Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, ganglit, Guest post, Noir, Thriller

Ruby Heather Burnside #TheWorkingGirls 4* #Review @Aria_Fiction @heatherbwriter #ganglit #Manchester #UrbanFiction #CrimeFiction #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost @HoZ_Books

The stronger sex.

Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

On the streets.

With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

The brothel.

But being in charge of a brothel has its downsides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?

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#Ruby

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Another chapter in the gritty urban thriller set in Manchester and focused on working girls.

Ruby’s story is told in two timelines, the past, reflecting how her childhood and a teenage, drew her into the life of prostitution. The present, where she has everything thing she’s worked for but is in danger of losing.

She is not a victim. She had a plan and was prepared to use prostitution, as the means to give her the lifestyle she wants. Formerly, working for the pimp Gilly, a heinous character we met in book 1 The Mark, now she runs her own business. She hates men, because of her past experiences in her childhood and teenage, and revels in her role as a brothel owner. When her livelihood is threatened by men from her past. She demonstrates how courageous she is in defending those she cares about and her hard-fought-for business.

Like most people she has different facets, the gentle, loyal side which she shows to her lover Tiffany and her friends, The other side is driven and ruthless. Determined to keep what she owns and prepared to endanger herself to protect it. Ruby is a believable character, who commands your respect. She does want is needed, and that is admirable.

I have read the first book in the series, but this is a complete story, with enough backstory on the cast of characters and their situation for it to read well as a standalone. However, it is an addictive, action-filled series that is worth reading in its entirety.

The story reflects the lifestyle it portrays, so it features, bad language, sex and violence. It explores the darker aspects of society, but only to move Ruby’s story forward. Written engagingly, with realistic characters and situations. The adrenaline-fueled drama is addictive, as is the characterisation.

A must-read for those who enjoy relentless, ganglit in a contemporary urban setting.

#TheWorkingGirls #1

Read my review of book 1 The Mark

Guest – Post – Heather Burnside -How One Book Became a Series

I am so excited to be releasing Ruby, book two in The Working Girls series. It’s funny to think that initially, the idea for this book didn’t exist at all. It was actually through writing book one, The Mark, that I developed the concept for a series of books. 

My vision for The Mark came from a popular TV detective series that I watched back in the nineties. In a particular scene, the female detective is sitting in a seedy pub with a group of prostitutes trying to obtain information from them. Because she looks so out of place in that environment it made me think about how susceptible she was to all kinds of criminal acts from some of the dodgy characters that frequent the pub, and the book took root from there.

Because I have scant knowledge of the world of prostitution I carried out my research by reading a number of books by former prostitutes and watching online videos. A series on prostitution by the BBC was particularly poignant and a real eye-opener.

In this series, working girls were interviewed and they gave a candid and raw depiction of their lives. The girls had many things in common such as abusive childhoods, time spent in care, and drug addiction, which had led to their lives of prostitution.

A lot of the girls had entered into prostitution for similar reasons; a need to earn lots of money quickly either to make a living or to feed a drink and drugs habit. Drink and drugs were viewed by them as both a driving force into prostitution and a result of it, and some of the girls described how it helped to dull the senses to what they were experiencing.

There was one particularly sad character. She was an ageing prostitute who looked much older than her actual age because her appearance had been ravaged by drug abuse. She had developed a really bad chest infection, bordering on pneumonia, because her body was so depleted. Yet, despite her poor state of health, she still felt the need to service clients so that she could earn money to feed her drug habit. I have based the character of Angie on her. She appears in book one and also features later in the series.

While watching the programmes it occurred to me that each of these girls has their own story to tell. Then ideas for each of the characters started to form in my mind. Once I had thought of the characters their stories seemed to follow, probably because their personalities had been shaped by their life experiences. I also decided to give most of them a jewel name because their pimp wanted them to sound more exotic.

