Cathi Unsworth (author); BAD PENNY BLUES; Serpent's Tail (Mystery) $14.95 ISBN: 9781846686788
Byline: Leia Menlove
One half of Cathi Unsworth's latest novel, Bad Penny Blues, chronicles the ascent to success for young artists Stella and husband Toby. The other half of the story, alternating chapter by chapter with Stella's voice, is the experience of Constable Pete Bradley. Bradley's discovery of a murdered prostitute (the first of many to come) will color his career and draw him to the attention of powerful, often dangerous, people. As the years pass, Bradley becomes deeply enmeshed in investigating a world of police brutality, corruption, and violence.
Stella and Bradley's stories mature with a third character: London during the tumultuous sixties. This incendiary time of social and political unrest, fraught with scandals, riots, and crime, makes for an increasingly treacherous setting. And although at first, Bradley and Stella's stories are independent but for the presence of London in all its seedy glory, one major thread ties them together: Each time a prostitute is slain, Stella dreams she is that woman in her final moments. It is at such times that this period crime novel takes a turn for supernatural thriller.
As the plot develops, a number of Unsworth's seemingly peripheral characters begin to appear in both storylines. Bradley and the artists are drawn into a web of similar people, of mystery, and of something very...