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Dangerous Lady - Martina Cole

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      17.11.2011 11:48
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      An utterly gripping read that'll hold your interest to the end

      I have become a bit of an avid reader of Martina Cole since discovering her brilliantly written "The Runaway" on holiday earlier this year. Having also watched the finely adapted Sky 1 production of the show, it prompted me to seek out other work by the London-based author. What better place to start than at the beginning with her very first published novel.

      Like many of her novels, "Dangerous Lady" begins its life in the gritty East End of London during the 50's. Instantly introducing charismatic Michael Ryan, the eldest of the Ryan clan, the story also begins with the introduction of the youngest Ryan child "Maura". Through the years, Michael becomes notorious around London for his ferocious temper and gangland connections. Determined to bring his family out of the gutter, and provide what his drunken father cant, Michael sleeps his way into the right circles and eventually takes over the many rackets and rings that his partner Joe originally orchestrated.

      As the years go on, and with Michael becoming increasingly powerful, his relationship with his mother becomes increasingly fraught. Things take a turn for the worse, when she disapproves of sister Maura entering what has become a family business. Notorious for her ice maiden approach and frosty exterior, it becomes Maura's goal to protect her brother, at any cost to herself and her relationship with the other members of her family. However, as Michael begins to derail, Maura finds herself more and more out of her depth. Will Michael's erratic and uncontrollable nature be the downfall off the Ryan family?

      Cole presents similar themes in all of her books. Set against the backdrop of 1950s London, where gangsters ruled the roost, she presents a somewhat gritty vision of that time. She also lends authenticity to the story by placing real elements of that time, such as the suggestion that the Ryan's are mildly associated with the Krays. This is something Cole does very well, placing her action at the centre of times and places that the reader will identify with. If the story is somewhat overly-graphic, she compensates that with well rounded characters, excellently paced drama and a heart that is missing from many British crime novels. What Cole essentially does is create crime thrillers that have themes of romance, betrayal and poverty weaved throughout them, giving them more depth and more appeal to a wider audience.

      Dangerous Lady was indeed Cole's first book, published in 1992, and is available in paperback. The book became a movie a few years later and also spawned sequel Maura's Game ten years later. Available from all good book stores, you can pick up a copy from amazon for as little as a penny plus postage. It's a great introduction to her work, and sets a high standard for her following novels to follow. Not for the faint hearted, and with much graphic violence, if you like your crime real and relentless, then this is a good place to start.

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        22.08.2010 18:01
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        After another "glut" of vampire books and generally books that I couldn't pass by in the library, I made the decision to avoid said place and try and get through the ever mounting pile of books in my bedroom....my poor bookcase is now heaving under the weight!

        This said my darling mother in law decided to bring me up another bag full of books for my perusal, with one of those being the subject of this review! (my bookcase is still heaving!).

        The book I will now review is - "Dangerous lady by Martina Cole".

        Sarah Ryan is like so many others in her neighbourhood. She lives in squalor with a hoard of children, a husband who is an alcoholic and spends any money he gets at the local "The bramley arms".

        Her house is crawling with cockroaches and the children haven't eaten in two days, to top it all she is once again with child and in the throws of labour.

        After nearly dying and being save by the local friendly doctor, Sarah finally gets something she never though she would get, a daughter, and so enters Maura Ryan.

        Maura has a normal enough upbringing, though her eldest brother Michael has quite a lot to do with this, by this time he is a well established runner for a local gangster Joe the fish, meaning he has earned the money to help drag his family from the gutter and give them a half decent home to live in.

        Then an event happens that will change Maura's life forever, after starting a secret relationship with the handsome Terry Penthwick, she discovers he is actually a policeman, and after a particular event she suddenly finds herself hard hearted and helping her brother Michael run one of the biggest "firms" in the country.

        This is a fantastic book that grips you from the start, the detail that has gone into the story and characters gives a real sense of desperation in the beginning an in fairness towards the end of the book too.