Book two is about Ruby who goes into prostitution purely to escape a life of poverty. Although she isn’t hooked on drugs, she does dabble a bit in the early days as a working girl. She isn’t as vulnerable as many of the other girls and has tremendous strength of character. I decided to feature Ruby in the second book as she is so formidable and interesting, and many readers commented that they would like to see more of her.

Currently, the series stands at three novels; The Mark, Ruby and Crystal (to be released in June 2020) but I have outline ideas for two more novels so it could possibly turn into a series of five in the future with each of books two to five based on a different girl. For the moment though, the focus is on Ruby who is one of my favourite characters out of all those I have created. I hope readers will take to her as much as I have.

#HeatherBurnside

Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Humour, Murder Mystery

The Case of the Reincarnated Client Tarquin Hall 4*Review @severnhouse @tarquinhall #VishPuri #India #Detective @rararesources #cozymystery #MurderMystery #BlogTour #BookReview #RachelsRandomResources

#TheCaseoftheReincarnatedClient

When a young woman comes forward saying she’s the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He’s busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring.  Puri’s indomitable Mummy-ji, however, is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur’s life and final hours?

Driven by a sense of duty – the original case was his late father’s – Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.

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I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A charming cozy mystery, set in India, with a charismatic detective, whose life is constantly invaded by his Mummy-ji, who knows her son well. She is happy to manipulate him for her ends. A clever woman, observant, well-connected and a natural investigator, she is effectively a silent partner in the private detective firm.

Indian customs and society are integral to the story, and historic events are also included, which add interest to the plot. The cast of characters is eclectic and enigmatic and gives this story its quirky appeal. There are several cases to be investigated, but it is the one Puri wants to ignore that proves the most absorbing and challenging.

This is the fifth book in the series, but it is possible to read as a standalone, as I did. However, series like these are always worth reading from the beginning.

At times humorous and often poignant, this is a well-written mystery with a memorable detective, a diverse set of cases and a distinctive cultural ethos.

Tarquin Hall
Image Credit -: Tom Pietrasik

Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries and The Delhi Detective’s Handbook. Twitter.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Psychological Thriller

5*#Review The Other Daughter Shalini Boland @bookouture @ShaliniBoland #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #DomesticThriller #Secrets

Nine years ago her daughter was taken.

And now she’s back. Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…

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I received a copy of this book from bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is my second psychological thriller by this author, and like her previous book ‘The Marriage Betrayal’ this story explores a family tragedy, with two main points of view, and lots of plot twists that make reading it, a mind-blowing experience.

The story begins with Catriona in the past. She is emotionally distraught, something terrible has happened, she finds herself at a shopping mall, and after a while, a young child catches her attention.

Rachel tells her story in the present, she meets a new mother at school, their children become instant friends, but when she meets the older sibling, she cannot believe her eyes. She resembles the child she lost eight years previously.

This is a story of secrets, obsession and tragedy. Neither viewpoint is reliable, and whilst most of the information relayed from the two points of view seems plausible, you are constantly waiting for the twist that says you are wrong.

The characters have many flaws, Rachel is hard to like, even though you empathise with her situation. She trusts no one, and you wonder why she has kept her secrets for so long.

This is an emotionally gripping story, with relentless suspense, that draws you in and keeps you reading. There are some less plausible parts to the story, but this is a psychological thriller, told by unreliable protagonists, you cannot expect events to be conventional.

The twists are well constructed and keep you guessing, and the trademark ending makes you gasp, even though you knew it was coming.

Not to be missed if you love the twisty turns of a good psychological thriller, with a seemingly normal domestic setting.

Posted in Cover Reveal, Crime, saga, Suspense, Thriller

The Final Trail AA Abbott Cover Reveal @AAAbbottstories #LoveBooksTours #BookLaunch #28October19 #TheTrailSeries #Birmingham #publicationday

#TheTrailSeries

Family feuds just got bloodier… A gripping thriller, and a great story of death, revenge and vodka.

To save glamorous Kat White’s life, Ben Halloran killed his gangster father. Now his brother wants to even the score.

The gripping Trail series of British crime thrillers reaches its dramatic conclusion in this compelling page-turner. 

