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Group Reads > September 2019 - Bad Penny Blues

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
Cathi Unsworth began a career in journalism at nineteen on the music weekly Sounds, and has since worked for many music, arts, film and alternative lifestyle journals. She has written five novels, and edited London Noir for the Akashic Noir series. She cites Derek Raymond as her biggest influence.

In an excerpt from an interview with Rachel Connor - https://rachelconnorwriter.com/2012/1... - she discusses Bad Penny Blues:

Bad Penny came as a direct result of reading a true crime book, Jack Of Jumps by David Seabrook, about the so-called ‘Jack the Stripper’ murders of eight working girls, committed in west London between 1959-65 and never solved. All these women lived and/or worked around the streets of Ladbroke Grove, where I have resided for 25 years. Nowadays it is one of the most salubrious parts of London, but then it was the biggest red light district in the capital. I was so haunted and disturbed by Seabrook’s book that I felt compelled to write my own version of the story – to try and work out a more plausible solution for these crimes than those presented in Jack Of Jumps, and the handful of others also written about the case, and more importantly, to attempt to give back these women their voices.


message 2: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
Here's another takeaway from the above mentioned interview to keep in mind while you're reading:

. . . music was essential to getting me back into this post-War, pre-Swinging London. The first thing I did was to look up what record was number one in the singles charts on the day when each woman’s body was found. That provided a very spooky and suggestive soundtrack in itself, and every chapter heading in that book is either one of those, or another single that came out around the same time.


message 3: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
I got an early start on this one as my interlibrary loan came in far sooner than I had expected. Though I've only read one of Derek Raymond's books, I definitely catch the influence. So far, the story is interesting and very well written, though at the moment, not very compelling.


message 4: by Franky (new)

Franky | 394 comments My copy was delivered yesterday and I'll try to get to it as soon as possible, but maybe not for a week or so.


message 5: by Franky (new)

Franky | 394 comments I'm a little bit late getting to this one, but started it today. I will post my thoughts once I finish, but it will probably be into next month. I'm enjoying it so far. Seems pretty interesting.


message 6: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 820 comments Mod
Oops! I read this one so early in the month, I kind of forgot about it.

There was much I liked about the book, but I felt that the crime story line was the weakest part. Unsworth is an accomplished writer, and I'd consider reading more of her work.


message 7: by Franky (new)

Franky | 394 comments Melki wrote: "Oops! I read this one so early in the month, I kind of forgot about it.

There was much I liked about the book, but I felt that the crime story line was the weakest part. Unsworth is an accomplishe..."


I feel like the book's plot took a major diversion after the initial murder and then it went somewhere else entirely. I'm about 50% done, but I'm trying to figure out how things are going to connect together.


message 8: by Franky (new)

Franky | 394 comments Finally finished it a few days ago. I was super busy last month so I just couldn't devote much time to reading.

I agree Melki about the chase for the serial killer being the weakest link. I felt like the book was very uneven and sets us up in the early parts for something only to go somewhere else. I thought there was too many unnecessary details into the main two characters' (Pete, Stella) lives, with rather pedestrian and forgettable minor characters who didn't add much to the book. I like how the author establishes the setting of 1960s London very good though, and her writing is great. I just thought the book's focus and pacing were off, and it made certain portions a big of a slog to get through.


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