The Secret Baby Room

By D. D. Johnston

Category: Crime, Fiction

Formats available: Paperback, Ebook

Pages: 288

Publication date: 02/07/15

ISBN-13: 9781909954182


You think you are ready for children. Your husband says he is ready for children. The only problem is your new neighbourhood, where children disappear. Claire Wilson knows what she saw: on the eighth floor of a derelict tower block, a woman was bottle-feeding a baby. But why would anyone take a baby into a boarded-up tower block? In an area of Manchester plagued by unexplained tragedies, the only allies Claire can find are a pagan witch, a wild-child party girl, and a husband with too many secrets.


DD JOHNSTON, one of this country's most principled socialist novelists, is also one of the most versatile and talented around. His back catalogue includes the harsh realism of Peace, Love & Petrol Bombs and the vaulting cleverness of The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub yet his latest book is as different to those two as they are to each other. The Secret Baby Room is a thriller set on a new Manchester estate being built on the remains of older, non-gentrified communities who have much to hide and Johnston creates a vivid sense of place as the new buildings create uneasy intersections with the one remaining but condemned tower block, the old pre-war church house and various flyovers and pathways. Implicit social observations mirror this sense of change being imposed on communities by the bullying rich and their client law-enforcers who worry more about protecting the Establishment s reputation than taking the concerns of citizens seriously. Johnston is too adept a storyteller to fall into agitprop-style prose and he almost incidentally reveals a fragmenting society dominated by despair and exploitation yet also the resourcefulness and courage of working-class citizens who survive where others would surely crack.

- Morning Star - Paul Simon

Johnston constantly surprises with this novel. In what seems like a slow start, you find yourself pulled into what you think is going to be a strong psychological thriller. And you are, because it is but soon it becomes so much more. Multi-layered characters abound and an increasingly pacey plot runs alongside, detailed, but not detracting, back stories. There are surprising and shocking revelations at every turn. Nobody and nothing is what it seemed at first. Johnston keeps the reader guessing and the broad strokes become smart, fine, revelatory details that fuel a classy thriller, replete with versatile revelation and a talent for surprising the reader. A mix of thriller, satire, and cultural examination, seamlessly contained in a thumping good story with a great denouement. Most importantly, I quite simply enjoyed The Secret Baby Room and was dismayed to reach the end. I can pay it no better compliment. My eight-year-old soul wanted the drama to go on. As a reader I was given a treat. As a writer I was given a skills demonstration.

- Northern Soul - Brian W. Lavery

The Secret Baby Room is a tense and compelling psychological thriller. Claire Wilson's investigation leads her not only towards the dark knowledge of past crimes but towards an understanding of the damaged lives of those around her. Johnston offers us a wonderfully gripping read, but also a compassionate and moving story of people struggling to survive at the margins of a rapidly changing city.

- Lee Horsley, author of The Noir Thriller


‘DD JOHNSTON, one of this country s most principled socialist novelists, is also one of the most versatile and talented around.’ – The Morning Star. Edinburgh-born D.D. Johnston’s first novel, Peace, Love & Petrol Bombs, a 2011 book of the year in the Sunday Herald, has been recorded as an audio book and translated into Spanish. The second, The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, was a 2013 book of the year in the Morning Star, where it was described as determinedly extraordinary. His third is the Manchest-set crime story  The Secret …

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