About the book
Hard Change centres around the gripping ramifications of a murder, and examines how individual and collective action can make a difference, but it isn’t a traditional political thriller or a conventional crime novel, because the suits are both villains and heroes. It’s about strategy rather than procedure, it’s set in a local council, with health, police and alcohol in the mix.
Hard change taster – the prologue
Hard change – the alcohol fuelled chaos of Saturday night,
Mr Sizzle and a clue to the girl in the bin
Hard change – the tension ratchets up for Anne-Marie,
could the day job in the Council get any worse?
Read the prologue
Saturday 13th November 2010 10pm.
He carries the girl as if he’s a fire-fighter; one arm under her knees the other under her armpits. Her head is slumped against his chest; her neck and face are hidden by thick straightened hair. The narrow Fold he emerges from is no more than an unlit alleyway. There’s about thirty metres before he’ll hit one of the roads that leads off the High Street where there’ll be lights and people milling around the edges of the ritual chaos of Saturday night.
There’s a brief clatter as a mobile falls out of the girls thin jacket pocket onto the road. A navy sequinned ballet pump dangles from one foot, the other is bare. The skin on the front of her foot shines in the white of the streetlight. As he turns out of St Mary’s Fold and into Silver Street, he sees three lads coming towards him. They are loudly drunk, but maybe they’ll offer to help? He slows, catches one of them sniggering at him, but is unsurprised that they say nothing and wander off for a piss. Almost there now. He bends slowly, back and knees engaged to put her down on the ground. Her head rolls back onto the paving slab with a gentle thud.
He stands up, looks about, then takes a few steps back as if he might leave her there, but this time he lifts her over his shoulder like a dad giving a kid a sack-of-potatoes ride. There’s a skinny arse and two translucent stick legs on show. Now he moves quickly away from the lamppost and towards a big green tub bin. His free arm lifts the lid and it takes only a forward shrug of his shoulder and she falls in. She’s on a bed of broken glass and cans. Blood and ketchup seep out from the polystyrene takeaway box that is her pillow.
“Night, night,” he says.
The smell of the bin, like a cheap burger frying on a misty damp night, makes him feel hungry. In the distance he sees a refuse truck, but is not sure whether it’s coming towards him or not. He walks off in the direction of the High Street and Mr Sizzle.
“I loved the book, the Director of Public Health character is brilliant. The way the politics of alcohol are twisted into the story is particularly clever.”
“Great read. Thought provoking, both funny and serious”
Prof Judith Burnett, London
“Draws you in, and tells it like it is”
Duncan Sharkey, Worcester City Council
“It was a great read and painted such a recognisable (and human) picture of public service life as it has become.”