        The book is gritty an hard hitting, there is a huge amount of obscenities and detailed violence in the book, with a little less sexual content but due to the main character (Michael)being gay, there is some homosexual detail too.

        This book is not for the fainthearted, but to me is a fantastic read, though at times I read with one hand over my mouth being quite shocked and disturbed at what I was reading.

        Price wise this is available from www.amazon.co.uk for around the £5.00 mark.

        This was a really good read that I would highly recommend to anyone.

        Thanks for reading x

        ISBN 978-0-7553-7406-9

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          10.08.2010 22:33

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          Couldnt put it down!

          Another stunning, captivating read by Martina Cole! I am a huge fan of the author and found this book up there with her best. The plot centres around the Ryan family, the eldest son of which becomes the most feared face in London gangland. He maintains a close, solid relationship with only sister Maura whom the family have tried to protect from the reality of their way of life. She begins a relationship with a policeman and knowing that the family will disapprove she hides this from them. Maura falls pregnant, unbeknown to her boyfriend Terry who is forced to end the realtionship when his superiors in the force find out. It is the cruel turn of events that follw that eventually transform Maura into a women to be reckoned with in their culture.
          This dark and dangerous story pulls you in so you can almost taste the fear of some of the Ryan's Victims. Maura Ryan is a strong character who you continually find yourself intrigued by. Amazing scene descriptions and an absolute adrenalin rush from first to last page.

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          12.09.2009 19:25
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          A good read with strong female characters and a gritty story line

          Review of 'Dangerous Lady', a novel by Martina Cole.

          I am reviewing the paperback version of the book, published by Headline Books. 563 pages, ISBN 9-9999-8458-4, cover price £6.99.

          **The novel**

          A compelling London gangland novel from the pen of popular crime writer, Martina Cole, Dangerous Lady draws the reader into the London gangland sub culture, a violent and sometimes uncomfortable place.

          The novel's plot covers the Ryan family, a rough, tough bunch of six boys and their only sister, Maura. The story begins in May 1950, with the birth of Maura Ryan. The Ryans are well known in their district, their father Benjamin is a drinker, gambler and a dead loss as a provider for the family. Their mother, Sarah is worn out with struggling to feed and clothe her family, as time passes, more and more responsibility falls on the shoulders of the eldest Ryan son, Michael.

          Michael is a good looking boy who grows into a handsome man, tall, well built and well muscled. Michael Ryan has a dark side to his nature, a violent temper which he is hard pressed to control. Michael dotes on his little sister and cares for his mother and brothers, family first is his motto.

          As the story progresses we see Michael Ryan growing up to become an increasingly violent, increasingly unstable, homosexual. His temper becomes a legend in London's underworld. No one is safe from the Ryans when Michael gives the word. He even kills his lover, Joe the Fish, the man who gave him his first break into business.

          Sarah keeps Maura well under her thumb for as long as she can , but eventually Maura strikes out on her own and in 1966, meets a man and has to keep his existence secret as her boyfriend, Terry Petherick, is a Policeman. Terry loves Maura, but his association with her comes to the ears of his senior officers and he is given a choice, dump her or lose his career. Terry choses the Police Service and tells Maura he doesn't want to see her again, not knowing that Maura is pregnant with his child.

          Sarah is told of the pregnancy and she decides that an illegitimate baby would ruin Maura's life, so arranges a back street abortion for her daughter, this is very badly bodged and nearly costs Maura her life. When Michael finds out, he blows up the flat of the abortionist with the man's family inside. Maura recovers physically, but is severely scarred mentally and never really forgives her mother for forcing her into the operation and turns against her.

          Maura joins her brothers in the 'business' and becomes a force to be reckoned with, her name automatically earns her respect, but she proves herself to be an intelligent and useful member of the family firm. She overtakes the family ice cream and hot dog pitches and proves herself an equal to the families rivals.

