Respect by Mandasue Heller


My Rating 4/5

 Synopsis: Chantelle has everything going against her. She’s a good student who only wants to pass her exams and find a way out of the sink estate in Manchester where she grew up. But now her feckless mother has taken off for Spain with her latest boyfriend and she’s single-handedly raising her tearaway nine-year-old brother Leon. She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone a knife – and some drugs to hide in her flat. A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle’s prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her -with a vengeance. And the only person who’s offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she’s trying to escape from . . .

My Review: As always I was chomping at the bit to get the new Mandasue Heller book and was very pleased when my prayers were answered, and a preview copy landed on my doorstep. I had read the synopsis and was looking forward to getting stuck into another gritty crime book and I wasn’t disappointed! Chantelle and her brother Leon live with their sad excuse for a mother on one of the estates in Manchester. It took me only a matter of pages to adore the studious and sensible young girl, and lead character Chantelle. Her brother Leon is on the edge in terms of friends and the sort of people he hangs around with and trouble is lurking from the early pages.

One thing that struck me as different is that this book doesn’t go from standard crime to real dirty, gritty, crime (if you know what I mean). I got the real sense of a story that maybe isn’t that far from some people’s real life situations. Here are two young kids, being raised by a woman that isn’t fit to be a mother; and trying their best to make it work. When Chantelle’s mum does a bunk with her latest bloke, Chantelle has no other choice than to lie about her age and find part time work. At this point in the book we see the threat of danger slowly creep up.

Chantelle soon realises that things with Leon are getting out of hand and isn’t sure what to do. In addition to that she has no idea that she herself will bring danger to their door. Chantelle and Leon take centre stage in this latest book along with a few additional characters such as one of Chantelle’s acquaintances Anton. Although this didn’t have the same feel as some of MH’s other books there was something a little bit refreshing about it. I know, I know, I’m not the best at explaining but that’s the best I can say right now. Her favourite title of mine was Lost Angel and I’m afraid it still takes the title but this was still a first class read and one that I loved from start to finish. As always I was sad to finish this book and am even sadder I have to wait a whole year for another of her instalments.

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