’48 hours until another victim disappears…..’
Today I’m delighted to bring you my review of Girl Zero, the second novel featuring DI Harry Virdee from acclaimed author A.A. Dhand.
Set in the murky shadows of organised crime in Bradford, Girl Zero is described as a novel that ‘takes you from the dark heart of the city to its fraught outskirts on the vengeful hunt for a trafficking ring’
Just published in July 2017 by Bantam Press (Transworld), Girl Zero follows on from Streets of Darkness (Harry Virdee #1) which was published in 2016.
There are some surprises that no-one should ever have to experience. Standing over the body of your beloved – and murdered – niece is one of them. For Detective Inspector Harry Virdee, a man perilously close to the edge, it feels like the beginning of the end.
His boss may be telling him he’s too close to work the case, but this isn’t something that Harry can just let lie. He needs to dive into the murky depths of the Bradford underworld and find the monster that lurks there who killed his flesh and blood.
But before he can, he must tell his brother, Ron, the terrible news. And there is no predicting how he will react. Impulsive, dangerous and alarmingly well connected, Ron will act first and think later. Harry may have a murderer to find but if he isn’t careful, he may also have a murder to prevent.
I haven’t read A.A. Dhand’s first Harry Virdee novel, Streets of Darkness, but I did read very positive reviews so I was delighted to receive a copy of Girl Zero to review.
Harry Virdee is a Detective Inspector with the Bradford police. His brother Ronnie is a kingpin in the local drug scene. Their relationship is fraught with difficulty. Aside from the obvious differences between their chosen career paths, Harry and Ronnie have a shared history as brothers. Their future is forever tied together by an event that occurred in their past.
But as Harry is about to find out, their two lives are about to clash in the most unexpected and traumatic manner. Harry is called to a murder scene in the early hours of the morning. In a disused swimming pool of an old and now abandoned school, Harry sees the body of a young girl…
‘The victim was Harry’s niece; daughter to the city’s most dangerous man. Bradford had been in perilous situations before, but it had seen nothing like the storm that was about to hit.
The murder would unleash the wrath of two brothers.
One who enforced the rules.
And one who made his own.’
Harry is estranged from his family, as he married outside his religion. He has struggled to deal with this over the years but now with his own young son he has had to just accept that they would no longer be in his life. He has attempted to move on and with his wife Saima and young son Aaron, Harry has been happy. He has had communication with Ronnie over the years as their paths have crossed on the streets of Bradford but now he must face the family with the dreaded news that Ronnie’s daughter, Tara, has been murdered.
As expected, Ronnie’s reaction is explosive. Harry has been asked not to work the case by his boss, as he is too closely linked to the victim but Harry chooses not to listen. As the layers are peeled away, Harry soon finds himself in an extremely volatile situation. His relationship with Ronnie and his family is pushed to the brink. Will these traumatic events bring them all closer or will the divide be even bigger?
Girl Zero is a book that features some very, very creepy and odious characters. A.A. Dhand reveals an underworld of darkness, where human life is exchanged for pleasure, where very bad people do exist. A.A. Dhand was brought up in Bradford, it is his city and his knowledge of the world of organised crime is very realistically portrayed in Girl Zero.
Girl Zero is a story about a murder but it is also much more than that. It exposes the reader to the religious divide that exists in families, the hatred that can bubble up to the surface as father faces down son, as mother never feels the warmth of a grandchild’s cuddle. The personalities that are revealed in the pages of the novel are very real for the reader.
Girl Zero is a fast-paced page-turning novel. Lee Child describes A.A. Dhand’s writing as ‘Outstanding – relentless, multi-layered suspense‘ and I think that’s exactly what this is. From the get-go, I was drawn into the underbelly of Bradford’s dark streets and the repugnant individuals who inhabit them. I read with a furious pace as the story was unravelling throughout. I could feel the anger, the hurt, the disappointment. I could visualize the darkness, the seediness and the trauma.
Harry is tough but he has a heart. He has many demons to live with but he is dealing with them as best he can. Harry is very clear about what is right and what is wrong. There are times in Girl Zero where he struggles with his own ideology, especially as this case involves family. His principles are pushed to the limit. Can he do justice within the constraints of the law? Will he forever be an outcast with his family?
Girl Zero is a compelling and frantic read as we witness Harry Virdee courageously attempting to clean up the streets of darkness, the streets of his home town, Bradford.
Purchase Link ~ Girl Zero
About the Author:
A.A.Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist,
he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing.
The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.
In 2016, AA Dhand’s debut novel was released to critical acclaim. Since its release it has been selected for World Book night 2017, chosen for Read Regional 2017 and in February 2017 Streets of Darkness smashed into the UK best seller lists.
AA Dhand is currently working with a UK broadcaster to develop a TV adaptation of the book.
He still works full time as a pharmacist and writes late at night into the early hours.
Website ~ https://www.aadhand.com/
Twitter ~ @aadhand