This gripping story opens on a drizzly winter afternoon in the suburbs. WPC Jane Velalley heads wearily back to the police station along the busy M27. Another few short hours will see her safe home with her husband and three-year-old adopted daughter Suzie. In a sickening instant, however, all Velalley’s training and instinct as a police officer is challenged as the road, slick with rain and obscured by fog, suddenly becomes a tangle of wrecked vehicles and a gruesome discovery is made.
Half a day later, across town, and a young girl hurries a small child, stumbling and crying, across a large stretch of wasteland towards a grim-looking block of flats.
A little girl has disappeared. As a child protection officer, Velalley comes into her own as the hunt for the missing child escalates, but while she comforts the distraught mother her own personal life is under a new threat. Attempting to hold her own in a demanding, male-dominated environment Velalley has to be tough, but just how much can she take before the cracks start to show.
With just enough description, explicit as well as implicit, but no excess literary flab, the stage is set and the protagonists are adroitly realised, their individual personalities expertly drawn with the attention to detail that is the accomplished author’s stock-in-trade.
Written with enormous sensitivity but never flinching from challenging issues, the plot weaves its way deftly through this societal minefield. Author Felicity Fair Thompson doesn’t pull her punches; as a reader you run the emotional gamut of the unfolding drama along with its characters. Like a behind-the-sofa, cushion-clutching Dr Who episode when you’re terrified to watch but unable to look away, Hold Tight is compelling reading.
I was completely caught up in the story – willing them to find the little mite; thoroughly invested and emotionally captured – I was hooked from page one.
ingénu/e magazine – south downs and high weald : issue 20
After seeing a Covent Garden production of Sleeping Beauty by chance on TV one Christmas, 13 year old Elaine Higham has a revelation. Suddenly she knows that classical ballet is her future. Absolutely nothing less would do. Starting so late in life Elaine would have to work harder than any of her peers and fight tooth and claw to realise her ambition. Exacting and unforgiving, her new career path would test her to the very limits.
After four intense years at dance school, she wins a coveted place at a top dance academy – hungry and calculating she channels her fierce desire in order to succeed. Modelling herself on the academy’s star pupil – a girl with innate grace, beauty and style – becomes an obsession. An obsession that takes her beyond the bounds of propriety. And as the passionate dancer in her emerges, so awakens the young woman, and suddenly there is so much more at stake.
Written from Elaine’s view-point, Cutting In whisks you away to another world. A world of pointe shoes, of stinging tendons, of pushing nerves, sinews, muscles, bones to the extremes of endurance. But most of all to the world of an unselfconfident yet ferociously driven teenager, single minded about her objective and ruthless in her pursuit of it.
If you’re expecting frilly pink tutus you’ll be disappointed. This is a gutsy book. With her customary skills of observation and perception Felicity Fair Thompson achieves something in this novel that other writers might baulk at – to get inside the head of a complex teenager on the cusp of womanhood, to see the world through her eyes. Peopled with recognisable characters and set in the familiar landscapr of London and Sussex, it is yet the interior world of the novel’s protagonist, achingly vulnerable and scheming by turns and shot through with irresistible darkness, which intrigues.
Well paced and holding the tension like a perfect arabesque, Cutting In will have you guessing right up until the last page.