By Minette Walters

Acid Row is a crime-infested housing venture that exists through its personal legislation. whilst information comes baby has been abducted, the disappointment and anger that has been seething at the streets of Acid Row is ignited. And nobody could be secure.

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The inevitable result was costly maintenance with only the most glaring problems being addressed. Ill-health was endemic, particularly among the young and the old, for whom the cold wet conditions, coupled with poor diets, weakened constitutions. Depression was common, as was addiction to prescription pills. Like the road to hell, Bassindale had begun with good intentions but it was now little more than a receptacle for society's rejects. A constant drain on the public purse. A source of resentment to taxpayers, irritation to the police and unrniti-gating despair to the teachers, health and social workers who were expected to work there.

She dropped into exaggerated mimicry of Laura's more educated speech. "Hev you been a good gel, darling? Did you prectise your ballay? Air you enjoying your reading? Lovey .. dovey .. " She pointed two fingers at her open mouth. " She must have been mad to leave Amy with them .. "Well, at least she's got a mother," she spat. " Anger made her vicious. "Of course it's my business. " Her eyes flashed. "Not that I blame her for leaving. " Laura gave a small laugh. "Snap. But at least I'm a thin bitch.

They wouldn't answer whatever she said. Jabba the Hutt, a thirteen-year-old boy with rampant eczema where his double chins chafed his neck, promptly ratcheted up the volume on the set. Miss Piggy, fifteen years old and with breasts like dirigibles, turned her back. It was a nightly ritual aimed at freezing out the skinny wannabe stepmother. And it was working. If it weren't for her daughter's easy acceptance "They're OK when we're on our own, Mummy'she'd have cut her losses a long time ago. She waited for Jabba to mouth 'fuck off' to the air another routine that never varied before, with relief, she closed the door and headed for the kitchen.

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