Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 15- 20,000 words
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Darren Sant’s childhood was spent living between two large housing estates. The locations and characters provided the inspiration for Sant’s stories.
To learn more about the author visit his website.
Lee is a squaddie home on leave. He’s looking forward to some R&R with his girlfriend before going back to war. The trouble is he lives on the Longcroft Estate and trouble is never far away. A new gang, the Headhunters, appears and start causing trouble that inevitably pulls Lee into situations he thought he’d left long behind.
This is the fourth Darren Sant story I’ve reviewed and the third located on the fictional Longcroft Estate. I have to say it’s the best of his work so far. It’s gritty yet humorous, deep yet to the point with a strata of corruption and crime right through it. Sant intelligently begins outlining several story arcs that come together at the conclusion with devastating effect.
New houses are being built on the down-at-heel Longcroft Estate, unfortunately the decision to do so is based on two people’s drive for personal gain – a businessman and a politician – an all too familiar theme these days.
At the same time Lee, the squaddie, is enjoying some time with his girlfriend Natalie. But all is not as idyllic as it seems in their relationship. She’s involved with someone that’s key to the story, but the author keeps this under wraps until much later.
In the third arc a new gang, the Headhunters, are making themselves known on the Estate, challenging the old order. There are established routes of trade (in drugs) and ‘law and order’ (dealt with by the crime family that run the area) but the Headhunters disturb these deliberately, kicking off a war.
Lee is determined not to get pulled away from the straight and narrow again, but when one of his friends is assaulted in a targeted attack he can’t help himself.
As the novella progresses Sant then draws these strands together bit by bit until right at the end they come together. The conclusion is bloody and sad, but fitting.
I thoroughly enjoyed Shattered Hearts… it’s very well written. Sant keeps descriptions down to a minimum, allowing the reader to fill the blanks in (an approach I like) and keeping the focus on the character, action and dialogue. The story skips along as a result. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.
If you’ve liked any of Sant’s previous work, I highly recommend this too.
Plenty of swearing and adult situations.
Rating: ***** 5 Stars