Today I’m bringing you my review of Life Ruins by Danuta Kot as part of the blog tour organised by Zooloos Book Tours.
In a small northern town, girls are disappearing.
You won’t see it in the papers and the police aren’t taking any notice, but the clues are there if you know where to look.
Becca sees that something is wrong, but she’s been labelled ‘difficult’ thanks to her troubled past. So when a girl is so savagely beaten she can’t be identified, and Becca claims she knows who she is, no one will believe her.
With the police refusing to listen, Becca digs for evidence that will prove what she is saying. But her search for justice will put herself and those closest to her in danger – and once she finds the truth, will anyone even listen?
Danuta Kot (who also writes as Danuta Reah and as Carla Banks) grew up with stories. Her Irish mother and her Polish father kept their own cultures alive with traditional tales they shared with their children. For many years, she worked with young people in Yorkshire who were growing up in the aftermath of sudden industrial decline. She uses this background in her books to explore some of the issues that confront modern, urban society: poverty, alienation and social breakdown, using the contexts of the modern crime novel. She now works as a senior education consultant, work that involves travel to establish education and training in other parts of the world. She is a regular academic speaker at conferences and literary festivals and has appeared on radio and television.
Follow her at:
Website : https://danutakot.com/
I jumped at the chance to join this tour, as I’d seen the author at an event at Off The Shelf festival in Sheffield a few years ago where she’d read an extract of this book. One of the main characters of the book, Jared, is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and had a traumatic experience whilst caving with a friend. This event appears in flashback on the book and it was this that Kot read as an extract. I was sat in a room full of people, in a pretty spacious and light room, but the reading made me feel claustrophobic and I was there in the cave with the characters. My friend and I both bought books from that event, she bought Life Ruins, and I bought a book by the other author at the event but we never got around to swapping over.
I whizzed through this in a few days. We follow three main characters in the book, Becca, a troubled young woman who has reluctantly relocated to a deserted and desolate Bridlington, Jared, a former climber and urban explorer who is drifting around after an accident damaged his back, and Kay, a widow and retired social worker who fostered Becca as a teenager. As events unfold, it becomes clear that something is amiss in Bridlington and young girls are at risk, and it seems to be connected to Becca and Kay somehow.
The location is used to such good effect here. The descriptions of both the out of season coastal towns and the coast line were vivid and conjured up both a clear image of the setting and a sense of “not rightness” that fit well with the story. After all, touristy costal towns aren’t quite the same when the tourists aren’t there, and clearly there’s something not quite right at the heart of the story.
The plot itself was gripping and kept me engrossed to see how all of the threads would resolve and how it all connected. Some of the scenes set underground were really uncomfortable reading; as I mentioned above, I think the author did a great job with those scenes.
I thought that Becca was an interesting character, she’s clearly been through a lot and Io felt a sense of desperation and frustration in her dealings with the authorities later in the book. I wanted her to succeed, and to get the justice she had been pretty tirelessly trying to get on behalf of vulnerable girls like her, who hadn’t had the best start in life.
I finished the book looking forward to seeing more of the characters…….and did so in “Someone Who Isn’t Me”, the follow up novel which I’ll be reviewing on the second part of this blog tour on Monday!