Jenny Pepper never expected to end up like this.
Tired of her job and the domestic grind, and bewildered by her teenage daughter, one night Jenny stumbles into a vigilante rescue.
Suddenly her world is exciting again - and she's a hero. In the costume, she can be anyone she wants.
And so her secret life begins. But when a real villain appears, Jenny's need for adventure begins to cost her dearly.
As she starts to see less and less clearly through the mask, she finds her fantasy life becoming frighteningly real.We all want to be extraordinary, and we all have a moment in our lives when we realise that we're not. Vigilante is about a woman who refuses to accept it gracefully...
Vigilante is published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson on 8 January 2015 in hardback and ebook, and is Shelley Harris's second novel.
Jenny Pepper is a pretty ordinary woman. She works in a charity bookshop, she has an angst-ridden teenage daughter who is into steampunk and is most probably gay. Her husband is a successful designer and Jenny tidies up a lot. Jenny feels fat and invisible. She gave up a career as an actress to be a wife and mother. When she was an actress, people noticed her. Now she's a wife and a mother, she's seems to be wearing her own personal invisibility cloak. Jenny is fed up.
It is a completely different cloak that changes Jenny's life. An invitation to a fancy-dress party would usually be her biggest dread, but when she hits on the idea of dressing as a super-hero, complete with mask and cloak, she begins to feel excited. Jenny buys the outfit in secret, guarding it until the day of the party, nobody has any idea of what she will be dressed as.
The night of the party arrives and Jenny is ready. On her way to the venue she stumbles upon a mugging and leaps into action, becoming a real-life super hero. She is noticed, she is admired, she feels great. Jenny decides that this is the life for her, she will go out there and protect the public from the bad guys.
Up to this point, Vigilante is best described as a funny, well-written, if a little over the top, story about a woman going through a mid-life crisis. It soon turns into a tale of terrifying attacks on young girls, and a mother's realisation that her own daughter is in danger, and that a fantasy life is not always better than real life.
I like Jenny, she's very real, she likes books and reading and she's a little unsure of herself. She's funny and bright and a little bit mad.
Shelley Harris has done 'that' thing. Written a book that deals with some dark issues, and looks quite deeply at relationships whilst still being funny and an easy read. Her writing is sharp and assured, and a little bit different.
Vigilante is one of those books that make you gasp and smile within one paragraph. Light-hearted at times, yet deadly serious at others. A finely balanced story that delivers a satisfying punch.
My thanks to the publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson / Orion Publishing for sending my copy for review.
Shelley Harris was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967, to a South African mother and a
Oxfam bookshop, helping customers to find just the right book.
In 2010 Shelley Harris won The Writers' Workshop inaugural 'Friday Night LIVE' competition which led to the publication of her first novel, JUBILEE, in 2011.
JUBILEE was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice and a Top 10 bestseller, it was shortlisted for the Commenwealth Writers' Prize and was read on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.
As part of her research for VIGILANTE Shelley Harris dressed up as superhero and wandered the streets of her local town, Marlow, to find out what it was like. Nobody batted an eyelid.
For more information about Shelley Harris and her writing, visit her website www.shelleyharris.co.uk
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Check out Shelley Harris talking about Vigilante in this YouTube Video