PRIMROSE HILL by Helen Falconer


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A hot London summer brings three teenagers into a folie à trois of murder and deception.

When school lets out, childhood friends Si and Danny seem to be just a pair of normal kids, their heads filled with action movies, ad copy, inspirational bestsellers, and smoke. They’ve been so close for so long that, as Si guilelessly says, “If it hadn’t been for AIDS, we would’ve been blood brothers.” But that’s before they meet the bewitching, bewildering Eleanor, a forthright 15-year-old who wastes no time asking whether Si wants to have sex with her and whether he’s interested in taking a Mediterranean cruise with her and her charming but vaguely sinister uncle Richard. And it’s before Si’s mother’s pregnancy brings Andy, her feckless vanished lover, back to her side to administer an unofficial but timely dose of pethidine to ease her labor, and before Danny’s mother’s pregnancy earns her another beating from the drug supplier (and father-to-be) the boys call Shortarse. Fearing that her abusive lover’s next assault will leave his drug-dependent mother dead, Danny announces his intention of killing him, and he’s encouraged in his plan to destroy the bogeyman who might well turn into as big a monster as “that Hitler guy” by the intrepid Eleanor, who after a long, spine-tingling seduction of both boys to very different ends, accompanies them to Shortarse’s lair. Danny’s murderous plot, like so much else in this firecracker debut, doesn’t exactly come off as expected, however, leaving Si to come to painful terms with his role in the problems it unleashes—and in the still more agonizing problems his friendship with Eleanor, in an uncannily intricate parallel, is about to unleash as well.

Falconer moves with an electrifying sense of the inexorable, from lightweight satire to the steadily deepening terror that life-or-death decisions cast over kids of every age.

Pub Date: March 30th, 2001
ISBN: 0-89255-255-7
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2001