Like many writers, I’ve always been an avid reader, but becoming a writer was something that I didn’t rush into. It wasn’t until I went to university in my early thirties that I discovered that I really enjoyed writing. A good story, well told, however – has power – and with that comes responsibility.
When I moved to a small village on the outskirts of Ipswich in late 2006, I found the story I wanted to tell. Ipswich was a peaceful place, and I loved walking with my Dobermann puppy in the woods and fields that were on my doorstep. Then came December 2006, and events in the run-up to Christmas changed everything. Young women began to disappear from the red-light district, never to be seen alive again.
I was a teenager when the Yorkshire Ripper was active (between 1975–1980) and I knew that many of the women killed were working as prostitutes. Then he killed a student and, as I recall it, there was a change in the reporting and the public attitude. Now that he was killing so-called ‘innocent’ women, he had to be stopped. Thirty years later attitudes had changed, and the young women murdered in Ipswich were seen as victims, not only of their murderer but in a much greater sense. Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls were young, vulnerable, and desperate to make money to support a drug habit. There was huge sympathy in the town for the girls themselves and for their families. And rightly so. Even the language has changed – there are sex-workers and a sex industry, but to an extent, the word ‘prostitute’ has disappeared from the vocabulary in this area.
One sunny winter morning I was walking the dog in a very well used area called Long Strops when a man told me off for being out on my own. As I walked down past Millennium football fields, I saw fluorescent-clad police officers undertaking a linear search of the field on the other side of the hedge and decided, as the cold caught my bones, that the man may have had a point. But then the killer was caught, and the town began to heal.
Three years later, a Channel 4 documentary Killer in a Small Town, told the story of the women from the point of view of friends and family. It was very thought-provoking and suddenly I had the seed of an idea. It was a seed which grew very slowly as I learnt to write and found out about the process of taking on a project as big as a novel. The title Tangent was with me from the start. It was the idea of being on the edge of society, sometimes interacting with it, but never really feeling accepted by it.
In late 2017 I had only written around 17,000 words, ten thousand of those added since my marriage broke down in 2013. After the confidence boost given to me by the tutors Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper on an Arvon Crime Fiction and Forensics course and the feedback from other students, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote to the end. Months of editing followed until Tangent became the honest, raw thriller I hope you’ll enjoy. A story that I believe does justice to the memories of all the girls murdered over the years.
A quick but emotional read - reading about the cruelty to the dog was heartbreaking but this was a lovely tale of the love and healing that animals can bring to our lives.
I would have given five stars but for the missed typos - a few t...
I get the impression that this could be a nice story but I've had to give up after forcing myself to go as far as 15% of the way through. If this novel has ever been near a remotely professional editor then the author was conned.
Another very enjoyable story but with a few niggles, hence the four stars rather than five. Maybe it's because I was tired but the editing issues grated on me more than in the first story and, do people really generally believe that 'ear...
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