Robert Swindells, the English author of over 20 books for young teens, left school at 15. He worked on a local newspaper for a couple of years before joining the RAF. He was a primary school teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1984.
All his books, including Brother in the Land, Smash!, Dosh and Abomination, are thought-provoking novels about present-day society. Stone Cold won the Carnegie Medal in 1994.
Stone Cold is a chilling warning to young urban runaways and not just because there is a killer on the loose. Narrated by 17-year-old Link, homeless and jobless in London after being driven out of home by a drunken, abusive stepfather, the book recounts the day-to-day experiences of a homeless person. Because he tells it like it is, his descriptions of sleeping rough shatter any romantic notions: “So you pick your spot. Wherever it is ... it’s going to have a floor of stone, tile, concrete or brick. In other words it’s going to be hard and cold. It might be a bit cramped, too—shop doorways often are. And remember, if it’s winter you’re going to be half-frozen before you even start.”
The author alternates Link’s tale with that of an unknown serial killer preying on the homeless. One by one, they disappear. Then Link meets Deb, a homeless girl, with whom he strikes up a warm friendship. He doesn’t realize that Deb is a journalist hunting the serial killer. Will Link be joining the other recruits in the cellar? The climax of the story is nail-biting.