I have no shame. I will, in this blog, promote my new book, GUILT TRIP, published by Scholastic today, 5th Jan.
It is another crime thriller from me which fits into what someone once called my oeuvre. It’s set in Dagenham and part of it is a kind of ‘road movie’ or homage to the great A13 which I drive up and down at least once a week. Four teenagers drive around in a car. They drive for the sake of driving, the car being a place for them to be, not just a vehicle. They are two couples who are bored and fed up with each other and one night they happen on a boy who is trying to hang himself from a tree. They save his life and it brings them a sense of self worth and gives their lives a sudden value.
For me, the A13 has a kind of urban beauty. From the Beckton roundabout it soars out of East London past the Ford factory at Dagenham and then it glides above the Rainham Marshes towards the giant struts of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge which spans the Thames at Purfleet. It passes lines of tower blocks and used car lots and then the ground beneath it is flat and green punctuated by vestiges of old industry that has long gone. In the middle of the landscape sits a spindly wind turbine that is marooned. It never seems to move and looks out of place, as if it should be in the sea off Norfolk not stuck among the dying plant of the Ford factory.
My characters, Ali, Stephen and Jackson drive up and down the A13. The scenery they pass is a backdrop to their lives. It is in this area, in a nearby park, that they save the life of another boy, Daniel Feeny. Then one night, five weeks later, on one of the derelict car lots under the A13, they kill him and try to hide his body.
That’s when the guilt starts.