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Pigeon English

by Stephen Kelman

11-year-old Harri, newly arrived from Ghana with his mum and sister, is the endearing narrator of this tale of urban survival. As he tries to understand the nuances of language and culture, he and his schoolfriend become would-be murder detectives after the fatal stabbing of another boy and in doing so attract the attention of a local gang. As the duo utilise their TV knowledge of crime-solving their story bubbles with energy, humour and tension.

Extract

Our base is the stairs just outside my tower, the ones that go to floor 1. We're safe there. Only junkies use them and they're too sleepy to even see us. Me and Dean were on a stake-out (it's just another word for when you're watching for the bad guys). We have to stay there until we see action, even if takes all day and night. We had Cherry Coke and some Skips for if it took that long.

I was on binoculars duty and Dean was in charge of making the notes. He had to write down whatever I saw for evidence. ...

Me: 'Do I have to tell everything I see?'

Dean: 'No, just anything that looks suspicious. People acting guilty or doing something strange.'

Me: 'Does Jesus count?'

Dean: 'No, ... Killers don't use rollerblades, it's too conspicuous. They'd be giving themselves away.'

Me: 'That's what I thought.'

Parallels

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan
 

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