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THE LAST EDITION OF TENSE CRIME THRILLER SERIES SET IN BIRMINGHAM
RECEIVES CITY CENTRE LAUNCH

Birmingham has well and truly been put on the crime thriller map with the success of the TV series Peaky Blinders but for bookworms amongst us, the popular Trail Series has long brought readers into the modern-day 21st century with its tense storylines, murder and intrigue set in and around the city.

The Trail series features a vodka business, a cancer cure and obsessive killers. Every book is a good read in its own right – each is a great crime story with terrific twists to keep the tension mounting – but together, they follow the same characters over several years.

The Trail series author AA Abbott also known as Helen Blenkinsop has been compared with the likes of Ruth Rendell, John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer.  She lived and studied in Birmingham for nearly 20 years and her passion and love for the city became the inspiration for the Trail series.

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Now, after four successful editions, the last storyline will be revealed in the publication of THE FINAL TRAIL which will be launched in Birmingham on 28th October.

In the last book …”Glamorous Kat White has built a successful craft vodka brand in Birmingham, but she has an uneasy relationship with her business partner, Marty Bridges. Her mother had previously supplied with poisonous vodka. Marty doesn’t trust Kat, resents having to depend on her for commercial success, and isn’t thrilled that his eldest son wants to marry her. That’s not his biggest problem, though. He’s trying to develop a cancer drug with Kat’s brother, Erik, and it’s draining money he doesn’t have. Just as he finds an investor with pockets deep enough to fund their research, Erik is lured to the former Soviet Union and thrown into jail. Meanwhile, Ben Halloran, who killed his father to save Kat’s life, is faced with the twin risks of a murder charge and his brother’s deep-seated desire for revenge. Can Ben escape with his life and liberty? And can Marty save both Erik and his business – and learn to trust Kat?”

Helen said “I’ve been writing about these amazing characters for over 5 years, so you can imagine, they have become a part of my life. It’s been a great journey and they have come through so many storylines that it feels right for them to achieve their dreams at last.”

Most of the action in THE FINAL TRAIL takes place across the city and features the famous Rose Villa Tavern and 1,000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter; The Mailbox, home to the BBC in Birmingham, Holloway Head by the famous Pagoda Island and locations in Harborne and Edgbaston.

Helen added, “It’s going to be very sad to launch the last book as the stories and characters have built up such a following but it will give me the opportunity to weave new and exciting tales – I have so many ideas buzzing in my head.”

THE FINAL TRAIL is a perfect read for those who like a fast-paced crime thriller combined with suspense, humour and plot twists.  It’s ideal to take away on holiday and provides a great read during the autumn/winter nights.

THE FINAL TRAIL will be available to order from Amazon in e-book, paperback and dyslexia-friendly format from Monday 28th October 2019.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Noir, Romantic Suspense, Suspense

Bollywood Wives Alex Khan 5*#Review @HeraBooks @alexkhanauthor #BollywoodWives #glamour #romance #Crime #secrets #lies #BlogTour #thriller #BookReview #India #Bollywood #Films

#BollywoodWives

Zara Das is Bollywood’s hottest property, her every move watched by the eyes of the press. Riding high from the success of a string of blockbusters, she has the world at her feet, but the scandal from her latest film threatens to dethrone her as Bollywood’s reigning queen.

So when superstar director Raj Dillon stages a lavish retelling of Pride and Prejudice, moving the shoot from Mumbai’s soundstages to London, Zara knows this is the role that could put her back on top. Coming with them are the Bollywood Wives – Jackie, Sasha, and Rani – bringing their own off-screen drama.

But behind the diamonds, designer clothes and seven-star hotels lies the truth of how Zara reached the top. And when a dead body is found in her hotel room, it seems that someone is determined to take Zara down – and will stop at nothing to expose her darkest secrets.

Zara has spent years running from her past. But now it’s caught up with her…

A sexy, gripping, scandalous novel set in the world of Bollywood.

