Sticks And Stones May Break Your Bones

“Corinne Woodrow was fifteen when she was convicted of the ritualistic murder of her classmate in a quaint seaside town. It was 1984, a year when teenagers ran wild, dressed in black, stayed out all night, and listened to music that terrified their parents. Rumours of Satanism surrounded Corinne and she was locked up indefinitely, a chilling reminder to the parents of Ernemouth to keep a watchful eye on their children.

Twenty years later, private investigator Sean Ward — whose promising career as a detective with the Metropolitan Police was cut short by a teenager with a gun — reopens the case after new forensic evidence suggests that Corinne didn’t act alone. His investigation uncovers a town full of secrets, and a community that has always looked after its own…”Just recently finished reading “Weirdo”, a novel by London-based author Cathi Unsworth. Unsworth began her career with music weekly Sounds and has subsequently worked on other music magazines including Uncut, Mojo and Melody Maker.

The reason that her music journalism background is relevant is that each chapter of the book is titled after a song from the early eighties, when the original action in the story takes place. It is 1984 and in Great Yarmouth (which has been re-christened as Ernemouth for the purposes of the book) where Corrine Woodrow, a fifteen year old schoolgirl from a very troubled background, finds herself caught up in a series of events that will lead to witchcraft and murder.

Cathi Unsworth

Interspersed with the original action is the 2003 re-investigation by ex-police officer Sean Ward into the crime and the various characters involved.

I don’t know Great Yarmouth, so really cannot comment on how accurate a picture the author paints of the less salubrious side of the town thirty-odd years ago but having been at secondary school in the early 80s I could certainly identify with the music and fashions, not to mention friendship issues, described for the then-teenagers in the novel.

As Ward digs deeper into the events of the past in Ernemouth we come across all manner of odd, dysfunctional and just plain nasty individuals that are somehow connected to the web of secrets that he needs to uncover to get to the truth.

This is a crime thriller that doesn’t have a great deal of lightness, and there is an awful lot going on within the community under the spotlight. Corruption, magic, politics, prostitution, music, art, fashion, relationships, family dynamics and pornography – not to mention murder and conspiracy! It is, however, very evocative of a time and place and makes for a great read…

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