Book Reviews

Joolz Denby - 'Stone Baby' published by Harper-Collins
(originally written for Scene magazine)

Joolz is best known for her poems, short stories and live shows as well as her work with New Model Army, which ranges from backing vocals to award winning album cover artwork.

Although this is her first novel, those of you who have read Joolz' work before or seen her live will recognise the Bradford landscape, both its places and people, that are woven into much of her work.

Unusually for a work of crime fiction, we know who the perpetrator of the crime is in the first few pages. The main characters are Jamie Gee, an alternative female stand-up comic, Lily Carson her friend, confidante, manager and Mojo their flatmate.

Sean Powers appears as Jamie's latest in a long line of 'bastard' boyfriends who, slowly but surely, tears apart the close bond between the three flatmates and their friends. We see the conflict between self-preservation and loyalty to friends as his evilness spreads and the true horror of what he is and has done is slowly revealed.

The use of the vernacular throughout the book and the keenly observed nuances of behaviour in the characters, gives the feeling that you are remembering the scenes rather than reading them for the first time. As with much of Joolz's work the actual story is short, dark and straight to the point.

What makes this book such compulsive reading, is the way in which the characters are built up. You find yourself inextricably drawn into their lives and even though it is a cliché'd term the 'characters come alive'.

Joolz' has successfully translated her skills of a short story teller to the novel and a wonderful job she has made of it too. She will be reading extracts at some of her appearances at this year's Glastonbury Festival. Further Info www.joolz.net

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