Part three of a London-based thriller series, Pleasures by Helen J Christmas takes up immediately where books one and two left off. The ‘Same Place Different Place’ series ticks all the thriller boxes. Chases, disguises, London gangsters, phone tapping, dodgy politicians and policemen, threats, kidnapping, lovable victims and baddies to hate.
Book two ends in 1987, Pleasures picks up the story in the same year. Do not read Pleasures without having read books two and three first as you will miss so many references. In a nutshell, in Beginnings Eleanor Chapman is on the run with her son Eli after Eli’s father was murdered after witnessing the killing of a politician. In Visions, Eleanor and Eli have settled in the quiet village of Aldwyk, hopeful of remaining under the radar from the gang who see her as a dangerous witness. But a bitter property deal brings an old enemy to the village.
The handling of the backstory in Pleasures is at times repetitive, exacerbated perhaps by the fact that this book starts immediately after the previous story finished. The old enemy is back in another controversial property deal in the town where Eleanor now lives. The heavies are brought in to threaten Eleanor Bailey, now married to Charlie, and their family. There is a 12 year gap between books one and two, adding fresh air to the plot and enabling the cast of children to grow into early teens. Only months pass before the ending of book two and start of book three. The children are embarking on girlfriend/boyfriend angst, all of which Christmas blends naturally into the story. The Eighties setting is done particularly well, not just random details but made relevant to the plot. There is also the return of an old adversary who adds spice to the mix as he goes straight; but has he really become a responsible businessman, or is it just a front. Eleanor, understandably, is haunted by past threats and is over-protective of son Eli.
At 556 pages this is a long book, very long for a thriller. The first, Beginnings, 314 pages. The second, Visions, 486 pages. There is a fair amount of summarising what has happened and repeating of the threats faced. The story really starts moving as the midway point is neared and the second half is a page-turner as threat after threat, hinted at for so long, begins to happen and Eleanor’s carefully constructed world begins to unravel.
The teenagers are growing up, there’s lots of adolescent angst, snogging and groping. Avalon and William are my favourite characters and I enjoyed the late Eighties references. I wished for a new threat, or a twist on the old one, and admit to expecting a significant death. But perhaps that will come in book four.
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