Reviewer Janet Walker: Janet is the author of Colour To Die For, first of the Fee Weston Mystery Series. Janet lives in Australia and when she is not writing about P.I. Fee Weston's fight for truth, justice and a livable cash flow, she writes articles for magazines and fund raises for Australia's wildlife carers - heroes of the bush. For more about Janet and Fee visit Janet's WEBSITE
Author: Ann Massey
If your name is Jane and you aren’t beauty pageant material then inevitably the rhyming prefix of ‘Plain’ is bandied about by less than sensitive acquaintances. It is though, unusual to have ‘Salvation’ coupled with ‘Jane’ unless that’s what you are into. The lead character of Ann Massey’s new book, Salvation Jane is a young woman, Jane Patterson, who doesn’t start off in the salvation business but through unavoidable contact with those society classifies as less-fortunate-than-ourselves or dependent on your point of view, social-welfare-cheats, she becomes the real deal; a supplier of help and haven to the homeless and hopeless.
Salvation Jane is an unusual likeable story; difficult to slot into a genre – on the one hand it is a funny appealing story of an innocent young woman’s rites of passage, on the other, a peek into the life of a social/political activist.
Arriving at the hotel, unexpected and as it transpires, unwelcome, Jane’s expectations of a smart boutique hotel are shattered by the unbelievably dirty dump she walks into. Author, Ann Massey paints a convincing picture of a downtown hotel that may have seen better days but nobody can remember when. The odours of grease, urine and other substances best not mentioned are freely available not only in the hotel’s nooks and crannies but pretty much everywhere Jane turns. Disappointed but not downhearted, Jane figures all that’s required is to throw out the equally smelly clientele and by the application of guts and a few dollars, her inheritance will morph into an up-market back-packer’s hostel.
Jane’s dream of money in the bank is shattered by the reality of the situation her late uncle’s guests are in; with no money, no family and no place to go, her hotel is a bulwark between a faint semblance of home and a life lived under the bridges and back alleys of a big city. She becomes involved in their plight and determined to help, stands for parliament. Similarly to Australia’s recently removed female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, Jane encounters verbal abuse and dirty tricks as she struggles to become the people’s representative in parliament.
Jane meets macho politician, Leonard Hardie, spunky and ambitious, his agenda includes cleaning up Perth’s homeless problem by running them out of town… if they won’t leave, then a spell in prison might change their mind. Don’t know what it is about the profession of politics that brings out the worst in some men (happens a lot) but Leonard is an A-grade creep.
He’s also really groovy and Jane is attracted to him but she can’t desert her homeless mates (particularly the families with small children) and despite a tragedy, does what she set out to do – get them a fair deal (good on Jane).