We take a look backwards, and forwards to some entertaining music and books
Soho, 1965. In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre. Her employer, American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance and the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate.
Irish Detective Hayes is put on the case, but no trace is found of the actress and interest fades. In the mission to track her down, Anna encounters Aloysius, a young black accountant from Jamaica who aspires to be middle class and English. She is also involved with the café owner, Ottmar, an exiled Turkish Cypriot, and his family, in particularly his sixteen-year-old daughter Samira.
The mix of cultures and race is woven through the story and reveals the prejudice and ignorance of London in the sixties. In the dark side of the Swinging Sixties, Anna encounters a city she did not know existed: jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns.
Anna is drawn to Aloysius but discrimination affects their relationship as with the Irish and Turkish families. The racial tension and suspicion has been well depicted by the author and although there is still intolerance today, we have hopefully moved on from the bigotry of the 1960s.
The mystery is eventually solved in a chase across Britain involving other misfit characters and plot twists. I was left slightly confused at the end but I think that was deliberate.
Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson is published by Harper Collins on 12 January 2017 in hardback RRP £12.99
This debut novel is certainly a tour de force and in the finest style of modern psychological thrillers it offers an intriguing twisted and chilling story of a 15-year-old girl whose mother is a serial killer.
The narrative is told in the first person by Annie who has assumed her new identity as Milly being fostered by Mike and Saskia while she awaits her mother’s trial. They have a daughter, Phoebe, the same age as Milly who is intent on making Milly’s life even more unbearable.
We feel sympathy for Milly and her situation is fraught with tension and as the disturbing facts are slowly revealed we wondered how she could have tolerated her mother’s behaviour for so long, while understanding the influence she was under.
The murders are of young children making the subject truly horrific, but the author writes with sufficient restraint not to give us too many unpalatable details, yet still leaves the reader with a sense of revulsion.
Beautifully written and threaded with gripping anxiety Milly clings to sanity and longs for normality, whatever that is.
This book is being heralded as a must read of 2017 and I suspect that it will be received with much acclaim. Disturbing as it is, the genre is hugely popular, sadly the theme is too common, but nevertheless worth reading.
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is published by Penguin UK – Michael Joseph on 12 January 2017 in hardback RRP £12.99.
On April 7th, 1962, three young Englishmen obsessed with American blues met for the first time, at the Ealing Jazz Club in London.
Now over 50 years later they have recorded a wholly blues album which was released on 2nd December 2016 and went straight to number one in the charts. Whoever would have thought when Mick and the boys gyrated onto the music scene much to the horror of our parents, that they would still be playing and recording let alone touring in this day and age.
As a huge blues fan and a follower of The Rolling Stones since “I can’t get no satisfaction” hit the airways in 1964, I am biased. So yes, I love this album and am pleased that it has been released and done so well. The Stones logo originally used on the album cover, Sticky Fingers, of lips and a tongue, adorns this cover and has now appropriately, turned blue.
In a year when we have seen new releases from old favourites, such as Cliff Richard, Madness, Rick Astley and Sting it is good to hear that old musicians never die they just release another album. Especially doing well if of course, they do actually die: Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and Elvis Presley.
The tracks on Blue and Lonesome are not new, they are re worked version of original blues songsby the likes of Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Reed. Given some new but authentic blues twists and with some help from others such as Eric Clapton who could not resist the temptation to join in.
Blue and Lonesome by The Rolling Stones was released on 2nd December 2016 on various formats.