Child’s Play

By Alison Taylor.


£15.99 (hardback)

ISBN: 0 434 00481 2

Murder most foul, an exclusive girl’s school and a wounded
detective. Alison Taylor’s fifth novel has all the ingredients that
are expected of the former North Wales whistleblower, well versed
in the sometimes corrosive intensity of residential care.

The novel is set in a seedy but expensive boarding school, where
nouveau riche parents are paying for the warped aspirations of s

In the pressure cooker environment of the sixth form, one of the
girls is murdered and it becomes the task of local detective
Michael McKenna to find the killer. But McKenna has problems of his
own and, in the best Morse traditions, tries to break the codes of
a closed and vindictive community.

As he peels back the layers, McKenna discovers a total community
where petty rivalries, rituals and the ethos of a powerful and
predatory headmistress warps the lives of her impressionable

Alison Taylor frequently reveals her roots – particularly in the
relationships between the girls, where feelings simmer, rivalries
and friendships assume a disproportionate intensity and adults can
make or break young lives by kind or thoughtless gestures. The
action is sometimes a little slow and the hapless Welsh police
always at least two size eight steps behind the grizzly events in
the school. Some of the characters are rather wooden and the
potentially interesting character of DC McKenna is not developed
enough for my tastes. However, Child’s Play helps us
understand why total institutions can increase the very behaviour
they seek to eradicate.

Chris Hanvey is director, John Ellerman

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