The Riot by Laura Wilson

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The Riot by Laura Wilson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The fifth book in the DI Stratton series is a well-researchd look at Notting Hill in the late fifties, but I'd have liked a pacier plot.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1782063087

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DI Stratton has moved to a new posting and Notting Hill is fresh territory to him, but he’s going to have to get to know it fast when a rent collector is stabbed. There’s a sense of loss from the people who knew the man - he was inclined to help if he could and with landlords wanting to oust rent-controlled tenants so that they could put ‘coloured’ people or prostitutes in their place (higher rents, you see) any help was welcome. Added to this there are increasing numbers of street fights involving teddy boys. It’s 1958 - and there’s a heatwave.

I felt myself to be at a disadvantage with this book. It’s the fifth book in the DI Stratton series - but my first. I didn’t know anything about Stratton himself, but I was rather hoping that his new posting would even the score a little and perhaps it did. I was impressed very quickly by the way that the racial tension of the late fifties came off the page - there were occasions when you could sense it almost as a character in its own right. It’s easy to sympathise with just about everyone involved - the ‘coloureds’ who can’t get accommodation, the long-term residents who feel under threat both in and out of their homes - and the police who are simply trying to do a good job.

The characters rang true, too: the girl who had run away from home and who was on the verge of prostitution, the women who had stepped over the line and the men who were trying to make a living, by any means. Even the slum landlord wasn’t ‘’that’’ bad and you could certainly sympathise with ‘’his’’ history. The plot was good - and unfortunately completely believable - but I would have liked it to be a bit ‘’pacier’’. There were several occasions when I found myself wanting the characters to just get on with it - whatever ‘it’ was.

There was plenty to think about - not least that public agitation over immigration is hardly new. And there was something to be grateful for - the plot moved along in a permanent fug of cigarette smoke. At least that’s not with us to the same extent! I’d like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

For more of Notting Hill in the fifties, you might like to try The Wonder by Diana Evans. Although it's set some twelve years earlier, you might also enjoy A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby.

Buy The Riot by Laura Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Riot by Laura Wilson at

Buy The Riot by Laura Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Riot by Laura Wilson at


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