Harm: Rina Walker Book One: 5 Stars

Written by: Hugh Fraser
Narrated by: Annie Aldington
Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date: 14/07/2016
Publisher: Audible Studios
Source: Own copy

Publishers Summary
Acapulco, 1974: Rina Walker is on assignment. Just another quick, clean kill. She wakes to discover her employer's severed head on her bedside table and a man with an AK-47 coming through the door of her hotel room. She needs all her skills to neutralise her attacker and escape. After a car chase, she is captured by a Mexican drug boss who exploits her radiant beauty and ruthless expertise to eliminate an inconvenient member of the government.

Notting Hill, 1956: Fifteen-year-old Rina is scavenging and stealing to support her siblings and her alcoholic mother. When a local gangster attacks her younger sister, Rina wreaks violent revenge and murders him. Innocence betrayed, Rina faces the brutality of the postwar London underworld - a world that teaches her the skills she needs to kill….

I loved this story!
It isn’t often that I get so deeply immersed in a story so quickly. Half-way through the first chapter I knew I’d find it hard to stop reading, or, in my case, listening ….

Rina, beautiful, strangely compelling Rina, discovered that the reason for her abduction was because the drugs lord needed her to kill an enemy. His logic for choosing Rina was because of her ability to attract men and, of course, her job skills. Her pay off would be generous but would she live to collect?

From then on there follows an amazing adventure made all the more hairy by Rina not knowing who she can trust …

The story moves between 1974, Rina’s adult years and 1956, when Rina was fifteen years old and caring for both her siblings and her incapacitated mother, they were living a desolate and demeaning hand to mouth existence. People did what they had to do in order to make life a little more tolerable, Rina, at fifteen years old, committed her first hit.

The story is utterly compelling from the very beginning to the very end, the characters are vibrant and diverse, and the writing style is clean, uncluttered and flows beautifully. 
The vivid descriptions of the living conditions endured by the poor are quite moving: the over crowding; the unsanitary conditions and the ever present fear of eviction.

It’s the use of the parlance of those times and the inclusion of little details which adds both authenticity and flavour to the story. Not many people have to “pull the chain” in the lavatory these days, and certainly nobody has to deal with the old telephone kiosks with their button A and button B. 

The story stayed with me long after I finished it, wondering how Rina came to be that person who kills for money, the bigger question though is how on earth did the author get me to be rooting for her!

Narrated by Annie Aldington, a renowned British actress and voiceover artist. Her talent is obvious from the very start of this high quality recording. For me, one of the most important qualities of a good narrator is the ability to produce well differentiated and consistent characters, a talent that Annie has in abundance. I also admire her ability to portray emotion - or lack of - in her characters, there no overacting here. Excellent job which added to my enjoyment of this book.

Source: Own copy purchased from Audible Australia

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