Riccarton Junction: 1 by W Scott Beaven

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Riccarton Junction: 1 by W Scott Beaven

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A coming of age crime tale incorporating all the temptations and troubles facing young people. It's quirkily told in a way totally befitting its teenage narrator and well worth a look. (Aimed at adults but could be suitable for 15yrs+). W Scott Beaven popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 342 Date: December 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1493571420

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Kikarin (Kiri to her friends), moves with her family from cosmopolitan London to the wilds of the Scottish borders where not all accept her Japanese/English mixed heritage. Her father works in forestry for the local laird and her mother lives for the day when Kiri's brother, Keith, is released from the Young Offenders' Institute. However, bringing Keith home again doesn't mean the end of their problems or indeed his.

This is Scottish writer W Scott Beaven's debut and a remarkable book in two respects. Firstly because the narrative style has an agreeable quirk to it and, secondly, because Scott left school in Glasgow's notorious Easterhouse area with two 'O' levels; neither of which were English. Put the two things together and we have a novelist who is also somewhat inspirational.

Let's take a look at the quirkiness. Throughout the novel, we're listening to the teenage Kiri, enveloped (almost a la Salinger) in the chaotic, butterfly mind that can often exemplify the age group. Kiri takes everything in although not always interpreting the way that older people would and therefore also prioritising differently. In this way, we witness the problems with the UK youth offenders' system, peer pressure, drugs, sexual exploitation by young people thought of as friends, racism, violence and many other things at a sometimes astonishing speed.

If Kiri were a tour guide, we'd have done the whole of Europe in a day, but here it's ok; this feels like an authentic, refreshing teen psyche, making it a good crossover/first adult read for those of 15-years-and-older.

There are reviews around that view Scott's speed of coverage and breadth of subjects as a negative. It may be a bad trait for any writer who adopts it as a one-size-fits-all style throughout their novels but the jury's still out on that one as this is the first of his works I've read so far. I'm betting he won't.

Gradually, through Kiri, we meet and learn more about her family. Her Japanese mother is more family centred than practical while her father walks a thin line between being there for his family and being at the beck and call of the Laird. As for Keith, he doesn’t sound as if he had a great time 'inside' and fears for what may happen next.

This leads us to another clever element of the story, one that isn't age-specific: the discernment of truth. We don't know if everything is exactly as Kiri and Keith say it is. It may be true, it may be an exaggeration or it may be a downright fib and this uncertainty leads to some wonderful teasers.

There are just a couple of lines that gave me pause for thought. For instance, a teacher telling Kiri that her 'A' level exams are her final exams for life may be a good scare tactic to focus on the exams' importance, but these days no one is guaranteed clear of exams at 18. However, any whinges are minor and totally expunged by the compelling nature of Kiri's personality and voice. This is indeed a slow-burning thriller as advertised and, while we wait for the thriller element to kick in, there's much to keep us occupied. So much, in fact, Scott's sequel Train that Carried the Girl has definitely made it onto my reading list.

We'd like to thank the publisher for providing us with a copy for review. We also have a review of book 2.

Further Reading: If you enjoyed this, we recommend The Heritage by Will Ashon. Don't let the 'Teens' tag put you off – a great read is a great read. You might also enjoy Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello and Alex Valente (translator).

You can read more about Scott Beaven here.

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Buy Riccarton Junction: 1 by W Scott Beaven at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Riccarton Junction: 1 by W Scott Beaven at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Riccarton Junction: 1 by W Scott Beaven at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Riccarton Junction: 1 by W Scott Beaven at Amazon.com.

Bookinterviews.jpg W Scott Beaven was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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