BOOK REVIEW: Hard Change by Dawn Reeves
Shared Press 2013
A Council that’s hell-bent on attracting inward investment, regardless of the long-term consequences for the city. Politicians at loggerheads with each other, but with an Almighty (?) Leader. Officers of different calibres, some climbing the greasy pole while others struggle to Do the Right Thing. Scrutiny Committees that sometimes bite, and sometimes well, bite. This novel is not set in Manchester, and has alcohol abuse as its theme rather than climate change (there is one funny/knowing reference to carbon dioxide reductions). It is, however, well-worth the time of any climate/environment activist who wants to get a handle on municipal politics.
The novel follows three well-meaning people – a policewoman, a senior council officer and a public health officer – as they untangle a web of crimes and corruption. They are all-too-human, with different strengths and weaknesses, and different abilities to play the games that need playing to get anything done. The author is particularly good on how the micro-politics of alliance-building, and how a focus on facts and “shoulds” can lead to the opposite outcomes to those that, ahem, “should” be happening.
But forget the “worthy” reasons you should read it; it’s ALSO a perfectly good read! The characters are well-drawn, their thoughts and actions believable, the descriptions of the quiet menace of a drunken town on a Saturday night unsettlingly familiar. The chapters (dated and timed and usually following – one of the three main characters) are short and pointed. There’s thrills enough (believe it or not – the whole idea of a “Town Hall thriller” seems odd, I know); the “political” climax is rousing and thought-provoking, the “woman in jeopardy” climax also extremely well done. Dawn Reeves is definitely an author to watch.