I am certainly not complaining but, due to the number of review copies that publishers send me to feature, I rarely get the chance to read any of the books that I had on my shelves before I became a blogger all the way back in 2009. Christmas is the time when all the festive chicklit hits the shelves so I was feeling a bit fluffed out and needed something darker and more chilling to get my teeth into. Martina Cole's The Know was perfect.
The central character, Joanie Bewer, is a prostitute but if you can get past her questionable lifestyle choice, she actually has a lot more qualities than faults. The quintessential tart with a heart, she puts her heart and soul into bringing up her three children, the wild and wayward 15 year old Jeanette; man-of-the-house by default, big brother Jon Jon; and her cherished youngest Kira, whose learning difficulties give her a sweetness and naivety that make her much loved in the community. Joanie dotes on her children and prides herself on giving them a stable upbringing and a spotlessly clean house to live in.
Very early on in the story, we learn that Kira has gone missing and, presumably, murdered. The book then goes back in time before the drama, presenting the family, friends and neighbours of the Brewer family, then following Joanie and Jon Jon's desperate attempt to find out what happened to Kira. Joanie's decades-long, on-off relationship with her pimp provides a couple of friendly bent coppers who will turn a blind eye when they mete out their own brand of justice, but have they got the real villains in amongst their list of usual suspects?
It's a gritty portrayal of a mother's grief and desire for revenge and you can't help but feel sorry for Joanie, especially as her quest for the truth reveals more and more horrors that she probably would have been better off not knowing. It's one of those stories that will haunt you long after you've turned the final page and will leave you counting your blessings and giving your kids an extra long hug at bedtime.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £8.99