By Jennifer Reese
March 30, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Killing Jar

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The Killing Jar, Nicola Monaghan’s vividly written, deeply depressing debut, chronicles, in relentless detail, the tragedy of a drug dealer’s life on a grotty British housing estate. We meet narrator Kerrie-Ann as the bright and tender 5-year-old daughter of a junkie mother, then watch as her innocence is inexorably stripped away in an all-too-familiar sequence: Drug running leads to drug taking, a precocious sexual initiation, an abusive relationship, and increasingly violent criminal escapades. Monaghan tries to find some redemption for her plucky heroine in this sordid underworld, but she has chosen an innately grim genre with little possible uplift and few surprises. B

The Killing Jar

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