When you've got two young children, and you think the unthinkable, where do you turn?
Sugar & Spice is set across the UK, against the background of Britain’s fragmented criminal justice system, with the key protagonists the mother and partner of a murdered child.
Inspired by a news story of a man who begged a Judge to give him a longer sentence, because he knew he would harm another child if released without treatment, Sugar & Spice is meticulously researched, asking the questions society prefers not to have answered. At once disquieting and challenging, Sugar & Spice is car-crash reading.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A child fails to return home. As hours turn to days, all they can do is hope. Sadly, some children never come back...
The story opens when two boys find the severed arm of a missing child. For the distraught mother, Claire Meadows, and her partner Matt Burford, the arrest of local sex-offender Thomas Bristow seems to offer closure. But doubts soon emerge. The Met officers who “interview” Bristow are from the Gene Hunt school of policing, and the confession appears worthless when another child is killed while Bristow is awaiting trial.
Driven by the need to know, Claire meets with Bristow on remand, but he has a compelling argument, convincing her not only that he is innocent of harming her daughter, but that his previous convictions were not what they seemed. An uneasy friendship develops between the two.
Running parallel to this we meet Greg Randall, respectable accountant and utterly devoted father of six year old twins. But for Randall, the murder has brought to the fore private demons he has long been struggling to cope with. When you've got two young children, and you think the unthinkable, where do you turn?
Fearing he might one day lose control, Randall seeks counselling at a prestigious private clinic, licensed by the Home Office to treat sex-offenders. Randall’s struggle to balance his family life as he undergoes “therapy,” runs alongside the hunt for the child-killer, until eventually the two story-lines inexorably converge.
With the Police inquiry floundering, Matt and Claire embark on their own investigation, teaming up with a second-year psychology student and a fourteen year-old truant schoolboy to bring one man’s reign of terror to an end.
If you’re about to buy this and you’ve got children of your own, you may want to think twice.
This is a novel every parent should read. But be warned: In Sugar & Spice not all things are nice...