Monday, 21 May 2012

My Cruelty Games now on Kindle

Who is the victim? To buy

I have just extensively re-edited and revised for today my 1997 novel Cruelty Games for the new 2012 Kindle edition. This was a challenging book to write but it was very popular both as a paperback and as a library choice. I hope the new Kindle enthusiasts will  like it just as much.

As I revised it I reflected on the fact that the writing of Cruelty Games pre-dated the events around the Jamie Bulger affair but strangely pre-echoes it.

 About the story

Rachel, an idealistic young teacher in 1963, tries to make changes in the lives of her tough pupils. The school - tough as it is - is a haven for Rachel’s pupil Ian Sobell, whose mother neglects him and whose grandmother abuses him.  One of Rachel’s adventurous projects leads her class to a place where, two hundred years before, a boy hung for days in a gibbet until he died in agony: a punishment for the murder of his employers children.

Events on this day have a disastrous impact on the lives of  both  Rachel and Ian:  a shock  which lasts nearly two decades before they both move on to some kind of resolution, triggered by Rachel meeting Ian again after sixteen years.

This novel was inspired by my experience teaching in schools where I worked with pupils like Ian who soldiered on under great difficulty, walking the line between violence and normalcy every day. I also know that their desperation and stress is often mirrored in the plight of good, sensitive teachers who have to deal with the ambiguity of children who may be seen as evil.

Extract from Cruelty Games for you:
'... This worked. The two of them clambered up onto crumbling high points, Michael having difficulty because of his short legs, which had still not quite shed their baby roundness.
‘Now I count!’ Ian started to count in a loud voice. ‘. . . now I come, ready or not!’ 
The game that followed was full of shouts and squeals from Michael and Jonno, yells and whistles from Ian. As he was so much bigger, he caught them quite easily. He had to slow down to let them catch him when they were on. He found it boring, being chased. He liked to be the one doing the chasing. 
One time, when Jonno was  on, Ian lifted Michael onto a high section of walling, left like a pinnacle at the bottom end of the Baths.  Michael waited while Jonno counted carefully to ten, then looked round wildly. ‘I can’t get down! I can’t get down!’ he shrieked. 
Ian, who had found his own high spot, jumped down and went across to look up at the little boy, who screamed, ‘Get us down, Ian!’ 
Ian grinned up at him. ‘Why should I?’ 
Michael started to cry. ‘Gerrus down!’ he shrieked. 
‘No. Jump!’ 
‘Get him down, Ian’ Jonno came puffing across, and  pulled at Ian’s arm.  Ian flung the smaller boy away with some force, so  that he sprawled on the ground. ‘He’s gotta jump. Jump, Mikey!


  1. I read Cruelty Games in its first edition and thought it a remarkable book - impossible to put down. What it does so effortlessly is to show us the ordinariness of an extraordinary situation and those of us who have taught in schools or worked in prisons will recognise this all too well. Highly recommended

    I love the new cover - well done to Fiona

  2. Thankyou Avril. You aboce all would know about this. wx



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