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#BollywoodWives #BlogTour

I received a copy of this book from Hera Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts...

This is a story full of contrasts, It opens up the Bollywood film world, and is fascinating to read, but there is a darker side to this book. Intelligent commentary on Indian society, and the deceit and depravity that simmers below Bollywood’s glamour and ostentatious wealth.

There is a wonderful cast of characters, including Zara, who the story revolves around. Despite her celebrity status, she has secrets, and these make her vulnerable. The writing style is informative and inclusive, you feel part of what is happening, even though most of the readers will have little experience of such a glamorous, dangerous world.

On one level this a bonkbuster romance, snapshots of lives, full of sex, secrets and money, but underneath there is a hidden noir world of abuse and desperation. The thriller is well-plotted and gives the story additional depth and interest.

The ending is poignant, but ultimately hopeful, as people who can make a difference and help others not to suffer, as they did, finally find the courage to act.

An insightful look at an important twenty-first-century phenomenon, with a clever fusion of genres, and believable, complex characters.

# AlexKahn

Alex Khan has spent his life dreaming of writing and starring in Bollywood movies while travelling the world visiting some of the most glamorous and exciting locations. Moonlighting as a crime writer he finally got the courage to pen the novel he wanted to write all his life-Bollywood Wives. Taking you into the glamorous sexy thrilling environment of the world’s biggest movie stars and the secrets they hide.

Alex also writes crime under the name ALEX CAAN.

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#BollywoodWives
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Silent Money G.D.Harper 4*#Review @harper_author @rararesources #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #noir #crime #Glasgow #1970s

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#SilentMoney

Glasgow, 1972. Michael Mitchell is ambitious, talented and determined to succeed. But he learns the hard way that he will never achieve his goals in life – unless he plays by a different set of rules.

He partners with a small-time crook to help the Glasgow underworld launder the proceeds of their crimes. As the operation grows, Michael is forced to become more and more ruthless to protect what he has built.

Shocked by who he has become, he vows to leave the criminal world behind and start a new life. But the past has a way of catching up. Finally, he gambles everything on one last desperate attempt to break free.

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#SilentMoney

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set in Glasgow in the 1970s, this story’s ethos is gritty and full of moral dilemmas. Michael is a hard worker and he wants to succeed, but his efforts are overlooked, and soon he uses his powerful intelligence to become successful in a less orthodox way.

Like the author’s previous book set in 1970s Glasgow and London, Love’s Long Road, this story has excellent characters, a clever plot and you constantly question Michael’s choices, there are so many grey areas,

The pacing is fast, and there is a good balance of action, dialogue and introspection. The setting once again steals the show for me, it encompasses the desperation of the 1970s, a time of high unemployment, and the demise of British industry like coal, shipbuilding and steel. When for many crime was the only way out of poverty.

A good, thought-provoking thriller.

#SilentMoney #Blogtour

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.


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Read my #review of Love’s Long Road
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Suspense, Thriller

The Keeper Diane Saxon 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @Diane_Saxon #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #DSJennaMorgan #BlogTour #PublicationDay #BookReview

#TheKeeper

Responding to reports of deadly screams in the Ironbridge Gorge, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is first on the scene to investigate.

As the search intensifies, Jenna soon discovers her sister Fliss’s severely injured Dalmatian, Domino and the naked, tortured body of an unknown woman.

Who is the dead woman and where is her sister Fliss?

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story begins so quietly, but the subtle suspense builds very quickly. A dramatic twist leaves the reader reeling. Totally addicted, you have to find out what happens next.

There is a psychological element to this story, but not in the traditional sense., as there is no clear, unreliable protagonist. Rather, this is a fast-paced crime thriller, with a well-thought-out police procedural, and a disturbing, menacing ethos. The crimes are not graphically depicted, but are harrowing and resonate.

Jenna Morgan is a likeable detective, who engages with the reader. This crime is personal, you see her flaws and vulnerability seeping through her professional exterior. She’s easy to empathise you want her to have the outcome she seeks.

