The final volume of the 'Lost Boys' quartet.
Jade has had a terrible day. If having her little nephew swept away by a river in spate isn’t bad enough, she finds herself caught up in a violent riot. Weeks of energy-sapping drought have culminated in a vicious storm and damaging flash-floods. Homes are deluged and the populace are at breaking-point. But it is the indecisive outcome of the FA cup final, a local derby provoking fiercely partisan opposition, which proves the final catalyst and the town has become a mindless frenzy of looting, violence and criminality.
Lost, traumatised, barefoot, caught between rapacious fans, opportunistic looters and the implacable ranks of riot-police, Jade takes refuge in a semi-derelict church where the kindness of strangers opens her up to the possibility that there is a higher hand at work than the malign, bad-luck demon she has always felt dogging her steps.
Jade’s sister Carmel falls prey to the malicious influence of local bad-lad Spencer, and although the two girls have been at each other’s throats all their lives, Jade takes the opportunity to step out in her new-found faith on Carmel’s behalf. Can she, in this new, softer incarnation of herself, and with the aid of whatever beneficent power she senses is out there, somewhere, weave something new from the frayed ends of their antagonistic sisterhood?
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The crisis had united them, briefly; a family whose normal relations are scratchy and acrimonious. Their antipathies have taken on, over the years, the characteristics of an endurance sport; the endless, wearisome parry and thrust of bitchy remark and snide non-sequitur, the compulsive purloining of one another’s personal belongings; a circadian round of querulous irritation and reciprocal annoyance. They are all exhausted by it but, like marathon competitors, none will admit defeat. Their rancour inhabits the house like an additional resident with a personality of its own and no-one will admit to spawning it, either severally or individually. Occasionally the brooding atmosphere is relieved by ferocious, physical hostilities; tempers unleashed in vicious tirades, objects hurled, hair pulled out in handfuls, bites that puncture the skin.
But regardless of internal wrangling, a family catastrophe is certain to reunite them in fervent, clannish accord. A disaster spells importance – personal aggrandisement; a sudden bringing to the fore from the nether region of obscurity where they resentfully reside, and for that reason alone they relish it. It puts them centre-stage and any sense of ignominy they might experience at having their dirty laundry aired, as it were, to the public gaze, is wholly eclipsed by the brief but glorious focus of the world’s attention; the Jeremy Kyle effect.