12 August, 2014

Book Review: Acid Row

From Goodreads: Acid Row - a no-man's land where angry, alienated youth controls the streets. Sophie Morrison, a young doctor, is trapped at the centre of a terrifying siege with a known paedophile. Young Amy is missing and the mob want retribution, no matter what.
Thoughts: No one does crime fiction like the Brits and Minette Walters is one of the best. Acid Row is the nickname given to a run down council estate which descends into chaos when it becomes known that a paedophile has moved in. On the surface you can read Acid Row simply as a crime novel, trying to work out who actually has the child who has gone missing and how the police are going to get the situation under control. On another level you can view it as a piece about the dangers of partial information and whether or not the public should be informed if a paedophile is living in their area.
 Personally I have very mixed views about public registration of sex offenders. I read many years ago (and I so wish I could find the article now!), that studies in America showed that in states that had public notification of sex offenders (and that's all sex offenders, not just child sex offenders), only 60-70% of offenders reported to police when they moved or changed jobs. In states where the register is available to law enforcement only, over 80% of offenders complied with the requirement to notify when changing address or place of work. In my mind, I would rather the police know where over 80% of offenders are and me not know at all as opposed to knowing where only 60-70% of known offenders are. The other reality for me is recidivism rates for sex offenders is low - around 2%  and the majority of arrests for sex offences - 96% - are the first arrest for the perpetrator - ie. They were not on the register and therefore an unknown threat. (Source: http://theparson.net/so/#no%20effect) The reality is, your child has a more of a chance of being abused by a family member or friend than by a random person in your street. More and more studies are showing that laws such as Megan's Law in the US are not effective.In my mind nothing beats vigilance and teaching your children how to protect themselves.
Anyway, back to the book! I enjoyed Acid Row - it's fast paced, the characters are engaging and while it doesn't tax your brain, it does give you something to think about. Whether you support a public register or not, Acid Row highlights the importance of having all the information before acting. Things are not always as they seem.