying society riven by wealth and poverty where everyone wants to mind their own business. The strongest parts of the book are where Humility navigates her way through this depressing world.

There are also some strong supporting characters, including Humility's flamboyant friend Millie, the scary girl gang members, and a bureaucrat who turns out to have a conscience.

A THANKLESS CHILD is very similar to the first book in that it's OK but just doesn't quite do enough to grab me. Deacon's prose is rather pedestrian and it's not giving anything away to say that you never feel Humility is in much danger, despite getting herself into tight corners.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, December 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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