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Norma PenfoldOnly an author with her roots in South Wales could bring so much warmth and realism into her characters. Tiger Ragtime is not a heavyweight novel; it is a light, easy read that manages to tackle racial prejudice, human greed and social deprivation within the confines of Tiger Bay in the 1930s.
Judy, a young singer, dreams of becoming a star, but until the arrival of business man Aled James she has been cocooned from racial discrimination by the multi-faceted mix within the dockland community. Now she finds herself suddenly aware that there are places where her colour is not acceptable. David, young and strong-willed, leaves the farming estate which, as the eldest son, he will inherit, in order to go to sea. After an ordeal that nearly kills him, he finds a job as a bookie's runner for Aled James, which brings him into contact with the law. Aled James is a man with a mission who, having left the Bay and made his fortune in America, comes back to Cardiff to set up a casino.
Harry, David's brother-in-law and Aled's half-brother, whose wealth comes from a personal inheritance, together with other colourful characters, fascinate the reader, as their lives become intricately interwoven in a story that later takes us through a turf war that emerges when Aled refuses to be intimidated by those who already rule the area with their protection racket. At the same time Aled has a vendetta with Harry over their father's inheritance.
Altogether a gripping read.