Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Review: Ardent Justice by Peter Taylor-Gooby*

Could you hate someone enough to kill them? And what if they deserve it? 

Ade is a tax inspector. She believes the money she raises pays for a decent NHS and adequate public services. She hates the City of London, the endless corruption, the bland assumption that tax is for the little people. She hates the casual sexism. the smug self-assurance, the inviolability of the men she deals with, and the odd certainty that nothing you can do will ever touch them.

She meets Paul, an Occupy activist who works with homeless people. As their love for each other grows, they find real fulfilment in fighting for the rights of ordinary people, such as Gemma, a homeless single parent. Then she has a chance to do something of permanent value, but at great cost to her own integrity. 

I stepped out of my comfort zone with this book. I've been doing that a lot lately, haven't I?! Ardent Justice isn't a book I'd usually pick for myself, but when the author, Peter Taylor-Gooby, contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing his book I thought; what the hell! And guess what? I actually really enjoyed it! 

As Polly Toynbee says on the front cover of Ardent Justice, it's really 'good to find a novel with a strong social message about the way we live now.' This is a novel with a strong moral compass, and an important message for it's readers. And, as such, it doesn't always make for easy reading; there are some pretty serious issues raised in the book. Not just, as you might expect from the blurb, tax avoidance, corruption and sexism. But also rape, self-harm and abusive relationships. This book covers a lot of serious issues in not that many pages; and it does it well, handling all the issues with care. 

If I'm being honest, I did think the story moved too fast. It's action packed, right from the opening chapter, and moves swiftly on. There's never a dull chapter, and it's quite easy to lose yourself in the story for hours at a time. But the character progression of Ade felt forced; forced to fit in with the speed of the story. I often found her to be a totally unrealistic character, which is a shame because I really wanted to connect with her. I feel as though, Ardent Justice may have worked better as a series; two or three books, instead of one. This would have given the characters time to grow, naturally, and might have given a more natural feeling to the story. But it's a minor detail, really, and it didn't take away from what is an exciting, current, feminist read. 

Rating: ***

*Products in this post may have been sent to me in exchange for a review. All opinions and views are my own.

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