A Bitter Taste by Annie Hauxwell

Author: Annie Hauxwell
Publisher: Penguin
Review By: Sandra Nicholson
Book Synopsis: This is the second book in the Catherine Berlin series and after reading the first -In Her Blood- I really couldn’t wait to see what trouble Berlin had managed to get herself into this time and more importantly how she survived her adventures. She may not always be likeable but she is never boring!

Berlin (her preferred moniker) is a very complex character whose first (and possibly only) love is heroin. The main cause of her angst is the fact that she is a registered addict but the UK’s legal heroin prescription system is coming to an end. She is also a loner and definitely not a ‘people person’. She appears to have only one friend, an ex-colleague, Delroy, and even that friendship is tested at times. However, she is also a pragmatist and needs to earn a living so private investigator is her career of choice. Her invoicing system for the matrimonial investigation in this book is very interesting!

Berlin’s past comes back to haunt her when Sonja Kvist (a woman from the early, dark heroin days) turns up at the door seeking help to find her 10 year old daughter. Berlin initially refuses and wants nothing to do with Sonja but changes her mind after rescuing another young girl from a seedy punter in a dark underpass. So, once again Berlin finds herself in the cesspit of the underworld, going to places where no sane person would venture, manoeuvring her way through police corruption, murder, child exploitation and drug dealing.

These are real characters and although their world may not be ours it is one that exists. Hauxwell’s career as an investigator has given authenticity to her novels. They are absolute page-turners. The third in the series is eagerly awaited.