Cranberry Lane by Laurèn Lee
Opening sentence: “Even in the dead of night, Cranberry Lane alluded to signs of voracious life which electrified the air.”
Cranberry Lane sounds like it should be located in a quaint, pleasant, picturesque village, where you can take a nice stroll in the sunshine and watch the world go by, and this is where I (sub-consciously) thought I was heading to when I started this book. However, these illusions were swiftly shattered on page one, when a far more dangerous, sinister (and exciting!) setting was immediately established, ‘Everyone who lived on Cranberry Lane stayed until the morgue had to carry their bodies, lifeless and cold out of their decrepit homes.’
In this captivating thriller we meet two Cranberry Lane natives, middle-aged Wayne Jacobs and 19-year old Serenity Harris, who narrate alternate chapters throughout as the story moves from their paths crossing to their lives becoming entwined. This structure keeps the narrative fast paced and gives an insight into both characters. Given their high-risk careers – Wayne is a hitman and Serenity is a drug dealer – these guys go about their day-to-day close to the wire, but one wrong decision sends their lives spinning out of control – with deadly consequences.
Wayne and Serenity are not, in theory, likeable characters, but as we learn their back stories and get to know them a little better, we discover that they are products of their less than privileged upbringing and despite their dubious career choices, they both have good intentions and are actually trying to make better lives for themselves. As they are well written characters, you do end up empathising with them. We are shown Wayne’s softer side through his love for his younger teenage brother, Sammy. He’s an innocent, kind guy who has managed to buck the Cranberry Lane trend – he does well in school, is determined to go to college and wants a clean-cut – legal – life. However, it is perhaps an indication of just how bad this neighbourhood is – and therefore how damaged Sammy and Serenity intrinsically are – that when they find out about Wayne’s secret killing career, neither seem particularly shocked. At least not to the extent that I would be if someone told me they were a professional killer!
I read this perfectly paced book in less than two days, I just kept turning those pages. The tension builds steadily to a dramatic climax and there’s even a tear-jerking moment that took me by surprise! This is a great little thriller that explores the lengths people will go to in order to get the best out of the less-than-best hand they’ve been dealt.
If you want to find out a little more about the inspiration behind Cranberry Lane, have a read of my interview with author, Laurèn Lee, right here.
I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review.