Dancers In The Wind by Anne Coates 5*
SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?
Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence.
Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.
This novel opens in the 1990’s with freelance journalist Hannah Weybridge, wring a piece to accompany a documentary on the red light district at Kings Cross Station in central London. The novel has a heavy theme of vice and the women involved suffering. Anne Coates met with and interviewed sex workers in the research for her novel and it shows in her writing. Not only did she portray them accurately without stereotypes, she also clearly listened to them when they spoke of their lives. Journalist Hannah is a strong independent savvy single mother, one whom I instantly loved! She is well written and works brilliantly as the series lead character.
As the story develops we meet Police inspector Tom Jordan, who having recently taken over the Kings Cross patch to police is feeling the strain. We also meet Mike Laurel an opinionated photographer working for the tabloids. Finally, we meet the character of Princess an experienced working girl at just 19 years of age. However, there seems more to Princess than meets the eye and Hannah can clearly sense her vulnerability.
Princess is later violently attacked and through a twist of events, finds herself at Hannah’s door in the early hours of the morning, having taken a severe beating & been left for dead. Hannah whilst remaining the clever, cut throat and untrusting journalist I absolutely love. Has a moral compass and a heart of good and agrees to take her in and get her some medical help. A mother/daughter relationship develops between the two and we start to see Princes in a new light, we see her through Hannah’s eyes. Slowly but surely Hannah gains Princesses trust and we learn her story. It becomes evident that there are two sides to her, Princess the streetwise sex worker whom navigates the world of vice, knowing that casual sex & violence go hand in hand. Also Caroline the abused, brutalised, exploited victim, who after a childhood marred by rape, drug use and poor parenting never stood a chance and became Princess as a sense of survival.
The book gives in-depth scenes of life on London’s streets. The derelict buildings where the trade is plied, the various characters who frequent the streets hookers, pimps and punters! Caroline carries the physical scars of the life on her body and the emotional ones on her soul. She is extremely well written and you really hope she finds some way to pull herself out and form the family she both desperately needs and wants.
When the bodies of murdered prostitutes begin to turn up. It’s clear someone is stalking and killing the working girls of kings Cross. Fearing for Caroline’s safety and seeing the media blackout, Hannah becomes investigating journalist to help catch the killer. Hannah begins by interviewing those surrounded by Caroline while keeping Caroline hidden at her house. She meets the winos, dealers, prostitutes, project workers and pimps to no avail. With sometime away from the streets Princess quickly evolves back to Caroline and we see the pure vulnerability confined within her. There is a reflective chapter which details how she became how she is. It is an intense piece of writing and incredibly moving.
How do you solve a murder when your only allies are a hooker and a copper, you don’t trust? Feeling torn between the two and desperate for answers Hannah must find a way!
***Q&A TO FOLLOW***