Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill Harper, HK$109 Lullabies for Little Criminals brings to mind Tracy Quan's Diary of a Manhattan Callgirl. Although different in almost every way - including style, setting, tone and narrative - both vice-charged debut novels share in revealing the backgrounds of the authors: Quan was a teenage prostitute and Heather O'Neill, as she reveals in the postscript, was an unwanted child-turned-street kid. Which is roughly the situation in which her protagonist, Baby, finds herself as the 12-year-old daughter of a 26-year-old junkie father. Written in the first person, the voice is assured yet with a tortured innocence that will grab the hand of readers and lead them into a harrowing world of damaged people. There's the sociopath abused by his mother and the pimp who becomes one of Baby's boyfriends. There are also the myriad characters Baby encounters in foster homes, including the boy who falls asleep as soon as he touches anything soft. Despite the hopeless situation of father and daughter, their love for each other comes through, albeit in ways that may unsettle readers. This book's bleak beauty inspires.