          The plot covers the exploits of the Ryan family up to the mid 1980's, it twists
          and turns, keeping the reader engrossed in the story.

          More I will not say for fear of spoiling the book for others.

          **The Author**


          Martina Cole born in 1958, was brought up in Essex. Her first novel Dangerous Lady, was an instant best-seller and became a highly successful TV drama series. Since then Martina Cole has written fourteen more best selling novels set in the criminal underworld of London. Ms Cole is no stranger to hardship and has taken many knocks in life herself. Her parents both died when she was young and by 18 years of age, she was living alone in a Tilbury council flat with her baby son. She began writing as a way of escaping her own problems. She has in her own words 'always been a grafter' and has built a comfortable life on the strength of her books. She has been married and divorced twice and has a son, a daughter and a grandchild. Martina Cole teaches creative writing to inmates at Wandsworth and Belmarsh prisons and is a patron of Chelmsford Women's Aid, which she says is her way of putting something back into society.

          I have noticed that Martina Cole invariably dedicates her novels to family members and friends from her past, a very human touch in my opinion.
          For further information about the author and her books, visit Headline and Martina's own website
          www.headline.co.uk
          www.martinacole.co.uk

          **Cost and Availability**

          My copy bears the jacket price of £6.99, however s copies can be obtained from various online retailers for as little as £2.49 or from 1p used from amazon.


          **My Thoughts and Conclusion**

          A fast paced, gritty novel with plenty of richly described characters. Ms Cole has the knack of making her characters real and compelling, yet absolutely awful at the same time.
          The strong language and violent elements of Martina Cole's writing is not for the faint hearted, yet the story lines of her novels would not be as realistic without them.


          Thank you for reading.

          ©brittle906 September 2009


          N.B. My reviews may be found on other review sites under the same user name, brittle1906.

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            25.01.2009 14:39
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            Buy it

            Another one of Martina Cole's best offerings this a truly fantastic book. I believe it was her first book and she certainly entered the literary world with a real corker. It follows the life of Maura Ryan from her childhood to her rise to head of the powerful Ryan crime family with control of the London Underworld. The characters are real and believable and through the way Cole writes from a character's own perspective you feel yourself feeling empathy for even the most violent of Maura's brothers. It tells the story of love and betrayal, when Maura is abandoned by her boyfriend at 17 after he finds out who her brothers are, and her subsequent botched abortion which robs her of the ability to have children, thus pushing her into the family business of crime where she finds she excels. This is a gripping read - gritty, dark and graphic. Fantastic if you fancy something different to keep you entertained by the pool on holiday!

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            16.07.2006 19:47
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            Recomend this book!!!

            I read this book whilst on holidays and I could not put it down, This was the first Martina Cole book I read and have since gone on to read most of them, but I feel I read the best one first. The book had great characters which were very stong. The story line was strong and gripping throughout although the end is some what predictiable. However this is a superb read, and I would recommend reading it if your a Martina Cole fan or not. it's a must!!

            The Plot
            The book is based on London gangland and the underworld of crime, Ducking and Driving is a way of life for the Ryans........

            The story follows the Ryan family from 1950, where they occupied a slum in Notting Hill, it follows all the tradegy and tramuas, trails and tribulations, pain and abuse - heartache and loss the family encountered over the years, we follow the family and watch how Micheal Ryan the eldest brother)became top in londons underworld.
            The main character in this book is Maura Ryan, the only
            daughter of the very large Ryan family, firstly she turns a blind eye to the way of life her brothers lead untill a tradedy makes her cold and hard and circumstances lead her to joining the family firm - she joins her brother Micheal in his work and between the two of them they take over londons underworld - no one thinks she has what it takes to run the firm!!!
            I won't tell you anymore as I don't want to ruin the story -
            lots of action and a very stong story line - Read it!! Enjoy

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              12.02.2006 13:01
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              Epic story, good read, overall strengths outweigh weaknesses

              INTRODUCTION

              Though I haven’t written a review for a while, those of you that recognise me will know that I’m a big fan of Martina Cole. A few months ago I moved from London to Peterborough and was delighted to find that a first rate, well stocked library was located just a couple of minutes walk from my flat! During my daily commute I have the opportunity to do lots of reading but this is the first time in months that I’ve been motivated enough to produce a review.

