Saturday, 21 March 2020
PETER RITCHIE - MAXINE'S STORY (2019)
Maxine Welsh works the streets of Leith, her world collapsing beneath the weight of addiction and mounting debt. A meeting with her only friend leads to a series of incidents that open up new possibilities until her life is threatened and events spin out of control.
Police, gangsters and friends old and new all play their part in another story of crime and its consequences set in the world of the bestselling Detective Grace Macallan series.
First published as a novella in 2015, this revised and extended edition follows Maxine’s journey beyond the streets of Edinburgh in a gritty, poignant tale of hope and redemption.
A cracking tale from Peter Ritchie which exposes the seedy underbelly of life walking the streets and selling your body to feed a drug addiction - trapped in a relentless cycle of misery, isolation and a loss of self worth. When Maxine Welsh hits rock bottom - in debt and at the mercy of a vicious low level pimp there's two ways the story can go - death or the only other way - up!
In a nutshell......friendship, luck and kindness, as well as a sabbatical south away from the stresses and temptations of Edinburgh see Maxine begin to rebuild her life. Homesick and returning to Edinburgh, her life gets back on track, but not without a few twists and turns along the way. Hmm... more than a few actually.
It's hard to do the book justice. It's portrayal of life on the margins with limited choices and very little hope for the future is tough reading at times. The friendship with another street girl Connie and an older pub owner, Logan provide some relief and a sustenance and brighten the gloom. The evolving relationships between the three are an important aspect of the book. There's a generosity of spirit about them that, instead of diminishing through years of suffering hard knocks, flourishes and is keenly illustrated through the adoption of another waif and stray from Glasgow - the hapless Bobo.
I enjoyed the setting, the dark side of Edinburgh and Leith - the streets, the pubs, the cafes and the spots the tourists don't get to see. I liked reading about the rogues and chancers and low lives that rumble through the book with their plots and schemes for money, drugs, influence and more importantly respect in a like-minded community of villains.
Family histories, schisms and back stories, bereavement, loss, love, support, humanity, recovery, decency run parallel with contrasting elements - anger, violence, revenge, and more than the odd character with psychopathic tendencies.
Excellent pacing, aided by an emotional investment in the characters which has you turning the pages. Decent length - just over 300 pages and a satisfying outcome.
5 from 5
This was my third time with Peter Ritchie's books and definitely not my last.
Our Little Secrets and Where No Shadows Fall have been enjoyed before.
Read - February, 2020
Published - 2019 (a shorter version appeared in 2015)
Page count - 316
Source - review copy received from Claire - publicist at Pascha PR
Format - paperback