Friday, February 2, 2018

Book Review: 'Good Girl Bad Girl' by Ann Girdharry

British author Ann Girdharry, now living in France, is a psychotherapist who has worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years for agencies working with careers, vulnerable older people and those with dementia, survivors of abuse and victims of racism and racial attacks. This background is not only to be admired but also has served her well for the concepts and execution of her short stories and this, her debut novel.

In this solidly crafted novel Ann introduces a character – Kai Medi – who apparently will remain the chief protagonist of Ann’s series - The Kal Medi psychological suspense thrillers. She is well defined in this initial opus and attracts not only our attention but also our commitment to follow her in subsequent volumes.

From the opening lines Ann offers a rather penetrating glance into Kai’s personality: ‘The taxi meter clicked to a stop, and Kal stared at the two red numbers. Up front, the driver pulled on the hand brake and waited a couple of seconds before swivelling in his seat. “This is it - Inner Park Crescent. You all right, lo...?” The word ‘love’ withered on his lips and the driver corrected himself with agility. “This is the address you asked for. Inner Park Crescent.” Kal didn’t like endearments from strangers, even from a cabbie, because they always sounded so patronising, as if she were still a little girl rather than a young woman. She made no effort to hide her annoyance. Humouring other people wasn’t her style. Especially right now. Because right now, she needed all her discipline to keep her panic under control. Kal pushed forward a twenty-pound note and the driver accepted it, his eyes avoiding hers.’

But on to the story – ‘Kal is twenty-eight years old and she’s no fool, though sometimes she might pretend to be, because hiding her strengths is a great way to extract information. An expert in psychology and skilled in reading other people and their behaviours, she first learnt her craft from her deceased father. He was a man with dark secrets. When her journalist mother goes missing, Kal investigates. A shadow’s been stalking her family for three generations. Kal will uncover a child trafficking network and to find her mother, she must face her deepest suspicions and a dread she's been avoiding all her life…a stalker, a pact and a deadly secret - How far must Kal go to face the truth and find her missing mother?’

Dangerous territory for exploration in a first novel, but Ann is so adept at conveying the intricacies of the psychological aspects of each character and concept that we feel secure in Kai Medi’s hands. This is a terrific start for an author who demonstrates strong promise. Grady Harp, August 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.