              I’ve just finished reading Martina Cole’s first novel – Dangerous Lady – a reasonable, if somewhat epic effort for a first novel. With hindsight, I’d quite like to see Cole go back to the formula of some of her earlier works as they tend to be less raw and violent than some of her later efforts. I definitely feel that this is a more “mature” effort than some of her other works.

              THE STORY

              The Ryan’s are a dirt poor, typical post war West End London family. Benjamin Ryan is a lazy, hard drinking wide boy who spends all his time in the pub and no time providing for his large family. Sarah Benjamin is introduced as she is giving birth to her ninth child and her first girl – Maura. The birth is described in the context of all of her other children milling about the house hungry because Benjamin hasn’t been home for days to provide any money for food and with cockroaches crawling up the walls, being trampled underfoot and even venturing across the children’s faces.

              It’s hardly surprising that the children aspire for something more, something better and that the eldest son takes on the role of provider from an early age to compensate for his father’s disinterest and inability to support his huge family. Less surprising still, is that the boy (Michael) does this by turning to a life of petty crime, stealing food and looting bombed houses in order to put food on the table.

              His handsome features, pretty boy looks and the realisation that he is homosexual endear him to the local west London gangland boss Joe the Fish. Michael manipulates and uses the situation to his own advantage to wheedle his way into favour and win Joe’s trust to the extent that he hands over the entire running of the “firm”. Once, achieved Michael systematically goes about plotting the old man’s demise and, of course, succeeds. Upon succession, Michael involves every one of his seven brothers and builds up a criminal firm that takes over the whole of London and makes the reign of the Krays seem mild!

              Meanwhile, Maura’s childhood is an environment of her mother’s and brother’s overt protection, yet also as part of this incredibly dangerous criminal world. This includes the violent and traumatic deaths of a couple of her brother’s due to their involvement in the “firm”.

              Eventually, Maura grows up and falls in love at 17, only to discover she is pregnant. Horrifyingly she has fallen in love with a “filth” – a police man. Her innocence sees her going to tell her lover but when she arrives he ends their relationship. Unbeknown to her he has discovered she is a “Ryan” and has to make a decision between his lover and his career; his career wins.

              Subsequent events lead to the story that is Maura Ryan, a story of deep sadness and a life of loneliness and unhappiness. Maura joins the “firm” and eventually runs it hand in hand with Michael becoming a woman whose name soon becomes synonymous with hard crime and gratuitous violence. She is now a very Dangerous Lady. To say any more would be to give the plot away – if you’re tempted, read it, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

              CHARACTERISATION

              This has become one of Martina Cole’s strengths in her subsequent books. I suspect that because I haven’t read her novels in order that it surprised me that there were subtle flaws in the characters in this book and they were occasionally less than believable. However, the way in which she develops her characters does draw you in and you either find that you have a level of empathy with the character and take an instant liking to them – and sometimes even a loathing!

              Her strong “suit” is headstrong, independent, wilful women and on this level, and this level only, her writing could be considered formulaic in that it is similar to her other works. The development of the main character Maura is interesting in that it starts from birth and tells you of this beautiful, innocent, loving child. However, after a life changing and life threatening event relating to her pregnancy at 17, Maura turns into an almost unbelievably different character. I guess that sometimes life’s events can change our basic character and that things that do happen can turn us into bitter, twisted and unhappy people. I suspect this is what Cole was trying to achieve here but doesn’t always succeed. The impression I was given at times was that Maura was almost psychotic; one moment she would be this kind, caring, generous person looking after women down on their luck and yet the next she would be capable of participating in sickeningly violent scenes.

