The Prodigal is the first in a series of gritty crime novels set in the fictional housing estate of Valley Park in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Exiled from his beloved Newcastle sixteen years ago, Detective Sergeant Lee Jamieson is returning home in search of the teenage daughter he’s never met. With a good promotion under his belt and his parents gone, he’s ready to return to his roots and the warm Geordie spirit he has missed so much.

Much to his surprise, his first assignment is in Valley Park, a forgotten sink estate and home to some of the worst social deprivation in the country – the estate where he grew up, and where Nicola Kelly, the wife of a renowned local villain, calls home.

As Lee and Nicola’s lives become entwined through a series of dramatic events, they fall in love and embark on a dangerous affair that will change both of their lives forever. Nicola’s husband, Micky, has few scruples, and, as he feels her slipping away, tightens his grip on her affections.

In order for Lee and Nicola to be together, Nicola must make a decision that will determine her future. Loving wife, or filthy grass.

The Prodigal is a romance / love story at its heart. It examines a range of issues that faced poor communities back in the 90s – issues still faced by those communities today: racism, domestic abuse, drugs, crime, child neglect, mental health, poverty and a sense of hopelessness.

Nicky Black is a collaboration between two friends, Nicky and Julie, who have known each other for around 20 years. We both had careers in urban regeneration back in the 90s, working at the heart of disadvantaged communities in the North East of England. During that time we experienced the real grit and struggle of peoples’ every-day lives, as well as their humour and determination to lead a happy existence, whatever that meant to them.

Our mutual love of writing brought together two key ingredients: whilst Nicky loves to write vivid descriptions and narrative, Julie excels in writing dialogue. Together they’ve created a winning formula. The Prodigal is our first novel, and the second is under way.

Nicky was born and brought up in Alnwick in Northumberland, settling in Newcastle upon Tyne for 12 years before moving south for career reasons. Julie is a born and bred Geordie and still lives in the Toon.

This book was a hard to put down and I loved how it was written – this book was full of believable events that  can happen to anyone, this is a must read.