Monday 12 July 2021

Running Out of Road by Cath Staincliffe BLOG TOUR @CathStaincliffe @Tr4cyF3nt0n @LittleBrownUK #RunningOutOfRoad #BookReview

A missing schoolgirl, a middle-aged recluse, an exploited teenager. Lives thrown into chaos and set on collision course. With the police in hot pursuit.

Scarlett is dancing in the school talent show tomorrow. Nana, who Scarlett lives with since Mum died, reckons Scarlett will be on Strictly at this rate. Except Scarlett doesn't make it home from school. She's abducted by a man she never imagined she'd see again. A man on the police's most wanted list. Her dad.

Ron has made a living as a house and pet sitter since quitting his career on the front line in the fire service. He's currently looking after a place deep in the Derbyshire Peaks. The solitude suits him. And managing animals is so much simpler than coping with other people.

Dylan's a 'cuckoo', dealing drugs on the county line, moving from nest to nest, picking out people who daren't say no. Keeping his head down, one step ahead of the law. So far. But now everything's falling apart.

DS Laura O'Neil is running on empty after nights dealing with her teething toddler. But Laura is driving the hunt for Scarlett and knows that every minute counts.

A race against time, played out in the brooding wilderness, the limestone gorges and gritstone edges of the Peak District. Themes of escape and entrapment, of shifting loyalties and new alliances, of violence, fear and love, resilience, kindness and hope.

Running Out of Road by Cath Staincliffe is published in hardback on 15 July 2021 by Constable. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour, organised by Tracy from Compulsive Readers. 

I make absolutely no apologies for the fact that I am a die-hard, there from the beginning, mega fan of Cath Staincliffe's writing. Her novels deal with the darker side of life, she takes ordinary people who live their lives on the edge, and creates wonderfully structured stories that have such heart, and impact. 

Running Out Of Road is not a long novel, at less than 300 pages, but it's one that is affecting, leaving a feeling that you've been punched in the gut, both emotionally and physically. 

The blurb tells us that this story features four main characters; Scarlett, Ron, Dylan and Laura. However, there is one other character who is not mentioned on the cover, and that's Ahmed, a young police officer who pulls the whole story together, and for me, he is our hero.

Set in the Derbyshire Peak District over one afternoon during violent thunderstorms, the sense of place is incredible. The driving rain, the howling wind and the flooded roadways only add to the tension of the plot, giving a depth that works just beautifully. 

Scarlett is an eleven-year-old girl of mixed heritage. She loves dance, is socially aware, a vegan and  she lives with her Nana. She's excited about a dance routine that she will be performing with her best friend and that's all she is thinking about as she walks home from school. A car pulls up just in front of her, and as Scarlett recognises the man who demands she get into the vehicle, her nightmare begins. 

Ron, a middle-aged, ex firefighter is house sitting. With only a dog and a couple of horses for company, he's happy. He's often distressed by flash backs to his past, but is doing his best to move on. The storm and flooded roads means he needs to take a different route to get the dog to a vet appointment, and as he struggles with the steering and veers off the road .... his nightmare begins. 

Dylan, a teenager from a very dysfunctional background spends his time moving from location to location, dealing drugs for the big players on the county lines. Dreaming of the day when he will have enough money to become of the top dogs himself. When he arrives back at the dirty, run-down house that he's currently staying at, hungry and ready for a pizza, he discovers Petey ... and his nightmare begins. 

DS Laura O Neill remembers the name of Gregory Martin. She remembers what he did. When she is told that young Scarlett is missing she is terrified, and determined to find her. Gregory Martin is her father, and he's a violent, dangerous man. 

Ahmed is a young police officer. All he wants to do is to protect the public, uphold the law and make his family proud. He does everything by the book, ticking every box, ensuring that every single lead is followed up. He's going to get mixed up in something that will leave a lasting scar, literally.

The characters become entwined as the hunt for Scarlett intensifies, as the rain pours down and creates even more problems for those involved, the tension mounts.

Staincliffe is an incredible talent. Her writing moves with such a pace, unexpected twists to catch the reader out, and wonderfully created characters who leap from the pages. The reader lives and breathes alongside them. 

Powerful, gripping and ultimately satisfying. This is going to be up there in my top books of the year, without a doubt. 

Cath Staincliffe is a best-selling, award-winning novelist, radio playwright and the creator of ITV's
hit series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. 
Cath's books have been short-listed for the British Crime Writers Association best first novel award, for the Dagger in the Library twice and twice for the Short Story Dagger, winning in 2012. 
She was a winner of the WGGB Best Radio Drama Award in 2019. 
Cath's Sal Kilkenny private eye series features a single-parent sleuth working the mean streets of Manchester. 
Her debut Looking For Trouble was serialised on Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. 
Trio, a stand-alone novel moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s, informed by Cath's own experience. 
Letters To My Daughter's Killer was selected for Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club in 2014 and featured on ITV3's Crime Thriller Club. 
Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey novels based on the popular UK TV series. 
Cath created the probate detective series Legacy for BBC Radio 4 and guest writes on the Stone police drama. 
Her recent stand-alone novels examine the impact of crime on ordinary families. 
The Girl in the Green Dress was inspired by her experience as the parent of a transgender child. Cath's book, Quiet Acts of Violence, sees detective duo DI Donna Bell and DC Jade Bradshaw investigating the death of a newborn baby and launching a hunt for her missing mother. 
Cath is one of the founding members of Murder Squad - a group of Northern crime writers who give readings, talks and signings around the country. 

Cath was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, UK and now lives in Manchester, Lancashire with her family. You can follow her on Twitter, @CathStaincliffe, where she hangs about when she should be busy writing!

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