Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words
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Justin Harwood was born in New Zealand and trained as a musician. He travelled with various bands during a successful career and ended up in New York for a decade where he began to write thrillers, before returning to New Zealand with his family.
McKenzie (Mac) Moss is at the end of her parole having served a five-year stretch. She wants to put her past behind her, but before she can, she has to claim what’s rightfully hers - $1m and revenge against those that put her inside.
Manfred Fuller and Bucky, two New York detectives, investigate the suicide of a paedophile. However, it’s not quite the cut and dried case it first seems, so Manfred and Bucky dig deeper and what they subsequently find has serious implications for them and Mac.
Queen Bitch opens with Mac throwing a man off a roof before seeing her parole officer for the last time. Yes, it’s that sort of book. The writing is sparse. By that I mean there’s not a wasted word. Some chapters are very short, only a few paragraphs, however, it works. There are only a handful of characters, but all are well drawn and the relatively short length and tight style means there’s little room to successfully explore many more anyway so this was a good choice. Mac herself is quite startling, a girl with some serious issues. The dialogue is also sharp and snappy.
Throughout Queen Bitch two parallel plots run – Mac taking revenge and the detectives investigating first the apparent suicide and then Mac herself – which ultimately come together at the end.
I like the mix of 1st person and 3rd person perspectives in alternate chapters (it’s a technique I use) as it generates pace and multiple perspectives to make the story richer. There’s also a clever use of time where in the last quarter of the book one chapter deliberately lags another to create tension.
Underneath Queen Bitch is a difficult subject, but Harwood handles it well, using it to justify Mac and the story without sensationalising.
Unfortunately, there were some format and spelling errors but these are easily corrected.
This is a good book, I’d like to see more of Justin Harwood’s work.
Plenty of swearing.
Formating errors and some typo’s.
Rating: **** Four Stars