              One of the down sides of some Cole stories is that men are portrayed as violent, wicked, evil people. Whilst there is plenty of this in abundance, the author goes to great lengths to show Michael, the oldest brother and the criminal mastermind, as a loving sibling to his sister and someone that truly adores her. This is done quite intelligently as she managers to do this at the same time as demonstrating the seedier side of his life and his naturally sadistic character.

              There are many other “characters” in this book - if anything, too many. There’s Maura’s best friend Margaret, the seven other Ryan brothers, their partners and sometimes their children, not to mention the other “criminals” and the entire London Police Force. It isn’t actually that difficult to keep track of them all but the number of characters weakens the way in which they are portrayed sometimes.

              THE FLAWS

              The biggest flaw in this book is simply the number of characters it tries to develop. The underlying sub plots lose strength and focus due to this and also probably due to the fact that the main plot and the story itself spans over 40 years. It’s hard to tell one person’s life story in 560 pages, never mind the history of an entire family – in my humble opinion.

              A sub-plot that saw the development of Maura’s love life in tandem with the development of her career in the criminal underworld was somewhat weak and I believe that further development of this aspect would have made the story more interesting and exciting.

              My final negative is the same with any Martina Cole book I’ve read and that is that the ending is too neat and tidy. All loose ends are tied up, and there is very little left to the imagination. In this instance, it was also entirely predictable. However, at least this neat and tidy ending did leave the door open for a sequel, something that her other efforts don’t appear to achieve.

              CONCLUSION

              Although not my favourite Martina Cole novel to date I certainly enjoyed it. Even though the story, as always, relates to London gangland culture the levels of violence and corruption are really no less than her other stories. However, I was thankful that the descriptions were not quite as graphic as some I’ve encountered in her other books. But it does still exist in abundance and I suspect our own imaginations make the scenes as graphic as we want them to be. Personally, I prefer it this way.

              The story flows reasonably well, and I really found myself wanting to know what happened next, and did find myself reading this at every possible opportunity. I’d like to see her go back to her roots a little and write in this way; I feel that the author has resorted to “shock” tactics in some of her latter efforts and although it wouldn’t stop me from reading them, I know that she can write in a different way and one that still engages the reader.

              Due to the level of knowledge about the shady world of which she writes, I often wonder where she draws her experiences from! However, it is this same knowledge that makes these stories so intriguing and believable and so perhaps its better not to question?

              Cole novel’s are not for the faint hearted but if you enjoy the thriller/mystery genre, you could do a lot worse than pick up one of her novels. Like me, you’ll probably find it enjoyable.

              563 pages
              Published by headline
              Available in paperback, published by headline for £6.99

