Today, I want to showcase a writer I admire enormously.
Debbie Bennett describes herself thus in her Amazon ‘Author Page’ – ‘Debbie is a middle-aged, boring civil servant with a secret life as a writer…She’s worked in law enforcement for over 25 years, in a variety of different roles, which may be why the darker side of life tends to emerge in her writing. If she makes enough money selling books, perhaps she’ll be able to afford counselling instead.’
I first came across Debbie when I joined Authonomy. Her book, Hamelin’s Child was at the top of the pile, about to gain a place on the coveted Editors’ Desk. It was the first book in my own genre, crime fiction, I read on the site. Having read Debbie’s book, I came very close to removing my own unworthy offering. I realized, for the first time, how far away my book was from where I’d like it to be. It made me work on it, edit ruthlessly, make the changes I’d been putting off and start the long process of improvement.
A couple of years later, Hamelin’s Child still hasn’t found a mainstream publisher and I suspect the author had just about given up hope. My own success after publishing my books on Kindle sparked a renewal of interest. I begged, implored, even bullied – in the nicest possible way – Debbie to take the plunge and send her book out into the world.
Now, it’s there. Wearing a shiny new cover as well.
Here’s the pitch – Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him. Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background. Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.
Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London’s drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.
Here’s the brief review I added to Amazon.
‘Hamelin’s Child’ is a novel of rare power with a storyline that takes the reader into a world very far removed from normality. ‘Mikey’ is a victim, preyed upon and forced into a life that degrades and yet draws him into its spell. Forced into prostitution and heroin addiction, the contrast with his plight and the sheer normality of the family who search for him is remarkably well portrayed by a gifted author whose attention to detail never wavers. The powerful nature of chapter eight, in particular, will remain with me for a long time. Exceptional writing, I recommend this very strongly.’
Debbie Bennett, like myself, has had experiences in her working life which allow to write about grim subjects such as drug addiction with absolute certainty. Hamelin’s Child is a tough, gritty thriller and has that rare quality: accuracy.
Debbie isn’t a one-trick pony; there’s a collection of short stories now available on Kindle as well. I’ve never met the author, but hope to remedy that omission one day. If you enjoy a well-written thriller, look no further than Hamelin’s Child.