With an interesting team of detectives, that all have their own stories, this promises to be an absorbing series. The detective team is male-dominated, which may be authentic, but it would be good to see more women on the team in future stories.

The clues to finding the killer are hidden in plain sight, but knowing who increases the intensity. The ending is a pure adrenaline rush.

#DianeSaxon

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Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to write psychological crime. The Keeper is her first novel in this genre and introduces series character DS Jemma Morgan.  It will be published by Boldwood in October 2019. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

extract from The Keeper – Diane saxon

Chapter One

Friday 26 October, 15:45 hrs

Felicity Morgan jammed her car into third gear and took the tight bend down the hill to Coalbrookdale with fierce relish. ‘It’s not right! It’s just not right. I’m twenty-four years old, for God’s sake, and still being told what to do!’ She pounded the palm of her hand on the steering wheel and whipped around another curve. ‘

‘Not even told.’ She glanced in the mirror, her gaze clashing with Domino’s. ‘Nope, she didn’t even have the decency to speak to me.’ She floored the accelerator and snapped out a feral grin as the car skimmed over the humps in the narrow road.

‘She texted me. A freakin’ text!’ She shot Domino another quick glance and took her foot from the accelerator as the car flew under the disused railway bridge, past the entrance to Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Guilt nudged at her. ‘I know. I know, Domino. We’ve barely seen each other since I moved in because of her shifts and my workday, but for God’s sake. A text? Really? She must have been so peed off to send me a text. It’s her version of not talking to me. She’s done it all our lives.’ Fliss blew out a disgusted snort. ‘What the hell did you eat this time? Her bloody precious steak? One of her fluffy pink slippers? Hah!’

She appealed in the mirror to her silent companion. ‘She said, “Don’t forget to walk the dog.”’ She pressed her foot on the brake and came to a halt, sliding the gears into neutral as the traffic lights halfway down the hill changed to red. They always did for her. Every bloody time. With a rebellious kick on the accelerator, Fliss revved the engine.

‘She called you a dog, Domino. She couldn’t even be bothered to write your name.’ She stared at the big, gorgeous and demanding Dalmatian in her rear view mirror. Her lips kicked up as a smile softened her voice. ‘How could I possibly forget to walk you?’

An ancient Austin Allegro puttered through the narrow track towards her just as the traffic lights turned to green on her side. ‘Bloody typical.’

Domino raised his head to stare with aloof disdain at the passing Allegro and Fliss sighed as the driver’s wrinkled face, as ancient as the car, barely emerged above the steering wheel. ‘There was only once, a few weeks ago, I forgot to walk you. You’d have thought Jenna would have understood. I was hung-over from my break-up drinking bout. You, my darling, were suffering the consequences of a broken home.’ She let out a derisive snort as she put the car into first gear and glided through the lights, back in control of both her temper and her vehicle.

‘Not that you ever really liked Ed. You were just being empathetic. You sensed my…’ she drew in a long breath through her nose, ‘… devastation. You sympathised with me. How was I to know you’d eat your Aunty Jenna’s kitchen cupboard doors off while I was sleeping?’ They still bore the deep gouged teeth marks. ‘We didn’t have any choice but to move in with Jenna. We couldn’t stay with him. He was too mean. He wanted me to get rid of you. Said it was him or you.’

She flopped her head back on the headrest. Ed. The perfect gentleman, tender, gentle, an absolute charmer. To the outside world. Insidious, controlling arse to her. It had taken so long to realise his subtle intention to separate her from her mother, her sister, eventually Domino. The slick manoeuvres to keep her to himself. Unnoticed until her mother fell ill, when, in a flash, it all became clear.

‘Poor Domino.’ She glanced in her mirror to share the sympathy between herself and her dog as she slowed down to pass the stunning Edwardian building she worked in on her right. Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge School dated back more than two hundred years and had firmly entrenched roots at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. With the imposing cooling towers of the Ironbridge power station behind, they shared domination of the skyline from that angle.