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Acid Row Hardcover – July 1, 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ever since she won an Edgar back in 1993, Walters has continually worked outside the standard boundaries of crime drama. Psychological suspense may be the best tagline for her novels, but it still doesn't quite catch her tenor. Her heroes, for example, are anything but moody, disagreeable. Her dialogue wanders and stews and then jabs like a bayonet. Her plots often evolve out of sequence. She simply won't walk the line and she's confoundingly good at taking liberties. Here, Walters transports readers to Acid Row, a dungeon of a housing project in a London suburb populated by single mothers, fatherless children, criminals fresh from prison, gangs and the helpless elderly. It's a community, however, bonded in its destitution, suspicious and unwelcoming of outsiders. When word leaks out that the government has placed a pedophile in No. 23, the beleaguered residents begin to simmer. Then, when a 10-year-old girl goes missing, Acid Row explodes into open revolt. With frightening clarity, Walters breaks down the daylong riot into recurring vignettes. There's the anguish of Sophie Morrison, a young doctor taken hostage by the pedophile and his vicious father; swaggering ex-con Jimmy James, who rises to the occasion with bursts of reluctant heroism; the cowering police and their pathetic attempts at restoring order; and the evasive parents of Amy Biddulph, the little girl nobody can find. Walters (The Shape of Snakes; Edgar-winning The Sculptress) pulls it all off with rhythmic brilliance, the narrative flowing smoothly. Again, she demonstrates her eye for the sociological and psychological avalanche provoked by human temptation and people living in cramped quarters. With her eighth novel, Walters continues to navigate literary pathways few have ventured down before her.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A young doctor enters Acid Row, a dank housing project, and finds herself in the clutches of a dangerous pedophile.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399148620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399148620
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,042,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
A young girl, Amy, goes missing, around the same time it is revealed that a paedophile is living in the housing estate from which she disappeared. The people come out in force to protest at his presence. Slowly, the protests bud into riots, stretching the police force, breeding greater and greater acts of violence. The streets of "Bassindale Row" (dubbed "Acid Row" by its inhabitants) are thronged with angry citizens, some well-meaning, and some there just to further incite destruction. Events build to a crescendo, as the troubled housing estate is swept under the tide of a crowd whose slogan is "Saving Amy"...But, the rioters are unaware of the presence of Sophie Morrison, a young doctor called to the house of the "pervert" just before events erupted. Now she is trapped inside with a man she increasingly comes to believe is capable of great violence...
Minette Walters continues in the vein of her last book, bringing forth a novel once again full of deep social perception. This time, she writes about the events which recently swept Great Britain, with all the furore of exposing paedophiles, and the doubled-edged sword that doing so would unsheathe.
The first thirty pages or so are just typical Walters. Accurate psychology, deep prose, great characters, realism in the writing, etc. However, once the riots begin, the book gets swept away with the pace. It moves too quickly. Character development, which was building so brilliantly at first, is sacrificed, and several of the characters introduced later on in the story come across as cardboard and cliched. The excitement of the events just takes the book too quickly. It does make it a great pageturner, yes. And i am sure that fact will win it praise, but at the expense of plot and character development, I'm not certain it's worth it.
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Format: Hardcover
This thought-provoking book is a stark example of how a little bit of information, when it gets into the wrong hands, can be dangerously and tragically misused. Minette Walters has written another fine thriller , this time it's based around an enclosed, lower class community called Bassindale Row, known to the locals as Acid Row.
The problems in Acid Row start when rumours begin to circulate that a paedophile has been secretly housed in their midst. This rumour is neither confirmed nor denied, but is escalated to fact in the minds of the locals when a young girl, Amy Biddulph, goes missing. Things come to a head when a march is organised to protest the housing of the `nonce' and among the protestors are the inevitable troublemakers who are determined to see the day end in bloodshed. The situation is made even worse when the entrances to the community are barricaded, making it impossible for police or ambulances to gain access.
From the beginning of the riot, there are two stories running in parallel. There is the story of the riot outside the house of the alleged paedophile and there is also the investigation into Amy Biddulph's disappearance. Both of these stories highlight how people's perceptions can rule over how they act and react to a given circumstance.
While focussing on the riot, there were two important aspects highlighted. The first was from the point of view of the rioters outside the house and the rage that was barely held in check. The second was from inside the house where a young female doctor was trapped with the two men who were the real objects of the crowd's hatred. Even within the house, while their lives were in danger from the angry mob, yet another drama was being played out, significantly adding to the tension.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Society breaks down in a housing project and a peaceful demonstration gets completely out of hand, as we follow the fate of a young woman doctor trapped inside a house with its inhabitants and a little girl who is missing.
While this was not exactly what I was expecting, once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. Walters is a master of character and suspense, which is a powerful combination that keeps the pages turning as if they had a mind of their own. There are multiple story lines, each as spellbinding as the last.
I do love Minette Walters other books, specifically Ice House, The Sculptress and Shape of Snakes. While this is not my favorite of the Walters book, I give it four out of five stars. If you haven't read any other of Walters' books, you may want to start with one of the other three, I just mentioned.
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Format: Paperback
After having adored five other books by this writer, I was saving Acid Row for a treat. Each book she writes is different, but reliably high quality in terms of pacing, structure, characters, and plot elements, and there is always a very satisfying payoff. This book was a major disappointment in each of these areas and more.

Interesting folks (good and bad) were created and set aside. Intrigues were established and never developed. Most words were spent on pasteboard characters, and even they didn't do much or interact believably. The police involvement in both story lines was spotty and dubious. Race and class characterizations were extremely clumsy and simplistic, as were the criminals themselves. Some jarringly anachronistic media/culture references played a significant role. Also: Walters usually adds a leavening of grace, humor, romance, or beauty. If they were here, they were atrophied. All were missed.

Instead of introducing a moral dilemma and plot points to lead the reader to a logical conclusion, one point was made by ham-handed hammering, and the other might have been believable with clarification that was never provided. Many of the psychological points were either incorrect or poorly made, resulting in more unsupported moralizing. Unforgivably, the trigger-heavy matters were handled in a blithe, callous fashion. But even someone not specifically vulnerable might loathe heavy-handed moralization and flippant attitudes applied to the same subject. It's inconsistent and hard to follow. (Sorry for the vague references, but I'm avoiding spoilers.)

Usually, one would build a situation and allow it to simmer over time. Here, most of the events occur over a few hours.
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