Minette Walters is a British author of mysteries. I have never read any other books by her, so I didn't really know what to expect.
That's the beauty of newly-tried authors; you haven't developed a bias either way, so their writings are fresh, their styles unfamiliar.
The story takes place within a public housing project in England. The word has gotten out that the government has placed a convicted pedophile in the neighborhood, and the residents decide to organize a march to get him thrown out. The majority of the book takes place in one day.
The title comes from the name of the housing project "Bassindale Row". After a lot of vandalism, the sign reads assi d Row. This new name sums up the feelings of the residents, police, and outsiders about this place.
It is a hotbed of drugs and crime, filled with decaying homes and single parents, providing a perfect avenue for social commentary on unwed mothers, poor and police relations, drug-related crime, social services, mental illness, and the working poor.
Although the march was planned as a peaceful one, some of the hoods made their own plans and blocked the entrances to the project, cutting off all police intervention. Dr. Sophie Morrison is visiting a patient in "The Row," who is the pedophile's father, and gets caught in the middle of the riot.
Turns out, the father is more dangerous than the son, and it soon becomes evident that he is the cause of the boy's deviant behavior.
In the meantime, a young girl has been kidnapped. The mob decides that the pedophile has her and mass hysteria ensues.
There are two perspectives to the story -- that of those outside the project and that of those on the inside. Many unlikely heroes are discovered during the fracas as the neighbors pull together to protect themselves and others.
There are many characters in the story, only a few of which are developed, making it difficult for a while for the reader to get into the story. Once you do, though, it moves quickly, with lots of dialogue and action. The language may be offensive to some, but it is realistic of people in the ghetto.
Although the outcome is mostly predictable, the topics raised are thought-provoking. Apparently, England's struggle with their welfare system is as complex as ours in the United States.
Ms. Walters has drawn a vivid picture of the problem in a non-judgmental way.
A more cynical view of our system can be found in the book "The Losers" by David Eddings.