Gritty realism and a strong sense of place
Under Violent Skies is a police procedural set in ‘Escape to the Country’ territory, but there’s nothing twee or cosy about life in the country here! Instead, it portrays a harsher reality of inequality and abuse, including racism, sexism, migrant workers and human trafficking – along with the other dirty crimes that take place.
To its credit, these themes are well threaded into the story, in a very realistic way, rather than tacked on to make a political point. There’s no proselytising or grandstanding, no heroes or supreme villains. There are just some people who are shown to be cynically using other people for their own benefit, or turning a blind eye to it, and others showing common decency.
In many ways it’s a fairly standard crime novel but the handling of these themes lifts it – I’ve found that it’s still on my mind a couple of weeks after reading it, unlike similar books that tend to go in one eye and out the other. It’s also well written and constructed.
I give this three stars rather than four because I didn’t love it. While the themes are strong, the characters are less so, and the pace is rather sedate, mostly. I recommend this for anyone looking for a novel with gritty realism and a strong sense of place.
My thanks to Netgalley, Joffe Books and the author for giving me a free copy of this book. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
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