Friday, 2 September 2016

No More Birthdays by Lissa Pelzer
Series: Carol Ann Baker Crime #1
Release Date: August 2015
Genres:  Crime

Runaway teenager, Lilly Lessard has some secrets. For a start, that’s not her real name and she wants to keep quiet about her real age too. Bumping into ex-hitman Bobby at a small town film festival isn’t the coincidence it seems either. She’s tracked him here. He owes her money and she’s desperate enough to come looking for it.
And she’s not the only one who has followed him here. Detective Davis is after him too. She’s been after him in Miami for years, but never quite managed to get a hold on him. Maybe this weekend she’ll get lucky.
But the closer Lilly gets to Bobby and his money, the closer Davis gets to them both. One by one, their secrets are coming out. And Lilly’s about to find out, the worst secrets are the ones you keep from yourself.

 ‘There’s no money,’ Cassandra said dryly. ‘Don’t be a dumbass. Don’t get in that car. It’s not safe.’
Lilly watched the end of the girl’s cigarette burn as she took a hit. Cassandra had always liked the fact that Bobby was a dangerous man. But she hadn’t seen him that night when he got back in the room after killing The Judge. His face had blanched and his false teeth had hung half out of his mouth. Killing The Judge hadn’t been easy for Bobby, not like when he drove past that phone box down in Florida and shot three times into some guy’s back. Bobby had lost his appetite for murder. He wouldn’t try to kill her, not unless it was absolutely necessary.
‘I have to take the risk,’ Lilly said. ‘I’ve got nothing. I’ve got to try. And if Bobby doesn’t give me the money, I’m as good as dead anyway.’

No More Birthdays is a gritty crime novel around child prostitution. The main character Lilly, real name Carol Ann has been exploited for most of her young life. Street wise and savvy she still  possesses some of the childlike innocence she was robbed off. Ex hitman Bobby who was effectively her pimp owes her money and Lilly is determined to get what she's owed. Thrown aside because she is considered too old at age 17, Lilly is not deterred by Bobby's reputation or his past. Instead, she wants back into the only world she has ever known and is hurt that Bobby doesn't want her any more. And, in the background is Detective Davis, a hard nosed female cop who is determined to get as much evidence on Bobby as she can and hopes to get that evidence through Lilly. Davis knows that Lilly and Bobby were involved in a very serious crime and Davis needs evidence from Lilly. However Lilly has a few secrets of her own that she hasn't revealed to Davis.

An enjoyable novel from Lissa Pelzer that at times made for difficult reading. Being a social worker I am fully aware of some of the issues in the novel and knew Lissa Pelzer had done her research around these issues. Set in the seedy world of prostitution at times I found the book difficult to read. Despite being essentially very streetwise, Lilly has a childish stubborn streak about her with a skewed perception of what is normal. The book has many characters willing to take advantage of her. While I enjoyed the story and the writing, I found it difficult to keep up with some of the characters and to stay fully engaged in the story and felt that at times it lacked consistent flow. That said however, its an interesting story and I'd be keen to find out how things pan out for Lilly in the next book in the series. 

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Lissa Pelzer is a British crime writer living in Germany.
Her previous published work includes romance fiction under a pseudonym. No More Birthdays is her first work under her own name.

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