Friday, 18 June 2010

Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig

This book opens with the murder of an au pair found dumped in a park lake, the au pair was a illegal immigrant from Russia and is therefore 'nameless'. Following five characters mostly made up of immigrants (legal and illegal) this book travels through the underbelly and privileged lifestyle of London while simultaneously tying all the characters lives together.

The characters range from a forced sex worker from the Ukraine to an American office worker but the book is never confusing. Each chapter follows a different person and each story is equally harrowing and gripping. One chapter you will read about a wealthy white South African family living in London or professionals at a dinner party moaning about the numbers of immigrants, and in the next chapter read about one such immigrant cleaning their cars for £2 an hour. Mixed in amongst these different connecting story-lines there is the body of the Russian au pair and the investigation into her murder.

In a few parts I did find the style of this novel slightly preachy but it also highlighted issues which are relevant and has tackled dark themes such as forced prostitution and human trafficking. I cared about all the characters and found it exciting seeing how all their seemingly separate story lines were actually all intertwined. This book is one which perhaps some people would rather not read as it looks at the ways in which London has not embraced multiculturalism and instead highlighted the enormous gulf between rich and poor, this is a very 'Dickens' London set in modern times.

I found this a real page-turner and I would highly recommend it.

Verdict 4/5

Posted by Jess


  1. Your review makes this sound like a must-read! I like the thought of a 'Dickensian' London set in our time.

  2. Sounds good! Your review makes me think it might be similar in theme to Box 21 and/or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

  3. Sounds quite topical, thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Marieke - it was very much like that showing the two side of modern london it was very cleverly done.

    Zara - I dont know if it is like the girl with the dragon tattoo as I still havent read it but I would say that the murder investigation is secondary to the characters stories.

    Petty - Topical is a very good way of describing this book! Im sure the author had a slight agenda here but it was very well done.

  5. I'm really looking forward to reading this one soon. I'm glad to see you liked it too!

  6. hi welcome nomareader - I hope you wont be disappointed in it and I loook forward to reading your review!

  7. I loved this book too! I'm really pleased to see that you enjoyed it. I'm still mystified as to why it didn't make the Orange short list.

  8. Jackie - From what Ive read about the books on the shortlist Im surprised too.