              Cheers

              © Christina ;-) x

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                30.03.2004 16:00
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                So, how does a self-confessed internet addict cope, when faced with two weeks computer-less? She reads. A lot. Hence finishing two Martina Cole books (of around 600 pages each) in just a few days! Dangerous Lady was the author’s first novel, published back in 1992. I own the 10th anniversary edition with a foreword by Cole herself. Having read several of her books before, I knew what to expect – crime, murder, violence and seedy sex – but with a huge portion of strong family connections, wonderfully described characters and decades of their lives evolving over the pages. Before Martina Cole, I had always shied away from these kinds of books, not relishing the prospect of reading about death and the criminal underworld for fun. But with her books, the strength of her writing makes it worthwhile. You recognise familiar themes throughout her books, but somehow each one remains fresh and different from the others. In some ways, you might expect an author’s first novel to be the weakest, hoping their work will improve over the years. However, I loved Dangerous Lady and would rate it as my second favourite of her novels I have read so far. It had all the things I love about her writing, but I felt the more ‘unpleasant’ side of things was toned down. The heroine of this book is a woman called Maura Ryan, who we follow from her birth in 1950 through to the late 1980s. She was brought up in poverty in Notting Hill, as the only girl in a family of nine children. Her mother, Sarah tried her hardest to feed and clothe her brood, while her lazy husband, Benjamin, drank most of the meagre income they did have. But one of their sons, Michael, soon realised that crime really did pay and through his dodgy dealings, the family began to prosper. He is handsome and charming and finds it easy to get his own way. If people refuse to see things as he does, he is quite happy to resort to violence. In fact,
                he relishes it. His reputation as a hard man with a debatable mental state is one that gets results – or else! The other brothers followed his lead and they all benefit from their new lifestyle, but as Maura grows up, will she be following in their footsteps too? Sarah Ryan hopes not. Somehow she can turn a blind eye to her boys’ shady work, especially if it affords her a better standard of living – but a girl? Her only daughter? She doesn’t think so. She spends many an hour worrying about the future. However, Maura eventually falls in love and it looks as though her dreams will be fulfilled and her mother will get her wish. Maura longs to be married to her sweetheart, settled down with a house and children of her own. But her boyfriend, Terry Petherick, is a policeman. There is no way her family will approve. In fact, once her brother Michael finds out, Terry’s life could be in danger. So how will things turn out? It’s difficult to review a Martina Cole book, as there are so many shocks and surprises, that you don’t want to spoil them by giving anything away. But suffice to say, something happens which hardens Maura and leads her to join Michael in his criminal lifestyle. Soon, Maura and Michael make a formidable team, feared and respected across the country, as their empire grows to include lap dancing clubs, the takings of armed robberies and drug dealing. But that kind of life brings risks and none of the Ryan family are strangers to tragedy as the years go on. Although many parts of the book are at best unsettling and at worst disturbing (particularly an abortion scene), Dangerous Lady is well worth a read. I found it very easy to get into and it is the sort of book you just can’t resist picking up in any free moment – or making the time to read it. It is compelling, you are desperate to know what happens next. The characters are written so well, that y
                ou easily come to care about them. Even casual, cameo roles are usually given some background information, which means that if they meet a gruesome end, you care more, as you know if they leave a partner or children. Some readers can find a large book daunting – This one is 563 pages long. - but I have never found one of Martina Cole’s hard to get into and I always wish they were even longer, as I love them and get so involved in the characters’ lives. Luckily, this one has a sequel – Maura’s Game – so you can read more about the Ryan family, if you wish. I found this novel different to her later ones and enjoyed it more for that. This one even has a happy ending! Maura’s Game soon shatters that though! I hope the author doesn’t think adding more brutality and swearing to her novels is the way to go, as I think Dangerous Lady is much better than Maura’s Game (one of her more recent releases), but if her readership continues to buy them, who am I to argue? DANGEROUS LADY by Martina Cole Published by Headline £6.99 www.martinacole.co.uk

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                  24.12.2003 15:58
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                  • "Life is too Short to Read Rubbish Like this"

                  skip this first bit to be able to read the review with capital letters intact. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. a. I seem to favour women authors. Taking advantage of the WH Smith offer of 'Buy two paperbacks-get the third free' I had selected two novels by two excellent writers, Patricia Cornwell and Margaret Atwood leaving me to choose one more book. I had seen the name of Martina Cole in the No: 1 bestselling lists and noted there were several of her novels lining the shelves. Not having read her before I selected her first ever bestseller 'Dangerous Lady' written ten years ago and now re-printed to celebrate her phenomenal success over the last decade. I'm sure Martina Cole is a very nice lady and I applaud her success as a best selling author but I have never read such drivel in my life. Well I have-I have read Catherine Cookson just the once; I have read Jackie Collins just the once; I have read Barbara Bradford Taylor just the once; Martina Cole? A very poor imitation of the pre-mentioned who in themselves are the top writers of their genre, and they are lightweight and bad enough as it is. The author, if I may call her that, begins with the difficult birth of a baby born into squalor and poverty in South London in the 1950s. How often have we read this introduction in the first chapter of a book? The baby girl is the first female to be born into a home with an alcoholic father, a strong mother and several older brothers. Excuse me while I yawn. The family live on their wits around the bomb sites of post war South London by stealing and violence and it is obvious from the start that a criminal dynasty is about to be revealed. The title 'Dangerous Lady' refers to this first born girl who along with her very unpleasant brothers, useless father and the matriarchal and hypocritical head of the family becomes the Queen of organised crime in London's gangland. The 563 pages of this torturously bad novel take us from the cockroach infested family home of the 1950s and the phenomenal rise to a life of wealth and riches right up
                  to the 1990s. Everyone in this book is one dimensional and I cared about nobody in it. All the characters are shallow and stereotypical. The corrupt Roman Catholic priest who involves the family in raising money for the IRA; equally corrupt police officers on the pay-roll who turn a blind eye to the families evil crimes; we have vice, prostitution, gambling, drugs, a massive gold bullion robbery, badly written sex scenes, badly written violence; boring descriptions of the expensive designer clothes our 'heroine' is wearing and the sharp suits and outstanding good looks of her equally shallow brothers. I laughed out loud at the portrayal the author gives the reader when describing a gangland funeral. Oh look! The Krays and the Richardsons are there paying homage and so is Freddie Mills the boxer and his lover Michael Holliday. I was waiting for Barbara Windsor and Ronnie Knight to make an appearance. No mention of Dianna Dors? There are so many actual mistakes in the continuity of this book I can only imagine that the proof reader fell asleep on the job-and I can't blame them. One paragraph begins with the heroine 'putting the coffee on' and several sentences later her guest 'sips his tea' Another even more outrageous mistake is the heroine receiving a written invitation and flowers from 'Mickey' asking her out to dinner at the Savoy; in the next paragraph she is indeed having dinner at the Savoy but with a bloke called 'Willy' Appalling garbage! Throughout this book the 'Dangerous Lady' has an improbable love affair with a police officer; the matriarch of this unpleasant family happily lives on the proceeds of their life of crime whilst condemning them all as filthy, putrid villains (You are clearly correct there Mother); the bent coppers all get away with it; the brothers all murder each other; I wished they'd all cancelled each other out at the start of this book and not taken alm
                  ost 600 pages. The author just about manages to write words of more than one syllable, but only just. I have no intention to attempt to read another book by Martina Cole unless somebody can tell me her writing abilities have improved. The only consolation I have is that I consider this book to have been the free one in the WH Smith offer as it hurts me to imagine I actually paid good money for this inexcusably badly written book. It was with unimagined relief I was able to turn to Margaret Atwood's 'Blind Assassin' in order to restore my faith in women writers.

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                    19.09.2003 20:37

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                    Great, good, exciting! - Advantages: exciting, gripping, cheap - Disadvantages: none another fantastic book

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                    02.07.2002 01:50
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                    The first book I read of Martina Cole was "Dangerous Lady"; since then I want to read every single book of her. "Dangerous Lady" gives you a raw, realistic, shocking view into the London Crime scene. However, the book also gives you a view in family relations which, sometimes, can be very complicated. Martina Cole is able to draw a family picture in which you get almost symphathy for those who commit horrible crimes, just for the sake of their family. Various emotions are drawn and will occur by the readers of the book. The main character of the book; Maura Ryan is, in my personal view, a victim of the circumstances she grew up in. The love of her brothers almost causes her her life, but she manages to grow up as a well respected woman in the London underworld. Although she lost the love of her life through her family, she becomes, toghether with her oldest brother the nestor of the Ryan-clan. She's tough, sometimes cruel, but you never lose your sympathy for her, because you know that underneath the hard mask, there's a good heart.

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